He stared up at the ceiling, the room closing in around him. The fan whirled painfully humming through the heavy air counting the muffled seconds with him.
“Thirty-eight, thirty-nine, forty…”
His fists clenched, his joints tense waited restless in bed, aching to move. Two weeks, fourteen days, he had waited; crawled through the minutes of exercise, therapy and the slop they called food. Waiting for the fortnightly shift change, the day with fewer of them. The creak of the wheels brought word of the cart, the check of the night. The wheel rattled on the hard floor worn down by years of watchful surveillance. Three checks, three checks; they felt he warranted. The wheels clattered closer, footsteps behind it audible now, faint. He was expecting them so he heard them earlier than usual. His hand closed over the cloth bundle at his side feeling his tools, his plan; the broken spoon, the razor blade, the pen torch he’d stolen from his son the last time they’d met.
The wheels paused outside his door, a shadow passed, it was Muriel, he’d know her anywhere, that bulky large head with that frizzled shock of hair that hung over her shoulders, her frame was unmistakable. The wheels scraped on, his eyes flicked to the rafters splitting the ceiling; he’d once considered it, letting it all go; only if I fail he thought rising slowly as the sounds faded around the corner.