Written by Pauli Kohberger, illustrated by Leanza Garcia (portfolio
There was something particularly beautiful about water in Electricopolis. There were no ponds, no lakes, no anything in the valley that surrounded the city, and rains were so rare that they only came two or three times a year. So even the stuff that came out of the tap was a treasure, and if you lived up top, you could hold a glass of it up to the window and see it waver and gleam with a million colors of neon light.
If you lived up top, though, you could do a lot of things. There was only one swimming pool in the city, wasteful as it was, and it was on the bottom floor of the Top Tier company building. Keep out. Authorized personnel only.
It was about forty feet long, running from one end of the room to the other. The room jutted out into the lot behind the back of the building, and the walls and ceiling were glass to let in the ambient light. Aside from that, the only lights were in the sides of the pool, casting shimmering columns of yellow and green into the water.
"You can't drink it though, right?" asked Bob Sparker, sitting cross-legged on the edge near the deep end.
"Nah, it's got chemicals and stuff in it," replied Margaret King, wiping it out of her face. "And you gotta be careful with opening your eyes underwater. It stings a lot."
Margaret was Percy King's daughter, and though her hair was much fairer than his and her face was much rounder, she had his commanding presence, his piercing eyes, and--most of all--his height. Normally she towered over Bob Sparker, but as he sat by the pool, he craned his neck to look down at her. She peered back at him, squinting through her wet eyelashes.
"You're not coming in?" she asked.
"Thanks, but nah," he replied lightly. "I'm not too great with water."
Margaret laughed and turned away. She swam to the end of the pool and then all the way back, kicking her legs to send luminous sprays into the air behind her.
"To tell you the truth," Bob said, as she swam back up to the wall, "water makes me kind of nervous."
"How come?" Margaret asked. She leaned over the side of the pool. "The whole electric shock thing? Or is it something else?"
Bob leaned forward a little bit, looking down his long nose into the water. "Well, aside from that. You can kind of see into it, but not much. You can't really tell what's down there."
"Nothing's down there."
"Yeah, but if there was, though."
"You watch too many movies," Margaret said, and kicked off the wall. She rocketed through the water like she was born in it, reached the other wall, turned, and swam on her back. "It's not like we live near an ocean," she said loudly, over the sound of splashing.
"Good," said Bob. "I hear there are all kinds of weird things in the ocean."
"You think? I'd like to visit one sometime."
"Then there'd be one more weird thing in the ocean."
Margaret blinked, then burst into peals of laughter. "Oh, shut up!" she exclaimed, swiping a hand out to splash Bob with the water. He inched back, yelping. "I'll make you come with me. Then we'll be two weird things in the ocean."