A breath, taking no air, darkness, water, a faint glimmer of light from above, a shimmering circle of light high above. I tried to move towards it, limbs leaden, no breath, no energy or strength but that circle hovered and I fought to find the light but it was too far away. All that was left in me was gone while it was still dark and deep. I reached up and stretched towards it but all gave out before I was near the surface. I know nothing of what happened between then and now. My hand broke the surface, the moon silvering the strange ocean. Perhaps it was all a dream, my death, my years in the darkness. Perhaps it was all imagination and my hand that has broken the surface will sweep away all my thoughts in increasing circles of ripples in a still pond. I have not made the surface yet. My face has not entered into the light, only my hand but my face grins in anticipation and a millisecond later my first breath of true air is drawn in a millennium.
The wracking coughs start soon afterwards expelling water from my lungs and dragging in air, my body shudders and shakes and I grow close to sinking once more but despite all, air has entered my lungs and my body wishes to breathe, to live and I am, air inside me, buoyant once more.
I could see flickering candlelight along the shore and tried to move towards it. My limbs were heavy and my body changed, I could feel it as I tried to swim but I had never been good at these things in life and supposed such would be the case in death. I moved through the water better than I had while alive and slim. I knew not what wonder had befallen me, drowned in the depths, but this was surely neither heaven nor hell.
The town looked much like Glasgow or Greenock had in my youth until they cast me into the sea. They built ships here, smaller, sleeker craft, than those built in my home town where large Sea going vessels were the norm.
I was able to gain the closest pier, different from anything I had seen in life, metal blocked but still with wooden joists and lifting gear. I felt reassured. I found the ladder, metal, this must be the richest of places and finally I lay in the grit of the pier coughing the last of the water from my lungs.
A towel, blanket or cloak was placed upon my shoulders and body and two old people lifted me up each holding one of my arms upon their shoulders. They carried me to their home. I saw little as they carried me to a bed and placed warm covers upon me. Then I began to dream.
I saw again the witches stool and felt the saltwater enter my lungs again and again as I confessed to everything and named accomplices in my witchcraft none of whom had assisted me. I named everyone I had ever known and even many whose names I had made up wishing for the torture to stop. It only stopped with my death. So many innocents, so many that were unlucky were put to death in the same way. So many of the unfortunate, the starving, stealing just to eat, many of those tough and well formed also put to death just for gazing oddly at their betters.
I was, at least, guilty of the crimes ascribed to me, most deserving of such a harsh death according to the rules of the day.
A witch, a conspirator with demonic forces and the shades of the dead, a necromancer, A magician and charlatan all in one. Promised riches on earth and a favoured place in hell I traded my soul for the few advantages it gave me. An opportunity to learn from those that had gone before me, the dead, but it transpired they had little to say that I did not know already, rather all they did was bemoan their fate and argue that they had been good in life. My parlour tricks and necromancy paid for modest life and warm clothes. More than most had here unless you were born to riches, power or aristocracy. Few Were.
I had not been but had desired wealth and power. Here I was sitting naked on a bench with a load of other fat men.
Already I had sold my soul, talking money from those least equipped to afford it was just another sin placed on the shoulders of one already damned. Yet I had not felt the fires of hell, the burning pitch, the eternal torment that I had expected. That was my due. Rather I had felt nothing, imagined nothing until reaching for the air once again.
I had felt nothing at all. Simply ceasing to exist until again reaching for the surface.
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