Dress Down Friday
The challenge had been issued to the staff of Simpson, Place and Simpson the week before, in an e-mail sent round by the general manager.
Next Friday will officially be our annual dress down for business Friday. In return for a donation of £10, staff will not need to wear business clothes, but may attend in ‘smart casual’ attire. Naturally, we expect a sense of modicum in dress at all times.
Nadia had been the first to arrive that morning. Because of her faith, she always had her head covered, and normally she wore a smart jacket over a long dress, with only her face showing. Today, however, she walked in wearing what for her was a surprising outfit.
She took off her coat to reveal a blue men’s shirt, with white cuffs, worn over a black roll neck sweater, a pair of grey trousers with a thin brown belt, and the legs tucked into knee length brown leather boots with straps at the side. The really striking thing, however, was the camouflage scarf she wore over her head instead of her usual blue one.
She switched on her computer, and started to look through e-mails before she heard a friendly voice say “Nadia – you’re showing your legs?”
“Is that a problem,” she said to Susan as she took her leather jacket off. Her colleague had long dark hair, which fell over the shoulders of her black and grey patterned dress, a metal chain necklace covering the v-shaped front. She also had on a pair of over the knee black leather boots.
“No – just I don’t normally see you like this,” she said with a smile as she sat at her desk.
Nadia smiled and shook her head as April came in. The oldest of the three, she was wearing a white cardigan with a black block pattern over a grey top, black trousers and mid-calf black leather boots, with a chunky brown necklace resting round her neck and on her chest.
“I see you both rose to the challenge as well,” she said as she sat down, brushing her long black hair back. “Right then – let’s get down to business.”
The morning passed as quietly as these days do, before the vast majority of the office left for the traditional long Friday lunch – leaving the three administrators to hold the fort.
“Just for once,” April said as she watched them go, “I would like to be the one who went and somebody else take the Friday lunchtime shift.”
“On the other hand,” Nadia said, “we do get to leave an hour earlier than the others instead - and they are not meant to drink either.”
“True,” Susan said, “except they do drink, and you don’t.”
“Sadly true,” Nadia said, “but I do get to enjoy an early night.”
“Good afternoon ladies,” a male voice said. Nadia turned round to see a man and two women standing in front of her desk, dressed in blue boiler suits, with stockings pulled down over their heads. The mean was holding a very real looking gun in his gloved hand, while the two women were carrying black holdalls.
“Oh my…” Susan said as she and April stood up.
“Please, remain in your seats, with your hands on your heads,” the man said, “my friends and I are here only for the contents of the safe. Do as we ask, and no harm will come to you.”
The three women looked at each other, and then slowly raised their arms, placing their hands face down on top of their heads.
“Very good,” he said as one of the masked women put her bag on the table and opened it. “Now, which of you ladies would be kind enough to open the safe for me?”
“I’ll do it,” Aprils aid as she stood up, “it’s not worth risking my life or yours for.”
“An eminently sensible attitude,” the man said as he handed the gun to the other woman. “Keep an eye on them while our friend secures her to her chair.”
April went with the man into the inner office while Susan had her arms pulled behind the back of the chair, Nadia watching as the masked woman used a length of rope to tie her wrists together, and then secure them to the back of her chair.
“Oh my god oh my god,” Susan said to herself as the woman then wrapped some rope around her waist, pulling her against the chair back, before another length was used to secure her arms and chest to the char back as well. The rope sat above and below her chest, forcing it out as she tried to control her fear.
“Okay,” the man said as he brought April back, “the safe is open. Make sure this nice young lady is nice and comfortable – I’ll take care of the third girl.”
He pushed April back to her chair, the masked woman walking over as she sat down before the man said “Please, put your hands behind the chair back.
“What is it you want,” Nadia said as she slowly complied, the man crossing her wrist and using rope to secure them together. She felt it pulled tight as her wrists were forced one against the other, and then the rope taken around and between her wrists.
“Best you don’t know,” the man said quietly as he tugged the ropes between her wrists, and then tied them to the chair back. She tried to move them, but was unable to as she saw a length of rope passed in front of her.
“Very retro,” the masked man said to Nadia as he pulled the rope around her waist, securing her even more to the office chair. “Long time since I’ve seen the office shirt over the jumper.”
“It… It preserves my modesty, as is becoming of a woman of my faith,” she replied as she felt her body being forced against the chair back, the ropes sitting above and below her chest as he tied it tightly.
Looking over, she saw Susan and April struggling in their chairs, as the other two women knelt by them and started to bind their ankles, the rope squeaking on their boots.
“What is this, anyway – wear boots to work day? You’re all wearing them.”
“A challenge, nothing more. To raise money for.. NN… For charity,” Nadia said as she watched him cross and tie her own ankles together, and then use more rope to secure her legs together, below her knees and above her boots.
“Well then, we have a new challenge for all of you – who can cause the least noise?”
Nadia looked and said “who? What?”
The three girls grunted as their legs were pulled under the seats, and their ankles tied to their wrists, before the masked man produced three large sponge balls. He handed one to each of the two girls, before compressing the third in his gloved hand.
“All right ladies – open your mouths nice and wide please.”
Susan took one look at him and clamped her lips shut, shaking her head from side to side as the other two watched.
“Oh dear, and it was going so well,” the man said with a smile, before he nodded to the masked woman standing behind Susan’s chair. As Nadia and April watched, the woman pinched Susan’s nose closed with her gloved hand, waiting until Susan had to open her mouth and allowing her to breath before she pushed the sponge behind her teeth, covering her mouth with her gloved hand as she closed her lips.
“Now then,” the man said as he produced a wide roll of white tape, tore a long length off and smoothed it over Susan’s mouth, the tape forming to the shape of her jaw as he lips could be seen underneath, “are either of you fine ladies going to cause us any trouble?”
April and Nadia looked at each other, before they slowly opened their mouths, allowing the sponges to be put into their mouths and then the tape to be pressed over their lips.
“Excellent – you two ladies, please go and empty the safe, I’ll make sure the three here do not try and do anything silly –like escape.”
“Ftchnnsns” April said as she looked at Nadia. The young girl simply shook her head and sat still, trying to control her breathing as they heard the other intruders emptying the safe. After a few minutes, they came back in, looking at the three bound and gagged workers.
“Well, we must be going,” the man said as he looked at them, “hopefully you will not be in this state for too long, but I wish you a pleasant afternoon.” He and the other two women left, the office silent as Susan quietly sobbed, and April tried to get free.
Nadia looked from side to side, as if she was trying to remember where she put something, and then she began to use her bodyweight to move her chair along the floor, slowly inching towards the drawers in her desk. The other two looked up and watched as she slowly, carefully pulled the top drawer open a little, and then managed to ease out a pair of scissors in her fingers.
“Whrudngnng,” Aprils said as Nadia looked over.
“Smfngshupd” she mumbled as she managed to open the blades up, and then looked over her shoulder, watching as she slowly sawed away at the rope connecting her ankles to her wrists.
It seemed to take an age before the cords finally frayed and snapped, Nadia sighing through her nose as her boots hit the floor. She then wriggled her ankles for a few minutes, the rope squeaking against the leather as she managed to get her ankles side by side, before she pushed herself across the floor and looked over her should to Susan.
Susan managed to use her body weight to twist her back to Nadia, as the young Muslim woman used the blades of the scissors to cut both her legs free, and then the rope holding her wrists to the back of the chair. As Susan managed to wriggle her upper body more, she looked over her own shoulder, and saw the knot on Nadia’s wrists. She started to pick on that with her fingers, the other two girls offering some encouragement.
Eventually Nadia managed to get her wrist free, and wriggle her arms round enough to peel the tape from her mouth and pull the sponge out. “Come here,” she said to Susan, untying her wrists and arms before they both untied their waists and went to help April.
As the three of them stood up, they heard from the doorway “Twenty minutes – I think that’s a new record.”
“Thanks Mister Simpson,” April said as she looked at the three intruders, not without the stockings over their heads.
“You passed the annual emergency drill, ladies,” their boss said as he stepped forward, “well done. Now, I believe you all deserve the rest of the day off – but be here Monday to discuss how it felt, and to learn who you will be helping me to test next Friday.”
The three women high fived each other as they walked out, the two others clearing the mess away before the rest of the staff returned…