Rapture of the deep

Mike Nelson didn’t know which way was up. He looked around in the darkness and kicked himself for getting himself into this situation. An experienced diver like him! Rapture of the deep killed fools, it killed people who ignored the time, divers who went too deep for too long. But not Mike Nelson, for God’s sake!

But here he was, miles down in darkness, and he didn’t know which way was up.

He didn’t know anything.

He hung motionless in the darkness and thought about that. He knew a couple things. He knew that he didn’t know which way was up, and he knew that he wasn’t really Mike Nelson. He was just some diver who had gone too deep for too long, and that was that.

Aw, hell, he thought.

Rapture of the deep.

Diving is one thing. Making it back to the surface is another thing. But the first is no good without the second.

Aw, hell.

Mike Nelson, who wasn’t really Mike Nelson, looked around.

Fuck, seriously. He couldn’t see a thing. Nothing. No thing.

Then something, like, flashed.

Pretty far away, he thought, although he could’t really tell because it was really dark and his eyes might be playing tricks on him. But something flashed, like a bioluminescent fish out hunting. Or maybe krill closer by. They glow, he thought.

Krill glow.

The diver  had seriously no idea which way he was pointed. Hell. How long had he been down here?

He listened to the ocean. He could hear everything. The whole oceanic sound-effects record was playing all at once. The pinging of submarine sonar. The song of a humpback whale. The clicking sound that one fish makes. Crabs clicking their claws together in a catchy syncopated rhythm.

At least that’s what it sounded like. Remember, it was dark.

He listened to his breathing.

The hiss of his, of that thing that did the air. Starts with an ‘R’.  Regulator. The hiss of the regulator. The roar of the bubbles passing his head, roiling up toward the surface.

It hit him. The bubbles go up. He just had to follow them. Slowly, of course, so the nitrogen dissolved in his blood didn’t form bubbles and give him the bends, but, yeah.

He lit a torch, briefly, and exhaled and watched where the bubbles went. He was glad he did, he was totally turned around. He got straightened out and turned the light back off because he didn’t want to attract anything large and carnivorous with foot-long teeth and shit.

Just as the light went off and darkness engulfed him, he might have seen something large and gray out the corner of his eye.

Jesus, what was that? His heart slammed in his chest like a rat in a coffee can.

It made him want to drop everything and swim to the surface as fast as he could.

He tried to keep down the panic. If it was a shark, it would already have eaten him. Right?

So that was something else he knew. Two new bits of information. Something gray was real close to him in the pitch darkness, and hadn’t eaten him. Also, now he knew which way was up.

What more could a guy want?

What the magician’s assistant said to the lighthousekeeper about mermaids

Why is it mermaids are always sitting on rocks combing their hair with those shells that look like combs, on sunny days? The water is calm and their tits are out but covered with hair. Hanging down from their heads, I mean. The hair. Long and usually blonde. Or they’re wearing bikini tops, sometimes made out of scallop shells, or they have scales to their armpits or their backs to us. But how often, really, is it sunny and calm? We, who go inside when it rains, aren’t we projecting? Wouldn’t mermaids come out to play in storms?

I can see them avoiding coast and shore in storms, due to the getting dashed on rocks and coral part. But in deeper water? A good storm in deep water sounds like fun for soemone who breathes air and water both and doesn’t get seasick. Surfing waves the size of skyscrapers, just watch out for floating logs and dinghies and other big debris, but otherwise?

After a big storm you’d want to sit on a rock combing your hair, for sure. Look at that world, the gentle swells, the glassy surface, the golden sunlight coins spent for you. You can’t only rejoice all the time, but neither can you grieve to the exclusion of all else. There is a time to tape your David Cassidy posters to the wall and a time to remove them and help your dad put up a new coat of paint. There is a time to listen to the very crust of the planet groan in a good storm, and a time to smell the ozone and tease sailors.

There are so many voices in my head, or maybe it is just one voice but it speaks in a variety of accents and frequencies,  so many people inside there or one person pretending to be many different people, or having different moods, saying so many things and nonstop, projecting some inner storm on the calm, and calm on storm.

If I could, I’d learn to breathe water and be like a mermaid and feel the actual storm directly and be part of the calm.

The lighthousekeeper looked at her blankly. The cut on his head still hadn’t stopped bleeding entirely. “Four cherry tomatoes,” he said, “sit in a shallow Japanese dish on my kitchen table, practically motionless, at least while I’ve been here writing this. A pitcher one-third full of water likewise motionless, but for tiny ripples echoing my movements. My coffee cup, my laptop, and four walnuts.”

They sat there on a rock and combed their hair with their fingers, and felt the quiet, and recalled the storm,  for a couple minutes.