Amelie knew that the black bag posed a clear and present danger. It was around ten inches away from her left arm and if it were possible to slide forward, Amelie would have shoved it as far away as possible. Maybe even thrown it out of the car. The further away from an explosion you are, the better it is, Amelie firmly believed. Ducking for cover was just not an option when she was trussed up so well. She had screamed for help when they lifted her up against her will and dumped her in the car, but now she had a piece of plastic in her mouth and couldn’t scream any more.
The harness around her chest and stomach did not restrict her from moving her arms or shaking her legs, but Amelie was a person with so little physical dexterity that she did not even try to unbuckle the harness. Even though escape was impossible, Amelie made yet another futile attempt to wriggle out of the harness. At the moment, it was much more important to get away from that black bag than escape from her captors, Amelie thought as despair took hold. It was her fifth month in captivity.
Her captors paid no attention to her as Amelie waved her arms and legs. The man and woman sitting on either side of her looked out of the window most of the time. Once in a while, they turned around to talk in a language which Amelie did not really understand. Earlier in the day, before they put her in the car, Amelie had tried talking to them, to see if she could make them see reason. But she had failed yet again. Amelie had burst into a fit of heart-breaking sobs, but they just did not understand her trauma.
At times, especially when they crowded around her and passed her around from one person to another, causing her immense pain in the process, Amelie had the feeling that her captors thought they were acting in her best interest. The whole of last week and even yesterday, Amelie had maintained a cheery disposition and smiled at them many times in the vain hope of winning them over. But the communication barrier remained as wide as ever.
The driver and the woman sitting in the front were also speaking among themselves. They seemed to speak a language different from the one spoken by the people sitting in the rear on either side of her. Time and again, the woman sitting in front would turn around and say something to the people in the rear. They were short, clipped sentences which seemed to be a third neutral language. The man and woman sitting beside her would respond in kind, barking out responses in a similar tone or using monosyllables to agree or disagree. Amelie thought she could understand bits of what was being said.
Once the woman in front asked the man sitting next to Amelie to pick up the black bag and give it to her. Actually Amelie wasn’t too sure what was being said until the black bag was passed to the front. The woman in front fiddled with it, took a black tube out of it, pressed the black tube to her lips, put the black tube back into the black bag and returned it to be put back near Amelie once more. Were they taunting her? Trying to break her by deliberately creating a panic situation?
The man sitting to Amelie’s left picked up the large colourful object which Amelie detested from behind his neck and gave it to Amelie. They wanted her to take it apart as only she could, despite her lack of physical dexterity. This was one of the reasons why they were holding her, Amelie knew. She wasn’t sure she could dismantle it, even though her captors thought she could. They had an assortment of such brightly coloured objects which they gave Amelie from time to time. At times Amelie did make a show of trying to do what her captors wanted, if only to escape from captivity, but so far she was unsuccessful. But at that moment Amelie was in no mood to oblige anyone. She threw the object back at the man with all the force she could muster, without giving a damn about the consequences. They could refuse her food when she was hungry; torture her by stripping her clothes and dumping her in a large tub filled with water to induce the sensation of drowning. The man did not seem to be put off by what happened. He just laughed. The woman to her right joined him.
Amelie then tried to push that piece of plastic out of her mouth once again. ‘Mom, she seems to hate the pacifier,’ the boy told his mother. ‘Shall I take it out?’
‘She might start screaming yet again. She is in a bad mood today.’
‘I wonder what goes on in her mind,’ the boy mused. ‘If only she could talk!’
‘I wish I were a baby,’ Amelie’s sister said. ‘They don’t have to go to school.’
‘I too wish I were a baby. No more homework in that case,’ Amelie’s brother said.
‘To be honest, even I wouldn’t mind being a baby,’ their father said as he drove the car. ‘At least, I wouldn’t have to worry about the mortgage.’
‘Or the car loan,’ their mother added.
Amelie nervously waited for the black bag to explode and blow her to smithereens at any moment.