The new stranger was screaming.
He watched. They always screamed. Unless they didn't. Some did nothing. Did not so much as move, just floated. Until they didn't. This one moved. Screamed. Called out for help, hands reaching up towards the circle of light above.
Help never came.
He wondered why they fell down that long, curved stone wall. They did not come often. Not that he knew time, knew increments by which it could be counted, but he knew nothingness was only rarely interrupted by some creature entering his world. Knew that he did not remember the last to join him, but knew that there had been creatures to forget.
Knew that, once, he had fallen in.
The creature stopped screaming. Sobs now came from its bobbing form, splashes as it tried to stay afloat in the black water. It would tire, soon. Tire. Go silent. Sink.
Would he feed before then?
He glided forward in the water, faint ripples proceeding him. The creature, faint as it was in the darkness, appeared to be about his size, maybe smaller. Of similar shape. A head, shoulders, arms grabbing a floating hunk of wood. It had hair on its head, long, wet. As he watched, one of its hands left the log, pushing strands of hair away from its two eyes. Eyes, that suddenly jerked towards him, widening.
He stopped, floating silently before it, legs softly moving beneath him. He could float for hours, forever. It could not. He could see that. Even now, its breathing was labored.
"Who are you?!"
Meaningless. It's sounds were meaningless. They always made sounds. Be they small, furry creatures, or large mostly hairless ones. They made sounds. Then they sank.
"You ARE there ... right? I can ... I can see you. I think." The voice seemed to be calmer. The hand moved hair away from its eyes again. "Who are you? Did they throw you in here, too? God, what's going to happen to us? I don't want to die!"
The sounds echoes on the curved stone wall, faintly bouncing back and forth. He liked the sound. It was ... different from that of others. Different from the faint drips which tormented his ears between the visits of creatures.
"Say something. I know you're there. I ... I think my eyes are getting used to this. I can see you." It paused, licking her lips, face scrunching in distaste. Its hand moved to wipe at its mouth, head suddenly lowering in the water. Frantically, both hands and arms grabbed at the floating wood, pulling the creature up out of the water again. Its eyes closed.
"Oh ... God. Please help me. Please! I don't want to die!"
He waited, silently. Watching.
"Maybe I can climb this."
He watched, intrigued. This creature was different. Different from his faint memories of those before. Different from ... himself? Or was this a memory of how he had been? He did not know. It had been so long since he had thought of the time before this, since he had even remembered there was a time before this. All time became one, marked only by...
"Now, let's see..." Its body faced the curved stone wall. The stones were old. Worn. Slippery. Uneven. Moss grew on the stone bricks. Moss did not taste good. It had been a long time since he had tried to eat the moss. Or tried to climb. Both led to unpleasantness. The creature, not yet learned in the ways of this world, reached up, grabbing at the tops of two of the stones. He saw the arms strain, muscles quiver under smooth skin. Slowly, its body raised up.
He watched. The back of the creature was as bare as its arms. As it revealed itself, he saw the lines of the creature's form narrow, its body slim. He saw the bones of its spine running down the middle. Saw, as it grunted, hands moving to higher stones, its form widen, hips coming into view. Two buttocks rose from the water, smooth, round.
He liked looking at the creature.
Something about it stirred feelings. Feelings he had not felt, not remembered, in a lifetime of lifetimes. The creature rose. Now he saw its legs, shapely, muscular. Its feet were gripping the outcroppings on the wall, toes slipping into cracks. He could see the entire creature before him, light form contrasting with dark stone.
Was it ... female?
Female. The word, the concept, arose from the depths of his mind. He knew females. Had known females. Females were ... different from him. Yes. Looking, he could see those differences. There was a softness with the strength, a gracefulness. A beauty...
"Come on ... mother fucker ... gah!" One hand searched for a new ledge to hold. The creature, the female, shifted its weight, all three limbs trembling as the fourth waved itself along the wall. Her voice rose. "No, no, NO!"
The creature splashed into the water, the sound as loud as her scream. The waves forced him back, towards the far wall. He did not want to be father away. He wanted to be near this strange female creature. Using arms and legs like, yet unlike, hers, he moved back. Back towards where she had vanished. Back towards...
A head with hair broke through the water, coughing and cursing exploding from the creature's mouth. He stopped, startled. She was right in front of him, arms reaching out, grasping for support. A hand fell on his shoulder.
Her eyes opened.
The female screamed, hand pushing on him, whether to force him, or her, away he did not know. Her feet kicked, arms flailed, head moving towards the floating log. She grabbed it, voice sobbing.
"What ... what ... what ARE YOU? Jesus, what are you? Get away! Please! Leave me alone!"
He wondered if her words had meaning.
"Who are you?"
She was speaking again. Softly. Not yelling, screaming. He liked these sounds.
"I ... I'm sorry. About before. I'm sorry I yelled, pushed you. That was wrong. You ... you haven't hurt me. You're trapped down here, too."
Her voice seemed to wrap around him. Sooth him. Never had he heard such sounds. With the slightest of movements, he came closer. Her eyes widened.
"Oh! Um, hello. Hi." The female's arms seemed to adjust her grip on the rough log. "You're not going to hurt me, right? I know you're not going to hurt me. You could have hurt me anytime before now. You ... you're my friend, right? My friend."