Kat watched the guy’s kid move first, and the guy follow a few minutes later. She’d been keeping an eye on him for a while now.
At first it was just because she recognised him. She’d seen him walking down the street one day—which wouldn’t normally register with her, except he was quarrelling with some other guy. She couldn’t tell what about, they were talking too fast and over each other for that, but their body language was definitely aggressive.
Even that probably wouldn’t have stuck, but she’d seen him on the news that evening, talking to the press about the crash of whatever company he was employed by.
His being the only face she recognised when she was thrown in here, she had found herself paying attention to him.
He and his kid were awkward together. Like he’d been an absentee dad until they were forced to be in here with each other. Although she supposed he could have just adopted the kid, taken him under his wing.
But she’d never spoken to either of them. Or anyone else here. She’d tried a few times, but nobody seemed to know sign language, nobody seemed to have the patience to help her lip read, or to understand the mush of words she tried really hard to make. Even if she’d had her phone or tablet to have written conversations, she figured that would amount to the same.
That was fair. It was a shitty situation and adding a complication like her was definitely too much for people. She was pretty used to being the one left on the outside. It mostly didn’t hurt anymore.
So she’d kept her distance and just watched, and she saw the guy watching too. Only, he was watching the guards. Was he trying to find a way out? If he was, Kat was going too. He could dump her the second they were free, but if he was going, she was following.
So she watched.
And finally a night came where the kid was sent outside, and the guy followed a few minutes later.
Kat checked her pockets, ensuring she at least had her cards. She always had her cards. Since the day she aged up and out of the home, she always had her cards.
“Hi, I’m deaf. I know sign language, I can lip read, and I can write.”
That generally got the ball rolling.
She followed them both out, putting on a yawn and a sleepy gait, as if she was going to the toilet and then back to bed.
She then followed them out to the car park, and while the kid raced for the next car, she carefully snuck up behind the guy in a crouch. Her hands were already raised, a card in her hand, when he whirled around to see her.
“What the fuck?!” he hissed, waving a hand behind him to keep the kid still.
She offered him the card and, after a moment, he took it and read, then looked back up at her.
He smiled, “OK, hold up, I’m a tad rusty…”
Kat grinned in delight as he slowly signed his name and the kid’s name to her, and asked for hers.
She, moving slowly so he could pick it up, told him, and explained she’d seen him and wanted to come too, but that she could leave him once they were gone.
“Let’s all get out of here in one piece first,” he signed back.
She nodded, “I’ll follow your lead, I promise.”
Slowly, carefully, the three of them edged their way out of the car park, sliding down a grassy bank at the side and sprinting along the banks of what used to be a river, now barely a trickle, and into the shadows of a concrete bridge.
Once the bridge would have rumbled, even at this hour, with the constant passing of vehicles, mostly lorries, their drivers taking the night shift to move their loads faster from one place to the next.
Usually an out of the way spot like this would boast teenagers, doing the things teenagers do.
Instead, the river was barely a river anymore, the shadows were far darker and deeper than they should have been, and the smell of petrol was absent entirely.
“Alright, I guess we’ll be safe here for a bit,” Allen signed to Kat and said to Blake. They all sat, the cold concrete of the bridge quickly sinking into them.
“Sorry I couldn’t get us something warm. Couldn’t figure out a way without finding trouble. So I’m Allen, you’re Kat, and this is Blake.”
Blake smiled, unsure about the combination of speech and sign language, but polite as ever, “Hi. Wait. You can’t hear me?”
Kat shook her head, but pointed to her eyes and his lips with a smile.
Blake’s eyes lit up, “You can see my words?”
Kat gave him a grin and a thumbs up.
“Good kid,” Kat signed to Allen.
“Yeah. Not mine, but he didn’t have anyone when they brought us all here so I guess I kinda adopted him.”
“I did wonder. That was a kind thing to do. As was letting me come with you. I can head out on my own now.”
Allen shook his head, “Stay. At least we know you’ll be quiet,” he grinned as Kat stifled laughter.
Blake watched their hands moving. Allen had quickly remembered the language, and was talking fluently with Kat now.
Blake reached out and touched Kat’s arm and she focused on him, head tilted in query.
“Can you teach me to talk to you? I mean the hands thing?”
Kat nodded yes, smiling, and signing the word.
But first they must stay put until night fell again, and they could attempt to move on. After a breakfast made up of pocketed scraps, Allen and Kat set up sentry duty, and Blake slept, taking the lap of whoever wasn’t up about and keeping them safe.