Author : Willis Weatherford

Cold concrete, suppressed breathing, hands pressed flat to the grey rooftop. Winds whistled by his high-altitude haunt. The clatter of metal caterpillar tracks filtered up seventy stories to tingle in his straining ears, but Diemer was listening for something else: a footfall.

He silently cursed the wind that blew past, muffling the sounds his life depended on. He did not understand the wind – he had never felt it before. It arrived immediately after yesterday’s explosion, and while it had slowed from its initial fury, the charged air still rushed dreadfully past at twenty miles an hour.

There it was again -Diemer’s eyes flicked towards the sound. Sweat seeped from nervous pores. Heart beat. Pinpricks ran through his bare feet. If he was being followed, it must be the State Surveillance Service. If it was the SSS, they not only knew he was breaking ancient curfew laws and the day old No-Travel Law, they knew about the Confederacy. And that left him with only two options: escape, or die. At this point, both seemed agreeable.

Diemer spent a moment planning what might be the last ten seconds of his life, took a deep breath, and…

Push up to a crouch.

He rose, head pointed towards the edge of the flat roof, eyes fixed on the kevlar sheathed filament line stretching between his rooftop and the next. The SSS used it to transmit audio and video files – he was going to use it to escape. He allowed himself a grin in appreciation of the irony.

Plant right foot, push off into a sprint.

As he started to run, he pulled the bent titanium bar from his waistband, and slapped his back pocket to make sure the snips were still there. He heard a yell and the sound of running behind him. What if the agent caught him before he escaped out onto the wire?

Jump off the edge, hook the bar over the line, grasp the other side.

Gravity pulled him into a quick slid, zip-lining towards the next rooftop over. The wind in his ears blocked any sound from his pursuer. Hope flashed through him, until Diemer wondered what he would do if there were more SSS agents on the other side. Well, too late to turn back now.

Swing legs up, hook heels over the concrete edge, pull body forward.

The lithe maneuver brought him, standing upright, onto the top of the high rise. As he turned, he saw with surprise the SSS agent speeding across the line towards him.

“Ah. So somebody else knows that trick”, he thought with a mix of fear and amusement. Quickly pulling the snips out of his pocket, he positioned them around the kevlar line, and squeezed. A sharp ping rang through the air as the line’s tension released. The agent dropped out of sight, screaming until his forward momentum slammed him into the side of the building on which Diemer stood. A few seconds later, Diemer heard a crunching thud on the pavement below.

Adrenaline mixed with relief. Pounding heart pumped blood to brain. He returned the snips to his back pocket, thankful he had brought them in anticipation of the twenty-foot chain-link fence around the city. Turning his eyes toward the glowing crater, he estimated the journey to the forbidden area would take three more hours. The information he hoped to bring back would prove crucial to the Confederacy.

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