“Papa, I think I found a way out. We need a small diversion to bring the air drones over to record the activity. We plan to convince them we are going out the backway, like everyone else has tried, so they will then flood to that escape route. But we go out the…
“Papa, are you listening? Papa? Mama, something’s wrong with Papa…he isn’t…Mama? No! No!”
The note she found told her everything about the why. They’d written about their pride in her and added apologies for not being better parents. Their sacrifice, they justified, was so she could have more to eat. It was bitter for her to know they hoped she would eat better while in this god-forsaken place, yet she was ready to escape. Jovana gently retrieved Ignacio’s makeshift razor and carefully tucked it away, in case she too lost all hope.
After a few ragged breaths coupled with final tears, she hardened her resolve and began the escape sequence for nightfall. Carefully assembling her few meager supplies, she then strapped them under her clothes. It was important to leave her hands free to hold her mother’s shawl over her to help mask her heat signature from the infrared capable video drones. Friends, anxious for a successful escape, would help keep the confusion in the compound going long enough for the ruse to provide her a modest head start. Rain was predicted to begin shortly before sunset which was also in her favor. The higher humidity levels along with the thick vegetation would further mask her escape and dampen her heat signature. With a little luck some steam would be coming up from the forest floor.
Jovana smirked at her idealism and fatalistically murmured, “But, if it doesn’t, then let me die trying. One way or the other, I’m not coming back.”
Distant rumbling, along with increased wind gusts, announced the approaching storm, soon followed by stray rain drops here and there. Jovana nodded her head in resolve and cinching up her few travel items quietly moved out of the hovel into the compound. Using no sounds to alert the flying drones, she simply squeezed the shoulders of her two accomplices who would carry out the separate diversions. She briefly stared into their eyes and silently pled with them to come along, but each shook their heads in resignation to their fate. Clasping each of her friends in a promise to give it her best, she moved silently to the latrine for her hidden escape vector.
Wasting no motion, she quickly lowered herself into one of the toilets. She held on to wait for the signal before releasing herself into the chute that sent the human waste out of the compound and down to the river. Moments later the rain began with a thunderous pounding on the roof of the latrine, then she heard the first noises of the planned diversions. She almost laughed at their cover story of welcoming the Brazilian rain god with clanging and banging sounds heralding new growth and more water for electricity. She needed a quick chuckle to help her overcome the latrine stench.
With the noise reaching a peak crescendo, first of the four in the plan, she released her hands to slide down the chute and into the channel used to move waste out. The stench was horrific, but she chided herself for being so delicate which helped her overcome the gagging. Any unnecessary sounds now would surely register on the drone sensors. Her total being focused on getting out the chute, through the grate, and out to freedom.
True to her reckoning, there was a grate to keep the wild animals out and the wilder animals in. Ideally it was only necessary to gain enough wiggle room to get through, so she landed both feet solidly against the grate hoping one or more of the bolts holding it would break free. Infuriatingly the bolts held and for a brief moment she felt trapped. In panicked frustration she drug herself back up, then slid down again with all the momentum she could generate. The grate did not yield, but she felt it loosen on one side. Quickly retrieving her father’s treasured knife, she opened up the screwdriver and used it to take out the holding screw.
Water was now beginning to flow down the shoot and she knew that there wasn’t much time left. The cover of rain was needed for her to get as far away as possible undetected.
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