“We’re here,” he announced.
Our deep sea watercraft—barely large enough for the two of us—swayed on the coordinates said to be the gateway to a new world. It was a promise from a time-worn expedition journal, found in the rubble of the recent apocalypse. And despite the absurdity of the seemingly fictional work, we believed that if we reached the depths of Challenger Deep, we would find a hidden realm—a habitable space of amazing wonders.
“Thirty-six thousand and two hundred feet. You ready?” he asked.
“As ready as you are,” I replied. And, as though it was only natural, we shifted our gazes to the journal on the control panel.
We had both been fixated on the paperback since its discovery—an odd find during one of our routined foragings for provisions. As the one who pulled it off the top most shelf of a partially submerged bookshelf, I didn’t think much of it—except of how it would serve as a great time killer, with its intriguing symbols and charts. Little did I know, we became obsessed. The maps, drawings, numbers, and accounts offered us the possibility of a fresh start. So who could blame us? In a world that had lost all glimmer of hope, therein sprouted our radical faith—an idée fixe.
After the great flood—sweeping the planet like a vengeful beast—three quarters of our home became inhabitable. Mother Nature reclaimed her birthright with the sheer determination to spare no one. Alas, some of us survived. But what good did it do being alive? It only seemed logical that when the possibility of a future presented itself—as ludicrous as it sounded—we tried our luck.
“Our adventure begins,” he quoted—the first handwritten sentence of the log—and yanked the lever that submerged our vessel beneath the calm waters.
We were lucky to have found an operational mini-submarine at the Marine Research Centre of our once thriving city. Its 300-paged waterproofed manual was snugged beneath the control panel—one that became his second favourite read after the journal itself. Thus, when he said that it would only take us two and a half hours, I believed him. Yet strangely, after my watched beeped twelve thirty, we had yet to arrive at Challenger Deep.
“Are we lost?” I asked—a difficult question to answer in the engulfing darkness of the ocean deep.
“We…” He stood befuddled, hovering over the radar and the numbers that tracked the depth of our descent. “We’ve passed thirty-six thousand and two hundred feet,” he stated.
“Did we miss something?” I added, flipping the journal open. “Did we miscalculate?”
“That’s not possible,” he said.
“We could’ve made a mistake,” I replied, turning hastily to the page that led us down this path.
“No, we couldn’t have. The deepest part of the ocean is thirty-six thousand and two hundred feet. We can’t be going any deeper,” he explained.
“Maybe the numbers are wrong.” I reached over and tapped at the screen. “Maybe we should go back up to find another submarine.”
“Or maybe,” he paused, turning toward me. “Maybe we’ve passed the gates.”
At his prompt, we looked out the glass panel and into the black canvas. The journal made no mention of the crossing from our world into the new one—it merely stated to descend. Perhaps, we did miss something. But just when we were about to refer to the written work once more, we felt a forceful tug in our chests—a sudden lifting sensation as our vessel began to ascend at rapid speed.
The numbers on the control panel rolled in reverse, flickering faster than our eyes could blink. As though propelled by a force, air bubbles rose from beneath—obstructing all view until the glistening of daylight hinted at the world beyond. It took mere minutes—the compression in my ears nearly muting all sounds, despite a cabin designed to withstand the atmospheric pressure. And when our watercraft eventually halted, we had reached the surface.
“What happened?” I asked, seconds before I noticed the thumping in my chest.
He leaned forward, peering into the world beyond—his eyes searching for a sign that we had succeeded. Alas, what appeared before us was the same endless ocean. Was the journal a lie? Did our vessel fail? Were we out of our minds when we decided to go on such a quest?
“We tried,” I muttered. “At least we tried.”
He turned away from our reality with a sigh. “At least we tried,” he echoed—disappointment evident in the resonance of his voice. “I’ll set a course for home,” he added. But while he keyed in the coordinates, there came a resounding wail overhead.
“Is that a… plane?” I frowned, pointing at the aircraft flying past us and toward the horizon.
“Someone must have found one,” he stated.
“Even if they did, where on earth could they have taken off?” I asked.
His eyes widened—he caught my drift. A chill ran up my spine as the hairs on my nape stood. Our mission wasn’t a failure. We had arrived. It wasn’t the fantastical world from our wildest imagination, but it was a living planet nonetheless.
“Did we… go back in time or is this a parallel universe?” he asked.
“Does it matter?” I chuckled with disbelief.
“No,” he said with the widest grin. “It’s the new world.”
“Yes, and we’re here,” I exclaimed. “We’re… home.”
12 Genre Months © 2019 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.
(Click HERE for the list of stories in this writing challenge.)