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Z-Ball was alive and well, thank you very much. He sprayed the paint evenly across the surface, paying careful attention to the lines of detail required. First came the colour, then the black highlight lines to outline the character.

Z-Ball was a quirky round little character, like a cross between something from a kid’s cartoon and a Nintendo game. Michael Zola was its creator, and right now he wondered how long the blood rushing to his head would take to completely disorientate him.

Zoom out, and Mike Zola was hanging upside down, over the edge of the Darling Harbour freeway overpass, in the shadows, painting Z-Ball on the most public place he’d ever tried.

Before lowering himself, he scouted the area thoroughly, noting any security patrols, and noting the security camera views in the area. He was an accomplished climber, having spent years abseiling as a Scout, so he knew what he was doing and knew the harness was well attached to the railing and would hold him easily. He breathed in heavily, stowed the red paint can in his dangling side bag, then reached in for the black can to finish his work.
It was mostly for the rush really. Mike loved the exposure his work got, loved the notoriety of the Z-Ball, and loved the thrill of evading authorities. It was clean, attractive work, not like rubbish tags — the scribbles of amateurs. Z-Ball was art.

What Mike couldn’t see however, was a security camera perched in a park several hundred metres away. Even if he had noticed it, he would probably have dismissed the unit because of the distance. But this camera set was new, a digital unit that was permanently manned and contained several advanced zoom features, as well as infra red analysis. The Darling Harbour Authority had been concerned by a series of assaults in the park recently, but at the same time, they were happy to take whatever wrongdoing the camera presented to them. Mike was seen by the operator pretty damn quickly, and they called in a security patrol that was on its way.

Mike Zola had no idea of any of this of course. It was nearing four in the morning, and he was on his way to another finished project. He breathed in again, wiped his moderately long black hair from his eyes — he’d tied it up beforehand but it was already falling loose — and finished the last black lines Z-Ball needed. Mike was already thinking about how he’d update his website about this one later.

Suddenly he was bathed in a bright light. Mike turned around, squinting into a high-beam torch that he knew had to be in the hands of either a cop or a security guard. Time for the charm.

“Good evening officer,” Mike called. “Nice evening for a walk, isn’t it?”

“Are you getting down from there, or do we have to cut you down?” one of the guards called.

“That’s no way  to talk. I’ll be down in a minute.”

“You’ll be down right now,” the second guard called. Then he paused, and said: “Zed-Ball.”

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