Darren R. Hawkins
© Darren R. Hawkins, 2003-2013
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Table of Contents
He's had better ideas.
This was not a good plan. Volunteering for it was worse.
Ray Marlowe's life has been reduced to a series of mechanical motions: forward with the elbows, pull the knees up, drag the body behind. A man crawling through ducts not designed for someone of his girth; he is cranberry jelly oozing itself out of a can in a race to make the Christmas dinner table. Except the can is three hundred meters long.
He tries to gauge his progress, but the light affixed to his helmet refuses to shine anywhere except directly into his eyes. The strap that's supposed to keep it snug against his forehead has been pulling loose for the last ten minutes. It's just another aggravation to toss atop the mounting pile.
It stinks in here, too. Not the clean, coppery stink of sheet metal and industrial coolant that one can reasonably expect from ductwork, but some noxious combination of sweat, dust, mildew and other assorted skanks that defy ready identification. He thinks about just succumbing to the heat, exertion and odor and just allowing himself to pass out. Let some other idiot worry about how they were going to get him out of here.
Whoever had devised this plan in the first place should be given some sort of citation. With a hammer.