Water Over the Submarine
Flash Fiction Challenge
Water lapped against the hull of the waiting submarine as Rob shook hands with Mr. Minnow and cameras flashed. “As the president of Minnow Enterprises, I am pleased to donate a fraction of our profits to outfit this expedition,” Mr. Minnow told the small press crowd. Cameras continued to flash on the handsome, dark haired scientist and the famed billionaire as they stood on the pier. Rob stepped forward to share his prepared statement of environmental goals, but Mr. Minnow interrupted.
“Dr. Braxley has convinced me that the surface temperature of our oceans only tell part of the global warming story. It is necessary to measure the temperatures of deeper waters for a full picture. That is why I put together a private research vessel and crew of my own design.” The press writers all clapped politely. Rob shook Mr. Minnow’s hand once last time before turning towards the gangplank. He entered the interior of the submarine with relief. “Dr. Braxley? I’m here to show you to the research room. Welcome to the S.S. Minnow,” a crewmember greeted him.
Rob cracked a smile. “The S.S. Minnow,” he said with a shake of his head, “Someone in the marketing team dropped the ball on that one. Hopefully we’re not in for a three hour tour.”
The crewmember looked back in confusion. “We’ll be at sea for far longer than that! We’re slated just over a month. Anyways, here’s the research room. Jonah will come down to help once we are underway.”
“Jonah?” Rob asked as his stomach dropped, but the crewmember had already left. Mr. Minnow had spared no expense, even if he had denied him picking his own crew. The fact that there was a crewmember named Jonah on board was probably just happenstance, Rob assured himself. Even if he didn’t know what his brother was doing anymore. Not after their last, failed project together.
“Prepare to dive!” an irritatingly familiar voice yelled just as Rob finished unpacking his charts. He watched as all six foot four of his estranged brother’s lanky frame came barreling down the clanking metal steps. “Little brosef!” Jonah growled as he squeezed Rob in a hug. “Thanks for the gig! Mr. Minnow hired me right away, once I explained we were brothers.”
“You had the nerve to get a job using my name? After ghosting me on that humpback whale study?” Rob seethed, “I had to repay your portion and your name was still listed above mine on the published paper!”
“Water under the bridge, or over the submarine. However you want to look at it,” Jonah said with a wave of his hand. Rob stammered in incredulity. “We really are preparing to dive though, I better take you to the control room,” Jonah interrupted quickly when Rob opened his mouth to argue.
The esteemed Dr. Rob Braxley briefly considered tackling his brother in the passageway as they walked. He felt the floor underneath tip slightly as the hulking vessel began its descent.
“The oceanic thermometers on the hull should already be tracking the water temperature,” Jonah directed as they entered the control room, “Nick, Jessica, why aren’t you recording?”
“Jonah, this is my team,” Rob ground out as he halted his two assistants.
“I’m here to assist you, little bro,” Jonah grinned as he leaned over to read the thermometer. Rob pushed him away. Nick and Jessica watched in open-mouthed amusement as their senior researcher began to lose his cool.
“You’re not taking credit on this study, not like the last one,” Rob yelled at his brother. “Nick, Jessica, why aren’t you recording?” He snapped as an aside to his two assistants.
Jonah crossed his arms and pasted a shit-eating grin on his face. “I’ve been assigned to stay here to help,” he repeated.
In a move worthy of his childhood WWE phase, Rob spear tackled his brother out the door. Chuckles and low exclamations of shock followed from the control room. Rob didn’t care. Unlike when they were kids, he now had the muscle and heft to pin his brother to the ground. What he forgot about was Jonah’s signature dump-trunk move. The memory came back to him when he was already flying backwards through the air.
When Rob stood back up, his anger disappeared in a wave of concern when he saw Jessica waving frantically for his attention. Jonah watched him cautiously for signs of a countermove, but seemed willing to let it drop.
“The thermometer is not adjusting correctly to the water pressure,” Jessica said anxiously as he approached and scanned the readings. Rob fought a growing sense of panic as he adjusted the settings on the hull thermometer without any luck. Buoys and ships had never taken temperatures this far down. They were in the unknown now, and he didn’t know what to do.
Suddenly, there was a steadying hand on his shoulder. “We can figure this out,” Jonah told him.
“If we can slow the rate of our descent, I think I can adjust the sensors without much data loss,” Rob muttered.
Just as suddenly, Jonah’s hand was gone as he sprinted towards the navigation room. Rob and his team worked frantically to adjust the settings. “I think it’s working,” Nick finally exclaimed. Rob stared at the temperature gauges for several fraught moments before slowly nodding in satisfaction. Everyone exhaled in relief.
“Good work, Dr. Braxley,” Jonah said when he returned. Rob stood to stare at his brother. Everyone in the room fell silent. Jonah had the good sense to look nervous this time. “I can help map the sea floor, if you need,” he offered awkwardly into the silence.
“If your name is listed before mine in the published research for this,” Rob finally told him with a smile, “I will personally throw you into the ocean.”
“We do have the same last name, little brother,” Jonah chuckled as he got to work, “And there is a chance they will list names in alphabetical order.”