Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

I weigh six tons and my back is on fire. I’m treading slowly through the hot bowl of what used to Los Angeles. Walking on these streets brings back a memory.

I remember walking on a thick crust of snow in the winter as a child. I could run across the top of the frozen snow with no worries. As I got older and heavier, I had to walk more carefully in case I broke through the top layer and ended up struggling through the waist-deep powder underneath. Eventually I got too heavy to walk on top of the snow.

Back when I was human.

I’m in the downtown core now. One foot busts through the deserted street asphalt and punches down into the sewer underneath. Carefully, like on that snow when I was a child, I pull my foot out and step gingerly up onto the street again.

I remember that when I became too heavy to walk on top of the snow, I bought snowshoes.

I look around at the fires and the bodies and the melting glass of the buildings. There are a couple of cars near to me. I tear their roofs off and step on them. They immediately melt from the heat of my huge feet, attaching themselves to me. Presto. Urban snowshoes.

If my new face would allow it, I would smile.

I’m not responsible for this carnage, I’m just reporting on it. I’m a soldier that’s been suited up permanently and sent in to report on the damage.

I’m wearing a giant exoskeleton made of thermal insulate. I was welded into it. I have super-hydrated cameras strapped to me and a boosted transmitter in my helmet to receive directions and relay information back.

I’m like one of those remote control submarines except for radioactive pits instead of the ocean.

I remember paper burning in the fireplace when I was growing up. I remember the paper turning black and then flying up the fireplace, red-edged and victim to the thermals.

I’m watching human bodies do that now every time I turn something over or a storefront collapses when I walk past.

I’ve absorbed too much radiation to go back but I knew this was a one way trip. There are others soldiers like me here reporting back as well and they’ll send more once our cameras dry out and break.

I’ll have friends. We’ll hang out here and see how many days it takes for our suits to melt.


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