This may be a violation of military protocol and a breach of national security, but I don't care. I don't think my superiors care either. None of us know what to make of what we've found lurking in those dark waters, and none of us want to be the ones to decide what to do, for fear of making the situation worse. All I can do is outline what happened, and hope someone who understands what the hell is going on reads this and can do something about it.
The Aberdeen Proving Grounds is a facility located in Aberdeen, Maryland. Its primary function is as a testing ground for military equipment, primarily explosive ordinance but it used to handle chemical weapons as well. The facility has a wide variety of test ranges, allowing for testing and training on air to ground, ground to air, surface to surface, air to water and underwater explosives. It's this last one that's the source to the current situation thats lead me to question what we know about reality.
I was first made aware of the "Super Pond" when I took my current position at the base. This pool is a 860 million gallon pool that's roughly circular, 1000 feet across, and 150 feet deep at the deepest point. It's connected to the Chesepeake bay by a man made canal. Its primary purpose is to allow for testing and training with underwater explosives. As such, boats are often brought into the pond and sunk during the tests, and underwater structures are sometimes constructed for various tests. As such, it's necessary to perform regular maintenance on the pool. This usually means dredging out debris, but also entails making sure the pond remains structurally sound. To do so, we often send divers into the pond to make sure everything is alright. Well, after revieiwing reports detailing what's been going on over the course of the last few months, I can assure you, everything is not alright down there.
Roughly three months ago, we performed a test involving a new kind of explosives. I'm still not entirely sure about all the particulars, because a lot of the details are classified beyond my clearance level, but from what I've been able to tell, these were supposed to be cutting edge shit. Something about high energy reactants generating some kind of high order quantum reactions that result in something else or another. One of the researchers I tracked down tried to explain it to me in laymans terms, and as I understand it, the explosive was supposed to create a bubble of a type of matter thats some kind of cross between a gas and a magnetic field, which then is 'ignited' into a hot plasma by a wave sent through it. The upshot was that this stuff was supposed to basically create explosions inside the target, blowing it apart from the inside out.
The test was conducted on a platform on the water, out in the Super Pond. This was apparently because the reaction wouldn't travel through water, so they could better get an idea of how effective it was on a target without any collateral damage messing up the results. The official report I read stated the test was conducted, but the rest of the report is missing the usual details, even for a non-classified report. However, now that the base staff is all comparing notes, I've talked to someone who observed the test, and I understand why they didn't include the details in the report. They'd have been fast tracked for a Section 8 discharge.
The test firing occured early in the morning, just before dawn. The had floated a metal barge with the test device in the center of the pond, and several sensors were arrayed on the barge and shore line. When they flicked the switch, the observer said, there was a delay before the explosion. But in the delay, he swears he saw an air ripple travel inward towards the device before a bright flash and a loud boom. Waves kicked up and the barge was tossed about. However, when they could see the barge again, it appeared to be totally intact, without so much as a scorch mark on its surface, while the explosive device was no longer visible. While this was deeply unusual, it wasn't till they pulled the barge into the canal dock that they saw how weird.
Apparently, when they pulled the barge out of the water, they discovered the bottom of the barge had a huge crater in it. It resembled an exit wound from a gun shot, but there was no hole on the other side of the plate, not even a pinhole one. The explosion apparently had occured under the device, just under the surface of the metal barge, and travelling downwards into the water. The test sensors showed the flash of light had unusual qualities, something about contradictory wavelengths and impossible color band gaps. Testing of barge and air around the site showed no signs of radiation, or particulates, but did register an unusual pressure wave in the instants between the trigger and the actual explosion. The scientists marked the test as a failure, but said the data would be enough to keep them busy for a while.
For the next couple weeks, the pond sat empty. That isn't to say, however, that nothing happened there. Base security reported hearing weird noises in the vicnity of the pond, usually low booms. When I pressed a couple of them about it this week, they added that there were other things that they had heard but didn't include in their reports. These were divided into two categories. The first group was described to me by one guard as a "the sound of rushing wind, but backwards and inside out." I'm not sure what the hell that means, but the other guards I talked to said that was a good description. The second group was odd flashes in the pond. Most of the guards had chalked these up to tricks of the light or their eyes, since they were usually very brief, and had an odd quality to them. Again, when I pressed, all I got was some gibberish, this time about the lights being at the wrong depth of vision and angle for them to be appearing where they were seeing them.
Move forward to two months ago, when we had a training exercise involving some underwater demolitions practice in the Pond. I won't elaborate on who, what or how many, since it's not relevant to the story and while I may be disclosing top secret information, I'm not giving out anymore then I feel is necessary. What I will say is the people involved in the operation were people I would consider very levelheaded, calm indiviuals, whose job description involves remaining cool under pressure and relaying accurate information about their surroundings under pressure. So please understand that when I relay this next part of the story.
We had dropped an underwater structure, designed to be a mock-up of something else, of their target into the center of the pond, and their training was make the dive, ascertain how the target had settled, and demolish it with the minimum amount of surface disturbance. This meant, necessarily, that they would have no data about conditions at the bottom of the pond. To further enhance this, we'd postponed a couple of maintenance dives till after the operation in order to ensure there was no data about the actual conditions down there. The 'trainees' were to dive into the canal, and make their way into the pond and to the target site with no surface contact till after the operation had been completed.
That particular exercise went off without a hitch, but the reports filled by the team detailing their dive were deeply troubling. It started with a section about the unusual currents the team had encountered upon enterring the lagoon. Cross currents, eddys, and the like; Not the conditions you'd expect in a man made pond with only one connection to tidal water. A couple also noted unusual temperature variations over the course of a couple of yards. But most disturbing was the report from the team leader, who had included a bit on the excellent job we'd done in giving them an unexpected situation to wokr through. The addition of "coral reefs" to the bottom of the pool had forced them to circumnavigate their way to the target and was the type of thing that could catch a team of guard in the field. He did note, however, that whatever we'd painted them with killed the effectiveness some, because it had glowed faintly in a variety of colors, making it easier to avoid them in the dark water. This was startling because we'd put nothing down there like that. Moreover, this was a man made body of water, and was far too cold for coral to grow in besides.
After reviewing these reports, the maintenance team decided to send a diver down to see what the hell was going on down there. Armed with an underwater camera and full dive gear, he descended into the center of the pond just after noon. Around 12:45, there was a long, low booming sound, and waves formed on the surface of the pond. The diver became unresponsive to tugs on his safety tether at this time, and the decision was made to pull him up. At 12:52, he was hauled from the water, and it soon became clear he was dead. His underwater camera was missing, and he looked like he'd been struck by a truck. His body was a rag doll, and the autoposy would show that almost every bone in his body was broken. not just broken, but splintered, actually. It was ruled that he'd accidentally stumbled across an unexploded ordinance, and had been killed by the rsulting concussion wave. Underwater, explosions are even more dangerous then on the surface, because water is a far better conductor of pressure and increases the force of the explosion beyond what it would be in open air.
Three weeks after the diver was killed, after additional safety training and other closing the barn door after the cows got out' activities that follow a tragic accident, we sent down two more divers to perform some delayed maintenance in addition to trying to find what the training exercise had seen. This time, they were outfitted with breathing hoses rather then dive gear, and were tethered to each other for additional security. Everything was going smoothly until 2:15 pm, when I observed unusual lights under the surface of the water in what I judged to be the vicinity of our divers. What I noticed most about the lights was the quality of their light. They seemed to be very dim and pulsing, but the light didn't seem to be refracted by the water. It was like I was looking across a very wide, emtpy field at a candle flame.
The lights seemed to move slowly, and it was impossible to tell how many of them there. They simply moved closer together, encircling something. Too late, I realized what this meant. All at once, the lights went out, and there was a thunderous boom and a plume of water shot upwards from the pond over where the lights had been. I'd been too mesmerized by what I was seeing, and I will never, never forgive myself for failing my two fellow servicemen that day.
When we pulled them up, miraculously, one of them was still alive, despite massive blunt force trauma wounds. As we rushed him to shore, he strained to speak, but all that came out were broken whispers about "living lights" and "growing down there". By the time they managed to get him to the hospital, he had succumbed to his injuries.
After this, the brass at the base went into full damage control mode. No one was allowed in the Pond till the situation had been evaluated. Of course, how they planned to do this without going down there was anyone's guess. As the safety reviews and records searches of what had been tested in that area of the pond were undertaken, I came to a decision. I had made a terrible mistake that had cost the lives of two men, and I somehow had to atone. A review of the previous months accident confirmed my suspcisions. The incidents had occured in roughly the same area, and so I decided to take a blind, guilty shot. A late night dive, with only a single light, would prove to me that my decision had been the correct one. I was on the floor of the lagoon for less then 30 seconds before I found what I'd been looking for. As I recovered the item, I noticed a faint glow starting to grow behind me, and once I had secured the item, I didn't even spare a backwards glance before I dropped my weigh belt and rocketed to the surface.
The next day, I took the crushed camera that I had recovered from the bottom of the dark depths to the IT department. I convinced them that it was my own personal underwater camera that I'd stupidly backed over with my car, and that I'd owe them big time if they could extract the vacation footage that was in it for me. The happily obliged, and I was in the room when the guy managed to get the memory connected to a spare PC. What we saw when we viewed the footage is not something I am ever going to be able to forget.
The footage starts off with the surface check of the camera before cutting out and coming back when the diver had gotten down far enough to warrant turning it on. The next 10 minutes after this document the "coral reefs" that had been previously reported. These were unlike any growth that had ever been seen in Earth's waters ever before, of that I am sure. They grew in tall pillars, with crystalline, jagged edges. As the diver's light played over them, they reflected a rainbow of colors, but predominantly yellow, orange and pink. They seemed to be spaced evenly, roughly ten feet apart from base to base, in a grid pattern. These towers ranged from five to fifteen feet tall, with the taller ones showing signs of outcroppings and mushrooming at the tops.
After ten minutes, the diver cuts his lights for a moment and it becomes clear there is an ambient glow in the area. Most of it is a soft, yeloow, orange and pink glow coming from the towers, but there are other colors occasionally interspersed for an instant, like a light being swept across the area. The camera is then moved sharply till it comes to rest on what looks like a light floating in the water. Well, light isn't the right word. It looks more like a lens flare that is hanging in the water. I'm not sure if this what it actually looks like, or if something about the digital medium of the camera prevents it from recording whats in the center of that halo, because the pixels at the center of the cocentric circles appear as the garbled, error pixels you sometimes see when a video is missing a keyframe. However, once the camera shifts enough or the light moves, it's impossible to tell which from the camera angle, the pixels snap back to normal.
The camera follows this light for a minute for a moment, and then it moves again, revealing more of the lights, floating around the cameraman, with more approaching. They float around him, bobbing up and down, slowly circling. Some of the lights move away from him quickly, and other move in slowly to replace them. You are inextricably drawn to the conclusion that there is some kind of intelligence guiding them, like a school of fish, unusued to humans and thus more curious then afraid of the unusual creature they see before them.
Then we see the cameraman's hand reach out to touch one. All of a sudden, there's a bright flash, and the footage ends. A frame by frame analysis of the footage seems to show the light halos begin to contract as the hand makes contact with them. Then, as it contacts the errored pixels at the center, there is a roiling of water and a bright flash expands out from the center. The last time displayed by the camera is 12:45, the time the boom was heard.
This is the footage that was presented to bases commanding officers last week, and it's where we stand now. No one knows what the hell to do. Some people want to drain the Pond. Others are against that, saying we don't know whats going on down there. They point to some analysis of that 'failed' test three months ago and say that footage from the camera somehow indicates that these...things are related to that. they maintain that the water in the pond might be the only thing keeping 'them' stable and that removing the water might cause catastrophic results. Others are saying that the water is keeping them contained, and that if we remove it, they might get free, while others say if we let remain, they might escape out into the waters of the bay, and then who knows what might happen. Some want to escalate this up the chain of command, while others think that would only make things worse.
So nothing is happening. Well, nothing is happening above the water, I should say. You see, I've been part of the group assigned to monitor the lagoon, mainly during the night shifts. So, I've noticed that, as of two days ago, there is now a soft, yellow, orange and pink glow coming from below the surface on the far side of the lagoon, like something is slowly coming towards the surface. Whats worse, though, is that its also slowly spreading out. I estimate that it's only a couple days now till it reaches the canal doors.
Everyday, my view becomes a little more fatalistic. Honestly, we don't know what we are dealing with here, and I'm starting to think that everyone here is too frightened to be the one to make the final choice. Maybe the growth will stop at the doors. Maybe the light things really can't exist outside of the water. Maybe it'll all stay below the waterline.
I think our only hope is that inaction is the right choice, because I'm starting to think that, when it comes to looking into the face of the unknown, the action we humans prefer is to hide our eyes.