9. Passage to the Rest of the World
She grabbed her windbreaker and sprinted out of the room, with light steps that no one would hear. She ran right out of the building and went straight to the ration station. She ran into the ration station… and into a ration station worker. “Hey, girl, what are you doing here? You should be in school, or… are you twelve?” Ilana took advantage of the fact that she was small enough to be mistaken for a student. She opened her mouth, as if to say something, and closed it again. Then, with a sure look in her eyes, she started lying. “My teacher sent me here. We’re doing a project on different workers around the island, and I got assigned to the ration station workers! You’re one, right? Please, mister, can I interview you?” Ilana smiled with the sweetest innocence. The man groaned, and was obviously too lazy to care about the interview. “In that case, interview the guys back there. Take all the pictures you want, and go, girl.” “Thank you, sir!” Ilana said and walked towards the back. There were ration station workers that let her pass to do her ‘research’. As she went to the back, no more workers were to be seen. At this point, the things stocked were old stuff that was at the borderline of being thrown away, or wood and metal, and materials as such which would be taken out at the next construction. And at the very end, there was a very suspicious-looking patch on the back wall that was covered up with tape. Ilana peeled them off, careful but speedy, to reveal a red circle with a line through it. She could almost see it through the eyes of her 5- year old self, and was very excited. The station seemed to be blocked with wooden panels underneath layers of bubble wrap, which made her worry, but after she took away the bubble wrap, she found that the wooden panels were only half left, with the rest rotten and broken away. It was almost like the workers were too lazy to fix the panels properly! She laughed, thinking about the lazy worker she met at the front. She slid her body through the panels, and there was a long staircase that led to the far underground. Then she saw a train. It was very long, much longer than she had thought, and it was a sleek silver. It looked pretty much modern. She would have thought that a train that old would be antique, maybe a black steam roller? But as she pried the door open and got in, it was clear that it was very high- tech. She walked to the front of the train. There was a huge control pad, with so many buttons and levers. For a minute, she thought that she would never get the train to go. But when she randomly pressed the biggest button in the center, (it said ‘automatic’) the train seemed to vibrate, stretching its limb and waking up. Then, it moved. It sped forward with so much speed that Ilana fell back in her seat, gasping. After some minutes, she began to be a little used to the speed. It had been a many tiring days, and it wasn’t long until she dozed off. * * * “Ilana?” She woke up with the voice of a girl in her ear. Blinking in the light, she opened her eyes. In front of her, calling her name, was a girl with brown braids. For a moment, they just stared at one another. Ilana couldn’t believe that she was on another island; Olive couldn’t believe that there was someone else on Mayfield, someone that was from the outside. It was a miraculous meet. “Hi!” Ilana’s loud voice rushed out of her. Olive’s eyes became wide in alarm, and then she put a finger on her lips. “Listen, Ilana, there are people above that heard the noise of the train coming in. They think it’s a factory malfunctioning, but it won’t be long until they figure out nothing’s wrong.” “But they still wouldn’t know about the train-“ “But! If they come underground? There are one or two people that swear they heard the sound from the underground. Ilana, we can’t take any chances. We’re going to London. Now.” Ilana was still for one second, then nodded. “Now.” She pressed the button. * * * “I… wow…!” Olive was speechless as they whizzed out of Mayfield. “I know, right? I was like, what the...about a few hours ago. I think. Wait, a few hours? What time is it now?” “It’s only, like, five. You left at four.” “Really? Our islands are closer than I thought!” “Yeah, I know, right? I almost thought I couldn’t make it, because I ran into a worker there! I kinda panicked, and just turned straight around and ran, mumbling ‘wrong place’, pretending I’m an errand runner. After that, I calmed myself down, and went there again, this time prepared with a smile and a plan. It was only a matter of minutes before I got in by telling one I had an errand to the other worker, and telling the other worker that I had an errand to run with that one, and so on.” Olive explained her escape. “Oh, yeah, I guess you’re tall enough to pretend you’re an errand runner. I’m actually short enough to be a school kid, so that’s what I did. Unlike you, though, I just acted on the spur of the moment,” Ilana said. “Really? I can never do that! I always need a plan, to be prepared. I choke when things don’t go according to plan.” “Yeah, this must seem like a really good quality for you, but it’s actually gotten me into a lot of trouble. You know, because all this spontaneity doesn’t always work out.” “Oh, I guess that’s true…” Olive was not usually the one to make friends in a zap. But with Ilana, she felt like they were already friends, skipping the ‘making friends’ part. Somehow, it felt like they were old friends that have gone through a lot together, even though they hadn’t. She knew they would, though. The feeling was mutual. Ilana had similar thoughts. She remembered the moment when she held back from telling Vanessa everything. Vanessa was her best friend. She was sweet. But with this girl, with Olive, she felt like she could really share everything. Like she really was her other half. The train sped on, carrying their growing friendship. Olive and Ilana talked on in their anxiety. They did not speak about it, but they both knew that people were searching for them on both islands. They knew they would need to be extra careful from now, catch every small thing. One mistake, and all would be lost. “You know what,” Ilana finally spoke, “I’m worried. Nervous doesn’t even begin to describe it.” “Me too,” answered Olive, who was being more terrified every second they got closer to ‘London’. Who knew what was there? Maybe it was just a pile of rubble, like they had always thought, and people would just take them back to be punished? Maybe there were aliens! Why not? “I… yeah,” Ilana had tried to say some more with reassurances, but it sounded shallow and awkward. She knew that Olive would feel it anyways, and met Olive’s eyes with a heartfelt ‘it’ll be okay’. Olive felt it in Ilana’s eyes, ‘It’ll be okay…it will.’ It was the moment that sealed everything. This made every false thing true. Made every true thing false. All their lives, they grew up thinking that this was it. Somehow, something was wrong with that. They knew it in their sub-consciousness but reason blocked it. And now, everything was wrong with everything they knew. Yet there was something new. Hope. Hope that there will be a new life, that all this adventure will not have been for naught. The anxiety started out like that, as worrying, but as they got closer to London, it changed to something more like excitement. Their heart started beating faster, they started to sweat, and their hands got cold. Adrenaline rushed through them as the train rushed under London… And it came to a stop.