At the top of the world
Eventually they stop climbing. The boy and the girl with the serious eyes have reached the top of the world. Out in front of them lies an endless plain of meadow and small clumps of normal sized trees that don’t seem lead to other levels of existence. There are no buildings, no tall trees, no human noise – no humans that can be seen in this wide expanse.
There is a light, cool breeze, the sun is warm and there are small clouds in the sky. Adam looks at the girl, and suddenly feels the same age as her. Her feels as if he could walk forever with her, hand in hand, across this world above the world, and never need to reach an ending.
Endings seem, to Adam, to be unnecessary, right now. He is vaguely aware that beginnings are also difficult, but he pushes this thought away and loses himself in the utopia he has created for himself.
The girl, on the other hand, seems agitated. It is the first time he has seen her like this in the hours they have been climbing together. Till now, her self composure has been a reassurance to him; has taken away the need for him to make a decision (beyond the initial climbing of the tree) or to do anything but follow her surefooted climb up into the world above the world.
She sniffs the air. Her dark eyes bulge. Her body is taught. Waiting. She has been here before. The appearance of heaven, she recalls, is always deceptive.
And now Adam is beginning to feel…unsafe. He is certainly not grounded, even though there is grass beneath his feet, for he is aware that thousand of feet separate him from the world he knows to be real. He remembers Julia, wonders where she is, how she is, wants the safety of her holding him. Feels like this is a nightmare.
Now Adam is watching too. Sniffing the air. Looking out onto the empty plain; into the empty sky; testing out the grass and the ground beneath his feet (did it move just then, was that a tremor?).
There is a long pause, as if they both have had their breath stolen from them, and then a scream. The girl is screaming and pointing into the distance, and there is a moving wedge of black, like a skein of geese - but these do not seem to be geese: the perspective is all wrong and there is malevolent purpose in their flight. They are heading out of the sky and diving towards them. Descending gradually like a giant spear arcing towards its target.
Run, she shouts, run. And Adams turns, and just before he turns to run back towards the canopy of the giant tree they have just emerged from, half a mile or so, he sees the face of something he has only ever seen in the dreams he wakes from, screaming. He sees blood on its face, and doesn’t know that it is Julia’s blood; but he runs anyway, runs like he has never run before.