This week's challenge is to include the phrase "the nervous grave digger smiled at the guard" somewhere in your story.

They had thought the governor's death would provide them with a welcome diversion. In the end it turned out to be almost the unravelling of everything. Word had reached them well over a week ago that everything was in place. The next burial to take place in the graveyard and they would be out of there. Of course, no one ever expected that burial to be the governor himself.

"What the bloody hell does he want to go and get himself buried within a stone's throw of his office? If ever you catch me out passing away like that, then you make sure they bury me far away from anywhere, I might know." Rocks had been the brawn behind the plan. Three weeks it had taken him and every spare moment, but he'd done it all single-handedly. And he wasn't going to let anything get in his way now. "We change nothing, we can't. That tunnel can't stay undiscovered much longer."

Grayter was more circumspect. He'd only been inside just undert two years, so could afford to be patient. Besides, life on the outside would be just as restrictive as in prison. He'd never be able to leave the island. Still, life on the Bahamas would be a damn side more agreeable than it was in this place. "I say, we stay put. It would be madness to try now. The place will be riddled with police."

"That's why I say we get out today, b e f o r e the police start poking their noses round. Kid's already had orders to dig the grave. He can be finished by five. We get out tonight."

"Are you ready?"

"What a bloody silly question. Ready, I been ready for five fucking years haven't I? And now I ain't waiting a day longer."

"Okay, we'll go." Grayter's voice still sounded nervous. There were still too many things that could go wrong, but he could tell that Rocks would spill if he didn't get out soon. Besides, the last thing he wanted was a showdown with Rocks. "Okay, we go out at eight this evening. Tell the others the coast will be clear from ten. Then get back here and keep and keep an eye out for your waving his jacket; that means everything's ready.

Meanwhile, in the cemetery the solitary grave digger was, for once, glad to be alone. Just a couple more minutes and I'll be through, he thought to himself. Then, give the signal, enjoy a nice beer and off home. The voice from above startled him. But not as much as the fact that the guy looking down was in a prison guard's uniform. Nervous as he was, he looked up and smiled at the guard.

"Not a pleasant business you've got there."

"Ah, I can think of worse. Be the ruin of my back of course, but it keeps me in fags and beer well enough. The digger climbed up and offered his hand to the guard. "Andy Dee. Pleased to meet you."

"Oh, hum Rick Winters, I aah, I work over in the prison."

"Can tell that by your uniform."

"I aah, I just came over because I'm off on holidays this evening. Going to the West Indies with my daughter. But I... I did want to see the old boy one more time before I go, see what I mean. Even if he isn't actually, umm here right now, you know."

"What was he like to work with? Oh, he was a very good boss. Always a kind word for us guards. And he wasn't beyond coming round with us to The Old Bull for a glass when the shift changed like. Yeh, he was a pretty good gaffer."

Andy saw a ray of hope. Well, I tell you what Rick. Why don't you just sit down here and take one of them bottles and drink it to the memory of your boss. I'm sure he'd love you to do that for him. And when I finish down there, I'll come up and join you and we can have one together."

In a flash Andy was back down the hole. He knew he'd have to work quickly now. The last thing he wanted was for this guard to start looking down into the grave before he'd finished. In five minutes, he had the staves and tarpaulin in place, covered them with just enough dirt so nobody would notice and was scrambling back up to join Rick, who in the meantime had taken Andy advice to heart and was already on his third bottle. Andy opened one himself and over the next thirty minutes became unusually generous as he allowed Rick to finish off the remainder of the six pack. As the two of them struggled to their feet Andy called out: "Look over there Rick, that's coming from your workplace, them people waving. That must be your colleagues waving to you, wishing you a pleasant holiday." And taking off his jacked Andy waved back and had the gratification to see Rick follow suit. They'd only known each other for thirty minutes but were already getting on like a house on fire. But somehow Andy doubted this new friendship would stand the test of time. He could already see the headline in the local ragmag the next day:

Mass breakout through governor's grave.
Prison guard's unwitting involvement.


I quite like the wrap up to this. The story ended, but we know what happens next.

Great stuff!

18 December 2009 at 21:30  

I love the ending as well. Pretty cool!

Mine's here.

19 December 2009 at 03:48  

Nicely done Paul - it's been a while since I read something of yours, other than 'Discovery'. Nice take on the propmt and awesome break out, with the additional twist of it being out of the Guv's grave.

Few too many names upfront but I got the hang of it. Perhaps it might have been better dealt with, as the grave digger imaging what the prisoners would have been thinking with the advent of the Guv's death - to keep the POV consistent and bring cohesiveness to both parts of the story.

Shutting up now and taking my editor's hat off (bugger - it just never leaves does it?)

Great story and wicked premise.

19 December 2009 at 05:50  

I love the ending, too! Kept me on my toes a bit there. I'll drink to that!

20 December 2009 at 18:43  

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