The Giant Aquarium

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Adventure above and below a glass tunnel under the sea.

Submitted: November 29, 2015

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Submitted: November 29, 2015

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THE GIANT AQUARIUM

The Giant Aquarium was built on the beach as near to the sea as was possible. Inside the main building there was a shop that sold all different kinds of sea goods, such as key rings, featuring dolphins and clown fish hanging from them. There were baseball caps with the logo ‘The Giant Aquarium’ embroidered on the front, T-shirts, jewellery, beach towels, children’s toys, books, and games. The cafeteria served menus with a fish theme, besides ‘fish and chips’. The plates had pictures of fish painted on them and the plastic cups, too. The cash desk was in the large reception area where there were two touchpools for adults and children. The general idea was that the visitors bought their tickets and spent some time in the reception area and the touchpools, before entering the main building that led out onto a moving-floor that took the tourists out beneath the sea. Those who travelled on the moving-floor had the pleasure of being surrounded by all the creatures that lived in the sea. The experience was unique, and had five different areas with all kinds of sharks, stingrays, turtles, octopuses, and jellyfish, clown fish, and sea crocodiles. For those who were qualified divers who so desired, the dive master would take them to swim with the sharks.

 

Archie was the man in charge of the food for the different fish. He had two young assistants, who helped him fill up the buckets of food to take to the various areas. The favourite was the dolphin pool, where they could see the dolphins practising every day. The two young men handed the bucket of food to the trainers, and watched them as they threw the food into the pool and the dolphins dived into the water to retrieve it, and then they played with the dolphins and gave them some more food as a prize for performing well. The dolphins were rehearsed every day, and the shows were at two o’clock in the afternoon. Archie had worked there ever since it had opened six months before.

Mickey was the diver who dived into the sea where the glass tunnel was situated. He took the food from one of Archie’s assistants and gave it to the sharks and the turtles that were swimming around him. Marilyn accompanied him inside the glass tunnel to help with the food distribution, and she also dived with those who wanted to swim with the sharks. There were nights when members of the public were invited to spend a night with the sharks and turtles and the other inhabitants who lived in the sea. The constant movement of the floor helped to send the viewers fall asleep, and gave them a shock when they woke up to discover where they had spent the night.

Jason was a cleaner, whose mission in life was to maintain the aquarium walks impeccable. He had young lads helping him with sweeping, washing the floors inside and outside the glass tunnels, and worked in the gardens by picking up any litter found near bushes and trees as well as the pathways. After the removal of any rubbish on the pathways, it was washed by a machine, which the young lads enjoyed using. The exterior soon dried, and then the cleaners moved inside, to clean up the reception area, touchpools, and the Gift Shop.

Sheila ran the Gift Shop. She was middle-aged, and had worked in many different jobs before landing the post in the shop, which she treated as her own. It was Sheila’s pride and joy, and every moment was precious to her. She cleaned everything on sale with great pleasure and pride. The jewellery sparkled, and the T-shirts were kept beautifully folded inside plastic bags. She had her work cut out when the hands of little children wandered over the fluffy toys. Sheila had to put the toys into decorated plastic bags, to avoid dirt and food stains being transmitted. In the past she had made an effort to talk to parents whose children touched everything they could. But at times, her words had fallen on deaf ears and weren’t very helpful, even when they could see their precious offspring messing up the toys. She hadn’t done well with the tactic, so she kept any toys or other objects attractive to children, well covered, or only within an adult’s reach.

Joan, a woman in her early forties, was the receptionist, and kept an eye on the touchpools, just in case someone might have the bright idea of stealing one of the incumbents, to take home for their garden ponds. Joan was an affable person and was more than willing to answer any questions from the public. She was well organized, and wore her uniform better than most of the workers at the aquarium. The uniform consisted of a medium shade of blue for trousers for men, and women matched with a lighter blue T-shirt and a hooded cardigan, in the same shade as the trousers. The blue of course was the allusion to water. Everyone wore backless rubber shoes so as not to make noise. During her short time at the aquarium, Joan had come to notice certain characteristics in those members who would cause her trouble.

 

The aquarium was built in such a way that it was to protect the possibility of having to avoid a catastrophe, which had nearly happened a few months earlier. The problem had been, that a leak of water had been detected where the metal frame that surrounded the glass had a badly fitted screw, and had needed drastic treatment. The aquarium had to be closed for the time it took for the emergency work to be done. The whole place had to be closed to the general public, which caused grief to the management for the money lost, and the money spent. The worst scenario would be if the glass tunnel broke and all the sea water rushed into the building, and the whole place was lost. A lot of money and time had been invested in making the aquarium a success, and any kind of upset would be the biggest disgrace to befall the investors.

 

One night, Mickey and Marilyn were swimming around in the aquarium with a couple of visitors. The turtles and the sharks were used to humans being present and caused no trouble. The smaller turtles and the other little creatures ignored the presence of the divers. Everything was lovely, dark, quiet, and mysterious in the sea that night. The divers were having an entertaining time playing with the fish, and looking through the glass at the figures all wrapped up in their sleeping bags inside the tunnel. A small spot of light caught Mickey’s eyes. It wasn’t a bright light, nevertheless, in all that darkness it might well have been, as it continued to shine out like a beacon. Mickey, Marilyn, and the other divers saw it, too. None of them could make any sense of it.

 

Towards dawn, Mickey, Marilyn, and the guest divers, left the sea area and returned to shore. They all changed out of their wetsuits, showered, and went to the cafeteria. By that time the people who had slept in the tunnel had got out of their sleeping bags and left, too.

 

Archie cleaned out the tunnel moving-floor, and then switched it on for the first visitors. He went out to the reception area. Everyone who had spent the night in the aquarium was sitting hunched over their breakfasts.

 

Mickey and Marilyn arrived at the aquarium later in the morning, to ration out the food.

“Mickey, should we tell the manager about that spot of light we saw in the night?” Marilyn asked.

“I don’t think so, he might think we’d been drinking. If it happens again, we’ll have to say something.”

The two went off in opposite directions.

 

In the dolphin show that same night, there was plenty of noise, music, fire, and synchronized swimming. The audience was captivated by the show in the water, and enjoying the dolphins leaping out of the water, and being ridden on. As the dolphins passed through hoops their silhouettes were reflected against a backdrop, making the performance even more beautiful. No one present, not even the audience, noticed a small group of men dressed in wetsuits disappear into the darkness.

 

The dolphin show ended at midnight, and all the public went home leaving the aquarium shrouded in darkness. Mickey and Marilyn saw the small speck of light again, but had trouble trying to find out where it came from.

 

In the morning the two divers were still in a quandary about who to tell. “Shall we tell the management or not?” Mickey asked.

“We still don’t know where it’s coming from, or what it’s about. Somehow or other we must get some information,” Marilyn said.

 

Sheila was busy tidying the Gift Shop. Later on that morning, she sold many cards of the aquarium with photos and maps. A group of men had purchased nearly all of them. Before construction had begun on the Giant Aquarium, rumour had it that there was a wrecked ship under the sea. No one knew for sure whether it was true, but the owners had given out that there might be hidden treasure somewhere.

The visitors that day were families with children. The touchpools were a big hit with them, and the majority of the children had great respect for the small creatures swimming in the pools. Some of the incumbents of the pools were lying around on the rocks which adorned them. They were eating crisps or chewing gum, sitting near notices prohibiting such activities. It was not permitted to have any food or drink anywhere in the ‘Water World’. The only spot where such things could take place was the cafeteria, where all types of cooked fish were served, or vegetarian. No one was supposed to eat sweets sold in the Gift Shop till they were off the premises. A couple of young men who were employed as guards against any breaking of the rules, moved into the touchpools when they saw the regulations being flouted. Some children were even trying to feed crisps to turtles and terrapins.

“Now, Sonny, you can’t eat here, and neither can you give the animals food. Would you please hand over that bag of crisps, or do I have to call the manager?” Brent, one of the guards, asked him.

The spoilt boy took absolutely no notice of Brent or his work mate, Kyle.

“Who do you think you are, talking to my little Tarquin like that?” the irate mother demanded.

“Madam, first of all, silence is required in this area because the sea creatures are sensitive to noise; secondly neither your son nor anyone who comes here, is allowed to eat anywhere except the cafeteria,” Brent explained to the woman.

“We’ve come a long way to see all there is here, and now you tell me there are restrictions. If it weren’t for my little boy and the cost of the entrance, I’d leave right now,” the mother declared.

“Madam, would you please, tell your son to move away from the touchpool and to stop eating those crisps,” Brent repeated to the woman.

The boy’s mother went up to her son and grabbed him by the arm, and said, “Come on! You can’t eat here. You’ll have to wait till we get to the cafeteria.”

“But, Mum, I haven’t finished my crisps yet, there are still some in the packet,” whined Tarquin.

Brent watched them carefully as they passed into where the moving-floor would take them through the tunnel under the sea water.

 

After the previous event with the mother and the packet of crisps, it didn’t take long for other mothers, and a few fathers, to begin complaining about the strictness of Brent and Kyle to their offspring. A group of parents marched to the manager’s office. Mr Haslett, the manager, was hardened to parents, who could not or would not believe that their delightful children were anything like the monsters they were painted as, by other people. The families were mollified after Mr Haslett gave them each a small voucher to be used in the cafeteria or the Gift Shop.

One mother declared that a shark had opened its mouth when it had seen her daughter.

Mr Haslett said, “Perhaps it was hungry, or just yawning. You never can tell with sharks.”

“I must say, Mr Haslett, I don’t approve of your jocularity. It’s unbelievable. You don’t take that sort of thing seriously,” answered the mother.

“What do you want me to do? Gag the sharks? Really, Madam, you’re being very unreasonable, as if the shark had picked out your daughter especially to show her its teeth.”

 

There were days when everything at the Giant Aquarium went well. However, it was rather like being lulled into a fake sense of safety and security. Jason and his team of cleaners were dedicated to keeping everything impeccable. They had a hard job on their hands at times, due to water from the touchpools being trailed over the floor to the glass tunnel and the moving-floor, subsequently being trodden into the floor. Sometimes Jason went into the glass tunnel with a bucket and a mop to clear up the spilt water. During his rides on the moving-floor, Jason was able to find chocolate and sweet wrappers, paper cups from the cafeteria, and blobs of ice cream. As the perpetrators weren’t around, having continued ahead on the ride, he never caught anyone.

The divers wore acid-coloured wetsuits when on show to the public, so that they stood out amongst the very brightly coloured fish. While the visitors were on the moving-floor, Mickey and Marilyn would swim up to the glass, and show them the food, and how it was given to the fish and other sea creatures. Jason noticed how everyone reacted on seeing Mickey and Marilyn swimming around with all the underwater inhabitants surrounding them.

After every session in the glass tunnel, Jason and company went inside, just in case anyone had left anything of value behind. That didn’t happen often, but what normally took place was, a child leaving a jacket or a sweater behind, or what was worse - a beloved toy. No one ever understood why a child visiting the aquarium should have the need of a toy, when the creatures and plants they could see were much more entertaining.

 

In-between rides, the glass tunnel was tidied up. From time to time the sea that was seen inside the tunnel was rough, instead of being as still as what was expected. That happened because there was a storm in the ocean. The way the storm was noticed, was that the inhabitants on view to the public became agitated and bumped against the glass. The viewers were alarmed and excited at the same time. The strength of the glass tunnel was put to the test when a storm occurred. A special lighting was used in the tunnel that didn’t annoy the sea dwellers. The use of cameras was totally forbidden, as the flashes were painful to the fish’s eyes.

Mickey and Marilyn and some visiting divers were swimming with the fish and the other sea creatures, handing them food and playing with them at the same time. Mickey and Marilyn had spoken about the spot of light they had seen.

 

The dolphin show was over, and the lights were switched off. Everyone had gone home - even the dolphins. What had puzzled Mickey most was the origin of the pinprick of light.

 

Meanwhile, another group of divers, all wearing black wetsuits, showed up at the dolphin pool. They were carrying digging equipment and waterproof torches, hence the light Mickey had seen. They entered the pool as gently as they were able to, so as not to cause too many ripples on the surface. They dived below, right down to the floor of the pool, where they found a door in the wall. They opened it and quickly swam along the entrance tunnel to a room that housed machinery controlling water temperatures in the Water World and the glass tunnel. The dolphin pool had a hermetic filling system to keep it always at the same level. The four men swam along the tunnel and passed through the machine room. They had gone there with a two-fold purpose. The first was to bury a hoard of gem stones in the gravel where the fish swam. The second purpose was to make sure no one saw the site where their stolen gems had been buried. The criminal quartet had thought everything out, and because the gems were too hot to sell, they had chosen the Giant Aquarium as the gems’ temporary resting place, till the heat had worn off.  Then they would return and dig up the gems, and nobody would be any the wiser.

The four illicit divers saw Mickey, Marilyn and their companions diving around with the fish. They knew it would be difficult for Mickey and company to see them, because of their black wetsuits. When the job was over, the quartet returned by the same route they had entered. They climbed out of the dolphin pool, removed their wetsuits, changed into dry clothes, got into their cars, and drove home to sleeping partners.

 

The next morning the technicians in the machine room commented on the amount of water on the floor, thinking there had to be a leak somewhere. Inspectors were called in, who checked it all out and said there was no leak.

Sheila was in the Gift Shop and, as per usual, she was being questioned about the buried treasure. She told them to use their digital cameras that sensed the presence of gold and other metals. Brent told her he had read about it in a magazine dedicated to articles for those interested in treasure hunting.

Once the idea of looking for buried treasure with a digital camera got out, everyone was getting in on the act. The touchpools were hardly visited, and the rule against photos being taken was broken time and time again. Nevertheless, one day, when the inspectors arrived at the Giant Aquarium, they took cameras to try and find out definitely where there could be any leaks or damage. One of them sensed something other than fish, and they shut off the glass tunnel. After a while they knew they had found something, and digging in the gravel began. The creatures that normally dwelt in the tunnel were placed in another part of the sea.

 

The four gem thieves were taking things easy. They had no reason to worry, because there was no news about the Giant Aquarium in the newspapers or on the television. They had not revealed anything of the night adventure in the Giant Aquarium to anyone, and when asked about the wetsuits being wet, they said they had washed them.

 

The inspectors worked day and night to try and find what was beneath the gravel. Although they had the evidence from the photos that there was something odd, they had to be extremely thorough in tracing the exact spot, before beginning to dig or drill.

 

The dolphin show was unattended and life was far too quiet for the owners of the Giant Aquarium. There was no money entering the coffers and they were getting desperate.

 

The day when the hiding place was found, and digging started, was a happy one for all those concerned. At midday, the stash of precious gems was dug up and handed over to the police. The one thing that had helped the gems to be recuperated was, that a heavy chain had been included in the raid that had taken place a couple of months before.

 

How had the thieves known about the door in the dolphin pool? One of the robbers had worked on the construction of the Giant Aquarium complex, and had thought that putting the jewels in such a place would not be so easily found. How wrong he was! The rest of the group agreed that there was always a chance it could happen, but he wouldn’t be in charge on the next job.

 

The gems and chain were returned to the shop, and that was the end of that.

 

The perpetrators were never found, so they were able to carry on with their robberies - until they realized they weren’t very good at crime. 


© Copyright 2018 Georgina V Solly. All rights reserved.

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