Barry's Predicament: A Tale Of Two Pizzas
Barry sat on his bed, exhausted and hopeless. "I can't believe it... My own sister, a master spy, refused to help me out of this mess."
He had been working on the grounds for sixteen hours a day, every day. Some nights he was too tired to eat the one meal provided. Considerably leaner, with some proper rest Barry would be in the best shape of his life. Without that rest, he would soon be a cripple.
"What am I waiting for? Nobody is going to help me. I might as well try to escape. Either I'll be free or it'll finally be over."
The last part made him gulp. The Predas would not deliver a swift, painless death. Still it would be faster than being worked to death. Or the pills might give him a quick end.
He fingered the sleeping pills wrapped in a piece of his handkerchief, which he kept in his secret pocket sewn inside his tattered tailored dress pants.
The pills were from before the Fall. He had found the little package in the thick dust under a pallet. While moving crates out of one of the storage rooms in the cellar of one of the larger outbuildings, his foot had become caught in the slats.
It was while extricating his trapped foot that he discovered the package. He quickly tore them out of the box and hid it under the pallet. His ankle was badly sprained, so he didn't have to pretend he was having difficulty with the situation.
If he took them there wouldn't be any chance of anyone guessing what ailed him, even if they thoroughly searched him and his surroundings. "If I take them all, they'll think I'm dying. They might be right, but it would be the best way to go. It's risky but it's my only chance. If I wake up in the infirmary, I have a good chance at getting out of here..."
He knew he would never be able to fake it. The Predas would undoubtedly find some very painful ways to see if Barry was in fact unconscious. Saying a final prayer, he got a glass of water. The hard part would be swallowing so many without any hidden watchers noticing.
He took a sip of water, then put the glass on the table beside his bed. Extinguishing the lantern, he yawned. In the pitch dark, Barry swallowed one pill after another.
Rachel knew that Barry would be under guard. She would have to wait for an opportunity. The cleaning lady disguise would be perfect, so long as she didn't get recruited into the arts program. She attached herself to another new servant, and was assigned to a bunk.
Early the next morning she waited around outside of Barry's room, sweeping. Sure enough, a large guard came. But he exited the suite quickly, and alone.
Seconds later several guards hauled him out unceremoniously, obviously dead or unconscious. She had to stay there, and wait to see where he would eventually end up. If he was alive he would be brought back, or taken to the infirmary.
"He's done... Oh well, the rat lasted longer than I thought he would!" said the Oil Baron, laughing.
"Take him to the infirmary and tell them to check for any possible disease, then when he's gone dump him in the furnace." said Mrs. Preda.
""Yes Ma'am. Should I stay with him, just to make sure?"
"No, I need you and the others at the gate. I don't want anyone leaving or entering without a good reason. And I want those who do leave thoroughly investigated."
"Of course, Ma'am."
Barry was hauled out by his heels, happily snoring away. He was finally getting the sleep he craved. Dumped roughly onto a folding cot, he was left to his own devices.
Rachel waited until it was apparent that her brother was not going to be returned to his suite. She then found her way to the infirmary.
"Barry! Wake up. It's me, Rachel." When even a good swift kick to the backside failed, she angrily dumped him into a basket meant for dirty laundry. Throwing the worst smelling bedsheets she could find over him, she wheeled him out.
"I will need to wake him before we can leave the city. There's no way of explaining this if they search me. I guess it's back to the abandoned shop for now."
Easily blending into the dull workforce, Rachel reached her destination. The rapidly darkening sky aided her in getting her load inside. She simply had to feign a broken wheel until the coast was clear.
Still unable to wake Barry, she was stumped. He was breathing normally. He just wouldn't wake up. "Come on, you can sleep after we get out of here."
"Well if that's how you want it, we will have to wait until morning to leave. You were the one in such a downright hurry to get home. But Danny will need to be informed about everything I have learned, and the sooner the better."
"STILL SLEEPING?!?!" Rachel exclaimed, incredulous. Barry had been slumbering for twenty-four hours, that she knew of for sure. If he went to sleep at a normal time it had been around thirty.
Searching around, she found what she needed. Red hot pepper. Opening it, she sprinkled a little on his tongue and waited. He never had been able to tolerate spicy food.
A couple of minutes later, he stirred. Reaching out, he groped for a glass which was not there. Suddenly realizing that he wasn't in his suite he was now fully alert.
Rachel smiled. The two superspies were reunited at last.
"Welcome back, dear brother. We have work to do."
Cover image is from Canva, using their gallery