Eighteen years, four days, six hours, twenty three seconds and one moment before the doors opened and he saw the light.
He was captured two years ago. Only three years, sixty five days after they had taken his father. Incarcerated, he was left to count seconds, each a notch on his mental bedpost. Through the bars he heard the whispers of those left behind. A spectrum from mumbled remorse to screams of injustice. These insurgents do not listen to laws. They take as they choose. And they had chosen him, brutally and maliciously. Just like his father.
But he was young and there was an army on the outside. Names and faces he knew as old friends of his father. They equipped him with familiar weapons. They taught him how to fight. Then made an attack, hard and quick, paratroopers from above, tunnelers below. He rioted and for a moment he was winning. The army told him, from the outside, the prison walls were on fire. He told them, smoke was rising and the enemy was going quiet.
Escapes had been made before, some lasting years. For him it was less than years. For him it was one month, twelve days and three thousand seconds before they stole him back. The insurgents were angry. They multiplied marching out. Their mantra ‘divide and conquer’.
Allied reinforcements were sent. An elite force of snipers. Their tactic to target. They injected one bullet, specialised for maximum impact, into each enemy. They stood back to watch, hands linked in hope, circling the perimeter. Until news reached them, there had been no kill shots.
The enemy spread, and fortified walls, for one year, seven months and four days, in anticipation of the big push. The army went all in. Grenades were thrown and bombs dropped. Handcuffed and beaten he was too weak to escape.
It took just one week and five days for the allies to abandon him. Letters containing ‘Nothing more to be done’ and ‘terminal’ found their way on morning rounds. He was left with a spoon to dig at stone walls.
The guards are pacing. They keep watch, now, more than before. They are waiting for something.
Eighteen years, four days, six hours, twenty three seconds and one last moment, where he felt a hand on his, and heard a voice he knew, and shut his eyes, and took one last breath, and walked through bars, and guards, and walls, and into light.