The Final Voyage?
by George Miller
Admiral Nelson could feel the sudden increase in the forward movement of the Seaview. It was so quick that he was almost thrown from the chair in his lab, where he was working on another experiment. He regained his balance just in time to hear the crash of broken glass as beakers and test tubes were being forced off his workbench.
As he was once again thrown from his seat in another burst of speed, he grabbed for the mic that was hanging from his table, "Captain Crane, Nelson here. Come in Captain."
In the control room of the Seaview, the crew on duty were picking themselves off the deck. Captain Crane was doing his best to hold on to the plotting table. He had never felt the Seaview accelerate to this degree. While trying to keep himself from falling again, he reached down to help Mr. Morton to his feet.
Nelson's urgent call was repeated over the Seaview's intercom, "Captain Crane... Nelson here... Please report."
Lee looked to see that Chip was able to regain his footing and reached for the mic. "Crane here, Admiral."
"What the devils going on up there?"
"I don't know Sir. Our speed is greater than our maximum possible speed."
"What's causing it? Have Sharkey check with engineering." Nelson added... "I'm on my way to the control room. Stop all engines!"
"Aye aye, Sir." Lee replied as he clicked the mic twice and called his orders to the Chief. "Chief Sharkey, Get to engineering and report on conditions."
Sharkey was quick to respond, "I'm already there Sir. All gauges are reading normal. They indicate that we are at two thirds speed."
"Obviously they are 'wrong' Chief. We are over three times our normal speed."
"I know, Sir." The Chief said, rubbing the back of his head where he had hit it when he was thrown to the deck during the acceleration.
"Well, get on it! We've got to stop this submarine!"
"Aye, aye, Sir." Sharkey called back, "Stand by for report."
Just then, Nelson made his entrance to the control room. Walking was difficult at best, trying to offset the speed of the ship.
"Lee," the Admiral asked as he approached Lee, "Can you stop this ship?"
"No, Sir." Lee answered, "The Chief is checking on the problems in engineering, but he reports all things register normal."
"Well, this is far from normal..." Nelson said as he was interrupted by a sudden and violent rocking of the Seaview. Men were being thrown from their positions in the control room.
The incessant rocking continued... electrical panels were exploding sparks and beginning to burn all over the control room. The lights then went out and the control room was lit only by the flying sparks and fires... In a few seconds, the Seaview's control room was bathed in the dim red glow of the automatic emergency lights.
Captain Crane began shouting orders, "Fire detail... to the control room. Engineering... Sharkey... report! Helm, get control of the sub!"
The helmsman called back to the Captain, "Trying sir... controls not responding."
The men were then subjected to yet another erratic motion of the Seaview. It had indeed come to a stop. However it was so abrupt that it seemed to have hit an underwater mountain range. The men were once again thrown to the deck. While the forward motion stopped, the rocking continued as if the Seaview was in some sort of undersea turbulence.
At that moment there was a tremendous crash on the hull of the submarine just forward of the control room. Water pipes were cracked in the hit and were spraying water everywhere making even more problems for the firefighters.
Chip was the first to see it. He yelled out for Crane and Nelson as he pointed towards the observation windows in the nose of this great submarine. A large white cubicle shaped object had struck the Seaview and was passing the windows.
Crane looked to Nelson for answers... "What is that thing?"
"I don't know Lee, but we can't afford another hit like that one."
Lee reached for the mic and ordered, "Left full rudder... Chip take us down to 1000 feet..."
The object then appeared to rise and the Seaview was not quite fast enough to avoid another impact... this time from the bottom of the hull amidships.
"Damage control... Report," Crane ordered."
"Damage control , here Sir. We've lost outer hull in frames 45 and 46. We're taking on water."
"Close all watertight doors. Get all the men out of those compartments!"
Lee, all wet from the burst pipes in the control room... as everyone was, looked to Nelson for some answers. Before he could even voice the question, the men were once again thrown to the deck as the Seaview was now going full speed in reverse.
"Admiral, We've got to stop this sub!" Lee added, "The hull will not take the strain."
Nelson, looking around the area had to agree. The Seaview and her entire crew had been in some strange situations, but never anything like this. The abrupt speed and directional changes defied all logic of physics.
To make things even worse for all aboard Seaview, the rocking motion had begun again. Damage control reported losing three more compartments to the invasion of the sea. The reverse motion, much like the previous forward motion came to an abrupt stop. It was apparent that the men of the Seaview were spending more time lying on the deck than at their stations.
"Chip, belay that order for the dive to 1000 feet... blow all ballast... surface... surface!!!"
Lee turned to Nelson, "I have no idea what's going on, but we need to surface... before it's too late."
Nelson looked to Lee, "Yes... you're right. We need to get to the surface. The Seaview's breaking up."
"It's not that bad, Admiral... is it?"
Before Nelson could answer, the Seaview was struck a tremendous blow to the hull once again. But, unlike the glancing hit of the object a few seconds earlier... what ever this was that hit the Seaview was still on the hull... forcing it down... down into the cold depths of the ocean...
Chip, watching the depth gauges, called out... "Captain... we're at two thousand feet and still going down. Control's will not respond!"
As the Seaview continued it's seemingly endless dive, the men were all looking for answers. They knew their Admiral Nelson always pulled them out of dangerous situations in the past... but this time it seemed so different...
Even as the last damage control report came blaring through the control room's speakers, there was no sense of panic... instead there was more a sense of confusion... could this really be happening? How could this be happening... to the Seaview... and to us?
"Damage control... We're losing the aft missile room... full flooding... the hull is breaking up... we can't sto..." the voice was cut off as the flooding shorted out the communications...
Chip had stopped calling out the depth when the ship passed three thousand feet... no one was listening anyway...
Lee, went to the Admiral's side as they both looked out the great window's into the darkness... in a low voice he said... more than asked, "Admiral... we're not going to make it this time... are we, Sir?"
Nelson turned to his Captain... and close friend... "No... Lee. It doesn't look good. This may be the last voyage of the Seaview."
"We'll never even know what or who did this to us... I've failed, Sir... I am sorry."
"Sorry? For what?"
"It was my job... it was my responsibility to keep everyone safe on the Seaview. It's just that..."
"Lee," Nelson said, putting his hand on Lee's shoulder, "You did do everything you could. I never thought it would end like this... in five short minutes..."
But, as the Seaview continued it's journey to the bottom of the sea... there came a deafening silence... a silence of all the men awaiting what now was the inevitable. It was in this silence that Nelson heard the sound... a sound he thought he had heard before. It was a sound that was very much like footsteps... however the sound seemed to be coming from so far away... what could it mean? Was this truly the final voyage of the Seaview? Was the sea that the men of the Seaview had spent their lives exploring... now going to take them???
The footsteps continued to grow louder as she came down the hall... and turned into the bathroom calling to her young son, "Billy... come on Billy... out of the tub... you've been in there long enough..."
"Don't argue with me, son! And don't forget to take your Seaview back to your room."
Still upset with his mother, "But, Mom... I was on a mission with the Admiral and the Captain..."
"I said now, Billy." His Mom added, "You can have another mission tomorrow."
Reluctantly, Billy reached down into the tub and pulled his Seaview from the water to take it back to his room to dry and put back on his shelf... He looked into the small clear plastic windows in the nose of the sub and said in a quiet voice... "See you all tomorrow night..."
Billy's Mom then told him something that really made him hurry... "Billy?"
You'd better hurry up and get down here."
"Your favorite show is starting on the TV right now..."
Billy could hear the TV as he rushed down the stairs... "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea... starring Richard Basehart... and David Hedison..."
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