iii) Shyan swims past the thumpers

Shyan swims past the thumpers which batter and beat her. The water churns and tumbles with their frenzy. Her brown skin takes on ruddy blemishes where they contact her, their tails a long, narrow stripe of welted flesh. Shyan grips the oar shard in her teeth and wills herself beyond the pain, fights to swim deeper.

Fassn is still at the bottom and the weeds, gently swaying despite the chaos above, have largely enveloped him. Only one foot can be seen, Fassn’s big toe poking through his boot. The rest is a seething mass of seaweed, wrapped around him like a grieving widow at her husband’s coffin, but there is no sound of weeping, just the cacophonous, percussive swirling of the thumpers tumbling through the water above.

Shyan reaches the vegetal mass and takes the shard of paddle from her mouth. Wielding it like a dagger, she begins to cut.

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