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.

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