Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Part X: Confusion

Temporarily distracted from Stoner's audacity, Brown Lizzy and Kopczik turned to eye the hawk. The hawk was definitely eying them in return.

Kopczik scratched at his beard in thought for a moment, trying to remember the last time they had spotted a bird of any sort in these parts, much less such a grand specimen as this. "Do you suppose--?" he asked Brown Lizzy.

"Sure as I do," she responded, before he could complete the thought. "Ain't no way that a reg'ler bird."

"So what then?" he said hesitantly, "Are we supposed to, what, follow it or something?"

There was a loud thunk and a flurry of feathers. Lizzy and Kopczic turned in horror, simultaneously screaming, "STONER!?"

Stoner moved quickly to the carcass and scooped it up. "I'm HUNGRY dammit!" she said defiantly, clutching the bird to her chest. Picking up the rock with which she had killed it and brandishing it defiantly, she looked back at her companions, daring them with her eyes to say another word. "Somebody make a freaking fire, 'cause we're having chicken!"


As Rachael followed her companions, it occurred to her that she was probably supposed to be at the airport by now. Of course, that was assuming that there was any sort of normal flow of time at the moment, which seemed doubtful.

They approached the edge of a cliff, and Rachael looked down. The effect was strange. Down below, there seemed to be a deep blackness, something beyond dark and into what might be called negative brightness. It was as though she were looking into a vast pit of fire that gave off darkness and cold.

"Hurts the eyes doesn't it?" Nate asked with a chuckle. "That's not the worst of it, either. We're going down into it, and the journey might make you a little sick, since we're going there." He indicated a spot a few meters to their left.

Rachael's stomach took a flip. A rickety old wooden ladder rested against the edge of the chasm. She thought to herself momentarily that having to climb down such an unsteady thing as that might be hair-raising enough, but the way it was arranged? Was there nothing that approached normal in this place?

The ladder clearly was placed there to allow access to the lower level of this pit of cold fire, and yet at the same time, it was clear that in order to descend into the pit, one needed to climb up the ladder. As if to prove that it was no mere optical illusion, Nekros7 had already begun to climb. Nate motioned for her to follow. She put a hand on either side of the ladder, closed her eyes, and began her ascent (descent?).

Now that she was over the pit, she noticed a sweet-smelling smoke rising from the cold flames. She wasn't sure whether it was the height or the smoke, but she began to feel dizzy. "I don't know if I can do this!" she yelled to Nate.

"Just hold on and keep climbing," he shouted back. "It's not as far as it appeared from above."

She opened her eyes and immediately regretted it. While she would have never said that she was a person afraid of heights, the darkness below her seemed to stretch away forever, and her sense of vertigo increased. She felt her hands slip off of the ladder as she tipped back and her arms went slack.

"Do you require assistance?" she heard Nekros7 say as she lost consciousness.


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