Rich entered the limousine, subconsciously trying to neaten his hair as he did so, looking around to see who the ‘others’ might be, because perhaps if he could work that out he would be one step closer to working out just why this people wanted him—wanted him enough that they would pick him up and drive him in a limousine from London to Durham.
“Richard.” It was a man’s voice, cultured and without much of an accent. “I am so glad you could make it.” When Rich’s eyes adjusted to the gloom caused, no doubt, by the blacked out windows and dim lights, he saw that the speaker was well dressed in an expensive suit and had greying hair. Linda sat down, gesturing that Rich should do likewise.
“He prefers to be known as Rich,” said Linda knowledgeably. “Don’t you?” He nodded numbly until something occurred to him.
“If you know so much about me—if you knew enough to predict which coffee shop I would be using this morning and at exactly what time—how did you not know my name? Nobody calls me Richard, not even my parents. And yet you do, although you knew everything else about me before I’d even walked into the station.”
“Rich, please, be patient.” Linda laid a gentle hand on his arm, willing him to relax. “All your questions will be answered in good time. For now you just have to trust us, and listen to us. We’re not trying to hurt you! This isn’t an abduction.” When he remained unconvinced, she sighed quietly and said, “What must we do to make you believe that we mean no harm?”
“Explain yourselves,” said Rich simply. “Tell me who you are. I don’t even know your names yet: presuming, of course, that you have names, that you’re not all aliens or robots or something.” He was becoming ridiculous and he knew it, but he was becoming stressed and did not care who saw.
“We will introduce ourselves when the time is right.” That was the man speaking, the one who had first greeted Rich. Two other men sat in the limousine, dressed in grey and black, and that was all, aside from the chauffeur who was sectioned off from the strange meeting by a dark glass partition.
“Just the four of you, right?” said Rich. “Linda and you three men. Seems like she’s a bit outnumbered, isn’t she?” He didn’t know what he was wittering on about, but anything to make them talk, to make this seem less like a bad dream and more like a real-life scenario.
“We have all been, ah, acquaintances for many years now. I assure you that we all work as equals and there is no difference in status between myself and dear Linda here.” The man looked down. “But tell me, Rich, what do you think of my car? Is it comfortable enough? If there’s anything I can get you, you only have to ask…”