An Escape from Horror This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

October 29, 2017
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 I press my frail hands against the frigid prison bars, avoiding the atrocity that is my cramped cell. I have been living in this confined space for three months, and I continuously attempt to recall the outside world. Daily, that vision becomes vaguer as I long for towering grass and the radiation of the sun as it lightly tickles my skin. As a creature of nocturnal nature, I do not sleep well throughout the night. Gloomily, I stare into the darkness, awaiting an escape from these horrid conditions and hoping for a better future. I am ashamed of what I have become and wish to leave this fortress of desolation unharmed and educated. However, that day has not yet come, and I continue to look out into the dingy halls of this dungeon, awaiting my journey home.
      It is in the recreational room that I have an epiphany. While a gentle breeze ruffles my overgrown hair, I notice a circular window that is slightly ajar. The month is October, as indicated by the chilled wind and the occasional sight of ripe leaves. Leaning against the metallic walls, I observe what I have unfortunately lost. The outside seems so far from my reach, yet it presents itself directly ahead of my sorrowful eyes. As my craving for a consistent life grows ever so strong, a devious plan forms in my anxious mind.
     I await nightfall, as my scheme would not be effective if attempted during the daytime. The hall lights rapidly shut off as the prison guards scurry out of the building, most returning to their families. While the putrid aroma of my cell propels my trembling body towards the exit, I anxiously notice the night guard walking along the narrow halls, his keys attached to his belt loop. As he arrives outside my cell door, my emaciated arm shoots out and presses against his surprised face barricading his nares and obstructing the oxygen from reaching his lungs. After five heart pounding minutes of forcefully clutching my bony hand against his particularly greasy face, he plummets to the unforgiving prison grounds.
     Frantically, I grip the keys from his pelvis and unlock the bars, setting myself free from an extended rain of terror. As the shadow of the night disguises me, I creep along the silver walls, avoiding the plentiful security cameras from catching my subtle movements. I am able to feel my heart pound against my chest, attempting to vacate my shivering body. While I move along these walls, I begin to think of my childhood in Long Island. My father would brown sausages on the charcoal grill, while my mother would read poetry aloud to her many children. Those days are long gone, and I haven’t been in contact with my family for almost a decade. I highly doubt they desire to see me, as my criminal record is quite extensive.
     From my current location, I can vaguely see the exit of this dreadful site. This is my opportunity to experience the exterior of the prison, and to freely wander about the city of Chicago. I retrieve the abundance of keys from my back pocket and search for the fitting selection. After numerous attempts, I finally open the glass door, revealing the wondrous outdoors. While I embark on a gaping breath, a falling leaf from a colossal tree catches my eye. To this, I sprint and catch the object, holding it in my blistered hands. A wide grin forces itself upon my filthy face, for October leaves have not caressed my hands for quite some time.
     I shove the precious item in my pocket, and continue my trek through the outdoors. Shrieking sirens sound from the building behind, but they do not deter me. Freedom overtakes my figure and allows me to ignore further distractions. Strolling along the banks of Lake Michigan, I take
joy in observing the leaping fish and the vibrant species of algae. I assume the day is dwindling, as I begin to feel the need to rest. I seek a comfortable spot in which to sleep throughout the night and rest my head on a stone quickly falling into a pit of tranquility.
     The gentle sound of a bird’s cry, hardly audible, awakens me from my slumber, as I steadily become aware of my surroundings. I extend my arms in order to stretch, and attempt to remove myself from the dirt. The feeling returns to my legs ,and I wonder where next to proceed.  Finally coming to a conclusion, I decide I must return to my childhood home in order to reconcile with my estranged immediate family. I remember the city of Chicago very well, and can easily transport around the sizable location. Swiftly, I amble towards my childhood home, butterflies vibrating in my stomach.During the chill of the morning hours, I attempt to locate my parents’ residence. As I continue to walk, I begin to recall significant memories concerning my family members. I remember my 4th birthday party, when my mother conserved her money in order to purchase a delectable cake for our limited guests. Additionally,  I recollected when my father brought me to Wrigley Field where we cheered the Cubs as they struggled to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. A profusion of memories flood my mind until I arrive at my home. It’s appearance is identical to when I resided in it last, and I sprint towards the stone steps. Furtively staring at the wooden door, I reluctantly push the bell. I breathe heavily and move closer towards the entrance. With my eyes wide open, I press my hand on the frigid glass and peer inside the window.
     I notice a house dog as it runs towards the door, barking at me. I didn’t remember a dog. I shift my sight to the left to find an ornate dining room set, complete with a glass chandelier. My family was not wealthy and could not afford items that expensive. What had happened to my them? At that moment, a woman wearing a bright pink blouse opens the door presenting an inviting smile. Soon that smile disappears and a look of terror strikes her face. She faints to the wooden ground, as the rest of the clan rushes to her aid. Slowly, I look over to a juvenile girl, wearing a yellow bonnet and a flowered dress, her eyes streaming with tears at her mother’s expense. The daughter that appeared to be the eldest was communicating with a separate party on the phone. I watch in confusion, and glance behind me to find no immediate danger.
     This was not my family, but I could not fathom a reason as to why all this ruckus was occurring. Suddenly I hear screeching sirens blare throughout the neighborhood, and I begin to come to a realization. I’m an escaped fugitive. An abundance of cars come to an abrupt stop on the concrete behind me, and an army of men charge out the vehicles, guns ready to fire. I raise my hands in utter defeat, and allow the police to return me to my rightful location.
     While speeding down the congested highways, I close my weary eyes and envisage a universe where my crimes are non-existent. I imagine residing blissfully in a suburban town, where I would be committed to a wife and produce three active offspring. Alas, this dream has proven itself to be an impossibility, as I am who I am. With all my heart, I wish I never purchased a weapon and proceeded to use it for the harm of the public. However, I cannot reverse history and must live in absolute shame for the rest of my miserable life. As tears trickle down my face, I slowly reach my hand into my pocket and pull out my crushed leaf. Reverently, I stare at the vibrant colors for several moments and then angrily crush the symbol of my freedom in my filthy hand.






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