“We have to do it today, before everyone else gets skinny and weak like the guards expect them to be.”
“We?” Linda asked. “What do you mean, ‘we’?”
“I mean exactly what I said. Both of us escape together, taking along the rest of the women,” Layke whispered. He had explained his predicament to Linda, and his plan, too. Linda had thought that his plan was ridiculous and his predicament was hilarious, but Layke still didn’t let that stop him. It was going to work, he knew it. He just needed her to help him.
“But I don’t want to come,” Linda complained. “Surely that counts?”
Layke shook his head firmly, before realising she couldn’t see him. “No, Linda. I’m not letting you stay in this … this place any longer than you need to. I’m not letting you rot and starve to death.”
“Because, well, I need you for my plan. And not just that. No-one deserves to live in a dungeon like this.”
Linda sighed. “If I help you with your plan will you leave me alone?”
“Fine. I’m not going to help with your silly plan.”
“I take that back,” Layke said frantically. “Help with my plan and I’ll leave you to rot in this dungeon.”
“Thank-you,” Linda said. “Now, let’s get started.”
Layke and Linda huddled together in the corner, making no sound and not moving. A prison guard walked past their cell, then stopped, staring into it.
Layke’s heart beat so frantically he thought it was going to beat right out of his chest. He tried as hard as he could to keep the volume of his breathing low and attempted to imitate Linda. She was as still as a statue and no peep could be heard from her. He wasn’t even sure if he could feel her chest rising and falling from his position beside her. Please don’t be dead, Linda, Layke prayed.
The guard muttered, snapping him out of his thoughts. Her hand went to his belt, taking something from it. Layke watched with anticipation.
“Rotund, you,” she heard the guard mutter. “How could you be so silly as to lock this stupid cell when there’s no-one even in it? I’m asking Boss to fire you, Rotund. Next opportunity I get, you’ll be out onto the streets like you deserve to be.” The guard gave an unpleasant chuckle that made Layke’s blood chill.
The key slid into the lock, twisting in a full circle before snapping back into its original position. Layke heard something click, and almost jumped for joy. The guard kicked open the door and started to walk away. Layke swapped a look with Linda and she gave an almost imperceptible nod.
Layke soundlessly jumped up and reached his fingers towards the key dangling from the guard’s belt. He tugged at it, and to his surprise, it wouldn’t budge. How had the guard managed to pull the key so effortlessly from her belt?
The guard whipped around, and upon seeing Layke reached out her burly hand and shoved him in the face, sending Layke backwards. The guard advanced towards him, hands curled into fists.
“You’ll pay for trying to steal from me,” the guard said, punching her balled fist into her palm. Faces appeared at the bars at the commotion and Layke swallowed. This definitely hadn’t gone to plan.