Chapter 7 (Paris)

September 26th

We hired a man to drive us through the old train tunnel under the English Channel into France. From there we hitched a ride to Paris and arrived in the late afternoon.

September 27th

12:08 pm

Our train was delayed for twenty minutes. A man pulled a gun on the conductor and there was a standoff with three soldiers. The man was disarmed and beaten within an inch of his life. Now we are ready to leave.

8:35 pm

We are stopped in Munich while they check everyone’s papers. This is my first time in Soviet territory. I’ve spent the past hour gazing out the window at the empty, burned out landscape.

The Captain is occupying the two seats in front of me. I am able to peer between the seats and see what he is reading. It’s a letter.

Arthur,

I’ve been thinking about you. I need to decide how much time I will allow myself to spend thinking about you, because at this point it takes up my entire day. I can’t wait to be with you again and we will drink wine and eat oysters and you will play with the folds in my dress and I will run my fingers across your eyelashes.

No one mattered before you.

 

 

 

 

Naomi

Chapter 6 (Kensington)

September 24th

Tom and I spent all day at the junkyard behind Paddington Station salvaging machine parts while Gram and Peoria were out drinking. We caught up with them later.

A little after eleven, the four of us stumbled out of the pub and walked up to High Street Kensington. I saw a lanky figure standing in the shadows. I realized we were being followed, so turned around. Standing behind me was one of the Yuls. He punched me in the mouth and I fell to my knees. I heard six pairs of cowboy boots run up and surround us on all sides. I tried to stand but another fist knocked me back down.

Suddenly I heard a crack, like a thunderbolt. I looked up and saw Peoria standing over one of the Yuls, holding a piece of slate from the sidewalk. He was laying face down, his cowboy hat soaked in blood.

“God damn Peoria!” said the Captain. “You split his head open.”
“What? Too aggressive for you Gram?” she said with a smile.

“Nah…not at all.”

The rest of the Yuls ran off. The Captain helped me up and we made our way back to the sub.

Chapter 5 (on the F. Scott)

September 23rd

I woke up on the floor of the control room. Tom was passed out on the couch with his hat over his eyes. Jimi Hendrix ‘Are You Experienced’ original release from 1967 was skipping on the record player. We were up late last night drinking the Captain’s new bourbon.

Gram made coffee while Tom updated him on the F. Scott’s new software. The Mechanical Gills were in bad shape. Years of neglect had left them useless. Tom needed two weeks to take the system apart and replace everything. Gram turned to me.

“Show him what you found at the museum,” said the Captain.

I walked over to Tom and handed him my notes.

The Koi of Hungwa was originally built in Beijing, China in 1419 during the height of the Ming Dynasty. The Emperor Zhu Di had a vision in his sleep. One night the Sea came to him in his chamber and whispered in his ear.

“Take my eyes and build for me a fish that will control the tides of the ocean, the wind that blows the sails and the waves that break upon the shore. Do this and you alone shall be my master and I will do your bidding.”

The following morning Zheng He, the admiral of the Chinese Navy returned home from his voyage to the other side of the world. Among the many treasures he presented before the court were two stones, each the size of a walnut, smooth as silk and dark as the bottom of the ocean. He called them the Eyes of the Sea. Zhu Di saw these two stones as a sign. He ordered his generals to find the greatest metal smiths in the land and bring them to the Forbidden City.

A year later the Koi of Hungwa was presented to the court. The two dark stones were secured in place as the eyes. The Sea kept its promise. Any command the Emperor whispered to the Koi came to be. Enemy ships were destroyed by waves the size of mountains, while no ship from the Empire encountered another storm at sea. Zhu Di crushed his opponents effortlessly and for five years he was Emperor of the World.

In 1424, Zhu Di died. The Mandarins took control of the Forbidden City and ordered the destruction of the Koi of Hungwa. It was believed that Zheng He himself fled with the fish to Constantinople, where he remained under the protection of the Byzantine Emperor until 1453, when the city was conquered by Mehmet II, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.

“Tom, I need you to stay here and fix the Gills. Lewis, you and I are going to Istanbul.”

Chapter 4 (at the Pub)

September 22nd

The Captain was telling me how when you’re playing pool there’s this zone you get in, when you’ve had about 3 beers and you nail every shot. One more beer and you’re ruined, but if you stay in this zone for as long as you can, you’ll run the table. Tonight, he ran the table.

He was playing pool against this guy Scotty, who always hangs out in the pub with his crew of thugs. They all have shaved heads and dress like cowboys. Gram calls them the Yul Brynners.

The rules were simple. If Gram won, he got a case of bourbon Scotty stole from a cabstand earlier that day. If Scotty won, he got the Captain’s coat, an old military jacket that originally belonged to his great great grandfather. Gram loves that coat more than anything in the world. I have a hard time believing he would let Scotty walk out with it.

Gram got two balls in at the break. He was 3 beers deep and said he felt like ‘Fast’ Eddie Felson himself was controlling his hand. The whole time Scotty breathed over him with his stained teeth and his cracked skin. Gram winked at one of the Yuls and sunk the eight ball. He grabbed the case of bourbon and we left.

Chapter 3 (London)

September 21st,

This morning the Captain received a message on his mobile:

Arthur my cabbage,

I am sorry that it’s taken my two days to get back to you. I’ve been up to my armpits in work and haven’t had a moment’s rest in decades. Let’s play, I’ll be in London in 3 days.

I wanna smash your face into a jelly.


Peoria.

Tom’s been crashing in the F. Scott, since he arrived in London, staying up all night drinking and playing cards with the Captain. They share a mutual love for extra dry Gin and Texas hold ‘em.

Today the Captain asked me to research something called the Koi of Hungwa at the British Museum.

Chapter 2 (London)

(three months prior)

September 17th, 

This morning the Captain received a message on his mobile:

Arthur Gram,

Your presence is requested at the Long Horn Arms the morning of September 17th at 9am. Your cooperation is appreciated.

 

Lorenz Murikai

Murikai made his money building casinos. He operates out of Hong Kong.

Gram asked me to meet him in front of the newsagent across from my flat. Outside on the street I saw a black cab speeding towards me. The door swung open and Gram told me to get in.

In the morning light the city looked abandoned. The streets smelled like piss.

In the far corner of the Long Horn Arms sat an older Chinese gentleman in a gray suit. He waved the Captain to his table. As we sat down he turned to Gram.

“I would prefer that we speak alone.”

“Lewis, wait outside,” said the Captain.

I bought a pack of Gallos at the bar and left the pub. Eventually the Captain came and got me. In the cab back to Hammersmith, Gram called his friend Tom.

Tom grew up in Baltimore a few years after the great fire. He spent his childhood exploring abandoned buildings and teaching himself engineering from old machine manuals.

He said he would be in London in two days.

Chapter 1 (New York)

December 19th, 

I think the Captain’s dying. There’s a red line of infection running from his left cheek down his neck. His skin is gray, sunken. He coughs constantly.

My cabin is so cold I can see my breath. We haven’t made it to the surface in five days because of the ice. Tom is in the engine room trying to get the Mechanical Gills running so we can get some fresh air. Ambush Man and Iseri are playing cards in the mess hall. Ambush Man is being a dick.

The Captain is in his cabin clutching his Elvis mug and listening to the Supremes. He is attempting to send messages to London. His breath smells like bourbon.

As I look out my window I can see something moving.

December 20th,

There was a crash this morning. Peoria was thrown across the control room. A dresser crushed Tom’s hand against the wall. The generator shut down and all the lights went out. In the darkness I could hear Tom cursing under his breath. Ambush Man and the Captain suited up and went out see what happened.

A large wall of concrete fell off the side of a nearby building and crashed down on to the sub. Now the engine room is flooding.

December 21st, 

Tom and Peoria are trying to stop the leak. Ambush Man and Iseri are arguing again. Gram is pacing back and forth. He has punched 3 holes in the wall of his cabin.

I feel uneasy. Something is out there, in the water, watching us, waiting. This mission was a mistake.