Silent Night

 

 

 

 

 

 

1972

 

 “So what time do you expect the Christmas party to end, Betsy?”

 

Betsy Braddock looked in on her mother, smiling as she said “Late, Mum, so don’t wait up for me.”

 

“Are you seriously expecting that I will let you out looking like that?  At least put your jacket on.”

 

Cath looked at her eighteen year old daughter as she stood there, in a red silk minidress with short sleeves.  The bodice had a faux lace effect stitched into it and the skirt went about halfway down her thighs, while her legs were enclosed in a tight fitting pair of white leather boots.

 

In return, Betsy was looking at her mother, who was wearing the floor length, long sleeved peach coloured dress she had worn to her works party that night before.  The dress covered the peach silk shows she was wearing, while a large pendant hung down her front.

 

“I’m going to put a warm coat on, honestly Mum,” Betsy said as she looked at her mum.  “Anyway, when were you planning to get changed?”

 

“When I get a chance to go and put some more casual clothes on,” Cath replied as she heard the knock on the apartment door.  “Can you get that for me before you go?  Probably the super looking for his Christmas present and Dad isn’t going to be back until after midnight.”

 

“I thought we’d sorted that out,” Betsy said, but she turned and went to the door, while Cath busied herself with looking at the twinkling lights on the Christmas trees.

 

“Was it the super,” Cath said without turning her head as she heard the footsteps coming into the room.  “Mum?” she heard Betsy say, and something in the way she said it made her turn round, very slowly.

 

“Your daughter’s cute,” the man holding Betsy’s arm said as she held a gun to her forehead, “and you don’t want her to be hurt.  Sit down, with your hands on your head, and don’t move.”

 

Cathy looked at the man, dressed in a black leather jacket and straight pants, with a stocking pulled over his head that held his short brown hair down to his head.  Slowly, carefully she sat in a leather chair, the light twinkling on her glasses as she placed the palms of her hands on her curly black hair.

 

“Sit down,” the man said as he pushed Betsy towards her mother.  As she sat down, she stared at the man as she placed her hands in the lap of her dress.  “Now, don’t say anything and this will go down just fine,” the man said as he stood in front of both of them.  “Where’s your husband?”

 

“Working late,” Cath blurted out, before she realised the full implication of what he was saying.  “Why?”

 

“Never mind,” he said, and both of them saw the smile on his face lips pulled several lengths of rope from his back pocket.  “You,” he said to Cath,” turn round and put your hands behind your back.  Your daughter’s going to sit there nice and quiet, aren’t you?”

 

“Please, don’t hurt us,” Betsy whispered as she watched the man pull her mother’s wrists behind her back and tie them together, Cath closing her eyes as she felt the cords biting into her wrists through the peach silk.  “Now, don’t move,” he said quietly as he walked over to Betsy.

 

“Lie on your stomach,” he said to her as he brushed her long blonde hair away from her face, “and out your hands behind your back.  I need to make sure you can’t move while I take your mother for a walk round the apartment.”

 

“Just do as he says,” Cath said quietly as Betsy lay down, not moving as he pulled her skirt down and then crossed her wrists behind her back, passing the cord around and between her bare wrists lips lashed them firmly together.

 

“That hurts,” was all she said as she looked over her shoulder, flexing her fingers as she watched the masked intruder crossing and tying her ankles together, the rope biting into the leather and squeaking as he tightened the binding.

 

“I need to make sure you don’t go anywhere,” the man said as he rolled Betsy over, and tied a second length of rope around her legs, just below her knees.  She listened to the squeak of the rope as her legs rubbed against each other, and then back to him as he tied the rope off.

 

“So what now,” she said angrily as she looked at the man who had tied her up.  “Now you keep quiet,” he said as from his jacket pocket he took out a roll of brown sticking plaster, and tore a long strip off. 

 

“No, don’t” Cath said, but her please fell on deaf ears as he stuck the brown fabric over Betsy’s lips, and then stuck two more strips diagonally across her face from ear to jaw.  “Now then,” he said as he put the tape back in his pocket, “Mummy’s going to take a walk with me.  Don’t go anywhere.”

 

Betsy looked at him as he took her mother by the arm, and led her out of the room.  Pllssdnthrrhr” she called out, and then tried to twist her arms or legs free.  The only effect of that was the sound of leather rubbing against leather, and then her own nasal breathing as she tried to calm herself down, contending herself with listening to the sounds from the bedroom as her mother answered her captor’s questions.

 

After what seemed like an eternity, she saw her mother coming back into the room, and noticed right away the brown plaster that was covering her mouth as well.  The man followed her in, dropping a pillow case onto the chair before he made her sit on the floor.  Taking more rope from his pocket and winding it around Cath’s legs, below the knees, he pulled the skirt of her dress against her legs as the hem rose to reveal the peach shoes.

 

Rullrtmm,” Betsy asked as she watched the man bind her mother’s ankles tightly together.  Cath looked up and nodded, as Betsy looked at the mascara stains running down her cheeks. 

 

“Right,” the man said as he walked over and lifted Betsy off the couch, “I need you two to be together.”  He sat her behind her mother, and walked over to the windows.  Tugging hard, he pulled the long satin sash that hung by the side from the curtain rail, and walked back over to the two captives, using it to pull the mother and daughter together around their waists.

 

Betsy felt her mother’s fingers grab hers as their bodies were pulled together, before the man stood up and checked the gags on both women.

 

“Right then,” he said as he grabbed the pillow case, “I’m let someone know your predicament.”  He blew both Betsy and Catha kiss before he left them sitting on the floor, the tree lights the only illumination as they both started to try and free themselves...

 

 

“And that was all we saw, Officer,” Cath said as she sat with Betsy, the glass of bourbon in her hands as she finished her statement to the uniformed officer.  The super had found them half an hour later, when he called for his gift and found the door open.

 

“Well, we’ll do our best to find him, Ma’am,” the officer said as he put his notebook away.  “One of us will stay with you until your husband returns.  Hope this won’t spoil your holiday.”  He stood up and walked out of the room, nodding to the colleague who stood outside the door.

 

“At least we’re safe,” Cath said as she hugged her daughter.  “Let’s give thanks for that - and hope it never happens again.”

 

1982

 

“Well, Sandra has finally gone to sleep,” Betsy said as she came back into the front room, “so we can have that drink now.”

 

“Her first Christmas,” Cath Braddock said as she handed her daughter a glass of wine, “How does it feel?”

 

“How did it feel for both of you,” Betsy said as she sat down and looked at the two older women.  She was wearing a high necked white blouse with a black ribbon tied around her neck, a thin black leather belt around her waist as the bottom of the blouse fell over a knee length straight blue skirt.  Her legs were enclosed in a pair of black stockings, and her feet were nestled in a pair of comfortable low heeled shoes.

 

Sitting opposite her were her mother and her mother in law.  Cath Braddock was dressed in a short sleeved cream blouse with a leaf pattern printed over it, her sleeves pulled up to her elbows, and a beige skirt that came to her knees.  Her lower legs were bare, with a pair of heeled beige shoes on her feet.  The first sign of grey hair was appearing in her dark hair.

 

Next to her was Betsy’s mother in law, Olivia Cassidy.  She had married Roger two years before, and had moved with him to their house in the suburbs, with a little help from their families.  Roger’s position in the bank had helped as well.  Sandra had arrived in the previous June, and was now sleeping peacefully in her cot while the men folk had gone to town for a night out.

 

Olivia had long chestnut brown hair, which fell over the shoulders of her purple roll necked sweater.  She was wearing a pair of designer jeans, with a pair of black leather ankle boots on her feet.

 

“Scary as hell,” Olivia said as she took a sip of her glass, “but it’s worth it in the end.”  She looked round the room, with the silver and gold tinsel lanyards hanging on the walls and the large Christmas tree blinking in the corner.  “What about you Cath?”

 

“With Betsy?  I don’t remember too much of it, to be honest - but I remember listening to the radio with Billy Cotton with her in my arms.”

 

“MUM - do you have to remind me how old you’re getting?” Betsy said as she sat down, but it was meant in jest, and the three women laughed as the flames in the fire lit up the room.

 

“Do you think anything’s going to happen this year,” Cath said with a smile.  She still remembered the events of a few years ago, and until Betsy had moved out after the wedding they had always had the slight fear in the back of their minds as to what may happen.

 

“That was a one off event,” Betsy said as she looked at her mother.  “Olivia told me about the one time she had been robbed and tied up - two women, wasn’t it?”

 

“Yeah,” Olivia said as she put her glass down.  “They tied me up in a lace bodice and left me on the bed, but that was...”

 

Her tale was interrupted by the sudden opening of the door, and two people came in, dressed as Father Christmas and Mrs Christmas.  Both were dressed in red, with a beard on Father Christmas and a pair of red knee length leather boots on Mrs Christmas - but the stocking over her head, and the gun in the hand of Father Christmas, made it clear they were not there as welcome guests.

 

“Oh God, not again,” Cath said as she put her glass down.  “Merry Christmas,” the man said as his partner headed for the dining table at the back of the room, and started to bring a chair over, “We’re here for our Christmas presents.  Now, I want you to do what we say, understand?”

 

The three women looked at each other, and then back at the two intruders.  “Do you promise we will not be hurt,” Olivia said, and she relaxed a little as the man nodded.  The woman returned with a second chair, and then a third, lining them up side by side opposite the fire.

 

“You,” the man said as he pointed at Betsy, “Who else is in the house?”

 

“Just my baby,” she said with a frightened look, “Please, don’t...”

 

“We’ll try not to wake the kid up,” the woman said with a smile, “Now, sit here and put your hands by your side.”  Betsy stood up and walked to the chair, sitting down as the man opened the sack he was carrying and produced several large rolls of silver duct tape.

 

“What are they for,” Olivia said, her wide blue eyes reflecting the firelight.  “I think they’re going to secure us to the chair,” Cath said as she watched her daughter sit down and straighten her skirt, before letting her arms fall to the side of the chair.

 

“Well, at least we will be together,” Cath said as she watched the woman tear the end of one roll loose, and then wrap it tightly around Betsy’s arm, holding her wrists to the wooden side of the chair as the silver band appeared around the white cotton.

 

“What happens if my baby wakes up,” Betsy said as the female intrude placed her other wrists against the wood and started to tape that into place.  “We’ll let the authorities know in due course,” the man said as he looked at Cath.  “Your turn - sit in the next chair.”

 

“Are you all right, Olivia,” Cath said as she sat herself down, and allowed the woman to tape her wrists to the side of the chair, the tape sticking to her bare skin, “You look a little pale.”

 

“IT’s just - how can you be so calm?”

 

“Oh I’m angry as hell,” Betsy said as she watched her mother been taped to the chair, “but I don’t want to wake Sandra up.  You’d better do as they say - come and sit in the last seat.”

 

“Sensible girl,” the woman said as she watched Olivia walk over and sit down, and then stuck her arms to the side of the chair, the tape forcing her sleeves against the wood.  As she did this, the man knelt in front of Betsy and pulled her left leg so that it sat on the outside of the front leg of the chair, and started to tape it into place, the tape pulling at her hose as she sat there.

 

While this was happening, the woman tore the tape free from the roll and passed it around Betsy’s waist, forcing her back into the chair as she wound it round her blouse and the chair back, covering the belt as she did so..

 

The same happened to her mother and mother in law, until all three had their arms and legs taped to the chair, then tape around their waist, upper arms and lap, holding them firmly in place.

 

“I guess we’re going to be silenced as well,” Cath said as she looked at the two intruders.  “I just hope this stuff doesn’t leave a rash like that brown plaster.”

 

“Just be quiet,” the man said as he pulled  a length of grey tape off, and stuck it over Cath’s lips, several more strips following as he sealed her mouth.  Hrwggggn,” she mumbled as first Betsy, then Olivia were gagged in the same way, the firelight making red streaks appear on the silver bands as the woman sat on the couch.

 

“Keep an eye on them,” they heard the man say as he left the room and the three looked at each other, while their guard raised the stocking over her mouth and put the wine glass to her red lips.

 

“Very nice,” she said as she put the glass down, “But you need to broaden your horizons - Beaujolais is better if you let it mature for a few years.”

 

Fnksfrtp,” Betsy mumbled as they sat there for some time, before the man returned.  “We’ll call the police,” he said as his companion joined him, “have fun.”   Betsy tried to turn her head as they left, but only managed to see Cath and Olivia look back at her, as they focused their attention instead on the baby monitor....

 

1992

 

As I slowly open my eyes, my mouth feels as if that last martini I had a bad shot of vodka in it - it feels as if my tongue is made of wool and has swollen to fill my mouth.  It seems to be taking an age for me to come to my senses, so I calm myself and try to remember what had happened up to this point.  It wasn’t that easy, as my mind felt as if it was made of cotton wool as well, but I need to try.

 

I’d dropped Sandy off at my mother’s apartment so that she could go to the Girl Guides party at her troop, and met up with Olivia to finish off our Christmas shopping.  Roger had just earned a promotion to Head Office, and there were a pair of gold cufflinks that I wanted to get him as a congratulatory Christmas present.

 

The mall had been packed, and we decided to stop off for a meal before heading back to the house.  I called Roger, and we sat in the steak house talking about this and that, sharing a few drinks.  I only had one martini, however - so why do I feel as if I saw in the New Year already - and why can’t I see anything.

 

Whstgngn,” I hear someone say in a slurred tone, but it takes me a few minutes to realise who it was who said it.

 

Me.

 

And suddenly it all comes back - Olivia and I had been walking to the car in the parking lot when someone had grabbed us from behind.  I remember seeing the shocked look in Olivia’s eyes, and then the sweet smelling cloth been pressed over my mouth...

 

Bts?” I hear someone next to me, and with a sinking feeling I realise that we’ve been kidnapped - probably to make Roger do something or pay a ransom.  After his father died, he inherited a fair amount of money, but we never made it public how much.

 

So I sit still for a minute, and try to take stock of things.  I know my eyes are open, so something is covering them.  My tongue is rubbing against some sort of cloth, but it’s also been pressed down, and I can feel something pulling at the corners of my mouth - so, at a guess, I’m gagged with something stuffed in my mouth. 

 

Rullrrtlf,” I mumble, and in response I feel someone bumping into my side - so Olivia is here with me as well, which is something.  Next question - I cannot move my arms, so they must be secured in some way, but with what?  I try to feel with my fingers, and soon touch a length of some sort of rope, which must be holding my wrists together.

 

All right then - bound, gagged, blindfolded with my mother in law.  I’m just glad Sandy is out of this, at my  mother’s - at least, I hope to god she...

 

“They’re awake - remove their blindfolds.”

 

Whatever is covering my eyes is pulled off, and my eyes are blinded for a moment by the bright light.  As they adjust, I see two men standing in front of us, in dark suits, white shirts and thin black ties.  They also have Raybans over their eyes

 

“Looks like they’re all right, Mr Pink,” one of them says as he reaches down and looks at me.  “Very true, Mr Blue,” the other one says as he sits across a chair, “Now we wait for the man to deliver the goods.

 

I have to admit, my first thought was “Shit - they’ve seen Reservoir Dogs” and I hoped they weren’t going to hurt us.  My second thought was “Why does this always happen to me around Christmas time?”  My third was for Olivia, as I looked to my side and saw her sitting on an old mattress like I was.

 

The grey was more visible in her chestnut hair as she stared at me, her lips pushed apart by the black and gold Hermes Scarf that had been rolled into a thick band, and the knot tied in it pushed between her teeth.  From the way her cheeks were puffed out, I guessed she had something else in there, but I shuddered to think what.

 

Olivia was wearing a long red velvet dress, with baggy black leather boots on her legs, the tops of which were visible given that her skirt had been gathered around her legs above her knees by the band of white rope that was holding them together.  Her ankles were also tied side by side, the leather squeaking as she tried to move them.  It brought back memories to me of twenty years before - and how I had felt when I was left with mum that night.

 

Her arms were lashed tightly into her side with rope, which had also been passed under her arms and around the two bands, and from the way her hands were positioned I guessed her wrists had also been tied together behind her back.  As she shifted from side to side, I saw that was the case, with a length of rope from them to a metal ring fixed into the wall.

 

She looked at me and nodded, as I slowly looked down my own body.  I could see the rope around my own ankles and legs now, the white almost fading into the pale blue of my trouser suit, while I knew rather than saw the ropes around my upper body.

 

“If you promise not to scream,” the one who had been called Mister Pink said, “We’ll take those gags out for a moment and give you a drink of water.”  I nodded and sat still as he reached down and pulled out what I now knew was my own scarf out of my mouth, before removing a very wet piece of towelling.

 

=“Are you all right, Betsy,” Olivia said as she had her own gag removed, the knot hanging around her neck.  I nodded, but said nothing until I had taken a drink from the glass of water that was been held in front of me, the straw allowing me to sip the cold fluid and remove the woolliness from my mouth.

 

“Why have you taken us,” I finally said as I let go of the straw.  “We need your husband - and your son - to do something for us,” Mr Blue replied, “and he has already agreed to do so.  Don’t worry - you’ll only be here for a short while, and then you’ll be home with your daughter for Christmas.”

 

“Sandra?  IF you dare,” Olivia started to scream as she struggled, but Nr Pink merely put a finger to his mouth and said “Shh - we don’t take kids hostage.  Just those who can take it.”

 

“Funny choice of words,” I said, but then Olivia said “Why does this always happen to you at this time of year?”

 

I had to laugh at that - after the first time she had been robbed with us ten years ago, there had been three separate robberies at or around Christmas - once at Roger’s parent’s house, and twice at home, and each time we had been left bound and gagged.

 

“Maybe we should make it a family tradition,” I said quietly, and then we both burst out laughing.

 

“Hey - what’s so funny,” Mr Pink said, but we just shook our heads as I said “Sorry - family matters.  So what happens next?”

 

“Nothing - so long as you behave yourselves,” Mr Blue said as he looked at us.  “We’ll leave the gags off for now - let you two talk for a few minutes.”

 

“Very civilised,  Olivia said as the two men sat at a table and ignored us.  “Seriously, Betsy,” she whispered as she looked at me, “Some day one of these attacks is going to involve Sandra - what are you going to do then?”

 

“I hope to god it doesn’t” I whispered back, “but if it does I’ll do what Mum did for me - be there and help her through it.”

 

Olivia nodded.  “The perils of been married to a high flier in the banking industry,” she said as she looked at the two men.  “Think you’d recognise them again?”

 

I nodded, and Olivia stared at me.  “Mister Pink,” I whispered back, “was the man who trussed Roger and me up Christmas Eve two years ago.  I’d swear to it - it was a miracle Sandy did not walk in on us that time, but the maid found us in bed.”

 

“Consuela?  What happened to her anyway?”

 

“She left - the trauma of seeing me and Roger buck naked and tied face to face was too much for her.”  I shut up as Mister Pink went to answer a telephone which had started ringing, listened for a few minutes, and then the two men walked back over to us.

 

“Time to go home,” he said as he picked up the cloth, “Open wide and let us gag you, then blindfold you.”

 

“Talk to you later,” Olivia said before she allowed Mr Blue to stuff the damp cloth back in, pull the knot back into her mouth and then have a black scarf tied over her eyes.  As Mister Pink did the same to me, and I felt myself been lifted up, one thing Olivia said was running through my mind.

 

What would I do if this happened to Sandy?

 

2002

 

“Yes, Mum, I know it is Christmas Eve tomorrow, but I’ll be back home in time - I promise.

 

“No, I remember what happened three years ago - but he’s in jail.  Honestly, Mum, this fear you have of Christmas is just silly.  I’ll see you tomorrow.”

 

Sandra Cassidy smiled as she replaced the receiver and sat back at the reception desk.  “Getting robbed every few years at Christmas - ridiculous,” she said to herself as she ran her hands through her long waved chestnut coloured hair.  True, in 1999 she and her parents had been robbed on Christmas Eve as they came back from Midnight Mass, and left hogtied on the floor, but that had been the only time.

 

Sandra was wearing a sleeveless black top with an ethnic print at the v-necked collar, and a little white piece of material covering her chest, a pair of white jeans with a tan leather belt around her waist, and short brown felt boots.  She only had an hour to go at her job as the receptionist at the law firm of Hatch, Clark and Jones, and then she could get to the airport and fly home, where Mum, Dad and her grandmothers were waiting.  There was only her and Mister Jones left, who was taking care of a last minute deposition request for a banking firm.

 

As the door to the office opened, she looked up and said “Good evening, how can...” she said, before she saw the clown masks on the otherwise well dressed men, and the automatics guns in their hands.

 

“Not a word, toots,” one of the men said as the other two made their way into the back office, “You got a coffee room somewhere?”

 

“In... In there,” Sandra said as she pointed to a door behind her.  “Good - get in,” the man said as he grabbed her arm, making her stand up and walk to the door.  Inside were a couple of leather chairs, a coffee machine and supplies.

 

“What’s going on,” Sandra said as she felt her hands been pulled behind her back, and as she looked round she saw the man binding her crossed wrists together with a length of rope, the cords digging into the bare flesh of her wrists as she said “That hurts!”

 

“It’s meant to, toots,” the man said with a thick Brooklyn accent, “now shut up or I shut you up.”

 

“What do you mean,” Sandra said as she felt her arms been pulled against her back, and as she looked down she realised that her wrist had been secured to her body with a length of rope around her neck.  More rope was then wound around her arms, fixing them firmly into her sides as she tried to wriggle herself free.

 

“You don’t have to do this,” she said as the man pushed her into a chair, “I’ll just stay here - you can lock the door - and I won’t be able to raise the alarm or anything.”  From one of the offices she could hear shouts, and she realised the other two men had found Mr Jones.

 

“Yes, we do,” the man said as he crossed Sandra’s ankles and tied them tightly together, the cord sinking into the soft felt as she felt them being held tightly together.  As he bound her legs below her knees, she realised she was going nowhere, and she thought of her mother’s words three years before.

 

I know it sounds stupid Sandy, but somehow, every few years for the last thirty, one or more of us have ended up been bound and gagged near to Christmas.  This was the first time this happened to you - I just hope it is the last.

 

“Fat chance,” she heard herself say out loud, making the man tying her up look at her.

 

“Did you say something, toots?”

 

“No - but please, don’t gag me.  I promise I won’t; shout or scream.”

 

“Tough - I can’t take the chance.”  He pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and scrunched it up, before saying “Open wide.”

 

“Great - as if I have a choice,” Sandra said, but she allowed him to push the cloth into her mouth,. Closing her lisp as she watched him grab a roll of brown wrapping tape from the counter and tear off several strips, pressing each one over her mouth until she was staring at him over a pale brown mouth.

 

Spspseshldfnku” she mumbled as he moved her legs so that she was sitting on them on the chair.

 

“No thanks necessary,” he said with a smile, “just stay there and you’ll be just fine.”  Sandra stared at him as he walked out, closing the door behind him.

 

“Did you get it,” she heard him say outside the door, and then the silence as they left the building.  Sandra sat still for a few moments, before she slowly began to move and work her jaw, pushing at the cloth in her mouth at the same time.

 

It took a little while, but eventually she was able to work the tape away from her jaw, and spit the cloth out of her mouth.  Pushing herself onto her feet, she hopped over to a locker, opening it as she turned round and pulled her handbag out.

 

Tipping the contents onto the floor, she found her cell phone and switched it on.

 

“Help,” she called out as she looked at the display, showing her call had been answered, “I’ve been tied up and I need assistance...”

 

 

 

“The police were there within five minutes - poor Mr Smith had been trussed up in his office, with a nasty wound to his head.  I guess I got off lucky.”

 

“You did, my dear, Cath said as she handed Sandra a mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows on the top.  It was Christmas Night, and the three generations were sat in the Cassidy family home.  Sandra’s father was in the den, watching a  movie, as Sandra, Betsy and Cath sat in dressing gowns.

 

“At least you made it home for Christmas - if a little later than expected,” Betsy said as she ran her hand through her greying hair.  “At least they didn’t harm you - but you see how it keeps happening to us?”

 

“Yeah,” Sandra said quietly, then said “You know what the odd thing was, though?  It was scary, but once they had gone it was fun to try and escape as I did.  Did you ever feel that way?”

 

Cath and Betsy looked at each other, before Cath sat down and said “Actually - yes.  Remember that time in ’75 when they tied us on our beds?”

 

“Oh yeah,” Betsy said with a smile, “and they tied the ribbons round us and left us as presents for Dad?”

 

The two of them started laughing, and Sandra soon joined in.  After a few minutes, Betsy dried her eyes and said “You know, we must be a bit strange to find it funny?”

 

“Not really,” Cath finally said.  “I wonder if we’ll ever all be in the same room at the same time?”

 

“Don’t mum,” Betsy said quietly, “Don’t tempt fate...”

 

2012

 

“All right, I admit it - it’s happened again.”

 

Betsy looked at her mother in the rocking chair, and smiled as she watched her slowly moving to and fro.

 

“Yes, well,” Cath said as she put her hands on her grey hair, “I still would like to know why it always happens on Christmas - and Christmas Eve as well.”

 

“Maybe we’re just unlucky,” Betsy replied as she looked at her 78 year old mother.  She was wearing a grey roll neck sweater with a silk waistcoat, as well as grey pants with her legs in a pair of black knee length leather boots.

 

A few accessories had been added to her outfit - a bracelet of silver tape that was holding her wrists and elbows firmly down to the arms of her rocking chair, a girdle of white rope around her waist, and two matching loops around her ankles and knees.

 

The gang of four, dressed in black overalls and with balaclavas over their heads, had arrived fifteen minutes ago.   One of them had taken Roger, while the second one had bound Cath to the chair.  One was upstairs with Sandra, while the fourth was standing behind Betsy, binding her arms to her side as she felt the rope around her wrists.

 

Betsy was wearing a blue short sleeved dress, which came down to just above her knees, over a white long sleeved top and with a pair of grey suede boots on her legs.  Her wrists were firmly tied together behind her back, as she looked at the fire light twinkling on the tree and decorations.

 

“Brings back memories, doesn’t it,” Cath said as she looked at her daughter.  Betsy nodded, before saying “Yes, it does - but I don’t think we’re going to be tied together this time.”

 

“No - no, I don’t think so,” Cath said quietly as the man behind Betsy said “Right - sit down.”  She tried twisting her arms round, as she looked at the bands over the blue, but then sighed as she sat in an armchair.

 

“So, what is it this time - access to the international accounts,” Betsy said as she felt the rope tightening around her ankles.

 

“None of your business,” the man said as the door opened and Sandra came back in.  “I’ve managed to get Carol and Colin off to sleep again,” she said as she looked at the masked men, “but I don’t want them caught up in this, so don’t wake them up any more - I get the feeling I won’t be able to quieten them down that time, and I don’t want them to go through this.”

 

“Then lie down on the recliner, the man behind her said, “and keep quiet.”  Sandra was wearing a black and white smock top over black jumper, black leggings and over the knee black leather boots.  Her hands had already been secured behind her back, while her arms were tightly secured to her sides.

 

“I told you, this would happen one day,” she said as she walked over to the chaise longue and lay on her stomach, hearing the squeak of leather against leather as her ankles were tightly bound side by side with the rope.  “All three of us in the same place at the same time.”

 

“Well, look on the bright side,” Cath said as she looked at her granddaughter, “At least the world did not end last Friday.”

 

“Yeah - so we get to celebrate Christmas as one big, loving family,” Sandra said with a laugh as she watched her binder wrapping rope around her legs, below her knees, and then cinching the band between them.  Betsy had also been bound in the same way, as she watched the other two intruders talking quietly in the dark corner of the room.

 

“Will my husband be home by the morning,” Betsy said to the two men.  One of them looked over and said “So long as he does what he’s told, then yes he will be.”

 

“Well that’s something,” she said as she looked at her mother.  “Did you hear from Olivia today?”

 

“I did - she’ll be joining us for dinner tomorrow.  It’s a good thing the caterers are arriving at seven tomorrow.”

 

“Why?”

 

“We know the latest we can be found like this,” Cath said as the two men came back over.  “You ladies talk too much,” the one who had spoken earlier said, “We need you to be quiet now.”

 

Ooo,” Sandra said as she wriggled onto her side, “and how are you going to manage that?”

 

“Like this,” the man said as he and his companions took a sponge ball in their hands and compressed them.  “All of you open wide.”

 

“The years pass, but they always end the same,” Cath said before she allowed the man to push the ball into her mouth, closing her lisp over it a sit expanded in her mouth.  As she watched Betsy and Sandra have their mouths stuffed, she felt a length of white medical tape been smoothed over her mouth, forming to the contours of her lips and jaw.

 

“How appropriate,” she thought to herself as she tried to move her mouth, watching as Betsy had the length of white material pressed down over her mouth as well.  As Sandra was gagged in the same way, Cath wriggled round in the chair, rocking to and fro as she got herself comfortable.

 

Betsy watched as her daughter was rolled onto her stomach, and her ankles pulled back before they were secured to her chest ropes.  Fnksabnsh” she mumbled as the man pulled her top down and joined the other two.

 

“You may as well watch the television,” he said as he passed the set, and turned it on.  As the picture formed, it showed a carol concert, and the three women inwardly groaned as the first carol started.

 

Silent night, Holy night,

All is Calm, All is bright...

 

 

 

 

 

 

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