The path less traveled

“Don’t move,” Aubrey breathed, her breath so close to┬áRann’s ear it nearly caused him to lift his foot .

He whispered back, “I can feel the wire. Can you…”

“I said, don’t fuckin’ move.” Aubrey’s grimace barely let her words escape. “I can see the line of it straight back to, somewhere. It disappears beneath some thick-ass leaves and jungle shit.”

“Aubrey, go back down the hill.”

“No way, Rann. I planned this godforsaken excursion, and I’ll damn well won’t let your detour and this, this thing…”

Rann tried to turn his head but stopped when he felt the ancient snare wire slip down his instep. “Fuckin-a, Aubrey. There’s no way you can help this situation. We were warned. I… You know I hate taking the every-man’s path.”

The woman knelt and began to slide her hand, like tickling a snake, along the wire. She cleared the detritus with her left and squeaked when a six inch centipede skittered over her fingers. “I can tie both ends off. I know this camping knot. Tension is the…”

“Jeezus-cricket-Christ, Aubrey. Stop. The jungle is thick here. I’ll dive quick and be okay. But you have to stop and get the hell back.” Rann cautiously maneuvered his pack to one side of his body. “Give me your pack. I’ll sling it to the other side. Both should give me plenty of protection.”

“I think the mine is just under…”

 

Past the Gate

Steel hummed beneath her ass, feet dangling on the ocean side of the rail. Wearing dark leggings and a hoodie she doubted drivers would notice her. Or care. Out of options, out of sight. Out of mind. She tucked closer to the cable strut to which she clung. When a gap opened between cars, the road noised dimmed and she could hear the surf thrash the rocks below. Her three-pound ankle weights, she was told, would pull her under the waves until gasses built within her and ballooned her back into the light. She visualized her swollen, pale belly, stretch marks pulled tight, bobbing in the swells.

Looking down, city lights shimmered on the black waters of the bay. At this time of night the wind held steady. Past midnight it would die leaving the surface calm. Should I wait? Shatter the mirror? No, I’m freezing to death in this gale. A macabre chuckle half filled her throat.

The tide ran faster than she could walk — in hours it would carry her miles out to sea. But not if she stayed embracing the wrist-thick wire. She smiled as she measured the metal with her body: Thousands of steel wrists bearing the weight of the bridge, straining to keep her high above the Sirens’ lanterns, their faerie light beckoning.

Best not keep them waiting. Their song grows sweetest, some say, as you fall. Provided your screams don’t drown them out.