They get to Samson's HQ

Brigitte looked over at me, sitting up straighter. I stared at Samson, who had reduced his speed more now, so we were moving along a little more reasonably, through row after row of houses with yards and fences and sand and rocks, mostly, behind the fences. Off in the distance, I could see the main city with more modern looking buildings. All of the houses had a southwesterny-cowboy-indianish kind of style, more or less. It was kind of net.

“I don’t think you should hide stuff from me,” I said, after a minute.

“I’m not hiding anything from you. I’m just not telling you yet.”

“That’s the same thing as hiding it from me.”

“No, it’s not. I could have lied and said I didn’t know. I told you, I know stuff but I’m not telling you just yet.”

“Why not?”

“Because I’ll tell you what I can when I get a chance and this is not that chance and I’m distracted because I’ve got to figure out where we are and get where we’re going before the Blockers figure out what happened and come looking for us.”

“The who?”

“That’s what I call them.”

What do you call them?”

“The Blockers.”

”Why what?”

“Why do you call them the Blockers?”

“Because that’s there name.”

“Samson!” that was Brigitte. “Don’t toy with her, please.” She turned to me.

“He gets like this. He was like this a little during the days we were looking for you.” Turning back forward, she leaned up a little and put her hand on her shoulder. “If you know something, Samson, you should just tell us.”

“I will. I will. All in good time.” He patted her hand and looked over his shoulder at her.

I did not entirely like the way he looked at her. And more, I did not like the fact that he had to have known I would see his look, would see the look he gave Brigitte because I was sitting in the back seat and he looked at Brigitte sitting next to me in the back seat, too. I was about to say something when Brigitte sat back and said “I think we can trust him. He’s been really helpful so far.”

Samson turned again. “Got to get out of the city,” he said.

“Where are we going?”

“Headquarters?” I didn’t like the sound of that.

“Yes. Headquarters. Home base. My operating base.”

“Who’s at headquarters? I don’t know that I want to go there.”

“Nobody’s at headquarters. It was where I worked. I called it headquarters because that’s what you call the base of operations. But with Sharing and telecommunications nowadays, and the nature of our operation, I didn’t need more than me there. And the portal.”

“The portal?”

“Again, I’ll tell you in a minute.”

Naked Girl still crouched in the back, stumbling everytime we took a sharp turn. Samson saw that and said “Tell her she can come sit up front.”

“Go ahead,” I said. I wasn’t in the mood to help him.

“She won’t listen to me.”

“Try her.”

Samson shrugged and said “Naked Girl, come sit up front.”

Naked Girl didn’t react.

“You tell, her.” He said. Then he added: “Please.”

Even his please didn’t sound very good.

“I don’t like you,” I said.

“I know,” he said.

“Rachel, please. He was really very helpful to me. He might have saved my life. Those cops were really shooting at us, and then I had no idea what to do or how to find you.” Brigitte put her hand on my elbow, then moved it to my thigh. She knew how that would work on me. But I tried to resist.

“From what I can see, he just came along for the ride. Those cops and Reverend Tommy just wanted me, not you guys.”

“They kept shooting at us, even after they had you in that net. He helped steer us away and then helped us come and find where you were. We kept a watch on your body that whole time you were … in Hell.” She shuddered a bit when she said that last part. I grumped down, folding my arms over my breasts and sitting a little lower in the seat. I tried not to look like I was pouting. I probably didn’t succeed.

“Fine.” I said. “Naked Girl,” I motioned over my shoulder. “Come sit up front.”

She scrambled through to the front seat, climbing over and around the left of Brigitte. There was a lot of nakedness rumbling around the back seat for a moment and then she sat down. On Samson’s instructions, I had her strap the belt across her. He kept driving and looking around. There were other people around us now. Some of them looked at us, some of them didn’t.

“Do you think it’s a good idea, to have a naked girl sitting in the front seat of this thing?” I asked, trying to prove to Samson that I know some things, too, and he should listen to me.

“It’s a lot better for her than to be crashing around back there and hurting herself. I’d have you or Brigitte sit up here but I didn’t want to split you up.”

I really didn’t like him.

“Why does she listen to me, anyway?” I asked him.

“Because she’s like you,” he said.

“What’s that mean?”

He looked over his shoulder at me with a look of surprise. It was lucky, I thought, that we weren’t moving but were sitting at a traffic podium waiting for the Go Sign to pop up. “I suppose I should not be surprised,” he said. “Not a lot figure it out. I thought maybe you’d have worked it out by now. Or that Revenant you hung around with, what’s his name, Bob, would have told you.”

Bob. I felt bad for him, then, remembering what Reverend Tomny had done to him. Then I felt bad, too, because Brigitte’s dad was dead and I hadn’t told her that yet, too. There was never enough time! But I didn’t want to tell her now because Samson sighed and said “I guess there’s no harm in telling you. Maybe there is. I don’t know. But I’ll tell you anyway. You’re a zombie.”

“What?” I asked. My mouth felt dry. I looked down at my body.

Brigitte hugged me.

It wasn’t until later, a lot later, that I realized that Brigitte had not reacted. If I’d thought of it then, I might have thought that Samson had told her about me while I was in Hell or that she’d figured it out. But I didn’t think of it then and when I did think of it it was because I learned other things, too, that helped explain why she didn’t react. But she didn’t react at all and I didn’t notice it then, which isn’t really my fault because when a stinky dead soul that you’ve pulled out of Hell tells you as your driving in a van through Albuquerque that you’re a zombie, you don’t notice much else and you probably would have done what I did, which was stare down at my body, with its all-dirty and raggedy clothes and sit there in shock.

My hands, though, did not match up. They were different. The left one was longer and darker skinned than the right, which was sort of blockier and while still a girl’s hand was less feminine. And neither of my arms matched my body; my body had smooth white skin that didn’t seem to have ever seen the sun, but my right arm was a little darker and my left arm was darker still. My right and left legs weren’t quite the same length and my right toes were all curled and bunched up and little while my left toes were long and straight and separated.

“That’s…” I said.

“That’s…” I tried again.

I swallowed. My voice was really cracking and dry and I thought I was going to choke.

“That’s…” I said one more time.

“We’re here,” Samson said, and I looked up and so did Brigitte. “Here,” wherever we were supposed to be, was a convenience store near the edge of the downtown, one of those stores that someday will probably be torn down to have a larger building put up in its place and would no longer exist then, as a separate building but instead would be a little area in the cornerstone of a larger building. Through the plate glass windows I could see the kinds of things that convenience stores along my walking route from New York to Brigitte’s town had contained, things that I assumed all convenience stores carried: Newspapers, candy bars, squid jerky, Liquipods, and those 98 ounce-Behemoth soda pops. There was a bored-looking guy behind the counter.

“Come on,” Samson said. He maneuvered the van into a spot off to the left, marked with one of those handicapped symbols, and opened his door. “Rachel, tell Naked Girl to follow me,” he said.

I tried to talk but my voice wouldn’t come. I just kept staring at my bare feet, my two nonidentical bare feet.

I was, am, are, a zombie.

“Come on, Rachel, we don’t have much time,” Samson said, and snapped his fingers impatiently.

“Come on, Rachel,” Brigitte murmured into my ear. She kissed my earlobe and I snapped out of it a bit. Just a bit.

“What?” I asked. I sort of croaked it.

“Naked Girl. Have her follow me. And come on,” Samson said. He was looking around nervously now. There were a lot of people walking by and I thought this was not the best place to get us out of the van but what did I know?

I was, am, a zombie. That’s all I could think.

“Naked Girl, follow Samson,” I said. “Do what he says.”

Naked Girl got up and opened her door and Brigitte leaned across me – our breasts pressed against each other and that helped a little – and pulled on the lever to open the door and said “Come on, honey. Let’s follow him.” Doc zipped out and Brigitte gave me a little nudge and I swung my legs out.

People on the sidewalk were stopping and pointing at Naked Girl. Samson told her to go inside and wait for us and she did that.

“Stand clear,” he said, and Brigitte closed the door behind me and pulled me by the hand up onto the sidewalk outside the little convenience store, right in front of the container of Dry Ice for sale, 99 cents a bag.

Doc walked up and as he walked towards the door of the convenience store, he pressed his hand against a brick to the right, down on the side of the door.

There was a flash and some steam and the parking spot holding the van suddenly flipped over and the van disappeared underneath it. The parking lot was empty of vehicles now. A few of the people who were walking by looked up but they’d missed whatever happened. Samson looked back at them and shrugged. “I hope nobody noticed.”

He hoped nobody noticed that a naked girl had gotten out of a van that then disappeared?

We followed him inside. Brigitte was tugging at my hand as we did, getting me to go with her. I just felt numb. We walked past the front counter with its Win-A-House pulltab games and the Lotto advertisements and Cinnamon Rolls and went to the Behemoth Soda Fountain, a giant row of nozzles with all the 45 flavors of soda Behemoth sold and the stacks of 98 ounce cups. The guy behind the counter paid us no attention, even though we were a mess and Samson really smelled – really smelled; he was getting worse, I thought – and I was a zombie and Naked Girl was standing by the soda fountain.

Doc took a cup, calmly, and then began filling it. He put in a little ice and then ran down the fountain, putting a squirt of each kind of soda in it. When he reached the 45th flavor and the cup was almost full, a door opened off to the right. He put a lid on the soda and a straw in it and began sipping from it.

“Come on in,” he said, and motioned to us to follow him through the narrow door. We did that. I looked back at the counter guy, who was not watching us at all. Weird.

We went inside and there was a little room there with an old-fashioned desk, a computer monitor, and a couple of little gadgets on it. One of the gadgets was lit up and Samson picked it up.

“Hmm,” he said, looking at it. He held it up. “Ever seen one of these?”

Brigitte shook her head.

Naked Girl shook her head.

I didn’t react. I was, am a zombie, and I was still trying to process that.

“This,” said Samson, “Is an old fashioned cell phone. They still work and some people like to use them because they’re so secure.” He seemed proud of it. He looked at it again, reading the display.

“And,” he said, “It’s telling me that I’ve missed a call.” He put the phone back down. “From God.”


Looking down the barrel of another ray gun.

Part Eight:

“What the fuck is going on!” someone yelled. I could almost not breathe and I felt smushed, compressed, and heard people groaning and mumbling and squishing and some other people yelling and sirens and then I heard a metal clank or thunk and then I heard skidding and screeching and then I fell out of the door onto the ground and hit pavement hard, still holding onto Brigitte. I was lying on my back and she fell on top of me, landing right on me and, I hope, cushioning the blow for her and the baby; I wasn’t sure how that worked and how much the baby could feel right now but I didn’t want either of them hurt.

We laid there for a second as I tried to breath because the wind had been knocked out of me and Brigitte was a little faster and she looked around.

“We’re out,” she said, and looked back down at me. She leaned against me and hugged me as best she could with me lying on my back on what I realized was a large street in a city and she began crying. “You got me out! You saved me! We’re out! Oh, thank God! Thank you, Rachel!” She was shaking, too, and I only then began to realize just how scared she’d been in Hell. I looked around while I held her tightly.

We were not in Chicago. I was pretty sure of that. The buildings looked all wrong. The buildings looked… weird. I wasn’t sure how to place it. All Spanish-y and colorful and stuccoed. I thought about it for a second. We must be in the west or something, I thought, where they still had buildings like this. Plus, it was hot.

I started to sit up and Brigitte curled up a little until I was on the blacktop and she was sitting on my lap still huddled up and crying and holding me.

All around me were all the damned souls that had been clinging to me as we’d fallen from Ivanka’s hand. In front of me, about 50 yards up, was van with only one door hanging on the back of it. The other door was off to my left. That must have been the clanking sound I heard, the door falling off.

I tried to piece together what must have happened. They had to have had my body, in that van. And just like with Naked Girl, when I’d woken up, everyone touching me had come back with me, so suddenly instead of one naked body in the back of the van, they’d had, what, 15 or so, all crammed in there?

The driver of the van was getting out, still swearing loudly. He wasn’t wearing a uniform. The van was gas-powered, so it had to be a government van of some sort, something official, but this guy was wearing a regular shirt and pants.

“We should get out of here,” I said.

Whoever from the government had gotten my body and taken it to the west and put it in a van, or put it in a van and taken it to the west, I didn’t want them to re-get me.

“Don’t move,” said a voice to my right.

Looking over there I saw a ray gun pointed right at my head. It was held at waist level of another guy in a regular shirt and pants, his all torn and scuffed up and his right knee was bleeding. He must have fallen out of the van, I realized, when we’d appeared there.

“Put your hands up,” the man with the ray gun said. I looked at him. He looked like any other guy, just a person. The sun was bright and hot.

“What day is it?” I asked, and then thought I should have asked who he was. I’m not very good at this. Brigitte had turned around, too, looking over her shoulder.

“You get away from her,” the man said.

Brigitte clung more tightly to me and began crying again.

Brigitte’s not usually like that, I think – I’ve only known her a week but she seemed tougher than that to me. She’d taken pretty much everything in stride so far but going to Hell and now being here with a guy telling her to get away from me was pretty much maybe all she could take.

Before I could do anything, though, a lady that had been clinging to us stood up and bumped into the guy and his ray gun swung wide and I took the opportunity to yell “Run!” to Brigitte, who did not take the opportunity. She just sat there. I stood up and tried to grab the guy’s ray gun and felt a wave of heat and heard some crackling as it went off and the guy punched me.

He punched me. I fell down on my butt and just stared at him.

That’s when I knew he wasn’t real good at things because he just stood there, too, and stared, and I realized he didn’t want to punch a girl and felt bad about it. He wasn’t like those cops or real professional people who want to kill or capture someone. They don’t think twice about hitting anyone. This guy felt bad, I could tell. So I started crying. That was easy enough. I’d been through a lot, too, and had wanted to cry since Brigitte had gotten mad at me at the hospital but I couldn’t. I’d had to hold it in for the good of… me, and Brigitte, and the baby. Now, I just let loose, and it was really bad crying because my face really hurt where he’d hit me and I figured I’d have a bruise.

“You hit me,” I cried, and it came out all bawling. I felt stupid but also good to be crying. I didn’t really want to cry, but I guess I needed to because now it was coming nonstop. Brigitte scrambled over and was kneeling next to me. The guy squatted down in front of me, and said “Are you going to be okay?”

Someone off to his left yelled “Jim!” and he looked over there and I reached out and took his ray gun and pointed it at him and shot him. It wasn’t even that hard.

He dropped like a sack of rice. I heard someone yell “Jim!” even more urgently and I said “Duck Brigitte” and I pointed the gun off in that direction and began firing wildly and the yelling stopped.

It really was starting to be chaos around us. The people that had gotten out of Hell with us had wandered around and some were pretty badly hurt. More people had come by while “Jim” was hitting me, and there were two dirigibles landing. The buildings were not that tall around here and as I stood up I could see people starting to look out their windows and come out on their lawns.

Up ahead was the van that we’d all popped out of. “Let’s go,” I sniffled to Brigitte, who got up herself now.

“Are you okay?” she asked me. I nodded.

“I haven’t seen you cry before,” she said.

“I haven’t seen you cry before,” I told her. “Are you okay? Is the baby?”

Brigitte smiled and rubbed her stomach. “Yes. And yes, I’m pretty sure. Yes.”

I hugged her for just a second and had an overpowering urge to kiss her. And more. Right there. I’m never very far from thinking about … and more… when Brigitte’s around. If you saw her body, you’d want to press up against her, too, and rub her and touch her and lick her.

I had to pull back. “God, I love you,” I said. There was another yell from a yard nearby us. Someone was saying they’d called the police.

We jogged up to the van. The other guy that had been there was lying on the ground, as were some of the people that I’d brought out of Hell. I hoped that I hadn’t killed them. Or anyone. But especially the people I’d brought out of Hell. It seemed wrong to do that: rescue them from Hell, even inadvertently and unwillingly, and then just shoot them right back there. I bet if they were alive and out of Hell that they were going to live pretty good lives from now on, to avoid going back there, so it seemed like I’d done kind of a good thing. Then again, all of the people I’d met in Hell had seemed like they were good people.

That bothered me.

The guy I’d shot, the guy who was not Jim, was lying at the back of the van and I heard, now, sirens in the distance. Boy, that was a sound I was getting good at recognizing. More people were on their lawns, some of them yelling and some trying, very gingerly, to come out and help the damned people we’d brought out.

Some of those people were helping each other. That bothered me, too. How were people who were fresh out of Hell doing anything good for anyone?

I had an idea.

“Can you drive?” I said. I looked at the van.

Brigitte shook her head. “Not one of these. Nobody knows how to drive these things, Brigitte. They’re reserved for government or military.”

“These guys don’t look government or military,” I said. I looked down at the not-Jim guy, in his polo shirt with the little symbol on the breast of it, a little gate with a bar through it or something.

“Well, they must have been because they can drive it. Nobody gets a gasoline powered ground vehicle.”

That’s what Doc had told me.


I wondered if he’d made it out. I looked around in the crowds hopefully but didn’t see him.

The sirens were closer. We went to the side of the van, to where the drivers would sit. There was a steering wheel. That much was obvious. And some pedals and levers and things.

“We’ll have to run for it,” I said. I looked back. “I don’t know how to drive it, either.”

“It may not be a good idea, anyway,” Brigitte pointed out. “We might be found more easily if we’re driving one of these.”

I looked at her. She was beautiful, stunning, but also very dirty and her clothing was ripped, showing off her legs and a little bit of her breasts and I thought, too, that I saw a nipple, which got me all distracted again. I bet I looked the same, and I suddenly laughed.

“What?” Brigitte said.

“We’ll be found easily no matter what we do.”

A hand landed on my shoulder and I spun around. I suppose I should have shot the ray gun but I’m not used to things like that so I didn’t. You have to have all kinds of reflexes to just automatically shoot a gun. I’d only gotten away with it on the ground because I was so upset I hadn’t even been thinking, I figured, and now I didn’t shoot it at all, which was unlucky because it was taken out of my hand almost as soon as I turned.

“Geez, watch where you’re pointing that thing,” I heard, and Brigitte said Samson excitedly. “Yeah, it’s me,” he said, as I focused, and it was him: stinky, stubbly-faced, scar on his forehead, same clothing, and all. He let go of my shoulder and put the ray gun in his pocket. “Get in,” he said, and motioned over his shoulder. I saw running up behind him, near the end of the crowd of damned-but-rescued people, Naked Girl.

And Doc!

“Doc!” I said. He floated along and then went a little higher and zipped up to be by my shoulder as Naked Girl climbed into the back of the van and closed the door.

“I said get in,” Samson said and I didn’t want to listen to him but I did it because Brigitte did it, so we got in the van and Doc floated in and Samson got in after us. Brigitte and I climbed into the back of the van, where there was a small bench-seat for us to sit on next to a kind of board with straps that I guessed they’d had my body on while I’d been unconscious.

Samson climbed in and started up the van without any hesitation, turning some kind of little switch and moving a lever and then closing the door as he did so and the van started moving, quickly. We were pressed back into the seat. Naked Girl hunched down in the back and sat patiently motionless. I wondered what would happen to the damned people we were leaving behind. “Shouldn’t we take them?” I asked, without specifying who “them” was.

Brigitte looked back out the window and said “We should at least try to help them.”

I agreed – they were dead, after all. They’d died and gone to Hell and then been brought back and now we were leaving them on the street to just fend for themselves in… “Where are we?” I asked.

Albuquerque Doc said.

“Where it all began,” Samson said.

Meanwhile, In New York... A phone call.

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Meanwhile, In New York:

He looked around the diner, tired from being up all night.

The tables were in order, the silverware was in order, the counter was clean. There was a rip in one of the vinyl covers of the stool that he really thought he should repair. But it was okay. It maybe wasn’t that terrible. The dessert stand, with its perma-desserts, spun slowly. The back counter was immaculate. The floor gleamed. The grills were hot. The fry vats were steaming. The cash register stood poised for the occasional payment with bucks instead of Share-transfers through the palm Indentifier by the door. People were welcome to come in without Sharing, and welcome to pay with cash, but they had to do so before being seated. If they Shared at the door they could then order, and it would be transferred from their accounts automatically.

The Indentifier was clean, too. He kept it clean because smudges created glitches.

And the Women were standing at the back wall, waiting for him to tell them to begin. They had not imprinted at all yet. He did not let them imprint on him because it was difficult to change that. But they would listen to him, and to virtually anyone, until they imprinted. He tested them here, to see how they passed and how they acted.

Three. Three of them right now waiting to be sent out. One would be gone by the end of the day, he figured.

There should be four.

He liked to have four.

The phone rang. He was almost to the door, had almost thrown the switch on the Electrogate and flipped the old-fashioned sign to “Open” as the sun, far off in the east, began to come up, but the phone rang.

He walked back from the door and answered the phone. There were two phones in the restaurant. One was there just for show. The other was an old-fashioned landline that he had installed and that rang in a frequency only he could hear. It had been difficult to find someone to install it, but nobody ever listened to landlines anymore, not even the government.

He picked up the phone.

“Yes.” He said.

He listened.

“Completely dead?”

He listened again.

“I was working all night.”

More talk.

“I’m not complaining. I don’t complain. I’m tired, is all.”

And there was final testing to be done. And appearances to keep up. He did not say those. He just listened more.

“It doesn’t work as well on men.”

He listened a little more and watched as a regular customer came up to the door and peered inside. He held up a hand and smiled politely, using up his entire “acting” ability. He listened.

“Bring him here.”

He listened to the final words the other end of the line fed him, and said “Well, then, I guess I’ll have to close today.”

He hung up the phone and looked at the Women standing against the back wall. They’d stay there today. He walked up to the door and the regular customer, who always just wanted a cup of coffee, looked in. He opened the door a little, shutting off the Electrogate to do so.

“Sorry,” he said. “I can’t open up today. There’s been a death.”

The customer nodded and looked appropriately sad and a little quizzical. Then the man remembered, and added: “In the family. There’s been a death in the family. See you tomorrow.”

It wasn’t really his family, though. He was proud that he’d remembered to add that. But he felt bad about lying.

Ivanka is not helping.

More people clambered over to us, scrabbling on the mucky rock and through the puddles of water left there. We were slowed down considerably and I was pretty sure that the demons were twitching more now. I kept my arms on Bridget, refusing to let the people grasping at me pull me away from her, and kept my eyes on the ground, futilely searching for Doc even though I was pretty sure I hadn’t been anywhere near here when I’d last had him. He was probably back near where the flood of cauldron water had ended, I guessed, and looked over there.

“Where’s Samson?” asked Brigitte.

“I don’t know,” I said. And I don’t care I wanted to add but I didn’t. We kept on walking and more and more people were coming over to us. There were probably 10 or 12 now, all standing near us and reaching in an arm to touch me or grabbing at my arms. One pulled at my elbow and I shook her off.

“Please,” she said.

“Don’t pull on me,” I said, and then I was a little sorry because she had been in Hell maybe a long time and didn’t mean to try to separate me from Brigitte, I figure. But I didn’t say anything. I felt her bony old fingers on my elbow, pincering it, sticking in between a couple of other hands.

There was a shadow and a flicker over us and a bunch of the damned gasped or screamed. I looked up. It was a horse. Ivanka flew overhead and then landed in front of us. She looked down at the group, and I couldn’t tell if she was amused. She pointed at us.

“What?” I asked.

She pointed back over the way we had come.

“What?” I asked again.

She re-pointed, lowering her arm and then pointing again. When I didn’t get it, she pointed at me and then pointed her other arm back the way we had come.

“Go back?” I said.

She nodded.

“No way, Ivanka,” I said. I wasn’t going to go back, and I certainly wasn’t going to do anything she asked willingly. Not with Brigitte clutching at my arm even tighter. “No. We’re going to the rock and waiting this one out.”

She pointed again and nodded.

“I don’t want to.”

She folded her arms, right across those naked breasts of hers, and stared. I thought maybe some of the men with us would be a little disappointed not to see her breasts anymore.

Secretly, I was a little disappointed not to see her breasts anymore.

But we just stood there. I looked back over my shoulder and all I could see was a guy’s head, maybe in his forties, staring back at me.

“Move,” I said.

He ducked his head down a little. I bet however much he was bummed out to not see Ivanka’s breasts was more than made up by the fact that he was looking at my bare butt. At least Brigitte was clothed. At least I was sparing her that.

Back over my shoulder there were more people crawling on the plain, people who had heard of us and were trying to get to us but were slow or damaged in some way. Off to my left was the closest giant demon’s body. The foot was definitely twitching or vibrating or something. Further way back was Naked Girl. I could see her. Half Guy was riding on her back and she was helping someone walk.

“Is that Samson?” I asked, looking back at Ivanka.

She nodded and pointed again, towards them.

“We’re not going back, Ivanka. We can’t. It took me a million years, practically, to get here and it’ll take longer to go all that way.” I didn’t say because all those people will grab me, too, and they might separate me from Brigitte. I wanted to get Brigitte out of here more than anything, but I didn’t want her to see what a mean person I really was. I felt terrible about those people but I felt more terrible about Brigitte and I didn’t know what to do for any of them except that I love Brigitte and I knew I had to get her out of there. “And that demon is waking up and what in the…” I choked that last part out and grabbed Brigitte even harder as Ivanka suddenly flicked her horse’s reins and it launched towards us and Ivanka leaned in and hooked one large (and yet smooth and sexy) hand under my right armpit and lifted up. I grabbed Brigitte harder and one of the people hanging onto me yelled hang on tighter! And we lifted up into the air, Ivanka not even seeming to strain as people clung onto my back and my legs and each other and we pulled into the air. I looked down as we got ten, twenty feet off the ground. Nobody was left down there; she had lifted all, what, fourteen of us by that point? The horse’s wings were flapping and beating the air right behind me, nearly brushing some guy off my back. Brigitte put her arms around me. I felt her mouth right by my ear and felt her breath in my ear.

“Oh, god Rachel, hang on,” she said.

“I am. I will,” I said, as we started to move forward, back across the plains to Naked Girl and Samson, slowly but not too slowly. All I could really see was Ivanka’s leg, part of the horse, and the rock we’d been heading for slowly receding away. I looked up and saw Ivanka’s face, at first stern and leaning forward. Then she looked down at me and winked.

Brigitte I think squeezed me a little harder. I bet she saw but I never asked her.

The horse flew and I could definitely see that the demon was coming back alive; it’s hand was almost reattached now and the fingers were spasming and twitching.

“I’m almost falling, help me,” someone below me said.

“Hang on. Grab my hand.”

“I can’t hold on any more we’ve got to land.”


“Can we get out now?”

and more like that I heard a lot of. I guessed that I’d be desperate, too, if I had gotten out of the frying pan but not out of the fire yet. I remembered that first time I’d come here, and a couple times after that, too. In fact, pretty much every time with few exceptions, every time I’d come to Hell had been terrible.

That was probably the point.

We were almost back at Naked Girl. She was about twenty feet ahead of us; Ivanka had probably had to go slower because of all the people or not shaking off all of the people. I thought that was nice of her. Then again, why was she taking us back? Why not bring Samson to us?

I looked down and Naked Girl was below us. Samson was looking up as we hovered down.

There was a rumble from the demon.

There was kind of a flicker.

“Hang on,” I muttered to Brigitte. Ivanka began lowering us faster. She knew. I knew.

“Get her down here!” yelled Samson, suddenly, and I figured somehow he knew. I was getting a little better at this.

The demon sat up.

Ivanka looked at me and then looked down and then let go.

Me and Brigitte and all the damned people clinging to me began falling. It was only about twenty feet that we had to fall but everyone shrieked or screamed or yelled and Brigitte buried her face in my shoulder. Protect her I thought and tried to hold on to her, hoping that when we hit the ground she’d land on me. Protect the baby I thought, too, and later I was proud of myself that I’d thought that.

It was going to hurt when we hit the ground.

We didn’t hit the ground.

Why are you clinging to her?

New today: Just try to crawl a little!

Lesbian Zombies Are Taking Over the World

A serialized story updated 1-2 times per week.

Two weeks ago, Rachel was a waitress in a coffee shop in New York City. She doesn't remember anything in her waking life before that. Now, with some help from her Octopus, Rachel is on a mission to find out what the heck is going on-- and all the Revenants and cops and ministers and Valkyries in this world and the next won't stop her.

The story is told in parts (click the title to go to the chapter)

Rachel wakes up one day to realize that she doesn't know anything about her life. On the advice of her octopus, she walks south and meets Brigitte. And the revenants.

Part Two: In Hell:
Running from the Revenants, Rachel wakes up in Hell and seeks help from a Valkyrie.

Part Three: Heading East:
With Mr. Damned Soul tagging along, Rachel and Brigitte go where Doc tells them to go.

Shot down by ray guns, Rachel is taken to be interrogated.

Part Five: Threatening This Existence.

Reverend Tommy can't help himself when he tries to stop Rachel from leaving, and she takes them all back to Hell.

Part Six: Get the Heck Out of Chicago!

Part Seven: Now They're All In Hell.
Shot by Samson, Rachel and the others find themselves out of the frying pan... but into the boiling cauldron of souls?


Thinking The Lions is the only website where you can find out why Velociraptors are fake, learn how to play "Cloverfield," and otherwise follow the hilarious adventures of a guy with a lot of kids, a lot of love of 70s music, a lot of time to watch Battlestar Galactica, and a very patient wife. Life, only funnier.

Just try to crawl a little...

I held onto Brigitte’s hand and we ran and ran and then Samson was pulling us, too, as the water spread and rushed towards us, but it was no good; we got hit by the first wall of water, 10 feet high and roaring along, and were swept up. I wrapped my arms around Brigitte as the water began scalding; it had cooled some but boiling water doesn’t cool off all that fast and this was Hell, so it was pretty hot around us anyway. I wanted to scream but my head was under water.

The baby, I thought, and I hoped that it was okay. I didn’t know what could hurt babies but being tossed around in a boiling tsunami was, I guessed, not great. So I tried to shield the baby and Brigitte, holding her, as souls bumped into us and clambered around us and howled with burbling cries of terror and resignation.

The water petered out, of course. It wasn’t perpetual, there was just a lot, and we slowly skidded to a stop, covered in mud and dirt and dripping wet. I had both arms around Brigitte and her head was pressed into my shoulder and she clung to me, arms around me. I peeled back just a little to look at her. She was leaning into me, her eyes clenched shut and her mouth moving.

“What are you saying?” I asked.

please please please,” she said, a little louder. She looked at me. “I figured praying couldn’t hurt here, could it?”

I said “No, it can’t hurt,” although I wasn’t sure it could help, either, and began to sit up, still holding Brigitte’s hand. “Don’t let go of me,” I said. We stood up, together, and looked around. There were souls laying all over, scattered around. Some of them were torn apart, some were together but lying there motionless, looking dead (and they were, as I thought about it.)

I didn’t see Samson. I didn’t see Ivanka, either. Just a wasteland of wet souls. We began walking, in a random direction, and people called out to us. Help, they said or please or oh, God and I felt terrible. After the first few, I bent down to a woman and looked at her. “Can you talk?” I asked.

She looked at me, glassy eyed. She shook her head.

“Are you okay?” I asked. It was a stupid question, but it’s what you’re supposed to ask.

“She’ll be fine. Help me,” someone said behind me, and I looked over my shoulder and turned around. It was a weak voice that was trying to be strong. The man who had spoken laid there, waist deep in the mud and pushing at it.

“Are you stuck?” I asked, but he shook his head. He pushed a little more and fell over, and I saw he’d been cut in half at the waist. Brigitte gasped a little and put her hand to her mouth.

“Find my legs,” he said, weakly. “I need to get away.”

Where? I wondered. Where are you going to get away TO? But I didn’t say anything. I looked around. “I don’t see them,” I said, “But I’ll keep looking. Try to get yourself to one of the rocks.” That seemed the general plan around here. I wondered how long we had before the demons came back. We moved on, with other people calling to us, too. I didn’t see a pair of legs and then I wondered if we were looking for a pair or one at a time; I didn’t know how they’d been cut off.

A shadow came over us and I looked up. Ivanka and her horse were circling and coming lower. She had someone with her. They landed in front of us, about ten feet away, and I realized that her passenger was Naked Girl. Ivanka motioned and Naked Girl got off and came and stood in front of me.

“What?” I asked. She just stared at me. She was really marked up. An arm was dangling by threads, and she had scratches all over. Part of her hair had ripped out and she was missing an eye. I reached out with one hand and pressed her arm to her shoulder socket, watching it mend.

“Can you move?”

She nodded.

I looked around. “See that guy back there, the half a guy?”

She nodded.

“Go get him and try to find his legs. Can you do that?”

She nodded again. I stopped her as she walked by. “Do what he tells you to do until you find his legs. Then help other people, too. If you have questions, come see me.”

A woman nearby said “Who are you?”

I looked at her. “Nobody.”

“Why does she listen to you?”

“I don’t know,” I answered. The woman sat up and said

“You’ve got to help me, first. Help me. Don’t send her to help that guy. Help me. I need help more.” She stood up, weakly, and tried to totter after Naked Girl, but Naked Girl was moving too quickly and she soon turned back to me. “Help me. Have her help me.”

“What do you need help with?” I asked.

“My family. We’re all down here. My husband and my daughter and my son, we’re all in Hell and I think they were in that… that pot of water… with me. I think they were here and I don’t know how we ended up here but if I have to be in Hell I at least want them with me and you’ve got to help me find them. I need more help than that man does. My daughter is only three! How did she end up in Hell? How? Help me find her.”

Brigitte clung to me and started crying. “Why are they in Hell, Rachel?” she said. Brigitte is strong, but I think this was getting to her. “How does a three-year-old end up in Hell?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “I don’t know.” For as long as I’d been in Hell, each time I’d come, I had no idea how it worked, why people ended up here. Why I ended up here. Why this woman or her three-year-old ended up here.

“We’ve got to help them,” Brigitte said. “Ask Doc what to do.”

“Doc’s,” I began, but then I stopped. I was going to say Doc’s not working but I realized I didn’t have Doc. I looked around. I kept stupidly looking at my hand, the hand that had held him, and he wasn’t there. Somewhere in the running and the deluge I’d lost him, dropped him. I wanted to cry. Doc was gone! And he wasn’t working, so I couldn’t simply call out to him.

“Doc’s gone,” I finished up, looking at Brigitte.

“What?” it was the kind of thing you say when you know what the other person said but you don’t want to know. I didn’t repeat myself; instead saying “I’ve got to find him. Everybody!” I called, but nobody paid any attention to me. I turned around. I saw Naked Girl walking off towards the Half Guy and I called to her. “Naked Girl! Hey! You!”

She stopped and turned around.

“Find Doc! He’s my octopus. You know him. He’s around here. Find him. Help these people but find Doc!” Naked Girl nodded and I saw her go and stand by Half Guy first and then begin looking around on the ground. “I’ve got to find him,” I told Brigitte.

“I know,” she said. “We’ll find him.” She wrapped both her arms around my left arm and hung on. “I don’t like it here,” she muttered. “I’m sorry that you have to keep coming here.”

I was standing there, in shock, not knowing what to do now. Losing Doc had shut something down in me and it was all I could think of: find Doc find Doc. I put my hand on hers and sat down. “I need to think,” I said.

All around us people were moaning. The mother had crawled over to us and was about to say something to me. I put my head down in my hands. I tried not to cry and Brigitte slumped against me. I was not ready for any of this. I’d been to Hell a lot of times and it was starting to wear on me. I was only… however old I was, and I didn’t know what to do when I was in Hell and didn’t know what to do when giant demons were crashing down around me and didn’t know what to do when people were insisting that I help them out and complaining that they ended up in Hell, to. “I don’t know what to do,” I confessed to Brigitte.

“I don’t either,” she said.

After a pause, she added “We need Samson.”

I wanted to say or Ivanka but I didn’t think that would be smart. I was still upset with Samson for shooting me and bringing us here, plus I wasn’t real crazy about him anyway, but I wanted Brigitte to be happy and wanted her to not be upset with me. If I had to be in Hell surrounded by chopped up souls begging me for help and missing my octopus, at least I could have Brigitte be still in love with me. “Let’s find him,” I said.

“Who’s Samson?” asked the mother. “Why won’t you help me?”

“Why do you think I can help you?” I asked her. The mother shook her head.

“Anyone can help anyone. But you, you’re different.”

I looked down at her as I stood up. “I’m not different.”

“Yes, you are. We’ve all been here a long time being boiled and tortured and eaten and when a demon eats you, you just end up being reformed after he digests you, have you ever been digested by a demon, and then thrown back into that stew he was making, and we’ve all thought of fighting but we couldn’t do it, we never had any luck, and you all come here and you’re able to fight them and then that horse lady”

“… Valkyrie,” I interrupted without thinking, and then tensed up in case Brigitte got upset but she didn’t say anything…

“Comes and helps you and then you manage to command people to help you like that Naked Girl. You’re different and you can help.”

“I don’t know how to help.”

“Why do you keep holding on to her?” the woman asked.

Brigitte looked up at me.

I looked at the woman and then Brigitte and couldn’t think of what to say.

“Tell her,” Brigitte said.

Before I could answer, the woman interrupted: “Tell her, tell me what? Is there something you know? Is there? Can you really help me?”
“I’m not letting go of her because before long,” I said, and I paused, “Before long, my body back in the real world is going to wake up and anyone who’s touching me is going to be pulled out of Hell with me, and Brigitte is my lover and I’m not leaving her here.”

“Plus, I’m pregnant with our child,” Brigitte added, and smiled.

The woman scrambled over and locked her arms around my ankle. “What are you doing?” I asked.

“I’m not letting go of you,” she said. She turned to someone nearby who was crying and whining softly. “You,” she said. “You. Everybody!” she raised her voice. “Everybody who can move come and grab onto this girl and she’s going to get us out of here!”

“What?” I asked. I was startled. The whining and moaning lady had rolled over and looked at me.

“Is it true?” she asked. “Did you come to save us?”

“Wha… No!” I said, startled. “I didn’t come here to save you. I came here because I was shot unconscious by a ray gun and I come to Hell whenever I’m unconscious.”

“She won’t let go of the pretty one because she’s going back to the real world and when she does anyone she’s touching goes with her,” the mother said, loudly. Then, still grabbing my ankle hard enough to hurt, sprawled in the wet mud, she began calling names. “Charles! Jamie! Lindy! Where are you! Come to Mommy! Come here! We’re going to leave!” She looked up at me. “Can you control it? Don’t leave until my family gets here!”

“I can’t control it,” I said, rapidly losing control of this situation and looking to Brigitte for help. She continued to hang onto my arm and said

“We can try to help, can’t we?”

I looked at the big demon foot near us and it twitched. “Brigitte, I don’t know how long we’ll be here but those demons might come back to life or whatever any second now. I don’t want to be out in the open.” I looked down at the mother, who was still calling to her family and crying now. “Let go and we’ll get to shelter,” I said, but she shook her head vehemently.

“No. No no no no no. What if I let go and you wake up right then and there and I’m left here again! Will you come back?”

I didn’t answer. Instead, I said to Brigitte. “Try to get to the rock.” I pointed to the nearest rock. She turned and we began walking, me dragging the mother who kept calling, more and more hysterically to her family. I finally said “You can hang on if you want but you’ve got to help me,” but she didn’t seem to listen, or maybe she was just out of strength.

We continued that way until we passed near a few more people not far away and the lady interrupted her yelling to say “Grab onto her and we’ll get out,” and a guy, an old guy, a really old guy, sat up and said “What?” and she explained as I kept dragging her and walking with Brigitte to the nearest rock-mountain, with the demon’s foot shuddering now and then only about 50 yards away.

The old guy got onto his hands and knees and then stood up as I eyed him and kept walking and the mother kept calling for her kids. He tottered over to us, weakly, and then held out his hand but I kept my hands on top of Brigitte’s which were clutching my left arm, still, and so he laid his hand on my shoulder.

“You don’t mind, do you?” he asked.

I said “I guess not,” and was rewarded when Brigitte squeezed my shoulder. The mother kept calling for her family. We walked near another guy, a younger guy maybe about my age who when he rolled over his eyes were just staring up into space, not blinking. He was calling out, saying “Who’s there? Who’s there?”

The old man, as we walked by, looked at me and then reached down and touched the guy. “Follow my voice,” he said. “Are you blind?” and the guy nodded. I was trying to drag the mother and walk, but when the old guy stopped I did, too, and rested. “If you can get up and hold on, we’ll get you out of here,” the old man said. The mother tried to struggle to her knees but then fell. Her voice was weaker now.

“Here,” the old guy said, and got the blind man up and stood him behind us. “Keep your hand here,” and he put the blind guy’s hand on my left shoulder. “Just keep holding on.” I could feel the blind man’s hand tense on me and he mumbled “Thank you” and I started walking again.

“Just try to crawl a little,” the old man encouraged the mother, and then he, too, started calling to her family, Lindy, Jamie, Charles, and also telling people “Come to us, or meet us at the rock, because we’re getting out of here.”

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