Please remember that this is rated M.


Chapter One

It was black. Everywhere I looked it was black, like I had a blindfold on, but it was more than that. I couldn't feel my fingers or my toes. I couldn't see anything least of all smell. I couldn't feel the rubbing of the fabric of my shirt against my torso. Did I even have a torso anymore? The logical reaction would be fear, but for me, I felt an almost lightness. Something was actually happening! Even if it was just a dream and I had fallen asleep on my old smelly pillow that had been wet with the tears I had tried not to cry, something was happening.

The blackness seemed to be closing in on me. I was cold, I suddenly realized, so cold. I was waiting to feel my limbs shake or hear the chattering of my teeth against themselves, but nothing came. Complete and utter silence was all around me. I couldn't hear my heart beat, or feel it in my chest. Where was my chest? I couldn't see it and when I tried to lift my arms, nothing happened. It wasn't like that heavy weight when you were just waking up for the first time in months or you had been really sick, it was like, the weight of my arms wasn't even there! It felt like I was in a void; only my mind existed.

"Maria…" A voice whispered, sounding out the syllables like a soft gust of wind ruffling the trees. "Maria…" It said again, louder this time.

I wasn't alone! Who was Maria? Where was I? Who was I?—I asked myself suddenly. I certainly wasn't Mia Weston anymore. I couldn't see myself, couldn't feel myself, so where was I?

"It's time to wake up, Maria." The voice we soft still and I could hear throughout the soft fold of it, a cruel nature—an ill intent.

Fear raced through me, finally showing itself.

And suddenly, just as the blackness took a hold of me, it was gone. Everything was pure white—not that creamy colour that everyone paints their walls instead of white, but truly white. I tried to shake my head, fearing for another void but only white this time, but that wasn't it. I could feel my head, but it wouldn't follow my command to move back and forth. I could feel my fingers, but they felt different, awkward, as if they were not my own.

I tried to open my eyes, to blink. As everything went dark again, I realized that my eyes had been open, that the white I was seeing was a hospital room… or something of that sort. I stared at the man standing over me, a smirk on his lips. He was middle aged; graying hair touched the roots of his curly brown locks. His eyebrows and beard were mostly gray as well. My eyes zeroed in on his cold gray eyes. They spoke just how horrible of a man he was.

"Ah, Maria, so good of you to finally wake," He spoke 'finally' in such a harsh way that a shiver of fear led up my spine. Where was I? And why did this guy keep calling me Maria? "Your ice bath is almost ready. Change into this, and someone will come and get you. If you don't change…" He left his threat hanging, as he grabbed a key out of his pocket. Why would he have a key?

To my horror, he moved the key to unlock the leather straps that bound my body on the bed. One strapped across my ankles, another across my waist, and the last one across my chest, binding my arms to the bed as well.

With one last upturned smile, he left the room. I cringed as I heard the distinctive sound of a lock sliding into place. It must have been one of those old fashion locks, I thought, nothing we have today on doors would make such a noise.

I slowly got up, wincing as the obvious pain in my bones. I walked to the pile of clothes that the man had left, picking them up and looking for a bathroom. The room was small, white floor and white walls; the only furniture in the room was the small white bed I had been tied down on. I was in a hospital—or something to that sort. If I knew any better I would have said that this was one of the insane asylums that had been huge in the 1940s. That was complete crazy though, it was 2003 not 1940! So things such as insane asylums would have shut down by now, right?

Did my parents crack and send me here finally? Was I in some tiny country that insane asylums were still in use? But the man… he didn't have an accent, and what did he said about an ice bath?

God, I know I've never really been much of a believer, but please, if my grandmother was right, and you do love all of us, even the insane ones, can you lend a girl some help here? I'm in a bit of a predicament…

I moved against the far wall and opened the clothes to see what I was dealing with. There was a plain white (again) hospital gown, the back only held together by a thin string. There were no undergarments or anything like that. So I was supposed to walk around naked under this with that creepy man with me?—ain't happening!

I turned around to probably bang my head on the wall but froze in shock. Instead of the white wall I had seen before, it wasn't a wall at all! It was still white, and held the same sturdiness to it as a wall would have, but a wall it was not. It was a clear—glass, maybe?—hard substance that was almost see through. But this non-wall did not make me freeze in shock; it was the reflection I saw looking back at me in this non-wall thing. Gone were my dark brown waves, leaving only straight lifeless blonde hair that was cut short, and came only just to my chin. My chin?—was this girl in the reflection me? Her nose was pointed more, leaving me to almost miss my own small button nose. Her cheeks were colourless, and her skin was the darker than my normal pale, making it seem as if she had a fresh tan, but I knew that she didn't. She was shorter than my normal height 5'7" foot, leaving her around 5'3". She was thin, almost deathly thin, and older than my own age, which was 15, but still young. She must have been over eighteen, for you can't put a child in one of these hospitals, can you? Especially if she had to be shipped across the country… She was maybe nineteen or twenty? She was American I decided, looking at the chipped red nail polish on her fingers—my fingers?—wondering how it had survived this long.

This girl—Maria—was not me, so why was I in her body? Why was I at an insane asylum or whatever this place was? Why were they talking about ice baths and who was that horrible man?

My hands shook with my thoughts, desperately wanting answers. I opened my mouth, maybe to ask the air for answers, but the door banged open before I could move my lips to form words. Could I even talk in this body? Maria's body?

"Well, well, well; Maria, are you being stubborn again? Or do you just like me touching you?" My whole body seemed to shake at his words, his grinning eyes. This man, he was different than the one I had woken up to. He had tanned skin instead of the pale the other man had, round black eyes, and short black hair. His face made me think back to one of my grandmother's lectures on never to go anywhere alone, for there were evil men out there that would rape or kill me. I had never really taken her words seriously, but as I stared at his eyes now, I understood what she meant—completely.

I was shaking as he pulled the nightgown that was covering my—this girl's body. He smirked, as if this was the best time of his day, as he pulled the fabric off of my shoulders. I closed my eyes trying to get the feel of his hands on me out of my mind. I wanted to be numb again. Why did I ever wish for anything to happen? I should have been happy with my not-so-normal life! It may not have been perfect, but it was much better than this. I wanted to wake up now! Please! Let me wake up now, God, I'm ready, I understand: There are worse ones out there.

But I did not wake up. My eyes met the same white walls, my body still had the same uncomfortable feeling, and my mind was still in a flutter of all different emotions.

"Come on, Maria!" The man, James as his shirt said, cheerfully stated. "Your ice bath is waiting."

An ice bath—it couldn't be that bad, right? When I was thirteen, I was on a trip with my class down at amusement park. It was before we moved back to where my parents grew up, and I actually had friends. Diana had dared me and Tyler to get in an ice bath. It wasn't that bad; it was cold of course, but we stayed in for almost a minute. It was particularly good either, but it wasn't horrible.

Maybe it would be like that, a part of my mind encouraged me as James pulled me through a twist of hallways. Yes, but this time I don't have the protection of my bathing suit or the company of Tyler. I wanted to runaway, to never look back, even if I was just stuck in a dream, I didn't want to do this!

He led me into a room, finally, it had a huge tub full with ice and water—cold water my mind added. It was a lot bigger, and had a lot more ice than the bathtub that Tyler and I braved.

Making a split second decision, I kicked, I punched, anything and everything in my way. I was grabbed from behind by a very strong looking man, very tall, and unlike the others I had met; he had a kind look in his eyes. I thought for sure he would help me, get me out of there, but his gaze betrayed him. He held me over the water, and with one shocking movement, dropped me.

I screamed.