In her mind, the word is shouted. But no noise comes out, despite her mouth opening wide.
Where is she?
She tries to glimpse her surroundings, but all she sees is black. Her clothes are damp, her jeans especially. She feels around her; a trickle of water streams underneath, she touches a grassy carpet. Further still she reaches, her fingertips feel a smooth, flat and wet surface. Sharp edges. Reaching her hands outward, she feels more jagged edges, horizontal to her.
She remembers. She was running. The ground disappeared from beneath her. Blackness overtook her when she fell with a thump. What was she running from?
Now, her breathing is ragged. Her chest hurts. Her ankle throbs. She wants to take off her boot to look at it, but knows that’s a mistake.
Her backpack! It had supplies in it. Her phone. A torch. Muesli bars. An apple. Flares. She tries to kneel; the walls of the crevice crowd her. She lies on her back, arms overhead stretching as far as she can. Her nails scrape against fabric. It must be it. She edges back, ever so slightly. The pain splits her in two.
A scream, primal, cuts into the night air. It takes her a matter of seconds to realise it is her. The echo reverberates through the narrow chamber, the watery surrounds sharpening the sound.
Somehow she grasps the backpack and pulls it towards her. She lifts it over her head, and, sitting up, lays it on her lap. She begins to unzip it. No need. It’s undone. The contents emptied, scattered like confetti, probably as she fell.
Her provisions, dearth beforehand, are now dire. Her breath now comes in short raspy gasps.
Slow down, she tells herself. She focuses on her breathing, soon she calms. Her eyelids grow heavy. Shivering, she lets them close.
A noise wakes her. She has no clue to how long she slept. She listens intently unsure of what made the sound. Friend or foe. Animal or human. Kind or evil.
Warmth charges through her body. ‘Down here!’ she yells. Her voice croaks. ‘Here, I’m this way!’
Leah looks up. Up. There’s a shaft of light, and faces. Voices calling down to her. Before long, a pair of legs make their way down through the narrow opening. A man in a high-vis vest calls, ‘Leah, I’m going to winch you out of here.’
Leah cries. Tears and snot mix together. She wipes her face with her sleeve. ‘I’m so happy to see you.’
It’s all she can think of. An understatement. Feeble. But she doesn’t care.