Tristan Bancks: The Fall

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Tristan Bancks The Fall
  • Название:
    The Fall
  • Автор:
  • Издательство:
    Penguin Random House Australia
  • Жанр:
    Триллер / Детские остросюжетные / на английском языке
  • Год:
    2017
  • Город:
    North Sydney
  • Язык:
    Английский
  • ISBN:
    978-0-143-78304-6
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    5 / 5
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The Fall: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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In the middle of the night, Sam is woken by angry voices from the apartment above. He goes to the window to see what’s happening – only to hear a struggle, and see a body fall from the sixth-floor balcony. Pushed, Sam thinks. Sam goes to wake his father, Harry, a crime reporter, but Harry is gone. And when Sam goes downstairs, the body is gone, too. But someone has seen Sam, and knows what he’s witnessed. The next twenty-four hours could be his last.

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Tristan Bancks

THE FALL

For Hux

Фото

ONE

THE FALL

I woke to the sound of a voice pleading, high-pitched and urgent. I listened with my whole body. The man’s voice was coming from the apartment above. Or was it below? I couldn’t be sure. In the six days I’d been staying with my father I hadn’t heard much noise from the other apartments.

The microwave in the kitchenette read 2.08 am. My father had left the heaters on too warm again so my head was fuzzy and my throat was dead dry.

I sat up and the springs on the sofa bed squeaked. There were footsteps across the floor above now, and another man’s voice, low and threatening. I rolled off the couch, grabbed my crutches and stumbled to the wide window. I wiped the foggy glass with the palm of my hand, my bruised armpits resting painfully on the hard rubber crutch-tops. I looked out through the branches of a tall, leafless tree and across a yard to a wire fence and a mess of railway tracks beyond.

It was raining lightly. People said that winter had come early to the city this year but in the Mountains, where I lived with Mum, it was much colder than this already. I twisted the old latch and squawked the window open a little, pulling it in towards me. I put my ear to the narrow opening and was struck in the face by a rectangle of cold.

I listened.

The men’s voices sounded louder now but I still couldn’t make out what they were saying. I opened the window a little more, stuck my head out and looked up and to my left. I could see someone’s fingers curled over a balcony railing. All of the apartments had balconies but they didn’t hang out over the edge. They were set into the building next to the rear windows. That’s where the voices were coming from. The man who was pleading sounded small and thin, like a jockey. Another man was rough and phlegmy like he had crunchy gravel caught in his throat. He sounded stubborn, bullish, like Mr Mawson, my science teacher.

Something bumped my leg. I pulled my head back inside and looked down to see Magic, my father’s dog. My parents split up before I was born so Mum got me and my dad got Magic. Some days Mum acted like she got a raw deal. That’s why she called my father ‘The Magic Thief’. And for other reasons, I suspected.

Magic shook her head from side to side, her long ears slapping loudly against the top and sides of her head.

‘Shhhhh, girl,’ I whispered, rubbing one of those silky, soft ears for comfort. Magic was the oldest, fattest, brownest dog in the world. Also, the funniest. I had spent more time with her this week than I had with my dad.

On the balcony upstairs, the men’s argument intensified. I listened hard but the wind and rain seemed to dampen their voices. I thought about waking my father but I wasn’t sure Harry would appreciate it. That’s what he liked to be called – ‘Harry’. Never ‘Dad’.

The bigger-sounding guy coughed hard then spat over the balcony. The little guy raised his voice. One of them must have slammed against the railing or a door or wall. I could feel the impact through the window frame. I squeezed Magic’s ear hard with my free hand and she yelped quietly.

‘Sorry,’ I whispered.

I wanted to drink in every detail, like my father would when he was out covering a story. I turned to the microwave. It was 2.11 am. The small man screamed but the voice was quickly stifled, maybe by a hand. I turned back just in time to see a flash of black as something fell past my window.

Someone.

He flapped his arms and clawed at the air, trying desperately to hold onto something. He let out a strangled yawp as he fell.

Pushed was my immediate thought. He didn’t just fall. He was pushed.

I heard the impact and stared down through the gnarled tree branches at the body lying facedown in the mud beside the bin shed.

The body.

I was almost thirteen years old and I had never seen a dead human being before. At least, I figured the man must be dead. It’s further than you think, six storeys. He lay there, his body buckled, a crumpled mess of limbs, lit by a single railway security light on a pole at the edge of the train tracks. I wished that I hadn’t seen it. Now I couldn’t ‘unsee’ it. I felt like this image would be scorched into my brain forever. I wished I hadn’t begged to come to my father’s in the first place, and that I hadn’t behaved so badly that my mother had finally agreed.

A siren cut through the constant hum of traffic noise. Next came footsteps on the floor above, then the distant squeal of an apartment door. I turned and crutched across the seagrass matting to the bedroom, swinging my legs forward then reaching ahead with the crutches, not even feeling the pain in my armpits now.

‘Harry,’ I whispered.

No response.

‘Harry!’

I went to his bedside and shook the rumpled quilt but it gave way. I pulled the quilt back. My panic deepened. I fumbled for the lamp switch and flicked it on.

There was no one in the room but me.

TWO

ALONE

I heard the rattle of the old lift climbing upwards, past our apartment, then the low thunk of it arriving on the sixth floor. I listened intently as the doors opened, closed and the lift clattered down again. I could imagine the scene in one of my comics: the large, dark shape of the man seen through the crisscross wire mesh window of the lift door.

I twisted awkwardly and crutched out of the bedroom to the bathroom door, which was open just a crack.

‘Harry?’

I shoved the door with the bottom of my crutch. Every nerve in my body lit up. The room was empty and dead dark, no windows. I flicked the dull light on, revealing old blue tiles, mouldy shower curtain, cracked mirror and the rust stain on the bath from the tap that would not stop dripping. But no Harry. I switched off the light.

It was a small, shabby one-bedroom apartment – a lounge room, sparsely furnished, with a crusty old kitchenette and noisy fridge on one wall, then the bedroom, bathroom and a small balcony. I slept in the lounge room. The front door led to the lift and stairs. There was nowhere else that my father could have been.

I headed back across the lounge room towards the window, whacking my right knee on the edge of the sofa bed and sending 50,000 volts of pain surging through my body. I swallowed a scream and squeezed the bandage on my knee, just above where they’d cut me open and inserted six large metal staples ten days ago. I dug my fingers in hard and stayed there, hunched over my pain in the darkness, thinking about my dad and trying not to cry.

Once the electric agony had softened to a dull throb, I stood and struggled back to the window, edging an eye out over the ledge. I looked down through the crooked, leafless branches and saw the shape there – a man twisted up like a pretzel, rain falling on his body. He did not move. I wanted to call out to the other people in the building. I wanted to scream loud enough to wake the people in the skyscrapers studded with lights on the far side of the railway tracks and beyond the old railway sheds, but something told me not to.

The man who fell was not my father. I repeated it again and again, making it true.

Text Mum, I thought.

I had no call credit till the start of the new month but I still had unlimited texts. I ran out of call credit and data my first day at Harry’s. There was no landline in the apartment. Only Harry’s mobile. It was locked with a code, which I had unsuccessfully tried to crack. No wi-fi either. There were forty-seven different wi-fi signals available from other apartments and shops but every single one of them was locked.

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