The New Prisoner

Posted: November 18, 2013 by writingsprint in Is That You?
Tags: , , , ,

couple holding handsThe door opened before dawn. Whitaker woke comfortably. He’d been expecting it, really. Time to disappear. There was nothing more that Gruber could do to him. There were still stars outside, and the birds had only just begun singing.

The first guard handed him a set of clothes, including a wallet and an envelope–travel papers, he saw–and shoes. The other stood by the door.

“Get dressed,” the guard said.

“Can I bring my–”


He thought not. Just like they had ripped him away from everything when he was brought here, he could keep nothing when he left.

He dressed and fixed his hair. The second guard stood out of his way to let him walk through the door. They were leading him out of the cell block.

They crossed the courtyard without pausing. Whitaker looked up. With every guard, he only saw the backs of their uniform shirts, the belts, their hats, and the business ends of their rifles. None of them cocked their heads toward the strange sound of gates closing at this hour, or of footsteps across the courtyard, though Whitaker knew they had heard and responded to much softer sounds than these.

“Where is Gruber?”

“Be quiet.”

“I want to know.”


They reached the outer wall. The first guard inserted his key, spun the lock and pulled back the gate. Whitaker realized that perhaps he had been right, literally: the guard held this key. He had never seen Gruber holding a key.

He had stopped without realizing it. The other guard pushed him through. Quickly he started moving again. Whether or not Gruber really was a prisoner was a worthy question to bandy about some other time. Some other time. When he was through the door, it clanged shut behind him. Whitaker took only one look back, to look at the faces of the guards on the walls. Still they were hidden.


Marina stood outside. She was dressed in a free person’s clothes, too.

The guards never told, but some prisoners say that Whitaker and Marina were running less than ten yards after they left the prison, and they were laughing and crying for joy just after that.

Others also say that the door to Whitaker’s cell opened again just after he left. Say, maybe, in about the time that it takes to walk from the warden’s office to Whitaker’s cell, if he started walking when the outside gate was closed. They say that someone heard the slow clopping sound of expensive shoes, not work boots, on the concrete, and maybe the sound of breathing. Whitaker’s cell was opened again–that double squeak, at the start and at the end. And then, they weren’t sure, but some said that they thought they heard a creaking sound, as if someone just walked in and sat down on the bed.


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