One man fell past the window. Then another. Then another.
My time was coming. There were only five other men in front of me. I was number nine. Nine. Nine has always been my least favourite number. A flurry of whimpers, a violent shove, a never-ending scream, an abrupt thud. You could tell when they fell past the window because another round of cheers erupted below us. Then another. It was getting closer. Then another.
“I’m not ready to fall.”
I heard someone whimpering behind me. I didn’t need to turn around, I didn’t care who it was. None of us were ready to fall. We’d been chosen too soon. We’d been caught too soon. Then another.
“I don’t believe this.”
More pathetic offerings fluttered around me. One more step forwards. My ankles were starting to grate, the shackles of a thousand mistakes weighing them into the ground. I thought of you. I thought about what I had done to get here. Then another.
“I didn’t even do anything!”
There was no point in lying any more. We were all guilty. Even if we were here for a crime we didn’t commit, we all deserved this. There was nothing redemptive about a sinner who was too scared to pay for what he’s done.
When they found me I knew I had no chance of escape. No chance of pleading my case. No chance of redemption or forgiveness. I was guilty. I gave myself freely, knowing my time had finally come. If anything, this day was long overdue. I was living on borrowed time, as they say. Then another.
It was my turn. I looked over the edge and thought about the fall. About the cheers. The faces of those we had wronged. I felt a hand on my shoulder, the pressure in the fingers increasing, and suddenly I was off. As I fell, I counted the seconds in my head.
I bet you didn’t think I was capable of such things, did you?
That day was a blur. You were an infatuation of the highest degree, and I knew immediately that I had to watch the life drain from your eyes.
I planned it there and then. I’d done it before, and somehow gotten away with it. But you were different.
I fooled you. I was guilty from the second our eyes met. There was no way for you to know.
When the colour left your lips I looked at your eyes properly, for the first time.
They were so serene. I looked into those dark pools and swam as deep as I could.
This time I knew they would come for me. You can’t drain a soul and expect to stay safe. I would fall.
The ‘Punisher’s Plummeting Platform’. Some wisecrack had coined the term, truly believing it wasn’t real. Jesus Christ it was real. It was real and it was for me. I was in it. I was plummeting. I fell.
Nine has always been my least favourite number.