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More by Ben Bova
Danny wasn't a bad kid at heart, but the government put Danny in prison for a long list of crimes, with no end to his sentence. He had to get back to his girl. He had to get back to Laurie. Watched over at all times by a Big Brother-like sentient computer, there was no way out of the escape-proof prison except to... Escape!
"Escape! ... has generated more mail from readers than any other single
story I have ever written."
"I think this was the only book I read in one sitting."
The door shut behind him.
Danny Romano stood in the middle of the small room, every nerve tight. He listened for the click of the lock. Nothing.
Quiet as a cat, he tiptoed back to the door and tried the knob. It turned. The door was unlocked.
Danny opened the door a crack and peeked out into the hallway. Empty. The guards who had brought him here were gone. No voices. No footsteps. Down at the far end of the hall, up near the ceiling, was some sort of TV camera. A little red light glowed next to its lens.
He shut the door and leaned against it.
"Don't let `em sucker you," he said to himself. "This is a jail."
Danny looked all around the room. There was only one bed. On its bare mattress was a pile of clothes, bed sheets, towels and stuff. A TV screen was set into the wall at the end of the bed. On the other side of the room was a desk, an empty bookcase, and two stiff-back wooden chairs. Somebody had painted the walls a soft blue.
"This can't be a cell... not for me, anyway. They made a mistake."
The room was about the size of the jail cells they always put four guys into. Or sometimes six.
And there was something else funny about it. The smell, that's it! This room smelled clean. There was even fresh air blowing in through the open window. And there were no bars on the window. Danny tried to remember how many jail cells he had been in. Eight? Ten? They had all stunk like rotting garbage.
He went to the clothes on the bed. Slacks, real slacks. Sport shirts and turtlenecks. And colors! Blue, brown, tan. Danny yanked off the gray coveralls he had been wearing, and tried on a light blue turtleneck and dark brown slacks. They even fit right. Nobody had ever been able to find him a prison uniform small enough to fit his wiry frame before this.
Then he crossed to the window and looked outside. He was on the fifth or sixth floor, he guessed. The grounds around the building were starting to turn green with the first touch of early spring. There were still a few patches of snow here and there, in the shadows cast by the other buildings.
There were a dozen buildings, all big and square and new-looking. Ten floors high, each of them, although there were a couple of smaller buildings farther out. One of them had a tall smokestack. The buildings were arranged around a big, open lawn that had cement paths through it. A few young trees lined the walkways. They were just beginning to bud.
"No fences," Danny said to himself.
None of the windows he could see had bars. Everyone seemed to enter or leave the buildings freely. No guards and no locks on the doors? Out past the farthest building was an area of trees. Danny knew from his trip in here, this morning, that beyond the woods was the highway that led back to the city.
Back to Laurie.
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