Mum was right. It's Monday today, not Sunday. I've lost an entire day and I don't know how. And now everything's changed.
My heart keeps pummelling at my chest as I look around the house, noticing every tiny little different detail, all the while remembering Mum's words in my head: "Nothing's changed. Everything's just as it usually is." But it's not! What the hell is going on?
Without warning, the front door opens with a click and I jump out of my skin, then I remember Dad went out for an early morning jog, and calm down. Maybe he'll have some answers.
I run into the hallway (which used to be a porch) where Dad is taking his trainers off with his back to me. He looks taller and bigger than he normally does...That run worked quickly!
"Dad?" I call out.
"Why is the house all different?"
Then he turns around to face me and I almost have a seizure. That is not Dad.
"AAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRGH!" I scream, then rush upstairs as quickly as I can, yelling out, "STRANGER! WEIRDO! BURGLAR! MURDERER! MUM, HELP!" and she darts out of her room, without the mask over her eyes. It's not Mum either. Two complete strangers are pretending to be my parents and I'm getting seriously freaked out here.
"Who are you?!" I screech at them, grabbing the mop that was standing up against the wall and pointing it at them threateningly. Well, as threateningly as you can get with a mop.
"Sweetie, what's wrong?" Imposter-Mum asks me, her voice cracking as if she's about to cry.
"Is she all right?" Imposter-Dad questions her as if she's supposed to know.
"You two are NOT my parents!"
That shuts them up for a minute or so. There's a deathly silence as they just stand there, watching me with a strange hopeless expression on both their faces. Like I've just broken their hearts. But I haven't, because they're not my parents and never have been. They're kidnappers. That's why the house looks different! I've been kidnapped!
"Take me back home now!" I order them, but I know it's not going to happen. They both look so sorry for themselves that I don't think they could open the front door, let alone drive me home. Or, is it that they're sorry for me?
A tear slips down Imposter-Mum's face and she steps tentatively towards me with her arms outstretched. "Honey...it's me. It's...it's your Mum, darling. Put that down," she says quietly, taking the mop gently from my hands. I let her do it; it's not like it was any use to me, but I'm not giving up on this without a fight.
"Where are my real Mum and Dad? Where's everything gone? I want to go home." I tell them angrily, but nothing seems to be working.
"Cassie, sweetheart-" Imposter-Dad starts, but I cut him short.
"My name is Carah! Carah Bryan!"
At this Imposter-Mum and Imposter-Dad share a concerned look. "Let's go and sit down, sweetie. Let's have a proper talk about all this." Imposter-Mum says, leading me into the lounge.
"NO! My name is Carah Bryan, I am fourteen years six months old, I live in the south of London, England, I love music and dance, I have three best friends; Amy, Louise and Alex and...and..." For some inexplicable reason I burst into tears without expecting it, and when the imposters try comforting me, I slam out of the front door, still in my PJs, and walk away down the unfamiliar street, wiping the tears from my face.
A middle-aged man with greying hair and stubble on his chin walks towards me in a brown overall, a blue beanie hat and big black boots. As he passes me I swear I can hear him whisper, "No, your name is Cassie Brighton..." But as I twist round to question him, he's gone. But then I see him walk towards me again, this time in a business suit with a briefcase in his hand, but definitely the same guy with light brown hair streaked with grey, no stubble on his chin, and piercing green eyes staring straight into me. He walks past me and says, a little louder this time, "You are thirteen years eight months old..."
"No, I'm not," I tell him, but he's nowhere to be seen.
This has to be a bad dream. This can't be real; nothing makes sense any more. Why has my whole life changed just because I lost one day? The most important day of my life...?
"You live in the north of Edinburgh, Scotland..." This time I don't even see him coming. He's just there, the voice growing louder every second. "You love maths and swimming...You have no best friends...Only a younger brother...At school you're a loner..." The voices are repeating themselves now. He's repeating himself; the same sentences over and over again, even though I can no longer see him, the words cutting through me like knifes, hurting so much...
"STOP!" I scream, and fall to the ground, gasping. The last thing I see before everything goes black is the man's face looking down at me, all his different looks in one, but those same green eyes piercing my soul.