Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
Nemesis 2 (A working title.)
Michael Bailey

**Note--for those of you who have not read The Nemesis Syndrome, don't be taken aback by the fact that Kowalski's first name is Stan. I'm aware that his brother was named Stan in an episode of the series, but based on a comment by Del Monroe a number of years ago about that name and his character, I have taken the liberty of giving it to him. Besides, character wise, Kowalski is a Stan. It is this kind of "inconsistency" that might have given Irwin Allen a thrill.
****This chapter revised October 22, 2005.


     Robin Malloy stood shivering, drenched in lamplight as she studied NIMR's landing field and the coming dawn.  Clouds bound the horizon, flushed darkly pink in anticipation of sunrise.  A distant yellow blot, the just-landed Flying Sub punctuated charcoal tarmac still cool in the receding night.  Morning would bring light and possibly solutions to some of the questions that plagued her.  She hoped so, but wasn't holding her breath.

How have you been?
Dreams can't hurt you my dear.
        As Crane and Nelson strode out of the gloom, Robin smiled, felt her heart warm at the site of the two men, Nelson in particular.  I was not meant to be alone, she thought.
     "Harriman, Lee, thank God you're here; it's good to see you.  I mean, it's really good."
     Crane reached out and the two hugged before she turned to clasp Nelson's warm hand.  It hit home why they were meeting at this hour, and a shadow crossed her heart.
     "Harriman, what's with these crazy dreams?" she said softly.  "I don't mind saying I'm scared.
     "Dreams can't hurt us," Nelson said."
     Robin pressed a hand to her forehead and winced.  "You weren't inside that thing.  It didn't take you apart piece by piece and strip
you to the bone."  She turned away, tears welling in her eyes.
     Nelson pulled her close.  "Knock it off," he said gently.  "We have a fair idea of what you went through; nothing to be ashamed of.  We're as concerned as you about these dreams.  You're right--there may be something about Nemesis we don't know--something that lingers, that might turn aroun and bite us on the rear--that's why we've come.  By the way, where is Harlow?"
     "That's the thing, Harriman, Bill's not here.  He's been missing for almost a week"
     "A week?  You've got to be kidding."

     She frowned and shook her head, felt a shiver run across her back.
     "How the hell does a security man go missing for a week without it getting flagged?
     "Bill requested unscheduled personal leave six days ago.  According to records, because of family business he had in Oregon," Robin said.  "He was supposed to report back yesterday. He didn't.  And his family wasn't expecting him so they never inquired.  I checked his apartment just before coming here--nothing's missing.  Didn't take any luggage, clothing or travel gear--not even his toothbrush.  Wherever he went, he did it quietly and quickly."
     Crane scratched his head and squinted.  "There's something wrong about this.  Why would a man request several days leave and not take luggage or even a change of underwear?  Interesting....our dreams started six days ago.  Harlow disappeared six days ago?  The timing stinks."  The captain's gaze shifted rapidly between Nelson and Robin Malloy.  "Does any of this bother anyone else?" 
     As they proceeded toward the field gate and the innards of the Institute beyond, the morning sun crept toward the horizon and turned distant clouds and much of the sky blood-red.

     "For crying out loud, Mr. Morton, why are we suddenly steaming like crazy north for the Bering Straight?"  Chief of the Boat Francis Sharkey glared at Seaview's XO.  "Remember what happened the last time Seaview headed north?  I thought the Captain and Admiral had seen enough ice country for a while.

     "It's not up for discussion.  Those are the Admiral's instructions and Captain Crane's orders.  Seaview's headed for the Bering Straight at flank speed whether you and I like it or not."
     Sharkey's eyebrows bristled. "But--"
     "No buts, Chief.  Look, I don't like this anymore than you do, but orders are orders and to be followed--the last I checked, the Captain's orders in particular."
     Seaview's COB looked about to open his mouth, but instead shook his head and turned to go.  "Sir, if you want me, I'll be in the missile room."
     "All right, Chief.  Go make things happen." }
Sharkey retreated aft.


Sharkey's eyebrows bristled . . .
It's not up for discussion. Chief.

     Morton squeezed his eyes closed, rubbing them gently.  Sharkey was right.  The idea of heading north again stunk.  It was a fine time to be left in charge!  He glanced around the control room, hunting for anything to do that might get his mind off Seaview's destination--that, and the abomination they had so recently dealt with up there in the frigid, Arctic cold--the thing called Nemesis.
     Morton turned to face seaman Kowalski.
     "Sir, if there's nothing going on up front, I'd like to have some time in the nose.  I'm just off duty, sir."
     "You OK? Morton said.  Kowalski in particular had been hit hard by the all-too-recent death of his good friend, Pat Patterson.  

       "I'm fine, sir." Kowalski said, automatically.
Morton nodded towards the observation nose.  Kowalski about-faced and headed forward.  Moments passed and Seaview's XO heard the distant sound of observation's privacy screen hushing shut.  Now, where was I? he mused.  Oh yeah . . . stop thinking, start doing.   Maybe it's about time for a fire drill.


     Phone calls and emails relating to the disappeared Bill Harlow funneled into the Institute all morning--messages from security, Harlow's family and friends, and from various local and Federal agencies.
     After a particularly cryptic telephone exchange, a concerned looking Robin, addressed Nelson from across his mile-wide office desk.  "You know, I find it hard to believe that a man could just disappear like this unless he actually wanted to--but why would Bill want to go missing?  Maybe we should start dragging the moat."
     Nelson frowned.
     "No," Robin said, "I'm not trying to be funny.  I'm worried."
     Over the last four months, Nelson had accepted Robin's bond to Bill Harlow without really understanding it.  No one would ever likely know for sure what horrors the two had experienced while "wired" into Nemesis.  Both of them had experienced expanded time; what had actually taken place in a matter of hours had seemed to them like several decades of isolation and torture.  Nelson knew they had suffered gravely.  Getting them to talk about it had been like pulling teeth.  But Nemesis had been more than a machine--much more.  And now, Nelson was beginning to think, maybe they hadn't really gotten rid of the thing after all.  In the dark of night, he sometimes lay awake wondering just what Nemesis might have left behind. 
     "I wonder about these dreams we've been having," she said.  "I wonder if they're dreams at all . . . or something else."
     Nelson was about to answer, when the phone on his desk jangled again.  "Hello.  Yes, you're speaking to him.  Oh really?"  Nelson smiled, nodded his head and gave Robin a thumbs up.  "Thank heaven.  When did he show up?  Early today?"  It took all of five minutes of talk and note-taking for Nelson to get what he wanted.  "Thank you, doctor.  That won't be a problem, we have fairly detailed maps.  We can be there by"--Nelson consulted his watch--"eight or so tonight.  We'll fly to McChord and drive from there.  Thank you." He hung up the phone.
     "God, Harriman, that seemed like forever!  What gives?"
     "Bottom line, Bill's safe, though a ways away.  Got the directions, but it's off the beaten path.  Pack your toothbrush and hunt down Captain Crane.  Tell him to gear up.  We leave within the hour; we're off to the north woods with all dispatch!"
     "Too cryptic, Harry.  Where in what north woods?
     "About an hour and a half from McChord Air Force Base buried in the foothills of Washington's Cascade range, that's where we'll find Bill Harlow--at a mental facility."
     Robin's eyes grew large.  "Whoa!  The man gets around, doesn't he?"


     Kowalski slumped into a huge, comfortable leather chair and swiveled about for an unobstructed view out Seaview's observation ports.  The chair was one of several that had been installed in the nose several weeks before on the Admiral's instructions.  This had prompted joking comments in some quarters that "the old man" was getting soft.

     Not so
, Kowalski thought as he stared into the black sea.  Not after going through what we did with that Nemesis thing.  Not after loosing so many crew--especially someone like Patterson--a real friend . . . a comfortable place to sit and think seems totally called for.  Patterson . . . my good friend . . . why did you have to die?  You--of all people.  Why'd you have to go and blow yourself and the Flying Sub to smithereens?  You saved the boat and probably the world, but it was supposed to be me.  Crane wanted me on that mission.  But you stepped in and volunteered.  You said you didn't have a wife at home expecting a baby; you didn't have the responsibilities I did.  The only problem is, now your dead.  I don't know, I just don't know . . . it was supposed to be me--Crane wanted me out there . . .
     A tear ran down his face and he didn't bother to wipe it away; the privacy doors were closed, he was alone. 

     Crane wanted me out there . . .

     He rubbed his eyes, wiped the moisture from his cheek, stared deeper into the tunnel of black out front.  Spots of light, white at first, then multi-colored, floated at the perimeter of his vision.  He heard his heart beat rhythmically, barely audible somewhere in the distance--somewhere a million miles away.  It was accompanied by a hint of other sound, like the wind.  A far-away voice blowing through the back of his mind; a voice that knew his name.
     "Stan," it called.  "Stan, it's fine, don't worry." the voice said.
     "What?" he heard himself say.  He stood in blackness surrounded by hints of swirling color, spots of light that tried to claw their way onto the stage.  Yes, Kowalski realized he was standing on a dimly lit stage surrounded by teasing lights and endless night beyond.  And those tantalizing, dancing shimmers of light wanted in, wanted onto the stage with him They and the voice were trying to tell him something.  The swirl of lights, red and green and blue--there were too many to count, too many colors.  They moved closer and closer, pushing the darkness aside, pushing their way onto the stage in front of him, seemingly on the verge of coalescing into--what?  A person?
     With a final, singular effort, the bubbling luminescence resolved into a figure. Someone, Kowalski realized, who looked remarkably like Pat Patterson. 
     "Pat?" Kowalski's demeanor hardened.  "No. You're dead!"
     All the same, the spitting image of Pat Patterson stood center-stage in the gloom, staring at Kowalski, bearing a look suggestive of pain, either past or present.  Slowly, he extended a hand.  For comfort?  The figure's lips--Pat's lips--moved ever so slightly and spoke the faint suggestion of a word that defied recognition despite Kowalski's rapt attention. 

 Undeniably, the spitting image of Pat Patterson . . .
In the blackness, a look suggestive of pain.


     "For God's sake, Pat, " Kowalski shouted, "speak to me. Say something!" Patterson stood stone still.  "Oh God, Pat, say something--anything!" Kowalski focused all his attention on the man who should have been dead but stood before him, when the man vanished.  The stage dissolved along with him, leaving blackness.  Kowalski realized, it was the blackness of the ocean at one thousand feet, not the blackness of a daydream, and he himself was sitting, not standing.  Sitting in a perhaps too-comfortable leather chair in Seaview's closed-off observation nose.
     Kowalski got up slowly, walked to the nearest of

Seaview's transparent herculite ports and touched his hand to it.  As he stared into the ebony depths, he tapped on the impervious surface and whispered, barely audibly, one word again and again.  "Patterson . . . Patterson . . . Patterson. . ."

     Born and raised in the Northwest, Robin Malloy felt at home gazing out at the shadowy Douglas firs that raced by, a forest so dense, it seemed it might at any moment, burst past the barrier of asphalt to obliterate them and the road they rushed along.  "David Lynch got it right."
     "Huh?" queried an oblivious Crane.  He was close to dozing off, splayed out in the back seat of the courtesy car.
     Nelson glanced at Robin, looking thoughtful.  "You mean the forest?"
     "Yes, the forest.  It's a living, breathing thing.  You cant' tell zooming along at sixty miles an hour in the dark of night, but get out of the car, hike in twenty minutes, and you're in a different world.  We've lost touch with our planet, Harriman; sometimes I think we've lost touch with ourselves."
     "And our dreams?"
     "Will you two knock it off," Crane complained, leaning forward between the two front seats, "you're giving me a headache!"
     "Go back to sleep, Captain Crane," Nelson growled, smiling, "that's an order!"
     "The hell you say!" Crane turned his gaze purposely away and slumped back into the rear seat.  "How far is it to grandma's house, anyway?  And why couldn't we just take the Flying Sub all the way there?"  Without missing a beat, he answered his own question, "OK, fine--security."
     "She's safer parked at McChord, " Nelson agreed, "even if it adds an hour and a half to our travel time.  Besides, it's Institute S.O.P.  We'll see Harlow soon enough, Lee."
     Crane groaned.  "What about Harlow?  Is he out of his mind?" 
     Cocking her head to one side, Robin suffered a peek back at the again reclining Crane.  "What an interesting way to put it. You may be closer to the truth than you know."
     Crane rolled his eyes, tucked his hands under his cheek and lay his head down on the car seat, obviously feigning unconsciousness.  He commenced to snore loudly.
     Well!"  Robin turned her attention back to Nelson.  "So what is this place we're headed to?  A sanatorium?  Loony bin?"
     "Mental facility
," Nelson corrected.  "I did a little homework.  The place was actually built early last century--around 1916.  It was intended as an out-of-the-way country orphanage, but was converted to a recovery hospital for the worst cases that came out of World War One.  In the early fifties was converted again, this time to a state mental facility and research center."
     "What kind of research, Harriman?"
     "Information's a bit sketchy on that."
     "Regardless, it doesn't sound like much fun."
     "No, not fun at all. But I got the impression that the structure itself is unusual."

     "No specifics; just a feeling I got from talking with the head of the place, a Dr. Martells.  We'll see for ourselves soon enough." 
     Nelson steered the car onto a narrow road that cut directly into the forest.  As they passed from the main highway, trees rose on both sides and merged overhead to form a dark canopy that cut off the night sky.  It was as if they had entered a gloomy forest tunnel that had no end.  In spite of their progress, an air of deathly stillness descended on them and would not let go.

Trees rose on both sides and merged overhead.

A gloomy forest tunnel that had no end  . . . .
. . . . an air of deathly stillness.

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