An undertoe tugged at my feet, dragging me under in an explosion of bubbles, and with it, I felt everything I'd been carrying vanish from my arms. Briefly, just for a precious second, I burst from the water to gasp for air, and then was dragged under again, surrounded by debris. Rocks, leaves, sticks, entire fucking branches, someone's bike slammed into my side and I grabbed it in an attempt to dislodge it. Oh, I realised, it was my bike. My brand new one. I tried to drag myself and it sideways but there was no way I could save both of us.
The rivers had flooded. All of them, in fact, all over Brisbane. And I'd, like a stupid fool, decided that the river didn't look so bad and I could manage to get myself and my christmas presents across it. Easy. I surfed, didn't I? Okay, so that was when I was a kid, but still... no problem! I'd ignored someone's shout and tried it.
The river had swept me right off my feet, right over the bridge's railings, and here I was. Where, I wasn't sure, but I was in some pretty fucking bad trouble right now.
The river surged and screamed in my head, and I felt something very large and heavy graze my side, hit my head hard, seeing my own startled bloody reflection in some kind of mirror just for a moment, surrounded by brown water, bubbles and a bloody cloud. It was a car and I swore I saw someone inside it, heard banging, but then it was gone as the river tugged us apart again.
Then, suddenly, we were slammed together, my shoulder slammed hard into the side of the car. I saw it clearly now, now I was pressed against the door by the pressure of the currents, and saw a child's white face staring back at me through the glass. Trapped in the car. The car was almost flooded.
For another moment I was above water, seeing the dark red of the car's roof beside me, seeing it dipping dangerously low, and I gasped in both water and air, the pain of it searing through my chest. I grasped the edge of the car, fingers white with the effort of hanging onto the slippery metal, seeing glimpses of trees, of other cars, cars that the river must have dragged into the waters. How stupid I had been... if a car couldn't handle it, how could I? I felt dazed, my shoulder throbbed and barely worked, and the world darkened a little as my mind offered unconsciousness to escape from the pain.
The banging below me snapped my conciousness back to something. Something important. Something that had worried me and upset me. I could barely think, blood streamed over one eye and blinded it, and my left arm couldn't hold onto the car- it just hung limply as my shoulder throbbed. It took some precious seconds, as the car dipped lower, before I remembered her. The child! How the hell had I forgotten her?
I tried to grasp it with my left arm, the handle, but I couldn't get my fingers to move properly, and debris in the floodwaters kept crashing into my arm and body, jolting everything that hurt. She was still there, pressed against the window, like she was trying to go right through it. I tried to get the handle with my good arm, dropping into the water, clutching onto it for dear life. But the waters just pressed against the car, as it went forward, pressing the doors shut. Electric windows? Wind up? I didn't know and I doubted she could hear me. If it was a new car it was probably electric.
The front of the car was now completely underwater and I saw, with another jolt of shock, something there. A woman slumped forward, limp, her entire body underwater over the wheel.
Half blinded by blood, I tried again, trying to wedge my body between the car and the car door as I tried to open it, the pressure of the floodwaters cutting the edge of the door into me. An arm and hand grasped for me, trying to hold on, with much more strength than I'd have expected of someone that size. I tugged, pushed, tugged, and felt the child come free of the car as water surged in through the partly open door. Suddenly, we were free, and the car was gone. I didn't know where, if it had been swept away, if we'd been swept away, only that we were tumbling again in water filled with dangerous debris- myself and this child, her arms around my neck, legs around my waist, head buried in my neck. I couldn't find the car for her mother, if that was her mother, I couldn't even be sure the car was still floating.
All I could do was try and keep near the surface, so we could breathe, as I felt sharp pains, slashes, things hitting me as they went past. My lungs were almost always empty of oxygen and the world was again starting to darken, even with the child's life, and …
We got dragged into a stormwater pipe. I saw it briefly, this round grey pipe, before the blackness enclosed us. Before water enclosed us.
With one final gasp, I grasped onto the child, and prayed.
"Are you ready to die, in order to be reborn?"
I swore I heard them, voices, words echoing around. But I didn't know who. Something else hit us and then, suddenly, I couldn't fight it. My mind slipped away into the darkness.