Liam stuck close to the corner, careful to make sure the red hall light above didn’t cast his silhouette on the wall. He inched forward and slowly peaked his eye around the corner. He saw one guard, the overseer, the keeper of the gate. The guard, called Mammoth by the inmates due to his size and long curly beard, had his eyes fixated on the illuminated screen in front of him. Liam hoped this distraction was enough. He hunched down and kept his arms close to his sides. He slowly moved out from behind the wall, careful not to make a sound so as not to alert the Mammoth.
He crept into the open and kept his eye on the Mammoth. He hadn’t stirred. Liam moved at an increasingly quicker pace until he was fully across the hall. When he reached the other side, he looked back. The Mammoth sniffled and rubbed his nose, completely unaware that one of the prisoners had escaped their cell and was attempting to rouse other prisoners for the revolt. Liam had been kept prisoner in this well-secured complex for almost eight years; the other inmate, almost seven. They saw each other at mealtimes, as they were sent off to the education camps, and when they returned home to their cells. They were split up each day for different camps, likely due to their crimes, Liam figured. The Mammoth claimed it was due to their age, but Liam found that hard to believe.
Liam sleuthed down the hallway, making his way past the guards’ quarters. Only one guard was occupying the room, sound asleep. Liam knew from experience this guard wouldn’t be awoken by subtle bumps in the night, snoring like a buzz saw. He continued past the guards’ quarters towards the other inmate’s cell. When he approached the door, he quickly glanced around before slowly pushing the door ajar, careful not to let any creaks or sounds of movement echo throughout the prison.
He stuck his eye in the room and scanned, looking for the signal. He saw a quick flash of light, small enough to fit in your hand, and it vanished under the surface of the bedding. Getting the signal, he slid his body into the room and dashed across the floor, jumping into the other prisoner’s bed and under the blanket so they could speak without being heard.
“What took you so long?” the prisoner started. “I almost went to sleep. I thought you weren’t coming.”
“I had to get past the Mammoth,” said Liam. “He’s still on his watch. Is the light charged, Christina?”
“Yes, it is,” said Christina, holding up the small rectangular flashlight. “Are you ready?”
“Yes, it’s time to move. I think the Mammoth is getting sleepy. After staring at that screen for a while, his head started bobbing, that’s when I left.”
Christina threw the blanket off both of them. “Let’s go, then, before he wakes himself up.”
Liam and Christina peered out the crack in the door and saw the coast was clear. In tandem, they inched down the hallway past the guards’ quarters, hearing the loud snore of the sleeping guard. Hopefully, that noise would help mask the sound of their own footsteps, Liam thought. They made their way to the opening where the Mammoth sat, his back to them. Liam studied him for a few moments, trying to time their movements.
“What is it?” Christina whispered?
Liam waved his hand, “Let’s go.”
The two tip-toed into the open and swiftly glided across the floor to the other side of the hallway. Once there, they stuck to the wall. Liam heard the roar of a cough let out by the Mammoth. Liam’s blood ran cold. The Mammoth shifted in his chair and glanced around the room. Liam ducked his head against the wall, concealing himself. The Mammoth grunted and turned back to the screen in front of him. Liam’s heart rate began to slow and he took a deep breath. He tapped Christina on the leg and the two continued on their way.
Creeping into the cafeteria, the icy cool black and white tile floor under his feet sent shivers through his body. The two made their way through the shadows toward the supply closet. The supply closet was filled with items crucial to their escape. If they were to survive, they needed sustenance. Liam and Christina had seen the guards restocking the cafeteria kitchen, as was done weekly, and saw the abundance of food that was placed in the closet. They saw everything they needed to survive and then some. Even some sugary treats to help the prisoners’ morale.
Liam opened the closet door slowly, knowing it to creak loudly. Hoping the snoring of the second guard was enough to mask the sound, Liam pried it open. He and Christina looked on in awe, unaware of just how much supplies had been stocked. There was plenty to choose from and they had to be careful of what they needed and what they wanted. Liam grabbed a few boxes of salted cheese crackers and some hard candy, you know, for morale. Christina grasped at the bag of apples and scanned the closet for the sugary fruit snacks she knew she’d seen loaded in earlier in the day. Just as they each had their arms full, they saw it. The most coveted item on the shelves, one that some would consider a want but to them, it was certainly a need. Placing their items on the ground in front of them, they each grabbed a side of the plastic container which held the items that kept the prisoners so well-behaved, simply because the prisoners had become addicted to them. In their hands, Liam and Christina held a box of frosted chocolate chip cookies. Their eyes met, having their hands on the Holy Grail. Liam began to open the box when cafeteria lights turned on and they shrunk back in terror.
There stood the Mammoth, just inside the doorframe, towering over the prisoners. “I thought I heard two mice scurrying around in here.”
Liam and Christina shrieked and squealed as they were snatched up by the Mammoth, his massive arms collapsing around them and clutching their bodies tight.
“What have we here?” said the Mammoth, his voice deep and smooth. “Trying to make away with some treats, I see.”
Liam and Christina squealed, their cover was blown. The Mammoth swung them around the kitchen like toys. They were too small and fragile to resist.
“Quiet, quiet,” said the Mammoth who stopped swinging them momentarily and the prisoners fell silent. “You don’t want to wake your mother now do you?” The Mammoth again began swinging them around like a dog with a rope, the prisoners shaking and shrieking. Certain the prisoners’ plan was properly foiled, the Mammoth set them back down on the tile.
Liam and Christina looked up at the Mammoth, unsure of what was next. He looked behind them at the stock they’d attempted to make away with. “Quite the collection we have here. Did you really think you’d escape with all that?”
Liam and Christina glanced ashamedly at each other before hanging their heads.
The Mammoth studied their expressions, watching the two young prisoners as they pleaded for mercy. Wanting to gain their voluntary compliance and not have to use extreme measures, the Mammoth nodded at the two prisoners. “You each get one, then off to bed.”
The two prisoners’ eyes went wide, unsure if it was a trap but not willing to pass up the opportunity. Liam cracked the box open and snatched up a cookie, as did Christina. They devoured them as if they were their last meals.
“Now, put the items your little thief paws crawled all over,” said the Mammoth.
The prisoners did as commanded. Once the shelves were restocked, the Mammoth scooped up the prisoners, one under each arm, and carried them giggling back to their cells.
Dropping off Christina first, the Mammoth placed her in her bed and watched as she returned herself under the covers. “Good night, Thing Two,” he said, kissing her on the forehead. Christina giggled and watched as the Mammoth carried Liam out of the room.
The Mammoth strolled down the hallway to Liam’s room and tossed him onto his bed. Liam bounced and in one motion while in the air, ripped the covers back so he’d land under them and pulled them up to his chin.
“Thanks for letting us have some cookies, Dad.”
The Mammoth grinned. “Get some sleep, Thing One. You need to work off that sugar tomorrow.”
Liam laughed as the Mammoth patted him on the head. The Mammoth made his way to the door and looked back at Liam. “No more breakouts, ya hear me?”
“I hear ya, Dad.”
The Mammoth shut the door, leaving Liam in the dark. Returned to his bed in his cell, Liam began to plot his next escape, going over what had failed him this time. As he began to come up with a plan, his eyelids grew heavier and heavier as his head rested on the pillow. Before long, the prisoner was soundly asleep.