It had taken some time to locate the third tree. As I burst through the canopy I saw that the balloon had stopped.
The thing hovered over the thicket about a football-field away.
‘Shit.’ Had they seen me? How would they? There would be no reason to scour the treetops. Unless these were Saturn’s soldiers.
I doubted this hypothesis. Even if someone was scanning for interlopers; the chance of them spotting a beige clad idiot roosting in the branches was low.
‘Maybe they are having afternoon tea.’ I chuckled as I noted odd flashes of light from the gondola. I was pretty sure these flashes came from mirrors. Though I couldn’t for the life of me tell you why.
As I sat guessing the thing shot upward at astonishing speed. It was now no more than a mere speck in the sky. I suctioned the Nikon to my eyes. The mirrors no longer flashed and in the span of half a minute the balloon resumed its south-easterly course.
My heart sank. It was now moving at a much grater rate than I could follow. I felt marooned.
I took a sip from my dwindling flask. The refreshment did help steel my nerves. Though not by much. I guess I forgot to mention that my comm equipment was out of commission.
I reviewed the events leading to this conundrum. The act of reviewing made me remember Thornton’s recent pop-quiz and how abruptly it had ended.
I got an idea.
I retraced my steps. Once I was in the vicinity of my vanishing, a point I plotted with the improvised tree-top map…I let my mind go completely blank.
I heard Sam’s voice. I heard the lunchroom ambient polyglot chatter of Arawak, Portuguese, and god knows what.
“Holy shit it worked!” I cried out.
“Ah!” Sam screamed in surprise at the sudden noise.
“What the hell man…what worked?” He inquired.
I felt a hand on my shoulder. I wheeled round to greet Graham’s enigmatic smirk.
“Good, and how will you get there?” He echoed Thornton’s last communication.
“Zero is the only true philosophy.” I answered. I again allowed my mind to empty and was once more marooned in the strange thicket.
“That’s a neat trick.” A voice came from behind me.
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