He crouches carefully in the dark, holding the gun with a balanced grip.
The light from the tank up ahead gets brighter and brighter, splitting the fog.
He waits, counting the seconds. He lifts the weapon and aims.
Doubt creeps in, gnawing at his mind and making his blood feel slippery.
She stands behind him, so steady he can almost hear her heartbeat. She watches, silently – even her hands are quiet.
He passes the weapon back to her without a word and she takes it from him, placing it on his thick shoulder.
“Don’t breathe,” she says, words cutting through the mist.
She heaves the gun onto his shoulder. In the stillness, he can hear her inhaling, slow, measured, and exhaling, breath almost touching the nape of his neck. The gun sits heavy on his shoulder. He doesn’t breathe.
She fires with a trigger finger that’s bone dry despite the humidity.
A strangled cry echoes across sunken swamp.
All around him, Max can smell solvent, oil and the acrid, bitter smell of gunpowder. His eyes are ringing in the quiet.
The group sets up to leave, all climbing into the massive vehicle. Max looks over his shoulder at the mess of pale white limbs moving towards the War Rig.
“Go on ahead 500 metres. If I’m not back in 20 minutes, go on without me.”
He strides off into the fog, blood cells chasing each other around his body, pulse thickening as he walks. His tired, exhausted limbs start to hum, fingers tingling at the tips. In the very least, he didn’t have to think. There wasn’t enough time between heartbeats to think about memories, for images of the people he knew to flash before him.
Memories and faces he used to cling to haunt him now. The one thing he tried to remember became the one thing he wish he’d forget.
But if his heart beats loud enough, if his breaths are desperate enough, if his limbs ache enough, he doesn’t think of anything at all.
Max isn’t sure if he wants to go back to the man he was before.
Worse, he doesn’t think Furiosa would mind if he didn’t.