Just breathe she told herself. Just breathe, it will be over soon. So she sucked in a lung full of water and tasted it in her chest. The water tasted of bubblegum and sealing wax. She made an effort and pushed it out and felt the exhale on the back of her teeth, also it made her cheeks bulge a little. She had never really noticed breathing until she was drowning.
Odd she thought, that is odd, so she opened her eyes to look around. A cloud of very fine hair floated in front of her eyes, billions perhaps trillions of threads each one attached to her. When she turned, the hair didn't move. It felt claustrophobic.
She swept the mop to one side and looked up. A large disc of light shone down.
Someone somewhere said something.
She did not understand it. The sound was a mans voice. The sound was not from the underwater world.
That is when she noticed that there was a man inside her. The visitor thrust spasmed and vacated her. She was empty for a moment, and then someone else inhabited her and the drowning got deeper and deeper until the voices where just orbs of sound.
The deeper down she went the colder the world became. If it wasn't for the pain she might have frozen to death. The pain was hot.
Another malformed voice spoke. The sound passed through her and continued into the deep. It faded to silence then there was a throb and then there was nothing.
A shoal of sardine blades appeared from nowhere, divided into silver ribbons, to avoid her, and streaked toward the light.
Another shoal chased the first. Then another, everything was suddenly swimming up.
She looked down and saw it.
Charlie flapped her arms and kicked frantically, pulling at the water, like a fool, her hair flared and her hands oared fistfuls of water and she edged upward. She had no grace in this world.
An evening dress of pale blue silk arrived and stopped to look at her. It flicked into motion, and flicked to a stop. It hung motionless in front of her. The hem fanned back and forth deliberately, underneath eight tails dangled, some hung long some curled into spirals and some knotted with others.
The skirt bellowed and puffed, and the creature turned to faced her, an bladder head that billowed with gold eyes and black slits for pupils.
The oversized cranium flared and collapsed. A tentacle darted forward. Hundreds of tiny cupped mouths latched with soft crackles and pops. They were freezing cold. The lips kissed, retreated, waited and returned. A second limb copied the first, then more came, until there where six where working her. The limbs spiraled and twisted in her hair, coiled in her warm armpit, snaked over her breast and prodded the nipple and wrapped around her forearm like a boa constrictor.
In the groin which united the tentacles to the bladder shaped head was an orifice, a lipless mouth with a single spike-like tooth. The octopus flicked it's skirt and the arms curled around her head, and the membrane flared toothed sphincter dilated and plunged into her mouth and sucked itself down her throat and into her stomach and all eight tentacles followed. They flayed at her mouth for a moment, wiggling like eight infected fingers, then jerked into her and followed the head into her throat. She felt them slipping over her tongue. And as they vanished a thread of black ink squelched out of her mouth, and hung around her face like curdled milk in tea.
She gagged violently.
One reflex lead to another and made her heave. Nothing came out. She heaved again. Nothing. She thrust two fingers into her throat. Really deep, she made it happen. She puked into the water.
An yellow column squirted out of her mouth. The vomit clouded about her face. Head head was in the suspended bile, she waved her hands, but the rules where wrong. This world worked different. The cloud eddied backward and up into her eyes. She started to choke and panic. Another contraction came much stronger than the first. She vomited out of the ocean and onto a melamine table in a kitchen which she did not recognise.