Sonya sucked air through her scuba mouth piece. Her heart pounded. The perimeter of the cave glowed luminous green. Something touched her shoulder. She flinched. Relief filled her when she realized it was only Charlie, a colleague from the marine laboratory. He had accompanied her on the underwater expedition for giant sea snails.
Charlie signaled, indicating to move further in. Sonya looked cautiously around before following. Metal doors suddenly opened about ten feet ahead of them. Charlie motioned her to move closer to the cave wall. She grabbed Charlie’s heel. When he turned, she pointed behind them. Two divers propelled by underwater jet skis fitted with fog lights, passed by and through the open doors, seemingly unaware of the pair in the shadows.
Before proceeding, Sonya and Charlie checked again for unexpected visitors, and then glided forward through the open doors. Two bizarre underwater craft drifted gently against their moorings. It looked like a docking area. Small schools of fish brushed by them heading for the opening. The doors began to slide. Charlie turned quickly, but the doors had closed.
Hundreds of overhead fiber-optic lights created a daytime effect. Beyond the craft was a smaller door with a glowing red light beside it. Sonya swam towards the door and touched the red light. The door flew upwards startling them. They cautiously entered the tiny room.
The door slammed down. A powerful suction pulled them upward. Sonya grabbed for Charlie but she continued to rise at an alarming rate. Gasping for air, Sonya removed her mouthpiece as she broke through the surface. Charlie followed, winded and coughing.
“Where are we?” Sonya whispered breathlessly.
“You have entered a top secret underwater research laboratory” the room seemed to echo.
Standing beside the pool were the two divers. One was horribly scarred on the left side of his face. Charlie swam to the edge, where a heavily scarred hand missing two fingers, pulled him from the water. Sonya reluctantly followed. The other diver removed their oxygen tanks and helped them out of their wetsuits.
Guided by the man with the scars, they entered a small but impressive lab. A pretty young woman wearing a laboratory coat, ignored their presence, and continued watching clear liquid dripping into test-tubes from a vat with multiple outlets.
They passed through a narrow tunnel carved out of rock and stepped into a massive cave. There stood two huge shark tanks. Sonya stopped to study a stack of large syringes on a nearby bench. She saw the question in Charlie’s eyes. Humming generators and dripping water echoed in their silence.
“This way, please.” Their guide prompted.
Leading them into a small office, he turned and closed the door; locking it on the outside.
Charlie took a file from a pile on the desk. “What is this place?”
“I’m not sure if they’re aliens or demented scientists” Sonya shivered.
“Oh, I can assure you we are not aliens” a voice reverberated in the room.
Charlie pointed the file at a video camera mounted in the corner. The door opened revealing a short bearded man wearing a white lab coat over tacky jeans. He entered and closed the door.
“As for demented scientists; I’ll leave that one to you. I’m Professor Henderson.” He shook Sonya’s hand and then Charlie’s. “I’m sorry Doctor Collier locked you in. He’s a little edgy since his accident. He and Doctor Whitmore were attacked by one of the sharks. The accident left Whitmore, who you encountered in the lab, in shock. She’s a complete wacko now but she’s harmless. The other man you met is Bristol. He’s actually our chef, but he’s also handy with our scuba gear and underwater research crafts. Our other scientist works part-time.” He paused. “I believe you know Professor Sturgeon.”
Charlie looked as stunned as Sonya felt.
Sturgeon entered the room. “I’m so glad you were able to follow my directions to the cave, Doctors. Sorry about the giant sea snail story.”
“Professor Sturgeon?” Charles spluttered.
“Yes, Doctor. I knew if I’d just ask you to come, you’d think I had lost my marbles.”
“Why did you want us to come, and what is this … facility?” Sonya demanded.
Henderson replied for Sturgeon. “With the loss of Whitmore’s faculties, we needed some new scientists to join the team.”
Sonya raised her voice. “What team?”
“We have discovered an anti-aging formula.” Sturgeon boasted.
“You can’t be serious.” Charlie protested.
“Did I mention Doctor Whitmore is in her sixties?” Henderson added.
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