Window Jumper - second account
Nearly ten years after the event, I had an e-mail from a reader who was also involved. Apparently she had tried to contact me some time back but I must have missed her original e-mail, Anyway, I am pleased to add a different account of this event. Some of the details don't agree with my memories, but that's understandable.
This from Alexia
*All the names
have been changed to protect privacy
It is just
after dawn. The wall-to-wall windows in the sixth-floor dancefloor reveal
infinite layers of grey cloud, so textured and thick I feel like I could
step off out of the window and into them
or maybe that's just the
acid talking. But I'm not too high to know that stepping out of a 6th
storey window could be fatal, and dead is the last thing I want to be
right now. I'm coming up on a trip at a techno party at 7:00 in the morning,
and that's as close to heaven as I need to get.
I close my
eyes and stretch my arms out to embrace the dense tangle of sounds emanating
from the speakers. Just then something big and clammy collides with my
right hand, making me yank it back. I open my eyes in time to see the
back of a shirtless man with long blonde dreads shoving his way through
the crowd, leaving a path of startled dancers in his wake.
where you're going," I shout, not like he can hear me. Not like he'd
bother stopping if he did. He's running for his life.
turns to confusion as I watch him race towards the far side of the room.
The wall over there is nothing but floor to ceiling windows, panes thin
and streaky with age. The early morning light filters through them, blurred
by grime and smoky air.
The man flees
towards them; I look around to see whom from, but there's no one and nothing
after him. He just seems compelled forward by his own, inexplicable reasons.
Too much speed, I think. Confusion quickly turns to horror as it dawns
on me that the man's not slowing down as he reaches the windows. He seems
to be accelerating. And that's when I realize - Oh my God, he's going
Even as I start
to think the words, the man's airborne, body arcing like a flesh missile
toward the glass. He hits it and it doesn't even hold for a split-second
before ripping apart like tissue.
I flinch away
and see Cassie standing beside me. She was dancing but has obviously stopped
to stare, as well. Her eyes are wide and her hand's covering her mouth.
Her mates - a circle of 'avin it chicks dancing around her - are doing
the same. Their drug-addled, party-painted features are frozen in a contorted,
silent screams. One or two of them might actually be screaming, but I
can't hear them over the music.
someone turn the rig off? But then, it's only taken a couple of seconds
for all this to happen. Maybe their sluggish, morning-after brains haven't
worked it out yet. But me and Cassie have
the acid's slowed time
down for all of us. For us, reality, this reality, is heightened, making
each moment linger in exquisite horror.
I look back
to the window and see the man has gotten stuck halfway through the pane,
shards of glass tearing at his naked body like an angry mouth. He's flailing
frantically, trying to propel himself out into those clouds and tearing
himself on unfeeling teeth of glass.
second man rushes over from out of nowhere and throws his arms around
the jumper's waist. He hauls him back inside, kicking and flailing, shouting
incoherently all the way. Then the jumper's on the floor, the second man
wrestling to keep him there so he doesn't hurt himself, or anyone else.
The jumper almost breaks free, then he does and then he stands. A second
later he looks down at himself, sees the blood erupting from what seem
like a hundred gashes on his torso, face and arms. His eyes roll back
into his head and then he falls.
no, no, no
" I hear Cassie moaning, as if she's just realized
the same thing. Shaking her head and covering her eyes. Out of the corner
of my eye I see people running... away from this nightmare
a few of them are running towards the man, closing in around his prone
body, to find out if there's anything they can do.
the impartial world, the distant and unhelpful world outside the squat's
walls. In here, no one is a bystander, no one is just watching life go
by in the blasé knowledge that someone else will clean the spills,
tidy the mess, take the credit. This is off the mainstream grid, someplace
authority and order don't exist. No one can just look away, they all share
a responsibility in this. Don't they?
The crowd closing
in around the man hides him from my view, so that all I can see are his
legs, jerking feebly in time with the music. But he's not trying to dance
like some of the people to the right of me still are. (They must not have
realized what's happening, yet.)
I doubt there
is anything I can do, other than dial 9-9-9, but I can see the faces of
the people gathered around the man are looking more and more concerned
by the second. Their expressions are all a combination of panic and horror.
Something is very wrong with the man, more wrong than they thought, at
first. That much is obvious. But I sort of don't want to know what. But
I know first Aid.
is like one of those message bubbles you get from the Microsoft office
assistant: cheery, helpful, and inconvenient as hell. Because
I'm tripping for fuck's sake. How could I think of doing First Aid on
anyone? Just then a memory pops into my mind: Cassie telling me about
the epilepsy fit she'd had at the party where we'd met, in Hackney Wick.
She'd been there with a mate who was a mate who hadn't been able to help
but someone else, who knew First Aid, had.
So I have to
go. I can't even speculate what is going to happen when I got over there,
but I just have to get over there, like, now.
I rise and
glide towards the crowd huddled around the man, sucked into the vortex
of panic pulsing from inside. I ask if everything's okay. The wide-eyed,
helpless faces that turn to me don't answer; they just look blank or shake
their heads. They're weary, soot-smeared, frightened. I feel so lucid
compared to them. I can see right through their hysteria, their intoxication,
and through my intoxication, too. I use this sudden focus to hone in on
his face, contorted with agony, and then lower my gaze to the bloody pattern
of cuts on his torso. I peer past the gore to the injuries beneath. Luckily,
most of them are minor
except for one.
I can think about is the way that Cassie' brilliance had faded when I'd
told her we were going to a squat party, earlier tonight.
they were good enough for you once," I snapped, "I can't see
why they're not good enough for you, now." We'd walked on in silence.
ain't the same as they used to be," Cassie moped as we joined the
queue. "An' anyways, I'm meant to be quitting drugs. Remember?"
this isn't really the best time to start, is it Cassie?" I laughed.
The 30-odd people lined up in front of us were all rolling spliffs, gulping
down extra-strength lager and necking pills or wraps of speed. Somebody
was even doing lines off the pavement.
just that some mates of mine were having a house party in Turnpike Lane,"
she continued, urgency creeping into her voice as we shuffled towards
the front door. "Wouldn't you rather do that, Ada? Have a drink and
a dance with some mates for a change? Some real mates?" (Cassie didn't
consider people you did partied with to be real mates. I wondered where
that left me.) I sighed irritably.
mates are you talking about?" I asked. She had thousands of them.
from Slimelight." Those were the pretentious ones who swarmed round
her whenever she was on the dancefloor, blotting her from my view like
tightened into silence. She probably would have said something else, but
the door had just swung open and bass throbbing out of it stopped her.
good," I smiled.
"I guess so
building, we found six floors of sound. It was more than I'd hoped for
and yet, there was a feeling in the air that took away my excitement.
People were seemed too urgent, too tense. They spent most of the night
cutting through the rooms, cross-sectioning the party's flow to wherever
they were going, find whatever music or chemical they were after. It was
partying on an industrial scale, and I wasn't sure that I liked it. Which
only added weight to Cassie's premonition that something wasn't right
here. It felt like everyone in the building was being piloted by a stronger
force, a rollercoaster mood that bowled through every room.
course of the night, we'd wound up the stairs to a roof top with a City
view. Cassie was saying she was desperate for some fresh air, but a nervous
woman was guarding the door, saying we couldn't go up 'for our own safety'.
After that we returned to the sixth floor, to the building's only acid
techno rig. We saw lots of faces we knew there, and for the first time
that night we felt we could relax.
anyone have a shirt?" I shout over the music - which is still playing,
but getting quieter. Why doesn't someone turn it down? Don't they realize
what's happening over here? "Please, I need something to stop this
The other cuts
are minor but the red, pulsing thing sticking out of the man's stomach
is most definitely not. It looks like an artery and spurts blood at a
frantic rate, in time with his racing heart. I try not to think about
what it is. Whatever it is, it definitely belongs inside of him.
The red pool
on the scuffed and utilitarian floor is spreading at an alarmingly speed,
but the only people close enough to hear me are shaking their heads, eyes
wide and helpless. They aren't being difficult; its just that they've
all been on the dancefloor and are wearing the minimum amount of clothing.
get up and look all around the room, scanning it wildly. Everything is
suddenly too-bright and too-big. Somewhere in the distance, people are
still dancing but I'm too stressed to feel amazed. Closer by, a group
of confused, lethargic kids are watching this drama unfold with gaping
mouths. They look like they've just woken up, are still working out what's
of the situation blossoms on their faces as I run over to them and said
a man was bleeding - badly. I point to a hoodie lying on top of one of
their bags, beside them.
give me that?" I yell, "I need it to stop the blood!" They
shrink away from me as if the word blood is going to stain them, shaking
their heads and mumbling about getting their clothes dirty.
tell me you're worried about getting clothes dirty in a squat?" I
gape. They must be in shock I tell myself
the seriousness of the
situation can't have sunk in
I snap. I don't have time for this.
I race past
them, to where we left our pile of hoodies, jackets, and bags. My cardigan's
sitting on top of the pile so I grab it and sprint back to Tim, pushing
my way through the spectators then kneeling next to him again. All I can
think is how unreal that - whatever it is looks as it pumps with its own
independent rhythm. It's just a machine, I tell myself. It's easier to
think of it that way.
I bundle sweater
into a ball and press it over the wound, pressing down firmly but gently,
like I learned to do in that St. John's Ambulance course. Keeping the
pressure constant. After a few minutes, something interrupts my focus.
It's the man who's cradling his head. He isn't saying, just watching me
intently, his gaze burning into mine.
opens his mouth and says something.
I shout, unable to hear over the music.
you should go easy on the pressure." I stare at him like he's mad.
It's stopping the blood."
The man swallows
hard. "Yeah, but.... but I think he might have some glass inside
of him." The man looks away, trying to hide his pained grimace from
I look at the
man's face and see the pain contorting it; see the sweater with my hands
pressing it down on it, and suddenly, the connection between both things
dawns on me If there's glass inside this man, then maybe the pressure
isn't helping; maybe it's making things worse. Maybe it's killing him
how the fuck should I know?
what the fuck am I supposed to do now?" I mumble. "And where's
the bloody ambulance?" A couple of people shrug and shake their heads.
I say to someone next to me, handing them my cardigan. "Can you take
over?" Then I blunder away. I get about ten feet away before someone
grabs my shoulders and folds soft warmth around me. I don't need to look
up to know it's Cassie.
he's dying!" I cry.
she says, sniffling. "I ca-ca-can't watch!"
I hear myself
babbling, "He's dying and I - I was trying to help him, but - but
someone said he had glass inside of him." Saying the words out loud
didn't make them sound any less horrible. "Cassie, I was just trying
to do the right thing. Please tell me I did the right thing
her for reassurance but when I look up, her face is blank. Her mouth's
hanging slightly open, and she's speechless for the first time ever, in
the whole history of our friendship.
was that you?" she asks. She's trying to hide her horror and failing,
say it like that!" I shout. "I was just trying to help. Tell
me I helped!"
She puts a
hand on my shoulder slowly, hesitantly. "I'm sure you were trying
to help," she says diplomatically.
she retorts, looking gloomily away. "I said 'you were trying to help,'
didn't I? And you were." She hesitates and then adds, "I guess."
I start to
argue again, but she muffles me by wrapping me in another hug. I stay
there, immersed in threadbare sympathy, knowing that this is the best
I can get right now. We don't talk; just cling to each other and wait.
It feels like hours have gone by when the paramedics finally appear from
the crowded stairwell. They hone in on the point of crisis, oblivious
to the acid techno, the daylight-blanched room and its lurching, wasted
inhabitants. As my eyes follow them, I accidentally glimpse the man lying
on the floor, not moving anymore. My throat closes momentarily at the
thought of what that means, and then I force my face into Cassie's shoulder
again. A few minutes later, they're hoisting the stretcher like pallbearers,
carrying it across the room and down the stairs, and me and Cassie drift
we leave, a cop comes over and tries to interview me, with a pitying look
on his face. But I barely notice his questions - was he pushed? Was there
any violence involved?
I keep saying, shaking my head sadly. The cop seems pleased but I wonder
what the difference is
whether he was pushed or jumped, the result
is still the same.
On the tube
home, Cassie and I are both silent. Every now and then I feel her giving
me a look, but whenever I meet her eyes she drops them quickly, hiding
her thoughts. It's not until much later, when I've stopped bawling, that
I really think about that look and understand it.
I told you so," she was saying with her eyes. "I told you something like this would happen.