Stepping Up 2.04

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Ok, this is going to be the dicey part.

There’s only one dicey part? That’s great news!

This is going to be the first dicey part.

Fantastic. So what is the dicey bit just now?

Kid crouched at the mouth of a drainage tunnel poking out of thick undergrowth, looking each way before edging out, slipping under the nearby ramp of the highway, weaving through twisted concrete growths looming in the burnt glow of the streetlights like reaching, grasping specters in the pre-dawn. He ducked into the shadow of the smallest of the concrete twists, peeking around at the empty intersection.

Not getting hit by cars crossing the street?

I think we’re pretty good at that by now.

Gah. Focus. Why are we here?

Wait, I thought that’s what we were trying to figure out?

Not ‘here’ as in ‘in existence’. Just right now. ‘Here’ as in ‘this particular place’.

We are here because this was the exit closest to the sea wall.

And going to the seawall because?

Longest section of elevated wall running to the market.

And we want an elevated path because?

Because we. . . Oh. I see what you mean.

This is the longest stretch of surface level on the route, so one of the higher chances that we get seen.

And since being seen might mean getting beaten, we don’t want to be seen. Ok, I’m back in gear.

Which is why we are hunched by this curvy stone thing in the morning dark, checking to see if there is anyone around before we make a run for it.

After the cursory search revealed no lurking packs of marauders Kid bolted across the narrow intersection tucked beneath the overpass.  Just across the street Kid slipped over a footbridge that branched across train tracks to a little resting area overlooking the waterfront.

Low benches masquerading as steps nested up to the pool of a central fountain, faded little flowers dotting the tiles.  Stairs descended to the lower boardwalk, looping around the support beam holding loft the small viewing deck. Rails interwoven with vines and shrubbery bound the platform edge, beyond which the gleam of the moon hung above her reflected twin in the still water of the bay.

A look around at the empty waterfront, and Kid hopped to the top of the railing at the edge of the suspended micro-courtyard, where rail met the wall of the adjacent building. A hand on the wall to stabilize himself, Kid stood. He reached to grab the edge of the roof, just above his head, and with a quick surge, pulled himself up to the roof.

As he snapped a look over cluttered rooftop Kid turned to jump onto the waist-high support wall bracing the back of the building, furthest from the water. Twisting to square the wall beneath him, Kid rose and began running along the wall, parallel to the waterfront, twin moons at his side.

Like escorts!


Like two big sisters, holding our hand, walking us to the first day of the future.

Is he broken?

Shut up. I liked it.

How cool would it be to have another moon?

The wall ran straight, continuing even after the hotel’s edge. For two quick strides the ground on the water side fell at least four times further away than did the ground on the city side, which was already at the edge of how far Kid might be comfortable risking a drop. After the short gap another hotel followed, and on Kid ran. Landward, the city loomed against the still dark morning sky, glowing highlights of the towering structures declaring the limit of the reaches of the night.

After four iterations of the same hotel and short gaps Kid reached the end of the wall and stopped. Sliding his bag off his shoulders Kid dropped to sit at the edge of the wall. He wrapped his bag around a cable which anchored to the corner of the wall then extended across the road before the twisting steel disappeared into the darkness beneath the in-sweeping overpass in the middle of the knots of merging and emerging roads and tunnels.

Kid took one last look at the two moons, and dropped off the wall.

Kid clung to the handles of his bag as the cable hissed against the waxed canvas, the sudden jerk of his weight pulling at shoulder sockets, sliding past the knotted steel and concrete overpasses, twisting his fingers through the leather to release one handle of the bag to free the other to whip up and over the line, dropping Kid to the sloped earth which he met with a collapsing roll.

Rising to his feet Kid rolled his shoulders and neck. Reslinging his bag, he trudged up the hill. Emerging on the city side of the highway Kid darted across an empty parking lot.

Kid scampered up a long ladder, pale green metal matching the back of the building to which it was attached, past three separate landings with doors shut, lights dark. On the roof of the building Kid turned, blew a kiss to the two moons, bright in the still dark sky and matching water, then spun and ran across the rooftop right onto the connecting roof of the bridge spanning the street, confident and sure of his footwork in the near dark.

As well he should be.

He slipped into the back door of the market on the floor third from the top. Just around the corner was the public bathroom for this end of the floor, and Kid ducked in and leaned close to the group to check for any feet not belonging to himself.

Reassured he was alone, Kid pried up the grate in the corner and dropped back into the familiar underground. This section of underground was a broader collection pipe dotted with drainage openings from the overhead market shops. During heavier rains this area could get a little floody, but it hadn’t ever even washed over Kid’s whole shoe when he was down there.

Some of these drainage pipes opened to access tunnels for some of the municipal maintenance crews, sewage, electrical and the like. They wore different colored suits to indicate which particular utility they were charged with preserving. None of them were there now. They were easy to spot and avoid.

They used lights.

Kid made his way up, and down, and through the underground, sometimes dragging the great waxed canvas bag he had found so long ago, that now held a change of clothes as a matter of course. Kid wormed from another low window in the brush, peering about bare sidewalk.

Kid jogged around the corner and into the alley, up a trash bin, snagging a ladder hanging from the side of the building. At the top of the building, he changed clothes, and waited as the sun began to peek over the horizon. Kid watched the gentle turn of the reddened sky, and took off with a quick smile, flowing from roof to roof with practiced skill.

So, I’ve been thinking.

That is never a good sign.

Don’t be mean.

I think we should name our moves.


Yeah, you know? The different skills we use while running the roofs?

What? No. That sounds real lame.

Who’s mean now? I don’t think it’s that bad of an idea.

What? Wait, why.

I think it will help us think about them, and understand what they can do better.


To be better?. I mean, if we are going to do this, we need to be better. To make sure we don’t…

Drop. No, I get that much, I mean why would the naming moves help us get better?

Oh. Um, well, when we’re trying to decide what to do describing a technique could take a while? We don’t want to debate between “land on feet and then fall forward into a roll” and “dive head first into the ground, tucking to roll over the shoulder” while we are falling from a height that might injure us if we choose the wrong one.

Seems less dorky when you put it like that.

Kid launched himself into the air, planted firm on his whole foot square in the middle of an air conditioning unit, leg muscles bunching beneath him as he shifted to keep driving his momentum forward, and up, driving a knee and an arm to launch again.

Bound Step!


Hands stretched to the edge of the wall above him, Kid’s palm slapped the rough surface fingers hooking and  pulling, shooting himself on force of his gathered momentum up and straight over the wall in a low dive.

Pull Shot!


Kid ducked his chin as he rushed toward the roof-ground, extending his forearms over his head, rolling over his shoulder to spring up onto his feet, still running, low grin on his face.

Roll Out!

Curving his loping run toward the edge next to him, Kid lunged, one leg up, planting the ball of his foot against the rising wall at his side and pushing forward and up, driving his momentum up, twisting to lean back a bit and then driving straight off the wall in front of him, one, two steps up the wall, ducking forward to reach down and grab the edge rushing beneath his feet, twisting his hips and knees to the side to flip his legs up and over the wall, shooting out into the darkness feet first, to a drop that was at least three times his height.

Wall Walk to Twist Shot!

So, you’ve been thinking about this, then?

He looked down at the roof rushing up at him and the large air conditioning unit closer than that. Squirming in the air, Kid pointed his feet straight down, centering the whirring box beneath his body stretched out in the dark. Kid’s feet smacked into the metal, and his body collapsed like a piston, pivoting as his muscles fired, catching his gathered for and diverting it forward in another long rolling dive.

Target Strike to a Roll Out! Boom!

Well, time to see just how accurate our mental map is.

Wait, we’re just gonna go for it?

Mind the drop.

Kid ran straight at the last wall of the last building in the chain, sharp glances to each corner to mark his bearing, hopped to place his hands on the waist high wall and flip his legs over the smooth concrete, dropping over wall into the night.

Twist shot

Falling onto the rippling aluminum roof of the skywalk stretching four stories over the road below, Kid landed and rolled forward.

To the Roll Out.

The skyway led to the parking garage across the street, with a section of chain link fence to dissuade people from doing the precise thing Kid was doing as he ran across the metal siding, diving off the edge of the walkway to grab the bar anchoring the edge of the section of fence, and swinging his legs around to land on the fourth floor of the parking garage.

Twist Side Shot.

That was not a bad route.

We should remember that one.

Right? Maybe a hundred surface steps from window to Library door? Noted.

In the haze of the memory cavern a green line rippled down the replica of the city, tracing the path from the cave to the Library.

That naming stuff might need some work though.

What do you mean? Those were awesome names and super easy to understand!

Ah, sure? But they didn’t really help with the whole quicker reference goal. Thinking “twist side shot to a roll out” still isn’t quick enough that it helps with urgent decisions.

Any better ideas?

I was thinking something with numbers, maybe something with numbers? Like one number corresponds to a move, and then if we wanted to talk about Move 1 and then doing Move 2 we could just say twelve or something?

Hey, did you notice that the bruises and stuff from yesterday didn’t hurt as much while we were running the roofs?

I didn’t, but now that you mention it. . .

That’s pretty neat, right.

Hurts again now, though.

Kid reached the elevator on the very far end of the garage pressing the button and waiting to ride the car down to the first floor, where he walked out onto the sidewalk to face the Library.  Kid crossed the street, and entered the Library, where he took found a book and curled up in a corner chair to wait for Twitch.

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