Thursday, 4 September 2008

Juliana's bequest

I am writing this in abject fear of what awaits me. It is night, I am safe at home, I am tired, exhausted if I am completely honest, yet I dare not go to bed. The soft warmth there will envelop and welcome me and I will sink, unconscious into hell.

I will awaken, a rushing sound around my head, my senses screaming, the cold, bitter bitter cold, and I am wet, no not wet, immersed. I force my eyes open and it takes a moment to comprehend the situation. I am on the sea bed, my own home towers above me and, I am drowning.

I struggle in panicked fear, and make to dash to the surface many hundreds of feet above me but find that my feet and arms are bound, and three large iron quoits are tied at my feet. I scream, and as the bubbles leave my lungs and water forces itself in to my mouth, my throat contracts, I gag but there is nothing to eject, the water enters my stomach, my body struggling against all hope, rejecting the seas entry into my lungs and in so doing damning me to asphyxiation; and all the time I am fighting, fighting and struggling in futility, against the bonds that hold me, dislocating my arms, and snapping bones in my wrists as I fight.

And with that fight comes release, the exertion takes the very oxygen I seek to preserve, and dizziness takes me, a bright light envelops my vision and as I pass into death, my heart beats ever slower, I feel my throat relax and welcome the sea into my lungs.

A searing pain burns through my chest as my lungs inflate, forcing water and tissue up through my throat and into the sea around me. My body convulses and gags on the air as it escapes, the intense burning, pricking sense of pins and needles extends across my entire being as my still beating heart pumps oxygen anew. It takes time for my senses fully to return, I feel the cold, the wetness, I do not even need to open my eyes for I know where I am now and, I am drowning.

I am living her life and dying her death, with each revival I gain a few moments of tortured life.

In time I cease to thrash, I use my moments in considered effort to release my bonds. With each revival my broken bones and torn skin are renewed, not healed mind oh no, the bones fuse where they rest and my limbs become distorted like the twisted branches of an ancient tree, scar tissue tries in vain to hide the damage beneath and glows fresh and new.

On occasion I awake, and lay sweating in my bed, sobbing like a small child knowing that sleep must come and return me to the depths. And so this living hell goes on, Juliana's hell, a hell perpetuated for longer than I can possibly imagine. Eventually I will break the bonds that tie me; release my arms and after an eternity of picking and tearing at the heavy hemp rope I will unleash my feet, but all is in vain, I've been here before night after night, yet still I have to try.

The next rush of air arrives and beyond the pain I push toward the surface, the shrunken volume of air in my lungs expanding as I rise, this time will be different. The surface above comes ever closer beckoning to me as I rise, but the air is simply not enough, I cough helplessly, convulsing as I choke. The beckoning surface looks on, I never reach it, my body fails me, the sea triumphant and in my anguish I reach out toward the pale ripples of sun that taunt me from above; then as the life ebbs from me, I feel my body sinking slowly back down.

It is then that I enter my blackest time, I realise that I am the sea's plaything now and for ever, and I must end the cycle, my life must be forfeit once and for all. I reach to my throat and grasping the life sustaining necklace try to cast it away, but it will not leave me, some evil magic binds it to my fingers still. There is no end, no way out, an eternal life of pain stretches out before me and I settle to the sea bed awaiting my next death.

I look up and she is there, Juliana, smiling at me. The water seems not to hurt her, a cloud of tiny golden anthias shoal about her, the sun rays scatter in the water behind her, unnaturally bright in these gloomy depths. She bends toward me and with my final act I thrust my arm toward her, begging her to take the cursed jewelery, silently pleading for release. Then as I fade once more, one final time, the light enveloping my senses, I feel the necklace slip from my grasp, with a sigh I attain my release.

I have no idea how long I sleep at the end of this, but I know that it is not enough. I am at my wits end. By day, I am forcing myself to visit the sea, I cannot let this curse destroy my sanity but my very grasp on reality is fraying. I fight the fear of water, how crazy for a girl who lives under the ocean? As yet I have not told anyone of my plight, I fear the curse, the paranoia of the people of Babbage visiting upon me this fate for real. It is not a rational thought, these are my friends, my neighbours, not a crew of superstitious sailors but then fear so often lacks rationality.

It is late, so very late now, my eyes are weighing heavy with their burden of sleep, but I will not give in. I am going to seek out Mr Whitfield, perhaps he can help me take these cursed dreams away.

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