Micro fiction: A Man on the Edge

“A hallway lined with broken smiles and half shut eyes, an entire line of prose cast into the distance.
This fleeting sunset, half forgotten and paved with intentions of gold. One thousand men laughed as another thousand jeered, which side were you on? “
– Anon, 1933

This was inscribed on the wall to the side of Clarkes bed as he contemplated releasing himself from it. The air had grown cold overnight though, so staying in bed seemed like a wise option. Sleep still tugged at his eyelids and he found himself fighting off the next batch of 40 winks.

He was up.

The floorboards creaked and shuddered as he made his way down the hall, one side of his house completely obliterated from the night before: Spray paint, an oil drum, broken bottles and cigarettes. This was not his flat anymore…it was before the party but now it was no longer.

He felt an overwhelming urge, an urge like never before, to make a mad dash for the door and break loose from the box that was his dwelling. He made a concession for the sickness, but the headache was sure to stick for the rest of the day.

As Clarke got dressed he began to recall bits and pieces from the day before, random memories inching ever closer to his consciousness. A long sigh almost gave way to cheeky vomit, but he composed himself and continued getting dressed.

By 10.30am he was dressed and ready to leave. He had put his mask on for the day and shined his boots to look extra impressive. The hangover was subsiding now but the world was still fuzzy. No matter, he thought “When I’m up in the air everything is sure to clear”. By pinning his famous wings to the front of his tunic, Clarke began to embrace the famous persona that many people associate him with. Unlike Batman he had no Batcave, he had no expensive toys – he was just a man who could do an extraordinary thing.

At this conjecture he found it appropriate to contemplate just exactly how got into this business of saving lives. In many ways making an excuse for his past had inadvertently given rise to a need him that was almost pathological – the need to survive and help others survive. He found that regardless of how morally reprehensible his nature was outside of the costume that it was all justified when he was IN the costume. It was quite remarkable. During the day he was just some random jobless drunkard and by night he a paragon of hope and justice in this city.

He climbed the stairs to the roof. Only the janitor and he had a key for the roof. A roof is vital for a hero who can fly however he had to reveal the nature of his identity in exchange for a roof key. A small price to pay, Clarke wagered, as he walked onto the roof.

Clarke surveyed his surroundings – his city. He knew every nook, every hiding place a deviant or a less than honest citizen would hide. His daytime persona allowed him to liaise with people who knew this kind of information and he found it to be his most valuable asset, worth the hangover? It used to be, but as he gets older the greater a sacrifice his sobriety is.

Letting out a sigh of relief, Clarke walked to the edge of the roof and looked down. Lifting his arm he exhaled and took a step off the building. He sobered up instantly.

It was only then he realised that his hangover was also a come down from the combination of the drugs he had taken the night before and as he sped towards the ground, the wind in his hair, he realised that he wasn’t a flyer at all, but merely a very skilled and very highly trained acrobat. The memory of the night before came rushing back to him and he suddenly realised that he’d left his grappling hook in the house.

The landing was going to be somewhat awkward.


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