By Rosey Mucklestone
I’ve been betrayed. Turned over to the enemy by my own niece. It’s infuriating, but I’ve mostly gotten over my bitterness on that. I need to focus on getting out of this mess she’s got me into.
My plan has been working well since I’ve gotten here, though I’m not sure when to make my move. I sigh, looking out the window to the rest of the free world. A world that I’ll soon be a part of again if all goes well.
I’d better check all my assets before they come back. Everything should be in place and I must be alert. The time for action could be soon and I can’t be caught off guard by these fiends surrounding me.
My first escape step is right below me. I fiddle with the window latch as inconspicuously as possible. I never know who might be watching. I’d worked the window latch loose the other day and it seems no one has noticed and fixed it. Perfect. My first step is a go.
Walking over to the closet, I glance in at the tied-sheet rope I’ve been making. I know it’s cliché, but there’s a reason a lot of people use it. It works, and a quick escape is more important to me than a creative one. The rope looks long enough, but I add another pillowcase to the end, just for good measure.
There are a few more things, but I know they’re ready and they have been since I got here. I threw a bag with a tent, cook stove, pan, knife and other basic survival things in the bushes the day before they brought me here and I’ve been able to sneak it in since.
There are woods nearby and that is my planned hideout destination, at least until things cool down enough for me to rejoin society.
Everything is in place.
Today, I escape.
A gentle knock sounds on the door. Taking a deep breath to calm my nerves, I stride back to my complimentary wheelchair. I seat myself, wincing as my knee gives me a little trouble. It never quite recovered after that one bullet, though arthritis might have something to do with it.
I slump down in the chair like I’ve been there for a long time, rumple my clothes a bit and assume a slightly pained, blank expression.
“Come in,” I say in as feeble a voice as I can manage.
A pretty, young woman guard enters my cell and smiles, handing me a bowl of what looks like food scraps sent through a garbage disposal. They never give anyone here real meat – yet another one of their tactics to weaken their prisoners’ wills to live.
“And how are you doing today, Mr. MacLeod?” she asks gently, smoothing her skirt and sitting on a stool next to my wheelchair.
I bite my tongue in frustration. No one ever gets it right. Masking my feelings, I give her a quavering smile.
“I’d prefer to keep the title “General” if you don’t mind, ma’am.”
She giggles. Why does she find everything I say so infernally funny?
“If that’s what you would like, General.” She giggles again. This smile is getting hard to keep on.
Yes, I would like it. It might make my life a fraction more bearable here. But, of course, either you’ll forget or they’ll start sending someone else to bring me my food and dole out the daily torture.
We both sit there for a bit, then she pulls out a spoon and napkin, smiling.
“You’ll need help with your soup, of course.” It isn’t a question.
I started regretting my decision of adding that disability to my guise about ten seconds into my first dinner here.
The woman pulls her hair over one shoulder, scoops up the first spoonful of liquid torture and pokes it towards my mouth.
“Open up!” she commands cheerfully, her brilliant white teeth flashing me a smile. Trying not to breath through my nose, I choke down the first bite, knowing there’s a lot more to come.
I stay strong through most of the bowl, but near the end the gag reflex kicks in a little, making me cough some out. I curse inwardly. I have better control of my functions than that. They’re breaking me.
My guard smiles understandingly and gently dabs away the soup splatters with a napkin so soft it feels like an angel stitched it out of moonbeams and fluffy bunnies’ tails.
She must think I can’t stand anything of rougher texture. And my handkerchief is a piece of old burlap. Even a sneeze can be a character building experience, in my opinion.
“Are you done now, Mr. MacLeod?”
Does anyone here even take the time to register their prisoners’ requests in their twisted minds?
“Yes, thank you, ma’am” I reply, relieved that that torture session is over.
She giggles again, tells me I’m “so sweet,” cleans up the tray and leaves. The second the door closes behind her, I’m out of the chair, ready to be rid of this cursed place.
Running to the closet, I throw my rucksack of survival gear on my back and bundle up my rope. Shutting the door, I run to my cot and push it against the wall.
I know plenty of sturdy knots, so securing the sheets to one of the legs doesn’t take me two minutes. As soon as that’s finished, I walk over to the window. No people seem to be around at the moment, and all the guards are inside having dinner.
I run a hand through my grey hair, take a deep breath, and pop the window. Fresh air drifts in – the first I’ve breathed in months. I breathe it in and grin. I haven’t done that for a while either.
I throw the sheets out. They make a gentle whooshing sound as they catch the wind, and I’m not sure they’ll reach the ground, but the last pillowcase comes to rest on the grass.
I grab the first sheet and slip out the window. Silently, hand over hand, I lower myself down and drop to the earth. Taking in my surroundings, I quickly decide on my point of entry into the woods. A few sheets would probably be good for warmth, so I pull some off the rope and jam them in my pack.
“Okay, well, see you guys tomorrow!” I hear a faint voice from inside say. I swear under my breath. I didn’t expect one of the guards to be finished just yet. I’ll have to evade the enemy sooner than I thought.
I pull my pack back on and sprint for the cover of the woods, reaching the underbrush just as the door swings open. A young man steps out, whistling and swinging his keys. Then he stops. The branches are still rustling from my jump into them.
“Hello?” he says, taking a few steps closer. The sheets blow in the wind right next to him. Sensing the motion, his eyes dart towards my rope, still hanging from my window and he gasps.
He’s seen too much.
I quickly grab a stout stick, tug down my hat and pull a pillowcase over my mouth like a bandana. He can’t know who I am just yet. As silently as I can, I jump out of the bushes and make a run for the guard. He hears me when I’m only about a yard behind him.
His eyes widen and he brings his hands up, but I swing the stick down on his head hard. Barely making a sound, the guard falls to the neatly trimmed grass, unconscious. A few sheets should hold him for a while and buy me some time, so I take another couple off the end and quickly tie his hands and feet.
Satisfied with my work, I stand up and cast one more hateful glance at the sign heralding the entry to this prison camp.
“Happy Oaks Assisted Living Retirement Home” reads the sign. A smiley tree hangs over the words, promising false hope to all who enter.
I give one last mock salute to the sign and run back into the woods.
They’ll never bring me back. Not if I can help it.
Rosey Mucklestone is sixteen and the oldest of eight kids. Her family lives in northern Washington State with two dogs, two cows and a bearded dragon. Rosey has been writing books since she was eleven and has self-published two of them, Odd Team Out and Amazing Honesty, on Lulu.com, as well as several short stories on Faithwriters.com. Other than writing, she likes sketching, photography, animals (dogs especially), reading and being outside exploring in the woods and by the ocean.
You can also find her throwing a bunch of random stuff up on her blog,writefury.wordpress.com.