Short Fiction: "Black Box"

“Black Box” is a science fiction/horror short that depicts the last data entries of the White Shark; a naval warship stationed on an ocean planet called ‘Ares’. Using a combination of computer statistical readings, and the captain’s personal logs, we discover the horrific fate of the ship and her crew. Submitted for consideration in the HubPatron of the Arts contest for creative writing. November 3, 2011.

Black Box

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Naval Records: Priority level 12: Classified / Leviathan Class Warship Number 684, Codename: White Shark / Stationed at Planetary Body: Ares / Black Box Log: Online / Uploading data… transcribing…

Date: December 9, 3021 (1300 hours)

Radar systems detected multiple objects below the surface. Depth unknown. Captain adds custom entry “Fish” as description. Event is logged.

Date: December 10, 3021 (0800 hours)

Radar systems detected multiple objects below the surface. Depth recorded at 4,011 leagues. Upon sonar magnification, life forms are confirmed. Estimated size is 12 meters. Further information is impossible at this depth. Captain adds custom entry “Horseshoe shaped” to previous description of “Fish”. Life form profile has been created: data is open for modification. Event is logged.

Date: December 11, 3021 (1500 hours)

Radar systems detected multiple objects below the surface. Depth recorded at 3,933 leagues. Estimated size of life forms modified to 20 meters. Surface storm has disrupted radio instruments: data is inconclusive. Captain adds custom entry “The towers are down because of the storm, so I’m going to log today’s radio data in my personal book. Information on the newly discovered ‘horseshoe fish’ is still coming in. Without a submersible, we cannot investigate further, leaving our imaginations to fill in the gaps. We are still hoping for first contact, but the marine biologists on board insist it is too early to determine their behavior. We will wait for further information.” Event is logged.

Date: December 12, 3021 (0600 hours)

Radar systems detected multiple objects below the surface. Depth recorded at 3,592 leagues. Estimated size of life forms modified to 28 meters. Surface storm has ended, leaving minimal damage to the radio tower. Repairs are underway. Captain adds custom entry “The crew is becoming restless about the horseshoe fish. It seems like every day the data suggests they are even larger than previously thought. Without more sophisticated equipment, we will have to wait until the second wave of ships reaches Ares. With the radio tower down, communications with Earth have been temporarily cut off.” Event is logged.

Date: December 13, 3021 (1200 hours)

Radar systems detected multiple objects below the surface. Depth recorded at 2,145 leagues. Estimated size of life forms modified to 36 meters. Radio tower is functioning again. Humidity levels suggest a second storm. Captain adds custom entry “Earth says the second wave of ships have been delayed by at least another month. Supplies are low and the storms come one after another. A fight broke out amongst the crew and a sailor was stabbed. The marine biologists advised us not to bury his body at sea until further information about the horseshoe fish can be gathered. It is too early to say anything for certain, but it seems like the creatures are following us and surfacing more each day.” Event is logged.

Date: December 14, 3021 (0400 hours)

Radar systems detected multiple objects below the surface. Depth recorded at 1,208 leagues. Estimated size of life forms modified to 44 meters. New data is being extracted. Life forms are carbon based and highly dense. Early reports suggest deep sea aquatic life similar to that on Earth. Rate of speed is 50 knots, in line with the White Shark and rate of ascent is 424 leagues per day. At this rate of movement, life forms should breach the surface no later than December 17th. At this time there is no data to suggest hostility. Captain adds custom entry “There is another storm coming and these bastards are almost on top of us. I’d feel better if I could just see one of them or have them in range of our weapons. Instead all we have are blind facts. There is no telling what’s going to emerge from the darkness.” Life form profile has been updated, but remains open for modification. Event is logged.

Date: December 15, 3021 (0200 hours)

Radar systems detected multiple objects below the surface. Depth recorded at 521 leagues. Estimated size of life forms modified to 59 meters. New data is being extracted. Life forms are larger than previously thought; their bodies impervious to sonar detection. Previous data, it is now determined, was collected only on the bone structure in the head of each creature. Further scans indicate eyes and teeth in line with the angler fish of Earth origin. Rate of ascent has been modified to 703 leagues per day. At this rate of movement, life forms should breach the surface no later than December 16th. Weapons systems have been engaged. Torpedoes… online. Deck cannons… online. Machine turrets… online. Nuclear deployment… standing by. Captain adds custom entry “potentially hostile” to life form profile. Event is logged.

Date: December 16, 3021 (0700 hours)

Radar systems detected multiple objects below the surface. Depth recorded at… error. Estimated size of life forms… error. New data is being extracted… error. Switching to auxiliary power. Manual override engaged, awaiting Captain’s Identification Card… Identification confirmed. The following systems have been compromised: navigation, radio, life support, weapons. Engine failure is imminent at current rate of speed. Cargo bay and crew quarters have flooded, emergency doors have been engaged. Captain adds custom entry “By order of Captain Harold Peterson all contact with Planet Ares is to cease and no rescue mission is to be held. All ships turn back immediately.” Captain’s entry is damaged, attempting to retrieve undamaged portions of the message… “They’re massive… like something out of our nightmares… entire crew is dead… slaughtered… the storm will swallow our bodies… the ship will sink to the bottom of the deepest ocean… corpses left to feed these abominations… gets this message, DON’T come to this hell planet!... can’t even see the water… all teeth and eyes… God save…” Error, remaining log is irretrievable. Event is logged.

Transcription… complete / Black Box Log: Offline

Naval Records: Priority level 12: Classified / Leviathan Class Warship Number 504, Codename: Hydra / Stationed at Planetary Body: Ares / Radio: Online / transmitting…

Date: December 29, 3021 (1300 hours)

“This is Captain James Malory. We have arrived on Planet Ares, but have yet to make contact with the White Shark. When we were deposited at their location we found no evidence that the ship had ever been here. We picked up a small radio signal to the south and followed it, only to find their black box. It had successfully deployed and floated to the surface, leading us to believe the ship sunk during the frequent storms. Our communications team is decoding the last recordings and we will soon know the fate of our brothers. In the mean time we will deploy the research submersible and continue the mission White Shark began. The Hydra’s crew is confident we will bring back information that confirms Ares is suitable for human habitation. That is all for now.”

… transmission ends.

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Eternity's Reach (The Sword of Eternity) (Volume 1)
Eternity's Reach (The Sword of Eternity) (Volume 1)

If you're interested in reading more of my fiction, you can find my first novel here.

 

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Comments 9 comments

Rusty C. Adore profile image

Rusty C. Adore 5 years ago from Michigan

Creepy!!! Love the photo that goes along with it, too!


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 5 years ago from United States Author

Rusty - Thank you for the compliment! The photo was made with a combination of DAZ Studio and Photoshop. Fun stuff!


J. Edward Hardin profile image

J. Edward Hardin 4 years ago

Very cool!

I always loved the ones that leave me with that weird sensation of wishing I could tell some character that he is unwittingly marching off to his doom. I thought that the black box log format was a very creative way of conveying all of the info about the events without having any character or writer narrative in the story.

Good job!


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 4 years ago from United States Author

J. Edward Hardin - Thank you for the compliments! I generally struggle with short stories that use the traditional narrative so this style of narration really helps me to contain the story. I wanted to give the sense of a creepy disconnect between the reader and the reports they were getting. It all happened in the past, and yet it's a terrible fate for the White Shark, and what will soon be a terrible fate for the Hydra. Thank you again for commenting!


capricornrising profile image

capricornrising 4 years ago from Wilmington, NC

I'm a huge science fiction fan, and think you should write this book (so I know what happens next)!


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 4 years ago from United States Author

capricornrising - Thank you for the comment. I never envisioned this story as a novel (instead intending to leave it with that last moment of "oh crap, it's going to happen again"). However, I did write a science fiction book in the past that took place on a distant water world. I'm thinking more and more that I will incorporate this into that novel when I re-write it some day.


capricornrising profile image

capricornrising 4 years ago from Wilmington, NC

Sounds great - was the book published?


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 4 years ago from United States Author

capricornrising - It hasn't been published (I have yet to be published professionally). Right now I'm in the process of finding an agent for my completed fantasy novel. The science fiction novel I mentioned is currently in a rough draft form. It's all there, but it's very messy and will require a lot of work before I'm ready to release it to the world. Thank you for the interest, though, it's always encouraging to hear!


capricornrising profile image

capricornrising 4 years ago from Wilmington, NC

Good luck!

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