From our Skype meeting today.
On second thought, I don't want to begin like that. Let's try this again.
It was near midnight. I flung open the window of my room, and the evening air, scented with rain, leaves, and dirt, enveloped me. I shivered when a gust of wind blew in, right through me, to the back wall. I pulled a blanket off the bed, wrapped it around me, and leant on the windowsill. I stared at the other parts of the building surrounding the courtyard.
One door showed a light. That was unusual. I didn't think anyone lived there. I watched the vague play of shadows in the light, straining my ears for a sound.
And then it came. A scream so gut-wrenching I almost screamed back. Instead, I dropped to my knees and covered my head with the blanket, just in case it happened again.
After a few minutes during which it got quite stuffy under my blanket, it occurred to me to wonder who had screamed, and why. It had sounded close. I pulled myself back to my feet and looked out the window again.
The light in the door was gone. All was still. Had I dreamed it--?
But then I caught sight of a shrouded figure hurrying out of the courtyard. Before I could stop to consider the prudence of such an action, I heard myself shouting to the figure. "Hey!"
The figure stopped in its track, looked dramatically back and forth, and resumed its lurking.
I shouted again. "Hey!"
This time it pointed toward my window, then darted across the courtyard in my direction. I lost track of it for a time, but I could still hear a faint rustling. I nearly lost it when a face appeared at my window and shoved me further into the room. I fell backwards onto the floor and watched in sheer astonishment as a child of about ten scrambled inside.
"Hide me," the child said. It was the trembling voice of a terrified little girl.
I crossed my arms. "Why should I? I don't know who you are."
Instead of replying, her hand disappeared into her cloak and emerged laden with gold.