Christina tugged her coat tighter around her. Last week in June and an already miserable attempt at summer surprised her by reaching an atrocious low.
The invitation to spend a weekend at a resort had been a welcome break in days filled with work, and as Chag’s Swedish main office ground to a halt after the Midsummer’s celebrations, just like most business in Sweden did, she decided she could afford herself a little luxury.
Afford referring to time. She had all the money she could ever wish for and none of the pleasures she once dreamt came with it.
I’m growing old.
Their last collection was a failure. She knew that. Only murderous marketing kept the numbers up, but she would have refused to wear most of it as a teenager herself.
And yet I gave the green light. Damn! Her fault. The collections were her responsibility. Billion Dollar Empress and corporate management be damned. Chag did fashion. Christina bloody Princess of Scandinavia Agerman did fashion. If she didn’t, who else would?
For once she had kept the axe hanging despite demands that heads rolled. At least this time she wouldn’t place the blame for her own mistakes on anyone else.
She was so lost in thought that she almost missed that trees had given way to grass. With trunks no longer protecting her wind caught in her clothes and she had to grab her coat with both hands.
A bit further ahead a cabin hugged the mountainside. It almost looked like it had been dug into the very bedrock.
Then a freak gust of wind tore at her hair and Christina let out a surprised shriek.
Of course we’ll have a Summer’s storm on top of all! This June’s breaking every bloody low score yet. She grinned and grimaced. Somehow the abysmal weather made her laugh, but as the wind grew stronger she decided it wasn’t the time for mirth.
Woods or cabin? Cabin!
Just as she made her mind up the wind caught strength with a sickening roar, and for the first time she felt fear running through her. Out here she was totally unprotected.
She dropped to her knees and started crawling towards he mountain side. Out of nowhere windy weather had turned into a hurricane and she couldn’t see anything at all.
Her world turned white.
One moment gusts of wind tried to rip her coat to shreds, the next her coat was gone.
So were the rest of her clothes, and any remnant of wind as well.
Christina stared at bony fingers. Then she stared again.
She vaguely remembered that hand. It was hers, but not hers any longer.
Standing up she felt earth welling up between her toes, and she looked down.
What the hell?
Naked wasn’t anything special to her. She spent fifteen years of her life without any privacy. Ten of them without any privacy even away from cameras.
Naked and young, very, very young, however, was.
The ugly me? I had forgotten! What’s going on?
Then the sound of engines grew closer and she stood staring in the direction from where they came. From the sound she guessed she’d see the vehicle in a few seconds.
She was surround by mountains seen nowhere in Sweden.
A flash of a thought begged her to do something about her nakedness, but years of experience firmly shoved that thought down into the nothingness it deserved. She was naked. She had no clothes around her. There was nothing to do about it.
When the military looking car popped over a crest a little later she decided to cover her private parts with one hand and her breasts with the other. There was something called modesty after all.
Feeling her breasts under her hand she discarded that idea. There weren’t much to feel anyway.
Whoever drove the car cut the engine, and in the distance she heard another vehicle driving somewhere unseen to her.
The doors opened and two men emerged.
“Excuse me, but could you please tell me where I am?” she said to the one closest. English. English would do almost anywhere.
“You have arrived in Japan. We will take you in,” he answered and offered her a blanket he had been carrying. “There are clothes back there as well,” he added.
Christina wrapped the blanket around her. The flimsy cloth partially covering her body strangely enough made her feel more naked than before and she averted her eyes from his.
“What’s going on?”
“Sorry, mz. We’ll drive you to a facility where you can get some privacy and change into better clothes than those we have here.”
That didn’t answer her questions at all.
“We’ll answer your questions there as well.
That had to suffice.