novel excerpt 
© Barry Kavanagh 1992 

Marsh and April stood hand in hand on the shore. The sea was still, calm, flat, gently lapping up against the meagre rocks, but there were black clouds in the distance. It felt slightly hot. April thought for a moment, gazing into space. At least, Marsh thought it was space. She could have been looking at something. She was! She was looking at the ground. She'd seen a small shape. Now she bent down to touch it. It was a camera. She investigated it for a moment. She directed her eyes to him subsequent to that and uttered "It's not working anymore."

"Is it?" he said. "It may never have worked."

She dropped the camera to the wet sand and they held hands again, staring out to sea once more. She looked over to her right and saw the Temple. The last train of the night rattled behind them, tossing their hair around and illuminating them with its green light.

In silence once again, a single signal faded into what it always was. Some vague circling motions were too lethargic to uplift anyone now. No rapture. A hollow hollering nothing. Wanted. What was wanted? You can feel your heart when you choke. What else? What else does anyone need? And nobody wants to choke. Not a way to go out. Love. Dust. Sand wet and sticking to shoes. A seagull in its death-throes - forty miles away? A reminded beat... and the vision-blankness beyond the hexagonal ruin's arches stretched out to white infinity. They knew what they wanted, standing here, but they could not define it. The fact that they were together in this nowhere led them to smile. How could they not smile, nowhere together instead of nowhere alone? A hand touched hand and it was all around but did it ever go further than that? They were beginning - they were beginning to get that surge of heart and feeling and vision and blind, blind, body-emptying rush and filter out out out into some blank atmosphere and then still be standing there hand-in-hand, waves swirling around their toes. Faster their heads swam and deeper into crystal night and sound and filled up cacophonous grist and - Drifted away. Silent. The camera sank under foot. Hear the sea now. It is time. Or no time at all. They could tone down now. They had not got the emotion they wanted yet, but it was there, omnipresent at their feet, a living seagull chanting it into the waves of water.

Drizzle. A wind picked up. The still waters flat no more. The pieces faded together to make summer storm. Did April speak? Did she say something beautiful in the night breeze, in spite of its message of their doom? The words slipped out into echoes that could be faintly detected but the original words could not be heard. She shivered. Marsh let himself draw her close. She looked at him and they saw. The swirl was not a vapour, a fingerscratch of mist: it was a defined, non-corporeal but earthy, delineated and interpreted thing. Its pace was gentle. The mind could see its elegance then. The ripples and the thing. And everything was obvious then, but only as obvious as the eye of a storm - vicious winds can obliterate an obvious thing from view, but if you concentrate hard enough you can see it yet, there, shining slightly between the sheets of thick rain.

A howl in the clouds. The sky revolved, tumult everywhere above. Across the beach the wind rolled but dotted on its agitated surface stood two figures in black, suddenly less incoherent. More distinct. An actual shimmering black, not an invisible one.

The rain on the green water. The thunder overhead. Hardly anything could be seen. So much darkness... Occasionally they could see each other's faces. They held hands so that they could still perceive each other. For this. The water was around their ankles now, and they hadn't moved from the spot.

There was a disturbed cadence to the waves, and behind that, a murmur of all-encompassing ancientness. Puppet-strings made eyes observe the sea all around them, attacking the shore from all points. And yes, with this moment, raised and high, this was was the time. The roll of thunder dropped into the sea.

He held her tightly. The same smile. They kissed, a one moment of once affection with no other brainstem activity to accompany it. They gripped tighter, he could see her crying, something even now he could not do.

She was the one who led them in. They walked determinedly. Into the sea. And they felt its cold all around them. And they felt it inside them, a huge deep feeling from their stomachs to their hearts. The vast, green expanse of water enveloped them and evenly they went deeper and deeper, swam in, drifted in, the inner feeling getting bigger and bigger and their hearts racing faster and faster.

Everything was imageless for a moment in time. Then they saw the - sheer size! - of the massive, tumultuous supertrembling of waves ahead. The ends of her long hair trailed along. A wave knocked her to the side, she leaned back, the top of her head submerged and she was soaked. He looked. Her head back, her neck dotted with droplets, the wet outline of her breast. He drew her up and they continued.

They went in further. The water became chest-high. Heart underwater. In deeper. Up to their necks. What was in her face? Anything? A blur - a laugh - could be anything. Slowly they submerged completely. Sound blocked out. Just the underwater sound. They could feel the very tips of their heads finally go under. Search - they held hands but had to see each other. Only glimpses. It was so dark underwater, under a storm. They were content then just to hold hands, never to separate.

The green became black. Their hearts were silent at first, melancholy, old, dying. There was something down there, but it had to be sought out. The longer they remained down there the more they could feel. The pain. The panic - no! Marsh couldn't take it. If he was going to go down now, he wanted to see her face. Then as soon as he thought of it it was there. And it was beautiful to him but he could not hold onto that image. He knew in death he would never remember it... and it was gone time now. There was no way back to the surface, the storm pushed them further and further under. Every part of sea rushed past them as they passed down, down, further, deeper, race, cold, silent, everything, aware, now, falling, and then - the convulsions, the heartburst, the worst pain and panic. Absolute agony. But this passed. Breathing had long since become impossible. He felt her frailed hand slip away and was aware that he was going into a very deep sleep. Forever. His body could take no more. He thought of her face and let it all slip away - into himself, into nothing.

The rain fell on the green water above.