In the single storey brick building, the technician and the archivist were at work. They unwrapped the plaques from the dirty dustsheets that had protected them for years. "Looks promising, doesn’t  it “said Sally enthusiastically.


“We’re on the right track, but look at the state of them. Need to clean them up first” .Nina tried not to get too excited, but she was sure they would find the hidden engraved text there, under the corrosion.


“I’ve got the right stuff for this job, as you might guess” commented Sally. “Want to join me in a bit of cleaning?”


“Just try and stop me ! I can’t wait to see what I think I’m going to see.”


“I’ll get us an apron each. This will be messy by the look of all this grime, it’ll take some elbow grease.” Sally went to the metal cupboard and pulled out two dark blue aprons. They were the kind that had a bib and a belt that went over the head ,at the back of the neck, as well as tying up behind the waist. “I wasn’t expecting a dirty job like this today, but never mind” She was wearing close fitting  black trousers over patent leather ankle boots, and a purple satin shirt, buttoned at collar and cuffs, Her shoulder –length dark brown hair was pinned back behind her ears with shiny silver-coloured  clips and she was wearing makeup and lipstick, Nina noticed. Sally was often dressed much more casually, so presumably she was going somewhere after work. She was a plump woman in her late forties who took most things in her stride, and Nina knew she had her admirers. Sally put the apron on ,tied the straps behind her back and rolled her shirtsleeves up past her elbows. “I’d take your jacket off for this, a shirt washes easier” she advised Nina. I was going to, thought Nina.


She removed her jacket and waistcoat and hung them  on the row of hooks on the wall, and put her apron on. She rolled the sleeves of her white shirt up neatly above her elbows and looked round the room. “Where’s the cleaning material” she asked. “Down in the basement, other side of the corridor” said Sally.” I’ll get it, I know where it is. I appreciate you helping, but your part in this is understanding the Latin. It’s all Greek to me.” She laughed at her joke, then left the room. Nina looked at the 15 plaques. They would all bear a Latin inscription, but only one would be the one they were looking for . If any of them had no inscription, there would be no need to clean them very thoroughly, and it would reduce the work they had to do. Her thoughts drifted back to the white van that had followed her into the car park, then turned round and left. Probably was someone who was lost after all, she thought. An hour ago she really thought she was being followed. It wasn’t surprising, considering the number of times she really had been followed.


Sally came back into the room with a yellow plastic bucket, in which were two bottles and an assortment of rags. “Just going to the outhouse for a hard brush. Should be one down there, but it’s gone. Put back in the wrong place I bet.”. She left the room again, returning after a few minutes with two stiff brushes. “One each” she announced. Nina looked at them. Flat wooden brushes with handles, quite old by the look of the wood.






Sometime later, the plaques were as clean as they would ever be. “Seen the one you’re looking for yet” Sally asked.


“I don’t know. I’ll have to read them properly, to decide.” There was a sound, like a door closing, from outside. “Did you lock the door when you went for the brushes?” Nina asked.


“No, I never do. Nobody ever comes round here. Why would they, it’s just a dingy old building. Do you think I should?”


“I would, you never know who’s around” said Nina.


 “Yes, I’ve heard the sort of things that have happened to you. My job’s quite dull and uneventful by comparison. Maybe I’ll lock the door then after all.”


The door of the workshop suddenly flew open, the sound causing them both to turn round. Two figures stood in the doorway, two rotund men wearing ski-masks. One held a pickaxe handle. “Evenin’ all” said one of them.


“See what you mean.” Sally muttered to Nina. “What do you want?” she addressed the two men.


“We want what the professor here wants. The plaque, and only she knows which one. Oh, and just do exactly as we tell you ”


“ I don’t know which one you want, they’ve all got Latin on them and I can’t read it.” Nina played for time.


“Let’s not play games. We know what you’re doing here” he replied, sounding less patient.


“Well, I have to read them in detail to find out”


“What about you?” the other one turned to Sally. “Can you read it?”


“Me? No way, I’m just here for the practical stuff” she answered.


The first man said “OK, we don’t need you any more, thanks. Truss her up now so we don’t have to watch both of them. Use the apron strings for her hands, we’ll finish the job afterwards”


Sally’s eyes widened. “Me? You mean truss me up?  Oh. ” She was about to protest, but realised there was no point. Making a fuss would just mean they would gag her. They probably will anyway, she thought, but no need to encourage them. The man moved behind her and pulled her arms back. He crossed Sally’s wrists in the small of her back, and bound them tightly with the apron strings. These were quite long and he was able to wind them round several times and knot them more than once. He finished them off with a bow.


He looked over to Nina. “A nice feminine touch, for a lady, don’t you think? Don’t worry, you can have one too when it’s your turn.”


“What’s he done?” Sally tried to look over her shoulder.


“A pretty bow” he said . Pity you can’t see, but I’ll do one for your friend when I tie her hands, you’ll be able to see that.”


Nina had guessed she was going to be tied up too, but now it was confirmed.


“I wonder if it’s the first time anyone’s been tied to their own apron strings” Sally said with a forced grin. She always tries to lighten difficult situations, thought Nina. There wasn’t much hope for this situation though, she thought .


One of the men was leaning over, peering at the plaques. “They all look clean enough to read now” he commented to his colleague. Turning to Nina he asked “So which is the one that our employer wants, and you want?”


Nina decided to push her luck a bit. “I’m not sure. It’s written in an unfamiliar dialect. Takes a bit of thinking about. Look, why don’t you untie Sally and let her go, this whole threatening situation is spoiling my concentration” she gave them both a conciliatory smile.


The taller of the two turned to the other “Can you believe this?” he laughed. “I think we better remind you just who’s got the upper hand. There’s too much talking for my liking. For starters since we don’t need Sally any more, she can be gagged. Just so you both know who’s boss”.


He opened a plastic carrier bag and took out a roll of gauze bandage. He tore off a piece and tied double knot in the middle. “Open wide” he said, stepping slightly behind her. She glared at him defiantly, then said “Oh, what’s the use” She opened her mouth and allowed him to push the knotted part of the cloth between her teeth. He pulled the ends behind her head and knotted them, leaving about two feet of the loose ends hanging behind her. He gave her a playful slap on the bottom. Sally glared at him.


“You just got her gagged by talking too much” he said , looking at Nina.



The other man took Nina’s left hand and forced it behind her. “You won’t need both hands to point” he told her. He unfastened the strings of her apron, pulled them tight, and holding her left hand in the small of her back, tied them tightly again, after passing them twice around her left wrist. Nina noticed that the other man was unravelling the gauze bandage.


 “Going to gag me already?” she asked, surprised.


“Yes, you can just look at them and point out the one we want.” was the reply.


Nina realised the futility of arguing and submitted to being gagged in the same manner as Sally. She looked at the plaques spread out on the table. Was there any point in indicating the wrong one? How long would it be before they found out. She knew which one it was. The risk involved in giving them the wrong one was hard to estimate. She realised that Sally and her were going to be left here, bound and gagged, and that it could be some hours before they either got loose or were found. She wouldn’t want the angry criminals returning while they were still here. Anyway, she told herself, the usual outcome of such incidents was that, as the criminals had now shown their hand, the time when they would be apprehended was getting closer. Their boss would make use of the information on the plaque, and in doing so reveal his identity. Several times she had stood in court watching as criminals listened to her evidence. Men, and one or two women, who a few months earlier had been threatening her , now waited uncomfortably as the court listened to her evidence. The woman who ,last time they saw her, was their bound and gagged captive, now had the upper hand. She loved to watch them squirm.


With this comforting thought, she pointed to the plaque that bore the inscription that they were all seeking.


“Why, thank you, Ma’am” the shorter man said with mock gratitude. “You wouldn’t be misleading us, would you?”


The other man moved behind her, pulled her right hand behind her and with the ends of the apron strings bound it next to her left. For good measure he wound all the remaining ends round both wrists and knotted them securely. “That will probably do” he said. “Don’t know that we need the straps”.


He turned to Sally, who had been watching with interest while Nina’s hands were being tied. “Better fix you up properly too, hadn’t we. Don’t want you to feel left out. Turn round please.“


Sally obligingly turned away from him. The remaining lengths of apron string were bound round her wrists as many times as possible, then tightly knotted. She wriggled her arms tentatively. “What’s the matter, not tight enough for you?” he said ,laughing.


The other man reached out for one of the brushes. “What do you say we give them both a good spanking before we go. Six of the best on their bums. Two of these brushes, that’s one each.”


“Give it a rest. Still trying to get me on the sex offenders register, aren’t you. We should split them up, though, they’ll have each other untied a few minutes after we’ve gone, otherwise. One stays here, the other can go down the corridor. Feet tied of course. I’ll take this one to the other room, you fix up the professor in here”


He ushered Sally out of the room. Nina glanced at the remaining man. “Got to tie your feet, stop you wandering off” he  said. “You’ll have to go on the floor. I’ll help you to sit down.” He manoeuvred her into a sitting position on the mat, then began to bind her feet together using more of the bandage. Having knotted it, he surveyed his work. He unrolled the bandage, noting how much was left. Looking sideways, Nina could see that there was a lot left. He wound it round her upper body twice, above and below her bust, then passed it between her arms and body behind her, pulling it tight and knotting it between her shoulder  blades. “That’ll keep you out of mischief. Just one more precaution”


He lowered her onto her side and rolled her over on her stomach. He stood up and reached over to the table. Nina just knew he had the brush. He knelt back down and held it in front of her face. “I don’t know if you’ve been a naughty girl or not” he said, grinning. “But if you haven’t .it’s a bit unfair, because you’re going to be spanked anyway. I thought the pair of you should get six of the best ,but as she’s not here, you can have her six. Nina felt her skirt suddenly pulled up. The flat wooden back of the brush came down on her bottom twelve times, enough of a time lapse between each one for her to anticipate the next one. Hard enough to sting, not hard enough to really hurt. Hard enough to arouse a lady who was a naughty little girl at heart. He obviously knew how to do this, she thought. “One more for luck” he said, delivering a final spank. “Oh, that makes thirteen, that’s unlucky, isn’t it. He gave her one more, before pulling her skirt back down. “I won’t tell anyone if you don’t” he said. “Now, I may as well use a bit more of this, as we don’t want you getting loose just yet” He tore off another strip of bandage and knotted it round her ankles, then pulled the other end through the lengths that were tied round her arms. He lifted her feet upwards and back over her bottom, pulled it tight and knotted it. She saw that he was tearing off yet another piece. He squatted down by her head, holding the bandage between both hands. As she looked up at him she realised he was going to blindfold her. She shook her head, there was no need for this indignity. Bound as securely as she was, there was no way she was going to escape. She couldn’t help feeling a thrill of anticipation though, as her last freedom was about to be taken away. “See you around” he said, grinning. He wound the bandage round her head twice before knotting it at the back. She felt a final hard smack on her bottom before he stood up and walked out of the room. Nina wondered if Sally was getting similar treatment. She decided she wasn’t going to mention the spanking, unless Sally did.


Is it just me, she wondered. Several years ago, when Ray had robbed the bank where she worked, she had her first experience of being spanked by a robber. It was quite unexpected, after tying her up and collecting all the cash, he had taken a ruler to her bottom. During her acquaintance with him he had explained how he just couldn't resist it, having bound a pleasantly plump woman in the course of a robbery, he just had to spank her. Nina knew from her later experiences of being robbed, that it wasn't just Ray who felt like this. There had been other men who, once they had her bound and gagged, couldn't resist the temptation of spanking her bottom. Today was just another example. Never mind though, she could identify these men, she would get her own back when she testified at their trial.








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