Chapter 1

So cold and it hurt. Moisture seeped in from the hard packed dirt floor. It might flood, but that would be better than the place Alice was in now. Her body had given up trying to warm itself. The oil lamp that hung in the middle of the ceiling was flickering on and off, soon it would suck up the last drops of oil and then would leave the cellar dark. Alice didn't care, she was beyond caring. Her fists red and bloodied, and in some places broken, from where she had pounded on the steel door, hurt. They burned but no one had heard her. The door was too thick and Alice was too weak.

She had no food, no clean water. She was licking the dirt floor where the water formed shallow, murky puddles. She had a few blankets, but nothing to protect her from the unforgiving winter. She had been here far too long. Her skin was pale from the lack of sun. Her hair, now down to her waist, hung in tangles. Her fingers were gruesome, dirt packed under her fingernails and all bloody from when she tried to dig her way out. It was no use, the walls of her prison were at least 3 feet thick, and the door made of steel was bolted shut from the outside. There was no escaping, and that was what her captors wanted. They wanted to hear her scream, they wanted her death. This was her punishment they had told her.

"For what?" she whispered to herself.

But she knew, her punishment was for her defense of the accused. But how did they imagine she would react. Her own mother accused of being a witch and was hung from the large oak that grew at the edge of her lane. It was disrespectful, her mother used to bring an old quilt and the newest book with her to read or sketch. Sometimes she took Alice, and they would spend all day walking the path that led to a long forgotten meadow where they would sit in a patch of daisies and sing silly songs about people. Alice's favorite was about , the grouchy old woman who scolded Alice every chance she got.

Alice shivered again. This place was not like the sunny meadow, overflowing with daisies in the spring. Silent tears streamed down her dirty face. Her mother was dead and now she would be too. She lied down and slipped into a fitful sleep. Slowly the darkness took her silently and painlessly.