Mystery and Crime Fiction posted September 30, 2022


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An Atlantis spin off

All is Lost in the Lost City

by Elizabeth Strazisar

Journal Entry:

February 8th 2011

A perfect starry night. Although, the water will be quite a shock. A cold winter’s day along the coast, but this was the only day I could be booked for. It has been my dream ever since I was little to explore the lost city of Atlantis. The second a dive is scheduled the spots are taken like hot cakes. I’m surprised I was even able to get a spot. Or, I guess I don’t have any real reason to be surprised…  grateful is a better word. My friend has been hearing about my babbles all through high school.

So, like many people do when they have obsessed over a dream since they saw it once in a movie fifteen years ago in your friend’s basement that you don’t even talk to any more, I have studied non-stop. Diving gear, diving techniques, underwater cameras, breathing control, temperature control, how to adjust to the pounding pressure of the underworld. It didn’t stop there. I tried my best to get my hands on any book or website about Atlantis as much as I could, but none of them were ever super serious. And, even the ones that were serious, never gave way to too much information. They more danced around the topic than provide anything useful.

But today, finally, I get my answers. You know that friend I mentioned? Not the movie one, but the one I’d been babbling to? Well he has a way with the backstreet side of the internet. He’s… fine. A good skill to have and a good brain to find stuff like this ticket. The general public would never even consider the possibility that a whole city could be underwater, and they would certainly not want people trying to find it, so unfortunately this was the only resort.

After high school we split our separate ways. While I went to a community college, he well… went under his parent’s house and was a zombie in their basement. I seemed to eventually forget about him, but I guess he never forgot about me. Something I am now very grateful for.

Last month I got a message for him. The name took a while to remember but when I did, I almost didn’t click on the message. I was more naïve back then, but now I knew that I didn’t want anything to do with his business.

It read:

Mike Anderson: Hello. We haven’t spoken in a while, but I was able to do some digging and I found Atl…

That was all I needed to see. All the troubled thoughts of this man, all the worry gone. Because that last word was Atlantis, I knew it. I remember quickly clicking on the bolded message that still hadn’t been opened. I looked at the date it was sent, the dread slowly filling me.

Three weeks ago.

 I would have to take my chances.

The whole message said:

Hello.

We haven’t spoken in a while, but I was able to do some digging and I found Atlantis tour tickets. I’ve been watching them for months for you. Of course you would never be able to find this without me. I apologize on intruding. I know how much you talked about it, and when I saw it, something told me that you would take your chances no matter where I got the tickets from.

The ticket is on me, don’t worry about it.

The date you’re going is February 8th.  Here’s the pdf for you to print the ticket.

Your friend,

Mike Anderson

I couldn’t believe it. My dream finally coming true! What I couldn’t put my finger on was why. Why go through all the trouble? But, I didn’t want to fester on that question for too long so I quickly responded my thanks to him, an apology that I didn’t reply sooner, and that this was something that I would never forget. I made sure my excitement and gratitude was shown in every line.

So now, here I am, waiting on the shore line. The ticket had explicit instructions for where and what time to meet, so here I was, looking like a five-year-old on Christmas morning, sitting in the sand watching the sun go down. I wondered why it had to be a night, but again that question didn’t fester for long. It would be dark either way when we got down there. The sun can’t reach those depths.

My heart is beating faster and faster as I’m waiting for my tour guide to show up. My handwriting is so unbelievably messy from my jitters.

Maybe this is why Mike does what he does. He must like to indulge in this adrenaline rush. Meeting some stranger on a dark beach with top secret information on how to get down to the Lost City.

I will find it. Mark my words.

Albert Quinn

***

I look back up from my writing to see a beaming headlamp shining at me. Bobbing up and down the light got closer and closer until I was able to make out a figure.

“Albert Quinn?”

 Just what I have been waiting for. My stomach jumped. “Yes,” I yell while hauling myself to my feet. “That’s me.”

“Shhh.” He stands in front of me now. Geared up and ready to go, my fingers start to tingle. “We must keep our voices down. No one comes around these beaches at night, but I’m not offering this tour for everyone.”

“Right…” I answer. “Of course.”

The man swings off his backpack, letting it drop to the ground. “The name is Alec. The dive will last no more than an hour. You’ll be back home before sunrise and you will speak not a word of this to anyone.”

He dug around in his bag quickly pulling out a piece of paper and pen. “Sign,” was all he said.

Not paying much attention, I signed on the solid line, squinting to make sure I had seen it right. The sun was all the way set, and the only thing illuminating us was Alec’s head lamp. Halfway through signing, he turned it off and shuffled more in his bag.

I passed the paper and pen back to him which he took with very careful hands. I took my pack off too, strapping my air tank to my back instead. The weight felt comfortable on my shoulders. He looked at my signature, folded the paper and slipped it into the small pouch of his bag.

“So… What’s so special about Atlantis?” he asks curiously.

I look at him confused. Surely he would know.

Picking up on the shock on my face, he goes on. “I mean, to go out into the frigid waters just to see some rubble in the dark. Why?”

Another question I didn’t like to fester on. The movie in in the basement fifteen years ago started it… sure, but it wasn’t a fascination back then. It only started after.

I guess I never understood my grief; I was too young. So when I suddenly didn’t have a father, I would lose myself in anything I could. When I saw the myths and legends of Atlantis, that’s what I chose. He loved the ocean, and if he was away from me I wanted to believe it was because he found a city so amazing in a place he loved, rather than accepting that an overdose took his life.

That’s what I told my classmates when they asked what happened. Of course I got called a freak, a liar, and for good reason. I was a freak and a liar; still am. Mike. He knew the truth. Maybe he felt pity for me? Maybe he wanted to feel less alone with what was happening at home for him? I didn’t know, and I didn’t want to know.

As I’ve grown older I’ve become more frustrated with my lying. I remember the first time I told anyone the truth besides Mike. I fell asleep shaking, as if the accident just happened that night. Nightamres haunted my sleep. Eventually I just stopped getting into bed at night. I took my obsession and read anything I could about Atlantis. Over and over, until every line was memorized. The desk lamp would flicker on and off, the darkness trying to pull me in, but I never allowed it.

 Eventually, my father’s truth flooded through me, and that’s when I realized I had to see it. I had to see this Lost City, so maybe I wouldn’t feel so lost. My frustration turned to sadness and I realized that indeed I did want to believe that this is where he was. A fairytale ruse for a fairytale place. Except it wasn’t a fairytale. Neither one of them.

“I like the rush,” was all I said in response, thinking back to how Mike must feel.

The man just shrugged his shoulders not really caring, and moved on.

We got ready in silence. I swear there were sometimes that if I didn’t look over my shoulder I wouldn’t even know he was there.

My heart started to beat and my palms started to sweat, but it was just because of excitement, right?

I hate to think that for a second it crossed my mind not to do this. Maybe some things are left unsolved?

“Ready?” he asked.

It’s too late. I took a deep breath, the cold air burning my lungs. “Ready.”

***

“It’s done.”

There was no knock at the door, he just barged in.

My hands have been shaking ever since I sent that message. Every noise scared me, making me jump. I didn’t like it. I didn’t like him. Why did I ever say yes to him?

“Did you hear me?” he shouted form the other room.

“Yes.”

Albert was always my best friend. I will never forget him. I keep looking at his message written back, as if that will keep him here. He never changed. I can almost hear his raspy voice in my head.

Hey Mike. Long time, no see. No way! Thank you so much! I still find it hard to believe you remembered this Atlantis thing about me. I will never be able to repay you, seriously. If there is anything you need, anything at all, let me know.

Your dear friend,

Albert Quinn

He was so excited.

I never should have done it. I never should have gotten into any of this, but Alec hired me. The job pays well, better than I could have ever done myself, then again I never pictured myself doing anything like this.

He throws himself on the sofa, clearly drunk off of alcohol and sea water. Alec wasn’t always like this. I met him right before I graduated. We shared a lot of the same sob story and we created what you could call an ‘alliance.’ Us against them. I confided in him, and unfortunately told him about Albert.

Albert was always a ray of sunshine for me. The kid was happy even when he had no reason to be. He was even content enough to be called a freak and liar before he would ever admit that his dad was a druggie. I admired that, so I stuck around him and took care of people and things that he didn’t even know about. I protected him behind his back, until he turned around and saw me, and for some odd reason he extended his happy go lucky personality onto me.

Why? I hide my face in my hands.

When Alec had heard about Albert’s obsession with Atlantis, well… his gears got turning. Such a mystery the lost city was and yet it was just interesting enough to draw people in. One by one I was able to track people down. Random. It didn’t mean anything. Nothing at all.

 Atlantis is not down there, but there is a city. A city of lost souls that I have tricked, and they now live at the bottom of the ocean.

Then Alec approached me one day. For some reason I knew the day would come, but I have hoped with everything in me that he might forget. Silly. Alec never forgets.

 “Every city needs a leader. Get you friend. He’s next.”

“No,” I remember saying a lot more cowardly than I wanted to.

He just laughed. “No?” he thought for a moment taking a deep breath clearly unbothered. “Well… every president must have a vice president. You can always fill his spot if you’d like.”

I couldn’t stand it. Why did I ever trust in Alec? I fought and fought, but just like everything else in my sad life, I gave up. I sent the message to the one person I knew would respond.

And then, he didn’t. I never felt more relieved. He must have forgot about me, maybe I even ended up in his spam mail. None of that mattered. I hope he forgot about me. Maybe I could save him after all.

But, just like everyone, eventually he responded. So excited. I stopped eating. Everything I tried to force down came back up. I would even vomit so hard, blood would come out.

 Sleep evaded me. I was a little grateful for that. Better to experience my nightmares while conscious than let my subconscious take over. 

I sat at my computer, letter written. An apology. I was mistaken. I would take his place and I would finally be out of this alliance, but my own ego got in the way. I felt the blood drip down my throat. No. I have to do it. Not everyone can be as nice as Albert.

And now it’s too late. I read his message over and over again.

If there is anything you need, anything at all, let me know.

I only needed one thing.

I’ve done this countless times before. Hack into their mail, and delete their account. But before I did, I wrote three little words.

Mike Anderson: I’m so sorry.

I look at the unopened message from his account. It will never be opened. I wish I would cry, but I deserve this pain. I move my mouse and click.

Delete.     

 



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