No, wait! It didn't happen like that at all! It was more like this....
The first thing Sheldon saw when he opened his eyes again were the fingertips of his gloves. The once grey fabric was starting to turn red. For the briefest of moments he imagined his fingers turning into breakfast sausages. That was only appropriate, he figured as he stretched one hand and reached for a better grip; his whole body felt like hamburger, and this mountain he was scaling was the meat grinder.
He shut his eyes again and gasped for more air. Then he looked upwards at his soul-twin, Lilith, who was driving another pin into the side of Dokstok Mountain. Lilith looked like she could climb Everest and be back for a beer before noon. It was her idea to climb up this wretched rock, damn her. She was after the fabled Death Frappie 999 that grew on the top of this mountain, far from human reach.
"Enough Death Frappie up there for all of us," she said with that infective enthusiasm of hers. "Enough for all SubGenii, for all time. All we have to do is get there first."
"If we don't die first," Sheldon muttered, not wanting to admit that she had convinced him.
There was only one side of the mountain that was really scalable, and yet that was the most dangerous way to go. Supposedly a horrible monster lived on this side of the rock--at least that is what "Bob" said. Dobbs called it "Bingo Gas Station Motel Cheeseburger With A Side Of Airplane Noise In You-Be-Gary Indiana". Sheldon thought "Bob" must have fallen asleep while watching *Greaser's Palace* again. But that eternal grin plastered on Dobbs' grin actually waivered while he talked about the creature.
"It'll fuck with you, son," Dobbs warned. "Don't know anyone who faced it and came back. Not even I've messed with it. Well, except for that one time, when I was a lot younger and wilder...." Sheldon then endured another half-eternity of prattle about Dobbs' sexual experiences. Lilith, to Sheldon's disgust, made sure as much as possible was recorded on DAT and on video, and was scribbling maddeningly in her notepad. She didn't miss a detail. Oh well, Sheldon shrugged in the end. Maybe out of all the bullshit "Bob" was spouting they'd find the one clue they needed to reach the top.
On the way up the mountainside they passed a chilling sight--bones. Tons of bones. Sheldon, in his morbidity, lowered himself and poked around at the remains. There was a pile of wallets here, and after fishing out a few hundred in small bills he examined the ID inside. Almost every SubGenius who had disappered from the Church was accounted for: Bob Black's remains was near the bottom, and on top of those bones laid the skulls of Doug Three, St. tENTATIVELY a cONVENIENCE, Drelloid Mutant, Dr. X, and--closer to the top--Magistra Batrix, Mary Squared Au Contraire, and Buck Naked. The bones had been scraped clean by something with a lot of teeth, Sheldon ruefully noted. He paused long enough to burn a twenty in rememberence of the fallen, then crawled his way back up towards Lilith.
Now Sheldon felt like he'd soon join the heap of skeletons below. He was sure that, if he dared look down, he'd see that his legs were just as bloody as his fingers. The scratch on his left cheek was still oozing. Every muscle was locked in a perpetual cramp. He wanted to beg Lilith to stop the ascent. It no longer mattered how good the Death Frappie would be. Right now, slack would be five minutes on his back, clutching nothing harder than his chest.
"Come on, Shel!" Lilith had finished anchoring the ropes and was working her way up a bit higher. "It's getting easier up here. We'll make it soon." Sheldon was too weary to retort, and realized in despair that he had to keep going. He caught a new foothold and agonizingly pushed himself upwards.
A weird scream in the distance whipped Sheldon's head around. He stared at the black thing soaring through the cloud-ridden sky. It looked huge. There wasn't much to use for gauging distances here, but Sheldon figured it was the size of a Caddilac, with billboards for wings. It looked vaugely like the face-fucking bats Sheldon used to summon as a kid, but somehow it looked more fishlike than mammalian. And it was slowly turning towards them.
"Lil?" Sheldon croaked.
"I see it. Get your gun out."
"I... I can't. Can't reach my bag."
"You can do it. I'll cover you." Lilith had managed to turn around and gain good enough footing to let go of the mountain. She was pulling her shotgun and shells out of her pack.
"Sheldon, keep quiet." The gun was now loaded and she was taking aim at the airborne shadow swooping down towards the rock face.
The first shot didn't even graze Bingo. It floated towards Sheldon and screamed in his face just before striking him in the back with its tail. The pain knocked Sheldon out and he lost his grip, falling as far as the climbing rig would let him. Then with a jerk Sheldon's fall stopped, and Sheldon swung helplessly at the end of his rope. The rope rubbed against the sharp edges above him and began to fray.
"Sheldon, get back on the mountain! Your rope's gonna break!"
Through the suffering Sheldon managed to regain power over his own body. He groggily looked up and saw Bingo turning back around for another attack. This time his raw fingers managed to reach his own pack. Opening the zipper was like scraping his knuckles against a running belt sander, but he managed to find the will to endure long enough to reach inside and grab his revolver.
Turning off the safety was more like having his thumb smashed by a hundred hammers in perfect synchronization for five minutes straight.
Sheldon righted himself in his harness and faced the beast getting ever closer to him. With both tortured arms he held the gun outstretched in front of him.
The barking of a shotgun rang through the air, and Bingo's head bobbed as the shot punched him in the back of the skull. It screached in outrage and dropped ten yards, but then reversed and furiously beat the air, heading towards Lilith.
His shoulders nearly refused to let Sheldon raise the gun and take bead on Bingo. The monster was soaring to the left, aiming itself at Lilith's precipice. With a squeeze that made him scream he pulled the trigger. The gun's kick pushed Sheldon hard to the right, and he swung back and forth on his rope. He felt the rope lenghen as the outer shell of the rope snapped.
Above him he heard Bingo scream again. The scream grew louder, and Sheldon looked upwards to see Bingo swooping downwards again. Sheldon raised his gun again, but Bingo was on top of him before he could fire. Its talons easily wrapped about him and burrowed into his belly. The pain and fear Sheldon had been feeling was replaced with outrage, and with his own scream he pumped the remaining rounds of his revolver into the thing's heart.
With a final scream Bingo began to fall, pulling Sheldon with it. Sheldon's bloody hands wrapped around a set of talons and pulled desparately. Barely had the first digit been freed from Sheldon's torso when the rope gave way. During the ten-second plummet Sheldon felt strangely at peace, and he looked upwards at his companion, who stared back dumbly as their distance grew. In the last moment Sheldon repented, just in case, and steeled himself for the journey to whichever afterworld he could bargain himself into.
Then Sheldon joined the dead SubGenii underneath, leaving Lilith alone to finish the climb.
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Original file name: The Death of Rev. Sheldon 2
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