Escape From the Salt Mine

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. I would a tale unfold whose lightest word would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood, make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres, thy knotted and combined locks to part, and each particular hair to stand on end like quills upon the fretful porpentine.

Some little time ago, the wolf being at the door and feeling rather strongly the need to keep the heat on in the middle of winter, I went in search of what is sometimes called ‘gainful employment’, although what is actually to be gained from this eludes me still. Rather, being lured to the vicinity of the Salt Mine with promises of gold and something called ‘work-life balance’, I was set upon by thugs, bound in chains and set to work in a cold, dank cell deep beneath the earth picking salt out of the solid rock with a spork, grain by grain. There I was kept, day after day, scraping away at the stone with my runcible spoon, to the accompaniment of clanking chains, the despairing moans of my fellow inmates, and the screams of those receiving their daily beating. Escape seemed impossible.

Then I noticed that I was becoming thinner. The toil, the stress, and the meager rations were causing the pounds to melt from my frame, and I began to hope that I could slip the gyves from my ankles and effect my departure unnoticed. Such, however, was not to be, as the guards, having experienced this before, were alert to the possibility and began to regularly tighten the bonds that held me. Hopelessness washed over me in a black wave.

And then, one day, chipping away at the rock and thinking that death, at least, would free me from this captivity, a cunning plan blossomed in my despairing brow. Only death, indeed, could save me. I made my plans accordingly.

Biding my time, I waited for the perfect moment. Then, just two days ago, I saw my chance, and acted.  Shuffling along the passage to a new cell, chained, like all the others, to an eighty pound shot, we passed near the edge of the central shaft that plunges hundreds of feet straight down into the earth, ending on a jagged outcropping of granite. Stepping to the brink, I nudged the iron ball over the verge, and a moment later was yanked from my feet and dragged down into the darkness.

The guards, of course, noticed my sudden absence, and shone bright lanterns down into the shaft to see what had become of me. I had, however, cleverly endeavored to strike my head on the rocky outcrop, crushing my skull, and spraying blood and brains everywhere. Seeing my broken body lying in a growing pool of my own blood, still chained to the shot, their suspicions were naturally allayed, and they went about their business of scourging my erstwhile fellow workers.

Waiting until the procession had passed on and I was left in total darkness, I then implemented the rest of my scheme. Quietly, so as not to attract undue attention, I gnawed off my leg, freeing myself from my chains. Having no other use for it, I ate my leg, and strengthened by this nourishing meal, I proceeded with my plan. Scooping up such brains and blood as were within easy reach, along with a fair amount of sand and old bat guano, I stuffed them back into my skull, and climbed, crawled and hopped my way to the surface, and taking advantage of the inattention of my captors, slipped out into the night. Gathering up Princess Daffodil, we hied ourselves to the greenwood, where now we dwell, footloose, as it were, and fancy free, living by our wits, such as they are, and inhaling the clean, fresh scent of Freedom.

Having made my escape a mere two days past, I am still recovering from the trials and privations of the Salt Mine.  However, when my leg grows back and I have had a chance to organize my thoughts, I will return to the task of recording the doings of young Daffodil, AKA Rocket Girl.


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