The Great Escape


Anne Michael

It was Thursday afternoon. The sky was picture post card blue with not the smallest shred of cloud in sight. The sun winked off the palm fronds as they danced and swayed enticingly in the gentle breezes coming off the water. It would have been the perfect day to play hooky. I was in the mood to escape. I had a good book to read, winter white skin that could stand a bit of time outdoors, and lungs that were hungry for air far fresher than the recycled stuff that feeds the building in which I work.

My desk was piled with small projects, prep work and lots of filing. Saturday was not far off, giving me hope that another perfect day would be in the offing. There could be no hooky playing for me. 

At one point in the afternoon, turning from my file cabinet with no small sense of longing to check the view out the window, I spied a royal blue balloon, with golden kisses of sun glinting off its latex hide. It soared swiftly and seemingly joyously straight up as though it had gleefully escaped a small sticky human hand moments before, its tail of string along for the ride. There was no doubt this balloon wanted away and was not maundering along as though lost. This was a balloon with a purpose. I was heartened by the sight of the balloon’s escape. It looked as though the zippy ovoid would keep going until it hit the boundary of our atmosphere and beyond. I happily imagined it punching at that frontier till it could poke its rubber nose through and explore the far reaches of outer space. Contented, I returned to my humdrum chores with my head and heart firmly fixed on Friday at 6pm when I would be free to enjoy my own pursuits.

Finally, the start of the weekend! With pizza baking in the oven I fell, once again into Dean Koontz’s Seize the Night, the sequel to Fear Nothing. I’d been reading it in sips and bits as spare time and opportunity would allow all week long. I happily drowned myself in the pleasure of the words, the intensity of the tale and the pleasure of meeting on the pages, once again, Chris, Sacha, Bobby, Roosevelt, Orson and Mungojerrie, the cat that “knows things.” These inhabitants of the town of Moonlight Bay, California, were once again up to their earlobes in intrigue at an abandoned military installation called Wyvern, and madmen were on the loose as they endeavored to rescue the kidnapped child of a friend. 

By the time supper was ready, I had perhaps fifty pages left to read. Right after supper, I promised myself, I would return to the book.

Steve had other ideas—none included me reading. My husband loves a good story as much as I do but he prefers to get his story on the silver screen. He had a hankering for a movie, a good scary bit of sci-fi maybe or a thriller with the same kind of emotional intensity as my book. As it happened, the movie Jurassic Park was playing as a double feature, the first movie and the third. It fit the bill. The memory of stepping out of the movie theater years ago when we first saw it and feeling half afraid there would be a dinosaur towering above us can still make us laugh. The special effects and the story line were so well done, and we happily escaped into that imaginary place.

Steve was in high cotton and I was desperate to finish my book. Every chance I could manage, I attempted to call an intermission and jump into my book with not much success. Finally, not long after midnight, the movies were over. But I could not go to bed until I finished those last pages.

An hour later I was exhausted and emotionally used up. I felt as though I’d just ridden the largest rollercoaster in the universe. I felt as I’d imagined how that little blue balloon might have felt. I was as exhilarated at having escaped my mundane world of work and worry, dust and dishes as the balloon seemed to be at having escaped a child’s fist. I had no idea how I could possibly sleep after finishing the book. What a ride! Koontz had done it again with an impossibly plausible premise and compelling characters woven into an intense and gripping tale. I sure hope there will be a third book in the series.

To my absolute surprise I slept long and deeply, awakening refreshed and relaxed. I managed my desired escape, and even spent an easy Saturday in the sun. Breathing fresh clean Florida air and recovering from the thrill of my time in Moonlight Bay and my detours into Jurassic Park, I was happy to be back in my “real” world. Still, I was more than a bit spooked by the noises I heard coming out of the bushes in the yard

At age 10, Anne realized she was never going to get to be Miss America since reading a book was not an acceptable talent. So she went on to get a job and raise a family. Along the way, she fixed meals, picked up toys, helped with homework, and collected a drawer full of rejection slips for her “great American novel.” It was not all bad, however, since she ended up wallpapering a closet with them. She currently designs and creates greeting cards for her tiny company, The Frog Prints, LLC, and also works full-time as a Training Specialist. Anne is currently tethered to reality by a loving spouse, two dogs and the occasional hurricane that blows through Florida, although falling headlong and happily into a book is still her favorite “talent.” She can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it     

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