Holmes and I glanced around, standing in silence. The prison yard lay before us, empty and dark. A clear, cold whiff of air greeted us as we stepped cautiously outside. I looked towards the sky, still in disbelief that we had made it that far, when I suddenly realized we were not yet safe. It struck me that we had to get out of here and away as quick as possible.
How lucky we are that the yard is poorly lit!
Holmes looked around the dim place again. Then he slowly put the bunch of keys down on the floor in front of the door and I heard the door close behind my back. He tugged on the sleeve of my shirt and whispered: "Come, Watson. Let's get away."
We were sneaking across the compound. Never before in my life was I so anxious to reach a gate as I was now. I was prepared every second to hear an alert voice yell a command to freeze. But nothing was to be heard but our cautious footfalls and my own pulse echoing in my ears. Then I felt the cold metal of the gate beneath my fingers. It opened without a sound, and Holmes and I found ourselves in a dim space that opened wide into the night.
There was just enough light to allow us to read a street sign indicating there was a forest nearby. "Should we go there?", I asked. "It would be for the best, I think." said he, and so on we went. He had abstracted one or two candles and also some matches from somewhere in the prison, that we at least would have a little light in the dark. We followed the signs and while on our way the surrounding landscape grew more and more rural. We certainly were approaching our destination. It had darkened farther, and now we were surrounded by the dead of night.
I could hear the faint chimes of a clock from far away- 12 o'clock. And when I looked up from the road, the forest lay before us.
Holmes gave a low whistle. "Here we are. Watson, I fear we have to prepare for a very cold and probably a sleepless night." I shrugged. "I think I can endure it, though. For the sake of-" I stopped speaking suddenly, and my smile froze on my features. I had heard a sound right behind our backs. Holmes also must have heard it, he stood still with ears pricked up, listening closely. A moment later the concentrated expression disappeared from his face. "It's okay.", he whispered, and holding up the slowly dying candle he went on into the woods. I followed, in a shy way keeping close to him, and tried hard to discern anything in the dark. I went like a blind man along the way he led, trusting that he knew where we were going. Occasionally I tripped over obstacles which I supposed to be tree roots or maybe stones.
Up to now, I had managed not to fall, but suddenly my left foot got stuck in a small hole in the ground. I stumbled and fell.
There was an unpleasant, quick 'crack' and a sharp pain flashed through my body, from my leg to my head.
Holmes turned to me and asked in an alarmed voice: "Watson, are you alright?"
I gave a groan of suffering as an answer, and my companion knelt down by my side. He held the candle up to improve our vision while I quickly examined my leg. Then I said through gritted teeth: "I tripped over something. But I think I only strained a muscle- in the worst case, it could also be a broken ankle, though."
Holmes replied: "Oh dear. Can you walk?"
He helped me up, but when I tried to stand I felt another stroke of intense pain.
"Seems like we should not put much strain on it. Can you manage it though? A few steps only- very few, okay?" I nodded at Holmes' suggestion. "I'll help you, Watson. Lean on me."
I did my best to hobble after him. "At least it doesn't hurt nearly as much as that jezail bullet did.", I thought.
Finally we came to a halt. Looking around, I could not see anything but trees. Now I was absolutely sure that we could not be found here. And nobody knew about our whereabouts- including myself.