THE BOOK OF TAMAII

the cry when you hit the water. Far below you is a shadow in the
shape of a great wing, making perfect circles. You are exhausted, 
drifting aimlessly in a glittering ring of light. Your skin is bloated
and bruised, it feels as if it could peel right off you. So close is the
ionic solution of your blood to its marine origins, that in the salt
water you don't even notice it slipping away. Others have noticed it
for you, the Titans who rule below. Nurse, Greenland, Tiger, Great
White. Far older than the human race. Implacable, eternally
hungry, shaped by the lottery of  marine life into shapes hovering on
the border of madness. At its center, hell is dark, silent and cold. It
is filled with monsters. It is exactly like the bottom of the sea. 
There has been no sign of rescue. You have struggled to stay alive
for days, still hoping that someone would find you, someone would
save you, someone would hold you again. You have been found at last.
Tarpon, their silver scales flashing in the sun like armored
knights, idly flick past your outstretched hands, as if you were an
oak tree trying to catch a swallow.  Portuguese Men O'War drift by,
their glassy, trailing tendrils leaving  purple weals scrawled
across your body. A message from the sea, written in pain. Being
alone in the ocean is a lesson in scale. The difference in size
between an electron and an atom can be imagined by thinking of
the atomic shell as the dome of a vast cathedral. A dusty sphere with
a few motes of light drifting through it.  Those are the electrons.
Alone in the ocean you are a hundred-fold smaller. You are as close
to being nothing as you will ever be alive. In the sea, everything is
stripped from you, gravity, direction, distance. The distinctions of
ornament, the definitions of posture are eliminated. How  you wish
that you could undo four hundred million years of evolution and
have the Hox genes, the embryological masterminds, reshuffle
your DNA like a conjurer with a deck of cards. Watch your hands
and feet flatten and fan into fins, your skin toughen and scale. Feel
a dark, burning taste in your mouth as gills sprout at your neck. See
with a flat, darting eye the world suddenly grown  vast and liquid.

The perfect circles are widening as the ambassador from Gehenna
glides up the thermal incline. The hammerhead's dorsal fin breaks
the water with an exhilarating confidence. It takes your arm with
the mouth that is a weapon almost gently, like a guide.You go under
for the last time and the warm water closes above your head,
embracing you.
As you fall, you watch the circle of light  above diminish. Crimson
streamers and scarlet pennants flutter around you, celebrating
your  arrival. You found the short cut to hell. Your rescuer takes

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