Nien flew out of the orphanage, the alarms blaring behind her. She shoved her arms through the straps of her bag and swerved round a corner, before continuing with the beat of her feet on the sidewalk. It was only when she had ran several blocks that she rested, leaning against a crumbling wall and taking deep breaths.
She had finally done it; she had finally escaped. She pulled her backpack off an dchecked that her stuff was ok, and then slid it back in to place. She had to keep moving. Hopefully they wouldn't realise that it was her escaping- maybe they would think that it had been someone pranking them, or her leaving. But either way, she had to make it a fair distance so that they would have less of a chance of finding her. She started running again, her heart beat quickening in pace as she dodged three women walking their dogs.
Any one of those women could say that they had seen her. It wasn't like she was inconspicous.
She headed in to an alley, and began making her way through the maze of darkened places that were spread through the city. She paused at a black door, several miles from the orphanage, and knocked. After a few minutes, the door opened a crack and a green eye stared out from above the chain.
"Who is it?" Grumbled the dry voice.
"Nien, let me in."
"Anyone with you?"
"No, now hurry up."
The door closed and there was the scraping of a bolt and the removal sound of a chain, and then the door creaked open. Nien hurried inside and shut the door behind her. She turned, and her eyes took a moment to adjust to the lack of light. There, near a fire, she saw three people, all of whom were peering at her blearily, as though they had just been woken.
"What happened to you guys?" She asked, making her way over to the group.
"Kyle lost his job, so we couldn't pay electricity." The girl called Luce muttered, shuffling up so that Nien could sit down. Kyle rolled his eyes and muttered:
"Well someone else could get off their arse..."
Liam, the third member of the party, brought Nien a glass of water and sat down himself.
"So, you finally did it." He said. "What happened? Thought you were going to leave at the start of the week?"
"Yeah well things got... complicated."
"Tell me about it. But you used the tunnel right?"
"Can't believe they still don't know about that. I mean, all three of us have escaped using the same way, and now you, and they still don't know? Idiots."
Nien sat in silence for a while, and then shuddered.
"Bloody hell, the fire's going."
"Yeah, and there's no more wood either. I've got a paper round and a job at a cafe, but that only pays for the food really. Kyle had the best one, payed for electricity and furnitue and clothes... until they started making cuts."
"Yeah, and Luce only works in that poxy flower shop."
"Look, at least it helps!" Luce argued, and Nien could see the anger started by desperation in their faces.
"Guys, calm down. I had that interview the other day, and so it looks like I'll be working soon. You know, computer repairs, that sort of thing. And then you'll have a bit more. We'll be fine."
"Yeah, we'll be fine." Liam said, a false cheeriness in his voice.
Nien looked round at their glum faces and decided something had to be done. This was her priority, before finding out what the hell was going on back in the orphanage that had destroyed all four of their lives.
Liam had been beaten to within a inch of his life by Joe at the age of eight, and Kyle had had to watch. They'd shared a single mattress since the day they arrived, together, in a cardboard box. Luce on the other hand had been raped by Joe, who had preceeded to beat her when he found out she was pregnant. The baby was still born. Luce had never been the same after that. In comparrison to them, Nien's life had been easy. She just hoped she could help them now she too was free of that evil place.