Refugee

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I lose sight of her as a fresh wave of bodies washes over me. Colors and shapes blend together, just a mash of green and blue and black. More police officers arrive as I push my way through the crowd, searching for my sister. People are being dragged away by the dozen, and our numbers diminish quickly. There are tugs at my hair, and I can feel the strands ripping out of my head as someone tries to avoid being pulled away. I lash out and scratch at the arm until it falls away then continue mercilessly shoving everyone out of my path. If I get caught it’s over, and I will not let that happen.

I drop to the floor again and roll toward the Wall. There’s an old closet in the area, and I tumble through the door. The police will surely search every room, so I can’t hide between the decrepit shelves, but I spot a hole in the wall where the plaster has been chipped away by decades of neglect. I’m skinny, but not that skinny, however the wall isn’t too strong, so I shove my foot into the gray space above the gap and it caves in easily. I scrape the debris out of the way and squeeze into the crevice. I kick myself a bit of a tunnel then sit silently, waiting. The noise reaches an all time high. Sweat trickles down the back of my neck and down my shirt. There’s a loud bang.
And then nothing. Silence. It surprises me, the abruptness. I poke my head out into the main room and scrutinize my surroundings. The place is empty. The floor is littered with crushed markers oozing ink, shreds of smoldering paper, and several pairs of cracked eyeglasses. The sound of a glass shard chinking against the stone floor rings out and reverberates around the circular room. I push myself to my knee and glance over at the Wall. Slowly, I stand and tip-toe toward it, avoiding the debris as best I can. A floating cinder lands on the top of my bare foot and sears the skin. I kick my leg out, but I already have a small burn. I reach the Wall, ignoring the throbbing in my foot as the blister forms. I look at all the names written, and then I find a green marker on the ground and scratch out all the fresh names. It’s very easy to tell them apart from the ancient ones. They are much brighter. Then I write my name. I write it in large block letters. Then I write my sister’s name, in even larger block letters. I know she will appreciate the gesture whenever she hears of it; if she hears of it. I cap the marker, slip it into my pocket, and turn to the tunnel.

I run. I run right at the watery gap and hurdle over it. I land on my heels at the very edge of the path. I lean forward as much as I can until I finally topple onto my stomach. My toes hang over the edge, and I can feel the spray from the rushing water on them. My blister screams at first, but then the cold water soothes it. I lie there for a moment, enjoying the momentary relief from physical pain. After a moment I pull myself up using a bar lodged into the tunnel wall, and I begin running again.
I don’t know how far freedom is. The place the guide was supposed to take me is a complete mystery. But the tunnel leads to it, and I can follow it myself. I run with my hand against the left wall. My foot is throbbing again. A light flickers out above my head, and soon the light from the world behind me is gone.

I keep running, even once all the lights burn out.





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