Fiction logo

Submarine Sickness

Captain's Log (Display at Museum)

By Andrea LawrencePublished about a year ago Updated about a year ago 9 min read
Inside of a submarine. | Source: Pixabay

March 26, 2040

We're traveling to the deepest part of the ocean. We're traveling to the Mariana Trench. If Mount Everest were placed into the trench at its deepest point, the peak would be underwater by more than two kilometers. Mariana Trench is more epic than Mount Everest.

We're planning to stay below the surface for a six-month research project. There are seven of us. The ocean at this level is dark, mysterious, and unsettling. Every last organism can trace its evolution back to the single cells of ocean life.

Before Darwin pointed to the tortoises at Galápagos Island, before we thought primates were our ancestors—the Greeks thousands of years ago said, "All is water." The ancients somehow knew. The Greeks divined from what little they had. They knew all of life's answers led to water.

Even from a Biblical perspective, the Garden of Eden, I think the point of the message is that our blood mutated and we used to be water, that when we took the fruit—our bodies changed, we became fragile. We became blood. Maybe the fruit is a metaphor for a virus. I mean, germs rule the world, not wars.

Isn't it funny that one of the best recommendations for better sleep, for better health, and for better memory is to drink more water? It's funny how connected we are to water; that we have some amount of electricity in our veins, but water—that's our universal solvent. But water is also terrifying. I've heard that the most comfortable way to die is drowning, that only after a few anxious moments of gasping for air—you release and surrender to the light at the end of the tunnel.

Don't get me wrong, even though I think water is terrifying, I also think my life is cut out for living under the ocean. It's difficult when you're surrounded by dark waters and bizarre creatures to not have sudden insights into Life and her sister, Death. I'm fairly certain unless you're an immortal you already have insights into Death, and you don't necessarily need a deep-sea lesson on the matriarch.

We were asked to travel to the lowest point on Earth to see if we could find pieces to the puzzle of life. What kind of cells live here? Why do they live here? And what exactly does it look like at the bottom? I think scientists have agreed that as you move up in the layers of our planet, life gets more complicated. It doesn't take a genius to figure that out.

From the belly of the ocean floor, you have these tiny cells. . . and as you crawl all the way up to the large fish, the land creatures, the birds. . . I don't know. . . it's fascinating how these things come together and dominate their kingdoms.

But you know, on the same token, I wonder just how wrong we are. We have to be brutally wrong. We can only look at these cells for so long to figure out the cosmos, to figure out the human mind, to figure out why. . . why any of it.

April 1, 2040

The two biologists got sick. We separated them from the crew and split up their responsibilities. We didn't want the sickness to spread to others. The poor women were sweating, green-looking, and vomiting frequently. There are certain revelations about reality when you're sick.

I think I'm madder at God when I'm sick. I'd like to blame someone for my pain, for my reality. . . but I think more so, I'd like to not feel alone. So what if God is there to hear my sob story? I'll take an imaginary friend over feeling completely isolated. (Though don't get me wrong, I am a believer.)

It would be interesting to take a priest down to the depths, to take a witch, or a Buddhist chanting circle, or any kind of spiritual enthusiast—to the core of living essence. The conversations get heavy down here. But it isn't really a ground for religious conversion. . . or arguably a religious practice of any kind.

April 2, 2040

Things have taken a dark turn: the scientists started vomiting blood. No one else is sick. We can't afford to go back to the surface; we haven't finished our mission. We can't get too sick either. We need each other as a whole unit. We've implemented quarantine measures to the best of our abilities.

Dr. Samantha Brakov, Ivris Kenningston, Ibrhim Ismalio, and myself, Captain Jonathan Jacobs, met in the control room. Dr. Brakov ran tests on our blood. She said we shouldn't continue the mission if we all get sick. She said she had enough medicine to keep us going, but she didn't want us to all get sick or die. She didn't want this to turn into a news story.

Ivris and Ibrhim steer the submarine. We're collecting samples around the Mariana Trench on a daily basis. We want a full load of organisms and cells to study. Our robots go to the places we humans can't. The places with too much pressure, with too narrow of walls, and where squid could suddenly take you and you'd never be seen again.

April 3, 2040

I followed Dr. Brakov to her office. I asked her what she thought was happening, and she said the blood samples were not adding up. She's not rushing to conclusions just yet.

But she's not sure what's causing the two scientists to be so sick.

She says it's unlikely, but she's worried we ran into some kind of plague. Some strange, mutating disease. Dr. Brakov said she is worried that if we go back to the surface, and we're not well, we could spread something to the whole planet.

She also said she's pretty sure that's her "anxious thinking" that's talking for her.

If we can't go back to the surface then what would be the point of collecting all these cells? Wasn't the point to find a cure for illnesses above? I suppose as it is above so it is below.

I stopped by the quarantine room, but I didn't enter. Layla and Gena were top graduate assistants from a university in France. After that they spent the next five years studying microbes in waters around the world. They were excited to be picked for this project. They both have an extreme interest in microbiology. What joy it must be to be sick and discover your own unique disease as a microbiologist.

I look forward to when we can chat again about their various trips to French wineries.

April 5, 2040

Ivris and Ibrhim are Navy SEALs. They were specially trained to handle this new type of submarine, which can stay underwater for a whole year and moves faster than any other submarine on the planet. They could fight off enemies with torpedoes, and even do hand-to-hand combat if we were somehow taken over by another crew.

The submarine circles around the trench. We have smaller vehicles on board to pilot into the trench. We have suits that make exploring the bottom of the ocean a breeze.

---- ---- ----

I believe whatever weird illness is on board with us, Dr. Brakov can handle it. She is my favorite. I've taken a liking to her quiet ways, and behind the wireframe glasses are some lovely (yet honest) eyes.

She suspects after two weeks the symptoms will go away and everything will go back to normal. She told me not to worry.

April 6, 2040

Another person sick. How is this. . . this thing spreading? Does it have an intended target? I'd hate to cut our mission short.

April 7, 2040

As I was heading down the hall—a door flung open. Reginald Cox exploded out of my room.

"You can't leave me in here with the women. They've done something. You have to save me."

I backed away from him. His skin looked yellow, his eyes bloodshot. There was blood trickling from his mouth. I feared he was rabid.

"Reginald... don't come near me. Go to the room with the scientists."

"No. You have to listen to me. They did something."

"I order you to go to the quarantine room. Now!"


"Stand down!"

Reginald cowered back to the quarantine room. The door sliding behind him.

I didn't run back to Dr.Brakov. I probably should have. I didn't know whether I had contracted the disease. I didn't want to compromise the others.

I went back to my room and put on my deep-sea diving gear. I figure. . . this will at least protect me. I went to the lab, and it at first seemed normal, it seemed fine. But my suit detected something—it detected a heavy, noxious smell. All my built-in scanners were beeping at me. The thermal scan kept highlighting something in the kitchen area. None of us had gone back to the room since the two scientists had fallen sick.

None of us needed to be in this lab or had a desire to come back here. We had a separate lab where we could continue bringing in specimens. We should have cleared this place. We should have cleaned it. We failed protocol.

There were tiny test tubes out—experiments with some of the ocean cells. This all seemed normal, a lab, nonetheless. I followed the detection on my suit's panel for the smell and was led to the refrigerator. There was green gunk on the handle, sliding down to the ground. On the sides, in the crevices of the refrigerator, there was more green goo. This has to be—this has to be it?

I pulled open the refrigerator door, and my heart stopped. An old pot roast was covered in green mold spores; it had progressed into a slithering, sentient being. Two tentacles had grown out of it, barnacles, and a human eye. Next thing I know, I woke up on the ground with drool oozing out my mouth. I had fainted.

I was put in quarantine. They thought what I saw was a hallucination. They didn't believe me. Would you trust someone with bloodshot eyes and a foaming mouth?

April 8, 2040

Layla died first. Then Reginald.

April 9, 2040

The grotesque cocktail of refrigerated gunk began moving around the whole submarine. It's on the hunt. It slithered its way to Dr. Brakov and poisoned her. Her throat swelled up, and she died just outside the quarantine room. She was trying to tell us something.

It was impervious to the bullets I shot at it. I followed it and beat it with a mop. This did nothing.

It slithered its way to the control room; it left a trail of gunk everywhere. I watched on a TV panel as it made its way to the pilot cabin. It moved at lightning speed. I screamed on the intercom for Ivris and Ibrhim to take cover. It killed them.

---- ---- ----

I'm the last one alive. I've been listening to classical music as the sickness slowly takes over me—like it did with Layla and Gena. I refuse to go back to the surface to let this thing spread.


About the Creator

Andrea Lawrence

Freelance writer. Undergrad in Digital Film and Mass Media. Master's in English Creative Writing. Spent six years working as a journalist. Owns one dog and two cats.

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2023 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.