Nobody can hear you scream in the vacuum of space, or so they say.
That wasn’t his area of expertise.
Montes didn’t care much for Carl Sagan as a kid.
He was much more of a Jacques Cousteau guy; the kid who almost died trying to hold his breath for three minutes in the pool.
He got to two and a half before he didn’t remember anything else for a couple days.
He had heard screaming then. Under the surface.
The ROV named “Suds” had given Montes and his people shit since before the launch. The syntactic foam for flotation needed modifying up until the last possible minute.
Schmale was scuba diving in Tampa with his family, so he had to make do with some Northrop Navy stiff named Hackford who he’d recommended. Nice enough guy, but he did not smack of the kind of person who can laugh at serious matters to save his sanity. He also fought to compensate for being three inches under six feet in all his mannerisms. Vastly insecure.
Last night, Montes bought himself a bottle of Johnnie Blue to keep in the motel. He was going to need it after this job.
He’d been contacted by his man in unnamed corporation about a one-off welding job on one of their semi-submersibles in the Redondo prospect.
Montes had really hit the big time now.
It was a little more than negligible, some fuckup with one of the columns connecting the pontoons to the deck, but they neither wanted to pay union dues for union crews or wanted word of a malfunction fluttering around. Drill crews are jittery enough without knowing the truth.
This sort of hush hush work had put his oldest through an Architecture degree. He held no ill will for corporate opaqueness. That’s where the profit is.
They had dinner on the pier by the motel, splitting about a gallon of decaf. He called Leigh and left a comforting message when she didn’t answer.
Be back in 36 hours, don’t start painting the deck without me, hug Sophie.
It was shortly after 2300 hours that Montes and Hackford finished loading everything onto their rented skiff and moseyed their way out from the swamp to the sea.
Hackford smoked Kools interminably and put the butts in a plastic cup. He’d offered a cigarette to Montes thrice now, not getting the hint.
“Cause they promise to kill me off”, said the grunt when asked of his habit. “The package even says so.”
They loaded Suds into the water once they reached the base of the drill. They switched off the boat lights as soon as the rig came into view. The secrecy of this job necessitated dark and quiet. They attached the boat to the base with nylon rope, which took more finagling than either had anticipated. Hackford sat on the floor next to Montes as he slipped on the arms and eye apparatus. This machine obeyed every finger waggle with exactness while miles deep in crushing water. Luckily they only needed to go about thirty feet deep, but since the job was so shallow, they needed to go infrared so as not to alert anybody aboard.
Montes would pinpoint and assess the damage with Suds while Hackford prepped the diving and welding gear. There would be no bends pauses and Montes estimated that they would be in and out in less than an hour.
Suds slipped under the surface.
Green light flooded Montes eyes.
He was home.
There was a completeness to the deep that lured Montes, lured him back for about thirty years now. It was his racket. This is how he wins. His arena, his study. If Montes was the sort of person who believed that people were put on earth to serve a purpose, then he would say this was his purpose.
It was the center north column. Montes used the joystick to skirt about until he found the rivet.
Something skirted by.
A person could spend collective years of their life down here and still flinch with their whole being at the sight of organic life down here.
It was something enormous and fast.
Scaly and wide.
And it had a hold of Suds.
About the Creator
I’ve been a writer since I was about eight years old, and am now looking to make the transition to professional writer. If I could get paid to do this, each day would be better than the last.