She spun on her heel towards the door and listened. When she was sure there was no one, Alex dashed out the door and sprinted down the corridor. She slid to a stop in front of the elevator, and then pried it open with her handy crowbar. Alex looked down the dark shaft. Just below her was the elevator. Was that human stupid enough to use the elevator? She jumped on the top and watched the doors close behind her as the elevator started to rise.
Alex stayed away from the moving cables and crouched to absorb any sudden movement that might shift her balance unfavorably. The elevator shuddered as another magnetic fluctuation riddled the building. She steadied herself with a hand on the cold steel of the elevator.
An alarm system kicked in, sending sirens booming throughout the whole building. Alex covered her sensitive ears as the noise reverberated within the elevator shaft. Now everyone in the whole city, above and below ground, would know there were intruders. She had hoped this wouldn't happen until she was in her pod, safely out of the city. This bastard was going to get them both caught. As long as she ran faster, they would catch him first. The elevator stopped between floors. The alarms must have stopped it. Damn, how was she going to get out of here now?
Alex grabbed the cable and started climbing hand over hand. She wrapped her feet around the cable to help steady her ascent.
The elevator hatch popped open and the scruffy man poked his head out. "Hey, just the girl I was lookin' for."
She shimmied up the cable faster, tightly gripping it with her legs and ankles.
"Now wait up girly, you're not gonna want to be up there after this bit." He reached up and caught her ankle to pull her back down.
She kicked out at him to loosen his grip, but her gloved hands slid down the cable. He grabbed her other leg and yanked her down.
"Let go of me," she demanded as she slipped down the cable towards him.
"Look." He wrapped his arm around her shoulders in a rough manner. "I'm tryin' to save your life."
She squirmed away from him, but he clamped his unhurt arm around her waist tightly.
"Just hang on a minute doll," he said.
He wrapped his right hand on the elevator cable. The knife in his right shoulder was now missing, but a trail of blood trickled down the sleeve of his black leather jacket. After ten seconds, the cable started glowing bright red and gave off a tremendous amount of heat.
Alex realized what he was going to do. "Are you insane? We are going to get plastered against the ceiling!"
The untidy man looked down at her with a grin hidden in his scruffy beard. "Fun ain't it?"
He locked her in his arm so tight she was pushed into his chest. Reluctantly, she wrapped her arms around his waist. His body was firm, but there was a lot of padding between it and her. She crinkled her nose. He smelled like corn chips and booze.
The cable melted beneath his hand. "Hang on," he said in her ear as he grabbed the cable above the melting point. Alex clung to his lean frame as the cable jerked them upward. Her feet dangled as the air whipped past. Her heart thumped wildly in her chest as she clung to this strange human.
"Hold tight," he shouted over the rushing air. His arm released her and she felt something hot radiating behind her. She managed a look and saw him forming a huge fireball with his left hand. It reached the size of a beach ball, then shifted from red to orange, and finally to blue. He released the ball and it raced upward. As her eyes followed it, Alex caught his grin, clearly proud of his work. The molten blue ball just missed the elevator winch as it burst through the ceiling.
Daylight streamed through the top. The man's arm came up around her again as they hurtled upward. He pulled hard against the cable and let go. The two of them were launched upward by their momentum as the cable slipped through the pulley, snapping like a whip. Alex pushed forcefully away from him in mid-air, curled into a tight ball, and flipped like a high diver. She landed neatly on the broken sun-bleached pavement of the street.
The scruffy man flew through the air in a wobbled path. Alex was afraid he would hit the cracked road with a splat, but when he was about two meters from the ground, a column of fire shot out of his hand down into the pavement, slowing his descent. He landed on his feet in the middle of the scorched road.
Alex saw her chance at freedom and took it. She darted away down the broken road between two dead moss-covered buildings.
"Hey! Wait up!" The man shouted after her. A fireball spit past her left shoulder. She dodged right, keeping her breath even as she ran, just as she had trained her body to do when she was passing the Gene Assessment Test. Alex ran past decrepit old motor vehicles covered in plant slime and dust. She turned around a corner so the scruffy man could not see her escape route and barred the path of any more fireballs.
The entire city stood empty. What you would call a ghost town, at least it looked like that on the surface. The vine covered sky-scrapers that used to be full of important and busy people just a couple of hundred years ago, now loomed empty and neglected. They stood tall against the evening light as the auroras danced behind them, the only indicator that a magnetic pole stood on top of them. They looked so sad and lonely.
After two kilometers, Alex turned another corner to an old metal bus bench. The paint worn and peeling, but you could just make out the old real-estate ad that said "Atlantis is just a trip away. Move to the safer side of the world today!"
It was left over from the previous world, just like the buildings, before the hybrid class had been established. Back then, they were called the one percent and spent billions on genetically modifying themselves. They created a whole world below the ocean when the magnetic pole reversal started and the climate change devastated the surface, including all electronics. The ruling class invited the human race down to work for them. More like slave for them.
Alex snatched the backpack she had stashed under the bench before her trip down the hole. She pulled out a black scarf that was semi-opalescent and wrapped it around her neck, face, and head. Alex slipped on a pair of polar sunglasses and settled the pack on her back before jogging off down the street again. She heard a faint echo off the buildings, the moss muffled most of the noise, but as it came closer she made out the buzz of an old motorcycle engine.
She looked back over her shoulder toward the noise. A rusted motorcycle skidded around the corner and straight at her. The rider's black motorcycle helmet reflected the clouded light, but she recognized the black leather jacket with blood trailing down the right shoulder.
Alex picked up the pace. The bike followed. She turned into an open building with smashed glass doors, but that didn't deter him at all. He followed right behind her and grabbed at her. He caught her pack and slowed down, forcing her running to slow. One of her arms slipped out of the strap, but he was quick to catch it and forced Alex to a halt.
She spun away, knocking him in the chest, and finished with a kick in the knee. He yelped from behind the black glossy helmet, but Alex didn't wait to see the damage as she sprinted away, righting her pack.
The glass building let in sufficient light. It looked like the remnants of a mall. Over the bike engine the man called after her. "Do you really think you can out run me when I'm on a motorcycle?"
She didn't stop. Her footsteps were light, but their echoes seemed to get louder with every step as she started to tire.
"You'll never make it out before they pull up the bridge. They will find you."
Alex slowed to a stop, taking a moment to gain control of her breath. She didn't need the bridge, but if this man was on a bike, he would get away first and the guards would be on her tail. If she made it back to her pod, they would follow her. She wondered what else the man had to offer. He didn't really seem that dangerous, although, stupidity could be dangerous.
"What choice do I have?" she asked without turning around.
"Give me the file and I will get you out."
Alex smiled under the black cowl. She pretended to weigh her options by tilting her head and then nodded. "Fine."
The man pulled his helmet back on and drove towards her. The bike tires squealed as he spun around her to face the way he had come and she hopped on the back. Her arms wanted to instinctively grab his waist, but the thought of doing so repulsed her. She would just hold on with her legs instead. Alex didn't want to touch this man any more than absolutely necessary.
His hand twisted the handle and the bike started off with a jolt. The acceleration surprised her and one arm came up to hold his waist. She guessed that was okay. They skidded around the entrance and back on to the street. The bike sped up quickly, whipping the black scarf down off her head.
Alex's heart beat rapidly. She had never been on a motorcycle before, never even seen one in person. It was an outdated way to travel, being a land vessel, but now she could see why people used to drive them. They were exhilarating.
The bike sped faster and faster. The needle pointed almost at 100 mph, whatever that meant. Both her arms gripped the rider tightly as she pressed the side of her face into his black leather jacket. The wind whipped most of his smell away, making him tolerable at least. She couldn't help but grin from the thrill.
They came to a corner and the rider leaned to the left. The bike obeyed. She sat still, letting her body move with them as not to hinder the flow of movement.
She realized he headed away from the bridge, away from her pod. Alex tapped him on the shoulder and he didn't respond. She smacked him hard on his hurt shoulder and this time the whole bike swerved.
They slowed and through the helmet she barely heard him angrily say, "What?"
"Bridge," she yelled, the scarf muffling some of her voice. She pointed back.
"There's another way," he yelled back and sped up again.
Another way? If she had known there was another way to get on to the island then that would have made her heist so much easier.
They swerved around fallen trash cans and other debris left in the lonely city. She watched as the moss covered buildings zipped by, all the while enjoying the rush.
From behind, Alex heard sirens like the ones that went off in the building. More motor sounds rebounded off the buildings from behind her. She shot a quick look over her shoulder and spotted five mechanical vehicles. She was pretty sure those were called cars.
They followed after, but the motorcycle was faster. Finally, the bike turned towards an old bridge across the water. She saw a gaping hole in the middle and what he meant to do. They sped towards the bridge. Alex sucked in a breath. As the bike gathered speed, she felt her heart stop and clung to the human. They sailed through the air and everything felt like it was in slow motion. The evening glow of the thick clouds glinted off the water, the smell of salt water washed away that nasty corn chip smell, and her heart thumped once, twice. The other end of the bridge was just a little too far away and they fell through the hole. She shut her eyes, her stomach caught in the air as she waited for the impact of the water. Instead, the bike landed on the second story of the bridge. The under part of the old bridge trembled, but held and they sped out of the ghost town.