www.thebermudian.com FALL 2014 | 67
in her head. A lovely, bright, solid pale blue
light at the glass. Probably—oh, I don’t know.
She fired questions at him, kept him focused
when he became vague and for a moment did
not recognize the feminine inflection of her
voice. How many? How small is it?
As small as an American penny.
At nine hundred feet Barton cut in, measured and clinical. Oxygen nineteen-hundred
pounds. Humidity fifty-five percent. Temperature eighty-five. Hose all right. Door all right.
Barometer seventy-six and one half. He paused
before adding, Only dead men have sunk this
She pictured the two men, cramped and
curled around oxygen tanks, photography
equipment and her disembodied voice, the
claustrophobic intimacy of the luminous dark.
Luminous dark. Beebe’s phrasing in her
head again. It frustrated her sometimes; his
romantic descriptions made it difficult to
contain, to stop the shape of the fish from
exploding in every direction at once.
You know what a contradiction that is,
There is no other way to explain it, he told
her, not for the first time.
It is impossible.
Not if you’ve seen it.
Twilight rising, Barton’s voice filled her
headphones unexpectedly, then silence. Five
Oxygen at thirteen-hundred, Barton inter-
rupted. Temperature at eighty six. Where are
At fifteen-hundred feet, she said.
On deck she was baking in the August heat,
aching for a breeze to pick up. The shadows
had receded and the whirring pitch of the
winch, Beebe’s torrential observations had
started a dull thumping in her temples. She
glanced up every now and then from her
notebook and squinted out over the deck.
She watched the crew inspecting the cables;
she saw how their mouths moved and their
arms gestured but she couldn’t make any sense
of it. She was disoriented by the closeness of
the men in the bathysphere and the sprawling
openness of the barge’s wide deck, and beyond
that the immensity of the sea. She was in some
nowhere place between the two, linking them
but somehow not connected to either.
An anglerfish, quick, by the window. I only
caught a glimpse. There’s a pair of leptocepha-
li—large, twisting like willow leaves…
Mr. Beebe, —
Both of them about eight inches long.
More of them now, sweeping along in a line.
Mr. Beebe, the anglerfish. What of its size?
Black. Medium. Wide-mouthed.
No tentacle lights. No lights on the body.
Its teeth were glowing. Faintly. A pale lemon-yellow.
She had seen his sketches of the unnamable creatures and at first thought the dark had
turned his mind. What else was she to think
when he presented her with those loose-leaf
monsters? A detail of teeth, an outline of some
unknown twisting body; here a perversion of a
fish, all maw and tentacles. Apocalyptic visions
sketched by a mad, desert prophet.
It wasn’t until the nets had dredged up a
few flesh and blood specimens that she started
to take his drawings seriously. The fish were
damaged and crumpled from the sudden de-
pressurization, and Beebe claimed they didn’t
hold a candle to the living ones he had seen,
but for her they were a revelation.
Barton look! Miss Hollister, something big.
A cetacean probably. It moved all wrong for a
squid. Barton missed it.
You’re at twenty-four hundred now.
Our friend is deep. Beam off.
It was noon when they set the record. She
held up the telephone so they could hear the
cheers and whistles coming from the barge
half a mile away at the surface. Beebe, in
the middle of describing a shrimp explode,
sounded nonchalant, almost annoyed at the
How far down are we?
Three thousand and twenty eight. No one
has ever seen what you are seeing now.
Utter blackness and a spray of bioluminescent constellations.
“She had seen his sketches of the unnamable creatures and at
first thought the dark had turned his mind. What else was she to
think when he presented her with those loose-leaf monsters? A
detail of teeth, an outline of some unknown twisting body; here
a perversion of a fish, all maw and tentacles. Apocalyptic visions
sketched by a mad, desert prophet.”
Dr. Beebe at the
bathysphere’s three-inch fused quartz
window wearing the
telephone set with
which he maintained