The ripples solidified into bare boulders as he dropped closer to them. In a year they’d be covered in weed. Darting fish would be hunting weed-eating snails and dodging larger fish, but now the debris of the landslide was as barren as the surface of the moon.
One of the shapes below him had unnaturally straight lines. Straight lines belonged to artificial objects like wrecks, not to boulders. He heard his breathing quicken and felt the pressure in his chest as the regulator’s diaphragm refused to move far enough to give his body the air it demanded. It felt like the beginning of suffocation, and it could start a vicious cycle in which his demand for air would increase as he felt he wasn’t getting enough. The greater his demand, the less it would be satisfied. He forced himself to slow his breathing and to ignore the protest from his lungs. They would find relief if they would just wait for the airflow to catch up with what they thought they needed.
Which left his mind free to contemplate the block he was sinking toward. He let some air into his drysuit to slow his descent and put out his fingertips to touch the block. Hard sponginess through the gloves. Something grey thudded into his mask and he jerked his head back. He looked around to see what it was. It hit him again, knocking his regulator so a trickle of salt water stung his tongue. He worked his jaw to reposition the regulator. He threw a hand in front of his face as his assailant came back.
“What the hell?”
The words were a mumble in his regulator but he’d got a clear look at the fish before it batted into his hand.
Next week: The Wrasse
Cover by Manda Benson
Other stories by DJ Cockburn available online