Footsteps made a constant beat all around Zephyr. He stepped into the crowd and went with the flow. Coins clinked as he fumbled with the leather pouch. They felt heavy against his palm. He counted each one. Five in total. Six, after he added another coin from his stash. It was a good haul and would keep him fed for a week or two. Of course the ore he had stolen from the Overseer would have kept him fed for nearly a quarter cycle. If only he could find the right buyer for it.
Sunshine filled him with warmth. Rays beamed from up above which indicated midday. Zephyr peered up through the gaps between the towers. It was the only real time you could see the sun in Shanty. The rest of the day you only got light that had been reflected from the metallic structures above. They were lean, angular and numerous like a burnished forest. Each branched off and joined the others via walkways the higher they climbed. Zephyr felt menaced by them. Like they loomed down over him. Taunting him. I’ll be free from them one day. Once I earn my way out of the city. I’ll be able to see the sun and the sky whenever I please! He thought to himself.
A jostle to the hip brought him out of his musings. It was a light touch, subtle, but he noticed. His hand darted to the side. Only a piece of string remained where the purse had hung. Alert, he scanned the area. A boy, younger than he, zig zagged in the crowd in front of him. Zephyr dashed forward. The boy noticed straight away and bolted. The chase was on.
The youth nearly ploughed into a family as he raced away with Zephyr in pursuit. The kid was fast but so was he. At first the chase took the pair through the crowd as they both danced around obstacles. Zephyr was no longer the rock. Instead, it was as if he were a leaf spinning in the wind, riding the currents. He loved this. He lived for this. The brat had no way of knowing that Zephyr had played this game a thousand times with his friends. Only Mitzy had been able to keep up with him.
It wasn’t a game though. The child had Zephyr’s money and fled with it. Punters jumped out of their way as they barged through the crowd. One or two of the men made grabs for them but all were much too slow. Zephyr dogged the child as instructed by the pedlar woman. At any point he was only three or four steps behind him and he had to stop himself grasping at him until he was within reach. People gave way to open ground and Zephyr could see panic in the boy’s features as his longer strides brought him ever closer to his prey.
“Stop!” Shouted Zephyr as they neared a deadend.
With a great feat of agility the thief sprung up onto some crates and climbed onto the roof of a nearby building. Zephyr followed though not quite so practiced. The course took them across the rooftops. Sheets of metal rattled with each step. It was a surprise that the rickety dwellings could hold either of their weight let alone both. Out of the slum market led them into higher structures. Footing became more solid. Zephyr was a handbreadth away. He reached out but the boy hopped to the street.