Was I in heaven? Was heaven real? I woke up when I wasn't supposed to. I was certain that death had taken me.
I was in the hospital. It wasn't like the movies, where a doctor or a nurse is already there just waiting for you to wake up. I tried getting up and looking around, and it was Ms. Fiske who came running to me. She called a doctor, who checked up on me, asked me a few basic questions to make sure I hadn't lost any of my senses, and then told Ms. Fiske that I could be talked to.
"I'm so very very sorry Maksim, I don't know what to say, I did not know there would be an accident. What happened?"
"No, no. I'm sorry. I don't know what happened? Can I say that? I... Fuck. I'm sorry. I just - everything was a so fast, and so uncertain. I'm still unsure if I'm even alive. Is this real?"
"It is. And don't apologize. Just try to remember what happened? I think you ought to know that everyone is wondering what has happened. I don't know if I'm supposed to tell you, but even the police are involved."
"I see," I said, lying back down, still not believing this to be real. "And what about Alvar? Has he...", I ended not knowing what to even ask at this point.
"No", she said plainly, not knowing how to answer the question either. "We were hoping you could shed some light on that."
"Sorry, I don't mean to interrupt but hopefully, I'll be brief. I would prefer doing this here and now, if that's okay Mr. Tande? I am, by the way, Police Inspector Kaas", the man identified himself.
"Sure, I guess. Ask away"
"Ms. Fiske, you will have to excuse us. I'm sure you will be able to talk to Maksim and ask him all the questions you may have as well, shortly".
Ms. Fiske smiled to me and left.
"So, Mr. Tande, please, tell me what happened. From the minute you got into the pod"
I told him everything up until the minute I blanked out. Then, I had questions for him. He explained to me that I had made it to the surface and was rescued by the police themselves who had been looking for me and Alvar when we did not recontact the university when we had said we would. I had swam in the right direction, I was proud of myself, as bad as it sounded. When the police found me, I was barely conscious. I was swimming but had no idea of what I was doing.
Alvar had not turned up yet, which meant he was most likely dead. The pod was still missing, but it turns out that I did carry m work pad with me when I swam for my dear life.
Inspector Kaas showed me some pictures that were retrieved from my work pad. I went through them and froze towards the end. There was a shadow in the last four pictures. It was something - something had been watching us. It was huge, it didn't fit in the picture. But it had been stalking us. I started feeling nauseous. I tried explaining to Kaas that I had no idea what that was, but he told me that that was alright and that he believed me. He just wanted to get my story so he could file for further investigation.
At this point, Ms. Fiske was allowed back in. She was filled in with the information I had, and halfway through, she even started crying. Her and Alvar had been friends for years too, and not knowing what had happened to him was just unnerving. She told me that while my experience was awful, if it was any consolation, my pictures, notes, and the samples recollected from my suit were a big contribution to the university and to marine biology. I didn't say anything, but no, that was not even close to being worth what I had gone through.
As Kaas was leaving, he told me that I was free to go and that the police would not have any questions for me for the time being, but that if they did, they would have to contact me. He let both of us know that the government would want a full scale investigation in this and that they would be sending trained professionals down there to investigate and hopefully recover Alvar's body and the pod as well, along with anything else they could find of use. My pictures had given them a brief idea of what to expect down there.
"Yes Mr. Tande?"
"Don't send anyone down there. I should have been dead now. There was no reason for the cables to snap. There was no reason for our flashlights to go out, but it all happened. Don't send men to their death"
Kaas smiled and I knew he pitied me. He left and two weeks later he sent better trained and better equipped men down there. Not a single one returned. I left Svalbard two months later. No dream and no job was ever worth that.