Chapter 23

Brian walked the five blocks back into the hornet’s nest. Fortunately, many of the hornets were now at the parking deck. As Brian approached, he saw that a perimeter had been established and they were monitoring traffic in and out and convincing people to detour if they didn’t need to be there. As Brian stood to assess the situation, two guys walked out of an apartment and down the steps past him. He looked up at the door, ran and grabbed it before it closed. He took five flights of stairs to the top and walked onto the roof.

There was a crowd of people standing at the edge closest to the construction site, all watching the spectacle he had created. His treasure was on top of the apartment building on the block between this building and the construction site. He was going to have to take a slightly longer route.

He looked around the buildings on his right. They were a couple of stories higher and would require a longer jump to cross the streets below. He jogged over to the other end of the building and found the same thing, but there were fewer people at this end of the building. So, he decided to go for it. He climbed up on the ledge, looked back at the crowd to make sure no one noticed, then turned and jumped. He landed on top of the building to find it fairly dark and empty.  No public roof access, he thought. Then he ran to the edge and looked at the next building. It appeared to be an office or something other than apartments. The roof was two stories higher, but from there he would have a good vantage point to make it to his destination.

He stood up on the ledge and made the next jump. He landed on the edge and hopped down. He started to jog over to the edge facing his prize, when he noticed a group of guys at the opposite end of the building, wearing dark clothes and helmets. They were carrying rifles and they were watching the construction site and the street below. “Crap!” Brian thought. He fumbled through his backpack and found the black shirt. He pulled it over his head and zipped the backpack and put it on his back. He thought for a moment about his next move, creeping over the edge for one more jump, then his return. He can’t come back this way, so he has to keep the backpack with him.

He started creeping toward the edge. When he got to the edge, he looked over at the cops.  They were still focused on the construction site, but from this angle, he could see it was more curiosity than focus. Since he had flown away, they assumed he was no longer nearby. He waited a moment before standing up. Once he stood, he was going to have to move quickly, since he would be exposed, in better view with the lights of the city behind him.

Then, the cops started walking toward the mechanical room and down the stairs. Brian froze so he wouldn’t be seen. He waited until the last one was in the stairwell for a few seconds. Then, he scanned the roofline for any sign of movement, just in case one of them stayed behind. After a minute, he stood up and looked over at the apartment building where he had stashed the JPL device. There was a small crowd standing over on the side closest to the construction site.

He decided to risk jumping to the apartment. However, he needed to jump to the middle of the block, since there were spectators on both ends. Most of them had started to lose interest and were chatting amongst themselves. He decided to jump as far as possible and make it to the side of the mechanical building and wait, making sure no one saw. He did, and landed within six feet of it, then scrambled to stand next to it and blend in.

After a moment, he looked around. No one appeared to have noticed, so he moved quietly around the edge and into the storage building. He carefully moved the tools out of the way and retrieved the duffle. He moved to the door and peaked out.  A man and woman were walking by, headed to the stairway. He waited for them to pass, then eased out and around the back side of the building. He decided it was probably best to go back the way he came, after all, since the building was now free of cops and probably the darkest path out. It would be a long, high jump, but he felt it was possible.

He put the duffle strap over his shoulder, checking the straps to make sure they were secure. It felt a little awkward with the backpack on, but he managed to make it feel secure. Then he looked around at the two crowds and decided to go for it. He took 6 steps and leaped as high and far as he could. It was enough to get him over, but not quite high enough. He managed to grab the top edge, but there was a loud thud, as he hit the building. As he struggled to climb up, he heard someone yell “What’s that guy doing?”

Continue to Chapter 24
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