There are fish and acid-eaten heads. I am one of the scuba divers helping this group of sea-folk retrieve their kin from a circular, many-toothed mouth, like the mechanical shark in James and the Giant Peach. There are long, scaly bodies as I rip open the shark on a large coral reef. Heads roll.
I find the body of a long-deceased pirate, the clothes still intact, sitting uneaten in the guts of this shark. A badge on the lapel says “24 DEC” and I place it in my pocket. Sometime later, the badge will be placed by the mouth of a cave where a dark, salt-crusted skull guards the entrance. This is the shrine to honour the pirate.
I swim, following my line of sight, toward a series of mountains. The water around me disappears under its own blackness and depths. I have left the sea-folk and their kin. I was the betrayer–the traitorous hero who should have protected the others from being maimed within the acidic belly of the shark. The sea-folk wanted my flesh for food, and I swam. Stupidly, I swam. They followed until I passed into the borders, the imaginary wall dividing the sea, of the next land. When I tread water, my heart pounding from exertion and anxiety, and looked back at them, they formed a sinister line and screeched at me.
While my arms ache, I gulp sea water, still barely within reach of the mountain range. The sea and the mountains are too much of a single entity, piled up until it becomes awesome.
Droplet upon droplet until the sea flows; dust upon dust until the mountain grows.
A shanty town on a rock outcropping peeks up on the horizon to my far left. I head for it. The citizens here have wings–great, feathered wings that beat the air like engines. I fear them, and when I hoist myself onto the closest pier, amidst ships unloading imports, they stop in mid-action. Half a dozen land on the dock and examine me. My lungs scream painful fury and my arms, legs, and torso feel liquid on the solid, stable surface.
I open my eyes in a strange orb made of wooden planks. Round windows let light shine through on the opposite wall, and I approach them shakily. The walk reminds my legs of their purpose.
The orb hangs high in the sky, from the edge of the rock outcropping, suspended above the shanty town with pulleys and thick beams made of some type of lush, natural thing. The flying creatures go in and out of similar orbs around me. I fall back as one lands near the window and wedges itself through the opening. Its wings fold down onto its back, its human arms press into a malleable torso, and its fuzz-engulfed face looks down at me. The moth-like being examines me with large antennae. Two more creatures squeezes through the window. They swarm me and grab me, and I know I’ve died before my consciousness breaks.