Each of the following days seemed endless to me. The daily routine never changed. Every day we were led to the large assembly hall for lunch, and each time we managed to find out more and more details about the building and the inhabitants. Once we had a chance of talking to another of Moriarty's prisoners who on this day had not been sedated like the most. He was not even able to recall his own name, but gave us a quite complete record of the 'A' tract. I assumed that his knowledge originated from a former employment by Moriarty, and that he had been 'disposed of' here after he had ceased to be of use to them.
Meanwhile, our ground plan was almost completed. Thanks to our friend who suffered under a permanent blackout we knew all about the 'A' wing of the building, we had explored the 'C' tract in our free time and the 'B' compartment was familiar to us due to the fact that our cell was located in it. The only facts we were missing were a few corners of the building which would not be vital for our escape.
Nevertheless, I had begun to lose hope that our reckless plan full of daredevilry and risk would ever be executed when Holmes one morning spoke to me in the following fashion: "My dear Watson, I hope you are prepared for a day which is going to be a bit off the beaten track."
I was astonished: "You don't mean..."
He smiled at me, without the smallest sign of fear or worry: "Yes, Watson. I mean that finally today matters are ripe."
I nodded, and whispered but one word: "When?"
"After supper. We can say the meal didn't agree with me." I looked away, terribly worried. "What if they'll find out? What if..." He put his finger to his lips.
"Shh. Better don't think about this at all. It will only make you feel worse.
And remember what you yourself said to me: 'what worse can it get?' You were right then.
We only have this one chance."
Holmes patted my shoulder, and then we left for the assembly hall. While we were there, I could not stop thinking about the actions which lay before us though Holmes had advised me not to. I could not prevent my thoughts turning towards the one subject again as soon as I tried to direct my attention to something else.
Then we were approaching the critical point. We returned to our cell.
Holmes, be careful...
I heard the heavy step of the warden approaching our cell on his routine patrol.
Thank God it's not the nice lady, but the brute which goes by the name of Sebastian.
Holmes had noticed the sound long before I did, and now he had already arranged our beds to make them look like we were actually laying there. His eyes met mine and my lips merely formed the words 'Good luck, Holmes'. He nodded, then waited a second or two for the guard's step to be close enough. I tried to remember our proceedings that we had planned and that we even acted out once or twice. Holmes let himself fall heavily on the floor and groaned loudly. I ran over and knelt by his side.
Warden Sebastian suddenly looked through the small window. "What's going on in there?", he yelled. The adrenaline let my heart rush and my voice sound weak and squeaky as I called back: "He is sick- a fit- must be the food! Quick!"
He must have interpreted the change in my voice as worry rather than excitement. Someone even less intelligent than Sebastian would have realized that this was serious. I could hear a lock snap open quickly, and the warden entered. As he was bending over Holmes' crouching body my friend and I got hold of him.
We had of course an advantage. We were in a superior number and Sebastian was surprised for a moment. After a much shorter struggle than I had imagined we had managed to knock him out. Now he was secured, bound and gagged with some cloth. While I still stood to catch my breath, Holmes reached into the man's pocket and pulled out his bunch of keys.
"We are lucky", he remarked on showing the keys to me, "this fellow is a forgetful one. He has marked the keys as to which one matches which lock." I managed a smile.
"Come, Watson- let's get out of here. Quick!"
Holmes unlocked the cell, and we both slid through the ajar door. We walked casually as not to attract attention. I let Holmes lead the way and followed at close range. During the time we made our way to the 'A' compartment, my heart was beating twice as fast than usual.
Luckily we don't need to enter or even traverse the 'A' tract, it would be too risky. Just imagine one of the employees- or even Moriarty himself- would see us! They may not entertain suspicion if we are seen here in 'B' or 'C'- prisoners wandering the corridors are more likely to be found there.
Every sound or movement made me give a start. I was so much filled with suspense as one would expect from a prisoner on the run. But Holmes kept on going, as calm as if he was wandering around our sitting room. So all I could do was to stick close to him and hope that no one would take the least notice of our risky undertaking. It must have been due to his intellect that we, after many turns and dead ends, finally found the hallway that led to the entrance. Adrenaline let my fingers shake as I inserted the key into the large lock.
With a low, cacophonous creeking sound it opened.
Before our very eyes lay the path to freedom.