Copyright Gerard O’Keeffe 2012
Her underground prison was silent, except for the sound of her own breathing and the gurgle of water filling the cavern. It gushed into the sealed cement box, splashing into deep water. She knew she was in a water storage cave of some kind, beneath the local mountain range, but was disorientated and could not guess its distance from the villa, her former refuge. The young woman was struggling to catch up with her thoughts, which raced through her head, prompted by fear. She had been forced there in the boot of a car, her head wounded as she was thrown about in the constricted space, swerving round the hairpin bends between her home and the capital of Las Palmas. In a different life, she had been on the edge of her pool less than an hour before, enjoying the heat haze that made the land shimmer. But all memory of sunlight was extinguished. Her life as a lotus eater was over. She had been attacked by a stranger and pushed in this tomb, left to die for all she knew.
With a catch in her voice, she balanced on the rungs of an iron ladder in the cueva pequena. She gasped with pain and her head throbbed from wounds sustained in the boot of the man’s car. She felt the blood on her scalp and the dried threads of gore covering her face. Her face felt no longer familiar. As she clung on, the metal bar cut into her instep. She moved her position regularly as the touch of the metal became unbearable every few minutes. Her hands hurt too, supporting the weight of her body as she slumped from pain and fatigue. Her arms were being pulled from their sockets, or so it felt. She put her head to the cold metal of the ladder to keep herself awake and listened to the sound of the rising water.