This story is a part of the continuing series featuring Serena Harrison, a marine archaeologist on the hunt for a six hundred year old wreck, the San Isabella.


The Contest

Sharon H




"Four inches and a half," said the distinctive New England drawl of the Seaviewís captain, Lee Crane.


I stopped, halfway up the ladder to the bridge.


"Thatís not very impressive Lee, considering mine is nearly five and three quarters."


That was the Admiralís distinctive bass. I was anxious to go topside and get some badly needed sunshine. We had been running submerged for three days now. As an marine archaeologist, I was used to being out and about on deck not sequestered inside the bowels of a submarine, despite the fantastic windows in the bow. Confined to the inside for more than a few days and I started to get a little stir crazy. I had been invited to come topside but now I wasnít so sure.


"Iíve got you both beat. Six and a quarter," said Chip Morton. The temperature in the conning tower suddenly shot up several degrees. Serena, you are way in over your head. What on earth are they doing? I had been warned that the command trio of Seaview were good, close friends, but this sounded like a level of closeness that I didnít need to know about.


"Mr. Morton, I think youíre stretching the poor thing," came Nelsonís replied.


"No sir. I donít want to hurt it even if we are going to eat them."


EAT THEM? That did it. I swarmed up the ladder and up onto the bridge.


Crane was the first to notice me.


"Oh, hello, Dr. Harrison. Nice to see you finally made it. We could use an impartial judge."


"You could?" I asked weakly as Chip turned to me with a small six-inch ruler.


"You measure and tell us what you think," he said to me and handed me the ruler.


I licked my lips and put on my bravest face.


"And what am I measuring?" I managed.


"Fish, Doctor Harrison. We decided on fish for dinner. Fresh caught smelt. Deep-fried, thereís nothing else like them. We started tracking a large pocket of them a couple of hours ago and decided to surface and catch a mess of them," Lee said, picking up his rod and reel from the deck to cast another line over the bridge.


Admiral Nelson glanced up from his side of the bridge and favored me with the lopsided smile of his. "What did you think we were doing up here?" he asked.


On the deck between Morton and Nelson were three small blue buckets, each about half filled with silver fish, each about three or four inches long. I shook my head and choked back the wild giggle threatening to erupt.


"You wouldnít believe me if I told you, Admiral. You really wouldnít."