I dug for what seemed like hours. Hours and hours of clawing through dirt that varied between hard clay and the sort of thinning sand that normally makes its home on river-bottoms. Silt that sifted through my hands down and away as I went.
That voice: I kept hearing that voice within my head as it repeated those words to me. I tried my best to ignore it, but it was often unbearable.
“I see you.” It said, and “you’re not meant to be doing this.”
It became harder and harder to ignore, and yet as it was when I first began to hear it, so it continued. No other noises had reached me this far below ground and defying logic and reason, still it echoed from some ethereal place in my mind; as though it came from another plane of existence.
Still, I dug.
I dug for what seemed like hours and days, and what very much might have been real hours and days. Time was fleeting and madness was beginning to take its toll. It was growing harder and harder to fathom and judge time or the passage of anything down here in the dark. The walls of my path as I made headway out continued to crumble and fall behind me as I struggled forward. Yet, still I struggled onward.
“I see you.” it said.
Every soiled breath that passed into my tired throat was met with the filter of my teeth. Sifting and filtering the endless grains of earth from passing in from my mouth and down, down into my chest. By my own efforts, it was constantly prevented from being breathed into my lungs.
“You’re not meant to be doing this” that voice rang again from somewhere in the deep quiet corners of my head, and still I carried on. Nothing would deter me from my goal.
Nothing in this world would stop my forward motion.
I felt myself motivated by one thing and one thing alone to keep moving. To keep going forward, as I clawed through the amaranthine silt and dust that confronted me in my path. I refused to allow it to stifle my progress as I sifted through and up. Constantly and perpetually up; clutching at hope beyond futile hope that Savannah would still be there, waiting for me. Waiting for me to be everything she needed.
Still, to find her where she was, I knew I must dig. So I dug. I dug until my fingernails gave out; pregnant with the filth of soil that I clawed through. I dug until they popped off one by one like little bottle caps and still I dug upward to her beyond hope or reason. I clawed my bloody fingertips up and up and up. All the while that voice was there reminding me:
“You’re not meant to be doing this…” and still I ignored it until I found myself clawing at new layers of cement as I dug my way out and up through the foundation of the basement.
Finally I was faced with her and she wasn’t frightened. She didn’t scream or shout, not as I clawed my way up through the slab of the basement and not as I gnawed my way through the chains that held her. Not as my teeth chipped at the iron links nor as they broke entirely under the pressure of my assistance.
No. She thanked me instead:
“Thank you,” Savannah said, as she ran to the low hanging window of the basement as I hoisted her up. “Thank you, daddy,” as she went, leaving her phone behind for me. Urging me to tell my story…the story of how I’d defied all odds.
Buried in layers of dirt and dust and clay and silt, I’d managed to find enough life within me to set her free and wait…
Now I wait.
I eagerly wait for her captor to come back down to this basement. He’ll think he comes to find his chained victim, but he’ll come to find the spectre of the man he thought dead and buried. The man he thought he’d killed. The man who he’d stolen a daughter from. The man who shouldn’t be here. The man to end his spree of abductions once and for all.
Please come down these stairs and find the father waiting for you…
Fuck this voice telling me “I see you” and “you’re not meant to be doing this.” it doesn’t matter if I’m alive or dead, when my husband and I adopted Savannah, we agreed to raise her to be strong and empowered and come to her defence whenever needed.