Navid shivered. Drops of cold sweat trickled down his forehead. The marble bench felt colder than death. He agitatedly tapped his fingers on his knees. “How long have I been sitting here?” he wondered. He glanced at the bruise on his wrist where his watch used to be.
A chubby man broke the silence. “Hey you! Yeah, you. Follow me.” Navid stared at the man's ghastly appearance. A long scar running down the side of his face declared this wasn't a man to be vexed. Navid hesitantly stood up. His blood-drained legs trembled in despair. He slowly walked behind the man who escorted him to a gigantic hall.
Navid was momentarily blinded by what felt like a million blazing lights. He quickly shielded his eyes to barely make out the enormity of the room. Before his eyes could adjust to the lighting, he was approached by two monstrous men. One firmly grappled Navid while the other put a straitjacket on him. Disregarding all protests, they lifted him and heaved him to a smaller booth-like room. The ill-lit room housed just an old metal chair. The men placed Navid on the chair, put a shackle around his waist and locked him down. To Navid's horror, he heard the door slam shut and the two heavy footsteps fading away in the distance.
Navid always wanted an escape from the monotony of life. He wanted to escape from the anarchy of responsibilities, the burden of expectations. So, he ran away from home as a 15-year old. He lived off the streets and barely made a living for himself. But could that fondness for escapes lead him to this day? He had to pull off one vital escape this time.
A growing sense of claustrophobia started taking a grip on him. To make things worse he could smell the pungent stench of toxic gas filling up the entire room. His eyes burned. Navid had no time to lose. He held his breath and got to work. With five jolty yet well-calculated moves, he lifted the jacket-sleeves over his head and untied them hastily. Time was running out. He coughed up a little metallic object that he had hidden inside his mouth. It was a bobby pin. His days on the street had taught him sleights of hand; he dexterously worked the pin to unlock the shackle.
Navid could feel his lungs getting drained of air. He had to move fast now. He rose up from the chair and stomped around the wooden planks to find a loose board. Once he discovered the rickety plank he pulled it out with some effort and slipped under it. The old wooden floors had sub-flooring running through corridors towards the central hall. Navid scrambled intuitively through a maze of subfloors till he reached an overhead opening through which light seeped in.
He climbed up the opening to the central hall. For the second time in the same day he was blinded by the thousand-watt bulbs. To his surprise, he realized he was back to the stage where he started from. Suddenly, a bright spotlight shone on him. He looked up to see the stout man from before standing a few yards off him. Before he could even move, Navid was deafened by a round of thunderous applause. “This is Navid the Escapee for you all, folks!”
Navid wanted to escape from the monotony of life. So, he decided to become an escape artist. He stood tall on the centre of the stage and bowed for the crowd as the deafening claps rolled on.
Nafis Imtiaz Onish believes grinning is the answer to everything and avidly loves art, astronomy & all things nerdy. Send him Carl Sagan fan art at email@example.com