Prologue – four weeks before.
The hall of the school was abuzz with conversation, a buzz which quickly settled as the principals filed in, the girls all standing as they did so. All the girls were wearing the school uniform of a short sleeved white blouse, knee length tartan skirt, white socks and black shoes.
“All right ladies,” the head of the school said, “you may be seated.” She waited until all the girls were quiet, and then began.
“As you know, two weeks ago we set an exam for the History class, with the promise that from those results five girls would be selected to go on a trip to Egypt, thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, and would also all receive a thousand dollars spending money. The History faculty has now reviewed the results, and I am pleased to announce the five girls that have been selected. As your name is called, come forward.
The eighteen year old jumped up and almost ran to the front, hugging herself with delight. She was soon joined by her friend Kamini Kumar, the two of them embracing as their classmates cheered and clapped.
The eighteen year old stood up and walked quietly to the front, standing with her head bowed as she looked out across the room.
“And finally, Aleena Mirza and Tania Hammad!”
The two nineteen year olds walked to the front as well, as the rest of the girls stood and clapped.
“Congratulations girls,” the head said. “We will process the necessary paperwork and you will soon be on your way with Miss Guptha.”
Sonia Guptha was standing at the back of the hall, smiling – this was a great honour for her.
“We have also asked for one of the mothers to accompany you.”
“Whose,” Tania whispered to Aleena.
“Mine – she told me this morning she was going on this trip. She must have known I would be going too.”
“Well, what’s the worst that can happen…?”
“Welcome to Cairo International Airport. Will all passengers arriving from Lahore please make their way to Baggage Claim area D…”
“Why did we have to travel in school uniform,” Aleena said to her mother. Riya Awana was in her mid forties, and unlike the five girls was wearing a light blue jacket and pants with a white top, and black shoes.
“Because the school insisted on it,” Riya said as she poked her daughter. “Now, have you all put your watches back four hours?”
“Yes, M’am,” the girls said as Sonia followed them to the baggage claim. The thirty six year old teacher was wearing a green tunic over black leggings, her long brown hair falling over the shoulders. They stood in a line at the conveyor belt, waiting for a few minutes and talking to themselves until a siren sounded and the belt started to move, bringing the bags round as one by one they claimed them.
After they had collected their bags and loaded them onto a trolley, they walked into the arrivals area, where a uniformed man was holding a sign saying “Guptha Party.”
“Welcome to Cairo,” he said as they approached him, “we have a coach waiting to take you to the embassy to collect your land cruiser and the keys to the apartment you will be using. If you will follow me?”
“Thank you,” Sonia said as she led the excited party out into the bright sun, the man loading their bags into the back before they got into the minibus and strapped in. He then got behind the driver’s seat and set off.
It took two hours before the party left the embassy complex, and headed for the outskirts of Cairo, followed by a grey transit van. As they approached a tower block, and turned into an underground car park, the van parked in the street, a man getting out and walking to the front entrance.
“Well,” the driver said as he came back.
“They’re on the 28th floor – but the Kumari girl is in the party. I recognized her picture.”
“Good,” the driver said, “now we wait for the right time. Once we have them in our grasp, then her father will have to order the release of the Mullah. After all, who wants the death of five girls and two women on their conscience?”
“But how? How do we get all seven of them down from the 28th floor without causing trouble?”
“Patience, Naheed, patience –they will go on a tour sooner or later, and then we make our move…”
“All right girls,” Riya said as she looked at the traffic on the street far below, “Get your clothes sorted and shower – we have a table booked at a local restaurant for eight o’clock, and then you need an early night. It is a long drive to the pyramids from here.”
“Yes mother,” Aleena said with a sigh, hoping she would not spend the entire trip telling her what to do and what not to do…
“Up and at them, girls,” Sonia said as she brought the party together in the main room of the apartment. It was still dark outside, as they wrapped shawls around themselves.
“Has everyone got their lunch? All right then – let’s go.”
Naheed felt a nudge in his ribs as he opened his eyes, and saw the land cruiser drive out of the car park. Starting the engine, he followed from a safe distance, as the group made their way towards the desert and the road to Giza.
“Oh my goodness,” Saziya said after a few hours, as the massive stone structures rose on the horizon, “I never realized they would look so… so…”
“Big,” Aleena said, making everyone laugh as the vehicle drew up at the site. “All right girls,” Sonia said as a tall Arab walked towards them, “this is Doctor Fahid, who will take you round the pyramids and tell you some of their history.”
From a distance, Naheed was watching the party, making sure he could recognize each of them on sight and licking his lips as he considered the plans that had been laid for them.
“And so, these stand now as a lasting memorial to a lost civilization – one that intrigues us to this day. Any questions?”
“How can you be so boring,” Kimani whispered to Ashifa, who had to suppress a giggle as Sonia said “Thank you Doctor Fahid. Now girls, you have a short time to take photographs before we head to our evening meal.” She turned and started to talk to the expert in Arabic, as the girls split up.
Aleena headed off to the base of one of the pyramids, snapping pictures with her camera as the others went to look around. From the distance, Naheed kept watch.
“So do you think you and the others can handle them?”
“I am sure we can,” he said as he looked at his companion, “Why? Don’t you trust me?”
He just shook his head as Naheed saw the girls coming together again, and heading for their land cruiser. “Come on,” he said as he put the binoculars down, “They’re on the move.”
The girls talked excitedly in the vehicle as Riya drove them to the beach at Alexandria. The red sun was starting to set to their left as they approached the destination, braziers burning to light the way to the covered tents as the vehicle came to a stop.
As they got out, Ashifa looked at the felucca boats that were sailing on the Nile. “Can’t we go on one of them,” she said to the other girls, “they look so romantic.”
“No,” Riya said as she walked behind them, “That is not on the tour schedule, and I am not going to change it without a very good reason. Now hurry up – that food smells delicious.”
From a distance, Naheed watched the party through a pair of powerful binoculars as they sat, ate and talked. “No chance at the moment, too public,” he said to the driver.
“As I said,” the other man repeated as he threw a cigarette away, “Patience….”
Kamini shook her head as she looked at the others, the dawn light coming into the apartment building. “No, no, you all go – Aleena and I will be fine. I’m just sorry we had to cancel the museum trip.”
“Well not cancel – postpone,” Sonia said as she adjusted her black and white striped top to cover the top of her black knee length leggings, and then wrapped a scarf around her hair. “It gives the rest of us a chance to look at the Farfara desert where we will spend the last few days of our trip.”
Riya came into the room, wearing a blue sleeveless top with a neckline that allowed the top of her breasts to be shown over black leggings. “Are you sure you two will be all right,” she said to her daughter.
“Of course we will – Kamini and I just need to drink more water and rest. Go – have fun in the sand.”
“Very funny,” Tania said as she tied her hair back with a blue chiffon scarf, the colour matching her skin tight denim jeans while her purple short sleeved top barely covered her belly. As for Saziya and Ashifa, the former had on a yellow vest and knee length skirt, while Ashifa was wearing a black short sleeved top and knee length denim pants.
“Right – let’s go,” Sonia said as they left the apartment, emerging from the car park five minutes later as they drove to the desert road. The grey transit van pulled and followed them at a safe distance.
“So we will have the tents set up here and here,” Sonia said as the girls looked round the oasis, “and the escort will be staying over there.”
“Why do we need an escort,” Saziya said as she sat by the watering hole, her skirt fluttering in the slight breeze. “I want to experience the wild as it truly is.”
“Including the wild animals,” Sonia said as she looked at the young woman, “or are you expecting a desert prince to come and sweep you off your feet, carrying you off in his arms?”
Saziya blushed as she turned away, looking at the other girls as they walked on the other side of the small pond. “Still, Miss, you cannot deny it sounds romantic?”
“Romance is one thing,” Riya said as she looked at Tania and Ashifa walking round, “but we need to keep you all safe. Come on – we need to head back.”
From a distance, Naheed watched and then turned to the other man. “They’re heading off – let the men know, then drive me to the river. I need to go and make the preparations.”
“I hope the other two are feeling better,” Tania said as they set off to return to the flat, having spent the day planning their camp site.
“I’m sure they will be fine,” Sonia said, “after all they…. What the….”
Two covered jeeps roared past them and crossed in the road, blocking their paths as Sonia slammed in the brakes. “What happened,” Riya said as she looked out, and then to her horror, she saw eight men, armed with AK47 rifles, jump out of the jeeps and surround the vehicle.
“All of you, out,” one of the men, whose faces were hidden behind scarves, said, “or you die.”
“Just do as they say, girls,” Sonia said as she unbuckled her seat belt, “and try not to let them see you are afraid.”
The party got out, looking at the men as they were marched to the side of the road, and made to kneel. “Who are you,” Riya demanded as one by one they felt their arms being pulled behind them, thin plastic strips pulled tightly around their wrists to secure them.
“There’s only five here,” one of the other men said, “Where are the other two”?
The one who had spoken earlier grabbed Sonia’s hair and pulled it back hard, making her scream in pain as he growled “Where are the other two?”
“Please….” She whispered, which only seemed to annoy him as he said “Talk now or they all die, and so do you – where are the other two?”
“They… They’re at the apartment! Please don’t kill us!”
Tania started to cry as she was blindfolded, her elbows forced together behind her back with a second zip tie, and tape slapped over her mouth, pulling at her skin and lips. Sonia was forced to watch as Riya, Saziya and Ashifa were similarly secured, and then marched to the jeeps, Riya and Saziya in one and the other two in the second one. Sonia watched as their wrists were tied to the ceiling, making them lean over before five of the armed men set off with them, their whimpers of fear drowned out by the sound of the engines revving.
“You,” the leader said as Sonia felt him pull her to the feet, “You’re coming with us while we get the other two…”
“All right, but where are they going,” she said as she looked at the two jeeps receding on the distance.
“Don’t worry,” he said as she was pushed into the back of the land cruiser, the last two armed men joining her, “you’ll see them soon enough.” He then sat behind the driver’s seat and drove off, Sonia watching the two men either side of her…
“How much longer do you think they are going to be?”
“Relax,” Kamini said to Aleena as she watched her friend loading photos of the trip so far onto her Facebook account, “They should not be much longer.” She was wearing a red long sleeved top and shorts, while Aleena had on a grey camisole top and matching pants.
There was a knock on the door. “There – that’s them now,” Kamini said as she left Aleena and went to the door, opening it and saying “What kept…”
The rough hand over her mouth stopped Kamini talking as the two armed men came in, one of them pulling a white rag into her mouth as the other turned her round and secured her wrists behind her back with a plastic tie. He then put his fingers to his lips, or where his lips would be if they were not covered with a scarf, and held a phone to her head.
“Kamini? Is that you?”
“All right, I need you to keep calm and listen carefully. These two men are part of a group that has taken myself, Aleena's mother and the other girls hostage. I do not know where they are, but I am downstairs in the land cruiser with another of the gang.”
“Please, Kamini, do not shout or they will kill you, Aleena and me. Do whatever they say, and then they will bring you to me, all right?”
Kamini looked at the two men and nodded. The one holding the phone said into it “Ten minutes,” and then ended the call, engaging Kamini and pushing her into the bedroom.
“Hey wha… Oh my god,” Aleena called out as she pulled her knees up and tried to hide at the end of the bed.
“Aleena listen – the others have been kidnapped, and it seems we are going to be as well. We need to do as they say, or they will kill us.”
She watched her friend as she looked at the men, and then said “All right – what do you want?”
“Get your bags – for all of you. You’re going to be coming with us for a few days,” the man said, watching as Aleena got off the bed and collected bags from the various rooms. When she had done this, they released Kamini and said “Split the bags between you and come with us.”
“All of them?”
The man grabbed Kamini, put the gun in her belly and said “Yes – now move!” The two girls gathered the bags and went to the lift with the men, travelling down to the underground car park and walking to the land cruiser. As they got there the side opened, and a third man got out, Sonia seated behind him. She had her wrists zip tied behind her back, her elbows secured together, tape over her mouth and a scarf tied over her eyes.
“Oh no,” Kamini said as she felt her own elbows being secured and then her sight blacked out as something sticky was smoothed over her mouth. She was roughly pushed into the land cruiser and strapped in, before hearing Aleena sat next to her, and then feeling the vehicle move off as the radio played.
“Dntbscrdgrl,” Sonia said as they bumped along the road.
“Seefrutssms,” Kamini said as she felt the plastic digging into her muscle. “Leneenwru.”
“Vrrhrr,” Aleena replied, before the man driving said “No more talking!”
By the songs, Sonia guessed about twenty or twenty-five minutes had passed before they stopped and she was forced out, walking on a hard stone floor in her bare feet. There was the sound of a lock turning, and then a chorus of muffled calls as she was made to sit in what she presumed was a wooden seat.
“Istththugrls,” Aleena heard Sonia mumble as the plastic ties were cut away, and she felt rope pulling her wrists together and then to the chair back. Her blindfold was suddenly removed, and as she blinked she saw her friends, Riya and Sonia, sat in a circle facing each other.
“Listen carefully,” she heard a man say, and as she looked to the side she saw he was being filmed. “We have your daughter, her friends, the teacher and the mother, and for the moment they are fine. But if you do not release the Mullah within the next four days, they will die and you will see them die.”
He walked into the centre of the room, looking at Kamini as the cameraman kept filming, and pulled the tape away from your mouth. “Name and age,” he said.
“I am Kamini Kumar, and I am eighteen years old. Please, Daddy, songmmggg.”
He slapped the tape back over her mouth, and then one by one the party was ungagged, made to give their names and ages, before they were re-gagged.
“We are watching all news sites and feeds – you have four days,” he said before the cameraman went off. “Right,” the man said, “untie them and let them take care of themselves. There is a toilet behind the screen.”
As they were untied and rubbed their wrists, a tray was brought in with bottles of water, kubus breads and a curry. “Is this what we get to eat,” Riya said as she looked at it.
“Your choice – you can starve.”
“No,” Sonia said as she put some in a bowl and took some bread, “We’ll eat. Have some girls – however frightened we are, we need to keep our strength up.”
The girls took turns to have some food, and then sat in the chairs, talking amongst themselves.
“Is it your father they will send that film to,” Aleena said to Kamini.
“I think so – but it will do no good. Papa will not give in to terrorists – I know this for a fact.”
“Then what is going to happen to us?”
Kamini shrugged her shoulders as they talked amongst themselves.
“Whatever happens,” Sonia said as she looked at the masked men, “remember that we are in this together, and together we will help each other to get through this, all right?”
The party nodded to each other as one of the guards stepped forward. “Eat up,” the man said, “We need to secure you for the night.”
“Do you have to tie us up again,” Tania said as she finished her meal.
“We do – and you’re first.” Two men dragged her back to her chair, sitting her in it as one of them took her arms behind her back and tied her wrists tightly together, while the other secured her ankles and knees to the front legs of the chair. Her upper body was then pinned to the chair back with what looked like miles of rope, while Sonia was made to sit next to her.
“How long do you think you can hope to hold us, to treat us like this,” Riya said as she was tied to a chair.
“You heard me earlier – they have four days,” the leader said quietly as one by one they were tied in place, and then their mouths taped over with fresh lengths of white tape. “Now, shut up and get some sleep.”
The lights went out as Saziya and Ashifa started crying. Sonia looked round, the sweat starting to drip off her forehead in the heat as one by one they drifted off to sleep…
“UP! GET UP!!!”
Aleena was forced out of her slumber as she was roughly shaken on the shoulders.
“Whtsggnggg,” she said as she looked around, her bleary eyes making out the others as they were untied and forced to stand in a line. She could now see the window high in the ceiling, and the fact it was still dark outside.
“We’re going to go on a little trip,” the guard said as he looked at them holding themselves as Riya held her daughter. The sweat stains were visible on their clothing, but he only smiled as he looked at them.
“Go to the toilet,” the leader said as one by one they were taken behind the screen, and then brought back, their hands tied in front of them with rough rope and their mouths filled with large scarves as cleave gags.
“Udntthftdths,” Sonia said as she watched Kamini being gagged, the cream scarf forcing her lips apart, “wlllccmkwitly.”
“No more talking,” the leader said as he grabbed Sonia’s chin and looked directly into her eyes, waiting until she nodded. They were then frog marched out of the room, and into a courtyard where the two land rovers were waiting. The party was split into two groups – Aleena, Kamini, Riya and Tania in one jeep, the remaining three in the other one.
“Inside,” the leader said as Aleena was made to step into the jeep, and lean on the cold metal floor, her wrists raised above her head and secured to a hook that hung from the canvas top. She watched her mother being secured in the same way, and then the other two.
“Whrrwwggng,” Riya called out as she saw the other three being taken into the other jeep, and half the bags being thrown in with them.
“You’ll see” the leader said as black scarves were tied over their eyes, and they tried to get comfortable, the metal rubbing on their knees.
“Move out,” the leader shouted as they were blindfolded and then felt the jeeps move, their knees rubbing on the metal as they were bumped and jostled on the road…
The journey seemed to take an eternity, even with occasional breaks for water as they remained blindfolded and tied, and the gags replaced. Eventually, their knees almost red raw, they felt the jeeps stop and their arms released from above them. Ashifa moaned as her arms dropped in front of her, and then she was led out of the jeep, her eyes blinking as the blindfold was suddenly removed and she was blinded by the reflection of the sunlight on the wide expanse of water in front of them.
“Mgd,” Kamini thought to herself as they were pushed towards a waiting felucca boat, “WrthNll.” She looked at Sonia, but the older woman shrugged her shoulders, telling her she had no idea exactly where they were as they were made to sit in the boat. The light was burning her eyes, the glare intense as the ropes were pulled in and the boat started to move over the water.
Ashifa tried to calm herself as the boat sailed across the river – she had got her wish, but in no way was this how she had expected to ride on such a boat, her arms sore and her wrist chaffed from the rope, and the gag hurting her mouth as it got heavier with her saliva.
Eventually the boat approached an island, and as they looked the girls saw there was an old temple on the top of the hill, the sun bleached stone standing tall and strong. As it approached a pier, the leader jumped out and helped to secure the boat to the moorings, before the party was forced to walk out and stand in a line on the jetty, the ropes that had been used to hold their arms above them now tied round their waists.
“Whrrw,” Saziya said, but there was no reply from the men, as they turned their eyes to a path that went up the hill. As they did so, Riya saw two women walking down a pathway from the building towards them. They were dressed in burkas, but their eyes were clearly visible, and they both held automatic rifles. They were accompanied by a young man, dressed in combat fatigues, who embraced the leader as they came up to the group.
“Is everything ready,” the leader said to them, and as they nodded he turned to the girls. “You came to this country to learn history – well, this is the place to learn. If we don’t hear from her father,” he said as he looked at Kamini, who shrank back, “then you may be spending the rest of your lives here!”
With that, he and the other men got back into the boat and set off across the Nile. “Welcome,” the remaining male guard said to them in English, “you may call me Naheed. Come this way.”
The two women took up positions behind the party and made them walk up the hill, as Naheed said “This is an open prison, so do not think you can escape. Even if you manage to get to the shore, the crocodiles in this stretch of the Nile are permanently hungry. You will have the freedom of the place during the day, and we will feed and care for you, but if we say to do something…”
He stopped at the top of the hill, at the entrance to the temple, and looked at them as he said “You will do it, or you will be punished.” He then turned to the female guards and said in Arabic “Take them to the rooms, let them bathe and change, then feed them.”
Sonia said nothing as she heard this – this was not the time for them to discover she could speak Arabic. They were led to a large room, in the centre of which was a large concrete bath filled with water. To the side of the bath was a metal bucket.
One of the guards them untied Saziya and removed her gag, before pointing to the bath. “You wish me to wash myself,” she said quietly, and as the guard nodded she stripped off her clothing, lowered herself into the bath and used the bucket to wash herself off.
“Wlltlstwcnclnrslfs,” Aleena said as she looked at her mother, seeing the stains under her arms and on her chest. Riya nodded as they watched, wondering who would be next.
As Saziya stepped out, she was handed a rough towel by the second guard, as the first untied Aleena. When she had dried herself off, she was handed some clothes from her bag – a pink tank top and a blue denim skirt. She put them and some clean underwear on, before standing and watching the others.
One by one they were released, allowed to wash and then change. Aleena was given a white short sleeved top and a pair of knee length red and black striped short, while Kamini wore a light yellow camisole top and a short black skirt. Ashifa put on a white sleeveless top and black shorts, while Tania was handed a dark green waistcoat style top and knee length brown shorts.
Finally, Aleena watched her mother clean herself, and don a yellow low cut top and knee length black shorts. They hugged each other as Sonia was finally released, washed and put on a dark blue tank top and shorts. The guards collected their dirty clothes and then left, returning with pots of coffee and sweet cakes.
“As we said, it is an open prison,” Naheed said as he watched from the door. “Eat drink, explore – but we will watch you.”
“When is this nightmare going to end,” Tania whispered as they stood round and drank their coffee.
“I don’t know, but we must stick together and work together,” Sonia said as she looked at them. “We’ll work something out, I promise.”
As they finished their coffee, Riya said “Well, we may as well see what we can find out with what little light is left. Let’s go outside – if that is all right?”
The female guards said nothing, but stood to one side as the party walked out of the room, across the courtyard, and out of the building. The area outside had a number of broken columns scattered across the ground, which the girls sat on as Sonia and Riya stood behind them.
“Do you think they are telling the truth – that we will be released if Kamini’s father releases this leader,” Riya whispered to Sonia as they watched the red sun setting over the river, the glow amazing as it reflected on the water.
“I don’t know,” Sonia whispered back, “but we must continue to believe so, for the sake of the girls.”
“Where did you get such courage from?”
“Army duty,” was all Sonia said as they fell into a deep silence, aware of the guards watching them.
“It is a beautiful view,” Ashifa said quietly, “even if it is a terrifying one.”
“Indeed,” Riya said, “perhaps we can learn something while we are here…”
They sat for a while, watching the sky darken, before Naheed said “Time to eat – come.”
They went back into the temple, and sat in a large room, cross legged on the floor as plates of meat and vegetables were placed before them to eat with their fingers. The meal passed in silence, before one by one they had their hands tied behind them with rope.
“This way,” Naheed said as the two females led them back to another room, this one with a large Egyptian carpet covering the floor. The girls could see their bags had been placed in one corner of the room, as they all sat on the floor and watched the guards walking to the door.
“Good night,” Naheed said as he closed the door on them. As they listened to the lock turning, they looked at the high windows letting in the pale moonlight, before Aleena turned her back to her mother and said “come on – let’s untie each other and see if we can get off here.”
Riya sadly shook her head and said “Child, if we did so, they would only catch us and punish all of us. Consider – this is the lightest we have been secured for two days, but they are capable of doing much worse. Sit down, and we will talk – but let us not antagonize any of them.”
“Your mother is right,” Sonia said as she looked round the room, “we have some advantages on our side, if we do not get them angry. For one thing, I can understand what they say to each other. Let us do as they ask – at least we have some freedom, and we can take advantage of that.”
“But I’m scared,” Tania said as she and the others managed to shuffle round so that they sat in a circle.
“We all are,” Sonia said quietly, “so let’s be here for each other, all right?” She looked round the circle, smiling as they nodded, and then said “Let’s treat this like a girl’s night in – who wants to start…”
“Well,” Kamini said as she looked round, “if we had a bottle we could play spin the bottle, but we don’t, so I’ll go first. Truth or dare – and then I will pick someone else….”
Outside the room Naheed stood for a while, listening to the conversation and eventual laughter. “I will be back at midnight,” he said to the female, who nodded as he walked off.
It was the noise of the door opening that woke Tania up, as she realized she had slept on her side. She managed to sit herself up, yawning as she saw the other slowly begin to stir. Sonia and Riya were being untied, as she saw the sunlight beginning to shine through the high windows.
“What time is it?” Ashifa opened her eyes to see the female guards untying the wrists of her friend, while Sonia and Riya were placing some breakfast pastries and cups of coffee on the carpet. She waited until she too was released, then sat and joined them in eating and drinking.
“I never knew I could be so hungry,” Kamini said as she ate the sweet pastries, and sipped on her coffee.
“It must be the situation – I read somewhere that people eat more when they are stressed,” Saziya said as she nibbled on a cake.
“You’re right,” Riya said as she sipped her coffee. “Adrenaline uses your body’s fuel, so you feel like you need to eat more. Don’t worry, I won’t tell any boyfriends you had more to eat than usual.”
This raised a laugh amongst the group, making them all feel a little better as they finished their breakfast.
“I suggest we walk round the island properly this morning,” Sonia said as she looked at them, “and see what we can use of our knowledge of Egyptian history to find out what this temple was for. We may as well put our captivity here to good use.” The others nodded as they looked at the guards, who were standing impassively.
Once they had finished, they were made to line up as their hands were secured together in front of them, and then pulled against their bellies with rope around their waists. Sonia then led the five girls out into the central courtyard, Riya following them. “Now,” Sonia said as Riya watched over them, “What can we tell about this temple from the architecture around us?”
“Well,” Tania said as she looked round, “It does not look like a temple to any of the deities. Could this have been a Christian temple? Possibly an old Coptic monastery?”
“Very good Tania,” Sonia said with a smile. “What can you see that may suggest that?”
“Apart from the stone crucifix lying on the ground over there,” Kamini said as she pointed with her hands, Riya laughing as she saw it.
“True,” Sonia said with a smile. “Now given that, what about the rooms we have been in so far?”
“Well,” Ashifa said, “I guess the first room we were taken into was a communal bathroom, and the one we ate in had some sort of kitchen next to it.”
“Which would make the one we slept in – the chapel?”
Sonia nodded at Aleena. “So, let’s look round the other rooms and see if we can discern their use. Come along…”
Naheed watched as the girls put their knowledge to use, smiling as he looked at Riya and Sonia. The two women looked at him, then the captives, before walking in a different direction.
Eventually, the girls came back to the central courtyard, and then out to the front area, where Naheed had laid out some cold meats, breads and bottles of water. He untied the wrists of all of them, watching from a distance as they sat on a column and ate.
“It is a beautiful place,” Tania said as she looked round and drank from a bottle of water, “but why do they have a base here?”
“It makes sense in a way,” Riya said quietly, “Much like the mountain bases in Pakistan, it can only be approached in one way, and that way is guarded. Besides, who would ever suspect a holy place?”
As they talked, Naheed yawned and turned, walking towards the temple. “Now is our chance,” Sonia whispered as he disappeared, “I will follow them and see what I can learn. The rest of you, explore the island and see if there is any other way off this place.”
Riya nodded as they watched Sonia slip away, and then stood up, walking to the top of the hill and down the path.
Sonia walked cautiously behind Naheed, watching as he sat with the two female guards. Positioning herself behind a wall, she listened carefully…
“They appear to be behaving themselves, husband.”
“Husband?” Sonia thought as she heard Naheed say “Of course they are – five frightened girls, a teacher and a mother. They will give us no trouble.”
“True – but it is such a bore playing nursemaid.”
“Patience, sister – maybe you will get to play with one of them before the time is over?”
“Now wife – you know that is against our religion.”
“I know – but she deserves some sort of reward. After all, we are the ones who have to stay here when you go to the river bank in two days time.”
Sonia cautiously looked round at the group. She could now see the two women in plain sight, and noticed how similar they were to Riya and herself in build and looks. A plan was beginning to form in her mind as she heard one of them say to Naheed “Why do you have to go anyway?”
“You know why, wife – we will need more food and supplies, so I have to travel to the town. I will only be gone for a few hours – surely you can manage them for that length of time?”
Sonia had heard enough, but as she stood up she kicked a stone, watching it hopelessly as it rolled down the hill and made a loud knocking sound. Turning suddenly, she saw Naheed standing over her, a look of thunder on his face as he said “What did you hear?”
“Nothing – I heard you talking, but I did not understand it. I only wanted to shelter from the sun – please…”
“Oh you will feel the sun,” he said as he grabbed her arm and dragged her beside him, the two female guards following once they had put on their burkas…
“They were right,” the girls said as they walked back towards the temple, “the only way off is by the boat.” They had walked to the pier, then back up and round the island, finding a copse on the far side of the temple and a view across to the other bank of the river, but nothing else – the slope was too steep on all other sides to try and escape that way, and other things ha caught their attention as they looked out over the water.
“Did you see the crocodiles on the far bank?” Saziya nodded as they reached the top of the hill, and looked at the clearing in front of the temple. Riya could see someone in front of a vertical pillar, but as they got closer she put her hands to her mouth and said “Oh no…”
“What,” Aleena said as she looked at the column, then realized it was Sonia in front of it – or rather, tied to it, her arms around the stone column behind her and her wrists secured with rope. As they walked closer, they saw the rolled bandana tied tightly between her lips, the red eyes as she noticed them coming and tried to call out, and the blue top hanging from her arms, as if it had been cut through with a knife….
“And where do you think you are going?” Naheed stood in front of them, his arms folded as he looked at the group. “Your teacher decided to listen to our conversations – so she is being punished.”
The five girls looked at her, then at Naheed as Riya realized he was not armed. “GET HIM!!” Kamini shouted, and Naheed was forced onto his back by the five girls, their fists raining down on him as they screamed into his face, demanding that Sonia be released…
The sound of a rifle cocking and Riya saying “NO!” made them stop and look. One of the two female guards had Aleena’s mother in her grasp, while the other was standing, pointing her gun at them. Slowly, they stood up and watched as Naheed got to his feet.
“Get them inside,” he roared as the women forced the girls to walk towards the temple, dragging Riya with them as Naheed walked back towards Sonia, her whimpers getting louder as he approached. The girls wanted to turn back, but the fear of the repercussion kept them silent as they walked back into their sleeping room.
One of the guards then grabbed Riya’s top and started to pull it off. “All right,” she said quietly, “We’ll take these off. Girls, strip down to your underwear.” All of them trembled as they did so, Riya hugging Aleena as they stood in their white bra and panties. Tania and Ashifa held each other in their red and pink underwear, while Saziya stood in her blue bra and panties, watching Kamini reveal her leopard brown garments.
The door opened as the guards were tying their wrists tightly together in front of each of them with thick white rope, the ends dropping to the floor as they were made to stand there. Kamini looked over to see Naheed march in, dragging Sonia with him. Her wrists were already secured in front of her, as she stood in her black bra and panties, but Riya could see her cheeks were bulging under the bandana gag.
“Oh no, you can’t be serrosmgmgmgmggm” Riya said as one of the females took a dirty pair of panties from Naheed and stuffed it into her mouth, before she took a large silk square from her pocket, rolled it up and pulled it into her mouth, the corners pulled back as she fastened it tightly round her head. The girls all received the same treatment, grimacing at the taste of the soiled and sweaty panties in their mouths before they were tightly gagged.
Looking up, Saziya could see some hooks hanging from the ceiling, and whimpered as her arms were pulled above her head, her wrists tied to one of the hooks. All seven of them were soon left this way, as the guards left them alone. Time passed slowly for them, twisting round and unable to talk clearly to each other.
“Dddulrnfng,” Riya said as she looked over at Sonia, groaning from the ache in her arms as she did so. Sonia looked over and nodded, then said “msreegtdscfrd.”
“Dntb,” Saziya said as she looked at the teacher, “wshdlnthfttckdhm.”
“Dsrfdt,” Kamini said as she looked at them with defiant eyes, the girls nodding as Sonia managed a smile. “Fnku,” she said as they fell into a silence, watching the sun move across the high windows, the shadows crossing the carpet as they did so.
After what seemed an eternity, the door opened and Haheed came back in. “My fellow guards are having a bath,” he said as she walked up to Riya, “so we have a little time alone together.” He looked into her eyes as his hands started to grope her chest, making her squeal as Aleena screamed “LLFFMMMFRLN!”
“Quiet, little one, or you will enjoy this as well,” Naheed said as he looked at her, making Riya shale her head and say “NNNNN”, pushing herself forward to allow Naheed a better grip. Tears rolled down her face as the girls watched, unable to stop him from his assault on the older woman.
Eventually, he walked over to Sonia and said “I enjoyed our time this afternoon – perhaps we can do it again?” He then started to grope her, Sonia closing her eyes and remaining silent as she felt her nipples hardening under his touch.
The sound of the women guards walking past spared her any more embarrassment, as Naheed said “Later” and left the room. “Msreegrls” Sonia mumbled as she looked at the others, the tears now running down her cheeks.
A short while later, the two women returned and released them, removing their gags but not untying their wrists. “May I go to the toilet,” Ashifa said, and in response she was allowed to go behind the partition, the others taking their turns as well.
Dinner that night was a quiet affair, the girls still shocked at what had happened to Riya and Sonia, and the two women not wanting to try to explain how they felt. Eventually, they allowed themselves to be led back to the room, and waited to be secured for the night.
“Stand back to back,” Naheed said to Ashifa and Kamini. As they did so, they felt a length of rope being tied around their waists, pulling them tightly together – and then, to their shock, the rope was taken between their legs, pulled up tightly against the crotches of bath of them as it was secured in place.
“No, please not that,” Riya cried, but the pleas went unheard as the wrist of the two girls were raised and secured t the hooks above them. As they tried to squirm round, Kamini suddenly gasped and said “Oh my goodness – did that…”
“Yes, it did,” Ashifa whimpered before they both had the dirty panties pushed into their mouths, strips of tape firmly stuck over their mouths as Saziya and Tania received the same treatment. When Riya and Aleena were made to stand back to back, Riya looked over her shoulder and said quietly “I am truly sorry this has happened to you, Aleena. If I could do ANYTHING to stop them…”
“I know mama,” Aleena whispered as she felt the rope pressing on her own panties, and resolved not to move too much as she too was secured and her mouth gagged. When they were held in place, Naheed untied Sonia’s wrists, smiling as the two women forced her hands in the air and tied her wrist to two hooks.
“You should not be left out, school teacher,” he said as Sonia felt a crotch rope tied in place on her, before she too was gagged with panties and tape. He grabbed her chest and then yanked on the rope between her legs, before they were left to spend the night as comfortably as they could.
As they left, however, Sonia heard one of the women say “If you take her husband…”
“Then it will be the will of Allah,” Naheed said as the door was closed and locked, the only sound now the muffled groans as the girls moved…
The sun was just starting to shine through the endows as the two women walked in, leaving plates of fruit and bottles of water on the carpet before the untied Sonia, and removed the ropes that had given her so much trouble during the night, before she had the tape removed from her mouth and the panties taken out.
“Thank you,” she croaked as she watched the guards releasing the girls and Riya. As they were released from each other, Kamini and Ashifa looked at the others, embarrassed at the sounds they had made during the night. Despite their best efforts, they had moved from time to time, and their moans had got louder and louder.
“We all feel that way,” Aleena said as she had her gag removed, and then hugged her mother. Once they were all released, they sat slowly on the floor, crossing their legs before they grabbed the bottles of water and washed the taste of their panties out of their mouth.
“That was torture,” Ashifa said as she swallowed a long drink of water. The others nodded in unison as they were allowed to eat, drink and relieve themselves.
“Will it ever stop hurting,” Tania said as she rubbed her wrists, looking at the red marks on them and her arms.
“I hope so,” Kamini said as she swallowed a piece of melon. “I really do not know how much more of this I can…”
“Up,” Naheed said as he came in, carrying a large axe with him, “and form a line. We’re going for a walk.”
“Where to,” Sonia said quietly as she looked at him.
“You’ll see – you’ve been cooped up inside for too long, you need a little sun.”
“Please, we’re sorry,” Tania said as she looked at him. “Don’t tie us up again…” A look from him was enough to silence her, as they finished eating and drinking, and then stood up.
“Let’s go,” he said as they formed a line.
“Can’t we even put some clean clothes on,” Saziya said as she looked at her panties.
“No – start walking.”
The view over the river to the far bank was of little comfort to Saziya as she felt the rope pulling her waist against the tree back, pressing her crossed and tied wrists into her back and the tree trunk. The other four girls were already tied to other trees, looking out on the sun baked landscape as the women tied scarves into their mouths. The one consolation was that the panties were not in their mouths, but they still felt the cloth pulling the corners of their mouths back.
Sonia and Riya were standing between two trees, their arms spread out and tied one to each, their ankles tied tightly together as were those of the younger girls. “Nobody is going to hear you now,” Naheed said as he went towards the other side of the island. “They can’t cause any trouble now – come on, we need more firewood.”
They listened as they went off, and then heard the thud of metal on wood from a distance away before they looked at each other, and then around where they were standing. As Aleena did so, she noticed some flat, sharp stones on the ground near her, and an idea began to form in her mind. She tried to move her arms and legs, but she was too tightly bound to the think tree trunk.
“Wthsswrrng,” Ashifa said as she looked at her friend. Glancing down, she followed Aleena’s eye line and saw the stones, then nodded as she tried her own ropes. Her wrists were tied just as tightly as the others, but because her tree was slightly bent she was tied by her waist and chest to the trunk with a single length of rope, as opposed to the two sets used on the others.
She started to wriggle round, and to her delight she felt the knot on the rope behind the tree trunk begin to loosen. As the rope slackened and fell away, she allowed herself to fall onto her knees on the ground, the rope falling down in front of her.
“SHIFFF” Riya called out, then she watched as the young girl rolled over to near Aleena’s feet, somehow pick up one of the stones in her hands, and then use the side of the tree Aleena was tied to as a support as she pushed herself upright. She then said “Ltsssee” as she rubbed the edge of the stone against the ropes, eventually managing to free her as Aleena slid to sit on the ground.
“Fnku,” she said as Ashifa sat back to back with her, and she felt the edge of the stone against her wrists, but the sound of footsteps made them look at each other. Ashifa barely had time to hide the flat stone down her panties before the two female guards returned, cursing in Arabic as they made the two girls stand in front of two trees on the other side of the grove and tied them even more tightly than before.
The day passed slowly, with only short breaks to take sips from water bottles before they were re-gagged and left in the hot sunshine. All of them were feeling the heat, their bodies sweating and staining their already marked underwear, the gags getting heavier and heavier in their mouths as the sun slowly travelled across the sky.
Riya looked at Aleena as her head drooped, and wanted so much to take her in her arms and comfort her, but it was no use – they had to wait as the guards carried the firewood back to the temple, and only then come back and release them as the sun began to set.
They had to support each other as they stumbled back to the temple, barely able to walk, never mind talk as they made their way into the eating area. Ashifa actually fainted onto the floor, Aleena and Kamini helping her to sit up as she slid the stone under the carpet where she was sitting without the guards noticing.
The first thing they all did as their gags were removed was to grab bottles of water. “Sip slowly,” Sonia said as they raised them to their mouths, “I know we are thirsty, but drink too quickly and you will be sick.” The girls nodded and started to sip the water, grabbing handfuls of the meat and vegetables and eating them between drinks.
“What else do you think they are going to do to us?”
Riya looked at Tania, her dark hair matted and looking slightly bleached, and said “Whatever it is, remember you are a strong woman, and do not let them see how you feel.”
“That is getting more and more difficult, mama,” Aleena said as she rested her head on her mother’s shoulder.
“I know, I know, but we must persevere,” Riya said quietly as she looked at the three guards, murderous thoughts in her mind. If she could only get the chance…
“On your feet” Naheed eventually said, “You will bathe and change.” As they stood up, Ashifa stumbled, finding the stone and holding it as discretely as she could in her fingers before they were led back to their sleeping room. As Sonia was taken to bathe, she hid the stone in one corner of the room, under a bag, and bided her time…
As Riya was led back in, she saw the others had changed into clean underwear. Her daughter had borrowed a pair of leopard print panties and a matching bra from Kamini, who in turn was wearing a mint coloured leopard print set. Ashifa had put on a pink bra and panties, while Saziya had on a creamer shade of pink. Finally, Tania was wearing a set of deep purple underwear, as opposed to Sonia who was wearing a navy blue bra and patching pants.
“Here,” she said as she handed Riya a pink bra and panties, “I suspect they wish to secure us again.” She watched as the older woman donned the underwear, before Naheed said “Don’t worry – you’ll all be going from here soon.”
“Does that mean my father has agreed to your demands,” Kamini said as her wrists were crossed behind her back and tied tightly together by one of the women.
“You’ll find out,” Naheed said as Kamini felt a length of rope going around her arms and body, and then pulled tightly under her chest, the rope forcing her chest out and straining her bra as it went above and below her chest.
“Not again,” she moaned as she felt the rope pressing on her panties as it was taken between her legs, and then they were tied at her knees and ankles. She watched as Tania was bound in the same way, and then the two girls were made to stand in front of each other, silk scarves tied into their mouths as they were bound at the waists and shoulders.
Kamini let out a muffled gasp as she felt a length of cord being tied to her crotch rope behind her, and then secured to something. Looking over Tania’s shoulder, she saw another length been tied from Tania’s crotch rope to her wrists, and then grunted as a rope was fed between them under their arms, before it was secured to a hook above them.
Naheed then motioned to Aleena and Saziya, the two of them standing up as they were tied in the same way. The muffled squeal from Aleena as the crotch rope was tied to Saziya's wrists seemed to upset Riya, but the exhaustion of their captivity, of the binding and the sun, meant she could only cry as her daughter was secured.
She then felt herself being bound as she was made to face Ashifa, the young girl’s cheeks red and stained as she was trussed tightly. They were then made to sit on the floor and tied back to back, Riya facing Sonia as her upper body was bound in the same way before she was made to sit on the floor.
“Whhhfthlfturlgs,” she mumbled to Sonia as the three guards left the room. Sonia shrugged her shoulders, gasping slightly as the ropes pressed on her chest, and looked at the others, trying to give them some encouragement – only to stop as Naheed came back in.
“What’s going to happen now,” she said as she watched him kneel next to her, a strange look in his eyes as he started to grope her chest. She closed her lips, trying hard not to say anything as she felt her breasts respond to his touch, before he smiled and picked up two silk scarves, using them to blindfold Tania and Kamini. Two more were used on Aleena and Saziya, then one on Ashifa. He smiled at Sonia as he then walked over to Kamini.
“Whsthdng,” Riya mumbled through her gag to Sonia, but the teacher was unable to respond, transfixed in horror as he started to grope Tania, the girl moaning as he pressed his hands into her breasts. She moved to try to get out of the way, which only made Kamini moan as the rope between her legs was pulled by Tania’s wrists, and she in turn pulled on the rope pressing on Tania.
“Plsdnttddths,” Tania moaned, but Naheed ignored her pleas and the moans from Kamini as he continuer the assault for several minutes, the others wondering what was going on as Riya stared in horror at Sonia. She could only nod, unable to speak as he groped at the two girls, making them moan as their bodies responded to the pressure on their crotches and breasts.
Eventually, Sonia had to bite her bottom lip as both girls screamed into their gags, then hung exhausted as he turned his attention to Aleena and Saziya. She tried to block out their moans and calls, but to little effect as they soon became aroused by his assault, and then screamed in turn.
Riya could only sit mutely as he turned his attention to Ashifa, as she groaned and twisted behind her, making her squirm as well as the rope rubbed against her womanhood, making her moans block out Ashifa’s screams and then silence. Naheed knelt in front of her, his smile angering her even more as he started to grope her chest, and she closed her eyes, trying to block out the feelings that he only encouraged with his fingers pushing in, his lips on her neck and chest, then moving down as she heard the muted panting of the other girls….
Sonia remained silent throughout this, watching as he eventually blindfolded Riya and walked over to her. “As for you, teacher,” he whispered, “one word, and I kill them all, understand?”
Sonia nodded as he unfastened her bra behind her back and pulled the cups down, his rough hands sinking into her flesh as he groped her, and then his lips kissing and sucking on her already firm nipples. As the other six moaned and moved round, Sonia had to bear the assault on her in silence, stifling the groans that were building inside her as Naheed started to nibble and suck on her chest, making her buck in response.
He then moved down, and as she felt his lips on her crotch she whispered “please gag me, or I may scream.”
“No,” was his only response, and Sonia almost hide to bite her tongue to stop the moans of fear and pleasure escaping from her mouth as he brought her to the edge of release. When he stopped, she opened her eyes, only to see the most horrifying of looks in his eyes as he forced himself into her, his cock throbbing as he moved to and fro.
“This is it, I’m going to die,” she thought as he fucked her, her body responding despite the fear and hurt as he finally exploded within her, and she felt her own orgasm released.
“That was good,” Naheed said as he pulled a rolled up scarf between Sonia’s lips, gagging and then blindfolding her before she felt him bind her ankles and legs. She lay there, unable to move as the door opened and closed, the lock turning as they were left there…
Sonia’s eyes snapped open. As she looked round, she could see it was still dark, but she could also hear voices on the other side of the door. Somehow, she managed to shuffle close enough to hear…
“The boat is here, wife- I should be back by 8 to take them to the safe house.”
“Good – did you have fun earlier?”
“I did – thank you for understanding.”
“Do you not fear they may tell of you.”
“There is no chance of that – there is going to be an accident and an explosion. Tragic, but they will all die before they get to the safe house. Now come – there are some things I need you to do for me…”
As the footsteps receded, Sonia broke into a cold sweat, shaking her head as the blindfold slipped down and around her neck. She allowed her eyes time to adjust to the gloom, and then saw Riya sitting back to back with Ashifa. She managed to get to her feet, jumping over to them and kneeling before using her teeth to pull their blindfolds off.
Riya looked at the fear in Sonia’s eyes and said “Whtsstt?”
“Wffgttgtfr – nndees?”
As Sonia looked at Ashifa, she followed her eyes to the corner of the room and shuffled over, wondering what she was trying to tell her. As she did so, her knee hit the sharp stone and she stifled a yelp, her eyes widening as she saw it.
“Huuclfrclfrgrl,” she said as she managed to pick the stone up with her hands, then shuffle back and start to saw at the ropes holding the two of them together. As she did so, she heard Aleena say “Mama, are you all right?”
She looked over to see the girl looking over Saziya’s shoulder, her gag and blindfold around her neck. Nodding, she indicated to her to try and remove the blindfold and gag from her partner, as Tania started to work her own blindfold off.
Eventually, she managed to separate Ashifa and Riya, the older woman kneeling forward as she sawed at the ropes around the girl’s wrists. They soon parted, and she hugged her teacher before removing her gag.
“We don’t have much time,” Sonia whispered as she looked at everyone, while Riya was untied. “The man, Naheed, has gone on the boat, but we need to fight back, and we need to fight back this morning.”
“How,” Aleena said, “There are two of them…”
“… and seven of us. I have a plan – we’ll pretend to still be secured, and when one of them comes in we jump them. It’s usually one of them who comes in first to check on us.”
“And if they both come?”
“Then we still try. Are you with me?”
The girls nodded as Sonia was untied by Riya. “Good – but it means some discomfort before we can do this. We need to regag and blindfold you four – but it will not be for long. All right?”
As the door opened, Sonia raised her head and looked at the door from her position against the wall. She could see through the cloth over her eyes one of the female guards come in, and set her rifle against the wall by the door, before she went out and returned with a basket containing bottles of water. She set the basket in the middle of the room, before looking at Riya and Ashifa sat back to back. They seemed to be secured, so she walked over to Tania and Kamini, reaching up to untie the ropes.
“Got you, you bastard,” Riya said as she wrapped her arm round the guard’s neck and pulled her back, forcing her to the floor as Ashifa and Sonia stood up. Walking to the door, Sonia picked up the gun and kicked the door shut, before pointing the gun at the guard.
“Now, you bitch,” she whispered in Arabic, “It’s our turn. Strip – and pray I stay in a good mood…” The guard looked at the grim smile on Sonia’s face, before she nodded and removed the burka, revealing her light jeans and top before she started to take her top off,
“Where are you sister,” the other guard called out as she approached the sleeping room. Her sister had been gone for an hour now, and she was starting to get worried.
Those fears were justified as she opened the door and saw her sister kneeling on the floor, a thick scarf pulled between her lips as she looked up. Her hands were pulled behind her back, and her arms tied to her side with rope around her belly, as well as below and above her chest.
Riya was standing behind her, smiling as she pointed the rifle at the bound woman’s head. “Good morning,” she said politely, “drop the gun or I drop your sister.” The guard looked at her bound comrade, before letting her arm drop to the side, Ashifa grabbing the gun as Sonia stood in front of her.
“Strip,” she ordered her in Arabic, “and pray Allah shows you more mercy than your husband showed me.” The guard removed her burka, and then her clothes, before Sonia and Ashifa bound her upper body with ropes to the muted cheers of the other four. As they did so, Riya made the first captive lie on the floor, pulling her bound ankles back and securing them to her chest ropes.
As the second guard was also hogtied by Sonia, Ashifa and Riya freed the other four, their hugs and kisses of appreciation enveloping them as they did so.
“We’re not out of danger yet girls,” Sonia said as she stood up, “what do we have in the way of clean clothes?”
Looking in her bag, Aleena pulled out a dark blue salwar. “Looks like our outfits for the reception – well, the one we should have been at last night,” she said with a shrug.
“They will do – wash, do what you must, and then dress and bring whatever they had lined up for breakfast in here.”
As Kamini and Saziya left the room, Sonia looked at their two captives. “They are young, so you will live,” she said quietly, “but if it was just me and Riya…”
The two women nodded – they understood the meaning of her message.
“Amazing how that Army training comes back,” Riya said as she looked at the teacher. “Well done.”
Sonia nodded, before saying “We’re not out of the woods yet, but at least we have the advantage for now. Our first priority must be to eat and drink – and then we will plan.”
“That’s better,” Ashifa said as she finished her bottle of water. She was dressed, as all of them were, in salwars that were tight, but at least covered them. Hers was pink, as opposed to the green one on Tania and the purple one Kamini was wearing.
Aleena and her mother were dressed in blue, Riya’s was sleeveless with silver stripes, while her daughters was a darker shade. Saziya was wearing a light blue one with a white stripe around her neck, while finally Sonia had put on a light yellow one, her cleavage visible even with the scarf around her neck.
“All right, so we’re free on the island,” Kamini said as she looked at the two hogtied women struggling on the floor, “but how do we get off here? We need a boat for that.”
“And there is going to be one here – at about eight,” Sonia said as she looked at their captives. Walking over, she pulled the gag from her mouth and said in Arabic “Tell us what you were meant to do before the boat arrived.”
“We were to make you change into those outfits, bind you and be waiting with you at the landing stage. Then you would be taken to the shore for release.”
“Liar,” Sonia hissed, “We were to be killed, but I do not think that will happen. Instead, you, your husband, your sister and any others will enjoy my hospitality. And my hospitality is of a standard to match yours.”
The woman whimpered as Sonia stood up. “We’re going to play a game of surprise for the boat when it arrives – we will be there to meet them. It means you will need to be bound and gagged one last time, but when we are done, we can leave this place forever.”
“We have some time – you may as well look round as free girls and see what you can find for the other side of the river. As for you two…” Sonia looked at Riya, who nodded as she left the room for a few minutes.
“There – this will work from a distance.”
Sonia pushed the pair of panties into the second guard’s mouth and pulled the tightly rolled scarf between her teeth while Riya crossed her wrists behind her and tied them as tightly as she could. She was wearing the blue sleeveless top and black leggings that Riya had worn earlier in the week, while her sister was wearing a black and white striped top with knee length black shorts.
“All right girls – are you ready,” Riya said as she looked at the five students.
“Ready mama,” Aleena said as she twisted her bound wrists round. They watched as Riya and Sonia slipped on the burkas, and then collected the guns, before they all walked down to the landing stage.
“It’s almost like a school trip,” Kamini said as they reached the wooden jetty, then waited as the two older women helped them to kneel.
“Only you could make trying to escape after being held hostage for five days sound like a day trip,” Kamini said as Riya and Sonia bound their elbows together behind their backs, their ankles, and their legs above their knees. Sonia then used black cloths to blindfold the five girls, while Riya used two pillowcases to block the sight of the two guards.
“This is almost exciting,” Saziya said as she twisted her head around. “How much longer do you think it will be before we can get out of these ropes?”
“Not soon enough,” Tania said quietly, “but I will endure for the sake of all of us.
The guards were mumbling something in Arabic as Riya pushed them in the back, while Sonia looked to the far side of the river. She could see a dot on the horizon, slowly getting bigger. “Language,” she said as she looked at the two hooded women, “don’t forget I can understand what you say.”
“Here they come,” she said as she smiled, then nodded to Riya. “Time for you to play the hostage one last time,” she said as she gagged the five girls, and then handed a rifle to Sonia, the two women smiling under their veils as the boat got closer and closer.
Sonia saw Naheed waving from the boat, and waved back as it came to the side of the jetty, Naheed jumping out and securing the ropes to the mooring point. “Excellent – all ready to go for a little ride,” he said as the boat pilot got out as well, “who is going to be first – perhaps you mu…”
He stared at the woman kneeling on the jetty, not noticing Riya as she walked to stand between the two men and the boat, before raising her rifle and saying “Right, you two bastards, on your knees, hands behind your head.”
As they both slowly knelt, Naheed smiled and said “Oh well played, ladies, well played – but how do you know I do not have someone waiting on the other side.”
“Because I heard you tell them you were coming alone this morning,” Sonia said to him in Arabic, his eyes widening as he heard this. “I should kill you right here and now, but there are innocents here, so you live – for now.” Looking behind them, she then said “Bind them, Riya – the girls have been tied and gagged more than enough today.”
She waited until both men had their wrists bound behind their backs before untying the girls, and then releasing the ropes from the female guards legs. “Get up,” Sonia said with a smile, “and walk – this is now your prison.”
“If you insist,” Naheed said before he looked at his wife. “It appears we have been bested,” he said, the woman nodding as they were forced to start to walk up the path.
The party walked back to the temple, and walked into the main entrance. “Go and get as many supplies as you can carry,” Riya said to the girls, before she untied one of the females and the boat pilot. “You two – strip, then face each other. You need to have a taste of what we have suffered.”
The offered no resistance, removing their clothes before they were tied as tightly as the party had been the previous night – only the woman getting the crotch rope – and then tied face to face, before their mouths were stuffed with dirty panties and then cleave gags tied on. As Riya then wrapped duct tape around their heads and over their mouths, Sonia untied Naheed and his wife.
“I should kill you for what you did to those girls, never mind to me,” she said as she pointed the gun at them, “but I am merciful. Strip and then you can tie your wife up…”
When the girls returned, they found Naheed and the other guard lying on their sides on the floor, facing each other, Naheed’s wrists tied behind his wife’s back and then to her wrists, which in turn were tied to a crotch rope. They were surrounded in bands of rope holding them together, and silver bands encircled their heads, covering their mouths.
“Right – we need to get to the other side,” Sonia said as she looked at the group. “Who knows how to pilot this type of boat.”
“I will,” Ashifa said as the light started to fade, “but we need to move fast.”
“Don’t try to escape,” Riya said as she kicked Naheed, then left the courtyard, the other two kneeling and facing each other as the seven of them descended to the jetty. Climbing into the boat, Riya untied the mooring ropes and got in as the boat set off over the Nile.
“How do we know which direction to sail in,” Kamini said, but as if in reply there was a loud explosion on the far bank, and the dark sky was illuminated by the sight of a burning truck.
“That might work,” Ashifa said as she steered the boat in that direction, Sonia holding herself and shivering as they got closer. Eventually, the boat ran onto the ground on the far bank, the five girls and two women looking over the river at the dim shape of the island in the twilight.
“What now,” Saziya said as she looked at the burning vehicle.
“Now,” Sonia said as she fetched some cans from the boat, and a large knife, “we eat, and then we walk – there must be a village somewhere around here….”
The seven year old girl was sitting on the stone step at the entrance to her house, playing with a doll when she saw the shapes in the distance. As they came closer, she could see that it was a group of women, dressed in brightly coloured tunics and pants, but they did not look like locals.
“Father,” she called into the house, “can you come and see this please?”
“What is it child,” her father said as he came out, and looked in the distance. He watched the women come closer, and walked out to meet them. As he did so, he realized he had seen them somewhere before…
“Please,” Sonia said as she saw the man approach them, “We need to call the police and tell them we are free. Do you have a telephone or a radio?”
He stared at them, and said “You… You are the women who have been on the television, the ones who were taken from Cairo?”
Sonia nodded and said “Yes, we are. Can you help us please?”
He turned and shouted “Prepare food and water – we have guests,” the girl running into the house as he took Sonia by the arm. “Come,” he said “Come – we can call for the authorities from my house, but you look as if you have been travelling all night. You must rest until they come.”
Sonia nodded, then turned to the other six and said “We are safe now, I believe – come on.”
“KAMINI!! WHERE ARE YOU?”
“Father,” Kamini said as she stood up at the shout, then ran to the door and into the arms of her father as he came in. “Oh thanks be- you are safe, you are all safe,” he said as he looked at the others. “Where were…”
“We will explain all later,” Sonia said, “for now, we need to tell you where we were and get a group of police sent there. We were in a temple, in the river – about how far from here?”
“Ten miles further downstream, I believe,” the man said as he shook the hand of Kamini’s father, “in the middle of the river.”
He nodded, then hugged and kissed his daughter again. “Come – we have cars waiting to take you back to a hospital in Cairo. Your ordeal is over.”
“Oh thank you, Father,” Kamini said as she started to weep, “but it is Riya and Sonia who are the real heroes.”
He looked at the two women, and nodded as he said “Thank you…” The two women nodded as they were embraced by the other four girls, too choked up with tears of joy to speak.
Epilogue – one week later
The school cheered as the five girls walked back into the assembly hall, accompanied by Riya and Sonia.
“Welcome back girls,” the head said as she embraced each of them, “and do not worry – we will not ask you to tell of what happened. We are just grateful you are all home safe and sound. I promise you we will not hold such a competition again.”
“No – you must,” Kamini said, “or else they have won. You must.”
“Very well then,” the head said quietly, “Now, come – sit and listen. We wish to welcome you back in our own way.”
The five girls sat, holding each other’s hands as the school choir began to sign to them. Whatever else, they were friends now for life – forever.