Friday, December 08, 2006

The Cosmic Crime: Part Eight

Andrea knew that tough girls were not supposed to scream, but when the ground opened up beneath her, she couldn't help herself. And who could blame her? After all, for all she knew, she was facing death, swift and terrible. Or maybe worse. Perhaps she would break her back or legs and starve to death, eaten by cave creatures while she was still alive.

A strong hand grabbed her wrist. Although the jolt brought tears to her eyes, she was stopped. Looking up, she saw the Green Man, holding firm to an outcrop.

"Climb up my arm!" he told the redhead through gritted teeth. "There's a ledge here!"

"What about you?" she yelled back.

"I can't climb and hold onto you!" he replied bravely. "And I am not letting go!"

Andrea didn't argue any more, but, reaching up with her free hand, she took a hold of the Green Man's arm and began to climb. Soon, she was kneeling on a narrow, cold ledge, looking up at the sky and trees above. She had dropped her gun, and expected to be shot from above by the wicked robed figures of the Order.

But no shots came. Apparently, they were so confident of their chasm that they had not thought to check. By the time the Green Man joined her, Andrea had recovered a little of her poise, although her breathing was still a little laboured. She was not surprised to see that the Green Man was hardly affected.

"And now we depart." The Green Man drew a folding grappling hook from beneath his coat. "I shall go first, to make sure that it's safe."

"Sure," Andrea was in no mood to argue.

The Green Man threw the hook. It caught the side of the chasm. Again, they waited, to see if the Order would try anything. Andrea took hold of the Green Man's spare gun, covering the spot by the grapple. Yet again, nothing happened. Half-way up, a massive explosion rent the air. The Green Man kept on climbing, however, unaffected.

The result of this was that Andrea was seized with a burning curiosity to know what had happened above. She was only too glad to have the Green Man help her progress by hauling her up.

She found a dead man, and three other robed figures, stood at bay, kept back by the gun of the Green Man, and a rifle, the latter item beong ably hefted by Ms. Madison.

"I thought you might need help," she explained, "so here I am."

"And not a moment too soon," the Green Man declared approvingly. "Andrea, search them."

The redhead obeyed, disarming the three men swiftly. The Green Man and Ms. Madison helped tie them up. After which the church was searched. Apart from a terrified tourist, it was empty of people.

But they found a map. A map with a number of cooloured squares marked on it, apparently dropped by someone in their haste. The moment Ms. Madison saw it, she gasped in horror.

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