Stewart had been chained to railings for quite some time. He didn’t have a watch on, but given that the sun had sunk almost entirely below the horizon, his best estimate put it at somewhere between nine and half and ten hours.
He’d received an email about the protest early that morning, and had rushed out of his flat soon after reading it, full of the promise of another day spent challenging injustice and fighting corruption. Always a fan of punctuality, he had been pleased to reach the site of the protest before anyone else, and had set about eagerly securing himself to the railings with chains and a padlock that even Houdini himself would have found troublesome.
Now, Stewart was well aware that his commitment to punctuality was not universally shared, but after an hour chained to the railings, and with still no sign of a fellow protester, he couldn’t help mentally tutting to himself in silent disapproval of their tardiness. After two hours the tutting had turned to audible swearing. By mid-afternoon he was almost certain he’d misread the email.
It had been very early when the message flashed up in his inbox. So early in fact, that Stewart had read it without the clear head he normally got from his morning latte. He must have got the date wrong he reasoned. In fact, thinking about it now, he wasn’t even sure he knew what he was supposed to be protesting against. He had a vague inkling that it might be something to do with tax. Or cats. Or tax on cats. That didn’t explain why though he had chained himself up outside a disused branch of Londis. He couldn’t be sure of anything anymore. He made a mental note to alter his morning routine. From now on, emails would always come after coffee.
He looked down at his chains. They really were very tight. There was absolutely no way he was going to get out of them without the key to the padlock. This rather made him regret the decision he’d taken earlier in the day to swallow it. What was courageous that morning, in retrospect now seemed foolhardy. He guessed it would be another couple of hours before nature took its course, so he put his head back, cleared his mind, and wriggled slightly in order to restore the circulation to his legs.