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Extract from Chapter 1:
The girl had spent the entire night howling. It was a visceral noise, more commonly associated with a wild animal, than the gaunt, virtually emaciated body of a little girl, who was barely ten years old.
She lay curled up on a rough bed, which had been thrown together out of lumpy sacks of hay. Her parents, more out of desperation than resentment or fear, had confined her to a shed, which they used mainly for keeping the rain off the farming tools, and for storing a few low-value belongings that they had inherited over the years from different family members.
The doctor approached the child with apprehension; she seemed to be sleeping, although her breathing was broken by a constant shaking that was not of human origin.
“How many days has she been lying in this state?”
“A. a week.” the mother dared to say, certain that she was about to receive an immediate reprimand from the doctor.
The doctor heaved a sigh of resignation and, picking up the girl’s hand, he tried to measure her pulse. He felt a shiver run down his spine as he noticed that her heart was hardly beating at all. little more than 20 beats per minute! It was completely impossible.