When I regain consciousness, I am back on the mattress. There is a huge jug of water and a plastic cup. I can finally drink to my fill. The trunk is at the corner, probably as a reminder of what will happen to me if I don’t “behave”. Why lie? That’s not something I want to experience again. I feel groggy but mostly very thirsty. I gulp down the water. Patches of memory slowly return. My grand escape fail. How I wailed until I passed out from the heat. I didn’t wake up when they finally opened the trunk. I don’t even remember being lifted out and being placed on this mattress.
Bill comes into the room. “You’re awake! Good,” he says.
He sits on the trunk, facing me.
“Are you holding me for ransom?” I ask. Better to be blunt and know what I’m facing.
He gives me a long, measured gaze. “They said you were smart,” he responds.
“So that’s it?” I ask, my worst fear coming to be. “My family has no money. I support my mother!”
“If this is true, then surely we must know it too,” Bill says. He stands up and faces me, arms akimbo.
“They said you were smart…” he says again, looking disappointed.
I gulp down more water. If they don’t want ransom, then what is this?
“What have you been up to Samantha? Who have you pissed off?” he asks sardonically. “You must be aware of cause and effect.”
I stop drinking and wipe the excess fluid from my mouth. Who have I pissed off? Where do I start? The VIP. The Prude. GG. Wait. Could any of them be behind this?
“I have a lot of money. I’ll pay you double what they are giving you,” I say. “Just let me go.”
“You didn’t answer me,” Bill says.
“Answer you regarding what?” I ask. “Whom I may have upset?”
“Cause and effect,” he says.
“Causality is a genetic connection of phenomena through which one thing under certain conditions gives rise to something else,” I reply dryly.
“So you are a smart girl,” he says. “And since you’re so clever, what would be the effect of me screwing over the people who brought you here for whatever money you may give me?”
I don’t immediately respond. My mind is racing. He is afraid of whoever brought me here. Not good. He is not the boss. Not good.
“You’re smart, too,” I finally say. “One doesn’t normally discuss science with kidnappers.”
“Oh?” he asks. “Do you get kidnapped often?”
Touché. Who is this guy? “I’m just saying that a person with philosophical leanings may have picked a different path, as far as careers are concerned.”
“I had options,” he says with a smile. “But this is kind of fun. No?”
A sadist, too.
“Why don’t you just spell it out for me?” I say.
“Take off your clothes,” he says abruptly.
“What?” I ask.
“You want to know why you are here? Take off your clothes,” he says.
“No,” I say, the feeling of cold dread returning.
“Take off your clothes, right now or spend the night in the trunk. It’s up to you,” he says calmly.
“No,” I say again.
He walks towards me, seemingly unfazed by my refusal.
“Causality is a genetic connection of phenomena through which one thing under certain conditions gives rise to something else,” he says. repeating what I had said earlier word for word. I hold my breath.