There was a question . The question was, 'Why am I not in a hospital?' But by the time his mind was clear enough to form the question, he already knew better than to ask it. For two weeks Paul drifted on the tide of pain. When the tide was out he was aware of the woman sitting beside his bed. More often than not she had one of his books - his Misery books - open on her lap. She told him she had read them all many times and could hardly wait for the publication of Misery's Child. 2 He soon learned that it was Annie Wilkes who controlled the tides. She was giving him regular doses of a pain-killing drug called Novril. When Paul was conscious more than he was unconscious or asleep, he knew that Novril was a powerful drug: he knew because he could no longer live without it. She was giving him two tablets every four hours and, by the time three or three-and-a-half hours had passed, his body was screaming for the relief which only the drug could bring. The most important thing he learned, however, during these first few weeks when the tide of pain rolled in and out was that Annie Wilkes was insane. Some part of his mind knew this even before he opened his eyes. Everybody in the world has a centre. Whatever mood a person is in, whatever clothes he or she is wearing, we recognize that person because he or she has a solid basis. Even if we haven't seen someone for many years, we can still recognize him: something inside him is permanent and the same as it always was and always will be. All a person's other qualities turn round this centre. Annie Wilkes occasionally lost her centre. For periods of time which could last only a few seconds or longer, there was nothing solid in her. Everything about her was in motion, with no basis on which to rest. It was as if a hole opened up inside her and swallowed every human quality she possessed. She seemed to have no memory of these times. In contrast, however, her body was very solid and strong, especially for a middle-aged woman. At first Paul was only aware that something was wrong with her, without knowing exactly what. His first direct experience of the hole came during a seemingly ordinary conversation. Annie was, as usual, going on about how proud she was to have Paul Sheldon - the Paul Sheldon - in her own home. 'I knew your face,' she said, 'but it was only when I looked in your wallet that I was sure it was you.' 'Where is my wallet, by the way?' asked Paul. 3 I kept it safe for you,' she answered. Her smile suddenly turned into a narrow suspiciousness which Paul didn't like: it was like discovering something rotten in a field of summer flowers. 'Why do you ask?' she went on. 'Do you think I'd steal something from it? Is that what you think, Mister Man?' As she was speaking, the hole became wider and wider, blacker and blacker. In the space of a few seconds she was spitting words out viciously instead of politely. It was sudden, shocking, violent. 'No, no,' said Paul, disguising his shock. 'It's just a habit of mine to know the whereabouts of my wallet.' Just as suddenly as it had opened, the hole in Annie closed up again and the smile returned to her face. But from then on Paul was careful about what he said or did. So he didn't ask about hospital, and he didn't ask to ring his daughter and his agent on the phone. In any case he wasn't worried. His car would be found soon. Even if his car was covered with snow for weeks or months, he was a world-famous writer and people would be looking for him. But there were still plenty of questions which Paul could ask. So he gradually found out that he was in the guest-room on Annie's small farm. Annie kept two cows, some chickens - and a pig called Misery! Her nearest neighbours, the Roydmans, were 'some miles away', which meant that the town of Sidewinder was even further away. The Roydmans never visited, because - according to Annie - they didn't like her. As she said this Paul caught another quick flash of that darkness Jingling the change in his hand he shook his head, that gap. Day after day Paul listened for visitors, but no one came. Day after day he listened for the phone, but it never rang. He began to doubt that there was one in the house. He was completely helpless; he could not move his legs at all. All information about her neighbours and the town had to be squeezed out of Annie without making her suspicious. It was easier to get her to talk about the day of the storm. 'I was in town,' she smiled, 'talking to Tony at the shop. In 4 fact I was asking him about the publication date of Misery's Child. He told me a big storm was going to strike, so I decided to make my way home, although my car can manage any amount of snow. I saw your car upside down in the stream bed. I dragged you out of the wreck and I could see straight away that your legs were a mess.' She had pulled back the blankets the day before to show him his legs. They were broken and twisted, covered in strange lumps and bruises. His left knee was swollen up to twice its normal size. She told him that both legs were broken in about seven or eight places and that they would take months to heal. She had tied splints firmly and cleanly on to both legs. She seemed to know what she was doing and to have an endless supply of medicine. Paul swam in and out of consciousness, riding on waves of drugged half-pain, as Annie continued with her story. 'It was a struggle getting you to the car, I can tell you. I'm strong, but the snow was waist deep. You were unconscious, which was a good thing. I got you home and put you on the bed. Then you screamed, and I knew you were going to live. Dying men don't scream. But twice over the next few days you nearly died - once when I was putting your splints on and once you just nearly slipped away. I had to take emergency steps.' She blushed at the memory, and Paul too remembered. He remembered that her breath smelled foul, as if something had died inside her. 'Now you must rest, Paul,' she said, getting up off her bedside chair to leave the room. 'You must regain your strength.' The pain,' said Paul. 'My legs hurt.' 'Of course they do. Don't be a baby. You can have some medicine in an hour.' 'Now, please. I need it now.' He felt ashamed to beg, but his need for the drug made him do it. 'No,' she said firmly. 'In an hour.' Then, as she was leaving 5 She had tied splints firmly and cleanly on to both legs. the room, she turned back towards him and said: 'You owe me your life, Paul. I hope you remember that. I hope you'll keep it in mind.' Then she left.