ONE

The girl cowered in the corner, holding her breath in vain attempt to stifle her sobs. She clutched the dark brown blanket like a shield, wanting desperately to bury her face into it and pretend everything was okay, but knowing better not to even entertain that urge.

"I won't hurt you," the man whispered soothingly at the trembling mess, his words having no apparent effect on the girl's violently trembling body.

Overwhelming fear choked Maria as she tried to brace herself for the unexpected. She knew better than to trust a kind voice. She'd learnt the hard way that everything came at a price, especially so-called generosity. The last time someone tried to rescue her, well, it was better to not think of what happened and suppress the events somewhere inside a dark corner of her shattered mind.

"Listen to me sweetheart, I won't hurt you," the man tried again, holding out a hesitant hand. It did nothing but trigger the girl to claw desperately at the wall behind her, nails bleeding and lungs heaving. Fixing terrified eyes on the broad shouldered man that resembled so close to her rapist, she screamed in terror as the man took a step toward her.

"What's wrong with her?" Agent Matthew Colton waved carelessly at their retrieved hostage. Automatically, the girl flinched as if struck.

"We have reason to believe she has been tortured, beaten, but not by Demidov. According to the other girls found near her dungeon, she was being prepared for Demidov Jr to pop her cherry. However, she has been abused sexually in other ways. Intelligence has it that Demidov had never been in contact with her and today was the grand unveiling of something no doubt important. This."

"That's too sick for words!" Matthew snarled, ignoring the bit Samson was saying about the girl's condition not being Demidov's fault. It was his fault, the son of a bitch. Too late, he realized Maria saw the fury on his face, shuddered violently as she choked back vicious coughs, then curled into a foetal position.

Hysterics gripped Maria as nausea and bile overwhelmed her fragile little body.

An inhumane sound escaped her cracked lips as Matthew ventured another wary step towards her. Arms rose in defence, expecting a strike, nerves beyond stretching point, Matthew swallowed the rage he felt at the sight of such a beautiful little creature broken and beaten.

"It's hopeless Ridgeon, I doubt she understands English."

"No," Matthew growled, fists twitching to hit something, anything, "I can't leave her like this."

Another guttural scream wretched from the victim, as Matthew crouched onto his knees and tried to appear less intimidating.

"Maria?" No acknowledgement from the girl as panted harshly, as if suffocating. Crawling backwards awkwardly, Matthew killed the homicidal rage bubbling beneath his skin at the thought of anyone having to endure such a life of monstrosity.

"Please Ridgeon, we'll get a translator –" His partner interrupted, bringing back reality.

"I'm not leaving until she understands she's safe," Matthew cut him off sharply.

The girl never let her guard down. After the first few hours, she resigned from watching him with huge luminous eyes that screamed distrust and pain to simply gazing at him with utter dejection. She didn't let a yawn dare betray her as they sat there in the semi-darkness. When the translator arrived, Matthew breathed out a prayer, but even with language help, nothing got through to Maria.

"Maria," Matthew spoke softly. The translator and his partner had called it a night and now he was left facing a broken shell of a girl, determined to heal her at whatever cost. She reminded him of his first girlfriend back in college. Chestnut hair, creamy skin and sharp cheekbones showcasing a pouty little mouth. She looked so young. Didn't look a day over seventeen.

Maria stared at the man. Simply stared. Did he think she was stupid? She knew what he wanted, what they all wanted. Sooner or later he'll get sick of playing nice and just take it, just like the others before him did. Hours passed slowly. Hope, an emotion she hadn't felt since she hit thirteen, started creeping through the crevices and cracks of her empty heart.

Tears stung her eyes as she bitterly told herself that it was all a trick. It would be Heaven to simply believe, after the never ending nightmare called her life, to simply think that it was all going to be okay. But wistful thinking was dangerous. She had scars to prove it, not only emotional. Such a fool. To even dare to hope after all these years. Didn't you learn nothing, she chastised herself furiously.

Matthew stared at the silent girl. Something in his guts was nagging him. Something just wasn't right. She didn't flinch when a car alarm shrieked a few minutes ago. She didn't respond to the wind screaming itself hoarse as it picked up in intensity and hail started pelting down relentlessly against the roof.

Silence stretched uncomfortably as Matthew thought back to the other girls found in the dungeons. They weren't reacting like this one and some of them had been enslaved for longer and treated worse, if it was even possible.

Think outside the box, he told himself wryly.

A loud growl erupted, breaking the silence. Maria seemed oblivious to the fact that her stomach was crying for food. She had grown immune to the vultures tearing inside her stomach crying for food. The hunger pains were nothing if not inconvenient.

Blood rushed through his head as Matthew gaped open mouthed, at the girl on the other side of the room.

"You're deaf!" He whispered, a thousand or so emotions flittering through his amazement.


That's right, a rewrite. I started this story when I was 15, posted it under the title Songbird under dustmitebunny on and now I'm much older, I'm keeping the plot but twisting it a little to add spice. Same characters, well main ones anyway.