I can't see, but I can hear. The sounds echo around me and passed through me. Chills that have nothing to do with the cold possess my bones. I shake in place - unable to move. I'm tied, bound to something. I stopped being able to feel my legs quite some time ago, but I know they're under water. The water is still now, but it won't be for long.
Struggling is useless. It's a waste of energy - not that I know what I might need it for. Escape? Perhaps, but from what? And for what? Who was I before what I am now? I can't remember. I have lived, this much I know.
I hear a ripple. Something is in the water with me. I’m still.
Another ripple - this time above me - in the air? Another follows, and another. They are all around me, above and below.
The ripples become whispers, a chorus of incoherent sounds.I strain my eyes to find nothing but shadows in the darkness. Whispers become loud, layered. They are evil, despicable things. They say things I don't want to hear, things that no one should know. They accuse me. Are they right? I can’t remember.
They speak of my condition, that I am rotting, that everything I touch decays. It's too much. The truth is too much. There is no way out.
How can I escape? I shouldn't be here. I can't be here. It's too much. Is this my punishment? What could I have done to deserve this torture?
The ripples don't whisper to just anyone, they whisper to the ones that want to leave – the ones that want to change.
I had not sought freedom before now, but now they speak - they speak to me.
Paralyzed by fear, by hopelessness. They want me to stay. But I can't.
"I must leave this place." I manage to whisper. I can't hear myself over the others. Again I open my mouth to speak, but water rushes in to fill it. I scream, the sound is drowned out and so am I.
The water overtakes me, pushing me down under its weight. I struggle, my movements frustrated by the water.
"Help." Light. It floods my eyes.
A hand breaks through the surface tension. It's outstretched to me, offering me it's strength.
I grasp for it but it's out of my reach. Something is holding me back. I look below me, this new light illuminating the depths around me, I see chains wrapped around my waist. I struggle to get out of them, my chest burning.
I stop struggling, there is no chance I’ll break free, my strength was failing. I look around me to see others like me, all griping chains that hold them down below the water - some are dead.
It is only then that I feel the cold of the chains in my palm, I am holding onto them.
With one hand I hold the chains that bind me, and the other I strain for the arm above me. I can't force myself to let go, my grip will not loosen.
"Help." I manage, the last of my breath bubbling to the surface.
The hand above came closer, touching my fingertips.
Warmth. It spread through my entire body.
I flex my fingers, now able to let go of the weight that held me down and grab onto the hand above. It pulled me upwards: into the light.