… (continuation of the post: The night of our escape)
Every minute seemed like a small eternity. My heart kept beating like crazy, my imagination run wild, coming up with a billion horrible scenarios for Max’s fate.
“Where is he, Alex?”, I muttered, my voice strained with worry.
“Right behind you!”, a small voice answered making me and Alex jump.
“Max! What took you so long?”, I demanded, unable to mask my relief.
“So many gadgets up there! I just couldn’t help myself. Sorry”, he apologized, a big grin lightening up his face. He passed two mind pads. “And look what else I’ve got, Phoebs”. He reaches inside his jacket and takes out a small brown and white soft toy.
“I had hidden it away when they first brought us here and nobody found it all this time.” His childhood teddy bear. “I couldn’t leave without it.”
“I know”, was all I said.
How he had managed to hide it without getting noticed, I never found out. But I’m glad he did. It was a precious part of his past and now he could keep it, without fearing all the time that somebody might snatch it out his hands.
He then showed us a tablet the size of his palm.
“I needed a little time to bypass the security codes but now we can work miracles with it, guys.” Max says blinking with excitement. He really has found his smile, a way to overcome fear and melancholy. He is alive again. He wants to carry on living. Something I was not at all sure about him, for quite sometime now, but I was too scared to even admit it to myself.
Max started pressing the tablet screen entering new codes and penetrating the orphanage’s main frame. Soon after, more fire alarms went off, followed closely by every light in the building.
“Now, that should make him come out, at last”, whispered Alex.
Seconds later the door of the control room opened slowly and the remaining guard stepped out uncertainly, holding a flashlight. Alex sneaked out of our hiding place and stepped behind him quietly, like a ghost. With a calculated blow on the guard’s head with his own flashlight, he let the guard drop unconscious on the floor.
We entered the control room and Max got to work. He reactivated the computers using his tablet and started working on them, while Alex kept a watchful eye on the corridor.
Suddenly the deafening sound of police and fire forces’ sirens reached our ears. We were running out of time.
“Done!”, shouted Max.
That was it. Max had done it. For the first time in the institution’s sad history, every door and window in the building was unlocked and accessible! That was unthinkable till that time. That was a day that wrote history, but we found about it, years later. It was a moment to treasure, to remember. It was the start of our common history as Time Squatters, as fugitives, runners, escapers, outlaws…
“Let’s get out of here!”, said Alex.
We grabbed our stuff and made it for the basement. And while the front section of the buildings was overrun by police and firefighters’ forces, we made our escape through the old sewer’s system before they manage to look in there. Nobody stood in our way. It took them hours to restore order and get the orphans into their rooms, count them and discover we were missing. It took them more time to start eliminating all possible escape-ways and start looking in the old sewer pipes. By that time we were at the other side of the city.
If someone can get intoxicated by freedom and happiness, that was us that night!
We run through the city’s street, big smiles on our faces, drunk with happiness and this brand new sense of complete freedom and independence. Our new lives were about to begin. I remember none of us thought about how we will survive, where we will stay, how will we get food and clothes. We cared for nothing. All it mattered is that we were free, alive and together, away from the old orphanage, inside a new world. Soon, we learned the hard way what the price of freedom can be… but at that night we couldn’t think anything negative, we couldn’t waste even a small second worrying, thinking about danger, or get organized. We were drunk by our own freedom. This is all I remember and I think Max and Alex felt the same.
Later on we read on the news that all investigations on the incident were named ‘inconclusive’, and that ‘fortunately there were no casualties or runaways recorded’.
Arrogant fools, as the boys would say. Same old hypocrisy every time, every place.