Read Meg: Hell's Aquarium Online

Authors: Steve Alten

Tags: #Thrillers, #Suspense, #Espionage, #Fiction

Meg: Hell's Aquarium

Praise for
MEG: A Novel of Deep Terror

“An adrenaline-pumping thriller . . . the perfect antidote to a sunny day at a crowded beach.”


New York Post

“Two words: Jurassic shark!”


Los Angeles Times

“Nonstop excitement.”


Library Journal

“Hellishly riveting . . . an utterly amazing climax.”


Kirkus Reviews

Praise for
The Trench

“An entertaining tale of gripping nonstop horror.”


Midwest Book Review

“A fast-paced thriller with many plot twists.”


Booklist

“Alten can still write a mean prehistoric shark scene.”


Publishers Weekly

Praise for
MEG: Primal Waters

“An exuberant potboiling action thriller. The shark attack scenes . . . are numerous and exciting. Fans should devour it.”


Publishers Weekly

“Alten’s imaginative tale will keep readers turning the pages.”


Booklist

More Thrillers by Steve Alten

MEG SERIES

MEG: A Novel of Deep Terror

The Trench

MEG: Primal Waters*

MEG: Hell’s Aquarium*

MEG: Night Stalkers
(forthcoming)

DOMAIN SERIES

Domain*

Resurrection*

Phobos
(forthcoming)

GOLIATH SERIES

Goliath*

Sorceress
(forthcoming)

The Loch*

The Shell Game

* From Tom Doherty Associates

STEVE ALTEN

A TOM DOHERTY ASSOCIATES BOOK
NEW YORK

NOTE: If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”

This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

MEG: HELL’S AQUARIUM

Copyright © 2009 by Steve Alten

Previously published in hardcover by Variance Publishing in 2009.

Interior art by William Louis McDonald

All rights reserved.

A Tor Book
Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010

www.tor-forge.com

Tor® is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

ISBN 978-0-7653-6585-9

First Tor Edition: May 2010

Printed in the United States of America

0    9    8    7    6    5    4    3    2    1

To my father, Lawrence Alten,
for always rescuing me when I need it.

Thanks, Dad.

Contents

Cover

Title

Copyright

Dedication

Acknowledgments

Prologue

Part 1

Chapter 1.

Chapter 2.

Chapter 3.

Chapter 4.

Chapter 5.

Chapter 6.

Chapter 7.

Chapter 8.

Chapter 9.

Chapter 10.

Chapter 11.

Chapter 12.

Chapter 13.

Chapter 14.

Chapter 15.

Chapter 16.

Chapter 17.

Chapter 18.

Chapter 19.

Chapter 20.

Chapter 21.

Part 2

Chapter 22.

Chapter 23.

Chapter 24.

Chapter 25.

Chapter 26.

Chapter 27.

Chapter 28.

Chapter 29.

Chapter 30.

Chapter 31.

Chapter 32.

Chapter 33.

Chapter 34.

Chapter 35.

Chapter 36.

Chapter 37.

Chapter 38.

Chapter 39.

Epilogue

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

It is with great pride and appreciation that I acknowledge those who contributed to the completion of
MEG: Hell’s Aquarium
.

First and foremost, many thanks to my literary agent, Danny Baror of Baror International, along with his assistant, Heather Baror. I am also indebted to my friend and producer, Belle Avery, at Apelles Entertainment, as well as Craig Roll at The Masada Group for their tireless efforts to bring the Meg franchise to the big screen. My thanks as well to Tim Schulte, Stanley Tremblay, and Shane Thompson at Variance Publishing, who published the original hardback.

It’s an honor to have Tor/Forge publishing this mass market edition. My grateful appreciation goes out to Tom Doherty, Linda Quinton, my editor, Eric Raab, and editorial assistant Whitney Ross.

I have been very fortunate to have been associated with talented artists during my writing career, two of whom made valuable contributions to this book. Many thanks to Erik Hollander for his tremendous cover design and graphic artistry in the YouTube book trailer (listed under
MEG: Hell’s Aquarium
) and to William McDonald (
www.AlienUFOart.com
) for the original artwork found within these pages.

Special thanks to the staff at the Georgia Aquarium for their information, insight, and behind-the-scenes tour of their amazing facility . . . especially Dave Santucci, director of public relations. Thanks also to David Zelski at the Georgia Public Broadcasting for arranging the visit. My appreciation to Dr. Maria Sdorlias and her colleagues at the University of Sydney’s School of Geosciences for their expertise regarding the mystery of the “undersea shelves” located in the Philippine Sea Plate, as well as the contribution of their outstanding maps of the area.

To my assistant, Leisa Coffman, for her talent and expertise in updating the
www.SteveAlten.com
website, as well as all her work in the Adopt-An-Author program.

Last, to my wife and partner, Kim, for all her support, to my parents for always being there, and to my readers: Thank you for your correspondence and contributions. Your comments are always a welcome treat, your input means so much, and you remain this author’s greatest asset.

—Steve Alten

To personally contact the author or learn more
about his novels, go to
www.SteveAlten.com
.

MEG: Hell’s Aquarium
is part of Adopt-An-Author,
a free nationwide reading program for secondary
school students and teachers. For more information,
go to
www.AdoptAnAuthor.com
.

Prologue

Philippine Sea, Pacific Ocean

Encompassing sixty million square miles, the Pacific Ocean is the largest and oldest body of water on our planet, and with an average depth of fourteen thousand feet, it is also the deepest, possessing some of the most biologically diverse creatures ever to inhabit the Earth.

The Pacific is all that remains of the Panthalassa, an ancient ocean that was once so vast it covered everything on our planet but the super-continent of Pangaea. Life first began in these waters 3.5 billion years ago as a single-celled organism and remained that way with very little change over the next 3 billion years. And then, 540 million years ago, life suddenly took off. From multi-cellular organisms sprang trilobites and corals, jellyfish and mollusks, sea scorpions and squids. Amid this Cambrian Explosion arose one other creature—a unique animal, tiny in size, that possessed a backbone, which separated its brain and nervous system from the rest of its organs.

The age of fish—the Devonian Era—had arrived.

The first of these vertebrates were filter feeders, possessing no jaws in which to seize prey. Because their internal skeletons were composed of cartilage, many species grew a thick armor-like, bony shield that covered their heads as a means of protection. Others developed senses that allowed them to see, taste, smell, hear, and feel within their watery environment. And then, some 80 million years after the first fish appeared, a revolutionary feature came into being—a set of biting jaws.

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