by J. L. Young
UK spelling intentional
| Darkness is all that is seen. I recognise the feel of the material over my eyes, it is my pea coat and it itches intolerably. My hands, bound in the same material, as well as my elbows, knees, and ankles. It seems they know me all too well.
The tight turns and precipitous inclines precipitate the thought of switchbacks. Strange as there aren't any of them within five hundred kilometers of the safe house.
'Sofia! Did they kill her? Was she a part of their iniquitous schemes? I'm thinking like a cadet. Cast my thoughts of her aside and deal with them subsequently.'
We turn onto a gravel road. The boot is filling with copious amounts of dust, choking me. And the driver must be purposely striking every prominence this stretch has to offer.
At last, light penetrated the wool. I lifted my head, only to feel a needle prick the side of my neck and unconsciousness takes me.
It must have been some time until I, at last, regained my wits. I lay splayed on cold stone tiles and in my starkers, no less. There they left me behind a gate and lock.
'Every cage can be mastered,' I thought as I gathered my bearings about me.
The stars shine brightly through a quaint window no more than a half meter below the ceiling. If they offered a bed, that window would be a small leap from my fingertips. I would use the constellations to glean my location if only I could see more stars. The concrete wall beneath is free of useful imperfection and makes scaling or penetrating decidedly impossible.
The lock, at first glance is quite simple. On purpose, I reason. This cell had been well maintained as to relieve me of any tool to fashion. I have come to the conclusion, my captors haven't a humane bone in their bodies. No loo or wash basin. Not even a pail. I shall be bereft of water and bread as well, I suspect. I'll have to drink what's available to me.
As time passes, I watch the shadows move. Now I know where to lay throughout the day to keep warm.
Alder soles on stone, find my ears. The snap of a switch floods the room with dim white light. I endure the discomfort. What did my pain purchase? A wondrous assortment of antique clarets. Some rested unmolested for quite some time as the dust settled thickly upon them.
I recognize the handwritten script on one of the bottles, Chateau Lafitte. I didn't catch the year as my attention returns to a woman stepping to my cage. Her form now clear, she's my dear Sofia. A handsome woman dressed in white which coordinated with her white hair. Pistols rested within holsters lashed to her thighs. I remain still in a veil of shadow waiting for confirmation.
Her delicate hand takes hold of one of the black bars. Calm is her demeanor, as her eyes inspect the interior of the cage. Standing now, a different person than the one in which I bedded the night before. She didn't speak before turning and quitting the cellar. The snap of the light punctuates her egress.
A nonchalant breath fills my lungs, "I guess that answers that."
The Sun's light pierces through the minute glassless window and it wakes me. I tally the day on the wall with my ever-lengthening fingernails. I blow the dust from the concrete to find that four days passed. This is the day that another visitor appeared.
The switch snaps on again. A cacophony of rubber soles descends the stairs. A thin man with long hair and a sloping brow steps with a walking cane. Its shaft, a deep gloss black enamel with an elegantly forged and brightly polished gold gauntlet for a handle. The ferrule beneath the ornate handle indicates the presence of a blade.
Knight pulls down his polo-neck collar to reveal a ghastly scar to remind me of a failed objective. His voice struggles to penetrate the still air, "Morgan Page, my old... friend."
A breath accompanies his name as it escapes my lips, "Skylar Knight."
He turns from the cage and whispers into the ear of one of his men. Knight's man slips before the lock and brandishes a toothy key. A quick twist of his wrist and the tumblers disengage with a metallic knock. He swings the gate open and fills the gap with his tremendous bulk. Knight's other man remains at the door as he moves toward me.
In my current location odds are low of subduing both men. I am collected without resistance. Sofia stands watch at the top of a humble spiral staircase. I watch her until she is obscured from sight. My elbow slips from Bulky Boy and I knee the other man's groin. He doubles over and my knee connects with his nose. He collapses as a fountain of blood jets from his nostrils.
I fall onto the now deceased henchman collecting his pistol. Quickly, I disengage the safety and drill two rounds in Bulky Boy's chest and one in his bonce. I turn to Knight and feel the cold stainless steel of Sofia's pistol at my neck. "Walther PPK, not bad."
My hand snaps back grabbing the slide and twist my wrist as I shift my weight. Sofia squeezes the trigger. A claret bottle explodes like a grenade embedding shards of glass in Knights arm. I wrench the pistol from Sofia's hand when I hear the blade slide free of the cane shaft. My neck twists, aiming my eyes toward Knight. His blade cleaves the skin on my chest.
My finger squeezes the trigger convincing two rounds into flight. They pierce Knight's chest and he collapses. The clatter of the blade soon follows. The leathery sound of Sofia's other pistol being pulled from its holster triggers me to snap my eyes to her. She hesitates, I do not.
The light glints off the fine blade as I collect it from Knight's feet, snap it in two across my knee, and summarily toss it aside. Without a word said, I slip the bottle of Chateau Lafitte from the rack. I rubbed the caked on dust and the year 1787 appears. I looked at Knights wounds, "Good luck with that, old friend. I casually quaff the ambrosial wine as I climb the stairs to my freedom.