The old woman died underwater, but she did not drown. She killed herself, a gun to her head, and she nearly cracked a window, and if she had done it then they would all have died. That was the thought Moll came back to again and again: how fragile was that window, how easy it would have been for the sea to come in, over twelve bars of pressure that would have felt like a bullet when it covered Moll as she stood clinging to the concierge desk of Atlantis Undersea Spa and Resort. And before it hit her, what would she have been doing? Practicing her Mandarin under her breath? Directing guests to the restaurant, where they could eat lobster and caviar and watch manta rays glide by outside like sluggish kites? Listening through the phone line–still staticy, they needed a better way to run a phone line a hundred meters undersea–as some CEO tried to reserve a stay only to be told they were booked for eighteen months? The old woman must have called years ago, must have planned all those days to bring the gun with her. She must have waited until it was dark–at this depth you could sometimes make out the moon cutting through water like a searchlight. She must have come here for a reason, but when Moll found the body its eyes were closed. Fifty thousand for a view and you close your eyes before you do it. Moll would never understand.
Rachel Cochran is pursuing her Master’s degree at the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO, where she is currently working on a neo-Victorian murder mystery, a collection of short stories that satirize the foppish scientific community of 1860s Edinburgh, and a Master’s thesis that examines the postcolonial implications of the steampunk aesthetic. Previous works of her short fiction have appeared in Deep South Magazine, The Missing Slate, End Times Magazine, The Ohio River Review, and more.
–Art by Dia Takácsová