A paperchase through Salzburg, Austria. A winter story.

The scent of lavender bit her nose, irritating more than it calmed her. Still, she fought to keep her breath steady, guiding big gulps of the flowery scented air into her lungs, convincing herself that this situation was not at all out of the ordinary. She was not hyperventilating in her seat; she was not digging her fingernails into the skin of her palms; and she was most certainly not imagining herself and a dozen burning airplane pieces sailing to the ground. This was no different to all the other flights she had taken throughout her life. If anything, it was much shorter than the half day she spent travelling every summer when she visited her family in South Africa – so surely, she would be fine. Yet, when she opened her eyes, her hands felt sticky and slick with blood and her heart beat so loudly in her chest that it was impossible to hear the piano music through her earphones, despite it blaring at maximum volume. There was one big difference to any other trip she had ever taken, though. Usually she knew what or who waited on the other side; usually she was guided by more than just a written request; usually she had time to plan every second of her journey. But this time, she had nothing but a crumbled (and now slightly bloody) piece of paper and a question burned into the back of her mind: Why? Why had she played along? Why hadn’t she ignored the clues? And why had she boarded a plane, all by herself and seemingly without thinking?

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