Elaine was a few feet from the door and she heard the scream again. She caught the swinging piece before it banged against the frame. She fought against the vacuum of wind to hold it in place as she walked through. Fighting the wind, she managed to secure the door, which then left her in total darkness. She flicked her lighter and took in the tiny space. It was no bigger than three feet by three feet, with two steps leading up to a landing.

Another landing, another door. Now she was heading south, but more importantly, there was a light. Dim, at best, but a light. It allowed her to extinguish her lighter. Good thing, it was almost out of fluid. Hugging the wall, she made her way, finding doors on only one side of the corridor.

The first door she came upon screamed “Stay away!” with its padlocked handle. It dawned on her the reason for coming this far; the cries of something human. They had stopped. Suddenly, the quiet was deafening, and she could hear her blood pulsating through her ears. Bravely and stupidly she continued.

More doors and more locks. Until she came upon a small L-shaped hallway that led her back east. Only this corridor had doors on both sides and they weren’t padlocked. She reached for one just as a frantic Chinese voice was coming from down the hall. Ducking into the room, she quietly closed the door and intently listened for their voices, but the chatter of sewing machines behind her gave her pause.

Stunned, she saw women and children ranging for eight to eighty paying little or no attention to her intrusion. They just sewed. On what, she didn’t know or care. Until one little girl looked her way and smiled shyly. She listened at the door, and then with agonizing care, she eased it open after the voices were no longer.

She left and zigzagged across the hallway, peaking into any door that didn’t offer resistance. She knew she had found a gold mine of contraband, whether it was replications of priceless works of art, popular software or movies, stacks of green glassed serving trays, and as she made her way east, the rooms had increased in difficulty of skill and level of sensitivity, and so did her newfound courage.

As she rounded the corner a scantily clad young girl nearly ran her over, and not too far behind, those voices of earlier followed. However, one seemed to be having a great deal of effort moving. Elaine could only imagine why, and she wasn’t about to stand around and find out.

Grabbing and righting the young woman, Elaine reversed her course and started to retrace her steps, running as quickly as she could, dragging the girl in her wake. Whistles blared off the walls, alerting more angry voices, she just knew it. Over the whistle; a pop. The bullet splintered and sent fragments of concrete into the air as well as their path. Elaine didn’t know if it was a warning, or if they were terrible shots; she just kept running.

Rounding the corner, Elaine ran directly into the very thing she had recently been running from: Jack Phillips. “Oh, shit!” She collected herself and barely had a moment to stare with exasperation at her soon to be ex-husband and his sudden presence.

Read Act 3: Mine! »

Back to The Broken Line »