5. Anguish

I arrived at the party on Saturday the 20th of July 2002 expecting to see Alien in a noose, or something to that effect. I brandished in my heart hope and anticipation and I brandished in my hands the ransom in a paper bag. There was no alien to be seen upon my arrival. No matter, I thought. We'll wait and see - who knows what stunts sick minds can conjure. The evening came and went, and I went home distraught and empty-handed (couldn't resist scoffing down the ransom), fearing the worse. No, that was impossible. Nobody would have the heart to take a needle to Alien - that is just beyond the worst human cruelty.

Gloomy Monday arrived and the day passed without event. Each subsequent day without Alien increased my dejection. I was a wreck. My life was empty and meaningless.

But right then an unexpected glimmer of hope surfaced.

On Tuesday the 23rd I received the first communication from the culprits. He/she (or they) had set up an anonymous Hotmail account with no useful details. The e-mail address was alien_napper@hotmail.com. They sent a message to us with no text in the body. But they did attach these three photographs:

As you can see they are the products of a twisted mind. They forced him to stand in a toilet cubicle and endure claustroloobia. They blindfolded him and he was so terrified that he wrote a note. This touched my heart. Of course the captors forced him to write "treating me well". How can being forced to wear a blindfold and stand on a toilet be called "treating me well"?

There was nothing else in the message; no further text or clues. Just the photos, which we examined to great length but from which we could derive nothing useful. I was looking at a blank wall, with nothing to rely on to help me get Alien back in one piece. My only consolation was that I had proof and emotional comfort that Alien was alive.

All I could do now was wait.