Heading for a Midlife Crisis

Scrabblings wake you. Chit-chitterings join in. They're rats. Far enough seeming. You don't have to do anything about it presently. That's a blessing. Presently, you barely can open your eyes.

You draw a cold breath all stinking harbour and smoky town. Remember visiting dockside taverns, before waking here with oddly heavy eyes. On not enough straw on a cot swaybacked by someone heavy before you. And rats about. It's prison, of course.

You shiver. You snap upright. The cot squawks in protest. Rats scurry to other corners. You've a hole in your memories. Who you are has fallen in it.

You recall you've an aptitude for brawling, once swinging a water jug, another time a sword and wearing dirty armour. Whoever you are, you've a fondness for the maids who bring you beer. Farmers' grinning daughters, too. Girls from every walk of life. You've played the guest in stone cells before this. And often enough slept like a beast in forest and barn.

The clues are sufficient. You accept you are likely a soldier, or adventurer for hire. Possess a wild disposition. A deep love for beer, too, which surely can cloud any man from knowing his own name. Evidently, this state of living hasn't killed you yet though. You decide to give it no more thought and leave your name to return to you when it is good and ready.

This isn't the nastiest prison you recall. The ceiling's pleasant enough: cracked yellowed plaster and sooty joists decorated in cobwebs. The rats return to scrabbling over the bread on the floor, which would've been your breakfast. Morning shines brightly in the high barred window. There's the chamber pot, a bucket actually, inconveniently on its side by one stony wall.

You relieve yourself in the bucket.

After, curious, you peer in. True, it's no fine golden mirror. Still, there you are. You've a fine smile! And no monk's tonsure on top. Instead, a shock of reddish hair not unlike the wild mane of a pony you somewhere recall.

Feeling encouraged, you drag the complaining iron cot, clang it against the wall under the window. The rats ignore you, and again as you hop upon the squawking cot and peer out the rusted bars at the wide world presently denied you.

Along with your strong limbs, you have also an amazingly quick eye. In one sweeping glance, you both see and comprehend particular...essences and possibilities presented within this sunny morning's view.

Rusted bars before your nose. The town's harbour. Little skiffs jostling among ships huge as leviathans. Skiffs for hire, or for borrowing, if you can but get to even one of them.

You idly pick a fingernail into the rotted mortar about the window bars. A seagull wings past, below. You eye it with envy.

Far enough below the fall without wings would likely kill you if you got out and tried it, in the stonewalled yard, a pretty-seeming brown-haired girl carrying her basket of bread exchanges words, a laugh merry as an early evening, with two burly guards. You growl and envy them as well.

Well, it's too early in the day not to try something adventurous, you decide. The sun feels glorious on your face. You...

The End

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