This is a true story which happened to me years ago when visiting an ancient castle in Scotland.


The day of our visit was very cold and wet with a northern wind whistling through the windows. The guide taking us round was so old that you may have been forgiven if you thought that he was there when the castle was first built. He spoke in a very Scottish accent and wore a kilt made of the laird’s tartan colours.


Having completed our tour the old guide stopped suddenly and looked at me with a wry smile. “There’s only one place I haven’t shown you !!!” he said.


“Where’s that?” I asked shivering from the cold wind.


“The dungeons !!! Follow me.”


We followed him down a narrow spiral staircase winding ever downwards like an everlasting corkscrew. It was getting darker as we got deeper into the castle’s bowels. He picked up a flaming torch and said: “No electricity down here. This is an original torch. We use oil to light it these days”.


Eventually our guide stopped and said; “Down that corridor there, all those doors are dungeons.”


He opened the first door and we entered. A few moments later our eyes adjusted to the darkness and we could see the heavy chains hanging from the walls. In a corner were a few instruments of torture. He pointed at dark patches on the walls and explained that it was dried blood.


As we turned round to leave the torch in his hand ran out of oil and went out suddenly. He reassuringly ushered everyone out and I heard the heavy door clang shut.


“Hey wait … I’m still in here” I shouted. I rushed forward and tripped on something on the ground, I hit my head as I fell and must have lost consciousness.


The next thing I remember is feeling very cold and shivering. My eyes adjusted to the darkness. I could smell the dank atmosphere of this prison and my fear played havoc with my imagination. Was I to be the latest victim of this torture chamber?


I looked up above the heavy door and saw a glimmer of light through some loose stones. If only I could get up there and shout for help.


I pulled a heavy table towards the door. I used every last ounce of strength even though I was cold and shivering. It’s amazing how fear and panic can be a motivator when necessary. I put a box on top of the table and I climbed. First the table, then the box.


I stood on tip toes pulling myself up by grasping tightly at a few crevasses in the ancient wall. I wanted to look through the small hole through which light shone into the dungeon.


As I stretched a little more the box I was standing on gave way …


And that’s when I fell out of bed and broke my arm.


© Victor S. E. Moubarak 2008


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