Each individual hair on the back of Gil’s neck was standing on end. Goosebumps ran up her arms and back, as though her skin had been pricked by a thousand tiny needles. The cacophony of screaming, hysterical laughter and eerie singing around her was too much for her tortured mind to bear.
But just as she was preparing to turn and run back up towards the daylight, Gil caught sight of the door. Its surface gleamed like a plate of silver in the dark stone wall. Touching it warily with one finger, she discovered that the door was smooth and cold.
It had been fashioned from thick iron with minute care so that there was not the smallest of cracks between the door and the wall. In its center was a large, elaborately crafted lock. A small keyhole presented the only opening in the entrance to the cell.
Gil took the brass key out of her pocket and slipped it into the hole. It stuck halfway in and could not be pushed further. This was not the right key. But the grating sound had drawn the attention of the cell’s occupant. A faint trickle of air whispered through the keyhole, brushing against Gil’s trembling hand.
“Is somebody out there?” A voice asked.
“I’m here.” Gil replied.
She realized at once how foolish this response was. Luckily, her heart was still lodged in her throat and the only sound she made was a hoarse croak. Another breath slithered out past her shaking fingers.
“Who are you?”
“My name is Gil.”
“Were you chasing me, Gil?”
“I think I was. How did you get out of your cell? How did you get back in?”
“That’s a silly question isn’t it, Gil? I have the key, of course.”
These words sent a spasm of fear arcing up Gil’s spine. She was deep underground in the dungeons of the Tower, an island fortress holding the most vile and murderous creatures. Worse still, only the most powerful and wicked were kept away from the sunlight.
But that was not what made Gil’s blood turn to ice. This door was solid iron, built to withstand the burning force of dark magic which would tear a wooden door to splinters. Whoever or whatever was locked away behind it was capable of crushing men like flies, and they had the key to their own cell. Gil was standing a mere few feet away from certain death and there was nothing to shield her from it.
But the sound of the voice on the other side of the door was like warm honey. It comforted and reassured her that she had nothing to fear. Gil leaned closer and pressed her ear against the keyhole.
For the first short story in this series, click here.
Click here for the next installment.
For something a bit different, click here.