A day passes…
Laura had tried to force herself to eat something during the long day, but she’d had no appetite, especially not for sliced white bread and dry cereal. Now it was night again and she was hungry as well as cold, but most of all she was afraid.
She was trying to be rational about her situation, trying to tell herself that whatever they wanted her for, it was not to kill her or they would have surely done so already. She forced down a few handfuls of cereal and took a sip of water, carefully rationing it. It must have been 24 hours now since they took her, and who knew how long she would be kept out here.
It seemed to have become much quieter once darkness fell. Seagulls no longer wheeled overhead with their shrill cries, and the only thing Laura could hear was the water, still gentle against the legs of the fort. She hugged her knees to her chest and wondered idly who or what had last been wrapped in the blanket. Best not to go there, she thought as she fingered the rough material. Though her eyes were getting heavy she was fought against sleep, wanting to stay on her guard, but the rhythms of the sea and the darkness enveloped her and she lay down, unable to fight any longer.
“Wake up. It’s time.”
“Time for what?”
She had slept in the end, for how long she had no idea, and now her captors were back. One of them had replaced the lamp and he fiddled with it until it began to cast its blue glow into the darkness. She got up stiffly and stood with her arms folded, determined to not show any weakness. There were four of them, three just looked at her and one spoke. It was Leon, the one who always spoke for them, their leader she supposed.
“As we expected he is already looking for you.”
Laura gave no outward sign but inside her stomach churned in a muddle of relief and apprehension. Joseph was coming, but did this mean they were going to move her somewhere else, somewhere worse?
Leon continued, “We will let him find you, but you must take a back this message from us. This time he will listen, they all will.”
At least they were letting her go, but at what price?
“So you want me to tell them what you showed me, is that the message?”
“No. It is more than that. This is our chance to rise out of the shadows.”
Laura gave a snort of derision, “And while you rise London drowns. So what if you can stir up the sea a bit – that hardly makes you Godzilla. They will never agree, and I will not take your stupid message.”
She glared at him defiantly, but out of the corner of her eye she spotted the other three moving towards her.
“I won’t take it.” Her voice was quieter now.
“It will be written.”
“Then I will throw it away,” she whispered as she tried to back away.
They were closer now, surrounding her, touching her, and the smell was of violets.
“It will be written.”
Later Leon spoke again.
“Take her to the river’s mouth, the man will find her soon enough.”
And Joseph did find her, drifting alone in the skiff.
He’d had plenty of time before the tide turned to drive back home and check his answerphone for messages, but then he remembered she didn’t even know his number and felt like a useless fool. He needed to eat something if he was going to spend the night out searching with Nelson, and so for the first time in months he ventured into the fish and chip shop below his flat.
The woman behind the counter had heard him pacing back and forth above her head and put two and two together.
“Are you the bloke from upstairs?” she asked as she wrapped his fish in paper. Joseph nodded, took the hot package from her and turned to leave.
“Some girl was here looking for you.”
That stopped him in his tracks and he span round, staring at the woman.
“Small thing,” she went on, “lots of hair.”
“Last night, not long before we closed so must have been about nine-ish.”
“What did she say?”
“She wanted to know if you were in. I said we never knew there was anyone in the flat. Not there much are you?”
“No. Did you see where she went?”
“Sorry,” she shook her head, “she bought some chips and I think she might have ate ‘em at the bus stop. I was busy.” She felt quite sorry for him, they must have had a tiff.
Joseph took his food back up to the flat and forced himself to eat it, sitting at the table and waiting for the time to pass. He kept checking his watch until at last he grabbed his jacket, it would be cool out on the water.