Bear with me...
Rusty was happy.
He enjoyed these work-periods, mostly because he was up on the roofs. For a few hours a week he could taste fresh clean air - the pollution was less up here, over 100 stories up, high from the Everdark. He could pretend he was as free as the starlings and buzzards he saw perched around and circling overhead.
He could pretend he wasn't a prisoner.
The other prisoners thought he had one of the best work-placements. They envied him for his taste of freedom. Cleaning building roofs might not be glamourous work, but it beat some of the other uses society had for prisoners these days. His cellmate Bill had come back form his medical testing gig after two months with some really creative infections. Rusty shivered, remembering seeing his skin move by itself and out of the cell the night Bill died. They found his tattoo exploring the cupboards in cell-block D. 'Scrubber' Callahan still refused to go in there after dark.
He wiped the chemical abrasives from his visor and leaned on his electric brush as he looked out across the rest of the gang and out, past them, to the sprawl of London. They said it was the last great city on the planet. He doubted it; that was the kind of thing all the corporations said about their territories. Besides, he'd been to Paris as a boy and it didn't seem all that different, just flatter and smaller, though the river smelt like the old men who hung around on the streets with contraband cigarrettes - dirty, and faintly of bad cheese.
Then again it was saying things like that had got him locked up in the first place he reflected. The problem was that he'd travelled, seen more of the world than just The City. He had loved it - especially flying. Rusty still grinned when he thought of it.
"Hey man," a fuzzy voice crackled over the radio in his chem-suit's helmet, "you ok?" It was 'Scabs', his new cellmate, Rusty could see him waving to him not twenty feet away. He pressed his throat mic to answer.
"Yeah man, good. Just taking a moment," Rusty said, "it's hot in these damn suits y'know?"
"Hah, yeah. I hear ya'." Scabs radioed back. "Careful the screws don't catch you on a break though yeah?"
He nodded, it was a fair point, but it was hot in these suits. What would he give to feel the breeze across his face, like those old pilots must have, flying where he wanted? Rusty frowned and looked out across the city towards the big black spire of corporation headquarters. Had he just seen something? Out in the sky? Perhaps not, but he couldn't shake a feeling... that something was different. He searched the bright blue sky. Maybe it was just him.
Scabs joined him staring at the sky,=. It really was beautiful up here, watching as he was, crouched down trying to remove a particularly resistant spot of pigeon guano. What were they eating nowadays? Acually, he thought, best not to find that out. He was worried about Rusty though, the two of them had struck up a good friendship in the few weeks he'd been in his cell. He spoke of his travels, of flying. Scabs admired Rusty, he seemed to know so much.
Sometimes they'd talk about their dreams, mostly because Scabs was having nightmares. Rusty said he always dreamed of flying, and Scabs liked that. He hadn't dreamt of flying since he was a kid, but Rusty said he did almost every night. Scabs liked to hear Rusty's flying stories, they reminded him of when he was young.
Someone's shout broke him out of his daydream. He turned to see who was calling, and that was when he saw Rusty. Rusty had his suit's helmet off and was standing on the edge of the building, just staring into space. He turned his head; smiled at Scabs, whose eyes were wide, and touched his throat mic.
"The world's different now kid." His voice crackled over the radio. "Somethings changed, I don't know what." He turned back to face the abyss beneath him, the wind whipping his suit around his frame. Just as he gracefully launched himself over the edge Scabs caught something else, almost torn away by the wind.
Prisoners ran over, one caught Scabs and shook him back into the real world.
"What happened? Did he say anything? What did he say?"
Scabs, still in shock, repeated those last crackly words he had heard: "Live the dream."
Far below, the wind rushing in his hair, Rusty closed his eyes and smiled - as he decended into the Everdark one last time.
They never did find his body.
35 minutes, ish. No edits, one draft. Late at night.