Ripping Yarns






That’s all I’ve heard for the last ten minutes.  Rip, Rip, Rip.  And with each new flaming rip, a new measure of constriction on me.  I’ve no idea how the hell this is happening, what the hell is going on, and most importantly of all what the fuck is going to happen next!


All right, all right, calm yourself down, try to rationalise what’s happened.  It’s only been twenty minutes since you stuck the disc into the machine and started it playing after all.  I’d been told it was a real classic, a treasure from the years after Monty Python, and as the title of Tomlinson’s Schooldays came up I realised this was something different.  I’d settled down with a bowl of chips, and had got to the scene with the headmaster leading prayers when he said this.


Oh Lord, we give thee humble and hearty thanks for this, thy gift of discipline, knowing that it is only through the constraints of others that we come to know ourselves, and only through true misery can we find true contentment.


That was the moment everything went blank.  I swear, I had not heard a single bloody thing when I caught a glimpse of this scarf coming over my head and then the whole world went black.  Whoever it was pulled the material tightly over my eyes, and before I got a chance to scream out a wad of cloth was stuck in my mouth.


That was when I heard the first rip.  Something was stuck over my lips, pulling at my skin and holding my mouth firmly closed.  Rip, and another piece of something went over that.  Rip, Rip, Rip, and my whole lower jaw felt as if it was being pulled away from my jawbone.


No no no, that's not the point. That is not a model. It'll be hell if this comes out at speech day exhibition. You're a very stupid boy building icebreakers like this, Tomkinson.

 Yes, sir.

Now I won't say anything to the headmaster if you can get it down to a minimum of four foot.

 But sir! There's fifteen hundred tons of steel in this...

 Do you want to come and see the headmaster with me?

 No, sir.

 Well, melt it down at once.


I heard this male voice saying “Get a move on with that” as I was forced to lie down on my stomach and my wrist were pulled behind my back.


Rip, and I felt something been wrapped around my wrists.  I tried to ball my hands into fists – I’d heard that can sometimes provide resistance – but whoever was doing this was too strong and just pulled them more tightly together.  The ripping continued as they were more and more tightly secured, and I wondered what the hell was happening.


Somebody forced me to my feet, and I heard the ripping again as my arms were pulled against my side.  On the television, the next episode started.


It were hard to accept I were boring. Especially with my interest in rain fall.


I was pushed back onto the floor, and someone grabbed hold of my ankles and held them together.  I could hear the squeak of the leather boots I was wearing under the skin as the ripping noise started again.  My ankles were pulled together tightly, and then my legs just above my knees.  I was grateful I was wearing the grey leggings – if I had bare skin, whatever they were using was going to hurt even more.



That was a moment again, and at least the ripping noise has stopped for now.  Someone pushed their hand on my shoulder, and told me to sit still and quiet while they did their job, and then nothing except low mumbling.  As I sit here, wondering what the hell really is going on, the program continues to play.


That night, as we talked excitedly about shovels and precipitation, Arthur and I decided we had so much in common, that we would form a gang, dedicated to pursuing our common interests. Arthur, with his long criminal record, was loathe to divulge his name, so we called ourselves... the Eric Olthwaite Gang.


“That’s a good one – but we need to get started,” the man said, and he closed the door on me.  I know I’m not alone in here – I can hear someone breathing heavily – so I’m under guard for some reason.


Now, however, there are new sounds.  I can hear furniture moving in the room next door, and then ripping, but this time it sounds like carpet taken up rather than anything else.  The noise continued as the episodes passed over, with tales of prisoner of war camps to horror stories.  Many times I wanted to laugh, but I dare not – the cloth in my mouth was drying me out, and besides the last thing I needed to do was choke to death.


The ripping had been replaced with the sound of hammering and tearing – almost as if they were ripping the floor up.  That was my first clue to what was actually going on, but I didn’t get the chance to think about it any more because somebody’s mobile phone went off.


The worst thing of all is that I have no idea just who it is in here with me.  I know it’s one person, and I’m guessing it’s a man, but apart from that, nothing.  I’ve no idea what he’s doing, what his intentions are, or even if he’s good looking.


Oh my lord – if I’m worried about what he looks like, I’m in real trouble here – hang on.


The noise has stopped, and I listen in silence, then horror as I heard the front door opening.  I did not realise so much time had passed, but if that was...


“Monica, are you home?  There’s a ..... OHMYGODCHRISTONABIKEPLEASEDONTDONT.....”


That was when the ripping started again.


Truth be told, I was jolly fed up with being a hero. Having to save the country two or three times a week meant I could get nothing done at all.


The door was pushed open, and I could hear Jenny crying as she was brought into the room.  The ripping noise started again, and I realised that like me, she was being secured and rendered unable to interfere.  I thought of her as she had gone out earlier for her date – the green backless dress with the paisley pattern, and her brown t-shirt visible where the back was exposed, and her fawn leather boots that she had bought that day.  Two hundred quid they had cost – and the chances were good now, as the ripping continued, that they were being ruined by whatever was holding us immobile.


“Come on – we’re through,” the man said as I felt the bump of Jenny being forced onto the floor.  I could also hear the breathing of the person in the room with us, slightly faster and deeper now, so I knew even trying to make my way over to there was probably a mistake. 


Sitting here, I’m beginning to realise how much they must tone down those reconstructions of crimes you see on television.  Given the damp patch I can feel between my legs, god alone knows what Jenny and I look like just now, but I wouldn’t want it recreated to the last detail if this was featured on there.


God, that’s a fucking depressing thought – this being on Crimewatch UK.


Enough of that – my flatmate and I have landed in the middle of what I think is a raid on the betting shop downstairs, if I’m right about those thumping sounds been somebody breaking through the floor of my bedroom.  I can’t hear anything else from there now – just the breathing of whoever they left to watch over us.




I hadn’t even noticed him standing up, but from Jenny’s muffled cries he must be doing something more to her.  I wish to hell I knew what was going on, but the ripping sound is continuing – and it sounds like she’s in some pain.  If only I could get myself free from this...


I hear the door being thrown open, and the man swearing at whoever was in there with us.  I don’t understand what they’re saying – it sounds foreign, not English – but they obviously disagree on what he was doing, whatever it was.  This goes on for a few minutes, until I hear tow more sets of footsteps and something is placed next to my feet.  I can tell it’s another person by the way they move when I push my feet forward, but who it is I have absolutely no idea.


Funny – I heard the front door to the flat close, and now everything has gone quiet, apart from the television and the sobbing of one – no two people.  I listen for a minute to the dialogues coming from the set.


You know, I often think that if people had been a little more kind to each other, we could have avoided many of the wars which have plagued society through the ages.

 Rubbish, dear.

 Well... maybe... but just suppose for a minute that when Wallenstein reached the gates of Magdeburg in 1631, instead of razing the city to the ground and putting its inhabitants to the sword, he'd said... "What a lovely place! How lucky you are to live here. I live in Sweden... you must come and see me some time." Just think what a difference it would have made - he'd have gone down in history as a nice chap, instead of the Butcher of Magdeburg.

 Eat up dear, and stop talking piffle.


“Stuff the piffle,” I think to myself as I start o slide to the right on my bottom, in the direction I believe I can hear Jenny from.  As I start to move, whoever it is that was brought in later seems to be urging me, calling muffled sounds that sound like “kep gng, kp gng.”  It seems to take an age, and the television has gone quiet, but eventually I can feel somebody next to me.  From the yelp, I know it’s Jenny, and I put my head on her shoulder to let her know I’m here.


After a while, I muster up the courage to see if I can get whatever is covering my eyes off.  The television is now showing the news channel that was on before I sat down to watch the DVD, and they’re telling me it’s nearly midnight now.  Taking my head off Jenny’s shoulder, I let myself slip down until the back of my head is resting against the cushion of whatever is behind us, and start to rub my head up and down.  I can feel now a knot pressing against my neck, and slowly, slowly I can feel it starting to slip up over my eyes as the first crack of light from the room starts to come in.


It takes a good fifteen minutes, but eventually I manage to lose the scarf over my head and I sit myself up to see what has happened.


Jenny is indeed sitting next to me, but to my great distress the top of her dress had been pulled down over the tape, and her sleeves pulled down so that there is bare skin between the sleeves of her t-shirt and where the dress sleeves are down around her elbow.  She is encircled in band after band of silver duct tape, including around her head, covering her mouth and eyes and trapping her long red hair against her scalp.  I can see tear stains between the two bands that encircle her head, and I nudge her to let her know I’m still there.


Looking down myself, I can see the same thing has been done to me, although they don’t seem to have been as cruel to me in terms of the tape on my face.  The leggings are a goner, but all things considered...


Which reminded me to look up and see who else was in the room.  There was a third woman there, older than both of us and wearing a black dress that came to her knees.  She too was encircled in bands of tape, and staring at us as if she had no idea where she was.


I was about to try and say something intelligible when we all turn our heads to shouts of “Somebody get upstairs.  They came in through the roof.”  We listen, anticipating as the front door is opened with some force and heavy footsteps can be heard.   “In here,” I hear a voice shout as the police arrive and start to free us.  As the tape is taken off the stranger’s mouth, she says “I’m so sorry, girls.  Those men broke into our house, took me hostage and made my husband give them the combination to the safe downstairs, before bringing me with them to stop him calling the police.  I’m so so sorry....”


She breaks down into tears as another officer starts to slowly unravel the tape around Jenny’s head, and a third takes the tape and cloth away from my mouth.