“Oy!” An authoritarian voice boomed out across the street. “Stop right there.”
I hid my knife again. Across the street a pair of cops in lightweight tactical fatigues fearlessly charged across the morning traffic, nimbly dodging over and around moving vehicles.
It was about time a local police force had raised a parkour squad. If they’d bit the bullet on that ten years ago when I’d first left the services I might not have turned to a life of international crime.
Crocman flashed me an ugly look and dashed into an apartment block. I broke into a sprint again and followed, turning into the entrance in time to see Crocman punch a hole in the tempered glass door.
I charged down the corridor, the cops barely a step behind me.
Crocman took hold of the sheet of security glass and tugged at it, peeling out the entire panel like he was tearing the lid off a cereal box. The glass buckled and crumpled but stayed mostly in one piece as he turned it from a clear, flat sheet into a green, wrinkly rug.
Crocman cast the glass aside and jumped through the doorway. The cop and I followed a second later.
Crocman sprinted into the middle of the apartment complex, the courtyard space where the pool and the playground lay. He reached the threshold of the courtyard and quickly swung around to charge up the stairs.
I saw a faster way, across the courtyard a table sat against the wall beneath a bulletin board, the kind that carry passive-aggressive notes about where unwanted furniture should be dumped. Above the notice board was the railing for the first floor. I rushed across the courtyard, jumped off the table, kicked off the wall and grabbed the railing to scramble over the top. I turned around in time to see Crocman reach the top of the stairs and for the parkour cop to do basically the same as I did, only faster and with better technique.
I dashed away from him, keeping an eye on Crocman as he reached the next flight of stairs and started up it. I searched around desperately for another cheat way up.
Then I saw an old wardrobe lying on its side by the corner, someone was ignoring (or inspired) the passive aggressive note. I ran at the corner, jumped up onto the wardrobe, then the railing and then launched myself out at the railing for the next floor up. My hands closed around the bars and squeezed solid, tightening up my arms, shoulders and chest to stop myself before my face slammed into the railing as well. With my grip established I started shimmying my way up the bars.
With a heave the parkour cop caught the railing besides me.
Mid-shimmy, I turned to look at him. “Ballzy mother-fucker aren’t you?”
“Yeah.” he breathed back, powering up the railing, I got the lead out to keep up. “Go easy on yourself and give up now.”
I grabbed the top of the railing and heaved myself over it. “You’ll never catch him without me.”
The cop slipped in a quick “We’ll see.” Before I could get away from him.
The sound of splintering fiberboard brought my attention back to Crocman. He’d officially run out of stairs at that level and had found another way out. With a swift kick he smashed the doorknob on one of the apartments right out of its door before barging inside.
I rushed to keep up, swung through the doorway and bounded over the apartment’s overweight occupant where he lay on the floor. Crocman vaulted over the couch and I followed, he slammed his shoulder through the glass sliding door just as I cleared the couch myself and ran out to the balcony.
I legged it after him, throwing aside the ruined vertical blinds in time to see Crocman step off the balcony and fly out across the open air.
The next moment I was right there with him.
Adrenaline flooded my brain as I took in the shaky view of the neighbouring roof. Not the good kind of adrenaline that tells you how amazing this ride is, this was the kind that chooses from a menu whether you’re going to pass out, throw up or shit yourself before asking if it has the money for a combo-meal.
Below me Crocman stuck the landing superhero-style with both feet and a fist. Thumping a massive dent into the stainless steel before shooting back up and sprinting again. Being not as light as his prosthetic body I fell a bit short of his crater, but still managed to land on the roof, thank god.
My shoes gently kissed the roof and told my legs to collapse as my body continued to ride gravity down. I threw myself into a shoulder roll to spread the rest of the impact across my body and redirect the momentum, allowing me to come out of the roll running again.
Behind me I heard the parkour cop do the same. Only that lucky bastard got to wear armour for his uniform. My pain editor told me my shoulder and hip were probably fine, but I might want to give them the day off after this.
I vaulted over a solar-panel and dodged around an old TV antennae, trying to keep Crocman in view with all the rooftop clutter between us. I skipped over a roof turbine and then had to leap to clear a skylight.
Ahead Crocman kept on, but he was getting closer. For the first time in this whole chase he was actually getting closer.
Spurred on I found a reserve of energy I hadn’t used yet and fired it up. Skipping around some more solar panels I closed the gap between us.
But not before we ran out of rooftop. Undaunted Crocman leapt off the edge of the building.
I glanced up and saw the multi-storey carpark besides the the townhouses we’d run across. I leap after him, throwing myself for maximum distance. We couldn’t reach the car park at the level we jumped and for a painful slo-mo second I got to guess our trajectory would take us to the next level down.
Crocman repeated his three-point landing and even with the wind rushing past my ears I heard his metallic ankle joint snap. He pushed off to launch himself again and slipped, muscling through it with his leg Crocman managed to get going anyway. The limp only slowed him down a little.
Then I hit the bitumen and threw myself into another roll. The impact was worse this time and my pain editor flared red in a few places but I got back to my sprint with less trouble than Crocman had.
Crocman rounded the corner to the ramp down. He would have disappeared in the next moment but for the fire exit door next to him bursting open to admit the second parkour cop inside. Crocman only hesitated for a moment, he wasn’t given another one. The cop scooped Crocman off his feet and dumped him flat onto his back.
I saw Atom’s backpack slip from his shoulder just before he hit the ground. Landing between me and the cop. I ran low, snatched the bag off the ground and without breaking stride rolled over the back of the parkour cop and kept going towards the ramp.
The first parkour cop vaulted the railing and landed in front of me, a commanding hand pointing right at my face.
Before he could add “In the name of the law.” I threw the bag at his face and when he caught it I grabbed his shoulders, got my hips behind his and threw him to the ground. With a deft flick of the wrist I extracted the bag from his grasp and sprinted down the ramp.