posted on Sep, 22 2008 @ 09:33 AM
On Halloween Eve a group of teenagers were partying on the 48th Floor of a highrise building in Manhattan. It all started with small and harmless
"I´ll give you ten bucks if you walk down the hallway completely nude."
"I´ll do it for 50".
Luckily nobody happened to be in the hallway at that time and Rob raked in 50, accompanied by the hysterical laughter of his friends.
"20 Dollars for whoever will pee out of the window"
They were getting drunk and the wagers became increasingly silly.
"50 Dollars if you knock on our neighbours door with this bible in your hand and ask to share a few verses with them"
"300 Dollars for eating this. Any takers?"
Melissa was holding a jar of spoilt jam in her hands, topped with green mold. Some of the group gagged at the mere sight of it.
"Ewwwwww!!!!" exclaimed Joyce in disgust.
"I`ll give it a go ahead." Steve offered.
"But you have to eat the whole top off, down until the jam gets red again!"
Steve grabbed the Jar and took a smell. Grabbing a spoon he went for his first scoop...but before he had his first taking he stood up, running to the
restroom to vomit. More hysterical laughter from the group.
"This is Disgusting!" Steve called from behind the bathroom door.
Melissa was relieved she could keep her 300.
"A Thousand Dollars if you walk around the building" Thomas suddenly said with a stern and humorless voice that marked the shift in mood this
Thomas was staring at Rob. "No problem, I´ll get some fresh air" Melissa said.
"No, I want Rob to do it".
Everybody knew Thomas did not like Robbie. He didnt want Robbie to be part of the group, he didnt want him to be invited. Tom saw him as a pathetic
nerd who didnt belong to his circle of friends.
"What, are you paying me for leaving this gig?" Robert said weakly.
Silence befell the group of seven. The only sound heard was Joyce sipping on her iced cocktail.
"I´ll give you a thousand dollars once you return from your walk."
"OK, whats the catch?" Joyce grinned.
"You´re walking around the house on this floor"
It dawned on them that he meant walking on the ledge outside the window, hundreds of feet above a plunge to certain death.
Stunned reactions. Denial. "No way...You´re crazy..Thats dangerous!".
Rob shyly walked over to the window to check if his shoes would fit on the ledge.
Not taking it seriously, the group went back to party-as-usual. Robert had fallen silent for awhile, the offer working its way through his mind.
About an hour had passed when Steve and Jackson were getting ready to leave the party and the rest sat sprawled around sofas, when Robert stood up,
and fixed Thomas with his eyes:
"I´ll do it for 5000".
Had the group been less drunk or hungover, they might have stopped it from happening.
"But I want to see the 5000 on the table before I step out".
Thomas eyes lit up. He was having considerations of his own. He coldly calculated the probability of Robert falling off and dying and decided it was
worth it. While he took a walk to the ATM Machine to withdraw the rest of the money, Melissa, Joyce and Steve tried to talk Rob out of it.
"The ledge is foot size" Rob said in a calm voice.
"If the ledge were on the ground, I´d have no problem whatsoever walking along it without falling off. Its just psychological."
"Tom is an ass****". I cant believe he´s asking this of you." Steve said.
"If I make it I get 5000 bucks and can pay off my equipment. Not to mention the humiliation for Tom".
And so it went. 5000 Dollars in 100-Bills were on the table. Tom stood alone, away from the group. They wanted nothing to do with him. Rob climbed out
of the window, his feet looking for a firm stand on the narrow ledge, his hands gripping the window sill so tightly that his knuckles turned white. It
was cool outside, the cold emphasized by ocassional gusts of wind.
"Get back in OK? This is insane" Joyce tried.
"Shut up, I have to concentrate" Rob gasped.
Away from the window there was nowhere Rob could hold his hands on to. He had to lean flat into the building wall. He did not dare look down, but from
the lower corners of his eyes he could see it was quite a fall. Were he to look down, fear would overcome him and he´d have lost.
He slid over to the next window. The worried voices of the teenage group trickled off. Joyce and Steve were peering at him out of the start-up window.
4 more windows to go on this side. 5 on the next side. Another 5 on the backside. Then another 5. Then he´d be back home.
Arriving at the second window he saw a darkened room in front of him. Nobody home there. If things went terribly wrong he could imagine just breaking
through the glass into one of the rooms and coming to rest. He slid along...slowly, tensely, terrified. Reaching the third window gave him a
much needed break.
Cold sweat trickled down his face and he couldnt wipe it away because any false movement would send him tumbling down 48 floors, splattered all over
the sidewalk. The sweat blurred his eyes and made his nose tickle unpleasantly. He scraped his nose against the building wall to get rid of the itch.
He couldnt pay attention to his friends calling him back anymore. Paying attention to them would have him loose focus and fail.
"Oh #!" he gasped. At the last window on this side of the building, the room was lit. What are they going to think when there´s suddenly some
dude hanging at their window? This brought up another problem: If they called the police or forced him inside, he could kiss his 5000 goodbye. On
the other hand he was starting to regret his decision to do this and longed for relief.
His arms and feet spread out for a safe hold, he took a peek to the right, inside the window. There was a woman in the bathroom, the bathroom door
open. She was brushing her teeth. OK, quickly now. he thought. He passed the window, missing his much needed break of holding on to the window
sills...and approached the first corner of the building.
Trying to negotiate his way around the corner, a dizziness befell him. Vertigo?. His heart was racing. The wind on this side was harder, more
unforgiving. He made it around. He slid on. Slide by slide along the ledge, he might make it. The next window. Nobody home. Thank goodness. A break.
What if I cheated? I could enter this room and just walk over the other side of the building?
But that wasnt going to happen: Toms face peaked out 3 windows in front of him.
"Hi there! Just making sure you dont take shortcut!"
Where is the rest of the group? How did he get into that room? What if he just pushes me off the ledge?
"Will you please get out of the way?" Rob yelled. "Thats unfair!"
But as Rob approached that window Thomas wasnt making any indication of going away. He just stood there with an evil stare.
Robert wasnt going to trust him. For the first time on this excursion, he removed one hand from the building to fumble for the cell phone in his
pocket. He managed to one-press-dial Joyce.
"Joyce"...he said, out of breathe, his voice high-pitched in near hysteria.
"Thomas is blocking my path. I think he wants to kill me!"
That was that. Thomas dissappeared, closing the window behind him.
As he approached that window, he was struck back by it as Joyce opened it the same time he wanted to grab on to it.
Rob slipped off the ledge. His only grip on life was the grip of his hand on the lower window sill. His right leg was bruised from stopping the fall.
Joyce and Jackson were pulling him up onto the window. "We´re going to get you inside"
He was now at a crossroads. He could go inside and all would be well. Or he could continue. In the doorway stood Tom:
"Come on in and you loose. You dont seriously think I wanted to kill you, do you?"
Robert lay on the window sill, panting, exhausted, shivering.
"Leave me alone guys. Just make sure that §%*#§* doesnt follow me around. I made it this far, Im gonna make it to the end".
Now practiced, he made it around the second side of the building just fine. It did take 30 minutes to move a distance that would normally take 2
minutes by foot though.
The challenge occured on the third window of the third side. He was detected by a couple lying in bed. The woman let out a shriek and the man twitched
back in horror. Robert just stood there, holding on to the window dumbfounded. Robert slid on before they approached him to open the window. He slid
on, and still nothing from the couple. Two windows later, the window opened and the bald-headed, chubby man stared out at him.
"Whatcha think your doing there son? Im calling the police!"
"Please dont call the police Sir. We dont want any uneeded attention. This is a climbing exercise. My body is secured by ropes".
Although there werent any ropes, the man apparently bought the explanation, not being able to imagine any other possibility.
Around the corner to the fourth and last side and out of sight of the man staring in disbelief.
The first droplets of rain werent the problem. The problem started when it rained so hard that the ledge became slippery. Robert no longer had a tight
shoe grip on the ledge and was now weeping in desperation. He would loose his concentration and fall if he didnt keep repeating a mantra...which in
this case, was "damn, damn, damn, damn, damn it, damn, damn, damn, damn it, gotta make it, wanna make it, need to make it, damn, damn, damn, damn".
Repeating this in his mind and as a whisper, prevented him from focussing on falling.
Halfway through the fourth side he slipped and was in the open air, with nothing to hold on to. A sinking feeling in his stomach. Free fall. The world
circling around him. Impact imminent as the side-walk rushed towards him. Smack!
No. Didnt happen. It was only his fear-ridden body imagining things. He was halfway through. He was going to make it. Make it. Make it. Make it. Damn.
Damn. Damn. Make it. Make it. Make it. He was soaked by now. His clothes heavy, adding to the challenge. His face was dripping, he couldnt see a
thing. He´d have to continue half-blind.
On the last stretch of his long walk, his mind went into a kind of trance. A trance fueled by exhaustion and superhuman concentration. The world
seemed to slow down. His perception of sound altered. He could hear the street noise and cars more clearly. Raindrops seemed bigger and dripping in
slow motion. The building felt like an extention of his body. He felt like he was this massive building, steadyfast and strong. He felt utter
conviction that he was going to make it. For the first time in his life, he felt invincible. Magnificent. He turned the corner, approached the lit
window and entered it, back into the warm of the room.
The group stood there, silently amazed. Robert felt high. A high that surpassed any amount of money. This didnt keep him from picking up the 5000 and
tucking it into the zipper of his soaked jacket.
"Hi there guys" he said with a strong reverberant voice.
"Who´s next for 5000 Dollars?"