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Tell Us What You Know

Theo looked up at the large white faced clock. The hands had not moved. He stared at them, willing them onwards. Move. Move, damn it. The minute hand trembled and lurched. He sighed. One minute. Each one felt like an hour.

His bladder ached, but he knew better than to ask for a bathroom break. They wouldn't care. His comfort was not their concern. He shifted position on the hard plastic chair, jiggling his legs to try to ease the pain.

The tall one walked towards him, slowly, slowly. Hands clasped behind his back, face inscrutable. Theo swallowed and looked down. Don't meet their eyes. Never meet their eyes. The man stopped beside the table, staring at Theo's head for several seconds before turning away

Theo slowly exhaled and reached out to grasp his pencil, staring at the blank page before him. They watched. They constantly watched. He could feel their eyes boring into him. Focus. Think. What did he know? What could he possibly tell them? He could make something up, but they would assess it. They would know. Then they would just start over, repeating their demands. More torture.

The clock.

He knew what they wanted. But his mind was completely blank, he could remember nothing. He glanced up at the clock. The hands had barely moved. He racked his brains for information.

Sunlight lanced through the small skylight. He squinted upwards, imagining somehow escaping through it. Pure fantasy. His mind wondered. How was Tom doing? He had been so scared when they were brought in, practically gibbering. He just hoped he could hold it together. He wished he could help him, but they had been kept far apart.

The clock.

He rolled the pencil in his hand, then rested the nib on the paper. Just write. Write something. He began. The woman with the loose shoelace and bad breath edged closer, peering over his shoulder. He felt a ridiculous urge to cover up what he was doing.

Forget the clock. Forget them. Forget Tom. Write. Give them what they want and then they'll let you go. They'll let you go. The thought spurred him on. Ideas, half-forgotten concepts, old theories and ancient instructions surged through his head. The hand holding the pencil leapt into action, scribbling thoughts as fast as they arrived.

He paused to shake his hand, trying to restore the blood-flow. He flicked a glance at the clock. Twenty-five minutes. He had been writing for twenty-five minutes. The paper was covered in scribbled notes, rough maps and hasty diagrams. It was a mess, but that wasn't his concern. It was all there. They could hardly complain about aesthetics.

The tall one was pacing, the heels of his shoes clicking with each step. Theo realised with a start he had been hearing the sound for the last hour, not knowing what it was. He looked back at the paper, made a small adjustment to one of the maps, tweaked a diagram. Then he sat back, gazing at his handiwork.

They had to be satisfied with that. Surely? He'd given them everything. Every last scrap of information he had, he had poured onto the paper. The short one appeared at his side and took his paper, pausing to study it with a supercilious expression. He waited, sick to his stomach.

Please let me go. Please let me go.

They had released him, finally. He fled, clutching his pencil. As he passed through the door he crashed into a metal sign holder. It spun around, wobbling uncertainly, then slowly toppled to the floor, its sign gently floating free as it descended: 'Quiet please. Examination in progress'.


Good luck to everyone taking exams right now. It'll all be worth it in the end. Honest! K.


© 2012 Kay Lawrence.


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