After tightening the straps of my stream-lined backpack, I took off down the dark alley at a steady run. My stride lengthened and my foot speed increased as I turned a corner and started down a long stretch of empty sidewalk. I pushed my pace to a sprint; a sprint I felt confident I could maintain for at least a mile. The treadmill training I’d been doing had thus far proved that my increased production of red blood cells and the genetically-enhanced endurance of my fast-twitch muscles were the perfect combination.
My silver sneakers created a blur in my peripheral vision as I caught glimpses of my reflection in the barred shop windows. I smirked as I thought of all those movies that showed women running in ridiculous high-heeled boots. Clearly whoever decided that was sexy had never actually tried it.
As I approached the end of the straightaway, I slowed to a walk and recovered from my prolonged sprint with a few deep breaths. A few more blocks and I’d be in the sketchy part of town, which is exactly where I wanted to be however, I didn’t want to be taken by surprise.
I turned down the next alley and took a running leap to catch the bottom rung of a ladder which hung from a series of switchback metal staircases. The alternating stairs and platforms extended up the length of the four story brick building. As I hauled my body weight up rung after rung using only my arms, I marveled at my own strength. A year ago I couldn’t even do one push-up. A year ago I’d been a different person.
Without making a sound, I ascended the stairs until I’d reached the flat top of the building. I started across in a half-crouch, even though I doubted anyone watched the rooftops. I stopped and straightened when I was about two body-lengths from the opposite end of the building. After taking a deep breath and then letting it out slowly, I propelled myself into a sprint, pumping my arms and legs with all I had until my right foot hit the last few inches of rooftop. I pushed off and sailed through the air. My arms and legs kept moving, as if I could run on air. My heart hammered against my ribs and I felt sweat create a slick layer between the real me and my second skin.
My left foot connected with the solid surface of the adjacent rooftop. I immediately pitched forward into a roll and came up running. A grin of pure delight spread across my face; this was fun.
The grin faded as I approached the next gap between buildings. From the street below, I heard a high-pitched scream of pure terror that made my hackles rise. A few feet from the drop, I lay down on my belly and inched forward so that I could peek over the edge. The scene below made my blood run cold. Two men held the arms of thrashing woman, while a third man unbuckled his belt.
I slid my backpack off and pulled out a rope with a grappling hook on one end. As quickly as I could without drawing attention, I hooked the line to the lip of the roof, slid my pack back on and then made sure I had a good grip on the rope. Feet first, I walked out over the edge of the building and prepared to rappel down to the alley.
Sorry boys, tonight is not your night.