I was flung into some kind of cell by a creature that was halfway between a snake and a tree. Flung with some force – skidding across the gravel floor and crashing into the solid wooden back of the cell. The tree-snake creature hissed something I couldn’t understand before half-slithering, half-hobbling away. I scrabbled to my feet and to the bars of my cell – I went to rattle them but saw that there were large nails sticking out of them.
“They don’t like iron.”
I jumped at the sudden voice. Looking around, I saw the girl – Evangaline – half-hidden by shadow in the cell across from mine.
“The faeries. They don’t like iron. These cells are made for people of their kind.”
“Their kind? What kind? Who is she? Who are you? What is this place? What do they want and what the fuck has happened to Marie?”
Evangaline stood and approached the iron-spiked bars of her cell,
“I’ll answer your questions, all of them, to the best of my knowledge – but first, I ask that you answer one for me.”
“What is the year?”
“What is the year?” I blinked a little. How long had Evangaline been stuck in this place?
“2018,” I told her. When I did, she didn’t shout or scream or cry. She didn’t call me a lair or fall to the ground in despair. She just said,
And yet that one sound held all the sorrow of a person whose entire world had broken apart.
“When I came in here, it was 1906.”
My outburst was one of disbelief. One-hundred and twelve years. How could she be here after 112 years?
It took me a while to let that news sink in. I’m not sure how long – there were no windows in the cells, only an eerie glowing light from strange flowers along the walls. If it wasn’t a dungeon, it would be quite pretty. Eventually, I heard myself say,
“It would seem so,” said the voice across from me. “Do you still wish me to answer your questions?”
“Do you still want to answer them?” Evangaline nodded. “Then yes. I’m Alice. Alice Brodie.”
“Evangaline Myers. But most people call… called me Eva. I hope that answer who I am.”
“But how did you get here? How have you been here for so long?”
“The Queen tore my family apart. Drove both my parents to madness. She wasn’t having me too. She still won’t. As for my time here, the rules are different in her realm.”
“But who is she?”
“The Faerie Queen, self-appointed. From what others in these cells say – she was banished from the Seelie court.”
“Ok,” I said. I had very little choice than to just accept what was going on. “What does she want with Marie?”
“She needs a body. The Seelie court cast her out of her own form.”
“But why my Marie?”
“That I cannot tell you. She has tried with many over the years. My mother. Me. Dozens of other women who had the misfortune to get lost in these woods. None have been compatible with her… not her soul – I doubt highly that she has one. Her essence, perhaps? I don’t know what makes your friend different, but she must be – to sustain the Queen.”
“What happened? To the others?”
“Most burned up. Others went mad.”
If that was what happened to all the others, what was going to happen to Marie? I slumped against the wall of my cell. I had to do something. I had to get Marie back. No matter what it took, I had to get out of this cell.