Ready or not I punched the hand-sized button at the side of the outer door and it slid open. The hurricane of dust hit me. The winds had died down, which only meant you could now stand up in them. I could see about fifty feet in any direction. That was it. The screech of the wind had died to a howl, but it was ever present, making me long for silence.
Dad and my brother piled some ropes and climbing gear onto the six wheeled rover. I pulled the door open on the passenger side of the cab and climbed in. The howl reduced to a moan. I took off the goggles but left the filter in place. You didn’t screw around with the dust.
Soon we were bouncing along the ground. In the rear facing cameras the dust flew everywhere, blotting out where we’d been as if the world was being destroyed right behind us.
We rode not saying a word to each other. My mind replayed the last time we made this trip. The Bandsaw Bitch, the fear of Dad dying, the heavy responsibility of his life dependent on what we did or didn’t do. My eyes stayed glued to the infrared and radar camera feeds on the dash which pierced the dust, showing the way ahead past what we could see through the windshield. I wasn’t looking for obstacles, I was looking for anything that might swoop down out of that maelstrom to try and eat us.
But for all of my anxiety, nothing came at us. As the sky became ever darker, we eventually reached the base of the cliffs at the edge of the valley. The only light came from the intense lamps of the rover, and the flashlights mounted on our headgear. Like ancient coalminers we were about to go into the permanent gloom of the cold edge where the sun had never been seen.