Submechanophobia – First Draft – James Hatton
Will’s fear wasn’t the object itself, although it was a definite part of it. He peered through the haze of the sea as the submarine, long since given up on, just lay unmoving on the floor. From his high vantage point at sea level, it appeared no larger than a car key. What was upsetting Will was the knowledge that this vessel was touching him right now.
Millions of molecules were decomposing within the metal goliath and billions more had already been picked up and taken away by the current and were most definitely all around him and had been since he took his first step into the water. This foreign particulate was clinging to him, dodging and weaving through his gooseflesh raised arm hair. Even the wetness he felt where the snorkel sealed against his mouth was laden with bits of rusted metal from dormant gauges or eroded seat cushions that now looked more like modern art than a place a soldier once sat.
A chill so much deeper and more deadly than the temperature of the seawater anchored in Will’s stomach and gave way to something he didn’t understand. Much like the bolts and screws that failed to hold the sub together rolled long treks on the bottom of the ocean, Will’s panic beckoned him deeper into the darkness of his own panic.
It lead him to see the jagged corners of the machine’s mortal wound. Sickly orange-red rust-folded metal, shaped in obscene origami, acting as an entrance to the place where men had most certainly taken their final breaths. His joints ached sympathetically as he felt the vacuum. Beginning with a long since silenced klaxon that warned the ghosts of the shift in pressure. The rush of the water trading places with spheres of oxygen that climbed back to the same surface that so many would not reach. Taunting them by rising up faster than they could ever swim, life leaving them behind.
There, at the entrance to someone else’s hell, Will would be surrounded by the saturated dust of both the organic and inorganic dead. It would be impossible to escape the molecules of first aid kits, torepedoes, uniforms, and turbines all intermingling in the stew of silt and plant and fish… and him.
When Will finally reached the shore, a couple that had been bobbing on the surface near him began excitedly talking to each other about the sub they saw. All Will could see when he looked at them was the particles of the dead, drying out on their salty skin.