Winter searched frantically around the room for some way out, some means of salvation. There was none, but she noticed something then that she hadn't seen before. In the far wall, almost directly opposite her, was a large jagged hole. It was the size of a small door and so dark that it seemed to suck in what little light there was in the basement. The sight of it filled Winter's insides with dread, slick and seething.
Christopher was waking up. His limbs stirred feebly against the weight of sleep and his eyes flickered open. His mouth formed awkward half-syllables. Winter recognised the confusion.
"Chris," she yelled. "Chris, it's me! Chris, can you hear me?"
He was so close, barely a few steps away, and yet they could not reach one another. He raised his head and peered drunkenly about for her. "Winter?"
"Yes!" Even though she knew she couldn't reach him she pulled away from the wall, straining against the chains. Somehow she felt as though if she could just touch him, if the two of them could be in this situation together then it would all end up okay. "Chris, it's the man. Garmondy. He's tied me up. He's here..."
And then Garmondy was before her, fingers at her mouth, stuffing a wad of salty fabric in between her teeth. A strip of tape followed, gagging her completely, and she could only watch and make muted sounds of distress as the old man returned to the trolley to which her boyfriend was tied and wheeled it towards the hole in the wall.
"Winter," said Christopher again, less thickly this time. He was waking up. The sound of his voice worked at Winter's heart like a pin vice.
"Hush now," said Garmondy to Christopher, almost gently. The trolley was directly before the hole now, Christopher laid out like a sacrifice on an altar. The old man took half a dozen steps back and then opened his mouth. What came out was no language that winter recognised: a hideous volley of clicks and squeals that sounded as though they couldn't possibly be formed by a human tongue.
A moment later, something from within the hole answered him. Winter heard a rustling, as if of many things moving. A skittering and many tiny squeals.
Garmondy came and stood beside her. "I'd close my eyes if I were you my dear," he said conversationally. "It's not often a pretty sight."
Winter didn't close her eyes. Her gaze was fixed on Christopher, who struggled now against his bonds, teeth clenched, muscles tensed. Then beyond him she saw movement within the darkness of the hole, and a second later the creature within emerged into the basement.
Even with the gag clamping her mouth firmly shut, Winter couldn't keep from screaming.