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Mar 11

Escape from the Dungeon

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Daryl awoke with a dull pain in his head to near total darkness. Instinctively, he reached for the gym towel he kept forever perched on his shoulder and mopped his expansive brow, where beads of sweat had formed in the cloying humidity of his present location.

He was laying down, that much was certain. He fumbled around on the floor around him and came upon what he knew were his glasses. Bringing them to his face, he could just make out a thin crack running through the left lens. Typical, he thought.

Allowing his eyes to adjust to the gloom, he began to discern more of his surroundings. However improbable, he deduced that he was in some sort of medieval dungeon cell. The walls were made of thick stone blocks roughly cemented together, with a thin sheen to them, as though damp. The door was a solid sheet of metal with a small slot roughly a hand’s width into which, presumably, the gaoler could observe his prisoners.

Keeping a clear head, Daryl decided that he should fully assess his situation before leaping to any conclusions. So many questions. Where am I? How did I get here? Do they have WiFi?

He ponderously rose to his feet and began to explore the rest of his cell, which he deemed to be about eight feet across, and similarly deep. Reaching into the darkness, his fingers almost instantly landed upon something solid. He recoiled from this unexpected contact but, after nothing untoward seemed to come of it, resumed his careful search. How he’d missed it before, he couldn’t be sure, but there, standing just below his chin in height, was a 1:1 scale porcelain statue of Queen Elizabeth II. As his fingernail tapped against the smooth white surface, rendered a shade of umber by the thin stream of dim light creeping through the slot in the door; he heard the unmistakable chink of fine china. Coming to terms with the strangeness of his situation, Daryl resolved to get himself out of here and return home to the comfort of a warm cup of Ovaltine and copious volumes of raunchy Japanese cartoons.

He felt his mobile phone in his pocket, and quickly reached for it, hoping beyond hope that it wasn’t damaged. As the little screen illuminated, he was pleased to see that not only did it have power, but was also totally unscathed. He immediately attempted to call the police, but was met only with the monotonous bleeping that reported a lack of signal. Typical, he thought.

Where there was previously silence beyond the cell door, now Daryl could hear the faint sound of footsteps and voices through distant corridors and, chillingly, what sounded like the pained screams of some poor soul being tortured. He understood, then, that however he came to be in his current situation; it was dire, and he needed to free himself before the same fate befell him. He wracked his brain, taking stock of what he had available to him and forming a plan of how best to make his escape. After what seemed like an eternity, but must only have been a handful of minutes, Daryl had drawn a complete blank. In frustration, he slammed his fist into the wall. A thin streak of what seemed like plaster dust came loose around one of the stones set into the wall. Absent-mindedly, he pulled at the edges of the stone, and was rewarded by a dull thunk as it came completely loose and fell to the floor of his cell, smashing into a few pieces. Behind it, he could feel, was soft dirt.

It was in that moment, with a fist full of soil and an examinatory glace at Her Majesty the Queen, that Daryl formed his escape plan.

***

Cradling Elizabeth in the crook of his left arm, and using his right to hold a fragment of the fallen stone; Daryl began to tap at the queen’s neckline. Slowly at first, but then with greater ease, he began to separate the monarch’s head and, he was pleased to see, it was as hollow as he’d hoped. Once his grisly task was done, he placed the remainder of the queen’s body to one side, and began to scrape soil from within the wall cavity. This he scooped up and placed within the queen’s severed head until its weight was not unlike a bowling ball.

Taking his chance, Daryl held the mud-filled head at his shoulder like a shot putter and took a position beside the cell door. He angled his face towards the narrow opening and yelled loudly and clearly, “1v1 me, fgt!” Shortly, there came the sound of feet fast approaching him. He braced himself for action.

The silhouette of a man became visible outside, and the door opened suddenly. With an effort he normally reserved solely for the acerbic criticism of demonstrably successful board games, Daryl hefted his makeshift weapon with all his might down upon the head of the stranger. With a sickening crunch, the man’s skull caved in and his body slumped to the floor like a sack of offal, blood pooling around his head, reflecting like the rippling surface of some macabre lake.

Wasting no time, and assuming that it would somehow be useful, Daryl grabbed the remainder of the queen’s porcelain body and exited the confines of his cell into the corridor beyond. This, he found, was much better lit than his cell. He could see clearly that there were many intersections and hallways leading off to either side.

He began to question his sanity when, to his disbelief, he saw what appeared to be a glowing green sign depicting a fire exit about a hundred yards down the dark tunnel. With no apparent alternative, and failing to see how this horrible misadventure could become any stranger; Daryl clutched the hollow remains of the queen’s headless body in both hands and staggered towards the sign. As he drew closer, he could see a blindingly bright light emitting from what seemed to be a doorway beneath the sign. He instinctively reached at it with one hand. As he reached, he could hear the sound of raised voices, dogs barking, and the unmistakable sound of the hustle and bustle of busy city traffic.

As his hand made contact with the solid surface and the door began to swing outward, he was disoriented by the brightness of full daylight, the shouting of angry voices in his direction, and a dark shape clad in padding and armour approaching him with some sort of stick. Moments later, he was unconscious.

***

When he came to, Daryl was handcuffed to a chair, alone in a brightly-lit room with nothing but a noticeboard and a table with a pair of chairs on the opposite side. He went to rub his aching head, but found his restraints didn’t permit him to raise either hand higher than his chest. Straining to take in any further details of the room in which he found himself, he managed to make out some of the words on a piece of paper stapled to the noticeboard, “Metropolitan Police”. I’ve been saved, he thought to himself, but why did they handcuff me?

Moments later, a pair of men entered the room. One wearing a brown jacket and trousers over a pale shirt open at the collar, another in police uniform and a stab-proof vest. The man in the jacket sat down opposite Daryl, the uniformed officer remained by the door.

The man on the other side of the desk produced a small plastic bag from the inside of his jacket, placed it on the table and began to empty it of its contents. Daryl recognized the items as his own belongings. The man opened the wallet he’d produced from the bag and removed an identity card. “So…” he began, “Daryl, is it?” Daryl begin to speak, but before he uttered a word the man continued.

“Let me be perfectly clear with you, Daryl. You are under arrest. Once we’re done here, my colleague will escort you to a holding cell where you’ll await a trial date. The evidence against you is such that nothing you could possibly have to say would change matters, but unfortunately, proper procedure dictates that we go through the motions.” With a laboured sigh, the man continued “I will now read out a statement of incidents as they occurred; you will have the opportunity to correct any points you feel are incorrect. Until that time, you are to remain silent. Do you understand?”

Nonplussed, and whimpering slightly, Daryl managed a brief nod.

“On the evening of Friday the 12th, the accused did frequent no fewer that ten establishments whose purpose is the selling of alcoholic beverages in Soho, London. While a toxicology report has yet to be produced, it is believed that the accused came into the possession of and proceeded to use illegal narcotics with hallucinogenic properties. Under the effects of these intoxicants, the accused then proceeded to make forcible entry into the Tate Gallery; irrevocably damaging several priceless artworks and absconding with a scale replica of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second.”

“It is then reported that the accused, deliriously drunk, loudly staggered through the streets, clutching the stolen artifact, repeatedly screaming ‘Luke senpai’ loud enough to awaken several dozen local residents. No fewer than four complaints of public disorder were filed regarding this conduct.”

“The accused then forced entry into the popular tourist attraction, The London Dungeon, where it is presumed he passed into unconsciousness until the early hours of Saturday morning. It is then recorded that he vandalized the stolen artwork and brutally murdered one of the attraction’s janitorial staff before attempting to flee the scene, whenupon he was apprehended and placed under arrest.”

“Have you understood the statement read to you, sir, and do you wish any corrections to be noted?”

Daryl sat in stunned silence, stupefied, staring into the face of the man before him as though expecting to wake from a horrible dream.

“For the record, the accused is exercising his right to silence” the man stated officiously. “We have yet to locate your accomplice, Mr Senpai; but any information you provide as to his whereabouts may been seen favourably when it comes to your sentencing.”

The man continued to stare unblinking into Daryl’s now watery eyes for a few moments more, before exhaling in defeat, rising from the chair and making his way out of the room with the uniformed officer, leaving Daryl alone with his thoughts.

About the author

Mr Llamatastic

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