The Games Players – The Cul-de-Sac challenge







Police are investigating what appear to be a series of home invasions on one street in Hampstead today.  Details are sketchy, but it appears that all the houses in one cul-de0sac were hit by the same people, and the occupants bound and gagged before they were robbed.  No serious casualties have been reported, but the first alarm was not raised before all the houses had been robbed.


While details of what happened are being withheld by the police, some details suggest the robberies were performed by the intruders known as the Games Players…


Janna thought I was mad when I raised the suggestion, but when I walked her through the plan and the challenge, she could see the way it could be both profitable and fun.  The street in question was eight houses, all arranged around a roundabout in a quiet cul-de-sac – and the idea was if we moved quickly, and made sure the families we visited really were secured, kept quiet and believed this was a game, then it should be possible to start at eight, and finish in the early afternoon.


We spent the next few weeks researching, planning – and that morning, we pulled up in a parking space round the corner from the first house.  Janna was wearing a black leather jacket, jumper, leggings and knee length boots, while I was wearing a jumper, jeans and shoes.


We looked at each other and nodded before we got out, each with a rucksack on our backs, and walked to Number 1.  This was the home of Daisy Reece, a teacher who lived there with her thirteen year old twins, Rose and Robert, as well as her partner Amelia – and Amelia was a well-known author.


We took a moment to pull the stocking down over our heads, and then nodded as we checked our watches - 8 am, and time to go in.  I opened the door and we walked into the kitchen to find Daisy and Amelia sitting at the kitchen table.  Both of them were wearing black dresses, and dark tights.  While Daisy had a pair of knee length brown boots over her legs, Amelia was in her stocking feet – but they both stared at us as Janna closed the door, and I said “good morning Ladies – today is the day you and the children get to play a game of robbers.”


Daisy blanched as she said “You’re the Games Players?”


“We are – and today, you, Rose and Robert are going to spend a special day together.  You know who we are, so shall we begin?”


“We were going to the theatre today…”


“And instead,” Janna said as she slipped her rucksack off, took some rope from it and walked behind Amelia, taking her hands behind her back and starting to bind them securely together, “you are going to spend the day watching a marathon film show – do they like the Harry Potter films?”


“Well, they do,” Daisy said as I started to bind her wrists together behind her back, “but…”


“And that is our starting point,” I said as I took the rope between her wrists, “so once we have your arms bound, we can go and explain what has happened to them…”



“Rose, Robert – we have a slight change of plan for today…”


The twins stared at Daisy and Amelia as they walked into the front room, their arms tightly bound to their sides with bands of rope above and below their chest, and we followed them in.  “Mum…  What’s going on,” Robert said as he stood up, his eyes wide behind his glasses.  Unlike his mothers, who had long dark brown hair, he had short light brown hair, and was wearing a blue denim shirt, tan pants and trainers.  His twin sister had a hairband with stars holding her hair back, and was wearing a black ruffed top, a shoulder strap over her right shoulder and her right arm bare, as well as black leggings and ankle socks.


“Amy had booked a surprise for us,” Daisy said as the children looked at us, “we’re going to watch the Harry Potter films instead. But we’re going to watch them as if we were being held hostage.”


“so…  We’ll be tied up like you?”


“Yes, you will Rose,” Janna said as she smiled under her mask, “so please, let your mothers sit there, and then we can get both of you ready.”


“It’ll be fun,” Amelia said as they stood up and she sat down with Daisy, watching as Janna took Rose’s hands behind her back and started to bind them tightly together, while Robert stared at his mothers.  He barely noticed as I took his hands behind his back, and started to tie his wrists to each other as well.


We both then tied ropes round their upper body, forcing their arms against their sides as their mothers said “we’re not going to be able to move or talk much, but perhaps we can get a drink later?”


I glanced at Janna, who nodded as I said “We’ll be checking you from time to time – but you’re going to have plenty of time to watch the films from the start.”  Robert finally noticed as I pulled his chest ropes tighter, and tried to twist round as Daisy and Amelia moved to the sides of the couch.


Rose and Robert then watched as I started to bind their ankles together, rope going around and between their legs, and then another band below their knees.  The two of them then sat on the floor and watched as Janna made sure their legs were secured as well, both of them twisting round when the ropes were cinched.


“Now,” Janna said as she took a roll of white tape from her bag, “let’s make sure you are all nice and quiet, while my friend pretends to look for valuables.”  I left them in the room and searched the rest of the house, finding quite a few things as I did so.


When I got back into the room, all of them had a wide strip of white tape pressed down over their mouths, Rose and Robert seeing the scene when Harry gets his first letter from Hogwarts as their mothers looked at us.


“Don’t try to escape,” I said quietly, “we have the films set up to run one after the other, right?”


As Janna nodded, I said “we’ll check you in a while, and may get you all a drink if you behave yourselves – but for now, enjoy the film.”


“Fhkkuhfhrnhthrhhnhs,” Daisy mumbled, both of us nodding as we left them and made our way to the rear of the house.  Looking at our watches, we saw it was 9.”0 am, as Janna made her way across to Number 3, and I made my way to the kitchen door of number 2.




As I looked in, I could see two six year old girls sitting at the kitchen table.  One had long dark hair held back from her face with a pink headband, and was wearing a long sleeved top – black with white hearts and white sleeves, as well as black leggings and a pair of pink wellington boots with flowers on them.  Her friend was wearing a pink floral blouse over a white top, black capri pants with gold patterns on the cuffs of the legs, and black short boots.


The adult residents were not to be seen – I knew their foster mother was at home, so I opened the door, smiling as I looked at them and said “Hello Sue, Kelly – I’ve come to play a game with you and your mother.”


Sue looked at me, before she said “will Aunt Nora play as well?”


“Oh yes – tell me, do you read adventure books?”


As they both nodded, I smiled as I opened my rucksack, and said “well, the game we are going to play is robbers – and I have to make sure you all cannot raise the alarm while I pretend to rob your mother.”


“You are pretending right,” Kelly as she swung her legs to and fro, her black boots squeaking as she did so.


“Oh yes, it’s all a big game – and it also means you can watch whatever you want, all morning -so how does that sound?”


They both nodded as I took some ropes out, and handed them each one to hold.  “Does that feel as if it will hurt you?”  When they both shook their heads, I used two more lengths to secure their ankles tightly together, before I said “and does that hurt?”


“no,” Sue said as she tried to move her ankles, the rubber boots squeaking.


“So, if I tied one more length round your legs below your knees?”


They both nodded as I did just that, and then said “so, what I want to do is make sure you cannot move your arms, and then we go and find your mother, all right?”


They saw the ropes and nodded again, as I said “Good – lean forward…”


“Mmmm – lhkkhths.”


“Oh my god.”  Their foster mother was sitting on a couch, wearing an olive covered blouse over a striped top, black leggings and grey mid-calf fabric boots.  There was an older woman with her, wearing a sleeveless black top and jeans, the legs tucked into brown leather boots.


“Hello,” I said quietly, “the girls want to thank you, Elaine, for arranging this special game today – and to letting them watch Paw Patrol while they play the game.”


“Game, what…”  She then realized what I was saying, before Nora said “Are you girls hurt?”


They both shook their heads as I said “they want to sit with you as you play the game as well – so please, stand up and they will jump over to sit on the couch, and you can face them while I do the same thing to you as I did to them.”


The older women looked at each other, and then stood up as Sue and Kelly jumped over, the white tape crinkling over their mouths as they pushed themselves on and back, their bound ankles hanging over the edge.  They watched as I made sure Elaine and Nora’s wrists were tightly secured together behind their backs, and then bound their arms to their sides with longer ropes, making two bands that pulled their tops across their chests.


They then sat either side of the girls, Elaine kissing Sue’s head as she said “Well, this is an exciting game, isn’t it?”  The gagged girls nodded as I crossed and bound the ankles of both women together, and then secured their legs below their knees, each band cinched by taking the rope between their legs as well.


I then kept my promise, by finding on their Smart TV a channel showing Paw Patrol.  As both girls rested their heads on the older women, I covered their mouths with the white tape, before I said “now enjoy the show – and remember, the bad robber is going to stay in the house so don’t try and escape.”


I then went and searched the house - taking their valuables as well as some rolls of silver duct tape – and at the same time wondered how Janna was doing…


“this lady has come to play a very special day with all of us – and it means we get to spend the day in Mummy’s bed as well.  How does that sound?”


I had entered number 3 and surprised Betty White in the kitchen by doing so.  She was in her early thirties, and was wearing a whit peasant blouse, the sleeves pulled down over her shoulders, green corduroy pants, and knee length brown suede boots, her long brown hair falling down her back.  She worked in a local bank, and normally someone like her and her children would not be visited – but they were one of the houses on our schedule.


I glanced at the kitchen clock, which said 9.30, as I said “remain calm, don’t scream or shout.  If you do as I say, this will be an exciting experience for you and the children – do you understand?”


“But…  You’re going to rob us, how is that exciting?”


“Because we are going to tell them is a special game.  And I promise you, you will all stay together in one room.  Are you going to do that for them?”


Betty slowly nodded as I opened my rucksack, and took out a large roll of silver tape.  “so, let’s start with you.  Can you stand up, and cross your wrists in front of yourself?”


“Okay – so long as you don’t hurt them,” she said as she stood up, watching as I taped her wrists together, and then wrapped the tape round her waist to make sure she could not lift them up.  I then made it even more difficult by wrapping the tape round her arms and body, so it looked as if she had a silver sheath from her upper arms to her waist.


That was when we walked up the stairs, and found her seven year old son Tim and her five year old daughter Holly in their room. Tim had short blonde hair, and was wearing a red hoodie, tan pants and brown shoes, while Holly had on a long blue denim blouse with the sleeves rolled back, black and white striped leggings, and brown booties with a fringe at the top.


“this lady has come to play a very special day with all of us – and it means we get to spend the day in Mummy’s bed as well.  How does that sound?”


“Do we really?”


“Oh yes, Tim,” I said with a smile, “and what’s more, you will be just like Mummy.  So why don’t we start – come here, and cross your wrists in front of yourself.”


Holly watched as I tore the end of the tape form the roll, before she looked at Betty.


“Does it hurt, Mummy?”


“No – it’s like a big hug,” she said as she twisted round, Holly nodding as I made sure her brother’s arms were taped to his body in the same way.  She then came over as Tim tried to twist round, and I made sure her upper body had a silver sheath as well.


“Now – let’s go through to Mummy’s room,” I said with a smile, “and when we’re in there, I’ll make sure your legs are like your arms.”  They all walked in in front of me, and then sat on the bed, Betty in the centre and Holy and Tim at the sides, watching as I wound the tape tightly round their mother’s ankles, and her legs above and below her knees.


She tried to move them, her corduroy pants squeaking as the material rubbed, and said “the masked lady is going to do the same to both of you now.  I think she will then make it difficult for us to talk, but we can listen to the radio, and hum along, all right?”


“That’ll be fun,” Tim said as I taped his ankles and legs, and then did the same to Holly, before I covered their mouths with the tape and helped them to lie down.  They both turned and snuggled into Betty as I made a quick search of her room, and then left to take care of the rest of the house.


When I was done, I took a moment to change my stocking mask, and then moved on to my next target…


I had quickly nipped back to Number one, as I said I would, and given them all a drink before gagging them again and making my way next to Number 4. I made it these for just after eleven – and could hear the television in the front room as I made my way down the corridor.  As I looked in, I saw the lady of the house, Babs Beaker, who was sitting on the couch.  Her long brown hair was falling over the shoulders of her pink cardigan, a lighter pink top underneath, and black leggings.


But she was not alone – the woman with her had long blonde hair, and was wearing a grey vest crop top, and dark grey shorts.  So when they both saw me standing there, she stood up and said “who the hell are you?”


“The Games Player,” I said as I showed her the gun I had, “and, forgive me, but I am on a timetable, so I have little time for small talk.  You are?”


“Hannah – I work with Babs, and our daughters are friends.”


“Where are they?”


“Upstairs,” Babs said quietly.


“Well, we’re going to have a fun game with all four of you,” I said with a smile, “aren’t we?  Now, I need you very quietly to kneel in front of the couch, and put your hands behind your back.”




“Well, you’ll be first, and then the girls,” I said with a smile as I took the rolls of silver duct tape from my bag “so please, do as I say…”


As I made my way up the staircase, I could hear the laughing in one bedroom, so I decided to search first, and get the girls to play later.  I did find quite a few valuable things, but I left them outside the room and only took a roll of tape in with me as I opened the door.


I could see Bab’s daughter, Caitlyn, with her dark hair up on her head.  She was wearing a sleeveless dress, with a black top, a pink lace upper skirt and a patterned skirt underneath, as well as black slippers.  The other girl must have been Hannah’s daughter – short blonde hair with a white hairband, a white vest top with orange spots, blue denim shorts and a pair of sandals.


“You look funny,” she said as she looked at me, “are you a robber?”


“Yes, I am,” I said with a smile.  Something told me honesty was best here.  “But your mothers are downstairs, and they want you to pretend this is a big game.  Do you think you can do that?”


“Can we do that, Caitlyn?”


“I think so, Kylie,” the other girl said, “so what are you going to do to us, Mister Robber?”


“Make you like your mothers,” I said with a smile, “which means you won’t be able to move or talk for a while.  If you’re ready, stand in front of me, and put your hands behind your back.”


“This is will be fun,” Kylie said as they stood in front of me, and I taped their wrists together behind their backs, and then took the tape round their waists to make sure their hands stayed there. 


“Does it hurt, “I asked as I patted the tape on Caitlyn’s waist.


“No,” she said as she twisted round, “so what will you do next?”


“this,” I said as I taped their upper arms to their body, and then said “I’m going to make sure you stay quiet first, and then you are going to join your mothers to play along, all right?”


They both nodded as I gently pushed a folded cloth into each of their mouths, and then taped over their lips, before they walked down the stairs and into the front room.




“Hllghrls, rhdethphlh?”


Kylie and Caitlyn nodded as they looked at Hannah and Babs.  They were sitting back to back on the floor, tape round their upper bodies from their necks to their waists, and bands of tape held their ankles together as well as their legs below their knees.  They watched as their daughters sat next to them, and I taped their ankles and legs in the same way, before I wrapped tape round their upper bodies, so they were held together in a silver sheath in the same way.


“Right – I’m going to put the television on,” I said as I found the Disney channel, “Remember, the bad robber will be checking from time to time, so stay right there, all right?”


“Htsshghdgghm, hsntht,” Babs said as she looked at Caitlyn, the younger girl nodding before she winked at me.  I had to leave them to enjoy the cartoons – there was another house for me to visit…



I was actually amazed there was only low fences, or no fences, between the houses, as I passed number 4 and made my way to the side door of number 5.  Our research showed there were actually three generations in this house – starting with Elaine Kent, who was in her mid-fifties, and owned a clothing store in the shopping area.  Living with her was her twenty five year old daughter Fiona, and her four year old twin granddaughters, Gail and Gale. We also knew they liked to spend Saturday morning as family time – so looking at my watch, and seeing it was 11 am, I figured they had time for a mid-morning snack before we played.


I slowly opened the side door, and saw Fiona standing at the sink.  She had long red-brown hair, which was falling over her sleeveless smock top in burnt orange, the bottom just about covering her denim shirts.  Her outfit was completed by a pair of white sandals.


So I closed the door - and the sound of that made her turn round, and whisper “oh no – you…  You’re one of the Games Players, aren’t you?”


“That’s right,” I said with a smile, “and you are Fiona Kent.  I see you are preparing some drinks – why don’t you do that, and we can go and tell the rest of the family what is going to happen for the game?”


“I guess I have no choice,” she said quietly as she made two cups of coffee, and poured squash into two glasses, before she picked up the tray they were on and carried them to the front room with my walking behind them.


“Thanks, Fi…  Oh no,” Elaine whispered as I came in after her.  The older woman was wearing a long grey dress, which had a wide ruffed collar and no sleeves, white lace pattern sprinted on it.


As for Gail and Gale, they were dressed identically – long sleeved brown tops with a large bow on the front, grey legging, and pink Ugg boots.   The only difference was one of them had a white top under her brown one, who looked at Fiona and said “Mum?”


“This lady,” Fiona said as she put the tray down, and I slipped my rucksack off, “is here to play a special game with all of us, Gale.  She’s going to make sure we all stay quiet in this room, and we can watch all the films you want.  How does that sound?”


“How will she do that, Gran,” Gail said as she looked at Elaine.


“Well,” she finally said, “sit back on the couch with your mother, and you can have your drink while she shows us.”


I smiled as they pushed themselves back, Fiona handing her mother a mug before she sat between them, and I opened my rucksack.  “Well, we start with me tying the ankles of all four of you, so you can’t stand up very easily, and then I’ll use some more rope below your knees to make it even tighter.  Ready?”


The two girls watched, slowly sipping their drinks as I secured their ankles together side by side, and then tied mor rope around their legs below their knees, cinching the band by taking the rope between their legs as well.  They giggled and tried to twist them round, while I crossed Fiona’s ankles and secured them together as well, and then her own legs below her knees.


For Elaine, who was sitting in an armchair, I folded her skirt back to reveal the grey pumps she was wearing, and crossed her ankles before I secured them together as well.  I then folded her skirt down, and in her case, I tied the rope around her legs above her knees, gathering the material of the skirt of her dress round them as I did so.


“Now, what would you like to watch,” I said to Gail and Gale as I went to the television.




Elaine and Fiona just shrugged their shoulders as I found a channel with the porcine adventures, before I took the empty glasses from the girls.


“Now, I need to make sure you can’t move your hands and arms for a while,” I said with a smile, “so I want you both to put them together in front of you, as if you are praying.”


“But we don’t pray,” Gail said quietly.


“Okay then – can you them together, palm to palm?”


“Like this,” Fiona said as she showed them what I wanted, the two girls doing the same as I took the rope around and between their wrists, and then tied it to the band below their knees.  I also took two longer lengths of rope, and tied them round their arms and upper body, making two bands as their mother and grandmother talked to them.


“We really can’t move now,” Gale giggled as she and her twin twisted round, and I took the coffee cups from their mother and grandmother.  “Now, I’m going to tie their hands behind their backs,” I told the girls, “but they won’t be able to move them afterwards as well.  Watch.”


I started with Elaine as Fiona hugged her daughters and kissed them on their heads.  They watched as I guided their grandmother’s hands behind her back and secured them tightly together, and then wound the longer rope round her upper body, framing her chest as I made sure her arms were held tightly against her sides, and tying the ropes off behind her, out of reach of her fingers.


“My turn now,” Fiona said as she leaned forward, and I secured her wrists and arms in the same way, before she sat back and the girls rubbed their heads against her.


“So, I’m going to take these back to the kitchen,” I said as I picked up the tray in my gloved hands, “and when I come back, it’s quiet time, all right?”


The girls nodded as I took the tray through, and put the cups and glasses into the dishwasher, before coming back and taking a wide roll of white tape from my rucksack.  One by one, I tore a strip of the micropore tape from the roll and pressed them down gently over their mouths, the twins smiling under the covering as their mother and grandmother looked at each other.


“Enjoy the game – and remember, I will be checking to make sure you are still playing hostages, “I said with a smile as I left them there, and raided the house.  I had to nip quickly back to Numbers 1 and 3 before I moved on, and time was short…


When we were planning this morning, both Stella and I knew numbers 6 and 7 on the cul-de-sac were going to be the main problems – because in both cases, there was a very good chance both parents were going to be at home.  But, as I checked my watch and saw it was 1”.30, we were over halfway through – so I checked my bag, with the new ropes I had taken from number 4, and made my way to the back door.


Duncan and Helen Worth had three daughters – twelve year old Sharon, ten year old Veronica, and eight year old Xandra.  I knew the chances were they were all going to be together – and as I let myself in, I could hear them all talking in another room.


I looked quickly in the dining room to see I was right – they were all having lunch.  Duncan was wearing a pink polo shirt, blue jeans and brown shoes, while his wife Helen was wearing a black and white checked lumberjack shirt, jeans and black trainers.


While Duncan had short dark hair, the three girls had the same light brown colour of hair as their mother.  Sharon was wearing a pink and blue striped wool jacket over a black top, blue jeans and brown short boots under the kegs of the jeans, while Veronica was wearing a light blue cardigan over a black top with white dots.  She was also wearing jeans, the legs of hers tucked into brown calf leather boots.


Xandra, the youngest daughter, was wearing a purple sleeveless top over a long sleeved white one, pink leggings and short pink cowboy style boots - and it was her who looked to the door and said “Daddy, where is there a man with a mask in the house?”


Duncan stood up as I came in, and said “Hello, Mr and Mrs Worth, thank you for booking my services for today’s game.”


“Game?  What game, Duncan,” Helen said as she looked at her husband.


“The game of robbers,” I said with a smile as I came in and stood behind Xandra, the other two girls looking at their parents.  “Remember – you engaged the services of our company to surprise your daughters, and pretend to be robbing the house- like the Games Players do on the news.”


Duncan stared at me as what I said sank in, and then he sat down and nodded before he said “yeah – surprise, girls.  This mand is going to be holding us hostage for a game.”


“I’ve read some of the stories of the Games Player,” Helen said quietly.  “girls, what this means is we are all going to be tied up and kept quiet for a little while – but he will let us watch something, right?”


“Indeed,” I said with a smile, “you get to pick what you want to watch.  I know it sound scary, but trust me – it will be fun.”


“So what are you going to do to us,” Sharon finally said.


“Me?  Nothing – but your parents are going to make sure you all are tied up and kept quiet,” I said as I took my rucksack off, and took out one of the skeins of washing line I had found, using a knife to cut two lengths off.  “Your father is going to pull your chairs back, and then he is going to tie your wrists behind your back, while your mother ties your ankles together.  Why don’t we start with Sharon – the others can then see there is nothing to be afraid of.”


“okay,” Duncan said quietly as he came up and pulled Sharon’s chair back, Helen coming round to join him.


“Tae these,” I said as I handed them the ropes, “double them over, then pass them round Sharon’s ankles and wrists, before you take the ends through the loop and pull back.”


Veronica and Xandra watched as their mother knelt down, and Sharon leaned forward to put her hands behind her back, her mother and father doing what I said before I continued, “now, wind it tightly round three or four times, keeping it tight and neat, then tuck the rope under the top band.”


The three girls watched as Helen and Duncan did what I said, and then they looked at me.


“Take the ends between her arms and legs, pull it tight, and then tie the ends off – out of reach of her fingers, Daddy.”


They both did what I asked, as Veronica said “Shaz, are you…”


“I’m all right – it doesn’t hurt,” she said as I handed two more lengths of rope to them, and then said “well done – now, do the same to Veronica, and I want it to be just as tight.”


They both knelt by their middle daughter, after Duncan pulled her chair out, as Xandra looked at me.  “What are we going to do when they have done that to me,” she asked.


“Well, I will get your daddy to do one more thing,” I said with a smile, “and then you three are going to jump into the main room, while Daddy does this to your Mummy.  After that, you will see.”


She nodded as Duncan and Helen came over, taking more rope from me as they started to bind her wrists and ankles, while the other two girls twisted round and talked to each other.  Their eyes then opened wide as I took from the bag a roll of white micropore tape, and said “now, your Daddy is going to put some of this over your mouths, before all three of you have to stand up.”


“Don’t worry, girls, just breathe through your noses and relax,” Helen said as one by one Duncan covered their mouths with the white tape, and then handed the roll back to me.  As I put the roll in my rucksack and picked it up, I said “so, let’s all go into the front room.  Helen, close the curtains, and then the girls can sit next to each there.”


“Lthtssths,” Sharon said, the others nodding as they jumped in front of their parents, and I followed them in.  The three of them sat on a couch, as I handed a length of rope to Duncan and said “bind Helen’s wrists together behind her back.  Then she can sit in an armchair, and you can bind her ankles – and make sure it is really tight.”


“Br brave,” Duncan said as he kissed Helen, and then took her hands behind her back while I turned the television on, finding Disney+ and selecting a show for the girls to watch.  Helen bit her lower lip as her husband made sure they were tightly secured, and then she sat to look at the girls while Duncan knelt down and tied her ankles tightly together.


“Some tape over her mouth as well,” I said as I handed him the roll, Duncan nodding as he tore a long, wide strip off and smoothed it down over her mouth.  He handed me back the roll, before I took his own hands behind his back and made sure they were firmly secured together.


I then looked at the females, and said “Daddy is taking a walk with me, but when he comes back, I’ll make sure you all are just like him.”  Picking up my rucksack, I took him by the arm as I heard Helen say “lhthswhsshtghhfr…”


“You’re really him, aren’t you,” Duncan whispered as we walked up the stairs.


“I am, and I am on a deadline, so forgive me if I keep this brief – show me where your valuables are, and when we go down, I have a few things to do…”




When we came back in, I saw the clock said 1.30, as Helen looked and said “Hmhgghddd...”


“Uhrthtrrnnh,” Duncan said as he sat down, and watched as I bound his ankles tightly together, and then his legs below his knees.  He also now had bands of rope round hi supper body, holding his arms to his sides.




“Oh you are all going to be the same,” I said as I walked to Helen and bound her legs together below her knees, then used a longer length of rope to bind her arm sot her sides.  Each of the girls then had their legs bound together as their feet hung over the edge of the couch, before I tied rope round their arms and stomach in a double figure of eight.


“So, I need you to sit back, enjoy the film,” I said as one started, “and just enjoy the quiet time - I will be watching.”


“Whllhlshnhlng,” Duncan said as he looked at his daughters, and I saw the smile under the taped mouths as I made my way out – I needed to meet Janna for the last house.


Like Steve, I knew there was a better than good chance Ajay Kapul was gin to be at home with his family – but I had a plan.  One I had picked up from watching YouTube, believe it or not…


As I entered the house through the kitchen, I knew I was right to be prepared.  I could hear four voices – so his wife Shoana, and his children were going to be playing the game together.


I smiled as I put my rucksack down, and then walked into the front room.  Ajay was wearing a blue shirt, black trousers, white socks and black shoes, while Shoana was wearing a red vest top, and a floor length grey skirt with a red ethnic print on it, as well as a long red and gold scarf wrapped round her neck.


She put her arms round her children and hugged them as I said “hello – don’t be scared, but your parents have asked me to come and help you all do an escape challenge!”


“Really,” their eleven year old son Sanjay said as he looked at me.  His ten year old sister Anika was staring at me a swell, wearing a yellow sleeveless wrap top and an orange skirt, with white sandals that were strapped.  Sanjay was wearing an orange jumper and tan pants with brown sandals on his feet.


“Really,” I said with a smile, “and what is more, Mummy and Daddy are going to make sure you two are ready to play first, before I make sure they are ready to play the challenge.” 


Ajay was watching the whole time, before he said “Of course – so how are you going to make sure we have to escape?”


“As Is aid, with your wife’s help – so I want us all to go upstairs, and I want you both,” I said as I looked at Sanjay and Anika, “to the toilet, while your mother brings to me some of her dupattas and scarves.”


“We…  We’ll go up together,” Shoana said as she slowly stood up, taking their hands as Ajay walked out with me, and followed them up the stairs.  As they went to the toilet, Shoana said “please, do not harm them, Miss Games Player…”


“I’m not going to harm them – you two will make sure they are secured, then your husband will secure you, and I will secure him – all the same way.  Now, go and bring some materials – and remember, I am here with them.”


She nodded as she walked off, Ajay watching me as he said “I admit, you are – nicer than the stories say.”


“I want the kids to be at ease,” I said as they came back out of the toilet, and Shoana came with a pile of coloured scarves.  “We’ll use Sanjay’s room,” she said as we walked into their son’s room, and she put the scarves on a table.  I selected two – one red, one green, and said “right then – Daddy, take the green one, and tie your son’s wrists together behind his back.  Mummy, use the red one and secure Anika’s wrists together in the same way – then take the ends rotund their waists, and knot them together in front.”


“We’ll make sure you are both on the bed,” Ajay said as he took Sanjay’s hands behind his back and started to secure them together, Anika biting her lower lip as her mother made sure her wrists were secured together as well. They made sure it was tight, and then took it round their waists as I had asked before I nodded.


“Good – now, take another scarf each, and tie it tightly round them so that their arms are held against their bodies.”


They both picked up a blue dupatta and used them as the children talked excitedly, before I heled them both to lie face down on the bed, before Ajay and Shoana used black dupattas to secure their ankles together, and gold ones to secure their legs together below their knees.  They rolled over and looked at each other as I selected two white ones, and said “mummy and Daddy are now going to make sure you both stay quiet – gag them, and then tie the ends down to the one round their stomach.”


“Gag us?”


“Open your mouth,” Shoana said quietly to Anika, “I’ll put this in your mouth and tie it round your head.  IT means you’ll only be able to mumble, but Sanjay will have the same – and so will we soon.”


The young girl nodded as they both had the scarves pulled into their mouths, and then secured as I had to say, before I said “now, just lie there for a while, and then I’ll take you to your parents for the game.”


They both nodded as Shoana picked up the scarves, and we walked to the master bedroom.


“All right,” I said quietly, “tie your wife up in the same way Ajay – and then you can find all your valuables for me, before I take care of you.”


“Just do as she says,” Shoana said as Ajay nodded, then used a gold dupatta to bind her wrists together behind her back, and then took it round her waist.  I then told him to use two more dupattas – one round her stomach, and one round her upper arms – so that her arms were held firmly to her sides, before she sat down and he used two brown dupattas to secure her ankles together, and then her legs below her knees.


“I’m sorry,” he whispered as he took the red scarf that had been hanging loosely round her neck, and used it to cleave gag her, the red material pulling the corners of her mouth back as I checked all the knots.


“Very good,” I said as she watched me smile.  “now, empty all your valuables into this bag – and then you can put your hands behind your back…”




It was about one when I came back into Sanjay’s bedroom, and saw them still there, the scarf gags wet at the corners of their mouth.  I picked Anika u p and carried her into the master bedroom, hearing her say “hllmhhmhhndhhdd” as she saw Ajay and Shoana.  Both of them were now facing the bottom of the bed, bound and gagged, but with their ankles pulled back and secured to the dupattas round their chests.


I laid her down on her stomach, next to her mother, and pulled her ankles back to secure them to her chest scarf.  I then took silver tape, and as I had with her parents covered her hands so that it looked as if she had gloves on.


She wriggled round as I went back to carry Sanjay in, making sure he was securely hogtied as well, before I turned on the television they could all see.  A film was just starting, as I said “the game is for you to watch the film, then try to get free.”


I figured I had about three hours, as I left the house, and met Steve at the rear of Number 8.




I smiled as he nodded, and then I opened the door to the house…


 Six hours, seven houses – and so far, so good.  I had checked on the houses from 1 to 5, to make sure everything was all right, and confident we had time with the last two to take care of business here.


Well, confident might be the wrong word – a level of assurance, perhaps.  But as we entered the kitchen, we were both surprised at what we found – namely the two girls of the family, dancing to a song that was coming out of a speaker.


Let me set the scene of the family who lived at Number 8.  Annabelle Windsor was a well known children’s author, who lived there with her three children – the husband having disappeared with his secretary a year or so back.   Simon, her son, was the youngest at five years old, while Ida was seven and Florence eight.  It was Florence and Ida we were watching as Janna closed the door – the older girl with long blonde hair, the younger with a light blue headband that had black polka dots holding back her dark hair.  Both of them were wearing long sleeved black tops and leggings under a pale blue knee length ruffed skirt.


While Florence had a black belt with the same shade of blue polka dots round her waist, Ida did not – but she was wearing a pair of knee length black biker boots, while Florence had on a pair of black shoes with white ankle socks.  As to what they were dancing to, I honestly had never heard it before, but it was a catchy enough tune, and they seemed to be enjoying it – until Ida saw me and stopped, saying “who are you?”


“Well,” Janna said as she slipped off her rucksack “we’re here to play a wonderful game with you, your brother and your mother.  It’s a surprise for all three of you – but as we found you first, how about you start to play the game, and then the others can join in?”


“What’s the game,” Florence said as she looked at me.


“That you are both pop stars who have been kidnapped by a bad couple, along with their manager and their minder, and held for ransom.  Now, we like to make this game as real as possible, so we will use some rope to tie you up, and something to keep you quiet – but, in return, you get to sing along to any music you want with your brother and your mother.”


“How can we sing if we are kept quiet,” Ida said as she put a finger to her lips.


“You’ll see – so, if you are ready, I guess we kidnap the pop stars first, then find their manager and minder.  Want to play?”


I smiled as they both nodded, and Janna took two lengths of white cord from her bag.  “Well then, we need you both to be very quiet,” I said, “and put your hands behind your backs.”


The two girls did as I asked them, looking at me as I unravelled two longer lengths, while Janna made sure their wrists were secured firmly together.  She then took one of the longer lengths, doubled it over, and started to wind it round Florence’s arms and body to hold them against her sides.


“This feels like a hug,” she laughed quietly as Janna pulled the ropes tighter and secured them, then did the same thing to her younger sister.  Ida giggled as she felt her arms getting more and more immobilised, before the two girls started to dance round to a new song.


“They seem to be enjoying the game,” I said as Janna looked on.  “Do you think it is time we got their mother and brother to join in?”


“I think so – but before we go in, we need to make sure they cannot warn the two of them what is happening,” Janna said as the girls stopped, watching her as she took the roll of white tape from her bag.  “Purse your lips – this will not hurt a bit…”





“So,” Annabelle said as she sat with the couch with Simon, “do you understand now?”


“Yes, Mum,” Simon said with a smile as we came into the room, and they both looked at us, then at Florence and Ida as they stood there with their upper body bound, and white tape covering their jaw from ear to ear.


“Whrrbhhnkhdnhhohd,” Florence said as Annabelle stared at all of us.  She was wearing a white blouse over a vest top, her long brown hair over her shoulders, and blue jeans with the legs tucked into knee length brown boots.  Simon was wearing a blue shirt, the sleeves rolled back to his elbows, brown checked knee length pants and brown trainers with white socks – and as he looked at his sisters, he said “mummy, why are they like that?”


“That’s what I’d like to know,” Annabelle said as she stood up. 


“Well, it would appear we have found the manager and the minder,” I said to Janna.  “Pity they saw us taking these two little starlets hostage – it means they are going to have to come with them as well.”


“Hostage?  Starlets?  What are you…”  She suddenly stopped and looked at both of us, before she sat back down and said “Oh…  I had forgotten…”


“We always like to book people who book us by surprise,” Janna said with a smile, “why don’t you tell Simon what is going on – the girls have a little trouble talking.”


“Simon – I booked these people to play a special game with all of us,” Annabelle said as she looked at her son.  “You chose the pop starlets scenario, right?”


“that’s right,” I said as I looked at Simon, “you are their minder, and your mother their manager – and we’re taking you all hostage until the ransom is paid.  As we said to the girls, we make it as realistic as possible, but we’re not going to hurt anyone.”




“I know it looks a little scary,” Annabelle said as she brushed her son’s hair from his face, “but the girls are happy -aren’t you girls?”


“Hyhssmhm,” Ida mumbled, the tape moving over her lips, “hnddwhchnshhnlhthrrhswhl.”


Simon nodded as I said “so, here’s what we are going to do.  The girls are going to be secured a little more by my friend, while I make sure their minder is just as secured as them.  Then we’re going to take the manager to shoot a ransom video, before we take you all to the lair and wait for the ransom to come.  So girls – sit on the floor, and Simon, I want you to stand in front of your mother.”


“Let’s all play together,” Annabelle said as Simon slowly got off the couch and stood in front of her, while I took some rope and guided his wrists behind his back.  Janna was also taking more ropes form her bag, and knelt down to pass the first length round Ida’s ankles, then pulled it tight to make sure they stayed together as she wound the rope round them.


Florence was watching as she took the rope round and between her legs, while I tied the rope off behind Simon, then doubled over a longer length and used it to secure his arms to his sides, making two bands as we had done with the girls. “It’s like you giving me a big hug, Mummy,” he giggled as I pulled the ropes tighter, and then tied them off before I secured the ends to his wrists as well.


“Now,” I said with a smile, “it’s your turn to sit down.  My friend is going to make sure your legs can’t move, just like with the popstars, while I do what I just did to your manager.”


Both of them were watching as Janna secured Florence’s legs together below her knees, both of them twisting their bound legs round as Annabelle stood up, and helped her son to sit back on the couch.  She then stood up, took two more lengths of rope from her bag, and came over as I guided his mother’s hands behind her back.


“Whcchnnhtmhff,” Florence said.


“Bthwhchcnshnn,” Ida answered as they both tried to sing a song, making Simon giggle as Janna started to bind his ankles together.  As she did, I doubled rope over and wrapped it round Annabelle’s crossed wrists, forcing them together as I took the rope round and between her limbs.


“Where is your lair,” she said as the rope rubbed on her wrists. 


“Your bedroom,” I said as I pulled the rope between her arms, while Janna started to bind Simon’s legs together below his knees.  Tying the ends off, I then wrapped rope round her upper body, pulling her arms against her sides below her chest as her blouse was pulled to the side.


“Time for you to be quiet – can’t have their minder calling for help,” Janna said as she peeled a length of tape from the roll, and then pressed it firmly down over Simon’s mouth as the girls watched.


“Fhknnkuh,” he mumbled as Annabelle found the bands pressing against her, before I tied them off.


“Now,” Janna said as she turned the television on, “I’ll keep an eye on them while you take the manager to make the ransom video.”


“Shall we,” I said as I took Annabelle by the arm.


“Do what the lady says – I don’t want nay of you to get hurt,” she said, her children nodding as we walked out of the room and up the stairs.  Once we were out of sight, she started shaking as she said “please, they’re just kids…”


“and they are having fun, aren’t they,” I said with a smile.  “So keep telling them it’s a game, you will be fine.”  We went into the room as I said “lie face down – I’m going to secure your legs, and while I do that, you can tell me where all your valuables are…”


Annabelle lay on her stomach, looking over her shoulder as I crossed and secured her ankles together, and then secured her legs below her knees, before I pulled her feet back and tied her ankles to her chest ropes.  As I did this, she told me where to look, so that as I pressed the white tape over her mouth she could lie there and watch me search the room.


Once I had finished, I moved her so that she was lying on her side across the tope of the bed, and left her, returning a few minutes later with Simon in my arms.  I laid him on his stomach facing her, and hogtied him as well as they ‘talked’ to each other, then left them again.


A few minutes later, Janna and I carried Florence and Ida in, putting them next to their brother and hogtying them as well as I took some photos of them with Annabelle’s mobile phone.


“There,” I said with a smile as they wriggled round, and Janna put the radio on.  “Time to send the ransom demand.  Just stay there and don’t move – sing along if you want.  We’ll check you later.”


Janna and I left the family to have fun on the bed, and left the back of the house, taking the stocking masks off as we carried heavy bags round the side and out of the cul-de-sac.  As we got into the car, Janna laughed and said “we did it?”


“We did it,” I said as we both heard sirens, “and not before time.  Let’s get out of here…”







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