Aphelion Issue 275, Volume 26
August 2022
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by Vincent Seagraves

I have seen it every day since that night. I see it in my dreams and in my waking. I see it in a glass of water or in the baths the attendants here run for me; watching with a hellish hunger that promises not to spare me a second time. I see it not with my eyes, but with my soul. That is why I know the choice I have made is the only way I can stop it. God help me, but it is the only way.

To think now that I once loved the water seems almost alien to me. As far back as I can remember, I have always felt more at home submerged beneath some glassy surface than above it. Even as a child, I would spend hours in the bath or long stretches of time affixed to the household aquarium. I would sit there envying those fish and their aquatic life. For this reason, it surprised no one when I chose the profession of a deep-water diver for an offshore drilling company.

My life, before that horrible night, was one spent jet setting around the world doing deep-water testing or onsite investigation for the company I worked for. The sights that I witnessed beneath the ocean’s surface surpass any description. To those who have never been, I could only describe it as floating in a world of dreams, where every color imaginable and some not have been given life and motion. To me, it was all I had ever wished for. Of all the things It took from me--my future, my sanity, and soon my life--the pleasure I once took from the water is what I mourn the most.

It all started when my company was issued speculation rights over a small patch of ocean a hundred or so miles east off the coast of Venezuela. The site, far off the path of any shipping or fishing lanes, had not been surveyed or even sailed upon in hundreds of years. The closest civilization was a small island tribe ten or so miles south. The inhabitants there claimed to be descendants of the Yulogo, an ancient race that had been old before the ancestor’s of man had even taken their first gasping breath of air. Their island, covered in decaying effigies to these mythical fish-like beings, the tribesmen forsook that patch of ocean as it was the resting home of their god.

The men who surveyed the island as part of the study involving the environmental effect of drilling in that location felt inclined to include the legends of these tribal people in their report. Often times I wish they had not. To see a horror beyond comprehension is somehow worse when you know its name.

The island people worshipped a giant sea serpent known as Yagyalgo. Their legend tells that when the cosmos were void of stars and planets, it was far from empty. There swam in the eternal blackness gods more ancient than even the universe. These gods ruled over the nothingness and cherished their empty kingdom. There they performed their insane rituals of lightless life, diving through the chaos of utter nothingness. When the fire of creation was struck and the stars and the world were born, these gods of the pre-universe were thrown to the very edges of everything. All except the great and horrible Yagyalgo, who was trapped when the world formed around Him. They believe Yagyalgo rests even now at the center of the world, so massive that only small parts of him can ever fit through the cracks at the bottom of the ocean at any one time. Much like the one they believe existed in that part of the ocean.

When my company bought the speculation rights to that section of the ocean, they received a cheap price for it. The Venezuelan government was more than willing to part with the rights to this part of the ocean. To them it was worthless due to its Bermuda Triangle-like mythos. In the early 17th century, Spanish monarchy had tried to make a shipping route pass through the site, but the idea was quickly abandoned when an entire fleet disappeared while sailing over it. Various other records detail individual ships--merchant vessels, charter boats, or personal yachts--having vanished over the years as they crossed into the area.

The tribal people believed it was Yagyalgo squeezing his giant mouth through long enough to swallow whole those who dared fill his empty space. To them, those who Yagyalgo consumed were damned to spend eternity in the city of Yetessa that rested in his stomach; the city of eternal drowning. There they would face the horror of a continuous drowning death until the day the gods of the pre-universe returned to swallow whole the cosmos and return it back to formless blackness.

All of this, the surveyors reported in a light-hearted fashion, as if telling a tale of ignorant savages over the dinner table. A tale meant to be laughed at and ridiculed, but never taken seriously. I sit in my empty room night after night marveling at the blindness of our modern world. There is a world of shadows out there so dark that we can only ever catch glimpses of it--a world that modern science knows nothing of, and intelligent man can only run from, screaming.

My company, finding no significant ecological reasons not to go ahead with the speculation and surveying of that forsaken patch of ocean sent in a C-class research and drilling tanker. It was reported to have maintained contact for only an hour once it reached the survey site. After that, it just vanished--No signal beacon, no emergency call, and no hit on the GPS system.

In the olden days when man still held a healthy fear for the ocean and its dark secrets, when a vessel vanished without a trace, all other seamen simply avoided that spot forever more. When a large company of the modern age has a multi-million dollar research vessel vanish, they do not simply write it off as a necessary loss of doing business. There was a good deal of speculation amongst the intellectuals within the company as to exactly what could have happened. In the end, I was sent in to do a search and salvage operation at the bottom of the ocean. A sinking of the vessel by some unknown means was, then, the only acceptable cause.

I chartered an adequate yacht from a small port town in Venezuela, and headed out to the site in the early morning. The trip would take several hours, but it gave me time to prepare my equipment and plan my course of action. I had brought with me some low-powered sonar gear and other search tools, but I would be depending most of all upon the last GPS location hit. I felt sure that, if the vessel had truly sunk, I could find it without any real trouble using the GPS coordinates.

We arrived at the island about two hours before dusk. Already the sky had turned a sickly grey, and we could see silhouetted upon the archaic beach large bonfires scattered all about. The light was failing too much at that point for us to make out the dark figures dancing about the open flames, and I thank whatever real gods exist for that small favor. From the island, even at our distance, we could hear a mad beat of drums and the wild chanting of high-pitched voices. At odd intervals a terrifying scream would roll out over the surf to us, and one of the bonfires would suddenly throw up a shower of glowing embers. It was too far to tell for sure, but the image of small black figures throwing a form hauntingly familiar to my own onto a roaring flame still come to me every time I close my eyes.

The boat crew I had chartered refused to put in at that hellish beach, the captain demanding we progress directly to the dive site and finish my business immediately. I had done many night dives before, and did not dissent even a little. We sailed away all listening intently to the mad drumming and insane chanting, each cringing every time a horrid scream broke the air.

When we finally made the dive site, we found the water was disturbingly still. Ample wind blew across that expanse of ocean, but not a single bit of it touched the water. It disturbed me a little at that moment, but like all men raised in this age of reason I paid it little thought. The sonar I had brought displayed that the water directly beneath the last known location of the tanker was only about a hundred feet deep. This was due to a large roundish upraising of the ocean floor directly below that elevated it above the rest of the surrounding area. I was even more hopeful than before that I could find the vessel, if indeed it had sank.

One of the crew, a local by the name of Artemio, helped me prepare and don my gear. He spent the entire time incessantly chatting to me in his broken English about his plans for his family, how he would use the money he earned upon the yacht to buy a small home in the country, and how he wished to raise his children in a wholesome atmosphere away from the corruption of the Venezuelan streets. I found it all so quaint then. It is just another morbid ghost constantly haunting me now. My only regret in the escape I have chosen is that Artemio’s family will never really know what happened to him. I think it might be for the best though. Some dark things we are blessed to know nothing about.

By the time I got into the murky water, it was well into dusk--the orange light fading at the horizon. The submersible flashlight I carried was enough to light up the water around me, but all it really did was succeed in giving light to a world of cloudy silt and dismal shadows. I was able to see about ten feet around me clearly, as if the water there was perfectly opaque, but then my vision was suddenly cut off by an almost palpable wall of dingy grayness. For a minute I thought about turning back right then. There was something about the way the water cut off my vision like that, as if something was trying to keep me from seeing too far. I had dived in worse visibility conditions, but never anything that seemed so--malevolent.

Still sure I could indeed find the lost tanker, I decided to continue the search and head further down. I wish now I had returned to the yacht, even if it meant I would have shared the fate of the crew. It is a far better thing to perish unknowingly to the horrible, than to witness it and be spared. To be forced to live in the sane world even as you know it is a lie, and the terrible insane shadow you sometimes catch out the corner of your eye is the truth.

I had directed the yacht to set me down directly over the last known location of the tanker, which would have me sinking directly to the center of the upraised landing below. I began my decent slowly, as I had been trained so many years before, constantly keeping an eye out for anything I might see through that stygian expanse of ocean. No sea life of any kind swam through that accursed site, not even a jelly. It was barren, dark, and indescribably lonely. It was warm, though, almost hot. I could see no tell-tale glow in the depths that would hint at volcanic activity, but I began to expect there might be such. A geothermal uprising could account for the sinking of the tanker, but it would make finding the wreckage almost impossible.

I began to despair, down in that crushing darkness. I despaired that I would never reach the bottom, for it surely seemed as if I had sunk well over the hundred feet down the bottom was reported to be at. I despaired that even if I reached the bottom I would not find the sunken vessel after all. I despaired simply because the place seemed to demand it. I despaired up until the point that the ocean bottom came into view.

At one point I was sinking into infinite murkiness, unbelieving that I would ever encounter a bottom, and the next it was directly below me only fifteen feet or so away. I could see for yards and yards clearly, as if the silt and sand that had occluded my vision up until that point had simply disappeared. What I beheld so very clearly was a massive uprising from the bottom of the ocean floor that was almost perfectly domed in shape. Poised directly above its apex, I could look in all directions and watch its edges disappear away into infinite blackness. So massive was it, that I could get no hint of an edge or end. It was also completely smooth save for a giant crease that ran the length of it long-ways.

Of the tanker I could see nothing at all. Not even a hint of debris. I spent the next minute or two turning around attempting to find some form of a hint as to where I should search first. The thought occurred to me that the vessel might have sunk here and then slid down one side of the massive dome below, ending up at a depth deeper than I could go with the simple gear I wore. Indecision gripped me as I floated there, and that is when it happened. That is when I saw Him and, God help me, He saw me.

Slowly, I began to become vaguely aware of a strange light growing in power beneath me. I was instantly and unexplainably afraid. Something in that light spoke to me of insanity and dark secrets more ancient than thought. Powerless to stop myself, though, I gazed down below. For a blessed moment I had no comprehension of what I witnessed, so vast and unbelievable was it that my mind could not comprehend. Then, like the cold of death, understanding began to creep in.

The crevice that ran the length of the dome below me was slowly spreading apart. Spreading apart is not quite accurate. Opening is more to the truth. From between those giant parting ridges radiated a kind of empty light. Light that you knew was there, that would let you know other things were there, but that you could not actually see. The type of light that would exist in formless void. I was frozen in place by that unholy light. I could do nothing except watch the crevice continue to spread and widen, despite every thought in my head being one of escape. I did not wish to see what was behind those ridges, but I was powerless to do otherwise.

The ridges expanded beyond my range of vision, continuing off into utter darkness as they proceeded to open. Left exposed was a glowing white orb. I knew what it was by this point. I could not believe it, and had no real reason to know it, but somehow I did. When that utterly black iris rolled into view to stare directly at me it was the final straw. My paralysis broke and I screamed in utter terror. Screamed through my regulator until I had no more breath, and continued to scream even then. That massive, horrible eye just stared.

Still screaming into my mouthpiece, I began to frantically swim vaguely upward and southward. I swam for what seemed like hours, but could have only been minutes. I had not enough oxygen at those depths for anything longer, but my memories of that time cry of infinite gaps of time. Always that black, bottomless iris followed me. Lunacy born of a mind which could never think as we do radiated from that iris in almost touchable waves. My facemask began to fill with tears as I sobbed in that lonely deep. The only thing that kept me going was the thought of drowning there where I would sink to rest on top of that insane iris.

I felt my mind cracking and my sanity leaving me. The silence of it all was almost unbearable. Even when that massive, ungodly eye had opened it had made no sound. Only my own sobbing and mad screaming filled my ears. Exhaustion burned at my every limb, and I knew every minute brought me closer to a choking death. Always that iris followed directly below me, and it seemed as if I was no closer to finding the end of it.

Much of what came after I have only vague recollections of. All I can recall clearly is swimming and swimming, hoping beyond hope to escape that eye. Then a fuzzy memory of being dragged from the water by dark-skinned men wearing grotesque masks in the shape of fish heads. After that, my next clear memory is of waking up in this hospital and being questioned by all sorts of people, mostly by the Venezuelan police and by my own company.

It was explained to me that I washed up on the island of the tribesmen sometime during the day after my dive. The crew and the yacht I had taken with me had utterly disappeared much as the tanker had. The tribesmen had taken care of me until the Venezuelan police had found me there while conducting a search for me and the missing yacht at the request of my company. No explanation had been discovered for either of the missing vessels, and they had all hoped I could provide one. All the tribesmen would say is that Yagyalgo had once again demonstrated his wish for that water to remain empty. I told them I could remember nothing at all. They of course did sonar surveys of the ocean’s bottom, by air this time, and found a massive trench over that location. It was assumed the ships had sunk to its bottom. I am cursed with knowing better.

They are moving me back to the States this week by boat. They are, of course, avoiding that location in the ocean, but they are taking a course that leads over the top of another trench. I don’t know if it is large enough for Him to fit through, but it is not worth taking the risk. I have decided to take my own life in the hospital pool tonight. I would rather drown by my own hands than give that demon of an ancient time the chance to swallow me as it did Artemio and all the others. I can imagine them still floating in that endless black void of Yagyalgo’s stomach with a hundred other ships, all drowning eternally. I will drown just once, and consider myself lucky.


© 2007 Vincent Seagraves

Bio: Having been born to a military family, Vincent spent most of his youth moving from place to place. Upon his families relocation to the Hurlbert Field Airbase in Florida, he quickly learned the joys of scuba diving. A carrier as an offshore diver further cemented his love-affair with the ocean. Now, he spends his time writing of the darker secrets she holds.

E-mail: Vincent Seagraves

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