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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