Mens rea

Escape from Alcatraz

The next time Robin awoke there was a tiny cup of water lying next to him. Scooting upwards, he picked up the cup and took a small sip. Pulling his head back, Robin gagged quietly. The water tasted funny, not at all like sulfur. Despite the bad taste, his body began to yearn for more of the clear liquid. Bringing the cup back up to his mouth, Robin drank slowly as he gazed around the room.

From what he could tell through the lifting hazy, it seemed that the walls were made of some type of wood. The roof was definitely made of grass and ground was simply dirt. Placing the empty cup down, Robin rose onto two shaky legs. Staggering forward, he made his way to a small sliver of light. Sure enough, the light was breaking through a makeshift door. The poorly joined slabs of wood coursed fear through his small body. This wasn't his cell. He was somewhere outside. Glancing down, Robin took in the warm glow of the light, totally different from the neon lights in the prison.

A shadow fell in his mind. "Maura was speaking the truth, it seems."

"So," gathering up courage, Robin pushed open the door and stepped outside. Blinding light surrounded him. Shielding his face, Robin stepped out into a new world.

The small dirt courtyard sent a cloud of dust in the air in the mist of a breeze, hiding the two other huts across from him. Coughing slightly, he could make out the ragged faces of prisoners sitting in the shadows of the huts or under the canopy of the trees. Lowering his hand, Robin shifted and leapt backwards when he spotted two familiar men sitting on the ground next to him.

Curt was laid out on the ground, arms and legs stretched out. A happy smile beamed on his face. Sitting next to him, with his own legs stretched out, Kyle was leaning against the wall his peaceful face soaking in the warmth.

"You going to stare at us all day, or are you going to enjoy nature?" murmured Kyle.

Robin smiled softly and plopped next to the mafia hit man, crossing his legs. Eyes adjusting to the harshness of the sun, Robin felt his mind go numb at the simple beauty of the outside world. The blue sky trickled through the rustling green leaves, casting shades of black on the earthen brown sand. Shoulders relaxing, Robin allowed himself a brief pause to soak in life.

It had been so long since he last saw the world. The last time, he had been a desperate child looking for a meager escape. But now, closing his eyes Robin soaked in the buzzing noises of insects mingled with the soft snoring and chattering of other prisoners. The calmness filled him and for a flash, he did not want to leave this tropical paradise.

Lifting his eyes, Robin felt the desire flee as he took in the standard gray uniform that adorned his body. Maura must have taken his black uniform. His face tightened in anger and that was when he noticed that his skin itched slightly near his eyes. Reaching up, Robin gently touched the outline of ragged piece of cloth.

"My mask…"

Kyle cracked open an eye and studied the smaller boy, "Yep, you're wearing it again."

Turning his head, Robin eyed Kyle with confusion. "Why are you guys here?"

Closing his eye again, Kyle continued to let the warmth wash over him. He hadn't seen the sun or breathed fresh air for years. All of a sudden, the mafia man felt his age. "Maura came into our cell and said that we had served our term." Flicking out his hand, he continued, "I remember some of those guys over there. They got injured pretty badly while mining and then they disappeared. I thought they had died, but I guess this place is like the retirement home…green pastures for the old work horses."

Robin leaned slightly to the left to take in Curt's relaxed form. "I guess Curt's not complaining."

"Why would I complain?" shouted out the man in question. "Infinity of four walls does not equal an infinity of openness, but all thanks to chaos theory…" Curt stretched out further, "Not complaining."

Robin frowned. He wouldn't get anywhere with these two anymore. They had outlived their purpose. Halting as he rose, Robin blinked and quickly shook his head. He did not just sound like Slade.

Speaking of the devil, Slade chuckled, "I'm glad to see that some of my influence is rubbing off on you."

Robin peered over his shoulder back inside and smirked, "Don't get use to it." As if making his point, the hero narrowed his eye and chains tied Slade to a chair inside the hut.

Slade snarled and tested his bonds, "It seems that you're getting stronger every day."

"Not stronger," facing back into the courtyard, Robin allowed the smirk to turn into a full smile. "Just knowing how to handle you now."

Yet, there was an unspoken factor that both acknowledged. Robin might have gained control over Slade, but it was not permanent. If he wanted to, Slade could break through the bonds and remind Robin of painful times. Not wanting to dwell on the problem, Robin stepped out of the shadows and flinched as the sun's rays touched his pale skin. Turning his back quickly, so his face and arms were protected, Robin scanned the prison.

A barb-wired fence surrounded the place and there was only one evident exit. The few guards he spotted where heavily armed and despite appearing to be lazy, there was alertness to their postures.

"Nighttime would be the best time," remarked Slade. The man approached Robin from behind. Despite breaking free of the chair, he still wore his chains.

"Now that escape seems so…close," whispered Robin, "I don't trust it."

Slade stood beside Robin, his head tilted slightly to signal that he was curious as to the train of thought his little bird was thinking. Robin took a step forward and tried to see past the sharp metal gate that barred the exit.

"Maura is planning something. She wouldn't do this without reason." Clenching his fists, Robin snarled. "Not tonight, maybe tomorrow though."

"Waiting is wise, but there is a line. We do not want this chance to slip up." Shifting, Slade pointed at Kyle and Curt, "The question is how will you handle them. It is clear that they are working for Maura in exchange for these brief days outside."

Robin glanced over to where his companions sat in bliss. His heart ached at the point. He knew that Slade was probably right, but they were his friends, if he dared call them that. They had helped him through thick and thin. Closing his eyes, Robin jerked his head away, not wanting to look at them. "They deserve their peace. I will not drag them into my madness."

"But they already are."

"They still have a chance to leave."

Slade frowned, "Robin."

"I don't care Slade, I'm going to protect them…protect them from myself."

Walking back to the hut, Robin slumped against the wall and watched the quiet activity for the rest of the day. When night arrived, he and the others slipped into the hut. It seemed strange that the guards did nothing of locking up the prisoners or ordering them around, except when dinner was brought out. To Robin's dark humor, it was the same mush, but it tasted a bit fresher.

Lying on his back, Robin stared up at the grass ceiling, still not comfortable seeing it instead of stone. Kyle and Curt were doing the same thing, neither able to fall asleep.

"It's strange, not looking up at your cot, Kyle," whispered Curt, his eyes glancing around in paranoia.

"You telling me," responded the man.

"I miss the bars."

The two men shot Robin a weird look, as if he had just sprouted wings. Robin shrugged his shoulders. "It's true."

"Strange boy," murmured Curt, flipping onto his side to stare at Robin and Kyle.

"Since we're talking about it, I miss those two blocks of guards," joked Kyle.

Robin chuckled, "Carl and Ben."

"Yep. I had always thought that before I leave or die in that stone prison, I could get a single word out of Ben. But nothing."

A dark look fell upon Robin's face, "That's true, he never said a word."

"There's a story that he lost his voice either by strangulation from some crazy prisoner or after the massive explosion that opened up the mines to him losing the will to talk because he simply went numb crazy."

Curt sighed, "Well, at least I got my ladies." The statement earned a groan from the fellow residents. Curt laughed and snuggled into the ground. "True bliss comes from being able to know that one plus one equals two."

"Night," whispered Kyle. Soon his soft snoring was heard in the hut.

Robin rolled onto his side and stared at the corner. Suddenly Ben's two words felt more important. He had said them for a reason and now Robin just had to find out why.

Morning came without incident and sitting at the entrance of the hut, Robin eyed the gate while eating breakfast. The guards seemed a bit lively then yesterday. Narrowing his eyes, Robin tightened his lips into a frown when three guards started arguing with each other. Arms flying about, one guard yelled at the other two and started to issue orders for the men saluted and quickly ran to the other posts. Lowering his bowl, Robin stood up and shrank back into the hut. The hairs on his head began to prickle and he felt a sudden tension in the air. Something bad was happening. Just his luck.

"Told you not to wait," snarled Slade, taking his stance next to Robin.

"Shut up," barked back Robin quietly.

"What's going on?" right when the question left Curt's mouth, something landed in the middle of the courtyard. A boom was heard as a gush of wind sent debris flying into the prisoner's faces and rocked the shaky huts.

Shielding his face, Robin watched as Kyle quickly pushed Curt out of the way as splintered wood flew through the hut. As the boom disappeared, Robin heard the screaming of prisoners and guards alike. Languages ranged from English curses, Asian yells and Spanish snarls. Rising up, Robin dusted himself off and peered outside. Just as he stuck his head out, bullets rained down on them. Ducking his head back in, Robin backed away and watched as more bombs were thrown onto the ground, causing massive chaos and destruction.

"This is it," Slade's voice whispered quietly in the back of his mind.

"Are you insane, I'm not going out there to get killed," barked back Robin.

"You have to, kid."

Surprised lit Robin's face. Turning around, he took in Kyle's serious face. In his arms, Curt grinned up at the boy.


Kyle sighed, "You have to escape. It's now or never."

Robin's shoulders tensed, caution lacing his words, "You knew…"

The two prisoners nodded. "Maura wanted us to push you to escape, something's come up and it seems you can leave. We agreed in exchange that we stay here."

Betrayal swelled up in Robin's chest. But try as he might to lash out his anger, he couldn't do it. Who could truly blame them? Robin knew what it felt like to be deprived of sunlight but he realized that the longing must have been eating his comrades up considering they had been in prison longer than he had.

"I would ask you guys to come with," replied Robin, trying to keep his voice from cracking with the rush of emotions. Behind him, the assault continued to batter the prison and he heard very little cover-fire emitting from the guards.

Curt shook his head, "Place is here. Besides, my ladies love it here."

Kyle smirked, "Life out there…don't know how to handle it anymore." The unspoken fear of going back to a wider world filled the small hut. Robin lowered his eyes, grief shaking his fists. They had been here too long to remember what life was like beyond the mining and cell doors. And he couldn't help but join them in that fear.

"You better go," whispered Kyle.

Robin looked up and locked eyes with Curt and Kyle. He would miss them and their strange relationship. "Take care you guys."

"You too, kid," smiled Kyle.

Curt rocked up to the balls of his feet and pointed at his head, "Sanity plus Insanity equals living."

Another blast rocked the ground sending dust cascading down on the trio. Smirking, Robin saluted to them and was about to wave when Slade reached out and grabbed a hold of Robin's arm. Yanking him, the villain threw Robin out into the courtyard.

"Enough!" snarled Slade, "Move we're burning time!"

Robin wanted to yell back a snide remark but Slade's fist slammed down on the side of his face. Spinning, he fell onto the ground just as bullets flew above his head. Rising up, he spit out dirt, "Stop!"

"No," Slade growled as he picked up Robin and dragged the boy behind him as they ran towards the gate. "I've waited too long for this and so have you." The anger radiating off of the man scared Robin. His mind fumbled around to get courage to trap his alter ego, but Slade sensed it and kicked out Robin's legs. Crashing once more to the ground, Robin covered his head as a bomb exploded a few feet away.

Slade bent down when it was clear and pulled Robin up onto his feet by grabbing his hair, "Not this time, Robin. You won't chain me up anymore." With one last might trust, he pushed Robin right into the gate.

Robin screamed as barbs dug into the palms of his hands and scratched his face. Pushing away, he stumbled backwards, panting hard. Gazing up, his eyes immediately saw a safe route. Jumping up, Robin scrambled with bloody hands and bare feet over the gate, swinging over the barb wire on the top. Flipping over, he took a second to gaze back into the prison. Through the dust, he spotted Kyle and Curt watching him from the doorway. Curt waved at him and that was enough for Robin to let go and fall in a crouch on the ground.

Spinning on his heels, Robin darted into the jungle as bullets peppered his feet. Turning around, he spotted a guard firing at him while another was yelling out. Taking a deep breath, Robin picked up his speed, knowing that he would need it now that the guards were after him.

"Don't die," Ben's words clicked into action and Robin snarled in anger. The burst of emotion fueled his feet to fly over sharp rocks and branches. What a nice parting gift from Maura.

Looking out of the small guardhouse, Egyed was grinning like a Cheshire cat. Clasping his hands, the doctor shifted his attention to his three accomplices in the attack. "Well that was fun, we should do that again one day."

Carl rolled his eyes, shoulders slumping, "I doubt Maura would let us blow up her cover-act again. Once was enough, don't you think." To make his point, Carl waved down at the small craters that pot-marked the courtyard. A couple huts were on fire and the prisoners were running about to put out the flames.

"How about we don't tell Maura anything at all?" hinted Fumio in a low voice. The man was still wary around the woman, but he fell back into his old role with ease despite his absence.

Ben's eyes grew wide and Carl felt his mouth drop open. "You telling me that this whole charade we just enacted was not Maura's orders," hissed the talkative guard.

Fumio shook his head, "All she said was to drop Robin off and make sure he gets out. Well, he got out." Flashing a smile to show his proud moment of finding the loophole, Fumio nodded in satisfaction. "Besides, it was a test to see how well Robin is handling his little friend."

The questioning stares made Egyped pick up the explanation. "While you two were busy with throwing grenades and shooting from your positions, we were watching Robin and it seemed that Slade still held a physical influence over him. But, the blows were not out of mere enforcement of his presence like before, but to save the boy." Pausing, Egyed's chest expanded in glee, "Can you imagine their relationship a few months to a year from now?"

The guards sensed Fumio and Egyed's excitement at the prospect of wanting to study Robin even further. The child was the last of his kind in exhibiting the dust and would be the only one to ever leave the volcanic prison alive. It truly would be interesting to watch the child years from now.

The door to the house slammed open and the head guard was panting hard, "Sir, one of our new prisoners escaped."

Fumio peered over his shoulder at a slight angle, "Then I suggest you go after him."

"Yes sir!" Grabbing the gun leaning on the wall, the guard bolted outside rounding up as many guards as he could.

Clapping his hands, Egyed glanced down at his watch. "From the report, it would be a good time to leave now."

"Yes sir." Following the doctor and the shrink, Carl and Ben made their way to a truck. Hopping in, they drove off down to a small dock hidden in a cove. From there, they would take a small fisherman boat back to the main prison island that dotted the horizon.

And while the jungle and sea parted for the prison employers, they seemed to cluster together for Robin. Tripping over a massive root, Robin fell right into a puddle, skinning his elbow. Snarling, he struggled to pick himself up. Hobbling a few inches away, Robin froze when he heard a crunch and darted behind a tree just as a bullet whizzed by.

The chattering of words made Robin tremble with exhaustion and fear. Breakfast had not lasted long and he had been not been running since he was imprisoned. How had they guards caught up with him so fast? Then he heard the rumbling of an engine and mentally kicked himself.

"No, Robin, you just had to run through the jungle, didn't think of hijacking a truck, you idiot," cursed Robin.

Hearing the footsteps come closer, Robin counted to five before bolting out from behind the tree. Bullets flew over his head as he dashed into heavy underbrush. Twigs ripped and snagged at his loose clothing. Thorns drew blood on his feet, arms and face as leaves, mud and sweat plastered to his head. His hands were trembling with shock, the blood from the deep puncture wounds he received from the gate had dried but continued to sting. If he didn't wash and bandage them soon, they would get infected.

Finally, Robin felt a small breeze and tumbled out of the brush onto a sandy beach. Surrealism buzzed in his adrenaline pumping body. The sparkling blue water lapped against the perfectly tanned sand. The salty air filled Robin's nose making the boy cough slightly at the stinging sensation. Taking a step back, Robin tried to grasp the calmness to ease his shaking frame. But try as he might, nothing came except the sound of two feet sinking into the sand.

Flickering his eyes to the left, he took in Slade's tall form. A huff passed by his cracked lip. "Now you show up."

Slade's eye narrowed, "Nice to see you as well."

Robin was about to respond with a snide comment when a staggering figure of a guard flew out of the bushes tackling Robin into sand. The brown-skinned guard reached out to grab his gun but Robin was quick. With a punch to the man's nose, Robin twisted and flipped the taller man onto his back. The wrestling continued till Robin kneed the man between the legs and sent a powerful punch into his side, feeling two ribs snap. The blood-curdling scream made Robin freeze.

The squirming man, his face full of pain broke through the curtain of adrenaline. This wasn't right. He was the hero, yet all he could think was to incapacitate the man so he couldn't chase him anymore. However, the fight had taken away precious minutes, allowing the rest of the guards to catch up with their fallen comrade. The scream had fueled their motives to chase the prisoner. One guard had caught sight of Robin straddling the bleeding guard and fired off a shot.

The bullet hit Robin hard in his right shoulder, knocking the boy off to the side. Biting back a whimper, Robin scampered onto his feet and ran towards Slade. The villain turned as Robin streaked by him. Behind the pair, the rest of the guards broke through the jungle. A few guards clustered around the injured man as the rest took off after Robin.

Robin felt his feet try to navigate the shifting sand. Gripping his bleeding shoulder, Robin blinked profusely to fight off the black dots before his eyes. His ears barely registered the sound of a blast coming from behind, the roaring of his blood pushing the boy into a runner's high.

The pain that racked his body became numb and his exhaustive stage seemed to disappear. It felt like he had an enormous amount of energy despite not being able to run like this in forever. Yet, the high was short lived when his foot slammed into a hidden stone. Arms flinging out, his foot slipped more and twisted at an unnatural position. Before he crash once more on the ground, a strong arm caught him.

Pushing himself against the arm, Robin shook his head clear as his lungs sucked in much needed oxygen. Tired eyes gazed down and took in his aching foot. From the pain and swelling that was already blossoming, he knew that he had sprained his ankle pretty bad.

"This is all your fault Slade," snapped Robin in agitation. He didn't care if he got punched in the face again. But this was ridiculous. He had run into the jungle without a plan and now was on a beach that who knows how long without a boat in sight. Flickering in his gaze out across the ocean, Robin could barely make out the next island. "I hope you don't think we're going swim off this island."

When the man said nothing, Robin cocked his head back to stare up at Slade's masked face gazing down at him. A scowl tugged at his lips. "What giving me the silent treatment?"

Slade shifted and began to pick up the boy, "Idiotic boy."

The cold voice sent warning signs blaring in Robin's head. Taking a longer look at the man, Robin noticed that this person had a much smaller build but still was menacing. And the posture was more catlike and coiled, not at all like the boosting stride Slade marched around within his mind. Now that he mentioned it, there was the stingy smell of sweat radiating off of the man.

Instinct overrode Robin's senses. As the imposter tightened his grip, Robin struck out. Kicking himself free, he delivered a powerful kick right in the middle of the man's chest. Feet landing, he staggered a few feet away. He did not need another imaginary person in his head at the moment.

"Who are you?"

But the imposter did not reply as he crashed into a tree. His black-gloved hand, gripped the bark as he pushed himself off of the trunk. Leaves trickled down around him, shaken loose from their spots on the branches, only to land quietly on the sand. The man rubbed his sore chest and glared at the trembling wide-eyed boy before him. "Robin." The name was hissed out in a dark warning tone, conveying the man's anger at being treated with such contempt.

The name went unheeded when the man heard the tumbling words spilling forth from Robins' lips.

"The leaves…the leaves…they-they fell…fell…they fell…the leaves fell…"

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