Fall Guy

Augustus stood at the edge of the scaffolding stretching out from the landing pad atop the headquarters of Cormorant Communications. High above the pointillism of the city lights in the late evening, the wind tugged at his scarf and jacket and made his knees weak. His stomach felt like it was on tumble dry.

“Augustus!” An alto voice heralded from the relative safety of the landing pad. “Are you trying to get yourself killed?” It was Daleyza. Augustus turned slowly, his hands rooted deep in his pockets. Her thin figure and signature ponytail were dark shapes backlit by the amber glow of the pad’s marker lights.

“They’re going to think it was me,” he called above the wind.

“Was it?”

The question hurt more than the fall would. “Of course not!”

“Who, then?”

“I don’t know. Lerner, probably.”

“Why do you say that?”

He pinched the bridge of his nose an exhaled. “I wouldn’t expect you to understand.”

“It’s just money, Augustus. You’re overreacting.”

“People are dead!”

“So you’re going to jump?”

“What?” he shouted. “I’m not jumping. I’m waiting for a shuttle. I’m leaving Earth, and I’m leaving Cormorant.” How did she get to her level? She was dense enough to stop a neutrino.

She didn’t reply. She just stood unmoving in the hot night air. Finally, she began to walk toward him over the scaffolding, stopping halfway. She removed a handgun from her jacket and leveled it at his chest.

“What the hell?”

“There’s no shuttle, Augustus.”

“What are you–”

“Jump.”

He looked down–it was a full kilometer. “No! Are you fucking crazy?”

“Jump, Augustus.” Her voice was even and cold.

“You?” he asked with disbelief. “You?!”

“I’m not going to tell you again.”

“Are you–” There was a thunderclap, though it had been a clear night, and Augustus felt like he’d taken an aluminum bat to the sternum. The wind cradled his body as it swiftly reached terminal velocity, and he thought, this isn’t so bad.

Notes: I used an image as a writing prompt for this piece. You may be able to find the image on the artist’s ArtStation page.

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