A Scene

We hadn't made it far above ground before we were spotted. I had expected alarms to sound, but none did. Maybe we didn't have alarms in the dormitories. Maybe they were silent.

Nevertheless, we continued running. I could hear voices all around us, but they all seemed at a distance. The guards were told to never harm us physically, but they would do everything in their power to restrain us and to drag us back to the bunkers. There, we would be greeted by our "families" and then interrogated as to how and why we had escaped. The words spoken would be soft, and the actions taken would be lenient. Eventually, we would be set free to roam upon the grounds with our peers once more, branded with a simple "C" upon the bottom of our wrists.

The "C" I speak of, stands for "Caution".


I had seen friends that had tried to flee multiple times. After receiving their mark, they would return to us, confused but still rebellious and unafraid. They would speak of how close they had come to breaching the barriers and gaining their freedom, and would always vow to try again. Some times, these friends of mine would simply lose their enthusiasm for a daring escape, and chose to behave and remain amongst the rest of us. But other times, their return to the fold would only make them more driven; more desperate to see what the world was really like.

I admired their bravery and their perseverance, but I was always so afraid. I knew that none of my friends had ever even come close to getting away, because no two stories ever added up. One young man spoke of high fences topped with barb-wire that stood between them and their freedom, while another claimed thick concrete walls surrounded us on every side. I had heard talk of things that sounded silly and make-believe, like glowing force-fields and tall pillars of fire that vomited smoke and ash as a signal whenever a wanderer had been spotted. For every tale, a different obstacle tended to emerged. Eventually, I grew cynical, and assumed that those who had returned would just play up the drama of their endeavor, and lie.

I would not be a liar like them.


It hadn't been difficult for us to slip out of bed and scurry along the walls of the hallways outside of our dorm. It was late and the moon above had been hidden by a scattering of fat gray clouds. The night was dark and the air heavy with the summer's lingering humidity. The few guards we did encounter were going lazily about their duties; either reading, napping or staring out an open window. As few of us ever tried to escape or act out, our facilitators saw it as unnecessary to keep us under strict lock-and-key. I had high hopes that tonight, this would be their downfall.

After navigating through the dimly-lit corridors of the dormitories, dodging the desks and lab equipment thrown from pillar to post, we had discovered a large door with a window to the outside. A few of the younger children accompanying us became too frightened to continue on, and quietly said their goodbyes before slithering back the way that we had come. Those of us that remained kept perfectly still, all of us too wary and hesitant to step forward and through the foreboding doorway. I was the eldest, I had orchestrated our attempt, and I had convinced the others to join me. At that moment, I realized that it was my duty to lead.

I was shaking violently. After a moment, I raised one arm to my gaze and stared vacantly at my wrist. The bold letter "C"; it clamored at me in frantic silence, warning me of all its potential consequences.


I hadn't meant to escape before. I had never even thought to try before this very night. I was forced to. An unstable and feverish boy that I had once thought to be my friend had dragged me along as he had tried to carry out his foolish "plan". I was too weak to pry his hands from me, and I dared not cry out for fear of punishment as he babbled incoherently about "what he deserved" and "what they had done to us". I was hardly ten-years-old at the time. But he still chose to take me by the collar and lead us both out into the open after the lights had gone out and we had been told to go to sleep.

We were caught in a matter of moments. Despite my cries and claims of innocence; I was given my brand, and he had been taken away. I haven't seen him since. It wasn't until several months later that I had learned that he already been given his brand as warning prior to that night.


I closed my eyes and tried to center myself. My companions crowded around me, anticipating my next move all the while unable to speak or move forward on their own. They had chosen to rely on me, as I was sure that they would. Their heavy and panicked breathing was the only sound I could really hear in that moment, and I did my best to focus on it and nothing else. My own fear and ego were becoming less and less significant as I began to truly recognize the gravity of our actions: these were my friends, some of them mere children, whom I had lead on a scattered crusade; one that could lead us to bliss or to a punishment the likes of which none of us had ever experienced. I could not stall our progress because of my own doubts now that we had made it this far. I had to show them that I was brave, and sure of my decision.

Standing tall, with every muscle in my body poised and at the ready; I opened my eyes and laid both hands on the door in front of me. I forced myself to believe that this door would lead us to freedom, because if I didn't, why would I go through it?

I pushed with all of my might, and yelled for my friends to follow.


Though no sirens were heard, I could feel eyes all upon us the moment we had exited the dormitories.

Adrenaline surged throughout my body. I sprinted ahead into the thick of the open air and did my best to scan our surroundings through my cascading darkness. I immediately veered right and stole a quick glance over my shoulder. My friends were directly behind me, doing their best to maintain my pace in a single-file line. Some of them held hands. I could see one of the smaller boys crying as he struggled to keep up. One of our older companions extended her reach from our march and grasped his wrist.

I was in control. I hadn't any idea where we needed to go to escape, but my body was loose and agile, and I had never felt more alive or confident in my own abilities. Silhouettes were gathering at all points in the distance. I could see small, electronic lights waving to and fro and the sound of muffled static began to echo from the depths or every corridor that we passed. Our surroundings were a muddled blur as we made our charge. At any moment I expected an ambush from all sides. Though I knew that the guards would never do us harm, I had no idea of their tactics for retrieving escapees. They had simply caught us on foot when I had been forced away the first time, and I made no attempt to fight them, nor did my captor.

I wanted to say something to motivate those who had accompanied me, but I was frightened that if I attempted to shout, it would provoke the guards to make their move. My lungs were on fire and the words simply wouldn't form in my head, so I continued running. The silhouettes were getting nearer, and their forms began to become clear and distinct. Some of them seemed unarmed, while others looked to be carrying long, cylindrical devices that I couldn't quite make out. Others looked to be carrying rifles. Sudden cries rang out from behind me, but I continued my frantic dash. I was no longer so sure of everything, and hysteria began to settle into me as I caught glimpses of the walls that surrounded us. I was lost in this labyrinth that I had been forced to call home my entire life, and as I heard pleas and whimpers fade into the distance at my back, I knew that we were not going to escape.

The ground below me was hard and unyielding. My entire body was seizing with panic and exhaustion, and I felt myself slowing. I desperately wanted to turn and see who remained, if anyone did at all, but I couldn't. I was too scared to know, because I knew that everything that was happening was entirely my fault. Those who had been caught had been caught because of me, and they would forever be branded and terrified of what may become of them should they step out of line once more, just like I had always been. I was so sure that we could find our way out, but I don't know why I was so sure. Why had I done this to myself? To my friends?

The shadows that enveloped the path in front of me suddenly obscured and then faded as light began to become clear. My eyes grew wide, and I knew that our approach was finally ending. All at once, I was certain the direction we had chosen had led us to an escape. We were coming to an open gate, or a huge door that breached the endless walls that attempted to suffocate us. I simply knew it in my heart, and summoning the last of my will, I pumped my legs as quickly as possible and threw myself at our destination. I could see clearly now and I took a moment to survey our surroundings one final time as I ran. There were monstrous industrial vehicles on either side of us, all of which were carrying large, peculiar pieces of equipment bathed in sterile eggshell white. The walls that fenced us in on either side were actually tall, plain buildings with no windows save for small rows of glass towards the very top. No movement caught my eye as everything became more and more illuminated. I felt so elated; my head swam and my vision began to blur. 

Then, just within my view, a tall barrier rose into prominence. My heart delighted at the sight of it. The gate that I had sought out was standing just ahead, and in moments I would reach it, I would force my way through it, and I would know freedom for the first time in my entire life. The plight of those that had followed me was no longer a concern as my goal drew nearer. I became intoxicated by my triumph, and a smile decorated my tired and haggard young face.

As I came down upon my destination, the barrier's features became more and more distinct and identifiable. No longer was it simply a deified icon that haunted my every waking moment and taunted me in the distance, but a true and concrete reality that I could finally see with my own two eyes. But, where were its iron latches? Where was the immense crease that allowed the door to separate and open? The world around me became a painted stillness as my plodding steps began to slow. The barrier was clear now: a hundred yards away, maybe a little more. But its appearance confused me. It wasn't a door, or a metal gate, or anything like I had imagined it at all. With a watch tower on either side and large spotlights astride the top of the barrier itself, it looked to be the entrance to the compound that I had been seeking. But it wasn't. It was simply another wall that kept me from what I desired most.

I came to a sudden stop with my gaze fixed upon the wall in front of me. My stomach turned and my head began to ache with a ferocity that brought tears to my eyes. My mouth was dry, my body was overheated and my heart was breaking. I stood there, transfixed upon what I had been so sure was my final and resolute savior, and I began to weep uncontrollably. The pitiful sound of my sobs echoed against the concrete that encased me. I couldn't stop, and I collapsed to my knees, in the throes of fear, mourning and burning self-loathing all at once. I knew that the guards would be upon me in moments, but I couldn't will myself to move or to flee any further.

Behind me, the sound of approaching footfalls came into clarity, and I simply cringed and waited to be bowled over by a dozen men or more. But the footsteps were not heavy, and not at all organized. They slowed several yards away, and hesitated. Finally, one person stepped forward. They moved slowly and delicately, as though not to alarm me. And then, I felt a hand upon my shoulder. I was frightened, but despite my fear and the tears that rolled down my cheeks, I forced myself to turn to them. The hand that had grasped me belonged to a young girl who had been the first to agree to join in my escape. Behind her, only three remained. Two of them young children, one a teenaged boy who had always tended to follow and emulate me as we had gotten older. They watched me with an intensity that made me feel so guilty and ashamed. The young girl helped me to my feet, and I stood facing her, unsure of what to say. She smiled, despite the fear that showed in her expression, and wiped the tears away from my eyes. In the short time we stood there as a group, alone, no one uttered a word. We were all afraid, and we had all given up hope. We gathered in a circle, and took each other's hands, waiting for our pursuers to find us and take us away.


In minutes, the footfalls I had been expecting became the only sounds we could hear.

A marching band of heavily-armed guards emerged from the bathing shadows and into the light of our dead-end encasement. Technologically-filtered voices rang in our heads and the spotlights above us swung towards the ground, nearly blinding us and enshrining us for all around to see and size up. There weren't as many of them as I had assumed, but there were at least a dozen presented and forming a line to prevent us from running any further. They were in full quasi-military garb with large mouthpieces that filtered their speech and goggles that lent them the appearance of aliens from outer space. Some carried what appeared to be nightsticks, while others carried strange and other-worldly-looking rifles. They stood perfectly still, speaking to one-another in their indecipherable codes, all while facing us with their weapons at waist-level.




Author's Notes/Comments: 

Not done with this yet, will come back to it later tonight.

View sivus's Full Portfolio