Disclaimer: All usual disclaimers apply, I don't own the rights, I don't get money, and this is for entertainment only. Please excuse any errors; they are entirely mine. Not Beta-ed.
Um, long time, no write. This one has been moldering away on my hard drive for years. I dusted it off and FINALLY finished it. Hope you like it and I hope to finish other stories that I have that have been waiting to be completed too.
By Starsky's Strut
Starsky raced after the murderer. He mentally corrected himself as he acrobatically bounced over a pile of trash. 'Suspected serial murder' since no one had ever found the bodies. Having been at this pace for several minutes, his wind was beginning to come in loud, raspy puffs. He'd given up yelling for the idiot to stop after what had to be about a mile. Geez, the creep must be a regular marathon runner. Shoulda sent Hutch after him and stayed with the girl myself. Damn. The image of the bloody young woman flashed before his eyes and he sped up.
That jerk is staying just out of the long arm of the law. Starsky thought sarcastically as he managed to brush his fingers on the man's clothing a couple of times only he got close enough to grab a handful and pull the man down. Needing to bring this chase to a halt, he poured on the speed only to have the perp get a second wind and bolt off like he had wings on his feet. Like Pegasus, no, Starsky corrected himself, like Mercury. Or was it Hermes?
The suspect snagged a box and hurtled it over his shoulder, nearly hitting Starsky. "Okay now it's personal!" Starsky snarled. "No whipo punk is gonna escape. Not on my watch!" He hardly noticed when the working streetlights became fewer and farther between. All he could hear was the steady slap of the perp's shoes on the pavement, his own Adidas, and his breath flowing in and out of his lungs.
All he concentrated on was catching the man who was so tantalizingly close. The perp pounded along just a head of him. The terrain became rough, grassy and steep. Starsky managed to grab the suspect's shoe and pull it off. But the man stubbornly continued. He gritted his teeth and powered up after the man, tossing the shoe behind him as he needed both hands to grab foliage to assist his upward climb. "That's one!" He hissed, "I'm pullin' the next one off any sec and lets see how *puff* far ya git in stocking feet!"
The harshly breathing perp didn't even look back at him, just kept moving, trying to out last Starsky. Not gonna happen! Ma always said I could out stubborn a mule. The grade leveled off and Starsky could just make out that they were on some elevated train tracks. How the hell far from where we started are we? He cut that thought off. It doesn't matter how far away we are, it's how near I am to catching him. And I am gonna get this jerk, even if it kills me! He tripped over the rails a few times before getting the steps just right and smiled smugly. Now this is some fancy footwork. Just how many people could keep their balance in near pitch black conditions on railroad tracks? Not many. He huffed, inwardly proud of his feat.
He almost didn't hear it. Instinctively he ducked and was thrown off balance as he scrambled to stay on his feet. The suspect had a weapon of some sort after all. Either he had just picked it up, or had been carrying the whole time. In the dark it was impossible to tell what the weapon was. Starsky needed some distance –now- he backpedaled and hooked a heel on one of the wooden cross rails. He went down hard, grabbing for his gun as he fell.
"Missed me!" Starsky snapped.
"Ahhhh!" The weapon made contact, this time his left hand went numb and his Beretta disappeared into the darkness. Starsky scuttled backward, crab-like, hissing with pain as his gun hand buckled, refusing to take any weight. Starsky knew he had to get to his feet, this position was too vulnerable. "Where is a convenient on-coming train when you need one?" He said sarcastically.
The only answer he got was the harsh whoosh! of the weapon cutting through the air as the perp tried to hit him again.
That swing was close enough to ruffle his hair. Starsky hurtled backwards as quickly as he could, using a modified crab crawl.
"This little piggy went to market!" The murderous perp swung at him again. "This little piggy should have stayed home!" He grunted with the effort he put into the swing.
Starsky scooted backward, still ducking blows and trying –unsuccessfully- to get to his feet. "I'm really tired of stupid people making pig jokes and thinking they're so damn witty."
The man's only response was to take another swing at him.
The weapon connected with the metal railroad ties. It had to be made of something wooden and very solid.
And just how dangerous is my job that I can tell what a weapon is made of by the sound it makes when it hits somethin'? I really gotta get into a different line of work! Starsky, still on the ground, pushed away once more only to have his hand hit only air, he'd just found the edge of the trestle and in the dark there was no way to know how far down the drop was. Adrenalin powered through him, giving him the speed and strength to hurtle forward, away from the edge, but that put him back into the perp's range.
"Ahhh!" Starsky screamed as pain rocketed through him, this time from his left ankle.
"And this little piggy cried wee, wee, wee all the way home." The man chuckled. "Only little piggy, you ain't makin' it home. Not ever." The tone changed from sarcastic humor to quiet, dead seriousness. "Once I kill you, I'm gonna fetch a truck and take you out to my farm. Toss your body in for the sows to eat. Brings a whole new meaning to 'bringing home the bacon' don't it, cop?" He snickered. "Then again, maybe I won't kill you. Just break your arms and legs and let the pigs eat you alive. I might even watch, could be a lot of fun."
"T'riffic. So that's what happened to the bodies." Starsky muttered, feeling very ill. No gun, an injured hand and leg, no one is sight and no one knew exactly where he was. Things couldn't possibly get any worse. Wood quietly squeaked as weight pushed down on the ties, tipping him off that his attacker was moving closer and preparing to strike again. He heard the perp grunt as the man took another swing, Starsky's reflexes kicked in and he automatically lunged backwards to evade the blow. This move flipped him over the edge and into the black nothing.
Flailing wildly as he fell, Starsky somehow connected with something solid. His hand slipping and sliding downwards over the rough surface until his fingers caught on something hard. Fingers, arms, bones and joints creaked, threatening to pop out of their sockets in an effort to arrest his decent. Grunting with effort, he clamped onto the solid object with all his might and several pulse pounding moments, stopped moving.
Panting with fear, he hugged the support beam, Addis-clad toes scrambling to lodge atop of what were likely huge hexagonal nuts that secured the bolts to the uprights. His arms were not able to encircle the beam, making his hold a precarious one. Waves of agony washed over him, seemingly from every part of his body. The loudest complaints were issuing from already compromised hand and ankle. He bit off a moan as he clung to the trellis like a baby baboon to its mother's back, terrified losing tenuous his grip.
"Oh god…if I hadn't been able to stop-" Starsky gasped as he pressed his forehead to the beam and panted for breath, heart pounding in his throat and ears, deafening him to all other sounds. For several long moments he clung, his mind only grasping that he wasn't falling any more and he wasn't dead.
He hugged wide metal support. "You're my new best friend" He patted it with the tips of his fingers, unwilling to move any more than that little bit.
Starsky flashbacked back to the day he and Hutch had chased another mad killer. A man named Jim who was into radio waves -and in a psychotic haze- had killed Starsky's former girlfriend, Helen. He and Hutch climbed the radio tower only watch -powerless to stop him- as Jim lost his grip and plunged to his death. Starsky shuddered inwardly at the memory.
It had been a very long drop -followed by a very sudden stop- for poor Radio Wave Jim.
Starsky could only cling to the radio tower, one arm outstretched in a vain attempt to grab him. It wasn't to be and he could only helplessly watch as seconds drew out into what felt like an eternity of slow motion falling. An eternity of Jim flailing wildly, the panicked expression on his face, followed by the dull wet thwack as the body hit the roof top, leaving Jim twisted, broken and quite dead.
Starsky was sickened and saddened at his inability to save Jim as the man died in a way that had always terrified Starsky to his very core. He'd made eye contact with Jim as he fell. It had only been for a split second, but the utter terror in the man's eyes never left him. It still gave him nightmares as his mind replayed that awful scene over and over again in a feed-back loop of horror.
Now, here he was, himself trapped with no where to go but straight down into the darkness, falling forever. Only he wouldn't fall forever. Remembering the old saying -It's not the fall that kills you… it's the sudden stop. Starsky gulped queasily at the morbid thought and a sheen of sweat beaded on his brow, arm pits and hands as panic began to overwhelm him. Stop it! He mentally snapped. Think of something else!
Okay… where in the pitch dark IS that crazy sum-bitch who wants to feed me to his pigs? There, that better? Starsky rolled his eyes at his wayward thoughts. He quickly held his breath, but couldn't hear anything save for the sounds of the distant city. Looking about, he was met with inky blackness. In the distance the lights of Bay City twinkled with what seemed be almost mocking brightness, but were so far away they could not help him out of his predicament. The only upside was the intense darkness was hiding him from the murderous perp.
Starsky gritted his teeth. I hate this- "ahhh!" He gasped as the adrenalin burst he'd gotten from the fight and the fall, vanished and resulting wave of unexpected pain forced the sound from him. He ruthlessly bit his lip to squelch any other sounds wanting to escape. The killer was out there –somewhere- in the dark. There was the distinct possibility that he would trying to find Starsky since he was the only living person to get a glimpse of the perp and live. So far… and has he found my gun? Starsky wondered grimly.
What a mess… I can't move because I can't see where to go and I can't yell for help because of that murderous jackass bein' out there -possibly with my gun. T'riffic! I'm in a real bind now. Starsky hugged the beam with straining arms, peered upwards, looking and listening. Hutch, where the hell are you?
Hutch waited and worried with the seriously injured girl until the ambulance and backup arrived. Then he grabbed a radio, a flashlight and instructed others to fan out and help him look for his missing partner. As he trotted off in the direction Starsky had run, he thought about just how much ground there was to cover. And just how long and dark the moonless night was going to be. He increased his speed.
Starsky detected no other sounds than his own breath hissing from between his clenched teeth and the pounding of his own heart. His attacker was either waiting for him to give himself away or had left. There was no way to know. Yelling for help really wasn't an option at this point.
His toes ached from trying to stay atop of the bolts that –though large- were still only about an inch or so across. The injured ankle throbbed mercilessly and -apparently for varieties sake- would shoot occasional fireworks of pain clear up to his groin. His hand sent similar messages of pain -in seeming sympathy- clear through his shoulder and on to his neck.
If there were just some way for me to tie up to the beam, I could take some of the weight and strain off my feet and arms. Starsky quickly took inventory. He had his belt and gun holster. If he could put them together some how, he just might be able to jerry-rig up something to tie himself to the beam. But to get his belt and holster, he'd have to let go with one of his hands to undo the buckles. With his arms stretched to their maximum, he still could not reach around the beam, his fingers were hooked on the far edge of the I beam.
The thought of letting go, even with one hand, for just a moment, terrified him. The notion caused sweat to bead on his brow and he closed his eyes. There was no relief there as he was pursued by the slow motion replay of Jim tumbling to his death -complete with a fleshy splat when his body hit the rooftop and the wet popping sound of a watermelon after being dropped – the sound Jim's head made when it split open on the rooftop. Acrid bile rose in the back of Starsky's throat and his hands sweated, causing his fingers slipped a bit. He clawed at the metal and bits of rust flaked off and he tried digging in with his fingernails. His damaged wrist screamed at the added strain.
"Don't look down, don't look down. Do not look down." He quietly coached himself.
And of course he looked down, only to see inky blackness. Starsky swallowed hard, trying to force his rising panic back to a manageable level. His injured ankle chose that moment to ratchet up the pain before it gave way under the strain.
The slight shift in balance forced the toes of his other foot to slip off their tiny support.
Terror flipped him into overdrive as newly air-borne feet bicycled wildly to for some purchase. Starsky struggled to hold on with everything he had. Sweaty hands with clawing fingers scrambled to maintain their hold, but they cramped and slowly began sliding. Spikes of pain murderously stabbed his damaged left hand. Digging deep, Starsky hung on, forcing his legs to stop their unproductive movements. Panting harshly, he slowly moved his good leg around, searching blindly with his foot for a nut to use as a toe-hold. He found it and quietly sobbed with relief.
His arms trembled from the adrenalin rush and from strain they were under. Starsky's injured ankle throbbed and shrieked with pain. The toes of his right foot whimpered, so he slowly edged back so that the ball of his foot rested on the nut. Carefully clinging to the beam, he kept his weight off the injured one. It pulsed and throbbed angrily at him, but he ignored it as best could as he could, forcefully pushing it from his mind.
It's gonna be a very looong night. Starsky sullenly thought as he went back to his earlier inventory of what he could use to safely secure himself. There's gotta be a way to do it without falling. Figuring his bad ankle had had enough of a rest, he gently put his left foot back onto its small support. Remembering something he'd read about climbing and that was to always keep three points of contact at all times. He slowly let go with his left hand.
Upon being put back into use, his ankle immediately pitched a temper tantrum.
"Shaddup." Starsky grumbled irritably at the crankily throbbing appendage. "You can have a break later, once I figure out how to tie up to this beam." He carefully worked at slowly removing his shoulder holster, figuring if he could attach it to his belt, it might help hold him to the girder until help –or daylight- arrived.
After much careful maneuvering, he was able to get the holster off. Next he worked at removing his belt, tugging it gently he pulled it from the loops on his jeans. Easing it from around his hips, he triumphantly held the two items in his free hand. "Great, now how am I supposed to connect them with one hand?" Starsky thumped his head once on the beam in a 'duh' gesture.
After a few moments he carefully peered over his shoulder at the distant horizon. There was no visible sign of dawn approaching. Far off, the shimmering city lights gleamed with no signs of dimming. Using his teeth to hold one end, he tried knotting the ends together. But the leather had been made supple by years of use, easily slipped out of the knot. Attempting a different knot used up too much of the precious material and there wouldn't be enough to go around both him and the beam. Crap. Sighing heavily, Starsky put one end of his shoulder harness back into his mouth, blindly feeling for the buckle to check if the holes could be fit into the belt's catch so he could connect them that way.
As it turned out, the holes in the shoulder harness were much smaller than the metal tongue on the buckle. With little else to do and desperate to have something to take his mind off of his the grim facts that he was injured, pursued by a lunatic, partner-less, precariously perched on a very tall structure and perilously close to falling off of said structure.
Starsky intently focused on putting the two items together. At that point he felt something shift in the belt. "Ha!" The self-distraction had worked, the tongue slid into the belt hole. Now to connect the other end- "Aaah!" He yelped as it slipped through his fingers and dropped down into the darkness. He couldn't hear it land, which likely meant he was quite far from the ground and now had lost his only means of tying himself to the beam.
Though the night air was cool, Hutch was drenched in sweat. He could feel the wetness on his chest, back, under arms and could now feel it soaking into the elastic waist band of his underwear. None of that mattered; the thing that was up most in his mind was his missing partner. It had been hours since Starsky had bolted after the perp. He could be anywhere. He could be hurt, or dead.
The word was out over the police radio, dozens of cops were actively searching. The radio crackled with almost constantly with the dismal results. Not one single officer had any trace of either the perp or Starsky.
Dammit. Hutch glared at his walkie-talkie and wished it would start spouting off the information he needed, like what always happened on those stupid TV shows. Only this was reality. And in reality, he couldn't think of a single time when he'd turned on the TV or radio and heard just exactly the information he needed, at the very second he needed to hear it. Dammit.
Lifting his head, he scanned the dark sky line. "Starsky, where are you?"
His fingers of his left hand were fat. He couldn't see them, but he could feel it, so the swelling had to be impressive. The pain was exquisite. Exquisite. Starsky had gone to the dentist with a massive toothache and the dentist had said that his pain was exquisite. He'd snapped at the man. "It's not exquisite, there's nothing beautiful about it, it's PAINFUL. And if you tap that tooth one more time with your little dental torture tool, I'm gonna punch ya square in the nose!"
After a lot of Novocain, followed by a root canal for his badly infected tooth and some heavy duty pain killers afterward, that pain had left him. Only his current pain wasn't over. There wasn't enough Novocain on the planet that would ease his agony right now.
Starsky grimly held on despite the pain. His left hand was mostly useless; the fingers no longer able to bend enough to hang on to the beam and his left ankle hated him, sending screaming shards of agony throughout his body. His right leg was bearing most of his weight now and it quivered and shook with the strain.
He was beginning to see why people jumped out of burning buildings. Just to have the pain of being burned alive stop. His heart pounded in his chest and sweat from his brow ran into his eyes, stinging. His left hand slipped, and he ruthlessly forced it back to its place on the beam and whimpered slightly as his hand connected with the support once more. Pain ramped up the volume once more.
Just hang on, just hang on… just a little while longer. It will be daylight soon.
And then what? He'd still be stuck up on the trellis, no radio, no one knowing exactly where he was. And no way to get down by himself. He could hope for a passerby, but what were the odds of that? He literally could be stuck long after daylight.
In the distance, a train whistle sounded.
Starsky blinked and turned his head in the direction of the sound. The whistle blared, closer this time.
Starsky gulped. Oh god…
The train that he'd wished for earlier was coming. How much would it shake the trellis? Could he maintain his hold during the inevitable vibrations? The train drew ever closer until it was finally there.
Starsky pressed his face to the beam, closed his eyes and grimly tried to hang on as the trellis began to vibrate.
As dawn slowly approached, the dimming beam of Hutch's flashlight landed on a shoe at the bottom of the mound built to support one end of the train trellis. It was just a regular shoe, nothing interesting about it. Still, it grabbed his attention. He picked it up and looked it over. It was a leather work-type shoe, fairly new, judging from the tread.
He tossed it over his shoulder and looked around, at a loss of where to go now. Had Starsky even made it this far from the town? Far easier for a bad guy to hide in the buildings. Hutch looked over his shoulder at the buildings bordering the train tracks. Night's grip fading just enough to see the tattered outlines. Plenty of places to hide in there. He looked at the fading beam of the light, the batteries were nearly drained. He turned it off.
The eastern sky went from pitch to a dark purple. Hutch sighed tiredly, he needed some height to get a better look at the area. He turned back towards the mounded earth and carefully climbed up the steep grade to the tracks. The sky moved from purple to mauve, and then a hint of red where the sun would be making its appearance. Normally he would revel in the colors and the beauty of a new day dawning. Today, however, he did not.
Starsky was out there, in the city somewhere. Likely hurt, maybe dead. And no one had a single clue where he was. No trace of the perp either. Hutch knew he'd have to go back to the command post soon as the walkie-talkie's battery was nearly depleted. He closed his eyes, allowing the first dim rays of the sun to warm his face for just a moment before he headed back.
As he made his way back down, he noticed a mound of clothing. He hurried his pace, sliding and skidding down the hill. It was a body, darkness and shadow hiding all but the fact it was a male form that lay twisted at the bottom of the trellis. Heart in his throat, Hutch broke into a run once he got to flat ground.
Eyes fixed on the still form, Hutch slowed his steps as he approached, his heart pounding noisily in his chest. Those weren't Starsky's clothes, or shoes, or shoe, since the body was missing one. A match to the shoe he'd found earlier. The clothes were what the victim had described. The perp was dead. It wasn't Starsky laying there. He sighed in relief and looked up to give thanks to the universe.
And spotted his partner. Clinging tightly to a beam, face pressed tightly to it, Starsky's body was quivering with strain. "Hey," He somehow managed to call calmly. "Whatcha doin' up there?"
"Waiting for YOU!" Came the weak answer. "Where have you been all night?"
"Shut up and get me DOWN! I can't hang on any longer. Do you know how LONG I've been up here? All NIGHT! Lost the perp... and YOU didn't show up... Get me DOWN! NOW. Please!"
"Okay, let go." Hutch couldn't hide the grin in his voice.
"Smart ASS! Get me a ladder, call the fire department and get ME DOWN!" Starsky huffed angrily.
"Again with the 'okay, let go."
"Starsky," Hutch said kindly "Open your eyes and look down."
Starsky pried one eye to open, and the other quickly followed suit. "You mean I've been holding on for hours and hours..."
"And you were four feet from the ground the whole time. Yep."