The silence hangs on the night air like an icy winter fog, staining the atmosphere a pale blue. The girl lies there, her bony legs grotesquely splayed apart. She is young, pre-pubescent. Her dark curls are matted with sweat and what might have been blood; her pale, almost translucent skin coloured only where the week-old bruises have turned yellow-green.
She raises her head slowly, fighting the lethargy that binds her limbs. Blinking is an effort. Her eyelids are heavy, her breathing shallow. She opens and closes her mouth taking short, tight gasps like a guppy in an empty tank, only a matter of time before sinking into the comforting lull of blackness.
But the dim noises of the night bother her; the chirrup of crickets pulsating in her head, a throbbing resonation that fills her brain and raises the hairs at the back of her neck. She can feel her fingers now and see again, but worse than even the memories of how she got there is the smell, a haunting stench of despair and decay.