Esperanza paddled her way across the limitless expanse, her arms tired to the bone or past the bone to a place unnamed but doubtless real. Reflected in her eyes a sun red as fire began to wink out below the distant horizon of the sea and the girl wondered if she weren’t upon the waters of an alien world. Having been in the watercraft for so many days, she wondered if her legs would carry her when she finally arrived at land. Wind reached her from a distant place, carrying with it air chilled and fragrant with moist earth. She was getting close.
And from the silence into her awareness with sonic command, an unanticipated explosion of light and sound, the two ghastly creatures from the woods skimmed atop the water from afar directly toward her, incredibly fast. As they approached she failed to see their faces shrouded deep within their hoods.
We warned you once, one of them said in a high-pitched voice.
The creature lifted its bony arms into the darkening gradient and two balls of white light swelled and shot toward Esperanza, upending her raft and tossing her into the water. She had difficulty orienting herself in the water, cold and dark as it was. When she resurfaced the creatures hovered above her. Long bony fingers like twigs wrapped around her head and plucked her from the water, sending her airborne, floating through the air, a spaceward missile tumbling headlong back the way she’d paddled, thinking it was much colder up here, twenty meters above the water, and how serene it all seemed from this high up, how clear the moon was, ashen and pure and silent, how peaceful.
When she slammed back into the water all the air in her lungs evacuated from the shock of impact and her body somersaulted downward, downward at the mercy of the sea, the water dark and immense and silent, our friend a sleeping ballerina in perhaps her final solo performance…