They couldn’t rescue Blake.
He was too deep down, too stuck, almost to the underworld already when he fell to where no living thing is allowed to go. The men in caves worked for hours that turned into days to get to him, but didn’t have the right equipment. Blasting him out with dynamite would either disintegrate him or push him deeper. Their rescue attempts were hopeful and dramatic, but were blocked by Blake’s destiny. No one can fight against that.
Pinned between a large rock and the cave wall, Blake was hearing canned voices. Preserved from the recent past by the machine that was his mind. We have no idea what goes on in thought while our neurons make their final shotgun blasts as we die, but we all hope that it’s something finally beautiful after the blood and guts and exposed seashell white bones of a violent death.
Poor Blake. I know, I hate to engulf his last moments in pity but really… poor Blake. He loved every last thing about his life: his wife, his work, his latitude and longitude. Of course, he eventually wanted to leave the mine, to carry his scientific mind to somewhere less dangerous. But being male and strong and virile and handsome he rather liked the danger most of the time.
As his pain faded, and his brain accelerated, Blake was given the gift of outlandish visions and hallucinations. At one moment, he held in his hand a large zoetrope, filled with tiny black and white moving images of he and Justine dancing, right after they were married. Her hair was down, and her lipstick was dark. He was holding the small of her back; she was running her hands through his hair absentmindedly. Blake spun the zoetrope faster to see the couple dance faster.
He saw many things in those last moments. He wasn’t allowed to travel outside of the cave, though. He wasn’t allowed astral projection. Only the zoetrope, which disappeared after just moments, and then shadowy images on the cave walls flickering by invisible candlelight. He couldn’t talk. He could only watch. He saw Justine picking blueberries. He saw her crying for her twin boys that she gave away before she and Blake knew one another. He saw himself as a boy, running after his pet golden retriever. He watched and watched until his eyes grew weary, and eventually stayed closed, though sometimes he forced them open, and tried to watch the images that weren’t fading but growing stronger. Somehow he knew though, that if he did fall asleep, the images would be bold, in color, not shadows, and he could see them all the time and his eyes would never fail him again. That they could stay open, that the pain in his head would be gone, and that the voices that echoed beyond the rocks would disappear.