QSFer James Comer has a new free story posted at PlanetaryStories.com:
The monk Charthat was locked in a burning jail- and the trouble outside was worse! As the city of Gunkashar fell into madness, he had to find his partner.
If he lived that long.
hree men crouched in a prison cell.
The cell was dug-and-walled in a sunken courtyard. Ironwood bars were cemented into the floor and ceiling. A bar closed the cell, its handle beyond reach. Locked?
How to get out? thought Charthat.
Where was his partner?
He could saw through the lignum vitae with true-steel; he had none. He’d lost his razor at the prison door, though his bare hands, trained in thefanath disciplines, were more deadly.
Noise from outside, from the hot crowded streets.
He had spoken briefly to his two cellmates, who’d had little to say. Apparently, neither could imagine a way past the guards who sat outside. The noise outside grew louder, and louder still. Charthat Thermatson saw one of his cellmates say something. What was going on? He smelled smoke.
That’s all we need now — a fire in jail. We’ll burn to death before the —
Screams. Other prisoners?
Could the three of them burn the wooden bars? No source of fire. Just their clothes, eating bowls, horn spoons, gourd of water, a chamberpot.
I am a writer and schoolteacher who lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.