Friday, August 15, 2008

Chapter 19d: Shanai's Run III

Time seemed to slow down as she worked her way down the board. Every bouncing second seemed like minutes as she pulled herself forward with her hands and arms. She used her knees, feeling the edge of the plank to assure herself that she wasn't about to slide off. With every pull she imagined the lumber slipping off the edge of the windowsill. She saw herself tumbling down into the alley, hearing bone crack as her leg struck the hard packed dirt. Screaming through the pain of a broken leg as the alley filled with hungry eyes and gore crusted mouths.

Stop thinking about it, Shanai. You ain't helpin' yourself with those thoughts. Just keep pulling. The other roof has to be inches away.

Her finger scraped stone. She pushed herself forward, grabbed the gritty lip of a ledge and pulled until her chin touched stone. Shanai opened her eyes and drug herself onto the roof where she lay facing the sky and panting. Her heart pounded to a crazy rhythm in her chest as she stared up at the sky and thanked luck for getting her this far. The rigid edge of her bow pushed uncomfortably against her back, arrow feathers tickled her sweaty neck.

Rolling over to her stomach, she pushed herself up, not waiting for her heart to settle down. She lacked the luxury of time, knowing she had to get to the next roof and down to the street fast. The longer she waited the more crowded the streets would get.

A dozen paces brought her to the stone lip of the far edge of the building. A rickety wooden ladder poked above the roof and led down to the alleyway twenty feet below. No one walked between the narrow walls. The alley created a six foot gap between the buildings, an easy jump.

She walked backward five paces and took a deep breath. Though the jump would be an easy one the distance to the alley below still needled her mind. Images of her falling to the alley floor after missing the far ledge by a hairs breadth kept flashing through her mind. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. You've got enough to worry about without adding imaginary fears. This is a jump any five year old could make and if Marchas were here right now he would have me in tears with his laughter.

Well, Marchas isn't here now. It's just me.

Before she could feed more fuel to her fears, without giving any more thought to her nagging worries, she ran and leapt. Shanai cleared the edge of the far building with a foot to spare, taking a few steps to slow her momentum down. She looked back and smiled. See, nothing to it.

Ten paces brought her to the far edge of the next building, where another rickety ladder poked over the edge of the building like piers. A stone building faced her, a story taller than the one she stood on, separated by another six foot alleyway. She leaned over the edge and peered into the dark alley. Other than garbage piled next to the ladder the way looked clear.

Before climbing down the ladder she walked to the front of the building and slowly peaked over it's edge into the street below. A few undead meandered down the street to the East, lurching toward the building where Ash died. Her destination led West.

Shanai straightened her bow against her back, returned to the ladder and mounted the top rung. With a final look below she descended into the alley.

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