Even now, years after our escape from the orphanage, the night of our actual escape seems to me like a far dream; like something that happened to someone else, long ago, something I’ve read about it, or heard of. I am proud of it though. I just do not believe we fount the strength to go on with the whole scheme.
Sunday night. Late after dinner, almost all kids, of all ages fast asleep for a couple of hours at least.
The plan was designed down to the last detail weeks ago. We went over all steps, with alternative actions if things were wrong. We all knew exactly what to do. We had envisioned it in our mind to the point that we all felt we’ve lived it so many times. This makes the plan a little easier, since you start believing it, but also dangerous because you start thinking that you’ve got everything covered. And if something doesn’t go exactly as planed, you get panicked, you doubt the next steps, you need time to adapt and react. It is a place you do not want to go with your mind! And this is the moment you know that you need to execute the plan, and stop playing it in your head.
I was following each step of our plan like a well-trained actress the day of her grand debut, trembling with fear and excitement. This was our only chance; no matter what, we couldn’t fail.
We had learned by heart all the guards’ routines and we could easily move around unspotted from the surveillance cameras.
I hid outside the guards’ control room. Alex would remain at our stash until the way was clear to come find me, bringing our hidden provisions along. And Max, my brave little Max, was the one who would sneak into the manager’s office.
“I am the man for the job and you know it”, he said decidedly when Alex and me tried to protest. “I’m smarter than both of you combined together.”
Unfortunately, that was true and we couldn’t argue with that. Not for long anyway. Max won every argument. It’s really impossible to make him change his mind once it’s set on something. So, we let him carry on with his plan as he wished, hoping for the best.
And he proved our fears to be unfounded. Because exactly at midnight the fire alarms on the top floor of the building went off simultaneously, causing havoc all over the place. Alex told me that much anyway. He couldn’t resist sneaking out of the stash to admire the chaos Max had caused. He said panicked children of every age swarmed every hall in the orphanage, running and screaming, and the guards and staff were unable to control them. What added to the general havoc was the fact that the fire extinguishers did not work.
We had never had any kind of fire or emergency evacuation exercise; it was deemed unnecessary. The orphanage’s safety system was considered supreme rendering the possibility of a fire or any other unexpected emergency issue to be completely unlikely to happen.
“Arrogant fools, that’s what the managers here are”, Max had said. He was coping Alex’s vocabulary a lot those days. “If something doesn’t go according to their expectations and well-organized little plans, they won’t know what to do. You’ll see.” Now that he had started speaking again, he seemed so thrilled by the sound of his own voice that he simply wouldn’t shut up. Not that I minded. And he was right of course.
As soon as the staff’s apartments were evacuated, Alex was by my side.
“How are things are going here?”, he asked passing me one of the bags.
“Two guards out, one guard remaining in.”
“We can take him down easily”, he said trying to sound reassuring.
We waited for Max. As the minutes dragged on my agony increased. Why was Max taking so long? Was he basted? How long should we wait before going to look for him? We didn’t have much time. Preciseness was essential for the success of our plan.
Alex sensed my uneasiness and gently squeezed my hand.
“Come on, Max, where are you?”, he muttered to himself.
…but I will let you know how that adventure ended next time!
Enjoy the weekend guys!
I’ll see you soon.