After Madge left the room, Nien continued her packing (not that it took much longer). Her head was spinning with thoughts of Tom and his whereabouts. Something's going on, he wouldn't have left without saying goodbye! ..Maybe he was in a rush, or his new family didn't have time to turn back, or he could've just been caught up in all the excitment and forgotten about me! Oh, I hope he didn't forget about me. She struggled with zipping up her newly plump backpack, but eventually managed to. I just hope his family's nice.
"Nien, are you still up there? You'd better not be, or I'll-" Madge started, but never really finished- heaving her large body up the many flights of stairs must've been hard work. Nien threw the bag under her bed, and followed the item's suit. She scooted forward, and turned a small knob in the wall her bed leaned against. She opened the crawl space's door carefully, and shoved her backpack in. Then herself. After everything was inside, she pulled the door shut from inside with the old shoelace attached to it.
The crawl space was known to all the orphans as The Tunnel. No one knew how it got there, or why it was there, but no one seemed to really care either. The Tunnel was dusty and had a musty smell to it, and it got worse with every inch farther in. There was supposedly a Tunnel in one girl's room and one boy's room in every hallway on every floor. Nien's tunnel led to the sitting room.
It was where the future adoptees would sit and wait for Joe or Madge to come and talk about the adoption process, where they would interview a child they were thinking about adopting, and where they would fill out the paperwork. And it wasn't too far from the entrance. The only tricky thing that there was about using The Tunnel's exit is that it was in the ceiling, so you had to be really careful getting down onto the floor.
And, of course, there was the security system.
Nien felt around the floor of her Tunnel with her cold hands and found a shoe lace. She backed up and pulled it to the side, and leaned on it to keep it there while she looked down into the sitting room to make sure that the 'coast was clear'.
It wasn't. Joe and Madge sat on a leather green couch, and a pretty young woman sat opposite of them in a fluffy purple chair.
"Well, you see, hon', the kids we've got are quite a handful! They all like to make up stories about how they had to endure beatings- apparently the older group told them that it would make them more likely to get adopted- a cute kid with a sad story. And it worked, I suppose." Madge spoke, a false sweetness disguising her true self. She smiled, and Nien noticed that she had shaven her moustache off.
"Oh yeah, those goshdarn kids! We love 'em to pieces, it's hard to see 'em go. 'Specially little Tommy- he was one of our favorites." Joe faked a smile, and Madge nodded in agreement. "But, we're glad that he's found a home and's happy." Joe finished.
The young woman shook her head and heaved a sigh. She wasn't buying their act. "Well, I'm just concerned. When he told me that he was beaten almost every time he came into the sight of you two, I couldn't believe it. What kind of cold, heartless people could do such a thing? And to a bunch of little kids, innocent or not?"
Madge and Joe stuttered, saying lots of things like, "Oh, we don't do that," and "We've never laid a hand on any of the children," and "Ma'am, you can rest assured that these kids are treated with kindness and love and respect."
Nien rolled her eyes and whispered, "Yeah, right."
The woman pushed herself up from her chair and towered over the still sitting managers. "Tommy is a sweet little kid, and so are the rest of the children! They don't deserve to be treated the way they are treated. I'm going to go now, and I'll keep quiet, but I will return for a surprise visit, and if I see that nothing's changed, I'm reporting the two of you mother-f**kers." And with that, the woman turned and left. Joe and Madge left the room, probably going to their offices to figure something out, and Nien took that as her cue to enter and leave.
She pulled herself out of the hole in the ceiling and dangled there until her feet found a chair. Then she grabbed her bag from the hole and, after closing The Tunnel back up, ran towards the exit. She had just begun to open the heavy wooden door when the alarms blared, and multiple stomps headed towards her.