The evening was the same as it always was. Anna’s parents complained that she took too long in the shower, she dragged out her bedtime by reading in bed, and finally finished her book under the quilt with a torch. At around midnight, she fell asleep watching the moonlight cast flickering shadows on the ceiling of her room.
Anna dreamt of blue and silver swirling light that night, sucking her down, down, down into an unknown vortex. When she awoke, she knew at once that something was different.
Perhaps it was the light that I noticed first, she would say later, or the lack of it. Her room did seem extraordinarily dark on that morning – the morning that changed everything. Only when she realised that she could not see did she realise that she could not breathe, either. The air around her felt heavy, lacking in oxygen. It was almost as if she were suddenly in an enclosed space; a space much smaller than her bedroom. Claustrophobia threatened to overcome her, but Anna tried to calm down. Until something damp and sticky landed on her forehead.
Panicking, Anna flung out her arms – and found herself holding cool, sticky mud. Her mattress was gone, replaced by a bed of the finest compost. Light began to appear – a square of daylight being made by a metal spade. That was when it dawned on Anna that she was underground, although how this might have happened was still unknown. Faces peered down at her, unable to believe what they were seeing.
“There’s a body down here!” they cried to each other. Anna kept very still. “Perfectly preserved, even!” She held her breath, but knew she could not go on doing so indefinitely. Hands reached down and took her own, even so gently, and that was when they realised.
“She’s alive!” Whispering spread among the camp. Anna heard the voices of several people, right above her head, and hoped that the ground was firm up there.
“How can she still be alive?” they were muttering. “It’s not natural. She must have been there about four thousand years – it’s more than unnatural, it’s impossible!” Anna climbed carefully out of the mud that she was encased in. Her clothes were caked in it, not that she was wearing much. Embarrassed at being caught in her pyjamas, which consisted only of her favourite underwear, she tried to cover herself up, but it didn’t really matter, because she was so muddy that you couldn’t tell what shape she was. She looked out at the world around her – and gasped.