By. Dennis Mombauer
Skalep rested, his hands and legs braced against the smooth wetness of the walls. The waterpark slide was covered with curved plexiglass, high enough to stand upright, but too milky to make out details on the other side.
There were intricate gold emblems embedded in regular intervals, and a slow trickle of water ran toward Skalep. He didn’t know how high the slide went, but he had been scaling it for hours, and although he could very acutely imagine how it curved through the air, he had no idea what might be surrounding it.
Skalep resumed his climb, careful not to slip, his legs aching from the continued struggle against the steep, watery incline. There was something dark before him, something that blocked the amorphous brightness from above, and he saw a woman clothed in white, staring at him with her right hand upraised: “Why did you ascend here to search for me?”
Skalep sprinted toward her, but before he had made more than a few steps, he heard a rushing sound. The woman smiled sadly, and a swell of water came streaming down at Skalep, carried him off his feet and down the slide. The flood washed through the curved tunnel, then threw Skalep out into a shallow basin before it died down to a trickle again.
The basin was the termination point for several round slides, contained inside a domed chamber that was connected to other areas through tiled hallways. Skalep could sometimes hear a distorted voice from the distance, like announcements from an antiquated speaker system, and suddenly, it transformed into something comprehensible.
“Are you still searching for me?” It was the woman’s voice, but Skalep couldn’t locate its origin. He started in a random direction, away from the basin, his naked feet slapping over the wet floor. He crossed a high room with opaque plexiglass walls, engulfed by a diffuse illumination that could just as well come from natural or artificial light sources.
“One room leads to another, but why should their sequence lead to me?” He followed the abandoned halls of the waterpark, which seemed to continue forever in a series of identical rooms and pools, like drops from a leaking faucet. There was no sign of the woman here, and Skalep finally decided to go back.
It wasn’t hard to return to the domed chamber, it just took some time to get there, although not nearly as much as the outbound trip had taken. The scenery was unchanged, the shallow basin still being fed by the trickling water slides, and Skalep began climbing another one. He ascended through the plastic tube with its semi-transparent upper half, looking for the woman that he hoped was really there and not just an apparition created from his own mind.
The slide began to level out, then curved around horizontally until it declined again.
Skalep briefly wondered where the water came from, but it just seemed to drip from the ceiling and ran down the walls to flow in both directions, the way he came and the way he was going.
Skalep descended with spread legs and hands on the wall, hesitant to sit down and skid, until he finally reached the domed chamber again. The water continued to flow into the basin, the tiled hallways still stretched away into the distance, and the distorted speaker system suddenly came to life: “Why do you always start here? Do you genuinely believe that this is the right place, or do you just lack an alternative?”
Suddenly, Skalep heard the voice from every slide: “I’m nowhere you search, and you will never reach me. I am forever beyond your grasp, can’t you accept that?” Women in white smiled at him like a circular multitude of mirages, then they ran away upward with gliding motions. They had sounded disappointed, but what choice did Skalep have?
He looked around, chose another slide and began climbing … after all, the woman had to be somewhere, and he was going to find her.
DENNIS MOMBAUER, *1984, currently lives between Cologne & Colombo & works as a theatre agent & freelance author. He writes weird fiction, textual experiments & English poetry acculturated with German.
Rockeys Duo is a group from Canada.