Quiet Corridor

February 22, 2022

“Alright that should do it,” Hector grunts as he wrenches in the last nut of the watertight antenna array to its weighted platform resting on the boat’s main deck.

“It’s ready!” He shouts over to Gloria who is womaning the multicrane on their research vessel the Baron vonBoatenstein. Those damn open voting polls for boat names, the marketing teams love it but will the public ever take them seriously? 

“Got it, heading down now,” and Gloria twists her hand in the control glove to lower down the array to the surface of the calm southern Pacific Ocean. No splash as the crane arm controlled by Gloria’s arm lowers the array just below the surface, then opens her and its hand to let it float down to the ocean floor. 

 “It will reach the bottom in a few minutes on the guidewire,” she concludes to focus on controlling the multicrane arm.
This site is a junction node a few thousand miles outside of Hawaii. 

They’re lining the undersea ridges with the array towers to cancel out all sounds including sonar  in the valleys between the ridges so that their users won’t have to dive so far down. 

The idea is to keep the Quiet Corridor entrances near the surface and have lakes of deep quiet down below, while also keeping network tendrils for input and output so the users can regain something of their ancient resonant harmonic song based ‘internet’. 

When the human noise started, the ancient comms dissolved, the Quiet Corridor is just a start of reparations for the sea. The intrepid researchers who Zeb found for this mission shared a common desire to bring justice to the nonhuman persons of the ocean before they started, he just had the specific idea, money for gear and a boat to christen.

“How are the levels looking Cynthia? Mark, have any of the users said anything yet?” Hector ecstatically asks the tech duo wearing computer goggles on deck. 

“Levels looking good,” Cynthia replies, goggled in observing the spectrograms, “this was the last major gap in the coverage, there are still some bleeds that happen depending on temperature but we’d need another round of arrays to fix it, so for now we’re just alerting our testers.” 

“And the testers?!” Hector explodes as Cynthia is still finishing talking,

“Haha chill Hector,” Mark soothes. “Our testers are using their comms beacons now, there’s some feedback coming in, here why don’t you just listen for yourself,” says Mark as he takes his compGoggles off and turns on a small wireless speaker. 

Clicks and pops and whistles and growling whirs emanate from the speaker. Mark turns around a small tablet which shows the symbolic entries that the testers are making on the sonartouch pads down where they are. By the sound of it and the style of their nose-writings these are Pacific Bottlenose dolphins.

“Hey, it’s Larry!” Hector proclaims having recognized one of the voices, he cups his hand toward the speaker and shouts “Hey Larry! How do you like the peace and quiet buddy?!” 

“Hector, they can’t hear you, it's one way, plus didn’t that one say her name was Zeeetyakakakato?” Cynthia chastises Hector as Mark laughs, she continues, “You can’t just call them whatever you want! They’re our testers, have some respect!”

Hector brushes her off, “nah it’s cool me and Larry made a painting the other day when she came up to the ship array after talking with Zeb. I called her Larry and she laughed and called me Coorrrrektaya. Then she drew the Chinese symbol for friend 友.” Hector gets misty eyed remembering the moment.

“Ok it’s on the bottom now,” Gloria informs as she removes her computer goggles. “Let’s get a level check,” she adds. 

“Can do, We’ll put it on the emitters” Cynthia says and the hologram array in the shaded area of the deck fires up to show a 3D map of the ridge where the array was just placed with other green dots representing arrays and a yellow dot representing the just placed array. A legend is to the left, a red to green gradient with midtones, red is > 120db yellow is between 120 and 30db, and green is nice peace and quiet below 30db. 

When Zeb and Cynthia had first met and he told her that he wanted to build ‘like those Bose noise canceling headphones but for the ocean’ her face lit up and she then built the first prototype before her first paycheck even began. Her understanding of harmonics in the ocean combined with technical wizardry made this fantasy possible.

Five years later and they are now finishing the first Pacific Quiet Corridor for use by all marine mammals and any other creatures who are tired of being beat up by the constant barrage of sonar and ultrasound and general engine noise, and even entire explosions, which humans so casually throw around in the extremely delicate soundscape of the ocean.

Engaging with local residents, Hector had been the connection to ensure that the first experimental tests could actually be verified, or put simply: did the animals actually benefit from and like the network. 

The first beta testers were mostly bottlenose and spinner dolphins, with the occasional humpback and a tribe of orcas providing feedback. There were some tense early negotiations where Mark had to dive in the water between Orcas and Dolphins, and he almost got munched but thanks to Hector’s quick thinking of dropping in a sonar-touch screen and playing with it the situation was diffused.

The quiet corridor is an amazing achievement, but what had really gotten to Zeb after the project had gotten underway was what they had made such strides in interspecies communication. 

The sonar touch screens had been invented almost a decade before, but those researchers were narrow minded and had used them as pointing interfaces for boring experiments. Zeb and his team changed the display to leave a trail instead of just displaying a point and it changed everything. Suddenly the same screen a human could draw on a dolphin could sonar on. 

It started as a way to test an idea, and quickly evolved into a core interaction component for feedback, troubleshooting and even raucous conversation. Hector was an artist and he and some of the other mammals had really pushed the tech past its limits in terms of expression. 

At one point a device in the mid Atlantic was tested that had a sonar screen on it, which allowed the Quiet Corridor team to instruct remote Dolphins how to nudge a faulty module back into place. It took the team a moment after the troubleshooting to even consider what they had just done.

The dolphins in particular had enjoyed learning, and then heavily modifying, Chinese and Japanese characters. They had added quite a few and did not understand others. The locals even started drawing symbols to each other that the Quiet Corridor team did not understand yet which caused uproarious displays in the water. A new visual language was being born, as they used it to troubleshoot the very complex network of noise cancelling ocean floor transceivers.

“Starboard side, it’s the testers!” Zeb exclaims from the bridge above the deck and everyone turns with glee to see plumes of water vapor. One of the testers does a quick spiral above the water and crashes down with great gusto. 

“Earz in everyone,” Cynthia hands out the earpieces which she and Mark had been tuning to amplify and transform the frequencies emitted by cetaceans into the human-hearing range. Zeb descends the stairs to the deck to join the team and their aquatic colleagues. 

Suddenly the boat dwellers’ ears were awash with happy pops and clicks. It didn’t take much formal comprehension of dolphin-song to know that they were thrilled. The dolphins slide up the wet dock on the rear of the ship and wiggle about with happy eyes.

“Sounds like the final array did it, the whole corridor is now quiet?” Zeb asks of the tribe. 

Translated into rough English, their pops and clicks said “yes all stray ripples are gone, now so quiet! Quiet beyond what young have ever heard. The stillness is thrilling here! We can heartalk for far on the range! We even got to feel a whale brother sing down the quiet tube! We hear a sperm whale planet opposite crying for joy!”

All humans on deck are beaming with joy, Hector and Cynthia cry while hugging, Mark and Gloria bump hips and laugh. Then a dolphin comes up from below clicking in some duress, “ah there’s a zone of pain! back to loud over there” shows the translation. They’re a dolphin that often helps find bugs and fix them, known as Xzcliee.

“Ah ok, let’s fix it,” Mark says and a speaker on his belt added some flourish clicks to help translate for them as he puts his ocean AR goggles on and slides in.

Mark shows a sonar-touch panel with the diagram of the ridge and the theoretical coverage of the array's interference and Xcliee comes forward to draw on the tablet with sonartouch where the zone was. Ah, between two nodes west from here, Mark subvocalizes which is sent as text back up on deck. 

The other team members jump into action, but Hector lingers watching Mark in the water with the testers; he loves seeing Xzcliee and Mark work together, they’re just like each other, once they zero in on a task they commit fully and probably don’t even notice what the other person looks like! It fills Hector’s 


In the midst of the revelry a fast ship appears on the horizon which no one notices until it is practically upon them.

Zeb sighs as his crew starts getting riled up. He knew this would come eventually. 

As the ship grows closer “You are in US jurisdiction,” blares at them through loudspeakers, causing the dolphins to scatter back to the water. And not even true, Zeb and Cynthia think, as they deliberately set up the quiet corridor main nodes in international waters. “Cease and desist operations, and prepare to be boarded.” The loudspeaker declares. 


“I don’t care if you’re telling the truth to be honest,” Commander Farragut calmly bellows, “all I care about is that foreign subs can hide in your cloaking devices and this will not be tolerated. You will dismantle the devices at once or face arrest.”

“Sir, we are in international waters and have the full approval of Senator Mitchells in Washington.” Zeb calmly counters,  “You will see us in court perhaps, but never a holding cell. She is on the line now, shall I connect you?” And hands Cmd Farragut the phone.

“This is Senator Kathy Mitchells of California, who am I speaking with?” 

“Commander Farragut of the USS Abraham Lincoln.” 

“A commander? What a waste of my time, you get me your CO and then we’ll talk, for now you release these United States citizens and move along.” Sen Mitchels coldly declares. 

“I am on strict orders from Admiral Sherman to bring these...individuals… aboard the Abraham Lincoln for questioning,” Cmd Farragut replies.

“I just had a great dinner with President Cortez last evening where we discussed these patriots' great project,” Sen Mitchels counters, “let me get her on the line.” 

The tension in the room hangs thick. Gets thicker. The other line is ringing. 

Zeb sees a glint in Commander Farragut’s left eye which means he is receiving an order in his Eyez. 

“Right,” He says into the phone to Sen Mitchel, “Admiral Sherman informs me that President Cortez is in the situation room with the secretary of the Navy on other urgent matters and that I am to end this charade, goodbye Senator.” And hangs up.

“You two are coming with me, keep the rest of them here and secure this vessel” Cmder says as the MPs zip tie the crew of Baron vonBoatenstein and affirm their orders.


In the questioning room aboard the Abraham Lincoln only Zeb and Cynthia are present around the steel table, legs zip tied to the steel chairs, but hands are free. 

Cmder Farragut is simply watching them from across the table. 

This goes on for some time until the hatch opens.

“Captain on deck!” Cmder farragut stands and calls out stiff as a board and salutes with the MPs guarding the door. 

“At ease,” Captain Smith declares, “you two have some explaining to do.” 

A cybernetic interrogation session begins, MagRez caps are fitted to Zeb and Cynthia and as questions are asked brain regions are read and then modulated. Many experts decry this new form of information gathering as no better than the lie detectors of old, yet still other experts know the real purpose is to disorient and cause pain without lifting a finger. Torture persists in the modern day if it leaves no trace on camera only the mind.

Cmder Farragut who had been standing quietly, if slightly gleefully, to the side during the interrogation suddenly gets a glint in his left eye. 

“Captain Smith,” Cmder Farragut interrupts with a slightly tense tone.

“Commander, I’m gathering intel, what could possibly be-“ and suddenly his left eye lights up and his face goes slack.

“You will answer for this, as I’m now sure that you are Russian agents,” and Captain Smith hurriedly gets up and exits the room.

“What the fuck was that??” Zeb and Cynthia both wheeze to each other, minds still spinning from simulated traumatic feelings.

On the bridge, a proximity alarm is sounding.

“Sir, they just appeared on our scopes and we’ve lost contact, last known point here” and a dot is placed on the 3D sonar display. 

“What are we dealing with?” Captain queries, 

“Sound signature matches with an older Russian Kilo-class and three newer Sierra subs. Sir they are circling for an attack position.” Cmder farragut replies.

“Sound the alarm, countermeasures deploy, we’ll be doing the attacking here today gentlemen,” Captain Smith calmly declares and the ships alarms begin to blare.


“Whoa what the hell?” Cynthia looks at Zeb as the alarms sound in their room.

“What do you think it is?” Zeb replies,

“Are you a Russian spy?” Cynthia asks, seriously,

“If I am, I don't remember,” Zeb replies half seriously.

Up and down the corridor there are footsteps bustling past. 

A shudder as the entire bulk of the USS Abraham Lincoln begins to turn. 

Right now there must be full mobilization of the decoy auto-boats and more than a few jets have taken off to monitor the underwater auto-seeker drones.

“They are seriously mobilized!” Zeb says with some fear, “This is not good, what could be threatening them, we’re on an aircraft carrier near US waters?” 

Suddenly the hatch opens with no one there. 

“You two just gonna sit there or are you ready to get out of here?” And a small knife appears on the table.

“Gunther?!” Zeb and Cynthia both say in uniform disbelief. 

“I thought you were out down the line on a small island chain, we didn’t leave you a boat! How did you find out we were in here, and where the fuck did you get active camo, and how did you get on here undetected?” Cynthia barrages him with questions as Zeb cuts them both free.

A face appears hovering in mid air “No time sweetie, they can only keep up the charade for so long. You are following me and staying under this.” And Gunther throws an invisible cloth at them which they quickly cover up with, then he pulls his mask back down and they’re out into the hall.

Running down the corridor they come to an open hatch, light at the end of the tunnel. A serviceman runs toward them with some fear written on his face and they squeeze to the wall as he runs by. 

Then they make a break for the hatch and get to the railing.

“Jump,” Gunther calmly commands.

“Jump?!” Zeb and Cynthia exclaim. 

“Now” Gunther shoves them overboard and they plunge into the water. 

“What the hell Gunther,” Cynthia sputters, “they’re just going to find us here and arrest all of us!” Cynthia begins to launch in, but just then a slimy solid surface comes up under each of them. It’s the testers!! 

And they’re wearing makeshift harnesses.

”You two, take these,” Gunther hands them small rebreathers. “close your eyes and hold on tight” 

Gunther pats the side of the lead dolphin and issues some rough clicks in the common frequency, and with a fast snap of their tail fins the dolphins and their human riders are off and under water. 

A few minutes later they resurface to clear the rebreathers and do a quick look back. They peak under the wet and wavering camo cloth to see jets are circling the Abraham Lincoln as Gunther grunts and motions down with his hand and they descend again. 

A few more minutes and they’re far enough away that the Abraham Lincoln has lost its detail to them. 

One more dive to go, Gunther whispers, Zeb and Cynthia are getting a little light-headed but they hold on with gusto. 

A few more minutes and they surface and the Abraham Lincoln is merely a spec, and on the surface they head toward a lighter patch in the water, with still no sight of any other boat or island on the horizon. 

Suddenly a humpback whale rises up in front of them and blows plumes into the air. 

“This is our ride back to the island I was on, it will take the rest of the day mostly above water though, can you hack it?” Gunther asks a dazed Zeb and Cynthia

They nod yes in disbelief as their dolphin rides drop them off right next to the giant mammal. They make eye contact with their rescuers who eek out a ‘you’re welcome’ and vanish below the water. 

Then they make eye contact with the humpback and Gunther pulls out a small waterproof speaker which can play in humpback frequency and records a really rough song in his pitch which is then translated for the humpback. 

Zeb and Cynthia could swear they saw the humpback’s eye bulge like a French speaker listening to anyone else try to use their language, but the whale takes the meaning and begins on the heading toward the island, staying at the surface. 

As the active camo blanket dries off it stops wavering and shimmering and to any observer it would seem that a whale was just near the surface taking a leisurely swim. 

Once on the island, the sun setting, Gunther fires up a comms tower and gets in touch with Sen Mitchel. 

“What have you two done?” she says, which is Gunther’s cue to wordlessly hand the receiver over to Zeb and Cynthia. 

“We really don’t know Ma’am” Cynthia says as Zeb smacks the side of his head to clear out water from his ear. 

“Well the USS Abraham Lincoln is currently just coming down from a high alert where it was engaged by four Russian submarines, which it could not find and sounded the all clear just minutes ago. They are furiously looking for two escaped Russian agents. Do you happen to know where those agents may be?” Sen Mitchel asks with some jest in her tone.

“No ma’am, but I do know that we’re glad to have you as a supporter of our project” Zeb answers.

“Not just me, Zeb” Sen Mitchels replies with a smile and a brief rustling of the receiver on her end leads to, 

“I love what you’re doing, you two!” President Cortez’s bright voice is on the phone and Cynthia and Zeb both exchange glances as they say somehow in unison “thank you madam president.”

“Just know that I am already drawing up a pardon for whatever charges they’ll try to stick you with. I have a Delta unit VTOL coming to pick you up and get you to my office. The project you have just completed is so beautiful that you have ushered in a new era of diplomacy beyond our wildest dreams, your associate Gunther sent us the feed as he was staging your rescue with your allies. We’re still having initial diplomatic discussions with the Orca and Sperm Whale collectives that worked with you. Once you get here we can discuss more. Great job you two!” 

And the line goes dead. 

Both Zeb and Cynthia snap to Gunther, who has the sheepish look of someone who just won an academy award. 

“Gunther…really what did you do?” they ask now more confused than they could possibly be angry.

“Well,” he draws out, “those submarines that were spotted near the Abraham Lincoln that enabled me to help you escape? Let’s just say they also love to eat giant squid…”

The Navy was furious for being tricked so soundly by the Sperm whale team. Under the direction of Gunther, they had expertly sounded out the signatures of Russian submarines, having been bathed in their sonic signatures since birth. Using the Quiet Corridor hardware to amplify their imitation they had triggered the Carrier into full attack mode. The humans on their boats were always playing with sounds at sea, now the masters of the sonic ecosystem of the ocean are back at the helm of their own domain.

“On this day we commemorate the opening of the quiet corridor and the opening of a new diplomatic relationship with the cetacean tribes” President Cortez exclaims alongside Zeb, Cynthia and on screens and the public Eyez layer floating beside as holograms Cortyaiskia the leader of the Orca delegation, Pzioouuuuuu leader of the Sperm whale delegation and Kriyuoikoutahahah leader of the Cetacean delegation.

“Through their work we now have a reliable communications method and the goodwill required to begin normalizing relations with the various species who call the seas their home.” President Cortez continues, “They can help us restore carbon cycle balance to the oceans, and even work with us to clean up our plastic waste, yet we must first clean up our sonic waste.” President Cortez’s tone rises, “and that’s why the creation of the Quiet Corridor is more than just about bringing peace to the ocean dwellers who have so long suffered, it is about our shared future together as inhabitants of a planet within a solar system. As one nation, on the Earth within the universe, together the land is connected by the Oceans and the oceans are now a sovereign nation.” She crescendos and the crowd mostly cheers, although still many politicians can’t stifle their sneers.

Pooooowiooooouuuppp Says Pzioouuuuuu amplified by the stage speakers, stunning all in attendance with the pure gutteral volume of the sound.
“Indeed,” says President Cortez.

Cynthia and Zeb exchange a glance and start laughing. 

With diplomatic ties started between the ocean and the land, something in the shared planetary heart seemed to open and the humans on shore within their nations mostly defended the Quiet Corridor team and even demanded it be made permanent by their various governments. And the military leaders of the nations couldn't really object, because it became abundantly clear immediately that the newly empowered ocean community members would always rat out any subs or drones that tried to use the corridor as a way to travel undetected. So a kind of mutually assured neighborhood watch of the ocean kept the corridors out of the realm of warfare games as well, further expanding peace on the planet in an exponential way. Opposition remained among humans embodying the strongest fear-based, racist or warmonger styles, but overall it was just too fascinating for the public to truly oppose, and too equally frustrating for all militaries for any one to be truly bothered by it, they just moved their games elsewhere as the tension phase of Earth dissipated anyway. We’d been looking for aliens for centuries, when they were in the ocean all along. 

The impact on poetry, and music and art was unexpected, impossible to write; you’ll just need to hear it.