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The Trench

The screen showed it as plain as day. A variety of different windows on it confirmed the same thing. What concerned me the most was the radar. What we had assumed to be the bottom- very easily, I might add, given the lack of evidence to the contrary- was, in fact, simply a throat to the belly of the beast. A vast, previously-undiscovered subterranean and submarine cavern in an area assumed to be the deepest possible depth on the planet.

Not only was the Marian as simply the entrance, but the crust at the bottom was so hardened that some teams believed it to border another layer of Earth’s crust. That it was the boundary between our part of Earth and the next layer. With these windows in front of me, it was obvious that was not the case.

“I think I’ve got it,” I started, “but I just want to be 100% certain.”

“Go ahead,” she said, also enraptured by the images on the screen.

I pointed to the one in the top left. “This is the entrance?”

She nodded. “Correct. It’s about the size of… let’s say a parking lot.”

“I’m gonna need a little bit more than that.”

She rubbed her forehead, taking a few moments. She grabbed an eraser off her desk, then put it on top of the image. “This is about 2-3 cars, at the current scale we have it at.”

I leaned back, trying to take the whole image in at once. I nodded, and she put her eraser back on the desk. I pointed to the next image.

“Is this radar?”

She nodded again, tracing the bizarre lines of the image. “It’s a very rudimentary map from the top-down, cobbled together from a few different radars.” She pointed to about ⅔ up the image, where it looked like there was a passage. “This here is the entrance into the cavern. Or…” she took a moment. “No, cavern works as a descriptor.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well…” she waved her hand, trying to make it sound unimportant. “It’s… maybe we could call it another world instead, with how big it is.”

I swallowed. “And…” I pointed to the bottom of the image.

“That’s as far as we could get,” she answered, sighing and crossing her arms. “You can probably tell from the other parts I mentioned, but it’s, uh, another few parking lots down.”

“I think…” I scratched my chin, “that’s how the guides described Carlsbad Caverns when I visited as a child. Or at least, as one parking lot. Or, was it ‘football field’…?”

She smacked her head. “Yeah, wait, football field would have made more sense.”

I moved, my finger on the third image. “This is…?”

“An estimate of possible depth, and maximum pressure,” she explained. “These are very rudimentary figures, of course. But it’s the most likely scenario we have.”

“Which is…?”

“Let’s say…” she hummed, looking over the figures. “Well, that the bottom is within the immediate vicinity of the radar image we have.” She pointed back to the second one. “That it can’t be much larger than we’ve already mapped.”

I traced the radar image again. If it was a few football fields deep, and it was already at the bottom of the trench, then- it was the deepest point on Earth, deeper than ever found before. And somehow there were even deeper points inside of it.

“Do you believe that’s the case?”

She swallowed. “No.”

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