Episode 037 [3-09]: Fear And Loathing In Sealab
Daria and Beavis and Butthead are property of Glenn Eichler, Mike Judge, and MTV.
Sealab 2021 is property of Williams Street Productions, LLC.
Excuse Me, Excuse Me…
I guess I'll have to be direct
If you're gonna' stand on my neck
Then you'd better check under the sea
Cause that is where you'll find me
Underneath the Sealab!
Underneath the water
At the bottom of the Sea!
Date: Friday, June 6th, 2022
It was just a quarter past five in the morning, when that dreadful sound woke me from my slumber. The hell? It took me a minute to sit up and look around my small apartment bedroom, before I found the source of the disturbance on a nightstand next to my bed. "Oh," I said to myself quietly as I turned off my alarm clock.
Only, my alarm clock hadn't gone off. Strange. Instead, it was my phone. That was even stranger, as I was certain that the battery had been drained last night. Then again, after looking at the charger attached to it, I realized that talking mice must have snuck into my room in the middle of the night and plugged in the charger so that they could steal the battery for themselves later. Well, that certainly wouldn't be happening now.
Anyway, the ringing continued, and I flipped open the phone to see the caller ID. The number looked familiar, so I pressed the 'Talk' button. "Paul, are you awake?" asked the voice of what I could only assume was a balding man with a cigarette problem, although since smell can't transfer through the phone, I couldn't be sure.
"Hello? Paul?" the voice asked again. Listening to it more, I began to think that perhaps it was a honey badger disguised as an overweight accountant jogging on the sidewalk in the middle of July, searching for precious rodents and rabbits to consume while shitting on people's doorsteps. It took me another few seconds to realize that it was actually my boss.
"Uh... hey there... sir," I said into the phone, still tired, but no less... tired. "Hey, Paul, I finally did it," my overweight boss said. Exactly two thousand and seventeen possibilities ran through my head at that moment, at least one of them being that my boss had admitted to his wife that he was cheating on her. Of course, he would probably have something resembling concern in his voice if that were the case. Another possibility was that he had finally paid off all of those loan sharks, and would no longer have to cut everyone's pay in order to keep his head on his shoulders every month.
"Uh... did it? Did... what, exactly?" I asked him over the phone. As I waited a few seconds for a response, I subconsciously realized that the caller ID was the work number from the office, and considering how early it was right now, my boss should still have been at home. Why was he calling me from the office? What was he still doing at the office? Doesn't he have a home to go to?
That was when I realized that the couch in my boss's office must also be a pull-out mattress, thus allowing him to sleep overnight. "Paul, I got permission for you to enter that ocean place. You know, Sealab," he said. "Sea...lab?" I asked him. I'd heard of the place, but I thought that it was merely an underwater drilling platform disguised as a research facility to ward off investigators.
"Yeah. Sealab. You'll be doing a report on a mysterious person named... Elsie Sloane, who some claim has special abilities and shit. I want you to do a report on this girl and maybe some of the other inhabitants of Sealab. If you hit this off, we might be able to secure an interview with Dethklok in the future," my boss said.
"Um... okay. When... uh, do I go?" I asked him. "Today. There's a boat waiting to take you to a submarine near a naval shipyard. You'll need to be there before one o'clock pm. They also refer to that as thirteen-hundred hours. Get up, get cleaned up, and get yourself ready to head under the ocean," he said.
"Uh... sure. Is there an address for the... shipyard?" I asked him. "Yeah. I'll send it to you in a text message. Is your fax machine or printer turned on? I can send you an email or a fax containing what you need," my boss said. It was strange, but it had just occurred to me at this moment that in all the time I'd known him, I'd never really paid enough attention to remember the fat bastard's name.
"Sure. Talk to ya when I get there," I said, hoping that my lack of concern didn't come out in my voice. I needed him to pay me for this, or else I wouldn't be able to stock my refrigerator for at least three days. Then again, that damn thing hardly ever has anything in it. Why haven't I downsized to a smaller one yet?
Anyway, I suppose you'd like to know my name, wouldn't you? Well, my name is Paul Duke, and I am a journalist. A professional journalist. Because of my strict professional standards, I also have an enormous drug collection. I don't really use the drugs when I'm at home so much as I just like to stand in front of the damn things in their cabinet and admire them for three hours at a time while listening to Pink Floyd.
In any case, I soon turned on my computer, and while the damn thing has the latest... whatever they call it, I still hate waiting, no matter how long, on principal. So, I went the bathroom, hopped in the shower, and then, after cleaning myself off, took a thirty minute shit before washing my hands and brushing my teeth. Of course, while I was looking at my e-mails, there was one little thing bugging me. It wasn't until I went to the kitchen that it finally hit me what I had forgotten earlier.
"Sweet Raptor Jesus! I forgot to flush the fucking toilet!" I of course had to make sure that the damn thing was flushed before I left. Now, to begin gathering the proper supplies for this trip. One can never be too sure when visiting new and unknown places. Were the people civilized? Were there bathrooms? Did they stock up on toilet paper?
Even as these questions ran through my brain, I was still busy taking care of one other very important matter, which was the briefcase in which I would store my drugs for this trip. I had to be certain that I took only what I could carry, since I was probably going to be frisked by two large hulking beasts with blue uniforms, as had been the case when I had gone to an airport once. I also wondered if I should take my type-writer or my laptop, but since the chances of having an internet connection underwater were slim at best, I decided that the type-writer would suffice. No point in being tempted by porn that I couldn't access.
About five hours later, I had arrived at the first stop, which was a boat dock. Looking around, I heard the sound of seagulls and I could smell that terrible ocean water. Filthy salt and fish waste mixing together to create a sour smell that wrinkled my nose. I made sure that my Hawaiian shirt was properly hanging open, since one does not tuck a Hawaiian shirt in. One tucks a regular shirt in and even a uniform, but not a Hawaiian shirt! Only uncivilized philistines did that.
I looked over and saw a man sitting in a chair under an umbrella. Next to him was a sign with my name on it. Good God, they were watching me! Already, I could feel my privacy slipping away with each step that I took forward. I eventually managed to stand in front of the man and open my mouth to make words come out.
"Uh... hello. I am... Paul Duke, from... Wasteful Wretched Planet," I said. The company I worked for was in competition with Sick Sad World. I had never watched Sick Sad World, but I knew of its existence. Much of this, of course, came from my co-workers and boss complaining about not being able to one-up those MTV-owned bastards.
"You ready to go meet the submarine?" the man asked me. He was a middle-aged man with a widow's peak and tinted sunglasses. Oh shit, I had forgotten to bring my sunglasses with me! There wasn't enough time to return to the apartment to get them. I would have to make do for now.
"Um... sure," I replied to the man's inquiry. "If you need to use the john, I suggest doing it now," he said to me. Right. Put my things on the boat and then use the bathroom. But I couldn't just leave my stuff with this man. Who knows what he might do with it or if he would steal and sell my possessions to some piss poor bum in an alley way for the satisfaction of watching them grovel and plead before taking their money after haggling with them for the sport of it?
"Sure, where is it?" I asked him. "There's one over there by the ice cream shack," he said as he pointed at a green-colored building next to a small Wonder Cone shoppe. Why hadn't I noticed that earlier? I hadn't taken any of my drugs yet, so I can only assume that the nausea caused by the ocean had forced my brain to focus solely on finding the boat for the sake of survival. I handed him my type-writer and told him to make sure that nothing happened to it. I had a spare at home, and this thing was old anyway, almost junk. Who would want it?
After leaving the scheming bastard alone and entering the bathroom, I found an unused stall. I quickly locked the door and sat down after dropping my pants and underwear. I checked my suitcase quickly. My clothes were in there, along with a toothbrush and toothpaste, essentials to any adventure, and beneath those clothes, on the other side of a small board, were my precious drugs.
I opened the second level of the case to reveal my collection. I had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, laughers, screamers... and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether, and two dozen amyls.
It wasn't that I really needed all of this for the trip, but when one gets locked into a serious drug collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can. Of course, I only had a short time to make my decision. I also needed to piss, but I knew that I had to make my selection now, before I whizzed away my troubles and became trapped in a metal tube under the ocean.
I had to be careful and methodical about what I would use before getting on the boat, since I would be in the presence of others, but I knew that I could not do this without something to keep me alert. Where the hell had I placed my fucking blunt!? I shit, I left it with my attorney, didn't I? That Puerto Rican bastard took it after meeting that girl at the bar yesterday, didn't he? That son of a bitch!
I was going to wring his-oh wait, it's in my mouth. That was a close one. One can never underestimate the importance of having something to stick in your mouth while trying to pass the time or even interact with your fellow human animals. It made them wary of you, but also respectful, and willing to give you space. It also made them curious, and so long as you gave them the proper glance, they would get whatever message you intended to send to them.
After carefully choosing, and by carefully I mean saying eenie meenie miney moe, I took a quick snort of ether. Not enough get seriously fucked up, but enough to coast along the ride. I also made sure to pocket two amyls with me, as a precaution. There is nothing in this world that is more helpless, irresponsible, and depraved than a man who is trapped in the depths of an ether binge. The amyls were for the purpose of counteracting the ether, and even with the small dosage, I would rather be safe than sorry.
After pissing away the tension, I decided to check the bathroom floor to make sure that I hadn't dropped anything, before washing my hands and exiting the ugly green building, walking briskly toward the boat. The man was talking to someone at the dock. Oh god, was this a trap? The closer I came, the better I could hear the conversation.
"And then, just after I tell him to stay seated, the guy just stands up, leans over and falls out of the boat. We're like two feet away from the dock, maybe less, and-oh, my fare is here," the man said to the other man in front of him. The other man stared at me with condescending eyes, his glare intense and savage, like a monster waiting to devour its prey. I'm pretty sure he was a nice fellow, though.
After handing the money over to the captain, we sped away and out into the green-ish blue yonder. It was about twelve noon, and we were within sight of the submarine, when the drugs began to take hold. I began to panic, wondering if anyone would notice my behavior as we got closer to the sub. As soon as we got close enough, the boat stopped. I was almost thrown off by the momentum, but I managed to keep my balance by sheer luck, and the fact that I was crouching down while holding my stuff.
"Why did we stop?" I asked him. "We can't stop here. Not here, dammit! This is bat country! Those goddamn animals will eat us alive!" I exclaimed frantically. "Uh, dude? We're out on the ocean. There ain't no fucking bats out here," the boat captain said to me with a raised eyebrow. He was already suspicious of me, I could tell. I needed to get off of the boat and into the submarine, away from this scheming madman as soon as possible.
I quickly said goodbye to the boat captain and stepped aboard the top of the sub, leaning over and looking down the hatch where a three person crew awaited me. I gave them my typewriter before I grabbed a hold of the ladder and carefully, with my suitcase in hand, climbed down into the metal tube of wonder and darkness. "Welcome to Sealab transport," a man whose badge identified him as the commanding officer said to me. He was smiling for some reason. It could be a trap, so I had to act cool and casual.
"Uh... hello," I said with an unnecessary salute. The man chuckled. "No need to salute me. Anyway, you ready to go under the ocean?" he asked me with a smile. I wasn't sure if it was a practiced smile, like those of grocery store and fast food employees who can't stand human interaction but have no choice because they have no money and they need this fucking job or else they'll be in debt forever, or if it was a genuine smile, like the man was just starting out and had yet to truly see the savage reality of the world as it was.
Poor bastard. He was doomed to a life of misery either way.
I remembered to nod my head and sit down, clutching my suitcase to myself and watching as the hatch closed. This was it. I was now in a metal vessel while on ether and my only solace was in my pocket. I had to be very careful about this, or else they may ask me to share, and I needed this stuff now. I didn't before, but now that the reality of the situation was beginning to sink in, I knew that I had to keep my drugs to myself if I were to survive this trip.
I could feel the men watching me, with their eyes scanning my form for anything dangerous or strange. They were like hawks, maybe eagles, but not majestic. The uniforms looked nice, but they were also very simple. I merely smiled nervously at them and glanced around while chewing on my blunt.
One of them asked me if it was real. To which I responded, "Yes, but I got nothing to smoke." The man laughed, which I thought was odd. I hadn't said anything funny, had I? Perhaps I was giving off that vibe, or maybe they were trying to make me feel welcome and comfortable. A plan, I could see, to make me lower my guard.
Scheming bastards. I would have to be wary around these guys. I couldn't afford to let my guard down for a second around them. "Oh, um, when we dock, we'll have to decompress before we can enter Sealab. It'll take at least an hour or more, otherwise you'll get decompression sickness. Decompression Sickness is caused by a reduction in ambient pressure that results in the formation of bubbles of inert gases within bodily tissue. We call it the shakes," the Lieutenant said.
"I think he's already got the shakes," one of the others said with a smile. Good, the effects of the drug were being confused for something else, although I had kept to myself and had made sure to keep quiet. "Sh-Shakes?" I asked. Dammit, I was supposed to keep quiet! What the hell is my problem!?
Of course, I would soon find that this little portion of my journey was the easy part. I still had to enter Sealab and track down Elsie Sloane. But before I did that, I would have to learn about her through others. That would be difficult, especially since I had no idea as to the layout of Sealab or where anything was located.
Daria Morgendorffer sat at her console, nodding her head. "Right. We'll have a welcome crew waiting for him when he gets here. Airlock One-Dee-Seven-Three. Got it," Daria said. "So, how does it feel to handle the official lines?" Sparks asked her. "I'm still not entirely used to some of the terminology," Daria replied.
"Ah, you'll get used to it after a while. Just remember to keep cool and focus. If you need help, don't be afraid to ask... or look in the manual. You have a copy of that with you, right?" Sparks replied. "Yeah," Daria said. "Good. Then you're in good hands," Sparks said.
"So, wanna tell me what the big news is?" Sparks asked her. "We're supposed to be receiving some kind of journalist," Daria replied. "Oh? What are they here for?" Sparks asked her. "I think they're doing a piece on life in Sealab, but I'm not entirely sure," Daria replied. "Hmm, oh well," Sparks said with a shrug.
He soon switched one of his console monitors over to a game of Solitaire. "Keep up the good work," Sparks said to her. "I'll just... you know, evaluate you and stuff," he added.
After nearly two hours of sitting in a cramped space that felt only slightly larger than a bathroom stall, I emerged from the airlock and took a step into the facility known as Sealab. I looked around the hallway that surrounded the airlock, noticing the various pipes above me and signs on the walls. The placed looked lived-in.
My blood was very thick, and I was afraid that I might not be able to properly explain myself in this atmosphere, yet it felt somewhat calm. I almost suspected it to be the beginning of a nightmare, being peaceful before turning terrifying. Three people were standing in front of me, I soon noticed after hearing someone clear their throat.
A small sensation of panic began to set in, although I tried to maintain a professional attitude about myself. I carefully looked at the three people. Two were female and one was male. The man was an older fellow, with black hair and grey on the sides. The women were of different ages. One had glasses and brown hair, with a green vest over her uniform. The other woman also had glasses, but was of a different ethnicity, possibly Chinese or Korean.
Looking at the older woman, I could tell that she was a schemer. I knew this because of how she was studying me, with her eyes narrowed in focus like a predator watching its prey. I almost swore that I saw the woman's face reminded me of a hawk mixed with a turtle, at least so long as she kept staring at me with intense scrutiny. I should have known that decompressing with drugs in my system would be horrible for me, but sweet Jesus did I need that ether!
Calm down, I thought to myself. Just ignore this drug in your system and pretend it's not happening. Pretend that everything is fine. I then made the mistake of opening my mouth, as though forces beyond my control were taking hold of my body to advance some further, hidden and potentially sinister agenda. "Uh... hello. I am... Paul Duke. I come from, um, Wasteful Wretched Planet. I am here to... write a... story," I said.
The man spoke to me first. "I am Commander Anthony DeMartino, and these are Lieutenant Junior Grade Daria Morgendorffer and Commander Angela Li," he said in a voice that echoed through my ears with tragedy and exasperation. This man had seen some shit, I could tell right away.
"Hello and welcome to Sealab," the girl, Daria, said to me. Her voice had a monotone drawl to it, almost to the point of sounding unimpressed with her lot in life. She also sounded bored as hell. Perhaps she needed to be introduced to the wonders of laughers and screamers. "We certainly hope that your article will reflect upon Sealab as it truly is, and not in any manner that is biased by unfair opinions made by, say, court judges or magazine authors with grudges," the woman, Angela, said to me.
Her very specific word usage had already put me on alert. I could already tell that this woman wanted my story to make her look good. Not Sealab, mind you, but her, because I've met these kind of people before. Paranoid, scheming, rule-bending and manipulative to the Nth degree! My god, she was like an ego with a face, just waiting for an excuse to attack anyone who mildly disagreed with her.
This woman clearly needed some marijuana.
I nodded my head in false agreement with her, letting not a single be uttered forth from my lips, lest I give away my true mission and current state of mind. Did I remember to fold my laundry before I left home? This was a strange thought to have at a time like this, but it just struck me right then and there. I decided to push that thought to the back of my mind, for later introspection.
"I... will be as objective as possible," I said, once more speaking with a tongue that could almost lose itself to madness, yet found an anchor in the form of fear. Sweet, viable fear. It can make people do crazy things sometimes, even worse than a syringe full of heroin and a snort of blotter together, but hot damn can it also make you focus on your surroundings and force yourself to make the appropriate actions to stay alive.
Fear. My tongue had the sense of fear in it, yet I was still talking and trying not to bungle my way through this interaction. I had managed to drive to the docks, get on a boat, get into the submarine, and enter Sealab. Four steps were complete.
"Um... is there a..." bomb in my suite or a, "room for me to stay in somewhere?" Jesus, did I say the bomb part out loud? Did I just think that? All three people's eyes were on me, but they had also been looking at me before my thought had entered my head. I could only hope that I had kept certain parts of that question to myself.
"Of course," Commander Li said to me. I decided to think of her simply as that, in order to maintain distance from her in any form. Now, of course, I had ot hope that she was referring to a room being available, otherwise she had just told me that there was a fucking bomb in my room and that I would probably die. "Where is the room located?" I asked, the ether wearing off now.
"We can show you the room," Daria said. Despite wanting to keep a distance, this girl seemed intriguing. She was young, but also part of the station's crew. Perhaps she could give me some information on Elsie Sloane. The girl and Commander DeMartino led me over to some kind of motor vehicle. It looked like a the love child of a convertible and a golf cart, but without a top.
The ride to the guest quarters was mostly quiet, as I was constantly looking around, trying to memorize the layout of this confusing place. There were times that I could have sworn we had passed the same corridor thrice, and the same janitor twice! It was strange, to say the least.
Eventually, after multiple corridors that mocked my sense of direction and sanity, we arrived at the guest section of the station. Daria opened the door for me and handed me a key-card. "Don't lose this," she said flatly as she looked at me with a slight frown on her face. Had some poor bastard lost this key-card before? What had happened to them? Were they tied to a winch and lowered into a pool full of Barracuda? Vicious fish those things are.
"Thank you," I said, the ether having completely worn off. I was now in a normal state of being, and for me, that was pure cynicism and boredom. There was a reason I had turned to drugs, several in fact. Still, I had a job to do, and my briefcase... and my typewriter. My lovely, old antique typewriter, which I could never sell, not because of sentimental value, but because no one would ever buy the damn thing from me, and it would be a waste to just throw it away.
Anyway, as I watched Daria and Commander DeMartino drive off, I entered my room and closed the door, setting the typewriter down on the floor and looking over at the layout of the room. There was a bed, a night post, a table and chair, and door that opened to a bathroom with a toilet and shower with a sink and mirror above it, and that was it. There was also some kind of TV attached to the wall as well.
I made my way over to the bed and laid my briefcase on it, opening it up before checking my inventory for portable note-taking equipment, including notepads, pens, pencils, and even a snow globe with Lord Zedd and Rita Repulsa inside of it. Wait... didn't I buy this for my nephew last Christmas? Why do I still have it? Oh well, I thought to myself with a shrug of my shoulders.
A few hours later, after discovering that I had actually brought a work tablet and charger in my suitcase, I was able to begin my search for information on the ever elusive Elsie Sloane. I made sure that the tablet was charged and that I had a recorder of some kind with me, not that I can remember where I got it, and a quick snort of blotter. For some reason, and I couldn't really fathom why, a small voice in the back of my head was telling me that this was a bad idea, despite the small size of the snort. Of course, there are reasons that I don't listen to that voice, mainly because it's full of shit.
After following the signs on a map, and downloading some kind of... tracking app or something for the tablet, I managed to locate a mess hall for the civilian residents of Sealab. I figured I would start off easy, tackling the small prey before moving to the big ones, like janitors. Never underestimate the knowledge held by a janitor, for despite their apathy, they are ones who hold all of keys to every location in any building.
A janitor can easily fuck you over with but only a single finger, and even then, they can simply not do anything at all. They hold all the keys, literally and figuratively. Still, I would have to work my way up before approaching such an esteemed and respectable figure as a janitor, so I settled for talking to some teenagers who I found in the "indoor park" as the recreational area was called. I found myself sitting across from two teenagers, both in a makeout session without a single hint of shame. One was a girl with blonde hair, and the other was a boy with black hair and shoulder pads.
"Uh, hello, may I ask you some questions?" I asked them. I could slowly feel the effect of the blotter begin to take hold, little by little. Every time I ignored that stupid little voice, I always ended up feeling something called regret. Strangely, I'm more comfortable with regret than I am with that little warning voice. That was something to ponder when I had the time.
"Sure!" the blonde girl said. "Well, I'm here to write an article on... this place," I said. "The indoor park?" the boy asked me. "No, Kevvy, I think he means Sealab," the girl said. "Oh," Kevvy said. Kevvy. What a strange name. "But, uh, my main focus is a mysterious person I've heard about named... Elsie Sloane," I added.
"Sloane? Oh, I know her!" the girl exclaimed. Jackpot! "You do?" I asked her. "Yep. She's the sister of Daria and Jane's boyfriend, Tom Sloane," the girl told me. "Interesting. Do you know anything else about her?" I asked. I wanted to ask about the girl's residence, but I assumed that asking such a question would be creepy and the station's security would be on me in a heartbeat.
"Well, she's around our age, and she goes to New Fielding Preparatory School, and she has a HUGE sexual appetite," the girl said. Um, okay. I wasn't sure I actually needed to know that last part, but info was info. "Oh, and she wears this mask thing on her face that makes her voice sound weird, because when people hear her voice without it, they go crazy and stuff," the girl said.
That... sounded a bit worrisome. "Does she have any friends? People close to her that I could speak with?" I asked. "Um... I think she's friends with Daria and Jane, and maybe that goth girl, Andrea," the blonde girl said. "Andrea? Hmm, where can I find her, you know, for questions and-" Oh my god, her pigtails were coming to life! They were twisting around wildly, and no one seemed to notice.
"And?" the blonde girl asked me. "And..." The pigtails moved again, pointing their tips at me in a threatening posture. they were territorial, and if I made one wrong move I was dead. "And... you know, questions... about Sealab. And stuff," I said cautiously. "Oh, Andrea? Well, I think she hangs out with Dr. Quinn or Dr. Virjay sometimes, helping them out with experiments and stuff," the girl said. "You can find both doctors in Pod Four," she added. I nodded my head slowly in appreciation. The tips backed down, satisfied that I was no longer a threat. I had to leave, quickly, before they changed their minds.
"You've been helpful. Gotta go," I said before getting up and walking away. I had to play it cool, though. Those hair points would want any excuse to come after me and kill me like a dirty commie bastard. I paced myself, eventually reaching another section of the recreational area, with a large door that had the words FOREST DOME on it.
"The hell?" I asked out loud. I pressed a button and the door opened, allowing me to step inside where I saw the most unusual sight to ever greet my eyes. Inside of this structure was a forest, with dirt and water and trees and some kind of bright, evil shining light up near the top of the dome. What kind of sorcery is this? How the actual fuck did they get a goddamn forest into this tin can?!
I immediately backed away from this weird place and resumed walking through the corridors of the Recreation pod, or whatever they call it, in search of more information regarding the mysterious Elsie Sloane. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw an open ventilation duct. I soon came across a girl matching the description of the goth given to me by the blonde.
She was talking to an older man, an Indian I believe, about something that I only caught half of when I got within earshot. "-is why I think that using blue lights would help everyone," the girl said. The two people stopped talking as they noticed me. Play it cool, just play it cool.
I approached them cautiously. "Um, hello. I am Paul Duke... a doctor of journalism, and I'm here to ask you some questions about life in Sealab," I said. I could feel something, a hint of fear and anticipation, as the two watched me. I felt nervous, as though at any moment these two people could lash out at me and drag me through the halls of Sealab before dressing me up as an offering to some underwater pagan god.
"Well, what do you want to know?" the goth girl asked me. I chose my words carefully. "I suppose, I'd like to know about the history of this fine place," I said. Good. Lure them into a sense of false security with innocent questions and then carefully build up to the main objective.
The Indian man, and I say that because I can't remember his name, told began telling me about the history of this facility and its early days. I allowed him to continue, despite my lack of interest, simply to make sure that I raised no alarms. Interrupting him could easily end in disaster and suspicion. I allowed this knowledgeable man to continue speaking, perking up only after hearing him begin speaking about the construction of additional pods and the immigration of citizens from some town in Maryland or Pennsylvania called Lawndale.
Now we were getting closer to the goal. I looked down at the notes I had taken on my tablet, seeing that I had at least recorded the important dates of Sealab's construction, along with the words HELICOPTER and BIKER GANG. The man continued speaking, and I continued listening as he described strange events beyond comprehension. I was now hearing stories with gaps and strange elements. He would describe certain persons as dying in one incident before mentioning them being alive later.
I didn't snort that much ether, did I? No, I was still in control of my body, for the most part, although the goth girl now had glowing eyes, but I paid this no mind. I was fully aware of the drugs in my system, and I had experienced plenty of hallucinations of my dead grandmother climbing up my leg with a knife between her teeth. Once you get accustomed to that, you can handle almost anything, except for circus-themed casinos in Las Vegas.
Another hour had passed, and I soon realized that I had collected enough information for the official article on Sealab. With that out of the way, I could resume my search for details on Elsie Sloane, the person of interest in this deranged and demented world of steel and water. But first, I had to get back to my guest room, and compile my data. I could easily resume my search tomorrow, for right now I was still in that terrible state of mind known as mild sobriety, where you are most definitely under a drug influence, but you still have enough control over your body to put your basic motor skills to somewhat decent usage. A twilight zone of sorts, where you can still be held accountable for your actions because you aren't under enough of an influence to lose all control.
For many people over the age of 21 and various legal experts, this is a terrifying concept, as it means they still have to accept responsibility for their actions. People suffering from depression and mimes especially hate this state of being, as it causes mimes to actually speak, thus setting them down on a spiral of depression, sex, and drugs. Sometimes, though, they just lie on a bed and jerk off to pictures of elephants wearing dresses. Mimes are fucking weird.
With this in mind, I retreated back to my room and compiled my notes before working on the main article. Half-way through, I began rummaging through my suitcase, before I pulled out the quart of rum. I took a quick swig and resumed typing. I typed my articles well into the night, before the tired and strong hands of sleep pulled me away from my typewriter and wrestled me into unconsciousness.
Date: Saturday, June 7th, 2022
My eyes opened to my alarm on my cell phone, and I looked at the ceiling of an unfamiliar room. Where was I? There was something familiar about this unfamiliar place, which was the oddest sensation I had ever felt. I then remembered my assignment. I was still in Sealab and I reeked of alcohol. I noticed that there was a bathroom in this suite of sorts, and so I appropriately made use of it. I grabbed some clothes and headed in, keeping a mind to make sure that the drugs and booze were hidden before cleaning up.
I looked at the rough draft of the article I had written before falling asleep. It had the basic ingredients that my boss and editors demanded be included, such as the time frame of Sealab's construction and the names of prominent crew, but I knew that despite all of this, the article was merely a front. It was an excuse to get closer to something else, and that something else... shit, what the hell was the other goal?
I looked over my notes, finding a plan for taking out the crew of a submarine and the words DANGER, FOURTH WALL, and THOMPSON. Freshly showered and changed, I realized that I was now sober. I was no longer under the influence of the ether and amyls, and my mind was now perfectly cognizant. This needed to be rectified as soon as possible.
However, before I could do this, I needed to remember that other goal. What was it? I looked back over my notes and saw the name SLOANE in there. Sloane. Sloane... The name sounded oily and suspicious, like some kind of rich tycoon. Wait a minute... "Elsie Sloane," I said to myself as I remembered the mission given to me by my boss.
Clearly, I needed to find this Elsie Sloane and interview her. But what had I learned about her yesterday? My notes held a great deal of information, along with more random words and a very threatening note to myself that I must've written in a fit of self-hatred. This was puzzling, as I usually reserved threatening messages for other people, not myself. Unless, that is, I was threatening the tablet itself, which was a strong possibility.
I eventually found a section of notes that detailed the residence of this Elsie Sloane. Residential housing section in Pod 21. That much I had managed to learn. However, I did not know the exact housing unit, and thus I needed to make my way over to that pod. This was going to be a long day. Checking over my supplies, I gathered a small flask of ether, a handkerchief, two amyls, my recording equipment, and some kind of pencil with a multi-colored feather thing attached to it. I stared at the pencil in confusion, for I could not recall having ever had this one in my possession.
I wondered, sitting down on the bed, just how this strange pencil had gotten into my hands. The only logical conclusion I could draw was that I had actually picked it up by accident somewhere without noticing it. I hadn't yet taken any drugs or consumed any alcohol, so my mind was still closed and moving within the confines of the box. Throwing the pencil to the ground, I stood up and dabbed the handkerchief with the ether before shoving my nose into it to get a snort.
Unfortunately, I had miscalculated just how much ether I had soaked the handkerchief with, and so, I had become overwhelmed by sweet devil ether. It was a total body drug. The mind recoils in horror, unable to communicate with the spinal column, and I now began to understand why it should only be used in places such as Las Vegas or amusement parks, where the behavior brought about by it is completely appropriate and almost unnoticeable at first glance by most. The thing about ether is that it makes you behave like the village drunkard in some early Irish novel.
There is a total loss of all basic motor skills: blurred vision, no balance, numb tongue, and pretty much a severance of all connection between the body and the brain. This is especially interesting because the brain continues to function more or less normally; you can actually watch yourself behave in this terrible way, but you have almost no control over it. You are a prisoner trapped within your own body.
After a little while, the ether began to wear off, and with much stumbling, I was able to pop an amyl into my mouth. Amyl is a drug that can counteract the effects of the ether, but you only take so much at a time, to coast on it, and keep alert. With the amyl counteracting the strong ether, I could start focusing on what was important: finding Pod 21 and my target.
Lieutenant Sasha winters looked at the security monitor in front of her with a raised eyebrow. The journalist who had arrived yesterday was walking strangely through the hallways of Sealab, until he was almost run over by a transport cart driven by Captain Murphy. "What the hell is wrong with him?" Winters asked herself.
I sat in the seat next to the man who called himself Captain Murphy. "So, where ya headin'?" he asked me. "I'm... heading to pod twenty-one," I replied. "Hmm, what for?" Murphy asked me.
I didn't know how to explain to him the need to interview a teenage girl without getting myself sent to the slammer. There was a look about the man that seemed... off. I began to wonder if this man was entirely there. "I'm a doctor of journalism, and I need to go to this... pod for my story," I said. "Oh, alright then," Murphy said to me as he began driving.
"So, what do you think of Sealab so far?" he asked me, taking his eyes off the hall to look at me with an odd smile. Good god, man! Pay attention to the road, you bastard! Murphy squinted at me with a grim look on his face. For god's sake, look at where you're driving!
"Um, Sealab," I began, watching as we weaved through pedestrians and turned multiple corners at a dangerous speed, "is very, uh, interesting!" "Is that so?" Murphy asked me. "So... who are you really working for?" he asked me suspiciously. "W-What?" I asked him. "Don't lie to me, son. I know what you're really after here," he said.
I knew, right then, that I was fucked. "You're after my Happy Bake Oven!" Murphy said with a dangerous and accusing tone. I was puzzled. Clearly, this man was deranged, and I was still fucked, but not for the reasons I had initially assumed. "But you won't have my oven! Got that? Look at my oven the wrong way and I'll kill you and bury you out where no one can find you," Murphy said.
I began to scoot away from him in an attempt to put as much distance between us as possible in this cart. "That's right, squirm in your seat," Murphy said with a sickening smile as he continued to watch me. Pay attention to the goddamn road, you evil bastard!
"Take one step into my quarters without my permission... and it'll be the last that anyone sees or hears of you, understand?" Murphy asked me with a chuckle. I nodded my head in understanding. "Good. Now get out," Murphy said as he drove through a tunnel that connected two pods together. "W-What?" I asked him. "I said get out of the cart, or so help me I will drop you off at the orphanage with Dolphin Boy!" Murphy shouted at me angrily.
I frantically nodded my head and leapt out of the moving vehicle, rolling on the ground and groaning in pain as Captain Murphy drove off, laughing his ass off. I watched as he turned a corner after entering the next pod. I was going to miss that deranged sociopath. Now, how the hell am I going to get to Pod 21?
Remembering that I had functioning legs, and that the ether had been dampened, I began to walk through the tunnel, making my way through the pods. It took me over two hours of walking and getting lost before I finally came upon the Pod 21 housing section. A wave of relief flowed through me, followed by anxiety.
I had no idea which housing unit the Sloanes resided in, meaning that I had to be methodical about the selection process. I walked up to the first door I could see and knocked on it. The door slid open and a man with black hair looked at me with a frown. "Um, excuse me. I was wondering... how do I find the Sloane residence?" I asked.
"The Sloanes?" the man asked me with a hoarse voice. "Er, yes. The Sloanes," I repeated, trying to maintain an nonthreatening posture. The man studied me carefully before having a coughing fit. "The Sloanes are in Housing Unit 21-AA-0034," he said. Housing unit 21-AA-0034.
"Why do you want to know?" he asked me. "I, uh, I am a doctor of journalism and-" "You want to steer clear of that Elsie girl. She's strange, that kid. Hides in the vents and moves like a ghost," the man said ominously to me. "Watch your back," he whispered to me, his eyes staring into mine with intensity. I slowly backed away before he shut the door.
I looked at the number above the man's door. Housing Unit 21-AA-0012. I walked over and looked at the one to my left. Housing Unit 21-AA-0014. Turning around, I saw units 11 and 13 on the other side of the hall. What strange trickery. I quietly made my way through the hall, stopping only after hearing a strange noise.
Looking around, I saw a shadow dart across a junction before disappearing. Carefully walking over to the corner, I peered around and saw nothing strange, until a sound from above caught my attention. I looked up and saw a vent hatch being lifted into place before sealing shut. Carefully stepping back, I resumed making my way over to Housing Unit 21-AA-0034.
The door of the housing unit appeared to be like any other, but behind this particular door, I knew that something dangerous and mysterious waited. I raised my hand up into a fist and took a breath, to calm my nerves, before knocking on the door. I waited for three minutes, but there was no response. I knocked on the door again, and this time it slid open. A young man with a blue uniform and brown hair looked at me quizzically.
"Um, can I help you?" he asked me. "I am, Paul Duke. I am a doctor of Journalism and I am here to write a story on life in Sealab. I was hoping that... getting stories from its residents would provide some valuable insight," I said. Technically, I did not lie to this young man.
"I'm Tom Sloane. Let me get my mother," he said before closing the door. Well, at least I knew I had the right address. A minute later the door opened, and this woman with dark hair smiled at me. "Hello, I'm Kay Sloane. Why don't you come inside, Mister..." "Duke. Paul Duke, doctor of journalism from Wasteful Wretched Planet," I said. She nodded her head in a manner that reminded me of a a predator watching its prey.
I was being lured into a trap, and I had no way out except to back up, but I could not back down now, not when my goal was so close at hand. I nodded with a smile and walked inside the housing unit. Mrs. Sloane offered me a seat on the couch and I made sure that my recording devices and tablet were in obvious view, to prevent any misunderstandings. I did not need this woman's husband to walk inside his home and see his wife with another man and jump to conclusions.
"Tom, go find your sister," Mrs. Sloane said. "Huh?" the young man asked her. She repeated her order, and he nodded his head before disappearing into a small hallway. "So, why does your boss want you to write an article on my daughter?" she asked me. As soon as I registered the question, I entered a state of calm panic. On the outside, I seemed composed, but inside, my mind was screaming at me. My instincts were telling me to run.
I was trapped. I was fucked. I was dead meat, and nothing could save me. I had entered a viper pit and it was only a matter of time before one of the little bastards decided to bite me and inject lethal venom into my bloodstream. "How... how do you know that?" I asked her, since clearly I had made no mention of Elsie Sloane at all to this woman.
"I can read your mind," she replied. During my various visits to places of interest, I had often stumbled upon people claiming to read minds and tell the future. Of course these people were bums and scam artists, although they had mastered their craft to an art, if their ability to stay afloat was any indication. This woman had made no such claim prior to her statement.
I soon heard footsteps and saw a teenage girl walk into the room. This was my target. My true mission in all of this mess. "So, you wish to speak with me?" she asked. Her voice was deep and baritone, thanks to the thing on her face. "What's with the... uh..." "Ordinary mortals cannot hear my true voice without suffering horribly," she explained.
This was certainly interesting, and at this point I was beginning to wonder if I had taken more amyls than necessary, or if I had taken some mescalin at some point, but I could not recall touching any mescalin or LSD today. I only had the one amyl left, and the ether had worn off during my search for the housing unit. Normally, hallucinations are bizarre and out there, but this situation was almost down to Earth, and only the actions and words of these people seemed strange and bizarre. I now had to face the unfortunate fact that the situation I found myself in was actually happening. This was real, and I now hated my boss with more burning passion than I had ever thought possible.
"Is this real?" I asked rhetorically. "Indeed it is," Elsie replied. I now had proof that this was real, and I was within reach of my goal. But now I had wonder... what was the goal? My boss wanted me to write about Elsie Sloane, but he wanted something that was mysterious, and what I had in front of me was a girl with a weird voice and strange habits. And the worst part was that I had no clue what to do. What questions should I ask? Where do I start? Where do I end? What was the point of this? With all of this in mind, I made one simple decision: jump blindly into the frenzy and see what happens.
"So, tell me about life in Sealab," I said. Although I couldn't see her mouth, I was positive that the girl was smiling, especially with the way her eyes shifted. For the briefest of moments, things seemed to be going all right. And then, an hour later, the girl removed her face mask thing, and my trip became a hellish nightmare.
Date: Sunday, June 8th, 2022
I opened my eyes and looked at the ceiling of what seemed to be an infirmary. For a few minutes, I wondered what had happened, and I how I had gotten here. And then, it came back to me. I had asked the girl what her voice sounded like, and I heard it. I heard something that I cannot explain with ordinary words. In the few seconds before I blacked out, I had managed to retrieve my ether rag and take a long snort, before popping the last amyl into my mouth.
I do not know why I did this. Performing those actions was a mystery to me, and yet, some part of me, deep in the back of my mind, told me that this had somehow saved my life. I honestly don't know how that worked. Still, I was alive. I soon began remembering what else had happened after hearing the girl's voice. I saw things, terrible things.
I saw the world as a nightmarish circus, and though I felt fear and horror, I could not bring myself to do anything. Large, frightening pig-people were serving ice cream made out of mud to deformed children with digitigrade legs and pointed ears, whose laughter was a mixture of nails on chalkboards and cats whining. Large hulking spiders with clown faces strode over the ruined landscape of burnt buildings and young girls with blue leotards were chased by hungry badgers.
This was the world if the Third Reich had won the war. This was hell. There was no self preservation instinct screaming at me. There were no urges to run or hide. In the middle of the chaos that was around me, I saw her. I saw the creature of life and death, giant and glowing white with red eyes that stared down at me with glowing wings protruding from her back as she smiled at me.
I saw red skies and black clouds, and I even got to ride a moose. I don't know where the moose came from, but riding the back of that giant mammal was an experience that I will never forget, even though I'm quite certain that it never actually happened. And at the end of it all was a blissful haze that soon made the whole world fade to black.
I was shaken from this reverie when the Indian doctor from the other day spoke to me. "Ah, you are awake. Now, please tell me, how are you feeling?" he asked me. How am I feeling? That was an interesting question, especially since I had experienced probably the most intense and nightmarish trip ever caused by something that wasn't a drug.
I looked up at the doctor and sighed. I don't even remember the point of this trip anymore. I had found my target, and gotten my story. But at what cost? I was still able to think in a coherent manner, so I clearly hadn't lost my sanity. "Depressed," I answered honestly. "I'm depressed, and I feel like someone's standing on my neck."
A day later, when I left Sealab, I went straight back to my apartment and began editing the final draft of my story. I would not share my nightmare with the editor, nor would I take my attorney's gun and kill him. Instead, I stared at my laptop screen, and looked at my reflection.
It took me several minutes of introspection, but I finally managed to begin my work in earnest, until a terrible thought occurred to me. I sighed in frustration and reluctant acceptance of a simple fact. I had left that goddamn snow globe down there, hadn't I?
Ending Theme: This Is The End, by The Doors.