The girl stopped running and put her hands up to the side of her head. Her pulse beat so hard that she could feel her temples throbbing and the vein in her neck stood out, blue on white skin. She began to feel sick.
Bending forward, she tried to catch her breath, all the time feeling the damp slimy walls on either side of her. The passage seemed to go on for miles and the smell of it overwhelmed her. It was putrid, rotten, filling her nostrils with dense acid fumes. Then she heard it. Again. She held her breath and stood still. The scratching, the faint echo of breath.
’I’m here,’ a small voice said, ’I’m right here…’
The girl ran on. Not stopping to wait for the voice to come any closer. She ran, stumbling on the uneven rock, tearing the skin on her knees as they scraped the floor and the walls. She began to cry.
’I’m behind you…’ The voice whispered; a tiny, shrill voice.
On and on she ran , her lungs burning, the breath hard and tight in her chest until she found the opening. It was carved out of stone and she knew it would be there. She felt in the darkness for the latch of the wooden door and pushed it open. It creaked heavily and she had to thrust her whole body weight behind it to make it move. ’Oh God’, she murmured.
’I’m coming’, the little voice whispered.
’Oh God, please open, please…’ With one almighty shove she fell through the opening into the room. It was a vault, cold and dark, it’s thick stone walls and floor wet with something she could smell, but not identify. She ran against the door behind her to slam it shut and sank to her knees. Refuge made her want to weep. Nothing could get in here, it was a small stone fortress. Nothing could get in and nothing could get out. She was safe. In the darkness she sat there for ages, the sweat chilling on her skin. Then she opened her eyes and felt in her pockets for her matches.
’I’m here.’ The little voice said, ’I’m right beside you…’
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