A little girl sat in a tiny room all by herself, staring at the blank white wall in front of her. The room was completely empty, apart from the white walls and the white door to her left. The girl had taken to staring at the walls for hours, either living the life she'd lost in her mind, or just wondering where her old life had gone. There was no expression on her face – she knew there were cameras hidden in the room somewhere, so she didn't dare show her emotions. She'd learnt that weeks ago. Her hair had grown a considerable amount in the last month, and had not been cut, brushed, or washed. It hung in tangles around her shoulders and down her back. The colour seemed to be somewhere between dark brown and black. Her eyes were blank and emotionless, the colour of a cloudless summer sky. Her skin was pale and dry, and her clothes were plain and simple. They brought her new clothes every few days – they were always simple, coloured either grey or black, nothing elaborate, they wouldn't want to waste their money on her. It was easy to see that she wasn't being fed very well – it was often bread and water, sometimes they brought her a hot meal, but only when she desperately needed it.
But she never cried or complained – they could only tell she needed it through her gaunt cheeks and lifeless eyes. She'd cried the first couple of nights, of course, who wouldn't? They'd torn her away from her mother, her father, and the life she'd once known and loved. After crying herself to sleep for about a week, she was exhausted and had no tears left to give. Her tears would be wasted on them, she knew.
She hardly ever saw anyone. She slept on the floor, curled into a foetal position, and when she woke up, her food was on a tray by the door, and every other day, there were also new clothes next to the food. She didn't ask questions. She just sat, and stared.
Run faster, run faster, they're gonna catch you!
It was like she had to learn how to run again. Forget learning how to walk, she had to run, and she had to do it now. She could already hear someone behind her, calling her name as they moved carefully through the foliage of the woods. They were shouting her name, over and over, as if that would persuade her to make her way over to them, to give herself up. She had not sat in that tiny little room for months just to give up and go back to it.
"Lucy! Lucy, come back! Your mother wants to see you!"
Liars. They'd killed her mother, and they were going to kill her. Her mother was dead; there was nothing to go back for. They knew this, and this was why they were lying, and pretending that they hadn't killed her mother. Lucy scrambled through a bush that was covered in thorns, hardly feeling them prick her skin and draw blood. Pain was good, pain made her run faster, pain was normal. Pain was part of her old life, the life she wanted to go back to. Nothing was going to stop her.
"Dad!" She whispered hoarsely, standing in the doorway to catch her breath. "Daddy, I'm home, I made it." Her voice was nothing but a whisper, to speak any louder hurt her raw, aching throat. She'd run for hours, not wanting to stop in case they caught up to her. She'd stayed in woods and amongst trees, she didn't want them to catch her out on the roads, either. The only way she'd known she was going in the right direction was the occasional sign that she paused to read. As soon as she was in familiar territory, she'd sprinted all the way home, ignoring the burning pains that were running up her sides. The familiarity of the door in front of her, of the garden around her, made her want to cry. But she hadn't cried for months – did she still know how to?
She glanced up at the house, happy to note that some of the lights were on. Then she lowered her head, only just realised how much she ached. Her neck hurt to move, her arms and legs felt like they weighed a ton. But all she needed to do was to reach her Daddy, and then she could sleep in his arms for an eternity.
Slowly, trying not to move her aching muscles too much, Lucy pushed the front door open and stepped inside, welcoming the nostalgic smell of vanilla and cinnamon. Her mother used to burn hundreds of the candles – had Daddy been continuing to burn them without her?
"Daddy?" She raised her voice a little louder, just in case he didn't hear her, but this sparked off a fit of coughing. She rested her hand against the side of the door until the coughing passed. Surely her coughing would be enough to attract anyone who was in the house? Maybe he was sleeping… but why would he be sleeping in the middle of the day?
Lucy frowned a little and moved further into the house, trying to forget her aches and pains, and concentrate on where her Daddy was. He wouldn't go out of the house and leave it unlocked, and he definitely wouldn't leave the lights on. He had always told Lucy and her mother off for leaving lights on. He'd go around and turn every single one off before they left the house. Lucy smiled. Yes, that was the Daddy she knew.
She pulled herself upstairs, deciding that it would be better to look up there – if her Dad was downstairs, he would have heard her. It took her a few minutes to get to the top of the stairs, taking it step by step, steadying herself whenever she almost stumbled. When was the last time she had walked up stairs? She couldn't remember.
She didn't speak anymore – it hurt to breathe, never mind talk. She just wanted to lay down on her bed and go to sleep. She hadn't slept in a bed for months. It had been the floor, every single night, no blankets or pillows. With a small sigh, Lucy turned the corner and approached her parent's room. Maybe he was down at the police station, talking to the police. Or perhaps they'd realised she had escaped, and they'd gone to look for her! That had to be it. If he wasn't here, he was out looking for her.
But he was here.
The first thing she saw was the crimson blankets on the bed. The first thing she thought was that her parent's bedspread wasn't red – it was white. But then she saw her father. The sheets had been stained with the blood that had come from his throat. A knife lay at his side, covered in his blood. His head and hair were clean, and if his skin hadn't been so pale, he could just be sleeping. But then Lucy's eyes swept downwards, to the jagged gash straight across his throat, to the arm slung across his waist, to the blood that had seeped all the way along the bed.
So much blood… Lucy could only stand there and stare. Instead of shock on her face, however, there was that same blank look from the long hours she'd spent sitting in the small white room, staring at the white walls. The sight of her dead father pushed Lucy over the edge. Emotionless, tired, and in severe pain, she collapsed to the floor, holding onto the last thread of life she had.