Wednesday 21 August 2013

Escape from District 77

by Wai Chim.

**Author's note: When I first started what I considered to be "serious writing", I penned scenes and situations from the second person. There were overladen with adjectives and adverbs, but I thought they were bloody brilliant. :-P This is a throwback to my youthful idealism.**

Breath ragged, heart pounding in your ears, you race down the narrow corridor, your fingertips trailing along the grubby walls as your anchor.

There are voices coming from behind. They’re close, you realise and you try to pick up the pace, resisting the urge to glance over your shoulder to figure just how close they really could be.

Keep moving. No time to think.

The putrid stench of guts and decay assaults your sensibilities. You’ve always known the sewer would be a decrepit and awful place, but you’d never really given it that much thought. Maybe you should have before you made this plan. Before you’d scuttled down into them, letting the slime glide across your body as you slithered on your stomach and into the network of filth below.

Keep moving. Just a few more turns.

Your brain was still working, that was a relief. Running through the mental layout you’d practised for so many months. It was like breathing, masticating or shitting now – all second nature. Your mind is sharp and able, ready to tackle the next step. Just another turn, a shimmy up the pipe and through the metal grate.


If only your body would keep up.

You’d never realised how much your joints ached from just the sheer task of running. Mind you, there hadn’t been anywhere to really run to. When you had last been free to run, you were just a child frolicking in the fields, the wind whipping through your soft brown locks as your chubby little fingers combed through the coarse wheat crops your father had painstakingly planted.

They were the last living plants you had ever touched.

The sky had exploded all around you. For days it snowed, a toxic tinged grey.

The wheat crops died, along with almost every other living thing on Earth. Birds fell out of the sky. Animals drank the rancid waters and crumpled to their knees. Insects flipped on their backs, twitching their last. The final hints of civilisation burrowed underground. Mum and Dad took you into a bunker that was stacked from floor to ceiling with unmarked tins. For weeks, you holed up between the scalloped silver walls they created.

Then the Invasion.

The invaders came in droves, waves of shiny black pods touching down on the toxic wasteland. They pulled everyone out of the safety of their bunkers. Some were killed, others shrivelled up from the shock of their own terror. And those that survived, did so from the sheer force of human will alone; they were locked up in tiny 7 by 7 foot cells to live out the remainder of their days.

And for twenty years, that was all you knew. For two decades, you lived on a diet of watery stock and a head full of dreams. Dreams of the outside. Reveries and fantasies. Of Escape.

No more distractions. Almost there.

You push aside the stale memories in favour of the taste of freedom, so close you could lap it up. Just around the next corner. The angry voices are even closer now. A clambering shot and a metal ding as a bullet ricochets off the wall in front of you. You grunt loudly, resisting the urge to scream as you hunch forward and pump your legs in a crouching run.

You don’t want to die. Despite everything that’s happened, despite every bit of happiness that has been sucked out of your being, leaving you bone dry – you don’t want to die.

The door is just ahead of you. It’s made from solid steel and you can tell that it’s tightly wedged into the jamb; the turn knob in its centre is rusted over from lack of use. Impenetrable. That’s how the others had described it. The few that have attempted escape before never made it beyond the egress. You chew your lip, thinking briefly of your fallen comrades, as you approach.

No distractions. No turning back.

Another bullet whizzes by, close to your ear as your hands close around the wheel. You throw your weight into it and you turn.


The word pops into your head, foreign sounding but clear. And you realise that every fibre in your being is yearning for it as you tug on the handle.

The door gives just an inch. A sliver of life giving brightness burns its way in. You push with all your might.

The shouting behind you stops as white hot radiance fills the room. You shield your eyes and bask in the warmth as it tingles against your skin. And you tilt your face up to the sky.

Unfamiliar, but oh so bloody brilliant.

Without a moment’s further hesitation you leap out into the unknown landscape. The voices pick up again, angry yelling and colourful cursing storming towards you, but they already sound faraway. It doesn’t matter if you don’t make it more than a few steps. You’re ready for them to take you back, or to end it right here.

A slow smile tugs at the corners of your lips as you feel the dryness of the earth beneath your feet. Only one thing matters, really.

You escaped.


  1. Wow it's been so long since I've read something in second person - and I loved it! It's so strange being told what I'm doing and how I'm feeling... definitely a very refreshing approach to writing! Great work, Wai :)

  2. Thanks Sarah! I loved the tension and high octane action in your story. :) A great adrenalin pumping prompt this month.

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  4. Hi Wai

    This is great! I was gripped from the beginning and your use of voice makes it even scarier!! Really enjoyed reading it.

  5. Hi Sarah! Welcome to the club and thanks so much for your comment. Look forward to reading your work. :)


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