Chapter Thirteen

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Today

“Shit! Shit! Shit!” Scott said, pulling his hand away from the door handle he had just been reaching for, as if the handle had suddenly started glowing with a white-hot intensity.  “What the hell can I do now?”

He looked away from the twisting knob and glanced back at the unconscious and prone body of his friend Gary.  Gary was still out.

But for how long?

“Think, think, think,” Scott said, pacing back and forth in front of the door. “I haven’t had a second to think here. Can’t a guy catch a break?”

As if in response, the vent kicked in again, throwing a blast of stifling heat into his face.

Damn heat vent, he thought. This first aid room was not climate controlled (or, at least, vent-controlled), the way that Gary’s work area had been. Something also began to itch at his mind -- Gary, the vent – his sudden change in behavior – when he took a closer look at the large opening above him

The vent!

It was wide enough for him to crawl into it.

A way to escape.

He could climb up and into the vent and get away.

On the other side of the door he heard a set of keys jangling.

Shit, he thought. Of course the security guard had a set of keys to every room in this place. It was just a matter of seconds before he got the door open and it was game over for Scott.

Scott looked around the room, his eyes falling onto the couch.  A plan started to develop in his mind.

He stepped over top of Gary, grabbed his one arm and one leg and slid the prone body to the back of the room. Then he lifted the one end of the couch and dragged it in front of the door, wedging the high hard back of the couch under the door knob.  About seven feet long, it covered not only the door but about a foot and a half on both sides.

Scott then grabbed at the metal cabinet on the side of the room, and, pulling forward, managed to rock it back and forth until it tipped over and slammed down hard on the floor.  It was heavy and laid on the floor less than half an inch in front of the couch.

Stepping onto the couch, Scott was pleased with the two purposes it would serve – it, and the heavy cabinet lodged in front of it, would make it harder for Herb and the security guard to get door to open once they unlocked it; and it would also allow him the height needed to get into the vent itself.

Outside, a key slipped into the lock. There was the sound of jostling, but the door didn’t unlock.  More jangling of keys.

He hasn’t found the right key yet, Scott marveled.

Standing on the couch, Scott quickly surveyed the vent grate. It was screwed into the ceiling with a pair of Philips head screws.  He reached up and pulled down hard on the vent grate, relaxing his legs to let his body’s full weight add to the downward force. Not designed for to withhold a man’s weight, the metal bent and one of the screws popped off.  The screw clattered to the floor.

Scott paused to look down at Gary again to see that his friend was still out of it where he had been dragged. He then stepped onto the back of the couch as he heard another key slide into the lock.  Still no luck, fortunately for Scott.

He pulled the backpack off of his right shoulder and threw it up inside the vent.  The he was able to get his right forearm inside the vent and with his left hand grasping the ceiling.  From that position, Scott was able to slowly pull himself up and partially into the vent.

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