Saturday, May 21, 2011

Excerpt 1 from TUNNELS



I don’t know how I got into this building. Sometimes that happens to me in this place. I don’t think it’s memory loss or anything magical. It just is. When I say “I suddenly found myself outside”, well, that’s literally what happens.

There were a lot of people, mostly between the ages of twenty and forty, busily moving around. I saw a couple of guys step out of the giant round openings of what looked like room-sized washing machines. Front loaders. I peered into one after they turned the corner. Clothing was stuck to the far inside wall of the machine and had to be peeled off like Velcro. I know because that’s what I did. I needed a new disguise. Stealing someone’s freshly washed laundry would have to do.

But before I could change I suddenly found myself outside. I walked around the building looking for an entrance and finally found one at the walk-out basement level. A line of people stretched twenty feet or so with each person pushing a wheeled laundry basket. You know the kind – prisoners escape in them all the time.

I didn’t think this was the way I had entered the first time, but I had known there would be challenges when I came here. I cut in line and edged in. No one complained. I took the first set of stairs up two flights and followed the women as they went right, men left. There was a pool, swimsuits, towels. I disrobed and wrapped myself in one of the plushest white towels I had ever felt and went looking for the giant washing machines again.

The building had a party room with a large stone fireplace. I didn’t enter. Probably my terrycloth gown would not be classy enough.

An announcement blared. The police were on site. I didn’t just need clothes now, I needed ID as well or a really quick escape route.

I followed a woman my size and watched her pull armloads of pants, shirts, underwear and sheets from one of the machines. She heaped them in a pile on a long folding table and then went back to the giant machine, crouched and entered it, presumably to peel off the items that would be stuck to the back.

Of course I grabbed what I wanted from the table and ducked into an open machine to change. I was fast and then I hurried to one of the small windows that looked out toward a fading sunset. I wasn’t the only fugitive it seemed. Several people were jumping out, landing on the loose dirt and sand-surfing down the steep hillside. I wiggled through the opening and did the same. A few yards beyond the building’s perimeter we all were in the cover of sudden darkness.

copyright 2011 by Debra Chapoton