FIRE ESCAPE Chapter 1 20180110

“I don’t see it.”

“What don’t you see?” I asked.

“A reason to stop looking for Julio.”  Wise climbed over the lowest part of the pile and moved toward the door in the back wall of the room.  “Does this go anywhere?”

“No, that’s just the laundry room.”


“It’s the laundry room–for the whole building.” He stared at me for a moment as though he didn’t know what I meant.  “Everyone has access to that room.”

He looked away from me as though he was looking for an answer in the corner of the room.  I decided to make it really clear what I meant: “Nothing would stay hidden in there very long.”

“We should check anyway.”  He turned the knob and the door opened.  

“Dude–it’s the laundry room! For cleaning clothes?”  He was through the doorway into the laundry room before I finished my sentence.

Still holding the football, I climbed over the pile of Julio’s stuff and headed through the door only to bump right into Wise on the other side.  He shoved me back toward the doorway with his right hand.  Annoyed, I looked him right in the face, ready to challenge him but when I saw his face, I froze.  His expression was nearly blank except for a layer of tension over it.  His eyes were slightly narrowed, his lips slightly pulled wide in a kind of joyless, flat smile, and his entire body seemed to turn rigid.  I looked to where he was looking and saw two figures standing in a shadow in the corner of the laundry room.  Instinctively, I held the football close to me and that’s when the damn thing started glowing again.  This time is a colder blue that seemed to light up everything but that shadow I could barely see the two people still standing in.

“Kid, what are you doing? Turn that off!” Wise said, shoving me against the wall next to the door.

“That one there–does he have an accessory?” I heard a woman say from the seemingly impenetrable shadow.  

“It can’t be!” a male voice that wasn’t Wise’s said. 

“We need to get out of here now!”  Wise’s face was inches from mine.  My hands must have shifted or maybe the football was doing it on it’s own somehow, because the room was quickly filling with a brighter blue light that was almost blinding us.  And when I say it was filling up the room, I mean that it was filling up the room like water.  Wise shoved me through the door back into Julio’s mini warehouse and into the relative darkness.  We messily dashed over the junk and back into Julio’s old living room.  I glanced back and saw that somehow the bright blue “liquid” light was still illuminating the laundry room.  I glanced down at the football, still held tightly by my hands and saw a weird pattern of light lines zooming around the surface of the thing.

“Where’s the quickest way out of here?”

“Um, back the way we came and then down the alley to the street!” I explained.

“And then where?” did Wise just get in from a seriously other land or something?  

“Do you own one of those cars?” he asked. 

“No, I don’t own a car.”

When we got to the sidewalk around the corner from the alley, I noticed that night had fallen and realized that there was almost no reason for us to run away like that–unless Wise knew something I didn’t, which it turned out, he did.

“We need to find transportation out of here, now!”

“Wait, wait!  Wise! Why?!?”

“Because–those two were not–well, they possessed light blocking tech!”

“Light blocking?” I thought for a second as we stood there, breathing heavy from the run out of the building.  “Do you mean the power to wield solid, non-transparent objects?”

“No!  They had portable shadow generators–that is not common tech on this, this, island, is it?

Shadow generators?

With Wise as insistent as he was being, I didn’t have time to even think about what a shadow generator could possibly be.  I just took his word for it in the moment.

“Wait!” Wise said in a way that I could not resist.


He pointed at the football.  “That thing–it’s still glowing and looking like it’s about to do weird things.”

I looked at it–he was right.  I could see lines of light moving around my hands like the football itself could knew where I was touching it.  “What do I do?”

Wise ran over to a trash can on the corner and found an empty shopping bag.  “Put it in this!”

I dropped it in and then held it.  The lights on the thing immediately disappeared.

“Why would it do–?”  

“Look, kid, we gotta get the hell out of here, fast!  Where is some kind of transport?!?  Wait–the underground train!  The subway it’s called!”

“Why didn’t you say so?” I said sarcastically not taking a moment to wonder why he used such weird wording. I waved for him to follow me as we made our way to the nearest subway platform via something a bit more energetic than a jog.