The next day she watched them again. She had crept from her lonely hole where she had slept last night, ignored and alone. In one way, she wanted to be alone. To protect herself. The creatures would kill her.
But what great things are accomplished without danger? All she knew was that whenever she stepped into the open, away from the towering protection of the brick wall that kept her invisible, fear overcame her until she could not breathe, could not move.
She kept her shield up, ready for danger.
Suddenly she felt, rather than heard, a presence behind her. A sharp tingle shivered up her spine, and she couldn't move. Like in a dream, her body refused to turn, to see who or what was behind her.
Mist swirled through the dank alley, and at last her feet freed themselves. She whirled around and blinked, trying to see. A tall figure towered over her, his features indistinguishable through the mist. “Who are you and what do you want?” she asked suspiciously. “I don't know you.”
He extended his hand, silently, toward her.
And her heart stilled at what she saw dangling from his fingers.
“Take it,” he said. A deep, soothing voice.
The key to unlock her chains! She longed for that key with everything in her. She wanted to obey the invitation he had given her. So badly.
A sob welled in her throat. She couldn't take it. She started to lift her hand to grasp the keys, dangling before her. But they were just beyond her reach. Could she take a step forward? Could she?
Fear held her back. It paralyzed her. And the chains tightened, tighter than they had ever been before. Pain sprang through her ankles and radiated up her legs. As if the chains knew freedom was close, so close...
“Don't give up,” he said, leaning toward her. He held the Key out further.
“It's too late for me!” she cried in desperation. Then she ran. Away from there. Away to her hole. Her cold, lonely hole, but at least she was safe there. Sort of.