Running Up A Bunch Of Stairs
rating: +20+x

21/08/2033, 12:45 AM

Top Floor of Chen-Walton Luxury Apartments, Eurtec

The average person can walk up forty flights of stairs in around fifteen minutes. Johnny "The Gelatin"1 Silvano did it in three. He wasn't particularly fit, far from it, but running for your life makes a great motivator.

He burst onto the roof. Nice view; Johnny would've tried to piss over the ledge, but given the circumstances, the heads of the people below shall be spared his foul-smelling2 wrath.

Alright, weapons, he's going to need weapons to survive. Only things on the roof are AC units and cigarette butts, so he's gonna have to work with what he has. And he has:

  • A crumpled bag of barbecue potato chips (empty)
  • Twenty-seven (27) loose almonds
  • One (1) five-dollar ($5) bill, defaced so that Abe (president) has a funny mustache.

In summary: He has jack shit.

Got it. Thaumaturgy. He knows thaumaturgy, right? He took that free class back in Portlands, what could he do, he could, uh, fuckin, uh… SUMMON A DEMON! Hell yeah, now we're getting somewhere, alright, he just needs ten liters of goat's blood, a bar of gold, the still-beating heart of a dove, and a… and a…

Crap. Back to square one. Okay, maybe he could—

Johnny was still contemplating a Plan C when the door to the roof burst from its hinges, and Madeline "No Nickname" Garcia3 stepped through the door-shaped hole. Always had a penchant for dramatic entrances and being no fun when everyone was coming up with nicknames.

"Hey Maddy." said Johnny. He attempted a friendly smile, it resembled more of a grimace.

She pinched the bridge of her nose. "Got a lot of nerve coming back here, Johnny."

"Can't I visit an old friend?"

"You were trying to break into my apartment."


"Look, we had a deal! We'd forget about what happened in Seattle, and you'd fuck off from Eurtec and the collective forever."

"Deals are made to be broken."



"The saying is 'rules are meant to be broken.'"

"Ah, thank you for that illuminating linguistics lesson, really puts into perspective the wonderful world we- POCKET ALMONDS!!"

Johnny threw all twenty-seven almonds in her face and made a mad dash for the exit. If he could just get there in time he could—

A large brown clay blob filled the doorframe, and Johnny ran into it at full speed, the left half of his body sinking into the mass. His submerged half tried to continue his half-baked escape, it felt a lot like walking through molasses. With a flick of her wrist, Maddy (who at this point had fully recovered from the physical and physiological damage the pocket almonds caused) caused the material to pulse with energy. Still attempting to run, Johnny's covered half now felt like he was moving through solid concrete, which is to say, not at all.

"Like it? It's this new material I'm working on, sentient mud. Link it up to your brain and it's like putty in your mental hands.4 Lloyd and I were planning to showcase it at Somme-Nous, but it seems that you already knew that."


"You know, you've got the lying capabilities of a goldfish.5 I've got security wards all over my apartment, you'd already set off ten of them by the time you finished downloading those files onto that drive."



She leaned against the wall, making sure to keep her distance from Johnny's free hand. He noticed a serrated box cutter in her left. So that's how this is going to go.

"So how'd you get past the Forest Promise?"

He blinked in surprise, maybe it wasn't.


"The blood oath, it's what you agreed to when you said you'd leave. That's a ritual of the old woods, as soon as you entered the Undercity your blood should've been replaced with liquid mercury."

"My… employer's got friends in very high places, they took it off of me in exchange for half of my spleen."


"Eh, wasn't really using it anyway."

"So who's this big employer of yours, the Foundies? Marshall?"

"I can't say. Literally, the client put a cognito-something-or-other in my head as a failsafe. I talk, I explode."

"Shees, you getting paid a lot?"

"Enough to cover food and rent for the next few months, beats dumpster diving behind Ambrose every other day."


She took a cigarette from out of her pocket, dropped it to the floor, and crushed it with her heel.6

"You know how the collective treats stealing."

"I do, it's a shame, I'm rather fond of my head."

"Alright, I have a deal for you, interested?"

"Not really in a position to say no."

"We'll call a mulligan—"


"Some hockey term or something, point is, it's late and I don't want to stay up getting the blood out of my clothes. This is your one Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card, no strings attached."

"Pretty sweet deal."

"There's a but coming, a big but- shut up - I want to make this very clear. If you even step foot in Eurtec again, I will do… something… bad."


"Yeah, bad. Real bad. So bad I can't even begin to fathom it right now."

Johnny weighed his options.

"Consider me terrified, I accept."

"Right then, hand over the drive."


"Yeah? That's what this whole thing was about. Gimme."

"Then we have a bit of an issue."

"Why's that?"

"It's in my left pocket."

"The pocket that's currently-"

"The pocket that's currently stuck in the clay, yeah."



Maddy stepped away from the doorway, slowly setting down the knife onto the floor. She bent down and began talking to him as if he were a small child.

"Okay. Here's what we'll do. I will tell the clay to let you free. You will then give me the flash drive, and we will get on the elevator to go down, where you will leave. You will not try to run. Got it?"

"Consider it got."

She made a series of hand gestures, thaumic energy crackling between her fingers. The clay whimpered, then slowly slid off of Johnny.

"Alright there you go, no running."

A pause. Then Johnny ran. It was a reflex, really, he hadn't realized he was moving until he heard Maddy shout, and he decided he had already gotten this far, might as well commit.

He came to a sudden stop over the ledge, windmilling his arms to avoid falling off. He glanced back. The clay had formed into a giant hand, its fingers were just a few yards away from him. Maddy rode on its back (?), furiously forming a swirling ball of fire between her hands.

Johnny saluted, and jumped off.

Impossibly tall buildings blended together into a blur of neon and glass. Below, the concrete sidewalk was rushing towards him at breakneck speed. Not a bad final view. Johnny closed his eyes, and waited for the ground and his head to meet.

He opened his eyes. The ground was still rushing to meet him, the buildings were still blurring past. He closed them.

He opened his eyes again. The buildings blurred- okay, this building had an obscene amount of floors. Makes it really inconvenient for a final thoughts monologue. Ah well, too late for complaints now, the ground was just a few seconds away, maybe he could-



21/08/2033, 04:12 AM

Sidewalk Outside of Chen-Walton Luxury Apartments, Eurtec

It was four in the morning, the time when the reasonable had long since gone to bed, and the foolish had already passed out on a couch, floor, or wherever was most convenient. Surprisingly, the small red puddle on the sidewalk had gone mostly unnoticed by passers-by. When you live in a city with neon billboards miles long and street racers going Mach 10, a guy falling from a building was pretty mundane in comparison. At the very least someone had the courtesy to put up a wet floor sign next to the splat.

If anyone was around (which they weren't), they would have seen the splat shift, rising off the pavement and slowly moving into the general shape of a man.

Johnny "The Gelatin" Silvano opened his eyes, and immediately vomited bits of collagen onto the sidewalk.7 Urgh. Okay, quick checkup, no visible injuries, all arms and legs still attached and where they should be, his body was covered in a thin film of what looked like- hold on, yep, strawberry Jell-O, and if he checked his pocket, score! The drive was still intact, albeit covered in a delectable fruit gel.

Alright, homestretch. He pulled out his phone, and after an embarrassing amount of time trying to text using the gel-covered screen, relented, and activated the voice assistant.

"What can I do for you, Johnny?"

"Send text to Mr. Night, tell him that I secured the- shit"

His brain finally caught up to what his mouth just said. Then it exploded.

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