“This can’t be happening,” gasped Lisa.
Her scan of Brad’s remains showed a man of 58 years; in excellent physical condition. For the first time, she caught a glimpse of the man he was to become.
He ran over the crest, listening to Teyata still reading disjointedly, although faster.
“You’re getting quicker,” Brad blurted.
“So are you,” countered Teyata.
Leaning forward, Brad lengthened his stride downhill, slid the last two metres sideways, then bounded onto the road. Not taking a moment to catch his breath, he skipped from the rails and landed on top of the pylon, then sprinted back up. When he reached Teyata again, she was still reading.
She closed the Bible and stared meaningfully, then nodded her approval.
“You understand that you have to do everything I teach you everyday.”
“Yeah,” Brad said, perspiring, but not out of breath.
It suddenly occurred to him that his hands and feet didn’t burn now that he had stopped. The sap of the barlus flower protected his feet as he ran and his hands from scuffing on the sandstone pylons. According to Teyata, he had reached a stage where the affects were permanent, and therefore he didn’t need to apply any more of the sap.
Teyata slapped her hands down and sprang to her feet.
“Let’s work on your agility.”
She dropped between the girders. In horror, Brad reached after her only to see Teyata dangling above the semi’s trailer.
“Now do everything I do,” she said, looking up without concern.
She snaked out an arm to catch hold of a girder and fluidly repeated the process, one after the other like a gibbon. Her route took her all the way to the other side of the road, then back. Kicking with both legs, she vaulted up through a gap and landed in a crouch near Brad.
“Go!” she said.
Brad dropped through the gap as Teyata did, catching hold of the girder. His hands let go involuntarily. He fell onto the trailer, landing heavily on his heels briefly, before falling onto his back. Badly winded, he clutched his abdomen, struggling for breath.
With the sun at her back, Teyata’s silhouette with swishing tail, stared down from between the girders.
“I’m going to have to make you stronger first; get up here!”
Brad straightened and twisted from side to side to alleviate the pain, then hopped over the edge of the driver’s cabin. He slid from its angled face, alighting smoothly onto the road, then sprinted for the bridge’s handrails. Like a ball, he seemed to bounce from the rails and leap onto the pylon, then loped effortlessly up the arc to meet with Teyata.
“There’s two things you’re going to need,” she said, “Strength in your arms and a stronger stomach.”
“A stronger stomach; why?”
“It will add to your anilitee.”
“Agility,” Brad corrected.
“Yes. I saw exercises in the holographic books. Do you know any?”
Brad took out the towels from his pack and began the walk down the spine.
“Where are you going?” Teyata demanded.
“It’ll be safer on the ground.”
“Do it up here. You have to get used to heights.”