by Jeff Salter
My sixth novel completed, this comedic romance was my second to be published (by Astraea Press, about four weeks ago). Though not the very beginning, this part of the scene occurs during the first half of Chapter One.
Think about what YOU might do in such a situation --
So, how on earth did I get left behind? And exactly how would I get out?
“Hello?” I knew it was too tentative, but somehow it seemed yelling into that vast darkness could make me feel even more vulnerable than I already did.
One of the big festival fund-raisers was to lock up attendees until someone donated enough money to bail them out. At first I was steamed to be imprisoned since I’d spent two weeks working on that stinking event. But once I sat down exhaustion took over, plus the spiked punch, of course. But that didn’t explain why I was still there in the dark with everybody gone… all alone.
At least I think I’m alone. “Hey! Hello?” Louder. “Anybody here?”
Silence could be good or bad. But I wished somebody would come turn the lights on and get me out. Plus, I need a restroom. Why did I leave my cell phone locked in the car? Not that there was any point waiting on a rescue. When you wake up behind wooden bars in real life, no handsome stranger comes to your aid.
My forefinger hurt but I couldn’t extract a splinter in the dark. Stood up. Oh, still a bit woozy from that long nap. Fumbled my way from the back of the jail. Straight ahead should get me to the door. Tripped on something.
Just a few more steps. Yikes! Bumped my head on something hanging from the top of the wooden jail.
One more step. Fingers brushed the bars of the front wall. Good. Door couldn’t be far away. Sideways to the left. Nope. Other direction. Ah, door frame. “Do you remember which way it opens, Kristen?” No, I didn’t. And I was talking to myself again. I reached one hand through the bars and felt the mechanism. Angle was wrong. In order to flip this latch, my entire forearm (past my elbow) had to get through.
What kind of latch? Metal. I felt a handle… it moved. But the door didn’t open. “What did the latch look like, Kristen?” I asked myself. A freezer door? No. Gate hasp? Nope. It was like those rental trailers. Have to lift something and swing something else to the side, or vice versa. Tried that. Okay, I could lift or swing, but couldn’t do both with one hand.
“Hey! Anybody here who can help with this latch before I wet myself?” Multiple echoes. I’d forgotten how big the main armory space was. “Looks like I’m stuck here.”Needed to stop talking to myself.
Tried the latch again from the other side. Ouch. Tight fit. My left elbow must be thicker. Wished I hadn’t drunk all that punch earlier. I should have known somebody spiked it because I’d seen lots of folks got tipsy. But I’d just said, “Whatever” and drank another cup. That’s how I slept through the abandonment by my formerfriends and the people I’d worked with on the community extravaganza. “Memo to Kristen,” I muttered, ”don’t ever nap in a bustier. It pinches the girls and probably leaves bruises.” Ha. Not that anybody would see them. Wally the Weasel was out of my zip code and my life.
Hmm, sounds awful. Not a good time to scare up bad karma with another curse on the Weasel. The last curse I put on Wally had to do with shriveling up his--
Okay, it was up to me. If I flipped up that gizmo, the handle pulled the thingy out of the what’s-it. Great theory. Still needed two hands. “Hey! Anybody in this stinking armory who’ll let me out?”
What was that noise? Something fell over! Somebody fell over? Better be a “good” somebody. “Hey! Over there… out there. Who’s there?”
“O-o-ow!” From the left of me somewhere. But what? It must have been near the refreshment area not far from my prison pen. “Who’s here? If you can speak, you’d better say something real quick, ‘cause I’ve got a big ole magnum gun pointed right at your head!” Bluff ‘em, Kristen.
“O-o-ow! Stop yelling! My head’s about to explode.” Closer. Man’s voice. Could be good news…or bad.
“Well, you’d better show yourself. And get some light over here.” Take charge, Kristen.
“I don’t know where the stinkin’ lights are. And stop yelling.” Closer… I could almost smell him.
“Don’t you have a lighter or something? I thought all guys carried lighters.”
He groaned a bit more. “Only the ones that smoke.”
“Terrific. The one non-smoker in Verdeville has finally arrived to let me out.”
“Out of what? Where are you? Ow! Crud! What is this?” He’d finally found the left side of my cage.
“I’m in the fund-raiser jail. Quit stalling and get me out. I need a restroom. Come around to the front and watch out for the…”
When Kris awakens in a costume, behind wooden bars inside a pitch-black
community center, her only available rescuer is the hung-over new guy in town (who’s dressed as a pirate). Problem is: she’s sworn off men, especially buccaneers.