Monday, July 13, 2009


"Don't lose him!" a voice bellowed from behind.

My lungs were burning as I caught a railing and ricocheted onto a long pontoon that skirted the perimeter of the docks, allowing people access to their boats moored nearby.

I could hear footsteps tracking me from up on the docks themselves, another set pounding the sandpaper-like surface that coated the pontoons behind me, and I could tell that I wouldn't be able to run much longer. To my advantage though, I had a lead of thirty feet or so on the closest persuer, and that would be valuable for what I needed to do next.

The pontoon turned left, suddenly sidling up with the wharf, and running parallel only feet from it. At the end of this path, no more than two bus-lengths away, the pontoon became a ramp that led back up into a parking lot which guaranteed my capture. From the level my head was at, I could already see frantic feet through the undercarriages of cars parked there, dashing closer to join the chase.

I was being surrounded.

Taking the corner at speed, I looked to my immediate left and saw the decision I'd need to make quickly, or be lost. The underside of the docks were a worn, crustacean covered murk, the old wooden pylons emerging from the water only held the structure up four feet or so from the cold ocean swell below, but it would conceal me, and it was unpredictable.

I stepped onto a grime-covered log floating between the pontoon and my destination, and before it sunk into the water taking me with it, I took a small leap and caught the edge of a support beam, pulling my legs up and monkeying my way under the docks to hang behind a pylon, where I waited, fingers curled around the rotting wood that was crumbling as I held it, bits of dirt and splinters falling into my hair. My breath quietened, any noise down here echoed under the docks and out onto the pontoon. The lapping waves against the wood sounded cacophonous and my heartbeat thumped in my ears, but they wouldn't drown out a gasp or a splash. I stayed still.

For a moment I heard nothing. Then suddenly another yell, and footsteps shifting the planks directly above my head. A shadow passed through the thin shafts of light.

"Get him!" it cried. That was it. They'd seen me. It was over.

"He's not here!" another replied from the pontoon in front of me.

Perhaps not.

My fingers were tiring now. I'd been hanging here for just 20 seconds, but already I could feel them starting to give out.

A figure walked closer to the log I'd used as a launching platform, it was still bobbing in the water.

"He ran down there!" the voice called from above.

"I know, but he's gone!" the other said.

My fingers were aching.

"Did he jump up into the carpark?"

"We'd have seen him. We were waiting there."

The dialogue from above and in front continued as they tried to figure out where I had gone. I could see the shadow of the figure on the pontoon peering under the docks, but he was looking on the wrong side of the pylon I was behind.

Burning now, my fingers began to shake. I thought I might just have time to get back to the pontoon if they left at that second ... incredibly, that's just what they did.

"Come on, he can't be too far." One called from a few feet away.

I heard the footsteps above me leaving quickly, the person on the pontoon began to jog off as well. I would have laughed if I wasn't clenching my teeth so hard together in concentration. My hands began to cramp and my fingers were shaking uncontrollably now, any second ... just wait until they're gone ... hold on.

The noises vanished, and I looked back to my log, now sitting still in the water. I was going to make it!

The log bobbed only feet away. If I just lifted a hand off the support-beam above and reached for the next I'd get out of here within seconds, but I had forgotten how exhausted my hands were now. The moment my right hand left the wooden beam, my left gave out and I lost my grip.


The sensation of falling felt like I'd gone thirty feet, when really it was less than three. Cold water enfolded my feet, legs and chest, and I plunged into the darkness.

The splash obviously echoed out of the cavernous space, because no sooner had I fallen in, a voice called out from above.

"What was that!?", and there were the footsteps again. They'd left a watcher.

The watcher had aimed the question at a man strolling by on the docks, oblivious to what was happening around him. The man glanced down and saw me floating, awkwardly, in the dark water. He saw the expression on my face, and looked at the person that had called out above me. Then he shrugged. God bless strangers.

For a minute or more, I waited, sitting there with the obscured depths below until I was certain nobody else was around, then climbed out of the water using my trusty wooden floaty once again.

On the pontoon and soaking wet, I ran back the way I'd come, jumping quickly up onto the dock and bolting through the carpark. I only had to run a few minutes and I'd be safe, I'd be ok. As I flew around the next corner though, I realised I'd run straight into a problem.

"You're wet." He said, and walked closer.

"Max..." I panted, lifting my hands up defensively. "You have no idea what just happened ... there's only two minutes left, just let me go!"

"You're gonna try, aren't you." He said, smiling and knowing I had no chance.

I tried anyway, pushed my legs to move again, and my arms to power me, but he was fast even when he was tired, and it just happened that he wasn't. His hands clenched and flew at me. One brushed my shoulder, and I stopped as he smiled.

"Tag." he said.


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