Kyria practically threw her daughter on top of the closed toilet seat as arms reached down from the bathroom ceiling. Athena grabbed the reaching arms, and as her mother shoved her up, the arms pulled her into a crawl space above the bathroom. The two bodies in the dark pushed her aside and reached down to pull her mother up. As soon as both women were in the ceiling, the bodies indicated that the mother and daughter were to follow one of them. The other stayed behind to secure the escape panel.
Athena quickly had to yank her long skirt above her knees, as it was impossible to crawl otherwise. She tried to ignore how filthy her surroundings were and what was happening to her hands and knees, as well as the yelling beneath her, which seemed to be followed by shots being fired at the ceiling.
The shooting and yelling both stopped, but this did not slow the men and their charges down. Instead, it seemed to encourage them to speed up. Athena soon figured out why, as she started to smell smoke. Luckily, she wasn't that prone to being a whiner, but she certainly considered starting, as she noted how suddenly her life went to dull to crawling in the ceiling in a burning building with strangers.
Soon they led her down a ladder near what might have been an outer wall. The ladder led to a brief ledge, which led to another ladder going down. In a short time, she was in a dank area that immediately led to a tunnel. The four of them trotted for a while, but eventually climbed up another ladder into very welcome fresh air ... and lots of trees. Apparently there was a tunnel from their house to the woods. They could see the flames from where they stood.
Athena started to open her mouth, but her mother stopped her. Each man grabbed the wrist of one of the females, and they jogged through the woods, occasionally being slapped around by branches. No one in the group seemed to be used to such exercise, and they were all winded by the time they reached a van with no windows aside from the very front.
The back doors of the van seemed to open of their own accord, and the women were nearly tossed inside. The men leapt in behind them. As soon as the doors were shut, the vehicle took off.
Athena couldn't stand it. "What is going on? Where are we going? Who are you?"
"We're rescuing you," a deep voice answered. It was hard to see exactly who he was in the back of the dark van. Athena sat closer to her mother.
"But why do we need rescuing?"
"Your father was convicted of being a traitor. That's what they really did. That's why they had a closed trial."
"Guilt by association. With the things that have happened in the past couple of days, you two are considered traitors, too."
"You can't be serious! A boxcar, a cow, a diary, an envelope -- all things that just appeared -- these things make me a traitor? What the heck is wrong with you people?"
"It's not us, Athena. It's the country. It's just ... not the same."
"Well, why aren't you considered traitors?" Athena was starting to sound just a little whiny.
"We are, honey. Right now, we are. But the way history books are written, the patriots are the ones who win and the traitors are the ones who lose. It's nothing to do with right and wrong. When this is over, when our country goes back to normal, we'll be the patriots then. Just not now."