by Owen Lawrence
Go. Just go!” The man pushed her out of his car on to the area in front of the airport terminal.
She looked at him through the open door, tears in her eyes. “Thank you, thank you. You save my life.”
Jonathan pulled the door closed and sped away, his car dissolving into the traffic leaving the airport. He looked into his rear view mirror at the tiny figure staring after him. He’d really done it this time. If his wife ever found out… or the bastards that the girl had been working for. But they wouldn’t. He’d covered his tracks well. The flight had cost him, but he’d bought it on a temporary credit card, bought with petty cash. And the travel documents? Well, he’d had to pull all of the strings he had at the Home Office for those. But it was completely untraceable, he was sure of that. Never again, he vowed. This simply wasn’t worth it.
Mai watched the car disappear and wiped the tears away with the back of her hand. Just one kind person was all it took. She looked down at her ripped jeans and high heels. No time for regrets. She needed to get out of this country, and get out fast.
It had all started when she’d been waitressing at a bar in Bangkok. It hadn’t been much, but she received good tips and she’d been saving for her future. Then the businessman with the bald patch started coming in to see her, always sitting at one of her tables, giving her bigger and bigger tips. She would never forget that bald head, the freckles surrounded by a halo of grey. He’d talked about life in the UK, how wonderful the culture was, how much she would love London. He’d embellished his stories with promises to introduce her to business people, make sure she got a great job with a high salary. She couldn’t believe she’d been stupid enough to fall for it. She’d been so naïve then, she’d changed so much in six short months.
When she had arrived at Heathrow, there had been four other girls with her, all bundled into the back of a van with no explanation. They’d been driven to a dirty, run down Victorian house, where they’d been given a small, cold room with four mattresses on bare floorboards. They were told that they’d be going to work the next morning. There had been very little food, and when one of the girls protested, she was met with a smash to the side of her head. It hadn’t taken them long to realise that they were captive. The place was run by a woman, Mrs Bellingham, whose job was supposedly to look after the girls. She was tall, stick thin, yet muscular, and had too much makeup on her hard lined face. She looked and smelled sour, always shouting at the girls and pushing them around.
Then the drugs had started. First Mai had been forced to take pills – literally made to swallow them whilst being held down as Mrs Bellingham shoved them into her mouth. They made her drowsy and nauseous. The other girls were soon begging for more, wanting to rid themselves of the their fear and homesickness and replace it with that warm, sleepy feeling…but Mai had resisted.
Then, on the fifth night, starving and weak, head groggy from the drugs, she had been pushed into a tiny red room, dimly lit with a yellowing lamp. It was dominated by a bed, old and dirty, covered with layers of sheets and throws. She sat down on the edge of the bed, feeling sick, knowing what was coming next. Mrs Bellingham came in first and pulled her to her feet by her long, straight, black hair.
“You want trouble?” she snarled into Mai’s face.
Mai didn’t answer, her eyes wide with fear.
“You want food?”
“Yes,” said Mai simply.
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