iv) The tendrils of seaweed wriggle

The tendrils of seaweed wriggle and stretch toward Shyan. There’s more of them than ever — they don’t let go of Fassn even though they’re going after her as well.

Above, the boat rocks under pressure from the thumpers, casting rollicking shadows upon the struggle deep beneath.

The paddle shard does decent work, its rough edge breaking apart the seaweed’s fibres. Shyan works at what she believes is Fassn’s face and soon a brown eye becomes visible. It’s filmy, staring, doesn’t seem to notice her. Shyan fears he’s drowned but keeps cutting. Seaweed wraps around her ankles and wrists but she pulls away, focused on her task.

Rending and tearing, she severs length after length of the peculiar plant. Soon Fassn’s frizzled greying hair floats freely, and his lined mouth gapes open. Shyan puts the improvised knife in her mouth and picks Fassn up. Her lungs strain with the effort, she’s desperate to get to the surface, Fassn is impossibly heavy. Seaweed tendrils reach for her legs as she pushes slowly away from the riverbed towards the sun.

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