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Echoes of the Past

Dear Basil: First Space, Now Dark Waters.

By Brittany MillerPublished 2 years ago 6 min read
Created With Canva | The Dead Sea Aquarium | November 2022

When I Grow Up, I Shall Venture 'Neath Dead Seas

Life has not always been easy. We all face our inner demons, our hardships dragging us deep into murky waters. The world has been a confusing mix of unknowns, you know. The last I had written, I was drifting, dying perhaps, in the black void of space. Since that harrowing journey, I have found my way to a world the others are calling Castranova.

I have a new home, Basil.

It's as alien as the ship that took me here.

Castranova is...strange. The ocean is a violet-blue, the stones leading into a mix of purple and black. The sea has bioluminescent currents that dance and play long into the darkest hours of the night, Basil.

Sometimes, when everyone else has fallen asleep, I'll find my way to the edges of the shore. I'll stand on some of the flat, smooth stones. I'll stand before the sea, at peace for a time. I'll leave long after the water coated my skin, featherlight and happy while my water-soaked body glows in the dark.

Nature-driven art, don't you think?

I think you would have liked it here, Basil. Well, I think you would like some of what Castranova offers. The world is wild, the forests thick and massive. They tower over us, the trunks so thick that it would take a hundred of us to wrap halfway around the ancient wood. The rivers would be your favorite, Basil. Life teems, overflowing, through the twisting and winding paths leading to the ocean. I can picture you in my head in a kayak on those rivers, hair free and loose and glowing under the light of the sun.

Daydreams hurt, Basil. I'm here. You're not.

Have you forgiven me for leaving?

Do I want you to forgive me?

What would be the point?

The Seas Are Filled With Ancient Ruins, Lifeless.

I'm unsure how long it took the starship to reach this planet. Navigation went down when the ship was attacked. I don't remember much, but I do remember floating in the black. Sometimes, I heard people screaming in that void of nothingness before darkness overtook me. Was it a dream?

Was it a nightmare?

Am I going crazy?

The captain drove blindly through space, navigating through asteroid belts and fields of dark matter that tore through the ship's sides. At night, I can hear the starship screaming. I can picture the open wounds weeping, the crew limp and their bodies floating in the flickering lights as an inhuman form crept out of the darkness like a phantom awakening at night.

A decade ago, all of this would have been the work of an overactive imagination. You told me, once, that I lived in my head a little too much. As I grow older, I'm inclined to agree.

Do you remember how we use to pretend to be mermaids, Basil? I do.

You loved Ariel so much, when we were kids, that you often pretended to be her. We would run around the street by our house, the black asphalt of the road the dark trenches deep beneath the blue waves of the sea. We both wanted to dive beneath the waves, a silent promise unspoken as children.

I've made that dive, Basil. Deep beneath the weaves of the Dead Sea I went, body encased in a sleek, black bodysuit made of a specialized, nano-created fiber that cuts through the water with ease. I might have two legs instead of a tail and fins, but there's something about the world beneath Castranova's watery recesses that lingers in the mind.

The lack of fish, I think.

The ocean is dead.

There's A Fish Tank In An Old House. It Isn't Empty.

No one will touch it, Basil.

No one knows what to make of the dirty, glass tank. The scientists have no explanation for why the water in it is clear and vibrant when everything else in the house is in a state of ruin and disrepair. The fish, however?

It swims, Basil. The tank is a large one, easily seven feet tall and equally long and wide. It's built into the back wall of the house, and every sharp turn that fish makes, with the long flowing fins following behind it like transparent ghosts, is highlighted by currents of glowing water.

The crew and I found the house after diving. Part of the town we touched down in, it's under the water. Maybe it flooded. One of the engineers pointed out a break in the nearby mountains, something he suspects is a dam that burst and flooded the surrounding areas.

There's a village beneath the water, Basil. Ruins dusted along the bottom of the seafloor, countless houses resting a distance away from what had once been the endings of a cliff. Now that cliff overlooks a chasm instead of the ocean it had once watched. Did the stones scream when they were buried by a flood of raging water? What do you think, Basil?

The house with the fish tank, that's my house. The others were a bit unnerved by the clean fish tank in the middle of a ruin cut off by copious volumes of water. For me, it is more of a story waiting to unfold.

I named the fish Basil. I might not have you here, but I did warn you I would name my first pet off-world after someone in the family. Did you know I would name it after you? Did you assume? Did I leave any clues?

How are your husband and the kids? Is everyone okay?

You'll need to send me some new pictures to hang on my wall.

The Dead Sea Sings At Night. Do You Hear It, Basil?

Sometimes, I question if this world is a dream. Am I still floating in the starship? I remember the embrace of the darkness, how I floated in the heart of a ship that screamed around me.

I remember that thing coming towards me.

Then there was nothing but darkness, a burst of light, and a ship being dragged through the atmosphere of a strange, alien world. Is that how it ended up on Earth? I wish you were here, Basil. I'm sure you would have some interesting insights about everything happening these days.

At night, when I'm resting in bed, I can hear music. When it's dark, the ocean begins to glow. I can see it through the fish tank. It's a wall of glass and water, and I took a lot of time cleaning it so I could see beyond.

The view is a dream, Basil. The ocean, Basil, the ocean swells and crashes. Everything the water touches glows, streaks of color cutting through stone and sand. It's when I'm almost asleep that the sounds come, the distant whisper of music rolling over the waves like a siren's song.

It's those nights, Basil, that I find myself standing on the shore on the edge of the ocean. The water whirls around my ankles, the skin glowing even after the tide pulls back for a moment. Then it comes rushing in, soaking the nightgown I wear to bed and wetting my hair.

I see my reflection in the water, then.

Like a ghost, the vision I see on the waves of the sea is strange. Alien.

One wrong move and I'll vanish. The light will go out, Basil. Forever.

If I turn and look towards the house, I can see that fish tank. If I look higher, I will see something else. A shimmering dome encases the town, Basil. The lights of the camp the crew set up dance across the glass-like barrier, and there is infinite darkness just above save for the gaping wound our ship had crashed through.

The sea in Castranova is dead, Basil, but I can't help but question:

Are we trapped within a prison of our own? A Dead Sea aquarium?

Sci FiShort Story

About the Creator

Brittany Miller

As a writer who loves the fantastical and unnatural, Brittany enjoys writing fictional stories that fall into the fantasy and horror genres.

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  • Caroline Jane2 years ago

    Fabulous imagery. 🥰

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