Posts Tagged ‘underwater’

A rising column of billowing steam rose from a fissure in the rocky ground. The steam spread, darkening the skies above a small volcanic island in Iceland. The island was more of a rocky outcrop in the sea, no more than 50 yards across. Blistering heat from the crater warped my view of the small fissure’s depths. I was prepared for it, as an oceanic scientist should be, clad in a bulky deep sea heat suit.  The digital readout on my arm unit’s display told me it was 5,000 degrees in the crater’s center.

Sounds good, might as well check it out.

I repelled down, through the thick steam and into the fissure. I reached the floor of what I quickly realized was a cave partially filled with water. I stopped and gaped a bit at the water’s surface. It shimmered with a purple iridescence. Small fish darted about the rocks in the shallows. I noticed a dive knife on a nearby rock and put it in my belt. Might be useful.

I waded out into the water. It didn’t seem to be hot at all anymore, so I sank down, submerging myself. An incredible kaleidoscope of blues and purples flowed around me. The water illuminated  an underwater tunnel so I followed it. The tunnel continued for a bit before the floor came up and opened into another chamber. I surfaced to discover the water was only a couple feet deep. On each side of the chamber were rows of alcoves, each holding a sunken boat still on its trailer. The alcoves continued for 100 yards down the cavern’s walls. The glittering illumination from the water let me see each alcove had a boat. There must have been dozens.

The boat chamber eventually ended with another underwater tunnel, so I continued. The water’s light abruptly ended at the entrance to the tunnel and I swam on, awkwardly in my suit, into the darkness. It soon felt like the tunnel had opened up, and I turned on the lights mounted on the top of my dive helmet. A huge underwater cave appeared. Pillars of volcanic rock supported the domed ceiling.

I hardly noticed all this, however, because my lights had revealed something else. One million sleeping sharks. I could have counted them all, but I didn’t have to. I knew there was one million exactly. The bright blue sharks carpeted the cave floor, gently swaying back and forth with the current. I froze, and started to back out very slowly.

Hoooolllly shit. I’m out of here.

They started to wake up, shaking themselves out of a deep sleep. It didn’t take long for them to notice me and start gliding through the water in my direction. I frantically looked around for something with which to defend myself. I reached below me and grabbed a few rocks off the floor. Each rock I hurled at the approaching sharks moved through the water at an excruciatingly slow pace.

Oh right, it’s underwater. This isn’t going to work very well.

I retreated through the tunnel into the boat cave and stood up in the shallow water. All light coming from the water had been extinguished and not even my helmet lights could penetrate its surface now. Shark fins knifed up through the surface and began to circle me. Occasionally one would brush up against my legs and feet. They seemed more curious than hostile. I wasn’t afraid. I gently tried to push them away. I took the knife off my belt, but didn’t use it’s razor sharp edge. There was no need to hurt them. Instead I kept the knife’s tip down and just tried to nudge them away.

I was part of an elite group of Navy SEALS operating in Italy. Our task was to sow confusion in the enemy by demolishing a bridge on a nearby island in the Mediterranean Sea. I was late to the mission briefing and missed all but the end when our commander, Owen Wilson, was assigning code names to all the SEALS in the team as he pointed to each of us.

“Red. You are Bump.You, Tony, will be nicknamed God.” Tony Reali seemed pleased with his. “And I’ll be code named Commander.” I thought that was a bit lacking in creativity. He didn’t give me a code name, and I was pretty disappointed. I guess I should have been on time.

Commander gave me the run down of the mission as we walked down a cobblestone boat ramp that lead into the sea across from the island with our target bridge. A small submersible would be used to tow us underwater in our SCUBA gear.  We jumped in and got in position.  I was clinging to the left side of the vehicle.  Commander told me to man the sonar readouts so I could alert him to any obstacles in our way in the dark water.  As he started the propeller and we got underway, I realized I had no clue where the sonar display even was.

The submersible picked up speed and we were soon zooming along the seabed at ludicrous speed. I could barely hang on. We neared the island and slowed to enter an underwater concrete tunnel. It looked like someone’s submerged living room. Couches, bookshelves and lamps lined the walls. As we rounded a corner in the tunnel we smashed straight into a chain link fence with flood lights attached to the top. I had failed in my sonar duties.

The squad was frustrated at the delay and put the submersible down to replace the broken light bulbs on the floodlights.  Everyone removed their SCUBA gear to allow for better freedom of movement.  The repairs were soon finished, but nobody put their gear back on.  We were all too busy showing each other how long we could hold our breaths.  I couldn’t hold mine any longer and started breathing normally even without the aid of an oxygen tank.

I didn’t want anybody to see I couldn’t hold my breath very long, so I covered my mouth with a blanket and tried to hide my breathing.