One week earlier
“Are you sure you have this in your hands, Lou?”
Bud looked over at his workmate, who was struggling to carry his end of the old chest of drawers. “I’ve got it, Lou, I’ve got it,” he called out as Lou hefted his end up. He was a good six inches taller than Bud, so most of the weight of the heavy wooden furniture went onto his more rotund friend.
“All right then – to you.”
“I’ve got it, I’ve got it, I’ve...” There was a loud thud and a cracking sound as Bud let go of his end of the item and it crashed to the ground. “I ain't got it,” he said wearily as he sat down on a nearby crate.
“You idiot,” Lou said as he set his end down and walked round, slipping the smaller man around the back of the head. “If we’ve damaged this, it comes out of our wages. You know that don’t you?”
“I know, Lou,” Bud said as he rubbed the back of his head, “but I just could not hold it any longer and you...”
“Hang on a minute, Bud,” Lou said as he looked at the chest. “Looks like it’s all right – see if you can find some wheels to put under it.” He watched as his friend stood up and walked to another part of the warehouse, returning with four small plates with wheels underneath. As Lou lifted the end that had dropped, Bud slipped the castors underneath, before picking up a piece of paper that was lying underneath.
Two minutes later, the two men were wheeling the chest of drawers to the designated spot in the warehouse, as their foreman watched closely. Depositing the furniture, they returned to the van, taking out one piece at a time.
It was lunchtime when Lou came up and sat next to Bud, who was looking at the piece of paper that he had found on the floor.
“What you got theta?”
“It must have fallen out of that chest of drawers – it’s a newspaper cutting.”
“Let me see that,” Lou said as she snatched the paper away and looked at the text.
DARING RAID ON BANK – ONE MILLION POUNDS STOLEN.
Police are today still searching for the gang of four men who held the staff of the Newbridge branch of Archer’s Bank hostage yesterday and escaped with one million pounds in notes. The gang broke into the bank during the night, and waited for staff to arrive. They were then held hostage, bound and gagged, as the manager was forced to open the vault. They then escaped into rush hour traffic, with an hour passing before the staff finally managed to raise the alarm.
It was later revealed that the wife and daughter of the manager had also been taken hostage and held at their country house in the outskirts of Newbridge to ensure the full co-operation of the manager. Both were later released unharmed. Police are looking for four men, in the later twenties...
“Yeah, I remember this – about ten years ago. They got the gang, but not the money.” Lou turned over and looked at the other side of the paper, his eyes widening. There was a message scribbled on the back, in pencil, but some of it was still legible.
Arlington farm ...... in the attic .... Fools never found it there .... One day I’ll get it back.”
“Hey boss,” Lout said as their foreman walked past. “Where did this stuff come from today?”
“House clearance – old geezer in Newbridge. Seems he died penniless, but neighbours kept saying he had something squirreled away somewhere. Why?”
“No... No reason,” Lou said as he folded the piece of paper and put it in his pocket. “Lou, what are you thinking about,” Bud said as he watched his friend stroke his chin.
“We can be rich,” he said quietly to himself before turning to Bud. “Bud, my friend, I think we need to take the day off tomorrow, and visit Arlington farm.”
“Why? Nobody’s lived there for two years.”
“Precisely, old buddy, old pal,” Lou said as he stood up, “Precisely.”
Arlington farm was a mile up a dusty track from the main road, but as the two men drove up in their battered old van Bud could see a look in Lou’s eyes – a look that bothered him a great deal.
“Lou, what are we doing here,” he said as he stopped the van at the back of the old farmhouse.
“We’re going to get rich,” Lou said as he left the van. “That robbery – there had to be a fifth man, one who held the family hostage and who hid the money. Well, I think the money is here, and we’re going to look for it.”
He opened the back of the van and took out a pack of black dustbin liners. “Come on, Bud,” he said as he walked towards the house, “This won’t take long.”
“I don’t know, Lou,” Bud began to say, but Lou just grabbed him by the arm and dragged him towards the door at the rear of the house.
At the front of the farmhouse, a black Corsa drew up and came to a halt. A small woman stepped out from behind the driver’s seat and walked up to the front door, the heels of her black leather boots crunching on the gravel as she fished a large set of keys out of her bag. She had short cropped black hair, and a tight fitting black checked jacket over her roll neck sweater. A pair of black trousers had the legs tucked into her boots, which zipped up the back as they hugged her lower legs like a second skin. Although she was closer to fifty than forty, she felt this look fitted her.
“She’ll be here in a few minutes,” she muttered to herself as she let herself fin and placed the keys on a small table by the door. Looking up, the last thing she expected to see were two men in overalls standing in the hallway, staring at her with as much surprise as she felt on seeing them.
“What the hell – what are you going in here?” she demanded of the two men as she stared at them.
“Us? What are you doing here?” Lou said as he walked over to the woman. Taking her by the arm, he dragged her towards the living room, Bud following with his head down.
In the room, he pushed her down onto a large padded seat and looked round. There was a length of twine lying on the floor, which he picked up and held in his hands. “Hold her hands in front of her, Bud,” he said to the smaller man, who gulped as he came forward and pulled the woman’s hands together in front of her. “I’m sorry, lady,” he said as Lou wrapped the twine around her wrists and tied the m together, “I’m really sorry.”
“You just sit there.” Lou said as he shook a large handkerchief out and tied it over the woman’s mouth, “and we’ll be out of your way in a minute. Bud, come with me.”
“Shouldn’t I stay with her?”
“Nah – she’s going nowhere, come on,” Lou said as he walked out of the room. “Just sit quietly, lady,” he said as he left her sitting on the chair, staring down at her wrists and wondering what she had walked into.
Her thoughts were interrupted a moment later as she heard the front door open. “Miss Webster? It’s Deena Clarke – are you in here,” she heard a woman call out. Reaching up, she quickly pulled the cloth off her mouth and said “In here – hurry up.”
A woman slightly older than her walked in, a handbag slung over her shoulder. She had collar length strawberry blonde hair, with flecks of grey, and a pair of steel rimmed glasses over her eyes. A cream coloured smock top with grey details covered her upper body, with grey leggings. A pair of olive green leather boots, the straps around the sides and zipped up the side, loosely covered her lower legs. “My god,” she said as she saw the woman she was meeting sat in the chair, her wrist tied together in front of her and a handkerchief around her neck.
“Deena, do you have a mobile phone,” she whispered as Deena walked over.
“Yeah – but what’s going on?”
“I don’t know – I arrived a minute ago and these two idiots were in the house. Quick – I need you to..”
“Now what’s going on,” Lou said as he grabbed Deena’s arm and held her fast. “Bud, I told you to keep an eye on her.”
“No – you told me to come with you, Lou,” Bud said as he walked in, a number of rolls of twine and rope in his arms.
“Well, whatever I said, you didn’t tie her up properly,” he said as he pushed Deena to a long couch. “You – lie down there and don’t move. Give me that twine, Bud.”
“Look, just let me and...”
“Let me and Carrie go. We won’t tell anyone you’re here.”
“Come on Lou,” Bud said as he walked into the room and gave Lou a large ball of twine. “Let them go and let’s just get out of here.”
“Bud, just shut up and make sure number one there can’t speak,” Lou said as he pulled a bit of twine out. “You – put your hands up in front of you.”
“Look, lady.” Bud said as he knelt next to Carrie, “Just don’t say anything, ok?” He untied the handkerchief and wadded it into a pad. “Put this in your mouth and don’t call out, all right?”
“Why should I,” Carrie said as she looked at the smaller man. “I don’t want my buddy mad at me,” he said as he looked at her with pleading eyes. “Please?”
“Carrie, just let him do it,” Deena said as Lou tied her wrists together with the twine, “he’s just a big kid. Didn’t you ever play games like this as a kid?”
“Well – all right,” Carrie said as she allowed Bud to push the cloth into her mouth. “Now keep it there,” Bud said as he stood back up and watched Lou take the twine down and wrap it around Deena’s ankles, pulling them together. As she looked back at Carrie, Deena winked – she knew what was going to happen in the next few minutes.
“Are you going to call out as well,” Lou said as he stood up. “No, I’ll be a good girl,” Carrie said as she looked up at him, eyes wide. “Well then,” Lou said as she took a pocket knife out of his overalls and cut the twine, “Don’t move.” Walking over to Carrie, he pulled her ankles together, the twine squeaking against the leather as he tied them together, before cutting the twine loose again.
“Keep an eye on them, Bud,” Lou said as she picked up the bin liners, “while I go and look at the attic.”
Deena watched as Lou walked off, before looking at the wine that ran from her wrists to her ankles. She tried pulling her wrists up, noting how her legs moved, before she looked back at Bud.
“I’m thirsty,” she said with pleading eyes looking at him, “Can I get a drink of water please?”
“I don’t know,” Bud said slowly, “What would Lou say?”
“Oh, he won’t know, and I’m not going anywhere. Please?”
“Oh all right,” Bud said, and he walked out of the room. Carrie reached up and pulled the wad out from her mouth. “What the hell is going on here,” Deena said as she watched the door.
“I have no bloody idea – I walked in and found these two bozos, and then this.”
“You never answered my question.”
“Did you never play these games?”
“Well... Yes, I did with my sister, but it was a long time ago. Why?”
“Because these are bozos – if we keep them thinking it's a game, then we might get out of it quickly.”
“Hey, lady, I told you to keep that in there!”
Bud was standing in the doorway, holding a glass of water.
“I know,” Carrie said as she looked up, “but I started coughing. Can I have some of that water too?”
“Oh all right – but she’s first,” Bud said as he knelt and allowed Deena to have a sip. As he walked over, his back to the door, he held the glass to Carrie’s lips and allowed her to have a sip.
“What is this, party night?”
Bud stood up and looked at the woman who had just walked in. She was smaller than him, but the three inch heels on her suede ankle boots made her look taller. She was wearing a grey leather jacket and short skirt, the jacket covering a leopard skin top that clung to her breasts. W wide white leather belt was around her waist.
“Deena, you naughty little girl, you did not tell me this was going to be a kinky party,” she said as she walked in and looked up at Bud. “I’m Bree – are you going to tie me up like these two.”
“Oh come on you naughty boy,” she said as she slipped he r jacket off. “Deena and I are old friends, and she knows I like these games. So, big boy, how about it?” She walked over and pulled a chair away from the table, sitting down and crossing her legs. “Tie me up as well.”
“Oh god,” Deena said as Bud stared at the new arrival. “How much have you had to drink, Bree?”
“Only two or three more than usual,” Bree giggled as she sat down, her bleached hair falling around her shoulders. “Come on, boy – take that twine and do what I tell you.”
“Great,” Deena said as Bud nervously walked over to the chair where Bree sat, her legs crossed, “my friend here thinks this is a game. Just what we all need today. Carrie, I’m really, really sorry about this.”
“Well, what else can we do,” Carrie said as she watched Bree let her arm drop and rest against the back of the chair. “Wrap it round my wrist and pull tight,” she said to Bud as he passed then end of the twine around her skin, “and then pass it up my arm to the elbow. That’s it – keep going...”
The two women watched, transfixed as Bree guided Bud in passing the twine around her arms, chest and the back of the chair, pulling her back so that she was lashed in place, then down her other arm and around her wrist. “Hmm, that’s good,” she said as she closed her eyes. “Now, you naughty young man, take it down and tie my ankle to the leg of the chair, then the other side.”
“Remind me why you booked the farmhouse, Mrs Clarke,” Carrie said as she looked over to the couch.
“A quiet weekend with my friend and our daughters,” Deena said as a thought crossed her mind. “Hey, you,” she called out as Bud clumsily cut off the twine, “Why are you and your mate here anyway?”
“That’s a secret, a big secret,” Bud said as he stood up and watched, open mouthed as Bree moved around in the chair, her eyes closed and a moaning sound coming from her mouth.
“Hmmm – wonderful,” she finally said before she opened her eyes. “But you need to make sure these two are as helpless as I am. See that lovely young woman in the chair? Tie her legs together above her knees and then tie her wrists down to that.”
“But that might hurt her.”
“Oh, don’t be such a wimp – she’ll enjoy it, won’t you dearie?”
Carrie shot an angry look over at Bree, before rolling her eyes and saying “Well, I’m not going anywhere – go on, just do it.” She watched as her legs were pulled together, the twine digging into her trousers, before Bud wound the twine around her wrist as well, holding them down against her legs.
“There now, that’s better – Carrie, is it? Young man, I think these two have talked long enough. What have you been using to silence them?”
Bud held up the handkerchief, which just made Bree shake her head. “No good – I left my handbag in the hallway. Be a good boy and fetch it in, will you?”
“Bree, you do realise this is not a game,” Deena said as Bud left the room. “Oh, you can’t fool me,” Bree said as she threw her head back, “Of course you’re having a game. Just wait until the others get here.”
“Others,” Bud said nervously a she brought a large bag in, “What others?”
“Spoilers dearie,” Bree said as he held the bag in front of her. “Now then, if you look inside you’ll find three packs of tights. Take them out, and then use one pair on each of us to keep us quiet. Do it to me first.”
Bud held up the tights, scratching his head as both Deena and Carrie shook their heads. “Oh, don’t be cry-babies,” Bree said. “Just put the pants part in my mouth, then wrap the legs round and tie the ends together. I’ll open my mouth.” After saying this, she opened her mouth wide as Bud pushed the material in, before wrapping the legs around her lower jaw and tying them together at side of her head.
“Gdd – ne thm,” Bree mumbled as he took a second pair and walked over to Carrie. “Look, just use the hankie on me, I’ll keep it in this tmmdsgm,” she said as he pushed the nylon in and secured it in place.
“Bree, I will kill you for this,” Deena said as Bud gagged her as well, then turned round as Lou walked back into the room.
“Been having fun, Mate,” he said as he looked at the three bound and gagged women.
“Yeah – this one showed me what to do,” Bud said, “but there’s no more twine left.”
“Well, I haven’t found what I’m looking for yet, but I’ll keep trying. I don’t think they’re going anywhere, so you come with me now and help me look.”
Carrie watched as the two men walked off, then started trying to get loose, her boots squeaking as she moved her legs. Deena kept trying to reach the knots on her binding, but with little success, while Bree just closed her eyes and hummed to herself.
“I don’t get it, Bud – the paper say it will be here.”
“Are you sure Lou – it was awfully faint...”
“I’m sure Bud – hang on, what’s that?”
Lou walked over to a large trunk in the attic, a padlock through the clasp. Picking up a piece of metal that was on the floor, he broke the lock off and looked inside, his gleaming in the misty light.
“Got it,” he said as he looked at Bud. “Hand me that bag, will you?”
From outside he heard the sound of another car pulling up. There was a window set in the roof, which he quickly glanced out of.
“How many more women are coming?” he said before he turned to Bud. “You seem to have a taste for this now – go and stop them.”
“What with, Lou,” Bud said as he raised his hands, “We don’t have anything.”
“Improvise, just do something,” Lou said as he turned back to the trunk. Bud simply shrugged as he went to leave the attic.
“Well, we’re here Katie, how did you enjoy the journey?”
Zoe looked over at her friend as she sat in the seat next to her, staring back. Katie was twenty years old, with long blonde hair that fell over her face. She was wearing a charcoal grey jumper under a puff sleeved dress, made from black cotton with a red floral pattern embossed on it, black leggings and tight felt boots over her legs.
“Not up for saying much,” Zoe said as she opened her door. “Well, let’s get you inside. I see our mums are here, so we can just go right on in.” She walked round to the other side of the car and opened it, helping Katie to get out of the car and stand up. Holding her arm, she led her to the front door, Katie taking short hobbling steps as she did so.
“Mum? Are you in here?” As Zoe helped Katie into the house, she hard a call that seemed muffled from the front room. “This way,” she whispered as she led the way into the front room, expecting to see her mum drinking from a cup of tea.
“We’re her... shit,” she said as she saw the three women sitting there. Bree opened her eyes and smiled as she saw her daughter standing there, saying “hldr” as Zoe let go of Katie’s arm.
“Mum, are you all right,” she said as she knelt next to Deena, who looked up at her with a mild look of surprise and embarrassment. For her part, Katie looked at her mother sat in the chair, a look in her eyes that indicated she would have said “Oh no, not again,” had there not been a wide strip of flesh coloured plaster covering her mouth.
Zoe had insisted she was this way on the drive up, her arms pulled behind her back and tied at the wrists and elbows with rope, while a further length was holding her legs together above her knees. Now she was looking at her mother, Deena and another one, wondering if they had somehow started the game without her.
“Who are you,” she heard a man say behind her as Zoe stood up and walked back over. “What have you done to them,” she saw her fiend say angrily as she shuffled round and saw a small, pot bellied man standing behind them.
“We just wanted to find the money,” Bud cried out as she stood over her, “We didn’t know the place was going to be over run by women, honestly. Now Lou wants me to stop you getting away, and I’m not sure I want to do that. Please, don’t shout at me...”
Carrie said “hgd” as she realised what was going on now. She knew the legend of this place – that there was meant to be a fortune hidden in the attic – and understood what they were doing there now. She could have told them the truth, but now she wanted something more, so she just stayed silent as Zoe looked over the small man.
“Ze..” Katie mumbled through her sealed lips. Zoe turned to her, her hand running through her dark hair, and said “What?”
“Pllng,” Katie mumbled as she walked over and started to sit herself down in front of Deena on the floor. Zoe looked at her friend, the others and then at the frightened man, before slowly nodding. “All right, all right,” she said as she took a length of cord out of her pocket and knelt by Katie, crossing her ankles and tying them together, “I’ll play along for now.” Tucking the ends of the cord into the loops around the ankles, she stood up and looked at Bud.
Bud looked at her, standing there in her blue top over a white t-shirt, jeans and boots, and said "What do you want me to do?”
“You tied them up,” Zoe said as she looked at him, “Do the same to me.”
“Wait there,” Zoe said as she walked to the far side of the room. Picking up a roll of packing tape, she tossed it to him and said “Use that – tape my wrists together behind my back first, and then help me to sit down.”
“Whthvidn,” Deena mumbled as she watched Bud tape her daughter’s wrists behind her back. She had encouraged Zoe in these games as a child, thinking it was just a phase, and sometimes had been the victim herself. Now, however, she had to watch as an imbecile tied her up just because the rest of them were? And why was Carrie suddenly looking so relaxed?
“You’d better take my boots off,” Zoe said as she sat down beside Carrie. “I want them to be secured, not to be able to slip out.” Bud slowly pulled her boots off, before wrapping the tape around the bottom of her jean legs and securing them together, then repeating it above her knees.
“Well done, Bud,” Lou said as he walked in and saw the five women there. “Cover her mouth up and let’s get out of here.”
“I’m sorry, lady,” Bud said as he tore a strip off and pressed it over Zoe’s lips. “I’m sorry to all of you.”
“Let’s go,” Lou said as she took Bud’s arm in one hand and led him out, the other hand holding a bulging black bag. The women sat and lay still as they heard the sound of boots going into the rear of the house, a door closing and a van leaving. Zoe looked over at Katie and nodded, starting to work her jaw round as Katie leaned against the cushions Deena was lying on and started to rub her cheek against them.
“Nggg.... mmmsaddas... Ah,” Zoe said as she finally managed to work the tape off her upper lip and speak. At the same time, Katie managed to peel the tape away from her own mouth, spitting out a pair of bikini briefs as she did so.
“For god’s sake, Zoe,” she said as she looked over at her girlfriend, “what have you got us into this time? You didn’t say our mothers would be tied up as well – and who’s this?”
“GTTHSFRMMTH” Deena said as Katie got herself onto her knees. Reaching back, she managed to pull the pants of the tights out of Deena’s mouth as Zoe pushed herself onto her feet and started to do the same to Carrie.
“We don’t know,” Deena said as she gasped for air, “They were here when I came in, and Carrie had already arrived. Have you any idea who they were?”
“Ndetl, but,” Carrie said as she finally had the nylon pulled from her mouth, “but they must have found the note the police planted.”
“Yeah – there was a robbery at a bank near here a few years back, but one of the gang turned Queen’s Evidence and shopped the others, as well as returning the money. They never released the fact the money was recovered, but wanted to know who the mastermind was, so they planted a false trail that led here.
“Whoever it was, however, never came forward – but the false trail was there, and these two bozos must have found it by accident.”
“So what did they think they would find?”
“One million pounds – but they’ll find out very quickly their mistake. Listen – turn round and I’ll peel the tape away from your wrists, and then you can untie us.”
“What about your mother,” Zoe said as she looked at Katie. Bree was slumped in the chair, her eyes closed and her lips in a smile over the tights in her mouth.
“Leave her,” Katie said with a smile. “I’m not going to wake her up – and why spoil her fun?”
“Hoi – what do you think this is?”
The barman looked at Lou as he stood there, holding his point.
“A twenty – why?”
“Look at it , moron!”
He held it up close to Lou’s eyes, which widened as he saw the picture where he expected the queen to be. Instead of a crowned head, it showed...
Bud walked back into the bar and saw Lou standing there, holding the note as the barman picked up a club. Backing slowly away, he turned and ran out of the bar...