Over Mount Fuji – Chapter 16 –

Over Mount Fuji - a novelAfter an hour of anticipation, an air of calmness pervaded. The crew lapsed into a comfortable silence, lulled by the humming engines. Now that Wulfstein had thrown out the theory of a tsunami, a seaquake, or a torpedo, Eileen wondered how his idea of sea creatures could account for the sunken ships.

“What’s this?” Eileen asked when a cloud of silt rose from the sea floor.

The light, both inside and out, flickered. “Brace yourself!” Kiichi said.

Reverberating shock waves pitched Eileen to starboard the moment the lights went out. Heart pounding, she grabbed the back of Wulfstein’s seat. What’s out there?

Kiichi checked the settings with a flashlight as the sub swayed back and forth. Before the pilot managed to stabilize the sub, the interior lights returned, followed by the exterior beams.

Eileen staggered back to her seat and buckled up. “A seaquake?”

“More than that.” Wulfstein grimaced at the compass as it gyrated. “It’s a ‘triangle wave’ called sankaku-nami.”

Eileen craned her neck for a better view of the screen. She recognized the term from Jerry’s paper, but couldn’t recall its exact meaning. “Aren’t those surface waves?”

“Yes, but we’re experiencing its deep-sea version. Look, more dots close by to make a continuous blip—it’s a dangerous sankaku-nami.”

But as the force swirled stronger, Eileen tensed. “Is this what happened to Kaiiko?”

“Don’t worry,” Kiichi said, turning the sub to where the strength came from. “We’ll get out of this.”

After another minute, the pilot guided Keiko through the waters in a steady rhythm.

“We’re some 400 miles east of Okinawa.” Wulfstein pointed at a map. “But the wave is another 600 miles east.”

“That’s a long way from here,” Eileen said.

“The sankaku-nami is formidable, and travels at great speed.”

Wulfstein highlighted the northeast of the archipelago, showing a long stretch of trenches that separated the Pacific plate from its neighbors. The Kuril-Kamchatka Trench, followed by the Izu-Ogasawara Trench further south, both meandered along the Japanese coastline and ended finally at the Mariana Trench.

As the sonar pinged, the monitor displayed an unbroken floor of gray mud. Still tensed, Eileen unbuckled and rushed to the front porthole. Nothing seemed unusual, yet she sensed movement all around. Something must be lurking out there, closing in. A thud resounded, jarring her. What could that be?

She squinted into the darkness.

A black creature, longer than fifteen meters, swam across the bow in writhing coils, moving swiftly like a waving rope. It turned and approached the porthole. Eileen backed away. The fanged mouth thumped the glass continually, leaving a residue of bubbles in its wake.

“What’s that?” Eileen stared at the creature’s flickering tongue.

“I can’t figure it out,” Byron said. “Those bulging eyes look creepy.”

“How could it survive at such depth and pressure?”

“Lots of creatures live deep on the seafloor,” Yoshino said.

The bright red crest above the creature’s two protruding eyes contrasted sharply against the dark scales over its humps. Suddenly a strange sound echoed across the waters and the snake stopped knocking against the sub.

Eileen shuddered as the sub shook, followed by a faint sound. For a moment, her heart pounded in her ears. The snake lifted its head to scrutinize the surroundings. Its eyes sank back into its head and, in horizontal undulation, the snake sped away in the direction from which it came.

Thud! A dull whack came from behind the sub. Breathing through her fingers, Eileen shivered at the sight of a huge object approaching Keiko. Another beast! Now a brown monster had grabbed Keiko with its tentacles.

“Is this the leviathan you talked about?” she asked Wulfstein. “It looks menacing.”

“This couldn’t be a leviathan,” Wulfstein said. “Maybe a cousin of the giant squid. See, it only has four tentacles.”

The tentacles moved, grabbing and blocking one porthole after another. Eileen stared at the monitor and counted the tentacles, sucking around.

“It might be a distant member of the cephalopod family,” Yoshino said. “Perhaps from a mutation.”

After studying the creature, Eileen stared at the portholes, then at the monitor, recalling the last paper she had typed for Jerry. Was this one of the sea creatures that he’d speculated lived within these depths? “Maybe we are one step closer to what the Norwegians had experienced.”

“Maybe it is,” Nishihara said. “Or else it is a subspecies.”

“If it’s a kraken,” Yoshino said, “then it must be from the squid family.”

Any myth could have a kernel of truth, Eileen thought. It was a big leap, and they could soon be crashed like a walnut. Suddenly the porthole turned black and muscular suckers slammed onto Keiko. More dotted flesh plastered the glass. As the sub trembled, she realized the predator had dragged the sub downward. “Let’s get out of here.”

“Apply full power,” Yoshino said to the pilot.

Kiichi stomped on the pedal, yet the sub remained stuck. Keiko’s hull groaned and creaked under the creature’s giant tentacles and maw.

More shouts echoed in the sub. Eileen’s legs began to tremble.

Kiichi pressed the throttle to full, and the hull groaned under the strain. Yoshino yelled out more instructions, but the sub still couldn’t move. Bubbles floated up when the tentacles pawed the sub, snapping off the external instruments as though they were rotten wood. Then the tentacles grasped the spotlights and started shaking the sub, rattling the crew and instrument inside.

Keiko’s bow angled downward. The crew shouted while being tossed about. The sub plummeted, landing at the seafloor with a boom. Eileen felt a shift of pressure when Keiko somersaulted and bounced around, toppling maps, charts, and other paraphernalia as she tumbled from wall to wall amid more screams.

When the sub finally stabilized, Eileen’s head throbbed. Shaken and disoriented, she realized her body had taken a hard hit against a wall. Her colleagues stood up, and she struggled with the help of a handrail. Among the debris, one computer monitor had shattered on the floor.

But EQ-Lun beeped. Then a red message flashed wildly: CALDERA! CALDERA! CALDERA!

As Wulfstein rushed to his laptop, Eileen treaded to the porthole. She couldn’t understand why Keiko’s intrusion could have caused the creature’s violent reaction and EQ-Lun to beep. The beast had moved aside and appeared to be watching the sub’s robotic arms. But after a moment, it grabbed the antennae and yanked off two search-lamps with its suckers.

“Call Captain Akira for help,” Nishihara said.

“Get the lights off,” Yoshino said. “The sudden brightness must have annoyed the beast.”

Kiichi complied by dimming the exterior and Wulfstein switched off his laptop.

“We should play possum so the monster will lose interest,” the Sensei added.

All turned quiet. Slowly, the tentacles loosened their grip. Their colors changed from dark brown to maroon. Keeping at a short distance, it curled itself into a ball.

Kiichi held the sub motionless. “Keep calm.”

The maroon beast didn’t move.

Silence.

Feeling queasy, Eileen stood still, straining to listen to a faint guttural grunting sound outside.

Gr-u-k. Gr-u-k.

The kraken’s tentacles began to explore the seafloor, losing interest in its metallic prey. Squinting, Eileen pressed against the porthole for a better view. Floating just above the seafloor, the monster resembled an uprooted tree that changed from maroon to dark purple and shone in the semidarkness.

Gr-u-k. Gr-u-k.

Kiichi drove the sub toward the kraken. Like a floating silken scarf, the creature swirled and settled on a rock. As Keiko pressed forward, the beast changed its color from maroon to dark red, twirled and released some brown dust onto the ocean floor. It jumped before gliding away, a billow of bluish ink in its wake.

Eileen grimaced. Every odd noise made her heart jump as she imagined what could lie beyond the murky waters or behind the rocks. A hundred creatures might lurk there. Waiting. Watching.

And the odd grunting sound kept resounding.

Kiichi fiddled with some switches. Nothing happened—there was no light. The intensity of this encounter had caused irreparable damage to some of the electronic receivers.

Baffled, Eileen tried to look through the semidarkness, but nothing else appeared.

Kiichi toyed with more switches. Within the next minute, four or more interior beams lit up. Then the electronics started to function. “Belt up and hold tight,” he said, turning on another switch, releasing a dead weight from the sub’s underbelly. “It’s a ride to the top.”

As the sound continued, Eileen wiped her sweat-streaked face.

Kiichi wired SOS messages to the mother ship. He pressed one button on the electronic console, then another. Managing to regain a steady control, he guided the sub upward to the surface.

Eileen swallowed, her ears popped—a feeling of decompression and fatigue reminded her of the time she rose too quickly, years ago, while diving with Jerry. She shook her head in the rancid air. Thank heavens. At least we’ve managed to escape.

“Cheer up,” Kiichi said, putting on a smile at last. “We’re on the way to the surface.”

Eileen tried to gather her thoughts and senses as she gazed at the peaceful yet alien environment. The higher Keiko ascended, the calmer she became. Could there be much more that man hasn’t discovered?

Though the external instruments remained damaged, most of the interior electronics returned to normal function.

“We should arm our sub and kill the beast,” Kiichi said.

Yoshino nodded. “That’s right. Then we can drag it to the surface for more research.”

Seated, Wulfstein switched on his laptop and tapped more commands into it. He leaned forward and a flashing display emerged.

Wulfstein shook his head as if in shock.

Ferocious winds swept over the islands of Japan and whipped up waves along the coast. Pixels on the screen dissolved into a snowstorm of black and white. The outline of the northwest Pacific returned and became clearer. EQ-Lun beeped and flashed pink all over central Honshu.

Bemused, Eileen struggled to think what the Professor had up his sleeve. The monitor blipped as his fingers threw more strokes in succession. His head snapped up; his eyes bloodshot.

Several bright strips flowed beneath the sacred archipelago!

“What’s going on?” Eileen asked.

“Pink! Pink!” he said with rasping breath. “Impossible!”

©) Joel Huan, author of Over Mount Fuji (available from Amazon and Barnes&Noble)

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~ by Joel on December 27, 2009.

2 Responses to “Over Mount Fuji – Chapter 16 –”

  1. really interesting article…I try to read about this subject and this seems like very interesting stuff.

  2. Thanks, I have already scheduled all my chapters to be posted and it is even more interesting, lol . . .

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