There was a twang above us and suddenly we were free falling until the cage jerked and the grappling hook cord caught us. The cage was now dangling from the finger as the rest of the cable that had attached the cage to the ship fell past us. The further we fell, I could feel an increase of pressure, like being underwater but there was not the resistance of water around us. I breathed deep, tried to calm my beating heart. When the cage had fallen I had landed rather unladylike, unpiratelike on top of Remy, who being a skinny thing wasn’t exactly a soft landing.
I dragged myself upwards as I climbed the bars of the cage to get off Remy. The ship didn’t seem to be under any more distress than before, but I could barely make out its large dark shadow above us in the clouds. There was the sounds of distressed metal beginning to groan. I had nearly cut all the way through the finger, and the cage was currently hanging from it. The last remaining bit of metal that held the finger to the hand was beginning to buckle. If Remy and I wanted to live we’d have to get out of the cage and climb up into the ship through the hole in the hull.
“What are you doing?” Remy asked as I unlatched the roof of the cage.
“Getting out of here,” I stated.
“What if there are sharks?” He asked and I almost laughed at him. I was already half out of the cage, but I leaned down to look squarely at him.
“We’re going to fall to our deaths or become Sky Kraken shit and you’re worried about sharks?” He gave a slight shrug. I continued to climb out of the cage, using the rope of the grappling hook to climb the finger. Remy seemed to have to decide momentarily before choosing that following me was the best option.
The metal of the finger groaned again, it moved, jerking us downward slightly. Suddenly it gave way with a groaning buckling. Remy and I fell, down into the clouds. The pressure increased and I couldn’t breathe even though I was certain I was screaming. Darkness surrounded me.
When I awoke I realized I wasn’t dead, that was a blessing. I was in a tiny room surrounded by darkness that was only kept at bay by a single candle that glowed from the open doorway. Somehow I had been saved from falling, and brought to this room. My clothes were dry, and the coat I had been wearing had been draped over me. There was still a pressure on me, like when I had lowered into the clouds, but it wasn’t as bad as when I had fallen.
“Remy?” I whispered. I pulled my coat onto my shoulders, and examined the room. It was a tiny box. I picked up the candle, around the room was a metal rail on three sides and I jerked backwards in surprise at what I thought was another person, but in fact the rear of the room was a massive mirror, the entire wall was a mirror. I brushed the dust and cobwebs away to look at my own reflection. I looked a little worse for wear. My hair, brunette, was stringy, dirty, half pinned up under my bandana, my face looked bruised, like I’d gotten into a tavern fight. I had green eyes, and my form was stout, though I was as starved as the rest of the pirates I had been given a larger frame for a woman as short as I was. My clothes were ragged, dirty, sweat stained. I turned from my reflection to examine what looked like buttons on the side of the doorway. The buttons had markings on them I didn’t recognize.
Using the candle to light my way I left the tiny room and noticed that I entered a hall with other tiny rooms, opposite each other. In between each doorway were two buttons, I recognized arrows that pointed up or down, but I had no clue of their purpose. I continued down the hall and came into a much larger room. Wind blew in from the broken windows that lined the front of the room. The room held a large desk for the lack of a better term. It was like the desks at inns but this was much larger and curved. Thin boxes with dark windows in them sat on the desk with a tray that had more buttons and the strange markings on each one I randomly pushed a button, it was stiff and nothing happened. There were papers scattered around, they were old and brittle, the pictures drawn on them were incredibly detailed, though faded. I didn’t recognize the markings again, but I noticed the drawing was of a statue of a man pointing to the sky. There was no cloud cover above the statue, but an air ship that seemed to be all sails, as if someone had enclosed the ship in sails and pumped the sails full of air, seemed to be tethered the finger we’d crashed into. Some of the pictures showed people in clothing that was unfamiliar looking, they were all happy and smiling. I put down the paper and went back to looking for Remy, but I didn’t even know if he had been saved like I had.
“Remington?” I called his name, past the corridor of tiny rooms were more corridors, they had doors that were closed. One entryway led into a larger room that even I recognized as a shop. It sold various knick knacks, most with images of the statue painted on them. The place was full of obvious signs of years of abandonment. Was I about to dare to think that people might have lived below the clouds? If so, where were they now? Through one of the doors I had found a metal staircase that led up, I wasn’t sure how far it went, but it went higher than my tiny candle could illuminate. I had the feeling of being watched, as if I could breath on my neck. I slowly lowered my hand into my pocket and curled my fingers comfortably around my fork. I jerked around, swinging with the hand that held the candle, while I drew my fork above my head to plunge it into something. I halted, I must be dreaming, because I was looking directly into his brown eyes.
I slowly lowered my fork and brought the candle closer to his face, he was just standing there, not saying anything, not doing anything. It had been almost three years since I’d seen him and he hadn’t changed a bit. He still gazed so intently at me that it felt like he was looking through me, into my soul, and my soul was happy to bare itself to him. I didn’t know if I should throw my arms around him, kiss him, or fork him. Had he been trapped down here? I dropped my fork, I needed to touch him, to make sure he was real. There was a lump in my throat and my knees were weak. Tears of joy welled up into my eyes. Before I could stroke the stubble on his cheek he turned and walked away, and he began to walk quickly away.
“Paul?” I asked dumbfounded. I chased after him, “Paul!” I hadn’t said his name in three years. I saw him turn a corner, for just a brisk walk, he was quickly outrunning my jog. I came to the junction, I didn’t see anyone or any indication which way he went. “I’m losing my mind. Maybe I’ve already lost it…” I whispered to myself, sighing with a sudden sadness. Maybe I hadn’t seen Paul and my mind was playing tricks on me.
“Honesty,” came Remy’s voice behind me and I jumped, I wanted to brain him with the candle.
“Did you see him?” I asked Remy.
“See who?” I turned and looked back and forth down the hallway. “Only person I’ve seen is you.” I sighed with frustration.
“Where have you been?” I demanded.
“I woke up, been looking for you, I thought we were dead,” he began, “Are we dead?”
“I’ll stab you with my fork, let me know if it hurts, then you’ll know if you’re dead,” I snapped at him. I suddenly realized I had left my fork in the room with the staircases. I pushed past Remy. I hadn’t brought my cutlass into the cage with me, and my fork was currently my only weapon, well the candle could be a weapon too, but I needed my fork. Remy followed me up and down the corridors while I tried to find the door that led to the stairs.
“Where are we?” Remy finally asked as if I had all the answers.
“I think we’re at the base of the statue, I won’t know until we go outside,” as if to punctuate me, lightning flashed and thunder boomed. It sounded like it resonated through the entire building. I opened the door to the stairs and brought the candle low to find my fork. I stared at the floor.
“What is it?” Remy asked looking over my shoulder.
“My fork, it’s gone, I dropped it in here,” I stated. I checked my pockets just to make sure that I really didn’t have it on me. “Someone else has to be here, Remy.” I whispered and my breath suddenly came out in a bellow of steam. The temperature had just suddenly dropped. I was a little broken up about the loss of my fork, and spooked that someone, maybe not my husband, but someone was in the building with us, depressed that we were below the clouds, and at the moment I had no clue how to get back up to the heavens. Then there was the fact I was hallucinating Paul. I brought my candle around to look at Remy. He looked about like I did. Dirty, dry, not quite as ragged as myself, but his face was slightly bruised, I can only imagine it being from the increased pressure.
“What do we do?” He asked and I really didn’t want to tell him that I had no clue, but I didn’t have the name Honesty for being a liar.
“We find a way up back up to the Deceit,” I said to him, “We know this statue reaches above the clouds.”
“Just saying that we actually manage to get back up to the top of the clouds, what if the ship isn’t there?” Remy asked.
“I don’t know, one thing at a time,” I said walking down the corridor back to the large room with its entire wall of paned glass.
“Has anyone ever returned back from below the clouds?” Remy asked. It was raining outside and a gust of wind blew out the candle. Lightning flashes and I froze in my tracks. I realized I’d gripped Remy’s shoulder, like he’d grabbed my arm when I was using the torch.
I had never seen the Sky Kraken in its entirety before, no one had that I was aware of. I suppose we imagined it to look like a giant squid or octopus, a bulbous shape with tentacles. It was shaped like a man, until the elbows and knees which the tentacles sprouted from. The man was massive in size, almost as large as the ship Deceit. It was walking towards us, the tentacles twisting together to form legs. The head was the most grotesque thing about it. It looked like someone had skinned him, and removed the skull. It was more of a lump with eyes and a gaping maw of jagged teeth than a head.
“Just stand still,” I whispered, hopefully the Sky Kraken didn’t know we were there. He wasn’t near, but with each step he was gaining massive ground. Suddenly it stopped and turned its head left then right, I could almost imagine it sniffing, and then it looked in our direction and my active imagination went into overload that it was staring right at us.