Nemesis 2-Dark Alleys and Dead Men
A Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea Novelette


    This site contains the first four scenes of Nemesis 2.  I am currently working on an original science fiction novel.  This has diverted my attention from finishing Nemesis 2, although I will eventually get back to work on it.  In the meantime, for your consideration, here are the first three chapterlettes as they stand.  I am revisiting this material, so you may notice changes if you've read through before.  If you have any editorial comments, please email me here.
------Michael Bailey


      Again, the voice rattled in Lee Crane's head. You're a dead man . . . a dead man--captain of a dead boat . . . your ocean, your world destroyed . . . a world you could have saved.  Too bad, Crane.  Everything you've ever cared about--gone.  Nothing left but dust and bones.  Not because of what you did, but because . . .
     The voice withered and died in a boil of silence.  "Because of what?" Crane cried, looking up to where the sky should have been, seeing only a swirl of gray fog, random bursts of light and darkness.  He was caught in a dream.  And he, the dreamer, wrapped in the fog of the dream, could see no escape and no hope of escape.
     "Gone?" he shouted.  "Why?  I've done nothing.  Damn you--damn you!  Why is everything gone?"
     His question echoed through the fog and the dream and returned as if posed by a stranger.  
    His heart pounded in his chest, ears and fingers--through
   A nightmare come to visit once again.

The dreamer, wrapped in the fog of the dream.

every square inch of his skin.  He could smell his own fear and frustration, the taste of alum on his tongue.
     No, the voice teased, you're not in control, Crane,   Not at all, now, are you?   How does it feel to be helpless, Captain?
He slammed his fist into the ground; the pain of the blow brought him focus and a reminder that beyond this nightmare, the real world must still exist.
     He found himself running . . . running across a flat plane through ubiquitous mist.  He flashed back to a morning years before when he had stepped onto cold, damp sand and taken flight down Beverly Beach just up from Newport on the Oregon coast . . . his feet slapping the beach rhythmically, nothing but fog flying by.  But that had been different.  That had been real.  Above the dense layer of mist, seagulls had flown, cawed out and swooped away in search of food.  The morning sun had begun to burn away the fog, and although unseen, he had felt the presence of these things and had taken comfort from them.  They had been genuine, and no strange words had echoed in his head.

     Again, he heard the voice: How does it feel to be helpless--to be alone?
     Lee Crane, captain of USOS Seaview knew just how he felt - like a lone surviving grain of sand from a beach long since swept away.  A shroud of bone-chilling cold blown fresh from the Arctic caught and held him.  It carried an alien presence - a shadow of death, and even as he ran, legs pumping fiercely, it clung to him with the tenacity of a devil.

      Crane sat bolt-upright in his bunk.  Sweat coated his brow and stung his eyes; he shook his head, blinked and staring into the darkness, balled his unsteady hands into fists to control their shaking.
     "Fourth time in a week," he muttered, "the same dream.  Talking to myself again.   What's wrong with me?"   It was time to consult with someone.  Either Doc or Admiral Nelson.  He couldn't quite put his finger on why, but he guessed Nelson was the one.  Still drugged by the dream, he fell haltingly into captain's garb and was soon out the door headed forward toward Nelson's quarters.


     A narrow pool of light bathed the desktop and the jumble of papers before Nelson.  Funny, he thought--the light does nothing to illuminate any of this stuff.   He squinted past the glare at the topmost page, felt an eyebrow creep upwards.  None of this makes sense.  I was there, and I find it all hard to believe. 
     He ran a hand down the back of his neck, heard approaching footsteps and a distinctive knock at the door.

A hint of smile that presages plain talk.

The Admiral's smile cut through the shadows.

         "Yes, Lee. Come in."
     The door swung open and Crane entered.   He stood stiffly in the darkness just outside Nelson's pool of light.   "Admiral, do you have a moment?"
     A shiver crept up Nelson's spine; he could read his captain well.  Something was up.  "Turn the lights on, Lee.  I'm tired of spinning my wheels in the dark."  
     Crane flicked the switch and did a double-take at the boxes, files, photos and papers strewn about.  The jumble covered not only Nelson's desk, but the top of his bunk, the adjacent bookcase and spilled up against his
treasured model of Seaview.   "If I'm interrupting something, I can
come back later."  
     Nelson smiled and laughed.  "Not necessary.  Sit down.  I've been staring at this mess trying to make sense of it long enough.  What's the matter?"
     Crane pulled up a chair and sat.  He stared past the lamp at the muddle on Nelson's desk.
     "Admiral, I, uh . . . well . . ."
     Nelson leaned back in his chair and squinted.  Crane was practically stuttering.  Nelson laughed.  "What is it, Lee?"
     "The past seems to be coming back on me, Admiral."  Crane fidgeted and scratched his brow.    "I've had funny dreams lately.  Not funny--that's not what I mean, but--" 
     "How so?  What kind of dreams?"
     "They relate to . . . uh . . . well, they relate to Nemesis." 
     Curiouser and curiouser, Nelson thought.  "Really?  Tell me more."
     Crane shook his head as if he were having second thoughts.  "Oh, I don't know . . . maybe I should just get up and--."
     "Why are you here, Captain Crane?"  Nelson snapped, then smiled.
     "This isn't easy, Admiral."   Crane rubbed his brow, then cleared his throat.  "It's actually just one dream--it's come repeatedly for the last four nights."  He outlined the basics of his repeated nightmare.
     When he was done, Nelson picked up the nearest pile of papers and tossed them on the desk squarely in front of Crane.  "Take a look."   
     Crane thumbed through the pages, his brow increasingly furrowed; the tossed documents related to the Nemesis incident; at the top of each page were stamped the words "Ultra-Top-Secret".  "Admiral," he said, a suggestion of amusement in his voice, "did I tell you I've been I've been having this dream?"
     "Yes you did, and so have I, by the way . . . same as you, based on what you've told me.  Don't know why, but I'm convinced it means something.  I'm beginning to wonder . . ."
     Crane sat back in his chair, put his fingers to his chin.  "About what, Admiral?"
     "I'm beginning to wonder what we really know of our dreams."  Nelson gestured at the mess on the desk.  "I've been going through this stuff trying to figure out what the hell is going on.  I'm getting nothing.  Any thoughts?"
     "Maybe we're both out of our minds."  Crane's brow furrowed and he shook his head.  "What could I have done that's so damn important it threatens the whole planet?  Nemesis is gone from Earth; it's not concerned with us anymore.  So why these dreams?"
     Nelson scratched his forehead and threw back his hand.  "I don't know why, Lee, but I don't think it was anything you did , nor I, nor any particular one of us who was out there under the ice.  Whatever these dreams are about--assuming we aren't just going crazy -- I think it's something we all had a part in collectively--each one of us who was there in the Arctic and confronted Nemesis."  Nelson eyed Crane uneasily.  "And I don't think it's something we did that's a problem.  It's just a feeling, but, I'm guessing it's something we didn't do."


     Robin Malloy lay in bed, rigid with terror, breathless since waking from the repeated nightmare.  More than anything in the world, she wanted to jump up, hit the wall switch, and flood the room with light.  But she couldn't bring herself to do it.

  For God's sake, she thought, I'm absolutely alone--no one else here--nothing to be afraid of.  I'm fine.  I'm fine.  But no--I'm not fine!  I'm a sweating, immobilized mess.  Fool! 
     Eyes squeezed shut, she winced, knowing in her heart she had every right to be as terrified as she felt.
     But, dear God, if she moved the slightest bit, even just enough to draw a shallow breath, IT might feel her presence.  No.  Noooo . . .

     For the fifth time in three nights, drenched in sweat, she had been slammed from the dream to wakefulness.  Her eyes roamed full-circle striving to pierce the darkness; the alarm clock's glow signaled 1:57 a.m. and it suddenly struck her what the numbers meant.
The middle of the night, where shadows rule and I am so awfully, stupidly afraid!
     Her eyes adjusted to the light and she gradually grasped the meaning of nearby shadows.
     In my room.  Lying on the bed in my very own room, but still I am paralyzed - still unable to move.  Like  a child.
     Logically, she knew her fear was misplaced; it was, after all, spurred by a mere dream.  But the all-too-recent memory of Nemesis, rekindled by this bloody nightmare, held her in its vice-like grip.  Again she felt the tendrils of the beast breach her skin and pierce her ears, eyes, nose and mouth to merge with her nervous system, chewing away at her on so many different levels.  The monster had taken her mind, and almost taken her soul; again she sensed the sting of perpetual Arctic cold in which she, Harriman Nelson, Lee Crane and Bill Harlow had so recently dueled with the devil - the devil they had all come to know so intimately as Nemesis.
     I really must make myself breathe, she thought
     She inhaled, steeled herself and lunged for the light switch.  The room snapped into sudden, brilliant focus revealing the everyday things so familiar to her.  Her bed, her heirloom clothes dresser, the portrait of Nelson on her bed stand.  The new spring jacket she'd flung over the back of a chair, the decades-old picture of her mother and father at the family home in Neskowin.
     With the light came confidence, something she most seriously needed in the shadow of the dream.  "What a mess I am.   The hell with protocol!"  Walking deliberately back to her bed, she sat down, picked up the phone, and punched in the code for NiCom* . "Put me through to Admiral Nelson on Seaview."  Her voice rang with a calm she didn't feel and that didn't last.  "I don't care what time it is.  I don't care whether he's off duty and sound asleep.  Put me through to Nelson.  You want my clearance code?  My voice is my clearance coed, goddammit!  Put me through!"
     "Forgive me, Ms. Malloy," said the man on the other end.  "I didn't recognize you.  I'll put you through ASAP.  Admiral Nelson will be with you shortly."  The voice apologized again and left her waiting, still shivering from the effects of the nightmare.

      Come to the phone, Harriman.  We have to talk.  Something bad is going to happen.  I can feel it.
Robin Mallowy, intent on raising Seaview.

"Put me through to Admiral Nelson."


       Crane sat quietly beside Nelson in the cramped cockpit of FS-1, enjoying the ride.  He knew they needed more information before there could be profit from words.  Besides, they knew each other more than well enough to ride the silence comfortably.
       So Crane contemplated.   He hated mysteries.  He hated them because, at their uncontrolled worst, they could kill and maim, injure and otherwise do harm, and for Captain Lee Crane, the buck always "stopped here" when it came to his crew.  He was the one left holding the bag when something unpleasant happened.  He was the one stuck with writing letters to unsuspecting family should one of the crew suffer injury or, God forbid, meet his death.  And these things did occur.  There was simply no way they could work at the bottom of the sea, in the killing, crushing depths, and not occasionally have things go wrong.  Unfortunate things.  Ugly things. 
And when events did miscarry and someone was gravely hurt or died, Lee Crane could simply not help but wonder if there wasn't something more he could have or should have done to prevent it.  He was, after all, the captain.  And the twilight thoughts that came before a captain's sleep could be awfully, damnably unforgiving.
     The Admiral, on the other hand Crane knew, loved mysteries.  He seemed to have been born for the sheer delight of them.  Harriman Nelson had, in fact, been a scientist as far back as anyone could remember.  How does this work? he'd ask his dad.  Can I have this clock to take apart?  Where did all the hydrogen come from?  Why shouldn't  there be life on other planets?  Does nature ever do anything just once?  Questions, questions, questions.  They had delighted his mother and driven his teachers up the wall.  And in the end they had propelled Harriman Nelson to achievements unimagined by most.  Financial resources had been important and come from East Coast old-family money.  The rest of it - the Institute, the invention of herculite, submarine Seaview, the proposed Manned Mars Explorer and so many other achievements past, present and on the drawing boards - were the product of hard work and the Admiral's propensity for, and love of solving mysteries.
Flight back to the Institute.

     Nelson stared at the band of moonlit clouds on the horizon and the black sea below.  "Not this time, Lee," he said, as if he'd been reading Crane's thoughts.  This is one mystery I want no further part of."  It was the only reference he made to the reason for their journey during the remainder of the flight.   In light of Robin Malloy's phone call to Nelson, even Crane, the man of action, intuitively knew that the four principals must unite for the purpose of considering their dreams.  With any luck, by the time they arrived at the Institute, Bill Harlow would be tracked down and ready to join the party.  It would be most interesting to see if Harlow too, was having nightmare visions.


*Nelson Institute for Marine Research COMunications

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