I don't have a title for this story yet, but I'm open to suggestions. Here is the first bit:
Alina drew the dark hood closer around her face as she hurried through the empty streets, trying to blend in with the shadows. She knew the pendant she had clasped in her hand would protect her from any harm but she'd rather not have to uses it. She came to a corner and paused, glancing around. When she was sure there was nothing waiting for her she darted around the corner and down the next street. Avoiding detection was crucial for survival.
As she hurried back to the safe house, she looked around and observed the ruins of this once great city sadly. The majestic buildings with their great spires were crumbling and covered in scorch marks, and the cobblestone street that had once been prided as the most beautiful street in the land was covered in cracks with weeds and grass sprouting up through them. She briefly closed her eyes and saw a vision of blooming trees, sparkling stain-glass windows, and laughing, happy people going about their business, but when she opened them again, all she saw was decay and despair. She shook her head to rid herself of such thoughts then turned down the alley that led to the safe house.
The safe house was expertly hidden and none but the most trained eye could spot it. Even those who knew exactly where it was had trouble finding it sometimes. The entrance was half-way down the alley in the shadow of a big pile of crates and boxes. The entrance itself looked like nothing of importance from the outside: a few pieces of broken crates layered haphazardly on the ground; but if you looked closely you could see a small key hole on the right edge. When unlocked, it revealed a sturdy looking metal door with another key hole.
The sunlight was almost gone when Alina reached the door. She pulled a small key on a chain from around her neck and was in the process of inserting it into the hole when she heard a distant shriek. She glanced skyward then quickly opened the door and disappeared into the dark tunnel.
As she placed the key back around her neck, she heard the door slam behind her then a loud click that meant the lock had engaged. She heaved a sigh of relief as the darkness engulfed her. This darkness was comforting. This darkness meant safety. She hurried down the dark tunnel without hesitation; she had been down it many times now and knew it well. When the tunnel began curving to the right she knew she was almost there. Alina heard the soft murmur of voices before she reached the large, heavy oak door. She smiled to herself at the thought of the few who would eagerly be waiting for her return.
She turned the heavy brass door knob and the voices went silent. She walked into the room and threw back her dark hood, revealing her youthful face and the abundant brown curls that hung loosely down her back. The atmosphere of the room immediately lightened as the tension leaked out. Several people grinned and waved at her but most people just went back to what they were doing before, pretending that nothing happened. Alina was used to such treatment' they were jealous. They wanted to go outside again, too. Some had never even seen the outside world, just the confines of the safe house. But it was too dangerous, and they knew that.
Alina unfastened the clasp of her cloak and hung it on a peg beside the door then dropped her bag lightly on the threadbare carpet. She heard footsteps behind her and a small smile touched her lips. "Hey, Vincent."
"Dang it. How do you do that?"
"I listen," she told him. She turned to face him and saw him grinning at her. "What?" she asked.
He shook his head. "Nothing," he said. "So, how was it?"
PS this is not the Cinderella retelling.