Running Free

Around us the browns and greys of the town were growing darker with the failing sun. All the buildings surrounding us, mountains in this urban maze. Cars snaking their way back home like herds of multicoloured animals. Lampposts beginning to wake, like the stars in the sky, bathing the pavement below us with an incandescent yellow light. And as if some greater force thought that the scene still wasn't fine enough the sun slowly sinking into the distance on our right was staining the sky with shades varying from bright yellow to deep red and then to the darkest of navy blues. We caught this scene for a split second before we fell back to the concrete. Rolling to continue our momentum and avoid snapping our legs like dried up twigs we kept going. The picturesque view we clocked in the air was replaced by the darkness of the buildings closing in on us and the darkened sky that was becoming scattered with stars. We were greeted by the stagnant haze of the dirty suburb, as though the floor was no longer the concrete rooftops of abandoned offices but rather a festering swamp full of dead, half rotten, things that had been under a hot sun for days. It filled our nostrils like cotton wool causing us to gag and retch. The rumbling of buses and the loud persistent beeping of cars mixed with the noises of the pedestrians was loud in our ears: an earthquake of noise. It was as if we had jumped to a completely different place on Earth in the seconds we were suspended in the air. We shot forward, slightly disorientated by the sudden change.

Sweat was trickling down into my hair, causing salty waterfalls to cascade from its wiry strands so that I was slowly becoming blinded by my overgrown, soaked, fringe. I brushed it away and continued, relentlessly keeping my feet pounding across the floor. Damn this was tiring. I felt so exhausted. The cowboy style handkerchief mask was hot and sticky around my nose and mouth but I daren't take it off for fear of being seen and recognised. My dark shirt clung to my skin like a mountaineer to a rock face and my jeans were tight around my aching thighs. My pale hands were covered with cuts and scrapes so that they were interlaced with a latticework of dark lines. Behind me I could hear the regular pounding of feet and knew it was my co-runner. Judging from the fact that I could hear her stumbling slightly as we landed I could tell she was just as drained as me. But it wasn't long now. Soon we would be resting in comfort . . . well that was the plan anyway!

We flew through the air again. But this time the view was different. It had changed to the dark night scenery that we loved in these situations. Now it was not only the sweat that was soaking me but also the rain starting to fall all around us. The lampposts below us were the only source of light apart from the occasional car headlights that sheared through the night; like axes through dark wood. The stars that gazed down on us, innocent bystanders in the shady night. The yellow sun had been replaced by the silver moon that was now rising above the urban giants. No wonder they call this ‘free' running! The open rooftops in the darkness provided us with a sea of possibilities. To be able to go nearly wherever we wanted; to be able to stop almost whenever we pleased. Ha! This was true freedom. One of my previous co-runners once told me to ‘live for the moments you can't put into words!' Finally I see what they meant by that. This was a perfect evening to fly.

Then I spotted our destination, draped through the centre of town, a black snake that slithered with serene grace and splendour. Glittering with the stars above, it drifted slowly past with complete ignorance of what we were about to do. Leaping from rooftop to rooftop we didn't slow down as we closed in on our target. This was the end of the line and we wanted to end with a bang! We weren't even perturbed by the now persistent rain pounding down our necks, for it would make this easier to pull off undetected. As we reached the last rooftop and shot across it, adrenaline surging through our veins, my mind filled-as it always did when we did these kinds of stunts-with doubts. What if it went wrong? What if we get caught or injured? But as we reached the end of the rooftop and leapt into the frozen night air, all doubts left me in the thrill of the flight. Pointing our toes we shot towards the dark, fluid, mass below. With an almighty splash that was lost to our ears, we hit! At first the water was soothing against my fatigue but soon hundreds of knives slashed at my skin and sent tendrils of ice creeping down my spine as the darkness of the river engulfed me!


The End

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