Do you want
to know what one of the most uncomfortable and disgusting sounds I have ever
heard is? Rope rubbing against wet suede, that's what. It sends
shivers down my spine when I hear it, and right now I'm hearing it a lot, as I
try to free my legs from their constriction.
All I bloody well wanted to do was phone for a recovery van as well - and here I am in the middle of what would pass for a reconstruction on Crimewatch UK - except this is no reconstruction, this is the real thing. After all, those guns are real, and the two women sitting in the chairs looking at me are as frightened as I am.
Perhaps I'd better start at the beginning - after all, this is not the first time this has happened to me. It was a few years back when I walked into an open door of the house next door, and found myself hogtied next to the women f the house while those masked fiends took the men away - but that was in the past.
"You're never going to do that again, Hettie Cooper," I said to myself at the time, and I meant it. Hell, the door wasn't even open this time - at first anyway.
There I was, making my way back home from the office in the pouring rain when the classic trope happens to me - I hit something in the road, and my tyre bursts. In the pouring rain. In the middle of the night. And me without a spare for once, thanks to the local yobs who knifed my other front tyre yesterday.
Now I know what you're thinking - get on the mobi and call that way. So, of course, given this is playing out like a bad 80's horror movie already, it makes perfect sense that this was the moment my phone decided to die on me.
So to recap - dark night, pouring rain, flat tyre, and no phone or spare tyre. There was only one thing for it - get out and see if I could find a house that I could ask to use the telephone in.
I was wearing a black leather jacket over a mustard coloured jumper dress, black leggings and knee length brown suede boots - but nothing with a hood, so O had no choice but to get out and trudge down the road, hoping I would find a farmhouse or something. After an hour or so of walking round, stumbling seemingly through every single puddle on the road and been splashed by the ignoramuses who did not see me waving at them, I saw a light in the distance.
As I got closer, I could see that it was a cottage, set some way off the main road, with a thatched roof and lights on in the front windows. By now I didn't care who was in the cottage - I was soaking wet and needed to make the call, so I walked up the path and banged on the front door.
Looking back now, I realise it was a big mistake, but come on - would you have done any differently? Anyway, there I was, rain dripping off my head as the door opened and I see this grey haired woman, wearing a black dress with a shawl around her shoulders.
"I'm really sorry to disturb you," I said quietly, "but my car has broken down, and my mobile has died on me. Could I possibly use your telephone to call for a breakdown van, and then I'll leave you alone?"
I could see the confused look in her eyes, and for a moment I was beginning to wonder if my luck had really decided to turn bad and I had found the one non-English speaking person in the area. "Please," she whispered, "Go. I do not have a phone I can let you use."
"OH COME ON," I shouted in a real sense of exasperation. "Lady, I am having the night from hell, and you may just have put the cap on it. You must have something I can use to call for help - please."
Call for help - funny. That, now that I have time to reflect, but at that moment I even failed to see how frightened the older woman was. Finally, she said "You had better come in," and held the door open for me.
"Thanks," I said as I came in, and she closed the door behind us. That was when I noticed two things. The first was the telephone, standing on a table by the wall, but with the wire pulled out from the wall.
The second was the big, burly man standing behind the door, with a very heavy looking piece of wood in his hand, who said "We can't have anyone calling for help, can we? Both of you, in the front room."
"I'm sorry," the older woman said as we were both pushed forward, "but I did tell you to go."
I just nodded, as I tried to take in what I was looking at in the front room. There were two other men there, looking at the three of us - as was a younger woman with black hair falling over her head and shoulders. Or it would have, if it was not pulled away from her face by the black scarf that was pulled between her lips and wrapped around her head. She looked as if she was the same age as me - mid-twenties - but the black garb made her look older.
She was wearing a black dress as well, but in her case it came to - well, I would imagine normally just below her knees, but the way she was sitting in the chair had pulled the hem up to above her knees, exposing the tops of the leather boots she was wearing. The legs they were covering were tied to the front legs of the chair she was sitting in, the white rope clearly visible at her ankles and knees.
As for her upper body, it was ensnared in a web of rope that seemed to wrap itself around her chest and arms, with her hands pulled behind the back of the chair.
"Who's this," one of the two men said as the older woman was pushed towards an empty chair next to the other girl.
"Her car broke down, and she said she was going to call for help."
"For my car," I finally found the courage to answer back, "What the hell have I stumbled into anyway - you look like you've kidnapped these two women."
"We have," the first man said, and as I saw the older woman nod I realised I had stumbled, once again, into a big dollop of steaming manure. I watched as her arms were pulled behind her back and one of the men knelt down behind it.
"I'm so sorry," was all she said as I watched the rope been passed around her upper body, pulling her back into the chair as I was pushed down onto my knees. I was so focused on them I did not realise until it was too late that one of them was tying my own wrists tightly together with rope, the cords squeaking over my wet leather jacket.
"Hey - that hurts," I said as I looked over my shoulder, only to see him take more rope and wrap it round my body, pulling my jacket tightly over my own chest as he fixed my arms tightly to my side. Once he was finished, he made me sit on my bottom and stretch my legs out, as I saw the mottled damp spots on my legs.
"Can I at least take these off," I said quietly, but it was too late - he had already wrapped rope around my ankles and pulled then together in front of me, making - that noise. I didn't help by trying to move my legs to stop him tying them together, the suede against suede even worse than rope against suede.
Once he tied my legs together below my knees, I could see the older woman having her mouth filled by a thick scarf that had been pulled between her lips - closely followed by the taste of silk in my mouth as I was gagged with a third scarf. "Wllfnksalt!" I mumbled as I tried to shift into a more comfortable position - but with little room to move, what was I going to do?
That had been some hours ago, and all I had been able to do was listen to the sounds - the rain falling on the windows, the moans and groans from the other two women, and my bloody boots - even after they dried out, it still squeaked like mad when I tried to move my feet.
Mind you, the same was true of the other two - the older woman was wearing a pair of black felt shirt boots, which rubbed against the leg of the chair her bound ankles were attached to. As for the younger one, she was sitting very still, but the wood of her chair still creaked as she tried to get more comfortable.
The only other sound was the men taking, and I tried to gather what I could from their talk. The two women were the wife and daughter of some bank manager, and had been snatched from a church meeting to force him to open the vault in the morning for the men. The older woman looked at me when I heard this and nodded to confirm it.
The curtains were drawn, but I could see the first sign of daylight outside when two of the men left, with the third sitting down and watching the three of us. We heard a vehicle leaving, and then more silence, save for the traffic outside getting heavier.
I tried moving my wrists, the dull ache in them getting worse, but it was no use - they had tied them too tightly. I was also thirsty as hell, but he was showing no sign of giving us a drink of anything.
The younger girl had eventually fallen asleep, her head lying to one side as a dark stain could be seen between her lips. I thought of waking her up, but I decided against it - I did not want to scare her any more.
Her mother was awake, and was looking at me with more concern than fear. I nodded to show I was all right, and looked at the man, who was looking at something on his phone. A few minutes later, he stood up and walked out, leaving the three of us alone. We looked at each other as we heard something stopping outside, and then driving off again, before silence fell again.
"Cnugtnurrft," she said quietly, and I had the same thought as her. Bracing myself against the wall, I brought my legs back so that my knees were bent and my feet on the floor, before pushing myself up.
It took a few attempts, but eventually I was standing against the wall. "Gdlk," the older woman mumbled as I started to edge myself along the wall, towards the doorway that led to the entrance hall, then out and towards the kitchen - or where I hoped the kitchen was.
Well, it was the kitchen, and I opened a drawer very carefully, looking over my shoulder as I saw various things, but no knives, no scissors. The second drawer, however, revealed a pair of kitchen scissors - scissors I was eventually able to grip in my fingers and start to saw the rope between my wrists with the open blade.
Finally, after what seemed like another eternity, I felt my wrist move, and a few minutes later the rope fell away. I reached up and pulled the scarf out of my mouth, looking at the huge damp patch in the middle, when I heard a woman say "What the hell are you doing in my kitchen?"
I looked up to see a brown haired woman in a long coat looking at me. "Would you believe," I said as I saw her husband stepping out of the room behind her, "I wanted to call for help?" She looked at me, as her husband came in and said "Darling, there are two women tied to our... Oh hello. Is there something I can do for you?"
"Call the police?" I said with a weak smile on my face, before I fainted to the ground.
I woke up a few minutes later to the sight of the woman looking at me, as the other two captives walked into the kitchen. "Are you all right, my dear," the older woman said, and as I nodded I saw a policeman coming in, followed by what was evidentially the home owner.
"Mrs.Carstairs? Your husband is worried sick about you and your daughter - we'll take you to the hospital and he can meet you there."
"Is he all right?"
"Shaken, but fine. And you are?" He looked at me as he said this, and I stammered "You... You may not believe this officer, but I just wanted to call for help..."