Found Footage: Part Twenty

This is the final part of a fiction serial, in 816 words.

As that was the last card recovered from the island, Mel locked them in the safe and went home. Eddie Minchin had agreed to come into the editing suite the next day, and work until they had a rough cut. He was really delighted with the fact that Glen had gone off in the inflatable, destination and fate unknown.

That added extra frisson to the mystery of what had happened to Anita, and was a great hook for selling the rights to show the film.

He envisioned a seller’s market, with bidding from all the big names to show the final cut.

Eddie was a pro. He turned up on time, grabbed a coffee, and got to work in the editing suite on the second floor. Mel sat next to him, chain-smoking and suggesting cuts. He knew in his mind how he wanted the film to play, and he also knew he could trust Eddie to keep quiet about what he was seeing. A fat bonus and full credit for editing would guarantee that.

The only call he got that Sunday was from Mayhew senior. With no news about Glen and Anita, he had decided to return to Australia. He seemed a lot more positive. “I know my son. They will turn up, and when they do I want them back home in Oz for a nice rest”. Mel couldn’t have been happier to hear the news that he was leaving. One less thing to worry about. Mel had managed to sound very sympathetic, promising to call the old man’s mobile when and if he heard anything.

The Letris freaked Eddie out. He was suitably impressed though. “Christ, Mel. This is mammoth mate. They are going to be knocking on your door from the four corners of the world. You are going to make enough to take a very early retirement”. He did an excellent job, but there was a voiceover to arrange, as well as some music for the dead air bits, and to create tension.

They finished just before ten that night, with Eddie sworn to secrecy, and promising to come back the next day. Mel locked the cards away, and got a taxi home, stopping off near Paddington Station to buy a very greasy Doner Kebab for a late dinner. Back in his flat, he had a few phone messages on the land line that he didn’t bother to play. Girlfriends and colleagues could wait. He was sitting on the scientific equivalent of a volcanic eruption.

Early the next morning, he walked into the office, pleased to see there were no reporters hanging around outside. Getting the attention of everyone, he reiterated that he was not to be disturbed, and that nobody was to say one word to the press or TV, on pain of dismissal. Six phone calls later, he had the mellow voice of Sean Pertwee agreed for the voice-over, and a young Japanese guy who had been pestering him for months jumped at the chance to deliver an electronic soundtrack.

Once those two were involved, he would need strict non-disclosure contracts, so he rang Tricia de Vries, and got her busy with those. Keeping this momentous news a secret was the hardest part of the whole project, and he stayed sober until all the T’s were crossed, and the I’s dotted.

Joining Eddie in the screening room at just after ten, they went through the rough cut, then retired to the editing suite to clean it up. Mel was so pleased with that, he took Eddie for an early dinner at Topo Gigio, and they necked three bottles of Pugliese while congratulating each other on an amazing film.

He slept well that night, happy that he had an almost complete film to tout around, short a narrator and soundtrack of course, but they were used to that. He dismissed a call from Carolyn on his way home. She could do one, as her radar was obviously working overtime. No way was he going to allow Pangea Films to even be remotely aware of what was about to explode. Not just on the TV and cinema circuits, but on every news channel around the world.

The possibilities were endless, and so was the financial gain.

Next morning, he was in around nine, telling Ursula he was taking no calls. Busy writing a synopsis on the film to send to prospective clients, he was not best pleased when she came into the office anyway, looking perplexed. “Mister Mayhew is here, waiting in reception. He is demanding to see you, Mel”.

He shook his head, and smiled. Then told her that old man Mayhew had gone back to Australia. What she said next gave him a cold feeling in his stomach, and he reached into the drawer for both his vodka, and cigarettes.

“No, not him. Glen Mayhew, the diver. He’s outside”.

The End.

Found Footage: Part Nineteen

This is the nineteenth part of a fiction serial, in 792 words.

The next card showed Glen sitting in front of the camera. He looked tired and drawn, rubbing his face frequently.

“We had a long discussion last night. Anita seemed to feel that she wanted to go out with the Letris alone, she was convinced that for some reason they find me intimidating. Because I am male, I presume. I suggested she wear her SCUBA gear, but she wouldn’t hear of it, sure they would look after her, and take her to the surface to breathe. To be honest, I had concerns. What about depth? If they took her down too far, she might get decompression, or maybe not even get back up to the surface in time. I got to the point where I had to forbid her to go without me, and make her promise she wouldn’t. As you can imagine, the rest of the night was awkward”.

Mel sat back, wondering about the conversation the Mayhews had had. He was sure it would have been worse than Glen was suggesting. That was more or less confirmed as Glen continued.

“This morning, I woke up before dawn, but she was already gone. No diving gear, but hopefully some drinking water and food, I’m not sure. They must have been waiting for her on the beach, as I doubt she would swim to the sea cave in total darkness. Those things have got inside her head, and changed her. She seems to imagine that she knows what they are thinking, and her behaviour is not typical. Far from typical in fact. She’s usually the worrier, always going on about being safe. Now here she is at sea, God knows where, with a new species of large strong creatures that we know bugger-all about. To say I’m worried is an understatement. When she gets back, I’m calling a halt to all this, and waiting for the helicopters to pick us up.

When the screen went blank, Mel took the opportunity to stop the video, and go out to get something to eat. He walked down to Bella Italia and ordered Veal Milanese with garlic bread and a bottle of Chianti. Although it was before the evening rush and well after lunchtime, the place was crowded with customers, mostly tourists. Staring out ot the window, he watched the world go by. The card he had stopped in the laptop was the last one from the pouch.

Whatever was left on it would be the end of the film he was already making in his head.

The strong red wine relaxed him, and the food was welcome after a long day. He could probably get Eddie Minchin on the fast-edit. He was one of the best, and would definitely work on a Sunday for extra pay. Mel decided to send him a text, asking him to come in tomorrow at nine, and be prepared for a full day in the editing suite. All being well, they would have a two-hour film to review by tomorrow night, and that could be cleaned up later. Catching the eye of the waitress, he signalled for the bill.

Glen looked even worse in the next scene. He was agitated, talking loudly, and sitting far too close to the camera. There was no background, so he literally could have been anywhere. Mel hated that, he always insisted on context.

“It’s the next day, almost eight in the morning. Anita has been gone for maybe thirty hours now. I am beside myself with worry, and I’m bloody furious at her too! She is leaving me no option but to go out and look for her, so I need to pack out the inflatable with everything needed. I just noticed that two more cameras are missing, so I guess she thought to film whatever she was planning to do.”

Then he was further away from the camera, packing things into the inflatable. Mel could see him stacking tinned food and bottled water, a can of fuel, his dive tanks, mask, and flippers. Then he added a first aid kit, and a large foil blanket, before putting on his wetsuit. Walking back to the camera, he knelt down in front of it.

“I will leave this camera here, and take the remaining one, together with the last of the memory cards. Then I am going to check out the sea cave. If she isn’t there, I will start to search out at sea. As I have no idea what direction they took, I will begin with the sunken settlement, then head north. If you never hear from me again, look for the memory cards in a waterproof pouch that I am leaving with the remaining stores”.

He leaned forward and switched off the camera.

Found Footage: Part Eighteen

This is the eighteenth part of a fiction serial, in 715 words.

The next scene was Glen on the beach near their camp. He was looking exhausted, and older than his years.

“So I swam back, and I have now been sitting here for almost two hours. The weather is closing in, and there’s no sign of any of the creatures, or Anita. I need something to eat, and a hot drink, and the sea is geting up too rough to swim back to the cave, or safely use the small inflatable. I have never needed that Sat phone as much as I do now, and I have started to wonder if they took it because they knew what it was. I am going to get some generator lights going soon, so at least ‘Nita has a point of reference if she is still in the water”.

He reached forward and stopped the filming by switching off the camera.

Pressing pause, Mel rang the police detective. It had been niggling him why she had made so many calls and left a message. She sounded upbeat at first.

“Thanks for getting back to me, Mel. I hope it’s okay to call you Mel. I need to ask you some things about the missing divers who were working for you, and I was hoping you could spare me some time today. I know it’s the weekend, but I’m sure film-makers like you work seven days a week”. He told her he had already given a statement, and that was all he knew, so there was no point in her coming to see him.

That didn’t satisfy her, and her tone changed.

“Are you aware that there is a rumour that this is all a publiicty stunt to draw attention to the film when it’s released? A lot of police time and money has been spent, both in Ireland and over here, and if this rumour proved to be true, you could face prosecution for wasting police time. I work in missing persons, so now have a case file on the Mayhews as missing. Until we know any more about what they were doing, I cannot progress the case. That means I am getting pressure from Glen Mayhew’s father while he is in London, and if it all turns out to be a hoax, I warn you I am not going to be happy”.

As best as he could, Mel assured her that he would never do anything like that. Then he told her he had a screening to go to, and got her off the phone. But the conversation had planted a seed in his mind. Once the footage was fast-edited, and he had something to show prospective buyers, jazzing up the story with the Mayhews being missing would be a great selling point.

He was glad he had returned her call.

In the next shot, Anita was on the beach. It was dark, and she was lit by powerful lights powered by the noisy generator. When she moved closer to the camera, Mel could hear her, and see how excited she looked. Glen spoke first. “Okay, ready. Go now”. Her voice was trembling as she spoke.

“It’s hard to tell you how amazing it was. They didn’t hurt me at all, just showed me their power, and their amazing swimming capabilities. It was as if they knew I couldn’t hold my breath as long as they can, so they kept taking me up to the surface to breathe. I reckon they can hold their breath for a very long time, maybe as long as twenty minutes, perhaps longer. I saw at least ten more of them. They were harvesting shellfish and storing them in those buildings. They didn’t seem at all surprised to see me, so I can only think the others communicated with them in some way. The big male showed me all the artifacts, and more in other buildings. I think they were going to take me back to the cave, but they saw your lights and led me to them. It was fantastic, Glen. I want to go back tomorrow”.

Turning the camera on himself, Glen spoke briefly.

“As you can see, this first encounter with the Lutris has been overwhelming. We need to talk tonight, and work out a plan to visit them again.”

Found Footage: Part Seventeen

This is the seventeenth part of a fiction serial, in 710 words.

Once he had got rid of Mayhew senior, Mel was consumed with tiredness. When the memory cards were locked in the safe, he told Ursula he was going home, and left by the back door into the alley in case any reporters were still stalking him. In a cab on the way, he tried to get his head around the sheer enormity of the discovery of an unknown creature that could try to actively communicate with humans, and was a combination of both the familiar and unfamiliar. He looked up the scientific name for Sea Otters on his phone. Enhydra Lutris.

Somehow, he was going to have to work out a new name to include a reference to their intelligence. He liked the sound of Lutris Sapiens. That would do for now.

The next day was a Saturday, and with no active projects running, the office was closed. Mel walked in, refreshed after a very long sleep, and carrying a large black coffee he had bought at Cafe Nero. It was time to really hit the memory cards, and see what had happened in the sea cave.

Anita was now filming Glen. Two of the biggest Lutris were on the rock shelf next to Anita, eyeing her with great curiosity. She turned and pointed to the water.

“Look, she’s feeding a baby, Glen”. The camera panned to a medium-sized creature lying on its back, floating. A very small one was suckling, its mother’s arms around it. Then some of the short barks came from along the tunnel leading out into the sea, and the one that had swum away earlier appeared. The biggest one, still holding the mirror, spoke to it in some form of rapid squeaks, and it produced a telescope from under the water, swimming over to place it in front of Anita.

Her face was a picture of delight. “It brought me a gift in exchange for the mirror. How wonderful is that?” She held up the ancient spyglass, and smiled at the big male, nodding her head and placing a hand over her heart. “Thank you. That is a lovely gift”.

It occured to Mel that the Lutris were not going to understand anything Anita was saying, but she was doing a great job of non-verbal communication, even throwing in some recognisable sign language.

Suddenly, the big creature reached out and grabbed her hand, pulling her down into the water as if she weighed nothing at all. Then it started to swim along the tunnel with her, both their heads just above the surface. All the other creatures turned and followed, as Glen stopped filming and jumped straight into the water after them.

Fast-forwarding, Mel saw water on the screen. Glen was filming again, and he was in the ocean, the island behind him. The Lutris and Anita were a long way ahead, moving too fast for Glen to catch up. Anita’s head appeared above the swell, and it seemed she was still being towed along at speed by the large male. Glen started speaking, over the sound of the sea splashing against the camera housing.

“She looks okay, but where are they taking her? Too fast for me, and I can’t afford to get into difficulties out here. My only option is to go back to our camp on the beach and wait for her”.

He sounded out of breath, and then the time ran out on the memory card.

Mel was thinking about just how big this was going to be. Forget swimming with dolphins, or sitting in a group of gorillas, what had happened on Balleycragg was a different level entirely. A new species communicating and interacting with humans, this was going to make Unicorn Films world-famous overnight. Before putting in the next card, Mel went into the staff room and made some coffee. He needed to be fully alert as he viewed the footage.

His mobile phone kept buzzing, and he checked the missed calls. An unknown number. There was a text message too, from a Detective Constable Sandra Moon. It was from the same number, asking him to return her call as soon as possible.

He switched off the phone and put the next card into the laptop.

Found Footage: Part Sixteen

This is the sixteenth part of a fiction serial, in 729 words.

Glen’s voice could be heard, normal volume this time. “Don’t give it that knife, ‘Nita. Show it the bag of gifts, give it some tuna”.

Anita turned and unhooked the bag from the side of her belt. Taking out a large tin of tuna, she pulled the ring at the top, showing the contents to the smaller creature. Leaning forward, it sniffed the tin, showing a side view of the long whiskers on its snout. Then its mouth opened, it grabbed the tin in its teeth, and moved back a few feet. There was a crunching sound as it bit down on the tin and its contents at the same time. Anita was shaking her head.

“No, no, not like that.” She reached forward to try to take it back, but the animal was already spitting out the contents of its mouth, it’s face screwed up in a look of distaste. Glen could be heard giving advice.

“Try the sardines, but take them out of the tin first”. Mel sat hardly breathing, as he witnessed the magical moment of the young creature taking sardines from Anita’s hand as she smiled uncontrollably, savouring the connection with this new species. Seconds later, it spat out the sardines, and slid back into the water at speed. Anita looked round at Glen, and raised her eyebrows. Mel was wondering why it was spitting out the food, when Glen answered his question.

“I’ve got it! It’s not fresh. These things eat everything fresh, alive in fact. They don’t cook anything, or preserve anything. The tuna and sardines probably taste spoiled to it.”

Before he could say anything else, one of the larger ones slid out of the water, and almost knocked Anita over with the backwash it created. She reached into the bag and produced a small hand mirror. Holding it to her face to demonstrate it, she offered it to what Mel presumed was a very large dominant male. When it didn’t take it, she placed it on the ledge, mirror side up.

Seeing its own reflection so clearly, the huge male reached down and grabbed it, turning sideways to show it to the others. Then it made a noise like a lot of short barks. When the intonation rose at the end, Glen called out to his wife. “It’s talking to one of the others, that’s definitely language. Activate the voice recorder.” Mel watched as Anita removed the small device from a waterproof pouch and placed it next to her leg on the rock.

One of the creatures that was in the first group to arrive dived underwater, and could be seen swimming back along the entrance to the sea cave.

The one with the mirror looked directly at Anita, and made another series of barks, and some of the high-pitched noises that sounded almost like yodelling in the large chamber. She stared at it for a while, and then turned to Glen, visible tears running down her face.

“It’s talking to me, Glen. It’s communicating with me. It’s so wonderful”.

The office door flew open, and Mel closed the laptop with a bang. He recognised old man Mayhew from the TV News, his face the colour of walnut, with a lifelong outback tan. Despite his age, he moved fast, and looked fit. He also looked ready to punch someone in the face.

“I’ve just flown all the way here to sort you out, you bugger. Now you tell me what you know about my boy and his wife, or you’re going to need an undertaker, and I’m going to jail”.

It wasn’t the first time Mel had been threatened, and he doubted it would be the last. It was usually about money though, not missing film crews. He pointed at the chair opposite, told Mayhew to sit down, and buzzed Tamara to bring them both some coffee.

A natural negotiator, Mel soon convinced the old man that he had already told the world what he knew, and that if he had any clue as to the whereabouts of the pair, he would not hesitate to inform the authoritites, and the media.

After the best part of an hour, they shook hands, and he promised to contact Glen’s father in his London hotel if he heard anything.

Then despite feeling more tired than he could ever remember, he opened the laptop again.

Found Footage: Part Fifteen

This is the fifteenth part of a fiction serial, in 757 words.

Someone was knocking on the office door, and not taking no for an answer. Mel closed the lid of the laptop, and shouted for them to come in. It was Tamara.

“I know you are do not disturb, but Ruben is on the phone, saying he must speak to you about Darius, and you’re not answering your mobile. And we are still getting calls from various reporters, as well as Mister Mayhew in Australia. I don’t know what to tell them, Mel”. Sighing and shaking his head, he told the girl to tell anyone who called he was not available to speak to anyone, and leave it at that. She closed the door heavily, obviously unhappy with his answer.

Before restarting the video, Mel sat back and lit a cigarette. Yes, he did owe Ruben from the early days, but this project was going to turn into the biggest thing since they discovered lost tribes in the Amazon Forests. Even bigger. Ruben would earn well out of it, and if he wanted to pull his investment because of his useless son, more fool him. Taking a deep breath, Mel pressed play.

The scene was still lit by the camera light, but the angle was wrong. It took him a while to realise that Glen had put it down onto the rock, so he wouldn’t be holding anything obscuring his face. The next moment, three of the creatures appeared in the pool, their heads above the waterline. Then four more, two of them much smaller. When one turned to the other and made a chattering noise that was obviously language, Mel dropped his cigarette on the floor.

Anita could be heard speaking. “Show your hands, Glen. Don’t smile too wide so you show your teeth, don’t lean forward, or move suddenly. Speak softly, they are not likely to be deaf, and it echoes in here”.

The camera moved back slightly, allowing a wider angle. Definitely seven of the things in the water, even the smaller ones larger than most teenage humans. The three at the front had reared up and looked very tall, even with half their bodies still in the pool. They had small but muscular arms, and hands not unlike human hands but wider, with large curved claws glinting in the light.

Two of the smaller creatures made a noise something like whistling. No, not whistling, more like the coo of a pigeon, but higher pitched. All of the seven had huge eyes with large eyelashes fringed around them. Their heads were turning from side to side as they looked at Anita, and then back at Glen. He suddenly spoke to them, and it sounded rather silly.

“Hello. We are Glen and Anita. We mean you no harm. Friends”.

Mel was cursing the pair for not holding the camera so at least one of them could be seen. He had no idea how close the creatures were to them, but as Glen was speaking very quietly, he presumed they were near. Then one emerged from the water, sliding onto the rock shelf with the ease of a snake gliding over sand. Mel leant forward, staring at the monitor screen as if that would show him more detail.

The animal was covered in coarse fur, and it had very short back legs that ended in some kind of webbed feet, though more like a Swan than a human. These things seemed to be a hybrid of anything that was at home under water. The camera moved again, and now Mel could see Anita. The creature was no more than three feet from where she was sitting, and the other six were still floating in the sea pool below. Anita was smiling as she spoke.

“Oh, you’re beautiful. Do you understand anything I say? I doubt that. But we will not hurt you”. Given the size of the creature she was talking to, and its teeth and claws, mel thought she should have been asking it not to hurt them. Then one of the smaller ones came out of the water, moving close to Anita. She turned to the camera.

“I think they are young ones, maybe the children of the big one”.

Making a purring sound, the smaller animal slid toward Anita on its belly. Extending an arm, it pointed to something on the diving belt she wore around her waist. Fascinated by the proximity of this unknown species, Anita’s face was glowing with excitement as she turned to her husband.

“It wants my diving knife, Glen.”

Found Footage: Part Fourteen

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”.

Found Footage: Part Thirteen

This is the thirteenth part of a fiction serial, in 790 words.

Everything went black on screen. Glen and Anita could be heard breathing fast. Mel presumed they were swimming hard back to the beach, and that was confirmed after he fast-forwarded the video. Glen was on camera, Anita still breathing hard as she filmed him.

“So, you will see something on this footage. I’m here to tell you I have no idea what it was, but it was like nothing I have ever seen before in my life. At least eight feet tall, floating in the water right behind me. I felt its presence, which made me turn around. We didn’t hang around after that, although it made no aggressive moves even as we swum right past it. Phew! I need to sit down”.

The view changed to Glen filming Anita, who was sitting on the beach still wearing her air tanks.

“I went past it so close, I could have touched it. It was floating upright in the water, and it looked at me as I went by. Tall, well-built, definitely covered in fur, with a face like a dog, but much larger eyes. The nearest thing I can equate it to is a sea otter, though huge by comparison to those. It had arms and hands, and large canine teeth. But you’re right to say it was not aggressive. It could easily have grabbed me or bitten me, but didn’t move. In a way, it seemed curious”.

That was the end of that card, so Mel put the next one in. Glen was drinking a hot drink from a tin mug, giving a talk to the camera in his presenter style.

“What we saw down there was defnitely a farm. An undersea farm for crustaceans and fish. That is undeniable to me. Whatever built those cages and fed the livestock had some skill, obvious intelligence, manual dexterity, and considerable strength. It can also breathe underwater, for how long I don’t know. I am in no doubt that the creature we saw was one of those who built this, and also in no doubt that they have been collecting and storing the old artifacts, and also exchanging them for things taken from our camp. This is huge!”

Pausing the video, Mel sat back, taking in what had been said so far. A new species, perviously unknown and undiscovered. Large Otter-like creatures, capable of complicated thought processes, farming their food, and realising that stuff from shipwrecks might have value for barter. It seemed incomprehensible that they could have gone undetected for so long. Never caught in trawler nets, never mentioned in folklore. Could they be all over the world, or was this the last colony remaining? Glen had been right about how huge this was.

The discovery had taken the film project to a new level.

This could be something like the missing link. A sea mammal larger than humans that had not transferred onto dry land. It could even be the origin of the mermaid myth. Mel was almost afraid to start the footage again, in case that had been the only sighting. But he knew Glen, and if he had spotted that once, he would be back to get better film of it, of that he was sure. When he resumed play, Glen was still being a presenter.

“Anita has had a wonderful idea. She’s sure that the noises in the sea cave were these Otter-type creatures, chattering to each other, and feeding. As they were harmless as far as we could tell, the plan is to go back into the sea cave tomorrow, and carry on inside until it opens out. If there are any creatures there, we will show them we are friendly. We won’t have any SCUBA gear on, so they can see our faces properly. If not, we may well find some clues as to their habits. This is very exciting indeed, perhaps the most important job we have ever done. If we can find a new species and interact with it, who knows where this could go?”

There was a jump-cut to Anita loading some items into a net bag, Glen was still speaking off camera.

“As you can see, we intend to take a bag of offerings with us. Some tinned food that we can show them how to open, and other things in jars that they may never have tried to eat. ‘Nita is also taking the digital voice recorder, in the hope of recording the sounds they make for experts to decide later if it is a structured language. I don’t think I am going to sleep much tonight, my brain is buzzing!”

Reaching across the desk, Mel was also thinking he wouldn’t get much sleep. He put the next card in.

Found Footage: Part twelve

This is the twelfth part of a fiction serial, in 771 words.

He was going to have a shot of vodka before going outside, but at the last minute Mel thought better of it and put the bottle back in the drawer.

Just outside the door to his company office, he introduced himself to the few journalists still hanging around, and made a brief statement, almost word for word what Tricia had told him to say. Then as they started to shout their questions, zoom in with the TV cameras, and click the shutters on the still cameras, he was back inside without answering anything. Safe from them in his office, he got the bottle back out, and had two shots.

Then he went out into the general office, and asked for everyone’s attention before threatening them with instant dismissal, no reference, and legal action if anyone breathed word one about the project in Ireland. Their glum expressions let him know they had taken him seriously, and the empty chair at Darius’s desk showed that he was already gone. No doubt happy to not have to stay until the end of the working day.

Mel knew it was time to watch more footage, so he shut himself away and got the memory cards from the safe. Before he could start, his mobile rang. As it was Tricia, he answered it.

“Well, I have some great news for you, Melvin. I contacted the police in Ireland to threaten them not to show anyone the footage, and they eventually admitted they don’t have it. Seems like whoever was tasked with copying it over there didn’t get around to doing it before someone else sent the cards off to you. Thank Christ for a rural police force, old love. Meanwhile, I have spent the last hour or so preparing all kinds of threatening letters and emails, including injunctions to be used at court if necessary. Before close of play today, I will be hitting every TV station, radio company, and newspaper. I’m sure they will reword the story to try to get around it, but the upshot is that none of them can access the footage without finding themselves in a legal shitstorm. Guard those memory cards with your life, and I will be in touch soon”.

Lying back in the chair and feeling relief wash over him, Mel lit a cigarette, briefly musing about how fortunate he was to have employed Tricia De Vries. They he put in the next memory card and pressed play.

They were back swimming below the shelf, passing the building from the previous day, and going further into much gloomier water. If not for the light rigs and the additional powerful light carried by Anita, it would probably have been impossible to see anything. They were also talking to each other, Glen first.

“Go to the building in the distance, that seems to be the last one of this old settlement”. Anita was seen nodding, and they accelerated slightly.

Then Anita could be heard. “This seems to be the biggest yet. Some form of meeting hall by the look of it. Follow me in”.

In the powerful light, Mel counted six window openings along the side of the building. He estimated it would have been around seventy feet in length. And judging from the large entrance that might well have had large double doors like those of a garage, it could have stood at least fifteen feet high. Maybe more, with a thatched or planked roof that was long gone. Before Glen had followed her in, Anita’s voice could be heard from inside.

“Oh shit! Glen, come and look at this!”

As her camera panned around, Mel leaned forward to make sure what he thought he was seeing was real. Along the sides of the inner walls of the building were rows of worn-out looking wicker baskets, metal cages, and low structures made from all kinds of things including woven wire and plastic cable. Inside them were live creatures. Mainly crabs, but also lobsters, and some large fish that Mel thought might be Cod. Glen said it for him.

“Jesus, ‘Nita. This is a farm. An undersea farm for fish and crustaceans. Look, there is even food for the crabs and lobsters, old fish heads. Who the hell is doing this at this depth? It cannot be practical for anyone in Ireland to do this, and besides, nobody knows where this island is anyway”.

Suddenly, Glen’s camera turned completely around. The image it caught made Mel jump back from the screen, and reach for the vodka.

A huge pair of round eyes, and a face with teeth like a wolf.