Continued From Previous Report
Mike opened his eyes. He was laying on the floor of an unfamiliar room in semi-darkness.
He didn’t know how much time had passed since the blinding light enveloped him and the other occupants of Supercar, he just remembered the all-encompassing glow, a feeling of being surrounded and that terrible voice.
The light was gone now. So was Supercar.
Mike tried to sit up, but found that he couldn’t move. He turned his head and saw that his arms and legs were bound to the floor with something like seaweed. Beyond his outstretched arms, he could just make out the outline of another figure lying nearby.
“Who’s there?” Mike asked hoarsely.
“Mike? Is that you? It’s Popkiss! Beaker’s here too – we can’t move!”
“Yeah, Professor, same deal here,” Mike replied grimly, “I wonder what the heck’s going on. Who are these people and where’s Auri-Kah?”
“She’s not here,” Beaker said from somewhere beyond Popkiss’s outline, “Our captors must have her.”
“Did you get a look at them, Doc?”
“Not a sight, the light was too intense. I heard the voice and then there was nothing. It…erm…seems we are at something of a disadvantage.”
“You have a gift for understatement, Beaker,” Mike said with a hint of irritation.
Moments later the room was bathed with light. It wasn’t intense like before, this time it was cold and clinical. There was a click and then a metallic tone sounded from a concealed speaker.
“Terrainean spies!” the voice rasped, “You have been found guilty of trespassing in our underwater city! Confess and your deaths will be swift!”
“Oh that’s not good…” Mike said quietly. He raised his voice and replied, “We weren’t trespassing! We were on a mission to deliver Auri-Kah back to her people. What have you done with her?”
“Lies!” the voice shot back, “The Princess Auri-Kah was kidnapped by Terraineans as an act of hostility!”
“Princess?!” Beaker spluttered.
“She neglected to mention that piece of information,” Popkiss added thoughtfully.
“She was injured,” Mike continued, “She needed our help! She said that her people would meet with us. When no one arrived, we decided to bring her home ourselves.”
“You dare imply our Princess would need the assistance of you land-dwellers?” the voice snarled angrily, “So be it, your lives are forfeit!”
As the voice faded, another sound took its place – a rushing, whooshing sound.
“Mike! Listen!” Popkiss exclaimed, “They’re letting in water – flooding the room! We’ll drown!”
“Listen to me!” Mike cried desperately, “We’re telling the truth! Ask the Princess – she’ll confirm our story!”
There was no reply.
The water was spilling into the room faster, it was already halfway up Mike’s side. In a few more minutes, it would be over his head and he and his friends would be lost.
“Whatever you do, don’t give up fellas!” Mike called, “See if you can get free! Come on!”
They all struggled against their bonds feverishly, but to no avail.
Mike could feel the water against his cheeks. He strained to keep his mouth above the flood, but knew he only had seconds left.
“Enough!” a familiar voice cracked like a whip and instantly the torrent of water ceased. A door somewhere to their left opened and the rising pool quickly drained away with a glutinous gurgling sound.
“Release them at once!” the voice commanded.
In moments the three men found their bonds had been loosened and they staggered to their feet.
Seeing who had spoken, Mike quickly said, “Thank you, Auri-Kah. Though I guess I ought to call you ‘Your Highness'”
“You are welcome, Mike Mercury,” Auri-Kah replied, “I apologise that this fool subjected you and your friends to this barbaric process. He has less intelligence than a teufel fish.”
She indicated a gold-skinned underling cowering beside her.
“Well, I’ll admit that we’ve had warmer welcomes, but at least you’re back with your people. I just didn’t realise that they were literally your people.”
Auri-Kah smiled, “Do not worry, you won’t remember that when you leave.”
“What do you mean by that?” Professor Popkiss asked.
“We cannot allow anyone to know about our civilisation. The Terraineans are not yet ready to learn about the peoples of the undersea kingdoms.”
“Kingdoms? You mean there are more of you down here?”
“Many, many more.” Auri-Kah replied, “One day, perhaps the people of the land and the people of the sea will live together peacefully. But until the time is right, we will wipe all memory of this encounter from you and your companions’ minds.”
Mike knew there was no point in arguing. He had no doubt that Auri-Kah was capable of doing exactly as she said, even though he couldn’t begin to imagine how such a thing would be accomplished.
“What about Travers and Grant? They know about you too.”
“That is being attended to. I have dispatched two of my personal guards to perform the procedure. They will not be harmed, and they will remember nothing.”
Beaker spoke up, “There’s still the small matter of the…erm…Grade.”
Auri-Kah smiled kindly, “And so the story ends as it began, my dear Doctor. It will become nothing more than a legend, a ghost ship. Stories of a haunted vessel will keep the curious away. And for those who do venture into the depths looking for a story, they will find nothing to arouse their suspicions.”
“Very neat,” Mike mused. “Well, all I can say is I hope you don’t get into any more trouble, your Highness. If we remember nothing of this encounter, we may not be around to help next time.”
“I will bear that in mind, and thank you again for all of your help.”
Suddenly the lights in the room changed colour, becoming a vivid shade of violet. The lights started to pulse in a strange, hypnotic pattern.
“The lights…” Mike began to say. His voice sounded very far away, like it didn’t belong to him, “The….lights…”
“Lights! Yes, that’s what I said!” Beaker replied testily, lowering his newspaper to the breakfast table and shooting Mike a look of mild annoyance.
Mike shook himself. Clearly he’d not been concentrating on what Beaker had been saying.
“Sorry, Doctor. I was miles away. What was it you were saying about lights?”
“There have been reports of lights seen in a sunken wreck, it would appear to be haunted – if you believe such fanciful notions.”
Mike smiled easily, “Same old story, Doc. Someone sees something for a second in murky water, spins it into a tall tale and sells it to a newspaper for a few quick bucks.”
Within a few minutes, Mike had completely forgotten the news story. How differently he might have reacted if he had been able to recall his adventure to the underwater city and the incredible discovery that none of them would ever remember.