This started out as a short story, but I have a feeling it’s part of a much larger work. At any rate, here’s what I wrote tonight (re-wrote, actually, since the original story has a quite different beginning):
Gloria woke in the blood-warm water, feeling like clawed hands had rent her heart. She surfaced, drew a breath, and asked the time. The house obliged, projecting blue numerals onto the inner surface of the dome. Beyond the numbers she saw the pale sweep of what her people called the Snake, or perhaps the Sky River. Her husband Mandrake’s people knew it as the Milky Way.
By the fading numbers projected by the house, there were hours yet till dawn. She should return to the bottom, try to sleep. She knew there would be no more sleep for her today.
Something had gone deeply wrong. She felt it in her heart, her bones, in her liquid soul: a rift in the universe, a wobbling of the Earth on its axis that she alone in all the world could feel. She stared at the great and eternal Snake in the sky. A part of her wondered how it could be that the stars hadn’t yet fallen loose from their places in the firmament, to rain down on the fens and the sacred marshlands like fragile silver balls dropping from a shaken Christmas tree. Each star, she felt sure, should shatter with a satisfying musical sound. In their dying moments they would score a dirge, an endless mournful chorus for her late husband.
For Mandrake, she knew, had just died.
Without giving too much away, Gloria is an undine, Mandrake
is was in the military, and there’s a war on.