10: Milo And Francesca- On the Roof- Milo and Francesca

Please Go Here for the beginning of the story.

When Milo reached the top of the stairs he blinked and stared. The woman, Francesca she had called herself, was the very same girl he had seen in the store window only an hour or so ago! He took an involuntary step backward and almost knocked Jerry down the stairs.

“You…” he started. Francesca seemed as surprised as he, but before he could continue, she spun around and closed her apartment door, locking it.

“Come on, let’s get out of here”, she said between her teeth. “We don’t have time to stand here talking.”

She led the way up the stairs, leaving the light off so that they had to grope along the stairs. Milo tried to keep his footsteps as soft as possible, but Jerry ruined the stealth by stomping up the stairs behind him and making whining comments at every landing.

“Where are we going?” Jerry queried at the fourth landing. “They’re right downstairs. Why don’t we get out of the building?”

Francesca hissed between her teeth. “Be quiet! I thought you guys are trying to get away from those three outside!”

“We are,” replied Milo. He turned back to Jerry. “Would you just shut up! They’ll hear us.”

Jerry stopped in his tracks and coughed loudly. “Who said you were the leader?” he complained. “And who’s this woman telling us what to do?”

“You better listen to what I tell you to do,” huffed Francesca, “or you won’t get out of here. I know a secret way out.”

“Just listen to her, Jerry. Stop making things difficult,” said Milo.

“Who’s making things difficult?” shouted Jerry. “I didn’t ask to be here!” His voice echoed throughout the stairwell. At the same time Milo heard voices down at the bottom of the stairs.

“Now you’ve done it,” whispered Francesca.

Milo heard her continue up the stairs, increasing her pace. He followed after her and just hoped Jerry was following along.

The reached the top landing of the apartment building and came to a dead end. A faint light illuminated the area from a skylight window above. Rain rattled and dribbled on the skylight pane, creating strange, moving shadows on the wall. Jerry was breathing heavily behind him.

Francesca reached up and pulled a chain that hung above their heads. As she pulled a metal ladder swung down that led up to a cubby hole in the ceiling. She secured the ladder and began to ascend, climbing the rungs hand over hand.

Milo went after her, followed by Jerry. The ladder rungs gave dull ringing thumps under their feet and the ladder shook from their combined weight. Milo dared not look down with the center of the stairwell yawning below him. He heard Francesca pull open some hatch above them and groan from the effort. He felt some dust sprinkle across his face.

“Here we go,” Francesca said.

They climbed into a narrow walkway that led into a tiny room, barely high enough to stand in. At the far end was another door, which Francesca opened. Milo could hear the sound of the rain issuing from just beyond.

“Go ahead of me,” Francesca said. “I have to close the door behind us.”

Milo and Jerry stepped out onto the roof. Francesca disappeared behind them and Milo could hear her working at the stiff door. He stood looking at the rain drenched roof and the chimneys rising into the dark air.

“Man,” said Jerry. “What a miserable night.”