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Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction

The following is a piece of writing submitted by Emily on February 2, 2014
"I am really uncertain as to how I ended up where I did, as that's not the way I was initially writing this. I took this as one of those prompts where you don't give it thought -- you write and see what comes. But, regardless of what you do, you don't stop or back-track. It proved to be an interesting experiment."

For Whatever We Lose

Chill, darkness, suffocating pressure. At first splash, the instinct to suck in as deep a breath as possible takes over. The vocalist in my pushes for my ribcage and stomach to adjust to fit the volume of my lungs. I push my diaphragm down as hard as I can and pull life-giving oxygen into every crevice the organs provide. I can only hope it will be enough to take me through the experience.

My next thought isn't panic, or to flee -- not quite yet. It is the peace I find in the water. In how the cold liquid caresses my skin and lulls me into a relaxed state. Then the realization that my books, my electronics, my writing will be destroyed. The frets of a geek, a fangirl, an aspiring author. Perhaps it is only due to the serenity I find in water that the survival instincts close in.

I sleep in a peculiar room. And, while I am clinging to my bed as an anchor, I realize that this is perhaps for the best.

I keep a door in its normal place, but it is to be swung inward and the pressure will not allow me to do so. The same general principles of physics apply to my window -- unless I can manage to break one or the other and lessen the pressure within the room, neither is a viable option. Thankfully, the house is old. Built upon what was once a firehouse, an escape pole used to run through the center of the room. When converted, small doors were placed where the holes previously resided. This leaves me with two potential means of escape.

I am buoyant. This means that it would be easier for me to float toward the ceiling, but as both doors open into the rooms below them, I do not think this is an intelligent decision. It is possible neither choice really is, as I can't be positive that all the water will drain once I open my choice of door. And then, I can only hope that if there are residents in either room, they will be capable of fleeing to safety before they, too, are flooded.

If I were to write out these thoughts, it might take minutes. Thankfully, in the heat of the moment, such rationalizations take merely seconds. I know the better course of action is to dive and hope my strong legs and my love for swimming can guide me to a safe haven.

I crouch against the post at the foot of my bed and wiggle in, shrinking myself down to have the smallest surface area possible. I maintain my grip on the wood long enough to inch to the base, so the carpet is pressed to my back. I take a moment to seek the opening and reposition to aim. I pause for a moment to make sure my calculations are accurate. I scrunch up tighter than it would seem possible, and I launch.

My body straightens as I push off of the frame my bedding has since floated away from, and I shoot toward the opening with as much speed and vigor as I can manage.

The room is not large, thankfully enough. I reach the opening as my lungs begin to strain. I can feel the muscles collapsing in as the air pushes outward, and my chest screams for some release. My ears are popping, my temples throb, and I grasp desperately for the handle that will lead to my salvation.

Stiff metal meets my groping fingers, and my nails clasp for closure. I yank, a little too hard, with too light a grip. My fingers slip back and a nail catches on a bump in the handle, tearing from the finger. I want to scream in agony, and bubbles make a vie for freedom from my bronchial tubes. I can't afford to lose any oxygen, and clamp down, grinding my teeth together as the water around me grows darker with the red seeping from my flesh.

Again, I grasp for the handle. This time, I find closure, and seize the grip with all my might. At first, there is a tug. Then a budge. Then, finally, I manage to yank the door from its molding.

There is a current. A moment of pure chaos as the open space of the room below me is filled with the waters rushing from my room. A practical waterfall has begun, and continues until I sit, soggy, on the floor of the room I'd once thought safe.

Breath rushes from me in a swift burst, to be replaced by hasty gasps for air. I search for my inhaler in the bag I keep beside my bed, clawing through the contents to find it. It isn't there.

Panic sets in once more, and my breaths become more consistent, more shallow. It is the key to my survival in situations such as this, and it is lost.

I scramble across the room, searching. My head is becoming foggy and light. I can feel my eyes beginning to roll this-way and that. I reach the edge of the door, where a puddle has spilled over onto the carpet from the room below being so full. The lights have managed to continue working there, and at the bottom I can spot my life in its plastic casing.

I could dive to retrieve it, but the hyperventilation has already begun ripping me of my consciousness. I slide an arm through, foolishly hoping I can will the container to me. I fail.

Black begins to settle in, and my body returns to the cold it felt during the flood. I can hear myself, gasping for air as if I am a fish with mere fantasies of being human. As consciousness leaves me and I fall forward into the water, I can only hope that is the truth.

My body draws in for air, and I find the burning sensation of saline instead. In moments, I fall still. I see nothing. Then, a gasp for air, and miraculously, it seems I'm back.

My eyes fly open, and I grasp for something to chain me to this world. I find the sheets, soft and warm, have slipped from my body. My glass of water seems to have fallen from its perch on my windowsill and has left my arm drenched. My laptop is open, and sounds of waves crash through from some unknown program. Beside me, "20000 Leagues Under the Sea" is open to a page I recall reading.

I smile and laugh, adjusting my items and settling in for the night. I reach up to flick the light off and snuggle down. My eyes close. Somewhere, in the back of my mind, a voice tickles me with venomous words.

"This is the dream."

I shrug them off as my wakened breathing ceases, and my world fades to nothing. I don't recall falling asleep being this easy. And then, my thoughts dissipate, and it is as if they have never existed.

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