Nancy disappears through the door I had first seen her arrive through, leaving me standing alone in the foyer. After a brief moment, she reappears at the doorway and beckons me to follow.
“Come on, kid. You don’t want me changing my mind, do you? It happens more often than you might think.”
I hastily follow her into the back room. A small kitchen, filled mostly with stainless steel tables, is what she weaves through before stopping against a back wall. She reaches up to a string attached to an exposed light bulb, looks at me, winks, and pulls on the string.
A two by two square of ceiling pulls down to reveal a ladder leading to the roof.
“Look kid, I’d love to come with you and all, but…” She pulls on her right pant leg revealing a black device strapped to her ankle. “My dad’s got me under house arrest to make sure I don’t do anything stupid. That’s how this came about,” she says, indicating the access hatch in the roof. “I’ve got some friends who visit from time to time who’d rather not get spotted coming through the front door. Once you get up there, I’m sure you’ll be able to find the secret way into the tower without too much trouble.”
I look up at the hole in the ceiling and then look back at her. This could all still be a trap, but seeing as I’m heading into a trap anyways, what does it really matter? Besides, who would set up a trap before the trap?
“Thanks,” I say, extending a hand to her.
“Kid.” She smiles and places the palm of her hand against my chin. “Knowing you’re still alive has made my day.” She turns my cheek toward her and plants a kiss on me. Her big lips leave a large wet spot where they touch. She turns my face back toward hers and looks me deep in the eyes. Her smile suddenly becomes a stern stare. “Now make sure you don’t die. I’d hate to know I’m the last one to see you alive.”
“I’ll do what I can,” I say weakly.
“No,” she reprimands. “You stay alive. We need you. I need you. You’re the only sense of hope left in this stupid country.”
“Nancy,” I say, uncertain where I’m going with it. “It’s people like you who are really making a difference. All I’m trying to do is not get killed while doing my job. I’m no hero. I’m just a smuggler.”
“You’re more of a hero than you’ll ever know.” Her smile returns. “Now go, quick, before I change my mind and realize I could do a whole lot with the ten million dollars they’ve got on your head.”
“It’s twenty million now,” I say with a smile.
I hustle up the rope ladder and she smacks me on the butt as I do. I step out onto her roof and she closes the hatch behind me. I look around for this supposed secret entrance she said I should have no trouble finding. The only way I find off this roof is a series of fire escapes which lead to the top of the building next door.
With nothing else to go on, I decide to follow the path available, even if it does head away from the tower I wish to get to. About two thirds of the way up the first fire escape, I realize it will only take me to the apartment on the top floor of the building, not to the actual roof. There is another roof a few feet away from where I stand, so I make the small jump off the fire escape to the asphalt over there.
Now that I’m here, I’m not feeling any more certain about how to get where I’m going. I can see the Hancock easily from where I’m at. I can see the entire block which separates us. Outside of an apartment building directly across the alley from me, all of the buildings are only a few stories high, not nearly useful enough to get me to the Hancock without being spotted.
I run to the other end of the roof I’m on, toward a ladder which goes up another three stories to the top of yet another building. I’m really grasping at straws here to try and find the secret entrace Nancy said would be so easy to find.
Slowly I take the ladder to the top and climb over onto yet another roof, this one covered in some sort of rubber material. Again I look out around me to see what chance for escape I have and see nothing. There aren’t any other buildings for me to get to from here, at least none higher. The Hancock still looms as far in the distance as before, although now I’m even more aware of how futile it will be to try and use this method to get there.
Then I notice something in the corner of the roof, a little box colored the same color as everything within Nancy’s shop, chocolate brown.
It can’t be a coincidence, can it?
I walk toward the box slowly, not entirely certain what I should be afraid of, but this close to the enormous building of pure evil, I’m not feeling too comfortable about anything.
I wonder how Eve and The Geek are doing. I wonder if they managed to stay together, or if they were also split apart, maybe nabbed by the bald man and his cronies.
I kneel down beside the box and slowly open it, curious about how there appears to be nothing protecting it from being opened by anyone who happens upon it. I suppose there are probably not too many people who are browsing around the rooftops of Boston.
Inside, I find a lump of fabric and steel. Pulling out the first thing my hand grabs on to, I appear to have found something which looks an awful lot like a harness with an attached helmet. Looking around, I try to determine if this is some sort of joke or if there is something this vest of straps and metal is supposed to be used with. There are no cranes or high buildings or anything nearby and I hardly believe it’s to be used for climbing. I look down at the alleyway below. If it is to be used for getting down, that’s the exact opposite of what I’m looking for.
Then I notice what I had assumed to be a power line, stretching out from this corner of the building off into the distance. The only building tall enough for it to be connected to at the other end: Hancock Tower.
A rush of energy crushes me as I instantly become aware of what this harness is for and how it is related to the thick, but not thick enough for me to feel comfortable, cable which stretches off into nothing.
The secret entrance Nancy was referring to appears to be nothing more than a zip line which leads directly from the top of this building into the side of Hancock Tower. Not only am I headed to my doom, I’m supposed to get there being held in the air by a piece of string as I speed toward a brick wall of a building.
I drop the safety vest and back away from the cable.
“No,” I say out loud to myself, afraid that if I don’t speak the word out loud, I might not realize it’s the decision I’ve made. “Not a chance.”
I’ve come far enough, faced enough of my fears. I’m done. No more. I’ll stay here, right here on this roof. They’re bound to find me, right? I can use my ear piece, direct attention to myself, and there it is, I’m caught and can call it a day.
Then, again, I find myself thinking about Eve and The Geek. What if they have been captured? And what if being captured didn’t work out the way we had planned? What if Miss Nile killed them on sight without getting to the bottom of anything, figuring anyone who fell into her trap wasn’t worth keeping around any longer?
No, that can’t be the case, can it? Eve and The Geek are smarter than that.
Maybe I should turn on the earpiece and check in. It would be ridiculous for me to go flying through the air to find out they’re already dead and everything’s hopeless, right?
Of course, turning on the earpiece could be exactly what Miss Nile wants me to do. It could ruin the whole thing. Heck, even if The Geek and Eve have been captured, what if they are still both alive, just being held in such a way only I could find them?
And what if the only way in which I can save the two people I love most in this world is to strap a vest across my chest and hurtle recklessly across the skyline into the side of a building?
Reluctantly, I bend over and pick up the harness.
This country is going to owe me a whole heckuva lot whenever I get done saving it.
Hanging from the back of the harness, I find a long cable attached to a yellow device with what appears to be wheels inside. I recognize this to be more than likely the single thing which will keep me from falling to my doom.
I climb up onto the ledge which separates me from the ground and slip the device over the cable, closing the carabiner behind it as I do, connecting me to the cable.
Taking a deep breath, again I remind myself who I’m doing this for and jump, nothing between me and the ground, but air.
Go to Chapter Thirty-One