Springs of Pegae

He holds his breath and dives deep. Deep, and deeper yet; the bottom is meters away, and the light is fading. His lungs claw at his throat, bang heavy against his lips, bubble deep in his brain, but deeper yet.

He reaches bottom, settles uneasily in the murk, and winds weeds around his traitor limbs to quell their insurgent buoyancy. His lungs are in revolt, rioting in the streets; he tears up the cobblestones for barricades, lights fires in all the churches and libraries: there will be nothing left but ash for the revolutionaries.

Deeper still, and the light has gone — he watches stars wheel across the darkness in stubborn pain — and she is there.

“Hylas,” she says, her voice the voice of a woman he knew in childhood. “Where have you been?” He takes breath to reply to her, and settles to the bottom of the pool, unquestioned king at last.