A Letter Surfaced (One-Shot)
To the inhabitants of the twenty-first century:
If you are reading this, know that we are saved.
When we first went, it was glamorous—the prospect of discovering something unlike mankind had ever seen grasped the hearts of audiences across the globe, forcing us to realize our mortality and renewing a sense of wonder among the few remnants of the once great human race. And then, like ashes in the wind, the novelty dispersed as quickly as it came, and we went from calling ourselves “voyagers” to calling ourselves mud-combers. After all, that was all we were. People who crawled into wetsuits and spent precious moments of the morning hours strapping equipment to our backs, breathing fabricated oxygen as we stepped into the seas that overwhelmed the shorelines. For hours every day, we would weigh ourselves to the bottom of the ocean, relentlessly combing the thick banks of sand for signs, symbols, anything—anything that promised we would see tomorrow. Unfortunately, dear reader, tomorrow has never been guaranteed. Not for you and certainly not for me, a 2379 A.D. eighth-level Mud-Comber. You see, in the year 2379, mankind has been… out of commission for a solid two hundred and forty-six years. As a matter of fact, our only hope for restoring ourselves to what we once were is the feat of turning back the wheels of time. An impossible circumstance, I know, except for the fact that what we discovered in 2294 changed everything forever.
We discovered relics on the bottom of the ocean, smack in the center of what was once called “The Bermuda Triangle.” Not only did these relics hold incredible details of what appeared to be a blueprint for a sort of time machine, but they also instructed us on where to find the pieces we needed. While any governments or monarchies that were left funded the findings of these pieces, the task at hand proved to be another feat some might call greater than the discovery itself.
Unfortunately, while 98% percent of the items we needed could be found at the bottom of the ocean, the most detrimental part of the device was located a few hundred feet beneath the Mariana Trench—for those of you who don’t care about trenches or their purposes, let it be known that the Mariana Trench is the deepest point on Earth, a whopping 36,070 feet beneath the very ground your feet stand on.
To put this into perspective, pretend you are on a commercial flight (lucky you—you probably have a window seat). Imagine you are flying over your house, peering out over the rim of the narrow window at a rooftop no larger than the point of a needle. Now, imagine it is dark out, and all you can see is the shine from miniature street lamps and porch lights. Take away those lights. Take away the deafening sound of the plane. Take away the fact that your ears were able to pop a good seven or eight times before you were comfortable. Take away your ability to breathe without some form of support—a form that won’t be crushed like a can of soda the second it touches the atmosphere. Now, take away the safety net of the plane’s metal body. Take away the clouds, the sun and moon, the distant feeling that home is just beneath you—albeit several miles down. Lastly, add the idea that indescribable, undiscovered, monstrous creatures consider the Mariana Trench a five-star resort.
And there, my friend, you see our dilemma.
Mud-Comber. That’s not my name, though it may as well be, because that’s all I am once I’m behind the mask.
Today we begin our descent into the trench. We’ll have eighteen lights, and they’ll only see ten feet forward. We’ll have seismic readers and thermal image processors. We’ll have built-in breathing systems and a life support system. But we won’t have our own eyes. We’ll be viewing the depths of the Earth through machines, praying we might find just a shred of evidence that what we came for is real.
After all, the fate of our race relies on it. This is the last piece to an age-old equation, and we are the mud-combers—no—voyagers who will retrieve it.
The last bell is sounding off now, and this will be my final transmission for nearly a month. If anyone out there is listening, wish us Godspeed.
May this report reach the right ears.
Mud-Comber 812, Astra G. Callaghan.