All Rights Reserved ©

Chapter 19

Chapter 19: Submerged

I bob to the surface. A swell surges into the chasm and dashes me against the wall. I flail, fingernails scraping for purchase on the slick stone. Alecto crouches on the ledge from which I fell, bow string tensed, a glint of obsidian poised and pointed at the thrashing surf.

She relaxes when she spots me and lowers her bow. Reaches for a loop of rope on her hip. Tosses me a line with her free hand. It slaps the water right in front of me and splashes my face.

Do I want to be rescued by her? Before I can react, an undertow sucks me down and plunges me deep. A torrent shunted down by the chasm wall pins me against the rocky bed as if I am under Niagara.

I can’t budge. The odd thing is, the sad thing: I don’t care. I’ve been through this already. This ocean is no threat, it is my womb.

For many long seconds I hug the sea floor, sand blasted with swirling grit, until the current breaks and shifts. Back flow from the chasm rips me off the rocks and into the open sea.

I rocket to the surface and skim over an outgoing wave, wind milling my arms frantically, fighting to stay on top of the surf. My buoyancy is negligible. I have swallowed lots of water and feel it heavy in my lungs. It has been minutes since I had taken a breath, but that doesn’t seem to matter. Physiology seems optional in this place.

The chasm has emptied. The entire water line has receded from the cliffs and re-exposed the narrow beaches that the tsunami-like surge had submerged when Sabonis and I traversed the cliff face, almost as if the sea were sentient and had reached out a mighty pseudopod to get us.

I walk the strand, but find no sign of Sabonis. Alecto is gone. To my left towers a dark pillar of stone almost human in shape—hooded and caped like a pitying monk or an angel of death. I kick out and swim for it, fighting against a current that consumes most of my progress. I inch closer until a swell thrusts me against the pillar.

I dig my fingers into stone pocked like Swiss cheese, clinging like a crab as the sea pries at my grip and tries to peel me off. I jam my fist into a crack and twist, securing an unbreakable hold.

I wonder why I fight, why I don’t just let the sea take me where it wants to take me. And I know it’s because I still want to control my fate. I always had, until the moment of my death. Why should things change?

I can’t remove my fist or the sea will take me. I shut my eyes and try to think of nice, calm things: cricket song and iced tea on a summer night, watching videos and cuddling with Gina on the couch—anything but those terrible waves barreling into me.

I take advantage of any respite, however brief, to reposition my hand in the crevice. I creep up the pillar, with less and less of my body exposed to the full force of the swells. And the sea continues to recede until I can climb unimpeded. I move around the pillar to where a natural bridge connects it to the bluff. I scan the heights for Alecto and her companions. I see nothing but scraggly shrubs bending with the wind.

I haul myself onto the bridge and cross to a series of ledges that descend the shoulder of the bluff like giant steps. I walk in the direction Sabonis had intended us to go, but have no idea why I bother. His sodden, shredded coat clings to me like wet fur on a cat. My head hangs as I become acutely aware of my utter solitude. I have little motivation to continue. I look back over my shoulder at Mt. Abdiel and consider returning to the place that Bianca had brought me.

Somehow, I continue on, unwilling to face my defeat. I plod along the stepped ledges, descending to a wider strip of beach of black sand backed with grass-anchored dunes, all of it soaked by the now receded tsunami, which has left lagoons behind in every low spot. I wobble to the tallest dune I can find, and drop onto the sand and lie down flat.

The wind has already begun to dry the peaks of the ripples in the sand. I roll my head to one side and water trickles out of my lungs. Long minutes I lay still, my head empty of all but my most basic senses. When I finally lift my head, I am struck by a disturbing sense of déjà vu as if I am back on that other beach again.

But this beach is far different. Thinner. Backed by sheer cliffs, not a mountainside. And completely vacant.

Or is it?

I spy a body sprawled in the smooth, glistening sand at the limits of the lapping surf, a limp, still form that looks quite dead.

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.