In Search of R’lyeh

In Search of R’lyeh

Underwater RuinsBy: James G. Boswell –

“This is going to be our big break, Matt. I just know it!”

Donny beamed with excitement as he sat down with his business partner and childhood friend, Matt in the office of their film production company.

Matt eyed his friend warily and said, “Whoa, calm down. What are you talking about?”

Donny said, “I just got off the phone with a representative for… wait for it… Jim Camberson! He said they want to talk to us about filming a documentary he’s making about searching for some lost city at the bottom of the ocean or whatever.”

Matt furrowed his brow as he replied incredulously, “Jim Camberson? You mean the guy who directed The Exterminator, Extraterrestrials, and Chasm? That Jim Camberson?”

Donny clapped his hands excitedly and said, “Yes! Apparently, he’s making a new documentary and he wants to work with a small, independent production company to make it. Not many people know this, but in addition to the fact that he’s a world class director, he’s also a deep-sea explorer. He’s even a National Geographic explorer-in-residence. I don’t know what that means, but it sounds important.”

“Yes, it does,” Matt said thoughtfully. “But, how did he hear about us?”

Donny winced and said, “Oh come on, Matt. We’ve both been in the film industry for years. You know we told all our contacts when we decided to go off on our own. Most of them just wished us luck, but it seems like someone took us seriously. And now we’ve got Jim Camberson himself calling us up to hire us!”

“You mean, Jim Camberson’s representative. No doubt our price point is pretty attractive as well, considering we’re in the bargain bin as far as filmmakers go.”

“Whatever, look, it’s like I said – this could be out big break. We’ve got a meeting with him next week to discuss the details and sign the contract.”

“I don’t know, Donny. This is moving pretty quickly. We should think about it.”

“What’s there to think about? When a bigshot like Jim Camberson tells you that he wants to work with you, then you just do it. Besides, what else do we have going on? We need this, Matt.”

Matt thought for a moment and said, “Ok, Donny. I’m on board. Let’s just hope this works out well.”

“Oh, it’s going to work out really well, my friend. I guarantee it,” Donny said as he smiled brightly.

Matt inwardly shuddered. He hated it when Donny guaranteed anything. That almost always meant something was about to go wrong.

Donny and Matt showed up fifteen minutes early to their meeting with Jim Camberson. His office was in huge, gleaming building in the nicest part of the city. Camberson’s assistant immediately ushered them into a large meeting room with an oval desk. Around the desk sat a petite young woman, a large older man, and James Camberson himself, tall and lanky with salt-and-pepper colored hair.

When they entered, Camberson leapt out of his chair and marched up to them, holding out his hand and saying in a booming voice, “Hello boys! Thank you very much for taking the time to meet with me. I really do appreciate you stopping by.”

The other two people stood up as well, and Camberson introduced them. He indicated the woman first and said, “This is Dr. Petra Maxwell, PhD. She’s a marine biologist and is acting as my primary scientific advisor for this project. We met through our work with National Geographic.”

Dr. Petra shook hands with Matt and Donny, giving them both a quick smile and saying, “Good to meet you.”

Then, he indicated the man and said, “And this is Captain William Billingsly, or Captain Bill. He’s a British Navy veteran who started his own maritime trading company years ago. He’ll be lending us his sailing expertise and the use of his ship, The Vigilant.”

Captain Bill shook hands with Matt and Donny as well, crushing them with his massive paw and saying “Cheers.”

“Excellent,” Camberson said as each person took a seat around the desk. “Let’s get down to business. The project entails combining my knowledge of storytelling with my passion for explora…”

Matt interrupted and said, “Excuse me, Mr. Camberson, sir. Please forgive me, but could you say how you heard about us? We’re not exactly a household name like you are.”

Camberson smiled like a Cheshire cat and said, “Oh, I’ve actually known about you both for a long time through the film industry. I’ve always been very impressed by your work. You could even call me a fan.”

Matt’s eyes narrowed in suspicion, and Donny’s eyebrows shot up in surprise.

Camberson continued, “You boys recently started your own company, didn’t you? When I heard about this, I found it to be quite serendipitous as I’ve been waiting for just the right film crew to come along and make my dream a reality. This project has been years in the making, and now it’s about to happen. I can barely contain my excitement.

“As I was saying, the project entails combining my knowledge of storytelling with my passion for exploration. Now, let me ask you a question: Have either of you ever heard of the lost city of R’lyeh?”

Matt and Donny shook their heads.

“R’lyeh is a city that is believed to have once existed on a small island in the South Pacific Ocean. It was built thousands of years ago by an unknown civilization that was completely shut off from the outside world. Most historians think that it doesn’t even exist, that it’s a fairytale like Atlantis. But, I believe it’s real.”

As he said this, Camberson reached into the inner pocket of his sport coat and took out a weathered-looking piece of paper that was folded in thirds. He carefully unfolded it, then pressed it flat against the table and slid it toward Matt and Donny. As they looked it over, Matt noticed the paper contained indecipherable handwriting and a small drawing at the bottom that resembled a man with the head of an octopus and the wings of a bat sitting on some kind of platform.

“Several years ago, I discovered a cache of notes written at the end of the 19th century by a person named George Gammell Angell. He was a professor of Semitic languages at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and he was an expert on the topic of ancient and lost civilizations. This is one of his notes that indicates the existence of this lost city, R’lyeh.

“After I learned of it, the city became somewhat of an obsession for me. I’ve since tracked down many other primary and secondary sources which support the notion that it’s a real place. As I’m sure you know, I’m not just a movie director but am an also explorer, particularly of deep-sea environments. The late professor’s notes indicate that R’lyeh sits at the bottom of the South Pacific, and I intend to find it. Thus, I require a film crew to record the expedition for posterity and hopefully, for profit as well.”

Camberson continued, “I’ll be using a submersible designed by Dr. Petra here. It’s equipped with cutting-edge sound and video equipment that will be recording as I search for the city. I’d like you to film every moment of the expedition leading up to that point. I’d also like you to conduct interviews of myself, Dr. Petra, and Captain Bill. Then, I’d like you to combine all the audio and video footage together into a documentary.”

“Where exactly in the South Pacific is this lost city supposed to be?” asked Matt.

“At a location called Point Nemo. It’s as far from civilization as you can possibly be in the ocean,” replied Camberson.

Dr. Petra said, “It’s so far from society, that if the International Space Station happened to pass overhead while we were there, we’d be closer to the astronauts than any other human being on the planet.”

Matt shifted uncomfortably in his seat. This was starting to sound like a much bigger endeavor than he’d counted on. He asked, “How long will the whole project last?”

Captain Bill answered this time and said, “We’ll start by flying out to Auckland, New Zealand where my ship is waiting for us and disembark from there. It will then take us about a month of sailing to reach Point Nemo. Once Mr. Camberson has found this lost city, which will take an indeterminate amount of time, it will then take about 45 days to return to land as we sail against the current.”

Matt stared at him in disbelief. He hadn’t been prepared to confront the prospect of such a long voyage.

Camberson said, “In order for us to get started, I need you boys to sign this contract. It’s mostly legal mumbo-jumbo that you don’t need to concern yourselves with. Mainly, it says that you’re entering into this project of your own volition and that you indemnify me, my company, and the rest of my crew in the event of any unfortunate accidents that may occur. But, I’ve been planning this for years and I’ve considered every contingency. I guarantee a successful outcome for all.

Matt shuddered at the word, “guarantee.”

“Before I show you the contract, I must insist that the terms are non-negotiable. However, you can take comfort in the fact that should our little film make any money, you’ll each receive favorable royalties. And, though this goes without saying, you’ll have the prestige of the Camberson name all over one of your first projects.”

Camberson slid the contract across the table. Donny reached for it, but Matt took it before he could get it. Matt immediately flipped to the section that described upfront compensation. He was crushed to see that it was for a ridiculously low amount. It dawned on Matt that Camberson chose them not because of their reputation, but because he knew they were desperate.

Matt began to say, “I think we need to discu –“ but Donny interrupted him and said excitedly, “We’ll do it!” He then grabbed the contract out of Matt’s hands, took a pen out of his pocket, and signed it without reading a word of it. Matt looked at him in shock and anger. However, Donny merely pushed the contract over to him, held out the pen, and pointed at the part where Matt was supposed to sign.

Matt’s shoulders slumped in defeat and he snatched the pen out of Donny’s hand. Then, he quickly scribbled a sloppy signature on the contract and spiked the pen on the table in frustration. The deal was made.

Matt yawned as he panned his camera across the wharf while workers loaded The Vigilant with supplies. It was still early in the morning, and the sun had started to peak out from the horizon. They’d arrived in New Zealand the day before, and Camberson wanted to get out into the water as soon as possible.

Matt stopped the camera as Captain Bill came into view in the foreground with his ship in the background. The captain held a steaming cup of coffee and stood still as Donny pinned a small microphone on his jacket. Through the lens, Matt could see Camberson’s submersible, dubbed the Deep-Sea Discovery, being loaded into the ship’s hull with a small crane.

Donny said, “Ok, Captain. I’m going to ask you a few questions and you can just say whatever answer enters your mind in the moment. We want this to be very spontaneous, so don’t worry about it sounding perfect. Later, we’re going to edit my voice out, so this interview will appear to be a monologue by you. Does that make sense?”

“Aye,” replied the captain as he sipped his coffee.

“Great,” said Donny. He then turned to Matt and said, “Are we rolling?”

Matt gave him a thumbs-up, and Donny stepped out of view of the camera and asked, “What are doing right now, Captain?”

With a frustrated grunt, the captain replied “Are you daft? We’re loading up the ship, what’s it bloody look like we’re doing?”

Donny winced and asked, “I mean, how are we preparing for the trip?”

The captain grumbled, “Oh bollocks. We’re taking six months’ worth of supplies including foodstuffs, water, and toiletries as well as medical supplies. Heaven forbid one of you pretty boys breaks a fingernail out there.”

Matt and Donny looked at each other with frustration. None of this is going to work for the documentary. Donny decided to try a different approach.

“You seem a bit frustrated, captain. Are you nervous for the trip?” he asked.

The captain sneered sarcastically and said, “I’ve got nothing to be nervous about, lad. However, I must say that as far as sea voyages go, this one is already all bollocksed-up.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Well, for one thing, we’ve got a red sunrise. That’s never a good sign. A red sunrise is a bad omen indeed. It suggests blood is on the horizon.”

Matt panned his camera over to the sunrise to reveal that it did indeed appear to be blood red. Then he panned back to the captain who continued, “Another thing is that I don’t like the look of your camera boy here. He looks like a Jonas to me. You know what I mean by a ‘Jonas’? That’s a person who brings bad luck at sea.”

Matt started to say something in response but shut his mouth.

“One more thing,” said the captain. “It’s downright awful luck to start a voyage on a Friday, yet here we are, on a Friday, about to risk our lives at sea to find some fairytale city that doesn’t even exist. It’s as if the stars are aligned against us!” With this, the captain’s voice rose, and he began to tremble with anger.

He continued, “I tried explaining all this to our esteemed benefactor and fearless leader, but did he listen to me? Of course not. Well, let me tell you something, bucko. I’ve only been sailing for nearly 50 years, and one thing I know is you don’t bloody well start a bloody voyage at sea on a bloody Friday with a bloody red sunrise with a bloody Jonas on board! If I didn’t need the bloody money so bad, I’d have told that pompous arse to shove it!”

The captain was shouting now and several of the workers had turned to see what the commotion was. He shook so violently that the lid of his coffee popped off and piping hot coffee spilled all over his hand. He shouted “Ow!” and dropped the cup to the ground. The remaining coffee splashed up directly into his eye, and he screamed in pain as he doubled over, covering his face with his hands.

Donny rushed to the captain’s side and asked, “Captain Bill, are you alright?”

“It’s the stars,” moaned the captain. “The stars are aligned against us. We’re doomed.”

After leaning in close to check his eye, Donny detected the smell of rum on the captain’s breath. He was drunk.

Matt retched violently into the trash can next to his bed in the small, cramped cabin he shared with Donny. They’d been at sea for only a week before they were beset by a vicious storm that had already lasted for three days with no signs of letting up. The constant motion created by waves crashing against their vessel gave Matt horrific sea sickness.

Meanwhile, Captain Bill was constantly at the rudder, cursing up a storm himself, trying to cut a path to safety. He now wore an eyepatch after scalding his eyeball during his breakdown at the wharf. Though there was certainly a pirate joke to be made about it somewhere, nobody was laughing. The storm had damaged or destroyed nearly half their supplies, and they’d already begun to ration food and water. Everyone tried to convince Camberson to turn back, but he wouldn’t hear of it.

Dr. Petra didn’t handle the situation well, either. She’d holed herself up in the makeshift science laboratory she’d created in the bowels of the ship’s hull, and hadn’t left it since the storm began. The one person who didn’t seem put off by the storm was Camberson, whose enthusiasm for the voyage only seemed to increase every time another wave smashed against the hull of The Vigilant.

A week passed and the storm subsided. Matt’s condition improved as well, and he was able to help Donny interview Dr. Petra in her science lab.

Donny said, “Let’s start by talking about the submersible, Dr. Petra. Can you please tell us a bit about it?”

Dr. Petra replied, “I’d love to. The Deep-Sea Discovery is the product of nearly seven years of work. I like to think of it as a ‘vertical torpedo’ because it’s designed to reach the bottom of the ocean as quickly as possible and then rocket back up to the surface just as rapidly. It’s nearly eight meters tall and three-and-a-half meters wide, with the most sophisticated battery-powered wireless audio and visual equipment available.

“With it, we’ll be able to see and hear everything Mr. Camberson sees and hears, and we’ll have a full 360-degree view around the submersible as well. We’ll also be able to communicate with him through a microphone. Feedback will come through these displays and speakers I’ve set up inside The Vigilant’s hull.”

Dr. Petra waved her arm towards a small command center behind her that had several screens and various metal cabinets and computers.

Donny asked, “Do you anticipate that we’ll run across any strange or interesting sea life?”

Dr. Petra chuckled, then shook her head and said, “Unfortunately, no. This region is devoid of nutrients that would be required to sustain life. This expedition will be more like going to the moon than visiting an ocean reef. My interest as a marine biologist is primarily in testing the performance of the submersible I designed. I’ve only ever seen it in action in controlled environments before, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it performs out here in the wild.

“Speaking of the moon, one thing I do anticipate running across on the ocean floor is space ship wreckage. You see, space agencies of various governments including the U.S., China, and Russia use this region to, for lack of a better term, ‘dump’ their old spacecraft once their missions are complete. They simply navigate their ships to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere at a trajectory so that they’ll fall in or around Point Nemo. The reason is because of this area’s remoteness. This doesn’t really have anything to do with our expedition, but I find it fascinating nonetheless.”

“This is starting to sound more like a science fiction story than a deep-sea adventure.”

“Yes, I suppose.”

“And what of the lost city of R’lyeh? Do you think we’ll find any evidence of that?”

Dr. Petra hesitated, then said, “That’s Mr. Camberson’s department, not mine. He has been researching this lost city for more than a decade. He’s a bit eccentric, but he’s also highly intelligent and, as you know, extremely successful. I doubt he’d come all this way unless he truly believed there was something down there. I hope we do find some evidence, and I think we might, but I have no idea what that could be.”

Donny and Matt opened the hatch and stepped up onto the ship’s bow. It was nearly 1:00 a.m. and the night sky was awash with stars. They were surrounded on all sides by pitch darkness, and pale moonlight spilled across the ship, providing slight illumination. The sound of waves gently lapping against the hull was all they could hear.

“Wow, it seems like whole galaxies are visible out here,” Donny said. “See if you can get a good shot of the sky, Matt. This would make excellent B-roll, not just for this documentary, but for our archives as well.”

Matt hoisted his camera up and began pointing it at several constellations. Donny directed him to capture images of the Southern Cross, Capricorn, and Sagittarius, but then Matt noticed one that seemed out of place.

“Hey Matt, look at that constellation over there. Does that one seem weird to you?”

“Yes, really weird. It’s like all the stars in that cluster are slightly bigger than the others, and they all have this otherworldly green tint. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“Me either. I’m starting to feel creeped out. Let’s head back down.”

Just as they turned to leave, Captain Bill stumbled out from behind one of the remaining storage crates, holding a nearly empty bottle of rum. He’d removed his eyepatch, and Matt and Donny could see a horrific burn scar on his eye in the moonlight.

Captain Bill slurred his words as he said, “Ahoy maties! Now just where do you think you’re going?” Then, he burped and added, “Arrr…”

Donny cringed and said, “Hey, Captain Bill. We were just capturing some footage of the night sky. We didn’t realize you were there.”

Captain Bill hiccupped and said, “Oh yes, I’ve been here the whole time.” Then he laughed disquietly, “Heh, heh, heh.”

Matt said, “But we finished and we’re leaving now.”

“Not so fast, gents,” said Captain Bill. “Do you see those stars o’er there?” Captain Bill pointed at the strange constellation Matt and Donny had just discussed, and said, “That’s not a good sign for us, not at all.”

“Why’s that?” asked Matt.

“Why’s that?” Captain Bill replied in a mocking tone. “That’s because those stars are abnormal. I’ve sailed all over every ocean on this bloody planet, all throughout every season of the year, and I’ve never seen anything like that bloody constellation. Those stars are aligned against us. Aligned against us, I say!”

Captain Bill took a mighty swig and downed the last bit of rum from his bottle. Then, he stood there, tottering back and forth, muttering to himself under his breath.

“You’re drunk, Captain Bill. You should go to bed,” Donny said, but the captain said nothing in response, and continued to stand still, muttering. As they passed by him on their way to the hatch, they noticed the glint of a huge bowie knife strapped to his belt.

The Vigilant finally reached Point Nemo and Camberson was ecstatic. Matt and Donny interviewed him in the science lab as he prepared to enter the Deep-Sea Discovery and begin his search for R’lyeh.

Donny asked, “What do you think you’ll find down there, Mr. Camberson?”

“I don’t know, my boy, and that’s what makes this an adventure. I imagine there will be some ruins, no doubt, or maybe some remnants of ancient pathways. My goodness, what if we discover some artwork from this lost civilization? It would truly be a breakthrough, would it not, Dr. Petra?”

Camberson turned to look over his shoulder at Dr. Petra as she milled about in the background, going through checklists and adjusting various electronic devices. “Yes, it would, Mr. Camberson,” she replied disinterestedly, absorbed in her activities.

“And what if you find nothing? What then?” asked Donny.

Camberson’s eyes narrowed with visible frustration and he said, “My boy, I find that question to be borderline insulting. My years of research and dedication have shown me that there’s undoubtedly something that remains of the lost city of R’lyeh not six thousand meters below where we sit this very moment. The question is not whether or not we find something, but what we find when we do.”

“What will you do when you find evidence of the lost city?”

“Well, I suppose the first thing will be to capture us much information as I can about it using the submersible’s video equipment. Once we have recorded visual evidence and returned to civilization, the next step will be to put together our documentary. Once that’s finished, we’ll use it to get the funding and support we need to organize another, much larger expedition to return and excavate the lost city. We’ll learn as much as we can about it and bring much of it to the surface in the same manner as they did with the Titanic. It will be a grand endeavor, indeed.”

Dr. Petra shouted from her command center, “Mr. Camberson, we’re all set.”

He waved at her, then looked into the camera and said, “If you’ll excuse me, I need to go make history.”

Camberson climbed into the hatch of the Deep-Sea Discovery. Once he was inside, Dr. Petra pushed a button to open the ship’s bay door and lower the submersible into the ocean. It glided effortlessly into the water and bobbed about for a few moments. Then, with a metallic whooshing noise, it shot beneath the surface. Matt, Donny, and Dr. Petra gathered around the command center to monitor its progress. Meanwhile, Captain Bill remained at the rudder to ensure that the ship wouldn’t drift away in the current.

Camberson’s voice crackled through the speakers and said, “We’ve got a positive initiation sequence. All clear.” The video monitors showed the scene around the submersible as the sunlight from the surface gradually faded away to the abyssal darkness below. Soon, the monitors showed nothing but complete blackness.

Several minutes passed before Camberson’s voice came through the speaker once more and said, “I’ve reached the ocean floor. Pressure readings are holding, and all systems are nominal. I’m going to turn on the lighting system.”

At that moment, the lights turned on around the submersible, illuminating the ocean floor in the video monitors. Matt thought to himself that what Dr. Petra had said was true, it closely resembled the surface of the moon. The floating detritus and absence of stars in the background were the only clues as to the submersible’s true location.

Then, it began to glide across the ocean floor. Nobody said anything for a long time, except for Camberson as he periodically noted technical status updates and Dr. Petra replied in confirmation through the microphone. After several minutes, the lights from the submersible reflected off something metallic, and Camberson piloted his craft in its direction. A few moments later, they saw the red-and-yellow insignia of the Russian Mir space station inscribed on a chunk of metal.

“Looks like you were right, Dr. Petra. This really is a cemetery for spacecraft,” Matt said.

After several hours of watching the Deep-Sea Discovery mill around on the ocean floor, Matt found himself feeling quite bored. They’d come across no other spacecraft debris or anything else even remotely interesting. Even Dr. Petra, who’d been intrigued by the mission’s progress until now, was starting to seem disinterested. Matt looked over at Donny who’d fallen asleep in his chair.

A moment later, Dr. Petra snatched the microphone and said, “Hold on, Mr. Camberson. Can you please turn 30 degrees starboard and then advance for about 20 meters?”

“Absolutely,” came the reply through the speakers.

Matt and Dr. Petra watched the monitor intently as a shape began to appear on the ocean floor in the light from the submersible. To Matt, it looked like a bush that consisted of a series of long white stalks with red tulips at the end. Dr. Petra said excitedly into the microphone, “Do you see that, Mr. Camberson? Those are tube worms!”

“Indeed, they are, Dr. Petra. And quite healthy ones at that,” replied Camberson.

“There must be some kind of previously undiscovered geothermal vent nearby. This is fascinating,” Dr. Petra said as she began furiously taking notes on a notepad lying on the desk of the command center. “Let’s look around this area and see what else we can find.”

“Ok, I will, but remember that we’re here to find a lost city, not to study marine life,” replied Camberson. “However, this whole area happens to be in my search field, so there’s no harm in poking around a bit.”

After the submersible scanned the area for a few more minutes, Dr. Petra spotted something else. She said into the microphone, “There, behind that rocky outcrop, I thought I saw something move.”

“Headed there now,” said Camberson.

Dr. Petra and Matt watched as the submersible moved toward a group of nearby boulders. It glided up and over them, then maneuvered back down to the ocean floor. They gasped at what they saw.

This part of the ocean was teeming with sea life – bizarre creatures Matt had never seen before. He elbowed Donny awake, who yawned and stretched and said, “What?”

“Donny, you’ve got to see this. It’s amazing.”

The three of them watched through the monitor as the sea creatures came into view. Dr. Petra’s jaw was agape as she scribbled notes with fiery passion, shouting out the names of the animals as they appeared.

“That’s a frilled shark! There’s a viper fish and there’s a wolf fish! That nightmarish looking thing is a giant spider crab, and there’s a vampire squid! There’s dozens of each of them all around. I can’t believe all these creatures are here.”

After a few moments, the look of surprise on her face turned into one of profound confusion. She stared at her notes as she said, “This is impossible. There’s no way there could be this level of biological diversity in this part of the ocean so far from any known nutrient source. The tube worms I can understand, but with the other species, it’s as if something were bringing nutrients here from somewhere else.”

All the while, Camberson remained silent as his submersible was surrounded by strange creatures of the deep.

Then, they saw something else for which they weren’t prepared. Off in the distance, a head that was vaguely humanoid poked out from behind a rock. Its skin was greyish-green, and its face had fish-and-frog-like features with palpitating gills on its neck and huge, unblinking eyes. A scaly ridge ran from the top of its head down its back. The light from the submersible flashed off its shiny skin and it ducked back behind the cover of darkness.

“What was that?” Donny asked in terrified awe.

“I d-don’t know” Dr. Petra stammered as she stared at the screen. Then, as if snapping out of a trance, she grabbed the microphone and said, “Mr. Camberson, did you see that?”


Dr. Petra tried again, “Mr. Camberson, can you hear me? Did you see what that was behind the rock? Please respond.”

Camberson’s voice started to come through the speakers. At first, it sounded like he was quietly mumbling to himself, but then his voice rose slightly, and it became apparent that he was gibbering nonsense.

The submersible picked up speed in the direction of where the humanoid creature had been. As it crested a hill, Dr. Petra, Donny, and Matt all gasped loudly in unison. At the bottom of the trench there stood a building with architecture that was rough and Cyclopean. It consisted of stone bricks of different sizes and shapes stacked atop one another haphazardly without being bound together by mortar. However, there was no doubt that the structure had been intentionally designed and built by some intelligence.

There was something extremely bizarre about the way it was constructed. Its lines and planes didn’t intersect how they should, but instead curved toward and away from each other in ways that were hard to comprehend. Matt vaguely remembered a term he’d heard once before, “non-Euclidean geometry.” He supposed this must be what that meant.

“I did it! I found R’lyeh!” Camberson shouted gleefully, startling everyone.

Matt couldn’t believe it. He thought this whole endeavor was going to be for naught, and yet here they were looking at visual proof of this lost, forgotten city at the bottom of the ocean literally in the middle of nowhere. He suddenly felt grateful that Donny had drug him into this. It seemed like this might be the big break they were looking for after all.

Camberson began gibbering again, but this time much more loudly. The submersible picked up more speed and headed in the direction of the building. Soon, more buildings came into view, some of them grouped together and some significantly larger than the others. There were low, flat structures adjacent to twisting towers and bridges. There were structures the size of small houses and others the size of huge office buildings. The submersible was now surrounded by structures in what was starting to appear to be an underwater metropolis. They were all built using the same bizarre architecture as the first.

“Mr. Camberson? Can you hear me? Please respond,” Dr. Petra said into the microphone, but either he couldn’t hear her, or he was ignoring her. The intensity of his gibbering increased every moment.

The submersible continued to pass through the emerging cityscape. Meanwhile, Dr. Petra, Matt, and Donny watched in horror as more of the fish-frog-like humanoids began to appear in and around the buildings. They were each about the size of a full-grown man. Their blank, expressionless faces indicated no emotion, and their hideous, bulbous eyes stared with unknowable intent.

Other lifeforms came into view among the humanoid creatures as well. They were amorphous, protoplasmic black blobs nearly 5 meters in diameter that spontaneously formed and un-formed hideous eyes, pustules of pulsating green light, and tentacle-like appendages. They resembled nightmarish, vile amoebas that seemed even more terrifying with the haunting shadows thrown by the submersible’s lighting system. Just the sight of one was enough to make Matt gag.

“Mr. Camberson! Please respond!” Dr. Petra shouted in desperation, but it was no use.

“This is going to be one hell of a documentary,” Donny said.

The submersible reached what appeared to be a solid stone wall and began drifting upwards. After a few moments, it became clear that it wasn’t a wall but was instead the edge of a huge sarcophagus. The camera panned away to reveal that the front of the sarcophagus had an image carved into it of a hideous creature with the body of a man, the head of an octopus, and the wings of a bat.

Matt got a chill when he recognized the image as the one from the drawing Camberson showed them in his office. His heart sank when he saw a motif of stars carved directly above the creature’s head that was in the same pattern as the strange constellation he and Donny had seen the previous night.

Camberson’s voice rang through the speakers, chanting, “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn! Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn! Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!”

As he did so, the submersible’s peripheral cameras showed the frog-like creatures had surrounded it, each carrying stones and crude hand weapons. They attacked, smashing against its hull. Camberson continued to chant, “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn! Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn! Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!”

Loud, metallic clanging sounds rang through the speakers in addition to the sound of Camberson chanting. Dr. Petra, Matt, and Donny could do nothing but watch in horror as one-by-one, the submersible’s cameras were destroyed, leaving nothing but static on their respective monitors. Eventually, there was but one camera left, the one trained directly on the sarcophagus. It showed the sarcophagus’ lid open slightly, letting forth a cloud of bubbles. The last image they saw was a sickening black tentacle writhing out from inside. Then, the monitor showed only static.

A long, low moaning sound came from underneath the ship, and it shook vigorously for several seconds. Donny said, “Uh, guys, I think we should probably leave,”

“Nobody’s going anywhere,” said Captain Bill, who stood in front of the hatch to the ship’s bridge as he held out his huge bowie knife threateningly. Blood streamed down his face, and it quickly became apparent that he’d cut out his injured eye which he now held in his other hand. For some reason, he kept the eyepatch on over the now empty socket.

He said, “I told you the stars were aligned against us, and now it’s too late. You’ll sacrifice yourselves to Great Cthulhu, for that which is dead may never die.”

Captain Bill took a menacing step towards them and began reciting the same chant they’d heard earlier from Camberson, “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn! Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn! Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!”

Dr. Petra quickly grabbed a wrench from her workbench nearby. Then, with a mighty yell, she rushed towards Captain Bill. He hadn’t been expecting this, and he feebly swung his knife so that he barely nicked her arm before she smashed her wrench down upon the top of his skull, knocking him out cold.

She said to Matt and Donny, “I’ve got some rope over there behind the cabinet. Tie him up before he regains consciousness.”

“What are you going to do?” asked Matt.

“I’m going to get us the hell out of here!”

“You know how to sail a boat?”

“I’m a scientist. I’ll figure it out.”

Once Captain Bill was safely tied up, the three went through the hatch and up to the bridge. Dr. Petra immediately began engaging the rudder’s buttons and dials to deduce how to control the ship. Just as she figured it out, a rumbling came from the ocean, and a massive black tentacle erupted from below the surface and towered into the sky. It was easily 15 stories high, and it blocked out the sun so that a great shadow fell across the boat.

Dr. Petra urgently spun the ship’s wheel, and as she did so the tentacle began to fall towards them. Donny and Matt yelled in fear as the tentacle just barely missed them, smashing into the water and sending a massive wave that propelled the boat away while knocking everyone to their feet. Dr. Petra recovered and gunned the motor, moving the ship away from the dive site as fast as she could.

After they’d gone a few kilometers, there seemed to be no more attacks forthcoming and the ocean was calm. Matt and Donny went out to the ship’s stern, looking back at the ocean as they sped away. Then, in the distance, they saw what appeared to be a gigantic octopus breach the surface of the water. Its gargantuan tentacles flailed around, and its huge, disgusting eyes focused on them with the purest indifference they’d ever felt.

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