Zest Lit Issue 2, October 2013 - Page 132

severed ten feet behind the cockpit; it lies crumpled, submerged, a missing wing, a silver leviathan inches beneath the rippled reflections of roaring fire. Griff cries out for the other man. Jimbo! But then, from outside the self-containment of this scene, from beyond the immediacy of coalescing idealism, hope – that which might have been – the weight of mortality closes up the sky. Jimbo is still underwater . . .

Griff takes off his lifejacket and dives under. The water is dark and murky and he can’t see. He tries to feel his way towards the innards of the dead plane, find his friend and partner, but the gloom is too much, impossible. It’s a tangled mess, wires and torn metal; he feels this as his hands try to find their way, but he’s out of air. So, back to the surface. Wind has taken the life jacket, fifty feet away and drifting. Griff swims for it.

Horrifying enormities, shallow breathing in poisonous air, halting, cold water, bad circumstances bearing rotten fruit. Black smoke all around. Minutes passing like bullets, a teary-eyed sun dipping behind the western ridge, the naked burnt ridge, the smoldering ridge; and angry fire closer now, too close, too hot to wade to shore and hide amongst the reeds and cattails, to even breathe – smoke so thick it’s like powder, like fine grit; his excruciating dread, not just the burning part, charred flesh and bone, can’t burn to death underwater, but can’t breathe there either and not enough time to grow gills, and the fire’s on three sides now, three towering ramparts, unquenchable, consuming, deafening, hungry to make the water boil like a smelter’s caldron, to prey on everything living or dead, to return the forgetfulness of carefree life to the dominion of rock and dust, to cinder, to unvisited beaches of ash sunken to the bottom of the lake.