by Greg Mitchell -
Dressler settled in the seat of the sub, his thoughts a jumble. He was really doing it—going down to the depths of Eclectia’s waters. Trebs sat beside him in the cockpit, uncharacteristically quiet. A serene smile stretched across the resurrected hunter’s face, one that Dressler didn’t understand. He didn’t share Trebs’ newfound faith or security.
At the controls of the underwater vessel was Crazy. His hands roved like wild over the console as he chewed a fat wad of tobacco. Music blared from the sub’s speakers, some long lost ancient genre called “hip hop”, Crazy said. The hairy man bebopped his head, but the rattle gave Dressler a headache.
“This is the classic stuff!” Crazy guffawed. “This was back when folks knew what music was all about. Now it’s all just noise and drek.”
“If you say so,” Dressler replied loudly to be heard over the bass.
Crazy chanted along with the music, and Dressler’s eyes wandered to the viewport to his left. His ears popped as they descended deeper into the ocean and wondered how long this would take. How long did it take to speak to some angels and get a cure for Edilyn?
“You’re nervous,” Trebs seemed to pick his thoughts. The man leaned over with a knowing nod. “Don’t be. Believers are rewarded.”
Yeah, Dressler worried. That was the problem. I’m not a believer, not as such. Would the angels find him wanting? Would his doubts and Sheba-blamed practicality steal away the love of his life? He saw his daughter’s face in his mind’s eye, left behind on the surface with her aunt. Meryl, his older sister, with four screaming, joyous, healthy children.
He only had Edilyn.
What was he saying? That’d he rather see one of his sister’s children die than his own? Was he saying Meryl had some to spare?
“Whoa!” Crazy bellowed. At first Dressler thought he was injecting some flavor into his sing-along, then he glimpsed it. Glowing, ethereal, vaguely humanoid, but wrong somehow. Fish-like. Alien. Other.
She—he assumed it was a she—filled his port, startling him. But she was not alone. More joined her, swimming around the sub. Suddenly, he felt words worming their way through his mind. Words of warning. Turn back now, and You don’t belong here.
“Told ya!” Crazy snapped, shaking his bushy mane. He must have been hearing them too. “Told ya they wouldn’t want us poking around.”
“It’ll be fine,” Trebs said, still calm. Still smiling. “It’s a test, that’s all. Scaring off the unfaithful.”
“It’s working!” Crazy said.
“No!” Dressler snapped. “I paid you for a job. Keep going.”
“I am, I am, relax. And hold on!”
The sub lurched forward, evading the angels, swirling down into the dark abyss of the Boatic Trench.