I believe I can fly

by James

Only Hodges was still watching for jumpers, sighting on the building opposite with one eye screwed into the telescope he had made from a napkin. They were forty-two floors up, a bunch of suits drinking champagne from whiskey tumblers, empty bottles scattered around their table.

Duncan was sweating. He was burning up but trying not to show it. He wanted to rip himself free of his pinstripe jacket but then everyone would see. They would know. He gulped some more champagne. It was barely chilled. Even their building, this seat of power and the uber-mojo, home to men who could quaff as the country failed, was not immune to the sweeping power outages.

Hodges slapped the table. ‘There goes another one!’

Most of the drinkers didn’t bother to look, the swan dive last moments of some poor wretch from fifty storeys high was old hat.

Hodges snorted with disgust. ‘It’s just not cricket, bloody Tinkerbell fairies, the lot of ‘em!’ He looked around the table of drinkers. ‘You really must hate your fellow man, choose that as a way to go. Someone’s got to clean up the mess after splashdown.’

There were some vague murmurs but most of the drinkers were too far gone to care. Weeks and weeks of this hell, of waking up day after day to a rising death count. No cure. No way to spot the infected. Duncan stifled another snort. Hodges with his paper telescope and his firm handshake and firmer belief that he could spot the infected.

It took an effort for Duncan to prise himself from his chair, and then to pick his way carefully through the detritus littering the floor of this once plush restaurant. Hodges was too busy with his telescope to notice him go.

Duncan began to run once he was out sight. He was burning up. The door to the toilets cracked hard against the tiles and rebounded painfully against his arm. He staggered to the sinks and splashed some cold water across his face. It barely registered. He stuffed one hand in the pocket of his suit jacket and squeezed the handful of marbles tightly between his fingers. For the first few days it had helped, the memory of childhood enough to keep the disease at bay. Now the wisp of autumn smoke on the breeze was a burning fire, and he could not stop himself from tearing off his suit jacket and trousers and then his shirt.

From the jacket of his suit he reverently took a small green cap and placed it atop his head. A tiny part of his brain was still calling to him - Duncan, your name is Duncan, you are forty-seven years old, you tend a rose garden at weekends and your wife is called Alice. The words faded into nothing as he gazed into the mirror and stared at this wonderful vision, this youngster dressed in a green jerkin and pale green tights, and perched atop his boyish curls his green cap with a scarlet feather.

Not just one of the lost boys, he was the leader of the Lost Boys, he was Peter Pan.

He felt the urge to fly.