Keep things civil, people, or else we'll put you in time-out.
A quote from one of my lesser-known, more controversial novels.
As the BBC announcer explained, the program was quickly put together for me. I needed to know everything so that I could guess what HAL might be thinking all this time and why he did what he did. The Captain’s detailed statement was given in its entirety along with videos.
“We sailed with partial crews. Many sailors were visiting their homes all over England and couldn’t be called back in time for this panicked rush to the South Atlantic.
“It was a fool’s mission. It had taken seventy years to find the Titanic although it was known where it sank. Now, we were being asked to find a tiny body, which almost certainly sank, that may have been moved a hundred miles or more by ocean currents in any direction. Madness, I thought.
“In the beginning of the voyage we had to plow through ten to fifteen foot swells typical of the North Atlantic in June. The ship’s rolling motion was comforting to sailors who loved the rock-a-bye baby sensation, but in the last two days the ship felt virtually motionless as it skimmed on water as smooth as plate glass. It was unnerving. The Queen Elizabeth was a hundred and twenty miles from target at dawn when the radar screen operator said, ‘Something unusual ahead, sir’.
“I looked at the radar screen. An indistinct horizontal smudge could be seen.
“How wide is it?” I asked.
“A mile, sir. Can only be birds. Must be a million of them.”
“I considered how this could come about. Perhaps nuclear radiation killed a lot of fish. If so and Theresa’s body was floating, she drifted with the fish. We might find her after all!
“Lay a course for that flock of birds” I said.
“An hour later the sun was several diameters above the horizon. It was full light. On every ship sailors not on duty were on deck to see this once in a lifetime sight. Some passed around small, cheap binoculars bought in department stores, and some had video cameras waiting for a remarkable recording opportunity.
“Two more hours passed. I ordered a helicopter to fly ahead and take a closer look. It was soon close to the scene but not close enough to have its blades fouled by the birds. The helicopter crew looked down with binoculars and saw something never beheld by human eyes.”
“Captain. It’s a school of sharks. There are tens of thousands of them. The water is red.”
“It was a massive feeding frenzy. As we came nearer shark fins appeared briefly on the surface. They were all swimming toward the frenzy’s bloody waters which had spread out for many miles. It had been going on for days and the sharks could smell the blood from a great distance. I recognized the cursed white tips on the rounded dorsal fins. Bloody ocean whitetips. The scourge of seamen. Unlike the great white shark that stayed close to coastlines, the oceanic whitetip shark spanned the oceans. It killed more people than all other types of sharks combined.
“A dozen miles from the frenzy we slowed down to lower speeds until we reached the frenzy where we stopped to consider our next strategy. The frenzy was about four hundred yards wide and the carrier was stopped on the edge. The sea was red with blood everywhere and around the ship. Through binoculars I could see sharks fighting over pieces of dead sharks. They were eating each other.
“I searched the center of the frenzy where the activity was greatest.
“‘God in Heaven have mercy on us!’ I shouted. ‘Theresa Hartley is in the middle of it!’
“Sharks were lunging at the unconscious Theresa but were being killed before they could get a bite of her. Other sharks fed on the bleeding dead. This nightmare had been going on for days.
“I ordered a launch be lowered and twenty machine gunners to the deck.
“The launch was lowered with six sailors. It set off towards Theresa but it would not be safe to pull her out of the water with a crowd of sharks lunging at them. I ordered the machine gunners to fire at the sharks. Officers kept them firing to the left and right of Theresa but no closer than fifty yards from her lest they hit her or the launch. It was only necessary to wound one of the monsters and its blood drew attack from others. Thousands of rounds were fired per minute but only a small fraction of the sharks were being killed. Many times as many sharks swimming deeper down were coming up to the surface to join the frenzy. The slaughter was working. There were two areas of mayhem safe distances from Theresa. By the time the launch got to her there were only a few confused sharks nearby and they weren’t attacking.
“Theresa was unconscious. Her head and shoulders were above water. Two men pulled her into the boat and they headed back to the ship. She was placed in a large basket on a cable and hauled up to the deck as quickly as possible. She was rushed inside the carrier to sickbay. The jumpsuit was unzipped. Two electro-cardio leads were placed on her to see if there was any cardiac activity at all. There was no activity, no signs of life.
“The doctor pronounced her dead.”
The screen returned to a BBC announcer. “Next we hear Prime Minister Blair.”
Peter Blair came on the screen. He was reading from notes.
“Good evening, Mrs. Hartley. You asked to be told everything related to HAL. What I have to present involves his activity. I’ll be complete.
I seek Truth above all means.
That was one of my pseudonyms, yes. A meticulously constructed persona imbued with hints for my more astute readers. Unfortunately, many took offence to "Norman's" crass behavior, and what I consider my magnum opus of hidden messages is now considered nothing more than a joke on the internet.
I seek Truth above all means.
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