One week. One miserable week. The week of the damned, in which I could no longer hide, no longer deny who and what I really was. Everything was openly exposed, but my world was still-as Case had said in his ever fateful words-intact, for I had not felt abominable anguish-despite the searing pain that flowed through my body continually. Yet, I didn't know how much longer I could vainly clasp to the image that my life would stay together without the pieces falling through my fingers; I would die trying to keep it together though. I would die like the hero my parents had raised me to be.

I barely remembered what happened after the ambush that Lydecker had bestowed upon my friends and I many hours ago. My mind, when it wasn't throbbing with a severe migraine, forced recollections into my grasp of a bleeding James and doctors bending over me with long needles, but, all in all, forming a clear picture remained an almost impossible task.

I had been placed in what appeared to be solitary confinement-a room in which the walls were glass. One way glass, I had realized after the third day, so that the doctors could look in on me, but I was left with only mirrors to magnify my pain. The ceiling consisted of harsh fluorescent lights, in which allowed no shadows to cower in corners, and also blinded me on a regular basis.

As for myself, I had never felt such restraints as I had when in that Manticore room. Lying on a table that was tilted at a rough seventy degrees to the floor, I was spread eagle across it; my feet were bound at the bottom, while my arms extended directly from my sides and face stared upward into the torturing fireballs. Unable to move my head, due to a thick leather strap across my neck, I was forced to examine my surroundings by revolving my eyes only-which caused for extreme oculus pain and even greater agony on my brain from the mere strain. Therefore, my observations of my surroundings were slightly assumed on my part because I was unable to see the facts for myself, and relied solely on the continuous mirrors to assist me with my visual coverage of my situation.

There was an I.V. needle in my left hand, which gave me the only form of nutrition I had had for over seven days, thereby causing my skin to pucker and shrink against my quickly fading body. Starvation was not something I dealt well with, and all I wanted was to sit down to a happy meal of juice and jelly. Of course, that would not be so.

My right index finger wore a cuff to monitor my pulse, creating an irritating constant beeping that, for the first few days, caused horrific flashbacks of Mom's near death experience, then eventually faded into mere background noise by the time the sixth day rolled around. Sometimes, when I was extremely bored, I would wiggle the finger around so that the tempo would increase as I tried to create some kind of music for my bland and yet all around frantic predicament at the time.

With the mirrors to help me, I was able to see that my clothing was rather limited. I wore a pair of flesh colored shorts that clung to my body and rose barely above my swollen kneecaps, along with something that appeared to be a tube top, with the features of the stretchy and pale-colored pants. All of the articles of spandex disgusted me, knowing that I was constantly being watched by doctors who were perverse enough in poisoning children and were probably jerking off just by watching a teenage girl in skimpy clothing, laid out for their manhandling pleasure.

I had been able to count the days that passed because, at night, the lights would shut off, and I would attempt to sleep. After awhile, though, the lights remained on for twenty-four hours in an ever vigilant attempt to push me towards the brink of insanity. Still, with my internal clock insisting on sleep for certain periods, I was able to discern when night was supposed to come and go, thereby clueing me in as to how many days had gone by.

For the first couple days in my confinement I had done nothing but scream. I had bellowed and cried, still ultimately strapped down to the table, but refusing to give up. I cried out obscenities that rivaled the veteran truck driver, and psychotic pleas that became worse than a patient's in a mental hospital after I had ceased communicating in the English language. I screamed for Mom. I screamed for Dad. I even screamed-and cursed-James for all that he had done and failed to do. Yet, my vocal outbursts obviously didn't appeal to the doctors who held me hostage. I had somehow fallen asleep-probably by sedatives in my I.V.-and reawoke only to find that a thick plastic tube had been forced across my mouth, plastering my head even more savagely against the cold metal bed I laid upon. I was still able to make guttural sounds, but it did little good when my throat became so raw that my own saliva stung. That, in time, eventually disappeared as my body water level dropped, and I was left thirsting and starving.

I hadn't talked to a single human being in over a week. I hadn't seen any of my family or friends in over a week. In seven days, I had been brought down from a free adolescent human to an imprisoned animal. Never before had I been so utterly alone, so utterly agonized, and so despaired that I wanted nothing more than to commit suicide, but was too trapped to do anything about it.