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

Chapter 49
Escape pt.2

I heard Alex’s voice trying to persuade the crowd to calm. “There’s a fire. It’s taken out the top floors already.  We have to get everyone out.  Now.”  I didn’t mean to interrupt his speech, but I fell into a violent coughing fit.  My lungs felt like they were growing fur inside them and closing in on themselves at the same time.  My head pounded as if my heart was up there instead of my brain and I struggled to stand.  Alex’s arms were around me, just as they felt like they were meant to be.

            I couldn’t hold my eyes open for too long at a time; the effort was exhausting.  I felt Alex hand me off to another servant that I recognized as Malachi’s sister.  She tried to quiet my coughing. “It’s upstairs and on its way down here.  There’s no way we can get you all out now that way.”  He took a deep breath, trying not to hope.  The hushed promise of death was obvious in his voice anyway. “Is there any other way out of here?”

            I saw Samuel emerge from the crowd of dirtied faces, suppressed hate in his stare.  He crossed the floor to Alex.  He must have been staying with the servants.  I heard what sounded like a support beam crash above on a higher level.  It rumbled loudly and sent servants screaming.  Lena jumped up, searching for me.  I remained quiet, my eyes stuck on the scene between Alex and Samuel.  A roaring hush fell over the entire basement.  No one breathed.  Everyone waited.

            Samuel spoke, “If I tell you how to get out of here, will you promise all of us safety?  Not just you and Camille?”

            Alex’s jaw clenched; it was noticeable even from my distance. “Yes,” he murmured through tight lips.  He was outraged that Samuel would even think that. “We don’t have much time.”

            “Swear it,” Samuel demanded, fierce and calm even in the face of death.

            “I swear on my love for Camille that everyone in the basement will reach the outside alive.”

            Samuel nodded. “Behind the second cot curtain is an old elevator shaft.  It will only hold 12 at most, and it’s not particularly fast.” Another crash from above.

            Alex and I sprinted for the shaft at the same time. “EVERYONE FOLLOW ME!” I called out, choking on my own words.  Alex was faster than me, reaching the curtain first and ripping it away.  Immediately, dozens of servants tried to cram into the small space.

            “STOP! EVERYONE STOP!” Brief pause.  That was all Alex needed.  He and Othello physically moved people back and away from the elevator.  I counted out 12 and a small child. “GO CAMILLE!”

            I slammed my hand on the green button, watching as the frightened people became even more frightened.  Adrenaline pumped through my veins mercilessly as the elevator came down, empty.

            Othello shoved the next lot of people into the cramped space forcefully as Alex restrained panicked others, I let two more pass me to fill it up.  Again my fist came down on the button.  And again a crash of what seemed like flaming thunder sounded above.  My vision was getting hazy again and my coughing fits became longer and more violent.  I couldn’t stop breathing in the smoke even though my lungs stubbornly refused.

            This process continued for what seemed like days, the elevator apparently wanted to take its sweet time.  Lifting up three people at once, Othello filled the shaft quickly as I also frantically ushered servants inside.  Sweat poured down Othello and Alex’s face.  I couldn’t feel my own but I tasted the salt on my lips.  We were down to twenty people soon, but not soon enough.

            I saw Malachi, shielding Lena from everything and called out to me. “The flames are going to reach the gas pipes by the next round!”

            That meant explosion.  I ignored him and hurried more people inside.  Giovanni and Joey were some of the people huddled against the walls.  I nodded to them, sweat and ashes caking on my face.

            Alex did not, however, ignore Malachi and rushed to me.  He tried to push me into the elevator. “Go,” he urged roughly.  I shook my head and saw Othello move Lena and Malachi into the cramped space.

            We could actually see the flames now, and my eyesight was definitely darkening.  My breathing came quick and short; my lungs would not take any more oxygen.  As my head began to pound, I fell to my knees and barely caught a glimpse of Alex shoving Othello into the elevator and mashing the green button.

            Alex and I were the only ones left.  I heard screams from the shaft; people protesting the movement of the elevator without us.  Alex’s arms were around me again and I collapsed to the floor with him.  The smoke was so heavy I couldn’t see past it anymore.  I touched Alex’s cheek but couldn’t feel my fingers on his skin.  My eyes closed and opened on their own accord.  I could hear my heart slowing down as I thought of the irony.  Last time, it had been the other way around, with Alex in my arms and his life dwindling like candlelight in the wind.

            I could only hear his muffled voice then; words would not register in my mind.  My eyes wouldn’t open anymore.  I felt Alex pick me up and the warmth of him, or it could have been the impending fire.  I couldn’t smile, couldn’t make anything move, but I was happy.  As long as I’m with Alex, I thought as I felt the first flame lick at my fingertips, everything is fine.  I had no more thoughts after that.  I had no thoughts at all.


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