The flyer was prominently displayed on the common room notice board.
BATTLE OF THE BANDS!!
AMATUER BANDS INVITED TO TAKE PART FOR THE PRIZE OF £1000 AND A RECORDING SESSION!
BANDS SHOULD REGISTER AT THE JCR BY NOON ON FRIDAY TO TAKE PART!!
“What do you think?” Jo said to Carrie and Zaria as they read the notice again.
“It’s an interesting idea, but do you think we really stand a chance of winning?”
Jo shrugged. “Who knows? But you can’t deny that it would be fun to take part, can you?”
“No,” Zaria said, “but I still wonder if we are ready for this?”
The three girls had been sharing a house for the last six months, and over that time they had discovered a mutual love of the music of the past, particularly the early seventies. They’d often spent evenings singing along to old records their parents had loaned them, and over time they had developed an act amongst themselves.
“Come on,” Carrie said, “If nothing else, we get a night out from it. What are we going to call ourselves?”
Jo stood in thought for a moment. “Well, we’re independent girls – how does Independence sound?”
“Interesting idea,” Zaria said. “Let’s talk about it back home.”
In the living room of their house, the three sat and discussed the upcoming contest.
“We’re going to need a distinctive look, you know – half the battle is getting the attention of the audience.”
“You’re right, Zaria – any thoughts?”
“One – but it depends on whether or not you want to keep Independence as a name.”
Jo and Carrie looked at each other and nodded.
“Well then – let’s play it up to the hilt.” Zaria took a sheet of paper, tore it into three and wrote something on each sheet. Balling the pieces up, she put them into a bowl and swirled them round.
“Pick one,” she said to Carrie. She and then Jo reached in and picked out one of the pieces of paper. Carrie opened it up and read what was written on it.
Jo looked at her piece and said “This has Blue written on it.”
Zaria took the last piece, opened it and showed it to the others. On it was written the single word “White.”
“Red, White and Blue”, Zaria said. “We’ll dress in the colours of the American flag – another form of independence.”
Jo laughed. “I love it. We each sort out an outfit in the colour and come together in that. I know what I’ll wear – Carrie?”
“I have a rough idea. What about you Zaria?”
“I think I need to talk to my grandmother. She may have something that fits this.”
Over the next few days, the three girls prepared their outfits as well as rehearsing. Thursday evening arrived with the three ready to show what they intended to wear. After they ate their evening meal, they split up to go their separate ways and don the outfits they had planned for the concert.
The living room had been cleared, and Jo had hooked three microphones up to the stereo system in the main room. She stood there in the outfit she had selected for the show. Starting with a blur roll necked jumper with short sleeves, she had put on a faded blue denim waistcoat and miniskirt that she had picked up in the Union second-hand store. She had also found a pair of knee length tight boots made of denim, which she felt complemented her outfit.
The door opened, and Carrie walked into the room. She had found a red short sleeved mini dress made from red cotton, and knee length red leather boots, and she had tied a red scarf into her hair as an Alice band.
“Very nice,” Jo said, “so we have red and blue. I wonder what we will get for white.”
As if in answer, Zaria walked into the room. She was wearing a white jumpsuit, with a wide white leather belt, and a white silk scarf around her neck. She was also wearing white PVC ankle boots, which were barely visible under the bell bottoms of her trousers.
“You called?” She said as she gave a twirl.
“Well, we certainly have a look,” Carrie said. “So, what song are we going to start with tomorrow night?”
“How about we try this one?” Jo said as she passed around a list she had typed up earlier.
The three looked at the list, then Jo started the backing track and the three picked up the microphone.
Stop! In the name of love,
Before you break my heart!
They were so intent on their singing they didn’t hear the sound of splintering wood, and the squeak of the back door being opened. Two shadowy figures crept into the unlit room.
Think it over….
One of the figures rummaged around in the cupboards in the kitchen, and retrieved a number of items which he placed in a bag that he was carrying. Shouldering the bag, he joined his companion, and the two of them made their way towards the front room.
“Phew – I think we’ve got this down pat now,” Jo said as she mopped her brow.
“I do so agree,” a male voice said as the sound of clapping came from behind them.
Turning quickly around, the three girls saw two men standing in the doorway. The one who had spoken was slowly clapping his hands, while the other had made his way into the room and was standing there, twirling a large and sharp hunting knife in his hand. Both were wearing stocking masks over their heads.
“Please, slowly put the microphones down and stand still, with your hand son top of your heads.”
Zaria looked at the other two, and slowly raised her hands to place them on her head. Jo did likewise, but Carrie ran at the man shouting “How dare you threaten us, I ought to…”
“You ought to what?” the man said as he grabbed Carrie by her arm, twisted it behind her back and made her cry out in pain. “The only thing you need to do is what we tell you to do.”
He pushed Carrie back towards the other two, and Jo caught her in her arms.
“Now, ladies,” he said as he retrieved a roll of washing line from the bag he took off his shoulder and passed it to the other man, “we just need to use your house for a little while until your neighbours return. Don’t worry – you do as you are told, and you won’t be hurt.”
As he spoke, the other man quietly cut lengths off the rope and laid them on a side table.
“What do you want our neighbours for?” Jo asked.
“That’s our business, not yours. So, are you some sort of girl group?”
“What have you decided to call yourselves?”
The man laughed. “Well, that’s rich. You see, you’re about to lose your independence for a little while.”
The three girls looked thunderstruck as the implications of what he was saying sank in.
“You, Indian girl,” the man said, “come over here.”
Zaria looked at him haughtily. “I’m not Indian – I’m a Brummie,” she said.
“Whatever – get over here.”
Zaria walked slowly over, and stood in front of the man. He made a circular motion with his index finger, and Zaria slowly turned round. Taking her wrists, her held them together in the small of her back while he picked up a freshly cut piece of rope.
“Stand still,” he whispered into her ear as he quickly bound the rope around and between her wrists, securing them together. She tried to move them apart, but found no give in the ropes.
Pushing her down on a chair, the man motioned with his finger to Carrie, who let go of Jo and slowly walked over to him. He quickly crossed and bound her wrists together, making her wince as the ropes cut into the bare skin of her wrists. Jo was the last to have her wrists bound, and the three were now sat down on chairs in the living room.
“Start clearing the place out,” the man said, and the other intruder sheathed his knife before starting to disconnect and carrying out the electrical equipment in the room. As he did this, the first man picked up another length of rope, and crossing Jo’s ankles he started to tie them together, pulling the cord tightly over the denim of her boots.
“Do you have to do this?” She said as he took a further length and began to tie her legs together above her knees.
“Not this part, but yes for the rest. Besides, I like it.”
Patting Jo on the legs, he moved over and started to tie Carrie’s ankles. She tried to kick him in a sensitive area, but he merely slapped her hard on the legs and continued to tie the rope around and between her crossed ankles. Once her legs were bound as well, he stood up and walked over to Zaria.
“I want you to kneel down in front of the chair,” he said as he picked up more rope. “Here – let me help you.”
He took Zaria by the arm and helped her to kneel on the floor. Jo and Carrie watched as, rather than crossing her ankles, he placed them side by side and lashed them together. He then took another length, tied it around the ropes over her wrists and secured it to her ankles as tightly as possible.
“There now – you’re nice and secure there,” he said. “Anything you would like to say at this point?”
“What are you doing this for?” Zaria asked as she twisted her head around.
“To keep you out of the way. Now, open wide.”
Zaria looked at him in a quizzical way, but in response he pinched her nose until she opened her mouth to breath. At that point, he took a wash cloth from his pocket and stuffed it into her mouth. Working quickly, he untied the white scarf from around her neck, rolled it tightly and passed it twice around and into her mouth before tying it off between her lips.
Moving behind Carrie, he reached under her hair and undid the red scarf, before opening it out, re-rolling it and tying a knot in the middle. “Will you give me any trouble?” he asked as he held a cloth in front of her, but Carrie just looked at him and opened wide. A few minutes later, he was tying the scarf ends together at the base of her neck and securing the knot between her lips, keeping the cloth gag in place.
“What happens next?” Jo asked.
“You three stay here, we take your stuff, and then we wait for your neighbours to return. Once they are back, you need not worry about us. Until then, relax and stay calm. Anything else?”
Jo shook her head, and the man pushed a final cloth into her mouth. Signalling to his companion as he re-entered the room, he took a roll of duct tape from him and tore off three strips, smoothing them over Jo’s lips to make a most effective gag.
The man sat down at a chair at the table, and looked over the three bound and gagged women as they sat and knelt there. Time passed slowly as they watched their electrical equipment being carried out, then the tow intruders sat as the light was turned off in the room and all sat in the darkness.
Jo reached over with her feet and touched Carrie on the legs, who turned to look at her. She nodded at her friend as if to ask if she was all right, and Carrie returned the favour. Zaria looked at both of them with tears running down her cheeks, but none of them said a word.
The clock struck eleven as the bright lights of a car passed the front window, and turned into the house next door. The three girls sat in silence as they heard the sound of doors opening and slamming shut, and voices making their way up to the next house. As they heard the front door opening and closing, the two men looked at each other and stood up. They left the three girls where they were, and they listened as the front door clicked shut.
Jo and the others listened, and they heard shouts and screaming coming from next door. Those then turned into muffled screams and sobbing, before lights went on in the road and a van could be heard driving off.
Jo and Carrie looked at each other, and then both girls slid down onto the carpet of the room. Zaria watched as they made their way on their bottoms towards each other, and then moved around so that they were back to back. Jo grabbed hold of Carrie’s wrists and started to try and undo the ropes that held them in place.
It took another couple of hours, but eventually Carrie was able to get her wrists free, reach up and pull the gag out of her mouth, Spitting the cloth out, she turned round and started to untie Jo’s wrists. Once they were free, she moved over and untied Zaria’s wrists.
The three girls were standing up, rubbing their wrists, when the door burst open and two policemen ran in.
“Are you girls all right?” One of them asked.
Jo nodded, then asked “What happened next door?”
“Let’s take care of you first,” the policemen said as an ambulance crew came in. “You’ll hear the story soon enough.”
As the three girls were led out of the house, blankets over them, they looked over to see an elderly woman and two younger women being led to another ambulance. Carrie looked at the other two, and they made their way into the waiting ambulance.