Vignette #3

At this depth, in this place, the lack of visibility stifles you. Sometimes I think it’s like the surface air when night closes in and thick cloud cover shrouds the moons and stars from the night sky, and there are no fires breaking the fabric of the night. But that doesn’t quite fit, because the colour is not the same. Or the absence of colour. You know?

The source of the light surrounding you is no longer discernible, and the particulate in the water is thick enough, the limited distance your eyes can penetrate through that fug, is such that you can’t tell up from down. Everything is just the same gritty grey-green.

You have your other senses, of course. The air pockets in our bodies, our natural ballast, tug us just-so towards what must be the surface. Our skin, that sensitive organ, can sense slight gradations in temperature – and here where the currents barely flow, downwards is forever cold.

And then there’s the weak sonar we possess, though the elders warn us against its use in open water. I know that I could belch out a ping and I know that a few hundred feet below me I’d perceive my destination, its shape imprinted in my brain in those rough echoes. But I don’t, because I was raised well, and because I know where I’m going.

And of course because I’m afraid. Deathly afraid, as any youth who lives beyond youth must be, of the creatures which were born and grew and fed and bred and died a thousand times over, long before our kind ever felt the touch of this world’s boundless seas. The creatures which hunt below.

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