Philip C. Davies held his breath. This time he wouldn’t be caught. This time he couldn’t be caught. This was his last chance. Failure would not be tolerated any longer.
The footsteps that had been making their way towards his current location suddenly stopped. Philip wondered, fearfully, whether he had been discovered. It was possible that they had heat seeking technology or x-ray vision. Perhaps, they already knew where he was and were just toying with him; luring him into a false sense of security before pouncing on him just before his final destination.
The footsteps moved away again.
Philip took a quiet, shallow breath and glanced at his watch.
OK. He was seven minutes in and already one and a half minutes behind where he should be. He needed to move.
Philip checked his watch again. Then looked behind him, back to where he had come from. He shuddered. He would not go back. He could not go back. This time he needed to get out.
He took a deep cleansing breath, quickly checked the corridor for movement and then set off. There were two left turns to manoeuvre before he reached the stairs to the ground floor.
Philip had seen plenty of action films. Plenty of escape dramas. He was unsure whether a left or right turn was considered more dangerous.
Obviously T-junctions were the worst. People came from all sort of crazy directions. Not really ‘crazy’ directions. They seemed to stick to one plane of reality around T-junctions. Philip had never seen a film where someone had travelled in time just to intercept someone at a T-junction as they tried to escape. They normally just came from the left, the right or from behind.
Philip checked the route he’d just come in case anyone was following him.
When you turn around that’s when they spot you!
He spun back around to face the direction he was going. There were still no signs that he’d been spotted. He briefly wondered if it was a double bluff and if they really were behind him.
His hands were shaking. He was being stupid. If anyone saw him they wouldn’t follow him, silently. They’d shout at him to stop and call for backup if they felt it was necessary. Philip was the only one tiptoeing around.
He pressed himself as close to the wall as he could manage before checking the occupancy of the corridor on the other side of his first left turn. It was empty.
Philip quickly made his way towards the other end of the corridor. Just one more left turn and then he was at the stairs. It seemed more likely that the next corridor would be less deserted. And even if it was, he doubted it would stay deserted for his whole trip.
Philip glanced around the corner then dived back to his safe spot next to the wall as he heard a high pitched wail. A door, almost opposite him, was flung open and one of the life forms ran out into the corridor, screaming into a telecommunication device as it ran down the corridor. Philip didn’t understand the language but understood that this was a perfect distraction. The life form ran into the last room in the corridor, as the door slammed shut, Philip was already half way towards the stairs.
Philip slowed near to the door, made sure that no one was watching him and went slinking quietly down the stairs. He breathed deeply at the bottom of the staircase and took another look at his watch. Still behind time, but no matter, Philip could make up the time once he got out of this main building. Once he was outside, he could run. Run and pray that they would wait an extra minute for him.
The bottom of the stairs. Philip had gotten to this point in his escape before. The dangers from the corridor above seemed like nothing more than the threat of being stung by a bee considering the tank of sharks he was going to have to navigate through now.
Philip reconsidered. Tank of piranha. He was pretty sure that tanks of piranha were scarier than tanks of sharks. Maybe, it was like a tank of sharks and piranha. Maybe, the sharks would eat the piranha and not be hungry enough to want to eat Philip.
Philip frowned. He didn’t have the time or the knowledge to work out fish related similes.
The problem with the bottom of the stairs was that it was a T-junction. Hopefully, the disruption that had allowed him to manoeuvre the top of the stairs so easily would prevent anyone sneaking up behind him; although, the truth of the matter was, that anyone who glanced down the stairs would see him standing at the bottom. It was super important that he moved from this position.
The quickest way out of to the right – an almost straight path to the back door which was the closest to the sheds where his transportation was being stored and closest to the back gates where he was hoping he would be met. However, Philip had tried going right twice before and had always been caught. It was too busy that way at this time of night.
The left took him to the front entrance which meant that he had to loop around the outside of the building which would leave him exposed longer. But the route to the left was almost deserted. The lights were out and so he wouldn’t have to worry about light being cast out of the windows and making him easier to spot. Once he was out, he could just run.
He quickly glanced to the right, seeing if it was clear enough for him to make a straight run, he was behind time and going to the right was sure to help him make the pick up point on time. The area was flooded in light and shadows were being cast as people moved around.
He looked to the left; empty darkness. Philip checked the right again and then darted out to the left, quickly covering himself in the darkness. He moved quickly but carefully as his eyes adjusted to the lack of light. Philip’s hands moved in front of him making sure that he didn’t bump into anything and cause unnecessary noise that would alert people to his presence.
Philip frowned. The darkness was making his progress slow. He was already behind time and Philip knew he could run fast, but he wasn’t sure he was able to run fast enough to make up the time. It would be devastating if he made it to the gates only to find that he’d been left behind. They wouldn’t come back for him again. This was his last chance to prove that he wasn’t completely useless at this.
Maybe he was completely useless at this. Maybe he shouldn’t even be attempted this escape. There was bound to be someone else who could replace him.
He shook his head as he reached the door and quietly opened the drawer where the keys were held. Philip couldn’t afford negative thoughts. Escape was both necessary and possible. He wouldn’t just sit around until they decided it was appropriate for him to leave.
Philip drew the keys out carefully, smothering their slight jingle within his hands. He picked the right key and inserted it into the lock, turning it quietly and then replacing all the keys in the drawer. Philip checked behind him again. He twisted the handle and opened the door. It squeaked. Philip was expecting the noise, he’d heard it every day he had been there but even so it still scared him. Philip checked again that no one was watching him and then he slid into the cool darkness of the night.
The door slammed shut behind him. Philip swore. There was no doubt that someone had heard that. Philip ran. He ran as fast as he could past the main building towards the shed. Maybe if he got into the shadow of the shed before they got to the front door, maybe he’d be ok.
They were bound to check the rooms now though. To see who had escaped. If he missed the rendezvous there was no way he’d be able to sneak back inside without them knowing that he’d attempted escape.
Philip was still too exposed. All they had to do is turn on one of the perimeter lights and he’d be caught. He needed cover but couldn’t afford the time it would take to make the detour to the right where the trees would give him the shelter he needed. He glanced to the left but none of the lights had been switched on. Was it possible that they hadn’t heard the door slamming?
He managed to reach the shed where his transportation device was being kept. The door was stiff but it wasn’t locked. Philip was sure it wasn’t locked; it was never locked. It must just be stiff. He pulled harder and fell over as the door opened. The perimeter lights came on behind him and he scrambled into the darkness of the shed. He was going to get caught. He’d made it this far and he was going to get caught. All because of that stupid door. He was such an idiot.
Maybe he should just give himself up. If Philip went back only he’d get punished. If he kept running, if he headed out towards the gate he could lead those he was running from straight to those he was running to. There was a chance all of them would be captured, all of them punished and it would be worse than being thought a failure by people who had left you behind than thought a failure by people who were sharing the punishment with you.
He risked a look out of the shed down and realised all the perimeter lights had been turned off again. Was it possible that they hadn’t checked the rooms and found his empty? Was it a trap? Philip didn’t have time to consider this and grabbed his transportation device, manhandling it out of the shed.
He jumped onto it and powered up the device. It wasn’t the most sophisticated transportation device but Philip had had practice with it. He could make it keep up with the newer versions he know his peers outside of the gate would have. He sped towards the gate. A few seconds was all it took him to get within sight of it, to be able to spot the reflective stripes of the coolest transportation device he had ever seen. They were still there! He’d made it! He’d proved himself!
He skidded to a halt in front of the gate, dropped his transportation device and slid open the lock on the gate.
“You’re late,” The one on the coolest transportation device whispered. “We saw the lights come on. Thought they’d caught you again.”
Philip pushed his transportation device out of the gates, pulling them shut after him.
“Yeah, I thought they’d caught me too. I forgot that stupid front door slams shut. Come on, let’s get to the park before we miss the football game.”
The four boys rode off on their bikes, away from Philip’s house as he escaped from yet another grounding.