“She has been tortured, but not by me,” I say hurriedly. “His name is Jed - do you know him?” An angry hissing breaks out among my listeners. “My name is Jenny. I am a friend of her friends and I’m here to rescue her.”
“You are a good person, Jenny,” they say to me. I smile modestly.
“Are there any healers here?” I ask.
“No, they left on the last shuttle.”
“The last shuttle? But … why weren’t you on it? If you missed it, how would you know that there were healers on it?” My bewilderment shows clearly on my face. Mai tugs weakly on my sleeve.
“They don’t all go Home, you know,” she whispers.
“You mean, there are other planets?” My mind is reeling. It had never occurred to me that that might be the case.
“Take her away from this place, Jenny,” says someone - something - in the form of a young girl. “Make her better.” I only have time to wonder about her curiously pronunciation of my name before she is guiding me towards the doors.
“The sooner she is away from here, the better,” they explain.
Mai gasps with the shock as the cold Swiss air hits us. I realise that I have little food with me - I should have asked for some more. The path down from the Port is narrow and steep, and with a burden in my arms it is hard not to slip.
“I can walk,” says Mai, after we almost slip for the third time.
“No, you can’t,” I remind her. “I saw you.” Slowly we make our perilous descent, until we reach a thin ledge at the bottom. I edge along it carefully, knowing all too well of the gap that lay beneath. Soon we are onto real land again, a normal, man-made path.
I need to rest. Mai is heavy in my arms, and I am not a strong person. She is feeling the strain, too. Her face is awfully pale, and I can imagine mine is. I know my heart is beating faster, because my eye colours are swirling as though there is no tomorrow.
“Nearly there, Mai,” I say, more to comfort myself than her.
“Nearly where?” she replies, and I have no answer.
Eventually I find a place. It is a small shelter, near the edge of a large forested area, and more of a cave than anything else. But it is dry, and secluded enough that we could light a fire, if I have enough energy to gather the wood.
Mai is grateful to be out of my arms. She sinks to the floor in relief, and doesn’t even scream when a spider crawls up her arm. Well, I suppose she is used to Olivia.
I return to here within a moment of leaving. Being near a forest has its advantages - there is plenty of wood just outside. I’m especially grateful that I brought a box of matches. I never could make fire any other way.