Cautiously, he studied his surroundings. The first rays of dawn's golden light were just beginning to seep through the grand windows of the rather large room, piercing into the gloomy darkness. His well-adjusted eyes darted about, searching for any sign of movement, but the air was deathly still. His well-trained ears strained, listening intently for even the remotest of sounds, but the silence was deafening. His entire body was rigidly tense, on full alert, but to the best of his knowledge…the enemy was nowhere to be found.
He had been in captivity for nearly twelve hours now. At six o'clock last night he had been ruthlessly thrown into this fenced-in pen that resided in a corner of the cavernous room, and then left alone. The shame of being caught had overwhelmed him, and he'd wept deep into the night, finally falling prey to exhaustion. Upon awakening, he had remembered his predicament and immediately assessed his resources. His goal: undetected escape.
He was on a tight schedule, which didn't help much. The chain-link fence that surrounded him was twice his height and made of very tiny links. They were so small that he couldn't even fit his finger through one. He'd long ago discovered a hole in the fence, though it was only large enough to fit one hand through. He wasn't going to be escaping through the fence. He had to find some way to climb over it, but how?
Frustrated, he kicked the wall behind him. Fear leapt into him as the room shook and a loud crack reverberated around him. The sudden disturbance temporarily paralyzed him. He curled into a ball on the floor, hiding from whatever terror had fallen upon him this time.
The terrifying blast was gone just as soon as it had come, and he finally felt his breath returning to him. When he peered out, he saw a large boulder in the middle of his pen that hadn't been there before. He gawked at the ceiling, wondering briefly where it had fallen from, but that was of little consequence. His gaze dropped down to the bolder, and he grinned brilliantly. Perfect! he thought, If I could only push it to the edge…
He heaved and grunted, slowly making progress. He pushed, throwing all of his weight into the maneuver. It was exasperating, and at one point he almost gave up entirely. He only kept trying because he knew that this would be his only chance to escape.
After completing his desperate struggle, he collapsed from fatigue, breathing heavily. His heart was pounding in his ears and sweat covered his body from head to toe. His muscles screamed in protest to having made such a tremendous effort, but he knew that he must go on. Still breathing heavily, he finally regained his strength enough to climb atop the boulder, easily allowing him to reach the top of the fence. He threw one leg over the top of the fence and then the other. His eyes widened in fear, and he desperately clawed at the fence as he quickly slid down. He hadn't considered the scary drop.
He landed hard, and it hurt. With great effort, he held in his cries. He couldn't give himself away, not when he was already this far. This was his only chance, and he wasn't going to blow it. Glancing around once more, he wondered why the earlier crash of the boulder hadn't aroused the enemy yet. But the thought was fleeting. He had to get out before they did come.
He gazed down the long hallway on the other side of the room, allowing a small smudge of hope to trickle into his chest. At the end, he saw the light. That's where he had to go.
He stood and took a step forward only to fall harshly to his knees. A sad realization struck him. He couldn't walk. In that case, he reasoned, he had even less time.
He dragged himself around the many obstacles that towered above him in the room, determined to reach the mouth of the hallway. He had prepared for this, studying the layout of the room diligently. When he finally made it, he smiled triumphantly. It was a clear shot from here. All he had to do was reach the end of the hallway to ensure success. He crawled as fast as he could. He was going to make it! He was almost there!
"There he is!" a woman's voice called out in a distraught tone. She pointed toward him, running after him, "I found him!"
Oh, no! Panic rushed into him. His heart beat against his ribcage. He raced for the light! He was within reach of it! He could still make it! He had to! He still had a chance! His touch barely brushed against it just as the woman scooped him up from above. No! Tears of heartache brimmed in his eyes…He had failed.
"Now, how did you get out?" asked the woman as she carried her toddler back to his playpen. Grumbling, she removed the large mixing bowl that had fallen from the shelf above the pen. Jonathan wailed as his mother set him in the pen to fetch his bottle. "I'm working on it," she mumbled, opening the fridge. But he did not cry from hunger. He cried because he had not been able to reach the nightlight at the end of the hallway.