The first story

I had no idea where I was – only that I was on this hard wooden seat and had no way of getting myself off it.  Oh sure, I could have stood up, but something was holding my waist and arms tightly against the cold back, and my wrist were fixed down to the arms of the seta with what felt like a very strong tape.  My ankles were also fixed to the legs of the chair, making me – well, immobile.

All I knew was some time earlier – I had no idea when or how long ago – I had been walking towards my car in the underground car park.  It had been a hard day at work, and I needed a hot bath and a glass of something not so mildly alcoholic.  More than that, my feet were killing me.  My Jimmy Choos had not been broken in yet, but the boss insisted on high dress standards.

Anyway, before I even got to take my car keys out of my pocket, I was taken from behind by somebody strong, their arm around my throat and pressing down.  I tried to shake them off, but those Ju Jitsu lessons?  Worse than useless.  Before I knew it, my eyes were closing and then I woke up in that place.

I had no idea where I was – there was some sort of cloth over my eyes, and I could feel something pulling not just on my hair, but also on my jaw.  My tongue felt like it was being held down with a wet mass of wool, and my throat was drier than the Gobi desert.  I tried shouting and screaming, but it was no good – if there was anyone there, they were not answering.

Well, I knew there was someone there – I could hear them talking quietly and moving about, but they would not talk to me.  I’m telling you, I was getting more and more scared as time passed by.

At some point, however, I noticed that the damp, dank smell had gone, and it was as if I was sitting in a meadow, the smell of fresh grass in my nostrils.  I wondered what had happened – had someone suddenly plugged in an air freshener?  That wasn’t the strangest part though.

It was when I felt what seemed like a child’s hand on my arm, and I heard the voice of a little girl whispering in my ear.  “Don’t panic,” she said, “Everything is going to be all right.  Help is on the way.”  There was a little giggle, and then – nothing for at least ten minutes.  In myself, however, I knew to stop struggling, to relax and wait.

I didn’t have to wait long.  I heard the sound of wood breaking, loud shouts and running, and then whatever was covering my eyes was taken off.  I blinked and saw an armed officer standing there, telling me everything was going to be all right.

It was only later, when I had been taken to hospital and was being interviewed, that I asked who the girl was who talked to me.  The officers looked at each other, shrugged and told me there was no girl – only the four strong gang that had snatched me for ransom.


The second tale

From the room next door, I could hear Ivy screaming, begging to be left alone.  The man standing over me just laughed as I shook about, trying desperately to go to help her, before pressing the blade of his knife against my neck and ordering me to shut the fuck up, as he put it.

We had been sitting watching Mamma Mia on our DVD player when they had burst in.  They could not have been more than twenty years old, but they made up for their youth with aggression.  One of them grabbed Ivy and pulled her hair back, while the other told me no to do anything unless they told me to.

I watched as the young yob with Ivy pulled her hands behind her back, and as I could feel some sort of cord going round my own I presumed her was tying her up too.  They then stuffed a cloth into Ivy’s mouth, and as one of them forced her out of the room the other took a knife, held it against my throat and demanded to know where my cash and jewels were.

Of course I had no choice – I showed him where my purse was, and then told him the rest was upstairs in my bedroom.  As we walked up to it, I could see Ivy lying on her bed in her room, the cloth in her mouth hanging out as she watched the other lout throwing stuff out of her drawers.  The front of her blouse had started to come undone as she struggled, her skirt riding up as well.

Well, it wasn’t long before I was lying on my side in my own bed, my ankles tied together over the cuffs of my pants and my legs tied above my knees.  The lad with me had taken one of my good headscarves an d was pulling it into my mouth, forcing my mouth open and stifling nay sounds I made.  He found my jewellery, and put it in his pocket as I listened to the sounds coming from my daughter’s room.

As her screams grew louder, I started to try and cry out as well – which was why the knife was against my throat.  As I lay there, however, feeling my pants grow wet, the strangest thing happened.  Instead of the smell of stale cabbage I was expecting, I smelt wild meadow, and looking to the side of the young man I saw the most unexpected of sights.

There was a young girl standing there, with blonde hair and blue eyes, wearing a blue satin party dress with a white sash around her waist.  She looked at me, smiling as she did so, and put her finger to her lips.  I looked back at the intruder, but it was as if he hadn’t seen her at all.  She walked round the bed, Climbed up and leaned over, and I could swear she said quietly to me “Don’t worry – this will all be over soon.”  I blinked, and she was gone.

So was the young man – something had spooked him, and he had run out of the room.  I could hear hurried footsteps on the stairs, and then nothing for a few minutes until there was running and a uniformed officer came in.

When I went downstairs, I saw Ivy sitting there, a blanket over her shoulders.  She looked up at me and said one thing.

“Did you see her as well?”




The third tale

It was only when all the shouting and screaming had finished that I realised just out of place that experience was.  Not the robbery, I mean – the other thing that happened.

It was getting to the end of the day when they came in, shouting and screaming at everybody to get down.  I was behind the counter, doing the final tally on the till, and did exactly what my training told me to do – stand back and raise my hands.

There were four of them wearing pig masks and carrying sawn off shotguns.  Two of them told the two customers still in the bank to lie face down, while the other two ordered the manager to open the door to the rear of the branch.  As they came in, they ordered us all to lie face down and put our hands behind my back.

It was difficult enough for me to do that – I was wearing a pencil skirt that did not allow a lot of movement for me rather than walking, but for Daisy, the senior teller next to me, it was even worse.  She has a touch of arthritis, so for her to get onto her knees and then on her stomach was a real effort, even with her flowing peasant skirt.

We lay there as, one by one, our wrists and ankles were secured with zip ties and our mouths covered with strips of duct tape.  As they then forced the manager into the back to open the safe, I turned my head and tried to reassure Daisy that everything would be all right.  I could see the tears starting to go down her cheeks as we lay there, not knowing what to do or say.

Outside I could hear the other two shouting at the customers, and we were all terrified as well.  I know I was, because I felt as if I was going to do something very messy – and then it happened.

There was a smell like sweet grass, and I looked up to see a young girl standing there, in a party dress, looking down at us and smiling.  She was – well as cute as a button, right down to the white ankle socks and black shoes and the little bow in her hair.  I didn’t remember seeing a girl when the gunmen came in, but there had been a young woman up front, so I wondered if she had managed to come in with the others.

I tried to tell her to run away, and looking to my side I could see that Daisy was trying to do the same thing.  Instead, she walked right over to us and touched my arm, whispering that everything was going to be all right.  I turned my head at that point as I heard the gunmen coming back through, and when I looked back – she had gone.

That was when the bullhorn from outside told them they were surrounded, and should give themselves up.  You know the rest – the shootout, and the miracle that apart from the bank robber who was killed, nobody else was hurt.

Strange thing, though – talking to the others afterwards, they swore they had not seen a little girl.  I knew I had, and Daisy agreed, but nobody else...



The fourth tale

I was terrified – I admit it.  My pants were soiled, there were damp patches on my crotch and on my chest where I had been struggling, and I just wanted the day to end, but there was no end in sight.

They’d grabbed me as I came in, and within ten minutes I was lying on the floor.  I had not even had time to take my sheepskin jacket off before they had pulled my arms behind my back and tied my wrists and elbows together, forcing my chest out as the front of my coat fell to my side.  Rolling me over, I had to watch as they pulled my ankles together, the white rope showing up over the black suede of my boots, and tied first them, then my legs below my knees, and then above.  The worst indignity, however, was when they made me kneel and passed some rope around my waist, pinning my wrists against the small of my back before passing it down between my legs and back up the front, the cords pulling into my crotch as they tied ends off. 

They pushed me back down, and I got my first good look at my captors.  They were girls – teenage girls in bomber jackets and those sill fur lined boots they wear nowadays, who were laughing and joking about what they had done.  They stuffed a dirty rag into my mouth, wrapped a bandage around my lips and jaw, and pushed me back onto the floor to lie there while they went off and ransacked my house.

I tried to get loose, but worse than the feeling of helplessness was the fact the rope they had tied between my legs – well, it was making my feel a little more than aroused.  A mixture of terror and pleasure seemed to be building within me, and I wasn’t sure whether to scream mutely or moan.

I could hear them tearing the place up, but just as I was about to give into despair there was the most wonderful smell. I wondered if they had left the back door open when they broke in, but looking up I saw this little girl standing there, in a blue dress with a white sash, looking at me and smiling.

I turned around, wondering how the hell she had got in, but looking back I saw her smile and kneel down beside me.  She whispered into my ear “Don’t give up” before standing up and skipping out of the room.  Suddenly, I felt more relaxed than I had been, as if all the fear and terror had slipped away.

That was when the policeman came in and saw me lying there.  Speaking into his radio, he came over as I saw two others running up the stairs.  “We saw the open door,” he said as he started to untie the ropes.  “There have been a number of steaming burglaries, so I called a couple of colleagues and we came in.”

As he removed the gag, I said “Where did the little girl go to?”  “What girl,” was his response as I saw the other two bring the girls down the stairs.  He must have thought I was hallucinating, but I swear she was there, I swear it.


“So, what do you think?”

He put the files down and looked at the two officers sitting opposite him.

“Well, all these women were placed under severe psychological trauma.  It may be that they created this as a way of calming themselves, of controlling their terror.  After all, what could be more calming that the sight of a little girl?”

“You’ve never seen that film – the one with the vampire kid, have you?”

Laughing, he leaned forward and looked at the officers.

“Seriously, the human mind can do very unusual things when it is placed under stress.  Now, I agree there is a high degree of coincidence in t he description of the girl they saw, but it may be they have all seen the same photo, read the same article, so that image is in all their memories.  Seriously, officers, I think this is just a trick their minds had played on them.”

He stood up and shook their hands as they prepared to depart.  “If you get any more sightings, do let me know,” he said as they nodded and left the office, closing the door behind them.  Sitting down behind his desk, he looked again at the files and nodded.

This was exactly what his wife and daughter had told him, after the night their home was robbed.  When they thought they were in greatest danger, this girl had appeared and calmed them down.

The one difference was she had given a name, and that name was Hope.





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