Escape

They were already running, but Kurt broke into a sprint when he heard the sound of that whistle in the distance. Eva staggered as he pulled her along in a white-knuckled grip. They broke out of the narrow alley just down the road from the station and saw the train at the platform.

There was no way could hide until the next train. They had to run.

Steam hissed from the engine of the steel beast as it lurched forward. No time for tickets, lines, or turnstiles; they ran for the fence. Kurt gave Eva a boost to inelegantly clamber over the chain links. An officer had spotted them, but was too slow in reacting to catch Kurt before he too tumbled over the fence. Ignoring the officer’s shouts, they sprinted for the accelerating train. Kurt caught onto a handrail, half-pulled, half threw Eva onto the steps.

Then he leaped…

Slipped…

Fell…

The train pulled away.

Kurt heard gravel crunching beneath approaching footsteps. A pair of polished shoes and a cold voice. “Beneath the mask of bravery, foolishness,” the man sighed. “We will simply pick her up at the next station.”

“No,” Kurt said. “No more. I’ll tell you everything.”

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox

Kaleidoscope

“Just wanted you to know, I’m here if you ever need anything.”

She held her phone tightly, unwilling to read those words again. Instead she stared blankly at the lights refracted through the raindrops on her windshield, almost as if she expected the payday loan company to dissolve into that blurry kaleidoscope and coalesce into a new way out of her predicament.

The contact in her phone was named “Don’t Answer”, and in the two weeks since the text had arrived, she hadn’t opened it. She also hadn’t deleted it. She had simply read the preview over and over again, trying to fight off the feeling that the decision had already been made for her.

Now she had waited as long as she could, but now escape had come. The phone felt heavy in her hand. This was how he operated. He would help her, give her whatever she needed without question. And with the most compassionate smile, his jaws would close around her throat.

She couldn’t go back. And she couldn’t pay her loan.

Hands trembling, she unlocked her phone.
She opened the message.
She deleted it.
Tears blurred her vision as she started her car and drove away.

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox
Photo by Andras Vas on Unsplash