6000 meters. I write in haste, in near darkness.
Only the crew of indigenous islanders manning the trawler I’ve hired will know of my departure. And it is a matter, by their belief systems, of which they will never speak.
In the high depths of the Marianas Trench, 8,000 meters below the surface of the sea, there grows a Monster unknown to humankind. This Monster first approached me through a dream.
I was the Monster, or so it seemed. I was flying as one flies through the air in a dream. So deep I did not know I was under water.
And then I saw myself.
Unseen, it may be accurate to call the Monster beautiful. Full of the beauty of nakedness so secret it might as well be dead. It has no arms, no legs. It extends a nervous system into pure volume. A sensory flowering, delimiting the currents as they stream deep through the frigid hydrosphere.
With a piece of your fortune I was able to purchase a German bathyscaphe that had never descended to the depths I intended to penetrate. I named her Flugtraum.
She was a gaudy yellow, I’m afraid, and looked something like the autopsied stomach organ of a Basilosaurus. I reinforced the hull and painted her black. As a gesture to you, Mother, I fixed a mezuzah to the hatch-post.
The experiment (to which no government or academy has yet contributed a single doubloon): To descend in darkness to the high depths of the Marianas Trench. To offer extremely potent plankton extractions in the opened claws of the bathyscape’s mechanical arms. When the Monster’s full proximity is properly registered, to blast the deeps with 12,800 watts of raw light. To blow an instant’s hole of reason into the primeval deep. To fix the beast in a camera’s mechanical eye. A demon crafted by a Bosch whose canvas is space, a silent howl of threading fangs and enormous eyeballs, blinded, fixed by reason.
7,000 meters. The iron walls of the submersible have begun to make noise.
2.75 x 1012 gallons of saline water curl through the carved canyons of this planet’s surface. Even now I am diving into their pressure.
Through the glass, I can see self-propelling feeding tubes, mouths, stomachs, tails and excretory orifices sail in a groundless world, sucking life from the streams.
I am unsure of the Monster’s relation to sound. I have the intuition, however, that to the Monster, the screams of the bathyscaphe, increasingly spine-tingling, are my own.
7250 meters. I must be visible myself through the portholes. The tiny electrical fires popping all around my consoles have raised their own small illumination. Indeed, if the Monster can see from afar, it might make out the meat of an inexplicable alien such as I see now reflected in the glass.
7500 meters. The girders are howling. The pressure will soon crack the Flugtraum like an egg and make the feeding easy. The Monster grows increasingly confident.
It will come close in anticipation. It will come closer.
And at last the Flugtraum will implode, folding into herself in one magnificent flash of destroying illumination.
The light will trigger the cameras. The buoyant canister will hold long enough to the hatch-post to receive the film. The canister, able to withstand all the pressure of the world’s oceans, will rise 7800 meters.
In less than an hour’s time, the canister will burst into the atmosphere of the Western Pacific. It will float on the seas for some time. Decades perhaps, if my calculations are in error. But it will be eventually retrieved.
I have inscribed on the canister your name and address, Mother. In time a deliveryman will walk over the tendered paths, avoiding the softly cascading sprinklers of the front garden. He will deposit the canister into the ancient, little hand that extends trembling from the partially opened door.
The Monster is near! Its touch on the bait, so gentle, has awakened a tenderness in my heart. 8000 meters.
I must make preparations.
Mark von Schlegell (b. 1967, US) is a science fiction writer and critic. His novels include Venusia (Semiotext(e), 2005), Mercury Station (Semiotext(e), 2009) and Sundogz (Semiotext(e), 2015).