Carlos ran headlong at the gap, pushing his muscles as hard as he could. A burst of energy and he jumped. It only took a fraction of a second, but to Carlos, it felt as though he was hanging in the air for a lifetime. Impact. He rolled and came back to his feet, his face flushed. The gap between the buildings had only been a few feet, but Carlos was proud. He loved to play at being one of his older brothers, leaping over the rooftops, running errands for the gang and going wherever they pleased.
The next obstacle was in sight, he quickly chose his route – straight up the drainpipe onto the next rooftop. Running again, Carlos prepared to jump, his swift mind working out where his hands and feet would land, how far he would still have to climb to reach the top. A quick leap and he grabbed hold of the cold metal pipe, his weight shifting it slightly to one side. Two quick pushes from his legs and Carlos felt his fingers close around the corrugated iron of the rooftop. One last effort and he was up, crawling on all fours, his bare knees grazing against the rough metal.
No time for a break, Carlos clambered to the edge of the roof, spending only minimal time to choose his way down. There was a small brick wall protruding from the main building, he could climb down to that first, decreasing the distance he would have to fall. Without another thought, he hopped down onto the wall, taking a few steps along it before dropping off, back to street level.
The summer sun was powerful this close to the equator and between the mud-brick walls of the slums, the heat was stifling. As Carlos paused to regain his balance, he was pleased that he had decided not to wear a t-shirt that day, preferring the cool breeze on his chest as he ran. Putting the heat out of his mind, Carlos charged off around the corner, excited for the next challenge. In his haste, he didn’t think of what might be waiting around the bend and he ploughed straight into a small group of women, knocking one of them to the ground. Terrified they would recognise him and tell his mother, Carlos raised his arm to cover his face and forced his way through the group. Hitting a full sprint he pelted down the alley, flinging himself into a drainage ditch and scrambled under a fence, desperate to get away.
“CARLOS NAVARRO,” his heart skipped a beat, one of them knew who he was. “What in God’s name do you think you’re doing?”
Before the old hag could say anything more he darted away, perhaps if he could get away, he could deny that he was ever there. Intent on making good his escape, Carlos spotted an open window - the sill would make a perfect foothold. With one big jump, he landed a foot on the window sill, noting the surprised expression of the people inside and leapt upwards. His fingers searched for a grip, the rooftop wasn’t too far away, maybe he could just about reach it. With a quick sigh of relief, Carlos realised he had caught hold of a chunk of old masonry stuck to the side of the wall. In seconds he had hauled himself up to the safety of the rooftops once more.
Caught up in the excitement of his game, with the added adrenaline of nearly being caught, Carlos stormed across the roof, replaying in his mind how he had got away, revelling in his skill. The next challenge to beat would have to be big, something to fit his inflated ego. He spotted the perfect wall, about ten feet high with foot and hand holds all the way up, the only problem was the five foot gap between his rooftop and the next. Five feet, that’s not too bad, only a little more than he jumped earlier, only now, he felt exhilarated. Accelerating towards the gap, Carlos felt confident, five feet was nothing compared to what he could do.
His feet pounding on the rooftop, Carlos sprinted at top speed, his heartbeat deafening in his ears, then he was at the edge. A huge push and he propelled himself into the air, arms and legs reaching forwards, ready to land. His mind was solely focussed on making the jump, nothing else mattered, he had to land well. The corrugated iron came closer, his feet pointed, almost feeling the hard surface. An almighty crash shattered his concentration as his legs punched straight through the rusted metal. To his horror, Carlos felt himself plummeting down, the broken old roof doing little to slow his speed. The building’s dark interior came into blurry focus as his feet contacted the ground. A sick feeling spread through him as his eyes registered the large breeze block resting on a table right in front of him.
A sickening crunch.
A young boy’s broken body, lying limp on the floor.