Monday, February 2, 2009

The Dark Room

The door creaked open and Max squeezed from his hiding spot behind the bins. He watched and waited for the servants to bid their night farewells. Above, the moon was nothing more than a sliver in the sky; an ally to help him on his way. One servant held the door ajar while she chatted to her friend. One final parting bow, and then they were on their way, leaving Max alone. 

Pressed against the palace wall, Max edged himself toward the door, and slipped his hand between the door and jamb. He pulled the door back slightly and poked his head inside and looked around. The door led to a passageway, rooms running off from either side. Max slipped inside and closed the door behind him. He crept along the darkened corridor, his ears straining for the slightest bit of noise. The smell of cooking onions wafted down the hall and his stomach sang in protest once again. He tried to think when he last ate but the thought just made his stomach grumble more. No time for food, he told himself.

Ahead, he saw a stairwell, dimly lit, leading up to yet another door that blocked his way. He heard the doorknob turn and then a shaft of light fell down the stairs and voices carried down the hall. People coming; more servants finished for the night, he thought. He scanned the passageway, looking for a place to hide as the servant's clogs clumped down the wooden steps. 

He pushed himself flat against a door. No good. He would still be seen. He felt behind and grabbed the icy doorknob. It was a chance he had to take, and the risk weighed heavily before him. He  had no idea what lay behind him. He could see their outlines moving closer and slowly felt the panic seeping through his body. His legs began to shake and his mind began to fog. He turned the knob as gently as he could, and the door clicked open. The room expelled a musty fug as he leaned against the door. He held his breath and slipped into the darkness.

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