Utterly shocked we stood on the beach in silence.
The cruel cold wind tore through us.
But we were to stunned to feel it.
To feel anything.
We just stood there, eyes fixed on the lifeless hulking mass.
Yesterday we had been closer than ever.
Cameras, sensors and recorders straining to ingest the profusion of data flying at us.
We had all the information we needed to prove it existed.
It or him or…..
We weren’t sure what to call it.
But we had undeniable proof of its existence.
We could have turned home then.
Turned away and left it alone.
But we were scientists damnit and we had a responsibility, or so we told ourselves.
We were hot on its trail and closing in fast on the greatest discovery of humanity.
I think deep down we all knew we should turn around.
Leave it alone.
But the excitement of fame and wealth and seeing it with our own eyes blinded us to the bigger picture.
When I was a young boy my father discovered a large colorful tile while diving in a bay on remote Ellesmere Island.
It was very old he told me.
It’s odd shape and silky smoothness being the work of centuries in the sea.
Its coloring was like the inside of an abalone shell but far more brilliant and diverse.
When it was submerged in water it would become almost entirely invisible to human eyes.
He told me it was a scale.
To me it was magic.
I think my father felt the same way.
My father was a scientist.
But not always so.
My grandmother ran a small fleet of fishing trawlers out of Bar Harbor, Maine.
Her husband, my grandfather, had died at sea before I was born.
My father had grown up on those boats and on the north Atlantic.
He had learned and seen many wonderful and many dreadful things.
The ocean and my father tutored me in the way of the sea.
In 1923, at the age of 19, my father took a deckhand job with a fishing fleet in Newport Beach, California.
(This was before the existence of the infamous breakwater known as the Wedge)
While returning from a fishing trip his boat was destroyed while trying to enter the harbor during a severe storm.
My father recorded the event in his diary.
“The sea rose up like white capped mountains of blue-green and attacked us with such violent force I felt as if the world itself was being drowned.
A large gathering of people watched from the shore as we struggled in the giant breakers.
We cried out to those on the shore but none could reach us or help us.
With no escape in sight we resigned ourselves to death and the afterlife.
Those of us who were christian men prepared ourselves to meet our savior.
A dark skinned man was suddenly seen in the water gliding through the tempest toward us.
Many of us gasped because we thought it was a ghost or death himself come to claim us.
When he was nearer we could see that he was a mortal man on a large plank of smooth wood.
He called to us and said that he could take one at a time back to safety.
With great anxiety I lept into the churning ocean and the dark skinned man grasped me with a grip of iron.
He pulled me onto his small wood vessel and ferried me back to the safety of land.
The dark skinned man pushed through the deadly breakers several times until he rescued 8 men.
The other 17 perished before he could save them.”
“While I was recovering the dark skinned man came to see me.
He spoke of a deity called Meelu.
He said we must have offended Meelu.
The dark skinned man said we must offer Meelu a sacrifice equal to our lives before we would be allowed back in the sea.”
A month later my father joined the war against the Nazis.
He served on a cargo ship that was running supplies to the allied forces.
His ship was sank by a German U-boat off the coast of Greenland.
He was the only survivor.
He drifted at sea for several weeks before he was rescued.
My father never spoke of this time lost at sea but I sensed it was always with him.
I think a part of him was never rescued or never left the sea.
Everyone expected he would never enter the water again but immediately upon being discharged from the Navy and to the great surprise of his family he enrolled in the Oceanology department at the University of Edinburgh.
My father became one of the worlds prominent Oceanologist.
In 1940, while on expedition, he discovered the scale.
Henceforth his entire career was focused on that one thing……The origins of that tile or scale or whatever it was.
All my life it was as much a part of the family as I was.
It fueled my imagination (was it a scale from a dinosaur or sea serpent, or did a wizard make it? Or my favorite….an alien war shield!) as well as fueling my resentment.
It consumed my father.
At times I hated it because it was more important to him than I was.
It has been my life’s work ever since.
And now here I am, 40 years of education and research, hundreds of expeditions, 3 Phd’s, a blank check from Google, the secret support of several powerful governments, and a team of the world’s top scientists all culminating in this surreal moment on a black sand beach on the north coast of Surtsey Island, Iceland.
A wave crashed against the motionless monstrosity.
The water washing over its skin, seeming to cover it in a tattered cloak of invisibility.
It was partially covered in those same colorful panels my father had discovered long ago an when the water washed over them it disappeared from sight.
There was no doubt now that they were scales and where they had come from.
Where the scales terminated there was a sort of grey blue skin that behaved exactly like the scales when wetted.
The head, from what we could see, had human features but also fish features.
The face was mostly buried in the cobbles and course sand.
A much larger wave crashed onto the massive body, rocking it.
The sudden movement startled us.
For a split second it entirely disappeared as the huge wave engulfed it and tried to drag it back into the depths.
Panic gripped me.
I feared that it would wash back into the sea and be lost.
Without thinking I ran toward it.
Others, feeling the same urgency, rushed forward with me.
We hadn’t got far when a giant eye suddenly opened.
Its deep green-blue color beyond comprehension or explanation.
It locked on to me and I felt its gaze like a vice.
But it seemed to be drawing me to it and I was helpless to resist.
I walked forward as if in a dream and under its control.
Time stood still, the world faded from my comprehension.
I was powerless to resist.
At 20 feet (easily within reach of its gigantic arms) I too froze.
I don’t know if it was fear that stopped me or the creature or something else but I stood motionless, my own eyes locked onto that great green-blue eye that was fixed on me.
I just stood there and it was as if the creature and I were the only thing that existed.
I felt it passing something to me.
It was a sense or energy or emotion or thought…..
But I couldn’t understand.
Tears flooded my eyes as I strained to comprehend.
And then the huge eye turned black, closed and all color drained from the creature.
We had killed Poseidon.