The plan: I started this story nearly a decade ago and just couldn’t find an Agent at the time.  Most of the Agents thought the quality of the writing and story idea was above the norm in terms of submissions but they didn’t feel they could take the ms to a publisher as the story wasn’t quite marketable. So I thought I might test the waters here for a while. Anyway, there’s no harm in posting a few pages of a story that’s currently gathering dust, so here goes:

Gavin, Friday Afternoon:

Still waiting for Lucy to get back to me. I wonder if she’s angry about last night. She said nothing about it when she left for Uni earlier.  Just that she wanted my opinion on something.  Let’s have lunch in the park and I’ll tell you about it, she called on her way down to the car. Then she drove away.

The situation’s complicated. You see, the flat doesn’t belong to Lucy but to a friend of hers, Maxine, who’s away for a month. Lucy’s flat sitting for Maxine.  

2.15 pm.  I phone Lucy again, but I don’t leave a message this time. She must be upset about last night.  

I arrived in Leeds late yesterday afternoon, having come straight up from London where I live.  I spent the night on the sofa in the sitting room while Lucy slept in the bedroom. Just as I was dropping off, I heard Lucy shriek, so I went in to check on her. Maybe I shouldn’t have done – but whatever. You can’t exactly ignore someone’s screams, especially when the sounds travel through the walls. I found her thrashing about, clawing at the bed sheets. Trying to escape from something. She had the main light on, which surprised me – as it suggests she’s afraid of sleeping in the dark.

I leaned down to wake her.  

Bad move.

She lashed out at me, then promptly forgot about it, but I’ve still got a sore left cheek. I had to apply ice to it after she left this morning.  Anyway, I didn’t think I should remind her of the incident, but I’m  concerned for her.

Where is she?   2.30pm

I walk back to the flat, through tree-paved streets. It’s a decent area, sort of leafy and green, and expensive. Row of shops and old three-storey houses with privet hedges round the front. I wonder how Lucy’s friend Maxine affords the rent. In London, I live in a box room near a triple carriageway and it costs a lot.

I turn the corner.  That’s weird.  Lucy took the car when she left earlier but it’s outside the flat now.   I let myself in with the spare key.  

Ground floor flat.  Small sitting room at the front (sofa where I slept last night).  Small bedroom at the back (Lucy’s nightmare). Kitchen overlooking a rear garden.  

‘Hi.’

No answer.  I go through to the sitting room.  

Silence. The flat’s exactly the same as I left it. Loose chain by the landline phone. Pile of letters for Maxine.

The kitchen next.  

Cereal bowl in sink. Sunlight coming in through the blinds.

‘Lucy?’ I tap on the bedroom door.  After a moment’s hesitation, I venture into the room, risking another sharp swipe across my left cheek.

Empty.   I speed dial her number.

Nothing. Just four rings, then voicemail.  I leave a message. Hey, Lucy, give us a ring, yeah?  I’m back at the flat.

***
LUCY

What happened? Where am I?

She tries to sit up.  

Can’t.  Feels sick.  Headache.

Tries to think. Who is this man? And why has he taken her?

At least, he hasn’t gagged her.

The Cybercafé.

That’s right. She just about remembers the Cybercafé.

She’d gone to there to do something important. Earlier today.

A man sitting at one of the computer terminals.   Baseball cap.

Eye contact.

She recalls a struggle later, out on a street.  A black cloth.  Chemical smell.  A van door shutting with a thud behind her.

Now she’s trapped.

Just like something people read about in the newspapers.  

But happening to her.

Darkness suffocating, choking her.  

Can’t move.  Can’t breathe.  Can’t swallow.  

She screams.  

And again.

But no one comes.

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