My dad used to tell me to not make promises that I could not keep. I promised him that, only to break it when I told my dad that I would ace all my exams, when in actual fact I was busy playing with my Gameboy. Seeing how hurt he was when he discovered that I had been lying, I told myself that no matter what promises I made, I would try my best to keep them or not to make any promises at all. Else I would just be a no good lying idiot. However, as I stood behind my cover - the founder’s words clearly ringing in the air - I felt a knot tightening in my heart. Because I had a feeling that I was going to break a promise again, this time to Alicia.
Something had gone wrong somewhere. Instead of finding the relatively quiet building that I had left earlier, the place was abuzz with activity. There were about a dozen guards standing around the main compound, and the search lights shone brightly on the cemented ground, glaring at the people underneath it with suspicion. I scanned the area looking for an entrance for me to slip in, and gasped in horror when my gaze passed the corner of the building. It was the founder, surrounded by several guards, and Alicia. She was slumped on the ground, her white dress stained with blotches of dark brown stain.
I began to feel a surge of panic rising inside me. What on earth happened?
From my position, I could not hear what the founder was saying, but he clearly was angry. He was gesturing wildly while shouting to Alicia. The founder kept pacing back and forth, still mouthing some sentence that I could not hear. His face was wild with anger, like he wanted to tear the heart out of someone. My heart and mind debated on what I should do. And I could not shake the feeling that it was me who put Alicia in her current position. I wanted to jump in immediately and save her, but that would not only be stupid, it was also deadly. Compromising the situation further was the last thing that I would like to do. I had asked Mike and the rest to wait for me at the jetty, and I knew they would not leave without me. Going in there would not only jeopardize myself, but all of us. And it would put to waste everything that I have done so far.
The best course of action for the time being was to understand the situation first. I wanted to see how the circumstances were before deciding on my next course of action, so I tried to sneak in closer. The dark environment around the main compound worked to my advantage as I stayed in the shadows of the wall. I kept crouching as I moved from cover to cover, making sure to avoid the eyesight of the other guards, until I was in range of the founder’s words. Soon I was standing behind a jeep, back against the cold metal of the door, and a solid brick wall in front of me. The founder’s words, as well as Alicia’s sobs, were clearly audible from where I stood.
“Where is he?!” I heard the founder bellow. His questions were met with only sobs coming from Alicia. He was supposed to be still down from the celebration, in his room sleeping as I had pictured him to be, not standing out there looking for me. What happened?
“Where the hell is he?” I heard the founder repeat again, this time with a louder voice. Alicia continued to sob without answering him. From the founder’s anger, I guessed that she had not told him anything yet. My whole being was in conflict. My mind was asking me to flee for my safety and back to my friends, while my heart was asking me to fight off the founder and save Alicia, but my feet just stood on the ground, firm and unmoving.
“Someone broke into the armory just now and he is nowhere to be found!” the founder continued, his tone rising with frustration. The armory? I thought the place I came from was the detention block. I might still be slightly under the influence of alcohol, but I certainly remember not stepping anywhere near the armory. And clearly I had been the detention block, rescuing my friends.
The founder paused immediately after the sentence, as if he had realized something important.
“The jail! He must be at the jail!” he cried out. Now he was unto me.
“You, you, you and you,” he pointed to the four guards standing closest to him, “follow me. The rest of you, bring this ungrateful woman back to her room, and let he know the consequences for betraying me.” The founder’s tone of voice was cold as ice by then. You could feel the displeasure behind the voice, and from even from where I stood, I could not help but to feel fear after hearing his words. The guards nodded at the founder’s orders, and proceeded to drag Alicia back into the building while the founder and the rest headed off into another direction. I heard the sound of the big wooden doors being closed, and after that, the night returned to the way it was before, silent and undisturbed.
I stood in my position for quite some time, unsure about what I should do. It was perhaps the hardest decision that I had to choose in my life. My mind went through all the possible choices that I could make, weighing each one of them carefully, picking one and discarding another one, and repeating the entire process again. But it was a time wasting process. My friends were waiting for me, and the founder was looking for me. When he discovers that my friends had escaped he would lock down the jetty, which was exactly where my friends were. I certainly could not afford to laze around.
The options kept repeating themselves in my mind. I could sneak in to the officer’s quarters and attempt to save Alicia, or I could head off to save her sister. What made me uncomfortable was how I said that I would save them both. The memory of seeing my father’s disappointed look when he saw me with my console, and how guilty I had felt looking at him, came crashing back again. Only this time, I would disappointing someone who had clearly trusted me.
In the end, to keep one promise, I realized that I have to break another. But I guessed this would have been what Alicia wanted, and it was my initial promise too. I left the shadows that I was hiding at, and made my way to the dormitories where Alicia’s sister was.
P/s: This story is part of the ongoing series, Dear Diary, that I am writing in hopes of getting it published. I try to read through it several times before I upload it, but time and time again grammar mistakes might elude me. So if you spot anything do let me know, and I will correct it asap. Thanks!