Containment of the Last Queen

Selective Notes of Hooper Jon’th’n Lee, Ph.D., as collected and retold by Alby Darling
Art by Leigh Legler

I remember the first night like it was my last, the rain drenching us so thoroughly as you’d think you were made of the water. The moon was full and it was doomed to be the worst storm in years, if not a quarter of a century. It was, by all accounts, perfection. The crew was full of fear, I can still see it in their eyes, the way they saw death on the horizon, oh silly ones, if only you had realized then that death comes from the deep.

I was coated in what I called armor, though it was nothing more than the regular sort of diving suit dressed with moonstone and blue lace agate. Something to shimmer in the water. To draw attention. I could already hear them singing. Oh, most of the others couldn’t–I’d been well enough to hire the deaf and the rest to stuff their ears with beeswax–but it’s a sound I shall never forget. Even if I could coax it out of the lab now, to hear it full and powered on the open ocean? Like a dream. Like poison. Like the willingness to drop to one’s presumed fate with nothing to save your soul but a length of industrialized carbon rope tied to a ship’s mast.

Some might have called me ill for what I searched for, oh, they could say a great many things on and about it. But I was only ill for a moment, just that moment, and it was the kind of madness I shall savor until the end of days.

Then there was the cold, the dripping soul-binding shock of cold that only salt and storm water could fill you with, the kind of cold that somehow made the air you’d just come from seem warm, even if you could not tell up from down or ship from sideways. I waved and then I went under. It was impossible to see, always so dark, as to be expected, and with my body tugged here and there in the current, I was as helpless as I could possibly be. Good. That screamed bait. It screamed eat me. What didn’t like a free meal after all? And I sank. Sank. Sank. I remember the water too, getting darker, or should I say thicker? I was reminded of the squid ink I kept in jars, the kind I played with ever so much to torment the cuttlefish in preparation for what might come.

If only that had actually been of some use.

Containment of the Last Queen

My goal then, was to get eaten. And hope too, then, that the rope did not break. Or at least, that’s what my mind told me. My body? Stiff as a board, and I was helpless to watch, to watch them turn to watch her turn, lazy and like a judgment of days, tail glowing now, even brighter than before, and then I could see her face.

To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Autumn 2015 collection.

Originally a mildly inept anthropologist, it is said that one winter, Hooper Jon’th’n Lee got lost in the world of folklore archives and never came out back the right way around after. This, of course, would require a viewer to have a sense of “right” or “wrong” way around, a moral code which Hooper seems to have completely dissolved off in his quest for proving that if one looks hard enough, they can still trace what he calls “The Echos of Apeiron.”

Alby Darling is a former frequent-traveler and current resident of New Jersey, where they spend their time predominantly involved with the organizing of shelves. Besides being addicted to short-form writing and drafting novel outlines, Alby is fond of pepperjack cheese, songs that don’t make any sense, and mythologies related to aquatic beings.

Leigh’s professional title is “illustrator,” but that’s just a nice word for “monster-maker,” in this case. More information about them can be found at

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