Amidst the school grounds
beneath dim twilight lamps,
I walked with my friends under the
radiance of a door ajar. While
they veered right, I pressed onward,
into the darkness.
A shadowy figure offered me a drink;
despite sensing his ill intent, I
foolishly imbibed. Rendered me
within my own
A group of faceless figures
whisked me away and hurled me
into a tunnel, plunging me
down a spiral slide.
A watery abyss awaited– divers
stacked corpses like firewood, proclaiming
the eradication of disease code
0124 Obsidian depths unfurled
like an ink spill, its tendrils
reaching out to claim me
as I surrendered to the
merciless grip of the Water.
Heavy drops / suffocating clouds
cascaded down whipping
the ground. Arks and wooden boats: an escape
from Ao’s wrath. Separated families
due to the fragile vessels’ compact capacity,
with hopes to reunite after the storm.
On the wooden boat, there was an
unknown figure… boarding the same vessel
as I. Directly opposite
of where I leaned, with our backs
against the sides… Wooden boat–
frail and narrow– and yet there was
a vast distance between us. The boat
swayed, wobbled, trembled and
the figure tumbled over on my side.
The violation–a body pierced by pain–
in the depths of despair, the dream ceased to be
as ripped pieces of cloth were carried away
by the weeping wind and Waters.
A helpless girl
bound to a raft,
adrift on a wide river, encircled
by a shiver of people. An act
of gruesome violence: they punctured
a huge, wooden spike
into her skull vertically. She drifted away,
Suddenly, the perspective
shifted. I flowed downstream– like a leaf
in the drift– watching as the river
slowly constricted, hemming me
with its unforgiving embrace.
The deck arched its back into the middle
of a giant lake. Someone
stood beside me, grabbed me by the waist
and dived deep down. Unprepared, my body
dragged beneath the chasmic Waters. The figure,
with arms around my torso,
wore a whole diving suit, whereas my body
was dressed casually.
was not an option for me.
Void swallowed me whole, breaking
my ribcage, crushing
my skull. The dim, sombre waters
wrapped its arms around my shoulders,
gripped my ankles and had its hands
choking my neck
as pressure built up as we descended. Overwhelmed,
I tapped the figure; it swam back up.
Like a beautiful jellyfish.
With scars on its bell; ripped oral arms and tentacles.
Blades of prickly grass
caused my skin to feel itchy. I was immersed
by the presence of enchanting,
petite beings, whose human-like features
alluded recognition. These delightful creatures
resembled miniature flora, their charm radiating
like blooming flowers.
A large, black, cat-like creature
prowled into our midst, resembling
a predatory force. A sense of haste consumed me
as I directed the smaller, plant-like entities
to scatter and seek safety. In an astounding
display of valour, the — an enormous,
plant-like being—pierced the beast’s skull
with a jagged branch, impaling it entirely
through its cranium and emerging from its back.
The savage beast was cast
into a body of Water
destined to be food
for the lovely, endearing creatures.
The beast clung stubbornly to life, defying
its impending demise. With the intention
of boiling the creature to end its torment,
the adorable, flora creatures patiently endured the
agonisingly slow rise in water temperature,
prolonging the beast’s suffering.
A sharp pain in my chest, a stomach-drop feeling…
I proposed an easy death
by suggesting a single, decisive shot
to the beast’s head. However, my plea was met
with rejection from the lofty, plant creature,
wary of the uncertain outcome. They reasoned
that boiling the beast merely required its secure restraint,
ensuring its eventual demise.
I was standing on the bank
alongside the enchanting creatures, I experienced an
inexplicable sensation—a connection that immersed me
in the harrowing scene. It was as if
scalding Water engulfed me, mirroring
sensations felt by the pitiful beast itself.
Aboard a cruise ship, adrift
in the vastness of the ocean,
when a frigid revelation swept
through the air: we were all unwilling
participants in a harrowing game of survival.
With eight daunting stages awaiting us,
each requiring a swim to reach, panic
engulfed the ship, severing the ties that bound me
to my loved ones. As the chaos unfolded,
bodies leaped off the ship deftly, plunging
into the treacherous Waters.
Venom of fear: a sense of
helplessness paralyzed me, for I
could not swim. I sought solace
in the ship’s depths, praying
to gradually immerse myself in the
murky abyss. Clinging onto the steel sides,
I extended my senses, attempting to fathom
the profound depths below,
only to realise that the bottom eluded
The unforgiving waves claimed me,
and I succumbed to their
Amidst an oceanic competition, a sudden
commotion erupted, compelling everyone
to evacuate to secure protection. Whether escaping
a potential explosion… evading an unidentified threat…
the urgency in the air was undeniable.
Alas, my lack of swimming skills rendered me helpless.
I implored a man before me for assistance…
though my pleas seemed to vanish in the chaos.
Seeking aid from a woman behind me…
my hopes were dashed as she hurriedly swam away.
Turning around, I glanced at the grounds in the
distance. Like a goldfish swimming upstream
against a waterfall… Multiple distraught sea creatures
skimmed past me as I floated in the midst.
With my instinctual fight-or-flight response
taking control of my mind and body, I called upon
every drop of grit and managed to push myself
through the Water, covering several kilometres,
albeit with un-
Shallow Water up to my waist
that was full of chunks of
It felt so cold;
it was cold;
Written by Vanessa Li and edited by Maisarah Madawi. Published on 6/782023. Header image by Unsplash.