Abby didn’t scream. Later, it would occur to her as strange: her heart had dropped she’d grabbed for the ropes around her, but she hadn’t screamed. She hadn’t made a sound. But as soon as she had any sort of handhold, she’d looked for her Livs.
They were both fine; Vic was fine, if gaping. and her shoulder was suddenly yanked as all of her weight fell onto her hands grabbing onto the thinning ropes.
The pavement was a long, long, long way below. Someone else was screaming – someone near her, someone who had been too close and was scrambling backwards, reaching for some sort of support.
Abby looked at her Livs. She looked down, down, down at the pavement. “There,” she grunted. “up there, on the left. Meet me there.”
“Don’t you dare risk yourself. I’ve got this. I’ve – would someone please shut her up? She’s not the one dangling over the parking lot.”
One part of Abby’s brain, the part still trying to process things calmly, suggested, that such a sentiment was unlike her.
The rest of her was loudly pointing out that dangling over certain death was not, normally, like her either.
Some third part pointed out that it was getting more and more like her.
She suggested that part shut up and began swinging herself. Behind her, one of the Livs was talking quietly and intently to Vic, who ha at least quieted down.
“Abby, are you sure….?” That was probably the other Liv. She didn’t look up.
“Up and to the left, Liv. I’m coming. I promise, I’m coming.”
“Okay. Okay, we’re going. Come on.” Abby could hear her talking to Vic and the other Liv. “Nous allons là-haut, à gauche. À gauche. Okay?”
She stopped paying attention to them for what might have been the first time on this trip and looked at the net. If she swung a little bit… there. Her shoulder was aching already and her hand felt like the rope was going to cut through her palm, but now she was taking the weight on both hands instead of one.
And from there she could swing her feet up onto the net and then she was hanging upside-down by all four limbs. From there, she could climb up, checking every rope and every knot, until she could get back on the right side of the net.
There were mall employees looking at her from the edges of the net, but nobody seemed like they wanted to help her. Somehow, Abby was not surprised, but that didn’t stop her from being irritated.
“Thanks for the help,” she called. They looked away, not even bothering to look ashamed.
The rope was still giving way. She flattened herself on the net and moved as slowly as she could towards the left. She clutched tighter as another set of knots gave way, dropping her a little lower.”
“Abby!” one of the Livs yelped.
“Abeee,” Vic called, sounded actually a little worried.
This had been the worst idea ever. She inched faster, spreading her weight out as much as possible. If she made it back, Vic was never going to let her hear the end of this. What, you brought down a whole climbing net by yourself? I didn’t know slugs could climb. How did you get up there with a book in each hand.
She gritted her teeth and made if the last few feet. There were hands reaching down for her. She looked up, made sure they were her friends, and let them pull her to safety.
She could still see the ground down there, the outside. Some part of her said jump. At least then you’ll be out of the mall.
She held tight to her friends’ hands and considered the door in front of her.