We snuck into the next room: a swimming pool and its changing rooms. Luckily, these little rooms were uninhabited, and had a little junction of blue tiles leading to a small rectangular window for ventilation. The cloaked girl opened it with a hairpin (once more removed from a secret pocket under that cloak as mysterious as the darkness of silence), and snuck through, effortlessly lifting her skirts without catching any of her draping coat. In the meantime, I lumbered across with far less grace in my dressing gown, and, having scraped knees and elbows against the rough glass and wood of the window-frame, I felt embarrassingly un-athletic compared to the younger woman.
That girl was nimble. She sprinted to the stone wall surrounding the complex and, using the rocks and plant-life as hand-holds, vaulted over the wall with ease. I jogged to keep up with her, in the little that I was wearing.
“I’m not jumping over there!” I called to the girl behind the wall.
“Shh!” Came the reply.
“Mrs. Howard,” she whispered, “If you value your life- if you know the value of knowledge- you’ll make the jump-”
“But I can’t… Not in what I am wearing!” I moaned back.
“You will be able to do it. You’re athletic; it’s just like you have a trampoline.”
“Oh?” I said, and then I took a deep breath and closed my eyes.
The wall was rough against my hands, causing further grazes which then decided to sting as though someone had just poured acid onto them. The sky loomed above, and then beside me as I stood on the wall. Vertigo kicked in, so I jumped, praying for the best, and managed (somehow) to land, once again on those poor hands and knees, in the flowerbed that was neatly decorating the exterior of the spa. At least someone was on my side today!
I looked back at the white building. It had been so clean, neat and tidy, sensible and honourable, but underneath that entirely pristine surface was that bitter and black heart of staff.