The Deep by Michaelbrent Collings Read Online (FREE)
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“Ocean is more ancient than the mountains, and freighted with the memories and the dreams of Time.”
– H. P. Lovecraft
“What would an ocean be without a monster lurking in the dark? It would be like sleep without dreams.” – Werner Herzog
“Below the ocean lies the last great undiscovered wilderness on Earth. And the greatest dangers yet unknown to mankind.” – Unknown
~^~^~^~^~ The world is called Earth. Which is strange when you consider that over seventy percent of it is covered by water. But it is named for the place humanity lives, the places we walk and eat and sleep and defecate and fornicate.
Still, we can die anywhere. And the ocean provides an easier death than almost anywhere else. After all, though we descend from water, we long ago lost our gills, our fins, our ability to do more than stumble about in the dark rivers of the deep.
That being said, there are worse things than dying. Worse things than going into an ocean or a sea and feeling your lungs fill with water and knowing a wet and lonely death has come for you.
No, the worst thing that can happen to any diver isn’t drowning. It’s not simply dying.
It’s getting bent.
Every serious diver knows this. Every careful diver takes measures to avoid this.
Normal air is nearly eighty percent nitrogen. And when breathed on the surface, that nitrogen is inert. In and out, and nothing in our bodies is the wiser. When breathed in the deep, in the blues and then grays and blacks of the world below, the nitrogen gathers in a diver’s blood stream. It isn’t let out through breaths, but through the skin. If a diver rises too quickly, molecules of nitrogen gather together and form large bubbles in the body. Depending on where the bubbles choose to form – around nerves, near joints… in the brain – those bubbles can cause pain, seizures. Not just death, but agonizing death.
This is decompression sickness. The bends, as it’s more commonly called.
All this pounded through Debi Richardson’s mind as she swam to the surface. Not much of a swim, actually. She was clawing at the water, yanking panicked handfuls of liquid toward herself, kicking the lopsided kick of a diver who has lost one fin.
Don’t get bent. Gotta stop. Gotta wait.
The way to keep from getting bent is to wait. To simply and quietly hang at predetermined spots in the deep, letting the nitrogen leave your body in bubbles so small they will cause no pain, no damage. Debi’s dive computer had readouts that told her how long she should wait, and at what depths. It was a tool that was nearly as important as the tanks on her back and slung from her sides.
Stop. Stop. Gotta stop.
Debi Richardson didn’t. She couldn’t.
She knew she was past the first deco waypoint. Knew she should stop. Knew she was risking it all.