I heard it again.
The scream of complete terror and agony.
I love birds.
Once, however, I heard the shrill, forced scream of a bird behind me. I think it was the scream of a large, black crow. When I had turned to look into its eyes, I had seen nothing but blackness.
Crows do disturb me.
The scream I heard in the castle was like the bird’s. It sounded like a crow being hurt, cawing or shrieking in misery.
I whirled around in the pitch blackness.
Just as I turned around, I felt something cold and bare grasp at my ankle. Unearthly, it was. The hand. It belonged to the surreal world I was prisoner in.
The grasp was like the cold, slimy thing that had pulled me down into this wonderland.
I did the shrieking this time.
“Don’t, don’t do that!” a voice gasped.
I stopped. The hand still held me, but its grip had relaxed.
“Who are you, where are you?”
“Please, please come closer.”
I didn’t know where “closer” was.
“Right…over…here.” The hand tugged me north.
I felt my body brush against iron bars.
“I’m in a prison,” I breathed.
The crow wailed.
“Who are you?”
There was a sniffling sound, much like the sniveling of a child. The voice belonged to a woman.
“I am Grimhilde,” the voice said.
I stepped back, resisting the struggle of the hand. Queen Grimhilde! She was a wicked queen! Why was she was in this feverish world? Queen Grimhilde the stepmother of Snow White, the practicer of dead magic, and the mixer of poisons!
It should have been obvious to me that the castle was hers. It was that way above ground, but what was I to expect underwater? To see her? Impossible.
“What have you done? Get me out of this place! Get me out! You’ve sent me to this underground abyss! What have you done with Charming?! Get me out!”
“Shhh!” hissed the woman, “keep your voice down or they’ll find you and kill you!”
“What do you mean?” my eyes puddled and tears ran down my cheeks; finally they were free!
The woman gasped after saying her name, like she had just wished a curse.
“Do you not know of that–” her voice lowered until it crawled on the floor, “have you not heard of the queen of this castle?”
I did not answer.
“She will kill you like she is killing me,” the voice pleaded after I did not answer, “You must go! Go now! Quickly!”
“What are you speaking of?” I exclaimed, “Snow White is a dear friend of–”
Suddenly, the room lit up.
My eyes blinked with the shock of it.
My body reeled at the voice: “Kill her!” it screamed.
I knew that voice far too well.