This story works best if youíve also read my stories ĎMary Sue with a Twistí and ĎThe Spy Who..í.
Oh this is getting nowhere I thought, clipping my laptop shut in frustration. Iíd been staring at the screen for the better part of three hours and all Iíd managed were two sentences, one of which Iíd wound up deleting. My muse obviously just wasnít around today. I took off my glasses and rubbed my eyes wearily.
I grabbed my coat from the hook, stuffed a notebook and pen in the pocket just in case, and slammed the flat door shut behind me. It was a glorious autumn day, blue sky and crisp air with a hint of bonfire smoke. I decided to wander down to the canal and do my usual circuit of the docks, hoping for inspiration to strike.
Halfway down the road I became aware of a car slowing behind me. I turned round, realising that it was drawing up to the curb. It was a long, shiny black estate, pretty posh for this area. I guessed the driver must want directions; people are always getting lost in the twisty terraced-lined streets round where I live. Sure enough, the passenger window smoothly descended and the man inside muttered something to me. The interior of the car was quite dark, the windows were tinted, I realised. I couldnít make out the manís face and it was hard to hear what he was saying. Perhaps he was foreign, my part of town is pretty multicultural. I leaned in towards the window and said "excuse me? Could you repeat that please? " The man turned my way slightly. He was quite young, black hair falling into his eyes. There was something strangely familiar about him. I moved in closer to get a better look. Suddenly I heard the back door of the car open. Before I could twist round to see who was getting out I was grabbed around the waist and a big hand clamped a cold, damp cloth over my mouth. I just had time to register the pungent fumes entering my nose and throat before I lost consciousness.
I have no idea how much time passed before I came round. The first thing I was aware of was an unpleasant metallic taste in my mouth. I was half sitting, half lying, tilted over at the waist at an uncomfortable angle with my cheek resting on some rough material. I kept my eyes shut and tried not to panic, making my breathing remain as slow and steady as possible. I wanted to assess my surroundings before my captors realised I was awake. Captors. Thatís what they were, I thought. It mustíve been chloroform on that rag. Iíd been kidnapped. My mind spun and I tried to bring it into focus. Letís start with the basics. Where was I?
I strained my ears to make out the noises around me. The slight vibration and constant hum suggested I must be in the car. Yes, that was definitely the sound of tyres on tarmac. Travelling quite fast over a good road I reckoned, because it felt pretty smooth, no jolts. OK so they hadnít got to wherever they were taking me yet. That was a good thing. Perhaps I still had a chance to escape.
Another male voice from in front of me responded "fifteen minutes, twenty at the most."
The voice above me sounded like it was loosing patience. "Have you seen anyone behind us? No. There havenít been any other cars for miles. Nobody knows what weíve done OK. Now just shut up and drive."
Then there was silence except for the noise of the road and the thoughts clamouring in my head. Fifteen minutes. I had to get out of there right now. I couldnít get up and try to open the car door. The guy whose thigh I was lying on would grab me before I had the chance. And even if he didnít, I didnít fancy my chances jumping from a moving vehicle. I tried to list the options. They were pretty limited. Then I hit on an idea. It wasnít great but it was better than nothing.
"Stop the car" he shouted.
The car jerked to a halt and the man flung open the door and pulled me out. I kept bent over, making the most horrific gargling sick noises I could manage, whilst squinting to assess the surroundings. We were on the grassy verge of a road surrounded by woods. There was a small ditch in front of me, and then just trees. I managed another huge dry retch and the guy let go of me to stand back, still trying to protect his black Levis. I seized the moment and broke straight into a run, leaping the ditch and heading into the wood at a sprint.
I heard the car door open and a confusion of yells as the men realised what had happened. Then, too soon, there was the sound of someone charging through the undergrowth behind me. I picked up speed even more till I was running as fast as I possibly could, dodging tree branches and jumping exposed roots. My heart pounded painfully against the wall of my chest and my breaths came in agonising gasps. Iím not exactly fit, since I spend most days sitting in front of a keyboard and live on a steady diet of pizza and red wine. I realised I couldnít keep this speed up for long. I risked a glance over my shoulder. My pursuer wasnít in sight yet, but from the noise he was definitely gaining on me.
I made a quick decision and ducked behind a tree, stuffing my hand in my mouth to stifle the sound of my breathing. I stood flush against the trunk praying that he wouldnít spot me as he ran past. His footsteps came closer and closer. My stomach flipped and my heart felt like it was in my throat. Please go past, please go past, I repeated over and over in my head.
And then he was there, brushing right against my tree. He dashed by, plunging on into the woods, convinced that I was somewhere ahead of him. I watched the back of him: black leather jacket, black jeans. This was the guy from the back seat. Eventually he disappeared between the trees.
I bent over and steadied my breathing. I wasnít safe yet. Not by a long shot. I turned to the right, away from the road and walked deeper into the woods. I tried to tread silently, wincing as fallen leaves rustled under my feet. As soon as he realised I wasnít ahead of him any more my pursuer was sure to figure out what had happened and head back this way.
I made for the densest parts of the woods, pushing branches carefully aside and squeezing through narrow gaps trying to keep as hidden as possible. Every so often I paused and listened, but there was no sound other than the birdsong and the breeze through the trees. Even so I had the horrible feeling that I was being stalked.
I didnít know whether it was safer to keep walking or to stay still. I jerked my head towards every sound expecting a hand to come out of the bushes and grab me at any moment. I made my way gingerly forward, hoping to find somewhere to hide and wait till he gave up and went away.
Abruptly the trees thinned out into a clearing. I stood behind a big trunk, trying to decide which way to go around it. At that instant, he emerged from the other side. I froze, then sank back into the shadows. He stood in the clearing, head cocked for any sound. I remained motionless, studying him. He was tall, over six feet, and well built with broad shoulders. I wouldnít stand a chance if he caught me. He had a square jaw and chiselled features, with dark hair and eyes. Serious movie-star looks. Why in the world was this guy chasing after me? I didnít get it. As he carefully examined the trees all round the clearing his eyes glinted and his mouth twitched into a lopsided smile. He was enjoying this. My blood ran cold and I began to back away.
Suddenly there was a sharp crack from beneath me. My heel had gone down on a dry twig. He looked my way and our eyes locked for a second. I turned and pelted away from the clearing, but he was after me again and this time I was in his sights from the off. I tried dodging and weaving through the trees, but he stayed behind me getting closer and closer. I was running on pure terror which made me fast, but he was obviously much much fitter than me.
I raced on, hearing him gain on me with every step. Then out of nowhere there was a massive bramble thicket in front of me. I couldnít continue. I stopped and spun round. He was only about ten feet away. He realised my predicament and halted too. He grinned at me. "Oh dear," he said, folding his arms "what are you going to do now?"
My eyes darted from side to side, which way to go? He made to step towards me and I realised I had to move. I feinted left and then dashed off to the right, hoping to throw him off. But he was directly behind me and before Iíd gone five feet he grabbed my legs from behind and rugby tackled me to the ground.
I managed to twist around and flailed my arms trying to beat him off, but he grabbed my wrists and pinned me to the floor, straddling my thighs so I couldnít move my legs either. I struggled beneath him, fighting against his hold for all I was worth, but it was no use. He was a lot stronger than me. He laughed down at my efforts until Iíd exhausted myself. I sank back in defeat.
"Now then, " he said "are you ready to behave yourself? "
He brought his face down so it was close to mine. "Now, " he said. "Weíll have no more funny business. From now on you are going to do exactly as I say. "
I tried to keep my voice steady, but I couldnít hide the fear. "Wh... what are you going to do? "
He lowered his face towards mine again, and looked into my eyes. Something passed over his expression and for a crazy second I was sure he was going to kiss me. His lips parted slightly and I could taste his breath. The air around us seemed to crackle with electricity.
I didnít understand what was going on, but I broke his gaze and looked down. That seemed to snap him back to reality. "Come on then, " he said, and stood up, hauling me to my feet, then grabbing me by the top of my arm.
Once I was standing, he stuffed his free hand into his jacket pocket and brought out a length of material. "Turn round, " he ordered. I didnít see any option, so I did so. He brought his hands in front of my face and tied the material around my head so I was blindfolded. "Canít have you seeing where weíre taking you, " he murmured in my ear. He grabbed my wrist and brought it painfully round behind my back, then took the other one and held them together in one large hand. "Walk, " he commanded.
I stumbled forward, unable to see anything, with him following. I kept tripping over tree roots and fallen branches and each time he grabbed my shoulder and steadied me. Finally I felt grass beneath my feet instead of leaves. He let got my hand and grabbed me round the waist, picking me up. I realised he must be striding across the ditch. Sure enough I heard him say to the others "quit gawping and get back in the car. Itís cool. "
Then he bundled me into the back seat and slammed the door behind us.
As the car started up I tried to talk again. "Where are you taking me? " I asked.
I hoped that the nervous driver would start to talk so at least I could begin to get my head around what was going on, but they drove on in silence until finally the other guy, Tony, said "take a left just along here mate. "
I felt the car twist round. Tony and the driver exchanged a few more words about directions and the car jolted along what must have been a little-used country road. Then we were pulling up on some kind of gravel area, and I was being dragged out of the car.
My wrists were grasped again and I was led along some kind of track for the longest time, just putting one foot in front of the other and trying to stay upright. Finally we stopped. The guy from the woods said "Give Tony the keys" and I heard the jangling of them being passed over by the driver. I was pushed forward. Then I head a door slam behind me and what sounded like a bolt being shot. My heart was pounding and there was a horrible adrenaline taste in the back of my throat.
Finally my wrists were released and I stood there, not knowing what to do. I heard some noises around me that I couldnít identify. I strained my ears to make out something, anything. Finally, someone grabbed me and pushed me forward a few feet, then hands came up behind my head and undid the blindfold.
I blinked in the light. I was in some kind of barn: dusty floorboards and wooden beams. The man from the woods was standing in front of me, the cruel smile on his face again.
He stepped back and I saw the other two guys properly for the first time. Tony was the one whoíd asked me for directions. He still seemed oddly familiar, with his pale face and floppy black hair. The other, shorter, guy I knew immediately though.
"What the fuck? " I stammered.
Then I realised why Tony looked familiar too. I shook my head in disbelief. "But youíre, youíre... this canít be happening. "
"But it is, " Alex grinned at me. "Have you figured it out yet love? " I looked at him, but I couldnít place him as I could the other two. This didnít make any sense. I gazed at Tony and Jonathan, my mouth open in bewilderment. "Theyíre... from my stories. "
To be continued...