How many days had she been down here? The girl had wondered aimlessly for days. Cold and alone, her hands flirting with rough stone, whilst her feet trembled with the trepidation of hidden danger. Time had blurred in the darkness. She rested when she was tired, and slept when she needed. Hunger and solitude, her entire world.
Still she went on. Fear her driver, whipping her onwards. To sit still in this place was to die. She had explored an underground structure. Turning in squares and rectangles. So many times that she knew she was lost. Hopelessly lost. She had found an old blanket in the corner of a room. It's warmth was a welcome blessing.
Like a ship lost at sea, she floated on a current of rock. Stumbling and tripping, hoarse with dehydration. She had walked through muddy water once. She had gorged herself on that muddy filth. How long ago was that? A day? Two? Surely not that long.
She was going to die. Slowly that realisation dawned on her. She was getting weaker. Her legs were heavy, and her feet battered. The urge to lie down was strong. The urge to give up, scared her. The pain in her stomach had faded to a distant ache. She wondered if the locked gate was the way out? She had left it behind days ago. She knew that she was committed to this course. She would never survive the journey back.
Hope drove her on, but cold and tiredness drove her legs from under her. She slumped to the floor. In the darkness she huddled, wrapped in a musty old blanket. She clutched her knife her hand, as if it alone could ward the darkness. Then something magical occurred.
She could see. The darkness abated. She could make out shapes. Walls, floors. It was like a moonlit evening. Light enough that you could see the shore on the other side of a bay, but not the colour of your skirt. That's when she heard it. Shuffling. From the crevice in a wall, a creature emerged.
The girl clutched her knife, and in the twilight she waited.