PROLOGUE

Please I beg of you, my beloved, stay here and be quiet. No matter what you hear, what you feel, or anything… I beg of you just stay here.

That was the last time she heard her mother speak and the last time she felt the embrace from her father who placed her down gently.

They each kissed her forehead, while she, not knowing what was going on began to tremble as she felt their quivering lips leave her sweaty skin. She opened her mouth to utter a word but she was cut short when she saw them both put their fingers in front of their lips while they smiled hushing her gently.

She held back the tears forming in her eyes when they closed the door and she heard the bolts being locked. The already muffled footsteps quickly faded in the background and all that was left was the sound of thunder and rain. She wanted to pound on those large metal doors seconds after hearing the bolting sounds coming from outside, a fear of something stopped her. But would they have come back for her if she disobeyed them and cried and shouted and pounded on those doors?

She could've tried but she didn't. She cried silently until she felt asleep, the heavy feeling in her chest tightened every time she tried to muffle the sound of her sobbing; though she knew even if she stirred or screamed no one would hear her.

She woke up to a bad taste in her mouth. She looked around and remembered. How long has she exactly been sleeping? An hour? Half an hour? A few minutes? To her it felt like an eternity. Was it morning already? Or was it night again? She thought she must've missed the morning only to wake up at night, or it could be that she's already dead and she's in a place where the sun doesn't shine.

She can't be dead. Hunger clung to her like death. The silence amplified the sound of her hunger and all she could she do was try to cling to her stomach as if she was trying to settle down whatever revolution was going on inside her. Coldness was enveloping her as she tried to move away from the large metal door and crawl somewhere warm. There was no such place. The ground felt like ice and the walls offered no consolation. She curled into herself trying to cover every part of her body left vulnerable to the cold. Then she fell asleep once more.

When she woke up the second time, it was still dark. The rain still hasn't stopped and no one came for her. She thought that this was all a bad dream – a dream within a dream – and that when she wakes up she's going to tell her mother all about her bad dream and they'll just laugh it away. But the nightmare was reality.

Her whole body was beginning to feel numb. She tried to move them as many times as she could but it did little for her. She lifted an arm only to have it fall back down, limp, on the concrete flooring. She tried to kick with a leg, it didn't matter to her which one, but both legs only made a few twitches.

How did it come to this? She asked herself piecing together bits and pieces of what happened before all this. All she got was a splitting headache that almost made her throw up. She just laid in the middle of the room sprawled out staring up to the darkness as if waiting for the ceiling to fall on her and end everything. She lifted her right arm to cover eyes. This time the blood was finally able to circulate properly but all she did was wipe her sweaty face with her already functioning arm.

The faint sound of thunder and the momentary sliver of light given by quick flashes of lightning coming from a tiny window in that cell were the only things giving her comfort now. It meant that she still had her senses intact and that she was still alive.

Would they come for her? Who are they? Was she going to die in that place? These thoughts invaded her head and brought fear to her once numb constitution. She stood up and walked weakly towards the cold metal door as she pressed her ears hard desperately trying to pick up the sounds of any movement. There was nothing except the sound of thunder and air circulating around the room.

Finally the silence dawned on her and made her realize that she was going to die down there. She clutched her tightening chest as if telling her heart to calm down. Tears were starting to well up again but she tried to hold it back, a somewhat tragic feeling of determination came over her. If she was going to die, she was going to die outside, where her parents were. She didn't know what has happened but she already knew in her heart that they were never coming back for her.

In that moment of desperation, as if being possessed, she began to pound her tiny fists to the metal door while she shouted for someone to let her out. She knew it was impossible but she still has her last spark of hope to keep her going. Her throat started to sting as dark violet and red bruises started to form on her hands.

The shrill desperate voice of a child wanting to be let out and the sound of her tiny fists pounding on hard metal filled the room. There was no more hope, what she clung to was desperation. Who would find her? Outside that metal door was another door disguised as a wall. Will she be forgotte—

Her ears perked up and her heart skipped a beat. She stopped pounding on the door and quietly she listened in.

Did she hear someone call her name? She pressed her ears hard on the metal door as if it would help magnify the voice of whoever was calling her. Yes. There was definitely someone. Whoever that was, it ignited hope back into this hopeless girl. This time she shouted louder as began to pound the metal doors until the skin on her hands broke and they finally bled. The tears she was holding back have all started to pour out of her eyes and her screaming has blocked the sound of the first of two doors opening.

She heard her name again. She stopped shouting but her tears continued and her bloodied hands continued to pound until she felt something move on the metal door. It was slowly opening opposite of her. Her plan of action was to run to where her parents were. A little more. She thought trying to stand-up and getting ready to bolt with what little energy she had left in her. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

Three.

Two.

On—

"Salei!"

The voice shouted before she could run away. She looked up; eyes widening she could not help but let out a cry until her legs grew weak and betrayed her to the ground. She was sitting down on her legs crying for the second time. But this time in relief.

"Uncle…"

Was all her raspy voice could utter.