We ran up a steep slope with tall trees and stopped to catch our breaths for a minute when we had reached an even strip of ground. We were still within the one-hour danger zone in which most escapees are caught by the search party squadrons that are deployed on foot and by car. Most of the inmates were very fit due to the strenuous exercises that were doled out every week for punishment of some individual or group transgression of the rules. Those who had been “on the farm” for more than two months were used to the daily PT and hard manual labor and this (together with the really heavy four to five hour punishment sessions at night) made them capable of catching up with fugitives even if we had a head start. I had only been there about three weeks and was not that fit yet. Scot had been there about five weeks and he was spurring me on all the time to keep running.
As a tactic we took the most difficult route we could find through the forest, bushes and undergrowth. Roads or footpaths had to be avoided at all costs. The window period passed and our chances for a successful escape was now about 20-30% (given statistics of the numerous past attempts). Another two hours passed as we made our way to the summit and then down the mountain. Suddenly we came to a clearing. It was that magic hour of the day before sunset. I took in the most beautiful view of my life. For 180 degrees I could only see the tops of trees in the timberland far below us. Here and there a road snaked through the man made forest. The clouds were orange and the sky was blue. I breathed in freedom and exhaled joy. Anything was possible now. At that moment it was like my life was at a fork in the road, but not a single fork, about six, seven or eight different paths were all becoming possible. I could live in a new city by the coast, go back to my own city a thousand miles away and hide out with friends, I could live on the streets ducking the authorities and the farm’s people. I could live in a forest that was about a day’s walk from where I currently stood and where many hardcore hippy types were known to survive in colonies, mainly living off the land. I could meet people on the way who would understand my yearning for freedom from the sadistic, bible bashing rehab farm. Perhaps I could even settle my bail money once I was out of the control of the rehab center and so gain my freedom legitimately. I could work for people or might be taken under the right someone’s wing just for being who I was.
We stood there for a good 10 minutes, plotting our course for the night. We would roughly follow the railway tracks which were thankfully some distance from the road. If we followed the tracks there was no chance we could be spotted by passing vehicles but we knew that our pursuers weren’t stupid and would post lookouts at points along the tracks. Soon darkness would spread its blanket over us and so increase our chances of escaping once more.