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Operation 36-AB

This is a short story based on the underwater photographic prompt below.

Photograph by Connor MacPhee

It's the night of the mission. There are exactly 72 crew members on deck, 11 oxygen tanks, and an abundance of mysteries to be solved. Operation 36-AB was almost in session. It was Tuesday, the first of October. The seas crashed upon the ship like fire attacking fresh wood, the moon barely peeking out behind the clouds.

Jack turned to his brother, nodding. They seemed to be the only ones who couldn't believe tonight was the night. Once they received the signal—a three beat call—from their co-captains, they would start barking orders at the crew.

One minute until the journey begins. Parker, Whitney, Kass, and Sean lined up. Jack let himself breathe for the first time all night.

30 seconds till. Shyanne rang the bell below the deck. The crew was rechecking the equipment for the umpteenth time this evening. Eyes began to wander around, wondering if this was the last time they'd see moonlight again.

10 seconds remaining. Millie ushered Derek and Maria to her station. This is it, Jack thought. Looking up, he realized it was time to go. The signal was given.

"Millie! Team Hexa—jump!"

The team on the east side jumped into the water. Eight tanks of oxygen remained, waiting above to be used.

"Kass! Team Octo—jump!"

A thumbs up was given, then four more members left the ship.

All of a sudden the Pentagon siren went blaring. The co-captains were running in every which direction. The alarm wouldn't stop ringing, though it had no reason to. The Pentagon team had yet to be released.

Jack felt brave. He felt bold. He instructed the following: "Pentagon team, jump!" Heads turned in shock, second-guessing what was commanded. His co-captains began to protest, swearing every word known to sailor kind. Now or never, he challenged.

"But, sir—" Helix's concerns were pushed away.

"That was an order."

Helix shied away into ready position. His team jumped into the water, one by one. Wait—NO! Katherine's oxygen tank and vest got caught on a large, rusty metal rod manded by Chris. Before anyone could reach Katherine in the pitch black night, her suspended body gave in. Screams of horror came from both on deck and in the sea as the Pentagon team struggled to stay afloat in the vicious ocean.

As if her lifeless, stranded body above wasn't enough discouragement, crew #4 lost all connection with the Hexa team. Jack, once again, didn't wait for any commands. He caught the attention of the remaining three members of the Pentagon team and signaled for them to continue with plan 36-AB. His trust lay in the crew that already failed one member.

Beneath the surface, Helix reported back his findings—no clear sign of either of the other teams, and no sign of Big Blue. Another few minutes went by before Helix reported back once again, screaming about losing Rachel or her not being in sight. Of course, even with the flashlights, there was no denying how dark the body of water was. However, this also didn't seem like a coincidence because everyone on the ship lost connection with the remaining members of mission 36-AB.

Whether it had been two or 10 hours, Helix didn't know. What he did know was he didn't seem any closure to finding Big Blue. All the answers his team had been searching for lay in the depths of Blue. Actually, Helix reflected, if I had been searching for 10 hours, my oxygen tank would have given out already, right? So I must be okay. Leah, his partner, wasn't much help either as she anxiously fidgeted with her damaged flashlight.

"Would you just quit that already? Just follow my lead so we can be done with this already," he barked. As he turned his attention back to in front of him, he saw what Leah was star struck by. Not only did their flashlights reflect off of the unidentified material presented, but it also caused an angelic-like haze to surround Big Blue.

Just as Leah reached the other side of the massive shape, the haze and light vanished. The sound of tough metal clanking and machinery filled their ears. Then, hysterical laughing. Were they hallucinating?

"Ah, at last, we meet again, dear old friend..."

Read next: First Contact
Hailey Corum
Hailey Corum

Hello! My name is Hailey Corum. I am a 14-year-old in the U.S. working towards a journalism scholarship. My long-term goal is to graduate from Harvard University and become a lawyer in criminal justice. 

@Writing_is_my_hobby on Instagram! 

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Operation 36-AB
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First Contact