The Disappearance of WPC Drummond

 

The group of near-derelict farm buildings on the roundabout had not always been so neglected. Before the trunk road was upgraded in the 1970's they had been at the entrance to a track which led to the farm to which they belonged, on a dangerous junction. The improvements had widened the road and added the roundabout. The junction was no longer an accident black spot, but the buildings were marooned on the new roundabout. The farmer, having been adequately compensated, had replacements erected in a more convenient place and never visited the old ones again.

 

As time went by lots of people realised that the buildings were abandoned. The site became familiar to the local police as it was a location of choice for stolen cars to be dumped, and for visiting drug dealers to trade with their local agents. By the time WPC Harriet Drummond had transferred to the local force it was too well known and the more clued-up criminals stayed away from the place. Just being found there was almost an admission of being up to something. However, in one of her first cases, she did interview an abduction victim who had been dumped there.

 

Now that she was being sent back there, she remembered that case for the first time in years. It was an unusual case, one where a man with very little going for him had earned himself a long prison sentence for a crime that didn't have much chance of success. He was a young man who hadnít been in the country for long. His poor command of the language and his furtive manner, combined with his hippyish appearance, hadn't been any help to him in finding himself a job. Eventually he hit on the idea of stealing and selling something valuable. That something happened to be a luxurious silver-grey limousine that he had noticed about the locality. A limousine in question was for hire, with its driver, Mrs Marie McDonald, who spent most of her working days taking executives to and from the airport.

 

And Harriet found herself sitting with her in an interview room.

Sitting opposite her was a blue-eyed brunette in her early forties, comfortably rounded in her figure and wearing a uniform of a sensible black skirt and a crisp white shirt buttoned at the collar. A black blazer matching the skirt was draped over the back of her chair. She would have had a change of clothes no doubt but this would be the same uniform she had worn when she had been rescued. Her black hair was pinned up at the back and drawn back from her forehead, giving a severe look that contrasted with her large eyes, round cheeks and full lips. An attractive lady inside a severe uniform. Harriet noted with some dismay that the woman's cheeks and forehead, and the backs of her hands, bore some red marks that were probably the residue of the adhesive tape that had bound her for so long the previous day. And her eyebrows seemed very patchy under her make-up. She didn't seem upset today though, considering that she had been bound, gagged, blindfolded and robbed in a terrifying knife attack not much more than twenty four hours ago.

 

"I've only been working for Exec-Trans for a few weeks. I honestly thought I'd got away from this kind of thing, you know, violent crimes, moving down here. So much for that. I suppose it's the same everywhere".

 

"What happened then? Take me through it briefly before we record it all officially. You seem pretty composed today, considering what happened to you".

 

"Okay. Yes, I was pretty damn scared yesterday but I'm over it now. Took me most of the evening to get sticky bits from the tape out of my hair." Marie McDonald began. "Let's see. I had just left a client at the Heron Hotel. I'm a smoker, for my sins but I don't smoke in the car. I was having a cigarette, standing by the shrub hedge in the car park when this guy appears, just as I open the car door. He asks if I'm a taxi driver, in an East European accent of some sort. I said I wasn't, but then he showed me an envelope with an address. West Thunston Farm Estate. He said he had to go there for a job interview as a language student. First I doubted him, but then it sort of made sense. You know, strong accent, bit of a hippy. He said he was going to be late and offered me £30 to take him. He showed me the notes. Well, why not, it's only five miles, I thought. I'm not supposed to take unbooked fares so I'm in the crap at work now, but I didn't know what was going to happen, did I? Huh! Next time I'll go by my prejudices.

 

Anyway, I drive to the turning for the estate, and he says, don't go in there, keep driving. I started to argue, but I see in the mirror he's holding a knife next to my face. Just drive, he says, and I won't hurt you, I just want the wheels, so I do. I'm trying to think fast, but soon weíre at the roundabout with the old buildings. He makes me pull onto the track and drive in a few yards. He jumps out and tells me to get in the back. I was so scared, but he said I'd be all right. He made me kneel with my face against the seat, and then he got a roll of wide brown sticky tape out of his carrier bag. Every now and again he made a slashing motion with the knife, whenever I hesitated. Like he was reminding me what could happen"

 

"He wrapped that tape round and round my head, starting with my mouth but then over my eyes. Then he cut it and pulled my hands behind my back and wound it round them again and again. He pulled me up by my shoulders and pulled it tight round my body over and over. I was terrified at first, couldn't see or speak, wondering what he was going to do. But then he said he was taking the car and leaving me there".

Harriet noticed her cheeks turn red momentarily as she continued "He gave my boobs a squeeze as he was taping my arms to my sides, but he didn't make a meal of that. He lifted me out of the car and stood me up, then led me by the arm. I couldn't see anything of course, but I was scared he was going to leave me in one of those sheds. Then he told me to sit down. He helped me to sit; I could feel I was sitting on grass. He started wrapping the tape round my feet and legs, almost up to my knees, and then he cut it and wrapped some more round my body. He pushed me down, face down on the grass and said I'd better not tell the police about him. As if I'd let anyone get away with doing that to me. Then he left, I heard the car start up and pull away, going quite fast".

 

"Then the lorry drivers saw you" Harriet commented. "About an hour later".

 

"Yes, the longest hour ever" said the woman, rolling her eyes. "Can you imagine what it's like not being able to see or speak or move? I didn't dare move about, I was afraid I'd roll into the road. Insects were crawling on me and God knows what. And then the bloody rain started, so I tried to remember the lie of the land. I couldn't remember if I was close to the barns or not".

 

"It's a good thing that those lorry drivers were sitting high up in their cab, I doubt anyone in a car would have seen you" said Harriet. "Of course he denies tying you up, denies knowing anything about you. He says he found the car with the keys in it. Won't do him any good as he had your bank cards in his pocket when he was nicked".

 

"I wonder what business he had at that farm?" the kidnap victim mused.

 

"I can answer that for you" said Harriet. "It's not a proper farm any more, not with cows and tractors and things. They've had all their barns converted into office and factory units, and let them out. Like an industrial estate. I imagine he would have robbed somebody there too".††††

This was a few years ago now but nevertheless when Harriet was told to go to the roundabout to investigate a recurrent complaint, she was secretly apprehensive. She remembered what had happened to that abductees, and it reminded her all too much of her own recent experiences. In the course of her ordinary duties, she had been captured by criminals on three occasions, bound and gagged, and on one occasion spanked soundly. And each time she had been found and freed by Sergeant Eric Forsyth. Harriet had known for months that Sgt. Forsyth had something of a crush on her, although he was allegedly engaged to a WPC at another station. She wondered if he would ever summon up the courage to do more than just leer at her when he thought she wasn't looking.

 

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The renewed interest in the roundabout came about because a man who cycled past the roundabout on his way to work had reported hearing the sound of a dog whining in one of the buildings as he passed. And there had been thefts of greyhounds. Maybe it was coincidence, maybe not. Harriet and her colleague Sally Stevens had been despatched to check the location for any sign of criminal activity, or failing that, any sign of dogs being present. Sgt. Forsyth had decided that the two WPCs would be very careful just to gather information and report on the situation, rather than steaming in and alerting whatever crooks happened to be there. He was assuming that Harriet wouldn't want a repetition of her recent experiences.

 

The small blue Citroen van had been heading for the roundabout, but the driver suddenly braked and pulled off the road. He reversed into the muddy entrance to a wheat field and turned the engine off. The two men in the van hadn't expected to see a Panda car parked on the roundabout. They sat and watched intently for over ten minutes before anybody appeared.

 

Inside the largest of the buildings, the only one made of brick, the two policewomen looked around in vain for anything interesting. The gloom was relieved only by light from the two small windows, glass broken long ago, and the open door, but the light was good enough. The concrete floor was filthy, dust and leaves everywhere, and at one side, rubbish was piled against the wall. A wooden pallet, some old blue plastic sheets, broken wooden fruit boxes. There was even one of those huge tarpaulin covers which, Sally explained, was the sort that went over the back of a flat-bed truck to keep the cargo dry, and the assorted lengths of orange plastic rope on the floor would have been used to tie it in place. Sally had been a clerk for a haulage firm before joining the police and liked to show off her knowledge, even of trivial details. "D'you mean to say it might be off a hi-jacked lorry?" Harriet asked, suddenly interested.

"Doubt itĒ said Sally dismissively. "That would only be used for builder's trailers, not the sort of thing that gets hi-jacked". So, not really evidence of anything, Harriet thought. Good, she didn't fancy any criminals turning up while they were here. Whoever had kept dogs here was probably long gone. What they had found was enough of a result. The dogs had been here and now they had gone. Harriet and Sally had already looked in the wooden shed next door and found the dismantled cages of wood and chicken wire. That and the empty dog food cans suggested the cyclist might have been right. But no dog mess, no bad smells. Whoever it was had cleared up pretty well.

 

In the van two pairs of eyes watched intently as they saw a pretty brunette in her thirties, not very tall for a policewoman, in white shirt, dark blue tie and skirt and black shoes, and a taller buxom blonde woman in her mid-twenties in the same uniform. "Wonder what they're looking for?" said the van driver "No chance we left anything in there, is there?"

 

"Just not possible. Not at the moment. Don't want them coming back too often, do we? Look, they're getting in the car and driving off. Not calling for backup, are they, see. There they go. Must be something to do with the dogs. Well, that guy won't be back".

 

A few days later, Harriet was speaking to the cyclist who had reported the howling dogs. A routine call to thank him for the information. Ordinary citizens who gave unsolicited information needed to be encouraged, that was Harriet's opinion. The man had heard no more dogs, but he had seen the same two vehicles parked at the roundabout on two occasions. A blue Citroen van and a black Mercedes saloon.

 

Harriet couldn't help wondering if she and Sally Stevens had missed something. They had discussed it again, but Sally, typically, didnít seem interested in any case once she had been tasked with something different. Harriet, on the other hand, decided to watch the place. If she saw any vehicles parked there, she'd check them out. On her own if necessary. Getting a lead on a case meant brownie points and her appraisal was only a few weeks away. She didn't think twice about exceeding her duty if it got her a good result

 

A few days later she was driving on the road that passed the place, having visited another complaining householder. She hadn't intended to go there alone; it was a spur of the moment impulse. She wouldn't have dreamed of doing this when any vehicles were parked there. A policewoman on her own was no match for two or more criminals with guns, she knew that from personal experience. But in her recent encounters, although thoroughly trussed up and gagged, she had been left in places where she had soon been found. If she was captured and imprisoned in these buildings, she could be here forever. She shuddered at the idea.

But today she was a bit ahead of schedule, and she circled the roundabout just to be certain that nobody was there, before pulling onto the dusty flat area.

 

If she had had eyes in the back of her head, she would have observed the blue van which approached the same location. Seeing her parking her police car, the driver went round the roundabout and back up the road, pulling across the road to park in the same farm gateway as before. The occupants sat and watched. They saw one of the two policewomen who had been there before. The driver watched intently as the short-haired brunette got out of the car. She was wearing the summer uniform, white shirt with sleeves rolled up above the elbows, navy blue tie and skirt, black lace-up shoes, but no jacket. Her cap, which she should have been wearing, was on the passenger seat of the car. "Can't help myself, I always like a bird in uniform" he said.

 

"I've noticed. I thought it was all the women you meet, though" the passenger said, laughing. "I don't like this though. Why's she come back? Don't usually work alone, do they".

 

"Maybe she's just taking a leak. See if she goes in a minute".

 

"Well if she doesnít, we may have a big problem. Give her ten minutes, if she's not out then we'll know what she's found, we'll have to deal with her.

 

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As she stood, deciding which building to check first, a thought occurred to Harriet. She remembered a promise she had made to herself after the third time she was captured and handcuffed by criminals. She decided then that if she was ever in a situation that might turn threatening, she would at least neutralise the handcuffs. She would lock them in the closed position and keep the key in her hand, then at the first sign of a criminal getting the upper hand, she would throw the key into bushes, or down a drain.That way, whatever else happened, she wouldn't have the indignity of being restrained in her own handcuffs. It was one of the most embarrassing things that could happen to a police officer. So before taking another step, she took the cuffs from her belt and closed them. Then, the key clasped in her hand, she made her way along the overgrown concrete path along the side of the building, looking this way and that, alert for anybody who might suddenly appear. Noticing a brick on the grass at her feet, she stooped to hide the key under it. She glanced around, and satisfied that nobody was there, continued along the path. All she needed to do was confirm her suspicions, then call for back up, or if nothing was there, drive away.

 

She gingerly stepped through the doorway of the biggest building and immediately noticed that the pile of rubbish against the wall had moved. It wasn't against the wall any more, it had been piled untidily against something large and rectangular. She looked over her shoulder at the door. Still all clear. She walked past the heaped rubbish to where she could see the new addition. She was expecting to see more rubbish. But instead there were two wooden boxes. Like large crates, made of untreated wood, the sort that were used for transporting heavy items. Harriet had seen things like these before. What was inside, she wondered. The lids weren't strapped down, so she lifted one to peer inside. She shivered as it occurred to her that the crate was big enough for a body to be hidden inside. She was relieved to see that it was empty apart from lots of peanut-like objects at the bottom. Reaching inside, she found that this was really flakes of polystyrene packing. The cargo, whatever it had been, was gone now. Must have been something dodgy, she thought, or why would it be here and not in some legit shop or warehouse. Turning her attention to the second crate, she lifted the lid and saw that this one was not empty. She lifted the lid right off and propped it against the side of the crate. The light was poor, but whatever was inside almost came up to the top. She felt it, softly at first then more firmly. It was cloth of some sort and there was quite a thick layer of it. She pressed down and eventually felt something harder underneath. She pulled up one corner of the cloth and slipped her hand down as far as she could, carefully so as not to get splinters in her hand. Fumbling between layers ofthe sheet, she eventually found something different. Cold, metal, cylindrical, and next to it, another one. Oh no, not guns, she thought. She withdrew her hand and stood back. Definitely time for her to go, before the owners came back. Calling for backup could wait until she was away from here.

 

But Harriet wasn't going to be that lucky. There was a background of noise from the traffic on the trunk roads, and she didn't hear the van which pulled on to the dusty track, parking right in front of her car. The first she knew of its arrival was when she was startled by footsteps, immediately followed by the voice, which said in a calm tone "Is there a problem, officer?"

 

"No" said Harriet, relieved. He didn't sound threatening at all. She studied them quickly, putting together a mental description of both men. The speaker was of average height, short dark hair, bigger than average nose, his friend was shorter, dark curly hair, with a moustache. She needed to talk her way out of this. "I've got a confession to make" she said, trying to look embarrassed. "I was caught short, the station is some way off and these buildings are empty. I don't need to say more, do I? I'll get off now and leave you to it"

 

They both smiled at her, then at each other. "Is that why you took the lid off?" he gesticulated toward the crate. Harriet's face fell. For a moment there she had thought she was just going to walk out and drive off, but now that prospect was receding.

 

"Lid?" she looked round and exclaimed "that lid! Oh, that wasn't me. I don't know anything about them". As she spoke she was edging toward the door, and as both men moved nearer to the full crate, glancing in to confirm that its contents were still there, she speeded up and moved quickly to the doorway. What happened then did nothing for her self confidence. They seemed to move at twice her speed. The calmness and civility was gone. The smaller man had her right wrist and twisted her arm behind her back, and his taller friend held her chin firmly as he stood in front of her.

 

"We've got a problem, Mr G" he said, with a very unappealing smile on his face."The young lady has been poking her nose where it shouldn't have been poked. I wonder what we should do about it". Harriet swallowed as she realised the implication of her plight. The man behind her stopped twisting her wrist, but still held it firmly while pulling her other hand behind her back. It was a wise precaution hiding the handcuff key, because she had indeed been captured, but she didn't feel very reassured just now.

 

She regained her composure. "I have called for backup. They will be here in a minute. I said about the guns, and that means they'll come mob-handed. So consider yourselves under arrest and don't do anything to make matters worse for yourselves". The smiling man's expression changed to a worried frown. For a moment Harriet had visions of them panicking and running away.

 

"Oh dear" said the man, still looking worried. Then the unpleasant mocking smile returned. "We've been watching you for some time. You didn't call backup. Nobody's coming to help you" The other man forced her hands together behind her back and held them in the grip one strong hand. It was uncomfortably reminiscent of being tied up and Harriet was trying not to think of what might be in store for her.

 

She had one last attempt. "They know where I am, you know. I was sent here by my sergeant". She hoped she sounded confident, and not as desperate as she felt.

 

The other man pulled the handcuffs from her equipment belt. "These are locked. Where's the key?"

 

"I lost it earlier. It's the regulation that we have to lock them if the key is lost". He threw them to the ground impatiently.

 

"There's no time for this crap" said Mr Mocking Smile. "This stuff has to go to its new owner. You'll have to be kept out of our way while they collect it. Mr G is very good at keeping people out of the way, arenít you"

 

"Sure am" said the man who still held Harriet's hands clamped behind her back with one hand, while leaning to pick up the nearest piece of blue nylon rope from the floor. Harriet noticed this with a sinking heart. "It's my specialist area of expertise, you might say. And women in uniform are my favourite customers"

 

Mr Mocking Smile suddenly pulled a flick knife from the pocket of his denim jacket. Flicking it open he said "Don't let's make this harder than it needs to be. We just want to finish and be gone" Harriet didn't reply. Nothing she had said made a difference, and the man sounded impatient now. It sounded like they were going to tie her up and then go. Once again she had blundered alone into a situation where she was captured by criminals. Once again she would be found in an undignified and embarrassing situation, and freed by her colleagues. And now the blue rope was being wound round and round her wrists, crossed behind her back. She felt the rope being knotted, wound some more and knotted again. Her handcuff ruse hadnít really helped, she thought, here I am being trussed up anyway, but with ropes. And she could see a lot more of that rope strewn around on the floor. Now that her hands were tied Mr G was free to gather it up as he wished. "Give me a yard of it" said Mr Smile. He took hold of Harriet's tie and starting at the bottom, began to fold it over. After folding it five times to make a small pad, he held it to her eyes and said "At least you can't choke on it, with the other end round your neck". She didn't grasp what was going to happen at first, but only a minute later, the folded pad had been forced between her teeth and folded in half again, held in place with the blue rope knotted at the back of her head. Something else for her mates to snigger at when they found her, she thought disconsolately.

 

Mr G carried out his duties quickly and thoroughly and in no time Harriet stood there, completely immobilised, looking down at the blue ropes that enmeshed her in silent dismay. He had bound her elbows back with the end of one piece before winding it several times round her body below her breasts. When the other end of the rope was reached, he cinched it between her arms and body and knotted it. He wound the next length around shoulders above her breasts, then around her waist, each time cinching the rope between her arms and body and pulling it tight before knotting it.

 

She tried to look over her shoulder and tugged ineffectively at the ropes. There was virtually no give in them at all. Her arms felt as if they were welded to her body. She wondered momentarily if she might be able to loosen them once she was left on her own. She had been tied up three times already in the course of duty and faileddismally to get loose, but on those occasions she had also been handcuffed. This time she had hoped it might be different, but now she wasn't so sure that she stood a chance of escape.

Mr G. didn't seem to think so either. He chuckled disparagingly. ďStruggle as much as you like, dear. I'm good at this. I don't get many complaining that I wasn't thoroughĒ

 

The other man, no longer smiling, was showing signs of impatience. "There'll be complaints about the time you take. And you better do a good job, 'cause if this one gets loose before we're finished you know what'll happen. She better be out of sight before you-know-who gets here. Oh, and don't leave any of this blue rope here. If we're going to use some of it on her, better get rid of all of it. She's a spanner in the works. We can't leave her here, so it might link her to us being here,I don't know, but if it's all gone, so much the better. I'm getting a bad feeling about this. Wrap her up in it if you like, but be quick "

 

Harriet froze as she listened. Why was she going to be taken away, where, what were they going to do with her? Who was you-know-who? It sounded horribly like they might be were going to have to dispose of her. But then Mr G spoke up.

 

"We're not getting in too deep here, are we?. That lot are OK, they can go back to, there, you know, but we can't. Kill a copper and they'll never stop looking for us".

 

"I don't want that either, do I? Look, get finished with her, letís get her out of sight, then we just dump her and her car somewhere. Just get the job done"

 

She felt relieved in a very minor way. Being dumped somewhere wasn't anything to look forward to, but it sounded much better than the alternative.

 

††† With renewed enthusiasm, now he wasn't worried about being involved in a murder, Mr G fastened another length of cord to those already bound around Harriet's wrists and drew the ends forwards between her legs. The cord was pulled up, hiking her skirt up into uncomfortable folds and pulling her panties into the crack of her bottom. Why did you have to do that, you bastard, she thought. There was really no need to make her look and feel ridiculous, was there. She felt the tears about to start, tears of anger, but she held them back. She watched as he threaded the two ends under and over the ropes round her body just under her breasts, then separated the ends and passed them over her shoulders, then pulled them tight and tied them to the knotted ropes between her shoulder blades.

Nearly done" he said as he bound her feet with several loops of cord before cinching it with two turns between her legs. He did the same again just below and just above her knees, then stood up. He tugged on the cord somewhere behind her back, with the effect that all the ropes seemed to get tighter, round her body and between her legs. She felt a little tingle of excitement down there, unwelcome and inappropriate considering her threatening situation, but impossible to ignore.

 

†††† "That should hold you until we deliver you somewhere. Looks pretty good like this, doesnít she? I do like to see a well tied lady. Not so threatening, is she. If we had more time I'd like to show her a good time".

 

"Well we don't. Forget about that. Letís get her in the car and lose it, and her. We don't want a police car here when they arrive. You know what those guys are like when they're spooked. There's two worst cases, one is that we're all for the chop, the other is they just execute her and clear off, and we get caught for it. They'll throw away the key. So I'm worried about what happens to us, never mind her." He stooped to pick up the one remaining piece of cord. "So letís get her and the car out of here and we'll get paid and we all live happy ever after. But, shit, nearly forgot. She better not see anything outside. Better blindfold her. What have we got?" Harriet felt butterflies in her stomach as she realised that her last little bit of freedom was going to be taken away, She remembered from the bank robbery how it felt to be sightless as well as helpless. But they wouldn't care what she saw if they were going to kill her. The danger was from the others, whoever they were. Execute! What a chilling word, she thought. She wished he hadn't said that. She had a momentary vision of herself being strapped face down on a guillotine, but she pushed the thought away. These men didn't want her killed, that's why they were blindfolding her.

 

"Can't use her clothes, not without untying something. I'll find something, wait here" Mr G darted out of the building, through the door, which was out of sight behind her now. She went to look round, but the other man quickly took her face in his hands, firmly but not too roughly.

 

"No, you just keep looking at me. The less you see, the better your chances are" he said quietly, but with that unnerving smile. So Harriet, unwillingly, kept looking him in the eye, until she heard movement close behind her. Suddenly everything went dark, some sort of fabric was being wound around her head, once, then twice. It was pulled tight and she felt it being knotted. Worse was to come. Both of her breasts were grasped by firm hands, and as she shrank back she pressed against the man behind her, feeling his erection against her bottom. One of the hands moved away from her breast and groped between her legs, but the bunched-up skirt and the two lengths of tight rope made it hard for the fingers to find their way to their target. The hands belonged to Mr G, because his colleague barked impatiently "Give it a rest, I want out of here. Now! Get her in the car!" The hands released her and the man moved, but the respite was short. Further indignity followed fast.An arm gripped her round the back of her thighs, and a hand clasped the back of her legs as she was lifted off her feet and slung over a shoulder. She didn't dare to wriggle for fear of being dropped. She knew when she was outside, it sounded different and smelt different. She heard car doors being opened. She had left the keys in the ignition of her car, fearful of the need for a quick getaway, and now she was paying the price. She was lowered to her feet again, but only momentarily. She was lifted again and placed face down on a hard carpeted floor, and at the same time her feet were pulled up toward her bottom. They were in a hurry now, and she was surprised at the speed with which her bound feet were pulled back as far as possible, then somehow tied to the knotted ropes between her shoulders. Once again, all the ropes around her arms, her body and between her legs seemed to be pulled tighter. And then to her horror the boot lid slammed.

 

She was in complete darkness. She recalled the phrase "sensory deprivation". Plugging my ears was the only thing they haven't done, she thought ruefully. Houdini wouldn't get out of these ropes, what chance have I got? I can just about wriggle my fingers. And what if they just leave the car in woods, where nobody will find it for years. Will I die of hunger or thirst or cold or what?

 

She had anunpleasant vision of somebody in the future opening the boot of a rusty car, and finding a bound skeleton wrapped in blue ropes. Pull yourself together, she thought. Think about escape, or think about rescue. That little spark of sexual excitement was there again. She was starting to realise that whenever she was left somewhere with her hands tied behind her back, that feeling came back. Knowing that she couldn't move or touch herself only made it more intense. But suddenly the car engine started up. She was rocked from side to side as it reversed over the rough ground, then once it was on the road, sped away in a forward gear. She noted each corner that the car went round, trying to build a mental map of where they might be going. A character in a book she had read haddone this, and had been able to alert the police because of it.

 

However, it was not long before the car was travelling more slowly, on rough ground again. Off the road, she thought. The car moved more slowly, the ground was bumpy. I'm in a wood, she thought. It came to a halt and the engine died. At this point she heard a second car engine, and realised that the two men must have come in separate vehicles, her car and their own. A door opened on her car, then was slammed. Her heart was pounding as she thought what might happen next. She imagined herself lifted from the boot, then a bullet in her head, a rope round her neck, a knife, or worse. Murdered! The trouble with being in the police was that she was too familiar with this sort of thing to be optimstic. But what she heard next was the voice of Mr G, just by the car boot, saying "I'll let the law know you're here" then after a moment, another car door openingand shutting, then that car driving away. At least those two were gone.

 

She hadn't been killed, but she had been left in some lonely place, maybe for hours, maybe never to be found. What could she do? She had been here for hours, or so it seemed. As she expected, struggling against the ropes was quite unproductive. They were so tight around her wrists, her arms, her ankles, pulling up between her legs. That aroused feeling had gone when she thought was going to be killed, but now it was back. She marvelled at this. If anyone had told her, a year ago, that she would be dumped who knows where, helpless, sightless and silenced, she would have expected to be in a state of complete panic. Maybe it was the tight cord between her legs. Thinking about spending the next few hours trussed up like a helpless human parcel wasn't helping. Who would find her, would it be some tramp in the woods? Would it be her own police colleagues? Would it be Sergeant Forsyth? She dwelt on this thought. What would he do if he was the one who opened the boot. If he was alone, he could do whatever he wanted to her. Blindfolded like this, she wouldn't know who it was. She imagined herself completely helpless while her blouse was unbuttoned, her panties pulled down. In her fantasy, the male hands that were doing this did nothing to loosen her ropes, and she was just beginning to imagine what they might do next, whenher thoughts were interrupted by the sound of approaching police sirens in the distance, getting closer. Back to reality, she was about to be rescued.

 

As the she heard the police vehicles racing into the clearing, she could tell that there was more than one of them. That meant four or five police persons were here, so none of those things she fantasised about were going to happen. There was some conversation that she couldn't make out, then the sound of the car door opening. Then everything happened fast, she felt the rush of cool air as the boot was opened, there were familiar voices all around. Sergeant Forsyth, WPC Stevens, PC Kerr were all there. It couldn't get more embarrassing. There was a sudden silence. "Don't all stand there staring, get me out of here", she tried to shout, wriggling ineffectually, but as soon as she had done it she realised that it all sounded like a sequence of animal noises to the listeners.

 

Sergeant Forsyth broke the silence. "It's Harriet all right. Sounds as if she's unharmed, once we get her unwrapped".

 

 

 

 

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