Watching it now, all these years and years after, and knowing I was there, I still can't believe. That they really did it.

Maybe it happened to someone else? Maybe you rolled over in a dream just as I was falling asleep and whispered your nightmare; I don't know. I do know really, it's just too much to take in. That they could. You know. Do it.

Sweating from the jungle, up the slope towards the town and it's all so still and suddenly so cool. Nothing moved. Captain Williams beside me, he had this thing he did when he knew we were getting into danger and he wanted us to be on our guard but didn't want us to get alarmed and he'd just say 'Alligator Country'. Florida, you know?

Nearer- we begin to see the effects on the outer margins of the zone. They tell us it's safe after this time has passed and we're such a distance away but we aren't so sure. Hesitant, cautious. And the Captain too, though he tries not to betray himself for his boy's sake. Brittle, broken leaves in a shriek of green. Withered bark hanging is shed reptile skin.

Closer- still nothing moves. The hairs on the back of my neck. We walk down the main drag to the town. And I'm seeing- this place is long abandoned, no human has lived here in such a long time. The wrong sector, surely? Aged housefronts, somehow still standing though boards are cracked and sprung, brickwork crumbled to dust.

But just then Thomson sees the first of them, a twisted knot of rag from where I stand, and he is crouching. In disbelief. Turns to say something and we see his fear and disgust. The hairs on the back of my neck are. All move closer as one, to see-

A child's dress, aged and yellowed, heron-print faded near transparent, and the thing inside it is...

(I once saw the oldest woman in my town when I was a boy, 106 years old and she had all her faculties, and so was wheeled out by a proud nurse on War Day, aged but clear-eyed as she glanced at me in envy on her way...)

But this thing is nothing like that. A dessicated thing, dried, they've now revealed, somehow by a wind of time, technology accelerating her flesh. And we know that they will all be like that.

Thomson turns, coughs slightly and apologises before vomiting. We stare on, unable to make sense of this early winter.

The hairs on the back of my neck are standing proud.

They tell us it's safe after this time has passed and we're such a distance away, but we aren't so sure.

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