Renee felt the dark wrap around her. She was lost in the abyss. It didn’t even feel like she was floating in water.
Something grazed her calf.
She kicked at the void, her movements sluggish as she caught nothing.
Her chest began to burn. Air. Air. She needed air.
Bubbles escaped her lips as the pain raced up her throat. She scrambled skywards, following the air, yet there seemed to be no surface in sight.
Then she found her.
Sylvia. The name was like needles to the heart.
The siren’s skin, now silver scales, let off a light glow. She was beautiful still, painfully so. If Renee died in her arms, she’d know no other happiness.
Sylvia floated closer and brought a finger to Renee’s lips. There was a sadness in her eyes. “Stay here with me. I don’t want to come out.”
A deep roar bellowed from down below. Renee turned to face it.
When Renee looked back, Sylvia was gone, replaced by nothing and leaving her surrounded by the infinite loneliness.
She didn’t need air anymore.
The groans from below only got louder and louder. Dread filled Renee’s veins. Whatever it was got closer. She deciphered mangled words.
“Hopeless dyke. Hopeless dyke. HOPE. LESS. DYKE.”
Renee felt small. So very, very small.
Something coiled around her body, constricting like a snake wrapping around its prey. She tried to push it off, but it didn’t work. It squeezed the last bit of air from her lungs.
Her ribs cracked, and she let out a retching cough.
Renee stared into a pair of the most striking blue eyes she’d ever seen. They were massive, piercing the darkness. She could see her own reflection in them.
She was trapped in a giant’s hand.
In the darkness, she caught a glint of light, discovering a crown of diamonds several stories tall. She spotted movement, finding Sylvia slipping behind the ornate tiara, peering over the edge with those same sad eyes.
Renee was out in the open on her own, staring into the eyes of judgement.
Were they always that blue?
Then its brows lowered into a scowl.
Did she get them plucked?
The giant’s lips curled into a sneer, and Renee found herself staring at them. They rose, fell, and pursed with words she drowned out. Her thoughts were elsewhere, and the apparent danger she was in meant nothing.
The monster flashed its teeth, perfect ivory daggers.
I bet she takes great care of herself.
Slowly, agonizingly slowly, she was brought to the opening of the leviathan's maw. The sharp teeth hung high above her, threatening to come down like a guillotine. Her life was over. This was it.
Something snapped. Then light.
Renee found herself coughing for air on the shore. She grasped around, locating her staff and using it to help stand upright.
She took a deep breath. She was okay. She was alive.
Today was a new day. The world didn't end.
Then the first snowfall began to set.