Chapter 76 - Rope Climbing
“Okay class, we are going to start by practicing your climbing again!” Ms. Kanole said as she pressed a button and six ropes dropped from the ceiling. The top of the ropes remained attached to the ceiling as the bottom of them dangled towards the ground.
Most of the children seemed to be excited, but wasn’t this a bit dangerous for a bunch of kids? The ceiling stood quite high, and what would happen if they fell down? Even though some students were bringing out mats to fall on, if they fell from the top of the rope, even that wouldn’t protect them.
Kale looked around, nervous of what was about to come. “I don’t know how to climb…” he whispered to Hage.
“That’s okay! I didn’t think I knew how to either, but I just started throwing my arms and legs up and somehow I was able to.” Hage tugged at the rope before him. “I’ll show you how if you aren’t sure.”
Kale stood beside the swinging rope as Hage flung up the rope like it was as simple as walking. Looking up, Kale blocked the bright fluorescent lights from his vision. Hage was taking off towards the sun, and Kale had a nervous feeling in his stomach, there was no way he could match with his skill.
Two other children stood around Kale watching Hage, waiting for their turn.
“I hope we get Nelto points for ringing the bell at the top again today,” one of the kids said.
“Me too! What are you saving your points up for? I really want to get a pet hamster!” the other replied.
“I just want to have enough to get a new movie every week!”
Nelto Points? Kale had heard it earlier, but didn’t even process it. What were they?
Hage was nearing the top when Ms Kanole shouted, “Today, everyone who rings the bell on the ceiling will get two Nelto Points!”
Everyone in the room shouted in joy, and Hage finished his last few stretches of rope quicker than Kale thought possible. The bell rang in triumph.
“Two more points!” Hage shouted as he let himself slide down the rope. “With that now I have seven points!” He let himself off the rope and stepped off onto the mat.
“Is that a lot?” Kale asked.
“Hmm, I don’t know.” Hage scratched his head.
“It’s not that much! One of the boys who was here last month had 200 points!” one of the students said.
“200…” Kale mumbled. “What are the points for, anyway?”
“You can spend them on fun things!” Hage said. “That’s all I know. Oh, and even after you spend them they keep track of the total you had.”
“Yeah, and once you get 200 total you get to take a test! That’s what the last kid did. If you pass the test, it means that you are healed from the chemicals and you are allowed to leave! Or you can continue staying here, but you get sent to a better, fancier class, and no one is sick there.”
“What is the other class like?” Kale asked.
“We don’t know, we aren’t allowed to interact with him, but all the teachers say it is a great class!”
“Are the teachers here sick from the chemicals too?” Kale asked.
Hage answered, “No, but they were once. Once you get exposed to it and your body reacts badly, you aren’t in danger anymore is what they told me.”
Kale thought back to when he was taken in, Arlo, Fern, and Iven were all wearing white masks. Had they not been in contact with the chemicals yet? Or did they wear the mask for another reason? Surely, Oren had been exposed already as he was the one who was always physically close to Kale, without having to use a rope to keep distance.
“Are you ready to try the rope now, Kale?” Hage placed his hand on Kale’s shoulder.
“Do you really think I can?”
“Yeah, the shots they have been giving us everyday have some ultra strengthening stuff that help us get back to normal, and they said while we take it maybe we even get a little stronger!”
Kale’s eyes grew wide. “Really?!”
The other kids around also gave their voices of affirmation that turned to words of encouragement for Kale to climb.
“Okay… I’ll try!”
He reached his hands out in front of him and gripped the rope. He yanked at it, making sure it wouldn’t fall and then placed his other hand onto it. Just as Hage did before him, he brought his feet together at the rope. Although, he swung side to side, remaining immobile.
“Yeah, that’s a good way to start! Now just start moving your hands up and bring your feet up with you.”
Kale looked around at the other ropes, occupied with students climbing at speeds that still left him in disbelief. He remembered going to a circus with his family once where there was a group of people climbing ropes and doing tricks, and even compared to them, the students around him seemed to be keeping pace with the professionals.
Closing his eyes he began reaching up further and further, dragging his body towards the ceiling. After a few seconds he opened his eyes and saw he was already half way up, and his body froze. He was stunned. The height didn’t scare him yet, all he could do was smile.
“Come on Kale! You’re halfway there! You can do it!” Hage shouted from the floor, jumping and flailing his arms back and forth.
What was this feeling? He had never even tried to climb a rope before. How did it come to him with such ease? Kale quickly brushed all the questions in his mind aside as he darted for the roof.
Before he realized it, he was at the top and rang the bell.
“Two points for Kale! Great job!” Ms. Kanole said.