Cindy D. Baker
Admiral Harriman Nelson felt the jolt of the small ship, and was tremendously relieved. He’d been secretly terrified something would occur at the last minute to prevent him from leaving, but so far everything was right on schedule; the Flying Sub had successfully detached from Seaview, and he was now on his way.
Dropping into the inky void of the Atlantic Ocean, he quickly descended deeper into its murky depths till the light provided by the sun above, slowly and completely disappeared, leaving only the instruments before him to see by.
Harry was alone on this trip, and that’s how he wanted it. He’d flown FS-1 solo many times before, but this time was special, and he had waited for it for a long time—a very long time.
Checking the instrument panel constantly, the man paid close attention to the numbers on the screen, directing the sub towards the coordinates that were forever etched into his memory.
Anxious to reach his destination, the Admiral nevertheless forced himself to relax. It would take hours for him to get there, but knowing he was about to fulfill a dream he’d had since he was a child sent his heart racing. This mission was what Seaview had been built for, it was what the Flying Sub had been built for, and to date no other water craft had been designed which could withstand the pressure of these depths—and it was he who had built them, Harriman C. Nelson, the "oddball of the world".
But he wasn’t an oddball or crazy, or an eccentric, he was a man driven. He had had many dreams growing up, but this was the one dream that had pushed him so hard towards to the sea, and to accomplish within it the feats other men couldn’t, or wouldn’t do. He'd made a promise to his mother, and consequently to himself, and he intended to keep it, or die trying.
Thinking of his mother, Harry solemnly picked up the brown, medium-sized envelope that rested beside him on the copilot’s chair, and took out the well-worn pictures it contained; shuffling until the smallest of them, a 3 ½ x 3 ½ black and white snapshot, came to the top.
Looking it over, Harry smiled faintly. The picture had been taken in England in his Uncle Clancy’s living room, several years before he was even born. Numerous pictures were taken that day for it had been a monumental occasion. Clancy Nelson had talked his brother Angus, Harry’s father, into immigrating to America with him and their families, and this was the last time the two families would all be together before reuniting in their new country.
From that day on, things would never be the same for either family again, for as excited as the brothers were about their decision to move west, the decision would ultimately send the once-close brothers onto two different paths.
Life hadn’t been easy for the Nelson family in England, his mother used to tell him over and over again. She wanted him to know the family history—she needed him to know—and hoped, when he was old enough to understand his father’s actions, he would understand why he shouldn’t hate him, as well.
Angus Nelson was a determined man. Determined to provide a good life for his wife and children. He knew it wouldn’t come easy and they would all have to work hard together to achieve that dream, but they could do it, as a family they could do it. It meant the children would also have to study hard in school, and to learn everything they could because knowledge meant power and power meant being able to control one’s destiny.
Not only was the man determined, he was not afraid to work and work hard. If a physical job presented itself that paid good money, he took it. It had meant long hours away from his wife and only son, but it was for the future.
Nor was it any easier for his mother, Kevin Bridget McClanahan Nelson, who had to make everything last longer than it was supposed it, at the same time working seven days a week as a cook for one of London’s prestigious restaurants. Every pence and pound had to be scrimped and saved. With the exception of food, if it wasn’t essential, it was done without, or if it could hold out a few more months, then it did so.
Yet she managed, she told Harry, because she loved her husband and because it was for their future.
The future. It was for that reason that Angus wanted to move his family to America.
" ‘Well-paying jobs are aplenty there!’ " repeated Harry’s mother, of a conversation she had had with her husband. " ‘Once we get there, we can live in a big house with electricity even!’ "
The senior Nelson had not only been determined, but more importantly, had a natural gift for making money. If a financial gamble came along, he took the chance, and more times than not, came out ahead.
For the future. When the last minute business opportunity came up, Angus took it, along with his wife’s blessing.
On the morning of departure, Angus told his wife and son he loved them, then kissed them good-bye, saying he couldn’t wait till the entire family was once again together in their new home.
Suddenly the instrument panel sounded, snapping the Admiral out of his reminiscing. Checking the scope, the man grinned excitedly. He was exactly where he wanted to be.
Reaching overhead, he turned on the powerful exterior lights, creating a narrow tunnel of light in the otherwise eternal blackness. Directing the small sub downwards, the Admiral craned his neck to see the few limited feet in front of him, carefully scanning the nearly lifeless ocean floor that was so prominent in the Nelson family history.
And then there she was, badly decayed and hardly recognizable over the decades she had sat on the bottom, but Harry knew it was her. He knew it because their fates had been intertwined since before his birth.
With tear-filled eyes, the Admiral looked down at the small, worn picture still clutched in his hand. It was the one that was handled the most, and was closest to his heart. "I promised you, Ma, I would find him, and I did. It took me a while, but I found him!"
The snapshot was of three people: his parents, and the brother he and his sister Edith would never know—Clarin Patrick Nelson, the brother who would die on the R.M.S. Titanic.
Kevin Nelson was one of the few fortunate kitchen staff, along with her son, to make it topside. But when she tried to board a lifeboat, her son was refused. Clarin was only nine years old, but in those days a nine year old was considered to be a man, and he was expected to act as such, remaining with the other men till the rescue ship arrived.
For the future. Only for the love of his family and the future did Angus Nelson trade his passage on the majestic ocean liner to parlay a deal for a diamond mine, but from the moment he heard about the sinking, nothing could appease his guilt of not being with his family when they needed him most. His only son had died alone, and from that day on Angus became a man obsessed. When his second son was born, Angus not only taught him everything he knew, but pushed Harriman to learn how to aggressively achieve his own dreams.
And with lightning speed young Harriman did; quickly becoming evident that he was not an ordinary boy. Living close enough to the Atlantic to gaze at it every day, the ocean called to him, inspiring him with dreams of his own.
Slowing the small sub down to near stalling, Nelson breathlessly toured the doomed ship’s disintegrating remains as every possible emotion swept through him. No other man since the night of the tragedy had seen this great lady.
"Hi, Clarin," Nelson said out loud, his voice cracking. "I’m your brother, Harriman." With the back of his sleeve, Harry wiped the tears of joy from his eyes. "Ma wanted me to find you and I promised her I would. They loved you, Clarin. Not a day went by when they didn’t think of you. We all did."
The Admiral had made the discovery quite by accident during one of Seaview’s initial long-distance test runs. He had told his mother he would keep the promise or die trying, and that day he nearly did, along with Seaview and her crew.
Due to erroneous wiring, several fires had broken out throughout the boat, and as Nelson and the crew fought to save her, Kowalski yelled from his fathometer post that there was something on the ocean floor directly below them. Too busy trying to regain ballast to pay attention, the Admiral simply ordered someone to make a note of it. It wasn’t until after returning to the Institute, and he had read the report that something had jogged in his memory. From there, the scientist developed a hunch. A far fetched hunch, but for someone like Nelson, far fetched was the norm, and it wasn’t until now, years later and after the development of the Flying Sub, he’d been able to pursue his hunch.
Slowly circling around, the Admiral brought FS-1 back over the bow, this time taking in as much as he could in the precious little time he had, a sense of awe, surrealism, and sadness gripping him as he took in Titanic’s overall condition.
The ship lie upright, much to his astonishment, held in place by the bottom mud she had nose-dived into, plowing so deep the mud now touched the bottom of her starboard anchor. She was intact for the most part, but pieces of her lay all over the ocean floor. The notorious crow’s nest where the alarm was first raised was still attached to its mast, but the mast today rested upon the forward deck. The rectangular outline of her bridge where all the crucial decisions—right or wrong—were made, was now flattened, her cables missing. Her eminent smoke stacks, which had become her celebrated calling card, were also gone, leaving behind nothing but haunting black holes where the funnels used to be.
Then there was nothing; the ocean liner’s stern was completely gone and no where in sight.
At that, Admiral Nelson allowed himself a brief but smug smile. Much debate had been given to whether she had sunk in her entirety, or if she had broken up during descent. Once again, he had won another bet.
Coming around to Titanic’s port side, Harry abruptly stiffened. Over to his right was the unmistakable image of a boat davit, soberly reminding him of why he had come.
Suddenly Harry filled with overwhelming grief. Not only did he feel his pain, but his parents and those onboard as well, and something more—the cold, hard, stark reality that the majestic vessel was disappearing.
The pieces and items that had fallen beside her were being absorbed into the sand and ocean, while the larger pieces aboard the liner were being slowly and methodically eaten away. Her decks wooden planking was already gone; devoured by worms which lived at those depths, while the full length of her metal hull was being progressively destroyed by boring mollusks and iron-eating bacteria.
Staring at the rust-stalactites, Harry swallowed hard.
The bacteria from the rust-stalactites had created reddish-brown rivers that flowed out over the bottom sediment. There on the sediment, they formed pools; red pools that eerily resembled blood from the great ship herself.
Nelson then frowned deeply. The carnage was thorough and there was no doubting the end result. Come the one-hundredth anniversary of Titanic’s sinking, nothing would be left. Not of her, her legend or of the people on her. She would be forgotten.
Suddenly, the man smiled and smiled broadly. Over my dead body, Harry decided, his mind set. Titanic had been found, and it was time the world knew about it. Time to let the remaining survivors mourn for their loved ones the way his parents had been unable to mourn for their first born son.
Time. Checking his watch, Nelson disappointedly found, all too quickly, his time was up.
"Good-bye, Clarin," said Harry gloomily, as he gave one last look at the great ship, "I made Ma the promise to find you, and I did. Now I make you the promise that you will not be forgotten. How could I?" he asked with a crooked smile. "You’re my brother."
Reluctantly turning FS-1 back towards Seaview, Harry shut off the exterior light, leaving the man alone with his avalanche of emotions and memories.
Slowly, the inky blackness in front of the Admiral turned into a dull green as the Flying Sub flew nearer the surface and to home base.
Seeing Seaview ahead, Nelson slowed the smaller craft down. He wanted to be alone for a few more minutes.
Gazing at Seaview, the man’s eyes glowed proudly. It was moments like these that he once again appreciated her beauty; marveling at the her design, and even more so, that he was the one who had created her.
But he hadn’t done it alone, and he knew it. He not only relished that fact, but was grateful for it, and everything else he had accomplished in his life, for it was Angus, the father who had pushed him so hard who'd made it all possible.
It had seemed cruel and hurtful to Harry at the time, pushing him when he’d rather be playing stick ball. Times when the young Nelson had resented it so much as to hate his father. But he knew Angus loved them, and in time, he did come to understand. As an adult, he realized his father had been a man driven also.
Thinking of his father, Harry felt a sting of sadness and regret. Angus had achieved one of his dreams. The diamond mine deal the man pursued that faithful day had made him and his family wealthy beyond their wildest imagination. That fortune not only fueled Harriman's creative, if not sometimes controversial mind, it also allowed Angus' only daughter, Edith, the freedom to pursue her own scholastic achievements, foregoing of the curse of a forced marriage of convenience. But Harry knew, from the look he had seen in his father's eyes, that the price Angus paid had been too high no matter how much was the return.
And yet...had his father been with them, he too would have died.
Gazing at Seaview, Harry smiled warmly. "It’s a beautiful dream, Da, don’t you think?" From the tragedy had come the future. Now he had another dream yet to fulfill.
Climbing up the ladder into Seaview’s Control Room, Harriman Nelson beamed with excitement, carrying a smile no one could miss.
"I take it your secret mission was a success?" Captain Crane asked jokingly. As a naval officer, Lee Crane knew when to ask questions and when not to, and he’d known Admiral Nelson long enough to know his moods and whether his "missions" were something to be worried about or not. Happily, by all indications, this mission was definitely not one to worry about.
Turning, Harry’s eyes sparkled triumphantly. "A complete success!" he announced proudly.
"Well, I hope someday we meet her," the Captain teased with a grin.
"Oh, you will…in time," Harry replied, his smile getting bigger. "I just need to make a few preliminary arrangements first." Giving Lee a mischievous wink, he turned towards the forward staircase, taking the circular steps two at a time, he couldn’t wait to get back to Santa Barbara!
Bursting into his cabin, Nelson immediately went to his desk, dropping the brown envelope on its corner. Pulling out a pad of paper, next grabbing a pen, he started jolting down all the plans and preparations that were whirling in his head.
Deep in concentration, he was startled out of it less than an hour later by the abrupt ringing of his telephone. A little annoyed at the interruption, he nevertheless answered the phone amicably: "Nelson here."
"How are you, Harriman?" Howard Irwin asked cheerily. "Long time no hear from!"
"Howard, you old dog!" returned Harry, annoyed at the interruption, but glad to be hearing from his college friend. "What have you been digging into lately?"
"Not much really. I’ve been helping the British Museum categorize their latest acquisitions," the archeologist begun. "You should see it, Harry, some of the pieces are real interesting," he said invitingly "Which is why I’m calling. I’m going to be in Santa Barbara this weekend, like to get together?"
"You’re in luck, Howard, we’re heading back to port now. Just let me know the time and place and I’ll be there."
"Sounds great! Then I can bend your ear about all the political intrigue we’ve been having."
Perplexed, Nelson’s eyebrows folded. "Political intrigue? What about?"
"What? You think we just walk in the store and buy mummies and artifacts?" came the light laughter on the other end of the phone. "Noooo! I no sooner finished categorizing the newest pieces when Egypt starts screaming we stole the artifacts from them. From there it began to snowball, now it’s a real mess! We now have several countries laying claim to the pieces, including the coffin of Amen-Ra."
Harry felt an chill run down his spin. "Refresh my memory," he said quietly. The name was familiar but he couldn’t put a history to it.
"Egyptian History, circa 1050 B.C.," he stated, knowing Harry wasn’t interested in dry details. "She’s the Princess who was said to have been cursed," he continued. "The British Museum possesses her coffin, but the mummy itself went down on the Titanic.
A heavy knot formed in Harry’s stomach. He remembered the Princess, but only because of the stir she had caused when she was first found.
"Harry?…Harry, are you there?" called his friend.
"Ah…yes, Howard, I’m here. I was just trying to remember her."
"Remember on your own time, I’ve got to run. I haven’t even made my plane reservations yet, so I’ll talk to you in a few days. Bye, Harry!"
Hanging up the phone, Harry pulled out the glass and whiskey bottle he always kept in his bottom drawer. The heavy knot in his stomach now turned to overwhelming fear. Pouring two fingers worth, he slowly sipped it, thinking deeply.
During his lifetime there had been several historical discoveries. Dinosaurs, mummies, Spanish galleons, they all had one thing in common—controversy. Some good, some bad, some worse. With Carter’s discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922, the expedition had remained relatively free of controversy, yet was plagued by rumors of a curse the boy king had supposedly enforced against those who once plundered his burial site.
Indeed, with other finds all types of reports and rumors had been circulated. These included accusations of tomb raiding, theft of newly discovered artifacts, illegally smuggling the treasure out of the country, to even more curses by angry ancient gods. The events became a media circus, a legal nightmare, and brought out vultures of every size and nation.
Looking down at his pad of notes, Nelson felt another cold chill run down his spin.
Yet those discoveries didn’t even compare to the controversy of the oceans. Those had been worse—much worse—because most discoveries fell under international jurisdiction.
On land, if an artifact was found in Egypt but was of Inca culture yet discovered by a Frenchman who was being paid by an English recovery company…who then did the artifact belong to? Who should it belong to?
Throwing back his head, Nelson finished off the little bit of whiskey that was left, then poured himself another two fingers. The fear was still with him.
But when a ship went down in international waters, no man or country could protect her because there was no way to protect her. Anyone—any country—with a boat and the right equipment could salvage her, and often did.
Admiral Nelson felt his heart sink. R.M.S. Titanic lay in international waters.
Picking up the brown folder, Harry took out the picture and stared at it long and hard. Clarin was smiling in that picture.
People had searched for the legendary ocean liner since the day she sunk; finding her, naturally, would be of worldwide importance. If he told the world where to find the ship, God only knew what would happen afterwards. It was true no other subs could go as deep as he had today, but someday they would. When that day came, in no way could he control what happened next, nor could he stop it.
"Clarin," Harry said softly, tears welling in his eyes. "I love you, as did Ma and Da, but I can’t do this. Not to you and those souls who rest beside you. You deserve a place of peace. I hope you can forgive me."
Taking another sip, the Admiral thought about the future. As the smothering depression slowly lifted, Harry grinned. He was doing the right thing. He had promised not to let Clarin’s memory die, and he wouldn’t. There were other ways to remember the people and the renowned Titianic.
Better ways, Harry thought determinedly. He didn’t know what or how, but he would figure something out, just as soon as they got back to port.
The first place he would call would be the Guggenheim Museum.
The second, to his cousins of the Clancy Nelson branch of the family. The ones he hadn’t seen since he was a child. The ones who had known, if only for a brief time, his older brother Clarin.
T H E - E N D
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