This exercise was based on a picture. Originally I was trying for another exercise in which you would have to completely characterize a person via a single small detail (which you can kinda see in my portrayal of Kather). It wasn’t really working for me though, so I threw in the window at the last minute.
I don’t mess around when I sneeze. These are full-on, body-wracking, headache inducing, muscle-siezing sneezes that are doing their best to completely empty out my nasal passages in one fell swoop. I feel them coming about two minutes in advance, and it’s the most awful, ominous two minutes of the day. And they’re even worse while hanging naked by the wrists in a dark, moist dungeon.
Eight hours after being thrown into the dungeon, one of my infamous sneezes hit me. It was a supreme act of will to keep from knocking my head against the brick, and it felt like my arms would be torn from their sockets. Which was saying a lot, since my arms had gone numb after the first hour or so.
After the sneeze, I looked expectantly to my comrades-in-chain. Jerod, to my left, was a soldier, a knight if his story was to be believed. He claimed he’d slept with some other fancy knight’s woman. Roberto, to my right, however, had whispered loudly that it was tax evasion. Roberto was here for one drunken brawl too many. Across the cell was Kather, who got to sit on the floor because they’d run out of hooks. The less said about Kather, the better. They all remained silent in the wake of my terrible sneeze.
“Oh, hey,” I said with a sniff. “Thanks, guys, that’s great. My soul’s flying off to Hendrix knows where, and not so much as a ‘Misha bless you!’ from my supposed friends.” If I didn’t love to talk so much, I wouldn’t have talked in that cell. The echoes were creepy, to say the least.
Roberto looked sheepishly to the floor, at a puddle of his own urine. “Sorry, Silvers. Don’t seem right to go about dispensin’ divine favor and all, not bein’ a man of the cloth.”
“Hmm, I see,” I said. “Very noble. What about you, Jerod? Any excuses?”
Jerod had a gravely voice, like someone who’d spend ten years in a mine. If he was a knight of the realm, he’d climbed up there out of a real shithole. “I was hoping,” he said slowly, “that a demon would possess you, and then perhaps break free, distracting the guards long enough for me to escape. “But I see you are still your same annoying self, and thus my hopes are dashed.”
“Very nice,” I said.
“What about him?” Jerod waved a toe at Kather. “Perhaps he can help.”
“That is not funny,” I said.
Kather had actually managed to work free his bonds, but had proceeded to pile the chains atop his head as a makeshift tiara. He was shuffling about giving one of those annoying waves the Queen reserved for official fundraisers and tournaments. My companions laughed mercilessly. “Bastards,” I muttered.
After their chortles had died down, I heard a small voice from above. “I’ll bless you, sire.”
We all looked up, even Kather. At some point while the warden was in a particularly cruel mood, the jail had installed a small window at the base of the dungeon tower. We were below ground level, so the window was a good ten feet or so above us. It was a beautiful window, with a bit of red brick laid above it that contrasted sharply with the dark stone of the prison tower. What little light we had filtered in from the window, and we could see trees swaying gently in the breeze. Local boys liked to come by and throw rotten food or even rocks at the prisoners, but, really, it was the hint of freedom that hurt them the most.
There was a little peasant girl in the window now. She had a smudged face and dark, dirty hair, but bright, beautiful eyes. I sniffed loudly. “Well, let’s have it then,” I called.
“Misha bless you, sire,” she said.
“My thanks, my lady,” I said. “I would bow, but…”
The little girl vanished from the window. I heard a tinkling from below us. I wrinkled my nose and glared at Roberto.
“Honestly, Roberto, can you not hold it? We’re in here for one damn day. It’s disgusting…”