I sink into the cold blackness as I take deep breaths of pure oxygen. Above, beyond the silence that surround and protects me, the storm must be grumbling, its wind lashing, its rain stinging. That means most people won’t venture out. They will remain in their warm, safe homes, and I will sink further into the watery void of this lake, as isolated and free as an astronaut with her tether cut off.
At this depth, the water above me is dark as a room without windows. I don’t feel anything but a uniform cold, I don’t hear anything but the pressure in my ears and the steady sound of my breathing. I am so far below the surface of the water that my body doesn’t even register the sensation of sinking deeper. I close my eyes, but the darkness doesn’t change. My mind is still here, somewhere. It knows something is going on outside, and it has decided to stay awake for just a little longer.
When the black waters light up, I first think I have imagined it. The pressure of something heavy plunging into the water from above and coursing through it creates a current that pushes me away, then it feels like something has slapped the water from underneath, forcing me to drift away in a bubble moving up. The weighty object strikes the bottom of the lake, and the trepidation of the impact vibrates through my bones.
I snap out of it, of my solitude and calmness, as if I had fallen from a bed. Something big has crashed into the lake, and has stopped so close to me that the waters still rock me back and forth as the lake returns to its equilibrium.
I dive further down. It wasn’t a person nor an animal, and it sank way too fast for a boat, not to mention that I was the only one on the lake during this stormy afternoon. And the object didn’t just sink, it had hit the lake with force. So it must have been a flying vehicle, or a projectile. It didn’t feel as huge as a regular plane, even a single engine aircraft. And any helicopter pilot would have avoided flying during such weather even in an emergency.
My ears pop as I try to ignore the cold and swim down to the seabed. The water feels murky and thick, but I can’t see anything. I just feel around for any large piece of metal that could have come off an aircraft. My hands just find dirty sand and bits of dead plants.
I was about to give up and rise quickly to the lake’s surface with the buoyancy compensator, but my back touches a solid object. I turn and slide my hands carefully along its curved, hot surface. It feels metallic. I wish I had bothered to bring my flashlight for this dive, but today I was craving nothing but darkness. The shape reminds me of satellite. As I follow its shape to figure out how big it is, I figure it approaches the size of a van. Are regular satellites supposed to be this big? As my heartbeat increases, I probe the surface hoping to find the junctures of some hatch. Instead, what I feel is just a smooth metallic surface. No door, no crevices. Not even any rivets to speak of.
A nearby turbulence kicks up sand that hits the exposed skin of my face. I close my eyes as a reflex, and when I open them again the darkness of the bottom of the lake has brightened as if I had huddled close to a fireplace for warmth. A hole has opened on the surface of this vehicle-like object, and amber-colored, liquid-like light is flowing out of it. I can’t help but be drawn to this light, and as I approach it I realize that it’s not coming from a point source, but rather from the inside surface of the craft. I hold on to the edge of the opening to float closer and take a peek. The interior is empty like a drained egg shell except for the presence of a young woman maybe in her early twenties, wearing a gray, skin tight jumpsuit. Her waist long, scarlet hair floats in the murky water as if I was looking at a still photo of the woman falling. Her eyes are closed in her expresionless face, but she’s hugging what at first glance looks like a metallic shoebox.
Either the woman is dead or will be soon. She must be unconscious and drowning. She doesn’t seem to be injured, but unless I drag her to the surface with me, she’s a goner. I want to help her – I’m not made of stone after all – but I don’t want to sacrifice myself for her either. However, I always bring the redundant scuba system. Enough air to get to the surface in an emergency.
I try to grab the woman by her jumpsuit, but it’s way too tight, so I end up grabbing her by the throat, just long enough that I can pull her out of the crashed aircraft. She is very much dead weight. Will she prove too heavy to carry to the surface? I can’t hesitate. Even if this woman is a stranger, for the rest of my life I would have to bear the burden of having failed her, of having allowed her to die in the cold dark.
I reposition the woman so I can embrace her from the back before I start kicking my legs to ascend, press and hold the nozzle of the redundant breathing apparatus against her mouth, and as I swim towards the surface of the lake unsafely quick, what reaches us of the light that escapes from the downed craft shows me that the metallic box has slipped from the unconscious woman’s grip. It falls in slow motion towards the sandy bottom.
I’m too anxious to count the time it takes me to reach the surface of the lake. At some point I feel like I’m dragging a corpse. When I finally emerge to the stormy afternoon that had awaited me outside of this watery sanctuary, the dark cloud that had covered the sky is yet to move, and it seems closer. The wind has picked up, its violent gusts are rocking my little boat nearby. The rain drops are huge and they hurt as they hit the exposed skin of my face.
I want to stop and check on the redheaded woman, whose troublingly pale face remains expressionless, but if she’s drowning, I won’t be able to perform CPR nor breathe into her mouth while floating on the water. I need to lift her to my boat.
I dive in again and, with a strong kick of my legs and hands, propel us both to the boat. I don’t know whether she is still breathing or not when I lay her on the floor of my boat. I can’t stop shivering, my teeth are clattering, and my fingers are numb.
The woman’s drenched, scarlet hair is stuck to her face as if she was trying to hide. I cannot see her eyes. I move the strands so I reveal her nose and mouth. I prepare my hands on the woman’s chest to start CPR, but when I lower my ear to her nose to check for breathing, which I didn’t expect to find, the warmth of the breath coming out of her nostrils caresses my cheek. I find myself paralyzed. That’s impossible. She must have been breathing while she floated in the flooded craft. I check her slender neck for a pulse, but there’s none. And yet, she’s breathing. I stare at her face in disbelief, ceasing to breathe myself for a few seconds.
The rain is beating down in unrelenting fury as I pull the boat onto the shore and push it far enough from the water that it won’t be swamped. As I struggle to drag the woman’s dead weight towards my cabin, the soaked ground keeps sucking my swimfins. I take them out and leave them there. Although half of the woman’s back is caked in mud, I gently lay her on the mattress I have been sleeping on for the past three years. Then I wheel my heater so it will warm her. In case I was losing my mind, I check her breathing again. She’s still taking air in as if she was sleeping peacefully.
I want to take the woman’s skin tight jumpsuit off and check for wounds. However, I would need her full cooperation, and I don’t find any zipper on it. I can’t figure out how she even put it on.
I end up wiping the mud from her body with a wet washcloth, then throw a blanket over her and place another against the back of her head as a pillow.
After I have undressed and dried myself, I warm my dinner in the microwave and then wearily sit down in front of the woman to eat as I observe her. She hasn’t moved a centimeter. She’s so pale as if she had been injured in the crash and lost too much blood for her body to survive. And yet she looks to me otherwise as healthy as they come.
The sun, that hadn’t been strong enough to pierce the cloud cover of this storm, has already set when I realize that at some point I dozed off on the chair. When I open my eyes, the woman is sitting up straight on my mattress and is staring at me without blinking, expressionless. Her eyes are of a red color almost as vivid as her hair.
I want to ask her all the usual questions, but I get the sense she won’t answer. Still, I try.
“How do you feel?”
Her gaze remains fixed on me. We hold each other’s gaze as the hair on my arms raises. Seconds later, the woman looks around with precise movements as if scanning the room for something, or checking out her surroundings. She must not have found what she was looking for, because she turns her head to stare at me again.
“Do you have a name?” I ask, breaking the silence.
Her red eyes blink once, then twice, as if thinking about the question. Then she opens her mouth slightly and breathes out a quiet hiss. I shiver. Was that an attempt at a word, in a language I wouldn’t understand, or did this woman seriously hiss at me like a predator?
“Did you just hiss at me?” My voice trembles slightly, although I attempt a smile. “That’s not an answer.”
She lowers her gaze, still silent, and turns to look out the window, then at my belongings that lay on the floor, and then she looks back at me. Her eyes hold a cunning sparkle, like that of an uncaged beast in the wilderness who had finally come across his prey.
“I’m wondering whether it is an issue of you not understanding me, not being able to speak, or not wishing to,” I say, as I figure it is a good idea to be as clear as possible with this stranger. “Can you confirm whether you understand me?”
She narrows her shoulders a bit in what I initially take for a shrug, but I can’t be sure. I’m exhausted. Before I went out for a dive this afternoon I had expected to go to sleep as soon as I returned, and my body it asking me to. But I have no clue what to do with this stranger.
“Okay then.” I let out a sigh. “I’ll think of a name to call you, given that you are unlikely to give me one. How about… Alice?”
I don’t know why I said that. It just came out, and it seems to catch her attention. She stares at me with her piercing gaze, before nodding a single, terse nod.
“Nice to meet you, Alice. I’m Lena.” I hold my hand towards her as a gesture of friendship. She merely stares down at it. I pull back my hand awkwardly. “So, I’ll take that as a no on the hand shaking. Do you need anything? I can get you something to eat, or a blanket perhaps? It’s a bit cold in here.”
Water, to start with. Who would be allergic to water? I turn to the sink, grab a nearby glass that I had drank from before I set off for a bit of diving today. I don’t remember if I cleaned it. In any case, I fill it with water. As soon as I turn towards the stranger again, her piercing, unblinking stare makes me shiver. It feels like turning back towards a cat to realize that it likely had been staring at you for a couple of minutes even though you didn’t feel it. In the case of this stranger who can breathe underwater, I feel the intelligence behind her silence as if she was scanning the contents of my brain.
I hand her the glass of water, and she eagerly takes it from me. She gulps it down in an instant as if she was dying of thirst. She lowers the glass from her face, and I notice a faint gleam of moisture along the rim of her lips.
As I get the sense the stranger doesn’t know what to do with the glass, I take it from her hands carefully and return it to the counter. “I’ll get you some more later.”
“Water…” The woman’s face twists up for a moment, as if she was struggling to find the words. “I need water.”
I’m shocked, although I hide it behind my relaxed expression. It felt as if I had heard a random animal speaking.
“I see. Don’t worry, I’ll get you all you need. If you aren’t injured, which seems to be the case, you can get some whenever you want. Feel at home, and all that.”
This time I bring her a water bottle. As she gulps down most of it at once, I sit down on the carpet with a glass of water myself.
“You know, I love that you understand and can speak my language to whatever extent. I can’t imagine what happened, how you ended up at the bottom of the lake, but I’m glad I could help. My good deed of this month, I guess.”
“You saved me?” The woman asks with a surprise that seems to be genuine.
I snap my head back. What’s the last thing this woman remembers? Surely plummeting inside that aircraft of hers. Did she fall unconscious before an accident happened?
“Yeah. Your craft sank to the bottom of the lake. I happened to be diving down there at the time. Gave me quite a scare. I took you out, wiped the mud from your jumpsuit, all that.”
“Why did… why did you save me? You don’t know me. You don’t know who I am.”
I clear my throat, and respond carefully.
“Well… I couldn’t just leave you there to die. It’s against my nature.”
The woman is quiet for a while. Then she speaks up with a sigh: “Thank you. I won’t forget it.”
“Neither will I.”
She gets up from my dirty matress and moves towards the entrance. I think that she’s going to leave as if I had never met her, but she stands in front of the window and pulls the curtain away to gaze through the hard rain towards the lake.
“You know,” I start, although I’m not sure why, “I used to love rain. It’s not that I don’t like rain now, but… there was a certainty in the world back then when I was a kid, you know? As certain as all childhoods are. When it rained, you knew it’d clear up. Not always, perhaps, but it usually did. Now all I see is pain in every drop.”
I’m looking at her back. I can’t see her expression.
“Pain?” she asks. “Where do you see pain in the rain?”
“I don’t know. Listen, I figure the you I’m seeing is a disguise I can’t begin to understand. My first impression is that you would need to look plainer, because a pretty woman attracts enough attention on her own. But what I truly want to say is that no matter where you came from, or why you did, I hope your people and mine can be civil with each other, because all the killing we inflict upon ourselves is more than enough. I don’t know if there’s someone out there waiting for you, but if I can help you reach them, you can tell me.”
She doesn’t respond. She seems to be deep in thoughts. Then, she clears her throat and turns around to face me. I can see the rain water dripping from her waist length hair.
“I don’t know why I’m here,” she says. “I don’t know why I’m here, but I want to stay here, because you are kind.”
I don’t know how to take her words.
“Does it bother you that I know? Is it a bad thing that I do?” I ask.
“Not at all. Not at all,” she replies. “I’ve never met anyone that knows. I have to thank you for not sounding flabbergasted.”
“I wouldn’t have expected you to be so polite, but I’m so glad. There’s no harm in me knowing, you see. We are both intelligent creatures. I hope at least you consider me that. So we can both behave like civilized people.”
“We can,” she answers. “Lena, I need to return to the bottom of that lake.”
“Ah… It’s not safe,” I say before I remember that this stranger can breathe underwater.
“I know,” she says. “But this is important.”
I can read the worry in her red eyes.
“I mean, it’s night out. Can it wait until tomorrow morning?”
Her face softens. “Of course.”
“We can search for the wreckage in the morning light. It’s not like we are going to get much light down there, but… I have never dived this late. I couldn’t guarantee it’d go right.”
The woman nods.
“Ah, can I ask you something else?”
I bite my lip.
“I quite like the name I gave you. Alice… But now you can tell me your actual name. If you use those, that is.”
She shakes her head. “I’m sticking with Alice. It’s the name you gave me, I’ll always answer to it.”
“Alright then… I suppose we should get some rest for tonight. I’m afraid my place is as shabby as you can see. I don’t need much. But you can sleep on my mattress. I’ll go grab a few pillows and sleep on the floor for the night.”
“That’s not necessary,” she says. “We can share the mattress together. Two people would fit, right? I mean, we’re about the same height and size.”
“Well… That’ll be fine.”
After we flip the mud-stained mattress, the woman sits down on it then scoots over towards the wall to leave space for me. I’ve never had another person in my cabin, let alone share a bed with one. I’m getting dizzy.
“I’m… going to pee first. Just lie down, I’ll return in a moment.”
As I leave the room for what I chose to consider my study, I grab an empty plastic bottle. Once I enter the study, I close the door behind me, pull my pants and underwear down and press the mouth of the bottle so most of my pee goes inside. I’m more careful than usual this time. My heart is racing. After I have finished, I sigh and try to relax.
When I returned to the main room, I half expected the woman to be gone. I can’t look her in the eye even though she’s staring at me. I turn off the light. Once I lay down next to her, we both wrap the blanket around ourselves. I’m as stiff as a board.
“Alice…” I start with a thin voice. “Is it beautiful out there?”
I close my eyes.
“Ah… That’s good.”
The rain lashes the window as I slowly drift to sleep. This strange woman’s warmth feels good next to me, and I hope she doesn’t mind my cold feet. I fall asleep tangled in a mess of thoughts. My dreams are dark and empty.
When I wake up it’s still black outside, and I’m exhausted as if I have barely dozed off for a nap. No alarm dragged me from my dreams. Why did I wake up?
The woman isn’t warming the bed next to me. She’s standing in front of the window and looking towards the lake, except that this time she hasn’t pulled the curtain away. For a moment I think she’s naked, until my brain realizes she’s still wearing her tight jumpsuit. I can tell by the wrinkles that she isn’t wearing anything underneath.
“Alice?” I call out in a meek voice.
I hear then over the background sound of the rain and the wind the whoop whoop of a helicopter nearby. My first thought is that they must be nuts to hover over the lake in this weather. Then I figure that the only reason why they would be out here during the night and under the rain must be related to the woman whose back I’m staring at. I get up and wrap the blanket around my shoulders. After rubbing sleep out of my eyes, I approach the woman. I’m reluctant to move the curtains, but I make out two helicopters whose searchlights are brightening something on the surface of the lake. And there’s movement on the waters as well, an inflatable boat.
“They’re looking for you,” I tell her as if she were stupid.
Her gaze doesn’t break away from the intruders and her face remains expresionless except for a tension in her eyebrows. Then I remember that we were supposed to dive to the bottom of the lake first thing in the morning.
“Damn it, you wanted to return to your craft. No, you wanted to retrieve something. That box, was it?”
The woman turns her face towards me and nods.
“Did you bring it with you when you saved me?”, she asks with a neutral tone.
A bitter taste fills my mouth.
“Sorry, I… I saw how you were hugging it against your chest. When I grabbed you to swim to the surface, it slipped from your hands. It must be resting at the bottom of the lake.”
Her face becomes even more expressionless, as if she was pulling away from me.
“We can’t go out there, Alice,” I say. “It must be the military, or some secret branch of the government. They probably have reached your craft already, and this cabin of mine is the only one along the shore. They will come to figure out if I know anything, and I’m sure that they won’t need a warrant to enter. If they find you… For starters, I’m sure I won’t ever see you again. Nobody else will ever see you again outside of whatever hole they’ll throw you into.”
I’m sure she’s considering the repercussions of being seen, as she just stands still and slowly blinks.
“The soldiers now have what they want from you…” I continue in a low voice. “Or at least they know where it is. But they must know enough about the kind of craft your people use to understand that it was carrying someone. They must think you have reached the shore and are hiding, or making your way somewhere. I’m sure they will look for days and bother the locals. We need to leave.”
I go on to explain that I have a car parked behind the cabin, and will drive her to a safe place. She just nods as I speak.
“There’s a town nearby,” I say as I look around the room to figure out where I left the keys. I haven’t driven for a week. “I’m sure the military will look around there as well, but at least we won’t have a target painted on us as we do now remaining in this cabin. From then on we’ll figure out what to do.”
I grab my torch, which I left on top of the battery charger, and shortly after I find the car keys under a candlestick. I turn to face the woman. She remains expressionless, but there is definitely life in her eyes now.
“Come on then,” I say, gesturing her to follow me to the door. “Let’s get out of here. You really can’t allow those people to take you.”
“I have no choice,” she says, turning her head to look at the lake one last time. “But they will find me anyway.”
“That’s defeatist talk.”
I walk to the back door with the woman slowly following after me. I open it for her and gesture her to walk in front. The cold, hard rain hits my face, and I can barely see anything in front. I don’t want to risk turning on my torch now. Before I turn to beeline towards the parked car that I can’t see, I hear the back door close behind me. A dark shape is moving around there, and I quickly try to turn on the torch, but a strong blow sinks into my stomach. I gasp for breath. I can feel the air crushed out of my lungs as I fall to the ground. I roll into the grass in an attempt to get away from my attacker. Hearing the sound of feet pattering on the grass, I try to stand up before some heavy foot crushes my skull.
“Not her.” A harsh male voice says close by.
I hear a buzzing sound, then glimpse a blue arc of light on a device that someone is holding. A taser. They have missed. A few big men are moving around between me and Alice, who is retreating slowly towards the house.
Although I’m coughing my lungs out and the rain is making it hard for me to take deep breaths, I stagger towards the backs of those men.
“Hey! She hasn’t done anything to you!” I try to say, then someone lands a heavy kick on my side and I fall into a puddle, where my face ends up covered by the muddy water. I can’t see anything when I open my eyes. I try to get up, but a heavy boot crushes my back. Before I can formulate any thought, I feel something gripped around my neck.
They are going to kill me. Just because I happened to be at the lake when the craft fell, just because I rescued the strange woman, these government people will end my life. That’s how it is.
The world lights up, and for a moment I think that I’ve been shot in the head. I’m bathed in light. So are the military men standing around, as well as Alice, who is keeping away closer to my cabin. Then I hear the helicopter rotors and realize that its searchlight is pointed straight at us. Someone is shouting, although I can’t tell apart much between the rain and the pain.
A woman wearking a shiny blue suit is advancing towards the men. No, not another woman, it’s Alice. Her jumpsuit has changed. She stands between me and the agents, and then I really see her for the first time. An scaled, reddish arm reaches out and grabs the nearest man by the neck, lifting him up without any effort. His feet are swinging in the air, and then he is thrown against the ground. They all draw their weapons and point them at the strange woman, but they don’t fire.
“Back away from him,” a voice from above says over a loudspeaker, “Or we will open fire.”
The woman looks at me for a moment, and I can only stare back in awe. Her face is purple like a bruise, the teeth inside her open maw sharp like a shark’s. She has retained the bright red eyes, although none of the hair.
Alice hisses like a snake as she swings one leg forward. The agents open fire, but she has already leaped over their heads and landed behind them. She grabs by the arm the man who had gripped something around my neck to kill me. She swings him around like a flail, his own pistol flying out of his hand and into the air. She lets go of the agent and he crashes into his fellows, knocking two of them to the ground.
“Run!” she screams, although it comes out as a bark.
I do not need to be told twice, and I sprint away from the cabin as fast as I can. From behind me come the bursts of automatic fire, as well as the increasing whoop whoop of the second helicopter. However, as I spot the treeline in the dark, I stop. If I flee through the woods, I will never see Alice again. I will never know what happened to her, although due to her isolation, separated from her people and hunted down by an organization that would hide this night even from the rest of us, I would always regret not having been able to act, even if trying wouldn’t change a thing.
I stand and watch as the cabin door is ripped off by a burst of fire, shortly before the wooden walls are torn to pieces. My heart sinks as I watch agents pour into the building, before the loudspeaker spouts an order.
“Do not kill the alien on sight!”
A few agents trail out of the building without noticing my figure in the darkness. The panicked voice of one of the soldiers reaches me as they scatter as if retreating.
“She’s called in!”
Instead of regrouping, the military guys flee into the woods. One of them, who is wearing night vision goggles, briefly looks my way before ignoring me as if I were a random deer. I don’t understand. My torso and neck hurt, and I taste blood. I stagger towards the back door of the cabin, but then I spot Alice, a reddish and purple figure a bit taller than before and whose shiny skin resembles metallic scales, walking slowly towards me while holding a small, phone like device in her raised hand.
“You…” I begin, but I double over to cough first. “You made it.”
“So did you, Lena.”
As I struggle to stand upright, I try to focus my gaze so I can register her new facial features, her almond-like red eyes enlarged towards the sides of her head, the thin, almost sculpted protuberance of the nose, and a maw with protruding teeth. The helicopters are swinging their searchlights wildly while they maneuver away from the cabin. And as I frame both of the vehicles in my vision, a new craft pops up around a hundred feet above them as if it had teleported there. It’s metallic cylinder the size of a football field, and in each of its ends flare a blurry, fire-like light that changes colors between red, orange and green.
I feel Alice close to me. She has stopped by my side. As she raises her scaly hand to touch my arm, the enormous spacecraft projects a liquid light that blankets the whole area. No, not the whole area, it precisely encompasses the helicopters, me and Alice, as well as the treeline. Then I feel myself lifted as by a giant. Me and Alice are floating towards the bottom of the cylindrical craft. Both helicopters screech and groan while getting compressed slowly as if caught in a hydraulic press. Although a wave of vertigo overwhelms me, I need to look down towards the ground. That’s when I spot all the military men that had tried to flee through the woods. They are floating in the direction of the craft, but they are struggling as if they could hold on to something.
I must have passed out. Next thing I know I’m standing up from a sterile-looking floor, like that of an operating room. People are moving and shouting around me. My head is spinning.
To my left, a man wearing a camo outfit decked in accessories, who in this room looks as if he came from a costume party, is screaming in terror. I don’t understand why, but then I notice that strange metallic appendages coming from the celing, which gives the impression of being made out of complicated machinery, have restrained the man’s arms and legs. The appendages tug him and he sails through the empty space of the room until he lands on a table that wouldn’t be out of place in any operating room I had seen before. As the man, who is crying like a child, looks on, strangely shaped, seemingly autonomous and sharp devices come up from the sides of the table and then tear the man apart in a bloodbath. Only when his head is severed he stops screaming, and his eyes keep moving for a few seconds.
Someone shoves me as if I was in the way. Other men are being restrained and pulled into the line of operating tables. As ear shattering screams fill the room, the growing spill of blood is falling down inconspicuous drains on the floor. I spot various people with metallic, scaly skin either standing near the operation tables, or grabbing detached limbs and moving them somewhere else. Then I feel something cold and metallic gripping my own limbs with such a strength as if I had fallen into industrial machinery. I fly backwards, then land heavily on my injured back.
In the periphery of my vision I sense the operating tools that are going to butcher me, but I can’t tear my gaze away from the sight in front of me: the curved wall of this large room is covered in little alcoves closed with a transparent material. They display human heads, human torsos, human limbs, human genitals. Some flayed, some dissected. Most of the faces look back towards me in shock, their expressions frozen. Men, women, children.
The tools never dismember me nor behead me. Around me the strange people are arguing loudly in a language my vocal cords would never be able to reproduce. Then to my left, next to the table, appears a purple face that I recognize, two large, red eyes that look down towards me with intelligence and warmth.
“Can you swim in the dark, Lena?”
I open my mouth to speak, but my throat is closed and my eyes are watering. I blink a few times, as I want to look at Alice for the last time.
I am falling. Above me, the football field sized, cylindrical craft hovers like a blimp against the black clouds. The rain lashes sideways against me, the wind screeches in my ears. The craft gets smaller and smaller.
I crash against a surface, but I don’t die. Instead I become engulfed by cold, black waters which cut me off from all sounds but my heartbeat, and separate me from the wild storm above. I sink in slow motion until I can’t tell if I have stopped.
I am hurting. My mouth tastes metallic. A wave of anguish is shaking my insides. I close my eyes tight and for a moment I wish to fall asleep.
I kick my legs and swim.