They told me, "Son, you're special. You were born to do great things."
You know what? They were right.
People scream, not for long. Most of the people on the plane were high-class socialites or businessmen; cropped gowns and pressed suits don’t do well for swimming. Especially when you’re dumb enough to try and save that carry-on luggage instead of dislodging a flotation device from under your seat.
The small pad of foam doesn’t do much in the way of keeping me on top of the Atlantic, but I survive when I hit the water and that’s really all I needed from the thing. I can swim just fine, I didn’t dress in a pressed suit and I didn’t try to save my carry on-- if I had one.
Did I have a carry-on bag?
What was I doing on that plane?
Nevermind, swimming is more important.
The flotation device has left me for the tender kiss of fresh air and it’s all I can do not to sigh at myself for letting go of it. My arms and legs push me up, which is easy to identify because that’s where the fire is and where all these shoes and bags and necklaces are falling from.
I allow myself a few seconds to appreciate the oxygen I have earned at the surface and scowl at my surroundings. There is fire clinging to everything that can float, which cuts off almost every escape option except one slim path, behind which I can see the tail of the plane I was (probably) on before and a disused lighthouse. My obstacles have outlined my path pretty damn clearly and I head for the lighthouse.
The whole thing is stone, which feels blessedly solid under my feet as I emerge from the freezing waves of the midnight Atlantic. There really isn't much to note on the exterior, just a stone cylinder with a dead light at the top, and two sets of stairs into ocean on either side of a pair of doors. The doors are what really catch my eye: rusting gold with a stoic figure chiseled in angular silence, also, they're already open. That's strange because no sounds of life remain anywhere around me. If there isn't a person, there shouldn't be an open door.
Isn't this lighthouse a little too conveniently located?
Nevermind, it's either go in or stay outside, and I'm not sure there's going to be a boat as conveniently located as this lighthouse.
No lights appear to be on, but when I step inside the doors shut ominously behind me and a few lights flicker to life-- although obviously in a less grandiose way than was intended by whoever made the entryway. The effect is instead eerie as a display is illuminated in front of me. A man’s stern face looks above, with a blood red banner hung beneath it reading “No Gods or Kings. Only Man.” I frown thoughtfully. Unlike the outside door, these two things remain untouched by elements and exactly as they were intended to be viewed by tourists like me, minus the shit lighting.
I follow the dusting red carpet underfoot around the display and down a half-flight of stairs, then down another flight, and just as I'm beginning to wonder how far down this increasingly poorly lit trail goes I am presented with something akin to a submarine. This vehicle is spotless-- very conspicuously-- and has only a single lever-- also conspicuously. Something like instinct draws me into the sub and something like habit brings my hand down on the lever. It isn't like there's anything for me on the surface anyway.
Who even am I?
Nevermind, I lookout the window on the sub. My view includes a descent below the ocean's surface. Various markers show in gold “10 Fathoms” and “18 Fathoms”. I should be shocked, but I'm not. This all feels comfortable, familiar.
Why does this feel familiar?
What am I doing?
Nevermind, the window is more important. The view is blocked by a projection, slightly aged but working just fine. The image projected is of a man, the same man from the lighthouse entryway, but less stern and more relaxed. He's sitting at a desk in a nice suit-- like the businessmen from the plane, but a few steps up. He says, in a voice that sounds like he drinks champagne with every dinner and orders someone to order it for him, “I am Mycroft Holmes, and I'm here to ask you a question. Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow? 'No!' says the man in Washington, 'It belongs to the poor.' 'No!' says the man in the Vatican, 'It belongs to God.' 'No!' says the man in Moscow, 'It belongs to everyone.' I rejected those answers; instead, I chose something different. I chose the impossible. I chose... Rapture, a city where the artist would not fear the censor, where the scientist would not be bound by petty morality, Where the great would not be constrained by the small! And with the sweat of your brow, Rapture can become your city as well.” I scoffed, but went dead silent when the scratchy projection wiped away to reveal my apparent destination.
It was a city, all skyscrapers and bright fluorescent lights and billboard ads and pedestrians. It was also underwater; skyscrapers came up and fell down from piped metal bases; fluorescents were the only garish illumination this deep underwater; billboard ads wavered with the waters distorting current; pedestrians were less anthropomorphic and more gilled, even a small whale skirted the city edge.
Nothing in my mind questions the possibility of this, of an Atlantis in the Atlantic. To me the more unnerving thing is the possibility of life without jellyfish outside the window or watery abyss all around.
How does one survive surrounded by sunlight?
Why does this feel like a homecoming?
Nevermind, the sub has ceased motion in my reverie, but the door stays shut.
I want to curse the inconvenience, but realize the blessing of it when two figures are lit up by flickering lights. One backs away from the other, he has no discernible features besides a workman’s shirt because his back is turned to me. He cowers away from the other person, babbling appeasing nonsense.
“I'll leave, I'll get out of your territory! Just don't kill me!”
I can see why, the other person isn't really so much a woman as some bloated and twisted and modified version of what could have probably been human many years ago. She has hooks attached to the outside of her wrists and she tears the poor man in front of her to pieces before moving to my sub.
“Is it someone new?” She hisses, her gaping mouth a mess of gums and scar tissue with the occasional tooth dug in unnaturally.
I stay silent, still. She jumps straight up with strength that is about as human as her appearance. No one does that in one broken stiletto. No one. There is the gut-wrenching sound of metal-on-metal, but eventually the thing must decide it can't break through the sub and jumps away, sprinting off down a hallway I can't see.