Max and Aiden led the way to the back of the stage, behind the rear curtains. Everyone made sure to avoid the hole in the stage where Teri had almost been crushed. Even though they were up on stage practicing almost every day, this was beyond Morgan and Teri’s experience. The cast was still working on lines and dance steps, staging and effects would come later.
In the darkness, the scaffold was like a spider, clinging to the wall and ready to pounce. Vertigo twisted Morgan’s stomach. It seemed like the top of the scaffold was actually leaning out over her head. She took a deep breath, quietly so the other three wouldn’t hear her, and looked up again. She still got the sense that it was leaning towards her, but she no longer had the urge to jump back out of the way.
Aiden wrapped his strong hands around part of the metal skeleton and pulled himself up to one of the flat wooden platforms. Morgan hung back as Aiden used his long arms to help Max and Teri up. Knowing she couldn’t delay any longer, Morgan purposefully didn’t reach for Aiden’s hand and climbed up herself. This low to the ground wasn’t bad, but her mind kept fast forwarding to the top of the scaffold.
“Are you okay?” Aiden asked.
“Fine,” Morgan said.
To prove it, she swung herself out to one side of the scaffold and pulled herself up to the next level. Aiden held his phone out to light her way. Shadows twisted into a dozen different shapes. As her eyes made it up level with the second platform, she saw a dark outline at the other end of the scaffold. Breath caught it her throat as her mind jumped back to her dream this morning.
Letting go with one hand, she dug her phone out and held the screen forward. Light drenched the dull metal frame and the cracking paint of the platform. There was no one. Setting her phone down, Morgan pulled herself the rest of the way up.
As the other three got up with varying degrees of assistance, Morgan looked up and found the window that wasn’t a window. She’d just be able to reach it by standing on the edge of the frame. It looked like a temporary solution that’d been forgotten about and so become permanent. Two window frames had been put in together and plastered over. A makeshift latch held the whole thing in place.
“How are we going to get down on the other side?” Morgan asked.
“There’s an emergency generator right underneath that you can lower yourself down to,” Aiden said.
“I heard someone snuck out this way to avoid getting caught with drugs,” Max said.
“If it’s the same story I heard when I was an underclassman,” Aiden said. “I don’t think it’s true.”
“So,” Teri said. “Does that mean we can get out or we can’t?”
“We can. I think.” Aiden’s words made Morgan and Teri give each other a look.