As the siren started you grabbed my arm. Urgency shot through us. It was time.
I finally agreed to it. After months of lost battles, I finally gave in to you and agreed to escape. We planned to use the alarm as a cover. We’d had these drills before, and knew how people worked during them. This moment had been in the works for months, and your plans were too good to turn down. We had the ploy, we knew what was at stake, and we were ready for anything. Anything for the price of freedom. Everybody filed out of their spots and started towards the door. You said something I couldn’t quite make out. We both fell in line, but you were pulled upstream away from me. I tried to manoeuvre my way through the bodies towards you. I was sure you were trying to tell me something. For the first time I wondered how far you would go.
“Come on guys, move quicker,” a grating voice bellowed out from the back of the room. “You know how pissed he gets when we’re not there on time.”
I bit my tongue and we kept moving with the crowd. Our feet trudged along, the heat of our proximity climbing as we navigated towards the narrow stairwell with an awkward, choreographed grace. I was nervous. As we trudged, I looked around. I looked once more upon the walls that surrounded us, kept us captive, kept us safe. We were safe. The stones this far down had such a strange quality about them — the angles and jagged textures utterly mesmerising. As I went for the first step my gaze was distracted by a new glint above me. I hadn’t seen anything new in a long time. I thought I had every colour, every glisten of this space memorised. I saw it all on the back of my eyelids every time I shut my eyes. Shapes and spaces, visions that relayed themselves over and over. I looked at the walls. The same four walls with four-hundred different shades of burnt stone. The surrounding voices dragged me back to focus.
“I’m not ready to go” I thought I heard someone say behind me. Maybe it was there. Maybe it wasn’t. Maybe it was me.
In the moment I phased out I had lost sight of you. I tried to push my way forwards to lay eyes on you once more, but you had managed to scale the stairs with a careless ease. All at once I heard a commotion two flights above, right by the surface. Angry jeers and colliding bodies exploded into my vision, and you were at the heart of it. I bolted forwards, desperate to get to you before anything happened. Hands of fury were clawing at your legs, searching for something you were fighting to keep hidden.
Your hand shot into your pocket.
I couldn’t quite make out what it was, until it was too late.
I saw you go for the pin.
I changed my mind.