Water is my Favorite Molecule
by Alan Wor
Pac draws the short stick. Pac goes out into the sideways ice. In a snowstorm, you lose your sense of direction. In an ice storm, you lose your sense of gravity. Everything is a razor rainbow about to shred your eyes or your tongue when you open your mouth to speak. Swirls of chewed diamond choke the air. Uneven shards of flying ice. We're out of masks. We're out of rope. Lost it in the last failure of an expedition to the main camp. 300 blind meters west. Compasses we have, but that's a false hope in the shifting world of ice. We're in a prep shed. Personal and equipment lockers, showers, and a tiny office with a broken radio. The whole place smells like old sweat and weak, Army surplus deodorant. The tunnel to main is gone, collapsed under the blast of ten sticks of industrial dynamite. I was proud of that one. I controlled the blast so it collapsed the tunnel and shot the excess force into main, with the crazies. Bloody mouthed and screaming God, a language none us can understand.
Anyway, the tunnel's gone, and we keep the door closed cause it makes the place stink like sulfur otherwise, so someone has to walk it. Chase puts everything we've got into two piles on the floor. Extra parkas. Sleeping bags. First aid kits. Bottles of iodine. A hundred and one useless things. Photos of home and adventure journals and letters with faded ink and pay stubs and cash and everybody's ID cards. Smiling faces with names that are no longer familiar to me. Jason Fields. Mary Berch. Smile, click. Next.
We emptied every locker in search of something distracting.
Pac wraps an extra parka around his neck and face. Uses his goggles to secure it up and over his head like a Middle Eastern burka, a suffocating veil. The hard light from the fluorescents make us all look like corpses.
I tell him to drag his feet through the rocky drifts of ice. "Then follow the path you make back. I've done it before," I say.
The hailing pings from the wall and door are so constant I hardly hear them anymore. I say anything that's left in my empty head.