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Two days passed without so much as an appearance from Michael. The only reason Cat knew it had, in fact, been three days down in that basement and not a lifetime, was because she could see the change in light from the minuscule window above her. She had heard footsteps and music and the occasional sounds of television upstairs, but Michael had not unlocked the door to the basement since he had given her the sweatpants, which now reeked of sweat.

Her stomach growled, her throat was still sore, and with nothing else to do, Cat stared up at the corner of the ceiling, watching as a spider captured a fly caught in its web.

“No, no, don’t eat me.” Her voice was a high squeak as she imitated the fly, then dropped to a growl when she spoke as the spider, “I will enjoy every last bite.”

The fly struggled against its restraints while the spider continued to wrap it in strings of web. Just watching the process made Cat squirm and attempt to maneuver her hand out of the constraints of the handcuffs, but to no avail.

“Please, no.” High and squeaky.

“Bwa-ha-ha.” Low and gruff.

When the spider finally took a bite and the fly stopped twitching, Cat forced herself to look away.

The back of Cat’s throat stung and cracked when she made “k” sounds, and in some twisted way, that pain was a comfort. At least if her throat hurt, it meant she was still alive to feel that pain.

Still, she wanted water and visualized herself walking over to the fridge, grabbing the dusty handle, pulling it open, and finding the full shelf of cold water bottles.

When she grew too tired of torturing the back of her throat, she closed her eyes and tried to listen to the sounds coming from upstairs. She didn’t hear music or the television, but she could hear Michael’s muffled voice, though she couldn’t understand what he was saying. She briefly heard footsteps, as though he were pacing. There were also pauses in his speech, which Cat assumed meant he was on the phone, though she couldn’t be sure.

It was boring trying to listen to his conversation, but the sad fact was that Cat had little else to do.

After a while, Michael’s voice couldn’t be heard anymore and Cat sighed before she resumed the “k” noises.

The door to the basement opened and Cat saw Michael’s figure in the doorway, though, as usual, his features were indistinguishable due to the flood of light behind him.

Saying nothing, he tossed a water bottle in her direction and it landed within inches of Cat’s feet. Then, he closed the door and Cat stretched out her legs to roll the bottle towards her. The fact that her legs were stiff and asleep made her wince, but she ignored the tingling pain. Once it was within reach, she grabbed the bottle with her free hand.

It took longer than she would have liked to open the bottle, but when she did, she drank greedily. The water was cold, fresh, and slid down her throat with a delicious satisfaction that made her moan. The contents disappeared within moments and she had to restrain herself from drinking the last inch of the bottle.

When she stared at what she had left herself with, it made her want to cry. Maybe she could refill the bottle with her tears.

It was dark, except for a soft green light illuminating the door at the top of the stairs. Cat stood up and her body was pulled in that direction. She drifted up the stairs, slowly, and found she only needed to nudge the door for it to swing open.

Behind the door, a long hall stretched forward and Cat walked down it, unable to stop herself. The walls were dimly lit by the green lighting but they were splattered with a dark fluid.

When she reached the end of the hall, there was a doorway leading into a large circular room with a chair placed in the middle, facing away from Cat. She tried to step forward, curious to see who sat in the chair, but her feet were frozen in place; she couldn’t move. The chair spun around on its own, only to reveal that nobody sat in it.

Suddenly, she felt hands grab at her from behind and there was a voice in her ear.

“You’re here for me, Cat.” She could feel Michael’s mouth and breath against her neck. Then, she felt pressure around her neck and something clawing at her hips.

When her eyes snapped open and Cat saw she was still in the basement, she let out a sigh of relief. Her body was in a cold sweat, her heart was racing, and tears pricked at her eyes, but at least she was alone, away from Michael’s hands, his mouth.

The footsteps upstairs reassured her that, at the very least, Michael would not be touching her for a little while.

Her eyes closed.

When the door opened and Michael came down the stairs, Cat expected him to try coercing some sexual favor from her again. There was a glaze over his eyes and he stumbled down the stairs, more so than usual, but he sat down on the third step from the bottom and stared at her.

“Do your parents love each other?” His voice was slurred.

Cat didn’t answer him at first, but his stare made her squirm. “Yes.”

He nodded and propped himself on his elbows, leaning on the stairs behind him. “My dad loved my mom. She died though. He loved my stepmom too, but she didn’t love him. They got divorced. My brother and sister hate Dad too.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Dad tries.” It didn’t seem like he had even heard her. He was just talking at her, rather than expecting a response. “I try too. I don’t know what happened. I’m a nice guy. Can’t I be happy? I mean-”

She watched as he took a deep breath and stared up at the ceiling. His fists clenched and unclenched repeatedly, knuckles whitening as he did so. Cat’s attention was pulled to his hands. Would they slam into her face again? Wrap around her throat? Rip off her clothes?

After a long silence, Michael looked vaguely in Cat’s direction and asked, “Have you ever been engaged?”

“No.” Her voice, cracked and quiet, still reached the other side of the room. “Never.”

“My fiancée was so beautiful. She was a dancer. Her legs were so long. She was great with money and she liked my cooking. She liked going camping with me and she could play a great hand of poker.” He smiled. “We would have been married for three years now. She decided she’d rather fuck her boss, though.”

Without saying another word, he walked over to the fridge, tossed a water bottle at her, and limped up the stairs.

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