Escape from Atlantis

For an eternity, I groped at the abyss. My body seemed suspended in the nothingness, where light and sound was forgotten. At some point, I had lost all sense of time. In these infinite depths, you can feel no tide, nor current. Only cold, indifferent darkness, unending.

I am not even sure if the direction I am traveling is up, and this worries me, because the surface will be my escape. I know my body well now. It is the only thing I am aware of. My arms reach out, hands cupped, then drag back to propel me through the water. My legs spread apart, and then push together, like spaghetti scissors. The gills on both sides of my chest strain themselves, attempting to filter the little oxygen there is from the water that flows through me. I am tired, and move slowly to conserve what little energy I have. The impenetrable darkness forces claustrophobia and panic upon me. Grim thoughts whirl through my mind. Am I swimming horizontally, now doomed to drift forever? Have I somehow been swallowed whole by an enormous carnivorous creature? Am I even moving at all?
‘I am moving steadily upward, to meet the gods of heaven.’

They said I would never make it. That I would be lost in black water until my ration pouch was empty and my lifeless flesh would become drifting debris. But they were telling terrible tales, trying to convince me from my attempt at escape, or so I would like to believe. Even at this moment, they’re probably waiting at the great gates, peering off into the distance, hoping for my return. But I will never return. I will die in these deep waters before I see my face to theirs. Never again will I breathe deep in Atlantis.

Suddenly, I feel something brushing against my skin. For a frozen moment, I spied death in my minds eye. Soft bristling tendrils surrounded me, and then an unmistakable odour came as a greeting. It was Redweed, a harmless algae that lives absorbing light. But what was it doing here in the black water? A thought came to me.
‘The heavens!’
‘The heavens must be near!’

For the first time since I climbed to the black waters, I opened my eyes. I shuddered in excitement and let out a small cry. A dim glow lit up the Redweed. The nothingness that had contained me for so long was massacred by a hazy red kaleidoscope of stringy ocean plant life. Joy swelled in me as I stared into the beacons above. Shimmering pinpoints of light. I wept uncontrollably at the sight and scrambled to drive on forward.
‘To the surface!’

I grappled with the Redweed till it thinned out and I was in open water again. A screen of brilliant colour floated above my head. Shapes and shadows danced for me in a spectacular show. All of my dream and fortune lay there, beyond the world of water, bathed in purifying light. One hundred words at once raced through my brain, commanding me to action. But they all said the same thing in one hundred different ways. Escape. I thrashed at the water with my rubbery limbs, sparing no energy, for there would be no return. The screen of colour drew closer and closer. My eyes locked wide.
‘Take me.’ I whispered, pleading to the brilliant light, exhausted.

Metres from the surface, I feel a rush of great warmth. It relieves me with happiness. I relax, stop swimming, and rise calmly to the waters edge. Here, I am released from the lip of the ocean. A world unknown is thrust upon me. My eyes are blurry and glazed by the bright light, but it does not bother me. A giant sphere of energy looks down to where I lay, and I smile into its face. Beautiful wings of orange and yellow grow fast from my body and furiously lick all that surrounds. I am engulfed by flickering light, and it melts my skin. I feel myself drifting, drifting apart, in pieces, and succumb to it. I know, here, I will join with the other Atlantean gods, and spend eternity watching over our people. My body, piece by piece, is returned to the world it was born from. I am at peace. I am one, with everything.

Escape from Atlantis

Old World Sparrow

Bendigo, Australia

  • Artist
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