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"The Longest Moments"
"The Four Seasons: Violin Concerto in G Minor, RV 315, "Summer": III. Presto" (Vivaldi – performed by Janine Jansen)
"Show Me How to Live" (Audioslave)

Cool and smooth, the hard wooden barrel beneath her fingers provides her only support in the tossing, turning water. The grasping waves of the fierce ocean are tearing at her, but the barrel is a safe, fragile haven cradled in her hands. Screams are rip from her throat in a desperate and entirely futile attempt to save herself. They are unnatural, painful, and blood curdling in nature.

As she bobs from side to side, her fingernails grip the wood so that splinters dig painfully into her hands, and something brushes her bare foot. It is smooth and soft, in the way that silk is after being soaked in water. She chokes helplessly on another scream when the salty water violates her throat again. It brushes her leg once more, this time the sharp edges of a tail counter the silkiness with painful jabs. Her own blood is beginning to well up in the water, leaking from wounds in her feet and legs, surrounding her, turning the world a terrifying red.

The tempest above her is in no condition to let out. The lashing winds, the furious waves, claiming their debt from mankind. She hopes that she will not be claimed as well.

The monster of the deep brushes past her, this time it curls around her legs, squeezing in a reassuring manner that is completely alien in the climate it is offered. And even that is frightening in the intelligence that has deigned to offer it. The pressure is released, the beast undetectable. Only to have another animal come close enough for the sense of touch - this one scaly and hard.

She knows what it is, and more panic over whelms her brain. She has heard stories, caught the flash of tooth, and it is a shark. The entity of fear drives her to flail her legs madly, despondency making her unreasonable. Lightening flashes overhead as a sign from the gods and she thinks to die as something clashes roughly with her weakening legs. The unexpected pressure throws her completely off balance, her wet fingers almost losing the barrel keeping her afloat in the madness.

More blood comes to join the amount already floating on the surface. It's a darker red though, and she knows it is not hers. The answer to her question is provided when a gray fin bobs past her face. Another chunk of animal drifts a short way away and she imagines the monster ripping apart the predator. More screams dive from her burning throat into the chaotic expanse - the panic and confusion colliding within her mind, fighting with one another. One intends to drive her into the sea, one tries to provide the adrenaline necessary to get to the far away shore.

Rain pounds with a fury not capable of earthly creatures and she snaps her eyes shut as the barrel momentarily goes under, coming back to the surface facing the opposite direction. One hand is spared to pull the long, heavy hair off of her face; while the other still fights to counter the deathly pull of her heavy skirts. Her eyes open to face a terrifying sight that so few are able to encounter. And even fewer live to have nightmares about.

It is the monster, the silken thing that so easily comforted her earlier. And also ripped a large shark into pieces. It is huge, awe-inspiring, towering over her so that it appears to reach the sky. Scales flow down its back like the very tempest it dominates and its tail thrashes about behind it. Great eyes, glowing and black, gleam in the next lightening strike. Regal, the head looks down, studies her, the tilt arrogant and powerful. But it is intelligent, it knows her; knows her fear, her helplessness.

Her surprise is what nearly kills her. With barely a chance to scream, the grip her fingers had achieved slackens, and she falls from the barrel, drifting down into the blue, unruly grip of the sea. Her hair, long ago released from its confines, floats like a halo around her head. One last parting beauty bestowed to her before her sure death. Then time begins to drag, long moments pulling her farther into the dark, unknown depths. Fingers sting and arms try futilely to lash out to grab anything, but they are too tired. Near deadweight, and her muscles are slack and limp.

But then she is lifted up, pulled above the surface till her heaving chest is able to attain as much oxygen as it needs. Her fingers run over the creature below her and find it silken. The flesh is sloped and rounded like a snake, and her body presses against the lines of its back. Rain drops still litter her flesh and face, finally beginning to gentle, as if satisfied with its work. The debt temporarily fulfilled.

The serpent has swept her up, saved her from a watery grave.

The air rushes past her as the creature surges toward the shore. The largest waves pluck determinedly at her dangling legs and skirts. But that soon is stopped as she is unceremoniously dropped back into the water. She begins to flail again, but sand is blessedly solid beneath her back. Then strong arms, soaking but secure, lift her, deposit her a safe distance on the beach.

She struggles to open her eyes, strains to view her rescuer. The world is hazy as she opens them and begins to fight against the still falling rain. But she can see his eyes clearly. Intelligent, black, with a strong face that is barely distinguishable. The firm mouth is curved slightly, reassuring.

"You are safe." A voice that did not seem to belong to him echoed. The strain of holding her eyes open for so long when she was so tired combined with the dull throbbing of her torn leg finally forces her to drop into a deep sleep.

When she finally wakes, the rain is gone, vanished, though the skies are still dangerously overcast. The sand is curiously warm beneath her damp person, the world feeling as if it's been quieted. Her body sits straight up on its own accord, but her eye catches the flash of silk because she is meant to. The black eyes meets hers for fleeting seconds, amused and pleased with itself, before disappearing beneath the choppy, black waves of the ocean.
One of 10

This is the first chapter of a short fantasy novella that I wrote last year - actually, this first chapter came to me years ago while I was listening to a piece of classical music. It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life - I could literally feel the words in my hands.

This was nominated twice for FPSSA! Twice!

Music: “The Four Seasons: Violin Concerto in G Minor, RV 315, “Summer”: III. Presto” (Vivaldi – performed by Janine Jansen)
“Show Me How to Live” (Audioslave)

Anyone feel like making art? Pretty please? *bats eyelashes*

Summary: Inspired by Vivaldi's Four Seasons. We all know what happens when a beast rescues a woman in distress, who is sinking deep into the ocean toward the most haunted of deaths. But what happens afterward - when the eye starts watching & the hand won't let go?
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May 5, 2010
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