“Come on,” he yells. The door opens to a fire escape, and though the blast of cold air over my skin is refreshing for a moment, it turns painful very fast. Not to mention that looking down from this height while everything is still blurry gives me an intense rush of vertigo. But voices call out behind us, and I know someone’s in pursuit, so even through my drunken haze, I feel the adrenaline kick in and my senses sharpen.
We tumble down the metal stairs, Jonathan in front of me, swinging himself over the railing to land in the middle of the next flight down, me doing my best to stay on the balls of my feet so that my heels don’t get caught on a step, and Damien behind me urging me forward, grabbing my elbow when I stumble toward the bottom.
And then we run. The door bangs open at the top of the fire escape, but we’re nearly out of the alley and turning the corner back toward the front of the building. Ahead of us though, in one graceful motion, Jonathan halts, pirouettes, and runs the opposite direction down the street from where we should be headed. When I reach the corner, I see why. There are government cars in front of the building, and plenty of people standing around them.
Damien plows into my back, and we nearly topple onto the sidewalk, but we grab on to each other and stay upright.
“This way,” I gasp, turning to chase after Jonathan. After a few steps though, I know we’re in it for the long haul, and that the shoes have to go. I hop on each foot and kick off Ash’s heels, bending to scoop them up and keep running at the same time. The motion sets something off in my stomach, and I’ve never felt as sick as I do now, racing down the empty street next to Damien, passing warehouses on the left and right that shift and sway in my field of vision. Ahead of us, Jonathan cuts right, and we follow. Then left, then right again. And I wonder if he’s just guessing, or if he actually knows where we’re going. I know we’re heading northeast, but that doesn’t help us find Polar.
When we dead-end into a chain-link fence, Jonathan doesn’t hesitate. He climbs it, dropping down on the other side onto two feet. Damien and I look at each other. He starts climbing before I do, which means I’m overruled. My feet are numb from the frozen ground, and my hands aren’t much better, so I swear loudly the entire way up just to distract myself. The pain in my side is back – tearing, stabbing, aching, all at once. My arms are weak and clumsy from the alcohol. My knee scrapes along a jagged link on the fence, and heat blossoms across my kneecap. When I reach the top, I feel like that last swing of my leg over isn’t going to happen.
“M, hurry!” Jonathan calls up as Damien lands beside him. Even through the pain and the haze, I still feel indignant that I was shown up by the boys.
“I hate you!” I yell down, clinging to the wires with cramping hands. “I hate everything!”
“That’s fine, just get to the other side.”
Listing every curse word I know, I hitch one leg over, fully aware that I’m flashing both of them, but not in any mood to care. I manage to get a hand over, and pull myself halfway across, but that’s it for my arms. They give out, and I’m falling. My shoulder slams into the top of the fence, piercing the skin and sending me spinning onto my back through the air. I cry out and anticipate the ground pounding up into my bones, but then I land onto two hard things that give slightly. My head whips back and I’m looking up at Jonathan. He caught me.