Chapter 1: The Game
The metallic taste in her mouth and the lingering chemical odour were the first clues that indicated to Andromache Jones she had been abducted. In quick succession, other hints followed: the blindfold over her blue eyes; the bindings around her slender wrists.
She was of medium height and not very broad, but she was stronger than she looked. However, with the aid of a chemical or drug, she would have been easy to overpower.
Sitting as still as she could, Andromache strained to hear the sound of movement that would point to whether she was alone or if there was someone else in the room with her. She heard nothing; nothing except the sound of her heart pounding in her ears and the repetitive drip-drip of a leaky pipe or tap.
The air was damp and cold, and clung to her purple-streaked, light brown hair that reached her shoulders and stuck out at funny angles when it wasn’t being restrained by a blindfold. The air also had a peculiar taste to it, or so she thought. However, her analytical mind quickly accepted that this might be the result of the combined effect of the taste in her mouth, the chemical soreness in her nose and the disorientation of her predicament.
Andromache, or Mac, as she preferred to be called as “Andromache” sounded far too formal and always led to questions about Troy, Prince Hector and The Illiad, had made a few enemies in her twenty-four years of life, and she had annoyed a few more on top of that. This was directly the consequence of two things: her forays into the world of the private detective and the gifts she had been born with.
By trade, or perhaps destiny depending on which way you looked at it, Mac was a psychic. However, her love of mysteries and puzzles had naturally pushed her towards helping out her policeman boyfriend on a few of his cases. This led to his quick advancement up the ranks and inflamed her desire to solve conundrums and crime, with the aid of her psychic gifts, naturally.
Mac was not clairvoyant; she didn’t see the dead. She was sometimes capable of clairaudience where she could receive messages and guidance from a spirit in the form of speech, but this was quite a rare occurrence. She was however, clairsentient; she could feel the presence of the dead. Nevertheless, these abilities did not really help her in the pursuit of answers. The tarot cards, crystal ball and pendulum on the other hand, very much did.
She had played her part in the capture of murderers, drug dealers, burglars and even a bank robber. She had located lost children, stolen jewellery and once a kidnapped tenth generation pedigree dachshund. Of course, her involvement in such cases was kept very much out of the public eye; she did not seek fame and the police did not want their association to become public knowledge.
However, that did not mean that others outside of these circles were oblivious to Mac’s role in such cases, as her current dilemma seemed to prove. Mac wracked her brain, trying to think of who could have done this to her and yet it seemed somewhat of an over-reaction for most of the cases she had been involved with, especially recently. So she turned her attention away from the world of sleuthing, instead focusing on her other area of employment.
From her little cottage in the village of Bramblesgrove, Mac ran River Gardens Mystical Service, from which she dispensed herbal medicine, periodically taught yoga, offered readings, and as a member of the Coven of the Silver Star, an international coven network, cast spells. She regularly taught classes and wrote literature on metaphysical subjects, and within this circle, she was deemed quite famous, much to her embarrassment.
Yet here also enemies lurked, in the form of other witches jealous of her abilities and her success. Sure, some of them would like to see my luck change, she mused, but would any of them go to the length of kidnapping me?
Just as she was about to answer her question, footsteps, faint at first, could be heard. Mac felt the first flurries of panic in her stomach, as she sent a silent plea up to the Goddess asking to keep her safe. Then she mustered up all her courage and forced herself to calm down. Looking weak and terrified would do her no good.
‘You’ve come round! How delightful!’ exclaimed the voice of a man, a voice she did not recognise. ‘Welcome to my lair. This is where all the fun begins, and as always, I promise all my guests lots of that.’
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