The Costume Crime
“I love this time of year,” Hettie Carlisle said as she drove towards the centre of town, “the fact we can dress up and be something we’re not?”
“Yes mum,” her three daughters groaned as they sat in the back of the car. Angel was the oldest at nineteen, tall, slim with long blonde hair, and wearing a white jersey dress, while her middle daughter Susan had on a blue jumper and jeans, her hair pulled back in a ponytail. She was seventeen, while Kim was fifteen, and wore a white t-shirt under a denim dress.
Hettie just smiled at their reaction – the forty year old had long dark hair, and she loved been able to give the older kids in their neighbourhood something to work on. Especially this year, with her plans – if they could find the right costumes.
“So I guess you’re dragging us through the halls of Cassie’s Costumes again,” Kim said as she looked up from her phone.
“Oh come on it’s not that bad,” Hettie said, “and I did agree this year you could all pick your own costumes.”
“In return for not making fun of you when you pick yours,” Susan said with a smile, “but we will anyway.”
“I know you will – but here we are,” Hettie said as she pulled up in front of the costume store. “Right – let’s go in and make our choices.”
Getting out of the car, the four women walked into the costume store, the bell tinkling above them as they did so. The shop was quiet, but a few moments later a tall brunette walked out, wearing a loose brown top over brown leggings and over the knee black leather boots. “Oh – I thought we had closed the door,” she said quietly, “can I help you?”
“I had a time booked with Cassie to select Halloween costumes – is she here,” Cassie asked.
“She is – a little tied up in business at the moment. I’m Penny, her new assistant. May I ask your name?”
They watched as Penny looked at the book on the desk. “Oh yes – I see that now. Well, I’m the only one in the store at the moment – do you mind if I lock the door and put up the ‘Closed’ sign while you make your selection?”
“Of course not,” Hettie said as she watched Penny move to the front door, and then turn round. “Right – why don’t you have a look round, and then you can try on the costumes one at a time.”
“Come on Girls – let’s get this over with,” Susan said as the girls split off, but Hettie made straight for one particular costume.
“Ah yes,” Penny said quietly, “Lynda Carter. Would you care to try it on?”
“I sure would – do you have the wig?”
“I will look for it,” Penny said as she walked off, leaving Hettie to strip down to her panties, and then put on the strapless swimsuit. The top half was red with a golden eagle on the front, and the panties blue with white stars. She had also pulled on a pair of dark tights, over which she now puled one the red knee length boots with white tops and a stripe at the front.
“Well, may I say you fill the costume well,” Penny said as she came back, handing Hettie the wig with long curly brown hair. As she put it on and looked at herself in the mirror, Hettie smiled and then put on the gold Tiara, the red star in the centre prominent on her forehead.
“I really do look like her now,” she said as she twirled round.
“True,” Penny said, “but something is missing.”
“What – oh yes, the golden rope.”
“Exactly,” Penny said with a smile, “the lasso of truth. If it was used to capture someone, they had to tell the truth, correct?”
“Correct,” Hettie said – and then she was surprised to have a golden rope passed over her head and pulled tight, holding her arms to her sides. “In that case,” she heard Penny say as she felt a gun against her back, “listen very carefully and quietly while I tell you the truth…”
Angel looked round the changing area, but there was no sign of anyone else in her family, so she slipped into a booth and stripped down, before she pulled the old fashioned white dress over her head and down her body. The top was a gypsy style, so once she had pulled the skirt to her knees, Angel pulled the short puffed sleeves down to expose her shoulders, and noticed the way her skirt came barely down her thighs.
“Oh what the hell,” she then said as she took the stockings and pulled them on, holding them using a garter belt on each side, and then a pair of white pumps to give her some extra height.
“Very impressive,” Penny said as she opened the curtain and looked in. “You look just like Gwendolyn.”
“Like who,” Angel said as she looked at herself in the mirror.”
“Forgive me – Gwendolyn was a character in a comic strip that was popular in certain publications in the late forties and fifties. She was a simple country girl who caught the eye of the lord of the manor, and tended to end up in a lot of trouble as a result.”
“Oh,” Angel said, “what sort of trouble?”
“She got kidnapped a lot.”
“As in snatched, bound and gagged?”
“Precisely,” she heard Penny say as a gloved hand was clamped over her mouth, “so let’s play along, shall we?” She tried to scream, but the large hand muffled her calls as she was pulled backwards and towards a door…
“Well, if I’m going to have to do this, at least I’ll look good while doing it,” Susan said to herself as she pulled the knee length white leather boots over the lower legs of her pink britches, and then stood up to look at herself in the mirror. Over her upper body she was wearing a pink jacket, with a scarf round her neck, and a pink racing helmet with a pair of goggles perched on the front.
Putting on the large white driving gloves, she smiled and said “Perfect.”
Susan turned and smiled as she saw Penny standing there, and Kim disappearing into another changing booth. “How did you guess?”
“I used to watch loving that show when I was a girl as well,” Penny said, “although I have to admit, I preferred to think of Dick Dastardly.”
“You fiend,” Susan said with a smile. “Do you like being the villain?”
“It’s a living,” Penny said with a smile. “Did you ever watch The Perils of Penelope Pitstop?”
“With the Hooded Claw and the Anthill Mob? Oh yes – Haelp, HAEELLP!”
“Very good indeed,” Penny said with a smile as she showed Susan something that grabbed her attention. “So, why don’t you play the part as well and follow me?”
“The name is Possible – Kim Possible,” Kim said as she looked in the mirror. A long ash blonde wig was on her head, and she was wearing a black crop top, taupe cargo pants, black ankle boots and black gloves. Smiling, she pulled back the curtain and walked over to where Susan had been talking to the store owner.
“So what do you think Sis,” she said as she pulled back the curtain – but there was nobody there, just Susan’s clothes and her bag. Shaking her head, Kim turned and checked the other stalls – only to find her mother and older sister’s belongings.
There was no answer as Kim walked to the front of the shop, but there was no sign of anyone else – not even the store owner. She was starting to get worried as she made her way back to the changing area, and saw another door at the far side. Walking over, she put her hand on the door knob, and slowly turned it, saying “is there anybody there” as she slowly pulled the door open.
Kim stared at the three women sitting in the store cupboard, all with their arms pulled behind their backs, and bands of rope holding their arms to their sides, as well as their ankles and legs together. They all had knotted scarves pulled into their mouths, the darker knots visible between their teeth, the bands tied round their heads. As she slowly walked back, she continued to stare at them, and then turned round – only to run into Penny.
“Ah – I see you found the real staff,” she said quietly as she grabbed Kim’s arm, her grip surprisingly tight. “Well, I guess we should take you to meet the rest of your family – and please, no screaming. After all, you don’t want me to hurt you.
Kim slowly shook her head from side to side as Penny frog marched her to the other side of the room and opening a door.
“Oh god – not you as well Kim!”
“Mum – what’s going on,” Kim said as she saw Hettie, Angel and Susan sitting in a row on a box. Their arms were also pinned behind their backs – and as her own wrists were taken behind her back, she felt the rope rubbing on her skin as her arms were secured by Penny.
“They’re breaking into the store next door,” Angel said, Kim following her gaze as she saw the large hole in the wall, and the three stocking masked women as they brought bags out with them.
“The… the jewellers?”
“The bespoke jewellers,” Penny said, “such a pity I left that door unlocked. But every cloud… After all, it is not every day we are presented with the opportunity of making a very special night of our work. The Carlisle family – and on All Hallows Eve as well.”
“All Hallows what,” Kim said as the rope was tugged tightly between her wrists, and the ends secured.
“The full name for Hallowe’en – All Hallow’s Eve,” Penny said. “But, as I said, a unique opportunity. I know who you are Mrs Carlisle – I knew the moment you came in, and I made a call to my superior to make a suggestion. A suggestion she approved.”
“What suggestion,” Hettie said as she looked at Penny.
“Are we finished?”
“That is the last bag Penelope,” one of the masked women said.
“Good – now, as for you four, open your mouths nice and wide. We’re going for a little trip. While I do that, find a bag, put their clothes and belongings in – and make sure you have their house keys handy.”
Fifteen minutes later, some of the people in the street turned and watched as Penny opened the door to Cassie’s Costumes, walking to the dark van and opening the side doors before Wonder Woman, Sweet Gwendolyn, Penelope Pitstop and Kim Possible were escorted by three masked women from the store. They could see their wrists were tied behind their backs, and clear tape covered their mouths as they looked round.
“Happy Hallowe’en everyone,” Penny shouted out, “Cassie’s Costumes is closed for the night, but our last customers get the joy of an in character ride home as the best known captives in show business. Have a wonderful night, everyone.”
They all laughed and went on their ways as the mother and three daughters were made to sit on the floor of the van, the masked women sitting with their guns on their laps as the van moved off. The four of them looked at each other, wondering what was going to happen as the van moved off.
Eventually, the van stopped, Susan saying “mscrddmm” as they looked at the two masked and armed women.
“Bbbrrfflfew,” Hettie said as they heard movement outside, and then the side door of the van opened. They could see the front of their house, with the decorations and the pumpkins outside, as Penny said “inside – and no trying to raise the alarm. We will be watching.”
The four women nodded as they walked in single file. “Hey Hettie,” the next door neighbour said as she came out with her kids in costume, “playing the damsel already?”
“It’s a prize won on the costume shop – she and the girls really wanted to enter into the spirit of things,” Penny said as they were escorted in, the guards now wearing clown masks as Penny opened a bag and started to let the children take sweets. She then went in coming back with a large bowl that the sweets were in. She placed it on the front steps, lit the candles in the two pumpkin lanterns, and then stepped inside, closing the door behind her.
“Come with me,” she said as she took Hettie by the arm, “make sure the three daughters are appropriately secured.” As Angel, Susan and Kim were made to walk up the stairs, Penny walked Hettie into her home office, and made her sit down in the chair.
“Now then,” she said quietly, “don’t speak too loudly.” She took hold of the corner of the clear tape and pulled it away, before she pulled the folded cloth from the older woman’s mouth.
“My girls,” she croaked.
“You have my guarantee they will be safe – so long as you do as I say.”
“Who do you work for?”
Penny said nothing, as one of the masked women brought in a bag and opened it. Removing a length of rope, she started to wrap it around Hettie’s arms and body, framing her chest above and below as Hettie saw the way her breasts were forced up and out. Instead, the woman took out an iPhone and dialled a number.
“Penny,” a deep, mellow and pleasant voice said, making Hettie feel warm and relaxed even as the ropes were pulled tighter, “what do you have to tell me?”
“We are in residence,” Penny said, “but Mrs Carlisle was enquiring as to who my employer was.”
“Understandable – good evening Mrs Carlisle, I am Madame X. Do as my friend Penelope says, and all will be well.”
Hettie stared at the phone, and then at Penelope as she slowly nodded. “Mrs Carlisle understands Madame – we will return shortly.”
“Excellent,” the warm voice said as the call ended. “Now,” Penny said as the masked woman crossed and started to bind Hettie’s ankles, “the combination?”
As she watched the women leave, Hettie started to struggle – her bound ankles had been pulled back and tied to her chest ropes, while her legs had also been bound below her knees and above the tops of her boots. A band of white tape encircled her head, covering her mouth and keeping the cloth gag inside. The binding was too tight, however, as she looked up and began to try and call for help.
Outside, as the grey van drove off the neighbourhood kids were helping themselves to the candy, the bowl slowly emptying. Eventually, a group of kids came to see the empty bowl, the open door and the note pinned to the door that said “come in for a big surprise.”
“Can we go in mum,” the ten year old boy in the cowboy outfit said to his mother.
“It should be all right, Mrs Carlisle would not have done this if she didn’t have treats inside,” his mother said as she and the other woman, both dressed as vampires, followed the boy and girls in.
They walked through the house, and then came into the office to see her, bound and gagged and struggling on the floor.
“Oh wow – Wonder Woman got captured by a super villain. We’d better free her,” the boy said as their mothers looked at her.
“Mgrrlslss- pstrsss,” Hettie called out.
“Bobby, why don’t I take you into the kitchen and get some drinks,” she said as she ushered the kids out, her friend kneeling by Hettie and removing the tape before she coughed and spat out the cloth.
“The girls… Upstairs… Quickly…”
She nodded and ran up the stairs, looking in the master bedroom to see the three girls lying on their stomachs on the bed, hogtied and looking at them with eyes red from tears. Slowly, she took her mobile phone out and said “Police – I need to report a robbery…”
“Excellent Penny – we will discuss in the morning,” Madame said before she put the phone down and left her den. She smiled as she saw John Hammond standing there, wearing a Frankenstein outfit.
“Ready to go to the party,” he said as he looked at her, wearing a white dress and looking like the Bride of Frankenstein.
“I am – Maisha, we are going now. Are you sure you do not want to come?”
“No thank you,” Maisha said as she looked up, “I am expecting a call from Ama. Enjoy yourselves.” As she watched them leave, she smiled and looked again at the screen of the television, watching the quiz.