Day 349 – The Memories of Berossus

Alex put me up to writing a story about a girl who is swimming in the Med at sunset. So it might not entirely be the MED but it’s close..

Also will have to know basic knowledge of Babylonian mythology here…. (wikipedia should do it)

Word count: 1118

Crystal clear waves dazzled the shore with hypnotic charm. A crimson sunset broke through the dark foreboding thunder clouds as rain shattered another land, many miles away. Forks of lighting lit up the sky and frighteningly primeval fear gripped her as she rose out of the water, trickles of water dripping over her face and hair.
The sea was refreshingly cold. The hot summer sun burned her skin every day. To swim at night was the most pleasurable of experiences. Every night since she was a child she would leave her grandfather’s house and ran down to the beach. Often she was alone – few wandered down by the sea at night. Most remained with their families, cooking all night, singing rituals and telling stories. But Omarosa could never be segregated from the water for so long. From an early age the sea and her were linked; they were liked sisters. They needed each other, she believed. One could not survive without the other.
Omarosa climbed on to the rocks and leant back against them, dipping her toes in the water and watching the sky with utter wonderment. All her life she had watched the skies – she had seen how they changed, how different lights appeared in the dark and how Ishtar turned her back on the world slowly every night before she came back again. Omarosa would often speak to Ishtar – asking her questions that were never answered and always seemed to pose more of themselves to her. Like her great-grandfather, she was inquisitive to the bone. Berossus was man that many generations from now would never forget. His writings inspired hundreds; but most of all Omarosa.
As a young girl, she would listen to her grandfather read Berossus’s stories. Her father and mother, alas, had perished in fire. Lying flat on her stomach, head pinned up by her arms, she listened intently to the wild imaginings being told to her. Her mind raced with excitement – an excitement that would never leave her.
Sitting on the rocks, those stories returned to her once again. In her mind, an alternative reality based on these stories played out as if theatre. Far out to see something black bobbed up and down. As time passed it grew larger and larger until it was significantly bigger than when it had first appeared. Curious, Omarosa continued to stare at it – swept away by her imagination. Soon the object began to rise out of the water and revealed itself to be the strangest thing that had ever met her eyes.
The body was not human, but was entirely familiar. It resembled something she more often found on her plate than walking out of the ocean. It stalked towards her, however, on human legs. Closer and closer it got and still she could not take her eyes off its slimy fish-like body. When it came so close as that it could nearly touch her, its yellow eyes blinked blankly, awaiting a response from her.
But words failed Omarosa, for she had only just realised what she was seeing. Those tales her great-grandfather had written; they entered her mind more clearly now. Each word of a description was as crisp and clear as if it were right before her: and now it was. But this was no magic trickery of the eye – there was no excuse for exceeding imagination here. This slimy beast was truly real.
Omarosa fearlessly leaned forward to look more closely at the creature. It blinked again and its narrow black pupils dilated.
“What are you?” she asked it. But she knew the answer before she said it. Berossa had used it first. “You are the Oannes aren’t you?”
The creature nodded. “You are of Babylon?”
Omarosa nodded, “Yes, yes I am. Where are you from?”
Omarosa was expecting the Oannes to point towards the sea bed, but instead it extended its scaly claw-like hand up into the sky, pointing directly into the mess of twinkling lights.
“Up, there?” Omarosa questioned, confused. “But you are of the sea are you not?”
The Oannes shook his head, “We live there, but we are not from there.”
“But where? Where is up there? Ishtar?”
The Oannes once again shook its head, “We are from far away. Beyond your sight. We came for water. We cannot survive without water.”
Omarosa sunk into the water with it, “I know what you are.”
“We also know what you are.”
“My grandfather – he wrote – he wrote stories of you.”
The Oannes breathed in deeply and Omarosa noticed its gills flapping in its neck.
“We remember Berossa.”
“Berossa? You remember my great grandfather?”
“Yes. We met. We told him of you.”
Omarosa stammered, struggling to find the words to her question. How had they been able to tell Berossa of her? How had they all met each other? Where was far away?
Dark descended into black. The Oannes and her remained in the water together.
“We are old, Omarosa. We are very old.”
The Oannes’ voice sounded heavy and grainy. Omarosa stretched out a hand to touch its skin.
“We come from the sea to teach – but at night, we must return to the water to sleep. We are the people called Oannes, Omarosa. We mean nothing but peace.”
Omarosa kicked her legs and swam back to the rocks. “Teach me something.”
The Oannes walked towards her through the water and took her hand before point it up to the sky, “The lights in the sky, they are not just lights to guide ships. They are burning fiery balls of destruction and warmth. They are the same as Shamash.”
The Oannes turned her around and placed both claws on her temples, “Close your mind to the light. Listen…”
Omarosa collapsed into a sea of visions. Image after image flickered before her eyes and she could not keep up with them. So much information was being absorbed by her brain that she felt faint and weak, but when she finally did open her eyes she was underwater.
Gasping for breath and swallowing gulp after gulp of salt water, she splashed her way to the surface, breaking free through the waves and swallowing the cold, refreshing air. Then, suddenly, a hand grabbed her and pulled her back to shore, throwing her on to the sand.
“Omarosa!” her grandfather yelled.
“I met them!” Omarosa gasped and panted for air, “I met them! I met Berossus’s memory! The Oannes!”
“Don’t be silly, they are stories!”
“And they crept back to the water at night to sleep, the people called the Oannes who are not from this world!” She reached a hand outward to point to the sky, suddenly realising what the Oannes had meant.

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~ by S.G. Mark on September 19, 2012.

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