Cold, cold, so cold ... seeping through her skin, a total cold, and so dark - so dark! Like she'd never see again. As though someone had extinguished the light ... and always so cold, always so dark, nothing giving. Relentless. She's falling. She's lying on the darkness and the cold for there is nothing else to hold her up, but now that too gives way and she falls forever. She cannot see. She is blind in this darkness. Falling ... always falling. There is no light. How does she know that she is falling? Because she can feel the wind rushing through her hair and feel the way that gravity is claiming her - getting faster and faster ... falling from the dark above to the dark below, and always so cold ...
Elena woke. It was dark, and cold. For a moment she thought she was still dreaming, until something metal rubbed against her wrists and she realised that she was still in her tiny room. The light above her had gone out, but for the first time she saw the light seeping through the cracks around the door, and was able to see the dim outline of her chains, pale and silver.
"I am still here," she marvelled. She must not have slept as long as she thought, since it couldn't be any later than evening, as she had not yet danced. But even as she was sitting and thinking there was the sound of footsteps in the corridor.
"Master. Allow me to assist you." It was one of the guards that spoke, she was sure. They were the ones who called Rich 'Master'.
"I think I can manage, thank you." And that was his voice - the man that had brought her here, and locked her in this dark and cramped hole. "You may go."
"But sir, it may not be safe. Perhaps we should stay here to make sure no harm comes to you."
"I think I can manage. What is she going to do, murder me? She's just a girl. Besides, she's chained. She can't leave the room; not easily, anyway. Don't worry, I will be fine." Rich sounded firm, and Elena began to relax, as she always did when she heard his voice. But as his footsteps grew nearer she shrank against the wall of her cell. He meant her harm, surely.
The door opened. "What are you doing here?" she said, before he could speak. Her words surprised him. He hadn't expected her to be awake already, or ready for him. Perhaps he didn't realise how much you could hear from in here.
"I came to ask how you liked your new room, my dear. And to ask you whether you knew what time it was."
"How can I know what time it is? I'm stuck in a tiny cell with no clock and no daylight. Not that there's any such thing any more."
"Quite." Rich looked puzzled. "You believe in daylight? Most would say it was just a fairy story. Something that people made up out of nostalgia for a time that never existed."
Elena knew there was a challenge in his words, and so she thought carefully before she spoke. "I believe in it because I know it's true. And if nobody will talk about it then it must be right. Everyone is always afraid of the truth." There was a pause. "Anyway, why do I need to know the time?"
"Oh, I thought you might like to know that it was morning." Rich grinned, a wild, feral grin.
"I didn't dance?" said Elena, puzzled.
"It would seem that you did not. And we can't be having that, can we? My men were distraught to hear of your refusal." Rich smiled again. "I promised you safety so long as you danced, my dear Elena. But you slept the night through."
He began to walk away. Elena was sick with fear. She knew exactly what he was talking about. Somehow, something had gone wrong, and they were blaming her for not dancing, when really nobody had woken her.
And Elena was going to pay the price.