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Handcuff Keys as Survival Gear

Handcuff Keys as survival gear?

The following excerpt from THE CAVE AND THE SEA, by John A. Heatherly, considers the use of Escape Tools as part of a survival kit.  Enjoy the story and please do not miss the reference material at the end!


… His face was smarting from the strike when the young guard knelt down to tighten Coe’s binds.  Coe was confused as the ropes cut into his wrists, and more confused when the spear handle bounced against his head another time.  The guard spoke harshly to him in a foreign tongue, then left the fire circle.  Perhaps he was warning Coe not to attempt an escape in his absence?  Coe’s ears were ringing from the blows when he felt the scratch on his wrist.

His wrist!  When the guard tightened the binds that held Coe’s wrists behind his back, he felt the rock.  Of course it was there!  Since childhood he had carried the round sliver of obsidian.  His father had taught him to use the obsidian razor to skin animals, and he had even used it to carve a notch in a fireboard one winter after his cousin had fallen in the icy creek.   After becoming a warrior, Coe had sewn a hidden pocket in the back of his waistband to carry the obsidian, and his captors had not found it in their search, even as they took his obsidian dagger.  For years he had carried it because of its sentimental value.  Now perhaps it could free him!

He would have to be careful.  Was now the right time to make a move?  He decided that he would inconspicuously gain control of the obsidian so that the guard would not be suspicious should he return.  Coe would feign submission until the moment of escape was upon him.

Slowly Coe flexed his wrists until he could feel the rock with his right forefinger.  Fortunately his right hand was closer to the hidden pocket and the obsidian, as his left arm was tight, partially immobilized, and in pain.  The razor felt familiar to his thumb and forefinger, immediately starting to sever the binds as Coe rolled his wrists.

Coe stopped cutting for a few seconds to focus on his hearing.  In the distance he could hear the nighttime stirring of horses, but they were clearly corralled somewhere nearby.  He heard no sounds of humans and assumed that their camp was a short walk away.

The ropes around his wrists loosened and slid underneath him on the litter.  He chose to rest for a few moments to ensure that his arms regained circulation, for his next actions would require efficient speed.  One misstep and he could be killed or at least bound tighter.  His heart-rate increased and felt like a drum in his chest and ears.  Coe considered that he may not have another chance to escape.

With minimal effort, Coe was able to cut the line that bound him at his midsection.  As quickly as he could, he sat up and sawed at the bundle of line around his ankles.  He sweated in his injured state, nervous that he would be too slow.

He shifted his legs and wiggled at the ankles as he cut.  One, then two layers of line were severed before the entire bundle loosened, allowing Coe to free his legs and bend at the knees.  The speed of adrenalin helped him to cross the fire circle, retrieve his sword and small bundle, and retreat into the darkness.  He knew that distance was his ally as his captors would surely discover his escape at any moment.

The riders had definitely dragged Coe to the North Woods.  The grandfather pines were old and tall, and the spacious forest allowed for easy walking but difficult evasion.

The moon was large and full as it dropped into the western sky, almost allowing Coe to navigate as if it were daytime.  He hobbled through the pines with as much speed as he could muster, hoping he would not collapse from exhaustion before finding concealment.  He kept the moon to his left as he struggled north.

Five-hundred staggering paces separated Coe from the fire circle when he heard the commotion.  Men were shouting as horses bellowed their protests.  He looked back down the gentle hill he had been climbing to see flickering firelight through the trees.  They were moving and would start to circle in a search at any moment.  His only choice was to press on and pray for a place to hide.

After a few hundred more paces, Coe encountered the cedar slash.  As a child he had gotten caught up in this kind of thicket, where the medium-sized trees grew close together, intertwining their branches.  Normally he would rather walk five miles out of his way than traverse one mile of torturous cedar slash, but on this night the dense thicket was a gift.  He started his belly-crawl into the maw as his captors widened their circles behind him.

So back to the question: Handcuff Keys as survival gear?

In the modern world, Law Enforcement Officers are not the only ones carrying handcuffs ““ bad guys carry them too.  Is a tiny piece of gear like a handcuff key worth having?  We know that traditional handcuffs have been used in home-invasions and abductions, so the issue is worthy of thought.

Here are a few interesting  and practical keys:

Do you carry escape tools as part of your survival toolset?

In his free time, he enjoys hogging the remote, surfing, scotch, mental masturbation and debate over philosophical topics, and shooting stuff--usually not all at the same time.

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