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.

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