SILVER CHAINS

Front doors it is. You’ve lasted this long inside; surely a few moments longer won’t make a difference?

You follow the curve of the hallway and soon find yourself in front of the glass double doors. The sky outside is brighter than when you first entered. The daybulbs are coming on, you think — then you remember that there are no daybulbs above ground. That brightness must be the sun beginning to rise.

You push one door open, anxious to be safe underground before the glaring sun rises high into the sky. door slides shut behind you easily. A quick scan of the area lets you know you’re in the clear — no one is around to see you.

You retrace your way back to the underground entrance, your heart growing lighter with each step despite the ominous open sky above you. You’re nearly there. Nearly home.

Mark is waiting for you at the mouth of the tunnel.

You walk towards him casually and his eyes narrow at your easy confidence. “Where’s my souvenir?”

You glance away. “I couldn’t find any.”

He straightens, steps closer, leering. “No souvenir, no proof you went inside.”

“You saw me!”

“And? There’s no proof!” His eyes narrow. “For all the others know, you’re a coward. A coward who can’t keep promises.”

Too late you both realise you’ve been speaking far too loudly.

Footsteps echo down the tunnel, rushing towards you. There’s nowhere to go. You look behind you — the only way out is to go back outside, but even then there’s no cover to hide in.

Two men rush around the corner, flashlights waving. “Police! Don’t move!”

Mark’s hands shoot into the air, and yours follow suit. Despite this, they tackle you both to the ground and frisk you for weapons. Your face is crushed into the cement, a sharp knee digging into your back. Your heart beats wildly in your chest. What if they throw you into prison? Once in there, you may never get out…

The policeman pinning you down scans your fingerprints. “Clear,” he grunts. A short while later, Mark’s policeman says the same.

“Stand up. Hands against the wall.”

You quickly comply. As Mark stands, one of the policemen whistles lowly. “Are you Zucker’s kid?” he says.

“Yes, sir,” Mark replies, in a voice so respectful you have a tough time recognising it as his. He places his hands against the wall, a few feet away from you.

“Zucker’s a good man,” the policeman replies. “A good man.” There’s a pause as he tuts thoughtfully. “Well, son, why on earth shouldn’t we arrest you for consorting with infected?”

“Because I’m innocent, sir.” Mark glances over at you, the flicker of a sneer too quick for the policemen to catch. “I was only trying to stop my friend from going outside to meet with infected rebels, but,” with a rueful shrug, “I didn’t make it in time.”

Both policemen stare at you, hands straying to the holsters on their hips.

“He’s lying,” you say, shaking your head.

“Did you go outside?” But they don’t wait for a reply. One of them crouches down and lifts up your shoe.

“Dusty,” he grunts. Mark, without prompting, lets them see the clean rubber of his soles. You glare at him with such open hatred that even he flinches.

“There’s been a mistake,” you say, but they’re not listening. There’s nothing you can do.

In a fit of panic, you turn and run, heading for the brightening sky outside. The policemen are ready.

You feel a sharp sting on your back, then your legs collapse under you just inches away from the exit. As you slip out of consciousness, a policeman snaps handcuffs around your wrists.

“You’re under arrest.”

THE END. (Try again?)

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