• Keri Heath

The Depths


Drew had wanted to move underwater for years, but he could never find the right job opening.

He tried to visit the Depths almost annually, despite how expensive the sub tickets could get, but the trips were always worth it. The cities were bustling and glittering and schools of fish looped around the walking tubes while he made his way from the hotel to the volcano museum. He loved going on safari through the sea grass plains or visiting the bustling Atlantic Central Station. And of course, it was hard to beat the seafood.

So when his company offered him a promotion, he leapt at the opportunity.

"Now, be aware," his boss told him, "environmental consulting isn't something you can do remotely. We'd be asking you to relocate to Pacific Ridge City."

Drew nodded furiously. "Yes, I understand. How soon can I start?"

He danced around the apartment practically all night. Drew's roommate was less enthused. Now, I'm probably going to have to let Carl to live here. Do you know how loud he snores?

A month later, Drew was standing in the middle of a room full of boxes and his pre-ordered furniture watching a starfish crawl across his window. The place was tiny, like all the places in the Depths, but Drew could walk out onto his bubble balcony and watch the dolphins zip past overhead. It took a week before he could wipe the ridiculous grin off his face, a fact the guys at his new jobs wouldn't let go of.

He was sitting on a bench in a seaweed bubble park one afternoon when he felt his first tidal surge. He didn't realize

what was happening at first. The sirens went off and people who were in the park turned around and rushed to the exit tubes. When Drew realized what was happening, it was too late to exit the tube, so he got down in the sand under the bench and put his hands on head. The whole bubble shook and bent so much Drew was terrified it would break, letting the ocean water surge through the area.

After the wave passed, Drew stayed under the bench for a while, until people streamed back into the bubble park and he was starting to get weird looks.

Drew stood up and brushed the sand off his pants. Everyone around him was calm and on their phones. Echoes of you ok? Did you make it inside? Your bubble didn't leak this time, did it?

Drew let his eyes turn to the currents of water still coursing above his head. Did he call his dad? Let him know he was fine? But his dad din't eve know there had been a surge. No need to worry him. Should he call the guys at work? No. Didn't know them that well.

Drew rode the bus home in silence.

For a long time, he sat by his window and stared outside, watching the fish swim by. It was a long way to the surface from here. Sunlight still streamed through, but they might as well have been on another planet. Drew closed the curtains, took a blanket and wrapped it around himself.

He was getting ready to go to bed without bothering to eat dinner when someone knocked on the door. His landlady bustled in before he could even say hello.

"You may not realize it," she said, "but seaweed tea is a necessity here after a big surge." She plunked down a steaming mug on his table.

"Thank you very much," Drew said. He set the blanket on a chair.

The landlady sat down and took a long sip from her own tea cup. "It always takes me so long to settle down after a surge. You don't mind if I sit with you for a moment, do you?"

Drew smiled. "No, I don't mind at all." He pushed his curtains back open in time to see a jellyfish drift past, gentle and soft, like a piece of the ocean current.

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