Gripping the stone face as if your life depends on it – well, it will if you stay in the water any longer – you lift one hand after another and heave yourself out of the water. Your clothes are water-logged and weigh twice as much as they would normally. This means that every time you pull yourself a metre up the wall, your muscle bulge and cry at the effort. Your feet barely find purchase every time; your trainers are slippery and the marble is no help for grip.
After doing this for about five minutes, you glance down. The pool of icy water below you is as deep and dark as before, even when it is a little more distant. But your progress is a drop of water in an ocean, to utilise a cliché; when you glance up, the wall stretches beyond your sight—though, the pit hardly has light from anywhere, so that’s no surprise that you can’t see.
Regret fills you. You close your eyes. This is it. One drop and If you don’t hit your head on the descent, you’ll be sure to drown in the murk around you. It’s kind of a given. Plus, you can’t help the warmth that the idea of sleep presents. Close your eyes, and you’ll find relief. You sigh—inches from preparing to let go, because that feels like the best idea right now.
Partly due to that survival instinct, nagging like your mother on a weekday, you slide your dominant hand up the stone, and stretch out for any other sort of handhold that will allow you to pull yourself up. Anything.
Wait. Something, in a nook of the marble wall, even when it’s not an opening of sorts. Your hands clench the shape. Bulging and rotund, its coldness deepens under your fist. In your blind, sleep-filled state, you drag your hands along the change in the wall. It’s barely more than two metres in length, but right now, you don’t have any other option than to grip it tightly.
No opening, but a way out, perhaps. Even if the bulge is a little narrow to crawl through.
You open your eyes and see…