Moving forwards part 20

Rodger had barely taken his fifth step when he heard a gurgle behind him. He spun around. The Spiral was there head hanging low and the flute in its hand. A few seconds passed before Rodgers brain had fully processed the information.

‘You came back?’ said Rodger.

The Spiral said nothing and looked down at the path.

‘You came back!’ Rodger ran towards it beaming and almost threw his arms around it, but remembered the danger at the last minute and skidded to a halt. ‘I…’ he touched the Spiral’s cheek gently, ‘thank you.’

The Spiral backed away from him quietly and began playing the flute. Only then did it occur to Rodger. The Flute Bearer was nowhere in sight. Had something happened? But he was not able to formulate a question so that the Spiral would understand, and he probably would not understand its reply if he could. So he just walked along beside the tree and the Spiral, keeping their pace and checking his watch every so often.

The tree moved into place beneath the hole with ten minutes to spare. Rodger’s hands shook as he picked up the rope ladder. He could see Frederick sitting up there, but there was no time for greetings.

He rushed back to the tree and hung the rope ladder on the longest branch. Then he turned to the Spiral and gestured upwards wildly. The Spiral had stopped playing when he went to retrieve the rope ladder. Now it was looking at the ground, panting. Rodger moved close and placed his hand gently on the Spiral’s cheek.

‘I know you’ve been playing for hours, but I’m running out of time. Please, just a little while longer.’ And he pointed at Frederick sitting in the hole above them. The Spiral put the flute to its lips.

‘Thank you,’ Rodger jumped into the safety harness, onto the rope ladder and grabbed it tightly, ignoring his complaining muscles. The branches of the tree unfurled towards the sky, the rope ladder was hoisted up and Rodger with it.

The branches were far from long enough to reach the machine, but Frederick seemed to get the point and lowered down their spare rope. With a carabiner at the end.

‘I love you Frederick,’ said Rodger with a smile. When the tree finished uncurling, the carabiner was still dangling about a metre over his head. Rodger moved his stun gun to the back of his trousers before he climbed from the rope ladder onto the branch itself and inched along it until it grew too thin to be safe.  He clung onto the branch with his legs and reached out for the carabiner.

There was a buzz. The branch jerked. Rodger’s face slammed into the branch and blood flowed from his nose. Rodger turned his head. The praying mantis was diving for him.

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