It was the wedding of the year. Sophia came from an upper class Swiss-German family who had lost most of their money during the Bolshevik revolution – the usual story of over exposure to Russian bonds. Stavros was the playboy son of one of Greece’s wealthiest shipping magnates.
‘Swiss ice melted by Greek fire,’ the tabloids breathlessly proclaimed.
They met on an exclusive scuba diving expedition in the Red Sea. A whirlwind romance followed – shark fishing in Australia, water skiing on Lake Titicaca, pearl diving in Tahiti, photographing manatees in the Caribbean.
They first made love in perfect darkness at the deep end of Stavros’s Olympic size swimming pool to the sound of humpback whales singing, reproduced in high fidelity by an insanely expensive sound system. Sofia described it as an almost out of body experience, as though she had been transported to a special place of sexual ecstasy by an all enveloping force of nature.
“You mean he’s rich, handsome and good in bed,” her girlfriends sighed in unison.
Sophia was not in the least perturbed by her new husband’s eccentric habits. The hours he spent locked in the bathroom showering in ice cold water listening to Handel’s Water Music, nor the fact that Stavros only ate sushi.
“The Japanese eat sushi and look how intelligent they are,” she said.
Stavros’s eyes were unusually large, pale, and luminous. Not that she saw them often. He almost always wore sunglasses, even in bed. On their daily fishing trips aboard his fabulous yacht, the Kalamaris, he spent most of the time in the water. Sophia was impressed with how long he could stay submerged on one breath of air.
“You really are a fish,” she teased, as he frantically applied yet another layer of ultra expensive hydrating lotion over his entire body, while taking care not to spoil the pages of the book he was reading – Jules Verne’s, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea.
After yet another night of shattering sex, Sophia awoke early one morning to discover that Stavros was already up. “He’s probably having a swim before breakfast. Just like him. He has so much energy."
She went into the kitchen. The fridge door was open and there was raw fish all over the floor. He must have been overcome with hunger again. She was becoming accustomed to her husband’s inexplicable metabolism. Now she could hear him splashing about in the swimming pool. “He’s so playful.” She looked out of the kitchen window just in time to see a remarkably life like latex dolphin whizzing twenty feet into the air before falling back into the water with a loud splash …
“I’m afraid that your husband has turned into a giant squid,” explained Professor Vogel, Switzerland’s leading authority on strange occurrences. “It’s one of the most startling cases of its kind.”
Sophia’s eyes widened. “You mean that there have been others?”
“Oh yes. All the time. You see, people are not really people anymore. They look like people, but they are strangely altered. Usually they turn into reptiles. It’s all very sinister. My colleagues and I are close to formulating an hypothesis.”
A few minutes later they were standing by the shallow end of Professor Vogel’s famous research aquarium. Sophia was clutching a ten kilo bag of Stavros’s favourite sushi. “Look, there he is,” she squealed, waving excitedly at her husband.
Stavros calmly swam right up to where they stood and observed them intently with eyes bigger than dinner plates.
“I’ve brought you some sushi dear, you should eat it before it all spoils.” Sophia was much practiced in the art of playing the dutiful wife.
But at that moment, her husband’s attention was distracted by a small reef shark that had carelessly swum too close. Grabbing the startled creature with a sixty foot long tentacle, Stavros shot across to the far end of the aquarium and swallowed the shark whole.
“Gott in Himmel. That’s the second time today,” exclaimed Professor Vogel. “Another reef shark kaput.”
Sophia was determined to make her marriage work. When Stavros was secretly transferred to the waters of Lake Zurich, she purchased a magnificent lake side property so as to be close to her husband’s new home. She visited him daily in a miniature submarine, a gift from Stavros’s father, Demetrios, whose many maritime business interests included manufacturing submersibles for the international drug trade and producing World War II U-boat replicas for Paraguay’s nostalgia ridden rulers.
Sophia quite enjoyed her new routine. She would dive to the deepest part of the lake, cut the motor and allow the tiny craft to settle on the soft muddy bottom. The submarine was painted in Lamborghini orange. Sophia loved pretty colours. She sat there engulfed in total darkness, save for the narrow arc faintly illuminated by the craft’s searchlight. Doubtless attracted by this, Stavros would soon appear and wave to her in a friendly fashion through the porthole. There was still something there.
But in spite of Sophia’s best efforts, Stavros became increasingly distant and prone to violent mood swings. On one occasion, Stavros mistook the submarine for food and attacked it so fiercely that Sophia had to drive him off by engaging the craft’s electric stun-gun. A little later, after he had spent a few minutes sulking, she caught one final fleeting glimpse of her husband as he pounced on an unsuspecting giant sturgeon which likely thought that it had no natural enemies in these waters. Think again. Oh foolish fish.
Later that summer, Professor Vogel’s famous oceanographic research ship, the Zeitgeist, anchored off Corfu, largely unnoticed by the August holiday crowd. At sunset, a huge pinkish grey mass was gently lowered into the water. It hovered motionless on the surface for a few moments. Then with a sudden convulsive movement, it commenced a vertical dive into the deep blue waters of the eastern Mediterranean, leaving behind a cloud of black ink.