“A winters day
In a deep and dark December;
I am alone,
Gazing from my to below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow.
I am a rock,
I am an .
Hazel looked out of the kitchen window onto the clear blue sky of the July morning. “Strange choice of song to play today,” she mumbled ot herself as she started to set out breakfast plates onto the table. The radio continued to play as she pulled her robe around herself to stave off the early chill while she went to open the door and bring the milk in.
“Breakfast is out, girls,” she called up the staircase, and the sound fo running feet told her that Amy and Janie, her twin daughters, were on their way down the stairs. Both were dressed in pale blue vest tops and cycle pants – the only difference in their garb was that Amy was wearing white ankle socks and deck shoes, while Jamie had on black socks and trainers.
“Don’t run so fast,” Hazel called as the two blonde girls sped past her, but sh erealised there was no way they could hear her, and with a smile on her face went to open the frotn door. Her husband had left for work an hour or so earlier, to allow time for the usual commuter delays to take him to his office for the right time, and she had enjoyed the little solitude of silence until that moment.
As she opened the inner door, she picked up a number of letters that had bene delivered, and started to look through the addresses as she opened the heavy outer door. A bottle of milk was handed to her, and she took ahold of it before she realised that – well, who was handing her the bottle.
Looking up, she saw three people standing in front of her wearing grey boiuler suits and with black balaclavas over their heads. One was female, while the other two were well built tall men. She stared at them for a minute, unsure if she was seeign things, and then let go of the bottle.
The masked female caught the descending glass to prevent it breaking, while one of the men stepped forward and clamped a gloved hand over Hazel’s mouth. As he held her against the wall of the hallway, the other two stepped in and closed the door behind them.
She heard her assailant say in a young voice “Is there anyone else apart from you and your daughters here?” Shaking her head, she tried to say no but all that came out was “NNNN.”
The masked woman drew a large baseball bat from inside her suit, and the party made their way towards the kitchen.
“Mum, have you got the…… MUM!!!!”
“Both of you, sit down and you won’t be hurt,” the other man said in a voice that sounded much older to Hazel. “Son, sit the mother down in that chair there – I’m sure she’ll stay quiet. Daughter, go and get the supplies from the van.”
The masked woman said “Yes, Father,” as she handed the bat to the older man and walked out fo the room. “Who are you?” Hazel asked as the gloved hand was removed from her mouth.
“None of your business – you just do as you’re told and nobody gets hurt, especially your lovely daughters here. Ah, Daughter – do you have what you need?”
“The bags are in the front room, and I have what we need in my pocket.”
“Excellent – you take the two girls upstairs and make sure they stay out of the way, while Son and I have a little chat with their mother.”
“Where are you taking them?” Hazel cried out as the masked woman took Amy and Janie by the arm, saying “Do as you’re told and your mother won’t get hurt,” before leading them out of the room.
“None of your business – now, where do you keep the safe,” Son said as he stood over the frightened woman……
“What are you going to do to us?” Amy asked as the twins were pushed into her bedroom.
“Me? I’m not going to do anything. You two are going to everything, or I start breaking things?”
“Such as?” Janie sneered as she held her sister.
“Your arm for a starter – do I make myself clear?” As she said this, Daughter picked up a hockey stick from against the wall and patted it in her hand.
“What do you want us to do?”
“Well, you can both start by sitting on the floor, side by side, facing each other, and then remove your shoes.”
Amy and Janie looked at each other, then Amy sat on the floor while her sister positioned herself so that they were sitting together but facing in opposite directions.
“Take your shoes off,” Daughter said again in a firmer manner, and the two girls started to do as they had been ordered. Daughter looked on as they both placed their shoes to the side of their bodies.
“Now your socks – take them both off, and roll them up into a ball.”
“You’re not going to gag me with my own socks,” Amy said. She had been watching a movie recently where a girl had been kidnapped and gagged with her own socks, and the thought scared her.
“No, I’m not – just do as you’re told,” Daughter said.
“Get on with it, Amy – I’m scared enough as it is,” Janie whispered as she took the pair of black socks she had been wearing and made them into a small ball. Reluctantly, Amy took off her own white ankle socks and did the same.
“Very good – now give the socks to each other.”
The two girls exchanged a puzzled look as they took the cloth ball out of each other’s hands. As they looked up, they could see a smile creep over Daughter’s face where her mouth was visible.
“I said you would not gag yourself with your own socks,” she said in a low whisper, “but I never said anything about your sisters. Both of you, get them into your mouths, and don’t you dare try to spit them out.”
“Please, just take what you want and leave us alone.”
Father was sitting at the kitchen table, writing down the safe and lock numbers that Hazel was giving them. As she did this, Son had pulled up the sleeves of her dressing gown, and started to secure her wrists together behind her back, making sure the rope went over the cuffs of her flannelette pyjamas.
“All in good time, my dear, all in good time – we have a lot of work to do today. Now, why don’t you tell me the safe combination again – backwards this time.”
Amy was nearly choking at the taste of the black cotton in her mouth. She managed to control her reflex action to spit the cloth out as she sat next to Janie, who was staring straight ahead as the cuff of Amy’s socks stuck out from between her lips.
“Now, I want each of you to take one of these,” Daughter said as she produced tow rolls of silver tape from the pockets of her jumpsuit and handed them to the two girls. As they took them, she continued “Tear a long strip off, then face each other and stick the tape over your sister’s mouth. We need to make sure that cloth stays in place.”
Amy could hear the soft sounds of crying as she slowly took a piece of tape from the roll. Turning to face Janie, she could see tear tracks starting to form down her pale cheeks.
“tlb l rght,” she mumbled as she leaned forward and gently smoothed the tape over her sister’s mouth. “D t t m nw!”
Janie nodded and copied Amy, tearing a strip off and sticking it over her sister’s mouth.
“Now, repeat three times – I really want that cloth to stay there. When you’re done, I want the two of you to shuffle apart so that you are at each other’s feet.”
“M scrd” Janie mumbled as a further length of tape was placed over her mouth.
“M t – wl gt thr ts tgtr” Amy replied as a third strip went over hers.
Eventually, the two girls had got themselves into a position where Amy was at Janie’s feet and visa versa.
“Now,” Daughter said, “Use the tape to bind your sister’s ankles and feet together. Do it properly – you don’t want me to have to rip that tape off your pretty skin and start again, do you?”
Hazel could hear the mumbled cries from upstairs in the kitchen, but she was too petrified to move while Son was sat opposite her, a gun resting in his hand.
“What is the woman doing to my girls?” she asked, and she saw a smile over the young man’s face.
“Don’t worry – she’s just making them uncomfortable,” he sneered as Father came back into the room, carrying a bag which rang with a clash as he placed it on the table.
“A very fine collection you have, my dear lady,” Father said with a laugh. “Now, I’m going to have a cup of tea – you don’t mind, do you?”
Janie tore the tape off the roll and smoothed the end down over her sister’s legs. After being forced to tape together each other’s ankles, Daughter had then made them shuffle up a little and tape their legs together, above and below their knees. Now they were moving again until they were back in the position they had first started in.
“You,” Sister said as she put her hand on Amy’s shoulder, “get yourself on your knees and move yourself behind your sister.”
With some difficulty, Amy managed to roll herself onto her knees and shuffle behind Janie.
“Very good – now take her arms and put them behind her back, elbows in the palms of the other arm.”
“Wht fr,” Amy mumbled as she helped Janie to place her arms in the required position.”
“You’re going to tape each wrists to each elbow, then tape her forearms together in the middle. Go on – get on with it.”
Hazel was pulled out of her deep thought – literally, as Son took her roughly by the arm and pulled her out of the chair.
“I think it’s time we made you more comfortable, my dear lady. Lead the way to your bedroom.”
“All right, just please don’t hurt me,” she cried as she was pulled out into the hallway and the trio made their way up the stairs. As they reached the top, Sister came out of Amy’s bedroom and closed the door.
“Please, I want to see if my babies are all right,” Hazel said with tears in her voice. Daughter looked over to Father who nodded, and then leant over and whispered something to Son.
Opening the bedroom door, Hazel looked in to see both Amy and Janie lying on their backs on the floor. Their arms were fixed behind their backs from the elbows, and there was silver tape around their upper chest and arms, legs and ankles. Tape also covered their mouths, but Hazel could tell from the way their cheeks bulged that some sort of cloth was in their mouths.
“Oh my ggggg” Hazel started to say as Son pushed a sponge that he had compressed in his hand into her open mouth. Before she could react, Father had quickly untied and removed the belt from her dressing gown, and was pulling the thin cloth band into her mouth to keep the sponge in place before tying the ends together behind her head.
“In here,” Father said as he pushed Hazel into the master bedroom, the housecoat falling down around her bound arms. “Son – you know what to do now.”
“Yes, Father,” he said as Daughter followed Father into the room and closed the door behind them. Entering Amy’s bedroom, he looked down at the two girls, who stared back wondering what his intentions were.
“You first, I think,” he finally said as he knelt down and picked Janie up in his arms. Amy screamed as he carried her sister out of the room and down the staircase.
Hazel squirmed on the bed as Father pulled the oblong silk scarf tightly around her ankles, then pulled it back and attached it to the cord around her wrists. The man and woman had ripped through her drawers and cupboards, and used a variety of belts as well as her husband’s ties to hogtie her and generally prevent her from moving more than a few inches.
“We’ll be leaving you then – but we do have one more thing to tell you, my dear.”
Hazel looked up at the man and woman, a quizzical look passing over her eyes.
“We’re taking your daughters hostage – even now someone is calling in on your husband and explaining the situation, in fact…..”
The telephone on the bedside table rang three times, then stopped, then rang again. Daughter picked up the receiver, listened and then put it next to Hazel’s head, saying “It’s for you.”
“Hazel – speak to me, darling. There’s this woman in my office claiming that a gang has broken into the house and kidnapped the girls.”
“HLP M, CLL PLC!!!”
Hazel – oh my god, she’s telling the truth isn’t she? Can you speak?”
“N I CNT – M TD P N GGD, U DOT!!!”
“I’m sorry, darling, truly I am, but....” Daughter replaced the receiver as Hazel rolled wildly around on the bed.
“So, now do you believe I’m telling the truth?”
The manager replaced the phone and looked at the woman sat on the opposite side of the desk.
“I assure you, if you raise the alarm in any way from this moment on, your wife and daughters will be the ones who pay the regrettable price. So I ask you again – do you believe I’m telling the truth?”
She was of small build, wearing a grey tweed skirt and white jumper under a grey macintosh, and with a scarf tied over her shoulders. With her greying hair, she looked like a typical customer – but when she had walked in ten minutes earlier, and told the manager that he had to open the safe or else his family would be hurt, he had laughed it off as a joke. The phone call had changed his mind on that.
Closing the door behind them, Father and Daughter made their way down the staircase where Son was waiting.
“They’re in the van,” he said as the trio left the house, closing the door behind them, and returned to the white transit that was parked in the leaf covered driveway. Opening the side door, the others could see Amy and Janie lying on a carpet on the van floor, their eyes covered with duct tape and perfectly still. Next to them was the bag containing the takings from the house.
“Get in the back with them and keep your masks on,” Father said as he climbed into the driver’s seat. As Son and Daughter entered the rear of the van, Father pulled off his balaclava and ruffled his greying hair, before starting the engine and setting off.
“I’m so glad you saw sense in the end – it always make things so much easier all round.”
Mother closed the clasp on her bag as the manager sat back in his chair, staring at the empty safe.
“Now, you stay sitting in your office for one hour, and call or contact nobody. One of my family is waiting with your wife, and if they sense the police or anyone else she’s a dead woman and you’ll never see your daughters again. Understood?”
He slowly nodded, numbly staring into space as the older woman left him sitting there.
Hazel was lying quietly, trying to figure out what the hell she was going to do. She had been watching the clock, and knew that it had been three quarters of an hour since they had left, but she had no idea if they really had taken her daughters as well.
From the ground floor, she heard the sound of the front door opening, and a voice calling “Hazel, where are you?”
“MRA!!! MRA, HLP M!!” she called as loudly as she could, and the sound of feet running up the stairs filled her with hope. The bedroom doro opened, and a dark haired woman in a black leather coat and skirt hurried in.
“Haz…. Oh ym god, here let me help you.”
Hazel gasped for air as the saliva soaked cloth was quickly untied and the sodden sponge pulled from her mouth,
“Moira – thank god you’re here,” she croaked. “Please – check Amy’s room – are the girls there?”
The other woman hurried out, only to return in two minutes and say “No –but something’s happened. Hazel, who did this to you?”
“Later – for God’s sake call the police. The girls – the girls are……”
The evening sun was starting to set as Mother looked at the two girls lying in the back of the van.
“They look so peaceful,” she said, and Amy raised her head in response to the sound fo someone talking.
“Whs thr – pls s smn thr,” she mumbled through her gag.
“Hush, my sweet girls, hush,” Mother said in a soft voice as she stroked Amy’s hair. “It will al be over very soon, I promise, and you and yoru sister can tell all your friends about your exciting day.”
“Lts g, u bstrd”, Janie called out.
“Language, language – you deserve to be punished for that,” Mother said, and she swiftly drew he hand back and struck Janie over the cheek. She started to sob as a red weld grew on her cheek.
“Now, you just lie nice and quiet, and someone will be along soon,” she said as she backed out of the van, and the two girls heard the door closing. Amy sidled over and pressed her back against her sister, to try and show her she was not alone.
Mother quickly walked across the car park and climbed into the front of the Escort, with Father sitting behind the wheel.
“A good day’s work, family – now let’s go and get something to eat,” she said as the car moved away from the service station, leaving he van abandoned in the busy car park….