Draft Excerpt from “The Trench”

A writing project I’m fiddling with, is called The Trench. Here is an excerpt from the beginning of the proposed novel.

Madman Elkayim had a graying mustache and bushy eyebrows, oily black and wavy hair with strands of white, and a bulbous nose. He stood 5 feet, 8 inches, or more precisely 172.70 centimeters, just a shy short of 8 inches. His eyesight keen.

Other than the schnoz, Madman was nondescript both in features and accouterment. He didn’t look like a Madman, afterall. In fact, he often wore a dark gray wool suit and bland navy blue tie. You might think of him as an enervated man in his mid fifties. Indeed, if anything was remarkable about him, Madman was a linguist, fluent in Russian, Israeli, Arabic, Farsi and English, and worked in close liaison with Israeli generals and the Saudi Royal family. He had successfully passed himself off as a leading expert in oceanographic research.

Today, Madman stood quietly as the Mir-class III submersible was lowered by a huge crane onto the deck of the Russian oceanographic and hydrographic research vessel R/V Akademik Mstislav Keldysh.

Legko! Nemnogo vlevo!” a member of the ship’s crew shouted in Russian as he directed the crane operator. “Medlenno. Net net. Dyuym vpravo!”

Butting in, the captain spoke in broken English: “Excuse me, Vy Elkayim. We are experiencing an abnormally high range of radioactivity from that submersible.”

“That is normal,” Elkayim replied. “It is part of the research equipment aboard.”

“Kak pozhelayete, ser. Vy vozglavlyayete etu missiyu.” (As you wish, sir. You are the head of this mission.)

“How soon till we reach the Trench?” Elkayim inquired.

“After departure it will take us 12 days,” said the captain. “Weather permitting.”

“And does the crew know?”

“They know only what I tell them Vy Elkayim.”

Mr. Elkayim, known to us as Madman, nodded in approval and folded his arms as the Mir-class III was hoisted into position on the ship’s deck.

This deep sea vehicle system had been designed specifically for exploration of the Trench. Significantly longer than submersibles I and II (used in filming the movie Titanic), it had a large compartment with an unspecified payload which Elkayim intended to activate once at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, 124 miles east from the Mariana Islands. It was hoped to discover new biodiversity at a depth of 10,994 meters (36,070 feet), more than a mile deeper than Mount Everest was tall.