Elizabeth pulled on her trench coat and adjusted the straps to her flying goggles. Her frizzy red hair was barely controlled under her striped bandana and her dark green eyes squinted in the glare of the sun. She was standing on the stone pavement of the San Francisco wharf, gazing out to sea, past the airships lined neatly in a row. Behind her lay the city with its multicolored skyscrapers, which were topped with gardens that looked completely out of place on the buildings. The sky was clear, with not a cloud to be seen. Perfect flying weather, especially for this trip.
“Wow, look at that thing! I can’t believe the university let us borrow it!” said Elizabeth’s friend and lab partner, Jack, who was standing next to her. He was pointing to the airship directly in front of them. It was a smoothly built contraption, its large propellers whirring as it floated a few feet above the sea.
“Well, I suppose it’s for science. But you know, not everybody wanted to lend it to us,” Elizabeth replied.
“Really?” said Jack with interest.
“Yeah,” Elizabeth said. “Some of those guys thought our whole idea was baloney!”
“What?!” he exploded. “I’ve studied tons of old geography and history books. Lots of them suggest that Atlantis could be lying in the Pacific instead of the Atlantic all along. That’s why nobody has ever found it. Besides, your sonar readings don’t lie, there is definitely something down there.”
“I know, we’ll show them,” Elizabeth replied, and she was about to say more when Jack’s watch started going off. A tiny 3-D projected image of himself, short brown hair, jeans, glasses, and all, appeared on the screen.
“Come on, Jack,” it said, hands on hips, “you have got to go!”
“Yes, I know,” he grumbled. Jack turned off his watch and the projection disappeared. “Well, we had better get a move on,” he said. Elizabeth nodded.
So they walked up the gangplank and onto the airship. As she passed through the entrance she saw The Hurricane written in large black letters on the side of the ship. “Well, I sure hope not,” Elizabeth said to herself, then hurried after Jack.
Inside there was a small sitting room with a couch, a table, and a mini-fridge. The walls were made of glass so you could look out in all directions, the floor and ceiling were of polished wood. It’s going to look cool in here when we get up in the air, Elizabeth thought to herself as she passed.
The control room had such a bewildering number of switches, knobs, and levers that only an expert airship pilot could actually use them without getting a headache. Expert pilot that she was, Elizabeth sat down and put on her headset.
“Everything in working order?” she asked Jack, who was sitting next to her.
“Yep,” he replied.
“OK, I’m starting up the engines.” Elizabeth adjusted a lever, and a loud hum began beneath their feet.
“We’re gaining altitude,” said Jack. “This is going to be a great day for flying.”
The airship looked out of place in the vast emptiness of the sky. It had a blimplike top, large propellers, and a relatively small human compartment. In the sky, all that could be heard was the drone of the propellers and the shush shush shush of the engine. That’s why Elizabeth loved flying in an airship. When you’re up there you feel as if you and your copilot are the only people in the world and the sea stretches on forever. Today, The Hurricane flew low under the clouds and closer to the ocean than some would deem safe. But, as was mentioned before, this was a very special mission.
Inside, Elizabeth pulled out a piece of paper on which she had printed the sonar readings and showed them to Jack.
“See that part in the middle, with all those weird lines? That’s where we will be looking.”
About an hour later, they arrived at their destination. Elizabeth checked the coordinates on the map, then fiddled with a compass on the control panel.
“Perfect, this is just where we need to be. Jack, can you get us down any… Whoa.”
To the west a huge storm was brewing, reaching high into the sky and blocking out the sun. Lightning crackled, clouds were blown all over the place, and Elizabeth could hear the distant rumble of thunder. From Elizabeth and Jack’s perspective, it looked just like the unsightly contents of a witch’s cauldron were being stirred quite violently.
“Oh great, just amazing!” said Jack, glaring at the storm. “Just as we come close to making a great historic and scientific discovery, this storm is conjured up. As if to drive us away!”
Elizabeth sighed. “Well, we will just have to come back another time.” But the moment she said that, The Hurricane gave a sudden lurch, sending the two companions sprawling. Elizabeth heard a crash as the furniture in the sitting room was knocked about. By the time Elizabeth managed to get to her feet, she almost fell back down again in surprise.
“Jack!” she cried. “We’re heading straight into the storm!” Elizabeth helped him to his seat and the two pilots desperately tried to get The Hurricane going back in the right direction. But it was too late, the storm had already swallowed them up.
Rain lashed at the windshield and lightning struck so close it nearly killed them. All they could see through the windshield was a whirling gray soup.
“We’ve got to get out of here!” Elizabeth shouted over the howling wind.
“I’m working on it!” Jack yelled back. He furiously tried to get The Hurricane facing into the right direction, but the airship just kept turning in ludicrous circles, buffeted by the wind.
“Jack, we need to get to the top of the storm!” Elizabeth cried.
“Are you crazy? It’s even worse up there!” Jack replied.
“If we can get above the clouds, it will be perfectly calm.”
“Yeah, and the flight there is suicide!”
“It’s our only chance, we have to,” said Elizabeth.
“Fine,” grumbled Jack, “but if something goes wrong, don’t blame me.”
With difficulty, the two pilots fought their way up through the sea of churning clouds. Just when Elizabeth thought she could see a glimmer of sunlight through the blackness, the world turned upside down and she saw no more.
* * *
Elizabeth woke up lying on the control room floor. At first she was confused. Where am I? she thought to herself. Then Elizabeth remembered. The mission. The Hurricane. The storm. She sat up, groaning.
“Well,” said Jack who was sitting next to her, putting on his glasses, “I’ve read that on the open sea some storms can have powerful updrafts near the top. Looks like we’ve been caught in an extra bad one and the sudden change in altitude must have knocked us out.”
“OK, next question: where are we?”
“Well,” said Jack, “only one way to find out.” Jack stood up and looked out the window. “Wow, Elizabeth, you’ve got to see this.”
“What? Oh, cool!”
The Hurricane had, thankfully, landed upright on a white sand beach. Further from the shore there was a lush jungle full of plants that Elizabeth and Jack had never seen before, and the screeches of howler monkeys filled the air.
“Let me check our coordinates,” said Elizabeth. “Hmm… Looks like we’ve been blown too far to the south.” She pressed a button on her watch, and a 3-D map of the ocean appeared. “Huh, this island isn’t on here. Hey! You know what that means? We’ve accidentally discovered a new island, probably one with tons of new species.”
“Wow! We’ll be famous!” said Jack. “What should we name it? How about ‘Jack and Elizabeth Island’?”
“What? No! We should call it ‘Elizabeth and Jack Island.’ Come on, let’s go explore.”
Once they maneuvered their way through the chaos of the sitting room, Elizabeth walked down the beach, while Jack went to check out the jungle. She was just about to dip her feet into the cool water that was lazily washing onto shore when she noticed something. About five feet out from where she stood there was a steep drop-off. And below that was… Elizabeth gasped. Just below the waves was a huge castle, completely covered with coral, shells, and seaweed, but magnificent all the same. Below the castle were streets, houses, and villas. Elizabeth couldn’t believe it.
“Jack, Jack! I’ve found it, come here!”
“What?” he asked, running over. “Oh. My. Gosh. Are you seeing what I’m seeing?”
“We did it! We actually found it!” Jack cried. “Now, we have two options here. We could either fly home, tell the university of our discovery, and then come back. Or, there is some scuba gear in a chest in The Hurricane. We could explore down there right now.”
Elizabeth grinned. “What are we waiting for?”