On the second floor of the Library Alex is practicing flying, tipping over the railing and lunging for the opposite wall, feet drawn up against the twelve feet to the floor below. He slips just a little bit in each crossing, catches hold of the railing by his fingers and strains himself up again. It’s nerve-wracking work but he’s improving and no one ever looks up in the Library, anyway. They’re all too absorbed in their many researches.
It’s late in the day when he catches sight of the other flier, an old man the color of teak. He rises gracefully up to the unreachable third floor and disappears through a door set into the shelves. Alex balances on the edge of a balcony and stares after him greedily. The third floor has no floor, no ledges, no purchase for slipping feet. Alex tenses himself and leaps.
He doesn’t quite make it.
He is falling when the door opens and a hand reaches out and grabs him. Strong arms pull him into the room and hold him steady. His eyes focus and he notices the gun pressed against his ribs.
“So,” says the old man. “Welcome to the third floor.”