The Climb

Trees look different from above.

Everything looks different when you’re hanging thirty feet up a stone wall by your rotting fingertips.

I glance up and wonder if this is going to work. My heart pumps just a little faster.

Then I look down.


My head snaps back; I focus on the stone in front of me. Close to me. Hang on with every muscle I have left.

Must get down.

That’s the only thought in my head. I think it ninety different ways, every synonym imaginable. It’s not natural to be hanging here on a wall. Not right.

It’s like I’m not even in control of arms and legs as I start to lower myself down the wall.

Once my eyes are below the treetops, my heart slows down a little and I think more clearly. I remember why I’m climbing the wall to begin with. I stop.

I think of the Old Ones, confined to carts. I think of Arthur, sitting back at camp, his Rot spreading toward his tongue. I remember that I have to do this.

I hang, frozen, on the side of the stone wall. I can’t let myself go down. They need me to do this. But I can’t go up.

My arm moves down to another stone. A better grip. Except I don’t want to get a better grip.  I didn’t tell it to get a better grip.

I didn’t move it. But it moved.

Ok, so now I’m getting a little freaked out here.

I am not climbing down, but my body is still climbing down. I can’t stop it from moving. Another step down. Another “better grip.” I hear these thoughts in my head, but they are not mine. I say “climb UP.” My arms and legs don’t listen. They move at the direction of this other voice that’s not mine, that I can’t hear. They continue down.

My left foot touches the rough gravel; it slips just a little as my weight shifts and my right foot follows. I’m still holding onto the stone above my head, and I will my hand to stay where it is, even as it lets go and drops to my side and I step further away from the wall.

I sit down under a nearby tree, and scramble to reconnect my body and my will. I lift my left hand and examine it. The climb only pulled a little extra flesh from my fingers, but I lost the last bone from my index finder.  That’s inconvenient–climbing will be a little harder now.  But my hand is responding now as I rotate it to the right and then to the left. I try standing up, and then walking around under the tree. Seem to be completely under control again, but as I take a few steps toward the wall, I find myself walking in the opposite direction.

I stop and turn to look at the high wall ahead of me. The wall that now holds little bits of my flesh between its cracks. The wall I’m not sure I can get up and over now.

Not so sure this plan is going to work…


Why did Zach climb back down? Leave a comment…


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