The Titanic Enigma

The Titanic Enigma by Tom West Read Free Book Online

Book: The Titanic Enigma by Tom West Read Free Book Online
Authors: Tom West
Lou swung an
arm round to get a grip.
    ‘My God!’ he exclaimed. ‘Thanks, man.’
    ‘No problem. Take hold of that ledge there.’ Derham pointed to a rim of metal about two feet above Lou’s head. ‘That’s it. Good. Now there’s a footing about
eighteen inches above where you’re standing. See it?’
    He peered down. ‘Yeah.’
    ‘Get onto that, then that window ledge – see?’
    He followed the instructions and got his waist level with the top of the hull, pulled himself up and forward and hauled his body onto the boat deck. Derham clambered back up after him.
    ‘No time to waste,’ Derham said, pointing towards the stern. ‘According to the robot probes, there should be a blown-out hatch over there, about thirty yards towards the
stern.’
    The deck was covered with sand and a slimy substance making it difficult to maintain purchase on the rusted metal. There were wires and cables strewn randomly around the deck, along with metal
rings, raised hatch doors, severed posts and bits of metal debris that had landed on the deck. All of these things offered good handholds as they made their way towards the stern.
    They found two blown hatches next to each other about three feet apart. Derham crouched down at the first one and shone the beam from his helmet light into the darkness of the interior. It
illuminated slimy walls of steel. Thirty feet on lay the floor of a corridor. But there was no way down into the opening. At least one of the floors beneath the deck had collapsed inwards, leaving
behind it a jagged shaft three decks deep.
    Derham pulled himself up and paced over to the second opening. He could see a ladder connected to the wall just inside. His helmet light lit up the nearest rungs and showed that the ladder
stretched downwards on the side of a shaft extending to a point two levels beneath the boat deck.
    ‘Good!’ he said, straightening and checking his watch. ‘Looks like this shaft goes down to the second level beneath the boat deck, and it has a ladder.’
    ‘C16 is on the second deck down, yes?’ Kate asked.
    ‘It is, and about two hundred and fifty feet that way.’ Derham pointed towards the stern.
    He keyed in a link to
JV1.
‘Commander?’
    ‘Sir,’ came Jane Milford’s response.
    ‘We are –’ and he looked at his watch again‘– sixteen minutes into the mission. We’ve reached a hatch that leads down into the interior of the ship.
We’re all fine. Suit integrity one hundred per cent.’ He stopped and glanced at the other two. They nodded their acknowledgement. ‘We’re now about to proceed into the
Titanic.
I think comms may be a little intermittent once we’re inside because of the steel and the radiation level, which –’ he glanced at his screen ‘– is
now thirty-two times the level on the surface.’
    ‘Copy that, captain,’ Milford replied. ‘Good luck. Out.’
    *
    Their helmet lamps flicked on and illuminated a world of decrepitude and sadness, everything ruined, everything slowly dissolving away to nothing.
    The ladder was secured to the inside of the ship’s hull by at least a dozen bolts, but many of these had corroded and three of them had crumbled to powder. To make it worse, the metal
rungs were also severely corroded and covered with slime. The ladder creaked horribly as they descended with Jerry taking the lead again and Lou at the back.
    They all felt relieved when they reached the second level below the boat deck. The corridor they found themselves in was one of the service passageways. Turning left, the beams of their helmet
lights lit up a pair of steel doors a dozen feet away. One of them had fallen off its upper hinge and was poised at an angle to the floor. The captain had the sonar in his hand and was scanning the
floor. It produced an image of the topography of the ground directly ahead, its screen displaying the configuration of the floor in different colours. Red patches indicated holes, orange areas were
fragile because

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