“The Key” / Memorable Fancies #709

[“We think of the key, each in his prison / Thinking of the key” – The Waste Land]

      Someone tossed a key into my cell; I didn’t know who, because it happened when I was sleeping, and by the time I heard the tinkle of metal hitting the stone floor and woke up, my perhaps-friend had disappeared around a corner.

     What was I to make of this? Of course I’d always wanted out of this place of dark remembrance, but that another would do me that favor was – well – suspicious.

     Would I be shot in the outer yard trying to escape? Or would I leave and be met by some unindicted co-conspirator who wanted my help for another heist, or caper, or job, however he would phrase it?

     And then I would say no, and then he would say get back in the fucking slammer, and he would hit me on the head and drop my still form back inside the gates.

     Or was the key from a secret resistance movement that wanted me to lead their forces to victory over the oppressive regime that had locked me up here?

     Or from a woman who had secretly loved me and bribed the guard with – her favors – in order to set me free? And what then? What if she were waiting for me? What could I say?

     Or – I could just stay in my cell, not take the bait, wait out my sentence, happy with the memory that I could have left if I’d wanted to.

     Or – was the door of my cell locked not to keep me in, but to keep others out? Who knows what life was like out there? It has been a very long time since I’ve seen it. Perhaps there is mere anarchy and rough death?

     But enough thinking! Whatever happens when I’m outside, I’ll take my chances.

     I reached around the bars of my cell and inserted the key into the lock.

     It didn’t turn.

<END>

THE MONDAY PITCH

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AVAILABLE NOW on Amazon and other outlets: “Fragments of the Future,” a collection of sci-fi short stories by Terence Kuch, previously published individually in sci-fi periodicals and anthologies in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, and other countries, published by StoneThread Publishing.

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   See you tomorrow! Whatever happens here, you won’t be expecting it.

Fragments COVER pshopped - Copy (2)

 

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