“Okay, okay, I’m coming,” Mai said as she put down the bowl of punch, and wiped her hands. The young Chinese student was wearing a grey jumper, black tights and knee length black leather boots, her long dark hair falling over her shoulders.
She was expecting three of her friends over for a girly night in, partly to celebrate the start of the holidays and also just to give them all a chance to wind down before they disappeared home. She was staying in the area, because her parents were coming over and due to arrive the next morning.
So as she opened the door to the house, she was expecting Alisha or Ginny or Patty. She was not expecting three women, dressed in black including the balaclavas that only allowed their eyes and mouths to be seen, one of them pointing a gun at Mai as she backed into the house.
“Good evening,” the masked woman said as she smiled, “our apologies for the intrusion, but we need to wait here for a little while. This also means we need to make sure you cannot warn any of your friends of what is going on – so, very slowly, turn round and put your hands behind your back.”
“Why,” Mai said quietly, and then she saw one of the other two women set a bag down, and take a length of white cord from it.
“If you would please do as we ask?”
Nodding, Mai turned round and crossed her wrists behind her back – she had been robbed at home with her parents before, and she knew the best thing to do was to just do as they said.
She felt the rope as it was tied tightly round her wrists – not harsh, not rough, but comfortable, almost gentle in the way it was wound round and between her arms to hold them together.
“What is this about,” she said as she looked over her shoulder, feeling more rope as it was passed round her arms and pulled tight under her chest. She looked down as the rope was wrapped above and below, and then tightened as it was taken under one arm, pulled up and around the back of her neck, and then under the other arm.
“I cannot tell you for the moment, so please just do as we say,” the woman with the gun said. “Let’s go into your front room – you can watch some television while we wait.”
“Wait for what?”
“My dear young lady,” the masked woman said as Mai was made to sit on the couch, “you are going to have to keep quiet. Please ensure she does so.”
“No, please I’llbquttttmmggddd,” Mai said as she felt a silk cloth on her tongue, the material filling her mouth before she heard a sound like wallpaper peeling off, and then felt the tug on her cheek as white tape was wrapped tightly round her head, trapping her hair against the back of her head.
At the same time, the second masked woman knelt on the floor in front of her, crossing her booted ankles and securing them together with the rope. Taking the cords around and between her legs, she tied the ends off and then bound Mai’s legs together below her knees, the band sitting on top of her boots.
The masked women then helped her it lie on her stomach, pulling her ankles back and securing them to her chest ropes before she rolled onto her side, watching the film as it started on the television.
She looked up as the leader of the trio said “Control? We have the house secured. Inform us when the next guest is due to arrive.”
Alisha stepped off the bus and looked round, smiling as she started to walk towards Mai’s house. The weather was unseasonably warm, so she was wearing a sand coloured denim jacket over a white t-shirt, a print of a drawing of a young girl on the front. Her long red hair was slightly curled, and fell freely down her back and shoulders.
A pair of dark leggings covered her legs, while she wore a pair of flat heeled tan leather boots that came just short of her knee. She smiled as she looked at the lights adorning some of the houses, wondering what her own parents had done to their house for Christmas.
Walking briskly up to the front door, she opened it and walked in, calling out “I hope you’ve got the popcorn done, Mai, because I... Shit.”
“Such language is most unbecoming of a Roedean scholar,” the masked woman said as she pointed a gun at Alisha. “Do exactly as I say, understand?”
“Come and see,” the women said, as Alisha walked slowly forward to see her friend lying on the couch, a band of white tape around her mouth.
“Come with me,” the masked woman said as she escorted Alisha into the dining room, a second masked woman looking at her and then pulling a chair away from the table.
“Sit down,” the armed woman said, “and make yourself comfortable.”
“If it’s money you want, I can give you that...”
“What we want is not a concern of yours,” the woman said, “what should be of concern to you is what we are going to do if you do not sit down. I trust I do not need to make myself clearer.”
“No – No, I get it,” Alisha said as she sat down, and then heard a tearing sound before her left wrist was pressed to the side of the chair, and duct tape was used to secure the two together. She looked to the other side as her right wrist was taped into place, and then her arms at her elbows were secured to the chair back as well.
“Please, you don’t have to do this...”
“Be quiet, young lady,” the armed woman said as the tape was then used to secure her booted ankles to the front legs of the chair, her legs also secured between the top of her boots and her knees. She tried to move, but it proved next to impossible – and as the masked woman used more of the tape to bind her body to the back of the chair, and her thighs to the seat, she wondered what was going to happen next.
“Open your mouth.”
Alisha whispered “please don’t,” but she saw the smile on the masked woman’s face, and allowed her to push the folded scarf in, before the duct tape was wrapped tightly round her head, her hair lifted out of the way to prevent it getting caught under the sticky tape.
“Do you have some music on your phone?”
Alisha nodded as the masked woman put the gun down, and checked her handbag, before she put the ear buds into the bound woman’s ears and started the music playing. Alisha gulped as a folded black scarf was then tied over her eyes, leaving her unable to move, speak or see, with only the music to occupy her mind.
“Control,” the masked woman said, “target two secured. Any word on target three?”
As the two women heard the front door open and close, and a new voice say “what the hell? Mai, whtssmmgdddd,” the woman smiled and said “so I hear control. We’ll talk soon.”
Ginny was having some difficulty in understanding what was going on. She could see her friend on the couch, and a leather gloved hand had been pressed over her hand by the masked woman, so some sort of robbery was underway.
The thing she was having difficulty with was why here? Mai wasn’t rich, so why here and now?
“Don’t say a word,” the woman holding her said as she saw the gun to her side, her accent faintly Caribbean. Ginny slowly nodded as she saw two more masked women walk in.
“Ah – you took us a little by surprise,” one of them said. “Why don’t you two take her upstairs and make sure she stays there?”
“Walk,” Ginny’s captor said as she turned her round, and the three made their way up the staircase. Ginny had been dropped off by her boyfriends, so hadn’t brought a coat to cover her long mud brown jumper, the hem of a lilac covered top sticking out from under the jumper and covering the top of her blue leggings. The soles of her purple short boots thumped on the wooden stairs as they walked up, the tops of a pair of a grey woollen socks sticking out over the top.
“In here,” the second women said in a North London accent as she opened the door, and Ginny was frog marched into the bedroom, before her captor said “lie on your back on the bed, and put your hands together in prayer.”
Ginny nodded as she was let go, and turned, backing slowly towards the bed as she looked at the balaclava masked woman.
“I asked you to lie down,” the Caribbean woman said, “unless you’d rather we stripped you and then secured you?”
“No – no you don’t need to do that,” Ginny said quietly as she walked over and lay down, resting her head on the pillow before she saw the second woman walk to the wardrobe, and take out a selection of scarves. Placing them on the bed, she watched as the two masked woman took a scarf each, and tied it round one of her wrists, before taking her arms above her head and spreading them apart before tying the other end of the scarf to the metal headboard.
The soft material of the scarves was a surprisingly good binding agent, as Ginny tried to move her arms, and then felt the two intruders removing her boots, before they tied the end of a second scarf around her sock covered ankles.
She looked down as they spread her legs apart and secured the scarves to the metal bar at the foot of the bed, leaving her spread-eagled as one of the woman picked u a red bandana, rolling it into a band and tying a knot in the middle. As the second woman lifted her head up, she allowed the knot to be pushed between her teeth, tasting the cotton on her tongue before the band was tied round her head, trapping her brown hair as the ends were secured at the base of her neck.
“Don’t move,” the Caribbean voice said, Ginny watching the two women as they left the room, turning on the radio in the clock alarm before they did so.
Mai looked up as the two masked women came in.
“She’ll stay where she is – how long?”
“Control reports she is approaching the house now – let’s see what happens next.”
Patty had not had a good day, so she was glad it wasn’t that cold as she walked along, the front of her long sleeved woollen jacket blowing in the slight breeze. It had vertical grey and black panels, and hoops on the arms, and covered her round necked grey top.
The cardigan and top were long enough to allow only the tops of her black leggings to be seen – as well as the over the knee tan leather boots she was wearing, her own favourite pair.
Walking to the front door, she took her black framed glasses of and wiped them with a cloth, before she put them back on again and put her hand out for the door handle – only for the door to open inwards.
“Did you see me coming,” Patty asked as she came in, and the door closed behind her.
“We were told you were on your way.”
She turned round to see the woman clad in black, her blue eyes and red lips the only thing visible, and dropped her handbag on the floor as she felt her arms been pulled behind her back.
“Do not resist,” the masked woman said as Patty felt the rope pulling her wrists together, “your friends are all safely secured and quiet, as you will be. No harm has come to them, and no harm will come to you if you do as we ask.”
The young dark haired woman nodded slowly as she felt more rope passed round her arms, pinning them to her sides as it was passed above and below her chest, the front of her cardigan pulled to the sides as her chest was forced out. She found the experience strangely exciting, as she said “what’s going on?”
“Oh, all will be explained soon enough,” the masked woman said as she looked at Patty. “Open your mouth.”
“Do you have to?”
“I think you will find the feeling – exhilarating,” the masked woman said, Patty gulping before she slowly opened her mouth, and felt the sponge as it was pushed in, pressing her tongue down and expanding to stop her making much sound. She then felt the gentle tug on her skin as a strip of white tape was pressed down firmly over her lips and chin, forming to the contours of her face as the masked woman smiled.
“Hmgddd,” Mai said as she saw the three masked women bring Patty in, and helped her to kneel on the floor before they placed her on her stomach. One of the women took rope and crossed her ankles, the cord squeaking on the brown leather as she lashed her ankles together, while a second one tied her legs together below her knees.
The leader than used one final length to bind Patty’s ankles to her chest ropes, before standing up and saying “all four secured control. We’ll now make sure the evidence is collected.”
Patty looked at Mai, who shook her head to show she didn’t understand either, while one of the masked intruders left the room, and returned with a video camera, filming both of the girls at a distance and in close up before she left the room, Mai realising she was going to wherever Alisha and Ginny had been left.
As she came back, she pointed the camera directly at the leader of the intruders.
“As you can see, we have the ability to come through on what we said would happen if you caused any difficulties. This is a demonstration of what we can do – we will call tomorrow, and when we do, you will accept our offer, or this may happen again.
“And if it happens again, it will not be a demonstration.”
The masked woman stopped filming, as their leader said “make sure all four are still secured.” Stepping into the hallway, she said quietly “did you receive all that control?”
In a building off the Aldwych in the centre of London, Natalya Kosolov smiled as she watched the monitor.
“We have what we needed. Move out.”
“Acknowledged,” she said as she nodded to the other two intruders, Mai watching as they picked up their bag and walked out of the house. Stopping in the doorway to remove the balaclavas, they walked quickly to a transit van parked in the street, getting in and removing their earpieces and microphones which had been hidden under the cloth.
“Well done girls,” Lily said as she looked at Tracey and Bev, “I think the negotiations will progress now. I’ll inform Madame when I speak to her tomorrow.”
“Any plans for the holidays Lily?”
“Not really – just a few days off with any luck...”
“By the way,” Bev asked, “which of those girls was the daughter of the man causing trouble?”
“Not really important – holding all four meant they would be unclear as well, as to who we were talking about. Always keep them guessing, Bev...”