Deep Euphoria

Mitchel double checks the air mixture filling his SCUBA tanks. His diving partner worriedly looks on as Mitchel’s behavior grows increasingly erratic. For years, he’s been watching Mitchel become increasingly addicted to diving deeper for longer; becoming increasingly addicted to nitrogen narcosis.

He thinks back to the dive a week ago where Mitchel dove 20 feet deeper than him and wouldn’t come back up no matter how much he pleaded with him. Mitchel eventually stopped responding, so he dove down, retrieved him and slowly brought him to the surface. He thought for sure that scare would convince Mitchel of his increasingly dangerous challenge of the grim reaper.

“You okay, Nick?” Mitchel says to his diving partner who is lost in thought.

“Not really Mitch. You know the only reason I’m on this boat with you is because I think you’re going to kill yourself out here without me.”

“You take life to serious, Nick! If there’s one thing these waters have taught me…” Mitchel pauses as he looks off into the distance.

Nick seizes the moment, “That you should hang up your fins and tanks for a bit. Maybe get the help you need to deal with whatever you’re dealing with?”

Mitchel laughs, “Nick, I think today is the day. I’ve seen this exact day. This exact horizon. I’ve felt this exact moment before.”

“What do you mean, Mitch? The day for what?” Nick asks out of concern.

“I didn’t think it would ever happen, Nick. But I’m telling you that today is the day they’ve been telling me about. I have to tell you something important, Nick.”

“What’s that, my friend?”

Mitchel walks up to Nick and stares deep into his eyes. “Don’t trust Lucy. It’s all in the letters. Just remember that it’s all in the letters.”

Nick is confused, “That girl from college? What letters, Mitch? You know, it’s shit like this that makes it clear you need help, man. Let’s sit this one out.”

Mitchel turns away and gets back to prepping for the dive.

Nick thinks back to all the conversations with Mitchell over the years about the visitors he receives when he’s on a deep dive. Over the last several months, they’ve been visiting him in his sleep and just a few weeks ago, Mitchel confided that they were visiting him while he was awake and watching television.

Nick had been pressing Mitchel to seek psychiatric help, but Mitchel kept telling him that the visitors were warning him not to see a psychiatrist. “No drugs. No alcohol. Nothing that will make you suggestible by them,” Mitchel would always tell him. “Them” was some hidden group of super evolved humans with tremendous knowledge and advanced abilities to manipulate the minds of certain humans. Mitchel told Nick he had a theory that he was part of their lost tribe and that they make attempts to communicate with people to determine if they are worthy of joining their hidden group.

Mitchel would tell Nick that the group provided him with insights and hints on important work he needed to perform, but they couldn’t provide him with the answers. Mitchel needed to figure that out on his own. Presumably to determine if he was worthy of being part of the group.

In one heated conversation, Nick pressed Mitchel for what those actual insights were; what advanced knowledge these visitors were providing him. “I can’t let you know that kind of stuff, Nick. It’s against the rules.” Mitchel told him.

Nick could only think of one response: “Bullshit, Mitch”

As the boat drifts on the open water, the sun makes its way passed the shadow of the cockpit and warms Nick’s face as he’s lost in thoughts about his past diving adventures with Mitchel. He closes his eyes and smiles as a small tear clings to the corner of his left eye.

Mitchel tosses his fins at Nick’s feet. “C’mon, man! You’re dragging like an anchor in sand. Let’s get diving!”

As Mitchel impatiently waits for Nick to finish suiting up, the boat captain comes over to Nick and leans in to speak quietly as for Mitchel not to hear, “I love you guys, but I think Mitch has lost it, man. Don’t do this.”

Nick stares the captain in the eyes, “You know I’ve got my buddy. We’ve been doing this for years. The two diveteers.” He smiles uneasily.

The two jump off the edge of the boat into the deep.

#

“We’re coming up! Captain, Mitch is out! He’s not responding. Do you copy? Pull the line! I’m coming up as fast as possible” Nick frantically calls to the boat captain over their radio connection.

The captain scrambles into action. He triggers the line pulley that helps aide their ascent and calls to the Coast Guard. Mitch is air lifted to a decompression treatment center and remains unresponsive. Nick places calls to Mitchel’s family members. There’s little surprise and mostly disappointment from the family members as Mitchel had become estranged from them over the years of his increased addiction to nitrogen narcosis.

Eventually, Mitchel is moved into a hospital room where he lies in a coma. Nick is sitting alongside his bed, waiting for the doctor to visit. She enters the room and closes the door.

“You must be Nick?”

Nick stands up and shakes her hand. “Nice to meet you,” he pauses as he looks at her name tag, “Doctor Bennet.”

“I understand you’re the closest thing Mitchel has to family?”

“Yes, Doctor Bennet.”

“Please, call me Lucy.”