Cold was the first thing I felt when I woke up again. Cold, sore all over my body, and I could smell dirt.
I opened my eyes but saw only darkness.
What the hell is going on?
“Hello?” I called in a weak, croaky voice.
I sat up, using my hand on the ground, and felt sand in my palm. What the hell?
As my head pounded with a migraine, I moved my fingers to the back of my head. My hair felt wet and sticky. Is that blood? My blood?
I sat still for a moment, trying to push past the pain in my head, and got to my feet. My head scraped on the roof of this dark hole, and I cried out as more sand came falling onto me.
I stuck my hands out in front of me, trying to feel my way around in the darkness. The space was small, I could just stand up, but had to keep my head bent down. I could touch the walls on either side of me if I stretched my arms out and not a single bit of light anywhere.
I moved forward and felt for anything I could use as a way out. When my hands landed on a metal wall, I began banging on it with my fist, “HELLO! Let me out!”
My shouting sounded like it didn’t leave the room I was in, and it only made my head hurt more.
I leaned against the metal wall and sank down to the ground again. I tried to think back to what happened.
I could remember putting the kids to bed. The painting. Going out into the garden. There was someone there. Someone in a robe of some kind.
I let out a ragged breath and tried to force myself to calm down. Think about the air, Ash. You don’t have a lot in this little space.
I tried the little ball under my ear, “Hello? Anyone?” But there was no answer. Not even the chime that I presumed meant I had a signal, or a connection.
I banged and kicked and screamed as loud as I could until my throat felt raw. I tried to claw at the dirt ceiling, making piles of sand fall on top of me, but I only made my grave smaller. I sat down on the floor, my head spinning and my body getting hot and sweaty. I felt tired. My eyes began to close and my muscles were getting weak. I pulled my knees up to my chest and rested my head on my legs.
A quick nap. Just a few minutes.
I jerked awake to the sound of Dave’s voice, “Wake up Ash,”
I darted my eyes around, but the space was so dark I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face, yet Dave moved towards me in the darkness.
I jerked back from his grinning face as my heart raced.
“No! You’re not real!” I shouted at him.
He dropped down on his haunches, the way he always did after he hit me to the ground, “Come on Ash, get a grip. What do you think this is? What. . . you think that you are on another planet, rolling around in the sack with a king? Grow up! Use that little peanut of a brain of yours for once. What makes more sense here, huh? That you are in a coma, dreaming? Or that you got whisked away to a new planet, by a random friend that thinks the sun shines out of your fat ass? And that the most powerful man in this Kingdom fell in love with you?” His laugh echoed much louder on the walls.
I swallowed and shut my eyes, “He’s not here, he’s not here,” I whispered to myself, but the doubt began to build in the back of my mind.
Could it all be just a dream?
I jerked my eyes open when I heard him slam his fist against the metal door, “Stop being so fucking pathetic! Do you need a man to hold your hand through everything? Or are you just planning to curl up into a ball and die down here?”
“Leave me alone,” I whispered.
“You’re pissing me off again Ash! You know how I get when I’m pissed off.”
“Leave me alone,” I said louder, but his face moved closer to mine.
“Maybe it’s better for everyone if you do just die here. Who wants such a stupid, and weak person taking up good air? Go on, roll up on the floor and I will sit down right here and watch you take your last breath.”
I am not weak. I don’t want to die. I won’t let you break me, never again!
I shot up off the ground with a scream and began clawing at the ceiling, “LEAVE ME ALONE!” I shouted as huge piles of dirt fell, burying me up to my waist. I heaved a thick root with every last ounce of strength I had and as the ground above me moved, I shut my eyes and covered my head as the ground fell, covering me completely.
I pushed my hand up as far as I could, and when I felt cool air on my fingertips, my heart leaped and I began to wriggle up.
When my head broke through to the surface, I heard Dave’s fading voice say, “That’s my girl,” and I took in a long deep breath of the fresh air.