Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Chapter 19 - Breaking Point

June 12th, 2008
Neighbor's Roof

Ryan stomped his foot in frustration. "How did I miss that one?" he said aloud to nobody in particular.

"It's okay," Angel Hair tried to console him as he sat, nursing his injured ankle. "I didn't think of it either. But I did get a really great look around. The bad news, of course, is that there are zombies pretty much everywhere. he good news, though, is that I saw a light on in the back of Lilly, past the greenhouses."

"What, like they have power?" T.Rex fought back excitement.

"No, more like a flashlight, but I'm pretty sure it was another living person. I also saw a few other faint sources of light, but most were just flickers. One was from the roof of the Animal Sciences building."

Ryan felt a renewed sense of determination at the news that others might be surviving, and his thoughts turned momentarily to Jenny. He began to think of her, barricaded in her room at Hillenbrand. He shook his head and tried to focus on the task at hand - namely, finding a way back across to the apartment.

Angel Hair began to brainstorm aloud. "Well, we could try and jump back across, but the other roof is too high. The stairs are closer, but the railing is gonna get in the way if we jump. We could...we could call...somebody...on the phones we don't have. Oh, okay, let's just wait for the next shift! They'll get up around three, come looking for us to relieve us, and then when we aren't there, they will come looking for us?"

Ryan began surveying the distance between the two roofs. He started to untie the knots that kept the binocular cord anchored to the lid of the case. Once he had them untied, he gently began to work the cord out until there was a generous pile at his feet. He then began the same process for the cord around the binoculars themselves. "I think I have an idea," said T.Rex.

Angel Hair looked on as Ryan fashioned a rough lasso from the cord of the binoculars. "Even if the others wake up and realize we're gone, they're gonna have fun trying to get us back over," said T.Rex. "I sure as hell am not going to just sit here and be a victim. C'mon, we're engineers. We solve problems. Watch this."

Ryan gently tossed the binocular cord lasso across the gap between the two roofs. It sailed clear out to nowhere before falling to the ground. T.Rex hauled it back up for another try.

"What exactly are you going for, there?" asked Angel Hair.

"Tryin' to snag that gutter pipe," T.Rex said as he heaved the cord once more. This time the dark cord actually made it across the gap and smacked against the siding before falling to the ground. He very gingerly shuffled two steps closer to the edge of the roof before raising the lasso in his right arm. "I'm channeling Cowboy here with this one," he said as he began rotating his wrist to get the loop of cord spinning. Once more he launched the cord, and the spinning motion sent it flying into Angel Hair's lap.

"Heh, sorry about that. I make a better comedian than a rancher, I guess. Lemme keep trying," Ryan said.

Angel Hair kept rubbing his ankle and watching Ryan's attempt to lasso the pipe. "No worries."

Several awful throws later, Ryan finally managed to consistently hit the gutter with his lasso, gaining accuracy slowly. Finally, he tossed the cord with a beautiful arc, and it landed on the roof just above the gutter. Ryan tugged slightly on the cord and it scraped against the roof shingles before dropping over the edge and snaring the gutter.

"Yes!" both Angel Hair and T.Rex whispered together.

"Now, my plan is to pull the aluminum gutter out of its brackets. If I can do it just right, it'll fold about oh, let's say two-thirds down that sixth section - do you see it?" T.Rex said to Angel Hair.

Angel Hair counted softly. "One, two, three...yeah, I think I get it. That way it'll bend down from the roof, over the stairs to the apartment over there, and down to us over on this roof, right?"

T.Rex nodded. "That way we can shimmy up the gutter, across the gap, and to the stairway balcony. Do you think you can climb with your leg like that?"

"Oh, no problem." Angel Hair winced as he stood.

"My only worry is that gutter fold. I know our landlord never bothers to fix those gutters, so the brackets shouldn't be a problem. If the gutter bends in the wrong place, though, it could break."

"Well, check this out," Angel Hair said as he hobbled towards the chimney. He carefully moved to the backside and his upper torso disappeared into the branches. There was a snap, and he returned with a long thick branch. He maneuvered over to the edge of the roof and poked the stick into the gutter at the crucial spot, creasing it.

"Better?" Angel Hair asked, grinning.

"Quite," said T.Rex. "On three, I'll pull, you push the stick to make sure the gutter folds there." Angel Hair nodded.

"One...two...three!" T.Rex whispered as he pulled the cord taut. There was a metallic groan as the aluminum gutter resisted. The tip of the gutter began to shudder, and suddenly the first bracket gave way and popped loose. It fell to the ground, passing through the space where the stairs used to be. The gutter continued to whine as it was slowly folded lower.

As the second bracket popped loose, Ryan noticed a few of the creatures on the ground had begun to notice their efforts. Two of them shuffled closer, arms outstretched and hungry for food. He was tempted to pull harder, but didn't want to risk the cord breaking, or the gutter being damaged. The moan of the zombies below masked the groan of the gutter as the final bracket gave way. Finally free, the gutter slowly but steadily bent downwards and came within arm's reach of the roof T.Rex and Angel Hair were stranded on.

"Go, Angel Hair!" Ryan urged, as he pulled the gutter down to the shingles and held it steady. Angel Hair very tenderly grabbed onto the gutter and began to hoist himself up, wincing every time he put weight on his ankle.

"Just a few more feet, and you'll get to the railing!" T.Rex whispered in encouragement. Angel Hair reached the rail and clambered over, flopping down onto the wood, panting. Ignoring the increasing number of zombies gathering below the staircase, Ryan quickly pulled the binocular cord lasso from the gutter and stuffed it into his pocket before grabbing onto the gutter himself.

The gutter shifted wildly under the weight, and T.Rex found the smooth aluminum was much harder to climb with sweaty palms. He grabbed the gutter so hard at first it began to crinkle, so he shifted more effort to his thighs and struggled upwards. Angel Hair reached over the edge and grabbed T.Rex's wrist once he was in reach. Together, they both reached the stairwell.

T.Rex rose and very cautiously rapped on the door. There was an ominous pause.

"Shank?" came a muffled voice from the other side. It was a verbal challenge.

"n Shiv!" T.Rex hissed the correct response back. The sounds of a pair of locks could be heard before the door opened. Peace and Rubble stood at the door looking drowsy. Beard emerged silently from the shadows behind them, fully awake and gun drawn.

"What the hell is going on?" Beard growled.

Brant, having not noticed Beard until that moment, jumped back. "I thought you were asleep! Your shift isn't until later!"

"Yeah, well, Beard is part ninja," Peace said nonchalantly, as if this was perfectly normal behavior.

"Look, long story, let's just get inside," T.Rex urged. Angel Hair followed him back into the upstairs apartment and they locked the door back tightly. T.Rex debriefed Beard, Rubble, and Peace on the evening's events before heading back to the living room to lay down. Angel Hair was already fast asleep.

Just before drifting into a slumber, T.Rex decided that enough was enough. He made up his mind that he would be leaving soon.

Current Word Count: 24,267


  1. Finally, now I can stop lying awake at night wondering how Ryan and Angel Hair got off the roof.

  2. I like the shank 'n' shiv verbal challenge.

    "Is that you Lt. Winters?"
    "I believe the appropriate response is 'thunder' private."

  3. When I'm being sarcastic, you'll know.

  4. I was nervous, what with all the thwacking of the lasso. And the fact that the next shift didn't hear it. "The bad news, of course, is that there are zombies pretty much everywhere. he good news,..."
    "and then when we aren't there, they will come looking for us?"

    and I just can't beleive that you stole there underwear... get it...it's a play on "debriefed"...ya.

    On a related note, I just realized the similarity between zombies and "I Robot"