Professor Popkiss leaned forward and peered at the image on the screen, “What’s that on the clear view, Mike? Something on the hull – it looks like a hatch.”
Mike swung Supercar around and shone the searchlight of the point that Popkiss indicated. Sure enough, the clear view screen showed a definite seam running along the side of the hull.
“Huh, that’s strange,” Mike replied, “Why would a ship like that have a hatch on the side?”
Before they could ponder the problem further, there was a metallic clang and the hatch began to swing open towards them.
“There’s something you don’t see every day!” Mike exclaimed.
Supercar gave a sudden jolt forward and Beaker cried out in surprise, “Careful, we’re likely to hit the hull if you take us any nearer!”
“Not guilty, Doctor Beaker,” Mike responded, lifting his hands away from the controls, “Whatever’s got us, I have no control.”
“Most likely some kind of powerful magnetic field,” Popkiss said thoughtfully as Supercar passed into the hatchway.
The hatch cover swung closed once again and seconds later there was a whooshing sound as the bay they were in was quickly emptied of water. A set of electrically powered lights blazed on, bathing the scene in eerie white light.
“Say, this room is a giant airlock chamber!” Mike said in amazement, “Guess we can rule out the ‘ghost’ theory for good. Whoever’s down here needs air to breathe just as much as we do.”
Popkiss nodded, looking around the now empty chamber in fascination. His eyes lit on a dark shape in the far corner.
“Well, that certainly explains how our hosts got here – it’s a two-man construction bathyscaphe. It must have taken them a considerable time to modify this wreck so extensively. The question is, why?”
He had barely finished speaking, when a sealed doorway at the side of the bay swung open. A lone figure appeared and gestured for them to leave Supercar.
“My guess is that we’re about to find out,” Mike said warily, “Come on fellas, but keep your wits about you.”
They trudged across the slippery deck towards the figure. As they got nearer, Mike could see that he was an older man, with greying hair and an equally greying beard. He wore thick spectacles and was dressed in a uniform that Mike couldn’t place.
“Welcome aboard the Grade, gentlemen.” There was more than a trace of suspicion in the American accent, “My name is Travers, Glenn Travers. If you don’t mind my asking – who are you and what are you doing here?”
If Mike was thrown by the mundane question, he didn’t show it as he replied, “I’m Mike Mercury and these are my associates, Professor Popkiss and Doctor Beaker. We came to investigate reports that this wreck is haunted.” He turned and gestured back to the airlock bay, “And that’s the Supercar.”
“Supercar?” Travers asked with a note of surprise, “The Supercar?”
“The one and only,” Mike replied.
Travers took in the trio with a more appraising eye, “You might find this difficult to believe, but you could be just the people we need!”
“We?” Professor Popkiss asked.
The question had barely registered, when another figure appeared behind Travers. He was a younger man, muscular and with a shock of untidy fair hair.
“He means me. Charlie Grant – it’s a pleasure to meet a group of such distinguished celebrities.”
“Grant?” Beaker queried, “The same man who was part of the ship’s crew when it sank?”
Grant nodded, “Yeah, that’s right.”
Mike eyed Grant with a quizzical expression on his face, “Well, you’re looking mighty lively for a guy who’s supposed to be dead.”
“I can explain about that!” Grant said hurriedly, “Really – I can!”
“I’ll bet,” Mike responded. He turned to Travers, “You said we could help you. How?”
The other two men exchanged a glance, then Travers gestured for the Supercar Team to follow, “You’d better come this way. And brace yourselves for a shock.”
With Travers and Grant leading the way, Mike, Popkiss and Beaker followed along a narrow corridor to another door marked ‘Hold #2 – No Unauthorised Entry’.
Grant opened the hatch and it swung inward with a rusty metallic creak. They stepped inside and Travers threw a switch on the wall. Another brilliant electric light blazed on, illuminating every corner of the cargo hold.
Blinking against the harsh brightness, Mike, Popkiss and Beaker let their eyes slowly re-adjust. Then, in a state of disbelief, they took in the impossible sight before them.
The beautiful woman with pale golden skin, long copper-coloured hair, and bright red eyes was incredible enough. But she was also floating 3 feet above the surface of the deck.
TO BE CONTINUED…