Ryan Carrell – “What Lies Below”

It was still that one stormy day in the middle of the ocean. The rain beat against the large ship like bullets on the stern of the ship, yet the “experts” launched overboard. All four of them sank deeper and deeper towards the crushing and dark depths of the sea-floor. The light fades as the sense of touch is lost to the endless flowing current of the sea and as they sway, they get tugged back to center by the giant cables and tubes connected to the tank.

“25,000 meters! Say whatever it is you need to say before the comms get cut-off!” Derek’s voice rang out over their suit’s speakers. As all went completely dark and the radios cut out they just continued to free fall further.

“Check, check. You guys there? Hey, can you hear me?” Brock’s stuttering and nervous voice cracked over the radios as the seafloor came into view. They all landed on the sandy floor kicking up clouds of sand. Their suit lights flickered back to life too as they all looked around at each other to check if they were there.

“Alright then, radios and lights are back. Roll call! I’ll go first, Don is ready and raring to go!” Don spoke up first waving his large arms in the heavy diving suit.

“Collins, present. Now let’s find the crash.” Ms Collins’ voice cut through the radios with her classic unimpressed voice but there was definitely a sense of excitement at the idea of finally seeing what crashed. 

“And we already know that Brock is here, but here I am.” Derek raised his hand as he slowly waded through the water and grabbed the cables from the back of his suit to keep walking forward. 

“So where is this giant UFO? Is it even really a UFO or were you two losing your minds when you were down here.” Don chuckled to himself as he gestured to Ms Collins and Derek.

The crew came over a hill of sand as they then came face to face with a large unnatural looking ravine. It had large, smooth looking groves and carvings that followed a diagonal trail down to the bottom of the ravine. The crew looked down the ravine to see a pile of sand covering something reflective at the far end of the ravine. 

“Holy… I don’t. It looks… wow ok. Ummm yeah that has to be at least like 18, maybe 19 meters deep. And considering the damage it caused to the sea floor. This thing could have carved Ireland in two if it didn’t hit the water first.” Don had his gloves running along the top of his helmet as if he was trying to run his fingers through his hair.

“I mean, that is definitely an exaggeration but yes, if it wasn’t for the ocean slowing its descent then it would have caused severe damage.” Ms Collins counted and tapped her fingers as if she was trying to calculate what the speed would have had to be.

Derek almost immediately jumped over the cliff as he began to slowly descend to the bottom of the ravine. Since everyone’s suits are connected by one large oxygen tank and rebreather they all got pulled down too, screaming all the way. They all landed slowly and safely, kicking up more sand and dust. 

“What is your problem man? We could have all died!” Brock’s voice cracked as it screamed over the mic, his arms flailing around in anger. He then grabbed Derek by the shoulders and shook him, trying to get him to look at him as he yelled. But Derek was frozen, staring down the end of the ravine at that silvery mass.

“Hey are you even listening to us? Why would you jump down without telling us? What’s wrong with you, look at us!” Now Ms Collins was yelling at Derek and trying to get his attention until she stopped and saw it too. 

Small crumb-sized pieces of metal began to rise from the sand and clouds of sediment began to stick to their suits. They now all stood in fear as the small pieces of silvery metal started rolling and floating towards them.

“Do you have any idea-uhhhhhh? What the? Magnetic sediment? Weird, there isn’t anything down here that could magnetize the metal components of… sand.” Brock’s voice finally settled down as he looked at the large mass to see that the pile of sand covering it was also covered in these bits and chunks of sand and metal.

“Oh ho ho! It’s magnetic! Oh man, do you get how huge this is! This is crazy! That has got to be the reason our suits and submarines didn’t work once they hit 25,000 meters, the magnetic field screwed with everything.” Brock’s voice turned from fear and confusion to that of excitement like some kid on Christmas with all his presents in hand.

As they moved closer to the mass, it was clear that a lot of it was submerged in the floor and walls of the trench. Brock was collecting as much of the magnetic sand as possible into one giant ball as they walked. There was no life down in the trench except for the crew, and there was no light except for the floodlights on the suits illuminating a cone down the trench’s corridor-like structure. The crew didn’t speak a single word to each other as they walked, the tension and questions they had among them kept growing as they got closer and closer. 

“Alright. Let’s get a quick refresher. Hired by the government individually because we are supposedly expendable, and we find out there is something alien at the ocean. Next we are thrust into the trench of a crashed UFO that was moving so fast that it cut the ocean floor, creating a perfect little space for it to sit and magnetize sand. Anything I left out miss perfectionist?” Don’s sarcasm cut the tension as he was very obviously trying to find a way to make light of the situation. He turned to Ms Collins, trying to get some confirmation and reassurance of what was going on.

“Yes, everything there seems to be in order in that summarization. If Brock’s magnetism theory, which is the only logical answer we have so far, is right then that would explain a lot more things. Magnetic based space travel would definitely be efficient and explain how they could move so fast even after entering earth’s atmosphere and hitting the ocean. There are still a lot of questions we need answered but I would say that the main ones are, what is this made of, what allowed for it to move with magnetism, and is this thing hollow?” Ms Collins kept her eyes down so that she wouldn’t be distracted by the rest of the crew looking at her in fear. 

They reached the mass’ surface and it didn’t even have a single scratch or dent from the crash. The whole thing seemed dome-like in shape and it was completely smooth and shiny. When Derek put his hand on it, it seemed to hold the glove of the suit down to the surface. 

“Jeez, this thing really is magnetic! I can’t get it off!” Derek tried to pull the glove off but he couldn’t seem to get it away from the surface.

The metal began to distort and bend like rubber as Derek’s hand began to sink into its surface. It wrapped around his arm, further and further. 

“Gah! I can’t pull my hand away! It feels like some weird clay wrapping around me!” Derek pulled as hard as he possibly could on his arm and he even resorted to putting his feet up against the wall to pull with more leverage. With that move it pulled his feet in too. Everyone was pulling on him now, being sure to not touch its surface.

“What the? It’s hollow! There is actually something in here!” Derek stopped struggling as the wall pulled him in. As he disappeared behind the wall his oxygen cables began to get pulled in too. 

“Okay. We’re good. We’re good. It eats you alive, but it’s hollow.” Brock was starting to hyperventilate, and he was trying his best to rationalize the situation. While the others were freaking out and trying to calm each other down, the combined oxygen tank slid by them and began to get pulled into the mass as well. After it came through the wall it began to pull in the other cables too.

“Guys! I think that we might be paying Derek a little visit!” Ms Collins pulled on her cables trying to stop them from getting pulled in, the other guys tried too but they were all pulled into the elastic feeling walls.

“Are you guys alright? I have been trying to reach you but I don’t think that our radios work inside this thing. I also had to disconnect the oxygen tank from the ship or else our only source of back up would be down here too.” Derek’s glasses wearing face was looming over the others with his helmet off and his oxygen cables removed from the back of his suit. 

“Dude your helmet! You’re gonna die! And you got rid of our only way out of here? What’s gotten into you today?” Don’s worry was quite evident as he got up quickly and began to try and get Derek’s suit back to him. 

“Stop that! Look at Derek’s face, it still has its normal pale look to it. He isn’t losing any air and his face hasn’t been deformed by the pressure change of the structure, we can take our suits off now as well.” Ms Collins removed her heavy helmet while she spoke, and after she did her red hair exploded into a giant ball. She tied her hair back into a ponytail and put her thin rectangular glasses back on. 

Brock eagerly pulled the suit off of his gentle giant like frame, and he stood tall as he did some breathing exercises. Don reluctantly took the suit off and stretched his square, bodybuilder looking arms and legs. They took the floodlights off of the suits helmets and looked around the quiet and dark halls. Every step they took echoed around in the metal tunnels, and every single breath they took made a little cloud in front of them. The tunnels were about 11 feet tall and 10 feet wide, making long metal tubes that snaked through-out the structure. 

“Where are we going? I mean for being a group of professional scientists, we are definitely making a terrible choice by walking aimlessly through the halls of an alien UFO without any equipment to defend ourselves or properly study the stupid thing. This thing is cold and dark and we have no way to get back now, so what should we do?” Don spoke very bluntly, and he gave off this feeling of loss, like he already knew they were in some kind of no-win situation.

“It’s pretty simple actually. We find our way to their control room and… then we just find a way to get ourselves to the surface. Maybe by turning off the magnetic field, and using our radios? I don’t really know but at least if we die down here, we will be remembered for our sacrifice for the betterment of science.” Derek just kept walking, looking at all the smooth and reflective walls as he spoke. No one knew where they were going, but they really didn’t have a choice but to keep moving forward and find another way. Don carried the tank and one suit, and Brock trailed behind them all with the three other suits as he tried to grab the dragging cables.

“This is interesting. All metal interior and exterior, and look at the size of these hallways, whatever flew it was huge. If we don’t find the pilots, we have to at least find the engine. I need to see how they mastered magnetic space travel.” Brock still seemed excited even though his voice was shaking and his face was pale. 

They finally reached a large open dome area, where the tunnels then split into many different directions. At the center there was a tall, maybe 6 foot, pedestal with a strange six fingered handprint on it. 

“Well look at that. Brock was right, large pilots. I am going to guess that this thing works just like in the movies. You put your hand on it.” Derek walked towards it and climbed up the thin pole part of the pedestal like he was in some kind of military boot camp. When he slapped his hand on the handprint, it began to glow and the center circle of the dome began to glow. It then separated and the circular section began to float up towards the ceiling, which split apart to let the elevator pass. The room that the elevator stopped on was another dome like room but this one was full of panels, buttons and symbols. The major thing was that it had a see-through ceiling and a perfect view of the inky blackness of the seafloor.

“A control room with a glass roof. I can’t tell if that is really cool or absolutely terrifying. Maybe we can actually get a message out?” Don’s cool seemed to have come back as he tried to find a way to laugh at their insane discoveries.

“We wouldn’t be able to get a message out considering none of us understand alien languages, and we honestly got really lucky with that whole cliche hand elevator thing. What we can do is find a way to study this technology while back up comes to get us because by now they will have noticed that the rebreather tank isn’t connected anymore. Hopefully that will be enough for them to come down to get us.” Ms Collins adjusted her glasses as she looked around and ran her fingers along the engraved surfaces of the panels. 

“Holy crap. This’ll definitely put us on the map for sure.” Derek had gone around the other side of the panels and stopped staring down at the floor. Laying there was a large skeleton with many large rib cage looking bones sprawling out and a pair of long human-like arms with six slender fingers. The head was similar to that of a hammerhead shark but it had three eyes on each side of its head, with a single row of sharp teeth. Its jaw was unhinged and its left arm bones were laying in a pile as if it’s arm was angled up before the bones fell apart into a pile.

“Wow this thing is intricate. Look at the formation of these bones, just like a snake, so it had many octopus-like arms but they actually had structure to them, and with these arms they could definitely grab things like humans with their opposable thumbs. And this skull, it’s pretty large meaning that they had large and complex brains like humans, explaining why they could get this far from their home. Seems they were reaching for something before their untimely demise.” Derek was pointing out and shining his flashlight at the skeleton as he analyzed the specifics of the alien.

“Poor way to go out. I mean it seems really painful to burn to death.” Ms Collins was now squatting over the corpse and pointing out different scoring and ash marks on the floor.

“Woah, woah, woah. It burned to death? In an indestructible disk of unknown metal? Wouldn’t you think it would survive with all this advanced technology and equipment?” Don looked at Ms Collins, seemingly upset that she would suggest that an advanced civilization would die from something like that.

“Well flying at that speed with magnetic propulsion and entering the earth’s gravitational pull would most definitely alter its course and get it dragged into the earth’s atmosphere. And as everyone knows when you enter the atmosphere at high speeds you will begin to burn up. So yes the ship has survived because of what it is made of but hitting that temperature in a totally metal ship with no insulation would turn an advanced piece of hardware like this into an oven for anything inside. Judging by what Derek said about it trying to reach for something, that would mean that this panel in particular is important.” Ms Collins went full nerd as she felt around the ship’s walls and panels, knocking on them every so often to check for a difference in sound. She then came over to the panel that the skeleton was laying next to. She felt around until she found some bumps like those on braille pages and she pressed them. 

There was a quiet clanking and then a low rumble like some kind of bellow out of a growling animal. The entire room began to shake as the sand covering part of the glass dome was shaken off. The control room sprung to life as everything was filled with a bright turquoise light and all the panels had holographic pages and diagrams springing up from them. The center console of the room displayed a perfect replica of the rugged seafloor with the whole trench beside it. The display showed the rest of the UFO’s shape beneath the rock and the portion that they had explored seemed to only be a small section and they were in fact walking on top of part of the UFO when they were in the trench. The entire room shook again with a guttural bellowing noise coming from below in the hallways. Everyone was pulled down by a feeling of increasing gravity and only Ms Collins was able to support herself on the panels, everyone was pulled down onto the floor struggling to get up. The seafloor covering the UFO cracked and was pulled apart as the UFO pulled itself free and began to rise to the ocean surface.

“Sir, we have yet to make any sort of contact with the crew. While it seems that they were attacked by something, we can clearly see that the main tube was disconnected manually and not pulled apart, meaning they did this willingly.” An FBI agent in a tailored suit turned his attention from his monitor over to a much larger agent.

“I have no idea why they would separate the tank from the ship, at this point the rebreather will lose power and any sort of lead could be lost. Get me a line with headquarters, and try to run some ways we could save them, or at least whatever is left.” The head agent lifted his sunglasses to rub his eyes as he spoke. He began to walk out of the room before an alarm blared.

“What the hell? Something huge is coming right for us!” The agent sitting at the monitor couldn’t believe his eyes. The entire control room was in complete disarray as people were running around and making calls. The head agent went out the door and down the hall to reach the balcony. As he exited the door he was just in time to see the surface of the water break and the gigantic UFO shadow the boat. The waves from the UFO almost flipped the boat and the entire thing was covered in a downpour of water, almost knocking the head agent over the edge of the boat. He could just barely get up as he looked up to see an almost 1,000 meter in diameter silver mass hovering above the ocean. “Screw HQ! Get me Washington! They’re gonna want to see this!”

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