See Part 3 here.
The Home, Part 4
The next morning, over the watered-down oatmeal, we put our heads together. “I’ve been awake most of the night, thinking about what we can do to get out of here. We should become trusty’s.”
“What’s that,” Edna asked.
“Trusted inmates,” Ralph said.
Mike nodded. “We become the best inmates ever. No complaining, no causing trouble.”
“Tattling on the others.” Ralph sighed. “I don’t like that part.”
“If we don’t, they aren’t going to trust us.”
“Maybe we can just report minor stuff, that wouldn’t get people in trouble.”
Edna was soft-hearted. I had to sigh. “Sure. Just as long as they buy that we’re now docile as sheep.”
It took us months. Winter came and went. Spring was in full swing. “Time to put this into play.”
“Good,” Mike said. He was much sharper than he had been last summer. He was off of all of the meds they’d been giving him. “What’s the plan?”
I looked around the room. We’d ticked off all of the other inmates. None of them would even look at us anymore. We were safe to talk. “We get outside of the security door. Ralph, you offer to mop the floor out there. We’ll all do something that takes us out there or that puts us near the door. Once we’re there, open the door and we’ll get out.”
“What about the guard?” Edna looked scared.
“We’ll take care of the alien.” I had just about all of the kowtowing I could stand. If I had to run the gray-green skinned monster through with the mop handle, I was going to do it.”
“Does anyone know where we are? How do we get to a town?”
I shrugged. “There has to be a parking lot and cars. We’ll figure something out.”
All three of them nodded. They were as sick of being meek as I was.
After breakfast I went to Dr. Jenkin’s office. I’d become his personal assistant. I’d had to explain the concept to him but once he understood, he latched on to me like a leech. I fetched him coffee, retrieved reports from the printer, did his laundry, and any other menial task he could think up. Once he realized I was a former counsellor, I was even allowed to type up patient notes. I’d found out about every one of the inmates here. Every single one could see that the staff were alien. I’d learned how to make myself so handy, that the staff began to talk in front of me.
They knew we could see them. It was some kind of immunity, the way they talked about it. People who weren’t immune, could only see them as regular humans. I told the others, of course. It made everything so clear. My boy didn’t hate me, he just didn’t realize what was going on. I needed to get out and warn him. Him and his family.
In the meantime, the residents here were being gaslighted into thinking they were crazy, that there were no aliens. I ran into Edna on a trip to fetch coffee for Jenkins. She was washing woodwork in the hall. “Hey.”
She looked around and replied. “Hey. How’s it going?”
“Good. Jenkins is having a staff meeting at two. That’s when we make our move.”
“I’ll pass the word.”
I went on my way. Having Edna in the halls was a life-saver. She could pass messages between us easily. I found Mike in the kitchen. He’d been taken on as kitchen drudge. While he put cups away, I grabbed one and gave him the word.
“I’ll be ready. Maybe take a pot of coffee to Jenkin’s office?”
“Good idea. I’ll be waiting.” I left with the coffee on a tray with some cookies. Jenkins loved cookies. That would put him in a good mood the rest of the day. I still had to figure out how to get Ralph outside the security door.
“Dr. Jenkins, coffee.” I put the tray down on a side table, then poured him a cup. I put that, and a napkin with three cookies on it, on the desk, close to his hand.
“Thank you, Laurie.” He picked up a cookie and munched on it. “Umm, that is so good.”
I swear the monster began to purr. “Um, as I was walking by the outer door, I noticed the floor out there is in a real state. Not a good impression at all when visitors come in.”
He sipped his coffee. “Well. Yes, you’re right. I’ll have someone clean that up.” He started to go back to his reports.
“I can tell Ralph. I swear he’s a genius with that buffer. Did you see the dayroom floor? It’s like glass.”
He looked up. “I don’t…”
“Don’t you worry. I’ll tell him. You don’t have to look after every little detail.” I started to leave the office. “Oh.” I turned around just at the door. “I don’t want him to be in the way of the staff. When would be a good time for him to get cleaning?” Then I waited, all innocence.
I could see him struggle with the decision. I knew he didn’t want Ralph out there. But there were guards. Come on, come on. Say two o’clock.
“Have him do it at two, while I’m having the staff meeting.”
“Good idea.” I had to restrain myself. I didn’t want to look too enthused. “Should I tell Security?”
“No. I’ll do that. You just tell Ralph.”
“Yes, Sir. I’ll do that right now.” I could feel my heart beating against my ribcage as I left the office. This was going to work!