Robin nodded and whispered a thank you, just as the ocean swallowed her.
She sank, slowly, deeper, all the while peering below her in the murky darkness for Charlie. He was nowhere to be found. Initially, her attention had been focused solely on him, then, after minutes in the frigid ocean depths, she began to panic, her mind gasping for air. She looked up, but could no longer see the surface, which had receded into darkness. Robin’s lungs burned for oxygen, her mind blind in its fear. Finally, having reached the limits of her body’s ability to hold her breath, she inhaled. Her mouth, her throat, and her lungs, were filled with water – not salty, but vaguely sweet.
Hey! This doesn’t feel like drowning.
She could feel water flowing through openings in her neck. The openings were shuttered, delicate. This ocean, she could breathe. The water was life, and she was a part of it. She ceased falling, turning purposefully toward the depths, and began …
Her emotions now in control, her strong mind began to notice and interpret details. Slight flutters about her became schools of brightly colored fish. From their cylindrical bodies sprouted two pairs of broad dorsal fins, each deep purple with black accents. The fins were triangular in shape, and in combination, looked like a butterfly’s wings. The fish propelled themselves by flapping the fins, which curved and fluttered in the graceful manner of a manta ray’s. The caudal fins at their tails were long, lavender in color, and draped elegantly behind them in long streams as they swam. As Robin swam nearer them, she could see widely dispersed scales in the fish’s fins that produced light. These luminescent scales flickered on and off, randomly. It appeared as if the fish were covered in glitter. There were thousands of them, swimming in huge schools comprising varying sizes and shades of purple fish, all glittering, all feeding on microscopic plant life.
Robin swam among the glitterflies, as she called them, laughing and holding onto first one’s fins, then another’s, flying and dancing with them through the miles of ocean. She remained with them, an odd fish among others, though none seemed to mind her differences. There were other creatures as well: ordinary-looking fish (borings); eel-like monstrosities two hundred yards long (megasnakes); odd fish that could barely swim, but which gave off light (light blobs); and eyeless, tubular beasts that floated in the azure darkness, snaring unsuspecting glitterflies as they fluttered too near. These latter beasts were floating traps of little more than teeth. Robin shuddered at the toothtraps, but did not judge. This was not her world, it was theirs, and she was delighted to share it with them.
Her hands tiring of holding onto the smaller glitterflies, she untied the rope from her waist, and lassoed an enormous glitterfly, easily sixty feet in diameter, with brightly-colored fins of red and yellow. There were no predators large enough for this fish to fear, and its distinctive coloring was a warning not to try. Robin’s rope snared the fish with one languid toss, and it made no attempt to resist her, slowing its movement as she reeled herself closer. She climbed on its back, gently patting its side.
“Thank you,” she said. The fish dipped, and its luminescent eyes, sitting on stalks that extended six feet from its head, turned to her. She again felt a certainty – a knowing without cause. It was welcoming her, seeking instruction. “Let’s go find my Dimple Boy,” she said.
The glitterfly dived deeper, sailing, nay, soaring, through hundreds of miles of ocean. The sea became bitterly cold, the pressure enormous, but somehow, neither Robin nor the fish were crushed by it. The force of the hundreds of miles of ocean above became so great that the water began to congeal, until soon, they were swimming, slowly, through water the consistency of gelatin. The glitterfly pressed on, but was tiring. Robin knew if she pushed it much further, it would die here of exhaustion, and she with it. She strained her eyes in the depth, until below her she could see a glowing blob of light.
The light blob was dingy yellow, as if it were a dying incandescent bulb. From above, it appeared to be dome-shaped, with no visible markings or features, except one. Lying on top, holding onto the axe in one hand, which was draped over the blob’s side, was Charlie.
He was looking up at her, and he was pissed.