Chapter Five: Getting Out

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Mac ran over to the door, before remembering it was locked.

‘Damn!’  How I am I supposed to get out of here?  She looked around the room; it was the first time she had properly studied it, but it did no good.  There were no other doorways or windows.

She began pacing the floor, running through her predicament aloud.  ‘If I have been given things that suggest I need to be outside, then there must be a way out of here.’  She pulled on the door handle, angry that she couldn’t see an immediate answer to the problem before her and so was astonished when the door gave way and she ended up on the floor looking back up at it.  The door had never been locked; it only sounded like The Magician had locked it.

‘Well, that was a surprise.’  She stood up and dusted herself down, before opening the heavy wooden door as wide as it would go.  The corridor outside the room she had been held in was poorly lit, but at least it wasn’t pitch black.  She took a few tentative steps out into the hallway, looking down one wall, across the floor and back up the other as she slowly moved along it.

The end of the corridor joined another one, just as dimly lit, creating a t-junction.  Which way, left or right? Mac wondered to herself.  There was nothing around her that she could see to suggest which one was the right way.  She could of course, go one way and if it led to a dead end simply turn back round.  The problem was there wasn’t enough time and there was the added possibility of getting lost.

She turned instead to her trusty pendulum, and went through the same motions as earlier to test its responses.  When these were clarified she stepped into the new corridor and took a few paces either way, facing the new direction.

‘Is this the way that will lead me out?’ she asked.  She was given one positive and one negative response, and followed the advice from the pendulum accordingly.  There were no turnings off the corridor and again, when it ended, it formed another crossroads.  However, when she stepped into this one, she could in fact see a short flight of stairs that appeared to be illuminated from where she was standing.

‘Daylight!’ she whispered, and moved towards it.  She climbed the few steps and opened the door at the top, and this time she found herself outside, breathing in fresh air.

Mac looked around her; there was nothing here but a few trees and a dusty track that led away from the old building she had been kept in.  Sitting on the track was her beloved Volkswagen Beetle.  She made her way over to the car, but began starting to question how easy things had been so far.  She pulled the phone out of the pocket, and accessed the address book.  There was only one number stored in it, under the name The Magician.  She rang the number.

‘You are doing so well, Miss Jones, I must say. The others were completely fooled by my door-locking illusion.’

‘I don’t have time for a casual chit-chat.  Can I drive the car or not?’

‘Yes.  And Miss Jones?’

‘What?’

‘You have two and a half hours left.’  Then the phone went dead.

Mac jumped into the Beetle and pulled the map and envelope out from her bag.  She gave the riddle another cursory glance, but nothing new struck her.  Focusing on the map, she then began to plan her route to the correct the area, when she cursed her own stupidity.  She had no idea where she was.  She dumped her bag and the map on the chair next to her while she commanded herself to think, think, think.  In the end she only came up with one solution.  She was going to have to drive and find a signpost.  At least in the UK, one thing we have a lot of is road signs.

She dug out her car key from her pocket and turned it in the ignition.  Then very carefully she began to drive along the bumpy dirt track.  Luckily it was not very long, perhaps half a mile or so.  It brought her out on to a country lane.  However, to leave the track she had to get out and open a gate.

As if it was signifying someone’s birthday, one red balloon had been tied with string to the gate post.  At the end of the string was another envelope, addressed in the same spidery script to “Miss Jones”.  Once the gate was open, Mac grabbed the letter and dashed back to the car to open it.

It contained another set of instructions:

 At the Inn of The Black Horse

A present for you behind the bar

Give your name to the landlord

Then return to your car.

There was nothing to say where The Black Horse was so as she had determined earlier she was just going to have to drive.  Even if she came across anyone, she couldn’t ask them for directions or even a location for fear that The Magician would shoot her, and also thereby condemn her unknown loved one.

Mac started up the car again, and pulled out into the lane, opting to take the right-hand turn.  After a few minutes panic started to set in. He had said there were only two and a half hours left; how much time am I going to need to do this?  Do I even have enough time?

Minutes passed and no sign materialised.  She began to question her decision, when she came upon another junction, with signposts. Three miles to Market Higham, One mile to Higham Castle; do I take the shortest or longest?  The Magician would expect me to head to Higham Castle, especially if I am in a panic about the time ticking away. 

She took the turning for Higham Market.

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