- "Shadows walk.
What is... isn't.
What isn't... may be."
- —Gay Malin
23 November, 2012
The waters of Loch Ness were as dark as the night sky. Some would argue that they were even darker. Filled with peat, soil, and an assortment of other forms of earthen substance, the waters of the Great Glen's largest freshwater lake were nearly impossible to see through. For centuries, these cold, murky waters had held a great mystery which, to this day, still eluded the world's greatest scientific minds, drawing thousands to its mysterious shores to hunt for the one they called "Nessie".
For Lex Murphy, the story was the same.
Twenty years had passed since her life had been forever changed. At the tender young age of eleven, her fate had forever been changed. Up until then, she was content with her various sports and her extreme interest in computers. But something had changed all of that. Forever locking away that part of her psyche. That something was her grandfather's park; Jurassic Park. Lex had not known terror prior to that event. One does not soon forget being chased by a Tyrannosaurus rex, mind you. After leaving that doomed island, Isla Nublar, Lex's mind had been consumed by dinosaurs. What were they? What were they like in life? Were they really like the monsters she encountered on her grandfather's island? She had to know.
So, with that in her mind, she had spent the last twenty years of her life attempting to find the answers to her questions. At first, she considered following her younger brother, Tim's, footsteps by going into paleontology, however, before she had the chance, she read the story of the creature of Loch Ness. Instantly, she had been captivated. Years later, she graduated with honors, from the University of California, with a degree in marine biology. All of that had culminated in this moment. For now, on the deck of her very own research vessel, the Nublar I, named after her grandfather's island of course, she had finally reached the murky, mysterious waters of Scotland's most famous loch.
Approaching her from behind, one of her students — yes she had students — nudged her shoulder, pulling her mind out of memory lane.
"It's ready, doctor." he said simply.
Doctor. That was her. She never quite got tired of being called that. "Yes, very well." she replied.
Lex left the railing of the Nublar I and approached the center of the vessel, where a group of like-minded researchers were preparing a large electronic device. It was a device of her invention. The machine was essentially a giant, underwater megaphone which contained thousands of prerecorded animal echolocations. It was her intention to use these animal sounds to draw the attention of the creature of Loch Ness, if there was one, and, should providence permit it, catch the beast echo-locating itself, or making some sort of noise which their instruments could pick up and record. She had dubbed it "Hammond", named after her late grandfather.
"How's it coming?" she asked, observing the group's work.
It was her colleague and assistant, True. Like her, he was an American marine biologist, specializing in whales, that had agreed to accompany her on her expedition.
"Looks like everything is just about ready to go." True continued. "We're just waiting on the sonars to boot up."
"Forget the sonars for now." Lex replied. "It'll interfere with Hammond's echolocation and vice versa."
"As you wish."
The team lifted the large machine on a large mechanical arm, which was attached to the boat, and swiveled it until it was just above the loch's dark, cold, unforgiving waters. Lex moved to the helm of the vessel, hands on the railing, to watch the first of her experiments beginning. Slowly and painstakingly, the mechanical arm lowered the large machine into the water. Within seconds, it was no longer visible on the surface, due to the murkiness of Loch Ness. As soon as that happened, Lex bounded across the deck of Nublar I for the central control room, where the underwater cameras from the Hammond were streaming live footage from beneath the surface of the loch.
"Everything is in place, doctor." True remarked, entering the control room.
"Thank you, True, though I must insist that you call me Lex. We are colleague's after all." she replied with a snicker.
"Yes, I suppose you are correct." he replied with a chuckle of his own.
"Alright guys, go ahead and begin sounding the device. Let's start with dolphins and move into whale sounds." Lex signaled.
One of the women operating the control panel flipped a few switches, and a green light nearby the screen gave the indication that the Hammond was now fully functioning. Now, all that was left was to wait. They would not have to wait much longer...
Beneath the surface of the loch, lying underneath nearly seven hundred feet of churning, cold, unyielding waters, the soot of the loch's floor was disturbed. As if summoned back from an unholy grave, bottom dwelling fish scattered everywhere; so much so that, if there was a camera present, it would certainly block out all footage. The sounds of Hammond, which were silent to the ears of humans, rang out like the sound of an explosion to the loch's marine population, including its largest resident.
Stirred from its sleep by the clicks of a unknown source to it, the creature of the loch's depths stirred, shaking soot and mud from its body and opening is large, saucer-like eyes. Whatever the noises were that it was hearing, it had aroused the creature's hunting instinct. Though it had not encountered such a noise in its lifetime, perhaps ancient instinct alone was compelling it to move, to seek out the source, and to devour it. An explosion of mud and soot marked the creature's ascent, sending fish scattering once again to avoid Loch Ness' apex predator.
Whatever was causing those noises would be within its reach in moments.
True tore off his headphones. He had been sitting in the control room for no less than five minutes when the first sounds began to come in on the hydrophone. As if his feet were on fire, True bounded out of the control room, across the deck of the Nublar I, and to its farthest railing, where Lex was standing and observing the surface of Ness.
"Lex!" he exclaimed, grabbing her shoulder. "Come quick. We've got something!"
"Already?" Lex gasped, wasting no time in bolting after him.
Upon reaching the control room, True handed Lex the headphones he had been wearing and she hastily thrust them onto her head. True had been right. The sound was unmistakeable. The water itself seemed to be quaking. Whatever was making the noise was big, and certainly not a known species of animal to inhabit Loch Ness. It sounded as if tiny explosions were going off in the depths of the lake, but what kind of animal could make such a noise eluded Lex.
"Are we recording this?" she questioned, removing the headphones.
"Yeah, we've got it all." True replied excitingly.
"Doctor!" one of the technicians exclaimed. "We just got something on the underwater cams!"
"Its my lucky day!" Lex chuckled, darting across the room to where the camera feed was coming in.
"Let me run this back." the technician said, rewinding the footage.
Lex narrowed her eyes with curiosity, and focused solely on the screen. For several seconds, there appeared to be nothing. Just various debris and dust particles floating in the loch. Suddenly, however, bubbles flooded the screen, almost violently, and in the next instance, a massive shape rose up from the depths, completely blocking out the strobe lights on Hammond's outer hull as it made its way for the surface. Lex jumped back upon seeing this.
"Whatever it is is ascending fast!" the technician exclaimed again.
Lex didn't bother responding. With renewed vigor, she darted out of the control room and for the side of the boat in which Hammond had been lowered. Upon reaching the railing, she noticed that the surface of the loch was just as calm as she had left it. As if nothing were happening below its god forsaken surface. Her eyes darted from one place to the next across the surface, looking for any signs of what she had just seen and heard in the control room, but nothing was surfacing just yet. True finally caught up to her, catching his breath for a moment due to all of his recent physical exertion, before continuing.
"We can still hear it on the hydrophone. Whatever it is, its stopped ascending. Its lingering down there, just beneath the loch's surface." he explained.
"Well then, if it won't come to me, I will come to it." Lex declared, turning around quickly and making her way for a pile of dive suits sitting nearby.
"Are you crazy?!" True gasped. "We don't even know what it is! It could be dangerous!"
"Trust me," Lex shouted back. "I've had my brushes with danger."
A mental image of the roaring Tyrannosaurus back at Jurassic Park flooded her mind, its massive body bounding across the road between the two cars that had gone on that fateful tour.
"Trust me, I'll be okay." she continued, slipping into the dive suit with great haste.
Lex snatched a nearby scuba tank and began to approach the railing where she had just departed, when the water came alive. Fish began leaping out of the water on all sides of the boat, creating a massive disturbance in the water that froze Lex and True in their tracks. However, it only stopped Lex for a few moments. In fact, it seemed to bolster her determination to get down into the water and find out what was causing all of the commotion.
Her determination, however, was short-lived. A massive upheaval of water erupted from the surface of Ness, belching forth even more fish. In that instant, the boat shook as though it had been struck by a missile, tossing Lex, True, and any unfortunate crew member who had not been holding on to anything, to the deck of the vessel.
"What the hell was that?!" one of the crew members exclaimed.
Lex quickly got to her feet and bolted for the railing of Nublar I, just in time to see a tremendous shadow pass underneath the boat and vanish into the depths, carrying a sizable wake behind it. For a moment, that seemed like all that was going to happen. The fish had vanished and the water was beginning to return to normal. Lex opened her mouth to speak, desiring to ask the control room if they could still spot the creature, but her answer came before she could do so and prevented her from getting the words out of her mouth. With the sound of scrapping metal, the boat rocked violently once again, and the mechanical arm attached to Hammond began to shake even more violently.
"Doctor, we've lost contact with Hammond!" the technician from the control room exclaimed, bolting from the room itself.
"I don't think Nessie appreciated all the noise we were making." Lex quipped sarcastically to herself.
The boat shuttered once more, only this time, it leaned ever so slightly in the direction of the mechanical arm that was still holding Hammond.
"Its attempting to take Hammond with it...!" True gasped out loud.
"Not gonna happen. Trish, get that mechanical arm out of the water!" Lex shouted at one of the crew members.
The team scampered across the rocking vessel to its center, where the mechanical arm was mounted, and its controls were located. Seizing the controls, Trish began the painstaking process of raising the arm from the depths. However, this task was easier said than done, as it appeared the arm wasn't responding to her commands.
"Whatever has got it, got it good." she grimaced. "I can barely move it. It's almost like its tugging back."
The noise that followed next would haunt Lex for the rest of her days. It was a groan, but not that of machine nor human. It was that of an animal - a biologic. It was otherworldly, unlike that of any whale, dolphin, or marine animal she'd ever heard in her life. But it did sound familiar. The groan came again, this time much louder. It sounded so much like those prehistoric creatures she had encountered on Isla Nublar twenty years ago. Sounds that were still etched into the back of her memory, scarred forever into her brain, never to leave her. It sent a cold chill up her spine, causing the tiny blond hairs on her arms to stand at attention.
She didn't appear to be the only one startled by the noise. The other crew members had gone completely silent, no longer trying to wrestle with the controls of the mechanical arm. The boat began to shake violently once again, and, in a massive surge of lake water, the Hammond surfaced. It was several feet away from where it should've been, now clearly detached from the metal arm which once held it firmly in its grasp. Again the loch returned to calm. No signs of any marine activity, the mechanical arm seemingly released from the grip of whatever had held it before, and no more groaning sounds. However, the beast of Ness had one final show to give.
The attack came without warning, in a violent explosion of water. The crew, Lex included, watched helplessly as the Hammond was torn from the surface of the water by an unseen, underwater assailant, sending it hurling across the surface of the loch. The boat was next, shaking as though a large magnitude earthquake had suddenly hit without warning, the groan of the beast from before now turning into an unholy roar, which caused the blood in Lex's veins to go cold. The boat stopped shaking, but not before a large mass of reptilian-looking flesh surfaced in the form of a large hump, and then disappeared below the surface, ending the appearance of the Loch Ness Monster.
For a few minutes, the crew sat in eerie silence, each trying to cope with what had just happened in their own way, and some still trying to process all of it.
"Alright." said one of the men. "Anyone want to explain to me just what the fuck that thing was?"
"Nessie, ladies and gentlemen." Lex muttered sarcastically to herself, slowly making her way to her feet.
"I think it would be best if we all headed for the shore and consolidated our evidence." True spoke up. "I think we have plenty."
There were murmurs of agreement all over the vessel as the crew members began to pick themselves up.
"Yes, but we're no closer to discovering the identity of the creature. We just know for sure there is one now." Lex protested.
"Doctor, with all due respect." Trish began, "Whatever it is, its incredibly dangerous. We need to at least regroup and rethink our strategy. Maybe return in a few weeks and try again."
"I've never heard of the Loch Ness Monster being so violent." Lex continued, almost ignoring Trish's concerns. "Why did it attack us like that?"
"I don't know." came the voice of the technician from the control room. "But I don't want to stick around and find out. I'm with Trish. Let's try this again in a few weeks when we have examined the evidence."
The crew continued to begin picking up their supplied and preparing Nublar I for a return trip to the shores of Loch Ness, but Lex was unmoved, still very much disturbed by the attack.
"C'mon Lex." True chimed in. "You can't be that unsatisfied. We got evidence of the creature! That's a start, right?"
"Perhaps." Lex murmured. "But I would really like to find the identity of the creature."
"How do you plan on doing that?" True questioned.
"I have an idea, but its going to take another plane ride. You can go with me. The expedition will pick up again in two weeks time. That'll give the team some time to get over this attack and refocus on our goal." she replied, slipping back out of the wet suit.
"Where are we gonna go in the meantime?" True now sounded genuinely confused.
"To see an old friend of mine." Lex snickered, and then she was off...