I am not a survivor. Time and time again I was warned that I would die. I really should have listened.
Far below me, at the bottom, a cloud rose out to me. Fish swam vigorously up toward me, evading it. I watched as my close friend, an amphibian verok like me, disappeared into the mud that could only be thought of as encroaching death. He was the bravest verok I knew and arrogant in his courage. I used to think the Destroyers could never hurt me just as he did. I was wrong.
I began paddling even closer to the surface, the light of morning a beacon. My class had been taught what to do when the Destroyers came every twenty years. I wished that I had paid more attention. I realized that the knowledge would have been extremely valuable. As I broke out of the water with a splash, I almost forgot to breathe. When I finally did draw in a puff of air I had an overwhelming fear that it would be my last. I dove.
Which way should I go? I asked myself. I jerked to a random direction and swam hard, never answering my own question. Glancing downward, I saw that the cloud was rising slower now, giving me a boost of speed with the new sense hope. I noticed nothing ahead of me to increase the emotion.
Time churned away like the foam I stirred in my haste, bringing fatigue and little else. There were more organisms surrounding me here, sharks and vibrant fish going through the same situation as myself. A few of the younger ones called out to their elders, asking what to do. They told them to continue swimming as fast as they could if they wanted to live. Some of them, too weak to comply, moaned as they descended at a slant, screamed when they entered the killing cloud.
If nothing else I am strong. I’m still alive, aren’t I? I thought. My rational side slapped me. Arrogance is the thing that brought you here! it screamed. If you still think you can survive this by yourself you’re stupider than I thought.
I sped up for a moment and crept closer to a large grey shark. That gave me at least a little bit of comfort. Where is the rest of my kind? I wondered. Veroks aren’t the most intimidating beings, yet I would have felt a lot better being with some of my own blood beside me. Then I saw something that did even more for my confidence.
Ahead of me stood a massive stone structure. The cloud, now only an elder whale’s length below me, rose higher around its sides, although the effort was clearly futile. My energy was wavering, but I swam faster anyway. I was overjoyed. I’m going to ma- The gate hit me in the face as it swung shut.
I really should have listened.