I don’t know how, we found a stand of the correct thickness and I started to climb, while Mu was delocalizing himself to the place above me, from time to time. His ability was a great help, specially when you’re clearly drunken because of the exotic atmosphere and you don’t care about where you step over. Again, I’m glad I was forced to pass by that military training: a strand was not a string but it was similar enough.
I fell once. I calculate I was around 200 meters above the surface, and I fall around 50 before bouncing on a green manta, and being captured on the fly by Mu. My whole life passed over my eyes. I had 8 years again, and I was crossing the Strait of Gibraltar on a toy boat. I had 15 years and I just finished my compulsory studies with honours, but I was mocked by the locals because of my skin color. The moment I got a grant to study Quantum Engineering. The moment I met Machiko. The day the edges appeared, and how the people started to fall. The chaos after the nuclear war. The system, and my 50 years in it.
Now I’m resting on a kind of a small plateau, right under the merging point of around 50 strands. They look like thin columns. I have over me what it looks like an english perpendicular style cupola. It doesn’t look like the moon anymore, but something out of a medieval architect’s nightmare. The details are fractal, of course, and when I focus on them, I kind of lose it. Mu brought us some food. I manage to masticate the vegetable meat he’s offering, and I thank him with my eyes. The truth is, I can barely breath here. I’m afraid if I can’t travel without breathing something denser I will not make it to the Yellow Earth.
After finishing, we simply go out of the perpendicular style cupola and climb it. I dodge a small transporter the size of a dog, coming quickly down the strand I choose to go up. I look up, it looks like there are no more coming, so I hurry up, and I climb another 50 meters, until reaching the merging point. The new strand is now of the thickness of a two-people elevator. Pity that it is not an elevator.
“When do we get transporters?” I manage to say. My voice sounds weak. Mu looks at me, and he seems not to realize the problem. “You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me?” Break. “Then who the hell else are you talking… you talking to me? ” I look at him, and I try to point to my throat without losing the equilibrium. “Well I’m the only one here. Who the fuck do you think you’re talking to?” Great, he’s quoting Taxi Driver. I decide to be direct, despite of our current non-written agreement of speaking in riddles. “Mu, I can’t breath so well anymore.” He puts a sad face. I don’t know if he’s joking. But at least he stops mocking. “Are we getting the big transporters?”
“Just a little bit higher.” Is he now singing a Janis Joplin song? Is he affected by this atmosphere also? Since he is humanoid, I assumed Mu was breathing the same mix I’m familiar with. But maybe I’m wrong. “Seriously, Jesse, can’t you go up a little bit more? The big ones are easier to find a little bit higher. If we don’t find a big one, a small one can work. But I don’t know how to drive them. Do you know?”
“Of course not. But I will learn how.” Confidence is the key to success.
“Then, let’s get a small one. We’ll get a little bit hungry, but it will be fun!”