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 reluctantly take out the programme and hand it over. You should have taken two copies, but it’s too late for regrets.
He looks at it, dismissive. “What is this?”
“The programme for tomorrow’s show,” you explain. Can the idiot even read?
He flips through the pages. “You go to an infected theatre and all I get is this crappy book?” He shoves it roughly into his pocket, steps forward threateningly. “Give me one good reason I shouldn’t send you back.”
You open your mouth to reply but something makes you freeze — the sound of footsteps echoing down the tunnel, rushing towards you. There’s nowhere to hide. 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.
“What’s this?” The other policeman has found the programme. He holds it away from his body in disgust, only glancing at the cover before throwing it aside.
“Contraband,” he says sternly, snapping handcuffs around Mark’s wrists.
“Sir, I can explain,” Mark begins weakly.
“You can explain all you want. In prison.” He hauls Mark to his feet, then glances over. “Status?” he barks.
The policeman holding you down shrugs. “Clean. Probably the lookout.”
The first policeman frowns. “Then leave the runt,” he says. “We’ve got bigger fish to fry.” He turns to you. “But if we catch you here again, you’re dead meat. Get that?”
“Yes sir,” you hear yourself say, hardly believing your luck. You’re hauled to your feet none-too-gently and shoved down the tunnel.
As you leave Mark behind, you cannot stop the smile from stretching across your cheeks.
Congratulations on surviving the Theatre of Horrors. Try again?