Friday, March 1, 2024

“Deep in Time” • by Benjamin DeHaan

Thousands upon thousands of pounds of pressure
forces the Sub-61 to creak and ping and ting at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, and I still get the cold feeling of death’s hand brushing along my spine.

Troubling past fathers, where did you hide thy time machine?

The seventeenth dive.

I cross my fingers as we scan the bottom. I nearly dislocate my middle knuckle, I cross them so hard.

The data screensplay comes to life. Beep. Beep. Beep. A field of green glow scattered with red dots.

I open Sub-61’s view port.

I shut it.

“Dumb ass.”

Of course, there is nothing to see at this depth. But I’m too excited.

And too stupid.

Out of the other four hundred subs, Sub-61 probably has the thinnest shell. I think of sandwiches and that cheap plastic cheese with over six millenniums of shelf life. I think of its texture and then I think of diamond.

Sub-61’s walls are the cheese. All the other competitors are diamond-coated thick and stainless steel heat-treated twenty millimeters deep.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

Traces of megamonolite.

The rare metal said to make up the main frame of the lost time machine.

I do a deep blast scan. The three hundred cubic meter area directly below Sub-61 is analyzed down to the last atom.

Megamonolite confirmed 100%.

The trench slopes down.

Creak. Crackle. Ting. Pop.

All the sounds that make the hair on the back of the neck stand like a saluting soldier.

Further analyzation with the Geo-Max. Something big forms on the tab screen that displays physical terrain traits.

I want to punch the screen. Again, I’m greeted with a colossal giant from a lost age. Another blasted head.

A Formosa Cyblom AI head. A remnant from the Gilganox War of 2432.

I see other subs on the scanner and they are already kilometers away. Which tells me that there is nothing in the area to keep looking for.

Sadness grips over me. I love my dad. I’ve always loved my dad and I’ll always love him. And this whole ordeal has my heart gripped tight in a fist, blood leaking out from the cracks in my hands and streaming down my arms. The crimson drips from my elbows steadily and rhythmically. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drippit. Drip. Drippit.

I promised father before he died that I would make the discovery. I told him that I would make the explorer, my dad, a happy man. I would make him proud and he could finally rest, knowing what he believed in all those years actually exists.

He vanished from this world before I had a chance to say goodbye.

If there was somebody with me now inside the small snug cockpit of Sub-61, I would probably be fighting to hold back my tears.

But I can’t hold it back. I can’t keep it in. It all comes out.

And the sub comes crackling and pinging and dinging to the bottom roughly at thirty-six thousand feet. The hologram projector builds the Mariana Trench terrain in the middle of the cockpit. Sub-61 is following the bottom of a ravine. The path snakes along slowly like some long canyon river system surface-side.

The other subs may have given up hope but that isn’t what I’m going to do today. I’m going to keep looking when nobody wants to look, I will keep searching where nobody wants to search, and I’ll keep my faith and chin up high until I make father proud. Because even though he is no longer with me, I know that somehow, he’ll know I did it. I made it.

I wipe the wetness from my face with my sleeve. The hologram is forming a series of metallic rings. Sub-61 passes through them like a gnat flying through silver wedding rings.

The sudden cold feels like licking on my damp forearms. The water quality analyzer is beeping and burping out data on the wall screen. Microplastic, contaminants, and other pollutants seem to be dwindling at abnormal speeds. Instead of the steady wave of fluctuation, it is now more sporadic and jumpier.

Eight hours pass and still there is no sign of the of the lost artifact that controls the fabric of time. I punch the wall. I punch it again. On the third punch one of my knuckles pops and I probably deserve it. I am child and children don’t belong down here in the deep. I go back.

Sub-61 and I make it to the surface, but when we arrive the mother ship is not there. I have to make the slow swim back to Papua New Guinea. This is going to take hours. I don’t want to go back to the house I inherited from my family.

So when I arrive at the port, I go to Pete’s Pub, a little shanty surrounded by coconut trees that are so…thick…

The big trees have been cut down or removed. There are only rows of small planters surrounding the bar. Two people sit at the bar.

I slide onto the chair and sit next to a grizzly man with pink Hawaiian shirt on.

The bartender slides him a drink.

“Easy now, Frederickson.”


My last name.

The man who looks to be about the same age as me raises a glass to the bartender.

“This man. This Johnnie,” he says, and then pauses to knock back the beer in one go. He turns his head to me and burps like a dying steam engine. “This man doesn’t have drinking problems.”

This man with the same first name as my father.

This man with the same drinking problems as my father.

This man.

My father.


Benjamin DeHaan is a speculative fiction writer and illustrator. He was born and raised in southern Wisconsin, USA and now lives and works in Japan. His fiction can be found in APEX Magazine and other various magazines and anthologies. His debut horror novella, Dust and Deliverance, was recently released by PsychoToxin Press.

More information can be found at his website,




Support Stupefying Stories! Buy our books!