The place beneath the waves

Green water, blue sky, green light, blue pools of shadow. The place beneath the waves was always calmer than anywhere else; made more peaceful, if anything, by the imagined rush of foam and battering currents beating the ceiling just out of sight. It was the place Herbert went when he felt he could not keep himself from being pulled under.

There was a coolness to the place beneath the waves, born of secrecy. He never brought another soul through the narrow channel between the corals for fear of breaking the coolness and letting the warm and stormy world flood in.

The waves

After the waves had gone, they swept the floor and buried the bodies. They called in favours and tiled roofs and hammered nails and painted the town red, because that was what you did when death had visited.

The clerics did not emerge from behind their stone walls, not to assess the damage, not to commiserate or console. They were too busy praying for no more waves. Their drone numbed the town. It smothered the drills and the spades and the brooms and the screams of the mothers.

The waves came again, of course. They always had; they always would.