In Water We Survive, by Ai Jiang

Debris littered the shore, stretching its way to the beach house, which sat windowless. It was almost as though it welcomed any—all—within its water-stained walls after the waves upon waves upon waves struck its structure, hoping it would fall, but it didn’t. The Hulnitol beach house loved gatherings—the grander the better. It fed on human materialism. Hulnitol was beautiful once, but so was Earth. 
The tsunami came without warning, as if conjured by gods. Whenever the people began rebuilding, the tsunami Bunet returned. Human constructions were such nuisances.
You were once human too.
You were washed up on shore, naked. There was no water, or air, to cough up because your lungs no longer existed. You no longer existed—not in this world. You expected the noise of glass, plastic, metal against your bare feet, but there was no sound except the tango of waves clamoring in the distance. The sequined dress, the color of smog, muted rather than sparkling, you wore on your birthday was nowhere to be found, but you don’t miss it. 
The waves engulfed you each night. You had to return by sundown or the land of the living would be lost to you forever. The waves whispered, beckoned, told you to leave them—the humans. You said you couldn’t let go, not yet. Before you returned to the water each night, you always left messages on the palm tree next to the beach house. Who did you leave these messages for? Why did you want to hold on to, rather than sever, your ties to the human world that has little to offer? 
October 1st, 2095
You were missing when I woke up on the shore. I’m surprised the beach house stayed intact. Is everyone else… intact? 
You ran a hand across the strokes carved into the bark. You couldn’t touch anything man-made, but nature was always there, somehow.
October 2nd, 2095
I can’t move past the borders of the beach house. The end of the driveway is the end of my world. Will you return to find me? Will you be able to see me? Perhaps the water can reach farther.
Near the palm tree, you piled driftwood to resemble an altar of sorts. The jagged lines crisscrossed at the top. There, you had set the laminated birthday invitation you found with your name. 
Why did you want your party at the beach house when you had lived encapsulated within the city such that the ocean and surrounding waters might as well have been a mythic thing? Why did you want such extravagance? Surrounded by the city lights, you were blinded by everything except the beauty of Earth. 
October 3rd, 2095
You tried to warn me. I know. But if you knew it was dangerous, why did you still come? Why did you stay as the sky grew darker? As it rumbled while we all laughed. But really, it was the storm who should have found the situation funny? Why did you stay in the corner while we tossed our red Solos, shoes, whatever we could find in a drunken stupor, calling it a “sacrifice” when we were the real sacrifices? We joked that a storm was coming because the gods were angry. Like the house, perhaps they could be calmed by material goods. We were wrong. 
You found her body—the only connection you have left to the human world—on the shore before sunset. Her flesh was swollen, bloated. The birthday card she wrote was still in her pocket. You couldn’t touch the man-made fabric, but you could tell from the shape, the angles that jutted out, stretching against the organic cotton—a stark contrast from your artificial neon dress long swallowed by the lapping waters. She never gave the card to you, but you already had a feeling what was written inside. The waves drew closer until it lapped against your feet—and hers.
When the sun set, you didn’t return to the water. You watched the ghost of the tsunami approach, and with it came her—Bunet. You shared almost the same face, but why were you and she so different? She walked around picking up the waste around the city while you added to it. The home she lived in was close to barren, while yours sat on top of the building that never slept, with its luminescent lights winking at the stars as if to say, “Hey, I’m brighter, better.” It didn’t matter now. Soon you and her would be the same. 
You left Bunet’s human corpse, a tether to the human world snapped and abandoned, and stepped into the suspended waves of Bunet. 
October 4th, 2095
We will return, and return, and return, until all the filth you have left on this earth disappears.
Together, you merged into one. What they would call you, it didn’t matter, because together you would wreak havoc on a world that turned its back on the waters.


Ai Jiang is a Chinese-Canadian writer, an immigrant from Fujian, and an active member of HWA. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in F&SF, The Dark, PseudoPod, Jellyfish Review, Hobart Pulp, The Masters Review, among others. Find her on Twitter (@AiJiang_) and online (  

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