Underwater Restorations - Part 1
by Jeffrey A Ballard
This is my favorite part, thirty feet above the ocean, falling at a hundred and ninety miles an
hour. Close enough to see our reflections hurtling to meet us. It's the second just before the
agitator lasers ahead to break the surface tension that's the sweetest. When all the adrenaline of
a ten-thousand-foot free-fall culminates in a terrifying second of, "Oh, shit."
A hundred things could go wrong. The agitator may not move enough water out of the way.
The air pocket could collapse before entry. The subroutine that mixes water and air for the
controlled deceleration may miscalculate and flatten me into a shark pancake. Almost a hundred
different ways to die in under a tenth of a second. I love it.
Then it passes and we're down fifty feet underwater and descending. Only when the static of the
comm comes online through my earpiece, trying to make a connection, do I remember to
breathe. The rush of the entry fades into focus on the job at hand.
Another fifty feet later, we stand on an exit ramp from I-95 and the rookie, Winn, brings up the
holo-map with incomplete sonar data overlaid. Hurricane Gretchen passed through last night
and did us the favor of muddying up the waters, an expected development -- the Feds are just as
"Lovers, you're all clear." I can hear the smirk in Puo's voice, ten thousand feet above in the
Seagull and driving north in the South Florida Memorial Airway.
"We descended four miles too far to the east." Winn points at the blinking dot on the holo-map.
"I think we'll need to jetflow. Listen, about last night --"
The flow jets will make too much noise; the squiddies are tuned to it. Its only purpose is to
outrun the damn things. "No, we'll have to jump, skip, and hop to the site. It's quieter and
doesn't disturb the water as much. Adjust your buoyancy in rhythm to your jumps and try to
keep up." I initiate my jump subroutine and leap.
Puo. That nosy punk's always got to stir the pot. I land forty feet away at an intersection and
wait. Let Winn struggle; I'll send over the subroutine after he falls several times. It's just a
fling. My father always said we Schmidts think with our cocks. Well, in my case, insert the
Winn is still just standing there. "Rookie, what's taking you so long? Let's move."
"I'm writing a subroutine to automatically manage the buoyancy adjustments. I can transmit it
to you when I'm done."
"That's very kind of you, Rookie," Puo breaks in. "Don't you think that's nice, Isa?"
"Puo --" He is so going to pay for this. "-- focus on our pickup. Rookie, nice thought, here
you go. I don't have time to wait for you to flounder through it." I transmit the subroutine.
Soon enough he's leaping as well. I keep one leap ahead of him as we make our way to the
destination. What's left of the urban sprawl of South Florida passes by in blue-green shadows.
Most of the buildings are intact, some are collapsed, but all of them are still. They seem to defy
the churning of the water from the hurricane that passed through.
With less than a mile to go, alarms start going off: squiddies -- the autonomous eyes and ears of
the Federal Government below the waves.