The End: Story One
The Great Escape Pt.4

By: David K. Montoya

We entered into the secret stairwell that the Professor had told us would lead to the prison. Once inside, we had to take our time moving up the stairs, as it was a narrow area. With only enough room for a single file line, we moved up the rickety iron steps. Our shoulders were pressed against the brick wall and I began to feel a bit claustrophobic. I had never been one for enclosed areas. Michael kept looking over his shoulder to check on me. He was well aware that I did not like small spaces and was trying to reassure me by saying that we were almost there. Just as I was about to loose my nerve, we reached the top.

The professor stood at the door for a moment, then on a count of three we rushed out into the open, ready for a nasty gun fight, but no one was around. Had every guard followed the emperor to safety? I had only taken a few steps before beginning to suspect it was a trap! Even as that thought flashed through my mind, five men ran from out of a cell, unloading their guns on us. Quickly we returned fire and pushed the guards back into the open cell. We took cover behind a dividing wall and each of us took turns firing at the men. The scene was reminiscent of an old gangster movie. Without warning, Michael ran out from his cover and headed directly toward the men. It must of caught them off guard because they were only able to fire a few shots before he was inside the cell with all of them. Mike quickly mowed the guards down with rapid gun fire and within mere moments, they were all dead.

Amidst the resounding silence, Michael stepped out of the cell. My heart fell as I saw the blood splatter that covered him. Without thinking of my own welfare, I ran over to my son. After examining him, I was relieved to find that Mike was all right. He had only been grazed by a bullet––the rest of the blood was from the dead guards. Once I was completely satisfied with his safety, I asked him what he had been thinking. He could have been killed! At that point he interrupted me by telling me I shouldn't worry so much. He walked away, not giving me a chance to rebut his argument.

We continued heading north until we reached an intersecting hallway leading east. I told Michael and the Professor that we would have a better chance of finding Richard if we were to split up. I volunteered to continue up our current course and suggested that they take the east route. I could tell Mike was not to happy with that plan by the expression on his face, but he did not say anything right away. I walked over to my son and embraced him, telling him that I would be all right, and for him to be careful himself.

As we started to go our separate ways, I stopped and turned around when Michael called to me. He ran over to me and said something I had not heard from him in years. He said, "I love you dad!" I was speechless; he patted me on my arm and told me to be careful, then went back over to where the Professor had been waiting for him.

I stood there watching them walk away, until they were no longer in sight. I then started back up the hallway that led to the cells. I walked in silence for sometime. It was obvious to me that I most likely was heading into a trap, but the question was, when was I going to step into it? I heard laughter in the distance, and following it, I was led to what looked to be a break room. Looking inside, I saw five guards sitting around a small wooden table, each enjoying their respective meals. I could see that they were all armed.

The next few seconds passed so quickly, it's hard to recall exactly what happened. It was as if something came over me. What I remember is stepping into the room and opening fire on the five guards. They all scrambled for cover, while one or two of them tried to go for their weapons––they were the first to die! Eventually I would kill all of them, even when they begged for mercy. The next thing I remember was standing over the bodies, collecting their ammo. Before leaving the room, I grabbed an extra rifle, just in case I might need it.

While slipping out of the room I was still cautious, even though there didn't appear to be anyone around. Moving quickly down the hall, I took the time to pull together my composure, once I was positive everything was safe. I could not believe what I just done. There had been no reason for me to kill those guys. But, what bothered me the most was that I did not have any remorse or regret for my actions. What was happening to me? Was I going crazy, or is there something else going on here?

Twenty minutes had gone by while I checked at least ten cells, and still there was no sign of my brother Richard. Then the thought of him having possibly died that night came over me. Those Unluckys had torn him up but good. I couldn't leave him though; if he was indeed dead, then we would give his body a proper burial. That was the least I could do for him, since it was my damn idea to go on this crazy 'adventure!'

What I heard next froze me where I stood. A faint voice said, "Brother?"

When I turned around I could not believe my eyes! There he was, holding himself up by hanging to the steel bars of his cell, trying to keep his balance. He was alive! Somewhere in the back of my mind was the thought my brother lived, but I had my doubts also. It was amazing to see him standing there. He was still wearing the same clothes from the other night, but they were covered in dried blood, as well as thoroughly shredded from the fight. The cuts on his face appeared to be stitched up with what looked to be thick fishing line. He was ghostly white, and reminded me of what a fresh Unlucky looked like.

I told him that we were getting the hell out of there, and he needed to get back from the bars. Once he was in a safe distance away, I fired two well placed rounds into cell's lock, causing the door to swing open. Stepping inside, my stomach turned from the putrid smell. It was a small room with no bed or toilet, and as I looked around I realized the origin of the smell. There were several piles of human waste on the floor. How could anyone be able to survive in those kinds of conditions?

As I helped him back to his feet, I noticed the yellow ring that circled his pupils, which had been an indication that he was infected by the sickness and had only a few days before he would become an Unlucky. With a deep sigh he asked me if he was infected. I couldn't lie to him. I told him the truth; yes, yes he had been. Richard pushed away from me and sat back down on the ground. He brought his legs to his chest and began to sob. He looked up at me and as the tears ran down his face, he told me that I had to kill him. But I refused to do so, not after everything that all of us had gone through just to find him. I rushed back over to him, grabbing him by the arm and pulled him to his feet. At first he tried to struggle with me, but soon stopped and stared at me. Finally, he cracked a weak smile, seeing something that must have soothed his soul, even though I had no clue what it was.

We stepped back out into the hallway to find that no one was around. I had been certain that we would have run into some sort of opposition by then. But nothing, not even a hint of someone. Richard had realized that I was alone and asked where the others were. I explained the entire plan to him as we walked up the hallway, though I never got to get to the end, because we were interrupted by the sound of an exchange of gunfire.

As we turned the corner, I found where the gunfire was coming from. There were seven men and they seemed to be guarding a door, but for what reason I didn't know. Michael and the Professor seemed to be trapped behind an opposite wall. That was why no one was around when I found Richard; all of them were already too busy with my son and the old man.

With the element of surprise on my side, I was able to slip up behind the guards without being noticed. Before they knew what happened, all of them had already been gunned down. They dropped like dominoes, one after another. Those poor bastards didn't know what hit them. For a second I got lost in the moment, as I watched the white floor turn red with their blood. At the same time I could feel a tingle run down my body. I was beginning to enjoy this––maybe a little too much.

The call of my name brought me back to the present. It was Michael, and he asked if I was all right. I quickly answered with a "Yes," but, inside, I wasn't really sure about that. Something was happening to me. Whether it was mental or physical was the big question.

Michael told me that he and the Professor had not found anything, and he believed Richard was nowhere on that floor. Mike looked over at the professor and accused him of having no clue as to where they were going, and was possibly leading us to our deaths. The professor walked over to me and said that my brother should have been in one of the cells. He told me that all the prisoners go there after being kept in a holding cell. He went on to explain to me that if Rich was not up here with us, then he would most likely be dead. Finally, I told him to take a breath, and then pointed over my shoulder, showing them both that I had found Rich, who had been sitting out of view. He was hiding behind the wall. I went over to my brother and helped him back to his feet. We walked out into the open. Michael came over to help hold Richard up, since he was unable to carry his own weight because of his wounded leg.

Turning back to the professor, I asked him where to go next? He said that we would not be able to go back the way we had come, because the guards from downstairs would have gathered reinforcements by now and would be coming up that way after us. So, the only way out would be another hidden staircase located in the warden's office, which was where the door that the guards had been protecting led. He told us that the staircase ran the entire length of the building, but it would be a difficult task, since the way out required descending a fifteen story a ladder.

As we broke through the door, there were only three guards waiting for us. The exchange of gunfire was minimal. For some reason the guard's only had hand guns, which made them sitting ducks. I was able to put a few rounds into a couple of them myself. Within seconds the three men were dead and we were making our way toward the secret exit. The professor slammed his shoulder into a corner of the wall, causing it to spring open and reveal the hidden doorway.

Looking into the passageway, I was surprised to learn that there was no longer a ladder leading down. It looked as if someone had laid a concrete slab placed over wooden pegs. But there was a way to go up. So, with no other option, we each made our way upward. The professor led the way as Michael and I helped Richard up the ladder. He tried to do it on his own, but he was just too weak. At first Rich demanded to be left behind because he was holding things up. I told him that we would have none of it, and he was coming with us.

Shoving the top rack open, the professor popped up firing at whatever was moving. Once I reached to the top, I saw the emperor and two of his Imperial Guards. Michael shot one of them dead on. The other man must have gotten frightened, as he threw his gun down and jumped off the building.

Realizing that he was all alone, the emperor fell to his knees and began to beg for is life. I told him that we were not going to harm him. Evidently he did not realize that he was more valuable to us alive, than dead. Michael helped him to his feet, while we covered him with our guns, just in case the old man tried something stupid.

About that time more guards started coming up form the hatch, firing their weapons at us. I grabbed the emperor and putting a gun to his head, told him to tell them to stop shooting, or I was going to splatter his brains all over the place. The guards refused to comply, however, saying that they did not negotiate hostage situations, and opened fire on the emperor! I could not believe that the emperor's own men shot him down in cold blood! But then I realized what was going on. It was never his plan, was it?

Who could be the one person to have everything to gain by the old man's death? Who would be powerful enough to order the emperors execution and have it carried out? Who was the person that the guards were so loyal to? There was only one person that fit each of those questions; Arch Commander Patrick! It was him behind everything the entire time! It was him who made us go to Palace City. It was him who led the guards, and set us up to be the patsies. We would take the fall for the murder, and he would be named the new emperor.

But, unfortunately, that revelation did not help any of us in our current predicament. We were trapped and I knew none of us had enough ammo to have a full–on gun fight. There was only one thing that we could do. I turned to the others and explained my idea for the great escape. We would make a jump for it! I had noticed that the huge Olympic sized pool was to our left, sixteen stories down. Without another word said, the four of us leaped from the top of Palace City into the pool sixteen stories below! Moments before impact I must have blacked out from the amount of g–force. When I hit the pool I was completely unconscious. Sometime later I awoke with my son and the professor kneeling over me.

As they helped me to my feet, the pain of hitting the water shuddered throughout by body. Once I had completely regained my footing, I noticed that Richard was apparently unconscious. Michael explained that he had been knocked out when he hit the pool. Mike helped me put Rich over my shoulder, and we made our way from the pool front. We went around the side of the building, which led to the back exit out of Palace City.

I could see the girls. They were already inside the SUV, except for Tina, who was standing next to it holding the door open, waving toward us to get a move on. When I heard the motor start, a surge of adrenaline shot through me and I began to run faster. Even though I had my brother over my shoulder, which slowed me a bit, I went into a full–on sprint to the vehicle. The professor and Michael got there first, but I was not too far behind.

Finally, I ran up to them and Rose helped pull Rich inside. Then I got in, and still looking at Richard, I held my hand out to help my sister in, but she never grabbed my hand. When I looked back over my shoulder, I saw that she was on the ground, bleeding from a hole in the center of her chest. Jumping out to get her, I heard gun shots ring out through the parking lot. Arch Commander Patrick and his men were running toward us. I scooped Tina up in my arms and got her inside the SUV as fast as I could. Michael put down his weapon to help me with Tina. I was about to get in when someone pulled me from behind. Before I knew it, Patrick was on top of me, trying to put his gun in my face. He was much stronger than I originally thought. The Arch Commander forced the gun barrel to the side of my head. Suddenly, I was showered with bone and bits of brain matter, and lifeless, Patrick collapsed. Looking up, I saw Michael standing above me, still holding out his gun.

Silence fell upon the parking lot; now that both of their leaders were dead, the guards stopped shooting at us and ran away.

Finally inside the SUV, Rose hit the gas and we sped away from Palace City. I sat there holding Tina in my arms as she was gasping frantically for breath. All I could do was hold her tight and try to comfort her, running my fingers though her hair. Everyone kept looking back over at us with tears running down their faces. But I didn't cry, not even when she took her last breath.

End of Story: One

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