Escape into Society Part 2
This is the second part of my short story, Escape into Society, the first part can be found here.
Escape into Society Part 2
Sarah’s vision was blurred as she drove through the night. Woota had already fallen asleep, exhausted from being pursued in his cloister and then overwhelmed with the outside world.
She knew she couldn’t go home. Sarah wasn’t sure if the police would be called, or if the administrators at Project Embryo would just opt to use their personal security force that normally watched over the facility. In either case, her house would be the first place to check.
Sarah decided to go to a hunting and backpacking cabin that she and her coworkers partied at on some weekends. It wasn’t necessarily the best place to go, all things considered, but she couldn’t think of a better place in her current state at almost 4 in the morning.
After about an hour of driving and almost nodding off many times, Sarah pulled off the road and parked by the cabin. Woota was still sleeping so Sarah quietly exited the vehicle to investigate the cabin. After quietly entering the cabin and using her phone’s light, she determined that, as she hoped for, it was empty since it wasn’t the weekend yet.
Sarah went back out to the car and carefully rustled Woota from his slumber. As she anticipated, he was quick to get defensive and she tried to calm him down. “Home, safe” she cooed. She pointed towards the cabin “Sleep, nice.” Woota looked at the cabin. It was similar to the huts they lived in, but it was much more angled and organized looking. Small square holes in the side of the building made him think it was a similar clear material to the windows in the car. He was unsure how water could be so hard without it being frozen, as they had no glass in the cloisters, but it was the only thing he could compare it to. Brushing his thoughts aside while rubbing his bleary eyes, he silently followed Sarah inside the house.
They entered the house and Sarah closed the door behind them. Woota was slightly startled by the sudden brightness as she turned on the lights, but he remained composed enough. Woota was then led to one of the bedrooms where she showed him his bed. “Here, sleep, nice.” Her vocabulary was coming back to her now that she wasn’t as charged on adrenaline as before and she could start to express some more meanings than during their first encounter.
Woota said something that she didn’t quite understand, so he tried to express himself in a different way. “Scared” was all he said as his eyes started to water.
Sarah choked up looking at him. He didn’t look only scared, he looked terrified as he awkwardly stood there in the middle of the room. “Here, safe. I, watch” she said, trying to convey that he was safe with her. Sarah slowly closed the gap between them, intent on reassuring him. She originally wanted to hug him, but paused half an arm’s length away. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to hug him, but she recalled that Woota and the other members of his cloister had never really hugged each other. She quickly searched her memory, trying to recall what the members of 16B did to reassure each other. Sarah slowly rapped her right palm around his neck, drawing his head towards her. She touched his nose to hers, comforting him in a way that their tribe was more familiar with.
They stood like that in silence as Woota trembled for a few minutes. Eventually pulling back, Sarah showed him his bed, even telling him “Sleep” while pointing to the bed. They were used to sleeping on deer hides on the ground, so an elevated bed with cloth sheets was an unfamiliar thing to him. Still wearing his leather dress like tunic, he sat down on the bed. Sarah walked to the door, and tried to reassure him one more time. “Safe” she softly said. She then went to her room, took off her pants, turned off the light and lay down herself.
After a couple minutes, Sarah noticed that his light was still on since it illuminated the hallway. Curious, she got back up and poked her head through his doorway, only to find Woota half-glaring at the light before looking at her as he noticed her. She let out a short laugh, realizing that he didn’t understand how light switches quite worked. She put her arm in the doorway and touched the light switch. She wasn’t sure how to describe it, since they didn’t quite have an equivalent of “on” or “off.” “Night” she said, flicking the switch to turn off the light. Woota let out a surprised yelp, seeing how this light source turned off immediately by her merely touching a spot on the wall. “Day” she said, turning it back on. He just stared at her, almost as if he was expecting her to do something more. Unsure of what to do, Sarah demonstrated the light switch a couple times for him before he got up. She took his hand, showing him how to turn it on and off himself. Confident that he could do it, she went back to her room and lay back down.
After a minute or so, the light in Woota’s room turned off. Then back on. Then off and on again a few more time. After a few cycles of light, he let out a quiet, but still audible chuckle that Sarah could just barely manage to hear in her room.
Despite her exhaustion, it was nice to see Woota find some humor in his situation, and a slight grin crossed Sarah’s face as she lay in her bed. Knowing they had a long day tomorrow though, she had to get him to go to bed. “Sleep!” she half yelled across the cabin. One more cycle of lights followed by a chuckle from the other room, and then the lights went off and remained off.
So much had happened and Sarah felt like she was never going to be able to sleep. Where would they go in the morning? Who would be after them? What was she going to do with Woota? Those and many other concerns clouded her mind, and although she felt that she would never be able to sleep, her sheer exhaustion won over and she was fast asleep within a few minutes. Woota was scared of his new surroundings, but he wasn’t really aware of the situation he was in, and he didn’t have a specific thing to fear, like being caught or how to survive. His less crowded mind permitted him a much easier time going to sleep.
Sarah didn’t get much sleep as she was woken up by her phone at about 9am, only 4 or so hours after going to sleep, as a flurry of phone calls came in. As expected, all the calls were from the office; it was obvious that they had already discovered what happened and were trying to get a hold of her. The phone didn’t only wake up Sarah, but Woota was now hitting the main door of the cabin. Ignoring her phone, she quickly ran out of the room, forgetting to put her pants back on as she rushed out to address Woota’s issue. He seemed distressed, like he wanted to get outside but didn’t know how to. Woota saw her and pleaded with her, but she couldn’t quite understand what he was saying since she was still groggy-minded after just waking up after such little sleep.
Woota pointed at his crotch, repeating himself before banging on the door again. Not entirely sure what he wanted, she cautiously came up beside him. He slowed down and then stopped banging on the door as she got closer, eventually moving to the side as Sarah reached for the door handle. He watched intently as she turned the deadbolt and then pushed the lever down and then swung the door inwards. As she opened the door, Woota hurriedly sidestepped around her and half ran, half limped out the door. As soon as he was outside, he went to the nearest bush, pulled up the lower half of his tunic and started urinating.
It was too early after such little sleep, but Sarah couldn’t help but chuckle to herself as she considered the fact that Woota had yet to see a modern toilet. At least he was considerate enough to not go inside the house. Sarah turned to grant him some privacy and went back inside the cabin. While preparing a meager breakfast from the canned foods in the cabin, Woota cautiously entered the cabin, guided by the aroma of the canned vegetables that Sarah was frying in a pan. It was a basic dish, but both of them were famished and Woota kept eyeing the pan in anticipation.
“Hunger?” She ask him. Woota slowly thrust his head forward, much like someone imitating a chicken. They didn’t nod in his cloister, they had developed the forward head thrust visual cue for showing a positive response instead. To show a negative response, like how we would shake a head, they would thrust the head backwards, as if they were recoiling from something. That, and many other non verbal communication gestures, were different in all the cloisters compared to what we were used to. Sarah smiled and instructed him to sit and wait while she poured the food onto 2 plates and handed him one of them and sat down at the table in the corner of the room.
Woota stood there at first, holding his plate, unsure if he should seat himself as well until Sarah instructed him to sit down after pushing a chair away from the table for him to sit in. Woota took his place and gently set the food on the table like Sarah had. The food in front of him was a familiar concept to him. The metallic fork laying on his plate was not, and he curiously stared at it before questioningly looking back at Sarah for guidance. Sarah had already shoveled a mouthful of food into her mouth, and was already withdrawing her fork from her mouth at Woota glanced at her. She couldn’t help but silently chuckle again as she again considered the fact that he had never used a fork. Sarah demonstrated how to scoop and stab the vegetables in order to eat the food with modern table manners. Woota clearly hadn’t quite developed the ability to intricately hold a fork like most people do, and he held it in his hand like one would a tool with the tip sticking out of the top like a hammer. He tried to eat like her, but he ended up more or less using the fork in conjunction with his other hand to scoop the food into his mouth like they typically did in his cloister where they simply ate with their hands and without silverware.
They quickly finished their food, and Sarah pondered their next steps. They needed to move, but she wasn’t sure where. She also had many burning questions for Woota, and he also needed to know what was happening. Woota started asking her about items in their immediate surrounding in the cabin, and she explained what everything was and the ideas and concepts that went behind them. How they made pictures, what a radio was, what a microwave was, and all sorts of other things in the cabin. He was amazed at all these things, and since the technology simply didn’t exist for a lot of things, she found it challenging to explain things to him. She also posed some direct questions about beliefs and norms in his cloister that they weren’t sure of since they were never able to directly question anyone.
The conversation eventually shifted from him and his cloister, and Woota started asking other things about what she was doing and how she knew what was about to happen to him the previous night. He then asked why they were stuck in the cloister if everyone else was free, and why she and the others were just watching them. Sarah wasn’t ready to answer this question. She felt a lump in her throat as she held back tears when she saw how confused he was that he was forced to live in the cloister since he never chose that and everyone else outside of the cloister experienced a life full of these amazing gadgets he was asking her about. She told him that she would explain it later, but for now she broke off the conversation, explaining that they really needed to get moving, and fast.
It was likely that people would be looking and waiting for them. Woota didn’t understand how a warning could travel faster than a human, or car, since that was now the fastest thing he had seen. Sarah had to quickly explain that the phone she had, like everyone did, allowed her to instantly communicate with people anywhere around the world. The same device would be used by others to warn them that they escaped and to be ready for them. It was hard to explain because Woota didn’t understand electricity or wireless technology or any of the basic functions of a phone, so she had to settle with simply explaining that everyone had these things, and you could talk to anyone else with it, regardless of how close or far they were from you.
Sarah started searching on the internet for where she could safely take Woota. They couldn’t stay in the cabin or the wilderness forever. What she needed was some organization or group that could protect him and fight for his freedom. She found the Organization for the Discontinuation of Project Embryo, or the ODPE, which was an NGO that started shortly after Project Embryo became public knowledge more than 200 years ago. The ODPE had rapidly grown to thousands of members and activists, all fighting for the rights of the humans and babies within Project Embryo after its inception. Over time though, as public opinion became indifferent, the organization lost members and funding, slowly reducing it over the centuries to its current state. The ODPE was now just a shadow of its former self. There was now only a few dozen members, although most of them didn’t even participate that much. They had an office in Toronto, but only a half dozen people worked there, and they busied themselves with creating awareness pamphlets and posters which they tried to regularly distribute, as well organizing the occasional public rally that managed to attract a couple hundred attendees at best, but usually no more than a few dozen. A meager attendance turnout, dwarfed by the overflowing attendances at stadiums at its inception when the public was still very emotional about the whole situation.
Sarah was afraid that her phone might be tracked if she made a call now, so she opted to instead start driving in their direction and to contact them while on the road, either by Email or phone. For now, they would head out and start driving towards Toronto. She packed some provisions from the cabin in her car as Woota wordlessly watched her.
“We run much” Sarah explained over her shoulder as she packed the car, trying her best to convey that they had to travel a lot. They never had to really move or travel long distances in their enclosed cloister, so it was about the best explanation that she could think of giving.
“To safety. Here are bad people. They want to catch us.” With that, Woota grew quiet as she finished packing.
They were both outside, and Sarah closed the cabin door behind her as she left the place. They entered the vehicle, Woota still apprehensive, but not nearly as much as his first encounter, and they drove on the dirt road past the cabin.
She didn’t want to go back the way she came, so she took back-roads to avoid Project Town until she got to another smaller village. After a few minutes of searching, she managed to find an ATM, which was lucky since ATMs were about as rare as payphones are today, with payphones being completely extinct. She withdrew as much cash as she could because she knew she was going to have to pay for gas and food along the way and she didn’t want her credit card to leave a paper trail for anyone to follow. After getting enough cash, they went to an attended gas station where she filled up her Jeep and got some food and drinks for both of them. She paid for everything with cash, which threw the attendant off since cash was used so infrequently. Sarah got back in the car where Woota was impatiently waiting. He again pointed at his crotch, and it dawned on her that she had failed to show him how to use a bathroom at the cabin.
“Wait please” she pleaded, deciding that here was not the best place to show him how to use a toilet, and fearing that letting him just go in the bushes near the gas station would attract too much attention. He looked confused and almost slightly angry, but he grudgingly thrust his head forward in silent agreement.
They started driving on a smaller road towards Toronto again until they got far enough out of the village that there were no more houses. Sarah pulled over and let Woota take care of business before continuing along the road.
They were both exhausted, having slept very little the previous night. She had bought 2 coffees while she was in the gas station, one for each of them, and she happily drank hers once they resumed driving. Sarah offered a coffee to Woota. He tried it and drank a big gulp of it which ended up burning his mouth. They never drank anything but cold stream water in his cloister, and he hadn’t expected a hot drink. He was also disgusted by the taste since he had never developed a taste for coffee. She ended up drinking his coffee as he angrily brooded, feeling tricked by her into drinking it.
During their first day on the road, Woota was content with watching the scenery flow by and asking questions about unknown things, which Sarah happily explained. He didn’t understand other cars, roads, street signs, large houses, and many other things they drove by, and Sarah had to explain all these things to him.
After the initial flurry of calls in the morning, the frequency of phone calls Sarah was getting had subsided. Nevertheless, she was still getting some calls from work. Since she was already driving, she decided to finally answer an incoming call. She briefly explained to Woota that she was going to have to talk to someone via her phone, but the sound would come through the car’s speakers. With butterflies in her stomach, her sweaty hand clicked the green button to accept a call on the Jeep’s screen.
“Hello?” she simply said, trying to contain her apprehension at answering the call.
“Sarah, what the hell is going on!?” Her immediate supervisor, Dave, was frantic. “We have been trying to get a hold of you all day long.” You didn’t show up this morning, and there was a lot of commotion in 16B. We decided to look at the security footage and it looks like you took a subject away from their cloister!”
Growing bolder and more defiant, she snapped at him. “He isn’t a subject, his name is Woota” she sternly said. Woota looked at her after hearing his name, but continued to look cluelessly on as she continued to talk in English, which he still didn’t understand.
“Sarah…” he sighed before continuing. He had calmed down, and he was speaking in a mellowing way a parent would speak to their scared child. “What happened? You knew what you were getting into when you first started researching this, and you never had a problem with it. I know it can feel questionable at times, but think of all the research you have been able to achieve and all that we have learned about human development.” Sarah remain silent, so he continued, “Please come back, bring him back, and we can work this out.”
“What?” Dave was taken back. “What are you going to do then? I just don’t get what you’re trying to accomplish or why you took him from his cloister.”
“He should be free. They should all be free, and this just isn’t right to keep them all locked up like that.”
“Sarah, there’s nowhere for you to take him. Bring him-”
“No!” She shouted at him as she cut him off.
“Sarah, you are forcing me to call the police right now for theft and kidnapping if you don’t return with him.” Sarah was trembling, afraid, yet excited. She didn’t know what else to say or do, so she simply clicked the button to hang up the phone.
Silence resumed in the car. Sarah was obviously agitated, on the verge of tears, and Woota noticed that. He wasn’t sure what to say or do, so he just remained quiet, looking forward, but continuing to observe her from the corner of his eyes. Sarah was playing their conversation over in her head, and she realized that Dave said they would be forced to call the police. That implied that they hadn’t called the police yet, which meant that she likely wasn’t already being monitored or pursued by the police in any manner. She figured it would be better to call the ODPE before the situation got any worse. She fumbled around on her phone, relocating their phone number while she was driving until she found it and initiated a call.
The ring of her phone sounded throughout the car’s speakers. It rang again, and then again. The phone rang about 7 times, which meant that they didn’t have a voicemail set up, but it also meant that nobody was answering. She was about to hit the disconnect button and try again later when somebody finally answered.
“Hello, this is the Organization for the Discontinuation of Project Embryo. What can I help you with?” The voice greeting her was from a younger female, likely in her twenties. She sounded guarded, almost skeptical of the call, wondering if someone was calling with real interest, or if this was another prank or hate call.
“Hi, we need help” Sarah blurted out before really thinking of what to say.
The other voice turned more sarcastic, “If you are having a medical emergency, then you should hang up and dial 911.”
Unabashed, Sarah continued. “We need a place to go. I don’t know, I don’t know what to do. I have him and they are going to call the police and take him back, and he should be free.”
“Who exactly do you have” She returned to sounding skeptical, but more receptive than before.
“I am sorry, I am really on edge right now. Let me start from the beginning.” Sarah paused quickly to gather her thoughts before continuing. “My name is Sarah McMurdo and I am a scientist at Project Embryo. There was a conflict last night, and one of the people in one of our cloisters was going to be killed. I interfered and broke him out of there. We are now running away in my Jeep and I don’t know what to do or where to go.”
There was silence on the other end of the line until she managed to ask a less-than-reassuring, “What?”
Composing herself before losing her patience, she continued “Can you help us? I don’t know where to go or what to do with him. They are obviously going to call the police, and we obviously can’t remain in Project Town.”
“Yes, we can help, but our resources are really limited these days, and we are actually in Toronto, which is considerably far away from you guys.”
“Yea, we are already driving south, so we could head towards Toronto.”
“This isn’t a joke, right?”
Sarah started to almost get angry. This was an organization that was devoted to setting these people free. Now that the opportunity was knocking on their door, it seemed like they didn’t know what to do. “No I am not joking! I have him in my car, he’s sitting right next to me! What do I need to do to prove it to you?!” She turned her attention to him, “Woota, say something please.” In her frustration, she forgot to switch languages which resulted in him not understanding him, although he did catch hearing his name again. She addressed him again in his language. “Speak to her, ‘I am here.’”
He complied with a quick and confused “I am here.”
Sarah resumed talking at that point. “Do you see? You obviously didn’t understand him because he still only speaks his language, but I really have him in the car with me. His name is Woota, and we need help. My boss is going to call the police soon, and we need to get somewhere fast.”
“I also got some others on the line while you were talking, and one of them has an idea.”
“Hello” another voice broke in, this one from an older male. “My name is Steven and I am the project leader. Due to budget constraints, we don’t have an office in the Northwest Territories anymore, and we are only located in Toronto.”
“I know, we are driving there now, but I imagine it will take a few days.”
“Great, we have an unregistered apartment that we should be able to keep you guys at while we figure out something else more long-term. It will be obvious if you roll up to our address though, and you never know if the police will be able to access these calls. Let’s meet up in Sudbury, it’s a smaller town just north of Ontario. How long do you think it will take to drive there?”
“I am not sure, I would imagine 2 or 3 days, depending on how much I manage to drive each day.”
“That sounds about right. It doesn’t matter. In Sudbury, there is a restaurant called O’Malley’s on Elm Street. Simply call this number when you are there in the parking lot, and we will meet you there. I don’t imagine it will be hard to notice each other.”
“But what if they police listen in on the call then?”
“This is our office phone. We will leave it here, but then call one of the others who are there in Sudbury to notify them when we get another call from your number. We will wear some shirts of ours so you will recognize us. So just call us when you are in the parking lot and we will find you.”
“OK. Let’s do that then. We will try to get there as quick as possible.”
“Good luck and safe driving, Sarah, right?”
“Yep, and thanks.” With that, she hung up the phone and continued driving. Her mood had elevated noticeably. She felt like they now had a hope, they just had to get to Toronto. The rest of the day consisted of Sarah explaining what the 2 phone calls were about, and answering other questions about objects that they passed by while driving.
They drove until late in the evening. Their muscles ached after sitting all day, and they wanted to sleep more than anything. Woota never fell asleep in the car because it was all too unfamiliar for him to comfortably fall asleep in. They were not going to be able to get a hotel room without some identification, so it was decided that they would either sleep outside or in the car. They pulled off the main highway and took a back-road into the woods where she eventually pulled her car off the road into a clearing.
Due to their hasty escape, Sarah didn’t have a tent or even sleeping bags with her. It was luckily still the middle of summer, but it would still get chilly at night. Sarah told Woota that she didn’t have any suitable equipment with her, but Woota didn’t seem too worried. They both started collecting firewood for the night. Woota also insisted on finding some bigger rocks as well as sharp rocks. After making a fire, they ate some food that she previously bought at a gas station. Woota pushed some of the bigger rocks onto the fire in order to heat them up while the fire burned. He then dug what looked like two shallow graves near the fire. He explained that they would push the heated rocks into the holes and then push the dirt back on top of the rocks. The hot rocks would stay warm for a few hours and heat up the ground, allowing them to sleep a little more comfortably. Their only other sleeping supplies were Sarah’s jacket and a spare pullover that she had in her car. They both sat quietly by the fire until it got lower and the decided to go to sleep, both too tired to carry much more of a meaningful conversation.
They both awoke in the early morning with the sunrise. Shaking off the morning dew, they slowly got up and stretched their aching joints. They ate some more gas station food and drinks before getting in their car and resuming their journey towards Toronto. Sarah had long since turned off her phone in order to stop the barrage of phone calls she kept getting, but also to conserve her battery since she would need to call the ODPE in a couple days.
The day of driving luckily went by without any major difficulties. It was another day of continuous driving with the occasional stop to get gas or let Woota go to the backroom in the woods as Sarah had still not gotten the chance to teach him how to use a modern bathroom. Woota had seen a lot of the passing countryside during the previous day of driving, but today he finally started commenting on the distance itself. It was unbelievable to him how much distance they were covering. It took no more than a couple hours to traverse his cloister, but they had been driving at speeds that far surpassed walking speeds, and they had done it for hours upon hours. It started to blow his mind how big the world was, he wondered if there was ever an end, or if there was an even bigger wall around all of the land they were driving in, encapsulating them like his cloister was. He was also amazed at all the different things they drove by that didn’t exist in his cloister. The huge black road they drove on, the massive bridges over rivers wider than any creek in his cloister, all of the sharply built buildings, all of the other cars and so many people. Woota would occasionally ask who certain people were. Woota knew everyone in his cloister, and he was confused that Sarah didn’t know who all of these other people were.
Other than the barrage of questions that Woota proposed to Sarah, the day passed by without any complications. They kept driving towards Toronto, but after another 15 or so hours of driving, the shadows started to grow long and Sarah started to tire. They pulled off the highway and found another area to rest for the night in a clearing.
Like the previous night, they ate some food previously bought from a gas station as they huddled around a fire that Woota made, complete with rocks to bury for warmth. They talked again, this time about a more serious topic.
“Do you have fear?” Sarah quietly asked.
“No. Why would I?”
“At night, forests can give me fear. You don’t know what is there.”
“What would be there? Deer? They cause no harm.”
“Well there could be a…” struggling to find the word for a ‘Bear’. she realized that they didn’t have bears in his cloister so she simply said “Bear”, but as expected, he didn’t know what that was. “It’s not even ‘bears’ that give me most fear. It is other people.”
“What have other people done to give you fear?”
“Nothing specific. But you never know…”
“I don’t understand. Nothing done to give you fear, yet you have fear?”
“Well what about you?” Woota looked questioningly at her. She continued, “You were about to be killed or punished in your cloister. Does that not give you fear?”
Woota grew quiet, nervously looking over his should. “Yes… maybe I do have fear…”
“I’m sorry.” Sarah tried to apologize, but it seemed that she was too late and she had managed to instill a sense of fear in him. She instantly regretted projecting her fears onto him, and she tried to change the topic, but Woota didn’t react much. She didn’t know what else to do, so they silently watched the fire burn out before laying down next to each other on their heated beds and went to sleep.
Sarah woke up to find Woota clinging onto her arm in his sleep. It was such an innocent gesture, he just needed comfort, and she couldn’t help but smiling at him in his sleep as a mother would her child. After just enjoying the closeness for a few minutes, she eventually stirred enough to wake up Woota. The both silently got up and packed up their stuff and got back into the car. They were making good time, and she was hoping to be able to get to Sudbury by the end of the day.
As they neared Sudbury near the end of the day, she started to explain to Woota how the people were still following them, and they would have to meet up with some people who would try to help them. She ended up having to explain it to him in the framework that she had to speak to her village elders on his behalf so that their pursuers would hopefully stop and let them go. Inside though, she knew that it was going to be a long battle against the Project Embryo administration.
As she was getting close to Sudbury, she turned on her phone to call the ODPE. There were quite a few incoming text messages and voicemails, but she ignored them all. She called the ODPE, and it simply rang about 10 times. She wondered if the had said that they wouldn’t answer because he said they would call the people in Sudbury, so she hung up and hoped for the best. Pulling off the highway into Sudbury, her sweaty palms turned the steering wheel as she pulled onto Elm Street. She felt slightly more relaxed as she finally spotted O’Malley’s and pulled into the parking lot behind the restaurant. She told Woota to stay inside the car to avoid any unwanted attention as she stepped out and stood by the car, trying as best to inconspicuously scan the area for someone from the ODPE. About 15 minutes passed, and she was considering calling again when an unmarked white van eased into the parking lot from the road. There were 2 men in the front, an older man driving, and a younger man in the passenger seat. The van crawled past her, and stopped shortly afterwards. The younger man in the passenger seat opened the door, turned around and looked questioningly at Sarah. Sarah was getting nervous, not sure if this was the ODPE or undercover police, or maybe even just your typical robber. The man got out of the van though and started walking towards her.
Sarah let out a simply, questioning “Um?” as he approached, until he got close enough that she could read the letters on the left breast of his polo: ODPE. Sarah looked noticeably relieved, and he noticed that.
“Sarah?” he inquired, as he got closer.
Sarah simply nodded and reached her hand out, almost on the verge of tears with happiness that she had finally found some help that she could lean on.
He took her hand and shook it. “Hello Sarah, my name is John, and I am part of the Organization for the Discontinuation of Project Embryo. My colleague, Steven,” pausing to point out the older man who had stopped the car in the parking lot, disembarked, and was now walking towards them, “I believe you two spoke on the phone already, and I are here to help you get to Toronto. Where is Boota?”
“His name is Woota. He is in the Jeep.” She pointed towards the Jeep where they all looked and saw Woota staring back at them. Sarah couldn’t contain it and had to laugh at the way Woota was watching them. “So what is the plan from here?” she asked, looking back at John.
Steven cleared his throat before speaking. “I think the best course of action would be to simply abandon your Jeep for the time being. I would imagine the police would be looking for you, so I think it would be best if everyone got in our van and we could drive you two to a safe house we have on the outskirts of Toronto.”
Sarah didn’t like the idea of leaving her Jeep behind, but it couldn’t be helped. “You are probably right. Let me grab our things and lock my Jeep.”
Sarah went to her Jeep as the other 2 went to the van and opened the backdoor and quickly moved to gather up all the trash that was lying in the floorboard. “Come Woota, family, safe.” He got out with her and helped grabbed a bag that she was carrying. They then got into the back of the van and Steven started driving away from her Jeep.
Sarah explained to them that Woota still hadn’t quite learned English, so they wouldn’t be able to talk to him directly. She and the other 2 talked for a while as she explained what things were like for him, and ultimately why she decided to break him out. Woota had fallen asleep in the back of the van, and Sarah, exhausted after driving all day again, quickly followed suit as the conversation with the other 2 slowed down.
Woota and Sarah were awoken a couple hours later by Steven gently shaking their knees. Woota reacted quickly to push him back in surprise, but his seat belt kept him in place. Sarah was awake by then and calmed him down with some softly spoken words.
“I am sorry” Steven apologized. “I didn’t intend to startle either of you. However, we are here and I thought you two would be much more comfortable sleeping upstairs in some warm beds with blankets. I think a shower would do wonders too.” He laughed as he teased them about their general dirtiness and odor.
Sarah blushed in embarrassment, but still thanked him. She told Woota to follow, and they went up a flight of stairs to an apartment.
“This is an apartment that I pay for with cash only” Steven explained. “It has no official affiliation with anyone at the ODPE, so you guys should be safe here. Try to stay away from windows though and don’t answer the door without using the peephole, just to be safe.” He then showed them around the cozy 3 bedroom apartment with a kitchen and 1 bathroom. “I can see that you are both tired, so take care of business and we will figure out our next course of action in the morning. John and I will sleep in the 3rd bedroom so you both have some privacy.” It was almost midnight, and Sarah had no desire to shower nor how to show Woota how to use one, so she simply showed him his room, and she went to her room and laid down on the bed, elevated that she could sleep on a real bed for the first time in days. After 3 days of running, she finally felt a twinge of safety now that they were here. Woota also laid in bed and went to sleep, again confused at the change of location, but happy to be in such a soft bed.
A couple days prior, Sarah’s administrators had indeed called the police and said that she had stolen/kidnapped company property. The legality of the situation was questionable considering that he was a person and not an object, but the law wasn’t too clear on situations like this. In light of the confusion, a judge had approved a warrant for her arrest, and the police had been actively looking for her, and they would figure out what exact charges would apply when she and Woota were in custody.
In other events, the day after Sarah first called the ODPE, the ODPE’s Public Relations team got a little too excited with the information that they were going to assist someone who escaped from Project Embryo. They had made a public announcement that they were actively assisting “someone” who had helped someone escape. It had caught the media’s attention, and they were being constantly questioned by the public and news companies regarding what was really happening. It didn’t take long for the media to find out that there was an arrest warrant for Sarah, and the media was abuzz about how something that hadn’t happened since Project Embryo started was happening now. It also didn’t take long for police to connect the dots, and they had been actively monitoring any and all known members of the ODPE for a day or so.
The police used surveillance footage from cameras spread throughout the province, and they had been able to track the van up to Sudbury and back to the safe house. The fact that Steven had also used the van’s self driving feature to get them to the safe house only made it easier to find where they were since the police could access all self-driving cars’ recent driving history. Armed with the warrant for Sarah’s arrest, the police mobilized in the early morning after Sarah, Woota, John and Steven had arrived at the safe house.
It was shortly after 5 in the morning when the door to the apartment was kicked in. The sound startled all 4 of the people in the apartment awake. Their confusion was quickly cleared up when one of the officers shouted, “This is the Toronto Police department! You are all under arrest for robbery and kidnapping!”
Sarah froze in her bed, her biggest fear now realized, and just hours after getting somewhere where she thought they would finally be safe. She realized that Woota would not understand what was going on or what the police were saying. She sprang to the door and opened it, only to see Woota already in a scuffle with the police in front of his door. With all the yelling and loud noises, Woota had opened the door, and he was now fighting off the police officers who were yelling at him in a language he didn’t understand as they tried to arrest him. Woota was already bleeding from his nose, and he had his left arm close to his chest, both having been struck by batons from the officers.
“Stop! He doesn’t understand what is going on!” Sarah yelled frantically as 3 officers formed a half circle around him whom she ran to, shortly diverting their attention to her. She reached one of them and grabbed his arm, trying to prevent him from hitting Woota anymore. The police officer felt threatened and smacked her on the right side of her rib cage with his baton, causing Sarah to fall to the ground crying and clutching her side in pain as she struggled to breathe. Seeing this, Woota lashed out at the officer that hit her, violently hitting him with his right fist while the police officer was still looking at Sarah. One of the other offices turned and hit Woota on his back, and the third officer decided it was necessary to use his taser. He pulled out and aimed his taser as Woota and fired, causing Woota to tense up as he was electrocuted.
Sarah lay crumpled up on the floor, crying as she caressed her broken ribs. Woota was still lying on the ground, immobile after being electrocuted. The officers recomposed themselves, and then pushed both of them on their stomachs and handcuffed them as their rights were told to them. They were then pulled up and half carried through the door. Sarah saw Steven and John lying down in their bedroom as she passed by, both in handcuffs as well. They were all placed in the backs of separate cars where they were then taken to the local police station.
Part 3 of this story can be found here.