Suddenly, I heard the vents shake, and everyone started whimpering, trying to get under the thin sheets.
“What is it?” I asked, and Aliza pointed to the vents. A second later, it hit me when I turned to look and s*cked in a breath. Wolfsbane was being pumped into the vents. I coughed, covering my mouth, and Aliza offered me a piece of her sheet. I covered my mouth and nose.
My eyes burned and watered, and my skin blistered and burned, but it didn’t last long, and the vents stopped shuddering and groaning. It wasn’t enough to kill anyone but enough to keep them weak. We needed to get out of here. I looked at the vents running along the roof, and they were pretty big, big enough to crawl through, but they were also pretty high up the roof.
I waited for my body to stop retching and hacking up on the wolfsbane. My breathing wheezed and burned each breath I took, and I used the wall to push myself upright, staggering as I looked for a join in the vents and at the brackets.
“What are you doing?” Carla asked.
“Do you know where the vents lead?” I asked her, and she shook her head.
“The laundry room in the packhouse. They are set on a timer. Every hour, they open the vents. You can’t use them. Those vents are coated in wolfsbane. You would die trying to get out of them,” Aliza said, and I shook my head.
“I need to get in those vents to get help,” I told her.
“Did you not hear what I said? They are coated in wolfsbane, and if the vents turn on while you are in there—” She didn’t finish and started coughing instead.
“It may kill you, Aliza, but I am not just a werewolf. I am a mutation. Wolfsbane affects me, but it would take a lot to kill me,” I told her while looking around the cell. The cells were bare except for the steel sinks and toilets in each one. Looking around the other cells, I noticed a piece of bent rebar sticking out of the wall in Carla’s cell.
“Carla, can you break that bar off?”
She shook her head. “I tried it won’t budge,” she said, and I nodded, looking back at the ceiling.
The cells were barred but painted red with wolfsbane. I gritted my teeth before walking to the corner of the cell where our cell met the other. I tugged off my jeans, leaving me in only my pink panties. If I could just get my jeans around the sprinkler system, it might hold my weight to get close enough to the vent. I could break the bracket where they joined, but would the vent hold my weight?
Gripping the bars, I lifted my leg onto the bar that ran crossways before pulling myself up. I tried to reach the sprinkler system, but it was too high, and my th!ghs were too wide to fit through the bars to climb them.
“Pass my jeans,” I told Aliza. She staggered over, coughing, and handed them to me. Holding one leg, I tried to toss them over the sprinkler system. It took multiple attempts trying to hang onto the bar with one hand while tossing the denim jeans over it. As the gap was so small, they would fall each time I hit the roof, missing the bar, but eventually, I managed it.
I was eating up the hour already, and I didn’t want to be stuck in those vents when the timer went off. I carefully jiggled my jeans, so the other leg would fall through the other side. Once it was through enough to grab, I looped my arm through the bars while I reached out for the other before grabbing both in one hand. I tugged on the jeans, and they held; the bolts holding the sprinkler system didn’t budge. I tested my weight on it.
“Now what?” Carla asked, looking up at me curiously.
“Now I need to break the vent bracket at the joint,” I told her, trying to think of how exactly I would do that. The brackets were not very big, but they were held with two bolts on each side. Leaning back with the pant legs clutched in one hand, I now had to try to swing over and hope it would hold my swinging weight.
The sprinkler system ran alongside the vent but higher up the roof, the vents hanging down a little lower, so I would be close enough to climb in if I could break the bracket or bust one side of the vent open. They joined in the center of the cell. A bracket on each side of the joint; if I could break one and pop the vent out, I should be able to climb into the side with the bracket attached still.
Testing that theory, I jumped, clutching the jeans with both hands. I spun for a second before climbing the denim like a rope and wrapping my hands around the sprinkler system. The metal was cool to touch but hard to grip. I kicked at the bracket to find it already loose.Oh, thank the Goddess, I thought to myself and checked how rusted the bolts holding it to the roof were. Instead of kicking the bracket, I started kicking the side of the vent crushing the wall inwards. I knew that by gripping it, the bracket would rip from the roof, and hopefully, my weight would separate the vents.
I kicked the side, denting it all in and the bottom of the vent using my toes. I hissed when my toes broke before healing, only to break again as I kicked the bottom of the vent when I heard a click, the vent popping out from its groove.
Adrenaline coursed through me, and I kicked the bracket a couple of times to make sure it was loose enough before reaching over and grabbing it. The moment I dropped my weight on it, this side ripped from the ceiling, and I barely hung on before dropping down and jarring my feet. I climbed back up, repeating the process, kicking the dented vent to knock them apart enough to get my fingers between them. When I managed that, I gripped the vent; my weight and the missing bracket on that side made the vent bend downward when it pulled out of the wall, and I hit the concrete on my as*s. The piece of vent I was gripping fell onto me and knocked the air out of me.
“Are you okay?” Nathaniel coughed. I groaned, and Aliza helped me up.
“You should wait. We haven’t got much more time until the timer goes off and pushes the wolfsbane through the vents again.”
“Are you sure it leads to the laundry?” I asked her.
“Yes. One side would have to lead outside, the other to the laundry,” she said, looking up at the vents. I didn’t have a choice in which one to go through now as half the vent was on the ground, and I couldn’t climb the brick. So, hopefully, the one I was going through led outside. If not, laundry it is, I thought to myself, climbing the bars to my jeans again.
My fingers were cut to pieces as I gripped the lip of the vent. I dangled there for a bit, trying to find a way to pull myself up, managing to get one arm in, and I used my elbow to help pull myself in. The wolfsbane residue on the vent was like acid on my skin.
I coughed and spluttered in the vent; my bare legs felt like the skin was being eaten off. Each second in there, I grew weaker and dizzy, having to stop. I made it to the bend in the vents, but now it went up. I felt like I was playing Tetris, moving my body at odd angles to turn on my back before pulling myself up to a sitting position. It went up a little over a meter before turning flat again. Bent over slightly, I slid into the other vent on my stomach. I groaned when I saw the fan and knew I was in the laundry. The other side went outside. The laundry, though, wasn’t the worst option as it was on the back deck of the packhouse, so also outside the main house.
The grate on the side was covered to stop Wolfsbane from spilling into the laundry, but the covering on the side was thin, and after a couple of elbows, I managed to get one side to break just as the vents groaned and turned on. I gasped as I inhaled a huge breath of wolfsbane before holding my breath and slamming my elbow into the other side, shoving the grate covering the vent hole out. I was surprised no one came bursting in because it was hardly a quiet task breaking into the vents and crawling through. The grate fell to the ground with a clang, and I squeezed out, covering my mouth and nose, trying to find the switch for the fans to the vents. Looking out the window, I looked down to see our concrete prison underneath the back deck and check if anyone was lurking outside.
Luckily no one seemed to be around, making me wonder why no one was at the packhouse today and where Alpha Jamie was. I couldn’t see a single person. Turning back to the laundry, I spotted the switch and shut it off before spotting a 2L bottle of wolfsbane sitting on top of the fan, a hose and funnel coming out of the motor from somewhere, which had to be where they poured wolfsbane in.
Despite this being a laundry room, it was empty. The last time I was out on the back deck here, I saw the washer and dryer on the back deck and thought it was a little odd but never questioned it. To think everyone had been trapped at the packhouse this entire time. That made more sense because the pack believed Aliza was dead, so his Beta must have been the only one to know of the cells under the deck.
Opening the laundry door, I s*cked in a deep breath of unpolluted air. My face was burning from the wolfsbane, and I wasted no time rushing down the steps of the back deck to the ground. I looked at the door of the outbuilding that I always thought was for storage as it went the entire length of the deck. I snuck around and saw a huge padlock on the door and a digital key panel. I let out a breath. Now, I just had to throw myself over the borders and hope Ace and Tyson wouldn’t kill me at first glance. Running across the rear lawn, I climbed the fence and darted into the trees.