Sorry for the late post! I even wrote this last Sunday--I just got busy last night. We got new phones, LG G3, and well... yeah, hubby isn't exactly good at new tech! I hope you enjoy our return to Fortitude, inspired by the prompt: Find a way out.
Fortitude Part 12
Wildman scrambled to his feet, but his arm was locked to the corner of his bed. I narrowed my eyes; seeing him held captive that way pissed me off. So the forest wasn’t safe. What right had they to take away his freedom?
Anna might have the best of intentions, but that didn’t excuse her actions. For all her vaunted superiority to the leaders of the city, she was just as bad. If we’d proven as able to escape as Wildman, I bet she would’ve locked us away, too.
“Teddy, see if the guard has keys. Bring me any weapons you find, too.
I stepped inside his cell. It had a bed, a washstand, books and a chair by a window—that was locked and barred. Nicely appointed, but a cell nonetheless. “You want to be free?”
Suspicion clouded his eyes as he glared at me. Helping us had not been good for him at all. “Look. We want to be free, too. You need us, and we need you. Our packs and weapons are hidden somewhere; I bet you know how to find them. Then we have to escape here.”
“Why? Why I do things for you anymore?” He jerked on the manacles. “Should’ve let you die.”
Teddy jerked to a halt beside me. “You talked!”
I’d always known Wildman was intelligent. He was too aware. I plucked the keys from Teddy’s hand. “Because we have these.”
Wildman bared his teeth at me; for all he could talk better than he’d let on, he was still wild. He wouldn’t help us willingly, but for his freedom? All it took was his nod, and I strode forward to unlock him. He rubbed the red, raw flesh around his wrist.
“Where would they keep our stuff?”
Almost faster than we could follow, Wildman was ghosting though the house. I took the guard’s sword, and Teddy kept his belt knife. Our guide stopped us a few times and backed up, changing direction once. We were almost there before I realized he’d led us to a room next the parlor where I’d first met Anna.
Flattened against the corridor wall, Wildman pointed through the open doorway. “In there.”
Would they really keep our things somewhere we’d already been? Or was this a trap? If it was, we were done for. If not, then perhaps Anna wasn’t as smart as I guess her to be. Or we were better actors. “How do you know?” Teddy asked.
“You asleep, but I pretend. I saw.”
Good enough for me. “Where?”
“Box next to chairs, by fire.”
“Okay.” I took a deep breath. “I’m going in. Teddy, you stay here with Wildman. If I get caught, run. Find a way out.”
“Promise me, Teddy.”
Reluctantly, he nodded. “Promise.”
I didn’t wait for more. We didn’t have much time. I peeked into the room, but it appeared empty. There was more than one entrance, so I had to pray no one came through them while I was in there; I’d be seen in an instant.
Walking as softly as possible, I found the cupboard Wildman mentioned. Its hinges squeaked when I opened the door, and I froze. Frozen, breathless, I strained to listen for the sounds of someone investigating the noise. I turned my head, staring through the flickering shadows to see if someone would come from the other entry. A book by Anna’s chair caught my eye. It was open, and there was spidery writing inside. A mechanical pen lay beside it.
Quick as a blink, I snagged that book and our packs. I took care to shut the cupboard door, wincing as it squeaked again. Then I bolted out of the room.
My heart pounded in my chest, never easing as Wildman led us on a new path, up, higher and higher. We were as high as we could go when he approached a window. This one wasn’t barred.
“Oh no,” Teddy gasped.
Wildman had opened the window and was already up and inching along the ledge. I looked out and watched as he reached up, taking hold of the eaves, and swung himself over the narrow alley to a nearby roof. The houses had a definite lean to them, but it was still a good three feet.
“There’s no way, Will. I’ll never make that.” Teddy’s face was ghastly pale in the moonlight.
“Yes you will. I have faith in you. Here, give me your pack and sword.” I made quick work of dumping Teddy’s things into my pack. I buckled his sword to the outside. “Now I can carry everything.” Pack cinched tight to my back, I was ready.
As ready as I’d ever be. I had to stay confident, for Teddy.
“No, Teddy. There’s no other way. You can do this.” Hopefully Wildman was still waiting for us. Teddy’s hands were shaking. I grabbed him by one icy hand, bringing him close for a hug. “You’ll be fine.” I focused all my will on making him believe that. “You can do it, Teddy.”
“All right. I’ll try.” Teddy swallowed hard. “But if I die, I’m coming back as a spirit to haunt you. Just like the ones in the tunnels.”
“There are no ghosts in the tunnels.”
“Yes there are!” Teddy was climbing out the window, still arguing with me. I figured he was doing it on purpose, to distract himself. I watched, barely breathing, as he sidestepped along the ledge. He was muttering about ghosts, and non-believers, not looking away from the white-knuckled grip he had on the edge of the window.
I was afraid he would freeze, but Teddy kept going. He reached the corner of the ledge and reached up for the eaves. I held my breath as he reached over, swinging his body, and then let go.
He grunted as he hit the roof, sprawling flat on the ridge. Wildman had moved back, but he was still there, waiting for us.
Now it was my turn.
I'm with Teddy on the whole escape route--YIKES! lol Okay, go enjoy more flash fiction updates from the other Briefers now, too!