RECORD OF THE SAINT PETER FACILITY
I pray for the soul who finds this record.
I’m only writing it for my own sake and the hope no one finds this or the remains of the facility.
I have sealed my wounds as best I can, drank the last of the fresh water and ate my last ration. I know these are my last hours, as I don’t have the strength to hang on any longer.
I resign myself to my fate.
I know it will end soon, but I have to warn you.
My name is Alexi Devoti- Third Officer of Saint Peter Facility under the Captain and First Mate, brothers, Dimitri and Vladislav Tomencaski.
The facility was documenting the properties of the volcanic vents along southernmost tip of Argentina. At edge of the tectonic plates grew gardens of volcanic and geological marvels. The deep-sea facility with its chrome white corridors and wide glass observation decks was to study its uses and further develop existing experiments. We were the third crew to use the facility, the shift changes occurred every six months.
We were a group of fifteen, but with the storm, the accident, and the corresponding wreckage we were reduced to four within a week. We died one after another until there were only the brothers, Maxine, a geothermic engineer and myself. How did we not know about the storm? How did we not know about any of it!
We had radioed for support, for aide, for anyone to find us.
The storm had all but destroyed the upper limits of the facility- half the facility, gone. Our route to the surface was destroyed. When the Captain slammed the last bulkhead shut, with his long face dripping wet and bleeding, I knew we were trapped in the underwater tomb.
The open glass corridors faced the thermal vents that fuelled the facility with power and were the source of our scientific research. The perpetual night of the sea and the ethereal glow of the vents was our whole world now.
We did what we could to survive. We rationed our remaining food, giving us two months of regular rations.
The anxiety that a storm could sweep us into the ocean at an hour’s notice hung on our shoulders like a weight.
We kept a tight routine between the four of us. Regular watches over the radio, maintaining the power grid, the oxygen exchange and the water filtration. We could survive this. The Captain kept us together. He kept us on the straight and narrow.
His brother didn’t take to well to the forced captivity.
As we continued burning through our rations on the fourth week, an argument erupted between the brothers.
“You’ve been telling us to be patient for a month!” shouted Vlad.
“Because that is all we can do,” replied Captain Dimitri.
“I can’t stand being in here anymore!”
“Calm down, Vlad. We’re all pulling our weight, we’re all doing the best we can.”
“She isn’t!” barked the first mate, pointing at Maxine.
Maxine glared, “What the hell did I do?!”
“You’ve been skipping and slacking on the radio watch! I saw you! I saw you run back into the room when no one was looking!” he swept the food from the table, scattering the potatoes and protein ration. “You killed us! You missed the radio answer!”
Maxine glowered. “Big balls saying that while you eat my food!”
“Enough!” shouted the Captain. “Vlad, go to your cabin. You think just because we shared a mother means I’ll tolerate this? Get out!”
The brother sneered before vanishing down the chrome white hallway. I had watched the exchange in silence. My eyes fixed on the window behind the Captain. Beyond the facility, towards the thermal vents I could see the volcanic crack beyond the tectonic shelf.
A deep warm and foreboding glow hummed from the centre of the earth- the steady jet of methane bubbles rising from the chimney-like vents. There was a constant watch from the earth’s most powerful energies. One step outside, and you’d be boiled alive in salt water.
It haunted me, feeling so close to death. Sleep grew more difficult as we entered the second month in our captivity.
Arguments grew more frequent between the Captain and his brother. Maxine and I, who had a good working relationship as we attended the same University years’ prior, chocked it all up to brotherly animosity under extreme circumstances.
I continued my tasks, focusing on the routine. The routine would keep us alive. At least that’s what the Captain promised.
One night, as I watched over the radio praying for a signal and sending out our S.O.S. at regular intervals, I stared out through a window in the small room. A pair of bluish chimneys rose from the ground. A deep glow humming deep within the pipes as pale crabs circled the structure.
I saw two ligaments grip the pillars like the bars of a cage. A pair of eerie green eyes stared back at me.
I jumped in my chair. After rubbing my eyes, nothing appeared between the pillars. I told the Captain when he relieved me.
The Captain looked annoyed more than anything, “We’re all tired, scared and under a lot of stress. There’s nothing out there.”
At the time I agreed.
That was the mistake.
I carried on with my routine, keeping a wide distance from Vladislav. The haunting glow from the tectonic shelf followed me everywhere. Every time I glanced out a window or portcullis, I could feel its ghostly energy pressing against me. Pressing against the facility. As if it was trying to reach for me.
I heard footsteps behind me. The Vladislav passed through a corridor, sliding an uncomfortable glare in my direction.
The days dragged on. Our food dwindled. We had nothing to facilitate any escape from the structure. We made no contact with the surface. We had passed the expected time since the check in date. More than once, Vladislav threatened the lot of us with flooding the remaining facility or accused us of conspiring against him. His lunacy became a part of the routine.
That’s when the Captain also begun to act out of character.
I found him one day on the observation deck, the one overlooking the volcanic shelf. He just stood there. Completely enthralled by the sight of the glowing canyon.
I had made sure to steer clear of that deck until that day.
“Sir?” I asked.
He must not have heard me approach- unlikely given the acoustics of the corridors. “Sir, I just wanted to talk to you about the filtration system. We should shut it off for a cleaning before the end of the week. The water is already tasting like metal.”
“You ever think about life down here?” his voice sounded distant. “How those little crabs feed off the very energy of the earth? How the earth is built up of thousands of rotating systems, all feeding into each other- a self-contained environment? Pity when someone comes and ruins it.”
“Hmmm? Sorry you were saying?”
I repeated my statement.
“Oh, of course, Alexi. Do as you see prudent. You’ve been my rock and pillar throughout this. Thank you.”
“Of course, sir.”
I avoided the Captain during the following day-cycle. I carried out my tasks and did my job. I still felt the eerie glare from the tectonic shelf, and a long, lingering warmth. I felt eyes on me, but there was nothing but the craggy landscape.
I shook my head as I changed the filters. “It’s nothing.”
“What’s nothing?” said a voice.
Vladislav stood at the end of the filtration room- his shadow leaning against the doorway. His growing beard made him seem rather wolfish at the time.
“Good day, sir.”
“Day, Night. Can you even tell?”
I glanced over my shoulder through a porthole. Above the tectonic shelf and its haunting glow, there was nothing but darkness, pure and unimaginable blackness. As if the stars had never existed in the night sky.
“Can I help you, Vlad?”
“I’d just like to know… if things went bad here and you had to make a choice, who is the person you would save?”
I hadn’t thought about it. I didn’t want to think about it. “I guess Maxine.”
“Because she’s a woman?”
“Because she’s an old peer, the youngest person here and I know her parents,” I said. “I would call that a reason to save a friend.”
“But not me?” said Vlad, crossing his arms.
I didn’t respond. Asking those questions only tempted fate. I was stupid to answer the question, especially so quickly. I had thought about it more than I should have. We needed to focus on saving our strength.
In the last week of our rations, things went from bad to worse. The filtration system just stopped working. I had cleaned it three times; I had replaced everything I could. We would have no fresh water, only what we had saved, which corresponded with the food rations.
Then a leak sprung in Maxine’s cabin. We had saved her equipment and essential supplies when we heard a deep groan. I glanced over my shoulder, peering through the glass window of the corridor to see the observation deck had a rupture. The pillars supporting the deck had given way. Water was flooding the facility.
The Captain slammed the bulkhead on Maxine’s room, locking her personal belongings to join the deep.
Maxine swore, tears filling her eyes as she saw photos of friends and family floating in the flooded room. Soon they would drift into the void of the ocean.
The four of us shut the bulkhead towards the observation deck. Locking another section of the facility away, shrinking our watery tomb further. We had to empty the corridor manually by bucketing the water down the toilet.
It had been a very bad day. With only four more days of the barest rations left. I didn’t have much hope left
Maxine and I sat in the kitchen, as had been our habit. The girl buried her face in her arms- her black hair lay in a mess. “What are we going to do?”
“I don’t know…”
“This place, it’s like its haunted, cursed.”
Thinking on how I felt about the glowing shelf and the sights I had seen. “I agree…”
She looked up with her big brown eyes. “I keep feeling like we’re being watched, like something is out there.”
I looked into her eyes. “Like something is out there.”’
“How long? How many times?”
I rubbed my eyes, recalling the unsettling daydream. “Just once, weeks ago. I thought it was nothing. Captain said it was nothing.”
“That lying bastard, he cries himself to sleep. He-” she caught herself, realizing she had revealed far too much.
I cocked my head. “What is going on?”
“He’s not been okay.”
“I know that.”
“None of us are okay.”
I nodded, reluctantly. She looked past me, her face frozen with terror. “Oh, my god.”
I glanced over my shoulder and fell out of my chair. My jaw hung in pure shock.
Outside the facility, we saw a single shadow. A single figure, swimming towards the edge of the shelf. He was naked, his skin already blistering black from the heat.
It was the Captain.
Maxine threw herself against the window, slamming her fist against the glass.
The Captain swam towards the edge of the precipice- bubbles and steam erupting from the tiny silhouette. He gasped, flooding his lungs with water.
“No! No! No!” screamed Maxine.
Footsteps echoed through the corridors. I froze, standing by the table. Vladislav shrieked before falling next to Maxine, hurtling punches against the glass.
The Captain, somehow still alive, stood at the edge of the shelf- his tiny figure relaxed. He didn’t even hesitate.
He threw himself from the shelf. Vanishing into the deep glow beneath the earth’s crust. I don’t know if it was grief and stress, or if something unholy had just devoured our Captain’s broken corpse. I saw a shadow linger just below the edge of the glowing precipice. There was movement of something huge and unwelcoming.
There was nothing any of us could do.
We were useless.
Then the realization hit me- we were alone with Vladislav.
I saw the two grieving and sobbing by the window as I backed towards the kitchen. I reached behind me, not taking my eyes off the pair. I felt behind me for the kitchen knife.
I took my eyes off them for a second, grabbing the long piece of shining steel.
There was a shriek.
When I looked up, Vladislav was on his feet.
He had his arm wrapped around Maxine’s neck. His wolfish face was furrowed and feral. He had a box cutter pressed against Maxine’s neck.
Tears streamed down the girl’s face. Her lips trembled.
I stood in the doorway of the kitchen, a knife in my hand.
Vlad growled. “Put it down, Dimitri.”
He had lost his mind.
“Put it down!”
“What do you hope to gain from this?”
Vladislav glanced around. “I’ll be safer alone. I’ll be able to call for help. None of you will be there to screw it up!”
“None of us has!”
“Liar! We’re gonna die because you’re all liars!”
I stepped closer, knife held out. “Put her down, Vlad.”
“No! I can’t! I can’t stay down here! I need to get out!” He pressed the metal tighter against Maxine’s pale neck, a bead of blood dripped down her throat. “I won’t let you all screw it up!”
The facility groaned, and I heard a crash. Somewhere there was another flooding section or a busted bulkhead. Water began to pool across the floor from one of the corridors in tiny waterfalls down the steps until it lapped against our ankles.
We would drown if I didn’t stop Vlad.
I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t let him kill Maxine. I couldn’t be left alone down here.
I held out the knife. “This won’t work. You can’t possibly survive alone.”
“I won’t go hungry for a while.”
Maxine’s eyes went wide; she struggled in her grip realizing our lives were forfeit. I glanced back and forth between Vlad and Maxine. I didn’t know what to do.
She would die if I did anything.
She would die if I did nothing.
Vlad had won because I glanced away for a second.
There was a scraping sound being made against the window. I glanced up, past Vlad, to meet the pair of glowing green eyes staring back at me. A huge pair of claws pressed against the glass. Ivory nails digging into the window, scraping gashes through the crystalline surface.
Vladislav turned. The knife fell from his hand. Maxine wrenched herself from his grip and ran towards me.
The creature seemed to smile with a reptilian face. Skin like broken sheets of dead coral. Thumb-thick whiskers grazed the glass curiously. Its huge green eyes seemed pleased with those it had caught in its trap. Whatever it was, however big it was, it loomed in the dead shadows of the sea floor.
Vladislav had only a moment to come to terms with his fate, if he even understood it to begin with. The creature raised its claws and sheered through the habitat’s walls. Vladislav vanished in a tidal wave of water and the creature’s immense claws.
We ran through the corridor, water splashing around our feet. We shut the bulkhead just in time before the water got higher than our knees.
Maxine gasped. “Oh god.”
Outside the corridor, through a portcullis, a shadow charged at the facility. We ran, fighting against the rising water. The shadow slammed through the corridor, shattering the chrome white finish. Water blasted behind us, soaking us with boiling hot water. I gasped for air as we climbed up one level.
The bulkhead above got stuck. I jammed my shoulder into the lock, trying to budge it. Water flooded the corridor, rising up to my hips. Maxine was already paddling, trying to keep afloat in the steaming hot water.
The bulkhead groaned before snapping open.
I met Maxine’s eyes. I tried to haul her above me. A shadowy mass of claws and tentacles slammed into corridor, shattering the habitat to pieces. Hot salted water flooded my face. I lost my grip on Maxine.
“No!” I yelled.
My eyes burned, but I saw her vanish under the shadow. It reached for me. Its glowing eyes pleased with its good work. I hauled myself into the next level into a small corridor and cabin. A bulb in the facility’s ascending structures.
I gasped for air as hot steam flooded the compartment. I shut the bulkhead even as water shot into the corridor. I threw my weight into it, slamming it shut and locking the mechanism.
When I looked down, I saw the creature’s claws had raked my side and thigh. I was bleeding from several deep gashes. It burned from the hot salt water. Everything hurt.
And I was completely alone.
And now, I feel the pain and life draining from me. The facility is losing power. Whatever is out there is going through the vents and dismantling our work.
There is one last porthole in this corridor. I see the creature- its ghostly glow and its green eyes. It’s waiting for the power to fail. Its claws drift by the portal in a mocking wave. It is waiting.
It knows we need the light.
It was toying with us.
It knows us.
We should not have come here…
“Z. F. Sigurdson is a young writer from Winnipeg, Manitoba with a Honours B.A. in Political Studies. He has a deep passion for books, film and music. His writing attempts to blur the boundaries between science-fiction, fantasy and horror.
Currently, he writes for The Manitoban as an Arts and Culture Contributor. He posts regular short fiction and blogs on his website www.zfsigurdson.com.”