Below is the opening pages of The Nameless, a novel I completed a year ago, and am readying it for the Fresh Blood contest presented by Chizine (my favourite e-zine) and Dorchester Publishing. Chizine focuses on the disturbing, the unclassifiable. As if staring at life through a cracked mirror. Such is the Nameless: What if you had the power to change one terrible event…remove it forever as if it had never happened? What if that event didn’t want to be forgotten?
Nicholas Finn was a dead man.
The abyss was a yawning void, so massive it threatened to drown him. He fought against the metal tentacles but the more he struggled, the more they sawed into his environmental suit and threatened to rip him open.
Finn breathed deeply, exhaled, bubbles erupting around his sealed mask. He needed to regroup, to quell the rising surge of panic – because panic would spell the end. Or simply hurry the inevitable. His helmet’s three-hundred watt tungsten halogens burned twin beams through the blackness, the entrails of the capsized rig glinting in the contrast.
Finn secured his hot-water valve, slowing the leak of hot water from his suit. Only a thin thermal cushion of warm water and polypropylene shielded him from the frigid ocean. His suit retained heat for five minutes without a hot-water supply – he didn’t think he’d last five minutes.
Finn sank into the underwater chasm.
“Nick, what’s happening?” Jason’s voice vibrated in his helmet.
“The rig collapsed,” Nick gasped. He checked his pneumofathometer but his depth hose had been shorn in the accident, along with his hot-water supply and the strength member. His tenuous link to survival was his remaining hose – his air supply. He didn’t know how much more length he had before it was ripped away, leaving him to drown in his helmet.
His freed his right arm. Taking too long.
The halogen beams faded before snapping back to a dazzling white. Grey-out. The first indication of pressure. He might not have noticed the increased pressure, but his body did.
“I’m coming to get you,” Jason stated. But he was back in the bell control room. Too far away to save him. Finn knew he was on his own.
His headlamps shaded to black. Several long seconds passed, and Finn wondered if he had slipped into a dissociative unconsciousness. But his breathing echoed within his dive helmet – a signal that he was conscious but his lights had failed, and they were tested to function at depths of twelve-hundred feet. Am I beneath the twelve hundred mark?
His ears rang. The depth? Wasn’t sure. Had to ignore the sound and concentrate on the task at hand. His lights fluttered, strobes into the darkness.
“Damn it,” he cursed.
The ringing increased until it drowned out his breathing. The cabling around him gave slightly, allowing more maneuverability. He shivered, the cold of the ocean leeching heat faster than he had anticipated.
The world exploded. Brilliance flared like an exploding sun. Yet his tungsten lamps remained dark.
Finn’s breath caught. The brilliance pulsed from below, a sprawl the size of Manhattan.
He plummeted in a free fall, like an angel arcing to earth.
Finn’s breath returned in rapid gasps. The cabling, the rig, even the ocean – gone.
The sprawl was moving, roaring at tremendous speeds, its surface mercurial, sliding away at velocity he couldn’t measure. Is it a place? No, it was a thing. Yet it had no dimensions to it; the bulk filled his vision, blurred by speed.
Couldn’t decipher the words. Didn’t want to hear them. He wanted to cover his ears to block the terrible sound. Hands placed over his helmet. No good. The words were urgent jumbles, trying to reach him like outstretched hands.
Spiraling, faster, unable to get his equilibrium.
Why won’t the whispers stop? He understood the context – lies, falsehoods, and slander.
The Unknown pulled with an immense gravitational force, like a black hole sucking at the bottom of the ocean.
Whispers, hundreds of voices piled atop each other.
The outer skin bubbled. Contorted.
The Unknown coiled upon itself, then an image appeared, gradually gaining clarity.
Finn wanted to look away; wanted to block out the cacophony of voices. Couldn’t do either.
Shapes coalesced, forming something terrible. A truth.
Mouth opened to scream. No sound. Eyes wide.