She could hardly open her eyes as she lay there. Partly that was due to the crust of salt that had formed from her tears, but mainly it was due to her dehydrated state after being without water for two days. As a result, although she faintly heard the noise of the door breaking down she was unable to see the policeman quietly kneeling next to her.
“My god, how long have you been like this,” he said as he reached for his radio. “Control, this is Zulu Foxtrot seven – I need paramedics and an ambulance at the address now, we have one IC Female in her mid twenties requiring urgent medical attention.”
She felt the man pull at the cover over her mouth, then stop as he murmured “What the hell is keeping this on?” Opening her eyes a faint crack; she saw the blurred form of a man in blue, before she fainted away again.
“Get a move on Kate,” Jenny shouted up the stairway as she went to answer the door. “The shopping centre waits for no woman.”
Opening the front door, she barely had time to say “Can I…” before the pepper spray hit her in the face and she was pushed backwards. She heard rather than saw her sister come down the staircase, and then her scream as she was grabbed by two men who rushed past as she was pushed to the floor.
Jenny’s eyes were streaming as her wrists were pulled behind her back and secured together with a zip tie, and then her elbows. A rough voice called out “Take them upstairs,” and she was lifted to her feet and pushed up the staircase, Kate sobbing in front of her.
As her eyes cleared, she saw her sister’s wrists and arms were secured with plastic ties, as they were pushed into Jenny’s room and made to lie on her bed. Their ankles and legs were secured as sticking plaster was pushed over their lips, then the two girls were turned onto their stomachs. Jenny caught sight of three men in overalls with masks over their heads as one of them said “Do as you’re told and you’ll get through this” as a duvet was thrown over them and taped down over their bodies.
Kate looked at her sister with tears in her eyes as they heard a female say “Got the keys”, followed by the sound of a car driving away and cupboards been emptied downstairs.
Jenny’s eyes flashed open as the warm saline was trickled over them. Frantically, she looked round as the bright light blazed down upon her and hands covered in gloves caressed rather than slapped her cheeks.
“Pupils are starting to respond – keep that drip going and get ready to lift her.”
She tried to call out, but there was still that damp sodden cloth mass in her mouth, so she started to thrash her head around to get attention.
“We’re going to have to sedate her before she does herself an injury – give me 10cc stat.”
She silently screamed as she felt the needle slip into her arm, and tried frantically to tell them to look for another woman, but as she felt her body being lifted up the darkness closed in around her again.
The duvet was torn off them and the two girls blinked at the sudden influx of bright sunlight. As they were rolled over, Jenny saw four masked people in the room – three men and one woman, dressed in blue overalls. The taller of the men reached over and pulled the tape from Jenny’s lips, causing her to yelp with pain as the adhesive pulled at her skin.
“Who the hell are you?” she screamed at the man, who responded by slapping the back of his gloved hand against her cheek. Kate looked at her sister as the two of them were roughly pulled into a sitting position.
“None of your business, lady – and speak out of turn again and it will be more than your skin that hurts. You both do as you are told, when you are told, and do not speak or act unless you are told to. Understand?”
Jenny looked at her sister as she slowly nodded to show she understood.
“Cut her loose, let her get dressed then bring her downstairs,” the man said to the masked woman, who took a knife and cut the ties that held Kate in place. “Her well being depends on your co-operation – so remember that,” the man said. Kate rubbed her wrists before she put on the sweat suit that the woman had placed on the bed. Before she had a chance to do anything else, as she put the sweatshirt on her wrists were pulled together behind her back. Jenny watched as they were lashed tightly together with thick rope, her sister wincing as the ropes were pulled tighter and tighter around her wrists and arms.
“Take her downstairs – we’ll join you shortly” the man said to the other two intruders, who took Kate by the arm and led her out of the room. She stole a quick look over her shoulder at Jenny as she left, tears starting to roll down her cheeks.
“As fro you little lady,” the man said as he turned back to face Jenny, “My friend here is going to make sure you get dressed as well. Make sure it’s comfortable clothing – we’re going to be staying with them for a little while.”
As he left the room, the woman walked behind Jenny, knelt on the bed and cut the ties that held her bound. As she rubbed her wrists, she said “Where have they taken my sister?”
“You’ll see – now put those clothes on, before I tie your hands again.”
She held a length of white rope in her hands, doubling it over and pulling it tightly. Realising that Kate’s welfare was in her hands, she changed out of her soiled jeans and top and out on the powder blue sweatshirt and joggers. Having dressed, she stood there quietly as the rope was lashed around her arms and chest constricting her so tightly she found it difficult to breath.
“Stay quiet,” she said as she took Jenny by the arm and stood her up, “or things may get very sticky for you and your sister.”
“What the hell did they use to stick this on her face?”
“Some sort of adhesive – the solvent has dissolved it, but those red spots are going to be there for a while.”
“Gently, gently. It looks as if she was in that position for some time.”
“Tell me about it – It took the strongest plaster cutters we had to get through those ropes.”
The nurse gently laid Jenny’s legs flat on the bed, and covered her body with the sheet and blanket. They had managed to get her out of the foetal position she had been left bound in, and remove the cloth pad that had been stuck over her mouth before pulling out three pairs of very wet panties.
“Poor kid – I wonder what happened to her?”
“Apparently she’s not the first – I heard the police talking outside, and they said this is about the fourth case this year.”
“Look at those bruises – she must have been held hostage for some time.”
“Well, they reckon she was like that for two days before her work colleagues finally called the police.”
A low moan came out of Jenny’s mouth as she lay there fitfully sleeping.
“Did she say something?”
“Not sure – it sounded like kit, but it could be the sedatives.”
“No, please – I’ll do anything you want, but please stop hurting my sister!”
Jenny was in tears as she watched Kate in pain from the way the leather straps had been brought down across her back. Kate was lying across a chair in their front room, her wrist and knees bound to the chair legs and her mouth stuffed with a rolled up tea towel that had been pulled tightly between her lips.
Jenny was sitting in another chair, her waist lashed to the chair and her ankles bound to the front legs. Around the two girls on the floor were the contents of their strongboxes, as well as their bank statements and other financial information.
“You know what you need to do then – enter your account information into your computer and we will leave your sister alone. Get it wrong and we hit her again – so don’t get it wrong if you want us to stop.”
Quietly sobbing, Jenny leaned over as far as she could and started to type on the keyboard to her computer, the illuminated screen providing the only light in the curtained room. Finally, the account details appeared on the screen and she was pulled roughly back in the chair. As her wrists were pulled behind her, causing the rope around her arms to burn her as the friction from the movement increased, a thick towel was pulled into her mouth and tied tightly at the base of her neck. The cotton muffled the sounds of her screams as she was left facing Kate, who raised her head and looked up at her sister, the mascara streaming down her cheeks.
“Thank you, Jenny, now you do sit quietly while we get on with our work. Phone out for some pizzas, will you?” The female intruder nodded as she walked out of the room, while the sisters wondered what was going to happen next.
Eventually, the computer was switched off, and as Kate was released from the chair the gags were removed from their mouths. As bottles of water were placed in their hands, they watched one of the men quickly but carefully pack the computer away in a transport case.
“Please, you have our money and our valuables, just leave us alone,” Jenny sobbed.
“Oh, but we’ve only just started, my dear girl. Make sure these two get up close and personal, will you?”
Kate shivered as the two men approached the girls and Jenny gave her a hug as they stood there.
“Perfect,” one of the men said as he pushed the two of them together, and then produced a large roll of silver duct tape.
Jenny slowly opened her eyes and turned her head from one side to the other. The white walls of the hospital unit were still blinding her slightly, but the dry feeling in her mouth had now lessened. She slowly raised her head and saw she was covered in a white sheet, but to her relief there were no restraints on her.
“Well, that’s good – we were beginning to wonder when you were going to come round.”
A nurse in a white uniform was beside her bed, checking the readings on some instruments.
“How…. How long?” Jenny croaked through her cracked lips.
“Three days you’ve been out – and given what it looks like you went through, you needed to have that rest. Just lie quietly now – the police will want to talk to you, but not yet. Doctor’s orders.”
“My sister – where’s Kate?”
“You lie quietly now – I’ll let the doctor know you’re awake.”
Jenny lay there as the nurse walked out, closing the door behind her. On the other side of the door, the uniformed officer stopped her.
“She’s awake then?”
“Yes, but in no condition to talk yet. She asked about someone called Kate?”
“Her sister – we’re still looking….”
“R u ll rght, kt?”
Jenny winced as the ropes were tied tightly around her arms and chest. The two girls had spent the previous six hours bound together in a cocoon of duct tape, as the intruders had bound them face to face from their ankles to their necks in tape, before they were gagged and blindfolded with the sticky material. Some thirty minutes ago, they had finally been released an allowed to change before their wrists were bound together in front of them, large pick sponge balls pushed into their mouths and clear plastic tape layered over their closed lips. A hooded top was placed over each girl and the hood pulled up.
“We need some ready cash from you ladies, so you’re going for a drive,” the leader of the gang told them. “One at a time, two visits – we’ve left enough cash in your current accounts to allow for that. One wrong move from either of you and you never see your sister again. Understood?”
“Ys,” Jenny mumbled as they were led out of the house, the cool night air hitting their faces before they were pushed into the back of a transit van. The windowless van meant they had no idea where they were been taken, until they stopped and the side of the door was opened.
The female member of the gang was no longer masked, but a pair of dark glasses was over her hooded face.
“Out,” she said curtly as she pulled Kate out of the van, the door closing behind them. Five minutes passed before she was roughly pushed back into the van, and they set off again.
Jenny was next, as she recognised a side street in the town centre. She was taken to a cash machine, her card inserted and the maximum withdrawn, her typing in the information with her bound hands, before she was led back to the van. As they drove off, she heard a clock strike midnight.
“Give them an hour before the next stop,” the female said as Jenny began to realise the enormity of what might be happening. Eventually, after each girl was forced to make yet another withdrawal, they were taken back to their house.
“Leave them upstairs – busy day tomorrow,” the gang leader said as they were pushed up the stairs, laid out on Kate’s bed and the legs secured to the foot rest. As the door was closed on them, Kate looked at her sister with embarrassment and fear.
The alarm clock showed seven am as the girls were roughly woken up and their bonds released. “Here – drink this,” the masked female robber said as bottles of water were pressed into their hands.
“You must have everything you want,” Kate whispered, “Please just let us go.”
“We’re not done yet,” the gang leader said from the doorway. “Both of you need to strip down to your underwear now – we need to keep you out of the way for a few hours.”
Reluctantly, but knowing they had no choice, Jenny took off the sweat suit she was wearing and stood there in a white bra and knickers. As one of the other men pulled her hands behind her back and started to tie her wrist together, she said “At least let us be together.”
“Oh don’t you worry,” the leader said as Jenny grunted and Kate felt her own wrists been pulled back, “You’re going to be very close together. Show them.”
The masked woman opened the large walk-in closet in Kate’s room, and pulled aside her dresses to reveal a large blanket box that was in the rear of the closet. Opening the lid, both of the girls realised where they were going to be spending that day.
She opened her eyes with a start. It was pitch dark, and she could hear the sounds of owls outside the window, but Jenny had the strangest feeling she wasn’t alone.
“Who’s there?” she whispered, and was shocked to feel a gloved hand over her mouth.
“Don’t move or make a sound,” a female voice said, and Jenny realised with horror it was the woman who had been part of the gang that had invaded her house.
“We made a promise when we left your house, Jenny, and we will keep our promise. Kate will be returned to you very soon – the transaction is nearly completed. Be patient – it will soon all be over.”
Not sure if this was a nightmare, but praying it was, Jenny tried to scream, but the female voice just said “Shhh” as a sweet smelling cloth was placed over her mouth, causing a stinging sensation over her bruised lips as she slipped into a deep sleep.
“out you come.”
Jenny blinked as the lid to the box was opened. She and Kate had been laid in the box, her head at her sister’s feet and visa versa, and as they lay there they had heard the sound of boxes moving and things been taken downstairs. As Jenny was pulled out of the blanket box, she realised that the closet had been emptied of Kate’s clothes – a fact that was not lost on her sister when she was taken out.
As they were frogmarched out of the room, however, they realised it was not just the clothes that had been taken. The room had been stripped bare of everything – furniture, fittings, even the rug.
Kate tried to say “Where the hell is everything?” The thing that stopped her was the thick white band of cloth over her mouth, and the three pairs of her panties that had been placed in her mouth before the cloth was tied over. As they were forced to hop down the stairs, they realised it wasn’t just the room, but the entire house that had been stripped off, save for one rug on the hallway floor, where the leader and the female were standing.
“Put Kate on the rug,” he said as she got to the bottom of the stairs, and the female took her over to the solitary carpet, forcing her to lie down on it.
“We have a slight problem, Jenny,” the leader said as she was forced to sit on the floor, her legs pulled up so that her knees were under her chin and rope lashed around them to keep her in a ball. “It appears some of your offshore accounts are taking their time to give us your money, so we have to take steps.
“We’ll be leaving in a few minutes, but your sister is coming with us. When you are found, if by then we have not completed transactions then your sister will stay with us until that is done. If that happens, say nothing to the police or the authorities.
“Now, I’m going to take this gag off, and I want you simply to say yes if you understand”
Reaching round, he untied the cloth and started to pull the sodden cloth out of Jenny’s mouth. As he did this, she watched in horror as the tow men rolled up the rug, enclosing Kate in the fabric, and tied the roll together with cord.
“Yes,” she choked out as the last cloth was removed.
“Excellent,” the leader responded as he started to push a tea towel into Jenny’s mouth. As the last remnant was pushed in, Jenny caught a glimpse of a cloth pad with moist edges before it was placed over her mouth, the dampness pulling at her skin and jaw.
“Goodbye, Jenny,” the man said as the rug was carried out and Jenny started to try to move on the bare wooden floor of their stripped home….”
Jenny shot up, her eyes wide with fear, as consciousness suddenly came over her. The door flung open and two uniformed policemen came in.
“What’s wrong?” one of them asked.
“One of th….. there was someone in the room, a woman who robbed us. She said Kate was going to be released – please, please tell me you found her.” She looked frantically between the two men, but they only exchanged glances.
“I’m sorry, we haven’t found her yet,” one eventually said as the nurse came into the room.
“Are you all right, Jenny?” she asked kindly.
“I don’t know – I was sure she was here, but maybe it was a nightmare…”
“Let me get the doctor,” the nurse said as she pressed a button on the monitor. “Has anyone been in here?”
“Not as far as we know – and there’s been someone outside all night,” the officer replied.
“Then who left that trolley in here?”
Jenny pushed herself up and looked at the blue linen trolley that was sitting at the back of the room. As the four looked on, a low moan could be heard coming from it.
“Hang on,” one of the officers said as he drew a weapon and cautiously approached the basket. Looking in, he quietly moved a large white sheet to one side, before his face blanched.
“Holy shit,” he said as he stepped back, walking into the doctor at the doorway.
“What’s going on….” The doctor started to say before the other officer reached into the trolley, and lifted out a bound and gagged blonde haired girl, soiled and pale, who moaned softly from behind a cotton pad that was affixed over her mouth and lower jaw.
Jenny looked on in horror, as she whispered “Kate?” The other girl briefly opened her eyes, her eyelids encrusted with salt, before nodding her head and falling unconscious again.