The Escapists


Chapter 1

I LOOK OUT AT THE CITY from my prison window, sighing unhappily. Yes, I did mean prison. I am currently stuck in the basement of my Uncle’s Dad’s wife’s brother’s son’s mansion, along with a dozen girls. I should probably tell you why I am here in the first place. It’s all my own parent’s fault. I mean, who gets their own child into this so-called “girls’ school”? (As the adults call it.)

Anyway, in this world, we women and girls aren’t allowed to do anything except look pretty. This has been going on for many centuries. So I decided to rebel and run away, which, of course, was against the law. This made my parents call the police, who then ran after me, caught me, and now, here I am. In my prison thing, I want to run, to feel the air whipping my face again. 

In the darkness of night, I lie in my bed, eyes closed, and I try to think of something, anything to let me escape. I do this each and every night, but by midnight, I always think up nothing. 

It’s dinner. I sit down at my usual table with the usual DISGUSTING food to cry silently. Before I start eating, another girl who looks about my age sits down next to me. 

“Hi!” she says with a warm smile.

Before I get a chance to respond, an alarm wails. We look at each other. 

“Fire alarm. Follow me,” I whisper. 

I jog ahead of her and hear the “teachers” (I’ll just call them guards) yell at other inmates to go to their cells, and suddenly, I start sprinting. “HURRY UP!” I call from the end of the hall. When she finally catches up, I find that the door is locked. I curse silently. She takes an ID card from her pocket and stuffs it into the slot in the door. How did she get that?

“Whoa,” we say at the same time. 

The door opens up to a huge dining room with a ceiling so high it could house two medium sized elephants, easy. Above the mahogany table, a crystal chandelier hangs, casting mini rainbows across the room.


Chapter 2

I’M THAT GIRL SHE’S RUNNING WITH.  This isn’t exactly a new chapter, but whatever. 

Right. We’re in the dining hall. Suddenly, I hear footsteps that sound like they are coming from the room right next to us. “COME ON!” I whisper-shout to the girl I am escaping with. I duck underneath the table. Fortunately, a fancy embroidered tablecloth hangs over the table so we are hidden, for now…

The door creaks open just as she makes it under the table.

I press my face to the ground, and I can make out a dozen fancy heels and loafers coming toward our hiding place. The chairs squeak as they’re pulled back to be sat in. The people’s feet move under the table, and now we barely have any space. I can hear my breath, louder than I want it to be. My heart pounds. They’re just people, I think, trying to calm myself down. They have ugly, expensive shoes. They can’t chase us that fast. I still tremble.  

The fancy people start talking. 

“I have heard there’s been a fire,” says one lady in a crisp accent.

“Yes, and I think that a few girls have even escaped! I am astounded. We need to make catching them our top priority,” a man adds.

There is much gasping to this statement. Fancy people. Psh.

Back to the story.

Another man states in a cold voice, “Luckily, they won’t get far. As they are mere girls.” He spits out the word. “They won’t be able to run much.” The men laugh evilly, but the women sniff, being girls themselves.

 We stay still there for an hour. Two hours. Finally, the adults scoot back the chairs and stand up. 

“Thank you so much, Mr. Deague, I’ve had the most wonderful of times here,” a lady says graciously.

“Ah, but we are not done! Let’s go out to the yard, and finish this party there!”

The fancy adults cheer like children at a carnival. They walk through the door on my left side, leaving the huge door open behind them. 

“Maybe we shouldn’t go that way,” I suggest.

“Yeah… but before we go, what’s your name?”

“Lily,” I tell her. “What’s yours?”

“Samirah. Or Sam. Let’s go!” 


We race to the opposite door to the one the party guests went through, and it leads into a GIANT kitchen. On the walls, pots and pans hang from copper hooks. There are two stoves — one big one and one the same size a regular person has. Another door is on the other side of the room from where we came from. But then I stop in my tracks. A woman, wearing a cook’s uniform, faces the wall. Surely she heard us opening the door.

But she just says, “Ah, that would be Mr. Bonrab. Could you please tell the master that their drinks will be ready in five minutes?”

We look at each other.

“Um… yes. Yes, I can!” I squeak.

We wouldn’t be able to carry that message. Oops. 

Together, Sam and I turn to the other door and run out as fast as we can.


Chapter 3

THE DOOR TAKES US TO ANOTHER HUGE ROOM. This time, it’s the front hall. Well, probably more like one of the twenty front halls. That’s how big this place is. A big oak staircase climbs up to the second floor. A dozen doors lead out to different rooms, and right ahead of us is the front door. But I hold my breath. It can’t be that easy. There has to be some security. It’s a mansion! 

Turns out, I’m right. A man in a navy blue guard’s uniform comes out of one of the many doors. His face glistens, like he has been just exercising.

“And just what are you doing here?” the man asks. 

“Oh… we’re just friends of the kids here!” Lily jumps in.

“The master has no children, and no children are currently staying here.” 

“… ah.” Lily looks guiltily at me. I try to send her It’s okay with my eyes.

“Oh, sorry! She got mixed up. Um, she means that, uh… ”

“I don’t think you are meant to be here. You seem to be… trespassing. I’m going to take you to a room upstairs, where you will wait for me to come back.”

“Ok,” I sigh.

Goodbye freedom.


So now, we’re stuck in a room that’s locked and we have NO IDEA how to get out. This is FUN. Why me? I think angrily. I just want to be free.

I survey my surroundings.

There are two wooden chairs in front of a big mahogany desk, and behind it, a swivel chair. On the desk was a desktop computer, and pens. The walls were bare except for a small painting and a vent, which is directly behind the desk. No windows, no doors except for the one we came through. They must really not want us to get out. I sit on one of the two chairs facing the desk, and Lily sits in the other chair. We have nothing to do but wait. I can hear my heart, fast as a racehorse.

And wait.


And wait.


And finally, after what seems like forever, I hear beeping from the hallway. The door slowly opens, and in comes the guard from before. 

“Hello again. I am a guard here, as you know, and my name is Mr Berdis.” He sits down in the swivel chair. “Could you please tell me your names? Your real names?”

“I — I am… Joel,” I fake, my voice shaky. 

He studies me for a few seconds. I don’t breathe.

“I’m deciding to believe you,” he announces.

WHEW. That went better than I thought it would. “And… um… will you let us go?” I ask hopefully.

“I might, after you — ” He points to Lily. “After you tell me your name, and both of you explain what the heck you were doing in this place.”

Lily says her name is Matilda, but then the guard warns us, “You young ladies look like you’re eleven, so I hope you won’t lie. But, however, if I do figure out you are not telling me the truth, things will not go well for you.”

“Okay,” is all I can say, when something amazing happens.


Chapter 4

YOU KNOW HOW THERE’S A VENT RIGHT BEHIND THE DESK?  That vent is our savior. Wait. Actually, our savior is a red-head teenager who looks like she’s around fifteen. That’s all I have time to register before I’m knocked out. (Disrespectful, frowny face.) Well, I also see the guard get knocked cold too. Anyways.


When I finally come to, my vision’s blocked by a black and white checkered blindfold. I want to take it off, but something tells me if I do that, I’ll get knocked out again. I decide against it. I can feel the bounce of someone walking and the two warm, strong arms that are carrying me. The blindfold is ripped off my face, and I see that we are in a new room. A door of each wall leads into other rooms. 

A face looms above me as I sit, propped against the wall, on the floor. I stifle a yelp. 

“It’s fine. We jus’ wanna see if you two are worth the rescue,” the girl assures me. I realize she’s the same red-head that rescued (or captured) us. “Um… h-hi?” I stutter. 

She chuckles. “Heh. It’s fine. I just knocked you out ‘cause we can’t have other people knowin’ how to get ‘ere.”

“Okay, but could you tell me anything? Like how you knew we were in the room?” I need some information before telling them about me. “Alright. We will, but I’m gonna wait for our leader to tell you, when she gets back from her mission,” Red-Head decides. “And my name is Rainda,” she adds, and exits the room. I watch people streaming in and out of the four doors.

Okay. Recap. We escaped from prison (ugh, “girls’ school”) because of a fire, ran around the mansion a bit, got captured, got rescued, knocked out, and now here I am, in what seems like a colony of people that — no. Too much is happening. My head spins. 

I look at the desk and chair in the middle of the room.

“Uuhnwah?” I hear from beside me. I look over, and see Sam stirring. “Wait-what-where-are-we? Lily?”

“Yeah? I’m here.” I take her hand.

“Good.” She exhales with a big whoosh, her dark complexion turns red. I put my hand back in my lap. “Where are we?” she asks, so I explain everything Rainda told me.

“So now… we just wait for their leader to come,” I finish.

A few minutes later, Rainda comes back. “She’ll come pretty soon, ‘K?” 

“Got it,” Sam and I say, jinxing. 

Just as Red-Head said, the leader comes a little later. She wears a black bodysuit, with twin knives strapped where jean pockets usually go. “You’re not gonna stab us with those, are you?” Samirah eyes the knives nervously. I’m worrying about the same thing.

“Oh no, I won’t,” the woman laughs, laying the knives on the desk. “So,” she starts. “You were rescued, or captured if you want, by Miss Rainda here.” She nods at Rainda approvingly. “And now you probably want to know why we did that, and who we are?” 

“Yeah, pretty much,” I add. “But no blindfolds next time, please.”

“I’m afraid I can’t grant you that wish, but will tell you about us. Oh, and by the way, my name is Sona. Anyway, we call ourselves the ‘Escapists.’ Others call us… never mind. It is away from what I was about to say.”

Never mind? They call themselves Never mind? Oh. She doesn’t want us to know.

She doesn’t trust you… my mind whispers. You should grab those knives and run. 

“Be quiet.” I accidentally say aloud.

“What?” asks the leader. 

“Uh… sorry, never mind.” I bite my lip.


Chapter 5

HOW COME SHE GOT TO BE CONSCIOUS FIRST? Oh, well. We don’t all get what we want. 

“So,” Sona continues, “we’re always recruiting new people to help us. We’re alway watching, writing down the people who we think will help us. We’ve been watching you two for a while, and now I’m sure that you can help us. We just had to break you out.”

“Um… what skills do we have?” I wonder.

“Well, you, Samirah, are pretty fast. You can run away from people trying to capture you.” She draws out the word pretty. “I hear you’ve already tried to run away?”

“Well, yes… but — ” I try to protest, but Sona reminds me,

“Those men are four times your leg size, Samirah. And you almost got away!”

Fine. It’s true. I am much smaller than the men, and I did almost get away, but I don’t know if I can really trust the Escapists. 

“And you, Lily, taught yourself to pickpocket,” she says.

Lily and I stare at each other. How did she possibly know this much about us?

  “How do you — ” Lily starts.

“Know so much about you?” 


“I can’t tell you, unless you join us.”


Rainda leads us to another room, where she tells us we’ll be sharing it. Instead of a desk and chairs, it’s a bedroom, and actually cozy! There’s a bunk bed with non-pink sheets (finally!), on the right side of the room, and a dresser with some new clothes that don’t include dresses for tomorrow. It’s kind of small, but I like it. Since I don’t really have any belongings, I claim the top bunk with the jacket I had on. There isn’t a window, but there is a whole bookshelf, and I LOVE reading. 

As I sift through the bookshelf for a good book, Lily asks me, taking a break from another book she found, “Do you think they made the alarm go off?”

“Who is ‘they’?” I ask her.

“The Escapists, stupid!” she responds, acting like a little sister. 

“Maybe…” I trail off. “Do you think we should join them? I don’t really have a nice place to return to.”

“I’m thinking about it. I also don’t really have a safe home, either.”

“So that’s a yes?” I ask, my voice hopeful.

“Not yet.”


Chapter 6

I’M MAD. I DON’T KNOW WHY. I JUST AM. It’s probably just because I’m tired (and hungry). I’ve had a long day, escaping from the prison thing, running around a mansion for a while, then getting captured for the second time that day, (the first is when I met Sam), then getting rescued and given an impossible choice: should I stay or should I go?

Hey, that kinda reminds me of that song by… what was it? Oh, whatever. I need sleep. I look down at my watch, given to me by my dead mother. (Long story… one that I don’t like.) It’s 10 o’clock! “Alright, bye. Imma crash,” I tell Sam, who looks surprised. I haven’t really talked for the past hour. I clamber onto the bottom bunk, staring up at Sam’s mattress above me. I lie like this a while, thinking about if I should join the Escapists. Long past when Samirah starts quietly, almost politely, snoring, I finally fall asleep.


My eyelids flutter open. For a count of three, I don’t move. Then I get up, making my bunk creak. 

“Morning, sleepyhead,” Sam jokes from the top bunk. “I’ve been awake for an hour already.”

“Samirah — ” I protest.

“Yeah, I know. Come on! Get dressed and have some breakfast.” She seems to be in a good mood, making my spirits rise a little. 

We walk back to the intersection, once again bustling with people. Where we had met Sona, the Escapists’ leader, the day before. Rainda comes bounding towards us. “You want some breakfast?”  

“Yeah,” I respond.

“Alrigh’. This way!” She gestures for us to follow her, then jogs into the door on our right. We walk down a long corridor with long light fixtures, turn left, down another shorter corridor, which then opens up into a smallish restaurant. 

“You have a restaurant here?”

“Yup! Our entrance is… Oops.” 


After a nice breakfast of a syrup lake with a side of pancakes, sausage, and chocolate milk, I feel fully refreshed. 

Rainda then takes us back to the intersection, where we meet up with Sona, who is at her desk. Again. 

“Have you come to a conclusion yet?” she asks us.

“No…” I say at the same time Sam says,


“Okay then… Samirah, are you going to stay with us?” Wait for it… wait for it… 

“Well, I wanna stay with you guys. But… I also want to be with Lily.”

Huh. I thought she was going to leave me. So, now I have an easier choice. “Now I’m leaning towards staying too.” I inform Sona. “But I still don’t really know.” 

“Okay. That’s fine.” She doesn’t look mad at me, which I appreciate. With a warm smile, she turns to Sam. “But I’m glad you want to help us!” 

My insides seem to melt. Sona is being so nice to me, yet I still don’t really want to be with her. My own friend is joining, and I still don’t want to. Why do I still think I can find my father? I won’t! Ever! 

When my mom died of a pandemic virus called Repoat two years ago (another pandemic centuries ago that you might have heard of is Coronavirus. That one was famous), my dad left me in the care of one of his friends, who I really don’t like. Blah blah blah. 

 Me and Sam walk back to our room. When we get there, she asks, “Why don’t you want to join?” I guess I should break the news. I tell her everything I just told you, pouring my troubles out. When I finish, I feel so much better, I want to jump around. She doesn’t even say ‘I’m sorry’ and move on. Instead, she mutters, “And I thought I had the worst problems.”

“Like what?”

“Well, getting captured. Having the worst parent in the world,” she answers.

“But I had no idea you were dealing with that.”

Now that I think about it, my dad probably didn’t want me. Not that I was bad (well, I do pickpocket… ) but that he just wasn’t a good dad. 

“Sam,” I announce, “I have something to tell Sona.”


Chapter 7

WELL, THAT WAS SOME NEWS. But at least Lily joined! I walk with her to Sona’s desk. When she hears the news, she exclaims, “Great! You two have to do one quick thing before you’re officially with us. DEVIN?” she calls. “LEAD THESE TWO TO THE JOINING ROOM, PLEASE!”

A girl who tells us nervously, “Hi! I’m — uh… I’m Devin! And I’m um… twelve.” Then, she scurries like a mouse through the same room we went through to get to breakfast. 


It takes a while to get there, but eventually we arrive at the room. The “joining room” is a metal-walled room with two dozen big bubbling vats filled with molten metal of all different colors. One vat has pink (ugh), another has turquoise, and yet another with red liquid metal. There are a ton of other colors, but it would take me a while to go to all of them. On a table that leans against the back wall sits smallish-medium cement squares, carved deep with small to medium C’s, next to a various assortment of tools and other things. The room is so hot, I can feel the hairs of my arms rising.

“Um.. I’m going to stay with you until another person comes who will — uhh, help you,” Devin informs us. 

“Okay!” I whimper, my voice squeakier that I like. Those vats of lava-like metal make me feel small and tender. 


Finally, a young woman with a brown leather tool belt and a long ponytail comes in and tells us her name is Henrya. “What’re your guy’s favorite colors?” 

“Turquoise,” I tell her.

“Ooh! That’ll go nice with your dark skin,” Henrya exclaims. 

“I like red,” Lily says.

“Nice! Red will look great on you too!” Henrya tells us as she takes out a flexible measuring tape. “I need to measure your wrists.” 

She wraps the measuring tape around my wrist and mutters, “Size five,” then measures Lily’s wrist. “Size four.”

Henrya takes a big ladle with a mouth from the table and dips it in the vat of turquoise molten metal, then pours it into the carved C of one of the cement squares.

She then dips the ladle in the vat filled to the brim with red liquid metal, and pours that into another deeply carved C a little smaller than mine.

“Now we just have to wait,” she tells Lily and me, as the metal liquid steams.


Around half an hour later, after some tries at break-the-ice chats, the metal C’s are getting cool. “Alright,” Henrya stands up and walks over to the table where the metal C’s are cooling. “The metal bracelets are getting cool now!”

She takes a tool from the table, and uses it to pry the two metal C’s out of the squares. 

“Ooh! Hot!” Henrya recoils her arm when she tries to pick up one of the bracelet things.

“I thought they were cooling?” I frown. “What are they, anyway?” 

“Well, they were cooling. But they just aren’t super cool yet.”


“And I’ll get back to you later about your second question.”

Henrya takes out another two cement squares, this time carved with small holes. There is already silver cooled metal in the holes, which she also takes out of its mold. On my bracelet, she attaches the one of little silver dots into a slot I didn’t notice before. 

“You don’t have to watch me the whole time. It’s gonna take a while.” Henrya glances at us. I was getting pretty bored.

“M’kay.” I look at Lily. “Do you wanna leave?” 

“Sure.” She turns to Henrya. “We’re going to leave. See ya!” She hightails it out of the room, clearly as bored as I am. I follow her out. 


Chapter 8

WE WALK BACK to the dorm room, and a thought occurs suddenly to me. I’ve never seen anyone male with the Escapists.

“Hey… Sam? Have you ever seen a man here?”

“Yeah! Of course I have! You’ve met your dad, right? He’s a man!”

I slap my face. “No, stupid! Here! With the Escapists!”

“Ohhhhh. Here? I’ve never seen a man here.”

“Then I guess this is an all-girls community.” 

So maybe they rescue only girls? Or they rescued boys, too, but don’t allow them to join? Now I’m just confusing myself.

I walk to the bookshelf to get out the book I was reading before. I only finish a page or two before there’s a knock on my door. “Come in?” 

The door opens a little, and Devin peeks through the crack. She opens the door fully, making it creak in annoyance. “The bracelet things Henrya was making are ready!” she announces.

I groan. “Can we just, like, relax a little?”

“Well… no. Sorry. Come on!” Devin bounces out of the doorway. 

Ugh. fine. We followed her into the intersection with Sona’s desk. Henrya waited next to the desk, bouncing on the balls of her feet. “Ah! Finally,” she exclaims when we get there. “I just finished the things I was making! So, here they are!” She holds out the two metal C’s for us to see.

“So… what are those?” I ask. 

“They’re bracelets.” Henrya tells me, as if I don’t know.

“I know that, but — ”

“Yeah, yeah. So. these three buttons here? This silver one calls for help if you get caught, and this black one here means you’ve found a possible recruit, and it’ll take a picture of  the possible recruit. This white one deploys a glider!”


We take a moment to admire it.

“How do you do this? This is like, top rank technology, from the future!” Sam’s eyes widen.

“Once you’re with us for a while, I’ll show you!” Henrya beams. “Who wants me to put it on first?”

“Uh.. me?” I say.

“Is that a question?”

“Me. Me first, please,” I correct myself.

She clamps it around my wrist, and I black out. 


Chapter 9 

I’M NERVOUS. REAL NERVOUS. When Lily blacks out, I’m cornered by Devin and Henrya. “It’s your turn.” Henrya grins evilly.

I struggle, trying to resist them putting on the blackout bracelet (as I call it), but it does no good. My vision turns black as I think, once again, goodbye, freedom. 


My eyelids flutter open. I yelp as I see a face looming over me, but then I settle back down when I realize it’s just Lily.

“Where are we?” I wonder. 

“Just take a look.” she says miserably.

I do. We’re in a metal box, not tiny, but not big. That’s it. Just a bare, metal walled box. 

Chhhhhhhhick! A panel I didn’t notice before slides open. A new woman with blond hair pops into the new opening. 

“Hah! Still there. You’ll need some food, huh?”

The woman ducks out of the opening, and returns a few seconds later with two trays. “Here ya go!” she says, and hands over the two trays. Plopped onto the tray was some oatmeal. Was it morning? 

“Lily, you have a watch right? What time is it?”

“7 A.M.” 

“Was I out for a while?

“I dunno. I was conscious just before you,” she tells me.

We stay in the small metal room for a week (according to Lily’s watch). I’m bored, hungry and scared most of the time. We get food two times a day, instead of three. 

“We need to find a way out of here,” I say, then notice a camera filming us and listening to us. 

“There’s a security camera,” I whisper, as if it will make a difference to how the camera hears us. 

“Well, shoot. I guess we can make a secret language?” Lily suggests.

“Yeah, but we’ll have to face the opposite direction from the camera.” 

I turn the other way, but I find another camera on that side, too. “Well, that’s great,” I mutter.

No one talks for a few minutes.

Lily speaks up. “Um… could we do the child’s position from yoga, and make up the moves under ourselves?”

“Yeah! Great idea. They’ll hear us, but they won’t understand!”

So this is what we do. After maybe another few days, our sign language thing is done!

Now we need to think up a plan, I say, using our secret code.


Chapter 10

 OUR PLAN IS PRETTY SIMPLE. We will wait until the woman who gives us food comes, and me and Sam will pull her in. Then, I will pickpocket her and climb out of the hole. Then we will lock the woman in so she can’t follow us. (We made the plan through our code.)

We wait until dinner, which we think will be the best time because all the guards will be tired. The panel on the ceiling slides open. “Here’s your dinner!” Dinner-Woman tells us. Her coat hangs down through the hole, and I grab it and pull with all my weight. Sam takes a hold too. The woman topples into the room. Before she knows what happens, I take a keycard from her pants pocket. I clamber out of the room, Sam right behind me. With the keycard I took from her, and seal the room. 

I’m out of the room, on the run again. I run around, trying to find a map so we can get out. 

I hear footsteps echoing through the hallway behind us. 

“We need to go faster!” I whisper at Samirah, too rushed to use our code. The footsteps are closer now. I can hear the pounding of feet loud and clear, instead of echoey. My shirt snags on something. I turn around to free my shirt but instead, a woman in a guard’s uniform stares at me. I kick her shins, freeing myself from her grasp. She falls over with a big WHUMP.

Ahead of me, Sam pushes open a door. The room is deserted except for an asleep woman behind a wooden table. The grey painted walls peel at the edges. Then I see our goal: a door behind the woman at the table, labeled with a glowing, blinking orange “exit” sign. 

Not wanting to wake up the woman, I tell Sam in our sign language, go to the door!


I see a small black slot in the door. 

Use the card to open the door, I say using the code. I hold out the card. She grabs it for my hand and steps quietly to the door. She inserts the card into the slot.

Click! The door unlocks! We’re freeeeeeeee

“Not so fast.” The woman we thought was asleep turns out to just be faking. With a start I realize the woman is Sona. We’re so close to freedom, and we get caught! The fourth time this week! 

“I’m not capturing you,” she says, surprising me. “I may be the leader, but another person is trying to take my spot.”

“So — ”

“So what I’m saying is what happened was a test, though they did it way too harshly,” she cuts in. “Go to Sederburg Street. Look for the dumpster. There’s a slot. Put the card in. You’ll be in the real headquarters.”


Together, me and Sam jump through the doorway, into the world.

To be continued…