This is the fourteenth part of a fiction serial, in 748 words.
Only one of them was filming. Anita was in shot as they were swimming into the entrance of the sea cave, the walls inside lit by the smaller camera-mounted light. There was no talking, just the splash of the water as they went in without hesitation. Without the constrictions of the inflatable, there was adequate room, even at the part where it narrowed before opening out again. Glen was talking now.
“We have passed the point where we backed out before, and we are going to carry on until we find something”. With no mask or gear, his voice was much louder, and Mel turned down the volume so nobody outside his office could hear.
The passage inside the sea cave was longer than Mel had expected it to be. At least it didn’t get too narrow for the pair to swin easily along it. Then he heard Anita’s voice from up ahead of the camera.
“Come and see this, Glen. It’s amazing!”
Glen caught up with her, and Mel held his breath at the scene on the monitor. The cave inside the rock was as big as a football pitch, and reached up as high as a church roof. The water pooled in the centre of a vast area, surrounded on three sides by wide rock ledges. That something was living in there was obvious. Rudimentary bedding made from seaweed was arranged in clumps around the ledges. There were some shells of crabs and lobsters, and fish bones too. Mel was thinking fast.
If there had been no camera light, the area would be pitch black. That must be why the creatures had such huge round eyes, to make the most of any available light. Glen was talking, as Anita climbed onto the ledge.
“This is what we suspected. The Otter-creatures live here, and go out to sea during the day. They probably farm their food, search for sunken artifacts, then return at dusk. There is no sign of any fires, so we assume they eat raw food, and their thick fur keeps them warm enough in the cave, away from the elements. There are around twenty sleeping places, so I am guessing maybe forty to fifty creatures, and any babies. They must have their babies with them in the sea, as there are none here. Anita is examining the area as I film her. This really is something special.”
Mel lit a cigarette, but left the vodka alone. This was almost too much for him to take in, and he didn’t want his senses fuddled by drink. Try as he might, even after all his years of experience in this field, he could not recall the discovery of anything so significnant for decades. Anita was talking to the camera.
“They are very clean. There is no sign of faeces here, and the shells suggest a recent meal that they have not had time to clear up. Get out of the water, Glen, and film closer. This bedding is structured, not random. I think they have been here for a very long time.”
Glen obliged, filming the bed areas at close range, as well as the fresh shells. He could occasionally be heard.
“Oh wow”. “Look at the size of those beds?” This is wonderful stuff.”
Pressing pause, Mel thought about what this all signified. An uninhabited island, unknown on sea charts. The creatures living inside the huge rock in a cave, and making themselves at home in a lost settlement to keep their own space tidy, and clutter-free. That requires reasoning, thought processes, and some kind of structured society. It was a lot to take in, but he knew it was massive. He pressed play again, feeling the need to view as much of the footage as possible.
Anita was wandering around the space, illuminated by Glen’s camera light. She picked things up, put them down again, and looked at Glen, shaking her head. Then she turned to camera, holding up an ancient pair of rusty pincers.
“Look at these, Glen. They are using tools! They have found them on the sea bed, and managed to work out how to use them. There are old hammers and mallets here too”.
As he zoomed in on her discoveries, Glen suddenly stood stock still. Overheard on the soundtrack were a lot of splashing noises, and a chattering sound that was unfamiliar to human ears.
Turning to her husband, Anita actually smiled.
“Don’t move, love. I think they are coming”.