It was easy to lose track of the days in the box. Sometimes Bruin thought that’s why it was that way. Other times, he just thought the box was that, a box, because it was the most frustrating thing it could be, a solid square of white foam with nothing to mark it from the outside.
On clear-headed day-like-things, he thought they’d probably picked something where he couldn’t be heard or seen from the outside, no matter what he did, no matter how loud he was. But why, he wasn’t sure – why hide him, why capture him at all. He wasn’t even sure who his captors were.
They came in, every so often, the one bringing him food, the other, water, the third, reading material. The fourth one brought pain sometimes, pleasure other times, and Bruin never knew what brought either on, or when it would be coming.
The one who called herself Storm-Chaser surprised him awake one morning, Storm-Chaser, who brought him food. She was carrying a small cake with one candle in it.
“Happy birthday, Teddy.” They never called him Bruin. He was beginning to wonder if anyone ever had.
“It’s my birthday?” He stared at the cake. He couldn’t remember if he’d ever had a birthday cake before. He thought his birthday was in May. May was a long time from when he’d been taken, wasn’t it? “I get a cake?”
“Of course you get a cake, silly.” She set down the cake and cut two slices out of it, taking one for herself. “And later, Russet will be here to celebrate with you.”
Russet Lance was the one who brought pain sometimes, pleasure other time. “Good?” Bruin offered. He wasn’t sure it was really good.
“Good.” Storm-Chaser smiled brightly at him. “Maybe we’ll bring you a friend to keep you company. Would you like that?”
“Yes?” He wasn’t sure if he would, but when he said no, or bad, she went away for a long time, they all did.
“Good.” She smiled at him again and, taking her slice of cake, left him alone in the white blankness again.
Outside, Storm-Chaser, Alison, nodded to her team. “He’s just about broken,” she told them. “Maybe another two, three days, and we can do whatever we want with him.”
“And then we bring in the Princess?” Morning Birdsong, Rangi, was far too eager about this for Alison’s tastes.
“And then we bring in the Princess.”
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