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Chapter 1) Black Death
**********Darkness enveloped him completely. The darkness so close all around would have felt smothering but for the sound of his breaths in that very deep place. Ryan’s heart beat a steady, frantic beat in his throat even while he did his best to remain calm.
In the dark.
Deep, slow breaths and minimal movement conserved his air supply. And he needed every single breath to last if he was ever to find a way out of the cave.
His diving light had flickered and gone black not long after an earth tremor which shook the undersea cavern that he had only just entered short minutes before. What were the odds of such a freak accident happening on this day, at that point in time? There was no use pondering the how and why of it all though—the entrance to the cavern, and the way out, was now completely sealed by several tons of rock.
Slow breath in, slow, bubbling breath out. Ryan took stock of his situation and the rest of his equipment. His head ached a bit from a falling stone but the tight-fitting helmet he wore with his dive mask had saved him from serious injury. Stay calm, he told himself with each breath. What can I do right now to move ahead? I need to see but what else can I use for light?
Reaching into a side pouch on his dry-suit, Ryan felt for then found one of the three emergency flare sticks that he always carried. Striking the end of it, he ignited the magnesium flare which bubbled and shone brightly all around, allowing Ryan a chance to see the walls of the small chamber that he was in.
Casting about for possible secondary openings, his worst fear was realized. But then, Ryan felt a change in his surroundings. He was sinking! Quickly checking his depth gage confirmed that he had just passed seventy feet! He had only been at thirty feet when he entered the chamber but after the rock-slide, and being in complete blackness, Ryan had lost all sense of movement.
Looking down passed his flippers, he saw only a limitless depth that rose up to engulf him into a monstrous throat. An opening in the cavern floor must have been caused by the quake and the resulting down-flow of current had sucked him into a lower chamber. 90 feet and still no bottom! Thinking quickly, Ryan reached for the buoyancy control valve and pressed it a few times. Precious air flowed from his tank into the bladder of his BCD vest and his descent slowed until he regained neutral buoyancy at 100 feet.
Not good. At this depth, his tank would be empty in just a few short minutes! With a last sputter, the flare went out and all was plunged into terrifying blackness once more. Ryan was about to reach for the second one when a fish, ghostly white in the murk flashed passed so close that its fin brushed against his mask, knocking it askew! Sea water filled the mask and Ryan’s calm was all but lost as panic reared its death’s head, and the hand of fear clutched his heart tighter!
Quickly clearing his mask, he nevertheless felt the sting of brine in his eyes blurring his vision. Now the fear grew in him and Ryan all but knew the cold, black depths had him. His worst fear became stark, awful reality as the low-pressure warning began from his regulator. He was down to less than 1,000 psi—only a few more breaths at this depth—oh God, my God, his mind screamed!
What was that? A glow? A small, round, phosphorescent glow in the near-distance caught his eye and, in his mindless panic, Ryan swam for it! The final stage of life-giving by the regulator forced him to suck harder for each new lungful of air though, and in his abject horror, it felt like trying to kick his flippers through thick clots of black oil.
Oh, God, please! Ryan cried distantly, but the glow, was it growing before him? Keep going—keep kicking! His legs scissored painfully now though as the last few gulps of air were denied his burning muscles. Were they even moving? He couldn’t seem to feel them at this icy cold depth…
His vision blurred and narrowed smaller and weaker until nothing but that small, grey glow remained. And then… salt—bitter gut-wrenching salt water defeated the precious mouthpiece and was sucked down into his throat by his next breath! Ryan tried to gag and vomit it out but, naturally there was nothing else but more brine to inhale! His hand clawed spasmodically at the offending little valve that should have worked but now could not. His eyes, shut tight from his reaching, could no longer see anything and awful glubbing last bubbles burst from his frantic, burning lungs!
Another fish flashed passed in a ghostly blur of pale grey as if afraid of him, the invader of its secret, dark world.
How pathetic the invasion.
Numbness enveloped Ryan like wrinkled seaweed—cold, ugly, final. And the glow guttered away, forever… The last sensation felt oddly embarrassing: His scalp, a lock of his long mane of hair being pulled, sharply even. Then fear vanished from his dying body, supplanted by the sea’s own impersonal chill. The bitter taste faded, and then stillness carried his limp body down into deep silence.
Chapter 2) No, Not Death, Yet Something...
**********Like a thin coin stood on its edge was Ryan’s tenuous hold on life. A breath, a shift one way or the other and the coin falls at the behest of fate’s decision and fate’s alone. Ryan knew nothing of death, being still a young man of 25 years, yet now death and all its horrible finality hovered close over his skin, the nape of his neck. He lay on something still and damp; no longer did he drift weightlessly.
The coin was tripped and it fell. Ryan’s back heaved and he gagged a retching, frantic spew of vomit, at last disturbing the dark stillness all around him. Water gurgled nearby and as feeling returned to his legs, he felt water there still, but his mouth inhaled air again, gratefully. His gloved hands scrunched through a thin layer of sand to solid rock and Ryan pulled his legs up onto it. His flippers were askew but still there so he pulled them off and put them aside.
Gazing about him now, he suddenly realized that he was able to see without a flare. The water was aglow! Crawling back to the edge, Ryan noticed that it wasn’t so much the water but what was below that caused the aquamarine phosphorescent light. There seemed to be a tunnel slanting down and away from the small cave, and there, among the rocks of it, were others which exuded the glow.
What had happened? How did he end up where he was? The cave echoed with the quiet, nature-sounds of gently lapping water and faint drips from the low ceiling. Stalagmites and stalactites patiently grew towards one another through each long, slow breath of Mother Nature that guided them. This place, this hollow within the rock of the seabed, was a very old and solitary place. Ryan could hear the echoes coming from further away as well, from another chamber lying deeper inside. But, beyond the friendly glow, there was only deep, forbidding darkness.
Something splashed faintly beyond the glow—in the darkness beyond—and Ryan stiffened for a moment, recalling the fin that had knocked his mask off before… How long had he lain where he was? An hour? More? Time held no meaning in this place so far away from the normal world. The watery glow beckoned him yet there was no returning home by that route now.
Another distant splash disturbed the calm and Ryan made up his mind. There was nothing to do but explore as far and deep as the cave could take him. The fear had faded and he felt a surge of optimism and purpose replace it. Yes, this was a quiet, empty place, but he was thankful to be alive. And so, if he was doomed to remain in this odd undersea hollow, he should explore and discover all there was find in it.
Ryan broke off and chewed down a small portion of one of the energy bars that he was lucky enough to have and then began unbuckling his scuba gear. The BCD vest with attached tank fell away first, then he removed his weight belt. The neoprene dry-suit with the long underwear underneath would keep him warm enough and he kept his boots and gloves on for protection from any jagged rocks he could encounter.
Next, Ryan removed the now useless air tank and then put the BCD back on. He expelled the remaining air and seawater from the vest’s bladder and then buckled and adjusted it so it fit him snugly. Besides adding extra insulation from the cold, the bright green diving vest had several storage pockets for the rest of his equipment and supplies that he wished to carry further into the cave.
He quickly checked the pockets for the few essential supplies: two energy bars; two flares; whistle; dive watch which he cinched back on his wrist; writing tablet and wax pencil; small spare dive light—which he thankfully always carried—and finally, his dive knife which he buckled onto the sturdy weight belt, now minus the weights. Ryan felt satisfied with the inventory and as ready as he could be for whatever lay ahead. He was about to leave the friendly glow of the pool’s edge for the darkness beyond when it occurred to him that his dive mask was missing. A quick check of the area only confirmed that one of his most important items was indeed gone. It must have become lost when that large fish brushed passed him the second time. Puzzled, Ryan nevertheless turned, switched on the little flashlight then took his first steps into the shadows.
Chapter 3) The Walls Speak…
**********The minutes passed and the further Ryan ventured into the cave, the more he came to appreciate its vast size. As he walked, he left scratch marks on the cave walls with his knife so he would have a path back to the glowing pool. Even though a way out was not possible there, still, it seemed to be the only place where there was light of any sort. And that made it valuable.
The walls closed in around him, making progress more difficult. At certain times, Ryan was forced to remove the vest and crouch as he inched his way through low, narrow passageways.
Water dripped from everywhere but, curiously, the further he went the less salty the water was when he tested it. If he was ever to survive more than a few days here, fresh water of utmost importance. Ryan scratched yet another section of the cave wall and then checked his watch. 15 minutes had passed since leaving home base and progress had been difficult.
Then, rounding a corner, he came upon a fork in the path and without warning, Ryan heard a loud splash coming from the near-distance! It echoed from wall to wall throughout the narrow chamber, and then, a loud, full-throated call was carried through the blackness to him, chilling Ryan’s spine and sending a thrill through his soul!
The wild, guttural howl trumpeted from one of the two tunnels, then ceased with awful suddenness. Ryan quickly cupped the flashlight in his palm to dim it down to a pink glow and then, crouching low, he shuffled slowly back around the bend until the two other thresholds were no longer in view. Whatever had made that call, did not sound friendly, and Ryan did not wish to cross paths with it.
But now, which fork in the tunnel should he take? Should he keep going at all or turn back? But if he did, how would he find the source of the fresh water? That decided it—time was against him, and the only chance left was the way forward. Ryan took a breath then chose the nearest tunnel on the right and stepped into it before he changed his mind.
The way lead gradually downwards which didn’t give him any added confidence, but he reasoned that if he’d made it this far after nearly drowning then he would have to hope that fate still favoured him. The tunnel’s ceiling became lower the further Ryan went so that soon he had to switch off the flashlight and crawl on all fours. In the heavy darkness, Ryan was forced to inch forward more carefully with his vest scraping along what had become no more than a worm’s hole. I’ve come the wrong way, I know it, Ryan thought, and dark fear stirred again in the pit of his stomach as the tunnel dipped more sharply downwards. But just as he was about to retreat, something remarkable happened: His hand came to rest on his missing dive mask!
Switching on the light, Ryan let out a breath of surprise at this very strange discovery so far from where he’d started. And what was this? A slippery, oily substance dripped from it; it felt like fish oil. Shining his light ahead, Ryan then noticed that the floor of the tunnel fell away abruptly just a few feet from him. Crawling forward on his stomach, he finally was able to peer down the hole, and what he saw caused his eyes to grow wide in awe!
There, not three feet below was another glowing pool of water, its surface undulating placidly as if it had only recently been disturbed. The water was crystal clear but, even so, the phosphorescent glow exuded by certain favoured rocks and stones gradually faded away to a shifting, shadowy depth; their bioluminescent light unable to reach up from the gloom.
Ryan gazed down, wide-eyed and hypnotized by the aquamarine mystery just beyond his reach. How large was this new pool, he wondered. How far did it reach into the new chamber beyond, and he tried to lean out still further to get a better view of it below the lip of the shaft. By spreading his legs and bracing his boots against the walls of the tunnel, Ryan found he was just able to inch down and peer out from below the opening and into the new cavern—and it was, indeed a cavern!
It was huge!
Seizing upon an idea, Ryan quickly donned his mask and chanced a quick look into the crystal water before retreating; his legs were feeling the strain. The cool water caressed his brow as Ryan drank in the staggering beauty below the surface. All was still. Ryan’s breath quickened as he gazed down, awestruck! And then…
“A-leeya-a!” a loud, high voice cried just before something powerful smacked hard against the side of Ryan’s head and sent him stunned and tumbling down into those wondrous depths, his dive mask knocked askew once again! Ice cold lake water took his breath away and Ryan gulped down a mouthful of it.
A claw nicked his brow as his mask was snatched off with impunity followed by a sharp, angry snarl—then his head was shoved viciously below the frothing waves!
Clawing desperately for the surface, Ryan clutched something warm and slippery only to be shoved away again—and again that powerful club sent him reeling! This is the end, his mind yelped, half crying, half laughing at such ridiculous yet fatal horseplay! With a last effort, he was able to break the surface and gasp for a precious breath.
“Blub—stop—stop!” he cried desperately. A translucent fin, its scales shimmering with bright, oily blues and greens slapped his face once more and then vanished below the churning water. And when he wiped his eyes, Ryan was alone, and again, his mask had been reclaimed by a mysterious thief!
He breathed air into his BCD through its hose attachment and then lay back to rest and collect his faculties. “Brilliant, Ryan, excellent job”, he spluttered and gave himself a slap on the other cheek. Now what? Cupping a handful of water, he sipped, testing its freshness. It was good, and it washed away the remnant sea-salt taste. Despite his current predicament, Ryan smiled and then laughed amidst the glimmering waters. Bioluminescence sprites sparked playfully with every swish of his hands and far below, fluid rainbow shades shared their silent, gentle choral with him. Gazing up from where he floated, Ryan Brynn closed his eyes and felt bliss caress him, even though his face stung from five small pinpricks.
Chapter 4) Water Thief…
**********Swimming over to the shaft that he fell from, Ryan attempted to find a handhold so as to scale up into it. Try as he might though, it soon became evident that returning by that route would not work; it was like trying to climb back up a slide that was slick with oil, and doing it from the water made the task nigh on impossible. Casting about for other options, it was then that Ryan noticed a low shoreline not far away; that would have to do.
He rolled over onto his back began paddling towards the shore, but as he did so, noticed that one of his neoprene boots was missing. His right foot was bare and he didn't even feel the boot come off! Ryan continued his swim though, checking over his shoulder every so often to keep his bearing straight. His progress was slow but he kept up a steady pace. This subterranean lake was indeed a large body of water and, as Ryan drew nearer to the shore, he noticed small rivulets feeding into it from countless small cracks and crevices in the cavern walls.
They, no doubt, originated from the outside world and perhaps could lead him back if he could only find a large enough fissure in the rocks. After all, the cave that he first entered was not far off shore where he had anchored his boat before making the dive. These rivulets were helpful signs to a way back home. Ryan smiled slightly but, when he looked back the way he’d came, he noticed that now his second boot was gone!
“Okay, whoever you are, quit taking my stuff—I’ve had enough of this game,” he yelled. Two things happened then and both were not good.
First, the same bloodcurdling howl that he’d heard before in the tunnels above the lake issued again from somewhere on the shore and Ryan shivered, his eyes snapping wide with horror! And then, two strong arms reached up out of the depths and seized him around the waist! Next instant, Ryan was yanked under water so quickly he had no chance for even one breath!
For the second time that day, Ryan was fighting desperately for his life in the harsh, cold depths! Bubbles trailed upward before his staring eyes even as he plunged deeper and deeper away from the limpid surface. Water rushed by and his ears popped painfully from such the swift descent! The arms embracing him were thin yet wiry and strong—try as he might, he could not pull free of them!
Stars sparked before his eyes and Ryan sensed that dark, threshold reaching out for him once more. “Let me go”, he screamed even as the first gulp of water entered his throat! As though in answer to his dying prayer, Ryan saw the surface approach from above again, but it didn’t appear quite the same as before. Ryan popped to the surface like a cork, spluttering and gasping for air. The arms released him but then a clawed hand grabbed a hank of his dreadlocks and pulled him along, little caring if they were yanked from his scalp or not!
“Hey, ow, ow! Let go of me!” As if in reply, a stick of driftwood rapped the back of his head with enough force to raise a bump later.
“Ow,” was all he could think to say again as he resigned himself to being towed… somewhere. Chancing a look down at his feet, Ryan also saw a large scaly tail swishing languidly back and forth.
Never before had his life been so utterly flipped about and flung towards such derailed, unscripted pandemonium—and all because of one capricious and reckless dive into the unknown. Alone! He was still alive, yes, but not because of any wisdom on his part. What would he tell his friends and family, if…
His hair really hurt—as did the bump from that quite uncalled for whack-from-the-stick. Still alive, true, but very, very wretched. His hair kept hurting and the tail kept swishing…and…what was that, singing? Yes. It was a young woman’s voice, humming a simple tune quietly to herself as any girl might on her way to college or to the market to pick up a bottle of something for a house party… Ryan could feel himself becoming addled by the quiet pulling, swishing and humming and tried shaking his head—which, of course, only added to his discomfort.
“Please, whoever you are, I appreciate all that you’ve done for me…I guess but... ow!” Another bump on the head. No, that was a smooth rock on a shore as the shallows rose up to cradle him.
One last hair-pull—“Ouch!”
The rather large fish’s tail fluttered in a quick, rippling fashion, causing the shallow water to froth as he was tugged and pulled onto dry land at last. Warmth flowed softly into him.
He looked up at his rather troublesome rescuer, unsure whether to thank her or give her a petulant slap on the face. And then, Ryan did indeed see a face…with the most captivating, unusual eyes that gazed down at him wonderingly.
All sense of perspective was lost to him for several long moments and all that Ryan saw was the girl’s face framed by a dripping mane of bright copper red hair. The lustre of her hair was made even more so with every small movement she made as she cocked her head this way and that, trying to make sense his own face—for they were clearly quite different than each other. Where Ryan was ruddy in complexion, the girl’s skin shimmered with an aquamarine lustre; her features finely chiseled, mildly Asian.
But it was the colour of her eyes that drew his attention most of all because they were deep brown—nearly obsidian. Yet, it was what occurred between each blink of her eyes which was most exotic: they flashed briefly with the same phosphorescent glow as those uncanny pebbles below the waves.
Ryan sat up but then the girl shied away and slid fluidly back in the water. Ryan stared for a moment but then quickly turned away after noticing that she wore no covering. The unusual girl clucked her tongue in a thoughtful manner as she swam further out in the subterranean pond. Her exotic eyes flickered softly while she backed away, studying Ryan intently; she seemed most interested in his legs and bare feet.
“Hey,” Ryan called, “Where are you going?” She cocked her head again in that quizzical manner, unsure of what to make of this sudden stranger in her midst.
“Haw,” she replied, and then she rolled over onto her back and took a long, deep breath. Her lungs must have been larger than usual because the breath she took was a very deep one before she vanished with a flick of her tail. But no, that couldn’t be right, it must have been his flippers that she had stolen as well…
Chapter 5) Stranded
**********Ryan stood up and began to explore the odd new cavern which he now found himself in. From what he could surmise, the girl had somehow taken him underneath the rocky shoreline of the previous cave to re-surface inside a second air pocket below the first. Why she had taken him here, he was not certain, but Ryan decided that the girl had not wanted him to face whatever was in that upper cavern. Was it really so dangerous there? Was there now no way back to his world? Ryan knew that if there was, he needed to find out more about this strange cave-world he was now trapped in.
In this chamber, there appeared to be a large, wide rock ledge which was littered with driftwood that had been collected and sorted in order to be used for a variety of purposes.
There were well-formed shards of grey flint as sharp as knives laid out beside the straightest wood staffs which were clearly meant to be made into spears. There were bits and pieces of other odds and ends—litter from his world that had been collected and brought here too. And laid out among those colourful plastic items were his dive mask and boots and…and where was his knife? Ryan couldn’t believe it—sure enough—now his belt along with his dive knife had been filched by that—that shifty-fingered, little thief!
Minutes passed. Then, suddenly, the sound of a struggle punctuated by the girl’s high, clear wild voice filtered down through the ceiling of the small chamber—which also comprised the floor of the cavern above. All was silent brief moments later. Another splash, and when Ryan spun round, there was his unusual companion grinning broadly while brandishing his knife and carrying a giant crab’s claw towards the shore.
Ryan’s jaw dropped. He stared, wide-eyed with amazement as he tried to gage the size of the monster that that claw had been attached to only moments before! The girl swam up to the rocky ledge where Ryan knelt, gazing in disbelief. A giant, fresh-water crab? Without further ceremony though, the girl threw the club-sized appendage up onto the ledge and then proceeded to crack it open and carve out large chunks of pink crab flesh.
((Tairn yaiya)), said a quiet voice in his bewildered mind. Ryan fell back, stunned as if struck by a physical blow!
“What… what did you say?”
But, the strange, flame-hair’d girl merely smiled mischievously up at him while proffering a succulent cut of crabmeat. Tentatively, Ryan reached down and took the gift, and while he knelt beside her eating it, he peered curiously, searching to see the rest of her below the surface. But, surrounding the girl there now swam hundreds of silvery lake trout and minnow—all stirring and shifting and swirling about her waist in a tight, concealing mass; how very wonderfully strange, he thought.
They nudged and nipped then darted off playfully only to be replaced by another fellow fish. And all the while, the girl laughed, bemused in their midst, sometimes snatching up one of the slippery members of the school and pretending as though about to eat the wriggling fellow before tossing him back amongst his friends.
Yet, perhaps there were other times when… For there was always that flash of wildness which crept into her eyes much too easily. Sure enough, the next less lucky fish that she caught had his head quickly nipped off by very white (and very sharp) teeth; a casual swallow, after which she then cheerfully offered Ryan the rest. His stomach was not amused.
Chapter 6) Getting To Know...
**********Time does not exist as we know it underground. There is no transition from day to night in those subterranean places and there exist no scales of reference for the creatures and beings dwelling therein to judge time’s passing. So, would it not come to pass that time itself could no longer touch such places, such worlds? The days did pass for Ryan though, after a fashion. His watch became his chronograph which he kept close attention to. And, with the passage of each day, Ryan scratched a hash mark on the wall of the chamber he was in with one of the thin flint pieces which were strewn about the rock floor. And during each morning, his host in that quiet, softly glowing place brought him food. She never left the water, however, which piqued his curiosity even more so.
Finally, on the third day, Ryan decided that he had to find out more about the whole cave system he was in. If he was ever going to find an escape route, he had to learn to communicate with his mysterious friend. So it was that, in the morning, Ryan took out his writing tablet and wax pencil and sat down at the water’s edge to wait for his mysterious friend to surface with her night’s catch.
He didn't have long to wait, as with a flourish, the girl arrived with two freshly caught fish on the barbs of each of her slender, two-pronged hunting spears. She dropped the fish in front of him then proceeded to nibble her share while waiting for Ryan to cook his own. Strangely, she had never seen fire before—that was quite obvious to him—because of her shocked reaction the first time he struck his knife against a piece of flint to spark a flame. How very strange indeed, he thought to himself.
He kept the small fire burning with the plentiful driftwood that littered the area, and Ryan was comfortable enough, but this small chamber below the larger cavern was just a respite from the unknown dangers above. The smoke curled up through the cracks in the ceiling to the larger cavern above. That was the only way out for him. No matter the risk, he had to move on, even if the girl would prefer that he stayed in this safe air pocket.
And so, Ryan decided that he had to learn to communicate with her better. Trying to talk to her had proved very difficult though; whatever her language, it was of a kind he’d never heard before. And he was quite certain that, although he never understood her during his waking hours, the girl spoke to him very clearly while he slept.
She spoke into his mind by way of unusual dream-visions that were a wonder to behold. But, try as he might, Ryan could not recall the dreams clearly enough to make much sense of them upon awakening. One impression that he did retain though was that the girl was very lonely.
There was also once a nightmare in which a black cloud of heavy, oily fluid drifted down upon a vast, beautiful coral formation with millions of glowing stones and thousands of nestled caves, blotting them out forever. Ryan awoke with the impression of a vibrant people having been lost in a most terrible way.
And, in that dark dream-vision, the girl had cried out with deepest sorrow and loss.
After finishing his breakfast, Ryan sat down at the water’s edge with the girl who was resting there on her elbows, still quite content to remain in the water. She looked up curiously as he placed the writing tablet in front of her. On it, Ryan had drawn a stick-person with his name written beside it.
“Ryan,” he said while pointing to the figure and then to himself.
“L-Lya,” she said with some effort. Under the first figure, he had also drawn another to represent her.
“What’s your name?” he asked while pointing to her and then the picture.
After a long pause, “Nadja,” she replied but then laughed while pointing at the two-legged stick-person.
"Can you show me the way out of here," he asked hopefully.
She grew quiet for some long moments as though weighing a decision of great importance to her. Then, slowly and deliberately, Nadja emerged from the water, pulling herself up onto the ledge with slow, fluid ease. There was nothing pretentious about how she revealed her secret to Ryan. The mermaid—the nymph—simply pulled her gracefully shaped, slender tail up under herself and sat before the astonished human, gazing across the evolutionary void of at him with quiet contemplation, her searching thoughts touching his confused mind, gently.
Tentatively at first, but then with growing certainty in her decision, Nadja reached across remaining space between them and touched Ryan’s face before he could pull away. And from her touch there flowed a gentle coolness into his soul that could never be described in words or art. Suffice to say that pure beauty and wonder entered Ryan’s life at that moment, and his eyes truly saw the world, where before, the mythical beings of olde had been lost behind a modern veil of logic.
Ryan blinked and then rubbed his eyes because he was certain that he must have lost all sense of reality—for the water in chamber was no longer as it should be! Where a moment before there had been a placid pond, now there was a huge, beautiful water-sphere that floated in the air pocket, limpid, shifting, and aglow. It glowed with the light of thousands upon thousands of the multi-coloured phosphorescent stones which before had lain at the bottom of it. But now, with his new eyes, Ryan saw countless swirling rainbows which dazzled as they danced and drifted about, as if the sphere was a galaxy and they were the myriad stars within it.
Stepping to the edge of the rock ledge, Ryan looked down and caught his breath, because the deep chasm fell away far below, and the huge water-sphere extended half of itself deep into it in a graceful, swooping curve that was dizzying to behold! Then, looking down at Nadja where she sat, Ryan saw her transformed as well.
“Nadja, who are you,” he said with a hush in his voice—for the otherworldly girl shimmered effervescent at her extremities and her eyes now glowed as beautifully as the miniature stars within the bubble-sphere.
((Take my hand)), Nadja said in his mind, ((I shall show you the way out.)) And when he did, the nymph fell off the ledge, taking him with her. But they did not fall as one would suppose because the sphere caught them and held them suspended in its midst, and then, a universe opened its vast wonders to the uninitiated trespasser and his beautiful guide.
Chapter 7) And In The End…
**********In the end, there is always yet more to see, to discover, be it after one’s last breath or the first. As it had been with Ryan, the loner, so much more so had it been for Nadja, the last of her kind here on Earth. For, where there had been fateful mistakes made by the reckless young man, there was, at long last, new hope and joy filling the nymph’s lonely soul once and evermore. Did they shrink, or did the water-sphere expand to engulf them? There was no use in conjecture, the sphere simply was as it became all around them: Scintillations!
From the moment Ryan entered the watery cave and became trapped within it, Nadja the nymph saw her one chance to escape this harbour of our reality at last and return to the Home-World, the Water-World from whence her people had come uncounted ages before. For you see, Nadja had lacked nothing save another someone with whom to escape our world. She had needed a companion to caress, a compatriot—perhaps even a love, to share the journey with.
And though Ryan never did escape her world below the waves, with all the dangers and wonders lurking there, nor would he have the desire to…eventually. His boat simply slipped its mooring and was gone, lost forever on a wondrous journey over a new horizon. For Nadja had all but stolen his most precious possession: His heart.
And, as they drifted together deeper and deeper into the ever-expanding, glowing Galaxy with its blessed new beginnings, Nadja smiled, mischievous as ever, while leading her man… somewhere….
Ryan gazed into infinite, spellbound!
And as he swam beside Nadja, he might well have paused to ask himself—if he indeed paused at all—why it was that his legs were beginning to move in exactly the same fashion as the tail of his lovely, enchanting new friend.
Farewell!__________I hope you enjoyed reading 'Nymph'. You can see more of my art and other stories at: DeepSkyStories.com