The wind was brutal, whipping around the corners of the concrete jungle with a howl of rage as it sought to escape, back to the freedom of the open plains. I hadn’t been prepared for the wind, and it cut through my overcoat as if it was nothing more than a thin shirt.
Nonetheless, I kept my eyes open, ever-searching, always on the move. I had to stay alert.
Down at my wrist, my watch was ticking away. The tiny clicks as the second hand swung around were gone, torn away by the wind, but I could still hear each increment as though a shock was surging through my body.
I had to time this perfectly.
Behind me, I could hear cries at the door, the sound of heavy bodies slamming against wood. The men were already at the room of my hotel suite, throwing their weight against the door frame in hopes of cracking the locking mechanism.
They didn’t stand a chance – at least, not with just a shoulder or a kick. I had done my reconnaissance well. I knew that the doors here were made of solid-core oak. They weren’t going to yield to anything less than a battering ram.
The seconds were still ticking away. I stared down, knowing that my time was running out.
I’d staged a rehearsal a couple of weeks ago, with little more than a rock thrown through a jewelry store window and a “borrowed” police radio to announce that the figure was on the roof. The police had a helicopter. It took eight minutes for the chopper to arrive.
I had under two minutes left.
Staring down, distance stretched away towards the vanishing point. The ground. It was night, too dark to see the people hustling up and down the sidewalks twenty stories below me. I could, however, see the lights of the cars, tiny little mechanical bugs trying to find their way around the maze of gridlock.
From this spot, in the heart of downtown, it took nearly forty minutes to reach the airport. That wasn’t a viable option. It would never beat a helicopter.
The cries behind me were getting louder – and they were accompanied by a sound I didn’t want to hear. Wood was splintering. I didn’t know whether I’d gotten a room with a cracked door, or if perhaps all of those donuts the officers had been eating were giving them extra bulk to throw at the door, but they were getting through.
I didn’t have to look down at my watch. My time was almost up.
My feet were clad in leather boots, well broken in and nearly silent on most surfaces. They were also smooth on the soles, sacrificing a bit of grip in exchange for not leaving any mark behind me. Currently, those boots were balancing on a seven inch stone ledge.
Another splintering crack. I glanced to my left. The window was just a couple of feet away. I could take two steps to my left, toss the bag slung under my arm back inside, and then follow it…
…to what? To the waiting arms of the police. To being caught red-handed with the evidence, to a guaranteed ten year prison sentence. And ironically, I wouldn’t have the money for a lawyer. No country club prison for me. I’d be behind the bars with the real heavy hitters. I wouldn’t make it a year.
No, I couldn’t go back. I had to move forward, as risky as it might be.
On my wrist, my watch buzzed, sending a jolt into my skin.
I stepped off the ledge.
As I fell, I glanced off to my right. I could hear the faint thwop of rotors as the police helicopter began to close in on the location. But they weren’t quite close enough yet. Their spotlight couldn’t see me as I fell.
Down, down I dropped, the wind rushing past my face and making me squint. I had practiced this before, but I still knew that it would hurt. I had to be ready.
I hit the top of the aboveground train just as it came around the corner, shooting along on its track, eighteen stories above the ground. Its howl was loud enough to drown out my own cry as I landed heavily on the roof.
I’d just barely made it. I was on top of the first car.
I grappled for a moment, scrambling to gain purchase, making sure I wouldn’t slide off that metal skin. My hand checked beneath my coat, ensuring that the bag was still there. I hadn’t lost it.
I let out a breath I hadn’t realized that I had been holding. But I wasn’t clear yet. There was a tunnel coming up, one that would leave me a splatter on the stone. I had one more jump to make.
I glanced over the side, watching the roofs go rushing past. I could see my target building, rapidly approaching. I pulled in one more deep breath.
My watched buzzed again.
I threw myself off the train.