Guantanamo Secret Background
This is the tentative first chapter of my novel to be. I welcome any feedback you may have. Thank you!
Chapter One - Anne's House
Anne woke up and began to stretch. Like all deep water divers, her joints were affected by compressed air damage. The stretching helped. She had to stretch even before getting out of bed in the morning. Sometimes her hair got right in the way. She promised herself for the nth time that she would cut it short one day.
Cheech and Chong, her two Golden Retrievers, mimicked her stretching motions. They too had some diving experience. They were two of the first experimental subjects to become "seabreathers". Nowhere else on Earth were dogs that knew how to romp and play underwater without special equipment. At least none she knew of.
Cheech was the unofficial leader of the strange bunch. He loved to stretch as far as possible, making himself look like the longest dog in the world. Chong preferred the downward dog position most mornings, but he also felt the need to stretch the hind legs.
Anne had a method. She stretched each leg, starting from the toes upward. Then she would flex her fingers and wrists before grabbing the bar above her bed for some pullups. She arched her short, but sturdy back muscles and completed the exercises with some twists.
"It's always the air that is a problem for divers", she thought. Air is a diver's enemy, yet no one can survive under the ocean without it. Until now.
After a quick shower, Anne dressed in her usual uniform. She had adopted scrub suits in a lovely teal color. She had tennis shoes ordered in that were also teal. There was no question as to her favorite color. Plus it set off her golden blonde hair.
She greeted Cleatus, her Bonobo monkey. Cleatus was also part of the seabreather program and had successfully completed six runs. He had been as deep as 75 feet, the limit of the enclosed underwater lab. After two years, he was as healthy as any chimp could be.
All of the animals were allowed to romp outside while Anne drank her morning coffee and had breakfast. The outside enclosure was electrified. The area was 2,000 square feet of lush playland for the dogs and Bonobo. They could come and go freely inside and out. Cleatus might be getting a girlfriend soon as well, although she had no more need to test the formulas on monkeys. It was time to move to human subjects.
Anne's laboratory was down the hill from her government built housing. She could, if she wanted to, take an elevator from her study down into the cave beneath her. Most days, she preferred to walk down to the laboratory entrance and check in with the guards and other scientists.
The house was built on a promontory above the secret cave that had been built with the aid of the U.S. Navy and company. They cored out the inside and fitted the hidden laboratory with a small underwater gated entrance accessed only by mini-subs. The entrance could also be accessed by a seabreather, theoretically.
Guantanamo Bay was leased and occupied by the U.S. Navy under a lease agreement in 1934 and renewed in 1963 between the United States and Cuba. Only the abandonment of the area, or mutual aggreement negates the lease.
The nickname of 'Gitmo' causes fear and loathing by most uninformed mainlanders. The main use for Gitmo appears to be a military prison where only the worst offenders of the free world are often sent to reside out a sentence in limbo.
It was true that the prison was occupied by many terrorists, rapists and other manner of psychopaths. It was also a functioning base for highly trained Naval personnel, many of whom worked at secret projects little known to the outside world.
Anne Payne headed up one of those projects. Her specialty was Oceanography with specialties in Chemistry, Physics and Medicine. The project was nicknamed SB101. The goal was to turn humans into seabreathers again.
Chapter Two - The Laboratory
As Anne entered the lab, two marine security guards checked her identification, facial recognition, and entered her into the log. The Seabreather project was highly classified and well guarded.
She went to her desk and opened her computer. Setting herself in to the daily tasks of answering email, updating logs, and checking her calendar. Today's special was a conference on the latest studies of turtle eyes.
Turtles are amphibious creatures that can go down thousands of meters deep without harmful effects from their lung's air supply. In fact, the lungs of leatherback turtles are collapsable and their air supply moves into their bloodstream. Their shells are flexible to withstand pressure problems. Their eyes suffer no harm from deep water diving.
Anne did a daily check on the satellite data of tagged sea turtles to get an average depth and length of time spent at depth. She also did necropsies on turtles. That along with blood chemistry studies had helped her to perfect her Seabreather formula.
She no longer needed to use turtles for research. She had tried mightily to use as few as possible as sea turtles are a highly endangered seagoing species necessary for the earth's continued life cycle system. Sea turtles have been around for hundreds of millions of years, but they won't outlast man's ever encroaching a destruction of their habitat.
The formula for humans and other mammals was much more complex, of course. And she was still refining the exact ratio of cobalt crystals to other crystals in the mix. Extracting oxygen from seawater was just an over simplified version of what her formula did.
Leatherback turtles had the ability to compress their lungs to nothing. They possess a diverter valve that 'switches' between breathing air and 'breathing' solely from their blood supply.
As with any animal that can attain deep water diving and then come back to the surface and breathe air again, turtles seemed to be the best at doing so. For that reason, Anne had studied all manner of turtles, as well as dolphins, and whales.
Her nearest fellow scientists were chemists, biologists, zoologists, veterinarians, and others. Anne was in charge of the project, of course, but no scientific creation is done solo these days.
Like some of the characters seen in the laboratories of NCIS, her fellow scientists all had their little crazy streaks. Dave was a Magic the Gathering card player of some prowess. Jack was always wearing cargo shorts under his lab coat. Sissy was Anne's sidekick and animal handler. She sported a shoulder parrot or two on occasion.
When Anne took her first break of the day, the three of them were discussing their other favorite topic, sunken treasure. Almost everyone at Gitmo talked about finding a sunken Spanish treasure ship. Cuba wouldn't allow unauthorized wreck diving in their waters, but that didn't stop anyone from talking about the vast amount of silver and gold just littering the hundreds of wrecks rumored to be in Cuban waters.
"There has to be at least a hundred wrecks just along the edge of Cuba surrounding Guantanamo Bay!" said Jack.
"I'll agree to that one because hardly anyone has even searched this side of the island," replied Sissy.
Of all the hundreds of Flotas that were congregated at Havana for inventory and supplies, there were a large percentage that never even made it to the safe harbor on the NW side to Havana. Hurricanes, reefs, pirates, and mutiny sunk ships before they reached safety. These ships were full of silver, gold, jewels, and other valuable. Now they sat waiting at the bottom of the Caribbean. Waiting on modern salvage equipment and divers to plunder their rotting carcasses.
It was a frequent game for the Seabreather lab group to play. Study the nautical charts and look for ship wrecks.
"Well, too bad we can't use Seabreather technology to go out and search for treasure," I said.
"Why the heck not?" piped in Dave.
"The Navy would confiscate anything we found as property of the U.S. Navy and Government. The Cubans would raise holy hell. And we don't have any Seabreathing humans yet."
"When are we going to start human trials?" he asked.
"We have a few disposable detainees just a short ferry ride away." said Sissy. She loved to bring up the experimental value of the lost detainees of Gitmo. They were technically free to leave, but no country wanted them or would take them back.
"I'll put in a requisition," I said. "But don't forget that it will take months for them to send back a resounding no."
"We are ready for the next phase. We just need a victim, er, volunteer. I wish I could do it myself. Any of you guys ready to take the plunge?" I told them.
To their credit, they all raised their hands. What the heck, if turtles can do it, why can't we?
Chapter Three - The Tank
There is a large tank of sea water in the well lit room. The tank is the size of a good sized marine which has been proven as several marines have tried it out. The tank was similar in function to a sensory deprivation tank.
Previous occupants included Cheech and Chong, Cleatus, and several other test animals. The early test animals were guinea pigs, real pigs, mice and other air breathing animals. There were tubes and intravenous lines that could be hooked up to each test subject. As the procedure progressed, various monitors were applied to record as many physiological parameters as possible.
Anne and her team studied every minute detail as if their lives depended on it. The lives of the test subjects did indeed depend on it. Every scientific study has successes and failures. More is learned from the failures. What not to do is every bit as important as is what does work.
The whole idea of reentering the ocean as an amphibian has been around for decades. Anne's first research project examined artificial blood. She realized that there must be a way to fill a human lung with a fluid that will extract breathable air from sea water and carry away CO2.
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
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© 2015 Austinstar
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