Captain: Is this thing on? Hello? Can anyone up there hear me? Divine Mother? Houston? Bueller?
Background voice: It’s one way, Allie.
Captain: We’re using last names from here on out, Whitehelm. We’re shipmates now, better act like it.
Whitehelm: I’m not a shipmate. I’m religious guidance. The only authority I respond to is Divine Mother.
Captain: Divine Mother ain’t here. And she left me in charge, so you respond to me. We’re in a dangerous situation, Whitehelm, and there’s no time for your teen angst.
Captain: See? Teen angst. Why do I have to babysit on top of–
Another voice: We’re at a hundred meters, Cap.
Captain: There we go, Tanaka! Triple-digits! Only another, what, thousand of those to go? That ain’t too bad guys, is it?
Tanaka: We should really focus. Can you finish the transmission so we can work?
Captain: Right. Okay, so this is Mission One from the ship Pandora. We are headed to the bottom of Mariana’s Trench to find God or whatever. I don’t know, I’m not a member of the Temple of The Sacred Earth. I just drive submarines really well, and this bad boy needs at least one person who can do that. So we’re headed to the bottom, and with all the tech we’ve got going for us, we’ll definitely reach it. Tanaka is here as the technician. He’s been building the ‘dora for years now, and he knows it better than anyone. Whitehelm is the ambassador for the Divine Mother and the Temple. She’s supposed to get religious guidance on what to look for once we’re down there. However, as captain, I’m in charge of getting us down there and then back out before we’re crushed like a soda can. That sound about right, guys?
Captain: Great. We’re going to hopefully reach our destination in an estimated seventy-two hours, record everything with the state of the art cameras and audio/vibration recorders, and then book it back to the surface in another seventy-two hours. Homebase will throw us a party and we’ll be written about in history books. Maybe the Temple will claim the land, but they did pay for this trip, so I’m not gonna complain about that. Besides, what would they do with a bunch of ocean dirt? Political power trips are beyond me.
I’m starting to ramble, so I guess that’s it. Sanchez out.
Captain: Alright, it’s almost one in the morning at home base, so hope you guys are all asleep. We had a malfunction on the heating unit, but Tanaka got that fixed pretty quick. Still kind of startling to realize how cold it gets down here. (Mechanical sound) Ah, that was nothing. Every time we reach a certain air pressure level outside, the machine that controls the interior pressure rachets up a little. We’re at… a thousand meters. Whitehelm set up a little picture of a mountain with reference points to how high we’d be if we were climbing Everest. We’re about a ninth of the way up. We’re moving fast now, but it’s gonna be slower the further down we go. It’s gonna be adjust, then plummet. Adjust, plummet.
Right now, all I see is blackness. Whitehelm is sleeping, and Tanaka is supposed to be on deck waiting to help, but I sent him to nap. Nothing is happening, and the dark can mess with your brain. Make you feel weird. Hallucinate and stuff. So we gotta take it easy.
Whitehelm is gonna be trouble. Second-gen Temple kid. She’s only seventeen, so I tried to get the Temple folk to make her stay home, but they were insistent. The Divine Mother herself pulled me aside and told me that this was the girl’s purpose, that she was destined to see the face of God down there and bring wisdom back to their followers. All the papers were signed, so what could I do? I just have to keep her safe until I can get her home.
Tanaka is an adult, so I have no problem with him. In fact, he’s an amazing first mate. He knows the ‘dora, but he also knows the subs I trained on, so he translates everything into terms I know. He’s definitely nervous, and I don’t blame him for that.
Forgive me, Divine Mother and all your Temple buddies, but this whole finding God down there thing is creepy. We really should have brought some kind of deep sea biologist on this trip, not a child priestess. Someone needs to record the scientific data, beyond the tech stuff Tanaka knows and the basics of oceanography I know. I don’t think we’ll find God. And I think looking for God is a waste of this amazing opportunity, and having a little girl staring out the window just wigs me out.
But I’ve already stated my concerns. This is just another way to get it in writing that this shit is weird and I am not down with it.
We haven’t even seen fish here. It’s just blackness.
Whitehelm: … every few hours. We can’t leave anything out.
Tanaka: What is there to say? We’re progressing fine, there’s nothing out there. It’s the same as it was this morning.
Captain: Guys, I see something.
(Shuffling and unintelligible commentary)
Captain: Okay, we’re around thirty-five hundred meters and we see something. It’s, uh, it’s moving. It’s big. Maybe ten feet–er, six meters, or something. Bigger than a person.
Tanaka: The pressure is way too high for animals this large. It must be some kind of rock or–
(Distant rumble sound)
Captain: Whatever the hell it is, it’s not a little fishie. I’m gonna navigate us further east, hopefully it don’t have friends.
Whitehelm: It might be communicating with us. We should investigate.
Captain: I’m moving us away from it. We’re in a tiny bubble, I’m not gonna risk it getting handsy. (More murmuring) Okay, we’ll turn on the external lights and take some photos, but then we’re out. Got it?
Captain: It’s, uh… it’s red. A big old red blob. There are white stripes on the side, but they’re moving so I don’t know if I’d call ‘em stripes. It’s got a mouth, similar to a blue whale. When the mouth is open it’s twice as big. It’s making vibrations, which are currently being recorded. What’s the point of being so big and colorful in the darkest place on Earth?
Whitehelm: It’s the first animal we’ve seen down here. I think it’s a sign.
Tanaka: A stop sign, maybe.
(Long silence. The rumbling sound increases)
Captain: It’s just an animal. Let’s move on.
Captain: Divine Mother, settle a bet for us, will ya? Tanaka here thinks Luigi would be a better leader than Mario, and Whitehelm says Yoshi. Maybe I’m looking through rose-tinted glasses, but why would Mario be the leader if he wasn’t already the best?
Tanaka: Can we add Princess Peach to the–
Whitehelm: Princess Peach is already a ruler, it’s not fair to include her.
Captain: See what I mean? Kids these days, they don’t appreciate the original. They wanna remix everything. Why not make Donkey Kong the leader if we’re going into nonsense?!
(Argument ensues, unintelligble)
Captain: Okay, okay, put that on hold. Divine Mother, definitely get back to us, though. Anyway, we’re gonna be at eight thousand meters in a few minutes. Man, we’re really gonna make it, aren’t we? Although, on the Everest map, we’re now officially in the Death Zone, the place where humans will die almost immediately if not given oxygen tanks. Which is… creepy. If people die so far up in the sky, what happens to them down here?
But we’re fine. Tanaka’s made one hell of a ship. No side effects to mention, really, aside from these two having delirium because that’s the only way you’d pick Luigi–
Whitehelm: What’s that buzzing?
Captain: I don’t hear anything. Tanaka, is it something in the ‘dora?
Tanaka: No, everything is functioning fine. The air pressure unit might have–
Whitehelm: It’s not the air pressure. It’s… it’s some kind of buzzing. Really loud. I don’t–I feel it, I can’t hear it.
Captain: Okay, go lay down, Whitehelm. You might just be tired, or something.
Whitehelm: I don’t know. Something is communicating with us, I think.
Captain: Jesus, not everything is a sign from God! It’s been a long trip, we’re under pressure humans should never be able to handle, and it’s dark as shit. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. You’re overstimulated and exhausted. Go to sleep.
Whitehelm: But I can feel it!
Captain: Then you’ll be able to feel it after your nap, too. This is an order, Whitehelm.
(Murmuring, sound of footsteps)
Tanaka: I’ll check on the air pressure unit.
Captain: Do that. (Silence followed by a long sigh) Back to business, I guess. We’ve seen more fish and creatures down here. There must be something providing them energy, like a heat vent or something. Some of them are colorful, but most are just see-through. Hopefully you’ve gotten the photos. It’s like a scuba-diving trip to hell.
Our ears are always popping, and sometimes I get dizzy. Last night–I think it was night?–Tanaka slept with his eyes open. For like, two hours. Otherwise it’s been pretty normal. Aside from, I guess, the sign from God Whitehelm just recieved. I’ll give updates on that if she doesn’t wake up and realize she was being dumb and tired. Sanchez out.
Captain: It’s late, I’m about to take a rest, but I thought I’d update. Uh, Whitehelm is still asleep. This is way too much for a kid. I have no idea why I let them do this to her. She’s spent most of the time praying and looking for signs, and I guess when she wakes up, she’s gonna want to keep looking.
I don’t think Tanaka is blinking anymore. I mean, once or twice he closes his eyes, but when I talk to him, he stares without blinking. Even if we talk for fifteen minutes. He keeps insisting he can take over while I take a rest, but I don’t know if I should let him. But this machine pretty much drives itself, and he knows the ‘dora better than anyone. He can drive this bad boy in a coma. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that, though.
The fish here really are amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it. I could just look out of the window here forever. Plus there’s plant matter, and rock formations…
I think I see some light down there. Must be the heat source. How far from the surface are we? Lemme check the chart. Looks like… ah, we’re higher than Mount Everest now. How cool is that? No one has ever seen these things aside from us. And, well, I guess you guys are getting the pictures and audio, but it’s nothing compared to the real deal.
My head hurts. It’s such a long trip, and being in the dark is tripping me up. But we’re almost there. Only another thousand. Maybe we’ll hit the ground while I’m sleeping.
Captain: Okay, uh, just… listen. Listen to her.
Whitehelm: Eevel.Veel. Levee. Vele. Vele. Vele. Vele. Evel. Evel. Evel. Evel. Evel. Evel. Veeeeeeeeeeeeee–
Tanaka: What is she doing?
Captain: She’s been talking like this for… ah, fifteen minutes? She got up from a very long nap, stood up, and then started doing this… whatever this is. She’s not looking at us. She’s just making noises.
Tanaka: Tell them about the–
Captain: One thing at a time! Jesus, okay, okay, so we’re at, uh… Ten thousand. We’re… we’re at the bottom. This is way past the map territory.
Tanaka: That can’t be right.
Captain: I’m telling them what’s happening, okay? I’m stating the facts as I see them. We should be touching the bottom of the deepest part of the ocean, woo-hoo, except there’s nothing down there. It just keeps going.
Captain: Move her out of the goddamn way, Tanaka!
Tanaka: Holy shit! Corie–!
Captain: She’s fine, Tanaka. There’s a warning on the pressure unit–it’s going off somewhere. Go fix it.
Tanaka: But she fell, what if–
(Momentary silence, followed by another thump)
Captain: … Corie? Corie, are you–
(Thump. Thump. Thump.)
Captain: Corie, stop, please.
(Rustling sounds, thumps soften but continue)
Captain: Okay, okay, at least she’s not hurting herself now. She’s just… banging her head. But it’s on a pillow. Uh, so we’re still going down, but I don’t know how much more pressure we can handle. I mean, of course the people who made the ‘dora planned for wiggle room, but we’re going way beyond wiggles. We’re going faster, actually. Tanaka!
Captain: We need to reverse, now! It’s not letting me!
Tanaka: Give me a second!
Captain: There’s, there’s this… This big thing. I-I don’t know what to call it. A big… it’s moving. It’s… light. Like it’s a sun, producing light and heat. It’s getting really goddamn hot down here. And the animals–they’re huge. Bigger than goddamn skyscrapers. But the sun thing, the creature, it has–
Jesus Christ. It has eyes.
Tanaka: We’re being moved! Like–gravitational pull or something!
Whitehelm: YOU CAME FOR GOD. DID YOU NOT?
Captain: Whitehelm–Corie, please, sit–
Whitehelm: YOU SHOULD HAVE STAYED. YOU SHOULD NOT SEEK.
Captain: Get her away from the window!
Tanaka: I’m trying!
Whitehelm: WE ARE NOT THE GOD YOU SEEK. WE ARE MORE. YOU WILL WITNESS.
Captain: Okay, that’s it. I’m–We have thrusters that only push down because I can’t move them anymore. We’re gonna just have to go deeper and navigate around. Tie her up if you have to, okay?!
Tanaka: She’s gonna break the window–!
Captain: It’s not gonna break, it’s the strongest–
Tanaka: Doesn’t matter, it’s gonna break!
Whitehelm: WATCH. THE DIVINE WILL NOT ALLOW YOUR CURIOSITIES. THIS IS THE FINAL WARNING.
Captain: Holy shit. Stop her!
Tanaka: I can’t–!
(Sounds of a struggle)
Captain: Corie–! Corie! Please, stop!
Whitehelm: Wh-what? (Starts to cry) What’s happening?
Captain: Corie, thank god.
(Rumbling rising in the background)
Captain: We need to move. Now!
Whitehelm: They won’t let us leave. I-I want my mom, Allie!
Tanaka: Who the fuck are they?
Captain: Doesn’t matter. We’re gonna run all the engines. Tanaka, get us out of here.
Tanaka: We can try–
(Rumble louder, becoming a roar-like sound)
Captain: It… It has a mouth.
Tanaka: The pressure is too much, Cap, we need to–
Whitehelm: Mommy, please!
Captain: And… teeth.
(Sound becomes too loud, then static. Transmission ends.)