Feet sinking, sliding, soles burning. Ashes barely cooled, plastic splinters and bone shards, burrowing beneath her skin.
Every breath choked, tasting of holocaust, ashes in her mouth, ashes in her eyes, scouring her face and fingers.
Clutching at her, whispering to her; the ghosts that ride them, spectral faces smearing themselves across her sight, spectral hands raking at her arms and legs. Brusing, scratching, making her bleed.
Stumbling, stumbling to where it fell, the lip of the crater it carved, not knowing who or how or why; where it came from, other than beyond the sky it tore to shreds.
One of the few spared, the last whole, glimpsing them, now; staggering and streaming eyed, bloody-faced, like her. All children, some older; on the edge of adolescence, some younger, barely into double digits.
Ragged and wasted, bloodied and smeared.
Indistinct, here, at the edge of atrocity, called by the same song; the same barbed hymns in their thoughts.
So few, all wounded; many far more profoundly than her, the scratches and bruises she bears nothing compared to the gaping, red and black tears in the sides and bellies of some, the limp, twisted limbs of others.
None weeping for their hurts, long past that. None mourning the ghosts in the ashes; those that have been long dead to them.
Their tears not of pain or sorrow, but of incredulity; abandon beyond comprehension, at the death of a world that would have seen them mutilated, murdered over the period of a lifetime, of days that demanded their misery, as though it were a fee for the boon of being born, that none of them had ever asked for.
Here, now; over miles and miles, weak and shivering with old sickness, gnawed by old hunger, come to meet the singer, the wounder of sky and soil, the source of all fire.
Going to her knees as it rises, from the smoke, the flames, as its tendrils blot out what little sun seeps through the sceptic sky.
Bowels and bladder containing nothing to betray. Instead, a scream; a howl that the others take up, one by one, a choir of wolf-children, calling to their alien step-parent; the only one that might suckle them, lick their wounds clean, and tell them stories of why they remain.
George Lea is an entity that seems to simultaneously exist and not exist at various points and states in time and reality, mostly where there are vast quantities of cake to be had. He has a lot of books. And a cat named Rufus. What she makes of all this is anyone's guess.