#BlogBattle Week 15 “Rage”
(This is a continuation story, so if you’d like to know how Grecca has spent her day, start at:
- Grecca Through the Loops
- Grecca In the News
- Grecca and a Horde
- Grecca at the End of a Rope
- Grecca Steals a Frog)
Grecca’s pampered hands and knees throbbed in protest after only a few minutes of crawling through the ventilation tube. Her eardrums ached from the distant thrumming of a shaft fan forcing air through the system, and she wanted to cry.
It was dark except for the trail of orange service lights along one edge of the large metal tube.
“I swear I will never go to another horde again.”
“Quiet, Grecca. Sound travels easily through here.”
Who did he think he was? Some crazy driver; he knew some seriously amazing moves, yes, but he was still a nobody as far as she was concerned. He did just save your life, Grecca. There it was, that voice of reason she’d rather ignore.
“Ouch!” Grecca cried out, a pin prick of pain piercing her palm.
Ariston seemed in an awful hurry, pressing her forward. She didn’t hear anything but the fan’s whoosh-whoosh. Grecca ignored his prodding, dropped to her bottom, and tried to examine her injury in the orange glow.
She jerked back when Ariston’s head pressed in, an inch from her face. “We can’t stop. There is a very slim window of escape.”
His whisper tickled her cheek. She held her hand out to him, and he did the unthinkable; he kissed her palm. “All better?” he asked.
Grecca thought she saw as glint of humor in his eyes, but it was too dark to tell. Afraid he was teasing her, at a time like this no less, she glared at him before swinging back onto her hands and knees.
They’d been in the tunnel less than ten minutes, but Grecca’s pace slackened, her body unused to moving in such a fashion.
“Just up ahead we’ll take the left tunnel. At the end of it, there’s another shaft, straight up, with a ladder.”
“How do you know?”
They arrived at the new tunnel, and Grecca moaned low in her throat. It didn’t move horizontal as the one they were in did. Instead, it was tilted upward, at more than a forty-five degree angle. And except for the joints every five feet, the surface was smooth.
“I can’t do this.”
“Yes you can, Grecca. Just one foot at a time. You’ve got this, just like you did the T-bird in the Loop.”
“You mean the loop I almost killed us both in?”
“But you didn’t. Here,” he said, untying the frog knife from Grecca’s jumpsuit waistband. He grabbed hold of the leg of her outfit and sliced. Grecca jerked back. “Hold still. Don’t want to cut you.”
“You cannot cut up my jumpsuit. My favorite shoes are already gone.”
Even Grecca couldn’t ignore the childish whine infiltrating her otherwise imperious voice. Ariston didn’t bother answering her but kept cutting at the material, ripping off the synthetic black silk just above her knees.
“Now your legs will have better grip on the metal. Climb.”
“I can’t believe you did that.”
A rage was building inside Grecca. What was going on here? This whole day had become one big mess of craziness, and it all started with this stupid driver who kept telling her what to do, ruining her stuff, making her look bad in front of the media.
“Get mad all you want, but I’m trying to save your life. Climb now, yell at me later.”
“Don’t think I won’t,” she replied through gritted teeth, reattaching the knife to her waist. Why was it he seemed to be able to read her mind. It only made her madder, but she moved awkwardly up the pipe, like a gimpy frog. Every once in a while Ariston would catch her sliding feet and give her a lift up.
The sweat pouring off her body caused all the material of her once pristine jumpsuit to adhere to her skin, restricting her movements and irritating her sensitive skin.
Up ahead, light shone brighter than it had the entire climb through the tunnel. Grecca was relieved to reach a level platform at the bottom of an extremely tall ladder. She stood on her bare feet, stretched and craned her neck back to look up.
Ariston moved into the cramped space next to her. She could smell his sweat mingling with hers.
“How far down are we?”
“Now? About ten stories, but we’ve already come close to fifteen from where you were being held. Come on. We’re almost there. You’re doing great. Once we reach the top, there’ll be an extraction team waiting.”
“Why aren’t they here, too?”
“Too dangerous. We’d have risked exposure if I hadn’t come alone. Besides, this wasn’t exactly a sanctioned mission. Now go. Time’s not on our side here.”
She had no idea what he meant by any of it, but she had to set aside her frustration. It was quickly melting back into a stinking pile of rage, one she didn’t really care to step in.
They climbed as quickly as Grecca’s blistered fingers would let her. She’d never built up callouses on her hands, and the sting of the little fluid sacks felt like the sensation of little needles pressing and repressing in her hands. It was worse than the feeling of a limb falling asleep and made tears pool in her eyes.
“I can’t make it, Ariston. I can’t keep going. My hands.” A cry she’d been holding in escaped followed by several more while her hands, hurting in a way she’d never experienced, barely kept their grip on the metal rung of the ladder.
Ariston climbed up and surrounded her body with his, lending her his strength. “We’re almost there, Grecca. Ten more feet. You’ve done amazing, and we’re almost there. I’m right here and will climb the rest right here, behind you. All right?”
She sniffled and nodded having gained some reassurance from his close proximity. Grecca did her best to ignore the pain and climbed to the top. With five feet to spare, Ariston reached his arm above her head and blasted the locking mechanism with the cryoblaster.
And I won’t keep you waiting for the next installment: