Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Light and Dark (05/21/09)
TITLE: Prison Break
By Gregory Kane
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Some say a detainee should only give his name, rank and serial number. The terrible truth is that after more than eight months of solitary confinement I'm not even sure what my name is, let alone whether I have a rank or serial number. I was water-boarded constantly, my lungs drenched with urine-soaked fluids, the stench enough to make my stomach heave. But no matter how many times they jabbed me in the sides, I remained dumb, not speaking a single word to ease my distress. Not for me the easy release of a forced confession.
I've lost count of how many times I tried to escape. I must have explored every square inch of my tiny cell, literally climbing the walls, poking and prodding in search of any structural weakness. Sometimes I even lay on my back and kicked with all my might but to no avail. The only place that offered any possibility was a blocked drain on the floor of my cell. In fact this was the very spot from which I eventually executed my escape.
It's soul destroying being locked up in the dark with not a single other person to talk to. Sometimes I heard the voices of other people, muffled echoes from beyond the impenetrable walls of my cell. Sadly no one ever responded to my cries for succour. But at least my captors looked after my basic needs, disposing of my bodily waste and feeding me a watery slop that was a sorry excuse for food. Yet remarkably, even in such an austere environment, I thrived, putting on weight and building muscle. All of this was to stand me in good stead on the day I broke out.
The first tremors woke me with a start. The floor, walls and ceiling were in spasm, prey to a powerful earthquake. After a few moments the shocks abated and everything seemed to return to normal. Yet only minutes later the tremors returned with a vengeance. With panic driving my limbs, my fingers stumbled upon the formerly impassable drain. The movement of the earth had opened up a gap in the floor that widened with each subsequent convulsion. I'm not sure how long I lay there, paralysed by uncertainty, longing to escape, yet terrified that my exit route might suddenly close in upon me.
Ultimately the decision was taken out of my hands. One whole wall of my cell collapsed around me and in reflex I threw myself head first into the hole. My downwards scrabble couldn't have taken more than thirty seconds and I emerged into the brightest light I had seen in my life. And yet to my abject horror I discovered that I had merely traded one form of captivity for another. Hands immediately seized me, hanging me upside down and beating me mercilessly on the buttocks. I cried out in protest, embarrassed by the intensity of my screams. Yet throughout the ordeal, I stubbornly refused to divulge whatever the information was that my adversaries were after.
After this things calmed down somewhat. I was allowed to bathe and was given a warm and nourishing drink. I was even issued with a soft mattress rather than being obliged as before to sleep on the wet, slippery floor. So here I lie, wrapped in a prison blanket and planning the next stage of my flight. I will wait until they dim the lights and then make a break for the door. But there is one thing that bothers me, something odd that the prison guard said just after he lifted me in the air. I don't know what it means but I suspect it's important and I just can't get it out of my head.
“Congratulations,” he said. “It's a boy!”
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