Parcen awoke after his nap returned to the crystal cave, and feeling well rested.
"There we are," he said with a yawn and a stretch. "I feel like myself again. Now, as for my surroundings..."
Parcen looked around at the various worlds on display for him through the stony portals all around the cave floor.
"Perhaps I'll go for a swim?" Parcen mused, as he stood up and took his coat off. He left the rest of his light clothing on, as he dove head-first through the portal that led into a aquamarine fantasy.
The water was not-too-warm, but refreshing, as Parcen's body cut into it. His sudden arrival on the scene caused a nearby school of yellow fish to scatter like daley seeds in the wind, and sent an octopus retreating under a rock. Parcen looked up to see that he wasn't too far from the surface of the water.
He paddled upwards, kicking his feet together like a dahlphin tail, and shot out into the air in a glistening eruption of water. Thy sky was blue and embroidered with puffy clouds. There were no islands nearby, however. In fact, there weren't any landmasses visible at all. It seemed as if Parcen was in the middle of the ocean.
"How do you like that?" he asked himself. He knew his own answer, so he didn't bother to respond.
Parcen dove back down into the water, to observe the rainbow of coral that painted the ocean floor. Near a bubbly mangle of yellow coral, two crabs with what looked like diamonds encrusted in their backs scuttled about nervously. A long, snake-like fish wound itself in and around a rock arch over near a bed of purple clams.
"Well," Parcen said to the sun after reemerging from the water again, "this is all well and good, but I can't swim forever..."
Forty feet or so from where Parcen tread, a huge blast of water and air came up from the surface of the ocean. Then came another, above a pitch-black, smooth something rising up from the water like a hill, and then sinking back down again.
"Oh no!" Parcen cried. "A sea monster!"
Another blast of air came, this time much closer to the panicked paddler. Parcen could see the darkness of the beast refracted in the water in front of him, coming on like a creeping shadow. He began to swim in the opposite direction, but was confronted with another blast of air and water from a second creature. Then came signs of a third, and a fourth.
Parcen's heart was racing incredibly fast, and he found staying afloat a increasingly impossible chore. He moaned and whined, aware that his circumstance was dreamed and illogical, though at the same time genuinely scared for his life.
In perfect concert, the four creatures raised their barnacled heads out of the ocean. Long, flat noses stretched down from their huge, deep eyes, which they fixed unwaveringly on Parcen Ellt. He stopped flailing and went a bit stiff with fear.
"What is it?" he finally asked one of the creatures after some time. "What do you all want?"
The creatures swayed from side to side, but did nothing more.
"Are you going to eat me?" Parcen asked. "Because I won't be much of a meal for all four of you."
Still nothing came from the sea monsters.
"Listen, guys, I can't do this all day... I don't have fins," Parcen said after another stretch of silence.
The beasts' heads fell back into the ocean, and then their tails popped up in their stead.
"I get it, I get it, you have fins and I don't," Parcen sulked. "But I'm going to be in trouble here, soon!"
The creatures showed their faces again, at water-level, lurking like crocodiles.
"Well, can you help me at all?" Parcen asked desperately. His legs felt like they were bleeding, they ached so intensely.
And then the creatures sank back down into the ocean, leaving Parcen to gasp for air as he began to sink. For a second he felt taunted by nature, like the beasts had conspired with the ocean to trap and torment him. But then he knew the world didn't operate like that, it couldn't be so, even in this crazy dream. As he fought for oxygen, Parcen only felt sad to be leaving.
Suddenly, Parcen's body was shot out of the water, by the combined blasts of all four of the sea monsters' exhalations. He coughed and spit out the water in his lungs, as another blast of air shot him higher. And then the creatures began to rise up out of the water, and blasted again. Parcen tumbled and flew on the blanket of air, dazed and confused. The beasts then rose clear up out of the water, as they continued to shoot the beleaguered castaway higher and higher into the air. Down below, Parcen saw the ocean glisten and shine , as the clouds above grew nearer and nearer.
Up and up the four beasts swam through the air, trumpeting Parcen along as they rose. And then with one, final, intense exhalation the whales broke out of their ascension, falling backwards over themselves to dive back into the ocean as Parcen came up through a cloud and found himself back on the floor in the crystal cave.
"Well," Parcen said, wringing out his shirt, "that was a nice swim. But I really need to get back home and call my mother. She's got to be worried about me by now."
TO BE CONTINUED