Fragments of rock rise in slow motion. A bomb’s concussion forever reverberating. Finding life here might be impossible, but a half life could be enough.
The ichor rising to his ankles smells of ash and tar. Thin tendrils of steam snake into the sky, brushing the underside of rolling clouds. Lines appear in the pool of congealed sickness. Unseen hands grasp for him in search of warmth. His snapper whips about on its articulated arm.
He holds the rifle by its midsection, turns in a slow circle, showing them. The symbol lacks ambiguity. No matter whence they’ve come, its purpose is clear. The lines refill, the unseen recede. The emotional weight is too much to bear. They’re here because they’re unable to let go, such a harsh reminder is enough for most. Some will linger, but at least they’ll won’t bother him for the time.
His suit, him—together, one—his mask, the child, his rifle. The dichotomy of life and death in full view. The infant coos, spins in its womb, wholly unaware of the dangers lurking in every hint of darkness. If all goes as intended the babe will never know those horrors. To even enter those depths for a moment is an assault few mange to recover from. But it’s his job. Dive into that greatest of unknowns, find, and deliver. He touches the mask, a cold reminder of what lurks beneath. It waits, hungering.