Sisters, Sierra and Alexis are on the run after becoming involved with the secret service.
|As the hazy blackness cleared, my eyes fluttered beneath their lids and ever so slowly I opened one a slit, stunned by a sharp white light I grabbed my head and rolled onto my stomach groaning.
Suddenly as if all my senses kicked in at the same time I was assaulted with the feeling of the cold, hard concrete beneath me; the strong putrid smell of some kind of rotting garbage and further away I could smell what smelt like a bakery. I heard the wail of sirens coming closer, heard the distant laughter of a child- Wait, sirens! As if watching a movie in fast-forward the events of the last fifteen hours hit me.
I remembered why I was in what smelt like a garbage tip; I remembered why my head and leg hurt. I remembered why I was so afraid of those sirens; I remembered everything.
Spurred into action I pulled myself to my feet and lurched into a rough wall, leaning thankfully on it I waited until my vision cleared, I saw a lot of teared rubbish bags.
“That explains the smell” I murmured to nobody but my self and the three rats rummaging through the garbage.
I grabbed my small backpack and walked tentatively towards the corner of the alley.
Peering around the wall I saw cop cars speeding down the road opposite me.
’Good, they don’t know where I am… Yet.’ I thought
Walking down the road I felt rather than saw all the eyes on me.
“I must look a mess,” I grumbled to myself.
“Yeah, I suppose you could call it that.”
My heart raced as I spun ready to defend myself, standing in the place where the voice had come from was a tall; I would say about six-two, brunette, incredibly good looking, green eyes to die for, about seventeen and a half, and yes, a male.
Great, what are the chances, any other time I would have been falling over myself to bat my long eyelashes framing my big blue eyes that accentuated my mid back; blonde, almost golden hair and smile a smile I hoped was… Well, dazzling.
But I smelt like a garbage tip so probably looked like one too.
“Uhhhh, hi” was my lame response.
“Looks like someone had a long night.” Damn, why does he have to be so attentive… Oh, right, garbage tip.
“Yeah, I suppose you could call it that,” I responded with a smirk.
“Oh, my names Julian by the way” suddenly alarm bells rang in my head, he wants to know what my name is.
“Oh, ummm my names…” Looking around as I put my hands in my pockets I saw a sign with an advertisement for Phillip O’s cereal.
“….Phillip” “Phillip, really? Like the cereal” Stifling a grin I replied.
“Well actually that’s my last name… my name is… Uhh, Elaine, yeah. Elaine Phillip.”
“Are you sure you don’t need to go to the hospital and possibly get checked out for… Uhh, I dunno a concussion or some kind of head injury? You almost forgot your own name.”
Well isn’t this just great.
“No, I’m fine! Like you said, just had a long night. Any way, I have to go. My mums expecting me, and I really think I should… Clean up a bit before then. Oh, by the way, what’s the time?”
As he looked at his Rolex watch, I tightened my hold on the object I had been fingering in my pocket, whipped it out and plunged it into his neck. His head snapped up, and for a fraction of a second his eyes widened in shock before glassing over.
“Sorry Julian, it had to be done.
Sweet dreams.” I wasn’t worried; he would wake in about three hours without any recollection of our meeting, just a killer headache.
It was better this way, besides then I could accidently (on purpose) bump into him again and leave a more suitable first impression, preferably not looking and smelling like a garbage tip.
Elaine, that was the name of my mum; before she left my baby sister and me.
Thinking of my sister, just four years old with her big golden-green eyes made me smile in sadness, I had to make a life for her, for me and Alexis.
I couldn’t understand why mum would leave us.
If she hadn’t I wouldn’t need to do these things that I do just to feed my baby sister.
My stomach grumbled as I passed underneath a large oak tree, how long has it been?
I hate leaving Alexis when I have a job to do, but at least I always bring home food for the day.
I let my nose find that bakery I smelt earlier and chose a large loaf of bread and her favorite, a little gingerbread man with tiny m&m’s for his buttons.
I looked at the icing smile on the treats face as it was slipped into a brown paper bag and thought how cliché it was that everything was made with a smile, whether that smile is genuine, forced or just there as a mask.
When I was around other people I wore a smile as a mask, to stop awkward questions before they were even asked.
It’s a skill every girl has to learn in her life. Every girl has their secrets to hide.
As I made my way over to the cluster of trees hiding our little house a rain drop landed delicately on my nose, suddenly as if someone had flicked a switch the rain intensified and it seemed like it sung me a soft melody.
I felt my eyes flood as the familiar feeling of a tear slid down my soft cheek leaving a silver trail of sadness and misery, I saw it fall and hit the dirt floor far below as its short life was shattered to a million pieces.
I didn’t know why I was crying, maybe because of the pressure and responsibility of looking after my younger sister, something most teenagers don’t need to worry about at the age of 17, or maybe because I hated my line of work.
The rain started to slow until it could just be heard on the tin roof of our house, above the trees stretched a rainbow reminding me of what I used to learn in Sabbath school, back when we had a happy family, before our dad died and our mum took off.
Sometimes I wonder if there is anyone up there that watches us, like Sims, controlling our every move, ready to delete us if we muck up.
Shaking myself out of my painful reverie I pushed between the two large bushes concealing the front door.
It was the perfect house, warm; cozy; not to mention safe, far away from peoples prying eyes.
I opened the door and stepped in shaking the water droplets out of my hair.
I glanced around, the house is small, just two rooms with a bathroom joined to our bedroom, but it provided our needs.
We shared a room, Alexis near the wall and me close to the door, I needed to be near the door so I could protect her if anyone came in, and I would do anything for her.
“Alexis? Where are you?”
I left her sleeping last night; she is usually still fast asleep by the time I get back. I know I was unconscious at some point last night but I don’t know how much time passed since then and I can’t afford a watch, that’s next on the list, after another warm sweatshirt for Alexis; she always gets tears in them when I take her out picking berries and in search of other food. “Sierra?” my sisters voice reached my ears and a smile spread across my face, she was the only thing that kept me going.
I followed the sound of her voice to the backyard, well not really the back yard, more like the 100 acre wood. I found her crouching over in an un-usual way behind a tree, instantly my fear kicked in.
“Alexis! What’s wrong? Are you hurt? Where does it hurt sweetie?”
“I’m not hurt silly, look!” I peered around my sister’s head and saw what she was pointing too.
“Alexis that’s just a ball of fur, come on, let’s go inside.” Glancing up I saw the sun positioned high in the sky; it was late in the afternoon.
“And I have something special for you!”
“I don’t want gingey man” that was her name for ginger bread men because she couldn’t quite pronounce her r’s correctly yet.
“I want this kitty! And it’s not just a ball of fur. It moved, see!” stunned I looked again at the small ratty ball of fur, and it did!
It really did move. Crouching down at my sisters level I slowly moved a hand out towards the ball and touched it, there was mud matted in its fur and it flinched slightly at my touch. Gently scooping it into my hands I traced a finger down its slender spine and smiled when it pushed its little nose into my hand, it was a cat, a little, tiny kitten.
“Can we keep it, please Sierra? I’ll look after it, and you won’t have to do anything, and it can keep me safe when you go out at night.” Oh my gosh, she knows. I have to be more careful next time.
“Lexi, I only go out at night if I know your safe and I go out to get you food. I come back as soon as I can, you know that right?” she glanced down at the ground and kicked a pebble with her bare foot. “And where are your shoes, missy?” I said with a smile, she looked up and grinned sheepishly.
“Well, I heard the little kitty meow and ran here so fast I forgot to put them on.” I laughed and placed a gentle kiss on her nose, she giggled and squirmed in my arms,
“Hey, careful, you little wiggly worm! I have our new pet kitty in my other hand” She squealed so loud my ears started ringing.
“Were keeping it?! Yaaaay! I love you Sierra!”
“I love you more, sweetie,” I said as I stood up. Taking Alexis’ hand in mine and the kitten in the other I started towards our house.
“Yeah” I replied.
“What something special did you get me?”
“You already know that don’t you?”
“Yes, but I like it when you say it.” I laughed, sometimes kids say the strangest things.
“I got a ginger bread man for you, now let’s go inside so you can eat it!”
“Yaaay” Pulling away from me she ran towards the house and pushed through the back door. The house was only visible from behind but otherwise was completely concealed.
Once inside the house I walked over to the small table in the middle of the first room, the room which we called the lounge, I pulled up a wooden chair and watched as Alexis pulled herself onto the chair.
Laughing I said,
“You’re becoming such a big girl!” she giggled and replied
“yeah, one day I want to be just like you!”
Right then, I am telling you my heart felt as if it was going to tear in two. That was something a daughter was supposed to tell her mum, Alexis won’t be able to remember mum or dad.
I’ll be the only person she ever had contact with; it can’t be like this forever.
She’s young; she needs friends. I want her to have an education.
Yeah she knows her abc’s and can talk well and is good at structuring sentences.
But I can’t teach her everything, I want her to have a different life to me, I want her to be happy and be surrounded by people she loves.
I was eleven when dad died, mum was pregnant with Alexis by only a few months, and he died in a mining accident.
On my thirteenth birthday mum couldn’t handle the stress of looking after two children anymore, so she left.
I don’t know how she thought I would be able to look after myself and Alexis, she was only a year old, but I did.
I went to hospitals and asked for some milk for my sister, told the nurse’s mum was sick and couldn’t feed her.
They never asked questions, thanks to the smile I learnt to wear.
When I was fifteen I was approached by a lady with a brunette bob haircut wearing tinted sun glasses, she passed me a business card and said “ring the number on the card, it will direct you to the places you need to go, make sure to tell them your name.”
Puzzled I slipped it into my pocket and decided to read it later because I was late to my waitressing job that gave me minimal pay.
Eventually curiosity got the better of me so I pulled out the card on my break and scanned it. It said ‘’Patricia Strattsgield, organization for talented young people’’ then it had a phone number underneath it.
I walked over to the payphone in the managers office, put in a couple of dollars and rung the number, having no clue what to expect.
“Hello, Maria speaking, how can I help you today?” A shrill, chirpy voice said.
“Ummm, hi. My name is Sierra Pieters. I was told to ring this number, but I’m not sure why.” “Oh yes, Miss Pieters, we have been expecting your call.
We were informed to direct you to another department, if you will please hold.”
“Oh, ok” I managed to reply before the awful ‘hold’ music began to play in my ear.
Reaching up I twirled the phone cord around my finger and hummed softly a tune my father used to sing to me to put me to sleep, suddenly the phone at my ear beeped.
“Miss Pieters?” A strong masculine voice came spiraling through the sound waves.
“Yes I’m here,”
“Wonderful. Look, I’m so sorry for this nuisance but if you wouldn’t mind staying on hold once more. I have to re direct your call, safety issues, you see?”
“Oh of course, I would understand if I knew the reason I was told to call.”
“I promise you that will all be cleared up if you just please stay on the line.” He sounded apologetic and I understood it wasn’t his fault, but I was getting sick of hearing ‘’please stay on the line’’
“Of course” I said “Thank you for your help.”
“You’re welcome Miss Pieters.” Then the line beeped as the now too familiar ‘hold’ music once again reached my ear. I can’t be sure how much longer it took, but eventually I heard a soft, smooth female’s voice on the line.
“Miss Pieters, I am delighted you have rung. My name is Patricia Strattsgield, we meet earlier today. I just need you to verbally confirm a trust contract. This means what you hear now you must keep to yourself under all circumstances, do you agree?” I have no one I could tell, I thought.
“Yes, I agree.”
“Thank you, Miss Pieters. I will get straight to the point then. I work for an organization that recruits young, capable people like yourself to perform special operations, or spec ops as we call them. If you happen to agree to our proposal you will undergo immense training and trial periods. Your training will take approximately nine months to complete. Once you have completed your training you will be sent out on the field on your first spec ops mission.”
I was completely stunned, what had I gotten myself into?
How did they know I was capable of doing... Spec ops?
The word tasted so foreign in my mouth. “Miss Pieters I understand you are probably stunned.”
“Yeah, that’s a bit of an understatement. Why did you approach me to do this?”
“We have been watching you for a while; you live on your own with a little girl, your sister? She is adorable, and obviously loves you a lot. I first noticed you in town shopping for some clothes for her, a sweater. A pink one with a heart on the front.” For about the millionth time on this call I was stunned.
“How do you remember that?”
“Sierra, this is part of the training you will receive. I can remember what both you and your sister were wearing, I can remember what the checkout lady was wearing, I can remember that you bent down tweaked your sister on the nose and brought her a ginger bread man. Of course if you agree to sign a contract to work for us you will be paid. It is a well paid job, and I understand you could do with the money, I believe you have no parents?”
A lump formed in my throat, that memory was still a bit painful.
“My dad died when I was eleven, my mum soon left us after. Leaving me to look after my one year old sister.”
I didn’t understand why I was telling pretty much a stranger my whole life story.
“I’m sorry to hear that, but because of your un-attachment, you would be perfect for this job. Because you are independent.” And that is how I began on my line of work.
“Sierra?” snapped back into reality by Alexis’ voice I glanced over at her and saw her looking at me expectantly.
I wondered how long I had been standing there staring at her.
“Sorry Lexi, was just thinking.” As I put our new kitten which I had no idea how we were going to feed it on the ground, I saw her little mind working over time trying to figure out what I was thinking, so I distracted her by pulling out the ginger bread man.
“Gingey man!” oh the joy of being young and having no worries, I wondered how long that was going to last for her, I would do my best to make it last as long as possible.
As I was making myself a vegemite sandwich I heard the clock tower in town strike one and my suspicion was confirmed, it was late in the afternoon.
Clearing up the crumbs on the bench I glanced up and saw Alexis had finished her treat and was now playing with the kitten.
“Hey Lexi” I called out. “We still need to name our new pet, what names do you like?”
“Well, it looks like he has little socks on its feet, wait, is it a boy or a girl? We can’t give him the wrong name!”
“It’s a boy” I responded.
“Well, can we call him boots? I like that name.” I smiled; he did suit the name boots.
He was black all over, apart from the dirt knotted in his fur, with little white socks on his feet and a white spot on his chin that made him look as if he was poking his tongue out.
“Boots it is then, should we feed him first? Or go find him a place to sleep.” I asked, giving her the option.
“We have to feed him first! He might be really hungry because he hasn’t eaten in ages!” I laughed,
“You could be very right sis, I’ll go heat up some milk for him now.”
After I warmed up the milk over our gas powered stove I tested the milk on the sensitive skin under my wrist.
I was skilled with this after looking after Alexis.
Pouring it into a little plate I walked over to where Alexis was playing with Boots.
“Here, if you hold him like this he should start drinking, because he’s so young, he can’t see well yet so he needs to be guided to his food.
“But milk won’t be able to fill his tummy! Will it?” she asked her green eyes wide.
“Milk used to fill you up! When you were a little baby.”
“Did it? But we drink milk, not eat it.” I laughed so much a tear dripped down my cheek.
“Sierra? What’s wrong? Why are you crying?” I giggled once more at the look of concern on her face.
“I’m crying because I’m happy.”
“We cry when we are happy too? Really?”
“Yeah we do, we cry a lot don’t we,” soon her little mind was sidetracked back to the kitten now steadily lapping up the milk.
At the look of wonder and amazement on her face a tear pricked my eye.
‘The kitten is in good hands’ I thought.
Getting up I stretched my arms and walked towards the window, looking out at the river a few kilometers away I remembered a story my mum used to tell me when I was sad about how when I cried, all the fairies cried and the rivers and ocean was a collection of all the fairies tears. I decided to tell Alexis that story each time she was sad, it would let her feel closer to the mother she never had.
After we feed Boots, we found a cardboard box that we could use as a make shift bed for him if we laid old newspaper down and ripped up more.
I spent some time with Alexis going over some simple addition, I said I can’t teach her a lot, but I will teach her as much as I can.
The day past quickly then, before I knew it, it was time to put Alexis to bed, and I could feel in my bones I needed sleep before I collapsed where I was standing, but I still needed to sleep light now that the cops were looking for me.
They never saw my face, but they saw my shape so they knew it was a young woman. I am so glad I don’t have a job tonight.
A week or so passed with not much happening, just the usual of playing with Alexis and looking after the kitten.
But one late afternoon when I took Alexis down to the river so she could splash around in the shallow water. I glanced back up towards our house just on instinct and saw a couple of men dressed in black with heavy protection equipment on, poking around the trees and brush in front of our house.
Who did they think I was? Jackie Chan or something.
With adrenaline pulsing through my veins, I bent down and whispered to my sister.
“Hey Lexi, do you want to play some hide and seek?” her face lit up like it was Christmas. “Yes! You be the seeker and I’ll go hide.”
I swallowed nervously, “I was about to say the same thing” I muttered.
“Make sure you hide really good! But if I can’t find you, and I call out your name three times make sure you come out, okay. But only if I call your name three times and only if it’s my voice.” She looked at me as if I was losing it.
“Well, who else would it be?” She giggled.
That moment I was gladder than ever for kid’s innocence.
Kissing her on the forehead I turned and began to count, I heard her little feet scurrying away.
Feeling like a little child I turned my head and peeked between my fingers, she was gone. Blowing her one more kiss, I turned and ran towards the house, constantly on my toes and taking in my surroundings.
As I reached the house, I walked towards the back door and pressed myself up against it. Glancing in the window I saw a ray of sun illuminating a glock 19 a man with sandy brown hair was holding.
I rolled my eyes and watched as he yelled clear to his mate and left the room.
Using a stick I found I pushed it into the slightly wiggly latch of the window and pushed up the lock, I already had an escape plan in case of a, shall I say, situation like this.
Pulling myself in, I looked behind me and quickly scanned the trees to see if I could see Alexis; good, she had hid well.
Walking to the door of our bedroom, I breathed in heavily and smelt the slight musty aroma of our house and the sweeter; child-like smell of Alexis.
Just as I was about to pass under the door I heard voices heading back to our room.
“Tom, are you sure you checked everywhere? She could have been right above you or something; remember, boss said she was like spider man.”
I threw a hand over my mouth to cover the giggle that escaped my lips. Wow, I feel special they think so highly of me.
Just as the first man who was comparing me to spider man entered I slammed the door hard in his face knocking him to the ground, my sharp eyes saw the second man reaching to the holster on his hip to draw his gun, flicking my leg around in a side kick, I felt my leg connect with his arm as the clatter of the gun to the wood floor echoed around the house.
The breath was knocked out of him as I kneed him sharp in the stomach and brought my fist around in a fatal side head shot.
He fell to the ground in a heap as if he was sleeping, which in a way he was, I mean he was unconscious.
Hearing a groan behind me, I spun on my toes and watched as the man I originally slammed to the ground rose unsteadily on his feet.
His voice held utter wrath and hatred.
“Didn’t your mummy ever teach you not to break and enter a young woman’s house?”
I replied as I kicked directly in his chest, and watched as he slumped against the wall, winded. I walked up to him slowly, deliberately and smiled;
Then I grabbed his head and with all my strength thrusted it into the hard wall behind him.
I watched with satisfaction as the wood behind him splintered beneath the pressure,
And he too fell to the ground.
Stepping gracefully over the two discarded bodies I passed through the door and walked briskly towards the lounge, within two easy leaps I was standing on the top of the couch, reaching up I let my fingers roam over the lightly cracked clay of the ceiling and found the tile which was a little loose. I pushed up the tile and it easily scraped away from its designated place, dragging out a backpack a layer of dust showered over me.
Hurriedly unzipping the bag I checked the contents and found a flash light with multiple batteries, some clothes, money and a first-aid kit.
Moving to the fridge I pulled out a couple of bottles of water and some light weight food, shoving it all in the bag I zipped it and sprinted for the back door. I wasn’t sure when the men would wake, I knocked them pretty hard. Reaching the back door I called
My voice echoed around the now darkening woods producing an airy, spooky feeling. The moon was at its fullest, high above creating strange shadows surrounding me; thankfully the moon supplied me with a source of light, but if I could see so could other creatures, or people.
“Lexi!” I called again, still no reply.
I told her three times.
“Lexi!” My voice held wild hope.
“Sierra” Her sing-song voice was like music to my ears. “I’m over here!”
I bounded towards her voice a huge smile on my face.
Instantly the smile was wiped from my face as I saw a man holding a glock 19 with his spare arm wrapped around my baby sister.
I froze, my heart pounding in my ears.
“Hi, I’m back-up” he simply said.
‘Its over’ I thought, I wasn’t going to do anything to endanger Alexis.
“Sierra! Look at my new friend! He said he would help me hide really well.”
I sighed, sometimes kids innocence was also a curse.
“Miss Pieters” He said. “You are a hard one to catch. But then we realized your weak spot. Your sister; Alexis”
“Hey, that’s me!” She yelled in delight, not understanding the seriousness of this situation.
“Come over here, Lexi.” I called, my voice holding submission.
As she walked towards me she turned towards her ‘new friend’ and instantly stiffened.
She could sense the danger just looking at the glock, she wrapped her arms around me and buried her face in my side.
“Shall we get going, girls?” He smirked at me.
Picking up Alexis and placing her on my hip I hesitantly turned my back towards the officer as I walked forwards knowing his gun was trained on us, he had heard stories about me; knew what I could do, and he wasn’t going to take any risks.
Once we reached what looked like a gathering of cop cars, I put Alexis down and ‘back-up’ pushed me face forward onto the bonnet. As I felt the cold metal of the hand cuffs lock tightly over my wrists, he said.
“Miss Pieters, you are under arrest for breaking and entering a Chicago museum, robbery, and numerous other offenses you have caused.” He said as he rolled his eyes. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in court. You have the right to speak to an attorney, and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense. Do you understand what I have just told you?” He said with a hint of malice in his voice.
“Yes, I understand.” I said sardonically.
“Good, because you really don’t deserve these rights,” he sneered, without any attempt to hide his broken incisor.
As he roughly pushed my head under the rim of the car I sat and wiggled in my seat trying to get comfortable with the handcuffs locked behind me. The door opposite me opened and Alexis was placed on the seat beside me and a safety belt snapped into place snuggly around her little waist. I leant over to her, kissed her forehead and whispered softly in her ear.
“Kocham cię” it’s Polish, we don’t have Polish in us, it’s just something we do.
“I love you too.” She whispered her voice catching like cotton on a thorn.
“Everything will turn out okay. I will look after you.”
She nodded, to emotional to speak. She’s like me, has trouble expressing her feelings. It’s a safety thing.
Leaning her head on my arm she wrapped her arm through my trapped arm and cried silently.
It kills me seeing her like this, they will pay!
I stared out the window and looked at our little house, wondering if I would ever see it again. As the car lurched into motion I prepared my self for the coming grueling hours, manipulating plans in my head.
As the Israelites pulled into the police station I looked out the window and glanced at the multitude of cop cars and people in those stark blue uniforms I came to strongly dislike.
‘Back-up’ pumped the brakes hard purposely to make my head whip forward.
Alexis’ little body was thrusted forward and she started to cry at the sudden change of speed, this infuriated me.
“Hey! My four year old sister is in the car too! Do you have any idea how scary this is for her!?” I yelled, my throat feeling the strain.
“Calm down ‘spider man,’ you’ll scare your sister even more”
I glanced over at her, terror could be seen on her face clear as day. I wished my hands weren’t cuffed, so I could hold her and calm her down with soft, tender strokes above her eyebrow; instead I had to be satisfied with a kiss on her forehead and a few words of consolation. aaa
The door was pulled open and a masculine hand was placed on my arm dragging me roughly out of the car. Looking up at the face who owned the hand I flinched and saw a nasty bump forming above his strong, square jaw. It was the guy I knocked rather hard on the head.
“Ohh, hey friend!” I said nervously as I bit my lip. “No hard feelings, eh?”
“None at all” he said sarcastically as he propelled me towards the building.
“She will be well looked after. The women will absolutely dote over her.” I sure hoped he was right.
Walking down a corridor flanked with two officers beside me with firm grips on my upper arms. I looked in the barred rooms and saw people of all different shapes and sizes sitting on the painfully looking hard beds staring back at me. A couple of cells down were a man in his mid twenties singing at the top of his lungs, the smell that wafted out of his cell was repulsing and smelt like stale liquor.
Unfortunately the holding cell across from him was the only spare. Wasn’t surprising, the other residents of this cell probably killed themselves after putting up with the noise and smell for a short period of time. The officer that was following closely behind us unlocked the cell and with a loud, lasting creak the bars slid back.
The two officers on either side of me pushed me harshly into the cell and with a thud I landed solidly on the concrete ground.
Hating this position of vulnerability I sprang to my feet and spun around just as they locked the cell. The officer I decked earlier held up the key and tauntingly waved it in front of my face. I watched as they walked back down the way we came, laughing.
Slumping back on the cold brick wall behind me I glanced around my accommodation for I didn’t know how long, I took in my surroundings looking for possible escape routes but saw nothing except stained white washed brick wall after more stained white wash brick wall. Glancing up at the small; square, barred window I saw no way of escape there either.
Sighing, I lay on my back randomly roaming my eyes over the ceiling I saw a slight crack along the edging where the wall meets the ceiling, moisture had begun to eat away the molding. I sat up, trying to look unsuspicious in case there were installed cameras I looked across at the man in the cell opposite me and saw him passed out half on the bed and half off. Walking towards the front of the cell I wrested my arms on the bars and casually looked out of the cell looking for cameras. One at either end of the corridor and a couple of others placed randomly around. I smiled, I was out of range.
Placing my hands on the divider wall that separated the cell from the toilet I pulled myself up and slowly raised to my feet placing my hands against the wall for support. I reached up and touched the crack pushing against it to see how strong it was, it looked odd. As if it was added onto with wood a long time after this building was originally built, that means the structuring would change about here. I smiled, if I could pull away this part of the wall I should only have to climb a short way until I found the air duct.
Hearing voices coming in this direction I put my hand on the edge and jumped off, landing perfectly on the bed just as the officers reached my cell.
‘Back-up’ was at the front of the three officers.
“Here’s your dinner… Miss Pieters” he sneered my name.
I stayed sitting on the bed until the officers had finished delivering the meals to the other occupants. Once I heard the tell-tale footsteps walking away and the slam of the door, I began to pull myself back onto the wall. On second thought, I should probably eat something first.
Looking at the plate of slop in front of me I began to second guess my second thought. Breathing in I murmured to myself, ‘I need the energy’. Scooping some of the green-watery-soup-thing onto my spoon I proceeded to move the spoon towards my mouth. Then it hit me, the spoon! Forgetting all about the food I put the spoon in the back pocket of my cargo pants and once again dragged myself on top of the divider wall. Wriggling the spoon handle into the crack I began to work.
An hour, ten, a day. I have no idea how long passed, but eventually there was a hole large enough for me to squeeze through. Pressing my head against the naked structuring beams I glanced up trying to see if I could see anything. It was too dark; I couldn’t even see the beam above the first.
Holding onto the highest beam I could reach I kept dragging myself upwards with my arms until my legs reached the first beam, then I proceeded to live up to my new nick-name; Spider man.
I climbed as fast as I could, at times having to press my body flat against the beams, occasionally putting my hand on a rats nest and given a warning nip.
Looking down I tried to see how far I had come, I couldn’t see anything except for the beam I had my right foot on. I sneezed, evidence of all the dust I was stirring up, I pushed on, propelling myself beyond exhaustion, eventually feeling as if I was climbing in my sleep, I think I may have misjudged a tiny bit how far away the air-duct was. As I was contemplating this possibility I took another step and heard a loud “wham” and felt a sharp pain on my head, I’m not sure if I’m hallucinating or not, but I swear that sounded like metal. Reaching a hand up, I was rewarded with a welcoming, cool feeling of metal. Luckily because it would be about 10pm the air duct wasn’t turned on, feeling around the duct I had a prayer in the back of my head, “please, please, please let there be an opening panel here.” Sighing with disappointment I let reality sink in, there’s no panel here; I guess I have to do this the fun way. Positioning my body, I pushed my back against one wall and my feet against the other and chimney climbed up until I was just above the duct, scuttling sideways like a crab I aimed myself above the duct and slowly lowered down until I was lying on the cold, hard metal. Exhausted from my long climb I just lay on top of the duct all my muscles quivering from exhaustion. After a quick break I forced myself on, getting onto my hands and knees I crawled the length of the duct, crawling, crawling, crawling. Never not crawling. I placed my knee in a dent and it echoed hollowly as it caved in on itself. Wincing, I paused mid crawl and listened for any noises, nothing. I reached my hand out, about to resume my crawl when I felt a small round groove, a screw. A panel! If I had still been crawling I would have missed it, I pulled the spoon out of my back pocket and felt my heart drop slightly as it fumbled in my slippery fingers, closing my eyes and catching my breath I slowly retracted my hand and pulled it above the safety of the vent and dragged myself to a straddling position I then set to work on the four screws in the corners of the panel.
Removing the panel I slipped in feet first and the rest of my body followed my feets lead, snaking its way into the metal body. Reaching an arm up I felt for the panel I had just removed and pulled it into place now screwless.
Crawling forwards making twists left, then twists right I was beginning to lose hope, constantly being as silent as humanly possible in a huge metal air duct is near impossible. But just when I was rounding a sharp right hand corner I heard the sweetest sound in the world.
Alexis’ voice curled its way towards my ears through the funneling metal walls of my enclosure.
Overjoyed I pushed on with more urgency. How long had I been gone? Surely they had discovered I had disappeared by now. They would put Alexis under lock and key, I had to get to her now while I had possible access to her. Eventually light stunned my eyes and my pupils dilated, adjusting to the increase of light. Within my reach was a slated panel of the air duct, looking into the room I saw Alexis sitting in the middle of the room complaining about her milo going cold. ‘That’s my sister’ I thought, ‘keep them distracted.’
Once the officers left I kicked open the panel and grimaced as it landed with a loud clatter on the floor, Alexis glanced up at me with her large green eyes, shock written all over her face.
“Sierra! Oh I knew you would find me!”
I smiled, “Of course I would, come on lets go before they come back”
Taking Alexis’ hand in mine I put it to my lips and kissed it gently, glad to have her back by my side.
Walking to the window I glanced out the window looking for an easier way to escape, I really had misjudged how far I had to climb; I was now six stories high.
That ruled out the window as a way of escape. We couldn’t just walk out the door; we would be recognized for sure. The air duct was the only way. I sighed,
“Lexi, you know how we used to play games and crawl under nets and things like that.”
I had her well prepared telling her we were just playing games while I was actually teaching her important survival skills.
“Yeah, I remember.”
“Well, were going to play another game, ok. You crawl in here and I will follow you, we have to be really quiet though. Like we once practiced.”
She nodded, silently understanding this was more than a game. Giving her a leg up I pushed her up, then using my upper body strength I followed in pursuit.
Back in the small, cramped dark air duct with my four year old sister was a lot slower progress than when I was by myself. I had no idea where we were going to end up, but where ever we were going we had to get there fast.
At a fork in the duct we took the left turn instead of the right, rounding more corners I stopped and breathed in, I could smell chemicals, like bathroom cleaner following the smell we came to a bathroom, after scanning the room for people I kicked in the slated panel and jumped out landing on the linoleum floor three and a half meters below me. Looking up I saw Alexis looking down at me.
“Alexis, you need to jump. I promise you I will catch you, I would never drop you.”
Seeing the look of determination cross her face I prepared my self for the sudden impact of her weight. She shut her eyes and pushed herself away from the wall, blonde hair blowing around her face, arms and legs flailing around, with nothing more than a little scream she fell and landed in my arms. I have the most amazing sister; at age four I would never have been able to do that. Running to the small window I looked out, we were now on the second story. I smiled; we could climb out the window and get away.
A silver fire escape reached up to the fourth story, lowering Alexis down to the landing I told her not to move as I pulled myself out of the window.
Hurriedly scanning the court yard I checked for cameras. None, good. We raced down the steps as fast as we could and just as we set foot on the grassed area a siren wailed making my heart jump into my throat. Instinctively pressing up against the wall I tugged on Alexis’ hand and beckoned her to follow my example, I looked around, every where was chaotic, red lights flashing, gates being barred and locked. Inside the building I could almost hear the sound of the officer’s boots on the floor and the shouts being passed from person to person as instructions were being carried out. It was a lock down. And I had caused it.
Rushing out of the court yard we reached the perimeter, looking around I spotted a large Ohio buck eye tree beside the fence.
“Lexi, jump on my back and hang on real tight.”
Knowing she had to hurry she stood on a stump and wrapped her arms and legs around my waist and neck. Boy, this little girl sure had a strong grip! Pulling myself up by my arms and legs I began to climb the tree. Branch by branch I climbed, today I really was living up to my nickname! As I reached the top of the tree I looked around, behind me I could just see into the second floor windows and in front of me, for miles and miles all I could see was freedom.
A smile as wide as the Cheshire cats spread across my face.
“Alexis, look! Can you see that?”
“See what? All I can see is lots of land.”
“Exactly” just as I was about to jump I heard the sound of running foot steps. Pulling Alexis into the cover of the leafy branches I peeked out and saw the source of sound. A patrol group, they were checking the perimeter to see if we were trying to make our escape… Which, we were, just being much more careful than they thought. Come on, I thought these people had high expectations of me! Staying in hiding until the group had passed I glanced down looking for a way to get Alexis over the fence. Suddenly I saw it; on the other side of the fence was a farm. Looking at Alexis, I said, almost unsure of myself.
“Do you trust me?” Her response was immediate.
“Yes” and then I dropped her.