The Way Home
From my office window I search for the way home. Past the identikit desks illuminated in a sickly pale orange glow, the outside world looks stark and clean, compelling me, drawing me outwards. It’s a short step past the photocopier to the window, a leg up onto the low bookcase and then I can duck under the open pane and out onto the roof.
The breeze hits me like an awakening. Behind me I can hear the gasps of surprise and the occasional shout of alarm. Questions float through the aperture behind me. Figures move to follow me, restrain me. I take a deep breath, then let it go, pushing out the stress from my shoulders and back, the weight from my neck. The wind carries the fog from before my eyes, and I can see the horizon peeking between the cityscapes endless slabs of glass and concrete.
I lose my jacket as I race along the edge of the low rooftop, leaving it behind me to flutter away with the displaced pigeons. The end is built high with Air Con units, which clang and bounce as I take them in my stride, up, up before a great leap across the street and onto low spiralling car park ramp opposite. A startled motorist desperately beeps his horn at me as my feet pound up his bonnet and over his rooftop, springboarding me upwards onto a concrete ledge that runs around this temple to the automobile.
I offer homage to the building by leaving my shoes on the outside, vaulting into the maze of vehicles and making for the far side, feeling the grip on the rough floor on my feet. I go out of the building like a gymnast, hands on the parapet and a graceful vault out into the air, landing on the outlying buttress just beyond. In contrast to the surfaces now behind me, the church is a knotwork of worn stone, black with the pollution and grime of ages. My trousers fray and tear as I catch the outlying edges, but nothing stops me as I bound from gargoyle to gargoyle, higher and higher up to the very point of the roof.
It is only here that I pause to catch my breath. Around the church stands modern day monoliths, chrome and steel and glass towering to the sky and dwarfing a building once built to dominate. I turn around, for a moment overwhelmed, searching for another glimpse of the far horizon. And there! A shaft of light, a blaze of blue sky, along the rooftop, onto the toytown colours of the redeveloped Shopping Mall and there, there I can see it. I howl at grey skies, throwing my arms back and shedding my shirt, the last of my corporate skin, and then I’m off, blood pounding in my ears.
The people in the plaza far below gawp as I clear the hundred-yard gap to the Mall, and the shoppers in the neon lit consumer purgatory flinch at the heavy pounding of my feet over their heads. In my wake glass shatters and steel buckles, sparks erupt from the lights and water gushes from mains. The buildings ahead of me are closing, Giant Guardians attempting to constrain me, and I make one leap from the collapsing ruin of the Mall, sinking into itself behind me,
I sail into the air like a god, a golden spear of pure intent, aimed at the narrowing gap and freedom. The grey sentinels loom over me, arms made up of walkways, scaffolding and the gaudy yellows of construction cranes creating a net in front of me. For one glorious, stretched moment I’m soaring, free, but I am not fast enough, and the arms close around me. They pull me into their chests, towards the dull beating of their grey hearts, naked and afraid. I am startled that where I expect a deep boom I hear only the light tick of a clock. I close my eyes against it, as the arms fold around me, fingers make of desks, and chairs, and computers. My world is the soft tick of its terrible heart.
I open my eyes. The clock says 5pm. I sigh, grab my coat, and head for the bus.