Fiction by Kirsty Logan
after Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
07:00 / 01 March / lat 20 N long 40 W / temp -2°C
Strong currents from NE all day. Pressure good. Several shoals. Awake 16 hours.
Last night I ventured out to hunt the squid. I swear I saw it. A glimpse of skull-sized eye, the twist and tentacle-grasp as it passed. A different squid than the one we fought, perhaps, but who can tell? Back then it was we, but now it’s just me. I’m the only one left now. Me with my own deafening breath, tethered to the ship in my diving suit, floating with a gun in each hand in this depthless dark, cold to the marrow of my bones, the only hot blood for miles. I blink hard to see stars. Alone down here, I’m barely even a man anymore. But that was always the plan, wasn’t it? To lose our manhood, our humanity, in the hot blood of
23:44 / 03 March / lat 30 N long 40 W / temp -3°C
Currents calm. Out in suit to clear rudders, nothing to report. Awake 20 hours.
Should we try again? We had such adventures. The coral reefs. The sunken wrecks. The ice shelves. We can follow the telegraph cable from coast to coast, slipping space-lost through the seas. We can rediscover Atlantis and lose it again. The sharks and the squid, our air guns loaded with glass bullets.
Remember what we read about dead men? How over time coral builds up over the graves, sealing the bodies. How the dead sleep under the waves, out of the reach of sharks and men. If we tried again, we could make so much coral
01:40 / 10 March / lat 35 N long 40 W / temp -1°C
Currents changeable. Whales. Seals. Awake 36 hours.
I’ve been reading our books, eager to hear a voice in my head that isn’t my own. Books always say that a thing is like another thing. The same might be said of us. Books always makes me think of you, because you seem to be a lot of things while hiding what you really are. So here are the things that we are like:
The green-glow ruins of Atlantis, the carpet of bones, the silence. We found a volcano there, just like the one that ruined it all, but still alive, exploding underwater.
The undersea forest, the tall street of seaweed that grew from the ocean floor, all the way to the surface. They grew straight and strong, and you said that when you bend one of the plants it immediately straightens itself again like nothing ever happened.
Oh, this is useless.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t remember, Nemo. Just tell me we can try again. It could be different if you want, or it could be the same. We got so good at those underwater funerals, we hid the men so holy, the coral will have grown, and the ocean is vaster than
23:44 / 30 April / lat 50 N long 60 W / temp -1°C
Some currents. Some pressure. Some sleep.
When we first came to your ship, you let us believe you couldn’t speak our language. You knew every word we said but let us speak because you wanted to know us, how we spoke when we thought you couldn’t understand.
But now I think that you and I were the only ones who really spoke the same language. You said you were not a civilised man. You said you were finished with the world, and would not obey its laws. Your words went right to the heart of me.
You taught me so much. The proper angles of smiles and frowns. The right times to agree and disagree. How to be friendly, how to feign sleep, how to prowl the submarine undetected. How to pass among them. How to be the last suspected.
I was shocked when I found out what you were doing, the person you truly were. I don’t think I ever told you that. Perhaps shock is the wrong word: It was more a recognition. Like looking in the mirror when all you’ve seen before is windows. The clue is in the name, you said with a smile, standing there with the man still slumped and dripping in the corner and the blood thick up to your wrists. The name: Nemo. No-man. One need not be a man when exempt from the petty laws and morals of men. The things we did, the blood still to come on both our wrists. So many sailors with no one to miss them when we
00:00 / May, perhaps / temp 0°C
I said once that your words had touched my weak point, namely my great interest in learning. But that was never my weak point. You didn’t even have to find it, because my weakness was yours. Was you.
You know I’m still here. You know, so why aren’t you here? You know I’d never hurt you. I only want us to be together again, so we can hurt
00:00 / 00 / 0°C
I don’t know where or when I am. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is you. The blood, the last breaths, the souls we sent to rest. It means nothing without you.
If I surface, will you find me? Will they? I fear you have told them what we did. I traverse the endless ocean alone as a man on the run. A no-man. A wanted man, no longer wanted.