Friday, February 9, 2018

Kosi Lionhair: 5. The Stone Palm

Nearest I could find to the buggy idea. We'll see how we go with the embed code ...

The buggy jerked down a little in the corner where I clung to the guide bars.

Ee-ee-eng. A wrenching squeal in that same corner.

The door slid back into its bent frame, wedging and forming a triangular hole.

My chance! The gap had to be large enough! I leapt for the framework, scrambled up it like a monkey. Right foot on a window frame. Left foot in a narrow slot in the door. One hand on the door frame. One arm reaching across the concrete lip surrounding the roof. 

The buggy juddered as I pushed off from it.

One foot, two feet. Two arms over the lip.

Snap! The buggy helped by swaying away.

I clambered up the wall with tiptoes and knees. Slung my knee over. Wrenched my shoulder up and over. Rolled over the little wall. Lay there, looking up at the sky. Low cloud. Blue between the foggy patches.

Thank you Hen, for insisting I learn all those moves. Get onto the top of the wardrobe anyway except by using a chair. Get up onto the bed from lying on the floor. Get up onto the bed, over the rolled up mattress from lying on the floor.

The buggy clanged against the wall below me. A wind stroked the cables and whistled along the buggy’s roof. I didn’t want to be right there hearing the buggy break loose and fall and shatter on the wall on its way down. Imagining I might’ve still been in it. I crept, sore hands, scraped knees.

Toward the only thing on the roof other than me. It didn’t make sense. A palm tree? In a pot? I curled around it. Like, anchored myself to it. Shivered while I waited for the buggy to fall. Maybe I fell asleep?

“Here she is,” said a woman. “Luck is with us. Tell me you are all right, love?”

Huh? I stretched. “Aah!” Scraped elbows, hands, knees. “I ….?”

A second woman arrived. “You saved yourself. You talked with the buggy. Good work. It could tell us you were here by the conversation you had. Get the first aid kit, Lilah.”

“I’m Jules. Elevator buggy Supe. Buggy tells me you hired for W-8.” She doused my knees and my hands with some stinging yellow stuff. “We’ll set you down there, give you a chit to explain what took you so long.”

“Tha-ank y-y-you.” My teeth chattered.

“She needs a hot drink,” Lilah said.

“We’ve got the coffee,” Jules said. “Let’s have you on your feet, young one.”

They guided me to their … “What’s this place, please? It wasn’t here before.”

Jules laughed. “Our caboose. Our cubby in the sky. Usually strung up there under the crane gantry.” She pointed.

The clouds were gone. The crane beam across the divide between the buildings was perfectly visible. The caboose, like the elevator buggy, hung from four cables and nestled close enough to the roof that I could step over the door-sill and into it without seeing a gap.

“Let me show you around,” Lilah said. “The bunks, mine is the upper, on the left. The kitchenette on the right. Bathroom at the end.”

“You live here?” I said, not able to keep amazement out of my question.

“Two weeks on. Two weeks at home with our families,” Lilah said.

The caboose shifted.

Lilah grabbed me to stop me falling over.

She placed my hands on a polished brass handrail.

She closed the door and fastened drop bars across it. “Hinges and door-locks allow the door to shift sometimes,” she explained. “The drop bars will stop us falling out if the caboose cantilevers.”

I didn’t know what cantilever meant exactly but got a general idea.

Jules stood at the forward end of the caboose, at a small desk-like shelf. That whole end was a curved window, and the view drew me like I was a steel pin. Hen had a magnet that she let me play with. Jules’s hands played over the levers, lights and keypads inset on the desk.

I hand-overed along the guide rail to get nearer. I gasped. “Are you driving us?” All my hidden childhood, the game that Hen always got me quiescent with was driving. I drove spaceships (my favourite), trains, fly-cars, hover-buses. Whatever mode of transport Hen could think up. Though never a crane.

“If you want to call it that,” Jules said. “Since we’re short of a buggy, and that buggy is still hanging from its cabling and cluttering the route, I’m taking you across and down to Level 8.”

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