According to popular thinking, we pretend that death in the ocean is inevitable. We are
two. We are three. We are four. We are all one and the same. We pretend the sky doesn't exist.
Our forms are constantly shifting to accommodate systems which enhance
commodity prices and the shiny species who inhabit brackish water environments.
One of us says, "Even the jokes that aren't very good aren't very good anymore." Her
ability to levitate is only matched by the transparent nature of her skin. When she hovers
in the air above us, her organs are plainly visible in the rays of the sun which seem to
pass right through her. She lists a few key objects from your most recent memories.
Three large rusted drill bits. A book about tropical birds. Lecithin packets. She claims
that you are one and the same and attempts to prove it by telling you things about
yourself you've never told anyone else before.
Another one of us cultivates a small patch of sturdy crops in your backyard. Soybeans,
potatoes, sunflowers. He extracts oil from the seeds and massages it into your skin. He
provides a running commentary of what he's hoping to achieve. "Grief requires
architecture and its counterpart." When it gets hot he removes his shirt and begins to
place the oils on his own body. His torso is covered in dials, knobs and gauges attached
to unseen sensors. He turns one of the dials counter clockwise. This seems to straighten
him out somewhat.
The third one us hasn't seen the light of day in decades. This creature appears to be
simultaneously fragile and sturdy. Impenetrable. A thick fluid membrane covers the place
where their eyes used to be. The membrane of the cell and the cell itself are
indistinguishable. Their fingers (if you could call them that) have become unnaturally
long and end in little dancing balls of yellow light which seem to pulse and fade as they
approach solid objects. Their feet seem to not be touching the ground at all. You ask, "Is
time a problematic component in your method of travel?" But this creature seems not to
hear you. Instead they surround you—or maybe engulf is a more accurate term—until
you can no longer tell where you end and where they begin.
You find yourself floating in a yellowish-orange orb up over the city, past the established
suburbs and country life-style blocks. Beyond the tracts of thick forest and into the
foothills. There are a series of sharp, angular ridges with shale-bottomed waterfalls and
narrow, deep river valleys. You keep going. It's night and you can make out the lights of
small villages which tend to find the few flat patches in the hills. Beyond that there is a
large body of water which is so enormous as to totally obliterate your perspective. As you
move out further, any trace of land falls away. You slow down and get closer to the
surface of the water. Little green and blue lights begin to appear out of the depths,
reaching towards you on the surface. You dip your finger into the water but you can't feel
it, still surrounded by this other being, a creature whose elasticity and substance has
properties you are only now beginning to comprehend. For instance, you are now totally
submerged in the water, but your body remains totally dry. You aren't exactly breathing,
but you don't feel the need. Slowly, almost imperceptibly—days could have passed—you
travel deeper and deeper into the water, attracting and gathering more of this beguiling
phosphorescence as you descend. Soon, you hit the floor of the ocean with a gentle bump.
Giant sea creatures of no known description surround you and angle in closer. Their
intent is not articulated but seems benign. You want to ask another question—Where are
we? How did we get here? Are we really one and the same? But language has no
purchase with the objects nearest to you. Words, so it seems, would bounce right off of
Craig Foltz is a writer and visual artist who lives and works in Auckland, New Zealand. He has published in countless journals and has two books out on Ugly Duckling Presse. These days, his work is focused almost exclusively on collaborative endeavors. Send proposals to: firstname.lastname@example.org