Walking out of the thick grey fog, Ivo saw the tower’s blurred point ahead. A sense of relief washed over him and he sighed deeply into the full face gas mask. Heavily trudging over soft ground, which had once been green with grass, he heard the sharp calling of a large bird. He slowed his steps and slipped his gloved hand inside the right side pocket of his floor sweeping leather coat.
Glancing carefully about and wishing the fog wasn’t so thick, he looked out for the bird. He withdrew the small camera and brought it to chest height. Trying not to look down, Ivo let his fingers fumble over the rough surface and take place over the shutter button. Growing more determined and tense he pressed forward.
A flicker of black caused his rubber booted feet to pause. Ivo tried to slow his breathing, which had become loud in his ears and licked his dry cracked lips. He inched forward, the knowledge that this could mean so much for his Faction pressed down on his shoulders. He felt a twinge in his lower back and wondered about slipping his rucksack off. Thoughts that the bird could get scared or someone could dart out of the fog and take it, made him change his mind.
He took another few steps forward and saw what he had always longed to see; an alive and normal looking black bird. Ivo’s fingers clicked the camera’s button and without looking down, he brought the device up to him and looked at the cracked screen. The image of the bird was there. Quickly, he took another few photos and watched as each time the black bird, which was perched on a rusting wheeled trolley, appeared on the screen.
‘It’s unbelievable,’ he uttered as he marvelled over it.
The bird stretched its wings as if to take off and Ivo’s breathe caught in his throat. For a moment the idea of trying to capture the bird screamed in his mind, but he didn’t move. He bite his tongue and tasted the tang of blood. Swallowing, he watched the bird settle back down and began preening the jet black wing feathers. Excited at such natural behaviour, Ivo took two more photos. Looking at the screen, he decided that the bird was probably a raven as it looked very similar to the Encyclopaedia images he had long pondered over.
With its wings clean, the raven ruffled them and did a little jump up. Flapping loudly, it took off and vanished into the fog. Ivo stumbled after it, desperately clicking the camera’s button, but only catching the closing in fog and the tower point in the distant. Stilling his finger, he looked around whilst turning in a circle, but could see anything else. At least he had finally got some prove to show to the others.
If the raven could survive out here, Ivo thought as he looked back through the photos, then there must be clean oxygen back in the air. Feeling happier, he pocketed the camera and walked on towards the tower. The twisting metal frame rose up before him and Ivo that he could make out the reddish, orange colour of the structure. The ground reminded the same beneath his feet, despite the whispered warnings the old surveyor had given Ivo before he had set off on this mission.
Slowly, his steps has he got closer to the tower, he pulled out his camera and took a few photos. There was a barricade between himself and the tower, made by a tall fence and large square shaped rocks. Taking a few deep breaths and feeling the heaviness of the gas mask on his face, Ivo stepped forward and touched the closest rock. He couldn’t feel anything because of the gloves, but as he removed his fingers he stopped tiny white flecks coming away from the rock.
He sat down and starred right up to the top of the tower. It’s hideous, he thought, probably one of the most hideous things I’ve seen from The Before. He recalled his walk though Notre-Dame yesterday and how he had been amazed by the still intact structure. The Before Peoples had tried hard to protect their monuments and scared places, he mused. He took a photo, liking the way the tower loomed out of the fog. A beeping drew his attention and he pulled out a timing device. His mission was over. Standing and putting everything into his pocket, he headed back for home before his air ran out.