Alice cradled her head in her hands and felt the weight of it as if she were Prometheus holding up the sky. She desperately searched her memory for who had given her the key, but she had been stuck in the cavern for three days. Everything was fuzzy. Through red-streaked eyes and a mud-caked face, Alice assessed her surroundings once more.
“Water, check,” her voice eternally bounced off the walls. She winced at the shrill echo and thought it better to make a mental check list.
Water was abundant, that was given. It seeped off the walls and pooled on the floor in puddles. What about food? With the exception of the scurrying meals on wheels, there wasn’t anything readily available to eat.
The direness of the situation dawned on Alice, and anger rose in her like a tidal wave. With a heave, she threw the ruby key across the cavern. It skipped and skittered across the glossy stones and came to lay in a pool where its steady pulse of red light served as a warning beacon to the world or to any idiot who would try to acquire it.
Alice swallowed this burning pill, pushed herself up onto her knees, and hung her head. Her matted hair fell in clumps around her pixie face. Slowly she rose and planted one foot, hands folded on her knee in prayer that she have the strength left to pull herself up into humanity. She took another step forward and found herself standing, head still hung as if in humility.
“Someone… anyone… help me,” she sobbed in resignation.
As Alice still had her head bowed, she did not notice the agency the key had gained. It’s steady pulse had become frantic. It’s red hue had melted to blue, and it threw icy prisms that danced along the traces of water along the walls and floor.
With a deafening crack that raced around the cavern, the key’s frenetic dance stopped. Alice whipped her head up, eyes wide, and stared at the doorway which had formed on the cavern floor.
A small voice emanated from the crimson and cerulean entrance, “We open for the meek, the mild, the humble, the servants. We are your inheritance if you are deemed worthy.”
Deep within Alice something stirred. She didn’t know what lay beyond, but she knew what waited for her if she stayed. With fasciation, trepidation, and hope for salvation, Alice bowed her head and stepped through the door.