When I opened my eyes, I was once again tied to the chair in Mathew's kitchen, but this time I was alone. I struggled to free myself, desperate to find the man and force him to tell me what I wanted to know, but the knots were too well tied and it just dug into my arms and my chest; I winced and desisted, since it didn't seem like it would achieve anything much.
So I just sat and watched the clock on his dilapidated oven, which didn't look as though it had been used recently. Twenty minutes passed and nothing was changing. I was bored. more than that, I was out of my mind with curiosity. What on earth had he meant when he started going on about 'sprites'?
Mathew came in after thirty eight minutes. Well, that was how long it was after I started watching the clock, but I couldn't have said how long I'd struggled with my ropes before that. Unless I'd missed a whole day - or more - it was about four hours after I'd arrived. That wasn't good news. Every time he drugged me I was out for longer - the substance he was using now was far more potent and had far more of an effect on my system.
"So, Eilidh, we meet again." He used my full name, not something I liked. Strangely, he sounded amused. "You were eager to come, weren't you? I was arranging for Jon to pick you up this evening."
"I would have come sooner but it took me a while to find the way in." I tried not to sound like a girl tied to a chair, doing my best to keep my voice strong, though I knew it wasn't really working all that well. "Rather a complicated sort of intercom system, I must say. Do you have to get people to maintain it: paint it over when it rains and stuff?"
Mathew laughed softly. "You talk too much. Be quiet." Just like that. After everything I'd been through in trying to find this entrance, I felt he could have been a bit nicer to me. I wasn't asking for champagne and the red carpet (not least because I thought champagne was disgusting) but vaguely civil treatment would have been appreciated.
"You can't talk to me like that. I - I'm a guest." What a pathetic thing to say. I wasn't going to forgive myself for that.
"You don't look like a guest to me," noted Mathew drily. "I don't know about you, but I didn't think guests were normally tied to chairs." That was certainly true, and I glared at him before letting a string of expletives escape me. If my mother had been there, she would have had a fit. Finally, I had to stop for breath, and Mathew stood up.
"Where are you going?" I said, suddenly worried that he'd had enough and would disappear off somewhere, leaving me alone.
"To get this," he replied, returning with a roll of duct tape. "That's for you if you speak like that again, do you understand?" I nodded mutely, and he put it on the work top just a few inches away from where I would have been able to reach if my eyes had not been tied tightly to my sides. "It's time for you to listen now, and not to speak. There's a lot you'll want to know, I daresay, but can you keep a civil tongue in your head for long enough to listen to it?"
"Are you going to leave me tied up?" I asked him. My answer to his question would very much depend on his response to mine.
"Then probably not, to be quite honest. Being tied to a chair generally puts me in a bad mood." I was rapidly gaining experience in that area.
"There's always the duct tape," said Mathew. True. There was always the duct tape.