Chapter Nineteen

I HEAR A SCREAM in the darkness, but I can't tell whether it's coming from somewhere inside this building or outside. In the smothering darkness everything has lost its form and definition. I have no concept of time or how long I've been here. I tried counting the drips, but my tired brain can't keep track, and now the noise each drip makes is like a hammer blow to the head. I can't stay still, but I can't move either. Every time I pull on my chains they seem to tighten even more.

I don't know how long it's been since I last drank anything, but my bladder's been filling steadily. I won't shout out and put myself at the mercy of Joseph Mallon or any other Unchanged scum here. That's what he wants. He's trying to get me to break under pressure by starving me and keeping me chained up and in the dark. I'm better than him. I won't let him get to me. But at the same time I can't stop my body from doing what it's supposed to. I pissed myself a while back. What else could I do? It was either that or shout for Mallon. Now I'm soaked with strong-smelling urine. It was warm, but my bare legs are freezing now, and I stink. That bastard has reduced me to this, but I won't let him beat me.

My body aches. My legs and arms are numb. Never thought it could hurt so much to stay still for so long. Just wish I could get up and walk around. And God, I'm so fucking hungry. My empty stomach keeps cramping so bad it feels like it's turning itself inside out. Don't know what I'm going to do when I need to shit. Not even going to think about it until it happens. Have to try to keep myself distracted, but it's impossible when I can't see or hear anything and when I can't move and when I don't know where I am or how long I'm going to be here...

Stop.

Focus.

This is what he wants. He's trying to push me over the edge. It won't work. I won't let it work.

Leg's itching again. Worse than before.

Helicopter. Long way off...

How long before you go crazy in the dark? A kid at school-long, long time ago-said it was just hours if there's absolutely no light at all. Pointless thinking about time, because I don't know how long I've been lying here. Part of me is starting to wish Joseph Mallon would come back just to break the monotony. Never thought I'd actually look forward to seeing one of the Unchanged, but staring at that evil piece of shit's face would be better than lying here staring at nothing, just thinking. Don't like being able to think like this. Makes me question things I've known all along are right. Makes me start to doubt myself. Makes me think stupid, crazy thoughts about Ellis-how close I might have got to her and how far I am from her now. I was within a couple of miles of Lizzie's sister's house, and now I could be anywhere.

What's my little girl doing? Is she fighting? Is she already dead? Is she in another room in this building? Is she in the room next door? What if Mallon doesn't come back? What if I've fucked up and blown my chance with him? What if he leaves me here to starve to death, strapped to a piss-soaked bed?

What a fucking failure. All that noise and fighting and bullshit-four months of it-and I've let myself get beaten by an unfit, overweight Unchanged who looks like he couldn't fight his way out of a paper bag. He can't be the only one running this place. There were at least four out on the street when they got me, and none of them were as fat and out of shape as Mallon.

Thinking about the street makes me think about the hospital and how I criticized Paul for running headfirst into a one-sided fight that I thought was a setup. At least he went out fighting. For all I know he might still be out there while I'm stuck here...

I'm starting to get scared.

The dripping noise is getting louder and faster.

Thought I felt something moving on the bed.

Thought I saw a flash of light.

Am I hallucinating now?

Am I going out of my fucking mind? Going crazy in the dark? Need to keep focused, so I try to remember Ellis's face. But the harder I concentrate, the less I see. I'm scared I'll forget what she looks like. The face I see now isn't her, it's a combination of the faces of the feral kids we found in the school this morning... or yesterday morning... or whenever the hell that was.

Leg hurts.

Just want to scratch that fucking itch.

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