I skate across the rooftop, praying I have enough space to gain momentum. My eyes focus on the sheet of scrap metal propped against the building's cornice. Bracing myself, I sink low into the bend of my knees. Heart pounding I release my clenched muscles and jump.
There is a millisecond of weightlessness before I yank franticly on a chain attached to my harness. Large mechanical wings, crafted from hundreds of impossibly thin chromite feathers, spread out on either side of me and a current of air jerks me upwards.
The wings are Reia's latest creation. The tempered plumes match the ones on my night owl goggles. Reia's a genius. Her gadgets are a girl's best friend. That's why she's my ...view middle of the document...
A moment later, a beam of light surrounds me.
My weight shifts as I search frantically for the light's source and the wings become unbalanced. I work quickly to right myself and adjust the setting on my harness. The top of the building looms towards me as I fall. Luckily, I am able to regain control of the wings in time to glide into a landing.
In my mind, I see myself touching down on the wheels of my boots and spinning gracefully to a stop. While a healthy imagination is good for the soul, it’s not always practical.
I'm moving much too fast when my feet make contact with the roof’s smooth surface and my arms flail helplessly as I fight to regain my balance. It’s a losing battle. My feet fly up from under me and I am blinded by a burst of pain. The wings, still spread are crushed beneath me.
I lay there several seconds; chest heaving as the pain slowly subsides. Circles of color and light dance before my closed eyelids. The distant roar and wandering searchlights of the eagle eye remind me why I was so urgent to land. I sit up and twist to examine the wings. They are bent in several places. Reia can fix them but it doesn’t look like I’ll be flying any more tonight. I’m only a little disappointed.
The lights that caught my attention the moment before were getting closer. I pull the chain to retract my wings, and flick a switch on the heel of my skate to draw in the wheels, then creep to the edge of the roof. I scramble down a service ladder leading to the alleyway below find a recessed door. Slipping into the narrow space, I trust the shadows to cloak my presence.
It takes several long minutes for the Eagle Eye to reach me. The resounding howl from the aircraft's propellers gets louder as it approaches. Holding my breath and I press myself deeper into the alcove as a spotlight shines into the alley. The gusts worked up by the rotating blades sent litter and debris dancing down the narrow walkway. I bite my tongue swallowing a squeal when I feel something tiny skitter across my forearm. My whole body twitches with the urge to flee the dank corner.
I exhale deeply as the light fades, the air settles and the deafening whir of the eagle eye wanes. I fight the urge to run away from my hiding place, shrieking like a little girl. That doesn't stop me from spending several minutes brushing of imaginary bugs.
Walking slowly to give the surveillance craft time to gain some distance, I head to the end of the walkway and peek around the corner. The eagle eye is hovering above the pavement, several meters away. Several men are perched on the small barge searching the street below. Three large propellers keep the vehicle in the air.
They’re looking for offenders. Just being out in the streets after curfew is enough to get sent to a work camp. I’ve known people who have spent time in places like that. I’m not trying to experience it for myself.
I’m not far from home and the air feels good. Cool and damp. In another place and another time, I...