The light streamed upward from the salt mine, filtered brilliantly through the amber halite and taking on a hexagon pattern from the reinforcing girders for the elevator and the mine itself, below.

“So here you are, on your way down into a Russian salt mine, looking for who knows what,” she said. “It may be time to reevaluate your decision-making process. If you died here, they’d just list you as missing and bury a coffin full of bricks.”

“I know,” I said. “But I’ve come this far.”

The air rushing upward smells like the ocean, and the light is intense. We are moments away from the bottom.

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