Author's Note: This was written for the Casestory Big Bang on LiveJournal. It is complete, so I will be posting one part a day, which should take me up to the right time to post my next Big Bang.
Cardiff was not a modern city, nor was it an elegant one. Gentrification and regeneration had polished some areas, like the Bay and the centre, to a twenty-first century sparkle, but money is attracted to money and the lustre didn't spread. Rows of terraced houses stood as they had for a century or more, windows in splitting frames with faded and peeling wood looked out onto narrow streets where potholes harboured puddles between the rains.
Halfway down one of the streets, where a narrow alley split the row of houses and connected it to the street behind, a black SUV squatted in front of a grubby house with boarded up windows. It seemed out of place amongst the battered hatchbacks scattered sparsely along the rest of the street, but ominously confident of its place. Pristine lace curtains twitched up and down the road, but the residents knew not to ask questions about the dilapidated, seemingly empty house that the car's occupants had entered.
It was well known amongst the children that people walked into the alley and didn't come out into the next street. Anyone who grew up on the street knew it was true, but adulthood brought with it inadequate explanations to quieten childhood curiosity and the certain knowledge that the truth was almost certainly unwelcome.
Don't ask. Don't look at the house with the blacked-out windows. Don't think about the people who come and go late at night and the words they say that you can't understand. Don't wonder about the fact that that SUV sits outside so often, the one that everyone knows about. Don't admit you know about it. It's Torchwood business, and the forgotten corners of Cardiff are more susceptible than most to unexplained disappearances.