Brielle immediately recognized Brenda’s voice.
“The kids!” She gasped to herself before answering, “Relax, sweetie! It’s Brielle! I’ve come to get you all out of here!”
“Holy shit! Ms. Brielle!” Bruce cried.
All the kids jumped up and ran to the bars of their cells.
As Brielle unlocked the first cell, Bruce’s cell, she stopped and put a finger to her lips.
“Shhhhhhhhhhh! Not so loud! Somebody will hear us and then we’re all screwed!” she said in a loud, gruff whisper.
When she got to Olivia’s cell and unlocked it, Olivia ran to her and threw her arms around her as her back heaved in quiet sobs.
Finally Finding the Teens
“Mom! Oh, God! I’m so glad you’re here!” Olivia tried to whisper.
“Shhhhh! Sweetie, we have to be real quiet! Okay?” Brielle told her.
“Don’t forget Nanda! She’s at the very last cell on the end of the block!” Olivia told her.
After Brielle unlocked all the cells and all the kids were free, she looked at each of them.
“Stay behind me and be quiet. I’m going get you out of here.”
“Ms. Brielle, I’m Kelsey McGregor! Have they notified my mom?” Kelsey asked.
“Your mother is here, Kelsey. She, Chris, Miles, Alex- they’re all here,” Brielle assured.
Olivia took the hand of the scared silent Nanda and took her to Brielle.
“Mom, this is Nanda. She’s the missing girl Popeye told us about,” Olivia told her.
“Okay. Just be quiet and follow me,” Brielle whispered in a gruff voice.
They all crept down the cellblock, through the double doors and into the main tunnel, where they met Big Bruce, who was carrying an injured Raina. They crept single file- Brielle led the way with Olivia directly behind her, then Nanda, Roxie, Kelsey, Brenda, Andy, and Bruce. Brielle looked at Olivia.
Sneaking Through the Tunnels
“Where are Jane and Kennedy?” She asked.
“They came and took Jane, Mom. I don’t know where they took her. They took the baby too and I don’t know where they took her either,” Olivia whispered with tears in her eyes.
“We’ll find them both! Don’t worry. Just stay calm and stay quiet,” Brielle said as she led them down the road in the main tunnel. Across the road was a row of arches in the stoned wall.
Remembering which way Sheriff Bobby, Deputy Ashton, and Misty had brought her in, Brielle began to lead the kids down the same route when suddenly, they heard the drone of a vehicle as it approached.
“Quick! We got to hide!” Brielle said in a loud whisper as they all scattered and hid inside the arches.
The dark van came to a screeching halt and dark, hooded figures with automatic weapons exited the van and approached the dark archways where Brielle and the kids were hidden.
Meanwhile, in the field across from Opaque Lake, Popeye and the rest of his group watched closely. They noticed two pairs of headlights approaching the dirt road that led to the lake. The two vehicles slowed to a lurch, then turned onto the road.
Popeye spoke into the mic of his earpiece.
“Chris, it’s Popeye! We’re in position, come back,” he said.
“Hey, Popeye. Sorry we lost you there for a while,” Chris responded.
“I see two vehicles. They just turned onto the road to Opaque Lake,” Miles said.
“Gotcha, Miles. That’s just us. I’m driving the first van and Atticus is driving the second. We’re headed to the elevator in the road- the one Jane spoke of. We’re driving vans we found parked in the tunnels,” Chris told them.
Popeye sighed with relief, as did the rest of his group.
As Popeye and his group watched, they could see the two vehicles parking side by side to one another. Finally, the vehicles slowly disappeared as they were lowered into the ground via the secret elevator.
“Here we go, guys,” Chris said over the earpieces quietly.
“Good luck Chris, Atticus. For God’s sake be careful,” Miles told them.
Meanwhile, below, as Brielle, Big Bruce, Raina, and the kids were being escorted by six heavily armed, hooded people down a dark, dimly lit corridor, they began to hear distant chants and an organ playing an eerie tone.
“You’ll never get away with this! Never!” Roxie shouted angrily.
The hooded person behind her shoved her forward.
“Shut your mouth, bitch!” the hooded person shouted in a female voice. Brielle instantly recognized the voice- the voice of Rita.
“Up yours!” Roxie fired back.
“Keep talking bitch! Because it’s the last time you’re going to use that sharp tongue of yours!”
“Gee, I’d know that voice anywhere,” Brielle quipped, “Nice to see you again…Rita!”
“Shut up and keep walking!” the second hooded man ordered in a voice that sounded like Bobby. As they continued to walk, the chants grew louder still.
“So, where are you taking us? Sounds like some kind of freak show!” Kelsey said in a smart-alicky tone.
“You won’t be so cavalier for long, Miss Smartass!” Misty growled from underneath her hood.
“I swear, you’ll rue this day, Bobby! You’re all going to fry for this!” Brielle growled with a voice dripping with bitterness.
“Oh, how naïve thou still art!” Bobby sneered, “You see, Brielle? There’s fantasy world and then there’s the real world. Now, we live in the real world. And in the real world, there’s a hierarchy. And in the hierarchy exists three categories of people. There are The Desirables- the highly sought after and envied, who are at the top- where everyone else wishes they could be. Then, there are those in the middle- they’re the majority. Now, these people aren’t necessarily sought-after and not as desirable as The Desirables, but they do our bidding and stay in line, so they’ll do. We call those people, The Acceptables. Then, at the very bottom of the hierarchy, are The Undesirables- people like you, your little daughters, and the rest of you losers, for instance. Now, The Undesirables get the shit-end of the stick…always. They are the slugs we Desirables love more than anything else, to step on. ‘You see? The Desirables- those at the top decide who bodes well in this world and who doesn’t. We keep track of The Undesirables. We know where they live, when they get a job, when they marry, have babies- oh yeah! We keep track of those things. We flag people like you. We keep a very close eye on you, that way, we can keep you down and out. Because we decide who enjoys success and who endures failure. We decide who we favor and who we oppose. Also, we decide who gets what privileges, perks, and resources and when they get them. In short, we decide who we deem worthy and who we deem unworthy of life and all it’s pleasures. You might say, we have our very own local Social Credit System,” Bobby explained in a tone of evil and glee.
Local Social Credit System
“You don’t get to decide what I do or how I live. And you don’t get to decide what I get out of life. Only I can decide that. So, fuck you, your little hierarchy, and your Social Credit System!” Brielle bit back.
Bobby only chuckled at Brielle’s last rebellious clap back.
“Oh, if it were only that easy, Brielle. You know how the system is. It’s fucking us all anyway. Hell, I’m just a small-town, country sheriff. So, the system fucks me too, but at least, I have a little bit of power. And shit always rolls downhill. The good thing about having even a little, tiny bit of power is that it keeps you off the bottom, where it lands. The shit that rolls downhill may roll on you and get you a little stinky, but it rolls on past you. But when it lands on the bottom, it stays on the bottom because there’s nowhere else for it to go. It just sits there and rots until the next turd comes rolling down. ‘You see? Not only does shit land on the bottom, it piles up at the bottom,” Bobby continued.
“Maybe. But there’s always a pooper-scooper lying around somewhere,” Brielle quipped.
“I don’t understand you, Brielle. How do you do it? How do you stay so positive? And against such odds!”
Brielle’s Strong Will and Determination
“Hell, you don’t know, Bobby? People like you only strengthen my resolve. ‘You see? There’s something you don’t know about the- oh, now, what did you just referred to us as? ‘The Undesirables?’ There’s something about people like us that you don’t understand- couldn’t even comprehend. And that is that we ‘Undesirables’ have a strength and spirit that people like you could only hope to have. We’re not only survivors but overcomers. We have the will and the grit to rise above people like you. Because we have determination that eventually supersedes your power. You see, we’re the real badasses. And I guarantee that if you lost your power and ended up on the bottom, you couldn’t handle it. In fact, your little world would be turned upside down and you’d probably blow your brains out because you couldn’t survive the fall. Because the higher up you are, the further you fall, the faster you fall, and the harder you hit when you land at the bottom. It’s not the fall that kills you, it’s that sudden stop at the bottom. Just ask Big Brother Johnny, Bobby. He could tell you all about that, now, couldn’t he?” Brielle fired back in a calm and cool manner before flashing a smirk.
“Shut the fuck up, bitch! Shut the fuck up!” Bobby screamed. But Brielle only continued.
“Shit Rolls Downhill…”
“Damn! All that effort to take Shannon down! And what did it accomplish? Where did it get him? Where, did it get him, Bobby? It got him sent off to federal prison for the rest of his miserable life! In trying to destroy Shannon Crooke McGregor, he ended up destroying himself in the process. So, shit may indeed land at the bottom. But it also has ways of coming full circle.”
With that, Bobby grabbed Brielle and slung her into the wall.