Aqua: Part Two of the
Copyright 2014 by Jonathan Dakin
I kicked my legs harder as I dived down further. My arms reached out, through the warm salty water, until they could stretch no longer, and then I pulled them back, propelling me through the dark blue sea. I was almost touching the sandy floor, when a school of brightly coloured tropical fish skimmed past me. I smiled as I watched them scuttle away and glide through the bright streaks of sunlight shooting down from above. It was beautiful.
Now that I was at the bottom, I began my search. I swam quickly through the murky water, the sand now swirling around me as it was dislodged with every movement of my limbs. But it was here- I knew it was. I just had to find it.
My lungs began to tighten and my throat started to scream. I had almost reached my limit: I had to get my treasure before I suffocated. Unfortunately for me and my siblings, we didn’t have gills. We could hold our breath for an incredibly long time- compared to the average human- but we couldn’t breathe in water. Which might be a good thing. Because if I could, I might stay down here forever.
As I skimmed the ocean floor with my stomach, I put my arms out and began patting the sandy ground. I felt all sorts of small rocks but I couldn’t find what I was looking for. I gazed up, the wall of dark sea rising high above me. It would probably take me another minute to get back to the surface, and I wasn’t sure I was going to last that long. It was now or never.
A gorgeous sea shell wasn’t worth dying for.
Just as I curled my legs underneath my body, pressing them hard against the squidgy silt, readying myself to push as hard as possible so that I could propel back up to the surface, I saw it. The dark sand swirled around, creating a temporary patch of clarity, and a beam of sunlight illuminated my prize. It was bright pink with dark red stripes, in the shape of a fan. I knew that it no longer housed a living sea creature, because it sat on its side, revealing that it was only one half of a whole. It was dazzling, and in the dark ocean depths it looked as if someone had built a fire, one that was still burning brightly, just for me.
I walked slowly over to it, the tide pushing me slightly to my right. I held my left hand out and diverted the water molecules around my body, so that I didn’t get swept away or knocked over. I had to have this sea shell. It was mine.
I could feel my lungs aching. They were almost screaming. They were now warning me that I was in desperate need of oxygen. But I was so close: almost two feet away. The strong current continued to force itself around me, but it could do no harm. I was in control of it.
And that’s when I had an idea.
I closed my eyes and allowed my mind to drift away from my body. It fell into the ocean, making me at one with it. I latched onto the fierce tide and, for a few seconds, got swept along with it. But almost instantly I was in control of the water: every single tiny molecule within my vicinity. I could feel my own body within the sea as I brushed against it with billions of atoms: all of which I could control. It was like an out of body experience, except at the same time I was still within my body. I could feel every tiny piece of sand as it flowed through me. I could also feel the ocean wildlife, from large fish right down to miniscule organisms, as they drifted within my domain. And I felt the sea shell. I grabbed onto it with the strong current and pushed it from behind. It instantly leapt up and flew through the water. I held my right arm out and grasped the prize as it floated gently into my hand.
I was beginning to feel very light headed now, so I turned the tide. I pushed off the sea floor with all my might, and then told the current to do the rest. I shot through the water like a bullet leaving a barrel, towards the surface. With my incredible speed, I was out of the ocean within seconds, and flying through the air. I opened my eyes to see how high I was, and as my body fell back down towards the ocean, I inhaled deeply. I then straightened my body so that when I hit the water, I dived under, my body moving like a dolphin. I swam back to the surface with incredible ease.
I drew my head out of the sea and took another deep breath, allowing the warm oxygen to fill my aching lungs. I paddled in this spot for a few moments, looking around at the tropical paradise that lay before me. It was stunning. Hundreds of palm trees lined the sandy yellow shores. The dazzling sunlight lit the ocean a beautiful blue. The sound of the waves crashing against the rocks filled my head, as did the squawks of the birds that flew above. I loved it here. It was my home.
I swam towards the coastline, still clutching the shell. As I got nearer to the shore I was able to stop swimming and begin walking. As my body emerged from the salty sea, the sun beat down on my skin, warming me both inside and out. I usually preferred the colder waters, but it was nice to feel the occasional warm waters heat up my flesh. Warmth didn’t really do anything for me: I liked the crispy cool tingle that only icier waters provided.
I skipped through the crashing tide and eventually reached the beach. As soon as my right foot left the water I felt slightly strange. This was a sensation I always felt when I was no longer in the ocean. It was as if I was naked, because I felt bare and empty. Something was missing when I wasn’t in the water, even though I could feel it in the humid equatorial atmosphere.
I stopped walking and dropped the sea shell onto the sand. I took the hair band from my right wrist and began pulling my thick, wet, afro hair back into a ponytail. My black hair wasn’t nearly as long as Visola’s dreadlocks, but when it got wet, my thick curls always unravelled slightly, making it a little longer. Once I had tied it back, I then bent down and picked up the sea shell, looking at it intently. It really was the most beautiful shell I had ever seen. The base colour reminded me of a pink daisy, and the dark red stripes made me think of a lipstick colour that I had seen some of the women wearing back at the Aqua base. The small, thin textured strips, which looked like lines, fanned out of a tiny circle at the bottom to the wide ridge. I turned it over to see a smooth, shiny light pink surface on the other side. I smiled happily. I knew exactly who would appreciate this the most.
I turned towards the sea, looking at it anxiously. Babajide didn’t know I had left the island. Neither did my brothers and sister. The Aqua Cohors had given me incredibly strict instructions not the leave the island for the mainland. Not only was the country itself dangerous, but the Inimicus were apparently making a move against us. An attack was imminent.
I sighed. Babajide always said that something bad was going to happen. He had done ever since I met him, over eight years ago. And nothing bad had ever happened. I was sick of living on the island. Don’t get me wrong; it was an amazing place, and I was so lucky to be there. But being cooped up in one location, with the same people, day in day out, was pretty tedious. My siblings and I had already mastered our powers: we didn’t really need the Aqua Cohors anymore. At least not to train us, anyway. I wanted to be back with my people, helping them. So many of those who lived in our country needed our assistance, and instead of giving it to them, we were selfishly locked away. I was sick of it.
I had made my decision. I was going to see Zeina, in spite of what the leader of the Aqua Cohors said. Babajide had dictated our whole lives to us, but I wasn’t going to let him anymore. So after taking one last look at the ocean, I began to walk towards the small village where my brother and I always used to visit, before we were put on lockdown. They needed our help. Only fifty per cent of the people in the Equatorial Guinea had access to clean drinking water, and as a member of a group of people with superhuman water powers, it was our job to support the people in our country who needed it. God didn’t bless us with these powers for no reason: he wanted us to be at the front line, doing his good works. I believed that with all of my heart.
As I made my way to a small clearing, one that led to a narrow dirt road into the village, it suddenly hit me that I was not appropriately dressed for seeing my little friend. Because I had swum from the base to the mainland, I couldn’t bring spare clothes with me. My bikini was not exactly appropriate clothing to visit a seven year old girl in, or walk down the empty roads of a West African country. On the other hand, this was a hot country. It wasn’t so strange to wear a bikini in the scorching heat. And I was only going to a very small village anyway, where everyone knew me. It wasn’t like I was going into the capital city.
As I started down the road to the village, I noticed my dark brown skin shimmering in the strong sunlight. I loved it when the sea salt dried on my skin and sparkled, because it made me look like I had scales. Now that I was almost dry, I decided to walk in the shade. I didn’t like to be hot. I crossed over to the other side of the road, nearer to the small jungle, and continued to walk bare foot over the rocky terrain.
I listened to the birds and the animals as they sang and roared. It was wonderful. I’d missed this. The cold, clinical Aqua Cohors base may have been plush and modern, but it wasn’t… real. At least, it didn’t feel that way to me. I had been born in Malabo, the capital of the Equatorial Guinea, on the island of Bioko. For the first five years of my life, I had lived there with my parents. Even though I didn’t remember much about it, something within me missed it… Or maybe it was just that I missed living in a big city, with lots of different people surrounding me. I always wanted to meet people, to travel, to see the world, but Babajide and the rest of the Aqua Cohors were incredibly protective of us all.
“It’s dangerous out there,” he would say, and I would just roll my eyes.
My brothers and sister never seemed to mind being kept apart from the rest of the human race, but I did. It was only Madzimoyo’s caring personality that helped me to ‘lead him astray’ by leaving the island. For the past few years, my brother and I had been allowed to enter the mainland to support those who needed it, and it was in those moments that I really felt like I was doing what I was born to do. We only did small things, like building wells and planting crops, but even though they seemed like tiny, unimportant tasks to us, for the people we helped, it meant the world. Of course we had to have bodyguards following us around, which made us look like pop stars, because Babajide was concerned for our ‘safety’. I only allowed them to tag along with us because it meant we could leave the island. But now, walking alone down a road like a normal person, I felt content. I felt like I wasn’t some freak of nature who had been cooped up on an island off the coast of West Africa. I felt… normal.
I was almost at the village. I could smell the lit fires and could hear the noise of children laughing and playing. I continued to walk down the empty track, trying to feel the water running deep beneath the soil, but something was wrong. I continued to search for it, and as soon as I felt myself latch onto it, the sound of a loud car horn jolted me out of my trance. I turned to see a small car drive past, and as it did, men hollered at me provocatively. I blushed in shame, and decided that perhaps not bringing clothes to cover myself up was one of the stupidest things I had ever done.
I followed behind the car, into the village. This place, which consisted mainly of small dwellings, was so tiny that it wasn’t even on the map, and even I didn’t know the name of it! But the people here, who were ethnically Fang, were really lovely people. They had accepted me and my brother, who were ethnically Bubi, as if we were their own, and I loved them for it.
“Shasa! Shasa!” A few of the small children screamed as I walked into the centre of the village. They ran over to hug me, but stopped when they saw what I was wearing, which wasn’t much. The young boys laughed nervously, but some of the girls still hugged me regardless, and I squeezed them back.
“Hola!” I said jubilantly. It had been a long time since I had been here, and I was happy to see some different faces.
The children quickly latched onto my sea shell, all of them trying to tear it out of my hand.
“This isn’t for you!” I told them, “It’s for Zeina!”
Some of them sighed sadly, while others screamed in happiness.
“Shasa!” I heard my name being called out, but this time by an adult.
I turned to see Matias, one of the village elders, hobbling towards me.
“Buenos Dias!” I greeted him, politely. I didn’t dare hug him.
“Buenos Dias!” he replied, before raising a suspicious eyebrow at my outer garments. “We need your help again, Shasa. The well… there’s no water!”
“I knew something was wrong…” I told him, but he frowned in confusion. “From your tone of voice,” I added, and then he smiled and nodded in understanding. Even though the villagers revered my brother and me as ‘special’, they were not aware that we had ‘superpowers’. That was something we intelligently kept to ourselves.
“Vamos!” Matias commanded me, and then turned and began walking towards the village well. Although I wanted to give Zeina her present, fixing the well was much more important, and it probably wouldn’t take me too long, so I followed Matias. In less than a minute I was next to the well which I could instantly feel was completely dry.
“What’s wrong with it?” Matias asked desperately. “Shall we build a new one?”
Many other villagers surrounded the well, looking down it as if it might magically fill up from their good intentions. I closed my eyes and floated through space, trying to latch onto any nearby water source. I quickly discovered that there was in fact water still running underneath the well, but something was blocking its path. I drifted into the water, and felt that its flow was being blocked by huge clods of soil. I guessed that the earth had collapsed near to the well, and so the water was not coming through. I opened my eyes and turned to Matias.
“I need a large stick,” I asked him. He rushed, as quickly as his old body could take him, over to a recently chopped pile of firewood, and from that picked out a large, long, thick branch.
“Gracias,” I replied as he handed it over to me. I then began poking the stick down into the well, pretending that I was manually dislodging the blockage. One thing that I did agree with Babajide about was that we had to keep our powers a secret. The people in the mainland just assumed that my brother and I were incredibly industrious and resourceful, and that it was because we received a privileged upbringing. In some ways they were right: our lives had been much easier because of our powers, and if the Aqua Cohors hadn’t taken me and my family away when they did, who knows what would have happened to us? The Equatorial Guinea was a dangerous place for children, especially young girls…
I closed my eyes, and was instantly at one with the water. I felt for a way through the blockage, and realised that it was too large to go around. I travelled back through the water, to its source, which led many miles away to a river in the jungle. Once I arrived there, I grabbed as much of the current as I could and thrust it down the stream, under the ground. It shot through as fast as it could, and as soon as it hit the blockage, it knocked it out of its way. I heard a loud explosion of water as the torrent gushed into the bottom of the well, and began filling up. I opened my eyes to see the villagers cheering and screaming in delight. I put the stick down next to my feet as Matias placed his hand on my left shoulder and smiled thankfully.
“Gracias,” he said with a broad smile, “Muchas gracias!”
I beamed back at him, happy knowing that my trip had already been worth the risk.