“Ok Malic you’re up,” Simon said.
Malic latched the pull cord to his harness and prepared to enter the mouth of the serpent. This would be his last dive into the belly of the frozen beast, and his last time on the expedition. Three times out was all that was required to receive a lifetime of extra rations. He knew that he would not survive, but any extra rations were worth it if he did.
“How did the last miner do?” Malic asked Simon
“Made it to the wall, but died before he could grab any” Simon said
“Ok, I’m attached” Malic declared after checking the connections to the pulley system used to drag miners back out.
The colony’s last ember of brimstone was starting to flicker out, they had only days left. After crash-landing on this barren, sunless wasteland centuries ago the discovery of brimstone was what had saved them. At first, it had been easy to get, near to the mouth but had dried up . Over the many centuries, they had nearly hallowed out the belly of the beast. One single coal of brimstone could power their crippled ship for years.
“My last run Simon,” Malic said.
“I know, good luck” Simon responded.
Malic closed his visor on his helmet and made a run for the mouth. Looking up he could see the outline of the giant. The world had become fuzzy to him since his first run, but he was lucky that he was still able to see. Most miners lost all vision the first time on the wall.
The Giants had been long dead when they had crashed on the surface, unknown watchers of a bygone age. Seven other giants rested on the surface, but this was the only dragon. Stories where told to children, but nobody knew what had happened in this place.
Soon the belly of the beast would be mined out, and the city would become another frozen relic. Brimstone was able to power their broken ship but was deadly to all organic matter. The only place it could be found was here, inside this ancient reptile. Without it, there was no other source of fuel. No way to create heat or run the labs that kept them alive.
Malic jumped the teeth and started the long slide down the neck. The deeper he went the more the familiar pressure started to become pain. The scientist might not know what powered brimstone but they did know what it did to people. It would cook a man from the inside out. The longer inside the beast and the closer to the wall the worse the effects.
It was little comfort that no matter what happened they would get him out. No man would be left to cook and then freeze inside the hellish fossil. The only thing renewable was people. Generic engineering in the incubation labs provided both people and food. Malic was happy to have been made a miner. Although in the end, everybody was food.
Malic found his footing and started the run toward the wall.
“How close are you,” Simon said on the intercom.
“Three clicks” Malic managed to say between gasps of pain as his blood started to feel like acid.
Then he could see it, the brimstone vain that embedded in the wall of the beast’s stomach. Malic reached over his head and pulled out his pick. He set the vain in the line of sight of his one good eye.
He screamed out in pain as his skin started to blister. He could smell his body as it began to cook.
“Hold on, Malic” Simon yelled across the intercom.
One click out, his vision went dark. The wall and the brimstone vain would be the last thing he would ever see. He judged his distance and brought the pick down at the right angle to make contact with the wall. Feeling the pick strike true he gurgled a cheer as the brimstone gave way.
Scrambling as fast as he could, he reached into the pouch on the front of his suit and snagged the brimstone bag. Grasping at the ground he found the chunk he had broken off. Generally, he would use tongs, but now blinded, his only hope was to get it in the bag. Grasping the brimstone he screamed as his hand started to break down. He Jammes it into the bag and sealed it.
“Go” He shouted over the intercom as blood started to weep from his skin like sweat. Everything stopped, and there was silence.
He awoke to darkness and sat up gasping for breath.
“Be calm” a voice he recognized as Dr. Hall said in the darkness.
“Brimstone” he managed to say.
“You got it Malic, big chuck, enough to run the ship for years” Dr. Hall responded.
Malic let out a painful sigh of relief, then the darkness took him.
Based on writing prompt found here.