The light was so bright it hurt my eyes. I blinked once, raising a hand to shield them. Where the hell am I?
White washed walls reflected the harsh glow of a solitary bulb, locked away in a mesh of steel. The room was empty save for a single chair, bolted down in the centre of the green, tiled floor. A naked, steel table stood beyond.
‘Hello,’ said a voice, level and quiet, over my shoulder. ‘Please, take a seat.’
I turned expecting to find the doorway I’d entered through, but found myself staring into the face of a tall, lank man dressed in a pale blue suit. He gave me a warm smile and gestured to the seat. I couldn’t help notice the door had gone, replaced by a solid wall.
‘I’ve been looking forward to meeting you,’ he said. ‘Come now, make yourself comfortable.’
His hand grasped my arm, bony fingers biting into the flesh of my bicep. I winced.
‘W…where am I?’ I asked as he guided me firmly to the chair and pushed me down against the cold metal.
‘You’re in the hospital: St James’s.’
‘Hospital?’ I made to rise but his hand held me in place. I felt sick, dizzy. Had he drugged me?
I looked up into heavy-lidded eyes and a gaze that was both curious and weary. It was as though he was studying me, pitied me.
‘Don’t you remember?’
I shook my head in disbelief. I think he took it to mean I didn’t remember because he gave a thoughtful grunt, patted my shoulder once and moved to take up his seat on the other side of the desk.
‘What am I doing here? How did you get me here?’ I heard the urgency in my voice long before I realised I was screaming: ‘what have you done to my wife?’
‘What’s the last thing you remember?’ he asked.
I felt the urge to wipe that smug look off his face with the chair, if it hadn’t been fixed to the floor.
‘Where is she?’
‘We’ll get to that when you’re ready. What’s the last thing you remember?’
‘I…erm…’ I started and stopped, brow furrowed.
‘Take your time,’ that smile again.
I wondered if I could reach him across the table before he could summon help, smack his face into the metal. He’d tell me where she was then, make think twice about patronising me again.
‘I was at home. We were arguing, my wife and I,’ I said as the images slowly pushed through the haze of memories. ‘I stormed out. When I opened the door though, I was here, in this room.’
‘What were you arguing about?’
I thought for a moment, ‘she…she wanted to leave.’
‘And you didn’t want her to?’
‘What have you done to her?’
‘And you didn’t want her to?’ he asked again, a little more forcefully.
‘Of course not, she’s my wife.’
‘Is that why you hurt her? Where is she, Mr Williams?’