Rubik – Mia Bitman
Hello, today I’d like to take you on a nautical journey. A descent into the depths. So please, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and let it all sink in. We begin bobbing at the surface, cresting and falling with the waves. A cloudless above bathes your skin in a blanket of warm sunlight and the refreshingly cool water caresses your back. You look around to see an endless horizon of blue, the borders of the sky and water blurred by their similar hue. There is nothing out here but you and the waters below. Let’s go a little deeper, shall we?
You begin to slip beneath the rhythmic waves, that equilibrium between warm light and cool water shifting until you are entirely overtaken by the sea. We have entered the uppermost layer of the ocean, the aptly named sunlight zone. The water here maintains that brilliant, cerulean blue shade seen at the very surface. Shafts of light refract and dance through the waters above, decorating the vast blue canvas with an array of almost god-like beams. Around you swarming schools of fish dart about, nimbly avoiding the attempts of predators to hunt them. Were we near the coast, you might see a bustling coral reef, painted with the dazzling array of bright colors often seen, starkly contrasting the surrounding, oppressively blue backdrop. Unfortunately, we are not near the coast. A quick glance reveals no such reef, only a seemingly endless darkness below. Let’s not keep it waiting.
As you continue to sink through this layer, you pass a plethora of sea life. In fact, nearly 90% of all sea life lives in the sunlight zone, the deeper, darker regions of the sea pose far too great a threat for most life to thrive. The sunlight fades further and further as you sink deeper. With it, goes color and warmth. At around 650ft deep, you have now entered the twilight zone, and yet, you are only 1% of our way to the bottom. Here the sunlight can barely reach, casting the waters in a grim dusk, and the once refreshing coolness turns to unrelenting, biting cold. Some of the only light visible at this depth is the ghostly glow of the life around you: the sinister shine of bioluminescence. At this depth, light a tool for survival, an alluring trap. As you take in the life and death lightshow around you, a sudden noise pierces the darkness. A varying, clicking sound surrounds your, shaking you violently. Then comes a sudden rush of water. The currents send you spiraling as you get brief glimpses of tentacles flailing and tearing at some larger creature. A whale, you’d have to guess. The battle between these two titans is suddenly obscured as an inky blackness surrounds you, and you sink yet deeper, into the midnight zone.
Here, at around 3200ft deep, there is no light. Gazing out into the oppressive veil of darkness, your eyes strain for something, a passing fish, sunken ship, hell even just a basic geometric shape, just something to focus on. But there is nothing. Your plea is met with endless black. Even with some kind of light, you would have nothing but miles upon miles of open water to look at. What sea life there is, is not a pretty sight. Translucent skin, unhinged jaws, rows of horrible, horrible, curved teeth, they seem almost hand picked from the collective fears of humanity. But you don’t have to worry about them. Were we actually concerned about your survival in this situation, you would have long since been violently compressed by the water pressure into a grisly cloud of bone and viscera.
You sink further into the awaiting caress of deep unknown. The descent takes long, leaving you utterly alone in the uncaring dark. Well, at least, you think you are alone, it’s impossible to tell without light. Reaching a depth of 13000ft, you pass by the decaying metal grave of hundreds, Her Royal Majesty’s Titanic. No surface is untouched by the almost alien growths that cover the collapsing sarcophagus. The famous wreck marks your entry into the abyssal zone. For the next 6000ft, everything will look maddeningly similar. Vast, empty ocean. Until you finally reunite with ground at 19000ft. Here, the abyssal plain stretches on endlessly in every direction as a barren wasteland, dotted by swarms of creatures feasting on the corpses sunken from layers above. For much of the sea floor, this is as deep as it gets. But we’re not stopping here. You’re only about halfway to the bottom of it all.
Now you descend further, into the hadal zone. A series of narrow trenches crisscrossing the ocean floor, sparsely populated by the most extreme creatures alive. For hours you continue down through the convening canyon walls. You descend into a subtrench, barely over a kilometer wide, before settling down to your final destination. The Challenger Deep. Nearly 36,000ft below the surface, and a full 6000ft deeper, than mt. Everest, earth’s highest point. Finally your journey is complete. Ironically enough, at the most remote and extreme place on earth, you find a sign of humanity. Like a jellyfish, a translucent white plastic bag drifts elegantly through the pitch black depths.
And now you begin to rise, revisiting each layer, getting brighter and warmer as you return to the sun. At about 20ft deep, the upwards motion ceases entirely, and your lungs begin to ache. They burn with hellish intensity, immediately your body begins to move, you tear and pull at the water above you like a man possessed, kicking with all your strength, heart pounding out of your chest, but the surface seems no nearer, all sense disappears you can only focus on getting air, you need air, every corner of your mind screams it GET OUT GET UP GET OUT, YOU NEED TO GET OUT.
Then you suddenly burst through the surface. The air fills your lungs completely as you gasp incessantly, the warm sun once again drenches over you. That was just a gentle reminder, at merely 20ft you nearly met your fate. You stare back down towards your feet, towards the immensity that lay below. There be beauty beneath the waves, for sure. But there too be fury and power, beyond calculation. Thank you for accompanying me, and I hope you enjoy the trip.