Truth or Dare
Lady Bowness slowly opened her eyes in the bright sunlight. She felt tired, stretched, and stiff – as if she had been lying on her back for far too long. As she opened her eyes further, however, and saw the two smartly dressed men standing in front of her, she began to wonder if something else was going on.
“Wh r u?” she mumbled, and then realised that something was preventing her from speaking clearly. As her fogged mind cleared, she began to remember more of that morning – she'd come to the stables to exercise Black Bess, but a sweet sickly smelling cloth had been clamped over her mouth and nose as she opened the stable door. As she looked up, she realised that whoever had made her sleep had then tied her so that her arms were raised above her head and secured to a beam. Looking down, she saw her black riding boots were criss-crossed with ropes, and her legs bound over her jodhpurs.
“Wht’s gng n?” she mumbled through the thick white cloth that was tied into her mouth.
“You don’t know? Surely you remember instructing your secretary to contact us, Lady Bowness?”
“Let us refresh your memory then. It started with the break-in at your business office two weeks ago, as requested by your secretary…”
“Do you have to be so tight with those belts?”
“You want it to look like a robbery, don’t you?”
Stella nodded as she lay on her stomach on the futon mattress. Behind her, Alicia was fastening another belt around her stocking-clad legs, to join the variety that held her legs together and her wrists behind her back.
“Now, where’s the information?”
Alicia was in a black sports bra and skirt, while Stella was wearing a dark pink short sleeved top with a blue denim skirt and white heels. When she had contacted the company, she had told them to make it look as if she had been robbed when they collected the contract, and Alicia was certainly making a good job of it.
“In the top drawer of the desk. You can get the information from the reporter, who knows who the primary contact is. You then have three people to find in order to secure the transfer of the information,”
“That’s what All Secured Security Services are here for, Stella. Time, now, for you to be quiet.”
Alicia leaned over and smoothed a layer of black sticky tape over the secretary’s mouth, before tightening the belts around her arms and chest. The floor around the women was covered in files and books, giving the appearance of a late night break-in.
“Tell Lady Bowness we’ll be in touch once we have the required information,” she said as she picked up a leather jacket, pulled it on and fastened it before collecting the letter from the drawer Stella had mentioned. The mute woman watched as Alicia left, closing the door behind her, before starting to writhe around and get herself loose…
Jenny called up the stairs “Breakfast is ready,” and turned her attention back to the pan on the stove. She was wearing a red lumberjack shirt, and not a lot else, as she tossed the pancakes and placed them on two plates.
She worked as a reporter on the local paper, and had set some plans in motion that, if they worked out, would give her the scoop that would win her promotion to the big time. The only person who knew about this was Sally, her partner and the person she had called up the stairs to. In fact, as she brushed her long chestnut brown hair back, she wondered what had happened to her – she had only needed to grab a shower.
“Sally?” she called again, and was gratified to hear the sound of footsteps on the stairs – but more than one set? A worried look crossed her face as she turned off the pancake pan and walked into the front room.
“Sally, is everything all right?” she said as she looked round, but no further words escaped her lisp as she saw her partner there, in an old purple and white checked men’s shirt and purple leg warmers. Her wrists were pulled behind her back, and there was rope around her arms above and below her chest. Behind her stood a tall woman, dressed in black and pointing a pistol at her light brown hair.
“Good morning, Ms Jones,” the woman said politely. “You are going to tell me everything you know about Project Rebirth, and who the major contacts are, or your…. Friend here is the one that suffers. Do you understand?”
“Please, Jenny, tell her what she wants to know,” Sally whispered as she looked over her shoulder. “All right – just don’t hurt her,” Jenny said quietly.
“Excellent – please, both of you sit down,” the woman said as she reached into a satchel she wore over her shoulder and produced more skeins of white rope. “Why don’t we get comfortable?”
Half an hour later, the two women watched as the intruder scanned a computer file. Both had ropes around their ankles and legs, while Jenny had her wrists tied behind her back and her arms lashed to her side. White tape covered both their mouths, preventing them talking clearly to each other or to the other woman. She wasn’t too concerned about this, as silence helped her concentration.
“Thank you,” she said as she shut the computer down. “You have both been very helpful. I’ll leave you both now.”
She quickly walked out of the door, leaving Jenny to try and untie her companion as they sat on the couch. As she left the apartment block, Alicia made a call.
“Boss? It’s me. Send a team to a Doctor Marjorie Rosen – she has the three names that we need.”
Lady Bowness stared at the two men. Project Rebirth? She’d never heard of it – so what the hell had Stella done? She listened as the two men continued their tale…
“Mum? Where are you?”
Katie Rosen closed the door to the house behind her, and walked quickly into the front room. She was dressed in a short sleeved white patterned top and smart cotton skirt, given the warmth of the sun that was shining outside. That in itself did not make anything was wrong when she saw the drawn blinds – her mother often did this to prevent the glare distracting her or her patients. The silence that greeted her call, on the other hand, was a little different from the norm.
Katie walked to the last door on the left, where her mother kept her office, knocked on the door, and walked in when she did not get a response not to. She just had time to catch a glimpse of her mother standing there, her wrists behind her back, before she was grabbed from behind and dragged off.
“Please,” she heard her mother pleading as she was pulled out of the room, “Don’t hurt my baby….”
“Do as we ask, and she will be just fine,” Alicia said as she pulled the rope tightly around her wrists. “Now, where is the project file?”
It was a good hour later when the two men finally left Katie alone, closing the door to the store room behind them. She tried vainly to cry out, but the thick medical tape over her mouth and the roll of bandage that was underneath effectively muffled all her calls. They had placed her up against a large ornate pillar that came from the ceiling to the floor, and wrapped layer after layer of white rope around her body and the post to hold her in place. She was not even capable of reaching the knot that held the rope tightly around her wrists – they had been crossed and bound behind the pillar, and more rope than she had seen in one length wrapped around them, her waist and the pillar so that the wood was causing some discomfort to her.
As for her mother, Alicia had taken her up to her bedroom after retrieving the file and bound her in a lotus position on her bed, her frock dress opened up and the rope tightly wound around her breasts. In front of her was a book depicting some of the other positions Alicia and her colleagues had used in past visits for their company – a gift and a reminder that, despite her discomfort and the cloth tied tightly between her lips, she was still lucky.
“So, as per the instructions you had left with your secretary, All Secured Security Services had accepted the commission to retrieve the three parts of the Project: Rebirth file that had been taken from you. We had the names; very carefully hidden I might add, of the three people holding the information.”
Lady Bowness was still trying to call out, tell them what a mistake they had made, but the calls were still effectively muffled.
“The first was a Mrs Emma Thompson – we caught up with her in her home as she was preparing to go and join her husband for an evening out. She was very well dressed, in long sleeved black leather dress and court shoes, and was most surprised when we called on her as she was leaving. To be fair, when we look back we were not particularly surprised, but at the time when we were asking her just to give us the file her frightened pleas that she had no idea what we were talking about fell on deaf ears.
“While two of our operatives secured her to a dining room chair, over her loud protests until she was silenced with a sponge ball pushed into her mouth, the others searched the house thoroughly, but found nothing. When they returned, Mrs Thompson was silent, with white tape covering her mouth and jaw and ropes holding in every conceivable way to the chair. We left her there; her eyes closed in mute frustration, and left the house, ensuring we took some jewellery with us to maintain the illusion of this being a simple robbery.
“At the same time, a second team of operatives were visiting the home of a Mrs Jennifer Walters. She was not home, but her eighteen year old daughter was, so they forced her to strip to her panties and vest before securing her in a small wardrobe. She was forced to watch, a red scarf silencing her by holding another sponge ball in place, as the house was ransacked, but again no file was found.
“As the second team called in their response to headquarters, we began to realise that our information may not have been, shall we say, the most accurate. Accordingly, we tried to contact the third team, who had been dispatched to visit a Mrs Harriet Clark.
“As their call was answered, we could hear Mrs Clark in the background pleading to know what was happening. We asked to see her, and there she was sitting on the floor, wearing a simple red dress with a thin leather cord belt. Her wrists were secured behind her back, rope around her arms and around her ankles. It looked sloppy, but that is the way we train our operatives for retrieval deals such as this – make it look like a team of burglars.
“We explained the situation to the team, who responded as we expected them to. Pausing only to gag Mrs Clark with tape, they quickly robbed the house and left her sitting there, trying to scream for help. The three teams then came back and we de-briefed, coming very swiftly to the conclusion that we had been, to use the vernacular, sold a lemon.”
As Lady Bowness heard this tale, she stopped struggling and started thinking. An idea, a gem of a thought, had occurred to her, and her eyes narrowed in anger.
“As you may expect, we retraced our steps and sent Alicia to have another word with your secretary. According to Alicia, Stella was not best pleased to see her waiting in her bedroom as she walked back in, and even less pleased to be bound yet again with leather belts. She did say, before she was gagged and Alicia had some…. Fun with her that she had only passed on what she had been asked to.”
The two men walked round Lady Bowness as she hung there, following them as they did so with her eyes over her gag.
“This, as I say Milady, brings us back to you. We apologise if you feel this has been a little rough, but All Secured Security services is very proud of their record, and we do not like been played for fools. Now, if we remove the gag, will you talk to us?”
Lady Bowness nodded, and one of the men reached up to gently peel away the gag. The woman took a deep breath, and then quietly said “Do you have any idea who I am?”
“Yes, Lady Bowness, we know who you are…”
“No, who I really am.”
The two men looked at each other in some disquiet. “As we say….”
“That is my name, yes – but unless you start to get me down in the next ten seconds, you are going to discover exactly how my husband treats people like you.”
One half hour and some swift apologies later, the Baroness was sat in the office of the stables, the two men from the Complaints division of All Secured sitting opposite her.
“Once again, please accept our apologies,” they said as she replaced the receiver.
“Gentlemen, your apology is accepted. You were not to know who I or my husband was – after all, the best way to disguise something is to have it in plain view. In fact, I should compliment you on your professionalism – you took me by surprise, and that is not that simple.”
“Nevertheless – my initial confusion was caused by your reference to Project: Rebirth. That name was given by my secretary as an additional security measure. Having said that, however, I think it is clear that both you and I have been misled by a pair of very clever women.
“The three women you visited are all patients of Doctor Rosen – and she was asked to pass on the list if anyone asked about Project: Rebirth by the reporter that your associate Alicia visited. This reporter – or rather, her companion – is a friend of Stella’s and we had thought a trustworthy one. It would appear that we have it wrong.”
The Baroness took a sip from her teacup. “Gentlemen, I believe we should join forces. If you would be good enough to allow Alicia to work with me for a short while, I will in return supply you directly with the names of the real information holders – as well as a little reward later on. I will also arrange suitable additional compensation for your firm. Are we in agreement?”
The two men looked at each other. “We will need to contact out office, but I believe we can come to an arrangement.”
“Excellent,” The Baroness said as she stood up and went to the door. “Have Alicia contact me when the deal is accepted. We will have some work to do first.”
“Jenny, are you in there?”
Sally placed her bags on the floor and removed her outer coat, revealing a blue cap sleeved dress with a thin black belt. She looked around the flat, glad that it had been cleared after the recent visits, and wondered where her partner had got to.
There was some noise coming from the office at the rear of the house, so Sally made her way to the door and quickly opened it. She said “Jenny?” before stopping dead in her tracks and slowly raising her hands above her head.
“Hello, Sally,” Alicia said as she stood with another unknown woman next to Jenny. Her arms had been pulled behind her back, the rope visible as well over her white blouse as it came around her arms and chest, and blue tape covering her mouth. “My friend and I were just having a word with your partner about how she had tried to trick me previously, and how much that had hurt my friend here. Now, you are going to tell us everything, and this time there had better be no mistakes.”
“What do you want to know?” Sally asked as she looked over at Jenny. Her knees were shaking below the hem of her blue skirt, and Jenny could see she was genuinely frightened.
“We want to know what you know about Project: Rebirth, and exactly how you came up with the plan to sow so many false trails,” the stranger said as she walked round, “and believe me, you are going to tell me.”
Some time later, The Baroness and Alicia pushed Jenny down on the floor behind her desk. Jenny was already sat there, bound and gagged in the same way as Sally, and the two women looked at each other as their captors walked off.
“Do you believe her?” Alicia asked as they closed the house door.
“I do – and I may need to find a new secretary. My thanks, Alicia, for your assistance – if there is anything I may do for you?”
“Well, I have been considering a career move. Perhaps….”
The Baroness smiled. “Let me have your resume, and we can talk. In the meantime, I wonder how your colleagues are performing.”
“Now that you have supplied the correct information? I think they will move very fast indeed…”
“Yes? Can I help you?”
“Are you Miss Emma Thomson?”
“Then we need to talk to you and your mother,” the two men said as they pushed Emma back into her house, and forced her into the front room. She was a tall woman, in her early twenties, wearing a blue short sleeved woollen sweater, tight red PVC trousers and silver sandals.
“What the hell’s going on?” she screamed as the two men forced her to lie face down on the floor and pulled her wrists behind her back, one starting to tie them together as the other sat on her legs and started to lash her ankles together.
“Just sit quietly, and this will all go well,” one of the men said as they helped her to sit up, then started to bind her arms to her side and her legs together above and below her knees.
“Nothing personal, Miss Thomson – our business is with your father. Is your mother still coming to visit today?”
“How the hell….”
“Enough of that language,” he said as he ripped the end of a roll of black tape off and started to wrap it round Emma’s mouth. “We need to surprise her, don’t we?”
“Emma?” ‘It was half an hour later when Joanna Thomson opened the door to her daughter’s house, and let herself in. She walked straight into the front room, and saw Emma lying there, looking up at her over the tape and pleading with her to get out.
“Don’t even think about it,” she heard a man say, and turning round she saw tow armed, masked men in casual clothes standing there.
“Just stand still,” the man said as his colleague dumped a pile of Emma’s scarves on the couch, “and you might even enjoy this.”
“Doctor Thomson? You do not know me, Doctor Thomson, but I am here with someone you do know. I believe she would like a word with you.”
Joanna tried to call out, but the white scarf holding the sponge ball in her mouth made it impossible to make more than mumbling noises. She could not even see what was happening, as another blue scarf had been tied tightly over her eyes as a blindfold. Before that, however, she had endured the fact that she and her daughter had had to watch as she was securely bound with scarves all over her body, covering the red dress she was wearing and gathering the material in various places as her legs and arms were secured.
“We want the data files on your work, Doctor, or your wife, your daughter and your niece will never be seen again.”
Emma looked up. They had Harriet as well? Her screams became all the louder.
“You have an hour to gather the information Doctor – we’ll be in touch.”
As he replaced the phone, the man was surprised to hear his mobile phone ring.
“Hello? You don’t say? Well, of course we can take care of that – thanks for letting us know Alicia.”
Alicia turned her phone off before patting Jenny on the shoulder with her black gloved hand.
“You really should not have come snooping in our branch office, young lady,” she said as she took the strip of towelling and pulled it into Jenny’s mouth. “No matter how much you are going to protest your innocence now, you over stepped the mark. I hope your friend does not miss you too much – but you will have company very soon, I promise you that.”
Jenny grunted as the strip was tightly knotted at the base of her neck. She’d sneaked in, that was true, and now she was captured once more by this mad woman. As she tried to struggle free, the zip on her white top slowly working open, she heard Alicia make another call
“Hello – Objects of Beauty? I have a pick up for you, courtesy of the Baroness…”
The sun was setting through the warehouse window as Emma and Joanna struggled against their bonds. On the far side of the room lay Emma’s cousin Harriet, dressed in a black dress that fastened in the front and court shoes. Brown rope encircled her waist, wrists and ankles, while silver tape covered her mouth. She looked up expectantly as the tow men came over and knelt by her.
“Good news, my dear – you can go home now. Your relatives will stay with us for a little while longer – make sure you tell your uncle that,”
She nodded as they picked her up and carried her out of the room, Emma trying to call after her. The men turned and looked at the other tow captives as they reached the door.
“Now don’t fuss – your turn will come,” they said as they closed the door behind them, before carrying Harriet to the waiting van. They had nabbed her earlier that day, as the first on their list of levers for Doctor Thomson to give up the secrets of his project. All Secured prided themselves on their thoroughness in these matters.
It was two weeks later when Alicia called in on the Baroness at her country house.
“I am so glad you were able to come and join us, Alicia – All Secured were sorry to see you go?”
“very much so,” she said as she sat down, smoothing her blue tight dress as she did so, “But they understand the need for career progression.”
“Quite so, quite so. Which reminds me – I have a starting present for you. Would you like to receive it?”
“Why, thank you,” she said as The Baroness stood up and walked to a side door. “Please, come with me,” she said, and Alicia followed her into a small ante room.
“Please, do not do this to me,” Stella said as the tow women walked in. She was naked, and sat on a white leather chair. Her wrists were secured behind her back, her ankles were bound, and her arms and chest were secured in a karada.
Alicia smiled. “My Lady, you should not have…”
“nonsense, my dear girl – she caused you such trouble, I thought you would appreciate the chance for some time with her. I regret to say that someone is coming to collect her in – about eight hours, but until then…”
“No, please, don’t” she screamed as Alicia walked over, the heels of her short boots clicking on the wooden floor.
“Shut up,” she said as she picked up a small rubber ball and pushed it into Stella’s mouth, followed by tying a red scarf tightly over her mouth. “Just sit back and enjoy.” She leaned over and started to caress Stella’s bare breasts in her hands, moaning softly as she did so.
“Enjoy yourselves, ladies,” The Baroness said as she closed the door behind them.
Elsewhere, Sally was moaning as well, as the two men from All Secured the last rope between her arms and her back. They had called in and surprised her as she was frantically calling round her friends to see if they had heard from Jenny.
“Your friend has left for good,” the man said as he smoothed yet another layer of white tape over her mouth. They had forced her into the bedroom, stripped her to her vest and pants and bound her hand and foot before passing rope under her thighs and around her back so that she was in a semi-seating position, albeit lying on her side.
“For now, my dear, we are here to help you forget.” Sally eyes widened as the men approached her, fearful of what might happen this time.