Monday, May 22, 2017
Juggernaught: Chapter 22 - Mice in the Attic
Misty carefully crept through the dusty ceiling like a spider. Even with her small frame she had to make sure that her weight was fully supported by the flimsy metal cross-members as she went.
Worse still, even as small as she was, she quickly learned that she had to settle her weight very slowly on each new support or it would creak and pop, potentially giving her position away. Any noise, no matter how slight, was like a blaring car horn to her hyper-alert senses.
At the moment she didn't have any particular destination in mind. She was only trying to put as much distance as possible between her and her last known whereabouts.
At length, her slow progress was checked by a concrete column. Its size tipped her off that it must be an elevator shaft. This was a good thing. If she could find an access hatch, she'd have free reign of all the attics on all the floors. Some might even have drop ceilings instead of solid ones that she could use to lower herself down through.
Misty quickly found the hatch she was hoping for and began unscrewing the cover with a butter knife she had palmed back at the barracks. All the while she was trying to decide which direction to take.
If she went up, that would put her farther from her eventual escape route. But on the other hand, that would also mean the guards would be less thorough in their search there.
She took a few deep breaths, trying to clear all of the competing thoughts and scenarios out of her head. It wasn't that they were bad or wrong -- just loud. She knew she had to focus.
By now she realized where her training had steered her wrong. Dr Puttery's D&D wargames were too cut-and-dry. Make the "right decision", and you'd find the exit. Make the "wrong decision", and there'd be a monster behind the door and make a quick end of you.
In real life, there were many more kinds of decisions than that, and whether some, or all, or none of them would work out... that was dependent on a thousand other things that you couldn't possibly know or control.
Upon realizing this, the tendency is to freeze up and not do anything at all.
No choice was pretty much always the worst choice though, so Misty shook herself from her mental stupor.
A good hideout was any place they weren't likely to search. So up, then?
No, better still, down. All the way down. To the basement!
And so she went.
Going was fast and simple in that direction, and before long she found herself standing on solid ground among the elevator's emergency cushion springs.
The maintenance hatch here was even easier to use than the one above. Instead of screws it had a half-turn metal bar on the outside connected to a tiny tab on this side. She simply grabbed this between her thumb and forefinger and gave it a slow turn, pulling some slight pressure to prevent any metal-on-metal noise.
Peeping out from behind the hatch she surveyed the room. She'd still need to take cover somewhere that would mask her infrared signature from any sweep teams and their FLIR goggles.
Then she saw it. In one corner was a huge boiler tank. The corner behind it would be tight but Misty figured it would be about the right size for one person.
Carefully she made her way across the darkened room and began to wedge herself around the scalding surface. When she had just passed the halfway point, she heard something.
It wasn't much. In fact nothing that she could even describe. Still, it betrayed that she was not alone!
She withdrew the knife from her side pocket with her free arm. She took several deep breaths.
"It'll have to be quick.", she thought to herself. "One peep out of the person and the jig is up."
She gripped the knife tighter... and sprang.