I’m going to share both of the stories I wrote last night, because they actually continued perfectly one from the other.
By Genevieve Clovis
They sat quietly avoiding eye contact, all hoping someone else would answer. Three quiet seconds passed and Kennedy’s face grew stern.
Seven seconds and a palpable tension descended over us.
Goddammit, this wasn’t fair. I couldn’t bear the silence, the lack of initiative, but I was far from the most qualified for this job.
Ten seconds passed and Kennedy’s face was starting to turn red.
I looked from Gill to Loni to Wayne. They were resolutely quiet, ashamed. Well they should be. For all their boasting and bragging not one of them had the spine to step up to the plate. Shit, I can’t believe I’m going to do this.
I stood. All eyes turned to me including Kennedy’s which were both surprised and grateful.
“I’ll do it,” I announced, as if it wasn’t obvious.
“Good on ya, Jess.” Kennedy says in his gravelly voice. His eyes say what his mouth doesn’t; he wishes (much like I do) that someone better suited had stepped up, that there’s a good chance I won’t come out of this one alive.
He pointed to the blue prints on the table. “Study those as best you can. We don’t have long before we have to move out. The guards change in less than an hour and you have to be in position before that.” Kennedy looked me right in the eye then, and I realized his eyes are green, and it may be the first time we’ve made eye contact. He says, “Once you’re in there you’ll be on your own.”
I nodded and started memorizing as much of the route drawn out on the blue prints as I could. Behind me, Kennedy doled out tasks to the others: Loni would cover me going in, Wayne would monitor my tracker, Gill would turn off the current. Wait, what current?
I pushed it from my mind. I’d have to trust my team they were counting on me and I couldn’t back out now.
Loni approached. I looked up at her crooked, embarrassed smile and knew it was time to go. I didn’t think, just dealt with the task at hand. We jogged the few deserted blocks to my access point and stopped to survey the scene.
A dog slinked by like a thief in the night moving from shadow to shadow. I tracked its progress in the inevitable pools of light it had to cross. It hadn’t set off any alarms even when it got close to the fence, so I decided to follow its path.
I tried to keep my heart rate down by taking slow even breaths. Now would be a bad time to panic, I thought as I wormed my way through a staghorn sumac and prayed not to get snagged on a branch. Once free of the bush there was a small pool of light I’d have to leap across before I could return to the shadows at the bottom of a ditch. I lunged forward and tumbled down into the darkness. It was wet and the gravel that filled it was sharp and painful to crawl across, but I had no choice. The rocks stabbed my arms, my belly, my knees, but I just grit my teeth and carried on envious of the dog’s padded paws.
The fence nearest the guard tower was only a few more feet. My heart beat like a drum inside my chest. This was where things would start getting dangerous. Tentatively, I reached out and touched the fence. Nothing happened.
A sigh of relief escaped my lungs. They’d managed to turn off the current.
I watched as a guard exited the tower just the other side of the fence and walked by. I waited a moment for him to move along a safe distance. The next guard wouldn’t be by for at least five minutes. Quickly, I climbed the fence.
Halfway up, a floodlight came on startling me. I glanced to my right where the dog bathed in light was greedily munching something in the tall grass. Hopefully the dog kept the guards attention a few moments longer. Reaching the top of the fence, I found my balance and jumped. It was 8 feet to the guard tower, if I missed I’d better pray the fall would kill me.