Thalia

The floor tilted away beneath her and the smooth marble gave her bare feet no purchase. For an instant she clung to the cedar bench that had gotten wedged in the mouth of the funnel, but eventually that too went tumbling down the slope and she toppled into blackness.

She didn’t fall far, and landed, knees bent, hands out, ready for whatever might be waiting beneath. The light filtering down from above showed her a dusty sandstone floor punctuated with columns. She put her back to one and breathed through her mouth, ears busy.

Silence.

“Come with me and be my love.” The voice was directly behind her. In a flash she had rolled across the floor and fetched up against another column. “My love, my love,” repeated the columns.

“Who are you? Show yourself!”

“I will make your captivity sweet,” whispered the column in her ear. “I will make the years pass like seconds.” A rough sandstone hand caressed the flesh of her upper arm.

She struck at the hand and succeeded only in bruising her knuckles. Another hand took hold of her, and another, and another, until there was not an inch of skin left her. She struck and bit and kicked and gouged as long as she was able.

Silence.