THE OLD WOMAN AND BRAD
It was a cool October evening and Brad was walking home from a friends house. He quickened his pace a little as he could feel drops of rain in the air. A few minutes later the rain really began to fall, and in no time at all it was pelting down.
As the evening had started brightly enough Brad had not felt the need of a jacket, and soon he was getting very wet. He decided he would shelter in a doorway until maybe the rain eased a little.
The first doorway he found was an old bookshop. The windows were filthy and the paint on the door was faded and peeling. Still, Brad thought to himself, it was dry enough.
He had not been there long when the door opened and an old lady popped her head out and looked at Brad.
"Iím sorry", Brad smiled at her, "I was getting very wet and I just thought I would have a few minutes shelter, I shall move away if youíd like me to."
"Nonsense, my dear", the old lady replied in a kindly voice, "I wouldnít dream of it, in fact I was going to ask you if you would like to come in and dry yourself by the fire, in my sitting room at the back of the shop."
"Thatís very kind of you", Brad told her, "but I donít want to trouble you."
The old lady ignored these words and gently took Brad by the arm and led him into her shop.
The shop was dark, and there was a slight musty smell about it. The old lady led Brad into her sitting room which had a roaring fire in the open grate.
The room was cosily furnished with a comfy looking sofa and a big arm chair, positioned close to the fire, a table was next to it, with a large book on it, and a teacup.
The old lady caught Brad looking at it.
"I shall put the kettle on again", she told him, "that is if you drink tea, do you dear?"
Normally, Brad liked Coke, but as he was still wet through, and he didnít imagine the old lady would have any fizzy drinks around the place he nodded and thanked her.
Brad sat on the sofa and waited. Minutes later the tea arrived and also a plate of biscuits.
"What is your name, dear?" the old lady asked, "Mine is Glennis".
"Iím Brad, and this really is very kind of you", he replied, taking a second biscuit as it was offered to him.
The wind had got up outside and the old window frames rattled, and a draught blew down the chimney.
As Brad sipped his tea he took a better look around the room. All around the walls were bookcases, filled with very old books, all faded with age, and with the same faint musty smell he had got from the shop. On the mantelpiece were some very nice looking ornaments, of cats, owls and other assorted animals, and on the bookcases were plants and one or two other ornaments. The carpet was worn in places and a large rug was in front of the hearth. The only light in the room came from the roaring fire and from a few candles on another table, by the window. There was another door at the other end of the room, and, Brad gathered, that must lead to the kitchen, because that was where Glennis had gone when she said she was going to put the kettle on.
"You are deep in thought," Glennis said after a few minutes, "are you feeling warmer and drier yet?"
Brad looked at her, took his last mouthful of tea and said "Yes, thank you, but I do feel rather tired now, I donít suppose you have a phone, I think I had better ask my dad to come and pick me up, I donít think I could walk home feeling like this."
"Oh, Brad, I am sorry, my phone is out of order" the old lady told him, then, as if he wasnít there, she picked up her book, sat back in her big armchair, and began to read.
"Glennis?" Brad tried to speak to her, but she didnít look up, and he was too tired to say any more. Before he knew what was happening, sleep overcame him.
When Brad woke up he was not in the cosy sitting room any more. He was lying on a bare mattress, in what seemed to be a cellar. It was completely dark apart from one candle burning on the floor near the door. The walls were bare brickwork, and damp too, and as Brad looked around he could faintly make out steps just through the doorway, which gave him the idea he may be in a cellar. Also, there were no windows, and the floor was solid stone.
Brad tried to get up, but his head felt heavy and he felt slightly queasy. He called out "Glennis, Glennis", but everywhere was silent. He tried again to get up, but he still felt very tired, although not sleepy this time.
After a few more minutes Brad could hear someone coming down the stone steps. He hoped it would be Glennis, and he hoped even more for an explanation, and that he may be able to go home. He waited, and watched.
A figure walked quietly up to him. For a moment he thought it may be Glennis, but as she got closer, he could tell it was a younger woman, no more than middle aged.
"Hello, Brad", she spoke softly.
"Who are you?" Brad said, trying, unsuccessfully, for a third time to raise himself.
"That does not matter," came the reply, "but I am here to see if you are all right."
"All right" shouted Brad, angrily, "No, I am NOT all right, and I want to go home, where is Glennis?"
The woman lit some more candles that Brad had not been able to see, and then she smiled.
"I am afraid I cannot answer any of your questions at this time", she told him, "but can I get you anything to eat or drink?"
Brad frowned, "I have to get home, my parents will be worried". He felt very hungry and thirsty, but he was desperate to get away, and he did not want to accept this womanís hospitality.
She turned towards the steps, "Now I wonder what boys your age like to drink?" she mused, almost to herself.
Brad could still not get up, and this now was worrying him a great deal, he wanted to cry, yet he wanted to be strong, like he thought he should be at twelve.
He must have dozed off again, as he was woken some time later by the same woman, who this time, had brought him a large bottle of coca cola, a packet of crisps and a plate of sandwiches.
Brad took no time in finishing off the sandwiches and crisps and the coke was going down very well too, and soon Brad felt strong enough to stand up. The woman had remained with him all this time, and he thought maybe he would now be strong enough to overpower her and make his escape.
How wrong he was! He had never felt such strength in another human being before, as he tried to push passed her, she grabbed him by the arm and held him fast.
"Please, you must let me go" appealed Brad, "I must get home." He could feel tears welling up in his eyes, but he would not give way to them.
The woman pushed him back onto the mattress and hurried back up the steps. Brad tried to follow, but when he reached the top all he found was a locked door.
Brad thumped on the door until his fists hurt. He sat down on the top step and put his head in his hands and began to cry. He didnít know how long he sat there, but presently the woman opened the door and ushered Brad back down the steps. She had with her a cup of hot chocolate which he drank readily enough. Soon the same sleepy feeling he had experienced after Glennis gave him the cup of tea came over him again, and he could not fight it, so he lay down on the mattress and closed his eyes.
Brad was feeling very woozy indeed when he woke up again. He looked around him, and got a shock, for on a small stool next to his mattress sat a young woman, reading a book by the candlelight. Sensing he was now awake she turned to him and smiled. "How are you feeling?" she asked him.
"Awful" came the weak reply, "I need to get home, who are you and where is Glennis?"
"All in good time" she told him "in the meantime I shall get you some refreshments".
"My arm hurts" complained Brad, "why am I being kept here?"
"I donít think you want to know that, my dear", the woman said, turning towards the steps.
Brad felt so weak, he couldnít get up again, "Oh no" he thought to himself, he called out feebly to the young woman, "Please tell me, what is happening to me?"
The woman just carried on up the steps and was gone.
Some time later she returned with a hot meal and a lemonade. It took Brad some time to raise himself high enough to eat, but he began to feel better as he ate.
When he had finished he asked again for an explanation. He stared at the woman, there was something familiar about her. She looked very much like the middle aged woman, who in turn had reminded him of Glennis.
"Is Glennis your Grandmother?", Brad asked.
"No" laughed the young woman, and she took the empty plate and hurried up the steps before she could be asked any more questions. Brad knew there was no point in following her, the door would surely be locked again.
A little while later Brad heard the door opening and the young woman came down the steps. She had with her a hot drink for Brad. He was just about to drink it when he remembered what had happened before. He would have the drink, go to sleep and wake up feeling very weak.
Brad thought quickly, he took the cup, turned slightly away so the young woman would not see him, and he poured the drink onto the stone floor, the other side of his mattress.
He turned back, gave the cup back and yawned. He lay back onto his mattress and pretended to go to sleep.
The young woman, certain that Brad was really asleep, the effects of the drink, of course, she took a syringe from her pocket, and was just about to jab it into the poor boyís arm. He grabbed her wrist.
"Now", Brad exclaimed, "You have a lot of explaining to do, what on Earth do you think you are doing?"
The young woman pulled herself free and fled up the steps without a word.
Brad was still no wiser, and the despair he felt was growing by the minute. He worked out the hot drinks were sending him to sleep, but this, the syringe, he had not bargained for. Who were these mysterious women, and what did they want from him?
Brad felt his arm, the one that had hurt, could it be? Yes, it must be so, he felt a slight pinprick. So that was it, the syringe had been used on him before. He could not work out why. It certainly wasnít to make him sleep, the drinks had done that.
Soon, he heard the door open. Somebody was coming down the steps.