"Nothing you've been told is true." That's how Mathew started his tale, with me tied to his kitchen chair under the over bright lamp hanging from the ceiling. It reminded me of a scene from a film, with a girl sitting in the middle and man pacing around her, but I couldn't remember the name of the movie. It was right there, on the edge of my memory, but I couldn't pull it back. "Everything is a lie."
"Including that," I retorted angrily, forgetting the duct tape. "I'm sure that some things are true. Gravity and that. My parents. Things they tell us in school, like that you shouldn't trust strange men that tie you to chairs and try and talk to you."
"Including that you can't be teleported from one place to another? Including that my folk only exist in fairy tales? Oh, and as for your parents ... well, I hate to disappoint you, love, but it's not what you might think." Mathew smiled at me, his teeth showing. They were strangely sharp, I noticed. And I must not have been looking at his face before, because his eyes were an extraordinarily bright shade of green, though I hadn't noticed before now.
"That's not true. They are my parents. I even look like Mum, for goodness sake." He was annoying me. Trying to make me doubt myself and everything I knew. Well, I wasn't going to be taken in by that! I knew what I believed and I was sticking to it.
"I'll leave you to believe that for a little longer." It was as though he could read my mind. "But that's not what you look like." Okay, so maybe he was on drugs. He certainly wasn't making any sense, since I could only look like the person I saw in the mirror and in photographs, right? I hadn't changed for the past four years. It didn't look like I was likely to, either.
After a long moment I spoke. "Are you going to get on with this or not?"
Mathew glanced at the tape, but continued without taking action. Thank goodness. If he'd put his hands anywhere near my mouth I would have been forced to bite them. "So, everything is a lie. Where do we go from there? Well, we work out what's really true. What is actually real in this world. How this place works.
"Firstly, humans aren't the only people hanging around. I think you've guessed that. The fairy folk also occupy this planet. Oh, you may laugh - but you wouldn't if you'd me them. I won't go into details, but let me just say I haven't yet worked out why they're called the 'good folk' when they torture children and strangle animals."
"That's not true," I said, my voice sounding as strangled as those poor innocent beasts. "I thought the fairy folk were into nature and the environment and all that? They're suppose to conserve it and protect it from humans, not do it harm. After all, it's where they live."
Mathew actually chuckled. I thought he'd be offended, but he was looking at me with respect, which was unnerving. "You're right. I was only pulling your leg. The torturing children bit was true, though - well, for some of us. Not me personally. I tend to go for the older humans." I shuddered. "But you're probably wondering why you're here, right? What this has to do with you. Why you have to know, when everybody else is free from that sort of knowledge."
For a second I thought about answering him with a sarky comment ("Actually, if you'd just untie me, I'll be on the next bus home..."), but soon realised it was no good. I'd come here of my own accord, and whatever happened, I'd brought it upon myself. I was in this too deep.