Welcome to my new series. Like The Cold Man, this will consist of short pieces of 600-750 words each and will generally finish on a cliffhanger.
Bleary eyed, I come to – not with a start but with that slow, deliberate waking you feel on a Sunday morning. Yet I am not in my bedroom and my boyfriend is not here. I am lying on a leather sofa. It’s a bit worn and rough in places, but it’s comfortable. I sit up and immediately regret it as I’m hit with the green stars clouding my vision and making me sway from side to side. I stand up, taking far more care in doing so than I did when sitting.
The room is surprisingly warm for the cold charcoal grey walls, stone floor and the achingly bright single warehouse-style strip light above my head. The leather sofa is the only vaguely luxurious item in the room. There are no windows that I can see and only a metal table and two chairs make up the furniture in the room. In the centre of the table is a Tupperware box.
I approach the table and drag the chair back. The feet make that horrible metal-on-stone sound so familiar in school canteens and I cringe before flumping into the chair. Curious about the box, I open it and am immediately hit with the smell of bacon and egg – it’s a moment of sheer bliss. There is a banana, something wrapped in tinfoil (which is probably where the smell of bacon and egg is coming from) and a small flask. God, I hope there’s coffee in that!
The foil parcel does indeed contain a bacon and egg sandwich – my favourite foodstuff! I admit my stomach almost got the better of me; I leaned in for a bite and immediately had to check myself. ‘What the… what the hell am I doing?!’ I hastily placed the sandwich back into the tinfoil, wrapped it up without much care and closed the Tupperware box in annoyance.
‘Miss Salter,’ came a male voice from above, ‘you need to eat.’ Though the English was flawless, the accent suggested the owner wasn’t a native speaker.
I looked up to the ceiling suspiciously.
Either they could see me or they guessed I would be reticent to take their word for it because the voice went on. ‘Miss Salter, if we wanted you dead we could have killed you a hundred times by now. Your death would benefit no one.’
I hadn’t been thinking straight until that moment and that’s when I lost it.
‘Who are you and where am I? And where the fuck is Danny?’ I stood up and thumped the table. I’m rarely aggressive but waking up in a strange room with only a disembodied voice for company could be the sort of thing to set me off. Did they want to test that theory?
‘Your boyfriend is fine, Miss Salter.’
‘I want to see him, now.’ I thumped the table again, ignoring the pain.
‘You will see him but it’s not possible right now. You do need to eat though and we most certainly do not want you dead.’
That gave me pause for thought. How did I get here, exactly? My last memory was the meal we’d had last night – or was it last night? Danny made a stir fry, we had wine, snuggled on the sofa in front of a film and went to bed. That’s the last thing I remember.
Still not entirely convinced of my safety, I sat down and ate the breakfast anyway. I’m in an interrogation room – I figured out that much and the one thing they can’t do is get answers from a corpse. I ate it fast and I imagine if they were watching it would have been the least dignified eating of a meal they’d ever seen.
I downed the last of my coffee and at that moment a door opened. It must have been concealed well because I didn’t even realise there was a door there. I was immediately struck by a flash of white light that disappeared quickly when a big burly man stepped into the room and closed the door behind him.
He was – I would guess, in his late forties. He was well dressed in a suit that fitted his generous proportions rather well. He had dark-ish skin – Syrian or Turkish or something.
He sat in the other chair and placed a tablet computer before him. He looked up at me, looked down, switched the tablet on, looked up at me again, down at the table again, cleared his throat and finally spoke.
‘Miss Salter, how many languages do you speak?’