the escape

Author: David VC /

When he came to, he was crumpled against the aft door that once led to the prisoner's hold. One of the lanterns on the side walls was still lit. The foxfire candle inside cast dancing shadows with a green radiance in the silence. Thick mud was oozing towards him, inches away from his tattered shoes. He winced as he propped himself against the wall and rose to his feet. The stairway door on the right had ripped away in the crash, and the muck was flooding in steadily, already at knee height. The gondola was sinking into the swamp!

He removed the candle from the lantern. He pressed two fingers to the pilot's neck, No pulse. He pulled the shoulder bag off the pilot and secured it, and with a swift tug he pulled the shiv from the man's eye socket. The guard with the slit throat a few paces away still had the revolver in a death grip. He considered holding the candle in his teeth as he pried the weapon from the dead man's fingers, but remembered what happens to mice that chew on on the green wax. He secured the candle in the pilot's mouth instead and used the shiv to pry the fingers loose. WIth a loud creak, the cockpit started listing to the side. The weight of the mud coming through the side door was pulling the ship down faster than before. Now it was waist-deep. He'd be submerged before he could crawl through that door. He shoved the pistol into the shoulder bag (which contained a newspaper, among other things) and retrieved the candle. He broke off the more jagged pieces of glass of clinging to the frame of pilot's window with the shiv, then stood on the seat and squeezed himself through.

It should have been a ten foot jump, but the gondola was now half-submerged. He landed in cluster of large, squat mushrooms that reminded him of serving plates. The fungi crumbled like wet cardboard when he landed, and he felt insects he could not see in the meager candlelight scatter over his shoes which were quickly becoming waterlogged.

Already the hot fetid mists of Bugsby's Marches made beads of sweat pool on his forehead and soak into his mask.

"The mask..."

Was it safe to remove it? Yes. He was on more-or-less solid ground. It almost seemed to fight him as he peeled it away. Over his lip, it was especially painful. He wrapped the satin mask around the base of the candle to keep the wax from dripping onto his hand.

He caught his reflection in a pool of murky water by the ship, the smooth surface rippling softly as the swamp claimed the gondola. What part of his face wasn't caked in mud? He saw Brown hair. A matted mess of a mustache in bad need of a waxing - no wonder it hurt to peel that damned mask off! Yes, under the mask his face was clear. Not brown... A snake's outline undulated through his reflection, and he wisely backed away.

There. Now his memories were returning. His name was...Darien. Darien Mason. Doctor Mason.

And this is my story.


HeadBurro Antfarm said...

Welcome back, Dr Mason...

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