The Rescue Club
Paula Cleric had no idea where she was. She could not see a thing through the black silk bag pulled over her head and long brunette hair. She could not speak through the layers of sticky duct tape slathered over her lips, keeping what seemed to be a thick wad of sponge in her mouth. She could not remove them due to the coils of rope crossing and pinning her wrists together behind her back. Wherever the strong arms grabbing her upper arms were leading her, she was powerless to resist them.
All she could hear was the sound of hushed whispers, of orders being given among the group responsible for her situation. There were other voices too, but these seemed muffled; unintelligible not because of their distance but because they too had been gagged. Wherever she had been taken she realised then she was not alone.
She was made to sit down in a wooden chair. Her conjoined hands were fed through the gap in the back rest, before a strong pair of hands clamped down on her shoulders to keep her in position. She felt more rope being pulled around her upper body, forcing her back against the seat as and pulled about her dark blazer over light blue blouse. At the same time she felt her stocking-clad ankles be pinned together before more rope was used to bind them too. Extra rope was wound underneath the soles of her black high heels for good measure, before the ends were looped around the crosspiece, pulling her feet under the seat.
The twenty four year old bank clerk barely resisted as she felt more ropes being applied above her knees and then around her lap and black pencil skirt. She remembered having a sip of some very strange tasting coffee at her favourite café during her lunch break, after which she had fallen into a deep, impenetrable sleep. She’d awoken to find herself bound and blindfolded, travelling in the back of a van to this unknown location.
But Paula wasn’t too alarmed by this situation. In fact, she’d been expecting it to happen.
Once her captors were certain she was secure the silk bag was pulled off her head. She blinked as the rush of light to her eyes dazzled her, but once she became accustomed to it she realised that she was not the only one to whom this had happened. She was one of eight, arranged in a circle facing inwards. Tied identically to each of the seven other chairs were five women and two men. Paula analysed her fellow prisoners from right to left. A girl in her early twenties with short cut blonde hair wearing a red T-shirt, jeans and converse trainers. An Asian woman her age with long dark hair wearing a black office dress with tan tights and black suede boots. The two men in their thirties were positioned side by side, both with short cut brown hair wearing a dark suit each. A woman who seemed to be of Spanish descent with her dark hair held in a ponytail, wearing a white halter top, black trousers and high heels. A woman in her late forties with dyed blonde hair wearing a casual blue tunic dress and matching flat pumps. And finally a gorgeous, beautiful red head with her hair just reaching her shoulders who was a few years older then her, wearing a posh peach coloured dress with matching high heeled sandals, looking like she’d been nabbed from a race meeting somewhere.
Eight captives, all seemingly as different from each other as could be. There should have been no connection between them all. But there was. They should have had no idea why they had all been kidnapped out of nowhere. But they knew exactly why. They should have been in the dark as to who was responsible. But they all recognised the woman who walked into the centre of their little circle all too well.
Vera smiled at her latest batch of captives, before giving a clap of her hands to get their attention. “Welcome to the Rescue Game ladies and gentlemen,” she told them. “And may I say what a pleasure it was to kidnap you all. You all look like such darlings.”
“Wwwrrr rrrr wwwmmm?” Paula mumbled through her gag, though her voice was drowned out by the sound of the other prisoners also crying out through their gags.
Vera laughed softly, her dyed blonde hair immaculately straight and a recent round of botox holding back her wrinkles. She deliberately stepped heavily as she paced around inspecting the bound up prisoner, liking the empowering sound of her stiletto heels reverberating off of the concrete. Dressed once again in a dark Armani suit, the head of the Kidnap Club made sure to let them all know she was in charge.
“Thank you all for participating in my little game,” Vera smiled. “It’s a new variation on the standard Kidnap Club format. You see, pitting a group of people against each other until one remains is marvellous. And yet it does not allow for the excitement of being a hero. Of dashing to save a loved one who finds themselves in distress. This is what I devised ‘The Rescue Game’ to replicate.”
“I know we’ve been through all this when you signed your contracts, but let’s recap for good measure. You eight serve the purpose of being our prizes. All you have to do is sit still and look gorgeous. It is your loved ones who will be playing the game. In a matter of minutes they will receive a message from us. It will contain a picture of you all nice and snugly tied up, the ransom demand for your release and a grid reference. This is when the game begins.”
“We have dropped briefcases containing cash and clues across London for your loved ones to find. They will have three days to travel from cash drop to cash drop, picking up enough money from these areas to fulfil the £20,000 ransom we are demanding. At the same time they must solve the clues we will be leaving them which will tell them where you are being kept prisoner. Only after they have deduced your location and gathered enough money will they be able to come to your rescue. If they manage to find you then not only do you get to ride off into the sunset, but you get to keep the ransom money for yourselves. Given you paid £5,000 between you to participate in this game, I’m sure the chance to quadruple your stake is a tempting proposition.”
“But of course, there is a catch. Firstly, some of the Kidnap Club professionals will be patrolling these cash drop off points. Their job will be to not just stand in your loved ones way, but take them captive as well. Should they stop your loved ones from reaching you in that three day period then they will receive the prize money for themselves, so they will be playing to win. And secondly, only the first person to rescue their loved one will receive the prize money. Everyone else will leave with diddly squat. So not only will they be racing to your rescue, but against each other and against my professionals. Sounds exciting doesn’t it?”
Whether her guests agreed with her she couldn’t say, due to them unable to say much through their gags. They could merely wriggle as a gang of balaclava wearing men appeared with cameras and ransom notes to tape to the bodies of their captives. One of these men was Dennis, one of the most experienced professional kidnappers employed by Vera. He had been the one who had drugged Paula’s coffee and brought her in, and he’d greatly enjoyed it too. He was always a sucker for a brunette, you needed only ask his wife for evidence of that.
He taped the ransom note of £20,000 to Paula’s body, during which he said, “Got some handsome knight in shining armour coming to your rescue sweetheart? Well he’ll have to do well to get past me.”
As Dennis stepped back to take her photograph, Paula smiled behind her tapegag. This poor goon had no idea what was in store for him.
April 7th – 00:33
Desdemona Carlson jumped in shock and had to clamp her hand over her mouth to stop herself screaming as her torch beam disturbed a flock of sleeping pigeons. After the flapping of wings had subsided she took a moment to catch her breath, at which she realised that she needed to pick up the pace. Those pigeons, as well as scaring her witless, may have given away her position.
She shivered into her grey hoodie as she pressed on, her trainers crunching against the broken glass underfoot with black leggings completing the ensemble. She normally saved this attire for when she went on a communal jog with her fellow ladies of leisure. She’d never anticipated wearing it for sneaking around an abandoned warehouse in the dead of night searching for the first part of her husband’s ransom.
The twenty nine year old woman with shoulder length blonde hair had married her husband Dave only two years ago. He was an investment Banker in the city six years her senior. She knew many people considered her a trophy wife, but she loved Dave and he loved her. He was the only person whom she had told of her secret love of being tied up, and he’d spoiled her on many occasions. For their first anniversary he’d surprised her by booking them a place with this thing called ‘The Kidnap Club,’ whereby they would be able to enact their fantasies in a much more realistic setting, with Desdemona playing the damsel in distress and Dave the dashing hero.
Never had they considered that Dave would end up being the one who got kidnapped, and Desdemona the one who would have to rescue him.
As she crept through the warehouse, one of the locations she’d been sent with his ransom demand, Desdemona frantically looked all about her for any sign of movement, certain that at any moment someone would be running out of the darkness to grab her. It was somehow less romantic then she’d envisaged but she had to admit, it was certainly exhilarating.
Her torch beam suddenly landed on a row of eight briefcases arranged in a row, positioned right in the middle of the warehouse floor. Eagerly she ran forward and quickly found one with her initials D.C. attached to its identity tag. She realised that this was the first part of the ransom she’d need, and judging by how the other seven briefcases were present, she was the first to pick it up from this location.
Feeling flushed with success Desdemona returned through the warehouse, briefcase swinging at her side, not paying nearly as much attention to her surroundings as before. Still she remained undisturbed as she moved to her car in the abandoned car park just outside. Unlocking it and sidling into the front seat she almost began to laugh with amazement at her own bravery. What if she kept this up? What if she managed to win?
These thoughts did not last for long however, as from the back seats of her car someone reached around and forced a chloroform soaked rag over her mouth and nose.
Desdemona squealed as she writhed against her attackers grasp, tugging at the strong arm keeping the rag in place and kicking out with her feet. She inadvertently kneed her car horn as she struggled, but there was nobody in the vicinity to hear her. Eventually the blonde haired woman’s struggles diminished, and she sank into a deep, oblivious sleep.
Blanche removed the chloroform rag away from her latest victim’s face and got out of the car. Then the woman with slicked back, dyed white hair opened the front door and hauled out the unconscious Desdemona. With a bit of effort she managed to throw the blonde haired woman onto the back seats face first. Then Blanche applied a couple of zip ties around her wrists to secure them behind her back, then applied more about her ankles. Then she reached into her duffle bag for her party piece, one of her bright white ballgags. She slid the ball between Desdemona’s rouged lips, and fastened the buckle underneath her blonde tresses. Then Blanche pulled out a large blanket and used it to completely cover Desdemona from head to foot, concealing her from sight.
Satisfied that would hold her for now, Blanche, the Kidnap Clubs professional kidnapper extraordinaire, slid into the front seat of Desdemona’s car and turned on the ignition. She would reveal to Vera and company that she had captured one of the eight rescuers in a few hours or so. But first, as always, she wanted to spend some time alone to admire her latest victim before she passed them on.
April 7th – 05:23
Dawn was just breaking over London, the dark sky already becoming paler. Normally this was Dennis’ favourite time of day, the time before the big city woke and the only time it ever felt truly silent. But he had no time to appreciate it today. He was guarding one of the locations in which a set of the ransom briefcases were stashed, and he had detected an intruder.
He stood hiding behind a pillar in the recently constructed car park not yet open to the public. A chloroform rag was in one hand, zip-ties in his pocket. He was ready to grab this would-be rescuer. He wasn’t going to pass up the chance to become four grand better off, which is what he stood to win if he managed to prevent the ‘heroes’ from rescuing their loved ones.
He heard footsteps approaching the briefcases, and mentally he prepared himself to strike. Summoning his strength, quickly peeked around the pillar to make sure that he knew which way to run. But when he saw the person approaching he froze on the spot in shock.
The person searching for the briefcase was none other than Paula Cleric, the very woman he had abducted off of the street not even twenty four hours ago.
Dennis’ mind reeled. How was this possible? The last time he’d seen her he’d been taking her picture to send to her loved one. But it was definitely her, the same facial features, the same long brunette hair, though she was now wearing a black hooded top with dark jeans instead of an office suit. How could she have got free in that time, got changed and then travelled halfway across the city of London? How had she escaped full stop?
Dennis was so confused that he failed to realise he had stepped out from his cover, and as Paula stood up from claiming her briefcase she saw him. Immediately she turned tail and ran, heading for the flight of stairs that led to the ground level. Dennis tore after her, barging through the swinging doors that led to the stairs. Hearing her hurried footsteps descending the steps he ran down after her, jumping three steps at a time, desperate to find out how she had managed to pull off such a stunt.
But as he barged through the door leading onto the deserted London street he realised that he had lost sight of her. It was as if she had disappeared into thin air.
April 7th – 13:14
Maria held her breath as she heard the footsteps approaching her position. She hid behind a big waste bin, fondling the can of mace she’d brought with her for self-defence. Offensive weapons were in effect banned by the rules of the Kidnap Club, but given the people hunting her down were armed with chloroform and various binding implements, she only thought it was fair she even the odds, especially with twenty thousand pounds at stake. She waited until the footsteps were only a matter of feet away from her hiding place, and then she leapt out and prepared to strike.
“Whoa whoa whoa, take it easy!” said the man with the short, stubbly dark beard and long shoulder length hair, leaping back in surprise at the sight of the beautiful Portuguese woman in her late twenties with long dark hair and tanned skin as she jumped out preparing to spray a burning substance into his eyes.
Instantly recognising that this man was no immediate threat, Maria lowered her weapon. But just to make sure she asked in her deep Portuguese accent, “You are not one of the professionals?”
“I wish. I’m just one of the contestants, like you I’m guessing.” The man looked Maria up and down, noting that her dark blue halter top, black leather trousers and black high heels were far from suitable to snooping around a deserted skate park underneath a dual carriageway, but still she looked damn good in them. Slipping back his long dark hair he outstretched his hand and said, “Perhaps an introduction is in order. My name is Russell Shawcross.”
Maria wavered for a second, but finally decided the man in his mid-thirties wearing a dark shirt with dark blue jeans was no threat to her. “Maria,” she answered as she shook his hand. Then noticing the briefcase he was holding she asked. “Who are you rescuing? Your wife?”
“Second wife,” Russell told her. “She got captured when we were out at the races, bless her. What about you? Your boyfriend?”
“Girlfriend,” Maria replied bluntly. She ignored how Russell’s eyes momentarily widened at this revelation, instead pointing at the briefcase. “How many have you obtained so far?”
“Two out of four,” Russell answered, waving the case at her.
“Same here!” Maria answered, motioning with her head to where she was keeping her case out of sight. “Though it means nothing if I can’t figure out the damn clues that come with them. It’s not as easy when English isn’t your first language.”
“Oh the clues are the best bit,” Russell exclaimed brightly. “What are you struggling with?”
Maria hesitated for a second, not sure that she trusted this smiling, well-spoken Brit. But then she realised that perhaps she could manipulate him for her own ends. “‘A gaze that is slow to move and yet sees all,’ and, ‘A theatre of golden glory, silver success and bronze bravery,’” she recounted for him.
Russell stroked his short beard, before he clicked his fingers in realisation. “Of course, they’re famous landmarks. Think about it. A slow moving gaze that sees all? The London Eye! A theatre of gold, silver and bronze? The Olympic Stadium!”
“So we find out which famous landmarks the clues are referring too, and then we find the point slap bang in the middle of them to find our loved ones!” Maria exclaimed in excitement. As she felt flushed with success, she suddenly had an ingenious idea. “Hey, why don’t we join forces?”
Russell blinked at her in surprise. “You mean, we work together?”
“Why not?” Maria suggested. “With those professional kidnappers hunting us down sticking together for protection makes sense, plus if we both win then we still win £10,000 each.”
Russell thought her suggestion through, and then he unleashed a broad smile. “Well I’ve never been one to disappoint a beautiful woman. Lead on Maria!”
Maria did just that, picking up her briefcase and moving off with Russell following close behind her. She afforded herself a little smile. There was no way she was going to split that prize money. The moment Russell was no longer of use to her then he wouldn’t know what had hit him.
April 8th – 07:54
“Quick word of advice love. When you’re trying to avoid getting captured while snooping about a dark building, it’s best not to wear a bright pink hoodie,” Dennis informed his latest captive before he pulled a dark silk bag over her head.
“Llllltttt mmmggg ggggmmm nnnnmmm!” Amelia Jones cried through her tape gag, the thirty one year old, auburn haired lady stamping her flat heel, black suede boots against the floor of the van in which she was now prisoner. Her feet had been bound together about her ankles and around her jean clad knees, with her ankle bonds affixed to a ring in the floor keeping her feet anchored in position. Her hands were positioned over her head, tied together and anchored to a ring in the wall. This meant she was kept in a sitting position against the wall of Dennis’ van, unable to do much more then wriggle about against the metal wall and floor.
Sitting across from her was another of Dennis’ captives. This one was a young Asian man wearing a dark pullover top over white T-shirt, jeans and red converse. He too had been bound against the van wall like she had, gagged with multiple strips of duct tape and a bag placed over his head. He, just like Amelia, had been caught by Dennis scouring around an empty mansion in the London suburbs trying to get his hands on the ransom money for his loved ones. Now he and Amelia were sharing their loved ones plight, and had been taken out of the Rescue Game.
Dennis smirked to himself as he turned on the ignition to his van, preparing to journey to the hideout to deposit his latest captives. With these two caught, and one caught by Blanche and Elektra respectively, four of the would-be heroes had been defeated. If they kept this up all of the heroes would end up in their clutches, and the prize money would be theirs to share. He daydreamed a little about what he would buy his wife with the money when he saw a woman with brunette hair out of the corner of his eye, and brought his van to a screeching halt in the middle of the road.
It had been her again! Paula Cleric! He was sure of it. She’d been hiding behind a hedgerow of another mansion house checking that the coast was clear. Moving swiftly he conducted an impromptu three point turn, and then travelling very slowly he trundled his van along the street, gazing intently at the place where he thought he’d seen her, but she had gone. He went up and down the same road another three times with still no sign of her. Exhaling loudly in frustration, he then set off in the direction of the hideout, eager to get some answers.
April 8th - 10:04
“Here we are gang, a couple of new playmates for you,” Dennis remarked to the ring of captives as he and Colin brought in his latest batch.
At first the captives didn’t know who was being brought to join them, due to the bags over their heads. One of the suited men cried out in shock through his tape gag as Amelia’s silk bag was pulled off, likewise the Asian girl in the office dress squealed repeatedly when she laid eyes on the face of her boyfriend. But there was nothing either couple could do to stop the two men plonking the two new arrivals into seats pulled next to their loved ones and then proceed with tying them up.
The ring of prisoners was already bigger than the night the game had begun, the number now reaching twelve. Sitting next to the blonde girl with short cut hair was her ginger haired boyfriend (who had been caught by Elektra fairly early on), ropes tethering their two seats side by side. Sitting next to the other suited man was Desdemona, the blonde haired woman having eventually been handed over by Blanche. Now chairtied and tapegagged like her husband she stared straight forward, still trying to recover from the four hours she’d spent dangling upside down by her ankles in the company of her white haired abductor.
Once he’d finished securing Amelia beside her boyfriend, Dennis said to Colin, “Finish up with these two will you. I need to see the boss!”
With that Dennis moved upstairs to where Vera’s temporary office was situated. Denise, her PA, indicated the Vera was free, but she was speaking on the phone when he went inside. “No of course I understand that you’re worried Sylvia, but girls will be girls…yes but weren’t we just like that when we were their age?...Yes if I hear a peep from them you will be the first to know…Yes, ta ta Sylvia.”
“Trouble?” Dennis asked Vera as she ended her phone call.
“Of the familial sort,” Vera told him openly. “That was my sister Sylvia. She hasn’t heard anything from her daughters for the past couple of days.”
“That unusual for them?” Dennis asked.
“Not particularly, they are especially wild children,” Vera answered. “It’s just Francesca’s work called and said she hasn’t been at work for two days.” She gave a sigh before asking, “So what did you want to ask me Dennis?”
“That Paula Cleric downstairs. What’s her story?”
“Another girl of mystery it seems, her and her partner in crime. Just names and addresses for them both, apart from that they’ve kept largely themselves to themselves.”
“And what’s her partner like?”
Smiling at her employee Vera remarked, “Now Dennis you know it’s against the rules of the Rescue Game for professionals to see the faces of the rescuers. Got to give them some advantage after all?”
“I know that but…” Dennis weighed up telling Vera in his mind, not wanting to look like a fool. “And Paula hasn’t managed to escape or has been out of sight at any stage?”
“Apart from the usual toilet breaks and exercise hours we grant our clients? No not as far as I know. Why’d you ask?”
As he opened the office door to go back into the field Dennis told her, “I just want to make sure I’m not chasing ghosts.”
April 8th – 21:22
“I can’t believe we’ve done it,” Russell exclaimed happily as he opened the final suitcase, making sure that he finally had enough money to pay for the release of his second wife and win the game.
“Concentrate, we haven’t won yet,” Maria hissed at him as she examined her own case. “We were close enough to losing to that girl over there.”
The girl she was referring too was the one currently lying on the floor of the deserted warehouse; the building where Blanche had caught Desdemona on the first night. Her hands and feet were bound with silver duct tape with more wrapped around her waist and knees. More had been slapped over her mouth to gag her, restricting her to rolling about on the dusty floor and moaning through her sealed lips. She had been the first to arrive, also coming to claim her last briefcase. But Russell and Maria had been hot on her heels, and quickly they had ambushed the girl with long brunette hair wearing a black hoodie with dark jeans and black converse. She’d been pinned to the ground, where despite her best efforts she’d been overpowered and taped up. Now she could only fume as she watched her rivals beat her to the prize money.
“God can we do something with her? She’s driving me nuts,” Maria moaned as their captive contained to hurl muted insults at them. Looking around the warehouse she eventually saw a large recycling bin by the wall, and smiling to herself she said, “Help me with her, I know where she won’t be causing us trouble.”
“Hhhhhhhmmmm, ppppttt mmmgggg dddddmmm!” the girl roared at them as Russell picked her up under her shoulders, Maria around her feet, and together they carried her over to the large bin. They flipped open the lid, and on the count of three they lifted the bound girl inside. She stared daggers at them both as they waved goodbye to her triumphantly, before they shut the lid, sealing her in darkness.
“So what’s this final clue about then?” Russell pondered as he returned to his briefcase, checking the piece of paper attached to the cases underside. “Where time itself is said to call home…Ha easy, Greenwich. When we combine that with the BT Tower and the other two…”
Maria was well ahead of him, checking a map for a point on the map in between those four landmarks which equidistant to them all. “There’s an industrial estate on Church Street that’s right in the middle of them,” she exclaimed happily. “That must be where they’re keeping the prisoners!”
“Marvellous, then it’s about time they got rescued,” Russell exclaimed as he reached into his pocket. “I must thank you for your help Maria, I’d never have got this far without you.”
‘And you won’t be getting any further,’ Maria though smugly, reaching into the pockets of her leather trousers for her can of mace and some plastic ties. This was where the Rescue Game ended for Russell.
Or so she thought, until the moment when Russell grabbed her from behind and pressed a chloroform soaked rag over her mouth and nose. “WWWWTTTT TTTHHH HHHLLLL!” she roared as she grappled with him, kicking out wildly and stamping the dusty ground with her high heels.
“Sush there Maria, just breathe it in,” Russell whispered into her ear as her struggles grew weaker.
‘No…it wasn’t supposed to be like this…’ Maria thought as she felt her eyes grow heavy. ‘It…wasn’t…’ and at that point she sank into unconsciousness.
When satisfied his former ally had been knocked out Russell removed the chloroform rag from her face and stared at her for a moment, sweeping strands of her long dark hair from her face. “You are beautiful indeed Maria,” he murmured as if to himself, “But unfortunately for you, not quite as beautiful as twenty thousand pounds.”
“Funny, I was going to say the same thing about you!” Blanche sneered to Russell just seconds after she ambushed him with her own chloroform rag pressed over his face.
April 8th – 22:24
Both Maria and Russell awoke at almost the same time, and after shaking off the funk of being chloroformed their eyes widened in shock at the position they found themselves in.
They had been bound literally face to face with strong white ropes wound about their waists and knees, pressing their bodies tightly together. They were being kept in a kneeling position with ropes tied about their wrists and feet and fixed together with anchor ropes. Then to complete their predicament a double ball gag had been forced into their mouths. That is to say, two ball gags connected by a small cylinder of plastic. This had the effect of keeping their faces fixed inches from each other, their noses almost touching and no way of averting their gaze from each other.
“Oh I’ve been waiting ages to try this thing out,” Blanche purred as she tightened the straps of the white double ballgag around Maria’s head.
“LLLLLTTT SSSSS TTTTTT!” Maria snarled as she struggled for freedom, the leather of her trousers rubbing loudly as she flexed her legs and knees.
“NNNNTTTT SSSS NNNNMMMM!” demanded Russell, as Maria’s furious wriggles twisted his conjoined body as much as hers.
“Oh quit whining. A pair of backstabbers like you two deserves no better,” Blanche scolded. “You spent all that time pretending to be friends, so another couple hours of close contact won’t hurt you.”
The faces of Russell and Maria flushed red as they struggled, as much from embarrassment as from their exertions. All that planning and scheming, all those selfish plans of betrayal, only to end up bound and gagged against someone who wasn’t even the person they were trying to save. They made eye contact as they struggled, realising that they were both as mortified as the other. Defeats didn’t come much more definitive then this.
As for Blanche, she could barely contain her delight. She’d been watching from the shadows as the now restrained pair had ambushed that brunette girl and stashed her in the bin. Having heard that Colin had taken the eighth rescuer captive a few hours earlier, this would mean all the contestants had been defeated. Blanche practically skipped over to the bin, realising that with this girl captured as well the game was as good as won. She and the other professionals would be getting the payday they so richly…
She lost her train of thought when she lifted the lid only to find the brunette girl was gone.
The white haired Blanche stared open mouthed at the empty bin, seeing only the torn strands of duct tape and shards of broken glass which she’d used to cut herself free. The question now was, where had the brunette girl got to?
Blanche soon found out, as this time she ended up having a chloroform soaked rag clamped over her mouth and nose from behind.
April 8th -23:30
When Dennis arrived at the warehouse to take over guard duties from Blanche he didn’t expect to encounter two of the contestants bound face to face beside the briefcases. Maria and Russell hadn’t managed to get free in the hour since they’d woken from their chloroform induced slumber. All they’d managed to do achieve was topple onto one side, leaving them even more helpless then before.
Neither did he expect to see Blanche bound and gagged lying on the floor next to them. She’d been knocked out with Russell’s chloroform rag, bound with Maria’s zip ties and gagged with their roll of duct tape. Boy did she look mad, rolling about on the floor kicking the ground with her white trainers and getting her bright white overcoat all dirty.
Dennis was about to peel away her gag and ask what had happened, when he heard a noise which made him freeze. It was the sound of a vans ignition being turned on. Specifically his vans ignition!
Suddenly consumed by a mixture of anger and confusion Dennis ran to the broken warehouse window to see that his van had been broken into, hotwired, and was about to be driven away. He had a perfect view of it from where it had been positioned in the abandoned car park. And even through the dark he could make out the distinctive and all too familiar figure of the brunette girl who had been tormenting him these past days.
Paula Cleric looked up and saw him glaring at her through the window. She then gave him a cheery wave, before she put her foot down and left Dennis stranded in the warehouse with three bound and gagged people begging him for release.
April 9th – 10:14
“Tell me how you did it? I demand to know how you did it?”
Paula Cleric gave a dignified swish of her head so her long brunette hair fell down one side of her face. “I don’t understand what it is I’m supposed to have done,” she told him in her calm, eloquent voice.
“Don’t play games!” demanded a frustrated Dennis, standing over Paula from where she was bound to the chair in the hideout still wearing her office skirt suit. “I know you’ve been sneaking out and grabbing the briefcases for yourself. You also happened to help yourself to my van while you were at it, and I want it back.”
“That’s preposterous, how can I have done all that when I’ve been here bound and gagged this whole time?” Paula protested, fluttering her eyelids innocently.
“I have witnesses!” Dennis announced. “Russell and Maria ambushed you the other night. Didn’t you both?” Russell and Maria, now bound in chairs next to their loves ones instead of each other, both nodded in agreement, both equally surprised when they realised the girl they’d encountered in the warehouse twelve odd hours ago was supposed to have been here the whole time.
“But I have witnesses all around me whole attest that, apart from a couple of exercise and toilet break, I haven’t left this bloody chair for three bloody days,” Paula retorted grumpily. “And how can I be in two places at once?”
Before Dennis could answer back he was cut off by the authoritative voice of Vera. “Oh Dennis my dear, I fear you are owed something of an explanation.”
Dennis whirled around and his mouth dropped to the ground behind his balaclava. Standing beside Vera, dressed in a black hoodie, dark jeans and black converse shoes, her hand clasped around the suitcase which contained the ransom for her loved one, and ergo her winnings, was a girl the spitting image of Paula. They were utterly identical, from their facial features to their height and weight. Even their long brunette hair was the same length.
Beaming at the girl at her side Vera announced, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the winner of the Rescue Game, Francesca Cleric!”
The winner smiled at Paula and said, “Hi sis, you look comfortable!”
“I’ll be more comfortable when you use those winnings to buy me a long massage,” Paula retorted, wriggling in her bonds in expectation.
April 9th – 11:34
“Identical twins, I should have bloody known,” Dennis remarked grumpily after taking a swig of some extra strong coffee.
“I am sorry if we embarrassed you,” Vera told him sympathetically, cradling her cup of steaming hot red bush tea while Paula and Francesca Cleric sat on either side of her cradling their identical mochas. They were sat at a table at Vera’s favourite café, the twin girls offering to take them both out using their winnings to foot the bill.
“If it makes you feel any better you’re not the only person who’s got us mixed up,” Paula told him.
“Yeah, deliberately confusing people is sort of our thing,” Francesca added.
With a wry smile on his lips Dennis said, “Well at least I don’t have to explain to your boss why you haven’t been at work these past three days Francesca.”
Both girls for the first time looked confused, but Vera knew what he was talking about. “Oh there’s the clever Dennis I know,” she smiled. “Let me formally introduce you to Paula and Francesca, my pair of lovely yet very troublesome nieces.”
Dennis couldn’t help but smile, realising that Vera had been in on their game the whole time. “So what was all this about you two?” he asked the twins. “I’m guessing more than just coming to pay Auntie Vera a visit.”
Vera’s smile widened as she said, “Thing is Dennis, you’ve seen just how sneaky, manipulative and resourceful these two young ladies can be. I was thinking about putting their talents to good use within the Kidnap Club. But before I offer them a job they need some extra training, and a tutor.”
Dennis finished his coffee with a hearty gulp and asked, “So you want me to see just what these two are capable of then?”
“You’ll be surprised what we can do,” Paula smiled. “I mean, you haven’t even seen me in action yet.”
“True, but I should warn you, I can be a pretty tough teacher to please,” Dennis told them with a smirk.
“That’s OK, we’re fast learners,” Francesca smirked back.