3. The Lockholes
The stone is always stone now, never faces, never trees. Time is the stale crust thrown to him, how often the slops are emptied. Sometimes the guards forget about the pail; they make him wash the floor then, add their own filth for sport. "Phew, there's another dump. Good job you're already cleaning, eh?"
More than one guard is a bad sign; when the voices begin further up the corridor it should mean trouble. But Avis sounds sullen, scared, and when the key turns in the lock Bolger lifts his head. Somehow, overnight, the Lockholes detail has grown uglier. They didn't have fangs before, did they? I've been here too long, he thinks.
"—could leave them locked up just as easily. They were Rebels."
"Skai! Little rats can't do anything to us. Besides, it'll make us look good with their folk. Ashglob, strike the chains on that one. We'll loose them all."
The refuse of the Lockholes are soon divided: guards to one side, prisoners to the other. "You're free," a rough-skinned someone says to the hobbits. He gestures with a munificent claw. "Now scarper."
Avis used to grin when he came into Bolger's cell. I think that you're my favorite, after Whitfoot. The last Bolger sees of Avis, someone very tall and very frightening stands over the man. Try as he might, Bolger does not feel sorry.
Ashglob shrinks from open sunlight, says, "You're on your own," but when he withdraws his supporting shoulder Bolger falls. Ashglob hesitates before pulling him out of foot traffic: "Right, we might could use a breather." He is hobbit-tall but no hobbit ever had that mottled skin, that many teeth. He undoes the flask at his hip, takes a swig.
Bolger thinks of his parents, his sister Estella, and wonders how many of the others dreamt of their families waiting for them in the light beyond the Lockholes. He wonders what he will find when he goes looking for them, and thinks of what it means for Orcs to have entered the Shire.
A hand settles on his head; he flinches away. Ashglob mutters that he's never seen that kind of hair before, referring to the hobbit's matted curls. He shrugs at Bolger's wary look, downs more drink. Together they sit watching the other prisoners shuffle out, sun-drunk, free to straggle home as best they can with no one there to help.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.