• Vol. 08
  • Chapter 03


A sunlight flare obscures the abandoned hazardous waste plant.
The heroine freezes with her tinsnips halfway through a wire.
The beauty of the illusion
makes her question her mission.

Out of sight and mind, the abandoned plant
hasn’t been tested for years.
Since the collapse of democracy,
there is little space for industry and none for
environmental testing.
That doesn’t stop some people from
making a buck however.

The crisp dawn air carries a whiff of metallic
smoke. The heroine often sees people coming and going.
She’s smelled the smoke before.
She smelled it last night, and heard the trucks.
It took her most of the night to crawl this far.

When there was a government,
she saw proof that no water left
the hazardous waste nest.
That the wells were deep, the pits lined, and the smoke scrubbed,
but now,
no one cared.

As if on cue, she begins to cough.
It is a smoker's hack, but she has never smoked.
She learned a long time ago to lean into the cough,
to fight it.
As she leans toward the fence, her body moves her hand down.



The tinsnips contract.
The wire pings.
The gap grows.

The wind shifts and blows the smoke away. The azure
sky is free from the prevailing haze,
but no clouds beckon with the promise of rain.

The heroine stops coughing. She catches her breath in ragged gasps.
Her camera hangs heavy on her neck.
She pats the extra film in her pocket.
She’s unlikely to make it back, but hopes someone will find her body.
She hopes they’ll find the film that proves
prove who is poisoning the air.

Inside the fence, she hears the sound of rusty conveyor belt creak to life.
On the road, semis start to arrive. A train on the tracks.

The heroine uses one shaky hand to lift the other with the

She clenches her fist, with one hand on top of the other.
The tinsnips contract.
The wire pings.
The gap widens.