Allen had had it. Fucking had it. Living in this grotty old warehouse on the docks that stank of rotten fish. Sleeping on a paper thin camping mat with a ratty blanket that kept exactly zero of the cold off of him. Eating crap so barely cooked it made his stomach churn, or so burnt he could hardly tell what it was. Having his goddamned head shaved every few days to treat the lice—not to mention the constant infections from the cuts caused by not-so-gentle handling of the trimmers. It had been weeks since he’d breathed fresh air—he’d gotten outside a few times, but digging latrines really didn’t offer much in the way of anything but the stench of piss and shit. And that was a smell they all carried back with them, just adding to the general disgusting air inside.
He had been studying the creatures and thought he was able to tell them apart now. Differing markings, their gait, the way they interacted, and the jobs they did. Most importantly, he had tracked the movement of the ones seeming to act as guards, and thought he’d spotted a gap.
He hadn’t found a time when there weren’t guards covering everything, but he had discovered that one of the creatures—a giant serpent-like creature, with horns around its face—seemed to be blind. It had other senses to use of course, but if Allen could be quiet, he thought he might be able to slip past. The smell was unfortunate, but as everywhere and everyone smelled like that, he thought that would work in his favour. He just needed to be as quiet as a mouse.
The only reason he hadn’t attempted this already, was Blake.
They’d met during the first few days in here. Blake was 8 years old, and he’d told Allen tearfully that the creatures had killed his parents for trying to hide him. Though he’d never exactly thought of himself as parent material, he couldn’t turn the kid away, and over time he’d learned to love him. The kid was quiet and serious, but intelligent and eager to help. Most of the prisoners loved the kid by now, having been cared for by him when sick or just enjoying having him around. And the kid? It seemed to help him, being able to help others. But when Allen had asked him if he’d rather stay here or try to escape—making clear the potential danger of doing so—Blake had grabbed hold of Allen and insisted that he would come.
Allen couldn’t wait any longer. He had watched for weeks, and his nerves were as frayed as he could let them get. Any more and he’d be too jittery to go. So, it was time.
He let Blake sleep for a few hours, before quietly waking him and telling him they were going.
Blake woke in a hurry, following Allen’s instructions to wander sleepily to the latrine area just outside. None of the creatures tended to bother anyone going that short distance, and because they were never still, they wouldn’t notice him not returning.
Counting down ten minutes, Allen did the same, finding Blake in position—hidden behind a pickup truck in the car park outside, usually used to dump dirt when new latrines were dug.
Tonight, the car park would act as their personal hiding space, winding between the abandoned vehicles until they reached the road and slid out of sight.
After that…Allen was less sure. He hadn’t been able to scout out anything else nearby, and they would have to place their trust in a lot of luck in order to find their way somewhere they might be safe for a while.
Now, they both waited quietly as the guards took their rounds.
Allen could feel Blake trembling next to him, and when it came time to move to the next point, the kid was frozen in place, his face turned up to Allen, eyes round in terror as he shook his head.
Allen held him, and pointed out the single guard he had identified.
“Sh, sh, it’s alright. You see that one? I’m pretty sure it’s blind. It’ll hear us if we make noise, maybe if we didn’t all stink like we do it’d smell us, but it can’t see us. If we just move slowly, we’ll be fine.
Blake nodded stiffly, still trembling, but he crouched low and carefully trod his way towards the next vehicle, quickly lost in its shadow.
Allen nodded encouragement to Blake, in case the kid was looking back his way, and began to follow.
Barely had he taken a single step, when he heard the sound of gravel crunching right behind him.