Turn around! Go back while you still can!
I felt so confident earlier but now that I was going through with it, I wasn't so sure....
Oh, stop being a baby! you'll be fine!
I skidded around the corner and ran top speed to the intersection where the hall ways crossed.
Almost there…. I thought All I have to do is get past the---!
My thoughts were cut short as a sound filled my head.
*stomp, stomp, stomp *
The sound of footsteps. The Metal footsteps of a patrol officer. How had I missed this? Spinning around I franticly looked for somewhere to hide.
The hallway behind me was straight all the way to the corner I had just came from, and there was no way I could make it back before he (it) came down the hall, the hall to the right was where the guard was, & to the left, well, going that way would just be stupid. The only direction to go was straight, but that meant crossing in front of the curfew patrol officer. But it was the only way. I sucked in a breath and sprinted across the hallway.
"You there! STOP!" The officer yelled.
Which is exactly what I didn’t do. I cleared the crossing and sprinted down the hall… so did the officer and he (it) was gaining on me.
I came to the end of the hall and… froze; In front of me was a 40-foot-long hallway of locked metal doors (every 5 feet) with a big concrete wall at the end of it.
I couldn't get caught now! I wasn’t just going to let weeks and weeks of planning and sneaking around be lost because I forgot to check H.S.31-1B for an officer. After taking a second to glance over my shoulder I ran to each of the doors praying that one would be unlocked.
*stomp, stomp, stomp *
I was halfway down the hallway when I found a door that was open. I stumbled inside, slammed the door shut, and ducked behind old crates that were stacked in a corner.
The officer burst into the room sending the door slamming into the wall with such force a bottle of solvent fell from a shelf and smashed on the cement. He stomped into the room and kicked over a barrel. Then grabbed a tarp and ripped it off a pile of scrap metal. Mumbling a curse, he slammed the door shut and ran back out to the hallway to check more doors.
Crawling from my hiding space I put my ear to the door and heard the guard yelling into his communicator while he ran back to get the other officers. As soon as he was out of my range of hearing I opened the door and ran back to the intersection.
I ran down H.S.31-1B and turned left once at the end of the hall. I passed the elevator, office, then the hallway leading to the guard’s bunks. Finally, I reached the final twist in the hall and found the door to the place I would be if I got caught. The detainment rooms.
The hallway’s walls were made of giant sheets of thick metal and there were 8 doors lining them, each secured in place with thick bolts and a steel lock. I slipped the key from the belt loop of my dull blue uniform and slid it into the lock on door 5.
The room was long, narrow, and almost completely dark; the only light coming through a 9-inch wide window high up on the far wall. "Who are you?! What do you want?!" Came a voice from the back of the room.
"I—I can’t tell you.” I said quietly trying to see where the speaker was. “And why is that?” said the voice coming closer. “I-If they—the guards—find out I w-was here I don’t want you telling them w-who I am.”
“How did you get in here?” The speaker said as he walked into the small stream of light. He had dark brown untamed hair that whipped out in multiple directions. His uniform was torn at the shoulder and was covered in dirt—in dire need of a good wash.
I cleared my throat and told myself to stop stuttering. “I have been planning this for weeks. I’m trying to find a way out and I was told you had a map.” I said. He leaned up against the wall out of the light. "I might.... but it's going to cost you." He said.
I pulled my satchel off my shoulder and pulled out a bag of fruit. “Someone told me you liked these?” This single bag had cost everything I scraped up for three months, but the bags small size didn’t seem to affect his enthusiasm at all. "FRUIT?! And still fresh to!! how did you get these?!?!?" When was the last time he ate? I thought, noticing his small wrists. They were thin for his age. Too thin.
“I don’t have time to explain.” I said. “I need that map!" Something about the way I said it sounded harsh. And I cringed at myself for it. But I had to get back before the guard arrived.
"Right." he said and backed away from the wall. He walked to the window where he pulled a brick out of the wall and placed it on the floor. Behind where the brick had been was a compartment just big enough for a cog to fit in. He reached in the compartment and pulled out an old sheet of paper.
"Here," he said holding it out to me. I gave him the fruit and turned to leave.
"The fastest way to get back to the cafeteria—assuming that it is still next to the sleeping quarters—is after you clear H.S.31-1B take hallway left to the end and turn right, take the elevator to floor 7 and run straight down the right hallway till you come to intersection 74 then turn right and take the fire escape down to 5 take left then you'll be at the door."
"Thanks." I said and ran back to H.S.31-1B.
*30 Minutes Later *
DONG! DONG! DONG! "Get up! Get up NOW!"
Mumbles and shouts of confusion rose up to the ceiling. "SILENT! EVERYONE! EVRYONE-HEY!! IN LINE! NOW!!!" Guards moved to each of the doors and unsheathed their weapons.
My legs felt like led from pushing carts full of rocks all day, then the whole running-for-my-life episode. All I wanted to do was fall on my face and sleep but that was not going to happen. Now I had to stand in the same spot for an hour while the "head assistant manager" called out names. (Well, numbers really. Kids in the west mines got letters: LIC=Lizzy Iron-Craft. While kids in the south (us) got numbers: “12-9-3” =LIC=Lizzy Iron-Craft.)
"If you hear your number sit down!” The head assistant manager said and pulled out a list. “14-6-6-3! 4-5-22-1! 9-5-19-14!......”
My legs went numb and I started to feel light headed.
"12-9-3!" "Here!" I said and dropped to the floor.
21 minutes later (yes, I counted) he finally stopped shouting numbers and told everyone to stand.
"Everyone might be wondering why I woke you up.” He said “One of you *dramatic pause * tried to escape. We have caught them and are holding them in one of the detainment rooms. If any of you knew of this or know someone who is involved, come forward!"
I almost rolled my eyes at that. He was lying about catching the person who tried to escape. Because, well, "the person who tried to escape" was me and I didn't get caught. He was trying to discourage anyone else from trying to escape.
No one moved for some time. The guard then said, "If you supply us info you shall get double portions at lunch."
I hope no one saw me sneak out…
No one came forward and he lost his calm fast. Rage shot across his round face and his fists clenched. "Fine then!” He yelled spit flying out of the side of his mouth. “No lunch for anyone tomorrow and half portions of breakfast and dinner for the next week!! Go back to bed and no complaining. Or else!!" With that he stomped out of the room and into the wall way. He stood there for a few seconds and then marched back into the room. “What are you doing?!” He said motioning franticly to his guards. “Come on!!!”
After the guards had filed out of the room I sank back down on to my cot and pulled the torn blanket around my shoulders.
That was to close.... but now that I have a map it will be easier to get out of these mines! I just need the right time...….