This morning, we dressed in our hazmat suits, started our Jeeps, and drove out into The Sick Land.
My Jeep was in the middle of the convoy, with Sergei in front and Xi at the back. I couldn't see my knuckles through the rubber, but I know they were white. Sergei led us on a winding route, sticking, he said, to the areas with the weakest mal. I don't know if he was right; I had a flux detector switched on in my cab, and the pitch changed wildly.
When we were deep in the Green Zone, I left my Jeep and got in with Xi. Then we followed Sergei to the outskirts of the Yellow. The part of the Yellow we'd chosen to enter looked like a dried up swamp, somewhere that had been flooded recently, but was now in a drought. Most of the plant life looked melted. We drove into the Yellow Zone for ten minutes.
My head was spinning, and I felt dehydrated and sick. My guts were clenching. I kept swallowing, but my mouth was dry. Sergei got out of his Jeep and walked over to something. I was having trouble focusing, and couldn't see what it was. He waved us over. Xi looked at me and shook her head, the whites of her eyes enormous through her visor. Blinking, I stepped out of the Jeep and went over to Sergei.
He was crouching by something. Stepping carefully, I went over to him. He was looking at a fish. It wasn't the sort of fish you saw in a pond. It was armoured, with a jutting underbite and a dangling appendage on its head that I knew was a light for attracting prey in the deep dark. It appeared to have burst. I felt my stomach drop. I staggered back to the Jeep and waved for Xi to drive off. She was happy to do so. Sergei stayed with the remains of the fish for a while, then followed us.
When we were back at my Jeep, in the Green, I felt better. I still had a pounding headache, but didn't feel anywhere near as sick. We drove back as a convoy.
At the station, we radioed the base to send the relief.