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ust.
My first coherent thought, following the obvious realization that I was still alive, was that I was covered in dust. Dust I could handle. I had been cleaning up after other people my whole life.

Brushing grit and debris from my hair, I sat up amid the rubble of the collapsed building and peered around. The space had been transformed into an eerie jumble of broken walls, the only light a flickering old incandescent that had, until minutes before, been affixed to the ceiling. The ceiling itself lay broken beneath my feet and what now passed for a ceiling, I was relatively sure, had been several floors up before the ground had shifted and much of the south district had dropped into another forgotten mine. The light fixture whined like a low-level blasting charge. I knew that sound. Before long it would be out altogether, plunging me into darkness. If I were to escape the wreckage, I had best be about it.
 
It wasn’t the first time I’d been caught in a mine drop and survived. No doubt it wouldn’t be the last. Living on asteroid R-2112 on the edge of the Empire meant living on top of the endless warrens previous generations of ’belters had mined and subsequent generations had forgotten. Once, such oversights had been considered criminal, but as demand for Zeiton-7-9er increased, safety regulations decreased. At least that’s what Granddad always said.
 
I knew only too well to avoid the tangle of electrical leads and dripping water pipes as I made my way slowly through the remains of the south district city centre. There was scarcely room to move, let alone stand up, and as I crawled on my hands and knees, sharp bits of fallen plas-crete and twisted iron tore at my tunic and trousers, biting into my skin. The most likely escape route also appeared to be the one furthest from the light. I looked back over my shoulder, blinking more dust from my eyes. That was there no matter where you went on R-2112. Dust from the mines. Dust recycled by faulty ventilation systems. Dust of the ages settling over the decaying mining colony. Another water pipe broke and I heard a rush like the artificial rivers in the Central Dome. There, it would have been a delight. Here, it meant the danger of electrocution was growing.
 
Turning back, I began to pick my way once more over the uneven surface, calling softly, then with more gusto.

'Hello? Is anyone else there?'

A rustle to one side caught my attention and as I watched, a chunk of pearl-white plas-crete tumbled down, revealing… a hand.

Mercy!

I drew a sharp breath, startled at the sight, afraid for a moment that it was no longer attached to its original owner. But I could see no blood, and the hand was reaching toward me as surely as if whoever it belonged to knew that I was there.

'Hello? Oh, my God,' I said, scrambling over sharp edges to get closer. 'Are you all right? Are you trapped?' Are you dead?
 
A wave of crackling energy swept over me, the ground beneath my hands and knees shivering as if in response. Without an active stabilisation field we were going to be in for another bumpy ride. And if the dome itself had been compromised…

'Hold on,' I whispered, as much for myself as anyone.

I flattened myself against the debris and reached out, desperate for the warmth of another’s touch, closed my eyes, and prayed.

Darkness.

The local power supply had failed, but that was probably for the best. Behind closed eyes I’d seen a flash of blue light just before the shuddering preamble of a secondary mine drop. Then nothing. I could still hear the steady stream of water somewhere behind me, spilling like a waterfall into the depths of the mines below. In the cloying bleakness I anchored myself to the only other living person I had found. At least I was relatively sure he was alive. And relatively sure it was a he.  
 
 
 
artwork by ANDY LAMBERT
used with permission
 
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Inferno Fiction is an on-line Doctor Who Fiction Fanzine. First created in the 80's when fanzines in the printed form were the norm, the fanzine has now leapt onto the world wide web and is enjoyed by many across the world!
 
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Inferno Fiction and Inferno Productions are copyright to Colin-John Rodgers 2009-2017.
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