The Named


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5. Escape

                The rock-face man walking toward a wooden box by the wall.  He pulls on a panel and it opens to reveal innumerous folders within.  Slowly and precisely, he pulls out one with my number on it- the number I see on my door every time the men come to hurt me.

                “Let’s see.  Ah, you’ve been here a long time haven’t you, son?  That would explain why you thought it was time to go, eh?  You see this folder?  This folder tells me everything I need to know about you. It tells me where we found you.  It tells me who we took you from.  It tells me that you’re nothing but a worthless piece of shit that must never see the light of day.  Do you understand that, you little fuck?!  Men, show these worms what we do to those who try to leave our lovely little home.”

                Gasping, I forced myself not to think of what happened after that.  Instead, I searched for the cabinet that held that folder.  Going off of memory I reached for the middle drawer and pulled it open.  I was never taught to read but I could recognize my cell number.  There it was, at the very back of the drawer, a folder marked 3493.

                I placed the folder under my shirt and used the tattered waistband on my pants to secure it against my abdomen.  After stopping to listen for more steps, I slipped from the room and continued down the hall.

                Fifteen minutes more of running and dodging guards, I found myself in another room.  This one was much smaller than the other one and seemed to be a storage room for our tormentors’ tools-of-the-trade.  Trying not to pay much attention to the blood-encrusted implements, I made my way to the back wall where, near the floor, was a grate through which the air seemed to be moving.

                Digging my dirty fingertips under the edge, I struggled to pull the metal grate away from the wall.  Luckily for me, the damp air in the facility had rusted the screws straight through and it came free with a low clunk.  The passage in the wall was just large enough to fit my emaciated body through.

                Dragging my body forward on my stomach, I worked my way through the in-wall maze.  Inch by inch I moved forward, following my nose towards the source of that delicious air.  There was something different about it, something alive and . . . what was the word . . . happy? 

                Then, as if from nowhere, there was a strange yellow light flowing through the cracks of a vent to my right.  I had to gradually angle my body to turn in the narrow passage and as soon as I was straightened out, I was close enough to push as hard as I could on the grate.  This one was harder since it was farther away from the rotting underground and for a moment I started to panic.

                I’m so close! I can’t stop here.  They’re still looking for me.  They’ll find me. Oh god, what if they don’t find me? I can’t go back.  I’ll rot here.  No, I can’t die here, I can’t breathe! It’s too tight! Oh god, open damn it! Open!

                Almost as if the force of my will to survive were propelling it away from me, the grate came free of the wall, sending my surprised face lurching out into a brightly lit cave.  Squinting from the overabundance of illumination, I wriggled out of the ventilation shaft.  Standing, I looked around to find the source of the heavenly radiance.

                There.

                Without a second glance behind me I ran out into a new world.

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