Alone in his cell, the Prisoner rubbed his face with chapped hands and adjusted the wires taped to a quivering chest. The wires, long black umbilicals that led to a thick metal spike embedded in the cool stone floor, took the movement in stride and made no comment. Along the wall opposite him a golden parallelogram of sun inched its way over the pebbly leather that lined the surface. the light was streaming in from a small square window set high up above the Prisoner's head. He vented a heavy sigh. Even if could reach the window, he would never be able to fit through it.
Escape from this cell had become a fantasy to keep himself occupied in the small hours of the mornings, those times when he most often allowed himself the luxury of not tending the machines and computers that hummed and clicked in the corners of the space. There was a cot, a desk and some metal file cabinets, the contents of which he had lost interest in, and mostly forgotten. On the desk lay a number of thickish, leather-bound journals. Neatly arranged alongside were three fountain pens watched over by three jars of different colored ink: black, blue-black and sepia. A brass banker's lamp complete the diorama.
The Prisoner sat in a padded office chair, surprisingly ergonomic for the spartan surroundings. The chair was the closest thing to a luxury he had been allowed to keep. He spent many hours in the chair every day, recording data and making notes. His eyes were watching the paper slowly scrolling out of the machine on the table next to the desk. The pen heads twitched slowly over the paper, the lines undulating in a languid sine wave with low peaks and valleys. As it had for many, many days. The Prisoner closed his eyes, intending to rest, and fell asleep in the chair.
On the other side of the world, the Queen collapses in anguish, overwhelmed by grief and sorrow as chaos ate away at the edges of her empire. Forces beyond control had worn her down to the point where the pressure outside overcame the pressure inside. Levees broke, walls toppled and the barbarian hordes poured in over the borders, unstoppable, implacable in their appetite for destruction.
The Queen howled, cursing the gods that the magnificent edifice of her life's work was unraveled by darkness. She cursed the sky. The ladies-in-waiting looked on in stunned helplessness, shocked to see the pillar of their strength dissolving into a sea of tears. The Queen fell to her knees in her private garden, pounding the earth and begging to be absolved of her loneliness. Her fists slammed into the pathway again and again, and the ground beneath her hands began to shake and quiver. Shock waves spread out from the furious onslaught of Queen, and the core of the earth rang like a temple bell.
The Prisoner awoke from a fever dream of pursuit, red eyes and slavering fangs close behind with hot breath on his heels. In his dream, he had stumbled over rocks, and it was the sensation of falling and impact that had awakened him. He gasped, trying to slow his rapidly pulsating heart. There was dust in the air, shiny little motes glowing like brass in the shaft of the sunlight. Something had happened, the Prisoner could tell...then his eyes fell on the graph spilling out of the machine. It was blackened with a surge of spikes, a sudden jump trailing off into a thicket of ink. The earth had moved.
The Prisoner was so surprised by this, the second shock wave caught him completely off guard. There was a dull grinding under the floor beneath his feet, and the needle jumped again. His heart surged to bang against his sternum, and he was stunned to see a crack appear in the outer wall of the cell. It split open like a the shell of an oyster, a shocking cerulean streak of sky appearing before his eyes. He leaped from the chair, the tape ripping off his chest as he pulled hard against the wires. He could feel the electricity surging up the tethers. He laughed at the pain.
The earth shook again, and wrapped up in the dull bass roar of shifting rock the Prisoner could hear a faint sound, a wail that sent shivers up his spine. It was the sound of a soul in anguish, and it coiled around his heart and squeezed. It was love, calling him home.
The Prisoner wept, half in joy, half in sorrow. Escape was possible now. He scrambled over the machines towards the widening gap in the wall. The sky was a bowl of blue steel overhead and the ground dropped away from the walls towards a line of jagged mountains off in the distance. The Prisoner wiped tears from his eyes, and the fear in his heart disappeared under a wave of joy. He heard that voice whispering in his heart, a call to prayer beckoning him home as he jumped from the ledge.
Behind him, the prison continued its slow collapse. A plaintive beep sounded from a machine, cutting off abruptly as falling stones crushed the housing. The Prisoner did not look back.