Righteously the visitor chuckles, rocking back and forth on his heels, hands softly rubbing together in anticipation.
His guest is a stiff lumpen shape in the dark who has no idea why she is here. The visitor knows. He can’t wait to tell her.
He’s impatient to see if she trembles with fear, or weeps with grief. How will she react? The visitor does not care. Time to wake her up.
Down below in the dark, lips fearfully quiver, breath rasping across them, cracked with dryness. Eyes, dry and covered with grit, tear loose as she slowly forces them open.
Searing pain turns her body into a mass of violent cramping through her clammy muscles. Fog blankets her mind as it is raised back to consciousness.
Pitiful whimpering fills the void making the dark like death’s embrace. How fragile it sounds to her ears.
Louder and more irrational it becomes, throat feels like it is tearing from within. A faint voice in her head says, “You are making that noise. Shhh, Leandra, little one be quiet.” A memory drifts past, “Be careful, you don’t want to be found.”
Finally, Leandra’s eyes squeeze open then rapidly shut. Fighting against black unmoving darkness, gauging her bearings.
Soon the smell of dank and mould reach her nostrils causing them to flare, awareness growing of the cold gritty floor under naked feet.
Pathetically weak body struggling forces her to push onwards. Awkwardly flipping over so she is on all fours. One hand in front she begins crawling like a baby.
No light has penetrated the darkness making other senses guide her, to tell her the story of where she is. Closing her mind, not wanting to know how she got there.
Tenderly, inch by inch, she edges raw flesh against the grit. A few feet in one direction and she comes up against a wall. Slime clings to stone and water drips slowly down, across moss-covered bricks.
Limbs tremble when she inches awkwardly forward, palm drags on bricks and flesh tears from her knees, she continues forward. Pausing, reaching deep into her mind she interprets the space as round. Failing to find interruptions she realises there is no door.
Panic seizes her, her body fights against panic, and a weak voice whispers past her lips, “Help me. Please be looking for me.” Knees give way beneath her, she crumbles into a heap on the floor, and wailing sobs wrack her body filling the black tomb.
Hours later she sleeps, unaware of the visitor ten feet above, his piercing blue eyes peering down between the cracks in the floor.
Blissfully deep in sleep, Leandra does not hear someone push aside the trap door, followed by grunts. As a rope ladder slithers down the wall, she remains still. Rung by rung, the visitor boldly starts descending.
He reaches the bottom, crouches low and whispers, “wake up, I have a story.”
WRITING ORDER: Priya Rajvansh (India) Anna Zhigareva (Scot), Ray Stone (Cyprus), Jasmine Groves (Aus), Hemali Ajmera (India) Joe Labrum (USA), Suraya Dewing (NZ), Donna McTavish (NZ), Rosemary Wakelin (Aus), Sumanda Maritz (S. Africa)