Red Devils in Darkness
By: Devin J. Meaney
The dive should have only taken twenty minutes but after about forty five it was clear that a quick ascent would not be feasible. The depths were illuminated by only the light of our cameras and what was looming above could only be described as a frenzied haze of red flashes and ink swells...like clouds of liquid smoke cascading downward into a blackened abyss.
I floated in silence, each moment reminding me of an eon in purgatory. I still had about an hour in my scuba tank and so did my partner Madeline, but at this point that was the least of my concerns. The flashes of vibrant red that were penetrating the darkness were getting forever closer...and growing in numbers at an alarming rate. My thoughts began to race.
Man, we need to get the hell out of here!
I motioned to Madeline to point her camera’s light to the sea floor in hopes that no jumbos would notice us. She quickly pointed the lens downward and did her best to cover the light with her left hand. I did the same. The light was still visible, but was now less of a beacon and more of a dim glow. But this brought yet another problem: The darkness was now even darker, and our surroundings became but a mere silhouette of dark green, black, and deafening silence. I began to gather my thoughts to think of a solution.
A humboldt flashes like that when it is feeling aggressive. If we ascend to the surface now they will eat us alive. But if we stay here, we will run out of air. What the hell are we going to do? Shit, we really got ourselves in a God damned pickle. Hell...
Not able to think of a way to fix our problem I continued to float in despair. It seemed as if we were destined to be lunch meat for an army of red devils and the future was looking as bleak as it was ever going to be. That’s when I saw Madeline freeze and go as rigid as a razorblade.
From a watery hell came a tentacle...and then another...and then another. Razor tipped whips began to embrace Madeline, and strangely enough it was done gently. But this would not fool us. If we made a single wrong movement we would be torn to shreds and they would find our mutilated carcasses adrift, or on a beach slowly decomposing in the sun. At first it was just Madeline, but then the jumbos started to inspect me too.
They did not come from above...they came from below. Any plans of an escape had been foiled, and it looked as if our shivering flesh would soon be fodder for a monster’s beak…but we did not give up hope. We just kept as still as possible in the gentle current as the tentacles continued to probe us. Madeline slowly put her hand to her head in the form of a gun and made a bang! motion with her fingertips. She was usually quite fearless but I could tell she was shaking like a leaf caught in autumn’s wind.
More jumbos came from the depths and soon we were surrounded by at least ten of the beasts. Their whips, like tendrils of the damned, began to swish and flick like worms caught on a hook...and within a brief moment I could sense that the humboldt’s hostility had been heightened. Just as we thought things couldn’t get any worse the squid from above seemed to notice us and they too began to make the descent to check out the dim glow of our diving cameras. Feelings of intense peril began to seep into my heart...
Seconds seemed like hours as packs of ravenous cephalopods swarmed us, their grotesque appendages darting ominously closer...and closer...and closer. In a fraction of a second, one of the vile creatures grabbed me and started to shake me like a paint can at the hardware store. Through a bleary fog I could see Madeline being pulled in various directions, her limbs soon contorting like a scene from The Exorcist.
Just as I was about to accept my grisly fate, with rapid-fire quickness the squid that were holding us captive blasted downward. The squid from above followed in unison, and in less than half a minute Madeline and I were once again floating alone in the swells. My heart rate slowly decreased as I realized that we, at least for a moment, were out of harm’s way. My thoughts were a confused daze.
What the hell just happened?
My only guess was that a school of fish passed by and the squid were lured away with promises of a hearty feast, a feast that did not include wet suits and the cold steel of our scuba tanks. I motioned to Madeline to stay still for another moment, but we soon made our way to the surface, and after a short swim we made it back to “La Barracuda”...the small fishing boat we hired to take us on our not-so-pleasant sea faring adventure.
When I made my way on board the boat, I quickly took my mask off and choked in the pungent salt air and yelled to Madeline with delight.
“Holy fucking hell I never want to do that again!”
She just smiled as tears rolled down her cheeks. We were scared to death, but it appeared that the sea did not consume us...at least this time. Even though we planned to keep to the land for a while, we would make the journey downward into the abyss again. Sunken ships and salt water would forever be in our blood, but we hoped to only find ink in story books.
If the sea would allow us the privilege...oh God, we could only hope.