short story, story promptWhen the angel of hope goes to the mortal realms to help the mortals believe in their goddess once more, she finds a distressed child whose story makes her blood boil…


Hope hadn’t even opened her eyes before the sounds of a crying child reached her ears. The sobs pulled at her heart and she felt the ground solidify under her feet as she completed her journey to the mortal planes. The sound of the child crying was louder and she opened her eyes to search for the poor thing.

She panicked when all she saw was darkness. Did something go wrong during the transition from Heaven? Where am I? Why can’t I see anything? Am I blind?!

She shook her head firmly. Impossible. Angels didn’t go blind. Wrestling the fear and panic down, she focused on the sound of the child’s sobs. They echoed in the darkness, telling Hope that she must be in some sort of enclosed space.

“Hello?” she called softly. “Are you okay?”

The crying stopped instantly. No one replied to her call.

She needed a source of light. Her halo would be the best source, but it would also reveal her as an angel. She wasn’t supposed to show the mortals that part of her yet. Her task was to convince them that the Goddess Zia was back, but she couldn’t force them to believe. They had to return to their Goddess in their own time.

A small, frightened sob broke the silence before being smothered. Hope couldn’t stand it anymore. Somewhere in this pitch darkness, a child was terrified and hopeless. She had to help.

With a mental command, her halo faded into existence above her head, slowly filling the dark chamber with warm golden light. Rough-hewn rock walls surrounded her on all sides with only one rocky tunnel that led into darkness.

Am I underground? she wondered. She hesitated at the mouth of the tunnel. It was really her only option if she wanted to find the child and also find a way out of this place. The roof of the tunnel was low, so she had to stoop to make her way along it. She didn’t have to go far before the tunnel widened out into another chamber, this one larger than the one she had found herself in. Mining tools were scattered around the stone room and a few empty carts were lined up along a railway, obviously waiting to be filled with rock and taken to the surface.


Hope stopped to listen for the child. Nothing stirred in the room. With the way these tunnels echoed, the poor child could be lost anywhere down the five or six passages that led off the large chamber.

“Hello?” she tried again. “I’m not here to hurt you. I want to help.”

The faintest scrape reached her ears. She glanced at the empty carts. Perhaps one of them was not so empty? She walked over and peered into the first one. Only a few small pebbles and a lot of dirt lined the bottom. It was the same case with the second one she checked. The third, however, contained a quivering, raggedly-dressed girl who couldn’t have been older than five.

“Hey, there,” Hope whispered. “It’s going to be okay. Are you lost down here?”

Wide eyes stared back at her. After a moment, the girl nodded. “They left me behind,” she said, her voice trembling. “They took all the lights and forgot about me.”

“What were you doing down here? Mines can be dangerous,” Hope told her. Surely the people working the mines wouldn’t let children anywhere near them?

“I was just working my shift, same as the other kids. But they all finished and took the lights with them back to the surface. I couldn’t find my way out in the dark.”

“You work down here?” Hope asked, shocked. Surely not?

The child seemed a little braver now. She grasped the edge of the cart and stood up. “All of the Lost Children work here. They say it’s how we can repay them for giving us food and beds.”

“Lost Children?” Hope echoed. “What exactly is a lost child?”

The girl gave her a funny look. “We’re the ones who have no mums or dads. We don’t have anyone left to look after us, so the city gives us food and a bed if we work the mines.”

Anger grew in Hope’s veins. “That’s wrong. Children should be looked after without being expected to ‘pay it back’ to the city!”

The little girl looked at her feet. “I heard it used to be like that. But not any more.”

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