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The Submersible

The Submersible

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Published by Ian Tuttle
Long distance relationships, underwater captivity, and the creation of new life.

For all of you who have ever tried to say I LOVE YOU with an email, and I MISS YOU in an instant message.



A short story by Ian Tuttle
Long distance relationships, underwater captivity, and the creation of new life.

For all of you who have ever tried to say I LOVE YOU with an email, and I MISS YOU in an instant message.



A short story by Ian Tuttle

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Published by: Ian Tuttle on Jun 08, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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11/27/2012

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The Submersible
Ian Tuttle
 
The Submersible
Life on the one-man submersible research vessel Jones Junior is alife of compact darkness. Picture a minivan-sized can, overstuffed withlaboratory equipment then plunged into the ocean. The width of myliving space is not quite the span of my arms. I have a bunk that flipsdown from the wall and when it is stowed I have access to compartmentsholding my research specimens. A rugged laptop keeps the data I recordfrom my experiments, and also plays movies.Down here time does not pass. It falls. It sinks like tar, viscous andrank, its black bulges compressed into columns, and those columns of  black time sink downwards, down into even darker places.My days are measured in prepared meals and red LEDs blinkingon instruments. I begin with 180 meals. They are packaged in specialsalt-water soluble trays that break down when I add a reagent and putthem in the airlock. The airlock is the size of a microwave oven andthrough it I deploy experiments, gather samples, and eject refuse. It ismy only access to the world beyond the cramped interior of thesubmersible besides a single, fist-sized porthole window, over which I
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The Submersible
tape a picture of Sasha. The photo covers the window completely. ThenI read an email from my boss, Doctor Handler: “Don’t resurface untilyou’ve got results.”Time proceeds to slug along. Sasha and I have scheduledconversations. I use a handset that broadcasts in sonar to a buoy far above me. The buoy translates the sonar into digital data and relays it toa satellite, which sends it to a receiver on the North American continent,which translates it back to words.“Happy birthday,” I tell Sasha.Then I wait. Fourteen seconds later I hear, “Say again?”Writing is better. We type our love to each other.When I am not conducting my prescribed experiments or recordingdata I am secretly working on a way to send things to the surface, toSasha. It’s a difficult proposal, because at a depth of four thousandmeters the pressure is so intense that almost anything will implode or disintegrate outside the submersible. This is where I use my mostadvanced skills as a marine biologist.I type to Sasha, “I am sending you a bioluminescent prokaryote. Iinvented it myself. I grew it for you. This species has never existed onearth until this moment.”She responds, “I had to change our ATM pin today. Remind me totell you the new one when you get back.”I finish my assigned tasks for Doctor Handler and resume work on
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Funny and pithy. Great combination of the mundane and extraordinary!
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