The Games Player – Escape Challenge
Sometimes, it is the simplest stories that give me the greatest pleasure, and me recent visit to the Bondar family certainly filled that description. Olek Bondar was the owner of a very successful chain of gold traders – a young man, in his early thirties, tall with short dark hair and a neat beard. His wife Alla was a year younger, with long dark hair, while they had a five year old daughter called Daryna.
So it was a Saturday morning when I approached their detached house, while Steve took our child to the park for the day. I was dressed in my standard outfit – a black leather jacket over a black sweater and leggings, with a pair of knee length black leather boots. I could see the SUV parked in the driveway as I looked round, and then slipped up the side of the house, pausing to take a pair of leather gloves from one jacket pocket and slip them on, then the stocking from the other pocket and pulling that down over my head.
Smiling, I checked the contents of my rucksack and removed one thing, before I walked slowly up to the back door and opened it. There was nobody in the kitchen, but I could hear laughter and then footsteps as someone approached, so I stood to the side and waited.
To my surprise, it was Olek who walked in, wearing a white t-shirt and knee length black shorts with grey stripes at the side. He made his way over to the sink and filled the kettle, before plugging it in, turning round – and seeing me standing there, smiling under the nylon as I pointed the starting pistol at him.
“Shcho ... Khto ty? Chomu ty v moyemu domi?”
“Please,” I said quietly, “I know you speak English, Olek Bondar, so do so. Remain calm – I have no desire to hurt you or your family, but I need you to do something so that your little Daryna is not scared.”
He looked at me, and then said “I have heard of you in the news – you are the Games Player, no?”
“I am,” I said quietly, “so you will know that so long as you do as I say, nobody gets hurt, and often the family gets to have fun together. Do you understand?”
As he slowly nodded, he said “I have your word?”
“You have my word – what are you doing?”
“Tea for my wife and I. Will you allow us to have that before you do whatever you are going to do?”
“Of course – so long as you do nothing to raise the alarm. And your daughter?”
“Is with my wife.”
I nodded as I said “Please, make the tea…”
“Who were you…” Alla Bondar stared at Olek and me as we walked in, Olek carrying a tray with a teapot, milk, and cups, and me carrying a glass of squash. Alla was wearing a black vest top with a deep scoop neck, and a pair of crimson pants with a white floral print on them. She also was barefoot – unlike little Daryna. She was wearing white slippers, and a yellow sundress with an apron over the front, a picture of a bowl of flowers on a cream background.
“This is an actress,” Olek said as he set the tray down, “who I have hired to play a special game with all three of us. She is going to help us all to do an escape challenge.”
Alla stared at him, the ponytail her hair was in hanging down her back, as Daryna said “what is an escape challenge Papa?”
“This lady is pretending to be a robber,” Olek said as he poured the tea into a cup and handed it to his wife, as I gave Daryna her glass of squash, “and she will do something to all three of us to make it difficult for us to move or talk. She leaves us like that for a while, then when she gives the signal we try to escape.”
Alla nodded as she said “well, your father has done something nice for us, Daryna. Have your drink, and then the lady will show us what she is going to do.”
As Daryna sipped her drink, I said “do not worry – I am not going to hurt your parents or you, but you will not be able to do much more than wriggle for a while. Is there anything you might like to watch once you are all ready before I give the signal to try to escape?”
“Can we watch Paw Patrol, Mama?”
“Of course we can,” Alla said. Olek had said nothing, but she had figured out what was happening, and she had accepted it.
After a short while, I produced from my rucksack a roll of silver tape, and said “so we are going to start now – and to show you there is nothing to be afraid of, your papa will take care of your mama first. I want you to take this, and then wrap the tape tightly round her wrists in front of her.”
“Are you ready,” Olek said as he took the roll of tape, Alla nodding as she watched him tear the end of the roll free.
“That sounds funny,” Daryna said with a giggle as he wrapped the tape round her wrists, the peeling sound not what she had expected. When Olek had torn the tape free and smoothed it down, I said “good – now your mama is going to put her hands under her chin, and papa will use the tape around her body to make sure she cannot move her hands back down.
He made a silver band round her body as Alla smiled, before smoothing it down behind her back. “See – I am praying we all have fun,” she laughed, Daryna joining in as I told Olek to kneel down and tape his wife’s ankles together, and then her legs below her knees, their daughter watching the whole time.
“now, one last thing,” I said as Olek stood up. “Papa will kiss mama, and then he will put some of the tape over her mouth as well.”
“We will talk later,” Olek said quietly, Alla nodding as he gently kissed her, and then pressed several strips of the grey tape down over her mouth.
“So, who is next,” he said as he handed me the roll of tape.
“You,” I said as I tore the end free, “sit on the other side of Daryna.”
The young girl watched as I taped her father’s wrists tightly together, then watched as he out his hands under his chin and I wrapped the tape round his arms and upper body. As he nodded, Daryna said “does it hurt, Papa?”
“No,” he said as I knelt down and taped his ankles together, “it does not hurt. In fact, it is – comfortable, is it not Mama?”
“Yhsshhths,” Alla nodded as I taped Olek’s legs together below his knees, and then stood up. He leaned over and kissed his daughter on the head, then nodded before I tape gagged him as well.
“Is it my turn now?”
“Yes, it is,” I said as I knelt down, “put your hands together for me, little Daryna.”
She watched, fascinated as I taped her wrists together, and then taped her ankles together as her feet hung over the end of the couch, as well as her legs below her knees. She tried to twist them round as I stood up, and said “so, can you do the same as papa and mama?”
Daryna nodded as she put the tips of her fingers under her chin, and I wrapped the tape round her arms and body, making her giggle as I did so. As she twisted round, Olek and Alla joined in as well, before I said “I need to make sure you are just as quiet now, Daryna. Put your lips together, and don’t move too much, all right?”
She nodded as I smoothed the tape down over her mouth as well, and then turned on the television as I found a Paw Patrol Blu-ray and put it on for them to watch. They seemed happy as I left them alone for a few minutes, and searched the house – disconnecting the phone and the internet, and finding some very nice things to take.
When I looked back in, all three of them were still securely taped, but I double checked before I said “good – when I leave the room this time, count to a hundred, and then try to escape. I’ll be in the kitchen.”
Naturally, two minutes later I was walking away as quickly as I could – and Steve was pleased to see me when I got home.
“Not bad – why?”
“Well – can you keep next Saturday free? My parents will babysit, and we have a challenge?”
“Oh – what sort?”
“One involving a cul-de-sac…”