All for a shot.

Submitted into Contest #14 in response to: It's about a photographer, who is a rookie.... view prompt

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All for a shot.

“Don’t look on this as hazing. This is to see if you are up to it. I know the consensus of opinion is that it’s hazing, but it isn’t. However, most fail at the outset and I want you to not waste my time.

If you cannot take 24 hours on the rebreather, I doubt you’ll be much use to me.” 

Walter, Alex’s intended employer, was an expert photographer who was very particular who he employed, but would choose only those ‘shutterbugs’ that had that ‘extra’ whatever that was. 


   Wildlife photography had always been Alec’s passion. First the household pets, often dressed up in ridiculous hats, scarves and spectacles, and looking forlorn. Dogs, he had found to be his best subjects. Cats, like pigs, didn’t seem to give a toss about his aspirations, and correspondingly the animals were mainly left to their own devices. But what he was embarking upon here with his prospective employer, was going to test him. He thought he had courage. Didn’t he stay overnight in the snow to get the shot of the owl? And what about braving a falcon attack next it’s nest? He was awarded the first prize in the school photographic contest for that. But this, he didn’t know.

“Alec, you will need strong nerves, but get through this and we will do great things together. Your composition is excellent; the artist is in you, now it’s to see if the courage goes with it.”

Alec had done a lot of underwater photography, but 24 hours underwater and many shots, he didn’t know. With that, he lowered himself into the water and entered the cave system.

   Alec had been told that the totally submerged caves were only 7 meters in depth, but ran for over 15 kilometers in length, finally emerging at the other side of the mountain range. A series of large caves were connected by narrow tunnels that could be passed through although they would be a tight squeeze for Alex’s bulk.

   Bioluminescent creatures almost lit up the first cave and Alec forgot his feats and lingered for some time getting shots and video before squeezing through to the next cave. Whilst adjusting his rig he caught a flash of something large, but was gone in an instant. His first irrational thought was a shark. He had had an uncomfortable confrontation with one a couple of years ago, but apparently didn’t relish the taste of wet-suit. He put his ‘sighting’ down to a trick of the light. 

   Over ten hours had gone by when he knew he wasn’t seeing a ‘trick of the light.’ The cave was a long one, similar to being in a subway when two glowing orbs appeared to be looking at him from some distance. His heart skipped a beat and wondered if he was looking at a sea-creature with both eyes facing forward. He was scared. In his mind he constructed a large bodied animal that could do him harm and quickly made his was into the next chamber, where he saw three more sets of ‘eyes.’ Now he was really starting to panic. He used all of his strength to make his way to the exit of this place. It was with relief when he wriggled his way to what waited for him next. Suddenly he was gripped by hands that pulled him through and he saw glistening golden hair before his goggles. His throat froze, he couldn’t even let out a squeak. He realized he was hallucinating. So there was no hope for him. He was not going to get out of these caverns alive, and he was so young. He started to cry, he couldn’t help it. He let his body go limp, but then felt a soft tapping on the top of his head and then terror galvanized his limbs as he frantically tried to escape. As he vigorously flipped his feet he couldn’t out-swim the two creatures alongside him, so he stopped. With his LED lights directed straight ahead, there he saw two mermaids, and they were smiling at him.

“I’ve gone mad,” he said to himself. “Maybe I’m dead! Maybe heaven is an underwater paradise and everybody got a fish-like tail.” He felt his legs were in place and sighed with relief. Fright had now given way to an irrational euphoria. His body relaxed and he let his hallucination have it’s way with him. The two ‘mermaids’ took his hands and dived downwards dragging Alec with them. They rolled aside an enormous stone and pulled im through a large opening into another enormous cavern which was only half filled with water. Alec surfaced and was able to take his breather equipment off. He had had time to adjust his mental state by then, and was half convinced that maybe he wasn’t hallucinating after all, but still couldn’t account for the mermaids. 

   Alec sat on a flat rock at the water height and looked at the mermaids. They were very beautiful and he did his best to pinch himself, in case this was a dream. He was awake, but now what? Could he take photos of them? Would they consent? Then he knew he would have too much trouble in convincing a skeptical world that he hadn’t fabricated the images in photo-shop. His rumination was broken into by a wonderful melodic sound coming from the two ‘women.’ The sound took him back to his very earliest memories and he felt a symphony of emotions. He was then overcome with tiredness and in a short while was fast asleep. When he awakened, he was underwater but before him was light and the exit to the undersea complex. He surfaced and took off his equipment and suit and saw his prospective employer before him.

   “Well done, my boy, and on time too. Did you enjoy it, or merely endured it? Let me have your camera. Alex handed over the camera and the pair of them made their way over to the car to drive back to the studio. As soon they arrived, Alec flopped down on the settee and fell into a deep sleep. It was many hours later when Alec opened his eyes to see Walter sitting opposite and glaring at him. His first words were, “Give me the chip, Alec.” He held out his hand to receive it, but no chip was forthcoming.

“What chip are you talking about? All I had was the chip you gave me.”

“Where did you get this chip, Alec? Do you have friends with deep submersibles, because they are wonderful shots, in fact I have never seen such a collection as this, but they didn’t come from the cave?”

Alec pondered whether or not to tell Walter about the mermaids, but instantly quashed the idea. He would have to somehow bluff his way into something more acceptable than that. He continued to plead ignorance.

Walter, in his turn, handed the chip to Alec and regretted he couldn’t employ someone who he could not rely upon.

If Walter had not been so upset with Alec, he might have explored the chip further and found more to be upset about. For there were the mermaids in profusion. They danced on top of the water and continued to sing beautiful songs. There were pictures and video of Alec in a tableau of mermaids still in some kind of activated somnambulism joining with the frivolities. Finally, after many hours of shot footage he was put back into his equipment and carried out to near his final destination.

Of course, Alec is now famous as an animator supreme of the mermaid world. Disney has pleaded with him to let them use his expertise to make movies for them. Every year he goes into hiding and returns to present his next award winning of the mermaid world. Nobody has succeeded in tracking him to his hidden studio, but on his return this latest time he was seen to wear a wedding band on his finger. There is no sign of his bride.


November 05, 2019 05:10

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1 comment

Jubilee Forbess
22:37 May 14, 2020

Oh, mysterious ending there, pal. Good job!


Show 0 replies
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