As the sand settle, I could finally see the giant silhouette in front of me. It looked like the statue of a woolly mammoth, though I could’ve been wrong. My feet hit the sand and I felt the heavy vibrations all the way through the metal boots, my too big suit and my iron diving helmet. My harsh breathing echoed in my ears and I took a moment to establish myself.
Around me the other six divers, who were kitted out just like myself, were also landing on the sand floor. Puffy clouds spread out and rose from their grey boots and the ocean current carried them away. Small dull fish swim above our heads, searching through the disturbed sand partials. I watched two of the large fish swallowing something green down and shooting it out again.
‘Liberty? Can you hear me? I am I coming in clear?’ a voice in my head asked.
Startled, I twisted around and almost fell over. A strong hand caught my shoulder holding me straight. Through the diving helmet, I could make out my father’s concerned face. I calmed my breathing and replied via my helmet mic, ‘Yes. I can hear you fine, Da.’
‘Good. You can get a little closer, but remember to stay out of the way.’
I nodded, before quickly replying, ‘Understood.’
I saw him patting my shoulder, but I didn’t feel it. Then he was walking away and joining the other men as they went passed the mammoth statue and to the collapsing building. Looking passed it and to the sides, I could see more buildings, some of which had once been skyscrapers. The pressure of the ocean had got to most of the weaker structures, creating gapping doorways of twisted metal and fallen bricks. I couldn’t see that clearly through the glass porthole in front of me, but I got the sense that there was something huge off to the side of the mammoth.
I walked forward, struggling through the fast current and the drag my air hose. My boots kicked up more sand, broken shells and small debris. My too big suit was also adding to this as the water tugged the loose folds backwards. I came under the statue and had to look up in awe. It was so tall and seemed to be reaching right out of the ocean. I wondered how someone had built it, let alone come up with the idea for it.
I reached out a thick gloved hand and touched some of the luminous sea moss that had grown on the front leg. My fingers disturbed some of the spores and they drifted away. I wished I could really feel it. I sighed and heard a crackling over the transmitter.
‘Liberty, stay away from the shipwreck,’ my Da’s voice hissed into my head.
‘What? I’m at the statue,’ I responded back.
A crackling and buzzing answered me back.
I let my fingers drop from the statue and plodded around it. I couldn’t really see anyone, but their air hoses were still there. They hung down through the dark bluey-green water like spider’s web lines, only they were a lot thicker. I walked on and thought I saw a diver’s boot sticking out from an actually doorway. I stopped, my transmitter cleared up.
The men’s voices filled my ears and I listened to them finding things and deciding what to take back to the surfaces. I took a few deep breaths then turned to the looming shape to my right. Directly behind the mammoth statue were the red iron reminds of a shipwreck. My breath stuck in my throat and fear quaked my knees.
The warship was three times the size of the statue and more menacing. A rusting tank lay on its side, gun turret pointing right at me. Broken metal speared the sand and a fish popped its head out of a hole in the tank’s corner. There were no other words to describe it other than hauntingly eerie. I imaged that once it would have roamed the oceans sending fear into anyone that saw it.
‘Liberty? Where are you?’ my Da’s voice came though once more.
‘Just passed the statue, I’m coming now,’ I called back and began walking.
As I got closer, I could see the large nets and floatable plastic boxes, that had been sent down from the boat. The men were gathering around them and placing things they had found inside. I saw what looked like a wooden box, a silver candle stick and a collection of china tea cups. My dad was standing near the closest one.
Stomping over, I came to join him and looked down at the pearl necklace in his gloved hands. I cupped my own hands together and held them out as he dropped the treasure to me. The pearls were dull, but milky white.
‘Keep them safe,’ Da’s voice whispered to me, ‘a memento of your first deep sea dive.’
‘Thank you,’ I replied back softly.
‘Everyone ready to move out?’ came a loud voice followed by everyone muttering replies.
We attached ourselves to the nets or lines of the floating boxes and were pulled up alongside them. I looked down and watched the sea closing over the lost old world.