Transmutation

‘It’s hardest for the giraffes,’ Ash said.
The banged-up microphone in my helmet made every sound, vocal and tectonic, crackle and echo.
‘What?’ I asked, wincing.
‘Because they’re so tall.’
I squinted through the visor, trying to see past my own reflection and the tint plunging our razed city into an aggressive orange haze.

I kicked a pile of concrete rubble and a jagged piece with a crooked wire spearing its side fell off. As it hit the ground, and only for a second, the wire lapsed into a pink, wriggling tail.Rats. Unsurprisingly, they’re the most adept.
‘Nah, we’ve got enough rodents – keep an eye out for a canine or something.’
I winced again and nodded, but I kept staring at the piece of rubble, daring it to move. Silly, really.

‘There’s a larger range of colours and textures they might encounter, because of their height. That’s why it’s harder for giraffes to hide.’
It made sense. Giraffes were also one of the first animals to be stored in the ship’s archives, draws and draws of petrified building cladding with asphalt hooves.  

Looking up to the skeletal remains of a still-ringing skyscraper, I thought I saw a pointed edge twitch. Their ears usually gave them away first, but that orange haze made it difficult to make anything out anymore. Sometimes it made us see things, like televisions. The weight of the helmet lulled my gaze to the scorched, vibrating ground. Mid-burrow, a worm transformed into a small metal spring.
‘Worms are springs,’ I said, throat dry, tongue boiling. 
‘Ingenious!’ Ash replied.
I reached down and scooped up the spring, my gloves making a mess of it all, and tipped it into the florescent specimen bag.

©Ling McGregor

©Ling McGregor