Grace rubbed her eyes groggily, she yawned then looked around as she stretched, trying to place where she was. The room was small, uncomfortably so, barely enough room for her to lie flat, it seemed to be about six or so feet tall. The walls were bare concrete and a single light bulb hung above her. The concrete was smooth grey, no cracks or crevices. She shivered as the coldness of the room hit her, she looked down and saw that she was naked, who ever had put her here hadn’t even given her a blanket. She stood from the ground, wincing slightly as her muscles twinged in pain. She stretched slowly and carefully, warming herself up. As she did she thought back to the previous night, she had been at an event, some gala. She couldn’t quite place what it was for, sick people, perhaps children? That seemed about right. She had finished dinner, a subpar meal if she was being honest, then the dizziness had hit her. She scanned her memories, no one seemed to notice her passing out, but then she hadn’t been the only one. Had the food been drugged? It was the only thing she had eaten and she had drank water the entire night. Perhaps it was some coating on the glasses. She’d probably find out soon enough once someone came along in this hell hole, either to taunt or threaten.
Grace didn’t sit down again, the concrete was cold and uncomfortable, instead she paced back and forth, letting her mind wander. Occasionally her stomach would give a sullen grumble but she ignored it, along with the increasing dryness in her throat. They dragged her here so they wanted her alive for some reason, if they wanted her alive they’d feed her at some point. Perhaps this was all for a ransom, though they were out of luck there, her family had simple rules on ransoms, they weren’t paid. Kidnapping and ransom seemed more likely than human trafficking, considering the event she had been attending and that there were others that were drugged.
She was pacing for a good three hours before someone came along. They didn’t speak to her, no matter what she said, they shoved a sandwich through a slot in the door followed by a small bottle of water. The door had no window so she couldn’t see the person, but she could hear other people yelling as whoever it was walked down the hall, though she couldn’t make out the words. Grace picked up the sandwich and examined it carefully, picking off bits of mold on the bread and taking out pieces of the meat that seemed to have gone off. She ate it quickly, trying not to taste any of it. When she was done she drank the bottle of water, then she continued to pace.
She was getting frustrated now, tired of waiting, so far about three days had passed, assuming that the nine meals she had been given were breakfast, lunch and dinner. They didn’t come periodically so it was hard to tell. The person delivering the food never spoke, never interacted with her at all.
It was another three days before someone visited her cell, it was a short visit, if it could even be called that. Someone pulled the slide on the door, revealing a thin slit, they looked through then closed it again. She could hear the bang of metal as they moved down the hall, at some point it stopped and she heard shouting. It sounded like there was a brief scuffle then silence.
The next day they came for her. Grace didn’t struggle or fight, there was no point to it, they would take her wherever they were going to take her. They led her down the hallway past rows and rows of other doors. Finally they brought her to a large room, there she was directed to a shower stall. Once showered she was given a robe and a clean set of clothes, Grace quickly dried and dressed herself. The clothes were plain, a t-shirt and a pair of pyjama bottoms with an elasticised waist. Once she was dressed she was lead from the larger room to another smaller room. A man sat behind a large desk, he didn’t look like Grace had imagined him to. He had a medium sized build, dark hair and a handsome face. She had thought he’d be small and ratty, or fat and bald. He gestured at the seat across from him, Grace sat.
“I’m sorry for the conditions in which you’ve been staying. If I could have made it more comfortable for you, I would have.”
Grace didn’t reply, the man smiled, “Well, I imagine you’re thirsty, would you like a glass of water?” One of the men that had brought her in entered the room and placed a glass in front of her along with a large jug of cold water, condensation already beading outside it. Grace poured herself a glass and took a sip.
“I’m sure you’re wondering why you’re here, it’s usually the first thing people ask. I’m not going to lie or sugar coat it. We want money, the first step to that is people like yourself. We have sent ransom notes to the family of everyone whom we have captured. Those who paid the money had their loved ones returned quickly. In fact there are only twelve people left in the facility of the hundred or so that we took. You’re one of the remaining twelve. It has been brought to my attention that your family has a policy on ransoms and have declined to pay. I want to see just how far we can push that policy. I’m afraid that what will happen next will be unpleasant, but you have a chance to avert it. You will have ten seconds on the phone to inform your family that we will remove a body part for every day the ransom isn’t paid. We will start with fingers and toes and then work our way up, this will not stop until either the money is paid or you die. Of the other people who were released, twenty of them had similar policies. Most gave in once they received a few fingers and toes. I do want you to know though I bear no ill will towards you personally, you were just unfortunately in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
He picked up a cell phone from the table and passed it to her, “remember once you dial you’ll have only a short time period before the phone goes dead.”
Grace dialled the number and waited, “Hello?”
“Hi, dad? It’s me.”
“Are you ok?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. They’re saying they’re going to start removing bits if the ransom isn’t paid.”
“You know the policy dear.”
“I know dad, I’ll see you soon. I love you.”
“Love you too honey.”
Grace hung up, the man was smiling, “See how painless that is? We find a little reminder of what they’ll be losing is invaluable in the process.”
“He’s not paying.”
“I said he isn’t paying. He told me that I know the policy. They’re not going to pay.”
“I see. I explained this before but perhaps you’re a little slow. You won’t be released. You will die here. Screaming. Do you understand?”
“Yes, I understand that is your plan.”
“Oh and you think you can stop it?”
“Well, not for those other people you’ve captured. They’re on their own, but for me? Yes.”
“I see. Well, we’ll have to get started on you right away then, to dispel this theory of yours. Which do you want to lose first? Finger or toe? Or perhaps we should just go right to the bigger stuff, maybe carve off your nose. Slice up what you have between your legs. I know a few of our men would love to have a go at you”
Grace smiled at him, “My family have that policy for a simple reason, they believe that if you cannot get away from those who took you hostage you are weak and weak people deserve death.” Grace stood from her chair.
Grace sat outside the building, the sun was shining down. Someone would be along to get her shortly and no doubt free those who were still alive. Of course whoever arrived would clean up the mess, the group who had kidnapped her would be thought to have gone underground as they were about to be caught. In the distance she could hear a helicopter approaching. Grace stood and stretched again, enjoying the sunlight on her skin.