Escape
By: Jim Bates

This ten part SF series has to do with the impact of global warming on one family.

The story so far:

Episode 1 - At the Biodome
We meet Quinn an engineer at a wind farm and his son Matt on a field trip and learn about life in the year 2220.

Episode 2 - The Test
We meet Karen and learn about Quinn and Karen's life together.

Episode 3 - Millennium Microbial
We learn about Karen's job as a biochemist working on improving the world's food supply.

Episode 4 - The History Center
Quinn kidnaps Matt on a field trip and went on the run.

Episode 5 - The Hideout
Karen visits Quinn and Matt at their hideout and made a big decision.

Episode 6 - Preparations Are Made
Jen joins Quinn and Karen and Matt and they get ready to escape from the city.

Episode 7 - Fugitives
Quinn and Karen and Matt and Jen leave their hideout and make their way to edge of the city near the Food Storage Facility, one step closer to escaping the city and the World Order Security Police who are looking for them.

Escape #8

Buck Benson, badge #4455, was security shift leader for the Regional Food Storage Facility. One of his main jobs was overseeing the twenty-three workers who manned the twenty-three control panels that received video feed from four thousand seven hundred fifty-six sensors located inside and outside of the forty acre complex. It was a lot to keep track of, especially at night when roving packs of wild dogs frequently tried to break in and steal food. So, when he received a personal call from his boss, General Rawlings, he subconsciously stood at attention and listened.

"Benson, you've got to keep on your toes tonight. The World Order Security Police are going nuts back in the city."

"What's wrong, sir?"

"Some idiots kidnapped their kid and are making a run for it."

"Kidnapped their kid?"

"It's complicated."

Benson wasn't paid to think, although the statement struck him as odd. Instead he asked, "Heading our way, sir?"

"No one knows, but the Commander is up in arms. Orders are 'Shoot to kill.'"

"A couple of parents and their kid? That seems a little drastic, doesn't it, sir?" The stony quiet on the other end of the line told Buck Benson all he needed to know. "Sorry, sir. We'll keep a lookout."

"You do that, Benson, and remember…"

"Shoot to kill, sir?"

"Right."

"Okay, got it."

Benson disconnected and checked the time. 0200 hours. Four hours before sunrise. A lot could happen between now and then. He went to the intercom and got the attention of the twenty-three computer operators under his command. "Listen up everyone. Keep on the lookout for some kidnappers. Two or three adults and one child. If you see anything suspicious let me know. I'll take it from there."

Exactly what Buck Benson would do if the kidnappers were found he didn't know, and he hoped to god he wouldn't have to find out either.

Behind a pile of concrete blocks Quinn, Karen, Jen and Matt were resting up for what they hoped would be their final dash to freedom. They had reason to be tired. Two days earlier during an outing to the regional history center Matt had told Quinn about how he was being abused by members of the staff at The Neighborhood, the name of the dormitory where five-year-old boys were housed and indoctrinated in to the ways of the World Order. Upon hearing Matt's horrific tale, and knowing he had no chance going up against the authorities, Quinn had made the snap decision to kidnap his son. They'd spent that night in an abandoned building and met up with Karen early the next day and she'd decided to join her husband and son in their flight. She'd then gone to work to try to buy some extra time, met up with her friend Jen and they'd filed their final report with their boss, hopefully alleviating any suspicion of what they were up to, and then left, Jen having decided to join the young family. Late last night they'd fled the hideout and dodged the hundreds of mobilized security forces who out looking for them as they made their way to their present location.

"Okay," Quinn said, nervously fiddling with his oxygen mask in his lap and sipping from his water bottle, "lets' go through the plan one more time."

Karen reached over and took the mask from him and set it aside. "Hopefully we won't need these much longer." One of the interesting things they'd found out on their escape from the hideout was that the oxygen level away from the heart of the city was higher and they didn't need to wear their oxygen masks as much. Maybe if they got beyond the perimeter, they'd be able to discard them all together. Who knew what else they might find that would be different out there? Karen was a microbiologist by profession. She understood science. Her guess? Probably a lot.

Quinn said, "Okay, here's what we'll do," he drew a line in the sand, "This is the perimeter. Karen, you saw a chain link fence out there, right?"

"Yeah. Just a minute, let me check again." She pushed an icon on her phone and a binocular application appeared. She got up on her knees and carefully peered over the mound of concrete blocks and scanned back and forth. "The fence is in pretty rough shape. It goes to the right all the way to the entryway where the transport carriers come in and out. There's a couple of guard stations there."

"What's to the left?" Quinn asked.

Karen scanned back the other way. The wind, which has been calm all evening, suddenly picked up, blowing gusts of sand over the barren land. Quinn bent over Matt and covered his head with his body, protecting the little boy from the stinging pellets.

Karen sat back down. "There's nothing out there. It's like a desert."

"How far does the fence go?" Jen asked, she brushed her hair out of her face, uncapped a fresh water bottle and gave it to Karen to drink.

"It goes forever, it looks like. Miles and miles." She took the water and drank. But there's good news."

"What's that?" Both Quinn and Jen asked at the same time. "The fence is basically falling apart."

Quinn grinned. "Well, that's good. All we've got to do is get across this open area, find a hole to climb through and we’ll be free."

Karen was skeptical. "Maybe. Getting across that space will be hard. I don't like that we don't see anyone patrolling. I'll be they've got security cameras all over the place."

Matt, who had been dozing with a jacket over his head suddenly woke up. "You mean we're trapped here?" Tears welled up in his eyes.

Quinn held his son and looked at Karen with the unspoken question on his lips. Are we?

Karen quickly smiled and said, primarily for Matt's benefit, "No, we aren't trapped we'll find a way."

And just as she spoke a loud siren went off. It could only mean one thing: a security camera had spotted them. They'd been discovered.

Quinn jumped to his feet. "They've seen us. Let's get out of here." He grabbed Matt in his arms and started running for the fence, Karen and Jen right behind. Karen risked a quick look over her shoulder and gasped. Charging toward them was a group of about ten security guards. There was a flash of light and a rock next to her exploded. They were shooting at them. "Run!" she screamed. "Faster."

Back at the security bay, Buck Benson watched the events unfolding on the video monitors and smiled to himself. He'd trusted his instincts and his instincts had been correct. One of the sensors located on the perimeter had detected a higher level of heat concentration than normal and he'd sent a small squad out to investigate. Watching the chase unfold before his eyes told him all he needed to know; there had been people out there. Were they the fugitives everyone was so eager to kill? Probably. He'd find out soon because he'd give the same order to his men that had been given to him, "Shoot to kill." So that's what he told them to do. He sighed a contented sigh and checked the time. 0330 hours. It'd all be over with soon, before sunrise even. Good. He was looking forward to a nice hearty breakfast to celebrate.

Buck was just sitting down at his computer to begin writing his report when the phone rang. He glanced at the screen and frowned. It was Anderson, his squad leader.

"Benson here. What's up?"

Anderson's voice was shaky. "Sir, I don't know what happened."

Benson sat up, suddenly on edge. He could hear the wind blowing in the background but that wasn't all he heard. He could also hear Anderson's voice loud and clear and he didn't like the tone of it one little bit. "What going on out there, Anderson? You better have good news for me…" he threatened. The silence on the other end of the line told him all he needed to know. "Anderson!" he screamed. "What happened?"

Anderson had a tough time talking because his mouth had suddenly gone bone dry. He feared Benson. After a few moments he was finally able to work up enough saliva to talk. He spit out, "We were closing in on them, sir, and suddenly they disappeared."

"Disappeared?" Benson thundered and slammed his fist down on the computer console. "You're crazy. I saw you on the monitor. You weren't more than a hundred yards away."

"I know. I don't understand it myself, sir. One minute they were here, the next moment they were gone."

"Stay right there, Anderson. I'm coming down."

Ten minutes later Benson joined Anderson and the rest of the squad. They searched and searched but couldn't a trace of the fugitives. It was as if the wind had carried them away.

In a way it had. With their oxygen masks firmly in place they ran toward the fence. Karen spied a hole in the chain link and that's where she led them. A strong wind was blowing, blasting swirling sand all around that was so dense it obscured the sight of the security guards pursuing them. Karen lead them through the hole confident that the gusting wind would obliterate their tracks, which it did.

Beyond the fence the land they found themselves in was treacherous and the night was dark so they had to slowly make their way, stumbling frequently over rocks and broken boulders. Finally they came upon a small rise about a mile from the facility. They climbed to the far side, plopped down, took off their oxygen masks and then lay sprawled in the dirt exhausted.

Matt recovered first and sat up, "Wow, Daddy, that was fun."

Quinn struggled to a sitting position and grinned at his son, "I'm not sure fun is the word I'd use, but at least we're safe."

"For now, anyway," Jen said. She busied herself getting some water and snacks out of her pack that she passed around. Then she looked at Karen.

"What's up?"

Karen had her binocular app running. She was laying flat on the crest of the hill scanning back and forth, watching the security guards a mile away. "They're all wandering around, trying to find our tracks I guess."

"The wind blew them away, right?"

"Yeah, they did. I just hope they don't come past the perimeter and start seriously searching for us."

Jen shivered, not so much from the cold, but from nerves. "Me, too."

"Mommy, are we going to do anymore running? I had good time doing that."

Despite the seriousness of their predicament, Karen cracked a smile at her son, "Hopefully not, sweetheart." Then she looked at Quinn. Even though his actions had gotten them into the mess they were in, she wouldn't trade this moment in time for anything. They were a family and they were together. That was the main thing. "What about it, Quinn? Got a plan?"

Quinn turned his gaze away from the facility they'd just escaped, and he focused his attention in the other direction, the gray light of dawn spreading over the wasteland they'd soon be traveling through. Could they make it? The answer was simple if not frightening they had no choice. They'd have to.

He looked affectionately at his little band of fugitives. He was proud of them all, as well as of himself, but they were all tired and need to rest. "Let's take a break and have some water and food. Then we'll heard out."

"That's good, Daddy," Matt said, turning toward Jen, "I'm hungry."

Jen opened up an energy bar and gave it to the little boy and then made a motion to Karen who came over to join her. "Bad news," Jen said.

"What?"

"We're getting low in food."

"Damn." Karen turned to Quinn. "You hear that?"

"Wha…What? Low on food," he said, distractedly. "Yeah, I heard."

Karen went to stand next to him. "What's up?"

Quinn pointed, "Look at that."

Jen and Matt joined them so they were all looking.

"What is it, Daddy?"

"Yeah," Jen said. "What is it?"

Quinn said, "Karen. Use your binocular app. What do you think?"

Early dawn was casting dim light into the sky, making it a little easier to see. After a minute she said, "That tall, dark, wall looking thing on the horizon? There's only one think it can be. I think it's a mountain range." she said, quietly. "They're way out there maybe twenty miles."

Quinn looked at her, "Do you think we should try to get to them. Maybe we'll be safe there."

Karen looked behind them. The security forces had given up and were heading back to the facility. Their little group really was safe. She turned toward the mountains looming far in the distance. Quinn's idea was their only option, but it was a good one. They might be able find someplace safe to live and start a new life. "Yeah, I think that's what we should do," she said. "Let's head for the mountains."

To Be Continued…

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