Nura and Thana Hassan were the two daughters of one of the Diplomatic core at the Qatar embassy. As such, they lived a fairly privileged life in the Chelsea area of London, and although they followed the faith of their parents, their father allowed them a – shall we say, certain latitude in their style of dress.
It wasn’t that they dressed with a lack of modesty – they always had their heads covered in public, for example. But they always looked stylish, Nura with her brown rimmed glasses and Thana with her clear blue eyes.
They may have been a couple of years different in age, but they had both graduated from the same college, and now worked in different parts of the same company. As they returned home on the Underground, Thana turned and said “so, this party we’re going to tonight?”
“Oh yeah – lots of parent approved eligible young men there,” Nura said with a smile. “What are we going to wear?”
“Well, we could be both Western and traditional – if you’re up for it?”
“Sounds good to me – let’s wait until our parents have left for the reception, and then we’ll get ready.”
Thana sat in front of her mirror, arranging her long brown hair on her head before she tied the purple scarf over her hair, fastening the ends at the base of her neck. She then took the black scarf and wrapped it around her head and shoulders, leaving her face showing as the edges sat on the top of her purple jersey dress.
Standing up, she pulled down the hem to cover the top of her dark blue leggings, and then walked over to her bed, sitting down before she pulled the dark brown leather boots over her legs, the tops covering over her knees.
Leaving her room, she walked down the stairs and smiled as she saw Nura looking in the mirror hanging in the hallway. She was dressed in a similar way, but wore a v-necked purple jumper that she had tucked her black headscarf into, dark blue jeans and tan over the knee leather boots. She also had a leopard print scarf hanging loosely around her neck, over her headscarf.
“Right,” she said as she turned round and smiled, “ready to...”
The knock on the door made both girls turn round, as Thana walked over and opened it.
“Hello, how may I...”
“Good evening – kindly step back into the house, with your hands in the air. The same goes for your sister.”
Thana and Nura turned and looked at the two women who came in, one of them aiming a gun as the other carried a small holdall in. Both women were dressed in black, and had balaclava masks covering their heads, only showing their eyes and mouths.
“What is this?” Thana said quietly.
“This is a kidnapping,” the woman with the gun said, “so do as we say, and you won’t get hurt. Turn and face the wall, and keep those hands in the air.”
“Our father will...”
“... pay the ransom he is asked for. Now, please, do as we say,” the second woman said, “or we will be forced to make sure you both sleep.”
The two girls looked at each other, before they turned and faced the wall. Looking at each other, Nura gasped as the masked woman pulled her arms behind her, and she felt a length of rope as they were lashed tightly together.
“I don’t understand,” Thana said as her own wrists were tied, “you are kidnapping us?”
“That’s right,” the woman said as she pulled the rope between her wrists and then tied the ends off. “So behave, remain calm, and this need not be an unpleasant experience.”
“Been kidnapped need not be an unpleasant experience?”
“No,” the second woman said as she removed Nura’s glasses, folding them neatly and placing them in a leather case. “Put your lips together please.”
“Why... Oh.” Thana watched as the woman pulled a length of tape from a white roll, and then smoothed it over her lips, before doing the same to Thana.
“Both of you, close your eyes.”
“Please,” the armed woman said, “do it.”
As they closed their eyes, they felt the pulling on their eyebrows as the tape was smoothed into place, covering their eyes, and then they were led out of the house. They could hear the heels of their boots as they walked along a path, and then were made to step up into some sort of vehicle.
Nura grunted as they were made to sit on a metal floor, and then they heard a door close. She felt her sister nudge her as they both felt the floor vibrate before they were driven off...
“This way,” they heard the woman say as the two sisters were walked along a corridor, and then heard a heavy door open. Walking in, they heard the door close, and then the rope removed from their wrists.
The tape was pulled gently away from their eyes, and as she blinked Nura saw that they were in what looked like a large hotel room. There was a large double bed, with a gold embroidered duvet on it, a large screen television, and what looked like a drinks cabinet.
Thana, however, noticed the lack of a handle on the door, and the complete lack of windows.
“Please, relax for the moment,” the masked woman said, “food and drink will be brought in due course, and you will have a chance to refresh yourself before we prepare you for the evening.”
The masked woman walked out, as they heard the door close and lock, before Nura said “Whrhrrwwwthnee?”
“Hgnnnemnntt,” Thana said as she reached up and peeled the tape away from her mouth, and then ungagged her sister. “Now, you were saying?”
“Where are we? I mean, I cannot deny it looks a comfortable room, but...”
“But we are most definitely captives of someone,” Thana said as the door opened, and a woman wearing a black roll neck sweater, pants and short boots came in. She also had a balaclava covering her head, as she pushed in a trolley.
“Please, enjoy the meal,” she said, “the food and water are perfectly safe.” She turned and went out, the door closing behind her and the lock audibly turning. Nura walked over and removed the cloches, revealing two salads, before she opened the bottle of water and poured it into the two plastic cups.
“Plastic cutlery as well,” Thana said quietly, “they know what they are doing. But I have to admit, it does look like good food. I think we should do as they say.”
“I wonder what channels they have,” Nura said as she walked over to the television, and turned it on. As the screen came to life, she picked up the remote and found an Arabic channel.
“This is good,” Thana said as she chewed on some of the chicken.
In the monitor room, the dark skinned woman watched as the two younger women sat and ate.
“How did they seem to you,” she said as the other woman came in, and removed her balaclava.
“Coming to terms with their situation, Trace,” Beverly said as she looked at the monitor. “Have you contacted Lily yet?”
“Just got off the phone with her. She’s arranging the ransom demand now, but I don’t think we will have any problems.”
“I presume they will be staying the night?”
Tracy nodded as she said “once they have finished, you can go and collect the trolley, and then tell them they will find night attire in the bathroom. I’ll come with you, and make sure they are both comfortable for the night.”
“I trust you have eaten and drunk enough?”
Nura looked up as the door opened, and two masked women came in.
“Thank you, yes – would you please tell us what this is about?”
“Of course – our employer requires your father to do something for her, and given his – diplomatically sensitive position, I regret to say that your presence here is necessary for that to happen.”
“So,” Thana said, “we’re been held hostage to force him to do something?”
“Well, I would have put it differently, but yes,” the taller of the two women said. “Now, you will be staying the night, but it would be uncomfortable for you to rest as you are. If you go into the bathroom – one at a time – you will find suitable clothing for you to spend the night in. Be assured, no men will be seeing you during your stay here.”
“And why should we believe you?”
“You have my word,” the woman said, “now, who will be first?”
“I will go first,” Nura said as she walked into the en-suite bathroom, noticing again the lack of windows or any sharp objects. She also noticed the two neatly folded sets of clothing, and nodded as she sat down to remove her boots.
When she came out a few minutes later, she was carrying her boots in one hand, and her clothing in the other. She had changed into a pair of long sleeved white silk pyjamas, with a pair of bedsocks on her feet, and her dark hair held back with a ribbon.
“Excellent – you may leave your boots and clothing over there, and we will supply fresh undergarments in the morning. If you would head through now and change as well please?”
Thana nodded as she went in, closing the door as Nura said “What now?”
“Now, we must make you secure for the night,” the taller woman said as she held up a roll of white tape. “Please, lie face down on the bed, and put your hands behind your back.”
When Thana came back through, wearing a matching set of pyjamas, she saw her sister lying on the bed, her wrists secured behind her back and bands of tape holding her arms to her sides, as well as her legs and ankles together. A wide strip of tape covered her mouth, while her glasses had been placed by her clothes.
Thana nodded as she put her clothes next to Nura’s, and then put her hands behind her back, the only sound the tape coming away from the roll as it was used to secure her wrists together, and then her arms to her sides. Walking over to the bed, she sat down and watched as her ankles and legs were secured, before she lay down.
“We will wake you in the morning and update you on the situation,” the masked woman said as she smoothed the tape over Thana’s mouth, and then left them alone, the two sisters looking at each other as the lights went out, and exhaustion set in...
“Nreee? Nreee wkppp.”
Nura slowly opened her eyes, wondering why she could not move, and then saw Thana looking at her, her eyes open over the white tape that covered her mouth. She twisted round for a few minutes before she remembered her own situation, and groaned in response.
“Ffndeee – hwrufflnn?”
“Ah – good morning,” they heard the masked woman from the previous night say as she walked in, the other one pushing a trolley with plates of fruit, pastries and fruit juice in two plastic bottles. “I trust you both managed to get some sleep?”
“Stay still,” the smaller woman said as she produced a pair of scissors and cut the bands of tape away from Thana, removing them and depositing them in a black bag before she peeled the tape away from her mouth.
“I said, what’s happening,” Thana said as she rubbed her wrists, and watched as her sister was released.
“Well, I am pleased to say your father is most anxious to see your safe return, and is doing what my employer requires him to do,” the masked woman said as Nura ran to the toilet. The smaller woman took two clear packages from below the trolley, and placed them on their clothes, before taking their underwear from the previous day and placing them in a clear bag.
“That’s better,” Nura said as she came back, “so what are you going to do to us today?”
“Leave you to have breakfast, and to shower and change,” the taller woman said, “when you are ready, we will come back and make sure you are both secured. With luck, you will be on your way home by the end of the day.”
“May I ask a question?”
“Of course,” the woman said as she looked at Thana.
“Are we the only – guests – here?”
“No – enjoy your breakfast,” was the reply before the two women left, locking the door behind them.
“Hey Lily,” Bev said as the blonde haired woman came in, “how goes it?”
“We’re just awaiting word of receipt. How are they?”
“Coping,” Bev said as they looked at Nura and Thana. They had showered, and were now wearing the clothes from yesterday, including their boots. “Trace is about to make sure they’re secured for transport.”
“Ah good, you are both ready,” Tracy said as she came into the room, holding a brown leather bag.
“Ready for what,” Nura said.
“I, with deep regret, have to make sure neither of you can move nor speak for the time being. Be assured, I will make it as comfortable as possible, but for now, please stand facing each other.”
“I should have seen this coming,” Thana said as they stood as instructed, Tracy opening the bag and taking out a length of rope before she stood behind the younger sister.
“We both should have,” Nura said as she watched the masked woman cross her sister’s wrists, before binding them tightly together with the rope. Thana bit her lower lip as Tracy then took a longer length of rope, doubled it over and wrapped it around her arms and chest, pulling it tight so that it sat below her breasts.
As the rope want round above and below, Nura saw the way her sister’s dress stretched over her chest, but also noticed as the masked woman passed the rope under one arm, up and around the back of her neck, and under the other side, she made sure she did not touch Thana inappropriately.
“Well, this feels – different,” Thana said as Tracy moved behind Nura, and started to bind her in the same way.
“It does feel very different,” Nura said as she felt the rope rub on her own chest, “not unpleasant, but still restrictive.”
“Now,” Tracy said as she tied the rope off, “please will you both sit on the bed, and stretch your legs out?”
“We may as well do as she says – we’re not going to go anywhere,” Nura said with a resigned tone as they sat down, Tracy crossing the older sister’s ankles and binding them tightly together, the rope rubbing on the brown leather as it went round and between her limbs.
“A very strange sound,” Thana said quietly as Tracy tied her sister’s legs together below her knees, and then repeated the process on her. As this took place, Nura tried to move her legs, but couldn’t get any slack as the leather rubbed.
“There,” Tracy said as she tied the last knot off, and went back to the bag. “now, please, open your mouths.”
“I have the feeling we won’t be able to talk to each other?”
“You think,” Nura said to Thana as Tracy brought over two folded cloths. The women allowed her to place the cloths in their mouths, before she picked up the white tape and wrapped it tightly round their heads, covering their mouths as it went over their hijabs.
“Pleas lie down, facing each other.”
As Nura turned over, Tracy pulled her ankles back, and secure them to her chest ropes with a length of rope, before doing the same to Thana. She then walked over to the television, switching it on and selecting a music channel, before leaving the room.
Nura shook her head and tried to move – with no success, as she rolled her eyes. Thana nodded and tried to get comfortable, wondering how long it was going to take.
When the door opened, they saw three masked women come in, two pushing wheelchairs as the third carrying the roll of white tape.
“Your father has done as we asked – time for you to go home. Close your eyes please.”
“Whrwgggnnn,” Nura asked as the tape was pressed over her closed eyelids.
“As we said, home.”
Thana watched as her sister was released from the hogtie, and then lifted into one of the wheelchairs, before she closed her own eyes and felt the tape as it was pressed gently over them. She was then released from the restrictive tie, and lifted into the chair, before they were pushed along a corridor, and into some sort of vehicle.
They were driven for some time, before the vehicle stopped and they were lifted out of the chairs, carried a short distance, and then laid down. Both of them listened as the footsteps receded, and a door was closed.
“Hmmhpfllee – cnnugtthtpfrmuees?”
Thana started to rub her head on whatever she was lying on, slowly, carefully, as she felt the tape come away from her eyes. It took some time, but eventually she was able to open her eyes, and see her sister lying facing her.
As she looked around, she said “Wrrhhm – urprrntsrmmm.”
“WRPHPRRRPPE” Thana called out, a wave of relief washing over her as her mother and father came running into the room. As her mother cut through the band of tape, and peeled it away, she pushed the cloth out and said “we’re back.”
“Praise be – are you both unharmed?”
“Yes father – you did as they asked?”
“I had no choice – they wanted information, I gave it to them. You are the most precious and important things in our lives, after all...”
Shirley sat in her office at Xavier International in New York, looking at some papers when the telephone rang.
“Lillian from Head Office for you, Madame.”
“Thank you,” Shirley said as she sat back.
“Lillian – is all arranged?”
“Indeed Madame – he has provided the details of the shipping lanes used by RoideMer for the Middle East connections.”
“Good – we begin to make progress. Thank the team on a job well done, and forward the details to me.”