Hi faithful fans. If you have yet to read the previous chapters of my book, I encourage you to visit these posts before reading chapter 4:
As always, I really appreciate your support and feedback. Paraclete’s Promise: The Fantastic Fantasies Of Timothy is the first book in the Paraclete’s Promise saga. While this book is now available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple, the second book is in progress. Enjoy.
4—Partners And The Prize
Tim was petrified; heart pounding, breathing shallow. All around him, bleeps and blips of the electronics on the console sounded off, running through routine pod operation. Static lit through his left ear again.
“Unlock the hatch buddy. I’m on the way up. I don’t think it’s safe to turn on the lights yet, so keep an eye out for me.”
Tim’s heart rate slowed. Shallow breaths became long tugs. His hands steadied.
“Tim, are you there?”
“Roger that; I’m keeping an eye out for you.”
Tim rolled the captain’s chair within reach, and slowly sat down. The soft stretch of the supple leather and pneumatic hiss of the chair’s cylinder, under his weight, were welcomed sounds. He rolled the chair up to the control panel and pressed a sequence of buttons, activating Jonah’s personal tracking device. Just above the control panel, the on screen readout placed Jonah approximately 700 feet away from the pod, and he was moving fast. His heart rate was slightly elevated, but otherwise his vital signs read normal. Tim set his arms against the soft armrests, and reclined. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply.
“How’s your adventure coming along? Much more exciting than a video game, I’ll bet? I’m with you.”
Tim was so startled by the voice resonating in his head that he flipped the entire chair over backwards, crashing to the floor. But his trained muscles responded. With a quick roll, he was back up on his feet poised in a defensive stance, feverishly scanning the control room for another person, he hadn’t seen before. He pressed the com-link button as his eyes searched the room, top to bottom.
“What was that Jonah? I didn’t read; over?”
“What are you talking about? I didn’t say anything. Closing in on 250 feet; over?”
“Uh,” Tim faltered for a moment. “Yeah, roger that; 250 feet and closing.”
His eyes fell on the floor monitors to his left. Lying there, almost invisible against the high definition darkness of the ocean, was his bible. In the drab light of the dimly lit control room, the stainless steel hard cover book was a welcomed sight. He picked it up, opened to the last page and read the custom inscription written across the back cover.
‘To my brave explorer: May the Lord’s word be a shining light when you are surrounded by the darkness of the cold world.
Tim’s thumb absently parted the pages. Flipping through, he smiled at the scripture he found. Dad once said the Holy Spirit would always watch his back. First Samuel 14:7 was a comforting scripture to have handy, alone in the dark.
“‘Do all that you have in mind,’ his armor-bearer said. ‘Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.’”
The words washed over his heart. The remnant of his fear seemed to melt away.
“If God is with me, who or what can stand against me?”
Scriptures flooded his mind, strengthening his spirit as he continued to recite miscellaneous lines from different books of the bible. Courage surged within his soul. He remembered bravery comes after great fear.
An alarm beeped, letting him know Jonah was within 50 feet of the pod. Tim set the bible onto the console, and ran through the control room door toward the rear end of the pod. He jumped and dodged miscellaneous cargo and equipment still cluttering the hallway. As he reached the wet room, toward the pod’s rear end, he flipped open a wall panel and punched in a sequence of commands on the illuminated key pad. A loud flush reverberated through the pod. Beneath his feet, a small room filled with ocean salt water. Glancing between the keypad monitor and the sealed peep hole beside his left foot, Tim watched the water level swallow the entire wet room, before closing the water jet ports. The monitor read out blinked a confirmation message across the screen: WET ROOM FILLED.
“All set up here, Jonah. I’m opening the hatch now.”
“Roger that, buddy. I’m at the hatch. Waiting for the pop.”
A large button on the keypad pulsed brilliant red. The monitor read out blinked, and Tim saw an overhead video feed of Jonah wading underneath the pod. A new message scrolled over the video feed: ESCAPE HATCH READY. Tim mashed his palm against the red button. The whole pod shook as the pneumatic cylinders of the hatch swung the three-piece sealed doors out toward the ocean floor. Tim watched Jonah swim up through the opening, then sit down on a stainless steel bench molded into the smooth circular walls of the wet room. Tim smiled as he recognized Jonah’s diving suit. It was amazing to see the body molded flat air tank, the high tech diving helmet with its polarized lens, the retractable flippers and personal water jets protruding from his belt.
“Ready when you are.” Jonah said. “While I decompress, get your suit ready. You’re gonna want to come back down with me.”
“Did you find something good?”
“Oh yeah, I did!”
“Sweet! I’m setting the decompression sequence now. Have a nap for ten minutes.”
“You read my mind, buddy.”
Tim tapped at the keypad. The doors of the escape hatch shushed closed, shifting the pod again. Behind the steel bulkhead to his left, he heard a whooshing sound as the machinery simultaneously pumped the water from the wet room and decompressed the chamber. He watched the monitor read out for a moment, making sure the sequence progressed slowly. As the water pumped out through the jet ports, recessed in the walls of the wet room, oxygen filled the damp room.
“Hey, do me a favor, will ya,” Jonah said. “Try not to decompress me too fast. Last mission, you almost made my head explode.”
Tim laughed, as a memory of Jonah screaming like a baby suddenly filled his mind.
“Yeah, I’m sorry about that. I rushed through the process. Looks like you’re decompressing at a good rate, this time though.”
“Good. Go on and get geared. I’ll keep an eye on the sequence from down here.”
“Roger that, Jonah.”
Tim looked down through the peep hole. Jonah flashed him two thumbs-up. A renewed wave of excitement came over Tim, as he walked up the narrow hallway toward his locker. He gently lifted the latch, slowly opened the vented door and marveled at the sight of his very own dive suit.
“Whoa, sweet,” he whispered.
Tim stroked a finger across the shoulder pad of the suit, hanging from a hefty steel hook. The material felt like soft leather, but was rigid like plastic. The whole one-piece suit seemed to be fashioned out of emerald scales. Each scale shimmered as his finger rubbed down its blunt edge, and pricked his finger, as he trailed back up against the scales. As he pulled the suit out, the hook retracted into the sidewall of the locker and a small compartment opened. A stainless steel shelf slid out of the open hole, with a dive helmet resting atop it.
Tim draped the suit over his shoulder and watched the helmet slowly spin on top of the shelf. Two bug-eye shaped polarized lens, two tiny holes on the nose bridge, and a glowing open slit across the mouth made the helmet look like an alien head, from a comic book. The ears were shaped as small bubbles; speakers for the radio. Across the top of the helmet, he saw a leather fin stretching from the crown to the back of the helmet. Retracted now, it looked like a flat green ponytail. But, Tim knew that fin opened up in the water, to help maneuver his suit while swimming. He lifted the light weight helmet from its spinning stalk, and the shelf retracted into the sidewall of the locker. As the compartment closed, another compartment opened on the opposite sidewall, revealing an air tank shaped like a flattened book bag.
Tim saw a green light pulsing on the yellow metallic surface of the tank.
“Fully charged and ready for use,” he said.
He set the helmet on the floor beside him, and removed the tank from its magnetized charging hub, with his free hand. The compartment closed, and a computer voice chimed.
“DIVE SUIT DIAGNOSTICS COMPLETED. FULLY CHARGED AND READY FOR USE. HAVE A NICE SWIM MR. SMITH.”
The locker closed automatically. As the latch clicked shut, a small stainless steel bench slid out from the wall behind Tim. He sat down and climbed into the suit, feet first. The inside was lined with a warm, soft material that felt like silky fur against his body. As he pulled the zipper up to his chin, he gasped as the suit compressed against his body, to form a tight yet comfortable fit.
“Wow, this is so cool.”
Tim lifted the air tank from the bench and slid his left arm through the shoulder strap. The tank seemed to move with a mind of its own, centering itself across his back with an electronic hum. The right shoulder strap automatically flipped over his right collar bone, across his chest, and magnetically connected to the left shoulder strap.
“Whoa,” he yelled.
A retractable belt cinched around his waist, from one side of the tank, to the other. As soon as the belt pulled tight, Tim saw a series of tiny lights strobe across his waist. A computer voice chimed from the belt.
“TANK SECURE. POWER LEVEL AT 100 PERCENT, MR. SMITH.”
Everything fit perfectly and comfortably, as if the suit had been specially designed for him. He looked at his gloved hands and noticed the rubber webbing between the fingers. He watched the light-show reflecting from his utility belt. He was so enthralled with the technology of the suit, that he didn’t notice Jonah standing directly in front of him.
“Ha! You’re looking at that thing like it’s the first time you’ve ever put it on!”
Tim looked up. His mouth fell agape and his knees suddenly unhinged. He dropped to the floor, never releasing his gaze on Jonah. He could have been staring into a mirror at the moment.
“Hey, are you alright?” Jonah dropped to his knees and reached for Tim, who skirted backward. “Tim, it’s okay. It’s just me; your ole pal, J-Man. Take it easy.”
Tim mumbled as he stared into the hazel eyes of his twin. The wisp of freckles across the bridge of his nose; same bushy black eyebrows; same dimpled cheeks; same haircut; Jonah was the perfect clone. His mind struggled to register what his eyes were seeing.
“Jonah?” he finally mustered.
“Yeah, buddy. That’s the name I was born with.” Jonah flashed a smile. “Breathe slowly.”
Tim shut his eyes and shook his head, silently praying that God would make sense of this whole experience. When he opened them, Jonah stood above him; a gloved hand reaching to pull him up off the floor. Tim slowly reached for his hand. Jonah yanked him from the floor, to his feet and clapped him on the shoulder.
“There ya go! What was that all about, brother?”
“Sorry. I…I was…just…surprised to see me…you…standing there…staring at me.”
“Hey, if you liked my little stealth approach, you’re going to love what I brought back with me.”
Jonah reached for a thigh pocket weaved into the left leg of his suit. As soon as the snap was undone, a yellow glow illuminated the hallway. Jonah reached into the pocket and palmed something that he’d found on his excursion outside of the pod. The glow seemed to radiate from both ends of his closed fist as he raised his arm over his head triumphantly. He tapped a button on his diving belt and the pod’s ceiling lights switched off.
“Wow. Jonah, what is it?” Tim raised a hand to shield his eyes from the light.
“I found it, Tim! I’ve found a whole chest full of these things down there in the cave. I opened that chest and almost went blind from the golden glow of the stuff. I think opening the chest probably alerted the beast, you know? Like he was some sort of watch dog for the stuff or something.”
Tim shielded his eyes with both hands now as he tried to get a closer look at the object.
“Jonah, how in the world did you ever get close enough to grab one?”
“That’s the funny thing,” Jonah said. His eyes were ablaze. “Move in close and you’ll see what I mean.”
Tim moved closer, still cupping both hands over his brow. At the same time, Jonah opened his hand and swung his arm down to waist level. The closer he moved toward Jonah’s hand, the object began to take shape, no longer shrouded by intense light.
“Can you see it? Tim, it’s as if these things were calling for someone to find them. The farther away I was from the opened chest, the brighter they seemed to glow. The closer I stepped toward them, the luster changed from gold to yellow and the glow faded just enough for me to see that they were shaped like—”
“Peanuts? This thing looks like a golden peanut, Jonah. A box full of golden peanuts! We’ve found the lost treasure of the pirates of Camoon! Let’s go get them all!”
“Yeah, now you’re talking, brother!” As Jonah turned toward the wet room, he flipped the golden peanut through the air, toward Tim. “Your good luck charm. Hang on to it. There’s a lot more, where that one came from.”
Tim shoved the peanut into a small pocket on the arm of his suit. He scooped up the dive helmet from the floor, and quickly followed Jonah to the wet room. Somewhere below them, a lost treasure awaited.