Somewhere deep inside Lenny Henry Tower (one of the monoliths that make up The Seven Sorrows of Stockdale) heavy footsteps could be heard echoing through the fire exit stairwell.
These stomping sounds belonged to Chub, a young girl of indeterminable age, who had just escaped the tiny world of the dwellers of the tops floors of said housing block.
She threw herself down each level, missing as many steps as she could without falling over, towards the ground floor and freedom.
What she would find when she finally ran of out stairs - she could only guess, but the wonders of the outside world would soon her hers.
Heart pounding and breath huffing and puffing, Chub skipped and leaped toward her destiny.
Upstairs in her old home, the elders who had sent her away looked at each other and then over the edge of the building.
They had been busy taking bets on who would be first to land a spit on Chubs head once she emerged outside.
Basic rations and clothing were the currency of the day and there stood a very good chance that Lint (the eldest of the elders) would be quids in by the end of the day!
An hours or so passed and there was still no sign of the little run-a-way.
"Maybe she got lost." Said a nameless Elder.
"Wouldn't surprise me..." replied another.
"Hang on..." Said a third. "I think that might be her."
The rest of the group followed the long bony finger pointing straight down to the ground and everybody hacked and regurgitated as much phlegm as their withered lungs could muster.
"Pa-tew!" they spat.
"Wh-ump" said Lint who had let the others go first.
Silence followed as each member of the elders concentrated on their own respective gob as they sank towards their target.
"Come on you little green bastard" Whispered one of the nameless Elders (the second one, if anybody is trying to visualise the scene).
Down below on the ground Chub had indeed emerged into the outside world.
Having run out of stairs to jump down she had stopped in front of door very similar to the one she had walked out of at the start of her journey.
"Another fire exit." Chub shrugged.
And indeed it was. Only this one was dirtier and had boot marks across it from years of abusive kicking.
Chub had pushed outward with very little hesitation and stepped out to find the world looked very different that she had imagined.
Living high in Lenny Henry Tower had reduced the angles by which the world could be viewed. The open plan walk way that joined the towers together looked very different at eye level.
Chub had never seen a tree from the side and often wondered what the round green blobs looked like up close... she felt a little cheated at the sight of the thick brown trunk that seemed to hold it down (or up?)
Chub Shrugged again. It was her thing.... shrugging. She did it often. Chub found it hard to be impressed. Everything seemed to be a bit of let down, but the outside world was supposed to be different. Trees were not giving her a good first impression.
She looked further on and saw the base of Rod Hull Heights, the next building along from Lenny Henry Tower and frowned.
it was huge.
Much bigger than she had imagined. Her own home wasn't THAT big was it? she thought to herself.
Chub blinked in disbelief and instinctively walked toward it, just as a half dozen salty green and brown fat rain drops landed with a small, yet noticeable, bounce.
Chub could have sworn she heard a collection of swear words from high above her, but Chub being Chub, she shrugged it off and walked toward Rod Hull, with her hand out desperate to touch the building to make sure it was really real.
"EAR...." came an unknown voice somewhere out of Chubs vision. "Wha' we got ear then?".
A small collection of sniggers announced the arrival of a gang of kids.
Somehow, Chub recognised them. She wasn't sure how - having never seen their faces, but the colour of their clothes and the way they moved seemed familiar to her. She was positive she had seen them in the past chasing after lonely, single kids of her age. Catching up with them and.... oh dear.
"Crawled outta a bin or sumink?" sneered a boy taller than the rest. His hair was limp and hung over one of his eyes. His clothes hung off him as if they were not sure if they wanted to be associated with him or not.
His hooded jacket flopped off the side of his shoulders and his pants were barely above his knees.
Chub had read in one of the books that circulated round the top levels of the buildings that, the act of wearing trousers in such a manner so that ones bottom was on display, originated in prisons where inmates wished to invite other to... well... do things that Chub was sure would makes her eyes water to say the least.
Chub chewed her bottom lip and wondered if that's why the others were following him around?... he probably makes them wait for their turn, she concluded.
"What's a scruffy little turd like you doing on MY patch?" grinned the limped haired leader.
"Just passing through." Said Chub matter of factly.
"Well you gotta pay a tax see. Can't pass through my block without pay a tax." He said.
The others all laughed.
Said ever single part of Chubs body.
YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON BUT IT'S NOT GOOD.
And run Chub did.
"Ger'er!" shouted the apparent leader of this band of hoodlums and they gave chase round the block.
Chub had never been given the room to find out what here top speed really was. Stuck in the top of a tower block, space was at a premium.
She knew she was fast around corners and obstacles, but flat out running in a straight line? Chub was about to find out... or not.
From the top of Lenny Henry Tower the elders watched as Chub glided across the open grey ground, under and around the green tree and round the corner as the group of thugs gave chase.
The elders pushed and shoved, trying to gain a better view as they rushed to the other side of the building to keep up with events.
"Two pairs of socks she gets away!" said one.
"I'll have some of that" said another.
"MOVE!" said a third who couldn't see what was happening.
Down below Chub had gained some distance of her pursuers. Agility appeared to come naturally to her and it didn't take long before the gang gave up their chase.
Chub kept running. Down a ramp, along a street, past some shops and around a corner.
She kept running, with no idea of where she heading. The only thing that stopped her from running further was the terrible shooting pains in her legs. Fire burned inside her veins and Chub fell to a heap on the ground.
The sound of her heartbeat pounded deep in her ears and she almost missed the following statement which was the most unusual and yet normal thing anyone has ever said.
"Good. You're here. I was beginning to think the spiders were wrong."
Chub opened her eyes, sat up and shrugged.
to be continued....