Today was another painful and dull morning that had to be started at six am. The sun hadn't been out long enough to let its golden warmth spill through the windows, leaving the chill where it had settled over the night. Despite my wishes of staying under the warm blankets, I knew that I must make an appearance down in the kitchen to keep mother from trying to find me.

I reluctantly crawled out from the depths of my bed, stretching out my stiff muscles and glanced around my room. Another thing I hated being greeted by this early in the morning was the faded pink floral wall paper and porcelain china dolls. Combined they where slightly more creepy than the clown from Stephen Kings "It". My walls where covered with paintings and photos of horses that looked possessed and kittens that seemed to be trying to kill each other over a ball of blue yarn.

Though I dressed in a long sleeved white sweater and perfectly fitted jeans, I still did not feel at home in my room or in my own body. When I looked in the mirror, I was staring into my own eyes, yet I didn't recognize them. The girl looking back at me was someone that I had never met. The girl in the mirror's mother chose the decorations for the horrid room, and the clothing on her back despite the fact that her age was twenty. I was that girl, but I never felt as though it was truly who I was.

With my mother, everything had to be perfect, and since I was her only daughter, she focused all of her attention on me. I didn't enjoy it, nor did I like it. Ever since before I could remember I was never allowed to leave the house for anything. I never went to an actual school or was permitted to get a job. So without money, even if I had the chance to leave, I wouldn't be able to get far. Our house, an old farm house, was in the middle of an eighty acre field that was used for farming, and my fathers' experiments. I have never even seen outside the woods that surrounded the actual house. I was taught how to do everything on this property, how to drive, how to farm, and how to be a lady. I was provided with an education as well, my father is a college professor in Biology and Human Anatomy, so he and my eldest brother home schooled me.

After brushing my hair, I exited my room and followed the strong of coffee down two flights of stairs, past the walls of deceased family members' portraits, and into the kitchen. Mother looked up from the skillet when I entered and took a seat at the island. Almost immediately a chipper smile was plastered all over her face.

"Good morning Nina. Did you sleep well last night?" She flipped over one of the pancakes and placed it on the plate in front of me.

I did my best to smile back, if she even sensed that I wasn't happy, she would insist on making me a new outfit or spending quality time together. As if I didn't get enough of that with the piano lessons, voice lessons, and horse back riding lessons. Not to mention, I don't think she knows that I'm well aware of what happens at night in the basement, or that I can hear everything.

"Sweetheart, you have small dark circles under your eyes, are you sure you're sleeping alright?" She stared me down, her curly fiery red hair enhanced her red/brown eyes and made her face look like fire.

"Yes mom. I just couldn't get comfortable last night, I think it was cramps or something." I learned by the age of seven how to lie and look someone dead in the eye. Emotion was something I taught myself.

"Tonight I'll give you some medicine to help with that. Before I forget, your father is going to be late again tonight."

I swallowed the bit of fluffy pancake that I had in my mouth. "Is he still collecting subjects for his experiments?"

"Yes dear. He had some volunteers, but the procedures didn't go as planned."

"What went wrong?" She glanced at me out of the corner of her eye, I knew that she wouldn't really tell me, but that didn't stop me from asking stupid questions that I already knew the answers too.

"They just weren't the proper type. He needs the right type of people for this, and there just aren't any left." She seemed sad when she said the last part, and took another fleeting glance in my direction before starting on cleaning all the dirty dishes from breakfast.

I grabbed the remote off the counter and turned on the TV while I absentmindedly poked at my food. Those noises that echoed through the floor boards at night where enough to make anyone's stomach want to turn down food for at least six months. The news was the channel that happened to flicker upon the screen, so I left it there.

"And in more recent news, another young woman has gone missing from Roanoke's University campus. So far this has been the third girl to disappear this week, eighth this month. Police can't seem to find any leads and no bodies have turned up yet. Whether this is good news or bad, depends on your perspective I guess. "


"You shouldn't be watching that Nina. It's not good for your over active imagination. That's all town stuff, you don't need to worry about it."

"Can I go into town today?"

"No Nina, you know our rule about that."

"Mother please, I'm twenty years old. Everyone else my age is in college, living on campus, making friends and having fun."

"Yes, and look at what's happening to those girls who don't behave. They're getting kidnapped, and who knows what else. You don't need to be a part of that. Your brothers, your father and I can take care of you here."

"Alright mom." No point in arguing with her right now, not this early in the morning. "Can I at least go riding before lunch?"

She didn't answer immediately. She was always giving me that look as though she suspected that I was going to pull something and try to escape her sheltering wings. "I guess it would be fine, just don't get dirt on your clothes again."

I didn't respond her comments about my carelessness and clumsiness. I was used to it, and arguing with her didn't help. Instead I thanked her for breakfast and made my way out to the stables out back. The stables where located behind my fathers experiment labs, and beside the garage. The labs were made out of different materials, some of wood, others of metal, and some out of substances that I couldn't identify without taking a closer look. But the screams, moaning, and scratching noises weren't something that made me want to go any closer to them. There was a smell that came from them as well, a decaying animal smell that no one else seemed to notice. Five labs were the total count the last time I had seen them. Sometimes he added more, other times some got destroyed by unknown causes. I had a guess about what he kept in them, and I also had a guess about what he was doing with them, but I had no proof.

Part of me wanted to know what he was doing, to prove my suspicions right. But the other part just wanted to believe that this was all a dream, and that some day I was going to wake up and be living a normal life. Instead, I ignored my curious nature and walked slightly faster to the stables. My horse, Liberty, was a beautiful black stallion. He was given to be on my sixteenth birthday as a present from my two older brothers, and has been the most wonderful horse I've ever been around. He was tall and broad, strong as well. Liberty was used around the farm when my brothers needed an extra horse, not to mention, I road him all the time for exercise, and it was a way to stay out of my mothers crazy ways.

I saddled him up after quickly brushing his mane out from the tangles of the previous day. He was always perfectly still whenever I was getting ready to ride him, and was the calmest horse I had ever rode. My oldest brother Blaise made riding trails in the woods when he taught my other older brother Evan to ride. They kept them in good condition so that I could still use them even though neither one of them had used them in several years. Once outside of the barn we were off at the quickest pace that Liberty could go.