Flash Fiction: It’s a Long Way to the Top and a Long Way Down

by Chris McGinty
Standing at the top of the dam, looking at the reservoir below, making a jump for it didn’t seem like the best way to escape now. It may prove to be fatal if the water wasn’t deep enough, or if there was some other obstruction. The wind kicked up and the spy almost went over the side anyway. My espionage career for a hang glider.

The henchmen were close behind. He needed to hide, jump, or find some other way out of here. Dues Ex Helicopter? He scanned the sky. No such luck. The emergency signal must not have gone through. He scanned the ground. No ropes. No random parachutes sitting around.

There was a door for maintenance, but it was locked. It probably led nowhere anyway, and if he broke the knob, it would be obvious where he went. He needed to survive. If the emergency signal didn’t get through, it was possible the information this whole mission was to uncover didn’t make it through either. He hoisted himself up onto the concrete divider and looked down at the water. This was either going to be the most exciting moment of his life, or the last one. Just as there were bullets fired at him, he jumped into the air ready to dive.

The lead henchman was irritated. Somehow the spy had gotten out of the holding cell. He didn’t understand why his boss, the man who killed people randomly just for effect, let the spy live. If you’re going to kill your loyal subordinates, why not kill the enemy? It was only by chance that he saw the spy getting away and he was able to alert the boss and give chase with three of his men. They shouldn’t need reinforcements, but the spy had proven resourceful up to this point.

They turned the corner and onto the top of the dam. It was the only place the spy could have reasonably gone. He hoped that he didn’t miss some sort of hiding place along the way, but without enough people they would just have to keep moving forward in the most likely direction. There he was. The fool was getting up on the divider and was clearly about to make the jump. He would most likely die, but then they would have to find the body to confirm. Of course, the boss would probably just say something dumb like, “No one could survive that,” and then they would find out later he did. He pulled his gun and started to shoot. The spy jumped.

The wind kicked up again right in that moment, and the instant he had no footing, the wind was strong enough to push him backwards right onto the ground atop the dam. It was likely he’d never experienced wind so strong in his life, and it came along at the wrong time. His face smashed against the concrete, and it was everything he could do not to blackout. He could hear yelling and sensed that if he didn’t clear his head and get up quickly, he would lose his chance to try to escape again.

He struggled to his feet and nearly went back down again. He ran toward the divider. The fall must have taken some of his strength out of him, because he couldn’t lift himself this time. It took three tries until he finally hoisted himself up. He had no time to ready himself to jump this time. He would just have to go and hope the head injury didn’t cause him to blackout on the way down. He started to jump and to his surprise soon found himself flying back to the ground again.

The henchman watched as one of his men pulled the spy down from his second attempt to jump. He was busy reloading. When he had opened fire before he emptied the clip. Somehow not a single shot found its way to the spy and the only reason they might still stop him was because of this insane wind. When he found his gun was empty he told the three men to stop him and one of them managed to grab him by the jacket and pull him down, “Shoot him!”
The subordinate who pulled the spy down turned and yelled, “The boss wants him alive.”


“Kill him. I’ll deal with the boss.”

The spy stood and though it was three against one, they had no fighting skills compared to the spy. As he finished loading his clip, he saw the first man go down. As he took aim to shoot the spy, the second man got in his line of sight, and he saw the spy take down the second man. He started to walk closer so the moment the second man was out of the way. This was when he felt a hand on his shoulder.

“I want him alive.”

It was the boss. The boss stepped out ahead of the henchman and was drawing his own gun. He walked with the gun out as the second man was taken down by the spy.

The spy took down the last man. He was breathing hard and his ribs hurt. He doubted he could get over the side now, and that was why it was terrifying to look up and see the boss coming toward him with gun drawn.

“You will not escape now,” the boss said.

He suspected that he wouldn’t escape again. His only hope was to be captured a second time.

“Yes. It seems you have me now. I will have to throw myself on your mercy.”

“I need the information you stole from me, spy.”

“I have it right here, and I have more that I can tell you once you’ve taken me in.”

The boss smiled.
The henchman watched this exchange. He was amazed that the boss was about to make the same mistake of letting the spy live a second time. The boss was calling to him, “Come and cuff him. We’re going to interrogate him until he breaks.”

The henchman pulled cuffs from the inner pocket of his jacket. He walked out across the dam. As he went, he realized that he could no longer respect this man who claimed to be in charge. The senseless violence and the senseless mercy were too much. He dropped the cuffs and put a bullet in the boss’s head. The boss never knew what hit him. The spy looked horrified but composed himself quick enough to negotiate for his life.

“It looks like you’re in charge now…” he started to say.

The henchman shot the spy in the head.

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