It was done. You grip as hard as you can, and sometimes you still fall. The straps were tight, the white knuckles that were stronger than her own, and the chair shuddered forth onto the track, whip-cracking her neck. Then it began to rumble backwards. She watched the hospital ward recede. Just as the surface had receded. The light was yellow, flickering and artificial. This place had never seen daylight.

There was a shriek from behind her, the direction she was moving, every jerk of the chair punctuated by mechanical clanks. It was a cry of fear, not pain. That would come.

Everything was buried down here. The graveyard of the dirty secrets, and the inconvenients, and the thinkers. Strapped-down freedom, buried hope. She would be in good company, and she wouldn't cry. She was past that. Walk through fire once more. Raw, without painkillers, she'd burn, whatever they did, she'd burn. Friction caused a reaction, always. She was the blister. They were going to cut her out.

A full-on scream now, and still she would not crane her head round, look at what was making the buzzing sound, avoid thinking of bees, bone saws, drills; breathe through the mouth not the nose. Don't gag, don't vomit. This place was their gag. And the scream stopped and her chair rattled back and she was next, clattering down the track that had always been there invisible, and she didn't care any more because there was no more hope in this world, it was done, maybe in the next; buzzing in her ears, felt warm air, caustic smells seeped in, please be quick, she bit her tongue and squeezed close her eyes.