The Wrath of Atlantis | Teen Ink

The Wrath of Atlantis

December 9, 2015
By ChrisHipp SILVER, Allentown, Pennsylvania
ChrisHipp SILVER, Allentown, Pennsylvania
5 articles 0 photos 0 comments

The sun rises over the Mediterranean as The Trident cuts through her waters, the taste of the sea palpable in every breath. I appreciate the opportunity to enjoy the view of the ocean at sunrise, usually inhibited by pervasive morning fog. After being held captive on his boat for weeks, a moment like this is a pleasure, even if it is simply listening to the waves lapping the hull, seabirds cawing overhead. Meanwhile, my father is inside, obsessing over some map drawn by a forgotten Greek philosopher, leading to a treasure he’ll never find.
The Trident isn’t large, the only space outside the cabin being the bow, and the narrow stern at the rear. It was once painted a nauseating orange, but has since faded to the rusted brown of an afternoon sky. The wooden planks under my feet are evidence of its age, years’ worth of waves crashing without reprieve displayed in every scar and splinter. It’s not glamorous, but for him, it’s his gateway to fortune, because somewhere on these seas there is treasure awaiting him.
The cabin door creaking open breaks me from my reverie, and I spin around to see my father, holding it open. Everything about him; his diminutive frame, his unkempt blond hair, are results of all the time he spends researching. “You shouldn’t be up early,” he chides, “you know we don’t have much time left.”
“Sorry,” I answer, leaning on the railing, “Just admiring the view.” With his reminder of Summer’s dwindling days, entailing a return to my mother’s custody, I repress a smile while I recall memories of our Dublin home.
“Get inside, then,” he scolds, yet I detect excitement in his voice, the product of another lead, “I have something to show you.” He gestures to follow him, and I do so after a final despondent look at the ocean.
Inside, papers and books smother the faded carpet. Most of this floor is occupied by a large room situated around a massive table covered in stacks of documents, a map of the Mediterranean, and ancient books opened to pages deemed relevant. All there is besides that are the book lined walls and my couch, the tattered red loveseat functioning as my bed. There is an entrance to the kitchen at the other end, and stairs leading to the bridge in the far corner.
When the door shuts behind me, my father flicks on a light, hurriedly walking towards one side of the table. “What did you find?” I inquire, straining to conceal my sarcasm, though he seems completely oblivious. Before I can reiterate, he violently shoves a stack of books to the floor, uncovering part of the map. I step back, but he looks over his shoulder with a broad grin and beckons me closer. Apprehensively I obey.
I lean over the table beside him, feigning interest, when he sighs deeply. “I’m sorry I haven’t told you what I’ve been working on, Atlas,” he apologizes, and I grind my teeth, annoyed by his incessant use of my first name. I normally go by James.
He grabs a book from the floor and places it gingerly in front of him, flipping it open to a marked page, smeared with crude annotations. “I know it’s been forever since I’ve found something relevant to the archaeological community, and I may seem desperate, but you must understand how difficult things have been since I lost your mother. But this will change things, I’m certain.” He pauses to find a particular note, indiscernible under thick marker. “I’ve been studying Plato’s ‘Critias’, and I believe I’ve resolved how scholars have misinterpreted it.”
“A work of his?” I persist, befuddled.
He laughs, but he bears a look of disgust. “Haven’t you read my essays?” He closes the book and pushes it aside, “the Critias Dialogue is legend of Atlantis.”
I feel my heart sink. My dad may be disgraced, but I’ve learned enough from him to know that the Atlantis is just a story, with no credible evidence. “Don’t give me that look,” he snaps, reading my expression, “I know what you think, but after some research, I’ve narrowed the location down-”
Just before he indicates a spot on the map, something buzzes in his pocket, and he diverts his attention from our discussion. He takes out his phone and squints at the screen. “That’s odd,” he notes, “there’s a storm approaching.” He tucks the device away, and turns to the stairs. “I’m going to go check the radar, you stay here.”
“There must be a mistake,” I groan, “I was outside for hours and didn’t see a single cloud.” He pays me no mind as he rounds a corner and ascends to the control room, so I simply roll my eyes and walk back towards the exit. If there is an imminent storm, I plan to maximize the time I have until it hits. I heave the latch upwards and fling the door open to be met with a blast of wind, the sky suddenly turned gray by thick clouds. Just my luck that in five minutes my day has gone from some time alone to being trapped with my father on his quest for Atlantis.
   .   .   .
Once inside, I huddle atop my cough and sleep through hours of thunder and rain, no amount of disturbance able to jar me. I’m finally awoken by a blinding flash that burns through my eyelids. I roll to the floor, smacking my head loudly against the leg of my father’s table. Moaning, I sit upright, wondering what the light could’ve possibly been. “Dad?” I call, massaging my injury, “what’s going on?”
There sounds of the tempest outside are audible, the droning of torrential rain, the rolling of thunder. Beneath me the boat rocks, not aiding with my pounding headache. As I stand up, stabilizing myself on the table, my father scrambles down the steps, and before he speaks I can see in his countenance that something is wrong. “Lightning struck the boat,” he breathes, crossing the room, a fire extinguisher clasped in his hands.
“What?” I ask, sure I misheard, but he doesn’t need to clarify. Through the porthole I can see the deck, charred black and still smoldering, remnants of a fire still burning the bow. Another waves comes and immediately douses them.
Seeing that the flames subsided, my father drops the hollow canister, trembling as he collapses to the floor. “It’s alright,” he pants, “It’s gone.”
Nervously I run to him and haul him to his feet. “Are we sinking?” I implore. I envision the boat sinking, myself drowning in the open sea, and am terrified by the thought.
“No, but we’ve lost all power, the instruments are dead. I don’t think I can restart them until the storm passes, and that might be while.” He takes a breath, then continues, “there’s a backup generator beneath the kitchen. I’m going to try and start it, given it isn’t fried as well. You head to the bridge and see what’s working.”
I let him pass me, and without hesitation follow his instructions, pounding up the steps towards the control room. All the way up I wrestle internally to comprehend my situation, that I am caught in the middle of the ocean, without help, on an immobilized ship. For the first time in years I forget my disdain for my father long enough to cooperate with him.
The bridge is cramped, the stained carpet covered by discarded notes and a tattered mattress against one wall. The usual electrical hum is ostensibly absent. A colorful array of buttons and screens have shut off, leaving darkness, whatever light there is in the space filtering through the window. I stumble towards the controls, scanning for anything that appears familiar, but my father hasn’t bothered to teach me how the boat functions.
I slam my fists on the console a few times, with fleeting hope that the devices will flick to life at my exhorting. Even pounding vociferously on the conspicuous red button labeled “emergency” proves unyielding. After some time, I hang my head, breathing shakily, my eyes distantly searching rows of buttons, waiting for inspiration.
Just as uncertainty begins to besiege me, I notice a faint green light emanating from a device to my left, a black box, adorned with a series of dials, and a phone set on top of it. Laughing with relief, I rip the headset from its place, in disbelief that, of all things, the radio survived. When I try it, though, all that comes through is the monotonous sound of static, unwavering no matter what station I tune to. After one minute of waiting I slam the phone down and let it swing by its cord. “Please,” I plead, “let my dad fix this boat.” I lean over the controls, trembling, my hands knotted in thick black hair damp with sweat, until something else startles me.
Initially, it’s a low rumble, blending with the sound of waves crashing over the smoldering bow. It steadily grows until I notice it, like the engine of an overhead plane. Curious, I peer through the window at the lightning veined sky, black as smoke, looking for the source. My eyes rest on it, then, poised hauntingly in the distance.
It appears to be a massive depression the sea is rushing to fill, cascading into the depths. Yet there’s no spiral, and the ocean isn’t behaving like water- more like sand tumbling to the bottom of a pit. The event is immense, at least thrice the boat, and howling like a train, becoming increasingly powerful. Even more terrifying is that I can sense it, the unpredictable tossing of waves now replaced by a constant pull in its direction. Shock, panic, all the emotions I’m struggling to dismiss flood my mind, and before I can restrain myself, I scream.
Quickly my father hurries up the steps, his clothes torn and smeared with black powder. He stands beside me, squinting into the inky darkness while I remain petrified at his side. “Is that…?” he mumbles, his pupils dilating. “It can’t be, that’s-” he stops, seeing the look of  terror in my eyes, and swallows. “I’m going to prepare the lifeboat, grab whatever you need and meet me at the stern.”
“Dad-” I call after him as he sprints downstairs, my voice stifled by tears.
“Now, Atlas,” he orders. The second I look back out at the sea, at that churning pit of death, I can feel the adrenaline injected into my blood. Without considering my personal possessions I tear the radio from whatever secures it to the console, and start after my father.
Upon entering the kitchen I see the back door open, leading to the stern, my father kneeling on it. Resting at his feet is an inflatable orange raft, already deployed, an emergency safety measure I was unaware we had. He doesn’t have to coerce me after him, I don’t even look back when I step into the rain, placing the radio in the lifeboat among my father’s belongings.
The rain is relentless, painful against skin, and striking the boat like bullets. The roar of the maelstrom is deafening, and I try not to envision it. “Wait!” I yell as the boat sways, throwing me against the gunwale. “We’ll fare no better in the raft than here!”
“No, Atlas!” he screams above the cacophony, “We’re already taking on water!” Without help he shoves the raft into the water, still tied to the boat. Cautiously he steps on it, leaving me on the other side of the divide, still aboard. “Now, son.”
I take one final glance at The Trident, seeing that she’s capsizing, slowly but surely. He lied, I’m guessing, to prevent me from panicking. Gritting my teeth I jump after him, forgetting my apprehensions. I land safely, albeit soaked with rain, and my father hastily undoes the line. Together we watch from the raft as she submerges, first the bow, then followed by the stern within minutes. When she’s completely gone I lean back on my hands, releasing the breath I had held, and close my eyes. I must be safe now, I have to be.
The roar of the maelstrom is intensifying, though, and my eyes flick open in search of it. With The Trident gone my view is unobstructed. It must be fifty meters in length, drawing the water, and us, at frightening speed. My father sees it too, but I can discern from the perplexity in his expression that he doesn’t understand it, he knows it defies the ocean itself. This storm does indeed seem supernatural, appearing without warning, as if it was crafted for us alone.
I recall, then, the full story of Atlantis, that Poseidon had a cataclysm sink it and all its treasures. Perhaps, my father was not wrong, and had found what he was looking for, and now the deity that destroyed Atlantis  is ensuring it remains lost. Though intriguing, the idea only confirms the resolution I’m conceding to; I am about to die, shivering and terrified.
In my peripheral I spy something, then, in the corner of the raft beside the radio. I grab it before my father can notice, feeling recognizable the leather spine, and opening it to a familiar page. Immediately I recognize the notes, the markings, the name Critias scrawled haphazardly in black ink. This is the document my father used to locate Atlantis, where he had recorded everything. In one final act of desperation, I bring my arm back, prepared to cast it into the maelstrom, only for my father to tackle me and pry it from my fingers.
“What are you doing, that’s my research!” He screams, raking his nails across my face,  still clutching the book, “that’s my life!”
I shake my head vehemently, lunging towards him and pinning his frail body against the sidewall. The maelstrom is only meters away, nearing with every second, dragging us under. “Let go!” I yell, tears in my eyes, “it’s what it wants!”
He suspends the book above his head, precariously close to the water, and struggles against me with his free hand. “Never!” he cries, “I’d rather die than-”
Before he can finish, a wave comes and takes the book with it, pulling it into blackness. “No!” he growls, clambering after it, pawing at empty water. I almost feel relieved until I see what he’s doing, coiling himself up, but my reflexes fail to stop him. His leg barely slips through my grasp as he throws himself into the ocean, flailing for document, only to vanish beneath a swell heading straight for the maelstrom.
“Dad!” I cry, searching for him in the blackness, but seeing nothing but the whirlpool. Frantically, I turn, seconds away from fate, bracing myself for whatever follows. Just as the raft meets the maelstrom’s edge a wave crashes over it, throwing my head to the side, sending me into unconsciousness.

The author's comments:

Besides writing, I've always had a penchant for history, and like most fiction fanatics I have devised ways to read, research, and do anything in class but pay attention. Over a series of weeks, I spent time between notes enlightening myself on the origins of famous legends I knew little about. It had then struck me that I had no knowledge of the creation of history's most alluring myth, which has enthralled historians and stupified scholors for centuries: Atlantis. The mythical empire, as it turns out, was the subject of Plato's twin dialogues "Timaeus" and "Critias". If you enjoyed my piece or simply adore mythology, I urge you to search for them. I can assure you that Plato's tale of the war between the avaracious Atlantians and the noble Athenians is better than any rendition science-fiction authors have concocted since.

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This article has 1 comment.

on Jan. 22 2016 at 11:39 am
CNBono17 SILVER, Rural, South Carolina
5 articles 0 photos 248 comments

Favorite Quote:
Lego ergo sum (Latin—I read, therefore, I am)
The pen is mightier than the sword—unknown
Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity—1 Timothy 4:12

Again, you're a master storyteller, but the ending doesn't really wrap it up like the other piece does; is it meant to be ambiguous? If so, you pulled that off well! (I'm just a logical person, so ambiguous endings drive me nuts :P) Again, nice job!