I stare in disbelief. What the….
“Lily?” I say. I know that it is her but I need to hear her voice.
“It’s me. I guess you can say that I’m back from the dead. Maybe we should go into that storage closet to…. talk.”
I stand there dumbfounded and just stare at her. She grabs my shoulder and steers me into the closet. The storage closet is not huge but it is definitely not small. In here they have pillows, blankets, jumpsuits, socks, and basically anything made of materials like cloth or wool. On all of the walls their are racks filled with a variety of things. There are four standing racks in the center of the room that carry shoes and socks, and boots. Toby goes to the farthest corner of the room and puts pillows down on the ground. He then places Evie on the pillows and tells her their are still playing spy. She just nods at him and grabs a piece of paper near her.
“So I guess your wondering.. How I’m uh…. back?” says Lily. She looks different then she did that day on the truck. Her tan skin now looks dull and yellow. She has deep bags under her brown eyes and her body shakes every now and then. She also is not wearing a jumpsuit. She wear sweatpants and a tank top.
“I saw you get shot.” I say matter-factly.
“You did, but did you see them pick up my body or… Or do anything with me?”
“Well, no.” I say.
She glances at Toby and Evie sitting in the corner. He is staring at her with a look of… I can’t place it. Wonder? Hope?…..Awe?
She looks back at me and says, ” So when everyone left on that huge elevator, this guard came over to me, he was about…. I don’t know 25, and he checked my pulse. I was mostly alive, “she says. When she sees my confused reaction she says, “Oh, uh, have you ever seen that movie called The Princess Bride? Well, theirs this scene where this guy is like almost dead, and then he goes to this old, like, healers house and he wasn’t dead, he was just mostly dead… Anyways, I wasn’t dead. He and another guard carried my unconscious body to the elevator and took me to one of the hospital rooms. They fixed me up, and then they said that, and I quote, ‘as punishment I was to work as for them.”
I just stare at her. Work for them?
“What do you mean work for them? None of the kids work.” I hear Toby’s voice say. He spoke in a hushed whisper, which by the tone of his voice was telling me that Evie is asleep. And sure enough as I turn around she has her head laying on his lap, her eyes closed, breaths steady. Toby strokes her hair and looks at her thoughtfully.
“They do actually. Have you seen the cooks? Or the launders? Or any person that actually runs this place, besides the guards? I mean….. you guys don’t even have real teachers. You just watch those lame videos from like, way back when.” Says Lily looking distressed. “But I have a plan, you know.” She continues.
I finally speak, able to catch my breath again, and say, ” What do you mean?”
She rests her head back and closes her eyes. “I, and a whole bunch of other people….. You’ll meet them, are planning to break out. We have a plan Lynn. And it’s a good one. We’ve been planning this for three months now.” She just stares at me.
Then it hits me, “We found something. We we’re exploring, and we found a girl, bruised and beat in a room. There was syringes with different colored liquids right by her door.”
Lilt stares back at me, unfazed, ” I.. uh.. know this already. We’ve been trying to stop that for some time now. But… We have people on the inside. And.. Look, I can’t tell you what they are doing to those kids okay. Really, I can’t explain it. But we cant stay in this storage unit forever. We can travel by tunnel though. Then we can take a detour through level 6 and go down the trash chutes.”
“The trash chutes? What’s down there except for….. trash?” Toby asks quietly. But Evie is already awake.
She just smiles and then says, ” You’ll see. Let’s get some rest, tomorrow is going to be pretty eventful.”
We all agree that we should rest, and get some sleep. Evie falls asleep right away, before claiming that she’s hungry. Lily tells her not to worry, because where we are going has some of the most tasty treats. Evie nods and then rests her head on Toby’s lap again and falls asleep. I on the other hand go on Toby’s other side, and he puts his arm around me. I rest my head into the nook of his arm. He is staring at Lily, who is sprawled out on five pillows, with a thoughtful expression on his face.
“What are you thinking about?” I ask.
He keeps staring at Lily as he says, “I’m trynna figure her out. Likw what’s her deal? I mean can we trust her?”
“Toby….” I start.
“No. We need to test her… or something.”
“She is our only option.” I say firmly.
He just shakes his head and ignores me. Leaning his head back he says, “I don’t thinks so. For one how did she know that we were here? How does she know that we are trying to escape? Or how does she know about the kids in the cells?”
I just shake my head and close my eyes. I dream of kids, and Liel, and Lily. I dream of fire and burning and suffocating. In my head my parents scream, Brooklyn, Brooklyn. Wake up! Wake up! Then Toby’s voice starts making his way into my mind chanting with my parents.
“Brooklyn. Wake up.” I open my eyes and see Toby kneeling over me, his hand on my shoulder. He was shaking me, and his knee is by my hip. I look at him and he grabs my hand and sits me up. I Lily sitting crissed crossed on the floor. In front of her is a huge white piece of paper, with black diagrams all over it. Evie standing behind her playing with Lily’s dark hair. She sticks her tongue out at me when she sees me staring. I roll my eyes and get to my feet.
“Why did I have to wake up B?” I ask Toby. I’m more alert now.
“We have been up all morning planning our escape. Evie was up first, of course. I woke up and then Lily woke up, about five minutes after me. I’m pretty sure that that was around… I don’t know six o’clock. Its almost lunch now. That’s when we plan on leaving, because their will be a lot of kids roaming the halls.” Toby says.
“Um.. alright.” I say, kind of irritated.
“What’s the matter? You sound… annoyed.”
I stare down at my shoes. I don’t want to tell him what is really bothering me. I try to push the thought out of my mind but it resurfaces no matter what I do. Why was he awake with her! And why didn’t they wake me up? Did he want to be… alone with her? I tell myself.
I look up at Toby, mumble, it’s nothing, and walk past him.
I leave him standing their, fully aware of the confusion that I just left him in. He just shakes his head and sits on the pillows on the other side of the room. I sit by Lily and Evie comes to my side saying, “Rise and shine!”
“Good morning Eve. How’re you?” I ask, fully ignoring Lily.
“Great! My friend Lily, here, actually my best friend, is so fun.” She answers back.
Lily smiles at me and I smile politely back at her and ask, “What are these?” Pointing to the diagrams on the floor.
“Routes to take. Well the best ones anyway. Especially considering that we have a six year old with us. I think that the best route to take would be the vents instead of the tunnels. We would all have to be single file, and… I think that we should put a piece of tape over Evies mouth. Just to be safe.” She finishes.
“You’re probably right,” I start, “I remember yesterday you were saying that you were thinking of taking us through the… tunnels. What are they?”
“The tunnels were discovered by Tommy. He is… well, kinda like our leader. But anyway you’ll meet him. The tunnels on the other hand are at the very bottom of The Bunker. We believe that the Government didn’t build then though. It’s like a maze down there, and we believe that their is a way out through the tunnels.”
“Why do you think so?” Toby asks.
“We are creating our own blueprints, so that we can escape. As to how do we know… We don’t. But back then when people built these tunnels their was always two ways out, on both ends.”
“Who found the tunnels? And how long have you been searching?” I ask.
“Well, Tommy fell inside the tunnel actually. He was working underground doing maintenance when he wasn’t looking where he was walking, and fell in. He laughs about it now. As for how long we have been searching…. about nine months.”
I open my mouth to speak and then close it.
“You still believe that their is a way out? I mean come on. You have been searching for nine months. Nine months. If their was a way out then don’t you think that you would have already found it?” Toby says.
Lily stands up and walks over to him. She kneels down, gets real close in his face and then says, with a note of anger in her voice, “You can stay here and get pumped full of chemicals for all I care. I could leave you here to die, and sleep fine at night. It’s the only hope that we have here. And if you don’t want to take that chance…. then fine by me. That’s just one less person for me to feed.” She finishes, and then walks back to her spot on he floor.
I decide to like her.
“Okay so what’s the plan?” I ask, trying to keep the smile out of my voice.
“Well look up,” She says. I do and I see a huge vent above me, about 12 feet up, “We go through the vents. I can’t say that it’s going to be totally safe. We are going to have to take our chances though, because that is all that we got. From he vents we will drop onto platform number 6, where we will go down the trash chutes. From their I will lead you to them.”
I nod, seeing that her plan is pretty close to perfect, then I ask, “Who exactly are these people?”
She smiles at me, “The only family that I’ve got. They will become your family to, believe me. They are basically refugees that just want to get out of the Government. Their are men, women, boys, girls, and little kids. They just want to go home.”
That is all I need to agree to go with her.
We grab some extra clothes, shoes, socks, etc. Evie found backpacks so we all carry one and stuff it to the rim (well all of us, besides Evie). Now we had to figure out how to get up the vents.
“How are we suppose to get out? We are literally in a storage room and their are no chairs.” I say.
“We don’t necessarily need chairs.” Lily says slyly.
She walks over to one of the shelfs that are aligned on the wall and starts taking things off of it. I get the idea and walk over to her and help her. Toby then comes. Then Evie. We are all taking things off of the shelves when the handle on the storage unit door twists open. We all stop what we are doijng and Toby silently walks over to the door and puts his hand on the handle, holding it in place.
“There in here!” we hear someone shout from on the other side of the door.
Lily and I go across the room and put a shelf that has shoes on it in front of the door. We pull the shelf that we were taking all of the shoes off right under the vent. Toby and I hold both ends of the shelf while Lily goes to grab the vent.
“Open up, children. Or we will be forced to open the door. The consequences may be… dire for you if you choose not to cooperate.” We hear a rough voice say from the other side of the door. I know that voice anywhere. Ladies and Gentlemen this is our president, Lex Basil. E Brown.
“Hurry Lily!” Toby says.
“Its stuck!” she responds. She pulls and pulls but the cover that is on the vent won’t budge. I go to the other side of the shelf, and see that the vent lip is caught on a nail. When I see it I hear a loud bang on the other side of the door and the shelf that is covering the door moves. Lily moves the nail and the vent lid opens up finally. Toby lifts up Evie and hands her to Lily. Lily lifts Evie into the body sized vent. I hear another beng and i can now see about three inches out of the door. Toby climbs next. Lily and Toby are now both inside the vent. I hear another bang.
They are inside.
I climb the shelf as fast as I can and reach to grab the vent. “Do not let miss Brooklyn get away.” I hear Lex say softly, but their is a firmness that tells me that he is not to be disobeyed. I grab the vents outer side and start to pull myself up, when somebody grabs my leg. I look down for a split second and my heart drops. Liel stands beneath me holding my leg. I tug my leg and i grab Tobys hand.
“Your a traitor! Have you seen what they have done to those poor kids you coward!?” I scream at him.
“Lynn, you have no idea. I just found out… everything. Come with us and we will explain the Outside. You have no idea what you are doing, I can assure you that. ” He replies hysteric.
Their is a split second where I think to myself, Maybe I should go with them, but I ignore the thought and with my other foot I kick Liel in the face, and pull myself into the vent. Liel fell to the ground clutching his nose, while blood spurts from it.
“Get them!” Lex shouts at his guards. But before another one of them has a chance to climb the shelf I reach down and push the shelf.
It falls on Liel.