Dex Slater woke up red-eyed and utterly confused on Tuesday afternoon. He was barely dressed in what could only be described as rags and wore ripped shoes that revealed his filthy, unclipped, toes. He had not the slightest idea where he had just woken up.
He only realized where he was when a well-dressed employee wearing a striped red and blue tie tapped him on the shoulder to wake him up.
"Excuse me, sir, you’re not allowed to sleep here"- he said.
"Uh-yeah. My bad." - groaned, Slater.
The employee rolled his eyes and stomped away with a bitter look in his eyes. Something about Slater made him uneasy, but he couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was.
Looking around, disoriented, Slater finally recognized his surroundings.
Somehow he had ended up at JFK International in New York. He last remembered being in Staten Island but wasn’t sure what he was doing there.
He slowly got up from the chair he was sleeping in. His body ached and his vision was almost completely blurry. He kept trying to look around, to figure out how he had gotten there. He tried hard to think a few hours back but his mind was deceiving him. He felt a weird buzzing sensation in his head and couldn’t manage to focus on anything. He saw sudden flashes of someone charging at him when he closed his eyes, but couldn’t quite put the pieces together.
After grabbing his head in pain for a while, he looked down and saw a backpack on the ground. As he reached for it, he felt a sudden sharp pain coming from the left side of his stomach. As soon as his hands touched the area, he felt a warm and sharp knife-like sensation. He had never felt anything like it before.
At this point, he was really struggling to recall what had led him to this point. How had he gotten hurt? Why was he not in a hospital?
The people surrounding him all seemed to be busy with their own lives. Everyone’s eyes were fixed on the tiny screens in front of them. Their movements were almost robotic.
Slater shook his head to refocus his attention when he noticed a little boy sitting across from him, staring with a blank expression. The boy stared harder as Slater gripped his side with force to try and ease the fierce pain.
As he tried to get up on his feet, he noticed that the little boy’s eyes had not shifted.
They made eye contact, and the boy slowly raised his arm and pointed his finger to the TV screen above his head.
Slater didn’t understand what the kid wanted. He kept looking to see if the kid would move, but his arm remained stiffly in the air and his finger was pointed directly at the screen.
Finally, Slater budged and shifted his attention to the TV. He had to blink a few times before the image in front of him came into focus. When he was finally able to see, he couldn’t believe his eyes.
There he was. His face, clear as day.
He rubbed his eyes fiercely trying to make sense of what he was seeing. He limped closer, straining his ears, to pick up what the newscaster was saying…
“Dex Slater, a 37-year-old male escaped from Arthur Kill Correctional Facility at 3-am Monday morning. Slater was badly injured during a physical altercation with a prison guard that left the guard in critical condition. Slater was ultimately able to escape the facility. Authorities are claiming this man is violent, dangerous, and manipulative. If you see him, don’t be a hero, Call 911 immediately.”
Slater, stunned by the news he had just watched, slowly tilted his head down to face the little boy again. The blank expression on his face remained.
They looked at each other for a few seconds before the boy broke eye contact and casually started walking away.
Slater was confused and panicked. He grabbed the bag he found from the floor and proceeded to follow the little boy through the airport.
Over the loudspeaker, an employee announced: “Flight AZ 972 to Amsterdam boarding now at Gate 24”
The boy continued passing gates as Slater followed behind. Slater was dragging his feet trying to catch up.
Suddenly the boy halted to a stop. He turned around to see that Slater was there, barely standing on his two feet. He swiftly turned again and continued on his way.
The two had just passed gate 17.
Now Slater was certain he had to catch up with this boy. He tried hurrying behind him but his injury was throbbing. All he wanted to do was sit and relax, but he had to know who this little boy was!
After a few minutes of barely being able to keep up, Slater’s legs gave in. The pain took over and he dropped to the ground. He managed to muster up some strength to stand again and quickly made his way to the nearest chair.
While barely sitting, Slater decided to see if he could find anything in his bag to help tend to his wound.
He rummaged around in his things but didn’t find anything of use. All that was there was a passport and a one-way ticket to Amsterdam. He didn’t remember making that purchase.
He reached in the bag again and at the bottom of it was a crumpled piece of paper.
He slowly unraveled it to reveal a written note.
“Good luck, dad.”
He looked up to see if the little boy was still around, but he was out of luck.
He was long gone.
Over the loudspeaker, an employee announced: “last call for passengers boarding Flight AZ 972 to Amsterdam at Gate 24”.
Slater looked down at the flight ticket in his hand. Then, he looked up.
He was at Gate 21.
Suddenly all the pain was gone, and he was running.