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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Alexandra and Nick make perfect preparations; wear the perfect clothing; make the perfect approach on the perfectly black night; but Nick also has that "everything's too perfect" feeling in his
gut. "Whenever there is doubt, there is no doubt".

Chapter 14 (v.1) - FEARS FOUNDED

Submitted: March 27, 2020

Reads: 32

A A A | A A A

Submitted: March 27, 2020




A Novel

Nicholas Cochran

Chapter Fourteen


 Two hours after dark, we took the safe route to the Tesla. We dressed in the darkest black clothes we could muster. Alex had to make do with one of my black T-shirts under her body armor suit. There were black balaclavas in my arsenal room. I was surprised to find a couple of waterproof pistol bags in one of the drawers. A further search turned up a waterproof bag that could hold a grenade. Although the extra weight might slow us down a tad, despite the amazing new thrust power of the latest lightest UEP (Underwater Electric Power) units. I opted for safety over discomfort. Alex was in perfect condition and I was, well, better than okay.

We received a patrol schedule for both above and below surface examinations and studied them meticulously before setting off for our point of departure on the beach, a bit past the Oyster Bar Restaurant.

After talking to Jason, both Alex and I felt much better about our plan. I told her about Jason's ideas concerning the loading bays for cargo ships between the colonies as well as his ideas concerning a container with a lid on three sides. I know we were frank with Jason. If he could let the word leak out that something highly secretive was about to sneak through the connecting tunnel, that should be enough to draw Rampart’s men to the area.

“I just hope they don't do anything too destructive—or kill innocent people.” Alex wore furrows of concern on her face I had never seen before. The depth of her emotions and her compassion added more admirable attributes to this amazing woman.

We stopped at the spot a half mile up the coast from the restaurant at the public access to the beach. There was no one on the shore on this darkest night of the month. I suppose we might have taken a boat to a point on the other shore. The creators placed a small strip of land next to the Colony wall to secure the amount of water in our large ‘lake’. But bringing anybody else in on our scheme would only increase the possibility of a tip-off. A very unwelcome reception could await us after making our way through the tunnel into the water next to the marina.

We decided to go slowly toward the water tunnel. Our UEP units were virtually weightless. We didn’t ask Jason for any intercommunication equipment for us because we knew Rampart’s goons could pick up all but triple encrypted speech. Our UEP power was good for thirty miles with a top underwater speed of forty mph. Jason delivered perfectly fitting black bodysuits. We blackened all visible flesh and especially our faces. We tucked our waterproof phones in the side pockets of our suits. We helped attached the UEP units to each other. The water temp was around sixty degrees. Our lake is approximately three miles wide.

We knocked off a mile from our starting point. Of course, Alexandra was an expert swimmer. Over the years, she spent hours in the water; sometimes in a river; other times in our lake, from beaches dotted along the coast of our beloved Californiana.Alex joked with the confidence of one who knows their abilities as well as their stamina. After a mile or so, I felt a slight drag from my Glock. Alex’s Beretta and grenade had no apparent effect on her speed.

I was surprised at how incredibly calm our night was; so much like similar nights on The Marble. I kept forgetting that with well over the number of feet necessary to have an atmosphere, Mother Nature was at work in our blessed biosphere. Happy memories of my days on Earth, as it was called then, flooded my mind and I was afraid that I might slow myself down by needless sentimentality. Happy nights under half moons, full moons, and nights such as this with no moon, slowly receded from my consciousness as the far shore came into view.

At this point, I again marveled at the stunning creativity of our Colony builders. Somehow, they managed to have our body of water appear endless when viewed from our shore. There was enough curvature to make you think you were ‘looking out to sea’, over miles and miles of water. I had come to think of it as an ocean. From two flights up in the Oyster Bar, you could not make out any sign of the strip of land on the other side.

Alex began to slow as we approached the narrow strip. I eased up beside her, surfaced and began to discuss our next move.

“All right, darling, where do we go from here?”

“I think we should walk or swim very slowly until we get close to the tunnel and look around. The water is much deeper—around a hundred and fifty feet—in the middle of the lake to handle the big ships. We can restart our tanks anytime and go deep until we get inside the tunnel. That way, no one on top of the tunnel or on the catwalks under the tunnel would be able to see us. But stay close Alex; I still have this knot in my stomach. I can't decide whether it's worrying about you or about our mission. Something; as I said, you know, just doesn't feel right. I know we've missed something, damn it. I just hope it doesn't come up to bite us anytime soon.”

“I agree, Nicky; but right now, I’d just like to walk a little bit along here. The bottom’s only about three feet down. We can crouch pretty much to the waterline and still walk at the same time.”

“Great idea, hon. You know, I think there's some lights; maybe even lighthouses on both sides of the lake as we get closer to the tunnel. But the curvature of the Colony and the irregular amount of land next to the water; hell they could show up anytime. I don't see any beam from a lighthouse  yet but ___”

“There's one,” whispered Alexandra, pointing to my left.

“I see it.” I whispered back, “I think we can get a little closer. I can see the light but I can’t tell where it's casting its beam. Let me know if you see another one. I'll keep an eye on the right; you take the left, okay?”  

“Sure thing, darling,” pausing for a moment to reach down to her side, “just wanted to make sure my Beretta’s still there. Whether it’s going to be waterlogged and unusable I don't know. But I'll check it before we start into the tunnel.”

We began to walk slowly on the bottom with our eyes above the surface. About four minutes later, we saw a second lighthouse scanning the water. It looked more like a searchlight, than a warning light. To us, it was a warning light. I tapped Alex on the shoulder.

“What do you make of the distance we can go before that beam or the other one picks us up?”

“I don't really see the entrance to the tunnel yet, and I can't really tell whatever distance those lighthouses are from the entrance. But I think we should still keep all but our eyes under water, at least until we're absolutely sure where those beams are scanning.”

“I agree.” I whispered.

Within five minutes, the beam of the first lighthouse stretched to a point fifty yards ahead of us.

“How do you want to handle this, Alex? Should we go under now or wait to see where the second lighthouse reaches? Can you see anything at all on that strip of land where we can hide between the flashes of either lighthouse?” 



I don't know why they built the lighthouses so far from the tunnel. Maybe they thought smugglers would use the water route to transfer goods between the two cylinders.

We stopped for a breather. I whispered my continuing concerns to Alex.

“Now I definitely feel something’s wrong. It’s too quiet. Too dark. Too easy,” I breathed deeply a few times while I tried to put a name on my fear, “just have your hand on your remote button or the phone button and be ready to speed-dive right away; and dive for the deepest part of the channel. We’re good for eight to ten minutes there.”

“Very wise, Nicky,” said Alex, “now I’m really pumped for this whole operation.”

I wondered if there was ever any bottom to her tank of enthusiasm, ideas, courage, and of course, love making. I decided at this particular juncture, there was not. I got my head back on the track of our expedition. The beam from the first lighthouse was no more than twenty to thirty yards away from us. The beam from the second lighthouse was perhaps fifty yards away. I swam right up next to Alex. I lifted my mask. I don't know why. I just thought if I could see her or she could see me that we would coordinate much better. As it turned out, she had raised her mask as well. I thought that called for a kiss and perhaps quite a long kiss, which we accomplished to the pleasure of both.

“All right, hon, it's under the water time. Let’s go right to the bottom of the channel and then head for the tunnel before surfacing.”

“Okay, Chief.”

I ducked under the pleasantly warm water and hit my remote UEP button. Alex was right behind me. She then came up beside me as we dove at a careful speed toward the bottom in the direction of the tunnel.  We carried the latest flashlights. They were truly astonishing. We used them a couple of times to find the bottom. Even there, a hundred and forty feet down, we had to dial them back to their lowest setting.

A casual observer looking at our ocean would notice one or two very bizarre lighting spectacles.  Next would come a report to the Harbor Patrol. That would bring a lot of tough questions even Jason might have a hard time answering. We were gliding smoothly, planning to reach the tunnel mouth somewhere down around a hundred and twenty to a hundred and forty feet. We were at least half a mile away. By using our UEPs we reached the mouth of the tunnel in approximately three minutes. Abruptly, I noticed a change in the light on the surface of the water. Alex and I knew this change told us the beginning of the tunnel was close. I gave Alex a thumbs up and we started to the surface.

Alex bobbed up first and as soon as I broke the surface and removed my mask, I gave her a quick kiss. The mouth of the tunnel was an inky outline some twenty yards away.

“Alex, let's just tread water for a moment and get our bearings. Have you ever been in this tunnel before?”

“Yes. But a long time ago. In my teens. On a dare. My mother almost hit me when she found out. Mainly because of all the water traffic and stray propellers and the like. She was right.”

“Remember anything unusual about it?”

“Like what?”  

“Ah, well, like catwalks, side doors or niches, a place we could disappear in if water traffic comes along; anything like that?”

“No, Nicky; I’m blank.”

“Okay. Well honey, let’s go.”

The grenade exploded a foot off the surface a few yards in front of us. Automatic pistol fire sprayed bullets. We dove. I felt hits all over my left arm and leg as I pushed my UEP remote. I instinctively pushed Alex under the water with all my strength. The shimmering glare of a powerful light immediately lit up the water in front of us. I felt a stab of pain in both legs, my ribs, and my right arm. I looked at Alex. She was bleeding from the side of her head and her left leg. She hadn’t had time to cry out before I pulled her down and away from the tunnel. I tried to catch her remote. Her phone was in her sidepockeet where she was hit—and on the other side from me. I grabbed her hand and headed for dark water at the moment I found her remote. The glaring light vanished.  Faint sounds of automatic weapons followed us. I felt blood on my ankle and my right side. I kept pushing and pulling Alex. Blood was trailing from her left leg and a long gash on the side of her face, The water turned darker with our blood. Alex slumped and let go of my hand. 

End of Chapter Fourteen

© Copyright 2020 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.


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