Part 14B: A surprise above the trees!

She shot up faster and faster, and I heard in my mind:

What are you doing? Stop it? Help! But it was growing fainter as she went up and up. I shouted and tried to think back:

“I’m not doing anything! Fight! Or something!”

She stopped, about 200 feet up, looking down at me, just a speck above me in the branches and speckles of light and leaves that looked small but which I knew (from falling through them) were as big as me, almost. I could barely see her.

And I could barely hear her. Or think her. Whatever. But in my mind, I heard, or felt… look, it’s easier to say heard, okay? That’s what I’m used to saying. In my mind I heard:

Rachel, you’ve got to help me. I don’t… stop that!

That last part wasn’t directed at me. I looked up. The Me was fighting or struggling, somehow. She was hunched over, it looked like, and throwing elbows. Her feet kicked back at something and she was writhing a little. In my mind, I heard no words at all, just feelings.

They weren’t good, they weren’t bad. They were scared, which I guess is bad. I didn’t know that you could project feelings, or maybe I did, because when we’d been making love, there’d been an extra oomph! to it, especially during certain parts. But I hadn’t thought those were, you know, emotions. Now I knew that you could, because the Me was sending me scared and fright and wonder… I don’t know how I knew that last one but it wasn’t one that was like fear, only it was, kind of.

I looked around, on the ground, for something to do. My mind kept being overwhelmed, buffeted by the feelings that the Me was sending: wonder… fear… wonder… thrill…fear...then it began being more fear fear fear, kind of the way a shower in your CleanZone might be set to begin with hot, then go a little colder, then get hot again, if you like to mix things up.

I couldn’t find anything that seemed helpful. There was a rock nearby, about the size of my fist. I picked it up, hefted it, and looked up again. The Me was dangling, now, upside down, apparently by one foot. I still couldn’t see what was holding her in there but it was something because she was really fighting around, trying her best to get free.

Don’t try to get free, I thought at her. Then, in case my thinking didn’t work, I yelled it, too. She looked down at me – I saw her face turning towards me – and I said and thought: “I’ll help you!”

Then, not knowing what else to do, I hurled the rock, as hard as I could, up at her, trying to hit whatever was holding her up.

It fell way, way, way short. It went up maybe fifty feet and then fell straight down, in fact almost hitting me – I had to sidestep it.

Help! A thought got through. I wondered if something was blocking her, or if there was a limit to how far telepathy could travel. I wondered if they’d take her farther and I wouldn’t know what to do.

The emotions kept coming, and I knew I had to do something. There was more fear than anything else and I could see the Me fighting and fighting. I looked around again, helplessly, and then heard another scream and felt a blast of emotion. I looked up.

The Me was going higher, still. She shot up a little more, now almost completely out of sight among the leaves and branches.

I looked at the tree in front of me. I remembered when I woke up in Hell, that first time. I looked at my hands. I sighed.

“I’m coming to get you,” I said. Then I thought it: I’m coming to get you! Hang on! I thought it as hard as I could, then I reached out and grabbed the tree, as high up as I could.

I pulled up and tried to find a footrest. Belatedly, I kicked off my shoes and dug my toes into the grooves in the bark. I pushed up with my toes and grabbed higher up, then felt around more, getting a knot in the tree where I could rest my left foot.

I began inching up that tree, watching with as much of my attention as I could, watching the Me dangling there, so high up, upside down and fighting and twisting and wrestling whenever she could, pausing now and then. I kept feeling her emotions in my mind but I couldn’t concentrate on anything, really, except climbing, so I tried to, in the back of my mind, just think reassuring things to her and hoped she picked them up.

It was tiring. It was exhausting, pulling myself up that tree inch by inch. It didn’t seem like I was making any progress, at all. A foot here, a few inches there. I had to move around the tree, too, trying to find good places to climb. There were little twiggy branches here and there but nothing for another hundred feet or so to really help me climb. I kept going, though, fingers getting torn and raw and bloody, knees pushing against the tree, arms aching, sweat pouring down my forehead.

I’m not going to let you get away, too, I thought at the Me. I’m going to save you.

I felt a wave of fear and gratitude come over me. When I saw the Me now, on those times I was on her side of the tree, she mostly hung there, motionless and tired. I felt, coming from her, mostly tiredness, now. I kept my mind on her, kept picturing her smiling and trying to make that a pleasant thought, a hopeful thought. I tried to climb on that side, so that she could see me.

Once, I looked down. I was higher up than I’d thought, maybe fifty feet up already. It felt like I’d been climbing for days. But I was closer to the Me: The emotions were stronger and I could pick up more words in her thoughts.

Let me go she thought a lot.

And What are you doing?

And What is this thing? When she thought that, I wondered what she was looking at. I looked up, wanting to wipe sweat out of my eyes, but I was clinging to the side of a giant tree 75 or more feet off the ground and couldn’t spare the effort. My hands were needed. I locked my legs and tried to take deep breaths.

What is it? I thought at the Me.

Nothing in return. I couldn’t hardly see her. I started to climb again when I got an image, thrown back in my mind, strong and solid, almost. It startled me, how strong it was, and how shiny it was, but that wasn’t all. It startled me so bad, in fact, that I almost lost my grip. I grabbed onto the tree, my heart racing and my pulse in my ears, sweat dripping down into my eyes and mouth. I gasped for breath.

“Hang on, Rachel, hang on,” I told myself. “You’ve done harder things than this.” I tried not to fall. My mind felt like a tornado. I felt more than ever that I had to climb up, but I also wondered if I wasn’t just making it up. Maybe my own mind had filled that in.

I pressed my face against the bark of the tree, feeling its rough scrape on my cheek. It was cool compared to me and I hung there, eyes closed and chest heaving. I got my breath and I got my bearings.

I looked down. About a hundred feet up, maybe.

I looked up. Maybe one-third of the way to the Me.

I shifted my right hand to get a better grip. I was desperate to just start climbing up again but I had to be calm. I had to make sure I didn’t fall, and that I didn’t give anything away.

Assuming there was anything to give away.

I kept my face against the tree, my eyes closed now. I pictured the Me, up there, upside down, in mid-air. Can you hear me? I thought.

I can.

I thought this, then: Was that what you see?

A pause. Then the thing again. Instead of an answer, the Me simply sent me what she saw:

Hanging above her, way above her, above the tree, too, above all the trees, was something shiny and silver and round and kind of flat, with little points and lights and gadgets and stuff on it. It had spots, here and there, that must have been windows or something, and things, too, that looked like weapons. (Weapons always look like weapons, don’t they?)

So it is really there, I thought. I kept the tree pressed tight to me, hugging it. I kept willing myself to hang on, to be calm, not to fall.

It is, the Me thought back.

Then, the Me sent: Why are you so upset?

I took a deep breath. I dug my fingers into the bark and grabbed on for all I was worth.

What else did you see? I asked her. I pictured in my mind the flying saucer that was hovering over the trees, holding the Me somehow up in the air. But I didn’t fill it in. I just waited for the Me, who sent back:

I saw someone flying it, and then she sent me the image of who was in the flying saucer.

It was Brigitte.

I nearly let go of the tree in spite of myself.

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