Time seemed to stand still, which had an odd cruelty to it. Usually, Time tended to progress from a steady, incorrigible march to a flat-out-sprint. When one is enjoying themselves, Time would outdo itself, getting into Its European Sports Car (one of those gas guzzlers that goes from 0 to 60 in under four seconds,) cranking it up to 300 hundred miles and laying you flat as it does so.
Now, however, each moment was crystallized, running almost as quickly as set glass. And why shouldn't it be so? The prison walls were sufficiently cold and thick to make one miserable. Telephone communication was never given to those in the walls, and visits only came if one's family happened to number among the guards, or dwelt upon the small island town outside of the fortress's walls. Guards patrolled in circuits with ruthless precision and efficiency.
Tom simply shrugged and turned his mind to planning. Every situation could be resolved, if only one had the will and wits to endure. This was rather difficult, when the will to survive sapped the wits needed to be alert and aware, but necessary nonetheless. The methodical nature of planning was his only salvation, though this would be much more difficult without his only real companion; the leaky stone above his head. It dripped at a constant rate, serving as the only way for him to know for certain that time was passing between the guards' circuits.
He found out after his fifth day that the guards patrolled every 1,122 drops, except after the eighth patrol, which he supposed was lights-out time. He wasn't sure how helpful this would be, but he filed it away. He started to notice patterns in which the guards patrolled. The foremost of the guards would come every third day, after 5,610 drops. His inspections were much slower, more deliberate, but no less indifferent. Shouting at the guards, trying to elicit human contact in this solitary cell was a fool's errand. The drumbeat of their boots came with startling predictability, and had been burned into his mind. The slower clip-clop of the Officer's pace would beat in counterpoint to this.
That's when a plan started to make itself clear. Risky, perhaps, but anything was better than being cooped up in the cold silence of some hellhole island in the middle of the Carribean.
Unscrewing the the faucet from his personal sink was difficult, but he managed. Each night, after the eighth circuit, he started to chip away at the stone above him, knowing that whatever leak there could be made worse. This would make the indifferent guard take notice, but only if someone who cared to look would notice. And who better than the captain of the guard?
He chipped away methodically at the stone above his head, using his bunk to get him as close as possible to the cieling. If the guards heard the sound, they showed no concern for it. He worked quickly through the night, replacing the faucet, which was now filed to a point from the constant chipping at the stone. A week passed, and the Captain of the Guard would be making his rounds. Knowing it was now or never, Tom gave it one last, desperate hurrah. His plan paid off and the leak became quite a drizzle. By the next morning, his floor was coated in a thin layer of water.
Tom hid the faucet with the sharpened spout behind his back, and waited. Though the water had long since ceased to drip at its maddening, constant rate, the slow drip was part of him now. He knew it would play in his mind forevermore- whether that was in his nightmares after a miraculous escape, or as his torment in Hell, he had no idea.
The length of heavy steel that was the faucet had a good balance. He swung it, practicing a few times, trying to imagine the best angles at which to use it to cause maximum damage to whomever needed to be dispatched. Once he was satisfied he would know what to do, he waited in the silence.
The first three patrols passed as they normally did. On the fourth and fifth circuits, the guards paused by his cell, probably to look at the water, which now flowed beyond his cell and soaked into the mortar between the rough stone. Tom kept his eyes closed, hoping that the fifth guard would run to tell the Captain. A good bet, since the Captain's patrol was next.
Finally he heard the slower, more punctuated step of the officer's boots. He breathed deeply, calming himself for what was to come.
As expected, the officer paused outside of his cell. In his mind's eye, Tom saw the fat man's incongruously scrawny neck drawing up and down the leak, assessing it to determine if any intervention was needed. Suddenly, he heard the sound of the key rasping within the lock.
The Captain didn't bother conversing, since neither man spoke the other's language. Instead, he looked at the steady drizzle coming from the leak in the roof. Tom opened his eyes, motionless on his bunk, watched the stout officer turn his head to the sink.
He headed to leave, and Tom gripped the faucet tightly, hoping he would stay and come a little closer.
The officer must have suddenly noticed that the long, heavy faucet was gone from the sink, since he turned back to look, pausing by Tom's bunk.
In one smooth, explosive motion, he leapt up, trapping the fat man's gun arm and pinning it to his side. The man tried to throw him off, but that's when Tom brought up the now-sharp crook of the faucet-head to the man's throat. The officer froze.
Death-threats: The real universal language.
Tom prodded the fat officer slowly, urging him forward, and staying behind. He felt for the man's gun, and pulled it out and held the barrel to the base of his skull, blade still at his throat. Were anyone to get a lucky shot on Tom without hitting the Captain first, the sharp point would drag a wide, bloody swath down his neck, ending both their lives.
He only hoped that the Captain ranked high enough to be a good bargaining chip.