"You shouldn't have come," the man named Garry said. He was well aware that Meraki was still under training. He wasn't too wrong in his statement either because she knew that already.
Meraki stood by the door, listening to the loud noise of the chopper over their heads and the footsteps spreading across the street outside.
But inside the building, she could hear the hushed murmurs and trembling voices of the jailbreakers. She was asked to wait and restrain herself from using her powers, while her other two accomplices were somewhere unknown.
She had no way to know.
"I know, but oh well..", she replied, shrugging. Garry looked away, fretting. The noises outside the door increased and they kept getting closer. People shouting, guns rattling and things shattering.
"They're in," Garry said, taking a sharp breath and rushing to the window. The glass panes were stained and almost opaque. But even through them, Garry could make out the figures of people wearing dark uniforms entering the alleys.
As the chopper watched over the alleys, the police had no reason to restrain themselves to the streets. They have entered the alleys and breaking down the doors of every building around, looking for the prisoners.
"They'll be here any second! We'll all die!" One of them wailed in agony. No one else said a word but their faces had terror and hopelessness spread across them.
Meraki straightened up, suddenly alert. She was as clueless as others. She was regretting her decision of joining Jack and Elliott. She had no idea of how real everything was till she was seeing it right in front of her.
What was it? Death.
Meraki could hear the people breaking down the door of the building across theirs and she panicked. She looked at her weapons, not enough. Her waist belt held two guns and bullets which wouldn't be of any help against the police.
Then it struck her mind. She ran her hand through her holster and got hold of a small grenade that she had slipped in her belt without Jack knowing, earlier.
She raised her head to see a staircase leading up and she knew better than to keep thinking. Meraki stepped forward, taking to the stairs. No-one stopped her. They've all given up.
The first floor of the building was completely empty and about to collapse. The wooden floorboards creaked as she walked on it, holding on to the walls. She reached the window that stared at the opposite side of the street and the police. She stood there for a second, taking large deep breaths.
She held the grenade in her hand, building up the courage inside her.
Meraki heard gunshots from the other side of the alley, hoping it wasn't for them. Then, it was a sheer impulse. She threw off the safety pin, shut her eyes tight and threw it out of the window with all the force she could.
The grenade dropped 3 blocks away from the building she was in. Even if the grenade was weak, it was enough to make a loud noise that would drive away from the police to the opposite side in search of the escapees.
After a count to ten in Meraki's mind, the bomb exploded. The explosion seemed to deafen everyone and she could hear them yelling outside. She peeked at the alley secretly and saw the people running towards the noise.
She ran down to Garry and the others. They had questions in their eyes but they were too afraid to speak or make a sound.
Meraki found her hands shaking and trembling with fear. She had never done a thing apart from punching bullies. What was she feeling?
"Clear," Garry said, looking out of the window. He gave her a trusting glance that seemed to raise Meraki.
Clutching her handgun, she slowly opened the main door. No one was outside. She quietly exited the building and stood right in front of the door.
Meraki focused, her eyes moving on the ground in circles. She tried channelling her brain to work according to what she wanted. She knew she had practised it hundreds of times.
She closed her eyes and opened them immediately. She clutched both of her fists together and stared at the ground. Her heart thumped in her chest, blood boiling, body warming up till her skin felt like it was on fire. Her eyes widened.
Suddenly, the ground burst into flames rising from nothing. The fire grew higher and higher, bright and horrifying. Meraki had created it.
The blaze grew, surrounding the building, blocking out everyone from entering. Her fire was weak but its outbursting flames was enough to stop anyone from risking their lives. Her powers couldn't be extinguished, only she could stop it.
She turned away and entered the building, gasping for air, as she heard footsteps again.
Everyone inside were shocked to see her shivering self and what she had created. But Garry wasn't budged by any of it. He looked at her with a sense of gratefulness as he walked over to the corner of the room.
He ran his hand on the wall and got hold of a knob. He pulled it and a door opened to a hidden darkroom.
Just then, Meraki heard people yell and shout from outside the house. They have noticed the fire and realised the house held people inside. But they could enter the building on their own.
Suddenly, a bullet was shot. It broke through the worn-out and hit a prisoners leg. The man stumbled on the ground in pain, groaning aloud.
Meraki didn't think of it. They did have weapons and they could kill everyone in a split of seconds.
"RUN!" Garry said, and the bullets started shooting at them almost breaking down the door. They rushed into the dark hidden room but Meraki couldn't move.
She knew that once the door was broken, it wouldn't take them a minute to figure out about the hidden room. She couldn't take the risk.
The bullets were concentrated at the doorknob, breaking it down bit by bit. The fire outside didn't stop them.
Meraki looked at the door that was desperately trying to hold on. But it couldn't. The police would breakthrough soon, and it'd all be over.
"We'll have to accept it," Garry said, placing a hand on her shoulder as if to acknowledge her help but she didn't want it anymore. She felt guilty for getting herself into it. She wished she had just stayed back home.
Meraki took a deep breath, clutching her fists.
"Pathetic..", she muttered and turned her gaze straight ahead. She closed her eyes and opened it, warmth erupting through her body, as she held her arms in front of her.
Her eyes moved from the wooden boxes on the ground to the shattered cupboard to the worn-out floorboards. She held the whole picture of the room in her mind and then she.. set it on fire.
Smoke rose from the furniture and floorboards till the room started getting filled, turning grey. She noticed a yellow spark in the corner and suddenly, the whole room burst into ever-growing flames. The fire howled through the room, threatening to explode.
Meraki found herself smiling. She liked the warmth and the bright blaze.
"Y-you... We have to leave!" Garry said, trying to get her into the darkroom so she could be safe, even for a little.
Meraki shook her head, turning away to leave. The atrocious flames and the slowing down of bullets with realisation. She looked back once again.
She saw a little girl, standing in the middle of the fire, looking right at her. She looked bitterly similar to Meraki. They stared at each other. One was burning, another was running.
Meraki turned around and walked out of the room. She left her behind, searing in the flame and she burnt down with the house.
Once the door closed, they could hear the fire crackling outside followed by the voices.
The man who was shot on the leg sat crouched, weeping, but no one was there to care. Everyone was in the same state.
"Is this.. a door?" The prisoner named Mason spoke up. He was looking at the floor beside Meraki. She turned to her side to see a square wooden plank raised from the ground.
Garry walked towards it started pulling the plank off with all his strength. Some people tried helping him but it wasn't going too smoothly.
Suddenly, they started applying the pressure from a side and the plank moved. It moved aside, opening up the way to the basement.
As soon as the basement opened, everyone ran towards it like it was their last brink of hope. They tried entering the basement all at once, pushing each other out of their ways. They went crazy, like madmen, trying to get to a safer place.
A man was being violent with jostling the others out of his way. Meraki reached forward and grabbed the man's collar, then she tossed him away and he collided with the wall.
"I'm risking my life for you, scumbag. The least you can do is stop acting like a piece of sh*t." Meraki spoke up, not thinking. Garry, who was watching all of it, stepped up and pushed everyone away from the basement.
"If you don't know how to behave, you'll be left behind," Garry said.
After a quiet second, one by one, the people started walking into the basement and climbing down the stairs. Garry was the last one to enter who locked the basement door behind him.
Meraki had expected to reach a room but they reached a pitch-black space. She ran through the walls for a switch or so much as a lantern but she felt something else. The walls weren't concrete but soil.
"It's a cave," Garry said, starting to lead the way.
"Is it safe?" She asked.
"We won't know if we don't proceed," he said, walking forward.
Garry kept on walking, tapping the walls of the underground tunnel as he led the others. Nothing could be seen or heard except the shallow breaths and quick footsteps.
The walk continued, no one spoke.
Suddenly, Meraki saw a beam of faint light from what appeared as a c***k in the wall that stood in front of them. She headed towards it and touched the wall. But it wasn't soil.
Meraki ran her hand along the crevices and the structure before she decided that it wasn't a wall or a dead end.
"A door," she murmured softly, not meaning to alert anyone beyond the door.
For the next few minutes, Meraki's ears were stuck to the door trying to measure if anyone was awaiting their intrusion. But no sound came. Silence.
She shook her head, losing patience.
"Break it down," Meraki said, decisively.