by Greg Mitchell -
The sub was on autopilot. Crazy had since outmaneuvered the angels at the top of the Boatic Trench, hiding within a series of underwater coral caves. It’d been tense for nearly twenty minutes as Dressler, Trebs, and Crazy nestled in the coral, no lights on, running on minimal power. The sub had been quiet as a tomb, filling Dressler with dread. At last, the angels moved on and the sub resumed its underwater quest.
Now they were lowering their way towards the meeting place, where Trebs’ angel contact was leading him. It occurred to Dressler more than once to ask why, if the angels had invited him to the ocean depths, the ones closer to the surface were so intent on keeping them away. The couple times he’d posed that same question to Trebs, his co-hunter had simply said “Trust me.”
It was a lot to go on trust, but every time Dressler thought of returning to dry land, he only had to think of Edilyn.
Crazy sipped at a mug of steaming drink, the same as Dressler and Trebs tended. The three of them sat around a small card table in the sub’s hold, taking a moment for themselves while the autopilot finished its journey. The coffee break was equal parts celebration that they’d dodged the angry angels and a time of quiet reflection. A strange sort of bond had been formed through the experience, and Crazy was feeling chatty.
The large man went on, pleasantly enough, talking about his various adventures piloting the oceans. Dressler nodded in and out of the conversation, enjoying the man’s stories when he was listening, but mostly thinking of home and how much he stood to lose if this little sojourn went south.
“So you’re a bug hunter, huh?”
Dressler blinked, realizing that Crazy had addressed him. “What? Oh. Yeah.”
He sipped at his drink. “Thought only criminals took that job.”
“I don’t mean to offend,” Crazy quickly added. “If that’s the case, then that’s your own business. Just saying you don’t look to me like much of a criminal.”
“No, it’s okay,” Dressler said. “I…served some time.”
Trebs blanched. “You never told me that.”
Of course he hadn’t. He didn’t tell anyone, save his employers. “It was about three years before Lyn was born. My daughter,” he added, realizing he’d not told Crazy her name. He felt as though the man had earned that much—risking all he had to escort Dressler on this fool’s errand. “It was a bar fight. I was lit up and mad about something. Guns got involved…I got a lenient sentence on account that we both were drunk and no one could tell who started shooting first. But…”
Crazy nodded, listening with a sympathetic ear. “You’re not that man now,” he said, not asked.
Dressler felt a thin smile emerge. “No. My daughter changed all of that.”
“Kids have a way of doin’ that.” Crazy buried himself in his mug again, thoughtful.
“You have any kids?” Trebs asked the pilot, suddenly, and it felt as though the man was a third wheel, butting in on a private conversation, though he’d been there the whole time.
“Used to,” Crazy answered, and left it at that.
Proximity alarms bathed the cabin in red. Crazy simply rose, slow and steady.
“What’s that?” Dressler asked, his heart starting to race.
“We’re here,” Crazy announced, like they’d reached the end of a leisure tour. “Now it’s time to see what the fuss is all about.”
“Yes,” Trebs stood, solidly. “It is.”
That’s when Trebs pulled the knife.