Chapter 12c

The last thing I can remember remember of that period of my life was seeing the sun, impossibly bright and hot piercing into my light-deprived eyes.

My home never lost power, it hadn't been dark exactly, but it had been engulfed in night for what might have been years. I had been down beneath the sea for how long, exactly? How much time had passed? Of course, I knew the answer to that question. The answer was, "all of it."

I didn't say goodbye to them. I didn't really get the chance. I wanted to and I suspect I will always want that chance for farewells and closure but I can't have it. Things never happen just as you expect. One night, things are cool, things are standard, things are nights in a bar and sex with the anonymous woman you've fallen in love for. The next, you're living in a submarine house with a host of demonic creatures. Turn around and it's all gone, everything has vanished, nothing ever was and will be. It's sudden.

The windows shattered when the moment came to leave. Not just the windows, the whole house. Every wall, ceiling, floor, the furniture and the people crumbled away. The windows were just first. First came the blast of fluid, then we watched the rooms flood. Every window burst at once, maybe every mirror and glass and picture frame and snow globe with them, and as the water rose we we swimming through a maze of broken glass. Then I was. I had left the house, the house had collapse and was spreading apart through the ocean and they had been blended together into a thick red stew that seeped out between the boards and tiles and things, all of my things.

All I could do was hold my breath and go up. The tiny speck of light grew and brightened until I was sure I would emerge but I never did. Every moment I swam the light grew until it covered my entire field of vision with stark white. I never got to breathe that. I died there, somewhere impossibly far beneath the surface where I should not have been.

Then came the beasts, who smelled my weakness and my fear and my blindness and my pain, who still wanted to rip me apart, who were determined to finish the job. They dismantled me, as they often liked to do. This time, they left nothing back to reform and all I got was the sun burning me into a sad husk of myself that was nothing of what I had been.

Obtained key 13