He looked older than he was. Dim sunlight from the dawn filtered through the open window, and a faint breeze ruffled his dark, wavy locks. His sunken skin gave him a tired, shadowed look, but deep within his eye sockets, black irises glittered with reflected light. The scientist couldn’t deny it; the man was an unnerving fellow. Even standing there as he was, he looked out of place. He didn’t look much different than the rest of the people here, but there was something about him that made it seem like he did. The scientist had never been able to work out what it was though. He just couldn’t think of the words. “We lost another man to the swamp sir.” He said, clearing his throat uncomfortably.
The man, who had been staring out of the window, jolted at the scientist’s voice and turned around. He looked thoroughly surprised to see another person in the room. “I didn’t hear you come in.” He said, before taking on a pensive expression as he considered the scientist’s report. “Same as usual?” He asked.
The scientist nodded, “His suit ruptured.” He agreed, trying not to think about the man’s fate. He didn’t envy such a horrible demise, not in the slightest.
The man sighed, “I don’t get it.” He said, turning back to the window. “What is it about the people in that village? That air is poison to us, but they can live in it without any ill effects. How?” He wondered aloud, frustrated.
The scientist blinked and frowned. “I wouldn’t know, sir – the settlement is too far for us to gather information safely.” He replied blandly, causing the man to turn around and shoot the scientist an annoyed glance.
“I’m well aware of that.” He said, and then exhaled slowly, stretching out his shoulders.
A few brief popping noises sounded in the awkward silence. “Only one thing for it.” He said finally, “I’ll go there and find out for myself.” He determined, clapping his hands together. “I’ll leave tonight. The place shouldn’t be hard to find.”
The scientist raised an eyebrow, “Don’t you think they’ll be a bit suspicious of a man in an old HazMat suit?” He asked, bemused.
“I never said I’d be wearing one of those things.” The man’s reply was short and quipped.
The scientist’s eyes went wide, so wide that they seemed to almost pop out of their sockets. “But… but sir! What about the gases? You know what they’ll do to you!” He exclaimed in shock, amazed that the man would be so foolhardy.
The man grinned, “Oh, that won’t be a problem.” He said, looking thoroughly amused to see the scientist so confused. “Well… I’m special, you see.”
by Jenny Steiert
published on DeviantArt, August 2012