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.
If you enjoyed this excerpt, you may also be interested in:
The story of how this book was written and its journey to publication: