Alec stares at them uncomprehending. He thought they were weak- all used up by the vampires- but now their every movement is swift and efficient and synchronised.
“What…what is going on?” Alec asks.
“We’re making an escape tunnel.” The words are quick and curt.
A chisel is handed to him but his hands are trembling too much to do a thing. This is insane. The vampires will catch them. They will all be caught. They will all be killed. The chisel falls and clangs onto the floor. Everyone pauses and stares.
Someone sighs and finally explains. “Every day we’re released an hour before nightfall as the sun is beginning to set. The vampires are still weak and most still in bed. There’s usually only one of them on watch to deal with any early customers and they’re too busy to pay us much attention. We have an hour before the place really comes alive. We use this hour every day to work on our escape and every day we get closer.”
Alec is unsure whether to feel gleeful or terrified. “How long have you been doing this?”
“A long time. But we’re close now.”
Everyone starts putting everything back into place. Their faces shifting back to the glazed look of over-used blood slaves before they head out to the main room of the vampire bar.
Alec slips into a similar stance to the others, affecting blank empty submission. It wears on him. But he lives for that one hour. One of his eyes is always straying to a clock, counting down to that hour of action, of freedom, of fighting.
It’s hope. It’s something to hold onto and Alec holds on with his entire being. It’s hard to sleep, nervous energy thrumming through him. He has nightmares of cold vampire hands clutching his ankles. He tries not to think too much as his neck is bitten into, lest it shows on his face. He wonders if maybe he’ll die before the tunnel is finished. Whether they will all die or be caught. Whether it will all be for nothing.
His fingers are right on the stone as the last inches of dirt fall away. He feels the air rush against his hand first and then sees light- sees outside. He grins, silencing the cheer rising through him. He sees the others in turn struggle to keep their joy contained. They hug and clap each other on the back.
“We need to wait for tomorrow. Give ourselves as much time as possible to get away before being noticed.”
“No, we can’t just wait!” Alec protests but he knows they’re right.
That night is the longest. Alec imagines fangs sliding too deep and flinches from the vampire customers like he’s new again. He doesn’t sleep the entire day. Fidgets as he’s being released. The vampire unlocking his chains pins him with a searing look and asks, “Is there somewhere you need to be?”
Alec is certain they’ve been caught. The tunnel has been discovered. His palms sweat and his heart thumps in his chest. He stutters, “No…n no…nowhere.”
The vampire just laughs at him and finishes undoing the chains.
They draw straws. Someone will have to stay behind so no one notices they’re gone. That person will likely be killed. They’ve all made their peace with it. Alec fills with relief once he sees his straw, followed by a swift hit of guilt. But he leaves without protest.
The journey through the tunnel is slow and agonising and the wide open distance once outside even more so. But it’s still early and they’re careful enough to go unnoticed. Hour after hour they move further and further away, road by road, block by block, still cautious. There are still vampires around, probably looking for them. But not just that, they’re everywhere. None of them say it but Alec feels he must, if only so it’s stated and acknowledged.
“The vampires have taken over the whole city.”
It’s a sombre thought but they’ve come too far to just give up.
Somehow they manage to get out of the city. They move across the country. The days drift into weeks. The reality of the situation is becoming more obvious. Things are bleaker by the day. Alec tells himself they’re only seeing the small picture, even though he knows he’s wrong. No one wants to say it aloud this time. But everyone knows.
There’s no escape. The vampires have taken the whole world.