She awoke with much more adrenaline than I expected her to, considering her predicament. The gunshot wound I had inflicted upon her the day before had undergone significant treatment, but the fatigue which such a wound induces should have made her a bit drowsier than she was when I pulled her out of the pod. I suppose her quick reaction was influenced by the pain which must have registered after hitting the sand, and in turn, stretching her stitches. When she first looked at my hand which shook her, she was particularly confused because it wasn't the hand she would probably be expecting. Mine aren't at all akin to the ones which I was earlier informed had woken her on the passenger cart she had originally come from. Firstly, mine were gloved at the time, and second, my hands were a bit bigger than the ones which had previously woken her up. I called her.
"Get up already. You were in there so long you could have started to lose oxygen." The light must have been blinding, but if she squinted, she could see the nametag on my dark gray uniform . . .096-824. My service number. Her lip trembled and her face paled. I assume it was a reaction to our previous encounter. Within those brief moments of unfamiliar facial expression, I was able to use past information and reasonable deduction to conclude the pattern of her thoughts. First, her mind flashed to the war. Then to the train. Then to me, 096-824. The memories must have been intensely vivid because she reacted as though she was being hit with a migraine. Such an intense reaction seemed unreasonable to me, yet I am aware of my inability to adjust to the way strangers such as herself act. She brought her dizzy and heavy body upright and attempted to scramble back before falling. I watched in wait as she collected herself.
Arziki's fingers traced her ribcage where she received the injury, and her eyes widened as she was met with what could only be a deep soreness. Then her arm flailed to the side as if to grasp a hand, and her eyes danced around her new setting in search of something. Was it the boy? Yes, that would make sense. The lightly gray sand and dirt crumbled beneath her which appeared to be bound into sand-colored boots. I presume this moment is when she realized we were no longer on the train, but instead in the middle of the decaying city. Her eyes darted up to me and her breathing slowed as if taking me in. Her face scanned my goggles that were at the top of my helmet, then her gaze dropped to the chunks of hair that were messily pushed down over my glasses. My uniform was old and didn't resemble the uniform of any country she would have recognized. It mostly consisted of mismatched, darkly-shaded military equipment.
"You . . . you shot me!" She cried upward.
"Yes," I nodded. That was a statement of fact that had been established for quite some time. Maybe she's just a bit slow, I thought briefly.
"I can't believe it! You shot me!" After her outburst, I slowed down my words in confusion, as I misunderstood why her statement was repeated when she knew I heard her.
"Yeah I know," I clarified. "I was there." She paused and cocked her head to the side as if attempting to analyze my meaningless silence. I squatted down to meet her where she was propped up on her elbows. I was not making any actions or committing any course of action which would be considered threatening, so I remained puzzled as to why she was acting as if I still held the gun. There was something indescribable about her which I noticed immediately. Throughout our first and now second confrontation she continuously portrayed herself as someone. . .expressive. Opinionated and emotional about matters which require neither. I suppose my lack of reaction to her harsh tone was enough to let her speak to me freely—or interrogate me as she so wished. She sat up before pulling in one of her legs and hanging her head forward.
". . . Is Nye okay?" It took me a moment to realize who she was speaking of, but I nodded once I recalled who she had previously been with. She sighed as if sensing that getting information from me would be excruciating, yet I answered exactly how she had instructed me to. In the end, she didn't press the question further, as I was nothing but truthful. "How far are we from where we were?"
concrete. Her senses were assaulted by the white and gray ash of the deserted wasteland. The air smelled of harsh smoke and a thousand wars. Anyone could tell that only one battle would not be enough to put the city in such disarray. Poverty breeds desperation, which in turn breeds poor decisions and violent acts. Food scarcity in her home city should have taught her that very well. From what I've read, a life lived inside borders will always be devastating to its occupants. There hadn't been more than a few decades for the village to evolve into a small city, and the coloring had already faded from the buildings. Nothing painted a picture of death more accurately, yet Arziki couldn't be deterred. She continued her barrage of questions, all without pausing for intervals to let me provide her with an answer.
"Why were we moved? Did you take me away from the train? Who are you?" I felt my annoyance grow. I rolled my eyes before turning around and looking into hers. My sudden change in mannerisms caught her off guard.
"Why would I have anything to do with you? I saw your pod was still shut, so I pulled you out of it so you wouldn't lose oxygen." I pointed to the red pod which was still closed on her leg. She awkwardly removed it while I explained.
"After our arrival, it seems we were separately launched into Dearthville while encased in these pods." She struggled to stand upright as I continued, placing one hand on the edge of the pod door for balance. It was covered in dirt and she retracted her hand immediately. "You were already incapacitated from your injuries so you weren't awake to be transported. Everyone was put to sleep before the pods were launched out, but I woke up hours earlier than I should have. You seemed too ill to wake up on your own."
"Yeah, I wonder why!" Arziki responded in an irked tone. She acted as though I had done something ludicrous. Why did she expect to read into some greater goal or string of thought? I already told her why I hurt her—her questions were unsettling. Even so, she was acting as if I wasn't making sense. Her last memory before receiving her wound would have been the scene filled with images of sickly bodies. Although it was grotesque at the scene, there was no use in dwelling on the past. She wasn't on the train anymore; she was in a hellish torture site in the middle of the empty desert. She bit her lip as if there was still a question burning an ache in the back of her mind. My answer to her previous question only reinforced her incentive to ask another one.
"So," Arziki started. "You look the same as the people who came to me when I was blacking out at home." She suspiciously eyed my faded camouflage uniform, noticing it held the same colors and shades as the figures which took her away. It is understandable why she concluded my uniform was that of the enemy. From my loose tactical boots to the thick gloves I stuffed my baggy sleeves into, I suppose I would be a red flag if she had a vendetta against the ones who took her away. From her demeanor, I concluded that she did. "Why are you stuck here as well?" After she spoke, I began to walk off.
"Same reason you're here. Let's go inside," I waved. "There's a ceiling door at the end of the warehouse."
"You mean for me to go with you? I'm not going in with someone who admittedly shot me. No way." I heard her push down the wrap-around sweater and straighten her sleeves. I spun around and looked her in the eyes, surprising her.
"If you're afraid of dying, stubbornness for stubbornness's sake will get the job done. You're obviously confused so I'm attempting to explain to you why you're here. Let's go—then you'll get your answers." My hand extended to her above the accumulation of black and white dusty rubble. Arziki glanced down before attempting to climb the pile her height by grabbing at collapsing concrete. I waited patiently for her to stop fumbling and climb on her own. To me, her short stature was no indicator of weakness. She also refused to show any even when she fell, displaying pride in her ability to overcome her prejudices against me. Answers were what was truly the most valuable.
So, we walked together through the hole in the front of the warehouse and entered the dry labyrinth which I had explored before her awakening. Arziki stopped to let me guide her to the answers I intended to lead her to. Half of the aisles remained collapsed under tall shelves of boxes. It looked like a stampede had coated the insides, which was only seeable because a good portion of the roof was blown off of the holed walls. However, the sides intact of the building were able to hold up what was left of it without showing any signs of failing. Arziki stopped in chilling wonder about the atmosphere around her until I caught her attention by waving her on. My steps were much quicker than her rapid scuffles, and she had to pay attention if she wanted to keep up with me. I was a fast walker.
"Why did you shoot me?" I nearly slipped in my step because of how deep the question struck me. Part of me hoped she wouldn't notice how shaken I was by the question. My nose scrunched and I shook my head at my irrational response. It shouldn't matter the way she or anyone else perceived me, I just wasn't used to someone my age taking such interest in me—especially my motivations. In fact, no one I knew of was curious about such a thing. From a young age, my confinement to my study has limited my interactions with other people. When we did interact, it was strictly business. Meeting, tests, analysis, classes, appointments, and lectures. This conversation was turning out to be none of these, and the uncertainty of where she was leading began to irritate me. It's best if I dismiss this with a short answer, I told myself.
"You were weirding me out. That's all." I knew my underlying anxious grit was very noticeable by that point.
"Oh. I'm sorry. Do you normally shoot people who weird you out?"
"No," I answered calmly. There was a tonal shift in her voice, but I found myself unable to recognize whatever her underlying message was. "Actually, you're the first outsider who talked to me. I didn't know what to do." Although Arziki was, from a socio-cultural standpoint, supposed to have no empathy for me. . .she conducted herself as if someone would when pitying another. That was odd, considering she didn't know me well. Feeling sympathy for undeserving parties didn't seem unusual for her, but she was able to avoid prying for at least a few minutes. We kept walking for what seemed like ages within a few moments. Then, we were climbing up the hill made from the crumbled ceiling which would lead us to the second floor above. It was around then that Arziki started with a different sort of question.
"Hey, why don't you have a name?" Short memory, I noticed.
"I do. 096-824. It's the name of my service number." We continued hiking as we carried on the conversation, which didn't make concentrating any easier.
"No, a name is a name and a service number is a service number. I'm going to call you something else." Oh no. I rolled my eyes in discontent. This wasn't worth dragging along a possible ally, I thought to myself. Arziki stopped and tugged on the outer jacket of my loose uniform. By the time I turned around, she was sitting down with her back facing me, and she had pushed her short ponytail to the side and her shayla down to expose her neck. "See this?" The "A" stood abruptly a millimeter or two on the back of her neck in a lighter color. The way the veins become more prominent and blacker from the beginning of her shoulders to the top of her back—it was frankly paranormal. The mark correlated to mine, but only in its design. Snippets of her skin glowed like painted walnut during daybreak. Mine was a radically different driftwood with a contrasting olive undertone.
"Yeah. I do."
"I call it a curse mark. It's an A for the English writing of Arziki, so—"
"What? No, it's not, are you stupid?" I pulled back my hand in astonishment and Arziki turned around, pulling her scarf over her curls. I shook my head dismissively before bluntly correcting her. "It's an 'Alpha' for the first letter of the Greek alphabet."
"Yeah, I know that, but the 'Alpha' kind of looks like an A. You have an 'Omega', which looks like an upside-down U, so I'll call you a name that starts with a U."
"Like what?" I asked. It didn't take long for Arziki to slide me a cheeky grin with her name choice.
"Usaim." My new name was effective immediately. Although I still considered myself to be 096-824, for some unknown reason I felt no desire to correct her on the issue of my accurate identity. After all, it's not as if my name held any importance to me.
When we arrived at the spacious pinnacle of generations of striving and travesties, I felt her face hit my back before she noticed I had stopped. We walked through the door and past the oak walls until reaching the door near the end of the ceiling. I had left it open with the ladder still propped in place. What first caught her eyes was the blood on the walls, but there was more than that to the scene. Windows were punched out with rifles that were held up by wooden appendages, prepared to be used on any trespassers lurking below the storage unit. Hammocks hung from the planks that formed the attic. Walls were adorned with planks chipped from the wear of time. It appeared as some kind of campsite, or a hideout because the pattern of sleeping bags and hammocks showed their purpose. Arziki's dreadful expression crept up to me as I stood nonchalantly in the center of the attic, waiting for her to gain her composure.
"Are . . . you didn't bring me here to kill me, did you?"
"Don't be ridiculous. Why are you so jumpy?"
"Why are you not?"
"Why would I be?" My face remained straight but unamused at her inability to remove herself from the situation as to receive the information she asked for. Arziki wandered around the room in circles, articulating her new surroundings but soon repeating the same steps. "Arziki. Arziki, stop moving so much." She was always so quick to interject when I spoke to her, but refused to answer when I asked her to. When her worrying face peered back, I was able to catch her eye and motion for her to turn around.
"Sorry, did you say something?" Arziki whipped around with concern written distantly on her face and spoke in a softer, slurred voice that came like a lost string of thought. She noticed me move my hand to my left ear.
"I know you can't hear out of your left ear. You're a bit loud and you keep turning your head the opposite way when someone is speaking," I pointed out. It was a subtle gesture, but one I first picked up on during our one-sided interrogation on the train. Her attempts at subtlety were quite poor. "You have to be more attentive when people are trying to communicate with you." Arziki realized how she had her ear to me even as I was speaking to her. Her face turned a bit red and she adjusted herself back into a standing position. From what I could tell, she wasn't used to others noticing those subtle idiosyncrasies. Arziki turned back to examine the interior, but she was no longer as absorbed as she once was. Bringing her hand to the wall, she touched the thin softness of the felt substance that stretched from end to end. She seemed unable to fathom why the wall was presented so weirdly. The scene unfolded to reveal how the campers fled in a hurry, were attacked, or what I believe: abandoned the place like this purposefully.
"Usaim, what is this place?"
"If I just tell you, you won't believe me." I was never good with interpersonal communication, and before I found her pod, I knew explaining our predicament would be a chore. Her eyes struggled to pin down my averted gaze, and she went to the wall closest to the door. The wall was moleskin, from the way it planted so neatly on the wall. Arziki scraped her fingers against the edge of the wall and found it peeled off easily. She struggled to reach high enough to pull it to the side, and the moleskin fell limp. I abruptly walked over, and being twenty centimeters taller was able to lean over her, grab the coverings with a tougher force and walk with it to the right. As I did this, Arziki's face began to morph into one of fear and horror.
The walls I revealed were draped in long Arabic tangents written in deep red strokes. The writings closest to Arziki read words that brought her hands to touch her face, lightly covering her blind side. She read the writing on the walls to herself.
When people began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that they were fair, and they took wives for themselves of all that they chose. Then the Lord said, "My spirit shall not abide in mortals forever, for they are flesh; their days shall be one hundred twenty years." The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went into the daughters of humans, who bore children to them. These were the heroes that were of old, warriors of renown. Genesis 6:1-4. The Shayateen is known! Allah has cast down his wrathful hand against the sinful world once more! Beware, the Anakim are never safe under his watchful eye!
"It's a book from the Judeo-Christian library. Do you have any experience with that?"
"Do I have any experience with Christianity?" She answered me with a dry voice. "I don't know about Anakim, Genesis, or Judaism, but I have some experience with Christianity." Her voice lowered its tone as she drifted into a flashback of said experience. "I remember being pulled out of hiding by a terrorist, one of three that invaded our home. Someone had tipped off an extremist group about my mom practicing an illegal religion. I was her only biological child, so I was interrogated too, but I didn’t know anything. I didn’t believe it until they showed me that the Quran she had been reading in front of me the whole time was secretly a Bible. She couldn’t even look me in the eyes. If anything, she appeared bitter about getting caught. To me, Christianity is what got my mother killed. She chose that over the good life we had together. She chose it over me." Arziki's hands started to quake and she turned to me, hunched over as if weighed down by the maternal betrayal.
"That’s it?" I asked. At my comment she instinctively raised her hands, defending herself from what she expected to be an onslaught of protest from me.
“I’m not siding with my mom’s choice. I’m not!” I was taken aback by her fretting. “I’m not like her, I swear. I’m not a lawbreaker, not a criminal--”
“Stop,” I raised my hand. “I couldn’t care less if you were. All this means to me is I need to explain some things to you. Anakim is a term for the only living clan of humans who descend from the Nephilim, who lived in Gaza, Gath, and Asdon along the east coast of Israel. That was thousands of years ago. Now they're dispersed all over the world, and Gath doesn't even exist anymore. Even so, having less than one percent of Anakim blood is valuable to Emir Sam. He needs us." Scrunching her nose was the only response she could muster as her confusion and disgust took grasp on her thinly spreading patience. I was unable to determine how much of what I was saying was registering in her head, but she was focused enough to start questioning me.
"So, what is . . . a Nephilim?"
"The genetic offspring of a human and a fallen angel. Human and Shayateen hybrids."
"You mean western demons? No, I learned about those," she confirmed. She brought up one hand which was previously crossed over her stomach and began to keep track of what she had learned by using her fingers to list off the teachings. "Those are descendants of Afirt and Iblis. They took their father's side when he refused to bow to Adam. Angels don't change. Jinn can and then become demons, but the Malaika are Allah's faithful messengers."
"According to Emir Sam, humans are limited by their corrupted bodies, so that's why we can still be forgiven. The moment the Malaika are made, they already know everything about God and know right from wrong. So, the moment they are made they choose good or evil since it's not like they need to acquire any new information. This is why all Malaika now can't disobey. When they choose evil, because they are aware of what they are doing and know the full consequences, they don't receive forgiveness." Those are the truths I memorized for my test on the history of Emir Sam's work. I could not comprehend the significance of any of those claims, but I could understandably explain them. None of the information was as significant to me as it appeared to be to her. I certainly didn't react the way she did when Emir Sam had told me. She trudged nearer to the wall and turned around to slide to the floor. I watched her from afar as her comprehension of the situation drudgingly improved. When she was done, she was the first to break the silence.
"Is that why we have these powers? Does Nye have them too?"
"No, it's just you and me." There was another, albeit shorter pause.
"Is Emir Sam the leader? Why does he need Anakim?"
"We aren't Nephilim," I answered. "Nevertheless, our bodies won't reject genetic engineering to make our genes resemble our ancestors. The Anakim are the only humans this institution can use to recreate Nephilim." That was it. After my explanation concluded she fixed her posture, breathing heavy and eyes as bloodshot as the eyes of an insomniac. We were brought into this place to take part in human experiments in an attempt to combine our DNA with demons. I hadn't inserted any of my opinions on the matter when explaining it. After all, I never had a reason to reject these truths, and I've been told plenty of times to keep my thoughts out of these matters. Contrarily, she treated my words like insanity, as I hadn't given her any reason to believe I was joking. An ironic joke would take too many facial expressions and subjective thinking. What I told her was the only possible explanation, and she soon understood that well. "This is only a psychological evaluation," I specified. "We have to show we can conform to what our neurological programming tells us to do without any signs of stress."
What I was saying wasn't preposterous—I had known this for several years. Even so, she didn't want to hear it. Her eyes followed the moving rug under her feet. Leaning down, small hands desperately rummaged through the rug for whatever she identified to be shifting under her boots. She pretended to be done with lies, although she was unable to handle the truth. Maybe she figured if she could uncover the scene before and rub the salt in her gaping wound of clearly unaddressed grief, she could stretch her mental capacity to grasp the situation. That's what she assumed. Then, she tripped over the hand.
There was a bloody hand under the small mountain constructed by the bag, detached and frankly quite dead looking. What was most striking about it was the color and size. It was twice as large as her hand, and the skin had a mild blue hue around the wrist which gradually turned black in the middle of the hand. The nails were black as well, and long like claws. The pointer finger and middle finger had fused. I could tell from afar that evil was not a foreign phenomenon to her. With two jittery hands, she joisted the hand up and held it for observation. She seemed like the sort of person darkness would intoxicate because they held it so close and near for so long. I bet that it was abrupt and out in the open and the sight of it never ceased to be revolting. Her obvious disgust at evil looked to be partially built on shame. This mess she was in would be her reminding message which said her nightmares had her by the throat. Gripping, never-ending, exposed, and shameful.
"All the previous sessions were executed with those who already underwent surgeries and failed to meet the lab's standards," I said. Arziki walked over to the glass window and gripped the shard which stuck out. She winced and kept her stare on her creased thumb, hoping the pain would keep her grounded. "If you want you can just leave," I suggested. Not a second after that, a flare of light and bellowing cackle came from outside. Arziki's head turned to see the building straight across from them burst into flames at the bottom, and I followed behind her.
"What the heck is that?"
"Fire." Ignoring my comment and proceeding to lean over the window frame, Arziki was able to get a better view of the burning building. She became transfixed as she hoped for someone to come out of it. Then, she lit up in astonishment
"Oh my gosh, that's Nye!"
"No, it's fire—oh, Nye is there too. He’s in the fire. Huh. Interesting." Suddenly I caught a blip of brown—only for a moment, but long enough to identify a person.
Arziki instinctively pressed her hands on the sharp windowsill to lean over before pulling herself back at the pinch it gave her. Her absent-mindedness and desperation to see Nye made her forget the sharpness of the broken window's corner. As she moved away, her nimble feet dodged the bodies that lay still, and the carpet unveiled several backpacks, some half-filled. She found the metal baseball bat sticking out of one backpack, and a thick, long rope inside another. She quickly sauntered back to the windows, dragging the bat on the ground. I had no idea what she was doing, or why she was bringing such objects to the window in reaction to observing Nye in the fire. Again, she was puzzling me.
"Arziki, what are you doing?" She crashed the windows, bringing her bat up and going again. For the first time in a long time, I felt myself flinch and my eyes blew wide open. All I could do was stand dumbfounded at the quick movements. Her hands dropped the bat and went to the rope, folding the long tool in half and wrapping it around the gap between two of the windows. She was making a climbing rope. I was flabbergasted at her inability to use basic common sense. There was no need to go to such lengths. "Just use your mark!"
"That will only make things worse! We can save him if we go right now!" Arziki shouted. I briefly glanced behind myself to make sure she was talking to me, and not somebody else regarding something else. That was when the realization of our disconnected attitudes toward people must have exceeded her previous assumptions because she slumped her shoulders in disbelief. It had never even occurred to her that I wouldn't feel either way toward Nye's problem. "You seriously aren't going to save him?" she asked as she put her weight on one hip. I almost scoffed within my forced laugh before dropping my lips into a frown and shaking my head.
"He isn't of benefit so I don't know why I would when I don't have orders to. Outside of Eschaton's Institute, you're the first one I've talked to. I just don't see the logic in saving someone if I wouldn't feel any better for doing it, and he'll suffocate to death anyway or at least become very weak in there, making his chances of contributing to the Institute virtually nonexistent. I just don't see the point." To say she was less than enthralled at the careless language I used was an understatement. The rope swung as she prepared to drop down after shooting out one last retort. Her following words I could not have envisaged.
"If the end of the world is when humans decide to assist each other for either the fleeting release of dopamine or. . .'callous utilitarianism,' or whatever, then I want no part of that. I'd rather die." There was a moment of silence as I took in her breathtaking defiance. Something about her was glowing. I was unable to distinguish whether or not it was the flames that made her radiate or something else entirely. At that moment, appearing so breathtakingly ethereal. It made me think. I began to think, not just about following orders and conforming to my superiors' accepted attitudes. Had I been lied to? Was there truly more to life than I had lived? Before then, I could answer both questions with complete certainty.
Something about Arziki shook the foundation of my core beliefs and I wanted to know why. Even if it meant I would get a bit burned in the process.
"Wait." Arziki was already climbing out the window when I said that. She rolled her eyes and gritted her teeth.
"Don't stop me."
"I'm coming with you." The rope shook as I hopped on after her. She didn't wait for me but hesitated at the sight of the calamity she was going to enter. The dark fog helped to illuminate the yellow wisps that flew up to the sky. It was much worse up close than before, and Nye was nowhere to be seen within the small windows of possible sightings. Arziki still covered her eyes as she looked up, and cussed in frustration before stomping out the ground in a commencing dash. She felt my hands grab the back of her shirt. "What are you trying to do?" I questioned loudly. The crackle of the fire blared in our ears. "The fire is practically blocking the doorway." Arziki turned around and shoved my hand down. She stared at me with an open mouth and wide eyes.
"Let . . .go of me!" Arziki turned around and shoved me farther off before assuming her former standing position. "I just want to help people! CAN I DO SOMETHING GOOD FOR SOMEONE?! FOR ONCE IN MY LIFE?!" It was determined that her frustrations were no longer directed at me. The cryptic sentence alluded to personal issues, all of which I was grateful to have been spared the knowledge of. That determination rang true when she wordlessly twisted her arm out of my grip. For someone to put themselves in front of another due to inconvenience or fear is too frequent. For a conscientious minority like Arziki to accept the usual shallow stoop of general humanity was inconceivable to her. I had narrowly evaded that opposing decision, which was to let them both burn to ash. Despite every instinct telling me our efforts were futile, I trailed after her, but only after she had entered through the doorway. She was unaware of my presence.
"Nye!" No response. She ran upstairs and called his name every time she reached a floor, scouring the scene for some signs of life. A feeling of dread washed over me as her desperation escalated with each empty floor she encountered. She found nothing on the first few floors. Her voice eventually became more strained and inaudible, and as it faded, she spent most of the time running. Before she knew it, she was marching up the last few steps. Arziki found Nye sitting on a ledge where a wall once was. By this time, my weakened voice could only fall silent against the roaring flames. Nye looked out onto the ground below. Wooden planks blocked her from moving forward, so all she could do was scream until she couldn't breathe, begging him to turn around. She was trying to reach him with her words but remained unheard. "Nye! Don't jump!" Her cries were futile, and I knew her throat must have been in pain. Nye!"
Arziki had already succumbed to the smoke when I caught up with her. She was closer to Nye but was too weak from oxygen deprivation to push through the rubble and pieces of the building. Nye looked ready to jump from the burning building, and he was still unaware of us behind him. Arziki began to cry as she slumped against the surrounding fallen planks. She would never feel that distraught again. Nye began to push up, and Arziki braced herself for the worst. However, she wasn't holding herself in apprehension for long, because when she cracked her eyes open, I was holding Nye's wrist as he hung over the ground below.