The York Five
Jemima smiled as she left the branch of Yorkshire Bank, adjusting the leather gloves on her hands. She was wearing a black leather jacket over a wrap round purple mini dress, the tops of her black stockings visible under the hem, and knee length laced black leather boots.
Possibly not the sort of clothing you expected a fifty year old woman to wear, but then Jemima was not the typical fifty year old woman. Her dark hair was on her head in a bun, and she had a wide black choker round her neck. She had just banked the takings for the previous night from her business, and now she was in need of a coffee.
As she walked into her favourite café, within view of the Minster, she was surprised to see she was the only customer – and it was not the usual woman behind the counter either. She had short greying brown hair, and wore a blue coat dress, smiling as she said “can I get you something?”
“Black coffee – where’s Elsie?”
“She had to go somewhere, I’m her sister – she asked me to cover for her today. Have a seat, love, and I’ll bring the coffee over to you.”
Jemima nodded as she took a seat at a table by the wall, watching people walk past through the large street facing window as the coffee was brought over to her. “Thank you,” she said quietly as she took a sip from the cup, and looked out again to the window as the older woman went back behind the counter.
“Has Elsie changed her blend,” Jemima said quietly as she looked over.
“Not that I’m aware of – is it all right?”
“I guess so,” Jemima said as she put her cup down, blinked and stifled a yawn. She took another sip from her cup, and then put the cup on the saucer, blinking as she yawned again.
“Is something wrong, Jemima?”
“I… I feel… How did you know my na…?” Jemima’s eyelids flickered and closed as she slumped back in the chair, the older woman nodding as she took the cup and took it to the counter. She walked back with several lengths of rope on her hands, smiling as she gently moved Jemima so her forehead rested on the table, and crossing the woman’s wrists behind her back before she used one of the lengths of rope to bind them tightly together.
“Now you just relax,” she said quietly as she sat Jemima back up, pressing a strip of brown sticking plaster over her mouth, and then lifting her up so that she was supporting the unconscious woman’s weight before she half walked, half dragged her to the rear of the coffee house.
As they made their way through the kitchen, she glanced down to the floor where a grey haired woman was sitting, her wrists and ankles bound and sticking plaster over her mouth, and a thin white envelope sitting on her lap as her head leaned forward, her eyes closed.
“Make sure her husband gets that.” She smiled as she walked Jemima out of the rear door, and towards a large black car, the boot door opening before she manoeuvred the unconscious woman in, and tied her ankles with more rope.
“Let’s get you nice and comfy,” she said with a smile, “and then get some more people to keep you company.” Closing the boot, she walked round and got behind the wheel of the car, smiling even more as she set off.
“And where are you off to today,” Bunny said as her husband walked down the staircase.
“Business – I’ll see you later,” he said with a smile as he leaned over the counter and kissed her, then went out of the door as a young couple came to the counter.
“Business? Mister and Mrs Holcombe – ready to settle your bill? I hope you’ve enjoyed your stay…”
Running a seaside guest house was not where Bunny had envisaged ending up, but her husband worked hard and looked after her, to the point of buying the guest house when it came on the market and letting her run it.
She was in her mid-fifties, with short grey-blonde hair, wearing a black cardigan and a red leather skirt. There were large gold rings hanging from her ears, and the tops of her black stockings could just be seen under the hem of her skirt. A pair of black leather boots with a three inch heel completed her outfit.
“I’ll go and start cleaning the upper rooms,” her daughter said as she walked past, Bunny nodding as a woman with short brown hair came down the stairs. She was wearing a grey overcoat and a brown jersey dress underneath, and brown shoes.
“I have enjoyed my stay,” she said with a smile as she walked to the counter, “but I suppose I have to settle my debt now.”
“It’s always the way,” Bunny said as she looked at book, looked up, and then stared at the woman.
“I do so agree,” she said as she held the pistol in her gloved hand, levelling it at Bunny, “and I do have a debt that need settling – and you, my dear Bunny, are part of the repayment.”
“Hush,” the woman said with a smile, “let’s go into the office and talk, shall we?”
Bunny slowly nodded as she opened a side door, the woman continuing to smile as she walked in and closed the door behind her.
“I don’t know what’s going on, but…”
“Sorry Bunny, you need to be quiet now,” the woman said with a smile as she took a folded white cloth from her hand, “open wide please.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Put this in your mouth – now, open wide, or perhaps I need to invite your daughter to join us as well?” She watched as Bunny shook her head, and then opened her mouth wide, allowing the armed woman to push the cloth in as she said “thank you – now close your lips and smile for me.”
Bunny closed her lips over the cloth, but did not smile as she picked up a wide roll of clear tape, tore a long strip off, and then smoothed it over Bunny’s mouth, making sure there were no creases, no air pockets, no tell-tale signs to show Bunny was unable to speak.
“Now – we are going to take a little drive,” the woman said as she took a length of rope from her handbag, and walked behind Bunny, pulling her hands behind her back and securing her wrists together. “Someone I want you to meet – and she won’t be the only one either.”
Bunny grunted into the gag as her wrists were forced together. Who was this woman, and what the hell was she talking about? As she felt the last knot been tied, she looked round and wriggled her fingers as the woman took Bunny’s coat, and put it over the bound and gagged woman’s shoulders, fastening it in the front and tucking the cuffs into the pockets.
“Right then,” she said with a smile as she put the gun into her handbag, and held Bunny’s arm, “shall we?”
Jemima looked up as the door opened, and she watched her captor walk down the stairs with another woman. She started to struggle on the camp bad she was lying on, the ropes rubbing on her body as they moved with her on her chest and legs.
“Stop struggling or you’ll hurt yourself,” the woman said as she took the coat off Bunny, and made her sit on one of the four empty camp beds, before she knelt down and used more rope to lash her ankles together, and then her legs below her knees. Jemima looked at the brown haired woman, wondering who it was as their captor stood up and walked behind her, taking a longer length of rope and using it to bind Bunny’s arms to her sides, stretching her cardigan over her chest as she did so.
Tying the ropes off, she made Bunny lie on her side, the two women looking at each other as their captor smiled. “Now, relax – more friends to collect,” she said as she walked out, the two women mewling as they struggled on the bed.
Rose had been given that name by her parents for her flaming red hair when she was born, and that hair was still there, although it was starting to grey now at the ends. The younger of two sisters, she and Elspeth had met their husbands at the same time, married on the same day, and did a lot together.
This particular afternoon, she was sitting in the drawing room of her house, sipping on a gin and tonic as she read the paper. Her long hair was frizzed, the short sleeved purple vest top hugging her body while the black leather skirt barely came half way down her thighs.
As she put it herself “not too bad for an old broad” was what she thought of her look, her stocking covered legs ending in a pair of knee length tight black leather boots. As she peered at the page through her glasses, she wondered if that bastard of a husband was going to be back at a reasonable hour that night.
“Wonder if El’s going to call,” Rose said to herself as she sipped from her glass again, and then heard the knock on the front door. Putting her glass down, she stood up and brushed some imaginary lint from her black skirt, and then walked slowly to the door.
She could see a figure through the frosted glass, but wasn’t sure who it was, or if it was a man or a woman as she walked closer. Opening the door, she smiled as she said “hello, can I help you?”
She now saw it was a woman outside the door, wearing an old sweater and jeans with a black leather jacket, looking harassed as she said “I am so sorry to disturb you – my car’s broken down, and my phone battery is flat. I know you have no right to agree, but could I use your telephone to make a telephone call to the AA?”
“Of course,” Rose said as she stood to one side, “the telephone is over there.”
“Thank you so much,” the woman said as she walked in, Rose closing the door as she said “would you like a cup of tea while you wait for the van to come?”
“That’s very kind – thank you,” she said as she picked up the telephone number, turning her back to Rose as she said “Hello – I wonder if you can come to…”
Rose made her way to the kitchen, smiling as she poured the water into the kettle and plugged it in, hearing the woman talking as she did so. She didn’t realise when she had stopped – didn’t realise anything until the damp cloth was clamped firmly over her nose and mouth, the sweet smelling fumes inhaled as she gasped and tried to inhale.
Her mind immediately started to feel fuzzy as she reached up and tried to pull the cloth away, but the grip was too strong, as her eyelids fluttered and then closed, the casually dressed woman smiling as she slowly lowered her to the floor. As Rose lay on her back on the floor, the woman slowly opened her mouth and eased a small cloth in behind her teeth, before covering her lips with a wide strip of white tape. She then crossed the redhead’s wrists in front of her and taped her wrists together, before she put her ankles together and taped them as well.
Walking to the door, she waved to someone, waiting before the car came to the door. A man got out, wearing a black leather jacket, jumper, jeans and shoes, dark glasses over his eyes.
“When you told me to help you, I had no idea…”
“Oh do behave – after all, you have other things to consider, don’t you? Now, be a good boy and open the back of the car, then take my latest guest in and make her comfy – and be quick. Someone else is coming very soon…”
“Rose? You in the front room?”
The woman who spoke was wearing a white linen jacket over a black top, a herringbone checked short skirt, dark tights and mid-calf black boots, closing the front door behind her before she slipped off her coat and draped it over the bottom of the staircase banister.
As she walked into the kitchen, she was surprised to see a grey haired woman sat there, smiling as she pointed a gun at her. “You must be Elspeth,” she said with a smile, “I’m afraid Rose is indisposed, but she wants you to join her. Please, take your jacket off.”
“Who are you,” Elspeth said quietly as she slipped her jacket off, revealing a black peasant style top, the cap sleeves pulled down over her arms.
“Oh, someone who is seeking a debt repayment, and you are going to help me with that. Please, put your hands behind your back and keep looking at me.” She smiled as Elspeth stared at her, and then slowly moved her hands behind her back, surprised as she heard a peeling sound and then the tension on her wrists as they were taped together.
“I don’t understand…”
“No, I know you don’t, and I know Rose does not, but that’s all right – you have a vital part to play,” the stranger said as Elspeth looked down, noticing gloved hands as white tape was wrapped round her arms and stomach – and then round her head, covering her mouth.
And then her eyes, as she closed them and felt the tape on her eyelids.
“Now, just walk,” she heard the woman say, as she was taken by the arms and walked slowly out of the room.
“Hmhgghddd,” Bunny said as she and Jemima watched their captor walk down the stairs, a man in dark glasses with her as they accompanied two more women down, their mouths covered with tape. They were taken to two more of the beds and helped to lie down, before their ankles and legs were taped as well.
“Don’t worry,” the woman said as she looked at them, “one more and then we can begin…”
Karen smiled as she walked up the stairs of her house, looking out of the window of the bedroom onto the rear garden. She was in her later forties, with long light brown hair, and wearing a tight fitting top that had a pink body and patterned sleeves, a tight black leather skirt, dark tights and knee length dark grey leather boots.
“Another lovely day in paradise,” she said quietly to herself as she looked out, and then stopped as she felt the pressure of a small disc against her back.
“Don’t look round,” a female voice said, “I have a gun against your back, and unless you want to feel how that is, you do as I say. Understand?” Karen slowly nodded, as the female voice said “very good – now slowly turn with me and walk to the bed, then lie face down, your face in the pillows.”
“Great, a robbery – my husband will not be pleased,” Karen said quietly as she lay on the brown coverlet, and felt the woman pull her wrists together, and then the thin plastic strip as a zip tie was used to secure them.
“No, I imagine your husband will not be pleased,” the woman said, almost with a laugh, “but who said this is a robbery?”
Karen turned her head as she felt her ankles bene forced together, and said “this isn’t a robbery? Then what is it?”
“Now that is the question. What do you think it might be,” the voice said quietly as a black cloth was tied over Karen’s eyes. Karen tried to twist her head around, before she said “oh god no, please…”
“Nope, not that either – but keep that mouth open,” the voice said as Karen felt a soft cloth in her mouth, pressing down her tongue before there was a second cloth pulled between her lips. “There now – let’s go for a little trip.”
“Whdduuhmhn,” Karen said before she felt herself been lifted up, and carried over someone’s shoulder, a hand on her bottom as she tried to kick her legs about. This was a kidnapping – but why?
Karen felt the ropes pulling her against the chair back, her wrists and legs still secured, but there was something more – she could hear other, muffled voices, so she was not alone, but what was going on?
“Remove their blindfolds.”
Karen blinked as the cloth was taken off her eyes, and she looked round. She was secured to a high backed seat, and was in some sort of cellar – but there were four other women with her.
Four complete strangers, all five looking at each other and then at the woman facing the semi-circle their chairs had been placed in. She was wearing a blue blouse over a black sweater, jeans and short boots, and had dark glasses on.
“Welcome,” she said quietly, “I imagine you are all wondering what you are doing here. Do not worry – you will be fed and allowed to sleep, even if you have to be kept still and quiet most of the time. Messages have been sent to your loved ones, and soon I am sure you will be returned safely to them.
“BHTTWHHH? WHHHRRUHHHH!” Jemima called out as she struggled in her chair.
“Not that important really, just think of me as your host. We’ll bring food soon,” she said as she walked out, closing and locking the heavy door behind her, and then removing the glasses as she walked up the stone staircase, and into the church itself.
“Are they… Are they all right?”
She smiled at the vicar, who was waiting nervously, and said “they are fine, and you played you part beautifully, padre.”
“But my wife – Mrs Fell, my wife…”
“When I am finished, she will be released. Now, be about your duties – I need to tend to her, and then come back,” the woman said with a smile as she walked out of the church, inhaling the crisp clean air and walking the short distance to the nearby vicarage. Letting herself in, she closed that door and went to the kitchen, making a sandwich and pouring some water into a glass, before she carried both into the front room.
“Hello Helen – do you want the good news?”
“I did – and now the messages have been sent,” she said as she sat down and peeled the white tape away from the mouth of the woman sitting watching the television. She was wearing a pair of pink pyjamas, and was sat in a high backed chair, her arms taped to the chair back, her ankles taped together as were her legs above and below her knees. As she took in a breath, she said “all five of them Sheila? How did you do it?”
“With your husband’s help of course – mind you, he thinks I’m forcing him to do it. I hope he finds a way to forgive me some day.”
“Well, this was my idea as well Sheila,” Helen said as she took a bite from the sandwich, “after all, we were both there the day you were taken.”
Sheila nodded as her mind went back ten years…
Sheila and Helen looked up from the table they were sat at as the five men walked into the bar, all dressed in black, masked and carrying guns. One of the men walked over to the manager, before saying “you – come with me and open the safe. Get the others on the floor – except for her.” He looked at Sheila, wearing a brown jersey dress and cream coloured boots, as Helen sat on the chair opposite and stared back. “You know what to do with her.”
“Got it – all of you, on the floor, face down, hands behind your heads – MOVE!” As another of the men shouted, the other customers quickly lay down – but a third masked man walked behind Sheila, pulling her hands behind her back and securing them together with thin cords.
“You heard the man,” he said as he looked at Helen, “ON THE FLOOR!”
“Do as they say,” Sheila whispered as Helen slowly lay on the floor, while the man held a compressed sponge ball in front of her mouth. “Open up,” he whispered, Sheila nodding as the sponge was pushed into her mouth, her lips closing over it as her cheeks puffed out. There was a tearing sound, and then a length of clear tape was pressed over her mouth before the armed man put her coat over her shoulders.
“We done,” he replied as the leader of the five men came out, carrying a holdall.
“Good – let’s go,” he said as Sheila was forced to walk out with them, and bundled into the back of the van, sitting on the floor as it drove off…
“Five days they kept me in that cellar,” Sheila said as Helen sipped through a straw the water, “five days until my late husband paid the York Five the ransom they demanded. When he died two years ago, I decided I wanted my revenge – and when I finally uncovered who they were, I had the opportunity.”
“But why not go to the police?”
“I had the names, but no evidence – which is when I talked to you, as you well know,” Sheila said with a smile. “So I decided to invite their wives ot stay, and get the to pay the costs – and a little over.”
“Yeah I know – and I have to admit, it’s kinda fun been your hostage,” Helen said as she wriggled round. “So how long?”
“A day or two more – now we need to make you quiet again, after a toilet break. On the couch this time?”
Helen nodded as she looked at her friend, wondering what else could happen in the next two days…