It occurs to me that I could barricade myself in Khan’s office. I’ve spent so much time thinking about how I could run away without anybody noticing, but everyone around me is watching my every move and everyone out there in the real world knows who I am. There’s no escape.
Suddenly, locking myself in this room feels like my only option. There’s a fridge in the corner. I get up and walk over to it. Inside, there’s enough food and drink to live on for a few days: there’s a ton of expensive bottled water, and more energy drinks than I could ever consume. Okay, there’s nothing that anyone could call a proper meal, but there’s chocolate and yoghurt. I look around. I take in the fruit bowl and box of crackers. Camping out here might actually be a possibility.
How would I stop Khan from getting in? I scan the room. With a bit of effort, I could shove the desk in front of the door. But then all he’d have to do is push hard at the door from his side and the desk would move. I guess I could shift the small trees living in enormous pots in each corner of the room. If I wedged them behind the desk, that might keep Khan out.
What’s the point?
I’ve tried locking myself away from Khan before. He always gets to me in the end. He starts shouting about contracts and all the shit I owe him that I’m pretty sure I don’t owe him at all. He tells me he can only protect me from myself for a certain amount of time, that if I don’t put my makeup on and get out in front of the cameras soon, then the world will forget about me.
“It’s not just yourself you should be thinking about,” he’s said a few times. “There’s the crew, the fans… your mum – all these people depend on you.”
So I give in.
I always give in.
I continue to look around the office as if it might offer me a way out I haven’t thought of. The window? I don’t even bother looking out. I know how high up we are. High enough if I want to make the ultimate exit. Nowhere near low enough if I don’t.
I think about The Shawshank Redemption. About Brooks who couldn’t handle the real world, then about Andy Dufresne’s tunnel. I start moving the pictures on the wall, looking underneath them like some kind of nutcase. There are no holes to climb through. Maybe I can get one of those little rock hammer things. If I start digging now, I’ll be free in twenty years.
I cast my eye around, searching for new ideas. There’s a telephone.
I could call someone.
It’s that easy.
It’s not as if I don’t have friends. It’s only that I’ve been told by Khan not to talk to them, not to let them into my workspace, not to let them mess with my focus. I can see them when I’m off the clock. But of course my new position as Khan’s prisoner doesn’t include any off the clock time. He hasn’t let me go home unsupervised since the end of the last tour.
I look at the phone. I’m going to do it.