Pamela and Janna Crawford were more than just best friends – they were as close as twins. Not surprising, given they were identical twins – five foot eight, slim build, blue eyes and long blonde hair. They were almost impossible to tell apart – Pamela was slightly taller – but Pam and Jan as they were known to one and all were inseparable.
That’s normal for most twins, but Pam and Jan took it to extremes. They dressed the same way, ate the same food, wore the same make-up, and even lived in the same house with pink shaded furniture and accessories. Literally, they did everything together – including being robbed….
It was an early autumn evening, and the sun was just beginning to set as Pam and Jan walked down the road from South Kensington station towards their flat. The wind was starting to have an autumnal chill around it, so both had long tweed coats buttoned up to their neck as they walked along.
“What do you want to do tonight, Pam?” Jan asked as they approached their front door.
“Not sure, Jan – fancy getting a takeaway and watching Mamma Mia?”
“You read my mind, Pam,” Jan said with a laugh as she fished her key out of her handbag and opened the heavy outer door. The two girls walked into the lobby and climbed the old staircase to their third floor apartment. Fishing out the inner key from her handbag, Pam opened the glass fronted door and stood back to let her sister in.
The two girls removed their outer coats, hung them on the coat stand that stood just inside the door and looked at themselves in the mirror. They were wearing light pink silk blouses, tight white pants and black kitten heels, and each had a white scarf tied around their neck. Looking at her reflection, Pam gave a slight smile and turned to her sister.
“I’ll go and phone for the food – you go and get a bottle of wine.”
He had entered the flat about fifteen minutes earlier – climbing up the rear of the building and forcing the window that looked out onto the fire escape – and had been looking for something to drink when the front door opened. He stood silently behind the door, hoping they wouldn’t come into the room and let him get away, but the sight of the door handle being lowered drove that idea out of his mind.
She was a nice looking girl, with sweet smelling blonde hair, but he had no time for niceties. He watched her walk over to the fridge, open the door and pull out a bottle of zinfandel, before closing the door and turning round.
Jan stared at the young man who was standing there looking at her. Any other time he may have looked good – but there was the small matter of him being in their kitchen. She started to speak when he picked up a large knife that was lying on the counter behind him.
“I don’t want to hurt you, so just stay calm,” he said in a quiet voice. “Do you promise not to scream?”
Jan nodded and whispered “yes”.
“Good girl. Now, is there anyone else in the flat?”
“My….. My sister.”
“Well, then, why don’t you take the bottle of wine and introduce me to your sister?”
Taking Jan by the arm, he escorted her out into the corridor.
“They’ll deliver the meal in fifteen minutes, did you get the…..”
Pam looked at the young man who walked in with her sister. He was slightly taller than the two of them, and dressed in dark clothing, but the most striking thing was the way their bread knife glittered in the light of the candles she had just lit.
“Your sister – your twin is just fine. Now, why don’t you both sit down in those chairs and we’ll have a little chat.”
He pulled out a chair from the large table in the room and guided Jan to sit down, then pulled another one out and placed it next to the girl. Pam placed the phone back in the holder and took a seat next to her sister, holding her hand as she did so.
The man sat in a chair and looked at the two girls, twirling the knife in his hand as he did so.
“Did I hear you day something would be delivered in fifteen minutes?”
“Yes – a takeaway meal. So you’d better get out of here now,” Pam said in a defiant voice.
“Oh, I’m not going without anything from here, so we’ll just have to decide how to deal with it. Tell me, do you keep repair stuff in the house – duct tape, that sort of thing.”
“Yes, in the cupboard,” Jan blurted out before she realised what he was saying.
“Well, go and get all the tape you have, and your sister can wait here with me,” the man said as he stood behind Pam. Jan looked at Pam, who nodded, than went off to fetch the rolls of silver tape they kept under the sink.
“Allow me,” the man said as he took the bottle of wine from the table and used a corkscrew to open it, then poured two glasses and handed one to Pam. “You need a drink by the looks of things.”
“Thank you,” Pam said as she took the glass of wine and took a sip. “So, I guess you’re going to tie us up, aren’t you?”
“I am – but not before you and your sister have a drink,” he said as Jan came back in. “Give me that, then sit down and have a glass of wine,” he said as he picked up the second glass.
The two girls sipped nervously at their glasses, and tried to consider what they could do to bring this to an end. The young man, in the meantime, just sat and watched them.
“You rang for the food, right,” he said pointing at Pam, who nodded in reply. “Well then, you had better be able to pay for it. As for you,” he said pointing at Jan, “I want you to take your scarf off.”
“Why?” Jan asked with a quizzical look on her face, but the man just smiled and picked up the knife again.
“Just do it – take it off and fold it into a small square.”
Pam watched her sister take off the scarf from around her neck, and fold it into a small white square. The young man looked at the blonde haired woman, before saying “Open your mouth up real wide, and put the scarf in. All the way – I only want to see a little bit of material between your lips.”
With a shudder, the young girl did as she was asked while her twin sister looked on. She started to stand up, but the man gently pushed her back into the chair. “Hands on your head,” he said and Pam complied as Jan finally closed her mouth, the material pushed in behind her lips.
Taking the duct tape, the man tore a strip off and smoothed it over Jan’s lips, following it up with two more to cover her lower jaw. “Are you going to make me do the same?” Pam asked as her sister turned and blinked her eyes.
“In a little while,” the man said as he placed Jan’s wrists on the arms of the chair and taped them firmly into place. He had just taped her other wrists down when the intercom sounded.
“Not a word,” the intruder whispered as he stood behind Jan, with the knife in his hand. Pam stood up and walked over to the intercom.
“Yu Fong takeaway – I have an order to deliver.”
“Yes, come on up – third floor.”
As she replaced the intercom, Pam turned to see the man take a twenty pound note from his pocket.
“My treat – but no tricks,” he said as he handed her the note, and placed the knife next to her sister’s throat. Pam swallowed, and went to the flat door as the bell sounded.
She returned a few minutes later, and placed the bag on the table as she watched Jan having her ankles taped to the leg of the chair. The intruder stood up and looked at Pam.
“Your turn now – sit down and we’ll talk while I secure you.”
“So. Do you make a living out of this,” Pam said as the man took her left wrist and taped it to the arm of the chair. Jan was still blinking, but Pam shook her head slightly and her sister stopped.
“IT pays some bills,” the man said as he took hold of her other wrists and taped it down to the opposite arm. “I don’t normally meet the occupants of the places I visit, much less two such lovely ladies, but I do need to be undisturbed.
Pam tried to move her wrists as her ankle was placed against the chair leg, but it was held too firmly in place, so she resigned herself to what was happening as her ankles were taped to the chair leg.
The man took hold of a second roll of tape, and wrapped it around Jan’s waist and the back of the chair. As he started to repeat this with Pam, she said “I wonder if you will do me one favour?”
“What would that be?”
“Well, you’re going to gag me in a minute, but when you do will you start the DVD for us to watch? I seriously doubt you will be able to carry that out of the door.”
“That seems fair enough – and it will drown out any sound you make. Now, time to be quiet.”
He removed the scarf from around Pam’s neck, and rolled it into a small ball which he held in front of her mouth. Opening wide, she soon felt the pull of the tape over her mouth as she too was taped over her stuffed mouth.
The two girls watched him as he put the disc into the machine, and then he left the two of them watching the film as he started to search through the drawers of the cupboards in the room. As he did so, he assumed they were silently watching the film – which was half true.
As Pam looked over to her sister, she could see Jan blinking her eyes again. There was a rhythm to the way she was blinking – a mixture of slow and fast – and this time she blinked in response.
“-.-. .- -. / -.-- --- ..- / -... . .-.. .. . ...- . / - .... .. ... ..--..”
“.. / -.- -. --- .-- / - .... .. ... / .. ... / -. --- - / .-- .... .- - / .. / .--. .-.. .- -. -. . -.. / ..-. --- .-. / - --- -. .. --. .... –“
“-.-. .- -. / -.-- --- ..- / -- --- ...- . / .- - / .- .-.. .-.. ..--..”
“-. --- / -....- / .. .----. -- / ... - ..- -.-. -.- / ..-. .- ... - .-.-.- / .... --- .-- / .- .-. . / -.-- --- ..- / -.. --- .. -. --. / .--- .- -. ..--..”
“-- -.-- / .--- .- .-- / .... ..- .-. - ... --..-- / -... ..- - / .. .----. -- / ..-. .. -. . .-.-.- / .-- .... .- - / .- .-. . / .-- . / --. --- .. -. --. / - --- / -.. --- ..--..”
“... .. - / - .. --. .... - --..-- / ... .. ... / -....- / .. / .... .- ...- . / .- -. / .. -.. . .-“
Pam and Jan had family – relations who served in the navy, and from a young age one of their uncles had taught them Morse code. For years now they had used it as a way to communicate silently between them, and now it was proving an unexpected godsend.
They turned their heads round as the young man walked back into the room. In his hand he had a pillowcase that jangled as he put it on the table. Walking over to the girls, he checked the tape to make sure it was holding both of them firmly in place.
“Sorry that I have to leave you like this, girls,” he said as he walked over and pulled the curtains closed, “but I’m sure you’ll find a way out eventually. Hope the takeaway can be re-heated.”
With that, he picked up his sack, turned the lights off, and left the twins in semi-darkness as the fading sun came through the curtains.
The two girls turned their heads to look at each other, but the light had faded enough that it was difficult for them to see each other’s eyes. Pam tried to call out.
“Jn? St stl – m gng t d smthng?”
Jan looked over as her sister started to try and move her chair from side to side. The chairs were sitting on a wooden floor, so that the wood of the chair feet made a scraping sound as Pam slowly moved her chair towards a side table, on which there was standing a table lamp. It was a slow process as the chair moved from side to side, until the room was in near total darkness.
Tipping her chair slightly to one side, Pam was able to grab hold of the lamp cord with her fingers. Although the tape around her wrists did not allow for much movement, she was able to gently slide the cord under her hand until she was able to reach what she was after – a small switch that turned the light on and off. Offering up a silent prayer, she pushed down.
The light came on.
“YSSSSS” Jan shouted through her gag as she realised what her sister was thinking of doing. Pam turned her head to her sister, the beads of perspiration on her forehead, and blinked again.
“.-. .. --. .... - / .--- .- -. / .... . .-. . / --. --- . ... / -. --- - .... .. -. --.”
“--. --- --- -.. / .-.. ..- -.-. -.- / ... .. ...”
Pam began to press the switch on and off in bursts – three short burst of two seconds, then three of five, then three of two, again and again and again. The light flashed on and off.
“… / --- / … … / --- / … … / --- / …”
Jan sat and watched the clock tick away under the flashing light, until the sound of the front door being broken in caught the attention of both girls. Pam dropped the switch as the main light was turned on and two uniformed policemen entered the room.
As one pulled the tape away from Jan’s mouth, the other started to untie Pam from the chair, saying “Good thing they still teach us how to recognise an SOS – good thinking.”
Pam smiled under the tape – her plan had worked, and even thought the two girls were scared they had worked together – as always.