"Michelle." I tried to comfort her, putting my hand on her shoulder. It came away sticky: she was bleeding. Shrugging me away, she continued to cry, and I didn't know what to do. "Michelle, please listen to me."
"Why should I?" she replied, her voice muffled. I turned to the Vocie standing behind us and gave him my 'doctor look'.
"Could you please leave us in peace? She needs some treatment and I prefer to work without an audience." He hesitated, and for a moment I was certain he would not leave, but a second later we were alone. "Michelle, there's something you should know. I have been treating your friend, too."
"Doc?" she asked. Who on Earth was Doc? Of course, she must mean Shane Waltham. I nodded. "He's still alive? But why are they asking you to treat him? I thought they would be being cruel to him, not giving him medical attention..."
"I don't know why they're keeping him alive, but they are. He asks after you. I've never been able to answer; hopefully now I can tell him something."
"What does he say? Tell me everything." I told her all about the questions he asked, the way he rambled in his sleep, the way when things were painful and hard to bear he would think of her and how he would keep brave "for Shelley's sake", and the way that he never complained in case it made them treat her badly.
"He's on this very ship," I told her. "Not too far away, but in very high security. Extremely difficult to escape."
"Tell him that I'm alive, that I lived through it. And tell him that he's still a father to me even though it's so long since we saw each other." I found that her words touched my heart. How long had it been since my own daughter was so emotional and sweet? Too long, far too long.
"I will, I promise," I told her. Then I handed Shelley the strong painkillers I was holding and asked her to take them. She did. Seconds later she was beyond the pain, and I could work with my surgical needle and thread to try and put this broken girl back together again. What they had done to her, it was disgusting.
I imagined what she had been through ... ten months of pregnancy with the foul spawn of the Voices, having been abused. A two-day long labour before they were finally born, eight of them, none of them longer than about ten inches but big enough to cause her great pain, and with their claws and teeth no doubt ripping into her skin.
And yet she was still alive, and she could still smile.