They ended up in the woods. They had opted for Nic’s place as their temporary hiding place until they could plan the next step. Considering how Tony’s place was too risky. It took them half of the day to reach Nic’s cabin. When they reached the habitat, it wasn’t just some small cabin, but it was almost like a mansion. One of those luxurious mansions hidden in the woods, far away from civilization. If it was any other circumstances, they could almost appreciate the beautiful view. However, they were prompt for time. More than ever now.

Nic was the first one ascending the steps, which made sense since it was his place after all.

“Are you sure this place is safe?” Wallace asked, scanning the perimeter.

“Yeah,” Nic responded. “No one knows about this place.”

“I suggest we do a routine search,” Tony said. “I don’t want any surprises.”

“Don’t you trust me?” Nic asked, looking at Tony.

“Better safe than sorry,” Wallace agreed.

“Especially after what we’ve been through,” Tony reminded Nic.

“Fine then,” Nic said. “You two could take turns circling the property. I’ll go inside to see if there’s any change since I was here last.”

“We’ll meet you inside,” Wallace said.

Since no one objected, Nic reached for the door handle and unlocked it. He took a quick scan of the view outside before heading inside. He did another glimpse of both Wallace and Tony before entering the living room. He actually took more time than necessary to inspect different rooms. He hadn’t been back for two months. It was shortly before he was arrested along with Tony.

When he returned to the kitchen, he found Wallace and Tony standing outside as he glimpsed through the window. He opened the door for them.

“There’s still some food in the fridge,” Nic said. “We should eat and get some rest before we decide the next step.”

“You checked every room, right?” Wallace asked, looking toward the many paths from the kitchen.

“Of course,” Nic said. “Don’t worry.”

It was hard not to worry, considering their current situation. However, Wallace and Tony settled down at the table at long last. The three of them ate some foods found in the fridge and downed some water in silence. They didn’t realize they were that hungry. But of course, they should be, because they had been fleeing since last night.

Nic took Wallace and Tony to some guest rooms after they were all done eating. He volunteered to keep watch while the other two rest and then switch around later that afternoon.

“What now?” Tony asked when he woke up four hours later and walked out of his room to find Nic sitting on a ledge with his feet dangling toward the ground below.

“Lie low for now,” Nic said, still staring at the horizon. “They won’t find us for a while.”

“How long could we last before they find this cabin?”

Nic shrugged. “We can’t rush either. You know we’re still weak. And if we go out there without a plan, we’ll be caught faster than the first time.”

That was when Wallace came out from his room and walked toward the two of them. Tony was standing at the left side of the hollow ledge at this point, opposite from where Nic was sitting. So when Wallace approached them, he stood in the middle between them.

“I heard part of your conversation,” Wallace said. “I think we can stay for three days the most. We can’t risk it.”

“I’m sure we’ll figure something out by then,” Nic assured Wallace.

Wallace nodded.

“Where are you going?” Nic asked, seeing that Wallace was making a move.

“Bathroom,” Wallace replied.

“Down the hall to the right,” Nic said before returning his eyes to the horizon.

A few minutes later, Nic heard Wallace called out his name. Alarmed, both he and Tony rushed down the hall to check it out.

“What?” Nic asked, scanning the area with his cautious eyes.

“What’s in there?” Wallace asked, pointing toward a dark brown door at the end of the hall.

“It’s just a storage room,” Nic said. “Abandoned.”

“I swear I just heard something coming from there.”

Nic shrugged. “Probably rats.”

“We better check it out anyway,” Tony suggested.

Nic turned to Tony. “I already took a glimpse earlier.”

“Doesn’t hurt to check again,” Wallace reasoned. “It looks quite spacious. Maybe you missed something.”

“It’s my place, man,” Nic argued. “Like I would miss it.”

“This is no time for a bruised ego,” Tony said. “Better safe than sorry.”

Before Nic could say anything else, both Wallace and Tony headed toward the dark brown door, ready for their search. Panicked, Nic rushed after them, blocking their path.

“Don’t you guys trust me?” Nic said, his expression reflecting obvious anxiety.

“I told you already,” Tony said. “Better safe than sorry.”

“That’s right,” Wallace seconded.

“Besides, you never know. What if someone snuck into your place and hid in there? Look at this place. It’s a heaven for someone wanting to hide. What if that person finds us out and reports us to the police?”

Wallace nodded. “You know Tony’s right.”

Nic wanted to protest again yet Wallace was faster. He signaled Tony before heading toward the door. Tony was the one who restrained Nic while Wallace reached for the doorknob. Wallace had to use a little force to get the door open. But when it was finally opened, Wallace had to fidget around on the wall to find the light switch for several seconds. Yet it happened so fast, even Nic’s words of protest were in vain.

When the light flashed on, they were able to see more clearly. Wallace reached out and pushed the door once. As the door opened wider, they were able to hear Tony’s grasp. That was when Nic broke loose of Tony’s grip. Yet Wallace held his hand up to block Nic’s path before focusing his attention on the room again.

Inside, Joyce was sitting at a corner in her crème blouse and faded brown jeans shorts. Her dark brown boots were also present. She was unconscious but pretty much alive. In fact, she looked like Sleeping Beauty waiting for a prince’s kiss. The only difference was this Sleeping Beauty wasn’t lying on some fancy bed made of gold and jewels but she was just leaning to one side of the wall with its smooth surface hugging her face. Her hair falling to one side, concealing somewhat of her face, but they were still able to recognize her. After that brief inspection, both Wallace and Tony turned to stare at Nic, waiting for an explanation. Their expressions said it all. They weren’t happy about it. If Nic didn’t have a reasonable explanation for all of these, he was in for good. It didn’t matter if he had helped provide shelter for them after their recent escape.

© Saturday, October 6th, 2012

Posted: Sunday, June 7th, 2015

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