“Hey Gran – thanks for inviting us out here for the day,” Sue and Samantha said as they came into the kitchen of Fiona’s farmhouse. The two girls were nineteen and eighteen, both with ling light brown hair and glasses. Sue was wearing a mustard coloured v-necked sweater over a blue blouse, a black skirt and tights, and knee length grey leather boots, while Samantha wore a white cardigan over a blue denim dress, black leggings and off-white cowboy boots.
“Well, with your father away, it means we can have a girls day together,” Fiona said as she dried her hands. She was in her early sixties, with curly dark brown hair, and was wearing a white wool snood over a brown jumper, tight brown leggings and knee length brown leather boots. “Where are your mother and sister?”
“Mum’s locking the jeep,” Samantha said, “and Angel’s gone to see the horses.”
“Okay then – why don’t you help me to start to get lunch ready...”
“Do we move in yet?”
“No,” the man said as he watched through the binoculars, “we move after they have eaten. After all, they are hungry...”
“There you are,” Fiona said as her daughter came in. Susan was wearing a taupe coloured wrap jacket over a brown jersey dress, a leather belt hanging low over her hips, natural tights and knee length brown boots. Behind her was her oldest daughter Angel – the brunette wearing a black cropped jacket over a white top, a blue denim skirt, and long dark grey boots. “Come, come, sit down – lunch is ready.”
Susan took her jacket off and unwrapped the large silk scarf she had wrapped round her neck, placing both on a coat rack before the five of them sat, and said Grace together – and then started to eat the meal.
“Do you mind if I take a walk down to the beach after lunch, Grandma,” Angel said, “I need to think a few things over...”
“Of course not,” Fiona said as she passed the salad bowl round. Ever since she had been a little girl, Angel had loved sitting on the beach, watching the waters gently lap on the sand as she thought over what was on her mind. The two younger girls knew to keep out of her way when she was doing that, as they looked at each other.
The man watched through his binoculars as Angel made her way out of the house, and to a gap in the trees, while Susan re-fastened her jacket and adjusted the scarf round her waist, before she walked in the opposite direction.
“Now – those two first...”
Susan stopped and ran her hand along the low wall, looking out over the countryside as it spread out as far as the eye could see.
“I used to love this place as a child,” she thought to herself, “sitting on this wall with Dad, looking out on the town and the hills, wondering what it would be like to go over there.”
She shook her head. That was not going to happen – she had married Karl, had three beautiful grown up daughters, and with her father gone now, she knew her place was here, with the rest of them.
She could hear the rustling behind her, but reckoned it was just one of the foxes she knew lived in the area, hunting for something to eat. She had nothing to fear from them, nothing at all...
So when the damp and sweet smelling cloth was clamped over her mouth and nose, she reached up and tried to pull it away, but with no success, as the fumes filled her mind, making her drowsy. She was dimly aware of two men with her, of them holding her as the other moved her arms behind her, and something holding her wrists firmly together.
“Whashppennn,” she mumbled as her scarf was listed up and pulled tightly over her mouth, making any wounds she tried to make even more mumbled as she was lifted and carried somewhere...
Angel sat by the side of the small pond, smiling as she looked out over the countryside. It truly was a beautiful day, with nothing to worry or concern her.
“Excuse me – would you by any chance be Angel?”
She looked up to see two men, casually dressed, standing next to her.
“Yeah – you do know you are trespassing on private land?”
“Oh we know,” the second man said, “and to be frank, that is not a problem to us. You see, we want you to do something for us, Angel.”
“And that is?”
“Keep very quiet,” the first man said as he took a gun and pointed it at her, “and get on your knees. You’re going to come on a little ride with us.”
“Oh god,” she whispered, “Mum... Gran...”
“Oh don’t worry about them,” the second man said, “just worry about yourself right now, and get on your knees.”
Slowly, Angel knelt, her knees sinking into the soft sand as she felt her wrists been crossed behind her back, and then rope as it was passed round and tightened, forcing them together.
“See,” the first man said as he knelt down, and took a clean handkerchief from his pocket, “that’s not so bad, is it? Now, open your mouth as wide as you can.”
“I don’t understand,” Angel whispered, “why are youdnggthsstmmm.”
“I know you don’t understand,” the man said as he pushed the cloth into her mouth, and then used his finger to gently close her lips, “that’s fine, it will all become clear soon enough. Right now, you just keep still.”
Angel was aware of the rope that was passing around her body, forcing her arms into her sides as it went above and below her chest, but her focus was on the man in front of her, as he took a roll of clear tape, tore a length of and then pressed it firmly over her lips, sealing them and making sure she could not push the cloth out.
“Up you get,” he said with a smile as he and the other man took Angel by the arms and lifted her up, and then walked her to a grey van a short distance away. As the door was opened, her eyes shot wide open as she said “MMMM!”
Susan was lying on her side, her wrists and arms secured with rope as were her legs, her scarf secured firmly over her mouth, her eyes closed. As she was walked further in, and then sat against the far wall, she watched the two men as they took two more lengths of rope, and secured her ankles and legs, before one of them pressed a damp rag to Angel’s nose. She inhaled the perfumed fumes, and instantly felt drowsy...
“That’s the dishes away Gran,” Sue said as she dried her hands and put the dish towel on the hook, “do you need anything else doing?”
“No – I’m going upstairs to sort a few things out, so you join Samantha in the front room,” Fiona said as she watched her granddaughter go out of the kitchen, and then followed her out, walking up the stairs as Samantha said “so, what about you and Colin?”
“Nothing to tell, as you well know sister,” Sue said as she looked at her younger sibling, “so you just keep your trap shut, all right?”
“That is a very good idea – both of you, keep your traps shut.”
Samantha gasped as she saw the two men who were standing in the doorway, both with stocking pulled down over their heads which distorted their faces, one of them carrying a hold all and the other a gun.
“Oh my god,” Sue said quietly, “what are you...”
“Not a word,” the armed man said as his friend put the bag down, opened it and took out two sponge balls, “and just to make sure, you will each take one of these sponges, and then push them into your mouths.
“Unless you would prefer your grandmother to see you dead.”
The two girls looked at each other, and then Sue took one of the sponges, squeezed it in her hand and pushed it into her mouth, the material expanding as it filled the gap and pressed her tongue down.
“Plsjsstdet,” she said to Samantha, the young girl nodding as she pushed the second one into her own mouth.
“Good,” the masked man said as the second one took a roll of white tape, and handed it to Sue, “now you tear a long strip off, and pres it firmly over your sister’s mouth – we can’t have that sponge coming out just yet.”
Sue managed to control the shake in her hands as she tore a long strip off, and then pressed it firmly onto Samantha’s mouth, making it form to the contours of her face.
“Now you do it to her,” he said to Samantha, “and then both of you kneel down, in front of the couch, and put your hands behind your backs.”
“Dntbscrdd,” Sue said as Samantha gingerly pressed the tape over her sister’s mouth, and then Sue hugged her, before they knelt down and put their hands behind their backs. Looking over, Samantha watched as one of the men took some rope and bound Sue’s wrists together, and then crossed and bound her ankles, the rope squeaking on the leather as she was dimly aware of them securing her own wrists and ankles.
“Whtssgnghppntsss,” Samantha said as she looked at her sister, then blinked as her glasses were removed. She could see the man removing Sue’s as well, before she heard the command.
“Close your eyes.”
Sue nodded as she did so, the darkness made greater as she heard tape been torn from the roll, and then the pressure on her eyelids as it was smoothed over them. Her wrists were then tugged on as they were pulled down and secured to something, before they heard one of the men walk out, and the other watching them...
It was the sound of the door opening that made Fiona look over from her desk – and then stand as she saw the masked man walk in, smiling as he pointed a very real gun in her direction.
“Hello,” he said quietly, “we have your family secured and quiet downstairs, so unless you have a burning desire to see them hurt, be very quiet and do exactly what I tell you, all right?”
“I understand, are they unharmed?”
“They cannot raise the alarm, but they are unharmed,” the man said as he closed the door. “Now, tell me where your valuables are?”
“The only jewels I have are in the drawer over there,” Fiona said as she indicated a chest, “all my other items are in the bank?”
“That will do – remove your scarf. The last thing you want is the chance of it catching when I tie you up.”
“I want to see my family,” Fiona said quietly as she removed the snood and placed it on the table.
“And you will – soon – but for now, turn round and cross your wrists behind your back.”
As she did this, she heard him put the bag down and open it, and then felt the rope on her wrists as he quickly bound them together, but not before he put her palms together. She wondered why he had done this, and then gasped as her elbows were next drawn together, almost touching as he secured them with rope as well.
This pulled her shoulders back, her chest out, and as he tied the ropes off she found she unable to move her arms. This was reinforced a few minutes later as he used more rope to secure her arms, above and below her chest, and so forced them against her back, strange feelings she had not experienced for a long time as the ropes rubbed on her.
“Sit on the bed.”
As she did so, she watched as he knelt down, crossed her ankles and secured them together, followed by her legs below her knees, so that she was immobilised, only able to turn and move from side to side.
“I want to be with my family,” she said again as the masked man stood up.
“Of course you do Fiona,” he said with a smile as he went back to the bed.
“How do you...”
“Hush now,” he said as the cloth was pressed firmly over her nose and mouth, her eyes wide open even as the fumes fogged her mind, and she slipped quickly into a deep, deep sleep...
The masked man laid her on her side, pressing the tape firmly over her lips as the door opened and his partner came in.
“The younger girls?”
“All secured in the van.”
“Good – give me a hand with her,” he said as they lifted Fiona between them and carried her out of the house, along the drive and into the van. As they laid her on the mat, they looked at Angel, her head to the side as the younger girls lay on the floor.
“Right – let’s get going...”
“Wha... What happened?”
Fiona slowly opened her eyes and took a moment to focus. She was no longer bound, but she was in a small room, and as she sat up she saw a bottle of water, a black dress, stockings and shoes – and a note.
“Get changed. Someone will be along shortly to take you to your family.”
For some reason, the room was swaying slightly, but Fiona put that down to whatever had knocked her out. She opened the bottle of water, took a sip and drank it, her mind clearing as she did so.
“Where on earth am I,” she said quietly before she removed her boots, stripped off and put on the stockings, followed by the dress and then the shoes. As she stood up, the door opened and two men came in – one dressed in brown overalls, the other in black.
“What’s going on,” Fiona said, but the men said nothing, the man in black instead taking her hands behind her back as she felt a pair of handcuffs fastening over them. A leather bit gag was then pulled between her lips, before she was marched out of the room and along a small corridor.
As she was made to walk up some stairs, she appeared on what she now realised was the deck of a small boat – and her family were there, dressed, manacled and silenced in the same way as her.
They all nodded as a camera pointed at the five of them, and they looked at the armed men in black.
“Welcome,” a deep African voice said, “to the auction.”
“Uscshnnn?” Susan looked at her mother and daughter as the voice said “Objects of Beauty are proud to offer this quintet – a family group, ages ranging from eighteen to sixty. They are here to clear a debt owed by the male of the household – the starting price for the whole package is one hundred thousand pounds.”
“HNNNNNNN” Angel screamed as she and the other girls struggled, but the voice stayed calm as it said “delivery guaranteed to the country and location of your choice. Do I hear one hundred?
“I have one fifty, do I have two hundred...”
“Now what,” the head of CID said as he looked up.
“We have a missing persons report – the family of Jacob Reiss and his mother in law disappeared off the face of the earth.”
“Well,” the junior officer said, “they say these things come in threes...”