The agony. More than any pain I had ever experienced, ever imagined. I had never known so much pain. And I did not know when it would end, because no one had told me anything. But I did know that it was likely to kill me. At that moment it didn't seem like such a bad thing.
I clutched at my stomach again as it tore, and prayed that it would be over soon. Screamed and screamed, just desperate for it to end. And it did.
I was quite surprised to find that I was alive. They took the things away before I had to look at them -- thank goodness for that, I don't think I could have lived with it -- and I was suddenly alone in the room. True, my stomach was torn and bleeding, my legs broken and every part of my seemingly on fire, but I was still alive. The first to live through that particular process.
And what was more, I was unbound and unguarded, which would make everything so much easier. Did they think I was dead?
"Shane," I whispered, before trying to get up. Of course, I couldn't -- instead, I cursed angrily. That blew my chances. By the time I was well enough to walk I would have been locked up again, unable to get away.
But I was alive. It was so unexpected and such a huge relief that I smiled, despite the blood loss and the pain and the sickness. And Doc had to be holding on, too. He was. I just knew it.
A Voice appeared in the doorway. Hazily, I tried to focus on its face. "You are strong," it noted flatly. "This is not what we had been expecting."
"It's not what I was expecting, either," I croaked. "Ten months it's been, and I was sure I'd not live through it. So don't tell me you're surprised." I brushed a strand of sweaty hair out of my eyes.
"You need medical attention," it said, completely ignoring me. "I will send a doctor to you. There is one on board." A doctor? It had to be Doc. The Voices never fell ill so none of their people were trained -- only a human would be able to treat me. "Wait here."
Obediently, I did; of course, I couldn't go anywhere else, not in this state. I was so convinced that the next human I saw would be Doc ... and then the Voice came back.
It wasn't Dr Waltham. It wasn't anyone I knew. Just a man in hospital scrubs, looking pale and tired but not a prisoner, not injured.
"Michelle?" he said. "I'm here to help you. If you could just take these painkillers for me..." He was the first human I had seen in a long year, but I couldn't feel happy about that when I had just got my hopes up. I was looking forward to seeing Shane again, and they had stolen that from me.
I turned my face away and started to cry.