The air inside the wooden tomb became thicker as the daylight grew stronger. All the day before and all that night, the door had remained locked. No longer did the prisoner scrap at the cracks in the wooden panels with her fingernails; there were hardly any nails left now anyway, just bloodied stumps, splintered and sore. Parched lips trembled feebly in a repeated prayer, silently mouthed over and over. If there was anyone listening, they weren't about to grant the inmate's wish. No one was coming to help. And no one was going to let it end.
Footsteps. Panic gave the weak captive a tiny burst of energy and she opened her terrified eyes. No more! No more!
The light cutting into the dank prison was suddenly blocked off. Through the cracks in the door a dark shadow could be seen. Grating and creaking followed. The prisoner made herself as small as she could, huddling in the furthest corner of the tiny cell, but it was nowhere near far enough. Oh, what she wouldn't give to be far away from here. But it was her fault. It was all her own fault. If only she...
The door groaned deeply as it swung open to reveal the massive dark figure towering over the captive like a judge, jury, and the executioner. Large leather strap in one hand, with the other covering his nose, the large man stared down on the girl before him with disgust and hatred.
“Get out,” he commanded, his voice muffled by the hand defending his nostrils from the foul smell.
He stepped back a few paces and waiting impatiently for the girl to move. But she couldn't find the strength to crawl forward, collapsing in a heap on the prison floor instead.
“I said, get out!”
A heavy foot came down upon her, thrusting her face first into the foul slush which covered the floor of the wooden cell. Some splashed up onto the trouser leg of the angry man, causing an outburst of curses directed at the girl. He bent down and grabbed a fistful of her lank, dirty, tangled mop of hair, yanking her out of the chamber with a force that lifted her clean off the floor. She was dumped on the grass with a thud, rolling over onto her side in pain, knees pulled in close to her chest and her head tucked in. She made little sound as the large man spat on her, wiping the hand that had touched her on the seat of his trousers, his face distorted with disgust.
“Ya fool thing,” he yelled at her as he wrapped the belt around his hand. “Don't know why I ev'r agreed to take care of ya, aye.”
But his words seemed strange and far off, as if the girl was underwater. The ground seemed to be moving, spinning almost, beneath her, and coloured spots were dancing before her eyes, even when shut. She began to retch, shaking from head to toe. She was going to die, she knew it. The young girl, empty and broken, had nothing more to give, no fight left in her aching body. As her retching stopped at last, she forced her eyes open, wanting to see the sun one more time before letting go of this world. A giant figure stood before her, not the evil man with the belt, but someone else. His long blonde hair fell over his shoulders, strangely braided with bright colours, and the sun he shielded her from created a halo around him. An angel, she thought wearily, come to take me away from this life at last. And with that, her small world collapsed in on itself, leaving her to be engulfed by the darkness.