True Memoirs of A Liar 2: Sacrifice
Author: C Lawson

Chapter 48
Escape pt.1


After struggling with the handcuffs for over twenty minutes I realized that Alex was indeed, much more clever than I.  I slumped to the floor, my arms jerked up painfully behind me.  My wrists were red, chaffed, and in some places, bleeding.  I barely paid any attention.  I let my head sag and closed my eyes.

            The heat seemed to deliberately seek me out, the flames venturing closer to my bedroom. It felt like I was drawing the inferno straight from its core.

            In my last moment, I thought of Alex. Because, let’s face it, what else was I going to think of? I felt my eyes glaze over as I transported myself back to Virginia, where I’d been so sure of my abilities to make him fall in love with me. I laughed, thinking back to when we’d first kissed.

 I’d been nervous, shaking, and feeling completely new emotions, and running from them. He was so beautifully masculine, so irrevocably flawless. I’d been attracted to him from the first time I’d seen him. But I’d brushed it off; I mean, I’d had handsome assignments before. But none with his humor, his care, and his all around bright, confident sense-of-self. His gaze, his stare, seemed to set my soul aflame with passion and longing. I scolded myself even now for running from him, for not letting him love me. I’d pushed him away; and when I’d realized that I wanted and needed him in every possible way—in a way that was too imminent to shove off—it was too late. There was no more time. I just wanted to see those eyes one last time. I inhaled the smoke willingly now, not wanting to prolong this aching any more.

            “Camille!” a voice cried desperately. The rolls of heavy black smoke blocked my view. Greedy for more of that rough, sweet, panicked voice, I tried to scream out to him.

            “Alex!” My throat rejected the smoke immediately, sending me to my knees with convulsive coughs. I closed my eyes; they watered with stinging mercilessness. Alex, I thought hopelessly, seeing a small line of flames slowly mambo-lining towards me.

            It was only fitting, I suppose. My mother had died the exact same way, hadn’t she? Though I doubt she’d been handcuffed to a bed.

            “Camille!” The feverish called continued, as if they were merely muffled, not wheezing like mine was. “Camille!” I kept my eyes closed, tightly shutting out all of the world, all of my death. Hands were on my wrists, and a thick, dense material was shoved against my face. I gasped; the heavy cloth was wet. But I could breathe! What was happening? Limp and barely conscious, I could feel the handcuffs being released from my wrists mechanically; and almost in the same instance, I was in the protective embrace of strong, sure arms. It had to be Alex. My mind was fuzzy and my thoughts were churning clumsily.

            “Alex—” I mumbled, the washcloth still pressed against my nose and mouth. I knew that I had to make my body move, but my body stubbornly refused. Not that it really mattered at that point. Alex was already running, moving from room to room, trying to get to the door that would lead us to the first exit. The hallway.

            Wait, Alex was the one carrying me, right?

            Who else could it be? No one, I mentally answered myself. Alex would be the only one with a key. My mind strained to form coherent conclusions, but as smoke and sweat consumed my body, my thoughts more than struggled to keep up. Murderous rage tugged at my throat. Mr. Stone had finally done it. He’d finally snapped and decided that he wanted to kill us all. Good job, Dad.

            I gripped at Alex’s shirt, groping the fabric in sudden anger. I tried to open my eyes. I’m not sure if I did or not—it was too smoky to see anything.

            My legs were suddenly touching the floor. Or was that the ceiling? No, I mentally slapped myself, get a grip. I stood alone for a moment on shaky legs, trembling like a lost wet cat. “Alex!” I called helplessly, squeezing my eyes shut and trying not to move. “ALEX!” I screamed again, opening my eyes and looking around the flame and smoke engulfed corridor. I strained my eyes to see. Then he was next to me. And just like that, I wasn’t worried anymore.  All the smoke, the walls, even the air around us seemed to fall away and I couldn’t make myself feel endangered. I was coughing and smiling at the same time, taking in the sight of him, unaware of the precarious situation we were in.

            His shaggy, blonde, perfect hair was tinted and dashed with ashes. Cinder holes flirted with his shirt playfully, burning it. His eyes were just as intense as they’d always been, seemingly penetrating my every thought. They scared me back into reality, settling the danger back into my fingertips and eventually to my beating heart. His hands were dirty and grasping, desperately frightened. I couldn’t force my eyes to travel the length of him, not when those eyes so fiercely demanded my immediate attention. “Camille,” he whispered, kissing my forehead. I felt so weak. I must have somewhat swayed on my feet, because Alex scooped me up into his arms, delicately pressing the washcloth back onto my face to cover my exposed airways.

            I watched his face. If I was going to die, there was no power in hell or on earth that could tear my stare away from him. He looked straight ahead. The door unlocked at the end of the hallways and I heard Othello’s booming voice.

            “COME ON! This whole place is burning!” I turned slightly to see Othello out of my peripheral vision. His massive frame was covered in soot. I moaned a guttural refusal when Alex quickly handed me off to Othello. “You’re alright, yeah?”

            I nodded half-heartedly, gripping his shoulders as he bounded down the stairwell after Alex. Alex was so fast, I could hear him already two flights below us. Wait. Why were we going down?

            “Ellie. Why—” my voice broke as I coughed loudly—“Why are we going to the basement?” Othello took a huge breath. I tried to focus more fully on his voice.

            “The fire hasn’t reached there yet, yeah? The servants have no idea.” If it was possible, the breath was knocked even further out of me. My eyes widened, but they took in no additional sight. “We’re going to try to save them.”

            “Of course,” I agreed hastily. I coughed again, my body rejecting the smoke. Though the air was cleaner in the secured stairwell, I feared the damage was already done. We reached the second basement level with haste—the servants’ level.

            It was very quiet as Alex, Othello, and I entered the dark hall. I couldn’t hear anything but the stifled, compressed hum of the generators behind the chicken wire wall. It made me feel repressed as well. Though there was a warm must swirling in the dark hall, a cool draft raked my skin wretchedly, making me shudder uncomfortably. I tapped Othello’s shoulder, timidly asking him to put me down. The air was very pure down here; the only intruder was dust. How could they have any idea? There was a distant crash and a rumble above a few seconds after Othello had tenderly put me back on the ground. Alex’s left arm was immediately encircling my waist. I hesitantly put my right arm over his shoulders, leaning heavily on him.

            “Can you walk?” he mused, raking his gaze over my body concernedly. I nodded and we commenced to trekking through the dark. “How are you feeling? Are you hurt at all?” Alex crooned, his worried tone matching his expression.

            “I’m okay. What happened?” I asked, balling up a healthy chunk of Alex’s shirt in my weak fist. When Alex didn’t answer I pressed, “Stone—”

            “Is gone.” Alex’s face was hard and stern. I looked away from him then, still leaning against him. “I’m sorry, Bright Eyes. I really am.” I shook my head. “We’re almost out.”


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