"Okay, boys, here's the sewer pipe. You ready for a shit-shower?" Johnny led the way into the dark hole, trying to remember to breathe through his mouth, not his nose.
Stage One of the plan was complete. Now it was time for Stage Two. Johnny checked back to make sure that the others were following, and then didn't look back. It would be a long, slow crawl, worming their way along on their stomachs, but it was freedom that awaited them at the other end. A freedom of wide open spaces, and no guards watching them, waiting for them to put just a single toe out of line. There would be no more 9pm lights out, no more showering with a bunch of other guys, no more wondering if their cellmates were going to stab them to death during the night, just blessed freedom. That was all that went through their minds as they crawled through that foul-smelling pipe, trying not to gag, trying to get this stage of the operation over and done with as quickly as they could, while thoughts of giant steaks and pumpkin pies hovered in their minds.
"Christ, when is this damn shit pipe going to end?" Jack grumbled from the end of the line, his voice echoing hollowly.
"Shut up, moron! I know its tough, but its going to be a lot worse if you keep whining!" Johnny snapped at him.
They had been crawling along in the darkness for about half an hour, and the stench was really starting to get to them, when Johnny spotted something.
"Well, there it is, boys. The light at the end of the tunnel."
The light in question was actually just a floating grey blob in the darkness at the moment, but it got bigger as they got closer, and the tunnel started to get brighter, and their hearts leapt. They all knew that this would be the worst part of their journey, they knew what to expect, but it was still pretty awful. Not for much longer, though, and even Jack stopped muttering under his breath, which, in this place, had carried quite easily to the others.
"Okay, we gotta go carefully. It would be a shame to get caught now, just as we're about to get out of here." Johnny told them, slowing his pace slightly, and when they reached the end of the sewer, he peered out cautiously, before motioning the others to follow him.
They wormed their way slowly out of the sewer pipe, and into the river with barely a splash. The water was absolutely freezing, and Chris had a hard time stopping himself from crying out. They swam across, trying not to make anymore noise than necessary, and then they crawled up the bank, keeping their heads as low as possible. They could see the woods now, and they crawled towards it with as much speed as they had. Once they were well covered by the trees, Johnny knelt, and looked around before getting to his feet, looking around again, and then motioning for the others that the coast was clear.
From where they stood, they could see the black specks moving along the walls of the prison, which looked clean and tidy from this distance. The four of them looked at it then all grinned at each other, took one last look at the place they had lived for so long, then turned away into the forest.
"How long do you think it'll be before the alarm's raised?" Jack asked.
"I dunno. They might notice that we're not there when everyone comes out of the workshop, but then again, they might not. Either way, we want to put as much distance between us and them as we can. We've got to be careful we don't go around in circles, though." Johnny finished, as they set off into the woods.
They had been walking for about an hour, listening out for the alarm at the prison, when it started to rain gently.
"We should stop and make a shelter," Chris said, looking at Johnny.
"A little rain won't kill us, Chris. Besides, we're still quite close. If we stop here now, and they notice we've gone, the dogs'll probably find us." Dave put in, and Johnny nodded, quickening his pace. As the rain started to get heavier, it began to get darker, but Johnny didn't dare switch on the flashlight yet. They talked little as they trudged on through the gathering darkness, all of them cold, wet, and uncomfortable.
About half an hour later, they all decided to stop under a big old tree for a brief rest. The rain had got heavier, and every now and then, loud rumblings of thunder could be heard. The forest was almost pitch black.
"Is it just me, or does that prison sound really nice right now?" Jack, looking like a half drowned rat, grumbled.
"You gotta be kidding me!"
"Chris, shut your mouth. Jack, if you wanna go back, get a move on instead of bitching." Johnny fished his cigarettes out of his pocket, where he had kept them in a plastic bag, stuck one in his mouth, lit it, and offered the pack around. He knew that tempers were beginning to fray, and it would get worse as the others got hungry.
"Hurry up, we've got to keep moving," he told the others tersely, pitching his cigarette butt away, waiting for the others to get up off the ground, then he started to walk again, not caring if they followed him or not. Jack stood for a moment, watching, before following.
It had been six hours since they left the prison, and night was beginning to fall. Johnny was sure that their escape would have been discovered by now, and he could only hope that there was some confusion over which way they had gone. It was getting colder, they were all hungry and tired now, and the smokes had run out some time before. They were all soaked to the skin, and utterly miserable. The prison seemed to be paradise compared to this. It would be warm in there, they would have had dinner by now, and there would be a bed each, under a roof. All they had to look forward to was a cold, wet night under the trees. They kept walking doggedly on, not even taking the time and energy to grumble at one another now. The batteries in the flashlight had ran out some time ago, and they all got a bit of a shock when Johnny walked into the large concrete wall that was now blocking the way forward.
"Jesus! Where'd that come from?" he asked stupidly, while Dave cracked up in laughter.
"Nice going, Johnny!"
"Oh, shut up, and give me a boost up, moron," Dave's grin widened as he moved forward to help his friend, then stood back as Johnny pulled himself up onto the wall.
"Anything exciting up there?" Chris called up to him.
"Yeah, shelter, and a place to hide," Johnny called down, and the others hauled themselves up onto the wall.
They found themselves looking across expansive grounds, complete with outhouses, an office, and a large concrete building, five stories high.
"All right! I wonder if there's any food in there?" Jack piped up from where he sat upon the wall.
"I dunno, let's go and find out," Johnny didn't wait for an answer, but jumped down from the wall, and headed across the grass, while three large thuds told him that the others were following.
"Where the hell are we, anyway?" Dave asked as they reached the door to the main building.
Johnny flicked his lighter, and in the weak glow they could all read the plaque that was set beside the door.
"There you go, Dave, this place is Brook Asylum," Johnny said, as the lighter died.
"Great. Our only shelter is a nuthouse. Fabulous." Chris commented, as the four of them trooped inside through the shattered front doors, all of them noticing the chair that lay forlornly on the lawn. Then Brook Asylum swallowed them up.