Catherine’s eyes fluttered before slowly opening to look at the familiar surroundings with the heavy wind and rain hitting the window. The old faded wall paper that used to be white, now a pail grey with peeling corners and missing patches. The ceiling with its network of cracks and old water stains criss-crossed with dusty strands of cobwebs that had long since fulfilled their purpose. The naked light bulb hanging like a tear drop from a strand of wire caked in a veil of grime, and the old miss matched furniture that wouldn’t look out of place on a bonfire. For several minutes she lay motionless before raising her head to look around the drab lifeless room. The urge to stretch compelled her to sit up and reach her arms out as far as they could go. A yorn filled her lungs with air refreshing her senses whilst dispelling the residual feeling of sleepiness as her heart pumped blood to her head, causing her vision to fade then return with a sharper clarity.

            Facing her on the far wall was the doors to the closet. The one on the right was slightly ajar, revealing a glimpse of the darkness that lie behind it. A gust of wind blew past the building making a low humming sound, causing the closet door to move a little. She eased the bed covers from her legs and gently placed her bare feet on the icy cold wooden floor. She stood, straightened her night dress and walked over to the closet, each step as quiet as a ghost as she drew nearer. Like everything in the building, the closet doors were old and dated, helping little to ease the sense that it might be haunted. She gently gripped the crystal handles on the doors and waited a moment before opening them.

            Beyond the doors was the darkness she expected to find, the sleeves from rows of clothes visible as they hung motionless. The thought of spending the next two hours or so trying to find something to wear for the day was as appealing as sitting through another boring speech from the headmaster on Monday morning assembly. All her clothes were drab and dull, second hand and hand me downs that mostly didn’t fit properly. She wished she had the wealth to wear the sort of clothes she often dreamed of, long flowing gowns, pretty sparkling dresses like the posh ladies wear at public events such as fashion shows, royal weddings and the races, and oh, how she wished she had a horse to call her own. How she wished she had a family to provide her with the things she wanted, and a loving father to buy her all the things a father buys to spoil his little girl. Her only family was the other girls at the orphanage run by the nuns who kept a strict regime of never having fun or doing anything exciting.

            With a sinking heart she slowly closed the doors and made sure they fastened shut. The only thought in her mind was to return to her bed and continue dreaming. She was good at dreaming, the problem is she often did far too much of it. Whilst the other kids in class were slaving away she’d be in a trance off on some wild adventure in a fantasy land. She’d be the pretty princess riding a unicorn with big white wings defending her father’s kingdom from goblins, trolls and invading armies. Handsome knights would bay for her attention and go on dangerous missions in her honour, and every evening she’d attend royal balls with a new dress that combined with her infamous beauty, will take the breath of the guests far away from them.

            No matter how comfortable she got her eyes were open for the day. The heavy rain pounded the window with an attitude as rumbles of thunder came from the near distance. Now and then the room was lit up by the lightening causing crooked shadows to dance about the walls caused by the old twisted tree growing outside. One day she’ll climb down that tree and escape. Her unicorn will be waiting for her at the bottom ready to take her away into the storm. They’d ride the electrified skies as she held aloft her enchanted sword ready to catch the biggest strike of lightening, and use the energy to destroy the evil witches running the home keeping the other children prisoner, working them hard and treating them as slaves. She’d rip open a hole in the real world and take them all to her father’s kingdom where they’ll be free and happy forever.

            A loud clap of thunder made her jump and the building shake from its vibrations. The closet door was disturbed enough to slowly creep open again. She looked at the darkness beyond the door, and felt a breeze brush past her face. It was coming from the closet. With the remnants of the thunder still rumbling outside she again went to close the door, yet they both blew open and a strong gust nearly knocked her over, blowing her drab boring clothes all over the room. She stood shaking, and slowly turned to face the closet. The doors were wide open, beyond them was a thick darkness that she’d never seen before. There were strange noises coming from the tiny room and she hurried back under the covers to hide. As she curled up the sounds grew louder mixed with another crackle of thunder. She was too terrified to scream as the sounds continued. All she could do was lay there and shiver as the sounds became strangely familiar. They seemed to be of a horse neighing and grunting, stamping its hooves on the wooden floor. She forced herself to take a peek…    

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