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MEMOIR EXCERPT

Prologue

Six days after my daughter’s birth I was kidnapped. My captors sidled up next to me in a big black car with tinted windows and offered me superpowers instead of sweets. They tricked me with promises. They said:

‘Come with us – and the world and your life will make sense like never before.’

They were right. For twelve hours before I got in their car they tempted me with what it felt like to be all knowing and all seeing. I could see everyone else muddling along and then me – soaring high above it all, euphoric in the knowledge I would never be plagued with doubt about anything again – because I knew the reason for everything. Meaningless overheard snippets of other people’s conversations ballooned in significance. They were clues to a giant puzzle, and I was slotting the pieces into place quicker and quicker as the day went on. I laughed and laughed because I saw the world so clearly. Its complexity dazzled me, and I felt omnipotent because I had been handed the ability to solve it.  I felt so lucky. I had been given the opportunity to spend a day running the universe – doing work experience with a god I’d never believed in.

They said if I went with them I’d never need sleep again. I had hardly slept for a week and gave in to temptation. I followed them innocently into their black, smoky car. It was only after I got in and the doors slammed shut, I realised I was trapped in the dark with all the things I feared most in life. They sat so close to me I could feel their breath on my closed eyelids. I turned into a claustrophobic who had been locked in a cupboard. The car sped away.

By the time I saw my husband again I had been tortured into saying unspeakable things. My captors lived inside my head. Their ransom was me. They told me if I didn’t comply, my husband would be tortured just like I had been. They made me look deeply into his eyes and say I didn’t recognise him. They made me say:

‘I don’t have a baby.’

It took a swat team to get me back, gun down the impostors in my head, and carry what was left of me to safety, and back to my family.

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