Wrong Man

“Have you ever yelled at or accused someone only to realise you got the wrong person? Maybe you’ve been accused, imprisoned or penalised for something you didn’t do. The lesson is it always pays to be sure before you take action. The consequences of being wrong can be dire!”

I wrote this story in answer to the following prompts:
FOWC with Fandango  — Namesake
Pensitivity’s Three Things Challenge — Wisp – Caress – Fingertips
Your Daily Word — Throng
Ragtag Daily Prompt — Window
Word of the Day — Interview

Wrong Man

Driving at night. A throng of cars flashing by. Horns. Sirens. A drunk man singing. Darkness.

I wandered the endless tunnels of darkness for I didn’t know how long. Memories of driving home assaulted my consciousness like lightning strikes.

Stabbing pains.

I awoke gasping for breath. My lungs burned. The pain in my wrists was worse. The most excruciating pins and needles.

Fear exploded into being like a dagger through my chest. My arms were shackled above my head.

I screamed as the situation tore me from my logical mind. All manner of horrifying events rushed through my psyche. Torture. Murder. Hostage. I was in every person’s nightmare.

Cold sweat poured down my face. My lungs ached through panting like I’d run a marathon as my body dealt with the surge of adrenaline.

“Calm down. You can’t get out of this unless you calm down!” I told myself.

Focusing on the room, I could smell the dampness rising in the gloomy space. What milky light there was issued from a little barred window. Curved at the top and recessed deep within the grey stone wall; it reminded me of castles I’d visited over the years.

I began to scan my memories to see if I recognised this particular window. The pain in my wrists jarred me back to agonising reality.

A groan escaped my dry lips as I forced my legs beneath me and stood up. My new position put the iron wall mounts to my shackles beneath my shoulders. This must have been a place for imprisoned children.

The revelation was good for me. I had access to the wall mounts with a little uncomfortable movement of my arms. “Come on, man. Your namesake created a wonderful sleuth. He’d write his way out of this room. You can do that too!” I told myself I began testing each shackle.

My prison was filled with clanks and bangs as I systematically investigated the strength of my bindings. What I discovered should have left me smiling. Instead, it filled me with confusion.

Reaching down I grabbed the left shackled pin with my teeth and pulled it out of the clasp. It tinkled to the floor as my wrist came free. removing the right pin, I stepped away from the wall with a sigh of relief.

“Okay, who chain’s people to walls without securely locking the pins in place?” I thought as I crossed the room to the little window.

Climbing into the recess, I tried to peer out through the bars. There was a rich garden out there. No sounds, not even a singing bird could be heard.

Slipping a foot back out of the recess onto the floor, I felt it. A wisp of moving air. Icy fingertips caressing my back. If I felt alone since waking up, I didn’t feel alone anymore.

“Who’s here?” I asked as I regained my footing.

Stony silence answered.

The room felt ten degrees cooler at that moment.

I crossed the stone floor to the ancient oak door. Inches thick and built with great square iron studs, it was as impenetrable as any prison door.

My fingers grasped the cold metal of the handle. Squeezing and turning, I prayed for it to be unlocked. The mortifying thud of locked tumblers crunching against metal denied me freedom.

Frustration flared and I kicked the door. Pain exploded in my foot as for the first time, I realised I was wearing no shoes.

Looking down at myself, I saw my boxer shorts and vest and grimaced at the bloodstains all over them. Somebody had taken my jeans, shirt and leather jacket. The condition of my clothes and the grime upon my skin unnerved me.

Raising my hand to my face, I felt the stubble of the beard. I was clean-shaven when I drove home that night. At least two days had passed to the darkness. To my incarceration in — wherever the hell I was.

The wraith wind returned. A chilling breath against my skin. There was no airflow in this musty old prison. Which meant —

A low howl interrupted the lonely silence. It was like a woman crying from another dimension.

“I hear you. Are you trapped here too?” I asked. I noticed my voice was shaking. This was the worst situation I’d ever gotten into.

Silence lay heavy on the room again.

My mind played a film reel of my son and daughter playing in the garden. My wife enjoying margaritas with me on a beach in Spain. It brought with it cold tears of grief. Would I ever get to see them again? I wanted nothing more than to hug and hold them. I missed them more than anything in the world.

Those thoughts lit a fire in my chest. I had to get out of this room. Climbing into the window recess, I lay on my back. Planting my feet against the ancient bars, I kicked them as hard as I could.

With every strike, pain flared from my toes and raced into my calves.

A well of rage burst through me, tearing my consciousness from my body. I lost awareness of my feet hammering against the cold iron. My ragged breaths became like demonic growls as I pounded again and again.

Something gave beneath my toes. A groan of iron, a crack of stone. My final kick struck nothing as the bars separated from the wall and vanished.

In silent victory, I slumped back bathed in sweat. The warm, viscous feeling and unbearable pounding told me my feet were bleeding and broken.

My energy was depleted, everything swirled in my vision.

A grey lady appeared hovering above me and then she was gone on the dust motes which floated about on the stale air.

After some recovery time, I manoeuvred around to look outside. The barred grate had swung aside hanging like an open window.

Manicured lawns and beautiful topiary bushes filled the vista sprawling away from the castle. I gazed beneath me. A mistake.

The moat yawned from four stories below. Acrophobic vertigo grabbed and pulled me off the ledge.

My fingers seized the grate but it tore from the wall.

Falling.

Splashing into the cold dark water.

Searing pain in my feet, told of the fluid entering my wounds. Desperate to cry out but beneath the surface, I kicked up for all I was worth.

Breaching the surface, my lungs heaved in great breaths of oxygen. Rolling onto my back, I fought through a coughing fit as I exhaled water.

My feet were cramped with pain, I swam a few agonising strokes to the garden side of the mote and felt my heart sink. The wall extended at least twelve feet above my head.

“Oh, Mason. You’re in big trouble!” said a man appearing above me. He was wearing a Harris Tweed coat and jodhpurs. A double-barrelled Remington shotgun was draped dangerously over his right arm.

“Why did you do this to me?” I managed.

“Your sleuth is about to make you very rich. My castle is falling into ruin through lack of money. Your books are going to help me change that.” The man smiled down at me. “You must pay for breaking my window too!”

“You’ve made a mistake. I’m not a writer. I spend all my working days making burgers at McDonald’s,” I replied as treading water sapped my remaining energy. I was all I could do to stay afloat now.

“Likely story, I located you through your social media accounts after watching a YouTube interview you did. I know I have right Mason wallowing in my moat.”

“There are forty Mason’s on Facebook alone. Did you check where the author lived?”

“He lives in Norf- Shit!”

“Ha! See you were going to say Norfolk. I live in Northwich. I’m the wrong Mason! Please … Please help me out of your moat and let me go —”

BLAM!

I never felt the impact. All I know is, I’ve wondered about the moat as a grey wisp of a man ever since. At least I have the grey lady from my prison to keep me company.

The End


Exciting news!

I finally did it!

Holly Ward Investigates The Steam Train is coming on June 25th Pre-Order Here.


Thanks for reading my friends.

There’s more in the Poetry CornerPoetry Nook, and the Short Story Collection

Have a great day!

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