So now Michael lay, still suspended in the middle of his cone, which he speculated was about 50 feet underground. He looked behind him. A tunnel marked where the cone had burrowed into the rocky sand. Impact hadn’t been as bad as he had feared. He was constantly floating in the middle of the cone about three feet away from any of the walls, so he only felt a jolt as the cone punctured the ground.
Near the end of the tunnel, a single shaft of light filtered through the hole in the ground. He started to worry that he would be stuck like this forever when a loud pop came from above his head and he was shot backward straight out the large end of the cone. He slammed into the dirt and slumped into a heap on the ground. He was lying flat on his back in a puddle of liquid. The first thing he noticed was the strong odor of mold and burnt rubber. He craned his neck to look around in the dim light. In front of him was the cone, dripping with the same bluish liquid that coated all the nearby walls. Lying next to him was the top of the cone. The contents of the cone must have been under so much pressure that it blew off the top of the cone, sending him flying out in the process. The fact that he was covered from head to toe with the strange liquid seemed to support this idea.
Finally, he was freed of his prison cell. He tried to stand up. That was a mistake. Every muscle in his body was sore. From what, Michael had no idea. His legs felt like rubber. They were so weak he had to lie back down. He felt sick and dizzy. After being in null gravity for such a long time, his body felt like it was slowly caving in on itself. Shakily, he stood up again and leaned against the wall. He was weak, tired, and something else. A gnawing urge that started in his gut and spread out through his body. His body longed for something. Food. Michael was starving. He was unbearably thirsty too. He recalled that from the time he awoke in the Blackness to until he broke out of the cone, food and water had not once crossed his mind.
The liquid. It was dripping off of his skin and was slowly soaking into the ground. Without thinking, he dove for a puddle of the stuff and began drinking it. Michael immediately spat it out. It was disgusting and had a bitter, toxic, burning taste.
“Water,” he croaked. “I need water. And food.” With that, he turned and started down the tunnel towards the shaft of light.
Between trying to remember how to walk, and choking on all the dust and smoke, it took Michael about thirty minutes of wheezing and stumbling to make it to the end of the tunnel. When he got there, he could hardly believe what he was seeing. Rather than finding a clean circular hole where the cone had hit, he found himself inside a crater the size of a football field. When he climbed to the edge, the sight was no more welcoming. For miles in every direction, parched and cracked ground dotted with jagged rocks. The single orb of light he had seen before seemed far away again, but he still couldn’t look at it for more than a few seconds. As he walked, the ground seemed to radiate heat. His feat were burnt on the bottom, and his breath was shallow and raspy. He felt dizzy again, but he just kept walking along packed ground. Then he noticed small holes in the ground in front of him. As he aproached, he noticed there were hundreds of them, straight in a line. Michael recognized what they were. Footprints.
He ran over and studied them carefully, a rare smile on his face. Bare feet, no bigger than his. The smile turned to disbelief, then rage.
“No!” he shouted. Slowly, he placed his foot into one of the prints. It matched perfectly. He had been walking in circles.
“No!” he shouted again. “No! No! No!,” he kept screaming. He couldn’t take any more. He scooped up a pile of sand and hurled it at a boulder. Void of all energy, he fell into the sand and lay there. He was already asleep when a pair of rough hands lifted him up and carried away.