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She could hear him coming.

This didn't provoke the same emotions in her it once had. Once it had invoked terror. His arrival meant another injection, another cut. It meant he would do horrible things to her while she slept.

But she had come to fear more the hours she spent awake, immobile. Thinking. The cuff around her ankle bound her to the bed, and the bed itself was bolted to the floor. She could only move as far as the portable toilet beside the bed. She doubted she could walk anymore now even if she were set free. Her muscles had become atrophied from the time she'd spent (Weeks? Months? Years?) bound to this bed. Her body was skeletal now. Useless.

Sometimes, when she was asleep from the drugs he gave her, he must remove her from the room to bathe her. She would wake up damp, smelling of soap and shampoo. In some ways the thought of being limp in the tub while he washed her was even more disturbing than the other things she knew he did.

She had lost all control. Her body was not her own. She'd come to accept that the life she'd had before was gone. She just wanted her mind to go too, so she would stop remembering. She cried sometimes when she thought of how her family must feel, of her husband struggling to explain to their children why Mommy wasn't there anymore. For the longest time she had fretted over how her children were going to get home from school. She had been leaving to pick them up when he'd taken her, so they must have been stranded there. She realized, of course, that the school must have called Mark and that he would have gotten them. By now the school year had to have ended; perhaps the next one had begun, or the one after that. Perhaps by now they had all started their lives over without her. She didn't see how it could ever be any other way. Even if they found her, she was just a shell of the wife and mother they'd known. Mark couldn't possibly desire her anymore after the way she'd been treated, and she doubted she could take care of her children again. How could she, when she had no sense of self anymore? A mother had to have confidence, and she was simply an object. She had no voice.

She wondered sometimes if she was literally voiceless now or if it was all in her head. She hadn't used her voice in a long time, though she didn't know how long since she had no sense of time anymore. She had tried pleading with her captor in the beginning, explaining that her family needed her. Not only hadn't it moved him, but he'd given no indication that he even heard. He rarely spoke to her, and he never responded if she spoke to him. Eventually it had become so humiliating that she had stopped speaking entirely. Now she didn't even know if she was capable.

This was why she preferred the void to the time she spent alone with her own mind. It didn't matter what he did to her anymore, as long as she could sleep.

She closed her eyes when he came into the room and waited for the injection that would send her into oblivion. She couldn't stand to look at his face. She hated him, hated him with every fiber of her being, but she was powerless against him. It made her sick.

He pulled back the blanket that covered her and she shivered involuntarily. She had been naked ever since he brought her here. He always liked to stare at her before he got started, which was the worst part for her. She thought she could feel his eyes on her, moving down her body, and it made her skin crawl. Just do what you're going to do, she wanted to tell him, but she knew he wouldn't respond.

The injection never came. Instead she felt big, strong hands close around her throat, completely cutting off her air supply. She began to see stars floating in front of her eyes.

Finally, she thought. Finally.