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Abstract Water

Blue Waters

Draft Sample-Chapter One: It was Silent

The rocking arms of the water gently woke Blue from their slumber. Their nose scrunched a little as they blinked sleep out of their eyes. They fell into a familiar trance as they traced the constellations and familiar satellites in their mind before they let out a breath. Gramps once said that rushing along the rapids at night was something people did for fun. Blue figured they probably were when you weren’t running from a gang in the River Faction. They took a second to make sure the water was steady before sitting up. 

       “Wasn’t a dream,” Blue muttered as they touched the bump on the back of their head and cringed. 

       Blue moved their mustard yellow bucket hat to cover the bump, which made their gloved hand get caught on one of the lures hooked into the fabric again. The lights of the stars and satellites reflected along the dark water, hugging each end of their boat. Blue reached up and braced themselves as they turned on their hearing aid. After a moment, Blue let out a breath as the sound of the waves flooded into their ear.

If no one had tried to kill them or take Blue’s stuff, it was safe to say the group from earlier didn’t follow. That didn’t mean people weren’t floating here though, especially given some of these buildings looked like decent enough shelter. They reached back and tugged the string of the boat motor. It came to life, but the boat stayed put. Blue shut it off and felt around the blades, only to realize they weren’t there to begin with. They hit the motor and rested their head against it, feeling an immense pressure forming in their chest as they kept their sobs at bay. 

With the light of the moon getting brighter, Blue looked to their right and saw a building that looked sturdy enough to rest for the night. They used their arms to move the boat closer to the building. Something grazed the bottom of the boat, which made Blue jump. They moved forward and looked back to see the top of a long lamp just below the water. Anything else was hard to make out at this point. 

       They continued forward and didn’t hesitate to climb the rusty ladder to the balcony. They looked inside through the glass door to make sure the coast was clear before they turned the knob, which opened without much of a struggle. As Gramps used to say, this just meant the water hadn’t gotten to it yet. Blue looked around again, noting that they happened to be in a decently sheltered spot with the way these buildings were in a circle. 

Blue cautiously stepped into the dusty room and listened as best they could for any sign of life, their knife out at the ready just in case. Black and green grime formed at the baseboards along the floor, but only slightly. The heavy air Blue was used to in these small spaces wasn’t there, which meant sleeping was going to be easier. They checked the first room to the right, and almost screamed as they raised their hand towards what they thought was another person, only to stop short of shattering their dark reflection. 

       Blue stared into their deep blue eyes that looked so unfamiliar without the ebbs and flows of the water. They cautiously touched the reflective glass as they stepped closer to try and see themselves. The wonky writing poked through their low-cut shirt. It was reversed, making it even more illegible at first glance. Violet promised writing DEAF DEAL WITH IT in a visible spot would help people understand Blue better, even though Blue insisted that their hearing wasn’t that bad yet.

       “It gives you an advantage then,” Violet said as they wiped some of the excess ink from Blue’s chest. “People will think you’re completely vulnerable before you take them out.”

       “What was that about making snouts?” Blue asked.

       That earned them a smack in the arm, which instinctively made Blue flinch. Blue’s lips twitched into a smile at the memory as they left the room and went on to check the rest of the place. They even checked what they realized was some sort of thing that stored food… or, once stored food. That door was closed soon after it opened as Blue gagged from the smell it left. 

       After doing one more check of the whole place, excluding the thing that stored bad smells, Blue put their knife away. They went ahead to check every drawer and cabinet to try and find some food that might have been stored well enough to be edible at this point. It seemed whoever once lived here either never ate canned food or someone else had already taken it. When they went back to where they entered, they checked the drawer next to a lumpy seat. There was what looked like the breath freshener that was on the billboard their boat hit. Blue popped one in their mouth and frowned at the cold sensation that came from the brittle capsule. At this point it was better than nothing, so they popped a few more as they unhooked their large water bottle from the loop of their coveralls and took a quick sip. 

       They made a mental note to filter some water in the morning. When they sat down in the chair, they let out a deep breath and leaned back. It was then the bottom of the chair popped out, making their eyes shoot open and stumble backward with the table coming along with it. Blue grunted as they sat themself up, then paused when they realized the square thing on the table was lighting up the space. Blue stared at the pictures of the people fading in and out of the square, stunned but intrigued. They carefully picked it up and watched as a little girl with curly hair stood next to what looked like art, toys and animals Blue had never seen before. Just as they were going to put it down, it changed. This time, she was moving around.

       “Daddy! Are you watching?” the little girl screeched happily as she leaned back with a rope between her legs. 

       “Go for it hun!” came “Daddy’s” voice.

       Blue watched with bated breath as the girl swung forward and let go, splashing into the smallest body of water Blue had ever seen. She came up quickly and waved at “Daddy” who was cheering excitedly. The next picture was of the girl, “Daddy” and another person sitting together on the seat Blue was just on with big goofy smiles as they waved. Blue raised their hand to wave back, but the screen turned off. Blue shook it to try and get it to light up again, but nothing happened. They tossed it to the side, then paused before they took out their journal. 

They flipped through the star charts they had made over the years and landed on the photo of Blue as a young kid with the bucket hat almost covering their whole face. Gramps had his back towards Blue since he was busy pulling a bucket up from the side of the boat. Blue didn’t remember this day, but it was the only photo left of Gramps as far as they knew. Gramps even put the date on the bottom out of habit, but Blue never remembered what number meant what. Blue traced Gramps’s scraggly black and gray hair Violet had braided into pigtails that morning. The picture had seen better days, since these things were never made to be waterproof or sunproof, apparently. When they felt their eyes start to get wet, Blue put the photo back and closed it.

       That was when they felt a shock from their hearing aid. Blue instinctively turned it off just as a flash of light came over the room. Flashes of light only mean one thing if there were no bullets flying. Blue pushed the lumpy seat over and sat on the cushion with their back against the part their butt was just on and braced themself. Thunder shook the room and broke through the blockages in Blue’s ears, making them jump. The only time Blue wished they were completely deaf was moments like these. Blue took off their hat and hearing aid to hold it to their chest.

       “Gramps,” Blue said, for once whispering as another light flashed across the room. “I could really use one of them stories about the Lady Gaga star you talked about now. Was she part of a big dip or the Orion guy’s belt?”

       Of course, there was no response. Blue’s chest felt tight again, but this time they let their sobs take over their body as they held the hat tighter, ignoring the pricks from the lures against their arms. They eventually curled up on the chair’s cushion as best they could, arms holding the hat to dear life as Blue forced themselves to sleep.

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