This is something I wrote a while ago that I've re-edited — and hopefully improved.
Johnny lay in the clearing, staring at the night sky, the damp grass cooling his skin. For twenty-three years, he had wished for nothing more than this: To be outside . . . alone . . . and free.
He knew he couldn’t enjoy it for long; one of the guards had taken care of that. Even now, he could hear the search dogs yowling their way toward him, pulling their shotgun-toting masters behind them.
But it didn’t matter. He could feel his warmth draining from the hole in his side, but it brought him comfort instead of fear. The coolness grew and blossomed in his chest, and he enjoyed it because it was his and his alone.
Patchwork clouds shimmered in the light of the full moon. Johnny remembered sitting on the porch swing with his mother, making a game of picking out shapes in the clouds, his youthful legs dangling in a cool spring breeze.
Tonight, every cloud looked like a key. Johnny smiled.
The dogs were getting closer, he knew, but somehow the jingle-jangle of their collars and tags and the grunts of their handlers dwindled. He knew they wouldn’t find him in time, and he smiled even wider.
The cloud-keys dimmed; the dazzling moon blurred into a hazy tunnel. Johnny knew that soon, very soon, he would be in a place without locks, without cages, a place with no limitations at all.
The prison guards would eventually find his body. Will they be disappointed, Johnny wondered, to find a smile on my face? To know that I died happy? To know that I died a free man?
With that thought, a door unlocked and opened, and Johnny stepped through.