â€śTalk to me Jonah, whatcha got?â€ť
â€śThe jackpot I think! This thing isâ€¦waitâ€¦wait a minute.â€ť
Tim stopped in front of a locker, pressing his hand against his ear. He held his breath and waited for Jonah to continue.
â€śWait. Somethingâ€™s down here; something big.â€ť
Static shrieked over the com-link. Tim pressed the red button again, as he looked through the monitors and stared off toward the distant mountain side.
â€śJonah? J-Man come back, I didnâ€™t catch that last part. You said somethingâ€™s down there?â€ť
No answer. Tim fought panic, as a few seconds of silence became one minute of dead air space.
â€śJonah, are you there, buddy?â€ť A cold shiver climbed his back as he waited for some answer from Jonah. Tim stood staring at the monitor. His hand gripped tight around the zoom toggle wheel. A dull ache began to throb in his forearm. Suddenly, static pierced the silence.
â€śItâ€™s coming your way; Buckle up!â€ť Jonah screamed into the com-link. Timâ€™s heartbeat kicked into high speed and his body suddenly chilled over. He pressed the red button on the com-link again.
â€śJonah, what was that? I didnâ€™t hear your message, Jonah. Please repeat!â€ť
â€śTim can you hear me! It must have seen the lights!â€ť More static, and then, â€śStrap in and shut off the lights! Itâ€™s headed your way!â€ť
â€śOh no,â€ť Tim whispered. He turned and darted back toward the control room. Something collided with the front end of the pod. Tim lost his footing as the weight of the undersea vehicle shifted. His face slammed into a locker and he crumpled to the floor.
Static filled his left ear just as alarms began to wail all around him. Pulsing red lights flashed in unison with the alarms.
â€śTim, I repeat: the beast has left the cave, and is headed your way. You have to shut down the pod lights!â€ť
Tim shook the stars from his vision and shot a glance toward the front of the pod. He had to get to the light switch before thatâ€¦thingâ€¦circled back again. He jumped to his feet, still feeling the effects of the blow, and centered himself. Pressing the red button on the com-link, he bolted for the front of the pod and yelled into the com-linkâ€™s mini speaker.
â€śRoger that, Jonah! Iâ€™m on my way up front! What is that thing?â€ť
â€śThank the Lord, youâ€™re okay. I donâ€™t know what it is. I didnâ€™t get a good look at it, from the cave.â€ť
The crash had strewn equipment all over the pod. Tim jumped and evaded loose boxes on the floor and sparking cables, hanging from the ceiling as he ran. Just as he made it back into the control room, he took a flying leap and landed, chest first, onto the control panel. His right hand thumbed the toggle switch to the off position as he collided with the controls. The lights on the roof and below the belly of the pod died instantly.
At first there was a wave of bubbles and a shove of water as the force of the creatureâ€™s abrupt stop shoved the pod backward. When the bubbles cleared, Tim found himself staring at a thing that looked, oddly enough, like a gigantic Blue crocodile with no appendages. The creature waded slowly and effortlessly in front of the pod as if waiting for something to happen. Its eyes, one on each side of its head, seemed to glow a bright yellow in the darkness of the ocean. Tim saw jagged, horns protruding from the monsterâ€™s snout, growing back and over its head.
He lay still across the control panel, convinced that the monster could somehow see him through the thick quadruple-reinforced steel shell of the pod. Static shrieked in his left ear, sending a chill up his spine.
Jonah whispered, as if he were in hiding. â€śDonâ€™t touch anything, Tim. Itâ€™s staring right at the outer hull of the control room. Are you good?â€ť
â€śJonah, I wanna go home right now.â€ť Tim whispered.
â€śI think it knows youâ€™re in there.â€ť Jonah said.
Tim remained motionless as the crocodile-thing slowly moved toward the right side of the pod. It swam close, almost touching the metal hull with its snakelike body slithering through the ocean. His eyes, trained on the monster, paced the creature as it circled around the back end of the pod. He saw that the horns across its head grew increasingly larger as they drew across its back, until the tail itself was nothing more than a huge sharp horn. Tim slowly inched his way off of the control panel and stood on shaky feet. Watching the floor monitors, he saw the creature swim underneath toward the front end again.
Radio static sounded over the com-link in Timâ€™s left ear.
â€śMother of pearl, thatâ€™s a big sucker.â€ť Jonah whispered. â€śI guess now we know why no oneâ€™s ever returned with Camoonâ€™s treasure. Are you okay up there?â€ť
â€śFine; I donâ€™t think it sees me, but I donâ€™t want to make any sudden moves yet.â€ť
The creature circled the pod in the same pattern, and centered toward the front again. Its mouth opened wide, revealing a double row of sharp points on the top and bottom. Despite the darkness of the deep blue sea, the monsterâ€™s teeth seemed to glow a magnificent yellow, just like its eyes. A wave of terror gripped Tim, as he suddenly imagined the monster ripping through the metal walls of the pod with those teeth. The creatureâ€™s yellow forked tongue appeared from the black abyss of its open mouth and began jerking fiercely. Tim pressed the com-link button on his ear piece.
â€śItâ€™s trying to lure me out,â€ť he whispered. â€śIt does know Iâ€™m inside.â€ť
The mouth snapped shut, as one of the weird light-bulb stick fish swam too close to the jerking tongue. The creature moved with lightning speed for its size. It made an about-face and disappeared into the darkness of the open ocean.