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Tempura Fugitive

Scalzi Story

Wherein I take a band name from Scalzi’s Next Band Name list, and spend no more than 20 minutes writing the story (so not really any editing) with the band name as a title. Today's story is Tempura Fugitive


Chen looked around furtively. This was not a good place to be, and he knew it. Unfortunately, he didn't know where else to be, so this was it. He sat hunched low at the edge of a concrete wall, the darkness of the factory pressing in around him. He could see the exit sign at the far end of the cavernous building, the cheerful green showing him the way to freedom. It was close, and so very far away.

Chen glanced up to see the moonlight streaming in through the windows near the ceiling, the light not quite reaching the factory floor. The floor was dark. He wasn't sure he knew the layout well enough to make it to the exit.

Footsteps echoed in the hallway around the corner from Chen. He looked back the direction they came from, then back at the exit door. He might be able to make it, if he was quick and very, very lucky. The footsteps stopped.

Chen took a deep breath as silently as he could, readying himself.

When the footsteps started again, Chen jumped up, tucked the bag he was carrying under his arm, and started running for the green exit sign as quietly as he could. Chen's soft shoes left very little sound as he moved, but he still matched his foot strikes to the sound of the footsteps that grew fainter as he moved. The slow cadence made Chen's movements awkward. He didn't mind.

As the exit sign grew close, Chen slowed down. Now was the worst time to lose concentration. He imagined the exit as far away as it had been just a minute before, so that he could see past his goal. He stopped, and looked around, the moonlight seeming brighter at this end.

Giant vats loomed over Chen. He shifted this bag under his arm slightly to his back. Those vats were large enough to hold an elephant, and had enough oil in them to drown said elephant. He stepped between the two closest vats.

A moment later, he heard a quiet cough from the direction of the exit sign. He stepped a few steps farther back and waited.

The sound didn't repeat itself.

Chen turned in the direction he had been slowly moving. He saw the outline of a door, a glazed window illuminated slightly. He smiled ever so slightly.

Chen crouched over, checked the bag again, then moved to the door. When he reached it, he took a deep breath, held it, exhaled, took another deep breath, and pushed the bar down slowly.

No creaking. No alarms.

He pushed the door open to see an alley. He slide sideways through the door, and closed it gently, before turning and running back the direction he had just come, along the length of the factory wall, towards the front.

Forty steps.

Twenty steps.

Twelve more steps to the edge of the building, and a hard left turn as fast as his legs would carry him. If he made it, the Family's Secret Recipe would guarantee his sister's safety.

Five steps to see if his plan could work.

One step.

Chen turned left, and ran.

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