Hostage to the Garden of Earthly Effects
The apartment was quiet and peaceful, save for the strains of the kangen music coming from the CD player, and the slight whisper of the wind through the partially open window. The smell of jasmine filled the air as the notes spun their web around the room.
Nanako Kushamara was sleeping peacefully on the long recliner in the centre of the room. Her chest rose and fell in perfect rhythm to the sound of the music, and she seemed to be peacefully dreaming. Her outfit of pale blue silk with white trim and a matching pale blue jacket offset her skin and dark hair, and her blue straw boater with a white ribbon around it lay near her head.
As the music rose to a slight crescendo, Nanako stirred slightly and drew her feet up onto the edge of the recliner, where previously they had hung over the armrest at one end. As she drew her legs up in her slumber, the skirt lifted slightly to show a pale blue slip underneath, but the black ropes that were around her ankles and legs held firm despite the movement.
Black rope had also been tied around her arms and chest, and her hands were pinned behind her back in some manner. Those rose and fell in time with her breathing and the music, so that although she was not in any discomfort she was equally securely bound for some reason.
She turned in her sleep, and faced the rear of the recliner. Clearly visible now was the rope that held her wrists together behind her back. Her arms had been brought together so that her forearms rested in the palm of the other hand, and rope tied around the two arms to hold them together. They were held to the rope that had been wrapped around her chest and arms by a further short length, and all were tied securely and well out of reach of probing fingers.
In her dreams, Nanako was walking again through the stately gardens of the mansion house where she had spent the afternoon at a formal event. Her husband was attached to the Embassy, and this was by way of a thank you for the families of the various staff members who were leaving soon.
As she walked through the gardens, the heavy and sweet scent of the flowers seemed to wrap around her, to draw her into their beauty, to fill her senses with sweet and cloying aromas until she could stand it no more, and began to slip, to fall, to dream and leave that place……
Nanako opened her eyes and stared at the fabric of the recliner, trying to remember what had happened. She had returned with her husband to their apartment in the city, and as she walked in the door she had headed for the front room as her husband checked for messages from the embassy. As she had walked in, however, something had been pressed over her nose and mouth, and then…..
As her sense cleared, she realised that her arms were pinned in some manner behind her back, but she could not reach anything to feel with her fingers. Turning back over onto her back, she saw the ropes around her legs and ankles, and called out “Hello? Is there anyone there?”
“Good afternoon, Kushamara-san,” a young male voice said, “Please do not call out or try to struggle. You have my word that you will come to no harm.”
As Nanako turned her head, she saw two young men standing in front of her, dressed in white shirts, dark suits and ties, and both wearing large black eye masks.
“What is going on – I demand that you tell me,” she said as she tried to free her arms.
“Please, do not attempt to struggle or you will only hurt yourself,” the one who had spoken earlier said. The other one produced a pistol from behind his back and held it casually in his hand. “We regret that we have had to restrain you in this way, but your husband is undertaking some unexpected work on behalf of our employers. I regret to say that you are an incentive for him to complete the task diligently and quickly.”
“I am a hostage?” Nanako asked fearfully.
“Please, consider yourself rather a guest of ours in your own home. You have my word as a Ktodai that you will come to no harm.
“Then… this is a Shatei standing beside you?”
“It is indeed, and therefore is not in a position to talk.”
Nanako thought for a moment. She recognised the terms as those referring to soldiers of a Yakusa, and as such knew that she was part of some criminal plan that her husband had been drawn into.
“Then I must do as you ask. Would it therefore be impertinent to ask if I may have a drink? My throat is parched.”
“A side effect of the regrettable use of anaesthetic earlier. A glass of water will be brought for you. Allow me to raise you to a seated position.”
The man came forward and gently helped Nanako up, while the other gangster went and fetched a glass of water for her to drink. After she took a grateful sip, she turned to the first one again.
“Must I be held this way all the time?”
“We will allow you some time to relieve and freshen yourself later, but I must humbly ask that you accept your position otherwise. I assure you, it will not be for long.”
Time passed, with Nanako sat quietly and the two Yakusa foot soldiers watching over her. She occasionally twisted her body around as the ropes seemed to cut slightly into her, but in the main she sat still as she knew there was no point in struggling.
As the clock struck the hour for the second time since her awakening, a mobile phone rang, and the Ktodai answered only to listen silently to the conversation. As the call ended, he switched the phone off and replaced it in his jacket pocket.
“I am pleased to say, Kushamara-san, that our business is almost concluded. Do you wish to take a few minutes to refresh yourself?”
Nanako nodded, and the other man came round and began to release the ropes from around her chest before untying her wrists. She brought her arms round and rubbed at them to start the circulation off, before the man spoke again.
“I can allow you a few moments to take care of yourself before we have to secure you again, and then we will take our leave. Do you promise not to run off if we untie your legs?”
“I do promise,” Nanako said, and he reached down to remove the ropes from around her legs and ankles. She stretched her legs out for a moment and then stood up.
“I must regretfully ask that you allow my colleague to accompany you. Please do not be alarmed, he will be discreet, but he will stand guard.”
Nanako removed her jacket and folded it carefully before placing it on the back of the recliner, then made her way to the bathroom followed by the other young man. The other man proceeded to gather and fold the ropes neatly.
Some minutes later, Nanako returned rubbing her bare arms to help the circulation return.
“From this point, I regret to say that I must blindfold you, as we need to remove our masks,” the leader said, and he folded a black silk scarf into a band as he spoke. Nanako turned with her back to him, and as the other man stood with the pistol in his hand she was blindfolded with the scarf.
“Please, relax and allow me to guide you,” the man said, and as Nanako let her arms drop by her side he took one of the lengths of rope and draped it around her neck. Her sleeveless top had a collar of white silk that had been stitched to look like a scarf, and he passed the rope under that before crossing it just below her throat and bring the ends back around over her upper chest and arms before tying her wrists together in the same way as before. The loose ends were then passed around her waist and knotted behind her back.
“Is that uncomfortable,” he asked Nanako, and she shook her head. Taking another longer length of rope, he passed it around her upper chest and arms again, and then wound it several times around her lower chest and arms, ensuring it was tightly knotted after each pass. Two smaller lengths were passed around the chest ropes under her armpits, to further secure the bindings. As he finished, Nanako tested the amount of movement she had and realised that it was very little.
“I must now ask you to allow me to help you to lie on the floor,” the man said, and he helped Nanako to sit down before gently laying her on her side. Placing her ankles together, he quickly wrapped rope around and between them before tying it off. As he prepared a final length of rope, however, the doorbell rang in an unusual pattern.
“It appears, Kushamara-san that we must leave you now. Please accept our apologies for the fact that you have been inconvenienced, and lie still. Your husband should return shortly.”
Nanako lay still as she heard the sound of two sets of footsteps walking off, followed by a door opening and closing. The scent of jasmine still hanged in the air, and the music continued to play as she waited to see if her captors had indeed left the apartment.
Time passed, and eventually she realised that she was indeed alone. With some effort, Nanako managed to sit herself upright and started to wonder if she should try and remove the blindfold, or attempt to find a telephone so that she could alert someone to her predicament. As she sat there thinking, the sound of the door opening reached her ears and she turned to listen for footsteps in the corridor.
Her blindfold was pulled off her, and Nanako stared into the concerned eyes of her husband, still dressed in the formal garb that he had worn earlier that day but with a look of concern and anguish that she had never seen before.
“Nanako, my wife, forgive me for allowing you to be put through this ordeal, but I had no choice.”
“It is all right, my husband, I know you had to do as they asked, and I am unharmed. Please, hold me.” Nanako asked, and he did so with passion and relief.