The trip down the beach is long and arduous. The shores had washed up some weird things from the ocean.
It had been said that the terrorist groups had been dumping nuclear waste into the oceans over the past ten years. And no one really knew what effect the waste could have on the ocean animals.
Mutations had been cause minimally in other countries due to a small concentration of nuclear fallout. Mostly amongst people but there were a few animals that had felt the effects as well.
You begin to see that maybe nuclear waste has a larger effect than what was previously suspected on animal life. At first its small, a two finned fish, a crab with four claws maybe a starfish with tentacles. Then something happens that you don't account for.
You have decided to walk along the beach in the hot sand. Its relaxing and its nice to take your shoes off for once. But you've put a lot of space between yourself and the street which is a few hundred yards away now.
Not easy to make a getaway into the city streets if you meet trouble. But you figure, what could happen on the beach.
Walking on the sand brings you across from very tall sand dunes. at least ten feet tall and nearly six feet around in diameter.
The dunes are rounded at the top but for the most part they're more cylindrical than pyramid shaped.
Theres about five of them all in rows of two and three. You approach them with curiosity, but you feel something in the back of your mind, telling you to go around them.
Theres no force in nature that you know of that could create these dunes and you don't see why any person would go to the trouble of creating these small hills.
As you get closer you notice some of them have bits of seaweed mixed in with the sand. Its almost an ingenious way of keeping the dunes structured when they dry, to keep that cylindrical shape.
You stop in your tracks when you realize that these dunes were purposely made.
But its too late one of the dunes breaks apart and out comes an enormous lobster-like creature. Its almost as tall as the dune, but unlike a lobster when it falls to the ground it curves its tail around which protrudes a large spine that drips with a green ooze. Very scorpion-like.
You fall backwards in surprise and its almost on top of you, the large claws big enough to snap you in two.
More dunes break open and more lobster-creatures come out, but they're unorganized, they begin to fight amongst one another.
Its as though they have never attacked another creature before together.
The original lobster that attacked you is now in a fight with a much larger creature and they snap at each other, tails swinging down to deliver blows.
You realize that those spines probably contain poison, such as a scorpion tail would. But it is more likely that the poison is much more potent, to take down larger prey.
You take their confusion to your advantage and make a break for the road.
One of the lobster creatures spots you running and is about to come towards you when suddenly it falls into a great gaping hole, and you hear a loud screeching noise, and then loud crunching.
You don't go back to investigate what stopped the lobster but continue running to the road and to safer ground.
When you reach the road you look back towards the monsters. They have stopped fighting amongst themselves and the confusion seems to have dissipated. They are now building their little dunes over top of their bodies again.
You stand and watch for a moment at the meticulous and skillful way they slowly gather the seaweed from around them, with their tinier legs and patch it in between the piles of sand.
Before you know it all of them are covered again in those perfect cylindrical chambers. Awaiting the next unsuspecting victim. You grab a journal out of your bag and quickly sketch the dune and write yourself a note on how the creatures react, anticipating how close you had to get before they attacked.
You will use this next time you come across these dunes.
Shaking your head you move on down the road. The world has become an insane place quickly. You wonder what other monsters might appear in your journey, as you unsuspectingly come closer to the Marina.
Its not long before you see the large letters proclaiming 'Al's Marina', on the side of a large, factory-like building. Its directly on the waters edge, and it looks as though there is a large dock coming off of it.
Makes sense seeing as it is a marina, boats would have needed to park there before all this chaos began.
You look for more strange lobster dunes before venturing onto the beach again and towards the marina.
You notice theres a small crowd of people waiting around outside in front of a folding table with a woman and two men sitting behind it.
As you approach you begin to hear people asking questions about the volunteer mission, what exactly is involved and how safe it will be.
The woman, you assume her to be Lisa Houston, nods and answers questions calmly. Theres a man handing out cups of water off to the right, so you approach him quickly and he offers you a large paper cup of fresh looking water.
You appreciatively nod at him and bring the cool water to your lips relishing in the refreshment.
Then you head over to the folding table and listen to the group talking. Many people begin to walk away, back towards the city, already loosing interest in this far fetched idea.
You quietly listen and don't ask anything. You want to wait and see what type of equipment they have for this strange voyage before you say anything.
As the hours pass by and more people come and go taking water and asking questions the group begins to diminish until its down to a small group of five people.
It is now that the sun begins to get a little lower in the sky. Lisa finally stands up and looks around.
She explains that it is now five and she will be taking this small group inside for the night, where you will all be fed and bedded. As well they have working showers and even and old TV set with a DVD player and some old movies.
You feel excited again, you haven't watched a movie in a very long time.
The two men stand with her and she turns and leads the five of you into the building slowly, the men taking up the rear.
As you all pile inside the two men close the steel double doors behind you and bolt and lock them.
Theres something ominous in the way that they are bolting everyone inside, but you realize that if they had wanted to hurt you in anyway they probably wouldn't have handed out free water.
Fresh water was a hot commodity and almost like currency in this new world.
Someone with murderous intentions wouldn't waste it on their victim.
You wash the thought from your mind and follow the group into a large lobby thats very well lit with comfortable leather couches and a large old TV in the center.
You lay back on the couch and take in the clean leather smell. Its refreshing and comforting at the same time.
Lisa asks everyone to relax and make themselves at home, dinner will be in an hour, and the showers are down the hall with soap and shampoo if anyone needs one.
With that she and the two men disappear from the room leaving the five of you to talk amongst yourselves.
You keep quiet for the most part, nodding politely at people who acknowledge you, but just listening quietly to the conversations going on.
Other than you there are two women and two men. One woman looks very young, probably in her teens still, and the other is sitting close to one of the men. You assume they are together. The other man is rugged looking, with a bristol board face of stubble and deep dark eyes.
He looks like he is hiding something, but in this world, everyone has something to hide. Many secrets cloud peoples thoughts everyday.
Other than that you don't feel threatened by anyone in the group.
You learn that the couple, that they are, are from Ohio, and traveled south back in the earlier days to get away from the blood army. The younger girl lost her family to a famine that was cast across Kansas.
The other man doesn't say much either and you feel connected to him in the fact that he is just appreciating being with a group of people and listening to their stories.
The last person you ever spent time with was the man who was ripped apart by the undergrounds. Its nice to socialize again in a safe environment.
The talks begin to flow into Africa and the couple share some of the stories they have heard lately about the country that has been a literal ghost country since the beginning of the war.
Apparently there have been sightings of strange enormous beasts and those brave enough to venture onto the continent have heard frightening and unrecognizable noises at night.
You begin to wonder just how safe this expedition is. And the next question you hear is, why. Why are these people so interested in Africa and who are they working for.
It makes sense, three people wouldn't just decide to go to Africa without some kind of force running the idea into their minds first. It was planned for sure, but by who, and why.
The idea was a little unnerving.
The conversation then flowed into other things that had nothing to do with the expedition and you lose interest quickly and move to the showers to clean off.
An hour later and a lot cleaner you return to the room and find it empty. You venture in the direction that Lisa and the two men went in before and find yourself walking into a large dining area.
The entire group is sitting together at the far end eating and talking loudly.
You walk over and join them indulging in the free meal. Its very delicious and you feel your spirits rise more.
Its at this point that Lisa decides to explain the expedition to the group fully.
She turns the lights off and turns on a projector, the first object on the screen is a large sleek looking submersible. You recognize it because your father, when he was alive was a navy man, and he was always into the new high tech equipment.
This particular machine is not one you recognize but it is a submersible. But not large enough for more than one person you can tell.
As Lisa begins to talk you realize what the expedition is going to involve and you begin to feel nervous again.
The five of you will take these subs and cut across the ocean to the center of the land bridge that has been created by the water levels falling.
The subs are filled with twenty hours worth of oxygen and are heated to compensate for the cold ocean waters.
The entire trip should only take about 10 hours at the most, they estimate.
She explains that they have already sent two groups to the land bridge and those people will meet up with them when they reach it.
You feel nervous again, something about this isn't right. If they've already sent two groups of people why do they need to send more.
You feel yourself beginning to object but before you can say anything Lisa turns around and turns the projector off.
She looks over all of you and explains that by entering this building and taking advantage of the amenities you have entered into a verbal contract which cannot be broken under any circumstance.
Before anyone is able to object the two men on either side of her produce weapons and hold them at their sides.
The group falls silent. So this was the ploy. To trick you into here so you are forced into completing this ludicrous task.
She sighs and then assures everyone that this is completely safe and after the task is completed you will all be rewarded handsomely.
She ends the conversation quickly by saying that everyone now should get some rest as you will be leaving around 2 am. She explains that traveling in the dark and morning hours will not attract any unwanted attention.
She stands up and walks away and the two men now begin to herd everyone towards the bedrooms.
You are all given separate quarters, with the exception of the couple and then locked in.
Sleep doesn't come easy for you but when it does you're awakened as soon as you find you've fallen asleep. One of the armed men tells you that its time to leave.
You're herded along with the rest of the tired looking group into a large room that has a large pool of water in the center.
In the water are the five subs that your group will be using. The technology looks far advanced from what you are used to seeing.
The process is too quick and you are all hustled into the machines after Lisa gives you a quick and dirty overview of how everything works inside.
One interesting point she makes is that the subs have an electrical field that can be turned on at anytime in case anything happens. You find yourself wondering what exactly could happen that you would need to use that very deadly weapon. Your mind wonders back to the lobster creatures on the beach. If they were that large on land, how big could a mutated beast be in the water.
Again before you can say anything your rushed forward and pushed inside the machine.
The subs are auto-pilot driven so all you need to do is lay there and breathe. Their designed so that you lay on your stomach and are able to stare forward or down through the large windows that wind around the front.
Before you know it the capsule slips shut over top of you and the air makes a wooshing noise as the sub pressurizes and seals. You look down and realize that you can almost see the bottom of this small pool inside the marina. Theres a light that you can turn on and off and control the position of to see all around you.
A whirring noise comes on suddenly and you are propelled forward and then down as the sub heads automatically for a small hole leading out into the dark deep ocean. Taking you deep into what awaits you.