The story should, hopefully, be self-explanatory from the content:
Gavin, Friday Afternoon:
Lucy needed to get away for a while. Yeah, that must be it. She’s obviously stressed and upset, judging from her nightmare in the middle of the night.
I’m tired from the long coach journey yesterday. I watch TV and drift off to sleep in the middle of a film, coming to with a jolt. At first, I can’t work out where I am, or why. You know the groggy feeling? No sense of day or time or location.
The information comes back to me in short bursts: Leeds – took the coach up from London yesterday (to save on costs) – arranged to meet Lucy in the park earlier. The play area. Lucy didn’t turn up.
I leave another message on her voicemail. No reply.
4.50pm. I start to panic. Supposing she doesn’t come back till late on Sunday. After I’ve gone back to London. I must have done something to offend her – but what?
5.45pm. I put a couple of slices of bread in the toaster. Remove them. Add slices of cheese and a dash of ketchup. Return to the sitting room where the television drones on in the background and eat without enthusiasm.
What’s going on with Lucy? If she wanted space, why did she invite me here? Didn’t we go through this type of stuff before? I should have left the past alone.
Grabbing the spare key, I set off for the park again. It’s a short walk, past lines of houses that have been converted into flats and bedsits. A turning to the main road. Another warm evening, May. Quiet area – few people around, not many cars. I cross at the zebra, turn left.
The park gates. Empty, apart from a couple of groups of kids squatted on benches and some boys further up playing football. I stand by the main railings, looking in, feeling stupid. Why am I there? It’s so clear that Lucy isn’t in the park. I turn round and go back, stopping at a shop to buy some treats. Two different flavours of crisps and a couple of bars of chocolate. For Lucy.
Everything’s going to be okay, I tell myself as I approach the flat. When I get in, Lucy’ll be there.
But she isn’t.
She sleeps and dreams of nothing.
Wakes, confused all over again. Headache. Silence, apart from tapping water in the background.
It takes her a while to piece the facts together…Lucy Stone from Richmond in North Yorkshire, originally Lucy Harlesden from the famous musical family…she has an older sister, totally bossy and irritating, called Olivia, who’s not really her sister but her cousin. Mum and Dad are dead. They died in a fire. Mum’s brother and his wife adopted her when she was about nine or ten and they changed her name from Harlesden to Stone, and she grew up in a huge detached house in Richmond with a great garden round the back.
And then, after Richmond?
Uni, Leeds. Media Studies.
That’s right. She got there and tracked down an old friend who’d lived nearby in Richmond.
Maxine. Her adoptive parents had forbidden her to have any further contact with Maxine, but she went against their wishes.
Where am I?
The Cybercafé. She had things to do.
A secret. She told Maxine about the secret, no one else.
A man in the Cybercafé. He must have followed her back to the flat.
A flicker of memory…she parked her car in front of Maxine’s flat, didn’t she? After she’d finished in the Cybercafé? When she got out, a man appeared without warning, blocking her path, and she ran as fast as she could. A man wearing a baseball cap.
‘Help,’ she calls. ‘Someone call the police. I’m trapped.’
Silence. She remembers running in the opposite direction from Maxine’s flat, tearing sideward across a lawn, down a side alleyway, but the man caught up with her in the alleyway. Grabbing her around the waist, he brought her down on the ground, face up.
And then? Struggling against him on the ground, kicking, trying to push him off with her palms. The man placed a black cloth on her face and she detected a strange sweet, chemical smell coming from the cloth, and after that everything began to fade from her vision.
Her mind goes blank. ‘Let me out,’ she screams. ‘Someone call the police.’
But the silence and darkness remain.