She had been so easy to take. Because she was so nice.

All he had to do was knock on the door; she'd seen it was him and because she was so nice she'd opened it for him no questions asked. All he had to do was wait until she invited him in, then take her. It had been so easy.

She had struggled, more than she looked like she might struggle, but that was probably because of her friend the cop. She wasn't big enough to do him any real harm, a couple of shin kicks and some scratches high on his forearms, easy to cover with a shirt. It had been hard for him not to punish her right then for fighting back but she wasn't supposed to be marked when she was handed over so he contented himself with not being as careful as he could have been when binding her wrists and ankles, pulling the hood over her head and throwing her into the trunk of the car.

She didn't make any noise, which he found a little strange, so he leaned in close and made sure she was still breathing. She smelled good. She smelled expensive, like flowers he'd never even heard of.

It had been so easy. He'd taken her to the spot and left the car with her still in it. The next day he'd gone to the other spot and taken his briefcase and it was over.

maura maura maura where is your head maura what is happening all right take deep breaths in and out to keep from hyperventilating, to prevent vasovagal syncope just breathe you will not be able to help yourself if you're passed out in the trunk of this car

She didn't know precisely how long she'd been there but she estimated perhaps four hours after the engine had turned off. She had tried kicking at the backseats and the trunk door but nothing gave. She smelled the faint odor of dried blood and wondered briefly if it was hers, but she had not been hurt and realized the car she was in had probably served purposes like this one before. She breathed slowly and evenly, deliberately, working hard to remain as calm as possible. She had no idea who would have taken her—she recognized the man who put the hood on her and put her in the car from earlier in the day, the gas station, but she got the feeling he was only the driver.

you helped him pay for his gas just because there was evidence of a child in the backseat and then he showed up at your house at night and that didn't seem strange to you, maura, what is wrong with you—

The voice in her head was Jane's voice, she realized. The voice shouting at her for being so naïve, so incredibly stupid, was Jane's, but it was also Jane's voice telling her to stay calm and focus on her surroundings, it was Jane's voice telling her to try to search the trunk for anything that might help get the rope off her wrists and ankles.

maura you will be okay as long as you stay calm do you understand you have to wait now, you just have to wait, and they'll be looking for you soon, and if whoever wanted you hasn't come for you and killed you yet maybe you dead is not what they want

She strained her ears but heard nothing. She focused on her breathing. She began mentally listing every bone in the human body from head to foot, a calming technique from long ago.

frontal, parietal, temporal, occipital—

She began to hear footsteps. They were getting closer.

palatine, zygomatic, nasal, lacrimal—

The scrape of a key in the lock.

gladiolus, manubrium, xiphoid process—

The rush of cool, fresh air filling the trunk. It was still night. Maura braced herself for pain, for death, for anything.

maura maura maura they are already looking for you, maura, don't be afraid, you can be afraid but maura don't lose your head

Suddenly she was being hauled out of the trunk by many sets of hands. She felt the sinister pressure of a knifepoint high on her inner thigh, sliding down her leg, not cutting her, just teasing.

"Don't fuckin' do that." A man's voice, low and disapproving.

"Sorry." Another one. Higher. Younger.

The knife stopped at the coil of rope around her ankles. She gasped as the younger one's hand jerked slightly, she could feel a small cut opening on her leg, could feel the blood pooling in her shoe.

"You fuckin' idiot." The low voice. "She ain't supposed to be hurt."

"She ain't hurt," the younger one said. "Just a scratch."

The lower voice muttered something Maura couldn't make out.

maura they are not going to hurt you, someone else wants you

The idea of being taken to a mysterious captor was terrifying and reassuring; they wanted something from her, if they had wanted her dead she would be dead.

And then she was being pushed along a path, or a road, or a trail through what she thought was a wooded area; she could hear birds beginning to sing. The two men said nothing, one of them behind her and the other in front, the one behind with his hand gripping her upper arm, directing her roughly as they walked.

After what Maura estimated was a half-mile through denser and denser woods, they stopped. She heard a door open and shut, new footsteps moving closer to her. She smelled honey in the air and heard, far off, the low drone of bees.

an apiary, jane, they came for me and tied me up and took me to an apiary, there are bees here and men with knives, i am trying to remember what you told me about staying calm, i am breathing and focusing

"What happened to her leg?" A new voice, also unfamiliar. "I told you morons not to hurt her."

"Kevin got a little excited," said the low voice. The younger one—Kevin—made a sound of protest, and Maura winced when she heard the dull thud of something solid making contact with flesh.

"Take her inside."

Maura was being pushed forward again, stumbling up three plank steps into a suffocatingly warm room. The sound of bees was louder, the smell of honey filling her mouth and nose even through the dark, rough hood covering her head. It was a large space, she was pushed many steps before she was turned around and forced down into a chair.

Nobody spoke.

She heard two sets of retreating footsteps. She was alone with one of them. The new one, she thought, who must be the one she had been taken for.

"Hello," he said.

Maura didn't move.

"Let's get you more comfortable." She felt the thin rope holding the hood in place being pulled away. The hood being pulled off. She blinked. The light was dim but so many hours of total darkness made her squint anyway.

maura you are still here and this is where you need to really focus, this is where you really need to pay attention.

vertebrae: cervical, thoracic, lumbar

"You're just as pretty as I'd hoped," the man said, standing just out of the light. "Maybe more." He sounded excited, pleased. "We're going to have fun."

Maura felt her heart clench and her stomach twist; she realized she had stopped breathing. The suffocating sweetness of honey and the suffocating drone of bees.

"I'm not going to hurt you," he said, his voice suddenly soft and concerned. "I mean, we're going to play some games, but I don't want you to feel any pain, I don't want that at all."

"Who-" she finally stammered.

"I like you, Maura," he whispered. "I like you so much I had my friends go pick you up so you could come and see me."

maura maura maura don't lose your head, keep breathing, don't drown here, they will be looking for you soon, you need to think and keep thinking

The man was behind her now, he reached out and stroked her cheek. Maura shuddered at the contact; his fingertips were cold, clammy, they left a trail of horror on her skin.

"I hope you're not allergic to bees," he said. "I know it's a little . . . cliché of me to bring you here, to a place like this, but there's something about the sound they make that soothes me. Do you like honey, Maura?"


don't talk to him maura, don't say anything at all, but don't fight him until you know you are strong enough to win, just sit here and think and think and maura they will be looking for you soon

carpals: scaphoid, lunate, triquetrum

The man chuckled softly. "Don't worry, Maura," he said. "We don't have to talk at all if you don't want to. In fact, I'm not much for conversation, so I think we should just start, don't you? Now, I know you look breakable but I bet you're a fighter, so if you don't mind, I'd like to just . . ."

He drifted off and Maura could hear the soft clanking of glass and metal from somewhere behind her. The man came back, the dull flash of a knife blade in the soft honey light making her breath catch in her throat, but he positioned it at the loops of rope around her wrists.

"Be good," he breathed, jerking the blade up. The rope fell into loose coils in her lap.

be good maura be good

The man closed the knife and slipped it into his pocket. Maura still couldn't see him clearly, she was avoiding looking directly at him and the light was so dim and the smell of honey so overpowering and the sound of bees filling her ears.

He took her right arm in his hand, stroking the soft pale flesh near the crook of her elbow. Maura shuddered again. The man gripped her arm very tightly with his other hand, the first continuing to stroke the length of her forearm gently. After a moment, he stopped running his fingers up and down but did not loosen his grip.

"Okay," he said. "Good."

There was a brief moment of horror when Maura saw the needle coming.

"This will only hurt for a second. But you know what needle sticks are like, Doctor. And when it's done, you won't even remember what pain is like."

He slipped the needle into her skin, the sharp sting overwhelmed instantly by an onrush of sweet, heavy nothingness.

maura don't let

Her head fell back, her eyes slid closed. He had put something in her that made her feel as though she was falling and flying and disappearing into a thick fog, the taste of honey in her mouth, the drone of bees—

Sometimes the light would come on, she knew, because shadows would move in front of her. Sometimes she could feel things, sometimes she could hear voices, one voice, his voice, sometimes he would talk to her.

maura maura where are you, oh the air is so heavy oh this moment is the only moment and even though i am soft and lost and even though i am surrounded by the drone of bees and the taste of honey and even though he is hurting me i cannot feel the pain

The light would come on sometimes and she would feel the soft sting on her arm and then the world would plunge into a deep deep well where she could not feel anything, only the flutter of wings across her face, she knew he was there but she did not care, could not care, there was only the sweet amber-colored emptiness.

Sometimes she would think of a woman she knew, whose name she could almost touch, but the effort to pull it close enough to understand, to recognize, was more than she could manage. She only felt scared when she thought of the woman, she only felt the thinnest silver tendril of anguish when she caught glimpses of raven hair and dark eyes through the humming fog obscuring her mind. Otherwise it was dense thick honey, dense blank droning, even when he was there, even when he was hurting her, even though she could not feel pain.

"I love you, Maura," he whispered once as he stung her again. "You're my favorite one, you know? I'm never going to let you go, not ever."

there is nowhere to go to, this warm blank universe is all that exists, there is no other place, i have fallen into the sea and there are bees and there is honey and there is nothing else, there is no pain and no pleasure and i am only this

"Maura," he whispered, and she could taste the word like drops of honey on her tongue.

She tried to move but it was so hard, she tried to lift her head but the effort was exhausting, she gave up and gave up.

"Maura," he whispered again. She waited for the sting, she felt his fingers on her arm, touching her gently. She did not feel pain but she felt the difference between hard and soft and she imagined through all the layers of darkness pushing on her that this was love, when the touch was soft.

love is nothing and there is nothing but blankness, i am drifting farther and farther away, sometimes i see a woman's face and i remember something but i do not know what it is, sometimes i see a woman's face and i feel something but i do not know what it is, maybe she will come for me, maybe she will touch me gently, maybe she will pull me out of this long night or maybe she will join me here

the sound of bees singing to me

the sharpness of their stings

this honeyed purgatory, i am drowning in it, bees drown in the honey when they cannot keep flying

She moaned softly when the sting came. She thought she heard him laugh, and his laugh was the low drone of bees.

"I'm never going to let you go, Maura," she heard, though his voice was very far away, she was being pulled up and down again, she was flying and falling. She could tell the difference between hard and soft. He was hurting her again but she did not feel the pain.

Time was not passing, time was not real, she had always been right where she was, she could not imagine anything else.

When things changed she did not register them as change; they became the way things had always been, there had always been heat and noise, he had always been angry, when he said her name he had always said it with rage.

"They found us, Maura."

who are they and who are we and i am drowning here, please let me drown here

"They want to take you away from me, but I won't ever let you go, they can't ever have you back."

His words did not make sense to her, his voice was the low drone of bees, everything was the low drone and she sighed, she was exhausted, she was empty. She did not care about them, who they were, she did not care, she could not care.

"You're mine, Maura, you're my favorite one of all and I love you and they can't have you."

She murmured wordlessly.

"I know," he said, and she felt the sting again. "This way is better, isn't it?"

the rush was so strong, it overwhelmed me, i fell deeper and deeper and i flew higher and higher and i was swallowed by the sun and there was nothing else except honey

As she slipped into the darkness again she heard something loud, something insistent, something that was not the constant song of the bees, and then he touched her again except this time it was not with love; this time she could taste blood in her mouth, stronger than honey, she felt sick as she fell to the floor but she could not feel pain.

"I'm sorry," he whispered. "I love you but they want to take you away from me, and if I can't have you nobody else can, either."

She lay on the floor, lost, the blood in her mouth becoming sweet as honey.

i am lost here i am lost, i am swallowed up by it, there is nothing but this, and there was not, and there has never been.

there is a woman somewhere whose face means something but i do not know what it is, maybe she will come for me and tell me her name, maybe she will come for me

She felt a new kind of dark encroaching on her, it was softer and warmer even than the sweet oblivion she had always known, she smiled faintly as it drew closer, she sighed softly as she felt it plucking at her, it was so kind, it wanted her, it had smelled the blood in her mouth and found her and she would go with it—

"Maura," she heard distantly, across years, across centuries. She almost recognized the voice; it was not his voice, it was something almost familiar.

"Maura," the voice called again.

there is a woman somewhere who knows my name, who is calling out to me, her voice is the drone of bees and her body is made of honey and she is coming for me and this is love

"Maura, are you here?"

"Mm-hmm," Maura mumbled. She tried to lift her head off the floor but it was so heavy, it was so tiring, there was something wrong but she did not know what, could not feel pain, she gave up, she succumbed—

bees drown in the honey when they cannot keep flying

i can't—