XX.4

“I’m only sixteen,” I called knowingly to the voice belonging to the figure at the open fire-escape.

There she stood, on the frail walkway that separated Vladimere and I from the fire-escape and the passing world, tight platinum curls, which crept around her ears and draped down onto her shoulders, longer after a year or two: Alicia Craig. She was dressed in a white fitted dress, which I noticed for its peculiar similarity to the climate. She shimmered in the dark of Vladmere’s sin.

Alicia brushed a fallen snowflake off her shoulder. I smiled despite my pain.

“Hello,” she said, nearing Vladimere. He had turned and was snarling as usual. “I’m the product of a psycho and a frightened, young Catholic. I once tried to blow up a house. But, you know what?”

Vladimere stunned, stopped, his weapon still inches from my neck. I tentatively lifted a palm, pushing the blade away. Alicia raced forward, jumping over the gap between our platforms and scooped up the pole I had dropped when my ankle had caught.

“– I believe in working for the greater good. Welcome to my world.”

With a cry, I managed to wrench my foot from the grate, and I jumped up as much as I could behind my old friend.

“Aggie, my phone!” she cried as she batted away the steel by wielding the slender weapon.

I noticed her phone poking out of a side-pocket of her garment. Clever girl. I snatched it and ducked away from the fight. One jump – despite the pain that shot through my leg – and I was on a pervious platform behind the murderer. Vladimere batted no eye at me. I don’t think he cared who he killed first.

“I can’t leave you. Plus I don’t know the number for the emergency services,” I cried.

“112. Now go!”

I didn’t know whether I could. I crept to the end of the gangplank, but ventured no further when I knew she was still against Vladimere there. Alicia’s phone was unlocked and I quickly punched in the numbers. Alicia yelled something over my pounding mind, but whatever it was, it was lost in another clang of metal upon metal and the internal ringing from the phone. Please pick up.

Thankfully, a thick accent filled my ears a second later.

“Yes, hi…um, police please. A man is trying to kill us. We’re at the site of Vladimere Sterinsky’s development. Sorry, I don’t know the road. Please send Inspector Simnova. Tell him Miss King.”

From close by, I heard the sounds of gasping. Oddly, it took me a few seconds to realise that I myself was the one panting. Immediately, I hung up.

The platform in front of me rocked again. In the midst of the raging green battlefield, footsteps clattered back and forth. I guessed from the time of her captivity, Alicia had gathered skills to jump with poise. Even though ballerina she was not.

Alicia did her dance, knocking Vladimere back with pole. Then it was her own turn to try for a shot, jumping forward whilst the fencer parried the iron with a bare hand. That was the problem: in Alicia’s hands the pole was no more a weapon than a shield.

And Alicia didn’t know how much danger she was in.

I slumped and stared at the two. Why did their fate have to be out of my hands now? In the heat of the battle, it was too late for me to rush down and climb back up to fetch another pole. I couldn’t anyway, not with my ankle torn as it was. By the time, for all I knew, Alicia would be dead. And we were at the top. As Alicia jumped, I noticed her eyes flick to the floor so many metres below.

Looking back to them, I was surprised at the agility with which Alicia continued to fight, still unharmed. It was only as I began to creep closer that I spotted the red pool on her upper sleeve, a gash bleeding through from her right arm. Her movements were becoming clumsy, too. There were only so many things she could do with a metal pole.

Her eyes widened as I crept up behind our adversary. There was still the gap, but, from where I stood now, without the pole, it seemed easily leap-able. Alicia knew; I could see it in her eyes. She lifted the pole, attempting to slide one end of it through the air to me, but Vladimere changed his tact. He swung low with the blade, going for her stomach.

Alicia gasped and backed away. She slammed against the furthest railing. Now Vladimere had successfully blocked the fire-exit from her.

She was trapped.

I jumped. Alicia’s eyes still dishes, she tossed the pole with surprising skill over Vladimere’s head, to me. It was a move that he definitely had not anticipated. By the time he had had the chance to look around, though, that pole was steady in my hands. I braced it, glaring. Vladimere Sterinsky sneered.

He spun on one foot and threw himself at Alicia. Her scream, accompanying the police-car siren through the still air, rang in my ears. I acted on impulse, knowing only one thing to do.

As Alicia screamed, I smashed the metal pole across Vladimere’s head.

The End

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