Arthur had lost track of time. He couldn’t remember how long he’d been held captive in the castle’s dungeon. It could have been months, it could have been years. He was thin and weak, but he was determined, somehow, to escape from his confinement. Or to die trying. He planned and schemed and had finally devised an approach that might actually enable him to break out.
He knew he didn’t have the strength to directly challenge the single guard who delivered the one meal he was served each day. But Arthur had managed to painstakingly remove one of the thick, wooden slats from his bed frame beneath the thin mattress. He figured that when the guard came into his cell and set down the tray of food, he would summon up all the strength his frail body could muster and would hit the guard in the head with the heavy wooden slat.
The day to execute his escape plan arrived, and when the guard turned his back on Arthur in order to set the food tray on the table on the other side of the small cell, Arthur pulled the slat out from under the mattress and, with adrenaline coursing through his veins, he swung the slat into the air and smashed it down on top of the guard’s head. Arthur stared at the lifeless body on the stone floor, stepped over it, and for the first time in, well, months or possibly years, he stood outside of his cell.
With his heart pounding heavily inside his chest, Arthur made his way to the stone steps that led up to the ground floor of the castle. He spotted a narrow archway that led to the outside, but Arthur hesitated. He crouched in the dark hall just inside the archway to calm his breathing and to allow his eyes adjust to the brightness of the daylight that he hadn’t seen in a long, long time.
As his heart rate returned to normal and his eyes began to adjust, Arthur saw a stone outbuilding across a manicured lawn and garden. He saw a large, wooden door in the outbuilding, which he assumed was locked. But he also noticed a rectangular window to the left of the door that he felt sure his now emaciated body could fit through.
Arthur took a deep breath, left the confines of the castle, and stepped out onto the path toward the outbuilding. He slowly and stealthily made his way to the outbuilding and began to crawl through the window opening in the building’s thick, stone wall.
As he reached the inside of the outbuilding and stepped down from the window, Arthur saw a table to the right of the large wooden door. Seated around the table were three guards, all now staring at the intruder. They jumped up out of their chairs and surrounded Arthur.
Arthur had nothing left. He fell into a heap on the floor, crying. One of the guards lifted Arthur up, carried him over to the table, sat him down in a chair, and offered him some water and some food. The guard who had helped Arthur to the table said, “You’re the prisoner in the cell in the castle’s dungeon, are you not?”
Arthur acknowledged that the guard was correct. “How did you get out?” he asked Arthur, and Arthur told the guard the details of his escape.
“It’s a shame,” the guard said. “The Duke of the realm, the man responsible for your imprisonment, died yesterday and you were to be freed tomorrow. But now that you’ve murdered one of our fellow guards, we have no choice but to take you back to your cell, where you will likely spend the rest of your life.”
Written for this week’s Thursday Photo Prompt from Sue Vincent.