Sunday, June 13, 2010


by Helen E Davis

– Step forward, Airman, and state your name and rank. –

– Airman First Class Feginald Hoot of the HMS Congressional, sir. –

– Feginald? –

– Yes, sir. Although the physician attending my birth was sober at the time of my birth, by the time he filled out my birth certificate, he had been celebrating with my father for several hours. –

– Do you go by Feginald among your mates? –

– Of course not, sir. I go by the shortened form, Feg. –

– I see. Well, Airman Hoot, will you be so kind as to tell us of the events of the Eighth of June, in the Year of Our Lord Nineteen Eleven? –

– Yes sir. I was on my customary duty at seventeen hundred hours, making my rounds of the C’s engines, when...–

– The C’s? –

– That’s what we call her, sir. C. We’re all a bit embarrassed by her full name.–

– I understand. But as this is an official inquiry, I request that you use the full name of the vessel whenever possible. –

– Yes sir. As I said, I was on my customary rounds of the C’s, that is, the Congressional’s engines, assuring that everything was in order. I had just reached the zeppelin’s final turbine when Commander Sherman’s voice came over the intercom, requesting all hands on deck. I quickly finished my check, and then proceeded to the docking deck. –

– So you did not immediately comply with his orders, then. –

– I finished my duties, and then proceeded to the docking deck. That is why I was behind all the others, and therefore the first chosen to accompany the landing party onto the island. –

– Tell us about this island. –

– Yes sir. Second Mate Higgins, out science officer, first noticed the island earlier that day, and determined that it was not on our sea charts. He hypothesized that it was a newly formed volcanic island, and his hypothesis was supported by the state of the surrounding sea. Although the wind was calm and the ceiling high, the water surrounding the island was in a state of high activity. –

– High activity? –

– It was boiling, sir. Second Mate Higgins explained that this was consistent with recent volcanic activity. He then requested that Commander Sherman turn the C toward the island in order to investigate it for scientific purposes.–

– The Congressional.–

– Yes sir. He then requested that Commander Sherman turn the Congressional toward the island in order to investigate it for scientific purposes. We arrived, as I noted, at seventeen hundred hours. The island, however, was not as Second Mate Higgins had expected.–

– What was it like?–

– It was not a volcano, sir, and it was not new. There was a city upon it.–

– What kind of a city?–

– A city with buildings, and a harbor, and people in the streets, sir. The people seemed to be dressed in bed sheets, and when we went out into the city, we found that they all spoke Greek. We were fortunate to have Seaman Rigoulas with us, as his parents came from Greece, and he was able to communicate with them, though in a very rudimentary way. We learned that the city was called R’lyeh by the inhabitants, and that it boasted a population of ten thousand citizens, a harbor with over three hundred ships, a university, and nearly a thousand wine shops. –

– Did he ask them about the island?–

– Yes, sir. They gave him to understand that this was a floating island, built to avoid some great catastrophe, and that it had been their home for endless centuries. They claim to have sailed it all the way from the Northern Atlantic Ocean, though we were in the South Pacific, and for that reason they called their island Atlantis.–

–How, convenient. Did the citizens tell you how their island could float? –

– They built it to float, sir, by installing giant metal tanks beneath it, which were filled with both air and water. These tanks were connected to the surface of the island by a system of pipes, and through these pipes they could raise or lower the volume of the water within the tanks, thus lifting or lowering the island itself. They could even submerge the island in the event of a great storm, then raise it afterwards. There were also giant steam engines on the back of the island, which served to propel the island in the direction that the citizens wished to travel. This was the reason for the boiling water around the island. –

– I see. What was the city itself like?–

– Very odd, sir. Very odd. The architecture was disturbing, to say the least. The buildings and archways seemed to bend at unnatural angles, not straight as would be proper, but almost curved, as if grown. A building might be three stories high on one side, and four stories high on the other, without any clear distinction between the two sides. My mate Lovecraft kept calling it eldritch, though I have no idea if that was the name of the architect or the period from which it came. In addition, the buildings all glowed.–

– Glowed? Like a lamp, Seaman Hoot?–

– No, not like a lamp, sir. Not like fire. It was more like the sea, sir, or certain nights when the seafood is poisonous. You run your hand through the water and it glows like really faint moonlight. The city glowed like that. It was in the rock that they used to decorate all the buildings. They rather liked it, the citizens did, but it felt, well, eldritch to me.–

– What happened next?–

– That’s where it gets a bit embarrassing, sir, though it was none of my doing. There was a huge building in the center of the city, with no doors or windows, rather like a tomb. Second Mate Higgins took a fancy to climb up it, and to get samples. The citizens were upset by this, and begged him not to touch the building, but he was determined. Good English determination, sir. Nothing stops us.–

– Nothing indeed, Airman. We’re quite proud of it. –

– Yes, sir. In this case, however...–

– What happened? –

– Second Mate Higgins fell in, sir, and something came out. –

– Something? –

– A cross between an angry octopus and a mad sea god, sir. With more than a bit of lobster thrown in. All the citizens dashed for their ships and pulled away, sir. But the thing didn’t bother with them. It came after us.–

– What happened then?–

– Commander Sherman marched us all to the C, to the Congressional, that is, and we went to our battle stations. He tried to use the big guns against it, but they had no effect – other than to make the creature mad enough to tear the city apart. He then ordered the use of the flamethrowers.–

– And did that work?–

– They set the city on fire, sir. –

– I thought the city was made of stone, Seaman Hoot. –

– It was. But that glowing rock burned explosively, sir. I don’t know if it even touched the creature, but apparently the fire was hot enough to melt the air tanks under the island. It sank then, still in flames beneath the waves. –

– And what did Commander Sherman do then?–

– He just stared at where it went under, sir, and muttered, “Gone with the rend. Tis the burning of Atlantis.” –

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