When I sleep, I dream. In my dreams, I can’t drown.
For some reason, in all the dreams I’ve ever had, I never drowned because I could breathe underwater.
Breathing would be slow, heavy, but it was always enough to sustain me.
I would float in the warm water, darkness around me, and just open my mouth and ever so carefully breathe.
The water would fill my mouth, then my throat, all the way down to my lungs. It never hurt; it even felt nice.
I’d get enough oxygen to sustain me, not much more. It was too hard to move with the little bit of air my strange feat of unknown biology could muster.
But, I only needed enough to survive.
To not drown.
Yet, this is not a dream.
This is real.
The taste of salt on my tongue tells me so, for in none of my dreams did I ever taste that.
I hold my breath as the current pulls me down. The water is cold, strong.
Nothing like my dreams.
Struggling would deplete my oxygen supply faster, so I stay as still and calm as possible—I know I can’t fight my way back to the surface. Not with just my arms.
At least I’m not in the wheelchair; that would’ve dragged me down even faster.
I look up at where the ship’s hull blocks the sunlight.
It doesn’t seem to be stopping.
Help does not seem to be coming.
No-one is jumping in after me.
Did she not tell anyone?
She was there when I tumbled over the railing.
She was the one supposed to support me, yet she let me slip.
Or did she push? It happened so fast, I’m not quite sure now.
The current tugs at my clothes and pulls me deeper and further away.
Well, I suppose it doesn’t matter if nobody comes to help me.
I try to recall what she had said before she had helped me out of my chair. She hummed something when she guided me to the railing, that I do remember—just not what.
The cold water makes it so hard to focus. The lack of air makes it hard to focus.
My lungs burn; too little oxygen in them and too much carbon dioxide.
I let out a small bubble and it eases my chest ever so slightly.
The surface is moving further and further away. The pressure against my ears increases, but what can I do?
I never learnt how to swim, just how to float—and I’ve failed horribly at that so far.
But, maybe I can pretend this is a dream.
I part my lips and let the cold seawater fill my mouth—but only my mouth.
I watch the bubbles that escaped float up to the faraway surface.
The light of the sun seems so distant. The water around me grows darker with every beat of my heart.
There is nothing.
No reef, no fish, no bottom I can see.
Just a big, black abyss that’s pulling me in.
My ears stop hurting from the pressure now that my head is filled with the salty water, yet it stings.
My chest, however, burns.
My body needs oxygen, but the surface is beyond my reach.
Maybe I should try…
Pretend I am asleep.
Pretend I am dreaming.
In my dreams, I can breathe underwater.
The cold liquid flows down my throat, an involuntary spasm follows.
It’s okay—I can do this.
I imagine being able to take the oxygen from the water.
It’s difficult, heavy, but I’ve done it before.
The burning sensation in my chest slowly vanishes and my head feels lighter.
I’m still drifting further down into the dark.
Whispers from the void are at the edge of my mind. What is it they want? Do they desire my death? Or do they want me to keep on living?
I take another “breath”.
The surface is becoming nothing but a memory now that the light fades away.
But I am still alive.
In my dreams, I can breathe underwater.
As long as I dream, I can breathe.
It’s difficult and takes all my focus, but I am determined to keep going.
To stay alive.
I keep sinking and the pressure keeps increasing, every hint of light now gone.
But I can dream.
And thus, I can breathe.
The dead don’t dream, therefore I am not dead.
I close my useless eyes, nothing there to see.
Never stop dreaming.
I open my eyes.
Grotesque pillars are emerging from the depths. Obelisks darker than the seawater.
No, that would have been a very different sea.
These structures don’t have any architectural style I know of.
… but how am I seeing them?
There is no light at this depth—there shouldn’t be.
The whispers are louder now, but I still can’t understand what they say.
Are they helping me?
I can’t move, I just float on the current as it drags me along.
How tall are these pillars? Where is the bottom of this ancient sunken city?
I close my eyes again, but the monoliths remain visible.
It would make sense that I am not seeing them with my eyes, considering the lack of light.
But how then am I seeing them?
Something is wrong with this place. I can feel it in my entire being, but I just can’t quite explain what or why.
Is it the size of the structures? Of how they seem so alien? Or is it because I can still see them while everything around me is pitch black?
The salty water keeps slowly flowing in and out of my lungs, but I can’t help but wonder…
Do I really want to keep on dreaming if it takes me to this forsaken metropolis of drowned onyx structures too big to have ever been constructed by human hands?
Those who dream can’t die.
Was this my own thought, or someone else’s?
The current takes me towards a gigantic structure that, if anything, reminds me of a stargate. The ring itself appears to be a helix, but I count six—no, seven strands. The portal within is a shimmering black void.
I don’t want to go through.
Every fibre of my being is screaming to stop nearing it. But, I can’t move.
I can’t resist.
No human mind, no matter how ancient its civilisation, could ever have engineered the monstrosity I am being pulled towards.
What lies beyond that shimmering void?
I suppose it won’t be long until I find out.
But, I don’t want to find out.
I need to get away, as far as possible—and fast.
I need to stop dreaming.
And, with a gasp, that’s what I do.
The salt water burns my lungs and my body convulses.
The abysmal ring fades back into the dark depths.
Every pillar, every monolith, every sign of the abysmal sunken city … gone.
My chest hurts; there’s no more oxygen.
The dead don’t dream.
I’ve stopped dreaming.