The Little Girl in the Darkness


If the monster found her, it would eat her.

The little girl sat very, very still. She clutched her treasure to her chest and pressed her eyes shut. Squeezed herself deeper into the crack in the wall, and made herself as small and quiet as she could.

If the monster heard her, it would find her.

She mustn’t lose the treasure. In the darkness, she would never find it again. The little pouch with all the things that mattered. The five stones of power.

She must be quiet and still. In the darkness, where there was never any light, any sound could betray her.

Even with the slow dripping of water from above, and with the paws of the monster in the mud, or its claws against the stone. Even with the screams of rage as the monster fought to get out of their prison, she dared not make a sound.

If the monster knew she was there, it would never stop searching.

It would find her. It would eat her. It would take the treasure for itself and use it to break free.

It must never, ever happen, so the little girl pressed her lips together, made herself as small as she could, and tried real hard not to cry.

She must keep the treasure safe. In the darkness, it was all that mattered.


The little girl had tried real hard not to cry, but she’d been so scared. She hadn’t been able to keep the tears back, and it had scared her even more.

If the monster heard her, it would find her.

If the monster found her, it would eat her.

She’d tried so hard to be silent, but then the fire had come, and the monster had screamed so loud it hurt. She couldn’t cover her ears or she would drop the treasure.

If anyone had seen, they’d have known how brave she’d been.

They’d be impressed and tell her she’d done good. Give her hugs and hot chocolate and call her dear child.

But no one saw, and no one knew, and she had to be brave all on her own.

And then the big glowing man had come and told her to be silent.


The little girl shivered with cold.

She shut her eyes against the darkness, and breathed into her hands to keep them warm, but very slowly, so as not to make a noise.

First, the monster had screamed, and then the air had gone cold. After that, there had been only silence.

Nothing had moved, nothing had made a sound, and the air had grown colder and colder.

The monster had been silent ever since.

A very long time.

Much longer than normal.

Maybe it was gone.

The little girl clutched her hands to her chest, and her clothes creaked with frost. She couldn’t feel her toes anymore. The mud under her feet had frozen.

It was so cold she could hear the air crack.

Perhaps now was the time to leave.

If she was really quick, and really fast, maybe she could find a way out before the monster returned.

But maybe it was just a trick, and maybe the monster waited in the dark for her to move.

If the monster found her, it would eat her.

The risk was too big, so she stayed where she was.

The monster must not find her.

If only it weren’t so cold.

The monster must not have the treasure.

The little girl blew on her fingers, and the chill from outside forced itself down her throat and squeezed her heart.

Her hands were empty.

The little bag was gone.

She’d lost the treasure.


The little girl hadn’t been in a long, long time, but now she was.

The world under ground existed again.

It was hard, dark, and cruel. Just like it should be.

But it was also cold and silent, and it shouldn’t be that.

Everything had frozen, and the frost had taken all the sounds. No dripping of water. No splashing of mud. No screams of an angry monster.

The little girl sat very, very still.

Her knees ached and her feet hurt and her fingers were stiff with cold.

She listened as hard as she could, to make sure she was alone.

Before, there had been someone else there, and it wasn’t right.

No one could come into her world.

It wasn’t right.

Only she and the monster could be here.

No one else.

There were rules, and you couldn’t break them. The glowing man had broken the rules and now the monster was silent and everything was turning to ice.

She’d never been so cold before.

The glowing man had made her lose the treasure and he’d made the monster quiet. If she didn’t find the treasure, she’d never be warm again. If the monster didn’t try to steal the treasure, then there was nothing to keep it safe from, and then what was the point of anything?

The treasure was everything.

She couldn’t let others come in here and upset the order.

This was her darkness.

Her treasure.

Her monster.

There were rules.

So she’d shut her eyes and shut her ears. Stopped the world and thrown out all the things that didn’t belong. For the longest time, she’d kept it like that. Pulled herself out of existence and stopped being. Shut off.

Now, the little girl was awake again.

Alone in the freezing cold. In the compact darkness of the endless tunnels.

She blew on her fingers, rubbed her hands together, and began searching.

Once she found the treasure, she’d keep it safe from the monster.

Once she found the treasure, she’d start everything over again.

This time, she’d do it right.


The little girl cried as she searched.

Tiny fingers brushed against the frozen rock in front of her. Slow and careful.

Again and again. For ever and ever. Must never stop searching.

Silent tears ran down her cheeks, and she pressed her lips together and tried to hold back the sobs. She mustn’t make a sound, or the monster would find her.

The monster was so silent.

It might be gone, but it might not. Better wait. Better be careful. Better be quiet.

There was so much at stake. It might be a trick.

She had searched for so long, and her fingers were so cold.

She couldn’t feel her toes anymore.

There had been something else, but she couldn’t remember, and it wasn’t important.

If she couldn’t find the treasure, she couldn’t keep it safe.

If she couldn’t keep it safe, nothing else mattered.

She was so scared.

She had to be silent. She had to keep hidden. She had to find the treasure.

And then she did.


The little girl huddled in the darkness. The tears had dried on her cheeks, and a happy warmth glowed in her belly.

She’d found the treasure.

At first it had been too hot to touch, and she’d burned her fingers trying to pick it up. She’d worried for a moment it had been something else, or that it had burned, but once she got it in her hands, she knew it was right.

The treasure was still there, and it still needed her to guard it.

The little bag with all the things that mattered.

She’d cradled it to her chest, breathed in the heat rising from it, and allowed herself to absorb its fear and anger.

It was calm now.

Still warm against her fingers, but a warmth of hope and courage. Strength, dreams, and independence. The warmth of what the treasure really was.

The powers entrusted to her care, that she may guard them and keep them safe.

Around her, the ice began to melt, and slowly, the sound of water dripping from the roots in the ceiling returned.

It wasn’t so cold anymore.

It would all be okay now.

She’d crawled back into the crack in the wall, and there was no way the monster would find her here.

She’d be safe now, and she’d keep the treasure safe.

This time, she’d do it right.


The little girl sat very, very still.

She was very good at not moving a muscle. She could be still and silent for a very long time. Much longer than anyone else. It was a secret. She was very good at secrets, too.

The treasure no longer seared her fingers, but it was still warm to the touch.

She held her breath, and she listened.

Waited, and listened.




The little girl stared into the darkness.

She clutched the treasure to her chest and waited.

It was silent now.

The monster had stopped screaming.

It had screamed for a long, long time, because it was on fire, and it was very afraid.

Then the woman with the antlers and the long red hair had come. The woman had held the monster, and they had burned together, and that had been okay.

That was okay.

The little girl liked the woman, even if she was from outside.

No one could come here, because that was the rule, but the woman could come anyway.

The little girl could change the rules if she wanted to. It was her world, and the monster’s, and the woman could come visit sometimes, when the monster was scared and needed a hug.

She closed her eyes and smiled inside herself.


Maybe, if she screamed, the woman with the antlers would come and hold her, too.

Only, the monster was still there, and she mustn’t make a noise. If the monster found her, it would eat her. That was the rule too, and she couldn’t change that. No one could find her.


No one could see her.

She must keep the treasure safe.

The woman with the antlers hadn’t seen her. The woman had only seen the monster.

She had sat next to it in the fire and taken it in her arms, and the monster had grown quiet.

Then they both had burned and the flames had died and the darkness had come back.

Just like the first time, except they were friends now.

The little girl waited and listened.

Soon, the monster would wake.

Soon, but not just yet.

The little girl crept out from the crack in the wall. Maybe she could find the way out.

Maybe she could join the woman with the antlers and the long red hair.


The little girl smiled at the darkness.

She was safe now.

The monster would never find her here.

She’d walked in the darkness forever and ever.

Clutched the treasure to her chest with one hand, and trailed the other against the wall of the tunnel so she wouldn’t get lost.

Sometimes the treasure had grown so warm she almost couldn’t hold it.

One time, it got really, really cold. It froze to her fingers and she couldn’t move her hand.

That had been scary, but only for a little bit.

Then she’d found another crack in the wall.

She had wanted to search for a way out, like the monster always did, but this was better, and there wasn’t a way out anyway. It was her secret, and only she knew, but she’d pretended like she didn’t, and it was fun searching. The little girl had never had an adventure before, but she had to stop, before the monster woke up, or it would hear her moving around.

It was the rule, and some rules you couldn’t change, even if you wanted to.

If the monster heard her, it would find her.

If the monster found her, it would eat her.

That was the rule.

Only now, she’d found the best hiding place ever.

The monster would never find her.

In the crack in the wall, she’d found a tiny hole. Just big enough for a little girl and her treasure to wriggle through.

She was safe now.

A small cave, with only one way in.

She’d found a big stone and rolled it in front of the opening.

It was still dark, but the treasure kept her warm, and the cave kept her safe.

The little girl smiled to herself.

No one would ever find her here.