SHOWN THE ROPES
The man wasn't as yet wanted by the police, but that was about to change. It wasn't his fault really, the deal had gone down well, he had been paid and he had found an inconspicuous car to steal. He had hot-wired it, driven about seven miles, almost made it to the motorway, when things went wrong. A red light appeared on the dashboard, the car lost power and when he pulled in at the roadside, clouds of steam came from the engine compartment. That's what happens sometimes when you steal a car, he was used to it. An unwelcome delay, but he'd get by. He had cash in his pocket, some means of protection, and two phones. He didn't want to be picked up from here though, it might be too easily remembered. This was why he was walking at the edge of the trunk road, nearly two miles to go before he would reach the next roadside cafe, when the police car came alongside him.
Taking newly recruited smartarse young coppers out on patrol was not a popular job at the Police Station where WPC Harriet Drummond worked. She was unique in having a conscientious view of it. Somebody had to show them the ropes, as it were. How else would they learn if experienced officers didn't take an interest. She knew that they didn't only need to learn from the training manuals, they needed somebody to show them the commonsense approach to everyday incidents. How to calm down a situation rather than inflame it. How not to generate unnecessary paperwork. All part of the learning curve, it had become a phrase that she used quite often.
Usually Harriet took some pleasure in the job when it was her turn to train a rookie, but even she admitted that PC Paul Nicholls was hard work. Tall, blond, handsome, 27 years old, he thought he was a person to be reckoned with. Some officers joked that he thought Kojak and the Sweeney were instructional videos.
This afternoon she got the impression he was sulking, or at least expressing some resentment. She hadn't agreed to stop and search three different youths who he thought might be drug dealers, because they looked to hear like typical specimens of their generation. Weren't you young once, she had asked him sarcastically. She reckoned she had saved them both from a lot of unnecessary form filling. But now he had gone quiet, or at least, a bit monosyllabic. Sulking. Maybe it was time to let him off the leash, just once. The opportunity soon presented itself. The man with the rucksack three miles out of town didn't look the sort for the outdoor life. It wouldn't do any harm to have a chat.
He studied the two coppers, summing up his chances. The tall young one was just the kind of person he always took a dislike to, and who always took a dislike to him. Would he be able to bluff his way through. The policewoman looked like she would be even harder to deceive. He'd encountered her sort before, career policewoman, seen it all, been there, got the tee-shirt. On the other hand, she was more attractive than most of the policewomen he had come across. Most of them had what you might call an athletic physique, but this one was more sort of cuddly. A blue-eyed brunette in her thirties, she reminded him that he liked women in uniforms, some of them at least. Yes, in her navy blue skirt, white shirt with the sort of chequered tie, lace-up shoes, tights that were dark but a little bit see-through, there was certainly something sexy about her. She wasn't wearing a hat, neither of them were . On the back seat of the car, he supposed. If they weren't too conscientious about that, maybe he would strike lucky. He had answered their questions politely, not been cocky, now they were talking, out of earshot. Then the man came back over. "Would you mind showing me the contents of your bag?".
That was when he knew it was going wrong. He minded very much, there was no way he could show them the contents of his bag. He'd be going to prison for sure. He couldn't have that.
And now WPC Drummond was suffering the consequences of all this. Just her, not PC Paul Nichols. The man had pulled a machete from his rucksack, grabbed the PC, and forced the pair into the front of the police car. He jumped in the back, and Harriet drove, while he held the machete with its edge resting on her shoulder. "Anything funny and your ear comes off" he had said. Harriet had been in a number of threatening situations before and she had survived them, with no ill-effects other than hurt pride and rope marks. She put this down to knowing when not to push her luck. No sense in resisting when the opposition is armed and you aren't. Let them take what they want and go, that was her motto. And here she was, on her own with an armed criminal once more. The worst of it was, she didn't know what this one wanted, yet.
PC Nicholls was fond of saying that he was good at thinking on his feet, reacting swiftly under pressure. Harriet assumed that he was putting it into practice, when, as she stopped at traffic lights, he flung the door open, leapt out and ran, heading for a nearby parade of shops. She couldn't believe what had just happened. What about the teamwork she had been trying to drum into him. He had better be calling reinforcements, that was what she hoped. The idiot had slammed the door behind him, at least if he had left it wide open, the hijacker would have had to get out of the rear of the car to shut it. But as it was, he just pressed the blade of the machete against Harriet's neck and said calmly "looks like it's just you and me, babe", and when the lights turned green, he ordered "just drive, ahead, I'll tell you when to turn". Ordinarily she would have objected to being called "babe" by someone like this, who was not the sort of person she would want to know. One this occasion she decided to keep quiet. Their eyes met momentarily as she glanced in the mirror. "Don't try to study me" he said quietly, with a hint of menace. "I'm not carrying this for fun" The side of the blade tapped gently on her neck.
Shit, I'm in one of those situations again, she thought. Why did I let Paul stop to question this guy. I've spent the day talking him out of things. Now I've been abducted and nobody knows where I am. At least Paul will have reported it by now.
He had, of course, but the abductor had realised this. "While they're looking for you, they aren't going to be looking for me" he told her. "If it takes them an hour to find you, that gives me an hour to get clear, doesn't it" he continued.
You've got that wrong, she thought. They'll be out in force, looking for both of us. Keep quiet, girl, don't put ideas in his head, she reminded herself. Remembering her past adventures, she decided that, at the first opportunity, she was going to ditch the handcuffs that hung on her belt. Otherwise she would end up wearing them, it had happened before. Steering with one hand, she unfastened the clip .
"What you doing?" he asked. She didn't think he had noticed.
"I had an itch. I was scratching". She answered. "Not very ladylike I know, but I'm nervous "
"Okay. Just don't try anything clever". After a moments silence he added. "I need wheels but I don't need you”. He carried on chatting, didn't seem to be watching what she was doing. “Why did your mate jump out and leg it like that? I thought you lot all stuck together. Teamwork and all that crap. Is he your boss or something?”
“My boss? Heavens no, I should think not. He's a new boy, I'm sort of showing him the ropes. He's in trouble over this, I tell you.”
Now she had the handcuffs on her lap, Harriet wasn't sure what to do next. Her window was wound down and the obvious thing was to fling them out. She had to pick the right moment though. He had stayed calm in spite of Paul's escape, but she didn't want to push her luck. Eventually, when they had left the town, the opportunity presented itself.
"Turn left in a minute, down Armitage Lane”. He seemed familiar with the area. When she reached the junction, she took the turning with her left hand on the wheel, hoping that he was looking down the lane. Her luck was in, he didn't see her throw the handcuffs out, and a lorry coming the other way would have drowned any noise they made hitting the road. She thought for a moment that she saw his head turn, in the mirror, but he didn't say anything. But why did he want her to go along this lane. With a sinking feeling Harriet sensed that things were going to get worse. Before long a group of farm buildings came into view. "In there" he ordered her, directing her into the entrance. Two of the buildings were the type that she knew were called Dutch Barns, and he told her to halt the car close to these.
"Here's what happens now" he said. "We get out, you first. You do exactly what I tell you and nothing else. And tonight, I'll be having a drink with my mates, and you'll be having one with your police mates. Sounds good?"
Not realising it was a question, Harriet said nothing at first.
"Sound good? You got that? Do what I say and you'll come out of this alive. Your mate ran off and left you, but that means I don't have too long. Gonna be sensible?"
"Yes, all right" said Harriet. She thought briefly about talking him round, getting him to give up the machete and turn himself in. But he had the upper hand, why would he fall for that. She would be better off complying, and watching out for a chance to get away.
Inside the barn, hay bales were piled high. There was a mezzanine floor at one end about eight feet up, with more bales stacked up. She wondered if that was what was meant by the term "hayloft". An extended wooden ladder led up to it, and her captor gestured Harriet towards it. "You first" he said. "Don't try knocking me down once you're up there. If you do I'll take the ladder and set all this on fire. You'll go up along with the straw ".
Yes, he probably has got matches or a lighter, she thought He still had the machete in his hand. She ascended carefully, desperately trying to think of a plan and hoping he wasn't looking up her skirt. When she stepped on to the wooden planking she looked back and saw that he was still at the bottom. "Now take your shoes off, and throw them down to me. Not at me, to me. Remember I've got the matches".
Was he just going to take her shoes, maybe take the ladder away, and then drive off in her car. That would be a welcome change from all the criminals she had come up against in the past. A change from being bound and gagged and threatened with murder.
She sat on a bale of hay and unfastened her shoelaces, then stood up to throw them down. She couldn't see him, he was somewhere below. She heard what sounded like the zip on his rucksack. Then he reappeared. "Drop them there" he pointed to the floor. She threw the shoes down, and watched as he climbed up, quite nimble considering that he had the machete in one hand. He looked around, as Harriet did too. There were bales everywhere, but they didn't cover the whole floor. "Sit down” he said. "Pull up a bale". As she positioned herself as comfortably as possible, he continued "Shame about your handcuffs falling out of the car window". As Harriet's jaw dropped open in amazement, he continued. "Lucky that some yokel left this behind down below". He unzipped his bag and pulled out a bundle of twine, an orange-brown colour, that looked to Harriet as if it had been lying around in the barn for ages. "It's all one piece, but I can work with that. Don't look so shocked, didn't they tell you at training college you might get tied up one day?"
Harriet hadn't realised she looked shocked, but she was still rather stunned. She had begun to think that she was going to be left in the barn, with no shoes, and that would be the limit of her discomfort. But now here she was once again , the prisoner of a man with yards of rope ."Start with your hands. Like I said, its one long piece, so hands behind your back, please. I'll do them first and move on to the rest of you. Frightened?"
Pretend to be frightened, or try to be nonchalant, Harriet didn't know which. She wasn't happy, she'd rather not be tied up and left here, but she wasn't frightened. The man wasn't being threatening, he didn't seem unbalanced. The sooner he did what he had to and cleared off, the better she would like it. By now, Paul would have raised the alarm and people would be looking for her. She decided to be nonchalant. Don't say anything to arouse his interest, she decided.
"No, I'm not scared. It's part of the training, like you say". She clasped her hands behind her back, only to have him rearrange them with her wrists crossed.
“Funny, isn't it. You said you were showing that young copper the ropes. Now I'm showing you the ropes. Get it?”
“Hilarious” muttered Harriet.
“Never mind” he continued. “You'll get over it”. He got to work. The twine went round Harriet's wrists twice vertically, then twice horizontally, then he knotted it. She felt the cord going round her right arm above the elbow, then he was doing the same at her left elbow. The cords all drew suddenly tighter and he brought the loose end across her chest, below her breasts, and under her left arm, round it again and back across to the right arm, round it, then the whole process seemed to be repeated behind her back. Her arms were soon bound tightly to her sides, but he wasn't stopping. He carried on, more rope going around her arms and body, over the ropes that were already in place. When he began, she had wished she hadn't rolled her shirtsleeves up earlier in the day, but now she knew the cords were all pulled so tight, the thin white shirt wouldn’t protect her. She would have rope marks all over her for a few days. Then suddenly he spoke.
"Stand up now" he took her by the arm and steadied her as she stood up. He passed the free end of the cord round behind her and looped it round her bound hands, before knotting it. She was aware of him sawing through the cord , presumably with the machete. For a hopeful moment Harriet thought he had finished tying her up, but he dropped to his knees in front of her and began to bind her feet together at the ankles, round and round them, cinching the rope between her legs before taking it up past her knees and repeating the process. Now she wasn't going to be able to move at all, she might just be able to wriggle about.
How much more of this was she going to have to endure, she wondered. She thought he was in a hurry. Unexpectedly he turned to speak. "Soon be off" he said. "Thanks for the car. It’s a bit conspicuous what with me being out of uniform, but it'll do". He patted her on the head in an annoyingly patronizing way." Once they find the car, and you aren't in it, they'll be looking for you. Finding me's going to be low priority. I should be, well, a long way off by then"
Harriet didn't know if he expected a reply, but he was being quite chatty. No longer threatening, he didn't need to be now that she was securely tied up. Might as well salvage something from the situation, she thought. "Look, my bag's in the boot of the car, my stuff's in it. Could you get it out, leave it here with me, please?" she asked, trying not to sound too helpless.”Who knows what'll happen to it if you drive off with it”.
"No problem, I'll get it" he said, in a helpful tone that caught her off guard. It had occurred to him that when they found that her bag was gone as well as her, they might think she was free somewhere. It would be a distraction, might buy him some time. As they spoke, she realised how incongruous it seemed, a criminal on the run and his tightly trussed prisoner having a polite conversation. "Don't go away" he said with a grin, thinking this was amusing, before disappearing down the ladder. Harriet, sat on the bale of hay( or was it straw, she didn't know the difference ), was facing in the wrong direction and couldn't see down below. She wondered if he was actually going to come back. Part of her hoped he wouldn't, hoped to hear the car driving away. That way, she wouldn't be getting any unwelcome attention. But just when she was beginning to think he wouldn't come back, there he was again. Climbing the ladder, he announced " Got your bag" as he dropped it on the floor. "And I had a look round in the car. This is going to come in useful ". He had the white plastic box with a red cross on the front, the first aid kit. Harriet didn't understand at first, but then he flipped the lid open and pulled out the tightly rolled gauze bandage. "Just what's needed to finish the job" he said with an air of cheerfulness that Harriet didn't share. She didn't need any prompting to guess what he had in mind. As he unrolled it in front of her, she noted with some resignation that it seemed to be a three or four metre length. Enough to cause a lot of discomfort for her, she realised . He folded it in two and tied a bulky knot half way along its length. Time to plead her case, she decided.
"Look, I know what you're going to do, but why? Think about it, you've got my car, you'll be miles away in no time. It's going to take ages for them to find me anyway, it’s not going to be nice for me, being gagged as well". She knew she sounded desperate, but that was how she felt. Why the hell did things like this keep happening to her? Why didn't he just drive off and leave her to walk home, there hadn't been any need to tie her up at all. It just seemed to her that whenever a criminal got the better of a WPC, he just couldn't resist humiliating her. Must make him feel more of a man. And now this man was doing it.
He turned and stared at her, when her little tirade was finished. "Sorry, could you explain a bit better?" he asked quietly.
What's the matter with you, she thought impatiently. As she opened her mouth to repeat her speech, a grin spread across his face and he pushed the knotted fabric into her mouth with one hand, the other hand on the back of her head holding her still. He quickly knotted the fabric behind her neck, then came back to face her. Leaning close, he tapped her lightly on the tip of her nose. "It's not all about what you like. The harder it is for you to get away, the more time I've got. You're the ones who stopped me, remember. Minding my own business when you two decide to give me a hard time. Your college-boy mate legged it and you're in the crap. Not laughing now, are you?"
No, I'm not, thought Harriet. I just hope this bit of sneering is as bad as it gets. He is in a hurry, after all. But her hopes were soon dispelled.
"I don't like cops, and they don't like me" he continued. "You spot me walking down the road and you just know, don't you. Something about me, isn't it." Harriet couldn't speak, but she had to agree, he had "dodgy, up to something " written all over him. "And you" he said "you remind me of a teacher I had when I was six. She spotted me touching myself once or twice and decided to make an example of me. Thought that having my bum slapped in front of the other kids would do me some good. Well, it didn't, but that's just my opinion. Now, back to you and me. There's enough bandage here to cover your eyes, but first I want to see your expression, see how you like it. Stand up!" He took her by the shoulders and pulled her into an upright position. She decided to go along with him, bound as she was she had no real options, but struggling might make him mad. Then to her horror he unbuckled her belt, unbuttoned and unzipped her dark blue skirt and yanked it down, allowing it to drop to the floor. Harriet stared as he pulled a second bale. Into position next to the one she had been sitting on. She knew she was blushing now. Hardly surprising, she was standing there in her tights and knickers, yet still wearing her shirt, tie and shoes. She felt ridiculous. She bit on the knotted fabric. She longed to speak, to warn him off getting into more trouble and to save herself from any more unpleasantness. She kept quiet though, she knew he would only laugh at her muffled attempts.
"Very nice!" he commented. "If only you could see your face. I guess you want to know what comes next. I'm going soon, but first I'm going to blindfold you and tie you a bit more securely, just to slow you down". He found the ends of the bandage, and drew them forward. Harriet closed her eyes as first one piece of fabric, then the second, was pulled tightly across her face. What was he going to do next, she wondered as he knotted the bandage. She was aware of some movement, then she was being pulled forward and sideways. Hell, he had put her over his knee. Oh my god, she thought, is he really going to spank me. Why do so many of these guys want to do that?
He spoke again. “That teacher, I dreamed of doing the same to her one day, when I grew up. And I didn't but you sure remind me of her. You've got the same look, sort of judging me, and you've got a fat bum just like her. So you'll do nicely. A chance for me to disrespect an authority figure. Sorry, there's just something about you”. While he spoke he ran his hand over her bottom.”Like I said, she had a lovely fat bum just like you. Only then I was the pupil and she was in charge. Now it's the other way round. Don't suppose you've been spanked before, have you, liberated modern woman and all that”.
Harriet, with a knotted bandage stuffed in her mouth, couldn’t answer anyway, but didn't know what she would have said, if she hadn't been gagged. She knew that as a modern, liberated woman she should protest loudly, but she also knew she found it something of a turn-on, being spanked. Her private life hadn't been very interesting in recent months, in fact she didn't really have one. So there was a little bit of anticipation building up as his hands crept over her buttocks, squeezing and patting. It was a shame that it had only ever happened when she was tied up, she thought, but another part of her was beginning to see being tied up as almost a kind of foreplay .She did feel somewhat deprived, when she remembered that the last person to touch her intimately had been a criminal who had tied her up, and that was probably going to be true of the next time. Any minute now, she thought, unable to ignore a little rush of excitement.
What came next took her by surprise. He grasped her bound hands with one hand, pressing them into the small of her back while continuing to stroke her bottom with the other. Was he going to pull her panties down? Nothing happened for a moment , he didn't speak, he caressed her bottom, some more, running his hand over her white cotton sports knickers. "Nice" he whispered. His hand moved away, and just as Harriet realised why, she felt a hard smack, and then another. She was well aware that he was leaving an interval of suspense for her to anticipate the next one. She was grateful that he hadn’t pulled her knickers down, it would have been so hard to control herself, but as she counted the smacks, up to ten ,she was beginning to feel more aroused anyway. Then he stopped. He relaxed his grip on her hands. He spoke again, breathlessly” This is wrong. I shouldn’t be doing this”
.She thought, if she had been able to speak, she might have said something that she regretted. Now he wasn't doing anything, and Harriet, lying there bound, gagged and blindfolded over his knee, had no idea what her immediate future held.
“I need to get out of here”. He didn't sound as if he was talking to Harriet, it was more as if he was talking to himself. “What am I going to do with you, though? If they find you, I'm in trouble, now. They're all looking for you by now. You'll tell them what I did”
Oh my god, Harriet thought to herself. Not so long ago he was going on about how they would be looking for her and not for him. I won't tell them anything, just let me go, she wanted to scream. She just hoped he wasn't going to panic, and decide that she had to be silenced for good. It seemed like ages before he spoke again. She breathed a sigh of relief, or as much of one as her gag would allow, as he said, a bit more decisive now
"I'll just make you a little less easy to find". He raised her from her face-down over his knee position, careful not to drop her, and placed her in a kneeling position. Unable to see anything, she found it quite unnerving, she knew the edge of the hayloft was somewhere close, and she didn't want to go over it by accident. Before she had time to dwell on this, the man had taken hold of her again and moved her into a sitting position. Then he was doing something with the ropes again. His hands were on her thighs, she realised he was passing more of the cord between the bonds at her knees and those round her body, She felt her knees being pulled up close to her chest, and when she tried to straighten her legs out again, she couldn't. He was tying her into an enforced sitting position. She wasn't going to move far, tied like this. But no sooner had he tied the knots than he was lowering her onto her left side. “Soon be finished with you” he whispered. Now the cords were being looped round her already bound ankles, then her feet were pulled back towards her bottom. He finished the job by passing the last lengths of cord from her feet to her bound wrists, pulling it uncomfortably tight before knotting it. Trying to picture herself as others could see her, Harriet guessed that she had been bound into a ball. An aching, perspiring angry ball of trussed-up policewoman. Now she heard things moving, what was he up to? If only she could see. As if he could read her thoughts, he explained. “Just making sure you don’t fall over the edge, my dear” he said. “Building a wall round you. Oh, and they won't be able to see you unless they come up here, but we don't want you found in a hurry, do we?” She heard some more scuffing of hay bales on the boards, then he spoke. He was nearer again, his voice louder. “I'm off now, here's something to remember me by”. Before she had a chance to flinch, she felt his hand delivering a final hard slap across her bottom, right where she was smarting from the recent spanking. Then to her immense relief, she heard him making his way down the ladder. Only one smack! She had endured worse. She had worried for a moment that he might be going to do worse things, but he had come to his senses. Something to be thankful for.
She listened as he drove away, in her car. Would she ever see it again? How the hell was she going to get out of this mess. She couldn't move anything, her hands felt as if they were fixed permanently behind her back, she couldn't stretch her legs or sit up. She tried to roll over onto her other side and found she couldn't even do that. And there was the additional inconvenience of not being able to see or speak. For what it's worth ,at least he didn't plug my ears up, she thought. As if all this wasn't bad enough, her bottom was smarting from the spanking she had received. Not a gentle spanking of the sort a lover might administer, she thought. More like what you would get from a sadistic schoolmaster in a nineteenth century novel. There was nothing she could do about it, with her hands tied. For a moment of horror, she remembered that she was wearing the white knickers, her skirt was thrown on the floor somewhere nearby. She desperately hoped his hands weren't too dirty. It would be her own colleagues who found her, that couldn't be helped, but if whoever untied her saw a succession of grimy handprints on her bottom, they would know she had been spanked. There might be some sympathy, but then there would be weeks of leg-pulling. But maybe, just maybe, his hands had been clean and she was worrying for nothing. Why should I worry about it any way, she thought indignantly, I'm the victim here, I didn't make this happen. She knew why she felt guilty of course, it was an incident in her childhood. She had wanted to be a policewoman for as long as she could remember, and there had of course been those childhood games of cops and robbers, Harriet usually playing the role of cop. Once, when she was eleven, she had been playing with a cousin and his friend, who were both ten, the boys being the robbers in the game. Harriet, the cop, had been captured by the robbers, and taken to a garden shed, where they tied her hands behind her back. At this point the cousin's parents (her uncle and aunt) came home, and the boys cravenly went in the house, leaving Harriet alone to be found by her aunt and taken indoors to explain, with hands still tied. The boys blamed her for leading them on, and as she was older, the aunt took their side. And now, twenty years on, bound and helpless in a farm barn, she was feeling guilty because of it. Snap out of it, girl, she told herself.
Was anybody looking for her yet, that was the thing that occupied her mind once she accepted the fact that she wasn't going to be able to escape. Once Paul had told the police what had happened there would be a hue and cry, she knew that. How big an area would they search, though?. Would they find her before it got dark? Listening out for the sound of approaching rescuers, she was unnerved that she could hear, quite close, the sounds of movement not far away. Rustling noises, down below in the barn, movement in the straw. It wasn't the sound of humans. The more she listened, the more she could hear. She was sure she heard some squeaking. Was it mice? Don't let it be rats, please.
As the time slowly passed, Harriet realised that the rodents were down below, and didn't seem to be up in the hayloft with her. Every few moments she heard a vehicle in the distance. She hadn't heard any before, but now she was hearing a few of them. It must be the evening rush hour, or as near as it got to one round here. How long had she been here? It must be three hours or more. And then, at long last ,a sound she had been longing to hear. Three vehicles, one after the other, not far away. Doors closing, voices. Now the voices were down below her..She tried to squirm around, to make the bales of hay move, to attract attention, and to grunt as loudly as she could, but she was bound too stringently into a ball. Nothing moved.
To her horror, one of the voices said, quite distinctly “Doesn’t look as if she's in here”. She heard another voice agreeing. Then a third voice. “Hold on, look. A pair of shoes”.