17: A Dark Blue Void

He floated in the endless ocean as day and night, the crescent and the full moon came and went. The ocean’s vastness surrounded him as far as the eye could see, and then further. It lay still as a mirror with no waves nor winds before it faded into the starless night sky and created an all-enveloping void of dark blue. He trod water until his muscles burned, ached as they could not move anymore, and he sunk, died, then lived again.

Where the ocean’s currents congregated, he came upon a vast landscape of debris. The remnants of forests and their bloated inhabitants floated under the scorching sun. Shoals of fish, large and small, nibbled at them, but there were no birds. No life could be sustained above the surface in this desert of water. He climbed onto a tree and floated for a while, watching the living feed off the dead. A giant shadow moved under the surface, circling the carcass of an antlered creature with a belly so distended its pale hide shone through its stretched pelt. The shadow came up against the carcass and opened its wide mouth, swallowing the dead creature whole before again disappearing into the cold, dark, depths.

The gasses hissed out the dead as he bit into them and devoured them all. He built a raft from driftwood and made sails from the skins of the largest animals. The winds carried him back and forth over the ocean, never did he see land. He drifted for many years sustaining himself on the fish hiding in the shadows under his raft, and the rainwater he caught in the skins he kept. Rain, sun, freezing storms where lightning whipped the ocean’s surface into froth, he endured them all, his raft endured them all as they continued their aimless journey.

One night when he lay watching the stars, he saw a Floating City of Light that lit the horizon like a second sunset. He sailed the seas looking for it, hunting the light. For many years he followed it before he found another structure like the one in the forest. Its walls rose from the ocean where far beneath its entrance lay. He continued his search for the Floating City of Light and other lands for many more years. Hundreds of years, until the raft rotted into pieces and he had no more wood which to repair it. He floated, then sunk and drowned, and lived again.

He came upon a flow of ice, climbed on top of it and followed its movement southward. Together they cruised between the giant beasts spewing torrents of water high into the air. And the cold turned his fingers and toes into a black that crept up his extremities. His nose was the first to fall off before the rest followed. When his hand was lost, he removed it and gnawed the bones of his forearm sharp, whittled them between his teeth. He had killed a sea beast he caught sleeping on a floe by stabbing it in the neck with his broken forearm. The blood pulsed out in an ever slower rhythm and overflowed the edge of the ice and ran into the water. He opened its belly with teeth and bone and spilled the tangle of pink entrails on the ice. The yellow blubber bulged out the wound as he wormed himself into it. He covered in the carcass. But it did not help for long. The little heat left after it died soon dissipated as a white cloud in the cold air.

A lone shriek woke him, and he looked toward the skies where a bird levitated on the winds. Some days later he came upon a high wall of ice that rose from the frozen sea. In awe, he watched Its silhouette merge with the clouds above. The floe came up against it, and the ice creaked with the movement of the sea. He touched the wall with his forearm that left scratch. The slick ice was like glass, translucent, and allowed him to see far beyond the surface before the light was swallowed.

Growling he sat down, and at once, he started gnawing into his leg at the ankle. The gangrenous flesh and ligaments fell apart without much peril, and when the blackened foot came loose, he bit into the other leg. Then he carved the bared bones between his teeth until they became sharp as his arm. He stumbled and fell when he tried standing on the bones. He proceeded to crawl on all three of his limbs like some hideous spider maimed from the torture of some ignorant child. The bones scratched the surface of the ice.

He jammed the bones into the ice and climbed as the floe floated away with the current. Small pieces of ice came loose from the wall and fell into the water below creating rings on it. Some animal surfaced and inspected the source of the commotion. It focused him in its small beady eyes for a while before again disappearing beneath the water. He pulled himself up over the ledge onto the shelf. A barren landscape without any sign of life met his eyes. Then strong winds whipped up snow that obscured his vision, and he started crawling.