Coffee Break Read – Prisoner

He opened his eyes to get his bearings and realised that it was day. For a time he just lay still, trying to take stock of his situation and condition. He seemed to be in some kind of covered wagon which was being rattled and jolted across rough ground and the old woman whom he last recalled trying to drug him, sat near the end of the wagon, looking at him nervously. The physical pain in his head had been reduced to a persistent dull throb, but the emotional pain left him clouded, even though as far as he could judge the drug effects had worn off. Physically he felt better than before and he knew that his body would respond, even if sluggishly, at need. Perhaps the enforced sleep technique these people had applied was a more effective cure than he would have considered.
Raising a hand to inspect the wound on his head, something pulled cold, hard and unresisting around his wrist. Glancing down he saw a length of sturdy chain linking loops of metal around each wrist, allowing him no more than the width of his body in arm movement.
Annoyed, he tried to sit up and found a similar solid resistance holding his ankles in place. He spent a short time testing the extent of his captivity and found that beyond being able to shift the position in which he lay, he was effectively immobilised. A prisoner. The old woman seemed concerned by his movements and jabbered something at him in her alien tongue. But when he showed no signs of responding, she sank back into silence, watching him as if he were a poisonous reptile she expected to bite.
It took a while before he accepted that there was nothing he could do to free himself for the time being. The manacles on his wrists were too tight to permit him to slip his hands through, even when lubricated by the blood which flowed from one wrist as a result of his attempts to try. The sight of his blood prompted the woman to another outburst of angry chatter, but she made no move to approach him.
At last he gave up, lay back and closed his eyes. If he could not free himself, he must conserve his strength until a suitable opportunity presented itself. The lurching motion of the wagon was uncomfortable, but he withdrew his awareness from the external, focusing his consciousness into a meditative trance. The familiarity of the discipline brought its own kind of peace. From within it he could now face and disperse the powerful emotions with which he had awoken, yet remain essentially unhampered by them, slowly releasing the tensions of self-accusation, guilt, anger and grief.

From The Fated Sky part one of Fortune’s Fools Transgressor Trilogy by E.M. Swift-Hook

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