What Pegman Saw – The Prisoner

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. Using the location provided, you must write a piece of flash fiction of no more than 150 words. You can read the rules here. You can find today’s location on this page,  from where you can also get the Inlinkz code. This week’s prompt is Carisbrooke Castle in the UK. King Charles 1 was imprisoned there to await execution.

I’ve tried something a bit different today, and I’m not altogether satisfied. Constructive criticism would be very welcome!

WPS - The Prisoner - Carisbrooke Castle 171125

The Prisoner

Charles woke late after a restless night. He had a headache again. It wasn’t even a hangover – this time. He lay, watching the grey light brighten, until discomfort drove him out of bed.

He wrinkled his nose. Virginia, his late wife, had hated it when the bedroom smelled stuffy. ‘I should change the sheets; it’s been weeks,’ he thought.

“I really am trying, my love,” he whispered, but even her memory couldn’t pierce his numbness.

He needed to escape. It was sunny. Carisbrooke Castle was nearby; he’d go there

He was in the Constable’s Chamber when an old man asked him, “Would you like to see the new excavation?”

Charles nodded. They went down, deep below the keep.

“In there,” said the man, pointing.

Charles entered the dark room; the heavy door slammed behind him.

He could just hear the man through the door.

“This place has always been a prison.”

25 thoughts on “What Pegman Saw – The Prisoner

  1. Not sure a new excavation would be needed as the King’s prison room seems fairly well known, Charles I being the most mentioned of its former occupants. Whoever is keeping the place today seems quite mad, at least according to your tale, Peggy.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Dear Ivor
    Thank you so much – you’ve understood what I intended as the core of the story. Charles is suffering from clinical depression following his bereavement. He’s undiagnosed, and fighting the illness as best he knows, but it’s still enough to imprison him as securely as the dungeon of a castle.
    I’m so grateful to you for your careful, insightful reading!
    With very best wishes
    Penny

    Like

  3. Poor Charles. Being a widower is such a burden for him, he’s constrained by it. I saw this in my dad when my step mother died, a slow sinking into depression that, though he fought against it, still sucked at him until he drowned in it. Charles needs to seek some help, poor man.
    Sympathetically written, Penny

    Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, no, really not to worry. Sometimes you can’t help people – I think he chose to decline the way he did, shutting himself off, locking himself away with his Mozart and his memories. People don’t always want to be saved and I think he’d had enough of life, that’s all. It was a wonderfully written story, Penny

        Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Righteousbruin,
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m sorry to hear about your experience of ‘self-imprisonment’. There are dark places in the mind, and I’m glad there are now treatments that are often effective – I just wish they were more widely available.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It sounds like Charles is desperate to escape from himself. A poignant character sketch of a widower in the depths of depression. I’m a little confused about the ending; is it Charles who says the place has always been a prison?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Magarisa
      Thank you for reading and commenting.
      My idea was that it was the old man speaking from outside the door, but it could indeed be Charles imaging the words. I was hoping to prompt thoughts of an equivalence between clinical depression and imprisonment, but it didn’t quite work.
      Thanks once again, especially for raising your doubts about the ending. Feedback like that is really valuable.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dear Penny,
        You are most welcome. I think you did a good job comparing clinical depression and imprisonment, but the old man inviting Charles to see the excavation seemed a little out of place. Nevertheless, your story is definitely thought provoking.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Magarisa
      Thank you for the further analysis. You put your finger on what’s wrong with the story; it is the old man inviting Charles to see the new excavation. I need to find a metaphor which will make it plain that imprisonment is beyond Charles’s control. I shall give it some thought and try again, although I don’t suppose I’ll blog the new version!
      Thanks for being so helpful!
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Alicia,
      Thank you for reading and commenting. “Felt the shudder left behind” – what a wonderful way of putting it!
      I’m glad the coldness came across in the story. As you are slowly trapped by depression, the warmth of affection and emotion is gradually sucked out of you. It becomes very difficult to give or receive love.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Ali
      Thank you for reading and commenting.
      Yes, possibly he has; possibly it’s his imagination; possibly it’s a prank. But his true prison is his depression, which cuts him off from other people.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  5. well I was a tiny bit lost at the very end – with the door slamming – had the feel of imprisonment – but IMHO felt as if a few more lines could have filled things in for me.
    but I only say that because you asked for crit.
    had you not invited feedback – I would have just said that….
    I loved the way I “knew” Charles by mid-way through.
    and enjoyed the dense piece that was so well done.
    I felt his love for his spouse – and displacement with her being gone (whole sheets thing) and just even the word again after headache added to how we knew this man.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Prior
      Thank you for reading, and for your helpful comments. I’m very grateful to you for taking the trouble to let me know.
      I take your point about more explanation of the door slamming. I need to find a way of shutting the door so that it doesn’t distract from the ‘message’ of the story. You see, it shouldn’t matter why the door slams; possibly someone has really trapped him; possibly it’s his imagination; possibly it’s a prank. The thing is that his true prison is his depression, which cuts him off from other people. I think if I’d just had Charles wander into a cellar and thoughtlessly close the door it would have been more effective.
      Thank you once more for your constructive criticism!
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s