- Vol. 05
- Chapter 06
I lived on the edge of a vast and nameless expanse of dark water that stretched as far as the eye could see.
Sometimes in the pink mists that rolled over the water, morning and evening, I thought I could see the tops of spires and towers beginning to emerge. But there was never any substance to these imaginings, just the stories that I'd heard since I was a boy. Tales of buildings hundreds of storeys high. One of the tallest had had a blue pool on the top in the shape of a scallop shell. So they said. But the fire and the flood had come and everyone had left and gone to the hills, beyond the reach of the rising waters. There were just a few who had stayed close to the water's edge and my parents were among them. They were adventuring people, but they were never foolhardy. They told me that the dark waters were too dangerous to swim in. All the plastics from the drowned city were down there. They had choked the fish that had come to the waters and they would kill me too, if I were to dive down.
In winter the waters froze and we would skate for miles. Sometimes I lay down on the ice and listened to the noises below, rumblings and groanings. There were stories about those too but they didn't frighten me. I knew I could make my own future in the world as it was. Each Spring it took longer for the ice to melt, but when it eventually did I would launch the old boat and push out to a calm place where I'd lie back and – trailing my fingers in the water – dream of other possibilities.
This had gone on for all the years of my growing and now, my parents buried on the hillside, I was alone in the house near the water's edge. I trapped rabbits, grew potatoes, gathered wild herbs. I needed nothing more. But one Spring the waters began to tell me of a change, something moving below. At first it was just an eddying. Then the first buildings began to emerge.
RevelationI rowed from one to another, touching the stones, then stepping out of the boat and surveying the shifting waters from these small secure places. But I could see whirlpools developing between the exposed walls, vortices ready to suck and pull down anything thrown into them.
I was unprepared for the speed of the change, for the way the water fell away all of a sudden as if the plug of a giant bath had been pulled out somewhere far below me. I was left, stranded, on pillar no wide than my own body. I watched as all the buildings of the city were revealed by the draining waters. And yet I was not afraid. I stood there 'twixt heaven and earth, strong and sure; I knew it was now my time to fly.