The Imperiled Actress
“Time to go!” Thelonius seized her by the shoulders and hoisted her onto his back. She glanced back and saw that his enemy lay doubled up on the floor—Thelonius must have gotten in a lucky blow.
She folded his arms around his neck as he hopped out onto the railing. Her stomach lurched as hot wind pulled at her from every direction. The acrid scent of smoke assaulted her nostrils and she felt a layer of soot gathering on her skin. She looked away from the flames to see the yawning drop beneath them, and then she clamped her eyes shut.
“Hold on tight,” Thelonius called back toher. “Ack! Not that tight!”
Celeste loosened her arms slightly, but still clung furiously to his back. Her legs dangled in open air and she stifled a scream as the chimp-man, slowed considerably by her weight, still managed to swing with an arcing grace along the external railing of the zeppelin in a race against the flames. Still not daring to open her eyes, she felt him push off the side of the hull, hurtling through the open air before slamming into a surface that vibrated like a guitar string. They had made it to the anchor line that tethered the zeppelin, but they wouldn’t be safe until they crossed to the pylon’s spire at the city’s center.
The heat was oppressive as Thelonius gripped the chains with both hands and both feet and slid them downwards so quickly she thought they may have been falling. Celeste shouted, but the roaring of the fire was now so intense that she couldn’t even hear herself.
Then something strange happened: the anchor line, which had been nearly vertical, began to sink, then level out, then fall with them still clinging to it. A rush of sooty air from behind told her that the zeppelin was dropping out of the sky, and it was carrying the anchor line down with it. All Celeste could do was hang on as the chain dropped precipitously and then suddenly snapped tight as it reached its furthest extent.