Xavier cracked his knuckles, took a deep breath and tried to exhale, smoothly. He couldn’t.
Squinting in the harsh morning sunlight, the air tasted bitter as saltsweat from the back of his hand. His nostrils quivered as they pulled in what small relief the atmosphere was willing to give, mixing ozone with crust and snot in small, vacuumed bursts. The bags under his eyes looked like miniature, monotone bruises and the wrinkle lines by his mouth contorted into a morbidly-amused grimace.
“There’s nothing on the horizon,” he thought. No, not the earth’s. His own. The panorama in front of him contained the neon, twisted skeletals of Magic Mountain sticking out behind the 5 Freeway. It was 5:43AM in Valencia, and the temperature was already approaching 85 degrees.
“Shit,” he said outloud. Took one last look, spit into the dirt and slinked back towards his run-down studio.
Sitting in front of a blank screen, fingers resting on the keyboard, he waited for inspiration to spark their synapses. It never came.