It was always the same after school. Aiden and his friends would go to the rooftop. A small abandoned building on the outskirts of an urban street. No one came there. He liked it that way.
The area was like a safe haven. It was high enough to separate themselves from the world, but low enough not to induce vertigo. With various items of rubbish littering the rooftop, they were only limited by their imaginations.
Seeing Alison holding two orange energy drinks, Aiden made his way towards her and smiled.
“I see you kept up your end of the deal up,”
“You expected anything less?”
She tossed him his drink. Aiden’s reflexes kicked in and he caught it with ease. Alison winked at him, edges of her lips resisting forming a smile. He took off the lid and gulped down half the bottle.
“These never fail to hit the spot. I think when I’m older, I won’t have a fridge full of beers, just give me 500 of these and I’ll be sorted”
“Jimmy said he wants to sign up for Michael’s parkour contest”
“He does? Well, good on him.”
Jimmy Drake came over, seemingly happy to see Aiden. He even walked past his brother instantly to shake Aiden’s hand. His palm was sweaty, as if he’d just met Tony Hawk. “I’m gonna sign up. Damien’s showed me some tricks but it’s…it’s not like the way you do it.”
Aiden would be an idiot not to notice how shy he was, but he humoured him for a while. “It’s called my way for a reason, buddy.”
Damien walked past Aiden and patted him on the shoulder. “Aiden’s not into competitions, are you mate?”
“Nope, and you know why.”
Storming in with his camera like some big shot wildlife presenter, Danny quickly waved it in Aiden’s face, much to his displeasure. “Aaaaaaand we have the famous Aiden Malcolm, behind the scenes at his famous rooftop. Aiden, why do you hate competition?”
Aiden held Danny’s camera and looked down at the lens. “I don’t hate them as much as you hate privacy, we’ll say that. And what’s with the dumb Australian accent?”
Jimmy bit his lip. “You could probably win one if you tried, you know”
Aiden rolled his eyes and shrugged, adjusting his hoodie. “Maybe, but that’s not the point Jim. I’m just not the competitive type, like Chad or his gang of flying monkeys. That isn’t me”.
Danny sniggered at Aiden after taking his camera back. “So modest, yet so opinionated”
“Parkour is the only sport that allows freedom. There’s no rules, nothing. I like it that way”
Damien stepped in between the two of them. “Aiden, I got a party at mine tonight. You in?”
“Yeah sure, wait...is Steven Spielberg gonna be there?”
Damien looked over at Danny. “Not with the camera he won’t be”
“Hey man” Danny nodded in Damien’s direction. “You got your parkour shit, I got my camera shit, we all got our own shit!” He threw his hands in the air, belting out a boisterous laugh. “Don’t hate on my shit when I’m filming your shit.”
Aiden turned back to Danny. “Shit man, you’re right.”
Jimmy walked past Damien. “Won’t Mum and Dad get pissed if they find out?”
“Exactly. The idea is that they don’t find out, little bro. ”
Alison scoffed with a giggle. “Yeah, because your parties have such a good reputation for being secret.”
Damien smirked. “Yeah, that’s not gonna happen again. Right, Danny?”
“Hey man, last time you said I could invite a few…”
“A few friends. Not half of England”
“Yeah, and a few friends”
“Sorry man, I don’t feel like explaining to my parents why their beer went missing, again."
Aiden sniggered. “This was your birthday right?”
A grin slowly started to emerge on Aiden’s face. “It wasn’t Danny’s friends who took the beers.”
Damien rolled his eyes and laughed. “You sly bastard”
Jimmy sat down on the gravel of the roof, putting his hands in his face. He seemed to swear under his breath. Damien looked over at him with concern.
“You okay buddy?”
He looked up at Damien with his eyes flickering from side to side. “Alistair’s been bugging me again. That’s why I want to compete.”
Damien put his hand on Jimmy’s shoulder. “Look man, you can beat that guy with your eyes shut."
Aiden put his drink down. “Yeah, listen to your brother. He may be an idiot, but he knows his stuff.”
Damien stopped to give Aiden the finger, which he returned with a smile.
“Screw you too, but seriously, there’s nothing to it. Alistair is all talk and fancy tricks. He’s a poser, you’re better than that.”
“Could you help me train?”
There was a moment of silence here. The wind blowing suddenly got a lot louder, as if someone had just released a batch of tumbleweed. Aiden winked at Jimmy.
“We should get going for the sign up now, I think someone needs to put their name down”
The junkyard track was only a few streets down from their building. It had once been a row of apartments, but they had since been destroyed with only their wrecked remains left. It provided a pretty good challenge.
The sign up was exactly as Aiden had expected. Parkour was like a community here, and it was pretty cool that way. A fortress of tyres made up the tracks, with an abandoned park serving for more obstacles.
Michael Montgomery looked as if he was having the time of his life up there. Like Alison said, he loved to put on a show. His confidence was just one of the most incredible things to watch. With the way he spoke like a radio announcer to the way he walked like a rockstar, there was nothing you couldn’t find to like about him.
Michael slathered some gel into his blonde hair, slicking it back in a Danny Zuko fashion. Aiden couldn’t help but snigger and be impressed by his confidence. He tested the microphone, generating some feedback, and then spoke.
“Okay guys, do I have your attention? Of course I do. Yes, yes, what you all have heard is true. All through this week, the very best of you lot will be competing in our very own parkour contest.”
He continued to strut in a little circle. “Now, we need to keep it on the down low so we don’t get stopped by the fuzz, but if you win, well you’re gonna be much richer, let me tell you.”
The applause from the crowd at that point could have rivalled a Rolling Stones gig at Wembley Stadium. There wasn’t a single person in that crowd who wasn’t excited for this competition.
Michael smiled on the stage and moved his hand to the crowd like a conductor. “Regarding the amount well, I’m a little short now but it’s gonna be ten grand”
Aiden moved a little closer to the stage and covered his mouth with his hands, prompting a microphone. “Ten grand? Didn’t you throw that away this morning anyway?”
As the crowd continued to laugh, Michael laughed too. “Well, yes, but I figured I’d better give back to the community a bit, you know?” He continued to strut.
“So for all this week there’s gonna be some races, the locations will be sent to you by email and by this time next week we will have the final right here. Does everybody understand?”
The crowd all nodded and chanted yes.
Aiden let his mind slip into his train of thought. Ten thousand pounds would surely go a long way for his eviction problem, but his dad ensured him he didn’t need his help. Besides, all these other parkourers were serious competitors. He knew he didn’t stand a chance.
“Sign up is open right now, so don’t be shy, come on down!”
“Don’t be shy? Hear that Aiden, don’t be shy!”
Aiden turned to see Chad, Scarlett and Alistair behind him. Chad looked rather impressed by his little remark, with Scarlett patting him on the back and grinning like a maniac. Alistair seemed to be too focused on his phone to care.
Aiden took a deep breath and tried to remain calm. “Didn’t come for your bullshit Chad, you want to sign up, go ahead”
Alistair shambled past Jimmy with the look of ice on his face.
“Hey Jimmy, you gonna sign up? You know what? I am too. Maybe we can have a little trial race now, eh buddy?”
Jimmy didn’t look up. Damien, noticing this, stepped in to defend his little brother.
“You really got nothing better to do than to pick on a Year 9?”
“Whoa man, calm down. Just having a bit of fun with the little guy” Alistair chuckled as he flicked Damien’s shoulder.
He didn’t take too kindly to this. “I’m serious, back off”.
Aiden jumped in between the two of them, trying to stop an inevitable fight. “Both of you stop it.”
Jimmy ran over to the sign up sheet and happily wrote his name down. He walked past Alistair with a cheeky grin.
“Oh, look who’s finally developed a backbone.”
Chad was next to sign up, nudging past Aiden as he headed towards the sheet.
Aiden gave Chad a cold stare as he walked past. “If you think that changes anything about me signing up, you can forget it.”
“Just shows you’re a coward”,
Alistair chimed in next. “Yeah, just shows you’re a coward”
Alison stepped in. “I’m an egotistical blond maniac,”
A look of confusion swept Alistair’s face. He turned to Scarlett to see if she knew what Alison meant. Scarlett just shrugged. “What?”
“Oh, I’m sorry, I thought we were doing impressions of each other?”
Whilst the rest of the crowd were immersed in this verbal battle, Scarlett stepped in, grinning at Alison. “In that case, how’s this for you?”
She grabbed her leg and started limping in apparent agony. “Oh... don’t leave me here! It hurts! Someone call an ambulance!”
Alison looked like she was going to explode, so Aiden immediately stepped in front of her. “Alison, don’t.”
Alison backed away. As much as it looked like she desperately wanted to give Scarlett a taste of her fist, it wasn’t a wise move.
Chad sniggered and turned to his friends. “Let’s get out of here. Hey Aiden, my offer still stands, champ.”
With no reply from Aiden’s side, Chad, Scarlett and Alistair all walked away in fits of laughter. Damien walked over, patting Aiden’s shoulder in support. “Ignore them dude, they aren’t worth it”
Danny sniggered under his breath. “Yeah, I mean hopefully I can get them losing on tape. Gotta hand it to you though, Alison. That was pretty funny.”
Michael put his hand on Alison and turned to Damien. “Hey man, hear you’re having a party tonight?”
Damien stared at Danny knowing exactly what he had done. With one check of his phone, he was bombarded with text messages all relating to his party.
“Yeah, I guess you can come then”
Michael nodded and Damien marched right up to Danny, who was whistling in his own little world, not looking back. “You had to trend it didn’t you?”
“Hey, I just invited Alex...then I thought, invite a few others so it doesn’t look desperate”
“No, it does look desperate.”
Continuing to bicker to themselves, Damien and Danny walked off into the distance, hoping to find a taxi somewhere, with Jimmy following.
Aiden walked over to Alison and tapped her on the shoulder. “You okay?”
Alison looked down. “Yeah, just...Scarlett really knows how to push my buttons you know?”
“You don’t really help yourself when you rise to it”.
She sighed and turned away. “Jeez Aiden, thanks for your advice.”
“I just don’t want you to do something stupid and get hurt”
“What? Any more than I am already!“.
Her voice quickly turned to a shy whisper as she looked down at her ankle.
“I’ll never be able to walk correctly again, I’ll never be able to do parkour with you guys again, thanks to her.”
Aiden smiled at her, pulling a silly face. Luckily it worked, as Alison couldn’t stop giggling.
“Scarlett will get what’s coming to her, don’t worry”.
“Hope so, nothing would make me happier”.
“I know, but don’t let her get to you”.
“You know, I get you hate competitions…but if you tried, you could beat Chad. That would sure stop him getting at you”.
“I don’t need to beat Chad to get him off my back. Just need to stay out of his way, he’ll get tired of it eventually”.
“I guess, but I believe you could win if you really did try. That’s all I’m saying”.
Aiden stopped for a second and looked at Alison as she said this, for a moment he lost himself in her smile. Noticing this, she playfully hit him on the shoulder.
“Come on, we should catch up to the others”
Heading up to the stop catching up with the rest of the gang, they all managed to flag down a taxi to Damien’s house. Just thinking of it as another night, Aiden had no idea that tonight would change his life forever.