. .my version of the Monster of the Week. :-)
* * * *
Raven dark hair,
the curls wild and untamed, dripped water down the side of his face, the
droplets like crystal against his olive tanned skin. Black lashes, like the fringe of a raven's wing, framed a
pair of eyes like molten gold, touched with green jade fire or the kiss of
an emerald. It took two corpsmen to manhandle him out of the wetsuit, the
top shredded and now completely useless. His torso, from his broad
shoulders down to his navel, just above his narrow hips was crisscrossed
with a dozen long scratches, some just along the surface, others cutting
into the skin and muscle. Blood oozed and mixed with the seawater dripping
to the deck of the Missile Room, turning the floor a deep pink.
“Doc, I don't
have a pulse,” Frank sang out, kneeing by the skipper's side, his
fingers feeling for a pulse under the jawline. “Wait, I've got one. Very
weak, but we've got something.” Everyone in the room let out the breath
they had been unconsciously holding. From the hatchway, Admiral Nelson
watched as Jamie and Frank hovered over Seaview's
devil happened out there? How does a simple dive to collect samples result
in Lee looking like he went
ten rounds with a swordfish?” Nelson growled, rubbing at the back of his
head, drawing his fingers across his jawline. The idea had been simple.
Lee, Chip, Kowalski and Riley were going to collect a few coral and water
samples and give O'Brien some time in the Control Room. Seaview
was holding position, they were in friendly waters, nothing should have
Only it did.
Kowalski had a
distracted, lost look on his face, his dark eyes still witnessing what
ever it was the four of them has run into out there. The look was wrong on
the seasoned rating, who had seen things that would have sent most mortal
men screaming for their lives. Ski was not a man easily scared, but
something had him spooked. Stu Riley didn't look any better. The youngest
member of Seaview's crew was pale and shaking as he tried with trembling
hands to peel out of his wetsuit
“I don't know
what it was, sir. One minute everything was fine, the skipper and the
exec, we were almost done, when this thing, it just came out of
nowhere,” Ski stammered. Jamie hadn't followed the corpsmen down as they
carried Lee to Sickbay, and in two quick steps he was standing in front of
the rating, shining a light into his dark eyes.
you're suffering from mild shock. You need to be in Sickbay.”
The admiral was
looking around, accounting for the dive party. Four men went out. Lee was
in Sickbay, Kowalski was being lead away by Doc and Riley looked like the
walking dead, Chip was, Chip. Where was Chip?
what happened to Mister Morton?” Nelson asked with more than a bit of
worry edging into his voice. Ski slowly turned and blinked a few times as
if he had to make an effort to remember.
sir, it went after Mister Morton first. It attacked the skipper when he
tried to help the exec. Mister Morton, he just disappeared, one minute he
was there, the next he was gone. He just vanished, sir, the same time that
thing did. Oh, god, it was horrible . . .” Ski sucked in a shaky breath
as the shock began to catch up with him. Nelson watch him go and felt a
chill settle over him. Lee in Sickbay, his senior rating in shock and his
exec missing, carried off by some mysterious nightmare creature?
could come of this.
Lee clawed his
way back to the world of the living, even as Jamie hovered over him.
Lee, take it easy,” Jamie urged, but Lee on the best of days wasn't the
greatest patient. This was not the best of days.
“Jamie, I have
to go back! That – that thing, it's got Chip,” Lee gasped out, trying
to push past the doctor. Finally Jamie had had enough.
“Lee, if you
don't settle down, I'll will
sedate you, and I will restrain
you. Now calm down.”
Lee and Jamie
locked eyes and Lee realized he was fighting a losing battle. Slowly the
skipper settled back down into the bunk and closed his eyes, feeling
utterly drained and helpless.
please, I have to back for Chip, I can't leave him there.”
where, Lee?” the velvet bass of Admiral Nelson asked from the door. Lee
“A cave, in
the cliff face. We were collecting coral samples and were about to come
back, when this thing, it came out from nowhere,” Lee closed his eyes
against the last image he had of Chip, panicked eyes pleading with him
from behind the face mask, Chip clawing franticly as pale tentacles
wrapped around him, pulling him further and further away from him.
“What was it,
Lee? We need some kind of idea of what we're fighting before I send a rescue party out.”
Lee took a deep
breath, trying to remember the hideous thing that he would just as soon
forget. Coupled with fact that the thing had taken his best friend for who
knows what . . .
everywhere. Like a squid or an octopus but, longer, covered with spines or
claws or something. Admiral, I've never seen anything like it. It took
Chip, we have to get him back, “ Lee rose up off the bunk and Jamie
growled a low warning from his corner of Sickbay.
can't lay around here, that thing, it might come after Seaview! We have to do something,”
Nelson dropped a
restraining hand on Lee's shoulder. “And we will, Lee. You're staying
here, you're in no condition to be going anywhere. We'll bring Morton
back, I promise you that.”
With a headache
that defied description, Chip Morton picked himself up off the gravelly
floor of the cave, rubbing at his arms and head. Looking around, he found
himself in some kind grotto. The wall were covered in a greenish, glowing
kind of fungus that gave off just enough light to see by. Chip pulled
himself to his feet, looking down at himself, he saw his legs were covered
in long cuts and gashes in the neoprene, blood oozed in thin rivulets down
Riley?” Chip called out, but got no answer. He walked slowly along the
water's edge, suddenly realizing his air tank was gone. The harness must
have snapped when that thing grabbed him.
That thing. Chip
suppressed a shiver, thinking about the creature that had grabbed him. One
minute he was taking samples, enjoying the chance for some dive time, when
something grabbed him around the legs and started pulling him backwards.
He couldn't stop himself, there was nothing he could grab onto. Lee had
seen what was happening and had come to his aid, but the thing had grabbed
him around his chest. The last thing he had seen was Kowalski and Riley
hacking at the tentacles around the skipper, while he had been pulled deep
and deeper down. He had black out at some point and now he was here, where
ever here was.
With no air
tank, he couldn't swim out, and he had no idea how far he would have to
swim in order to clear the grotto and make it back to Seaview.
He was trapped here until someone came looking for him, if somebody came
looking for him.
No, Lee would
come back. He had to. Trying hard not to think about being trapped, Chip
wondered around the grotto, noticing the floor was covered in rocks and
drift wood. Closer inspection made the bottom drop out of Chip's stomach
and his heart crawl up into the back of his throat.
grotto floor was covered with bones. Whale bones, what looked like seal,
and human bones. A few skulls grinned up at Chip almost as if
mocking him. Morton swallowed down the bitter taste of bile and his
growing sense of dread.
Out of the
corner of his eye something scurried across the back of the cave. It was
about the size of a cat, only it was all tentacles like some kind of
mutant octopus, with ten times the appendages, writhing and pulsating as
in made its way across the cave floor. Chip saw one, then two. A third
emerged from a crack along the back wall. Tentacles wavering in the air,
the three things stop and slowly twisted toward Chip.
Chip took a step backward and the three creatures also moved
forward. Chip saw more, moving out of the deep shadows.
They were stalking him. These things, what ever they were, were the young of what ever it was that had dragged him down here. Drawn by the smell of fresh blood, they were looking to feed.
his way back down to Sickbay in response to Jamieson's frantic call. A
five man rescue team was preparing to go out and Nelson assumed Lee was
demanding to be let out of Sickbay so he could head up the team. Very few
things stood in the way of the friendship between Crane and Morton.
Nelson, in all honesty, could not argue with that bond. He felt a
closeness with Lee that was hard to describe.
an irate skipper was not what Harry found waiting for him in Sickbay.
found Crane tossing and turning restlessly in the lower bunk, sweat
beading up on his forehead. He was mumbling incoherently as he tossed.
Nelson could feel the heat radiating from Lee's slender body as he stood
over the captain.
leaned again the bulkhead, a tired look on his face. “I know, admiral.
The fever came on pretty sudden. I'm doing everything I can, if he spikes
again I'll have to consider immersion therapy. I don't want to risk him
stroking out on me.”
doesn't make any sense. He was fine earlier, agitated sure, but not
this.” Nelson glance down at one more time, pained to see Lee in such a
Entered the body though the dozen or so lacerations criss-crossing the
skipper's torso. What ever attacked him . . .”
raised a forestalling hand. “I get the picture. I suppose this is a new,
unknown poison, one for which we do not have an anti-venom for?”
nodded, rubbing at his eyes with his long fingers. “You suppose
correctly. Admiral, we need a specimen and we need to find Chip. If the
same thing that attacked Lee was the same thing that took Chip, in a very
short time, he's going to be showing the same signs as Lee. We're going to
lose them both if we don't come up with an anti-venom.
* * *
took another step backward, stumbling over a grinning skull. Without
taking his eyes of the horde of approaching creatures, he bent down and
snatched the skull up, giving it a toss at the closest creature. It
connected with a wet splat and the thing squealed, setting up and
answering echo from the mob of moving tentacles.
deeper rumble answered from further back in the cave. Clinging to the side
of the cave, Chip watched as a larger version of the thing slithered out.
Tentacles a mottled gray and white, the color of something long dead and
bloated, covered in spikes four and five inches long writhed about. In the
center of the mass was a ring of fangs. Chip was reminded of some space
movie he and Lee sat up and watched one night, and this thing with rows of
teeth and tentacles that reached out and dragged hapless victims into its
had nowhere to go. He continued to back up, stepping over bones and rocks.
He staggered, loosing his balance. The only thing keeping him upright was
the cave wall. He leaned against it as a roar filled his ears and the
grotto seemed to gray out for a moment before snapping back to the
technicolor nightmare slithering toward him.
of the creatures, seemingly emboldened by his hesitation, slithered
forward and tried to wrap itself around Chip's leg. Panicking, Chip kicked
out, sending the thing sailing through the air, squealing as it landed
with a wet slurping splat against the wall.
mother - the only word Chip could come up with – responded with an angry
growl. Chip swore under his breath. “Probably shouldn't have done
that,” he said out loud, as the thing surged forward. Again Chip felt
dizzy and nausea rocketed through his gut, almost making him throw up. He
took a deep breath trying to calm both his rolling stomach and the growing
panic. He looked down one more time at the still oozing places on his
legs, then back at the claw-encrusted tentacles of the larger monster. It
didn't take much to put two and two together. Like a mother cat who brings
back a mouse for her kittens to practice with, the 'mother' had brought
the prey back for her young to feed on. He had probably been invenomated
when the thing grabbed him.
growing horror, Chip knew that if he wasn't rescued soon, the poison he
could feel coursing through his system would incapacitate him and these
things would eat him alive.
divers armed to the teeth left the safety of Seaview, heading down for the
cave Chip was reported to have disappeared into. Harriman lead the team,
determined to get the specimen he needed to save Lee's – and Chip's -
cave entrance was wide enough for three men to enter at once. The team
swam down, Sharkey switching on a powerful lamp and shining it around.
They were in a tunnel of sort. The walls worn smooth, the floor beneath
them were covered in bones, shark teeth and a crushed air tank. Sharkey
played the light over the floor, fascinated by the evidence of past
carnage. He turned over the
mangled tank, recognizing the tank as the one Morton had taken out.
reached down and picked up a palm sized serrated sharks tooth, blackened
with age. The floor was covered with them, some blackened like the first,
others looking like they were only a few years old. Picking up on of the
newer ones, Nelson was unable to ignore the implication of the find. He
handed the two teeth off to Sharkey, who stowed them away. Nelson motioned
for them to move ahead,
slowly, the five followed the tunnel up. It widened and the surface loomed
ahead of them. Breaking the surface of the pool, the five saw they were
not a minute too late.
cave was alive with a waving, slithering mass of crawling, tentacled
creatures, and one man franticly trying to fight them off, using what
looked like a human long bone. Nelson surged out of the water, pulling his
mouthpiece free. The rest followed, and the air hummed with the sound of
the small hand held lasers taking out the smaller creatures.
one of the smaller ones for a specimen!” Nelson yelled pounding across
the cave floor to Chip's side as Morton staggered.
lad, we're gonna get you out of here,” Nelson said to Morton. Chip
managed a weak smile.
you don't know how good it is to see you,” he replied. Nelson could not
ignore the fever dulled blue eyes of his exec and the fact that he was
having trouble standing on his own two feet.
the little ones, they don't have any claws!” Sharkey exclaimed, holding
up a small creature with the tip of a spear gun.
swore. Seeing the little ones, he had been hoping one of those would be
all they needed. Instead it looked like they were going to need an
appendage off the larger and infinity
more dangerous creature.
we can't go back without a specimen. It will have to come from big one!”
Nelson snapped out. Chip was leaning against the cave wall, looking paler
and weaker by the minute.
barked at one of the team, “Stay with the exec,” and he shot forward
to join Sharkey. The Chief was armed with a serrated diver's knife and was
leading the charge against the larger
creature. The lasers only seemed to enrage the thing and it lashed out
with a beefy spiked appendage and wrapped it around Sharkey. The claws
extended further out, like a cat's claws, and Sharkey screamed as they
punctured his wetsuit and into his flesh. The Chief dropped the knife as
the creature tightened it's grip. Nelson darted forward while the
remaining three crewmen kept the monster distracted with repeated bursts
of laser fire as Nelson scooped up the knife and drove it deep into the
tentacle wrapped around the Chief. The
thing roared, a deep gravely sound that made the ground beneath their feet
rumble. Nelson sawed through the fleshy appendage, gore and fluid dripping
to the floor.
a snap, Nelson cut through the arm and Sharkey collapsed to the floor. One
of the team tossed the Admiral a heavy-weight collection bag and Nelson
stuffed the still writhing arm down into it, then zipped it shut. He
grabbed up the radio off his hip and called out to Seaview.
party to Seaview, come in Seaview,”
he panted, as he and the rest of the team waded through the nest of dying
creatures, back to the pool and -
hopefully - safety.
read you, admiral, go ahead,” Sparks' reassuring voice echoed through
the cavern and Nelson breathed a sigh of relief, afraid they wouldn't have
reception this deep in the cave.
this through, The second we're clear, have the laser ready, seal this cave
once and for all!” Nelson ordered. He barely heard the acknowledgment as
he grabbed up Morton, one arm around the other man's waist. Two other
divers were already helping Sharkey, and making a beeline for the water's
work with me here,” Nelson urged the exec. Morton nodded, holding on to
consciousness with tooth and nail. Nelson got Chip to his feet and
together they staggered to the water's edge. Nelson grabbed his mouthpiece
and jammed it between the exec's lips. Together the sank beneath the
water's surface, even as the creature slithered after them.
team emerged out from the cave's entrance and made for Seaview
as fast as they could go. Nelson was buddy breathing with Morton, the two
lagging behind the others. A sudden flash of light cut through the ocean
and the laser connected with its target. The blast knocked loose tons of
rock, sealing the cave – and the creature within- up forever.
dim light of Sickbay illuminated the solitary figure of the man sitting in
the chair. Harriman rubbed the back of his head, scratching the back of
one ear before crossing both arms over his chest.
had been lucky. From the glands in the tentacle they recovered, he and
Will were able to synthesize an anti-venom. With a healthy dose for Lee,
Chip and Sharkey, they were able to counteract the effect of the toxin.
Right now all three were guests with first class accommodations and a bunk
of their very own in Sickbay. Nelson sat in vigil, keeping an eye on his
men, wondering who was going to wake first. It shouldn't have been a hard
smoky amber eye gazed up at him and a weak smile filtered across the lips
of Lee Crane.
he asked, voice rough and low.
grinned and rested a hand on Lee's arm, offering the support his captain
needed but seldom asked for. “Easy son. Everything's fine now. Chip's
fine, we took care of the creature, and we're heading for Pearl.
seemed to relax some, but maintained his gaze on the admiral. “What was
it? Are there any more?” he asked. Nelson would only shake his head.
I only wish I knew. It matched nothing from any species of creature I've
ever heard about. I can only assume it was some kind of mutant. We sealed
the cave and I seriously doubt we're ever going to see the likes of it
we do, it will be too soon for me. Why am I so tired, I feel like a truck
ran over me.”
smirked. “My question is, have you ever been run over to compare the
time Lee managed a real grin. “Once, this time in Mexico, Chip and I
were . . .” he began, only to have Nelson wave a hand.
think we'd better leave it there. The less I know, the better off I'll be.
You need to rest. Doc says he might clear you for light duty if you do as
he says. It's a straight shot to Pearl, no reason you can't settle down
You said Chip was going to be okay?”
fine. Chewed up a little bit, no worse than you, but he's sleeping, like
you should be.”
closed his eyes, the familiar smirk teasing the edges of his mouth. “I
get the hint, admiral. I'll
behave.” he said. His breathing soon evened out and Nelson knew Crane
had given up the battle. Nelson let his eyes drift to the sleeping form of
Chip, just an arm's reach away. Harry decided he would hang around a
little longer, before heading to the Control Room. He should probably
check on O'Brien to see how the younger officer was doing. They were a few
days yet from Pearl, but Harry didn't anticipate any problems. With any
luck, the rest of this cruise would be uneventful, at least until his
officers were back on their feet. His
officers, his friends, he thought with a glance at the sleep Sharkey, were
safe and in one piece. Nothing else was important right now. Nelson
Nelson let out a long slow breath and settled in to wait a little longer.
|Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea Contents Page|