FIRE ESCAPE Chapter 1 20180105

She pointed to a door in that wall.  “I’ve seen him come through that door with his laundry.”
I rushed to the knob and tried to turn it.  It did, but only slightly.  Jill pushed me out of the way and tried the knob herself but with the same results. I looked over at the trash cans at the far side of the laundry room.  Jill saw them, too.  “Jacob–go check those trash cans for anything we can use to open this door–something flat and hard like a credit card.  This knob barely has a lock in it at all.  I ran over to the trash cans and started flipping their lids back.  I smelled some nasty-ass rotting food in one can and decided to move on to the next can.  I found a pile of paper trash that looked like it was mostly junk mail.  I dug through it and found one of those prepaid cash cards.  I took it and ran back to Jill.

“Awesome!  Perfect!” she said, taking it from me and sliding it in between the doorframe and the door knob thing. In seconds we were inside Julio’s apartment.  We found the light switch next to an open doorway, flipped it, and discovered we were surrounded by shelves of really weird looking stuff.  Some of it looked like computer parts, while other stuff looked like it might have been engine parts.  And honestly, some of it, didn’t look anything like anything I’d seen before.  I should also add that none of it looked entirely recognizable.  All of it just sort of looked familiar.  

Jill was fascinated with it, and I guess, because she was, so was I.  I remember her staring at several pieces intently trying to work out what they were for.  Honestly, now that I think about it, my memories of the items on Julio’s shelves is a little foggy.

After, what didn’t feel like that much time, we heard Julio’s front door open and I felt my whole body go cold.  Jill’s face looked tense as she shoved me back toward the door that opened into the laundry room.  

“HEY!” we heard a voice yell.  We froze and looked toward that open doorway.  Julio stood there looking shocked, quickly putting his hands behind his back. 

“Kids?” he muttered.

“Let me do the talking,” Jill whispered to me.  I did as she said and said nothing.  “Sir, I am so so sorry about this–we were just–“

“Just… what?”  His face had gone from shocked to a kind of concerned suspiciousness.
Jill hesitated.  “Honestly?”

“Please.”

Jill took a big breath and just started speaking.  “Our parents, well, our parents don’t really get along and we like to sneak out of the apartment to escape all that and well we had been seeing your friends coming and going and bringing some weird stuff in and out and they come and go at all hours and sometimes we’d see some of the stuff they’re taking out and think, ‘hey that stuff looks cool!’ and tonight we decided we wanted to check it out.  I mean, we could have done something worse like go get into drugs or gangs but we just thought your stuff was cool.”

It was the most awkward minute of my life to that point.  I wanted her to shut up about a quarter of the way into that mess, but Jill seemed to not want to ever finish talking until she did.  I looked up at Julio, who was a fit guy, maybe in his late twenties, early thirties, with long hair and a love of denim.  His face had now taken on a look of, well, warmth.  “Alright you two, take me to your parents.”

My heart sank.  We’d spend all of our time with our parents trying to avoid getting them upset again and this guy was going to tell on us.