Collision (Portland Street Kings)(3)

By: Evie Harper

I feed the sheets through, slowly letting them fall more and more with the weight of the material. When I’ve dropped all I can, I look down and find the sheets almost touch the ground. My family will have to jump down the last few feet.

I call Pace over and tell him he needs to go first and wait at the bottom to catch our siblings. He nods and readies himself to climb down.

I wrap the end of the sheet around my forearm and prepare to hang on tightly. Just as Pacer is about to lower himself down, I say, “Pace, when everyone is at the bottom I’m going to chuck you the bags, sheets and pillows. We need to take them with us.”

As if just realizing, Pacer asks, “How will you get down without the sheets?”

“I’m going to sneak through the house and out the front door or a window, whatever I can find to get through. We’re going to need our clothes and sheets. I don’t know where we’re going, but we will need them for shelter and warmth through the nights. We can’t go to the police because they will put us back in the system, possibly separate us. Or worse, put us with another monster. I’m not escaping one hell just to go to another. And we need money to survive, Pacer. I need to take Phillip’s wallet; it’s our only option. We’re going to need money for food and train tickets to get away from here, far away. We can’t let child services find us.”

Pacer shakes his head, not wanting to hear my plan. I place my hand on his shoulder and reassure him. “I will be fine, Pace. Right now, you need to get our brothers and sister out of here, and I need to get us the money to help do that. Take them to the store, and I’ll meet you there. When I arrive, we’re going to the station to catch the first train that pulls in.”

“Slate, if Phillip catches you—”

I cut him off. “He won’t, Pace. I promise, I’ll be right behind you.”

Pacer pauses, staring at me for a long moment before reluctantly nodding, turning and climbing down the rope of sheets.

I grab a tight hold of the sheets and sit on the floor with my back to the wall. I grit my teeth as I hold on with all my strength. After a few minutes, they go slack in my hands.

I jump up quickly and let out a relieved sigh as I see my brother safely on the ground, gesturing for me to hurry up.

Della goes next, then Kel and last, Mack. I throw down the sheets, pillows and three backpacks stuffed full of our clothes.

When they have everything, I mouth a silent, “Go!” They stare up at me with terrified eyes for a brief moment before they turn and start running, racing from this house of horrors, toward the road into town.

I turn and walk to the door and as quietly as possible, I drag the bed away and twist the handle softly. Opening it just a bit, I still my body to listen for Phillip in the house. I hear nothing, so I peer out into the hall—it’s clear. I race to the end of the hallway and descend the stairs, stopping halfway down and listening again for any signs of Phillip inside the house. I hear nothing except the pounding of my heart in my ears.

I creep down the last set of stairs and inspect the living room before heading left into Phillip’s room. I take three quick steps backward as my heart crashes against my chest. The door to Phillip’s room is open when it’s usually closed and locked unless he is in there. I freeze on the spot and strain my ears to listen for anything, but when I still hear nothing, no sound of him in the house anywhere, I creep down the rest of the stairs. I move closer to his bedroom and slowly push open his door. Fear slams into my heart as it sounds with a creak as it opens; my pulse races and sweat drips down my face.

With the door now wide open, I can see Phillip is not in here. My heart is beating wildly as I rub the sweat away from my forehead with shaking hands.

I scan Phillip’s room for his wallet and am thankful when it’s the first thing my eyes land on. I take quick steps, scooping it up and looking inside. I see many bills and cards, cards I have no idea how to use; the bills will have to be enough. I will have to wait till I’m with Pacer to find out how much is in the wallet as he is the only one of us who knows how to count well.

I grasp tightly to the wallet in my palm and turn quickly, racing out of the room and heading straight for the front door before I freeze. Mia. I want to see her one last time. I need to say goodbye.

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