Things didn’t look good for the good guys.
Not when I'm hanging onto a cliff with a tenuous grip and freezing fingers.
Now you may ask how come I, good old Rex Barney, six feet one, green eyes, black hair, a hundred and ninety pounds, yadda yadda, how come I ended up hanging onto an ice-coated rock outcropping with nothing below me but swirling snowflakes.
Well, to tell you the truth, I'd like to know that myself.
One moment I stood in the extensive library of Spyglass House, brand new experimental Universal Translator Unit installed, backpack on my shoulders, my hand on the knob of an exterior door, and the next moment a force 10 squall yanked open the door, sucked me out onto a two foot threshold and sent me sliding down a freaking cliff to grab onto the rock.
Know what else I’d like to know?
What are the odds of me getting back up the cliff and inside that door?
The alternative was to end up a frozen cadaver sticking out of the ice when Global Warming melted mountain glaciers. If such be the case, I hope I'd be found with a secret hand sign pointing to the sky.
I looked over my shoulder to see how far down was, but my backpack blocked the view. The quick thought, slip it off, but it contained warm clothes and once it was gone, it was gone. Well, warmer clothes. So I twisted around, and leaned further out, and twisted some more and leaned out some more, almost there, just a little and I lost my grip.
It came out as one of those involuntary screams that shatters the stillness and diminishes ten decibels with each ten foot fall.
This one ended in a ten foot fall.
That was the good part.
The bad part?
I stood shivering in what appeared to be my own personal snow dome, vision limited to three feet, and if I didn't get my rear in gear, I would end up a pillar of ice like Lott's wife. Sort of.
Since there were no road signs and since I couldn't see shit, I used the science of eeny, meeny, miny and headed off toward the right.
Five mincing steps later the wind dropped and the air cleared to reveal I stood on a flat track carved out of the rock-face, barely wide enough for a hand cart. On the downhill side, a drop off of a thousand feet that ended in oblivion. Forty or fifty feet up the icy cliff, the steel door I had fallen through lodged in a stone keep anchored to the top of a rocky knob. No hope there. But back along the track I caught a glimpse, just for a moment, of a miniature version of the Dalai Lama's Potala Palace clinging to the side of the mountain, bare staircase leading down to it. Then the wind returned and everything disappeared, but in that snapshot of my mind, two wisps of smoke had curled up and dissipated in the gelid air.
One other thing nagged at me.
Light fading; night coming on.
I retraced my five mincing steps and added to them.
So much for the science of eeny, meeny, miny.
The Tomb of Genghis Khan trade paperback, December, 2020; 260 pages, US $9.95, or on Kindle at $3.00.
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