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The Tinkered Mind
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April 24th, 2022
He had been careless, and now he was fighting for his life. The heavy trap dimmed in the distance as it fell ever downwards into the depths, dragging Lucilius by the tangle of rope bound round his ankle as his hands struggled frantically at the mess. All around him the water darkened and even his hands and the rope grew dim.
He had been baiting traps and tossing them with the boat on autopilot. A steady steam to the east, but he hadn’t taken the time to organize his lines properly, tired and run down as he was, figuring all would be fine.
The trap far below found the bottom and suspended now in the darkness, Lucilius stricken with panic flailed at the looser bits of rope, succeeding only in tightening the mess around the bulky boot of his wadders.
The bloat of his lungs turned to a burn, as if they were somehow shrinking on to a molten core of their own. The blood in his veins began to run hot with the burn as his mind raged.
And then, while doubled over, straining, a searing shock exploded on the side of his head. The pain was so intense that Lucilius let go of the rope, grasping at his neck where he’d felt the sting. And as he straightened, he saw it.
A jellyfish floated, serene before him. A stray tentacle had grazed Lucilius’ neck and stung him. And there for a brief moment, Lucilius no longer felt the burn of his lungs, the hot lead of his blood. He only gazed at the faint image of the jellyfish before him.
It pulsated, gently climbing, slowly and calm. Entranced, Lucilius felt the screaming of his body, and with the feeling of death so near, his mind breathed in the calmness.
He gazed downwards, seeing the whole situation and did not bend back down to struggle with the ropes. Instead, he unbuckled the shoulder straps of his wadders, and with his free foot anchored on the mess of rope, he gently pushed until he felt his foot slip through the squeeze, freeing itself of the boot bound beyond the tangle. Lucilius shimmied out of the wadders, pulling them down and kicking his legs until he was free and he began to swim up towards the glimmer of light.