Third in the Channeling Biker Bob series, Renee takes off for the adventure of her life. We spend more time with Melinda, Twig, Stewart and Nick Brown. As usual, between mythical rides in the desert and visits from Biker Bob, the One on One gang work out relationship issues among themselves and with their women.
Chapter 7 – Cliffhanger
When I see the face of the white stone wall, my entire body cringes. I look from the five hundred feet of sheer terror, to Renee, then at Cherry, that sadistic woman. She says we’ll climb the wall, without experience, equipment, backup, or even our shoes, and I tell her in no uncertain terms that I will not go up that face.I did a little rock scrambling in the park last winter when Jill and her friends came through for a week. With ropes and harnesses; no chance of getting little more than a cut or bruise, we were less than thirty feet in the air, and I was still scared shitless. I got off that rock and announced that my climbing career was over.
I look up a face a hundred times harder than the stupid little boulder that I couldn’t get off fast enough, and I’m supposed to climb this? No way!
Cherry, that horrible excuse for a human being, tells me that I can’t stay and proves it with two skeletons. She also says I can’t return. She knew she was trapping us, and that psychotic witch did it anyway.
Barefoot, she starts up the face of the cliff like a spider. Renee follows, then me. For the first hundred feet, though I have no idea for sure, because I can’t look down, the grips and crevices are pretty apparent and the face is easy to ascend, though my legs are jumpy from the strain. It gets harder, though, and first Cherry, then Renee, actually leap a five-foot gap to a six-inch ledge on the far side of a sheered section of granite. I’m not about to look down, because I’ll be stuck, unable to move forward or back. I’m almost in that condition as it is.
When I make the leap, it’s out of pure rage toward that ape-shouldered woman who suckered us into this mess. I make it, but one foot slips and I open a gash in my ankle. I take one of my socks and wrap my ankle to keep the bleeding from affecting the rest of the climb. I do this alone, because those two abandon me on the ledge and continue their climb. God, I’m pissed.
I’m forced to continue without a rest, without even a second breath. If I don’t follow close on Renee’s tail, I’ll have no idea where the microscopic ledges and cracks are. It’s obvious those two won’t come back for me. Hell, they’ll probably leave me for dead.
I wish I could slip and fall to my death, just to get the nightmare over with. I keep looking at the overhanging ledge at the top and know I’m not going to make it, so why not save myself the trouble?
I don’t, though, and for some ungodly reason, I keep climbing, following Renee’s hand and toe holds, mostly sliding on my belly along a sheer face. The only thing keeping me from falling is the roughness of the rock. Its coarse sandpaper texture is great for climbing, but it’s not doing my fingers or the tips of my toes much good.
After what seems like most of the day has gone, Cherry motions us to stop and sit on a minuscule ledge wide enough for my butt, though it’s the widest and safest place during our climb so far. I look up and see it, only a few feet over us. The living rock cantilevers out over our heads by fifteen feet. There is no way I’m going to climb into open space with five hundred feet to the rocks. After a short rest, and my legs have been jumping like a sewing machine for the last hundred feet of the assent, Cherry-and the more I hate her, the more fantastic feats she performs, the more respect I have for her-reaches out, fingers her way along the underside of the overhang, and grabs something I can’t see. It’s nothing new. She’s done the same incredible feats since we started this hell-hole of a climb.
She leaps out into the open air. Like swinging on a trapeze, she grabs a second hidden handhold.
She hangs there some five feet from us and the safety of the ledge, then takes the next swing and kicks her leg up onto a part of the rock I can’t see, then lets go with her one hand and hangs upside down like she’s working out on the rings in a gym. My next intake of air turns to a gasp.
Cherry pulls herself out of sight. I look at Renee. I want to say I can’t do it. I’ll die here, but I say nothing, as prescribed by her. I watch Renee stretch out and follow Cherry’s maneuvers. When she is out of sight and I’m alone, knowing I can’t attempt what they just did, I flatten my back against the wall, with my bloody feet dangling over the edge of my fate, and for the first time, I look down. The flat bolder we stood on what seems like four hours ago at the beginning of this climb, looks like a stone I can pick up and skim across a silent pond.
I’m frightened beyond belief. I’m never going to make it. I lean my head against the rock and attempt to breathe, but my intakes and exhales come in short huffs. I need oxygen if I’m going to even attempt a single handhold, so I sit silently and breathe deeply until I find, once again, my center. My hands and legs stop shaking and my head clears.
If I’m going to die, I may as well do it attempting this final few feet to my eternity rather than die of starvation, or as Cherry says, some spirits forcing me off this ledge during the middle of the night.
I stand and put my hands against the wall behind me. With my right, I reach above my head, then inch out. I feel the grip Renee found a few moments before. It’s remarkably well fitted for a human hand. I test the hold and think maybe I can’t let go of my fear. I’d better not even go there, or I’ll never take my butt from the face of this cliff.
I lean out and put my full weight on the one handhold. From that moment, my entire psyche shifts into slow motion. I see each problem like it is mapped out on a piece of paper. Each move is logical and easily attainable. My body shifts and pulls itself, because I am no longer in control. I swing to the next handhold and my leg kicks up. I grip the ledge with my thigh, just as Cherry and Renee did. I let go in a purity of trusting my body. I hang for a long second or two, then I grab, but don’t make the next grip. My leg slips. I swing free. Only my altered state keeps me from falling. My body swings a second time. My leg slips once again. I try for the last hand grip, but it’s too far away. I remember Cherry saying we can’t go back, but I’ve slipped again. My last attempt to go forward fails and I’m too far from the grip to reach it. My raw fingers scrape along looking for something to stop my insane slide toward death. I’m falling. I look up. Renee and Cherry are sitting, Renee with a gray face, watching me, but not getting up to help.
“Help,” I squeak as my body slides another inch.