Chas walked over to the nearest marble death angel which hung down bat like from the random construct of gravestones, tombs, guardians and watchers and touched her cold outstretched hand. The huge statue and the funereal mountain it was part of wobbled alarmingly.
“You can’t climb this because it will collapse and crush you" said Chas with as much authority as he could muster.
“And yet there must be a way” said Dorsal.
“It’s impossible, absolutely impossible” sighed Daniel.
“Are you coming?” shouted Ferris as his legs disappeared into a crypt that hung at a perilous angle 25 or more metres above their heads.
“I could have killed him, god knows I’ve had the opportunity,” grumbled Dorsal, cautiously placing his foot onto the head of a marble griffin. He reached out a hand with untypical largess for Chas.
“And your point is?”
Chas took the bear’s paw of a hand and Dorsal pulled him up and over his head onto the next funereal edifice. With every stuttering foothold, Dorsal was at Chas’s back, supporting him as if he were a toddler taking his first few steps for his father - Daniel followed just behind them. Dorsal’s gentle behaviour was not a comforting vision - he reminded Daniel of the kind of animal that eats its own young.
They found Ferris sitting on a caryatid in an art nouveau tomb. Dorsal used a leaded glass window as a foothold, pulling first Daniel and then Chas up with him. As he turned to face Ferris he noticed that his arrival had provoked a look of abject horror which even he found surprising. He quickly realized why - the entire tomb was capsizing backwards under their combined weight. Dorsal tried desperately to find a way to brace himself but the tomb was already beyond its tipping point and it began tumbling towards the ground far below.
“I have anticipated my death a hundred times before, only for it to be averted at the last moment. Eventually there is a sense that you have been cheated.” said Chas, separated from the abyss by Dorsal’s fingertips which clung to his shirt collar.
Dorsal was hanging by his other hand from the wing tip of an angel and Ferris clung to his ears. The plaintive melody of human suffering that had been the theme tune to their ascent, continued far above their heads, in the shed that sat astride the funereal mountain a man was screaming for mercy in a way that suggested he was not expecting to receive it.
Daniel was no-where to be seen.
“If I manage to save your life and we get out of this Ferris, I’m going to kill you” growled Dorsal.
"You can't wage war against the entire world Dorsal, you have to chose a side” Ferris whispered.
“I just want to wage war against you Ferris.”
Chas could feel Dorsal's grip on his collar loosen but he was not frightened for himself, only for the boys. They reminded him of his friends at school, always arguing about nothing, lost in the travails of youth before being torn to shreds by an enemy that treated them like annoying insects.
Ferris felt one of Dorsal's ears begin to unzip from its fastenings.
Dorsal was losing his grip on the angel’s wing.
"There is nowhere to go from here. What am I holding on for?"
"When we were waiting to die in the camp, waiting for the open door, the blank expression, the finger pointing towards the abyss, I asked myself where love had gone - had it drained away into the cracks between the planks in the floor beneath our lice infested bunks, down into the deepest recesses of this planet from where it had once emerged? Was that what these places were for - a way to strip away the last vestiges of humanity leaving us less than a mound of bones that were indistinguishable one from the other? I questioned my father and my grandfather - was this ignominy really the end for all of us? I told them I had forgotten what hope looked like - we had been kept in the dark for so long that darkness was all we knew. My father did not have the words but my grandfather, the rabbi, told me that there was always a chance, that I should run if I had the slightest opportunity and never stop, the fist in my face, the boot in my back, the bullet in my spine, nothing should stop me. If I escaped then all of my family would escape in me, if I was free, if they could see me be free, even for a split second then that would be a form of victory that would carry them through the end. I hated him for that, I wanted them to fight, to die fighting, clawing at the face of their enemy, but that was not in their design, they were great thinkers, but their hands would not form into fists."
"When they came, on the day that the last vestige of my humanity drained from my body, the door opened and I was through it, the butt of a gun hit me in the face but I kept on running, like a headless chicken. And they let me, where was I going to run too, an ant whose kingdom had once seemed eternal, destroyed by the child with boiling water until everywhere I turned there was degradation. But I was quick and they saw that a Jew, this Jew could be of use, that I was worth keeping alive for the moment. I was used to ferry messages from one part of the camp to another, from commandant to commandant, I was the fucking internet. To other Jews, I became a bock - a Jonah, I was a rag doll, fighting with the German dogs for scraps from the table, I was more despised than the Kapo's but I survived, when even the dogs died I survived and yet in so many ways I did not survive, my grandfather was wrong. I died with them, hand in hand with them and what you see, the husk that remains is indestructible but empty."
And as Chas felt Dorsal's grip fail and gravity pulled him with her persistent grasp, he knew he could defy even her. He closed his eyes and prepared to fly like one of Chagal's winged horses.