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“You want me to what?” Asks Tricia so loud for a moment I’m convinced she’s just woken up the entire house.
“It’s only for a couple of hours.” I reply in a low voice, opening the window in our bedroom.
Tricia hesitates a moment, thinking it over. “And you’ll do my kitchen duty an entire month?”
“As long as you keep your end of the deal.” I reply evenly. “And your mouth shut.”
Tricia looks at me skeptically. “So what is it you’re doing exactly?” I can hear the accusation in her tone.
“I’m not using if that’s what you’re getting at.”
“Right,” She says still unconvinced. “What time should I expect you back?”
“I don’t know.”
“I swear I’m not using.”
“That’s what you said last time.”
I take a deep breath trying to hold in my frustration. It was almost half past eleven and I had less than an hour to reach Newark. Even on my bike, I would have to cover some serious distance fast if I wanted to meet Jeb in time. “You’re just going to have to trust me.” I reply.
The night is considerably cold. I only know so because I can see my breath through the icy air. Dressed in a t-shirt and loose fitting jeans, I still regret not having put on a pair of shorts. I guess I was just weird like that. My body seemed to never get cold, no matter what. Even now as I stare at the frosty road ahead of me it feels like I could be biking in the middle of July, my body already beginning to sweat. Sometimes it was unbearable. Never feeling the icy wind against your face, only a dry bitter heat. So unbelievably hot that you swear your skin is on fire. Always the same suffocating sensation that makes you feel as though you were trapped in a giant sauna. It would drive anyone crazy. It would bring out anyone’s monster.
I pedal harder, faster. My time is running out. If I wasn’t at the meeting point in time, I wouldn’t have to worry about Reese killing me for sneaking out of the house, Jeb would see to that himself. My legs feel like they’re on fire, but I don’t dare slow down.
Thankfully, the streets are deserted making it easier to weave in and out of normally busy alleyways and sidewalks. I check my watch for what seems like the hundredth time tonight. Fifteen minutes until midnight. I wasn’t going to make it. Somehow I manage to move my legs faster until I’m sure if I pedaled any harder, my legs would fall off from the strain. Finally I see the docks. I see the reflection of the moon on the dark waters only about a hundred feet in front of me. I’ve made it.
The warehouse is just to my left. I hop off my bike and lead it to a nearby dumpster. I doubt anyone would try and steal it, but I hide the bike out of sight for good measure, just in case. Not wanting to waste any more time, I make my way towards the entrance to the warehouse. It a good distance off, almost right at the edge of the docks. Looking around I see no sign of Jeb. No sign of anyone. I check my watch. Ten minutes until midnight. Where on earth could Jeb be? I guess there was only one way to find out.
Cautiously, I step onto the loading docks. They were pretty old, old enough that some of the boards were either missing, broken, or dangerously unstable. One wrong step and I could end up in the dark waters below. I take care to keep as far away from the edge of the docks as possible, making sure every board I plant a foot on is unquestionably firm. After what seems like forever, I finally reach the entrance to the warehouse. My heart sinks into the pit of my stomach and I silently curse to myself when I turn the knob on the door and it doesn’t budge. Great. Now what?
Glancing around I notice a terrace with an open window about ten feet high to my right. I look around for a way up. That’s when I notice the broken pipe. It’s only a few feet higher from where I stand right now, protruding from the side of the warehouse. It seems sturdy enough, bent back so far it’s practically level with the ground. If I could somehow manage to grab hold of it, I could prop myself up and maybe I might just be high enough to reach the terrace. I look around for something to stand on. The railings on either side of me leading up to the entrance to the warehouse give me a good three extra feet of height. If I jumped from there, I should be able to reach the pipe easily enough. But no doubt this is easier said than done.
I plant my right foot onto the metal railing and prop myself up. I have to rest my hand against the side of the warehouse to keep myself from losing balance. The railing was already starting to give under my weight. I stare at the pipe now only a few feet higher than me. It’s a little ways off from where I stand so I would have to make a jump for it. I only hope the pipe is as sturdy as it looks. I count to three in my head, than jump. For a moment I feel myself launch through the air and then my hands hit the hard metal. My fingers curl around the pipe before I feel myself fall.
The pipe holds. The railing however does not and it caves under the weight of my jump. If I let go of the pipe now, I would have no way of getting back on. For a few seconds I hang there, trying desperately not to let go. The pipe has begun to rust over and my hands burn as they cling to its rough surface. Finally I manage to heave myself up I practically hug the side of the warehouse to keep from falling. I was at least nine or ten feet up having seriously miscalculated the distance to the terrace. It was still a good five or six feet high just to my right. A fall from that height wouldn’t kill me, but it definitely wouldn’t be fun.
I take a deep breath. Lucky for me, the railings on the terrace look to be much more secure than the ones leading to the warehouse. Hopefully, they would hold under my weight. For a moment I consider not jumping. I consider getting down from my pipe, finding my bike and getting as far away from this place as possible. Far away from Jeb, Reese and everybody else who’s managed to make my life a living hell. Of course, the thought only last a second because then reality hits. I have to do this job. Not for Jeb, not because if I ran he would find and most likely kill me, not even because I owed it to him for saving my life, but because I was hooked. Because using was the only thing that made me forget, made the heat bearable and kept the monster at bay.
I take one last deep breath before I kick up and go launching towards the terrace. My hands find the railing within a matter of seconds and I hang on to the side of the balcony for dear life. I manage to swing my legs over the terrace and when my feet finally hit solid ground a wave of relief washed over me. I check my watch. Three minutes past midnight. I climb through the window and when I finally make it inside the warehouse I know I’m in trouble. It’s pitch black, and I have no way of knowing where Jeb is waiting for me. For a moment I stand there, a flood of memories rushing to my head. I swallow the fear eating away at me because I have to find Jeb. Suddenly a new thought crosses my mind. One that’s even worse than Jeb finding me.
It’s Jeb not finding me, but someone else.
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