Chapter Twenty-Nine

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I could tell that it was sunset by the way the cracks in the wood of the shed let in less light.

I'd been trying to escape the shed for the past hours, with no luck. The only objects in the shed were a garden hoe, a shovel, and a couple of random barrels lying about. None of them could help me get out. I'd tried slamming them all against the doors, but with no luck.

Even so, I knew I had to escape.

If I didn't tell them in time, they'd all be helpless. It hit me now that Claudia and John probably had purposely gotten Callie sick. That would've been a good excuse to force us to stay for longer.

I walked towards the door again and slammed my fist into it in aggravation. "Let me out!" I yelled, knowing nobody would hear me. I was too far away from the house. If I'd been close enough for somebody to hear my cries, they would have already come when I'd been banging the shovel against the side of the shed.

I had to come up with a plan. I was in a wooden shed with a garden hoe, shovel, and barrels. It felt like I was trying to solve one of those escape riddles, except this time it was real and a ton of people depended on me.

Maybe I should just set the place on fire. At least that would get rid of the whole shed problem.

Although it'd probably rid the world of the whole me problem, too.

The door was locked from the outside and the wooden walls were too strong for me to break. Plus, I knew there had to be tons of snow piled high around them. I could bank on them coming to give me food. If they opened the door, the shovel would be helpful in knocking them out and running. Honestly, I wasn't sure they were planning on feeding me. Who's to say they weren't just keeping me in the shed to starve me to death?

I backed up against one of the wooden walls and slid down to the cool floor of the shed. It was so tiring, my mind running in circles searching for an escape. In all honesty, there didn't seem to be one.


I glanced up at the ceiling. The walls I already knew were impossible to get through, but the ceiling might have some way out. There were small, barely noticeable fissures between the wooden planks that made up the ceiling.

I dismissed the idea. Even if I wanted to, there was no possible way for me to climb that high up and whack the ceiling to death with a garden hoe.

And then it hit me that there were barrels in the room.

Even so, I wasn't sure the barrels would hold my weight. They didn't seem too sturdy.

I didn't exactly have any other options.

With a new fervor, I picked up a barrel and positioned it under the biggest fissure. It was getting late, and very little light peaked through. The next barrel was more difficult to stack, since I had to work harder to force it on top of the first one. The shed was tall enough that I'd need one more barrel stacked to touch the ceiling.

My fingers were sore as I lifted the edge of the last barrel and began hobbling towards my makeshift tower. I struggled to lift the barrel over my head. Sweat began forming on my forehead as I went up on my tiptoes, pushing with all my might to get it on top of the one before it. I felt the barrel move into place.

I did it.

At least I completed step one.

The next step was to grab the hoe and climb. I picked up the hoe. It was much heavier than I'd thought it would be. I carefully pulled it over my shoulder and placed the edge of my foot onto the small space between the first two barrels. My other hand found the edge of the second barrel. The wood wasn't smooth and I winced.

I managed to pull myself up onto the first barrel. There was barely enough space for me to grip and I could feel myself slipping.

But I had to hold on. I had to.

Before I could fall off, I reached up with my other leg and awkwardly placed it on the edge of the second barrel. It was an uncomfortable position, with my knee in my face. I had no clue how this was even going to work. I was barely holding on as it was.

Somehow, I managed to exert enough force on my leg to push myself up so my hands were clutching the edge of the third barrel. Desperately, I forced myself all the way up and onto the top of the tower I'd created, breathing heavily. The hoe was hurting my shoulder, and I pulled my sore arm back in front of me, my fingers still clutching it.

Time for the last step.

I stood up with my hands out to either side of me, feeling the barrels shake slightly as I moved. My hand reached for the hoe, and I felt my palm burn slightly. I probably would have blisters after this. But that wasn't really a big concern. I'd dealt with worse.

Without second thoughts, I picked up the hoe and swung it.

There was a loud thud as it slammed against the wood, and an even more satisfying crunch of wood tearing. My heart stopped in my chest as the entire barrel tower wobbled almost completely to the side before returning to its original position after a couple of dangerous seconds. I had to be more careful.

My arm swung back again, and I hit the ceiling. Suddenly, a couple large chunks of wood rained down on me. I ducked and blocked my face with my hand. When the debris cleared, I was met with a hole still not large enough for me to fit through.

I swung one more time. Then again. And again. Widening the hole to the best of my ability. Just when I thought it wouldn't work, a huge section ripped away and fell millimeters away from toppling the barrel tower I'd created.

The hoe fell from my fingertips as I stared up at the clear, night sky in surprise.

I was free.

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