|UWW beginners short story prompt 3|
Write a story in which you describe a room in detail through the senses of your main character. Be sure to give the room a reason for being used.
Slipping hurriedly through the wooden door on his left, Jack shut it quietly, leaning heavily against its uneven timbers. Struggling to regain control over his breathing, he listened intently in the darkness that enveloped him. The irregular crashing of drums that reverberated in his skull gradually found pattern and slowed, as the pounding of his heart abated. Rumour had it that every man from Fez knew by heart the intricate spider's web maze of the medina, a place so unfathomable to outsiders that an experienced guide was necessary. Not so Marrakech, it seemed, for although Jack had not the faintest idea where he was, nor, so it seemed, did his pursuer. "Insch'allah!" muttered Jack under his breath, unaware that he had chosen his adversary's language in which to give thanks.
Seating himself on the bare earth floor with his back resting against the door, Jack peered into the gloom. As his eyes slowly accustomed themselves to the darkness, he was able to make out some tables and chairs stacked in one corner, and a few wooden crates together with some large hessian sacks in the middle of the room. The room itself was small, probably only ten foot square, Jack estimated, with rough plaster covering its uneven walls. A window high up on the facing wall gave a glimmer of light from behind its shutters, allowing him to see a couple of shelves containing a number of large storage jars on the far wall. By his reckoning, the walls were at least a foot thick, explaining the silence in which he found himself.
Silence. Reassuring and restful, silence was indeed a welcome visitor. Moments ago, Jack had been running blindly through narrow passages, deafened by the thunderous noise of his pursuer's shoes slapping the pavement behind him. Now he was enveloped in a tranquility that stemmed from the lack of noise, tension or movement in his chamber of rescue. It was as if time had stopped the moment he had come through the door. Jack smiled as the thought flitted across his mind: here he was in a city of more than a thousand years old, surrounded by antiquities and traditions of a bygone era, having been chased by a Berber whom he suspected of following him all day; and his mind had already turned to conjecturing about the possibility of time travel! Notwithstanding this, he sensed that any sudden movement on his part could bring an abrupt end to the respite he was currently recieving, and was not inclined to jeopardise his position.
The slightest breath of air carrying the scent of almonds wafted past his face from the shuttered window, causing Jack to tense. The aroma had become increasingly familiar to him as the day had proceeded, for it had accompanied his pursuer. Jack shivered with the realisation of how closely he had been followed: the scent had been with him all day, and he had simply attributed it to the food stalls on each corner. There was a strange taste in his mouth, which felt dry, almost as if he had in fact succumbed to the aromas of the stret corners, and munched his way through a bag of honeyed nuts. Had his stalker returned to track his prey? Cursing his luck, Jack moved towards the tables and chairs stacked in the corner He needed to regain the advantage it seemed he might have lost, and the best way of doing that would be to see what his opponent was doing, without being seen himself.
Choosing the heaviest tables and chaires, Jack placed them carefully against the wall below the window, before selecting four of the Hessian sacks from the pile to cover the floor beside the furniture. The sacks felt rough and dusty to his skin, and again he was assailed by the scent of almonds. Perhaps the scent that had alarmed him so previously was nothing more than a reminder of the use to which the room had been subject, the storage of foodstuffs. Whether or not his alarm had been justified, Jack did not want to risk the sound of his falling from the table to attract attention to his whereabouts, hence the positioning of the sacks. The earthen floor was far from regular, and once Jack was upon the table there was little with which to steady his balance save from the window shutters themselves, and that would be tempting fate.
Clambering onto the tabletop, Jack steadied himself against the wall before craning his neck towards the shutters. As he feared, a figure wearing a djellabah was passing the window from which he was gazing. His pursuer of the day without a doubt. As Jack looked closely at the man's face he saw the aquiline nose he remembered, and the luxuriant moustache he had envied. In trying to ascertain why the man was so interested in him, Jack strove to remember the circumstances of their encounters. After several moments of intense thought, Jack gave up. Sure, he could remember the malevolent look he had been given on more than one occasion, but he had no idea of the nature of the sin he had comitted, let alone whether or not he had actually committed one. Besides, it was a little late to be wondering about what he might or might not had done, his first priority now had to be that of survival.
Jack turned back to the window to see where his opponent was, and in which direction he seemed to be moving. He had walked past the door to Jack's sanctuary, and was heading to his right. Jack thought furiously, he had approached the door from his left, which indicated that his pursuer had given chase for so long in one direction, before retracing his steps. Had he surrendered all hope of finding his quarry, or did he intend to carry out a more detailed search of the area, having surmised that Jack must be concealed somewhere? The door to the room was not locked, and a more thorough search would certainly reveal his whereabouts. It might be better to make a dash for safety before his adversary returned. If he headed left, he would at least be travelling in the opposite direction for a while, and the search would slow his opponent's progress.
Left and right! Jack scoffed at his thoughts, but the truth was left and right was all he had, north and south had left the equation hours ago. The tourist map he had of the city did not show the individual alleys of the medina, there were simply too many of them, and all of them alike. A map would have provided little help in any case; Jack had absolutely no idea where he was. His best plan was to get moving while he still had a chance. Climbing down from the table, Jack considered covering his tracks, and returning the table, chairs and sacks to their original position. No, better to leave them where they were. If his opponent discovered the room, evidence that Jack had been in residence was likely to detain him for longer. A sack would provide some head cover though, which could be useful, especially at a distance. Pulling a sack over his head, Jack was reminded again of his need for urgency by the small of almond which entered his nostrils. Inhaling deeply, Jack looked briefly to his right as he slipped through the door, and crept out into the night.