Hostages to Fortune
The two cheerleaders looked at each other, wondering how the hell they had ended up in this predicament. This has been the night of their initiation, and as was traditional they had to spend the whole night in the local haunted house, wearing the uniform for Amelia Earhart School. How they to know they were not the only ones spending their night there?
They sat on the bed, dressed in the purple and yellow uniform with white roll neck sweaters underneath, purple bands in their hair and white socks and sneakers. What they had not expected to be wearing as well were the tight white ropes around their legs, ankles, wrists and chest, making their young chests stick out more than was decorous. The thick white cloths in their mouths meant all that escaped from their mouths was a mewl, which was becoming more frantic when they saw who had joined the two men that had captured them.
“I had forgotten this was initiation night – sorry girls, but you will need to stay with us a little longer.”
“What do you want to do with them?”
“Keep them here for now then move them down into the cellar. I need to get ready for tomorrow, and do not wish to be disturbed by them or you.”
The cheerleaders looked at the two men as they left the room after their visitor, and then locked the bedroom door behind them.
The history class at the high school was packed with the graduating class, who had been summoned to hear a talk on local history by one of the most famous alumni of EAS, Dr Cerys Pilton. Jo, Judy and Jacqui were sat in one of the back rows, sulking slightly at the thought of missing another sports session.
“Have you seen Deh and Babs today? I thought they would have made it this morning?” Jo whispered into Jacqui’s ear. The dark haired goth turned and whispered back “No – maybe they didn’t get any sleep and decided to stay off this morning?”
“Shh,” Judy whispered, “Look at the picture she has put up.”
All three looked at the projection screen, and recognised an old, dilapidated building known to the locals. Dr Pilton was pointing at the picture.
“As you should all be aware, Jarvis Cocker was a local man who was employed by the court of King James to act as a privateer in the waters around here. He obtained the name Greybeard on account of the colour of his facial hair. His only hair, if truth be told – he was by all accounts completely bald otherwise. He was one of the most successful of the fleet, earning enough in his lifetime to build the house on Spyglass Point that we now know as Greybeard’s House.
Legends still persist of where Cocker hid the vast majority of his treasure, such as the doubloons that were used as currency at that time”
The picture changed to show a number of gold and silver coins spilling out of an overturned money chest.
“Unlike other more famous pirates and privateers such as Blackbeard and Bluebeard, Cocker is thought to have hidden his treasure somewhere near where he lived, possibly even within the house itself. Greybeard’s House is about to be taken over by the local museum and preserved as a monument and museum, so we may now never know the true location of the treasure.”
“Isn’t that where the cheerleader squad have their initiations?” Jo whispered to Judy.
“Looks like they need to find a new place.”
Dr Pilton turned to the audience. “Are there any questions?”
A hand shot up. “Dr Pilton, do you believe the stories that the house us haunted by Greybeard’s ghost? There have been a lot of strange noises and lights coming from there over the last few months?”
“Well, I don’t believe Greybeard is walking around if that is what you are asking” Dr Pilton replied, and the hall erupted with laughter. “No, old building such as that one often seem like they are haunted, but the noises are just old timbers creaking ad the lights the way the sunset reflects through the old stained windows. Are there any other questions?”
As the girls filed out, Jo Judy and Jacqui stood out in the corridor watching them all talking.
“Do you believe the house is haunted?” Jacqui asked.
“Nah – but there have been a lot of funny noises up there lately. My dad told me he had seen lights up there as well.”
“Want to spend the night up there tonight?” Jacqui asked, and the other two looked at her with surprise.
“What, are you both chicken?” she asked.
“No – it sounds like fun actually, but what do we tell out parents?”
“You’re coming round to mine is what you tell them,” Jo said. “We’ll meet up at eight and head up to the house from there.”
Eight o’clock came round, and the three friends met at the foot of the drive that led up to the house. Jacqui was wearing a Metallica t-shirt and black jeans, which matched her black hair streaked with red. Jo and Judy were wearing t-shirts and denim jeans.
“Right – are we ready to explore Greybeard’s house?” Jacqui said as she started up the winding path.
“Did you ever know her to be this brave?” Jo whispered to Judy.
“Brave or reckless? Well, what’s the worst that can happen?”
Reaching the front door, Jacqui pushed open the front door and the three friends slipped into the old house. The setting sun shone through the large windows and dispersed through the dust hanging in the air to create a slightly eerie atmosphere.
“It feels like I’m in a Scooby Doo cartoon” Judy whispered.
“Yeah – fun isn’t it?” Jo said, and the three friends laughed out loud. Their laughter stopped however when a thud was heard.
“Whh. What was that?”
Jacqui looked around. “Just a door closing possibly. Come on – let’s explore this place. Who wants to come with me?”
As Jacqui headed up the large staircase, Judy and Jo looked at each other. “You have a look upstairs,” Judy called, “We’ll check out the lower floor.”
“Suit yourselves,” Jacqui called back as she went to the upper floors. Judy and Jo headed through a door to the side of the staircase, and found themselves in a library.
“Look at all these books,” Judy whispered. “Makes you wonder why someone abandoned the place.”
“Dry rot at a guess,” Jo whispered, “I wonder how Jacqui’s getting on.”
In one of the master bedrooms, Jacqui was exploring when she heard a creak behind her.
“Just a floorboard,” Jacqui said to herself as she looked around the room. She bent over to look under one of the beds, and as a result didn’t see the shadow growing behind her. As she stood up, however, she realised someone was behind her as a cloth was pressed over her mouth and nose, and the sweet smelling chloroform forced her into an unnatural sleep.
Judy and Jo had moved on from the library, and found the kitchen.
“Jo, have you been listening as we walked round?”
“Not really, why?”
“Can you hear that moaning?”
“Now that you mention it, yes. Why?”
“It’s been getting louder since we moved towards the kitchen. I wonder where it’s coming from.”
The two girls searched the kitchen, until Jo stopped in a corner of the room and kneeled on the floor.
“Judy, give me a hand with this, will you?” She said as she tugged at a ring on the floor. Judy came over and joined her, and with some effort the two girls pulled open a hatch. A set of stairs leading down into a cellar was revealed, and the moaning definitely was louder now that the trap door had been opened.
“What do you think is causing that?” Judy asked.
“I don’t know, but I’m going to find out.” Jo started to descend into the cellar.
“Hang on – I’ll see if I can find a torch.” Judy said as she started to look around the kitchen, but Jo carried on descending into the gloom.
Jacqui stirred from her sleep, wondering what had happened. She remembered getting up from the floor and something over her mouth, but after that nothing. She tried to raise herself up, but something was holding her arms to her side, and she wasn’t sure what it was.
Opening her eyes, she saw she was sat against the wall in the bedroom, but she couldn’t move her arms or legs, As her eyes came into focus, she saw that some sort of red fabric had been wound around her ankles and legs, with her black socked feet sticking out. With a growing sense of horror, however, she realised that her whole body was wrapped in the fabric, with her hands strapped to her chest in front of her. Trying to cry out, she realised that the cloth had been continued up from her neck over her mouth to below her nose and she was completely immobilised and gagged.
Looking around the room, she realised that someone was sat on the bed. Her eyes fully focused, she opened them wide in surprise as she saw who was sat there.
“Well, well, another young lady from the school looking around. You just sit there and don’t move, while I go and meet your friends. Ta ta for now.”
Jo felt her way through the gloomy cellar, wishing she had waited for Judy to bring a torch yet also entranced by the thought of wondering what was causing the moaning noise, which was becoming louder the further she went in.
As she walked along, she also realised that someone had been digging in the area, but curiosity was getting the better of her. As her eyes adjusted to the dim light, she saw something moving at the far end of the cellar, and cautiously she approached.
Coming closer, she realised that someone – no, two people were on the cellar floor. The moaning was also getting louder, and with a shock she realised there was someone bound and gagged in the cellar. That shock was confounded when a large hand was clamped over her mouth and a voice whispered in her ear “Nice and quiet, girly, nice and quiet.”
Judy stared down into the gloom. “Jo is that you? What did you find?”
“Hello there – I didn’t think anyone else was in the building.”
Whirling round, Jo saw Cerys Pilton standing behind her.
“Dr Pilton – what are you doing here?”
“Taking a look around for the museum before they begin work. What are you doing here?”
“We – that is, my friends and I were exploring this old house. Have you seen them?”
“No, I can’t say I have. - But that’s not important. I’m glad to see people are still interested in this place, however – would you like a drink?”
Judy was slightly taking aback by this. “I’m sorry, a drink?”
“Yes, I was about to pour myself a glass of water. Would you like one?”
“Yes, yes thank you” Judy said
Dr Pilton made her way to the sink, where she poured two glasses of water from a pitcher that was sitting there. Unseen by Judy, she slipped a small bottle out of her pocket and shook a few drops into one of the glasses, which she passed to Judy on her return.
Judy took a long deep drink, and started to ask Dr Pilton what she was looking for when she began to feel drowsy.
“What’s the matter, Judy – feeling tired?” Dr Pilton said. “Here – let me help you to somewhere where you can rest.”
“Immm feeling ill – wht did u put in the wter” Judy mumbled.
“Oh that – just a harmless anaesthetic. I don’t want you or any of the other girls getting in my way just now.”
“Yes – after all, now that I have uncovered Greybeard’s treasure I need some time to get away. Here,” she said as she opened a door, “why don’t you ask the others?”
Through bleary eyes, Judy saw Deh, Babs, Jo and Jacqui on the floor. Jo was bound in the same way as the cheerleaders, but all were looking forlornly on as Dr Pilton laid Judy on the floor and started to tie her up.
“I’m afraid you’re all hostages to fortune today, girls, but don’t worry – you’ll be found in the morning when the museum staff come in. By then me and my friends will be far away, but don’t let that worry you. Just relax and enjoy the evening.”
Judy fell asleep to the sound of the others screaming through their gags. And the feeling of rope around her arms and wrists.