I’ve been kidnapped. That’s the first thing, and it’s so massive that I can hardly get my brain around it. Two men grabbed me when I was walking to the bus stop to go and visit my mum in hospital and put me in a van and drove me all the way here – wherever here is, and have put me in a room that was obviously meant for a dancer. A dancer my size, nonetheless.
Meanwhile, Mum’s in hospital and Dad’s got no idea what happened to me. He’ll have called the police by now, but Teresa hinted that they wouldn’t be able to find this place, so I doubt there’ll be much help for me from that quarter.
Plus, it looks like the van that brought me here was also the one that hit her, unless the shade of yellow paint is a coincidence.
There’s more to this than just grabbing the first teenage girl they saw, which hopefully means there’s something more to their motives than what I first feared. At the same time, that probably means I’m more valuable as an individual, so it’ll be harder to escape. If I was just a randomer, somebody they picked off the street, they could find someone else. The only problem would be making sure I didn’t blab, I suppose.
If I was targeted, I’m valuable. It’s the first time in my life I’ve wanted to be worthless.
I’m about to start some centre practice, but Teresa comes in before I have the chance. I’ve already been dancing for almost an hour and a half, so it’s probably best if I stop before I exhaust myself. “Come with me,” she says, but when I start to follow she rebukes me. “Where are your clothes?”
She means the smock. I pull it over my head and I’m at a loss as to how to tie the cords that are flapping around my waist. Seeing my confusion, she takes them and loops the ties for me, so that the whole thing is slightly tighter, shorter, and doesn’t get in the way so much. “Can I have some water?” I ask her.
“You’ll be able to have some in a minute,” she tells me.
I follow her out of the room. To my surprise, she locks the door behind us, though I can’t see that there’s anything of value in there, or anyone here to steal it. We make our way down the corridor, back to the side entrance where we started. I assume we’re going outside to come in the front way, but we’re not. Instead, we stop outside the door nearest to the exit, and she knocks.
It’s a man’s voice. I don’t find that encouraging.
Teresa smiles at me and gestures that I should go in. I put my hand on the doorknob. It’s chilly against my skin and I shiver involuntarily as I turn it and step inside.
The room looks like an office, though the books are eccentrically stacked and none of them look newer than fifty years old. But if the books are unusual, they’re nothing compared to the man who sits at the desk in front of me.
He’s probably about sixty, going by his hair colour, as his face is too covered with tattoos to allow me to use it as a guide. They’re mostly blue or green, dots and swirls, circles and triangles: the effect is almost Celtic, but the black lines that outline the patterns give it a more sinister feel.
“You’re Georgia?” he says, and gestures to the chair in front of the desk. I feel stupid in the smock, especially when I realise I’m still wearing my ballet shoes, but take a seat anyway. Everyone here dresses oddly.
In front of me there’s a glass jug of water. He sees me staring. “Are you thirsty?”
“Yes,” because I’ve been dancing for an hour and a half and I don’t even care if he’s put some sort of drug in it, I just want to ease my burning throat. He pours me a glass and I gulp it down in seconds. When I can speak again, I ask him, “Where am I? Why am I here? Why’ve you kidnapped me?”
These seem like the important questions at the moment. They’re questions I never thought I’d have to ask.
He shakes his head and places his hands, palms down, on the desk in front of him. It’s quite an unusual desk, all old wood and leather, piled high with papers and leather-bound books, but there’s no computer. If there wasn’t an electric lamp plugged in at the side, the whole office would have given the impression of having fallen through time, since it was old fashioned in a way that I had never seen before.
“I can’t tell you that, Georgia,” he says.
“Who are you, then?”
“I don’t feel you need to know that.”