She led me through the cave entrance. It was big, almost as big as the cavern we had been in.
Inside lay a deep pit, and in the pit, was the pool, aptly named. The pool was illuminated by the water, which emanated a deep blue.
“Why does it glow blue like that?” I asked her.
“I don’t know.” She took off her clothes. It was apparent she was just entering puberty. She had a bush of pubic hair and overly large nipples with a bit of fat around them, which one day would turn into real breast. She dived. The water sucked her in without a ripple. She swam down deep. The water was so clear and illuminated that I could see her better in it, then I could out. A minute later she emerged. Her hair flattened to her head by the water. She breast-paddled back to shore and with my eyes on her, she calmly walked out.
“See. Safe. You’re next.” She smiled at me, but her eyes were different, fiercer. They glowed as if she were a wolf caught in firelight of a dark camp. She seemed taller some-how. Her body that of a woman. I could see what the girl would look like as a woman. Tall, blonde, statuesque.
“What do you see, with those hourglass eyes of yours?” I asked her, as I watched her adult body getting dressed. She seemed not to have noticed that she was completely transformed. Then, in a blink of an eye, she slipped the rags back onto her body and she was back to the little girl again. The woman-vision was gone. It must be part of my hallucinations, another fever dream. Yet, I knew it wasn’t.
“The future,” she said, answering my question.
“What type of future?” I asked her.
“Decay. I see the eventual decay of everything, and everyone, I come into contact with. I know how they die, and when. Everywhere I look I see death. Even flowers, few as they may be. I see them molt, wither, die.”
“That sounds terrible.”
“I guess. I was born this way, I don’t know another. They called it the Raistlain disease. Named from the man, back in ancient days, whom was rumored to have first displayed this anomaly. They say he was a wizard, a powerful wizard whom could speak to cats. I don’t know if he ever existed.”
“What do you see with me?”
She did not hesitate. “Nothing.” As if that were the end of the conversation. “The water has done its work. It has refreshed me. It has sustained me. You see? The mayor is very frugal with the rations, so a little goat herder like me doesn’t get much. I am sure that if it were not for the water in the pit, I would have starved to death long ago.”
I let that sink in for a moment. “The other proud citizens of Tombstone? They don’t know about this miraculous pool?”
“No. Just me and my mother. Whom I know you are lying about, your aura changes when I speak about her. Is there anything you want to tell me?” She looked at me with that bone withering look, those decay watching eyes. I said nothing. She went on. “Very well. The town’s well is about a kilometer or two west of here, that they keep guarded. Here, is nothing. No one has the curiosity to explore and I will never tell them.”
“It can help me?”
“Why don’t you see my death?”
“I don’t know. Maybe that is the way the Great Writer wills it.”
“You are a believer in the Great Writer?”
“I don’t know. A deity is a deity to me. Now, do you want to live?”
The question took me by surprise. That is when I realized, that yes, I did want to live. “Yes,” I answered.
“Then take off your clothes, jump into the water. Dive to the bottom, and no matter what you experience, do not come back up until after you touch the floor.”
“How deep is it?”
“Deep enough. Ready?”
“No. I don’t understand, how is this going to help?”
“There is no such thing as magic.”
“Then how do you explain the Angels? Or you surviving the Wasted Waze? Or Bob--The Angel of Jerricho?”
I couldn’t. The fever was returning. It was apparent, either I die above the water or drown in it. Judging by how hot my skin began to feel, the water seemed a better idea. “Fine. I will jump in, but why does it glow blue?”
“I’m not a scientist. I’m ten- and a half. The clouds are black, the sun is red and this water glows in the dark. I can’t answer these questions other than to say our world is completely fucked up. Now, jump.”
I took off my layers. The air was cool against my bare skin. I took a deep breath and walked into the pool. The temperature was warm, like slipping on a coat. The water was thicker than regular water, it clung to my skin like maple syrup. It began to tingle. My body began to shake like it was cold. Halfway in, I stopped and looked at the little girl.
“I told you to jump in, not wade in like an old woman,” she said.
Cheeky. I waded deeper into the pool. The water began to get warmer and warmer, until it felt hot. I got scared. “I can’t do this. This isn’t water. It’s some sort of radiated liquid. Could be hydrogen run-off from the Argo, or a cracked fissure tunnel from the Cataclysm, infiltrating the aquifer, causing the radiation. It can’t be safe.”
“If you come out of that water, you won’t last a day buddy.” I turned, it was Bob talking, beside him were Lora, and the girl, all on the shore. All three looking at me.
“Go in Zildjan, don’t try to understand. Just put your head into the water, and dive,” Lora said.
“Who are you looking at?” Chris-Anne asked. I blinked, it was just her on the shore.
“No one,” I said.
I turned around, took a last breath, and sank deep into the neon blue waters of the pool-in-the-pit.