The Black Sea

Her eyes were open but she saw nothing. There was no light; only movement. She knew she was ensnared in a sea of darkness moving wherever it took her but she wasn’t scared… not anymore. The fear had left her heart a long time ago. But she had remembered how it had felt. The waves were churning madly at a deafening volume, tossing her around like a rag doll. All she had felt was her racing heart and the fear of death but both the waves and her fears had lost their strength.

She slowly drew in the salty air as she lay on top of the waves, feeling them gently tug her from side to side. She felt as if the violent sea had taken out every stress from her life and had replaced it with a gentle, calming peace. She knew could stay there forever and the sea did as well. Everything was quiet and for once, her mind was at ease. Her breaths deepened as she slowly closed her eyes, feeling the waves wrap her in a warmth she had never felt before. She could feel herself slipping, quickly sinking down into the waves but she didn’t care.

She wanted the sea to take her and make her feel this way forever. So much so that she didn’t notice when she began to run out of air. Instead of burning like she thought it would, the water trickled down her throat and into her stomach, making her giggle softly. She smiled as she drew in a deeper breath and felt the cool water rush in. She let her head fall back into the water and felt the waves close over her head. Then the waves took everything. There was no sound as she sank further down and began to lose consciousness. The sea was calling her.

“Maggie.”

The voice was so soft that she had almost missed it. She moved her head slowly but the water rippled and softly pulled it back again. She was okay. Everything was fine. All she needed to do was keep breathing slowly. She struggled to breathe in but once she had, the water filled her up again, calming her.

“Maggie, wake up!”

Water moved in her ears, muffling the voice that was interrupting her peace. Her eyebrows furrowed with confusion as she struggled to block out the voice. She didn’t want to wake up. She wanted to stay. She wanted to float weightlessly in the sea forever. It was telling her to come home as it pulled her down further into the water and she obeyed. Everything is fine. Just one more breath. She hesitated but she opened her mouth and felt the water rush in again. As her feet touched the ocean floor, she felt something grasp her wrist and then something sharp pierced the skin.

“Maggie Saribel, I order you to wake up!”

Her head rolled back and suddenly her arm was thrust upward. The water gripped her ankles and let its warmth travel through her, telling her to fight it.

“NOW!”

She reached for her wrist and felt one final tug before the water left her. She gasped and felt a rush of cold air fly into her lungs as her eyes flung open. The dim blue light snapped her back into reality and she immediately began coughing violently. Maggie tried to cough the water up but it took a hand on her shoulder to realize there was no water inside her. Her eyes were wide as she gasped with fear, clutching the hand on her wrist. The woman with a graying brown ponytail and dark blue eyes scooted forward, worriedly looking over her. Maggie’s eyes locked onto the woman’s and watched the panic leave her boss’ eyes. She hated scaring her boss.

But she remembered who and where she was and what she was doing. She was lying on a medical bed in a small room with one extra chair in the corner, a metal door, and a desk with electronic and medical equipment. Still gasping, Maggie licked her lips and spoke weakly as the hand on her wrist let go.

“How long was I out, General?”

“Too long… your vitals spiked. We were afraid we were going to lose you in whatever you were in.”

Maggie nodded slowly as her eyes traveled to her left arm. The IV in it were pinching her and the wires across her chest and on her head were annoying but necessary. She brought her right hand up to her forehead and wiped the sweat off of her forehead. Maggie heard a sigh of relief and turned to the second person in the room. He was a young man in his late 20’s with untidy black curls, tan skin, and light brown eyes. She moved to sit up and see what was on the screen but he quickly stood up and gently pushed her down. His eyes frantically swept over Maggie before they settled on her eyes.

“What did you see?”

Maggie shook her head slowly and felt the same migraine as always pound against her skull.

“Nothing. There’s nothing.”

“Okay… then what did you feel?”

“Water. It was rough at first but then… then it grew so calm and I forgot everything. The waves wrapped around me and pulled me under the water. It was so peaceful and… and… relaxing. I wanted to stay there forever. And whatever it was… it… convinced me to breathe in the water and I did! I didn’t even know it was drowning me until I felt the General pull me up!”

“Are you sure you didn’t see anything?”

Maggie’s face twisted in anger.

“Yes, Armie, I’m sure! There’s nothing!”

She watched both General Tristan and Armie’s faces twist with confusion as they looked away from her. Armie nodded slowly and turned back to the computer while the General rose out of her chair to pace. Maggie’s heart sank as she watched them silently, wishing there was something more she could do. After a few painful minutes, General Tristan stopped and turned to Maggie with a stern look on her face.

“I don’t know what to say… you… you just need to look harder, Maggie.”

“I’m trying, General. I’m looking for anything different but there’s nothing! Whatever threat you are looking for must be darkness because that’s all I’m getting!”

General Tristan’s eyes hardened and Maggie instantly regretted snapping at her. She quickly glanced away, knowing she was going to be chastised again.

General Tristan’s eyes grew colder with my comment and I instantly stared at the ground with regret, waiting to be chastised again.

“Maggie… we don’t know how this works or how you can see these things but we need you.”

She turned away from Maggie abruptly, folding her arms as she walked to Armie’s side. She stared at the results on the computer screen and he looked back at her nervously, speaking softly.

“I… I’m analyzing the results and looking for a different compound we can use to stimulate Maggie’s brain but everything is too strong. And if the measurement isn’t perfect, we run the risk of losing her.”

Maggie shook her head with frustration. She felt helpless. All she had to do was lay down and dream but it was as if she was blind. She had spent five days in the same testing room with the same exact result. The key to figuring out how their enemy worked was right there in front of her but she couldn’t see them.

“So any other compound could kill her?”

Armie hesitated to reply and glanced at Maggie before looking back at the General.

“It… it’s more possible that I would like to admit. But even if it didn’t kill her, we could be looking at extensive brain damage.”

A chill ripped down Maggie’s spine and she interrupted quickly.

“What if you used the same compound again?”

Both of their eyes locked onto her’s making her heart beat faster.

“I’ll… I’ll think harder and try to see more.”

Armie shook his head slowly.

“Maggie, if the compounds aren’t right, you won’t see anymore than you do now.”

General Tristan pointed to something on the screen and bit her lip before she spoke.

“This is the least dangerous compound we can use on her and so far, it’s been the most effective. Add a little more of it while the remainder is still in her system and we’ll see if we can get any more details.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Armie sat back in his seat and tapped furiously on the keys as Maggie laid her head back. Fear was closing in on her fast but she wasn’t going to forget the procedure. She knew how this worked. She had to close her eyes, stabilize her breathing, and not move a muscle until the cold feeling passed through the IV and into her arm. General Tristan had moved back to Maggie’s right side and spoke with a voice that was edged with concern.

“Concentrate, Maggie.”

Maggie fought the urge to nod and drew in one last deep breath before the cold feeling arrived. She closed her eyes and instantly felt that she was falling. She opened them and grimaced as she saw herself drawing closer and closer to the black sea. Maggie had no time to scream. Her body slammed into the water and she felt the same warmth return, wrapping around her once more. She felt the water wrap around her ankles, trying to pull her under but she fought it, reaching for the surface. She grit her teeth as she kicked her legs furiously, trying to push the water away from her with her arms. Her lungs burned for air as she struggled, feeling her heart race faster and faster with every second.

Maggie pushed as hard as she could and the moment she broke the surface, she gasped. The air was cold despite the warm sea below. Maggie pushed her hair out of her face and continued to kick her legs, trying to stay above the enticing waves. She gasped with excitement. She could see. There was a golden line on the horizon as the sun set giving her just enough light to see the black waves crashing against one another. The light was fading quickly meaning that she had to work fast. She moved against the water as she turned her head to see anything but the sea.

She flinched as a terrifying crash ripped through her bones. She looked for the source but couldn’t see it anywhere. The water quickly retreated from her, loosening their hold and Maggie had to fight back the scream rising in her throat. She closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath, waiting for the water to arrive. For a few heart-pounding seconds she wondered if it would come but it did return. The wave crashed above her head and pushed her down with such force that she almost lost consciousness. It flung her body around like it was nothing and Maggie squeezed her eyes shut, knowing there was nothing she could do to stop it.

The water continued to push her down and she had never felt more relieved once she had landed on the ocean floor. Maggie tried to kick her legs but the water was keeping her pressed her against the sand, refusing to let her go. She opened her eyes and fought the urge to gasp out all the air she had left. The entire black sea was lit by a dim white light. She could see the water pinning down her legs so she couldn’t escape. As the light grew closer, the pressure of the water increased and Maggie knew she would only have a few seconds. She could feel her lungs catch fire inside her bones and stared intensely at the light, waiting to catch a glimpse of anything. Maggie’s hands clenched into fists as she stared at the blinding light but by the time it had reached her, it disappeared. She let out a frustrated cry and felt the water rush in as she closed her eyes, waiting to wake up.

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