The tightrope walker places one foot upon the high wire.
The audience draws in, eager to witness his feat.
He presses down with his right foot, testing the line.
Would like more rope tension…
Would like a drop in the breeze …
Would like a safety harness…
………but the audience is waiting.
“This will give them something to quicken their dead hearts”.
He controls his breathing and attempts to bring his own heart rate down – eyes focussed on the horizon.
The crowd’s anticipation is growing……..
All eyes are on him…..
Somewhere behind him he can hear a rhythmic pounding, providing the soundtrack to his act…….
A slow waltz of clenched fists on wood……..
Now or never.
He steps up, using his right thigh muscles and extends his arms out.
On the step up the sudden movement coils away from him sending a shock wave the down the cable. The change in tension affects the pitch of the wind creating a whistle like a sharp breath across an open bottle.
The line settles, as does the pendulum motion that was swaying him from side to side.
“Balance. Get your balance right here and you’ll be fine all the way along”.
Zen, Nirvana, Ready.
He extends his left foot out and places it down in front of his right.
The audience’ mouths are open as he edges out in to the ether.
He begins to work his arms slightly, undulating them up and down to help with his balance. This draws the disturbance out from his core and keeps him planted on the line.
Four steps out and he has cleared the parapet and the audience’ moans grow.
Seven hundred pairs of eyes fixed on his every move.
Arms reach for him, grasping, urging the air to bestow its bounty upon them.
The breeze is constant but not too stiff. He can do this. He tells himself this again an again. It becomes a mantra.
He can feel the sinew of the cable beneath the ball of his foot. Every twist, every knot that combines to form this line. What formerly carried power now holds life itself aloft.
As he reaches the midway point where the slack is greatest the pendulum motion begins again more violently. The wind rises markedly, the audience moans increase in pitch.
They anticipate the inevitable – Icarus will return to earth.
The motion permeates through him, wanting to unsettle him, wanting to own him.
This he must control or it will undo him. Extending out his left leg he attempts to ride and dampen the sensation.
Three stories up, he fights the very foundations of the world for life itself. Gravity, air, and fear all conspire to unseat him.
The grey faces reach for him, wishing to claim him….
The motion on the line settles, composure is regained and balance is restored once more.
He begins moving forward.
He clears the remainder easily and stands on the post office roof- joyful. He looks back over the 40 feet of abyss he has crossed. He fishes a water bottle from his pack and toasts them, salutes them as Caesar to his people.
They finally broke through the door on the roof he had left. They surge towards him with grasping hands and fall straight off the roof into the massed crowd below. He watches the lemmings for a few minutes until they finally halt their actions on the roof top and stand as a group staring at him.
With a wry smile he wonders if one of them might try and copy his feat.
He turns and walks away to the other side of the post office where a massed bunch of phone lines stretch to a telegraph pole in the middle of the street. He will try again, from here to the library, from the library across the river to freedom. Or at least the hope of freedom.
He stands and gathers himself. He controls his breathing and attempts to bring his heart rate down – eyes focussed on the horizon.
Below a grey face looks up and notices him a low moan escaping its lips.
A new audience begins to gather.
He places one foot upon the high wire.
Ben Grove lives in Manchester, England and included a vital lesson on zombie survival in the groom’s speech at his wedding. 50 close friends and family are now fully prepared to destroy their staircases in the event of their home being attacked by the zombie hordes. If you have zombie problem and you know where to find him…perhaps you can hire him. If no cash is offered he’ll do children’s parties or barmitzfars for free.