The Last Roughneck Enters the Storm

We’ll be descending to the power station in a glorified cable car, an insulated pod riding on carbon nanotubes. It’s a rectangular box not more than ten feet long, maybe six across, its walls lined with two dozen semi-cushioned chambers for us to stand in as we make the drop.

Commander Bryce ushers us into the car with a flashlight; there’s no power inside. I haven’t had a chance to meet the others yet but I get the impression I’m the only first-timer here. I secure my waist, my forehead, my arms, to the chamber, tight, like the commander had instructed.

“Hold up there son, you forgot your ankle straps.” It’s a stocky engineer with a kind face that looks too old for his body. “I’ll get those for you.”


“Name’s Landry,” he says.

“Stanton. You done this before?”

“Too, too many times. I try not to think about it. Some of the guys drug ’emselves but it don’t make it any easier. At least it’s only three hours.”

With that, the mechanical hatch seals us in blackness and the pod plummets into hell.

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