This is Jimmy, full of blood.
My limbs still smoked and hissed when they touched the bare metal. I wanted to grow cool and dusty over centuries. I wanted to hold her in flesh, to feel that body she could never be seperated from. I wanted to scream. If there was anything left to kill for her, I would have.
"The rainforest is gone," I said. Whatever we had before that was gone, too. "It is all burnt."
I can't believe I even knew it was her. It was not her face, which was gone, or her heart, which was frozen in a tank next to mine. But I knew it from her face. It was worse than I could have thought, but I should have known anyway. It had been far too long for mortal flesh to live. The dust that even now settled on us, atom by atom, should have been her. She should be so, so dead. So gone. There should be nothing for me to find, and there she was. It had also been too long for mortal thought to endure.
But it wasn't reason that told me. I knew it because she did not remember. She had forgotten the rainforest, the rain, the skin, the soft fear of flesh beneath the sky.
I could count the molecules between us.
"I remember you," she said. No. "You can take us back out." She didn't know what outside was anymore. Still, I can not refuse her. I can not refuse her memory, at least.
Tremendous fins of heavy elements pushed me through the world. The edges kept slowly melting away, to be replaced from within. Below me I dragged up the huge sphere. It took days, but none of us counted days anymore. None of us. I wanted to count them.
And then I ground through kilometres of rock, back to the surface. It was like ice up there. The lone and level sands stretched far away. The mountainous bubble heaved up from the depths, coated in the cooled heart of the world. I left my body wrapped around it like some improbable sculpture. I only opened a hole at the door. This was for them, anyway.
Maybe in a thousand years, pilgrims would climb these stairs, and worship. Maybe they would kill for this place. Maybe they would die. Is this fitting? I don't know. I am too far from oblivion.
The great door heaved open, silent and effortless. The energies at rest here could incinerate a world. And there in the titanic airlock were a thousand walking dead. All of them, scooped from their flesh centuries ago and entombed in living iron.
I didn't need to tell them I failed.
It was a procession of statues that walked out under the sun. No light but their own had touched them since the last time I had stood before that door. Before them was a horizon of red dust, and me. I knew every one of them. There was no sun in their eyes ever again.
What would the beasts and trees have thought of us anyway? This was the world we belonged to.
She tasted like whiskey and blood and cemetery dirt.