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Rogue, Trace, and Hollow

By @angelicomen

Chapter Two

Trace felt like she was flying through the air.

It was a magical feeling; nobody was with her except a lone bird flying to her left. Her head felt strangely airy and light for once, as if it could float away off her whole head. “Hello there bird,” she muttered, her chapped lips rubbing together. Even though the wind buffeted her imaginary wings, she felt numb all over and every part of her body except for her head was weighed down by a thousand invisible chains. “How are you doing?”

The bird turned its spotted head and blinked its beady eyes at her. “I’m doing great, Trace, how are you?”

Before she could respond, a sudden pull at her gut forced her down. The sky folded around her like origami and the bird became a white speck in a giant crumple of paper that looked suspiciously like a crane…a paper crane…

The hands were all over her again. Trace let out a guttural scream as the paper crane disintegrated around her, revealing the cold gurney she was strapped to. Masked figures were hovering over her, holding the IV drip that had been inserted into her arm. Trace’s head still felt foggy; she fought hard to clear the cobwebs from it.  

“Need blood samples,” one of the masked men said through a haze. Trace screamed again and struggled, but her arms were strapped to both sides and now they were pulling off her shirt-she howled one last time before slipping under again.

When she came to for the second time, her cheek was pressed up against a hard, lumpy pillow. The covers of the bed (which was more like a cot since there was barely a mattress) were thrown half-heartedly over her body, which felt sore all over. What happened?  

Trace sat up and pulled down the covers just far enough to expose her bare arm, which felt limp against the rails of the bed/gurney. There was a needle inserted into the crook of her arm; red blood was gushing out of it through a tube, down to the floor, and into a rapidly-filling bag. She grabbed it, clenched her teeth, and pulled the needle out until the tube hissed with disapproval at the lack of blood flowing through it.  

“Looking just peachy today, love,” a voice at her sleeve said. “Here’s your shirt.”  

Trace accepted her shirt back from the figure in the shadows before even realizing who it was. “Rogue? H-how did you find me?” She flushed crimson and pulled the sheet up over her shoulders, sinking deeper into the flimsy mattress.

“No worries, mate.” He shrugged and retreated back to let her redress. “Hollow’s here too. We just, uh, followed the signs. It wasn’t that hard.”

Trace took a deep breath in as she threw off the covers, looking around the medical bay to make sure no one else was watching. Her legs were bare save for a skirt; her feet touched the ground and then retreated at the chill that the touch brought. “Ew, you smell. Have you been rolling in…garbage?”

“That’s mostly me,” Hollow apologized, seemingly materializing from out of nowhere. Trace held back a shriek of surprise and rolled off the bed onto the floor, shivering as her feet brushed up against the tile. It wasn’t unusual for Hollow to make shocking entrances like he just did. But Trace had a hard time biting back her surprise every time. “Come on. The Night Terrors will be making another round soon.”

She looked around her as they moved down the hallway towards the door. Trace kept her asylum gown on under her shirt even though it scratched at her bruises. Don’t want to leave any trace of me behind. “Wait, I think I hear something!”  

At Rogue’s words they all dropped down and inched underneath another gurney, which lay empty in a corner and provided some cover. A low clicking sound could be heard coming from behind the cracked door. There was a creak as it slid open and three Night Terrors slunk in, chests pressed close to the ground and teeth grinding together angrily. They’re onto our scent. Well, I left nothing behind, Trace thought to herself, feet pressed up against the wall and nose smashed into the ground. Rogue and Hollow lay on either side of her, trying to still the motion of their chests. Wait…

The Night Terrors paid no attention to the three teens laying underneath the gurney and sped up. Their tails, long links of metal chains that rattled on the floor, wagged from side to side in bloody excitement. The one in front of the pack stopped in front of the bed that had previously held Trace. It stood on its hind legs and took one end of the sheet in its mouth before inhaling loudly. She could hear it from all the way on the other side of the room and shuddered. “Hold up, gonna get a better look,” she whispered under her breath before using her hands to pull herself from out under the gurney.

“What are you doing?” Hollow hissed, but made no motion to stop her. Trace stayed on her stomach and turned her head to one side in order to see what the Night Terrors were doing. The two who were not sniffing at her sheets were now circling the gurney, long snouts swinging from side to side as they examined the floor. Well, shoot. Bare feet. Trace wiggled her way out completely and stood up before gesturing for her companions to do the same. “Okay, now you’re nuts.” But Hollow was surprisingly the first one out with her. Rogue joined them soon after.

“The door!” she mouthed wildly until her companions held the door open. Trace slipped through, letting Hollow and Rogue follow suit.

But as soon as they closed the door behind them, trapping the Night Terrors inside, an alarm went off. Trace’s heart began to beat as the sound of guards’ footsteps approached from around the corner. They were trapped. To head forward meant encountering beat guards with electrified sticks. Certain death. To head back meant getting ripped to pieces by the mechanical Night Terrors. Also certain death. Trace backed up against the door and looked up. “Come on! I see an exit!’  

There was a clanging sound and several muffled swears. A few moments later, the guards rounded the corner, sticks charged, helmets and shoulder guards strapped firmly on. But there was no one there.

The head guard made a few hand gestures and the party of five fanned out, filling the narrow corridor. They crept forward then flung the medical bay door open with a bang. Once again, no one there except for the Night Terrors.

The head Terror turned from the abandoned gurney, which had been stripped to pieces. A scrap of sheet fabric hung from its mouth and it slurped it up using its saw like teeth as soon as it saw the guard. The other two emerged from under the overturned gurney and snarled at the group of guards, who readied their sticks. Then, they lunged.

***

Ignoring the howls and screams from the guards below her, Trace led the way through the vent system, hands braced against the metal sides of the shaft. Behind her was Rogue and then Hollow bringing up the rear, dark forehead slick with sweat. His jacket was hanging on to his shoulders by an inch but he pulled the hood up and kept going. “Y’all smell,” Rogue complained in a low voice as Trace pushed herself up against a vent cover at the top of the tunnel. Above, they could see the night sky sparkling with white and blue stars.  

“Not my fault. You kind of smell too.” Trace wrinkled her nose as she attached a lock detonator to one side of the vent cover. “Everyone back up.”

There was a vibration sent through the entire, metal tunnel as the detonator blew, sending the vent cover flying up into the night sky. It landed on the roof just a few yards away from Trace as she pulled herself up and into the cool air. This breath of freshness sent shivers down her spine. It’d been months since she’d been put in the asylum to rot. Now she was finally free.

“Hey, you good?” Hollow, as she helped him up, stopped to stare at her. His eyes met hers, also the same shade of olive, and held the gaze.  

“I’m…great.” But Trace didn’t feel that way. A horrible nightmare was resurfacing, a recurring one during her days at the asylum.

The hands were back again. She could suddenly feel them all over her, pulling at her shirt, forcing her back down the chute and into the gurney. A masked “doctor” stared at her with goat-like eyes painted onto the baggy mask. He leaned closer so that his face was just a few inches away from hers and reached out a paw to stroke the bridge of her nose.  

“Get away,” Trace spat, pressing her head into the pillow and lashing out against the straps that bound her to the gurney. Laughter echoed down the asylum halls as well as screams that either carried on or died out in bloodied gurgles.  

“Never,” the phantom doctor whispered before ripping off his mask to reveal a shiny, metal Night Terror head. Trace screamed as he dove at her, jaws open wide for the kill.

“Come on, we’ve got to go,” Rogue said, reaching out as if to pat her on the back but hesitating. He covered this up with a smirk as he strode across the rooftop to retrieve the vent cover, which he then put back in its rightful place. “Guards will be all over us soon.”

“Eh, I don’t think so. They’re busy enough. But maybe other guards.” Hollow walked to the edge of the rooftop and looked down at two figures snoozing on the gravel drive, just in front of the side gate. A few feet away, the trash compactor gurgled as it crunched down on a black, slimy bag of garbage.  

Trace gagged as she joined him, pulling the floppy, oversized sleeves of her shirt around her in an attempt to stay warm. “What did–oh, you did not knock them out with my concoction thing…”

“I feel like we need a better name than ‘concoction thing’. Something with a little ring to it,” Rogue mused as he leapt onto the fence post and clambered down to the ground. “Nail polish abomination? Nah, too specific. If you want to be really classy, you’ve gotta keep ‘em guessing. What about Potion of Doom?”

“Whatever helps you sleep at night,” Hollow said as he joined his fellow hacker on the ground. He turned and reached up a hand to help Trace to the ground. “I know a faster way out of here.”

“Faster than the driveway?” Trace asked as they crept alongside the wire courtyard rails.

Hollow turned to face her. “There’s cameras on the driveway anyways.” He shrugged and ran over to the main gate before veering off to the left and diving under the fence. Trace bent down and followed him, throwing glances back to the Correctional Facility that they were leaving. Her heart felt twisted. I won’t miss you, she thought bitterly, forcing herself to keep following Hollow through a patch of tangled ivy out onto the street. “Here we are. Hurry. The searchlights are on.”

“They’ve got to know we’ve escaped,” Rogue commented. He reached into his backpack and pulled out an overly dapper, black hat, then slammed it on his head. “Time for a disguise.

“You’re the master of that,” Trace teased, still glancing back at the asylum. As another alarm started up somewhere down the street, the three hackers slipped away into shadows, away from the asylum. 

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