Everything was nothing and nothing was in turn the everything he knew. Pain, confusion, sorrow, and suffering had no meaning. Happiness, contentment, pleasure, and joy held no significance. It was an indescribable existence where even the rhythmic shifting about of everything but him had no description.
Without a taught sense of direction as his guide, there was only this sensation and that, feelings without word. They became familiar, recognizable as this feeling leads to that, which then comes to this. It became a noticed pattern until the moment when everything was thrown into chaotic turmoil. It was first a shocking bitterness that flooded his black empty world. It persisted and continued to sink deeper and deeper until it faded into an aching which crawled all around. Here there was no patter or familiar sensation to hold onto, nothing he could understand in this purgatory that whirled violently around him.
Not long after, the sinking began. Slowly, ever so slowly, the already suffocating isolation closed in. Then, in this new world, everything that had consisted of nothing was all at once simultaneously expanded into infinite vastness all the while being filled at a dizzying speed. There was nothing to do but gasp and gasp he did but to no avail. The black once again swooped in to consume all that it had once caressed, finally claiming its ultimate prize. Bubbling, like the gentle babble of a brook melted the inky oblivion away leaving the warm light filtering down from the still unknown.
Babbling slowly transformed into the pleasant giggling of children, slowly replacing the numbing cold with a swelling bloom of warmth. Little shadows passed between the wavering shafts, casting brief shadows before disappearing into a world parallel to his. It seemed as if they were gone, but the little hands that tugged and pulled and playfully pushed came from everywhere he could not see.
The little hands meant no harm, pushing and pulling and playfully turning him this way and that. He was simply adrift, at the mercy of their very whim which they used to take the man in every angle conceivable. Giggles became excited childish whispers and laughter as he was spin around, turn over, and played with like a very lifelike doll. For all his lack of connection to the physical it may well have been just so. Little voices passed over his ears whispering about how strange it felt, how it had gotten here and why. Nothing but a child’s infinite curiosity met his own child-like sense of discovery.
Eventually the playful stage had evolved into an equal wonderment toward the man floating in this world of transparency. A sense of self was returning in this neither solid nor empty place, he knew this with every experimental stroke of a hand. Little fingers found their way between his, mad giggles and shrieks of glee fill the space about him as his companions flitted and fluttered around. It wasn’t long however until something else took ahold of him. More gently than last time, he was brought deeper into the wavering, quiet world.
It came as a rather subtle change, instead of thrashing about. He didn’t feel pushed or pulled, he was instead embraced, carried along by something, someone, it almost felt. The childish squeals of glee changes to more composed laughter, soft and warm. There were whispers being exchanged and they sounded curious.
“Who is this we have?” It sounded soft and pleasant, like that of distant waves. “I haven’t come across one of these.”
“Oh it’s just another Hume, but this one seems to live.” A voice replied, sounding amused. “But what is it doing here, there’s no wind to fill his lungs!”
The chuckles were bemused and sounded like the pitter patter of rain on a tent’s canvas. “If there is to be no wind for those aching lung, let us bring ease with the infinite flow we enjoy.”
Like an angel’s kiss, something soft and almost unnoticeable touched his lips. The empty tightness in his chest was slowly dispelled and replaced by a liquid relief. No sooner has the ghostly lips left his, hands pushed against him, letting the presence back out. This was repeated, shy giggles and playfulness abundant.
“Sicil, what have you done!” The mock horror seemed to be well received for the next one took the poisoned young man in its arms and gave a far more noticeable spectacle. Giggling exploded at the apparent sight, which resulted in the man being carried this way and that. Breaths came naturally now, sucking in the watery sustenance only to push it back out a moment later. He was... Breathing again, even in the obvious absence of air he was breathing.
Even though his breathing had been restored the light kisses and delighted giggles continued. The chattering continued around him as he became something of a sport. Despite having descended into darker depths, he could see. What not met his eyes were lithe creatures that melted into the very essence surrounding them. The rippling effect of their form made them disappear for just a moment. Shafts of light bent and danced when cut by the translucent bodies, which were now swimming with him in tow.
“Hume, what do they call you by,” asked one voice, touching his ear with a finger. “Sicil, he cannot speak, there is something terribly wrong with him can’t you see?” A sound that seemed suspiciously like a pout came from the creature who now played with his hair.
“He can now breathe as we can, no,” retorted the adolescent Zati with more than a bit of indignation. “That may be but how do you expect him to respond in such a condition hmm?” With a huff of defeat, the youngling at his back loops her arms under his and swims away, taking the human with her. There was nothing forceful about how she took him. Instead of yanking him or pushing in the desired direction he was carefully carried to the desired destination. They seemed to be alone, the apparent lack of commotion attested to that. Wherever it was that she had gone there was only him and her to full the endless feeling expanse.
“I must say, you’re the prettiest thing to have come about. I’ve never seen a Hume before; I was always told you’d drown, unable to suck wind in through your mouth or nose.” She leaned on him now or the equivalent where there was no weight for such a thing. What could only be her legs swayed this way and that, distorting the water around them as she did. There was a smile on her seemingly flawless face as she touched her head to his, eyes peering somewhere deep within him.
The Zati touched her lips to his again and giggled madly as if she’d done something excitingly forbidden. “I wonder if they’d let me keep you, sick as you may seem I can keep you alive. I’m not sure I can heal you though I’m afraid, if it was a simple matter of pushing the nastiness out of you…” She sighed wistfully, a somewhat disappointed expression crossing her features.
It wasn’t long before a wide eyed look of fear came about her as more gentle, this time firm, hands took hold. Lower he sank, deeper into the fading light of the abyss. “Hmmm… What have they found now, an unfortunate Hume?” The question didn’t get an immediate reply, instead it was followed the touch of a finger to his lips. “It seems alive enough and Sicil was in quite a fuss over him.” There was a pause, as if they were considering what next to do. “Can he speak?” One finally asked, breaking the almost physical quietness. “Let us see,” was the reply before the same Zati floated into the young man’s view.
“Hume, can you speak, I know it may be difficult, not being born to the water as we are. Tell me, if you can, what is your name?”
The man opened him mouth ever so slight in an attempt to speak but couldn't do more than sputter as the water in his throat rushed out in place of words. He must be doing it wrong; he had to try another way. Instead of speaking with his throat the man let his voice resonate into the water around them through his chest. It seemed to work as a muffled “I don’t know” found its way into creation.
The Zati before him seemed to consider this for a moment, a somewhat troubled look on its face. “He has a poison in him, not one we can cure. It seeps into his very flesh; there is no purifying his blood to flush the sickness away.”
There were small sounds of musing, low whispers, and then a beautiful smile. She must have been an older one, she must have been. Her smile alone had the wisdom of a hundred old men and she put a finger to his lips there was a cool sensation of peace that began to wash through him. “I will let someone quite taken with you give you a name little Hume, Sicil will take good care of you.”
The young man simply looked at her with little recognition as to what was truly happening around him. It took no time for the younger Zati to zip down from above to land softly against his chest. She giggled with her chin rested just below his neck, a more than happy smile on her beautiful little face.
“I can keep him?” She asked excitedly, looking from one Zati to the next.
A little chuckle comes from the congregated, just like those of any other people watching the vigor of youth. “No, you make not ‘keep’ him. You may take care of him however, until we can pass him to those that will cure him of this illness.”
Sicil’s translucent face was scrunched into what seemed to be their equivalent of a pout. She was pouting, because she couldn’t have him. A certain kind of feeling swelled in his chest as she whispered that single identifying word with no real meaning. “Elliah, I will call you Elliah”
It didn’t take long for a routine with Sicil to set in. Elliah was passed around through the different depths of his temporary new world. It seemed they the deeper one went the older those who resided there. He found it curious, how they had a hierarchy of sorts. It made a strange kind of sense. The young and energetic lived there just below the surface, dancing and playing making the water churn and roil. Those just below them, less rough and forceful, allowed everything to come together in a united flow; strong and unrelenting. Underneath the rest were those who had lived out their years of dancing and flowing replaced with the gentle current of age and experience.
Elliah and Sicil had become something of an item during his time amongst the Zati. They taught him the many personalities of Zati and water itself. Sicil was rather young, by the standards of his kind so they had said. It wasn’t long before his little keeper was called away, returning with a deep sadness that changed the very nature of the water around them. She ttok him in her arms and look down at him with what could only be described as tears in her eyes.
“I will miss you, Elliah. I hope to see you again one day. Whenever you find yourself by the water just join it in soul and say my name. We share the same flow Elliah, the current that carries up all will unite us again. But not it is time to sleep, goodbye, my pretty Hume.” With a final sweet kiss, Elliah feels his awareness once again drift into the endless black abyss.