Through the visor the astronaut could make out vague shapes in the distance – ahead a structure towered, but he was fatigued from the journey and needed to rest a moment. He walked on the street, it was a narrow avenue, and came to the one door that stood out from many. There was a mark on the door, and the astronaut knocked upon it.
“What do you want, can't you see? I'm dressed for dinner.” Behind the man behind the door was a woman in red, and climbing upon her back was a small girl, or perhaps a monkey in a dress. The astronaut couldn't see well behind his visor.
He raised an arm, longed to feel the thread, but felt the impeding stranger behind the door glowering through his mask, the scene was harassed by the sun visor.
> “Might I remove my helmet?” The resulting motions and colors could, should probably, blind the astronaut, the caustic air might choke him, but his fingers inside his gloves itched and he struggled with the bolts on his helmet.
“You fool. Come inside and sit in the bathtub.” The well dressed man set aside his pork chop, then bade his wife and monkeychild to lean against the wall. They disappeared into the camouflage swales and buttes of the wallpaper.
> The astronaut was led through a maze of halls, and came upon a glorious toilet, a veritable spa. A polyhedron construct on wheels hovered in the corner, covered in tin foil. “You have my moonwalker,” he said, but he had lost the keys.
> The man turned on a fan and then an ultraviolet light. “The women have gone out into the yard, they are sitting under a shade awning and peeling butterflies.” He closed the door.
> Taking this for a sign, the astronaut clumsily removed his helmet and let it drop to the tile floor, then he held his breath and waited to die. He scrunched his eyes shut and thought about his wife, so many hundreds of miles away, and how she drew upon the walls, and grew tumbleweeds for the garden. They would put a cloth upon the table and sometimes sit naked on it. She wore lipstick and longed to live among the birds. Strangers averted their eyes, fearing their repertoire, and they cavorted stopping only to write letters. Then he was chosen, and whisped away.
> The astronaut found he could breath, and finally he looked out of the window, but the woman and her child had left the shade and only a large hairy ape remained and was menacing a woman on the ground. Her clothes were torn, he had seen it before and turned to the door.
This room was no place to be, it suffocated the astronaut. He removed his spacesuit taking with him only a utility belt and tried the door handle. It was unlocked, outside on a chair a girl sat reading the morning paper but she didn't look up, only said “have a nice day.”
> It was a shame, he thought, that he would have to die today, in a strange place. The astronaut had taken a bath towel and wrapped it around his head. With a screwdriver he drove holes through the cloth and left only a blind of small threads to fall over his eyes. The air burned and sucked the moisture from his eyes and he blanched under the towel. He couldn't find a passage out, so the astronaut loaded his lazer with long shards of electricity and blasted a hole down the breadth of the house, then stumbled through the devastation. The last room he passed contained headless bodies that pumped blood, spurting onto the floor and tables. He slipped, but a large hole led to the outer wall, and he escaped.
> Beyond the street loomed a tower, he could see it now, the obstructing helmet lay on the cold tile behind him. His eyes burned, the astronaut felt them slowly melting. His skin felt loose, but he needed to keep moving. To the tower.
People in the streets were running with flags, he almost tripped on a mustache, a child ran with a machine gun and screamed Veritas, Veritas in a high pitched voice. He wanted to strangle the running boy, but then lips hovered over his ear, the sweet voice of his wife so far away, and she calmed him and put images of painted hands, floating breasts, splashing into his mind's eye. For a moment he stood taller, but the tiny lizards began creeping up his socks, and the astronaut had to flee, lest a stasis should take him to dissolves his bones in a bath of brine and the scythe of a toothy grimace.
Finally he came upon the square, stepping over the prone bodies of men and women that littered the cobbles. The tower rose ahead, but the only way to gain entry was through a vast orifice that throbbed in his path. There was nothing for it, but to struggle forward, and he pierced the gobbling membrane with a lance and blundered through. Inside the air was if anything more foul, but his skin was coated in a slime that soothed and his watering eyes blinked rapidly. The scales began to shed and the astronaut could see clearly again. He unwrapped the towel and tied it to his waist, looking up and seeing the tower rise into the cloudscape. Though his muscles ached, he jumped forward, feeling the utility belt bang against his leg, and grasped a rung.
> The astronaut had trouble thinking, but his training took over. The tactics had been forced onto him over a period a months, he performed endless tasks over and over again. Now his undertaking was to climb, one hand over the other, for as long as it took. If he could, he must reach the summit. An appliance in his belt felt the change in altitude and a needle protruded into his leg. The astronaut winced, but carried on.
At the first level he stopped for a moment. A small aircraft had crashed here and a woman was laying on the metal deck of the platform, sitting up out of her skin. She had failed, but he was still alive. He leaned over into the cockpit and found several vials of Q serum laying on the floor. Only one was unopened, and he unscrewed the lid and drank the purplish fluid inside. He hoped it would suffice, and then went back to the ladder. The astronaut climbed.
> In the gloom that pervaded he saw his wife, she washed her long black hair, was toweling it slowly. That day they reclined in their bed, then laid a dog skin rug at the foot of the mountain and made friends with dark neighbors. A man from the park office showed them how to transplant red organs and they practiced. It was fun. Their heads almost split from the knowledge; the astronaut became lethargic and his body felt like the bust of a Roman god. Legless, armless, crumbling and noseless. He came to the third landing and crawled up, found a metal arm and leaned upon it.
> The astronaut looked into his utility belt, but there was nothing in it but a spent lazer and a screwdriver that he longed to plunge into his heart, the bloody organ he had traded for his wife's. It beat and reminded him, but the day was done. A latticework of filaments upon his chest throbbed and cursed, but no training could prevent the inevitable.
The astronaut slumped and then lay still, while the bubble burst and the sky opened, etching his worn body into a filigree upon the rusting iron scaffold.