Scott became slowly aware of his surroundings. He had a pounding headache and a bump the size of an egg on the back of his head. He focused, felt his head and face. Nothing damaged. No bleeding.
‘Okay Scott, what would Mike do?’ the boy asked himself in a muffled tone. ‘Well, he wouldn’t just lie here - he’d get up and try again.’
Easier thought than done. Even though Scott had good balance he felt unsure and therefore didn’t push himself as much. At least on the submarine he was boss of the wash. For some inextricable reason Scott had clambered up the side of the sub amid broiling water and made it on deck. He was then able to assist some of the other Venturers before the Russians arrived. The room stopped spinning. Scott thought about where he was incarcerated and started evaluating his position. It was an old jail with a lighthouse built on top. His cell was near the top of the column that was the lighthouse.
If he managed to get to the window cell and then outside; he could only go up to the housing containing the actual lantern and its magnified prism. Falling down the side of the lighthouse and onto the rocks below was not an option. Scott tried climbing up the bolts on the wall again.
This time he tucked his metal rod and rope down the front of his T-shirt. He clambered confidently from bolt to bolt. The youth put all his weight on his toes and balanced on the tallest lug. He leant against the wall and gingerly pulled out his rod and rope. He gathered the rope in his left hand and fed a small length to his right.
Slowly, Scott twirled the rope and rod and threw it up to the barred window recess. The rod went sailing through the remaining bars along with some rope. Scott jerked back on the rope and the rod pulled hard against the bars, locking tight. He gave a sigh of relief and started to shimmy up the rope and wall to the window sill. The noise was minimal.
Unless the gangsters were right outside his cell door Scott didn’t believe they would have heard him. Slowly, he reached up, grabbed the bottom bar, and pulled himself onto the ledge. Scott’s breathing was fast and his heart seemed to want to push between his ribs and leave his body. He sat on the ledge holding his rope tight, trying to calm down and control his breathing. Within a few minutes Scott had regained his composure and dared to look out the window.
At first the view was daunting. Broiling surf crashed onto rocks about fifteen metres below. Out to the south east was the national park. Not a house to be seen anywhere. He only had a few metres of rope which was not enough to abseil on. The drop after the rope ran out would be fatal. This was not like the movies with the escapee falling into a deep, calm sea. There were huge, sharp rocks below and surf that didn’t want visitors. Scott swallowed hard. Maybe the answer was upwards. His cell was near the top of the lighthouse.
He held tight onto his rope and put his head outside the window. Surely this was suicide to attempt any climb? Then again ... maybe not. The bricks for the lighthouse were not totally flush. The underside of a verandah that went around the whole of the tower was in reach if Scott could make it up the tower wall. The thought of the whole process made Scott tremble.
He knew Mike and the others were in ground floor cells. Hopefully they could launch an escape bid and rescue him. Scott pondered the situation and then made up his mind. Mike would have let him know somehow by now if he could, or had already, escaped. No. The escape plot was Scott’s – solely. There was no back up, any way of letting Mike know what Scott was doing. He just had to try. No, he had to do it – and succeed.
What he was going to do when on top of the verandah – if he made it – he was not sure about. Scott leant his head out the window and looked up. Around two metres up were the wooden under supports for the verandah. They were similar to buttresses in churches – only miniature in comparison. Each of the buttresses jutted out at a forty-five degree angle joining the main wall of the lighthouse to the extended verandah.
Scott thought for a moment. He would have to brace himself in the window and throw the pipe and rope up to the closest buttress. Hopefully, the pipe would fly through the gap between the buttress and wall and lodge in the associated V-shape at its base. This would allow Scott to climb up the rope to the buttress and then ... Scott never finished his train of thought. He was impatient to start and complete the task ahead. He checked the knot around the pipe. Scott mentally measured the distance between himself and the buttress. He thought he would just make it. Quickly he gathered the rope and coiled it.
He picked up the pipe and placed it in his right hand, the rope he left in his left. Scott leant out the window, twirled the pipe in a circle and threw it towards the buttress. The pipe bounced off the buttress and started to fall. Scott pulled in the rope and tried again. This time he threw the pipe like a spear and it flew through the gap of the buttress and wall. There were only a few centimetres of rope left in his hand, and a feeling of joy washed over him as the realisation of his achievement hit home.