Wrap Up Warm
“Turn the television off, Anna – we’ll have nightmares if you don’t.”
The closing music to the crime reconstruction program was cut off as Anna turned off the television set at the mains. She lived with her mother, Josephine, in a small village located in the area around Oslo, and the early autumn chill was starting to reach a level where it could be felt. One of the things they enjoyed doing before retiring for the night was watching their favourite television programs – of which this was one.
“So why do we watch it if we get nightmares?” Anna asked as she sat back down and picked up her warm drink. A nineteen year old woman, she was dressed in a pair of pale blue cotton pyjamas with matching bedsocks and a long white scarf wrapped twice around her neck and tucked in at the front. She found this the best way of keeping warm in the autumn, when the wind could sometimes come in from the nearby mountains and cause a severe drop in the temperature.
“It’s exciting if frightening” Josephine answered. In her early forties, she was also dressed in cotton pyjamas – white in her case – with bedsocks and a dark blue scarf around her neck. “Did you hear about what happened to that family in Bernburg?”
“The one that was taken hostage in their own home? Yes, I did – it’s frightening to think what some people will do to get what they want.”
“By the way,” Josephine asked as she took a drink from her mug, “What time are your friends coming round tomorrow?”
“About 7 o’clock – we’re responsible for opening up tomorrow morning.”
“In which case,” her mother replied as she put her cup on the coffee table, “We need to get to bed. Make sure everything is locked up – we don’t have any men in the house to take care of us.”
Turning the light off in the main room, the two women climbed the stairs of the detached house and made their way to their bedrooms. The house lay peaceful and still, as one or two cars passed in the road outside.
Josephine woke with a start. Looking at the clock by her bedside, she saw the hands showing the time at about four o’clock, and the moonlight was trying valiantly to break through the heavy curtains. She thought she had heard something breaking, but as she lay in the dim light there was nothing to be heard.
“Probably just a dream,” she thought as she turned over, pulled the duvet back over herself and started to go back to sleep. The wind was starting to blow through some trees in the street outside, and she heard the squeak as the branches swayed.
A few minutes passed before Anna woke up with a start. She lay still, listening to what she thought was her mother moving around on her way to the toilet, but the foot fall sounded too heavy. As she pulled the duvet up towards her head, she saw the handle on her bedroom door start to turn and the door open inwards, followed by a dark clad form that quietly came over to her bed. She lay there, terrified, as a leather gloved hand was gently placed over her mouth and the duvet pulled back.
She was dreaming – running in the forest, pursued by some dark beast. She kept running forward, not looking back, until suddenly she was grabbed from behind and something firmly placed over her mouth….
Josephine opened her eyes to see a man sitting on the bed next to her. His gloved hand was over her mouth, and he had placed the barrel of the small gun he was holding to what she thought were his lips. It was a bit difficult to tell, as he had a black stocking pulled over his head and face, obscuring his features even if there had been light in his room.
“Listen carefully,” he said as he kept his hand over her mouth. “In a moment, I am going to take my hand away. I want you to sit up, with your back against the wall, put your hands on top of your head and keep quiet. Do you understand?”
“Ysss,” she mumbled under the gloved hand.
“Good girl,” he said as he took her hand away. Josephine sat up, as he had asked, and watched as the door was opened and Anna brought in, her hands on her own head, by another person. The man reached over and turned on the bedroom light, saying as he did so “Please sit next to your mother, young girl.”
As Anna sat next to her, Josephine looked at the two intruders. The new arrival was a woman, slightly smaller than the man, with a stocking over her head. She could tell that the woman had blonde hair, even through the dark silk. Both were dressed in black sweaters and trousers, with soft soled shoes.
“What do you want with us,” Anna said as she sidled over to be close with her mother.
“You will find out in good time, but for the moment we both need you to be here. Please, my dear, have a look in the wardrobe and drawers and see what you can find.”
“Certainly, darling,” the woman replied as she turned and opened the doors of the wardrobe that was along the opposite wall of Josephine’s bedroom. As she rummaged through the drawers and hangers, the man stood up and watched the two women as they sat there, quietly wondering what would happen to them.
“I see you like scarves,” the woman said as she deposited pile after pile on the foot of the bed. There were scarves of all shapes and sizes – large and small, square and thin, silk and cotton, a large collection of them.
“Any sign of jewellery yet?”
“Please, if you will leave us alone I will tell you both where the jewellery is, just don’t hurt us.”
The man looked at Josephine. “You love your daughter, don’t you?”
“Yes,” she replied as she looked over at Anna, who was shaking slightly.
“Well then, keep quiet or she is the one who will get hurt. Do you think you have enough there?”
“To begin with yes,” the women replied as she closed the drawer, and selected from the pile a red bandana with a white pattern, and a long red scarf with silver thread running through it.
“All right,” the man said as he pointed at Anna,” Make your way over here and stand in front of me, with your hands on your head.”
“Please, don’t hurt her! I’ll do anything, but please….”
“It’s all right, mum,” Anna said as she shuffled to the edge of the bed, stood up and walked over. As she stared at the male intruder, his partner walked over and stood behind her.
“Put your hands behind your back, my dear,” the man said, and as she did so the woman took hold of Anna’s wrists, crossed them and used the rolled up bandana to tie them tightly together, pulling the scarf tightly and passing the ends between her wrists to cinch the binding. Before she had a chance to react, she passed the long scarf between her wrists as well, pulling her wrist together even more tightly, then passed the ends around her waist and brought them back round again, tying the ends together so that Anna’s wrists were held firmly in the small of her back.
The masked woman walked back to the pile, and selected a large brown cotton headscarf. Rolling it into a band, she passed it around Anna’s arms above her elbows and pulled them together, forcing her chest to start to strain against the front of her pyjama jacket, and tied them together before securing the ends back to the wrist binding. Finally, she selected an olive green pashmina, and passed it around Anna’s arms and chest below her breasts, securing them to her side as tightly as she could.
“Excellent work, darling,” the man said. “Now, why don’t you sit down – I’m sorry, what is your name?”
“Well, Anna, why don’t you sit down while I take care of your mother? If you would take the gun, my dear?”
Josephine realised that she was going to be tied in the same way as her daughter, so as Anna sat down on the edge of the bed she managed to stand up and walk over to face the man. She could see him smiling through the stocking.
As she did so, she looked at her daughter and the female intruder as she handed the man a selection of scarves. He picked out a black bandana, and as she felt her wrists being tied together she watched the woman start to sort out the pile into different types and shapes of scarf. As she felt her wrists being pulled against her back, she looked down and saw he was using her own pale blue chiffon scarf to secure them to her waist.
“What are you intending to do to us?”
“You’ll see,” the mans aid as he took a long grey woollen scarf and passed it around her lower arms and chest, pulling tightly as he did so, before doing the same with a paisley shawl over her upper arms and chest. Taking two Hermes scarves and rolling them into bands, he used them to pass around the chest bindings under her arms, pulling tightly and making it more difficult for her to move.
“Have a seat next to your daughter,” the man said, and Josephine sat herself down next to Anna. He walked over to have a word with his companion, and as he did so she turned to her daughter.
“Are you all right, Anna?”
“Yes,” she whispered, “but how are we going to get out of this? I’m scared.”
“So am I, so am I – let’s try and keep each other brave.”
Looking over at her clock, she saw it was just after five am. The sound of a street cleaning van could be heard coming down the street. As it approached their house, Josephine looked at her daughter, and started to shout “HELP!! PLEASE, HELP US, WE’RE BEING….”
The gloved hand of the man was slapped over her mouth, as the woman pulled back on Anna’s hair and gagged her as well.
“I thought I told you to be quiet,” the man hissed as he went into a pocket and pulled out a large man’s handkerchief. “Open your mouth.”
“No, pls I’ll be gddd” Franzsika said as he pushed the white cotton into her mouth. “Any more in that drawer?” he asked his companion, who rummaged in a drawer and pulled out a handful of ladies handkerchiefs. Throwing him two pale blue ones, he stuffed them into her mouth as well before grabbing a small, thin white lace choker and pulling it into her mouth, forcing the packing back and cutting slightly into the corners of her lips as he tied the ends together at the base of her neck.
She glared at him as Anna looked over, concerned at what might happen to her next. Her fears were confirmed when he pulled another large handkerchief from a pocket and approached her.
“No,” she said as she clamped her mouth shut. “Dearest,” the man said, and Anna let out a yelp of pain as her hair was pulled back. The yelp was quickly stifled by the cloth being pushed into her mouth, followed by two more ladies handkerchiefs and a thin muslin wrist scarf. Tears fell down her cheeks as she looked over at her mother.
“I think we need to keep them really quiet,” the woman said, and Josephine’s eyes widened as she passed the man a pale green Hermes silk scarf, with a paisley pattern on it, that had been rolled into a band and a knot tied in the middle. Taking hold of the knot, she gasped as he pushed it between her teeth, forcing the packing still further in, and then tightly tied the ends together at the base of her neck. Even this was not enough to satisfy him, as he was passed a brown wool headscarf, which he folded into a wide band and tied over her mouth.
“Try making noise now,” he said as he pinched her left breast, but all Josephine heard was a muffled squeak. Looking at her daughter, she was shocked to see the knot in the centre of another Hermes scarf being pulled between her teeth and the ends knotted together. A woollen scarf was then tied over Anna’s mouth, the ends dangling at the back of her neck.
“Isn’t silence wonderful,” the man said as his companion came round. The two of them came round and looked at their captives as both Anna and Josephine tried to calm themselves and breathe through their noses.
“I’m afraid we need to make sure you don’t see what happens next,” the man said as he lifted Anna’s head up by her chin. Josephine started to frantically writhe round, trying to get loose and shout something, but the feel of the gun muzzle against her head made her sit still.
“I’m not going to do anything to your daughter – beautiful as she is – we just need to make sure she can’t do anything else to raise the alarm,” the man said as he picked up two ladies handkerchiefs and folded them into little squares. “Don’t panic, my dear – when we have finished elsewhere in the house, you will be brought back here and treated the same way, but you need to see why she will not. If you would help, darling?”
Josephine watched as the man took the handkerchiefs and placed them over Anna’s eyes, before the woman took a pale green chiffon scarf and tied it over her eyes and head to keep the pads in place. She then took a purple bandana, folded into a wide band, and tied that over her eyes as well. When she picked up a large brown woollen shawl, Josephine began to wonder exactly what she would do with that.
Her question was answered when the woman folded the shawl in half along the diagonal, and passed it over Anna’s blindfolds so that the long edge was centred over her nose. She then passed the ends round the back of her neck, trapping the point as she did so, and around her neck, before passing them back again and tying them together over the point. Anna sat there, with only her nose showing through the scarves that had been wrapped around her head.
“Why don’t you take the young girl back to her own room and make her comfortable, while I take the mother round the house, dearest?”
The woman smiled and took Anna by the arm. She moved her head around, a sound like “Mmm” came from the scarves around her mouth, and she allowed herself to be led out of the room.
“Shall we?” the man said as he took Josephine by the arm and led her down the stairs.
The bedside clock in Anna’s room was showing six fifteen when the man brought Josephine in the see her daughter.
“Sndy!” she mumbled as she saw her daughter lying there. Her legs had been tied together, above and below her knees, with two red long silk scarves, and a further scarf passed between her legs to cinch the bindings. A yellow bandana had been rolled up and used to tie her ankles together, and a second one tied between her legs. The woman had emptied out her scarf collection, and was busy sorting a number of them out on the floor.
“R u l rght?” Josephine mumbled, and the brown covered head moved slightly as “Ys” came from somewhere within the wrappings.
“Time to take care of you, I think, and then we can be on our way,” the man said as he took Josephine by the arm and led her back to the bedroom. Sitting her down on the bed, she watched him pick up two small handkerchiefs.
“nnnn,” she screamed as she looked at him.
“I beg your pardon – you do realise we are going to blindfold you?”
“ys – bt tn yt.”
“As you wish, my dear,” the man said as he put the small cloth pads down, and selected instead a pale blue long silk scarf that Josephine usually wore around her neck over a matching dress.
Kneeling in front of her, he passed the scarf around her ankles and pulled tightly, before crossing and passing the scarf around her feet. Taking them back around her ankles, he tied the ends together and then used a second small blue scarf to cinch the ankle bindings.
“Let me help you,” he said as he lifted her legs up and moved them around ninety degrees so that Josephine had her legs laid out in front of her. As he picked up two large patterned head scarves and folded them into bands, she could hear the sound of a car coming down the street. Glancing at her clock, she could see the hands creeping round to seven o’clock, and the conversation she had last night with her daughter came back to mind.
“There,” he said as he tied a final scarf between her legs, “That should keep you nice and safe.
“Oh,” he said as the sound of footsteps descending the staircase came through, “I can hear the car as well. In fact, you can say that is the other reason we dropped in tonight. Keep quite still now.”
Josephine sat there, beads of perspiration starting to form on her head, as the sound of car doors opening and closing and two women talking came closer. She realised these would be Betty and Veronica, Anna’s friends from work, and more worryingly they always came in without asking, especially as they had left the light on downstairs.
The front door opened and closed, and Josephine listened as muffled sounds also came from Anna’s room.
“Anna? Where are you – we need to get going.”
“Have you looked in the main room?”
“Hang on a minute – I’ll check.”
“What is it now?”
Josephine could hear three sets of footsteps coming up the stairs, and then calls of “Oh my god – Anna!” before the door opened and the woman brought both Betty and Veronica into the bedroom.
“Good morning ladies – you must forgive both Anna and her mother, they weren’t able to greet you properly this morning.”
Josephine looked up at the two women with a look of apology and fear. They were older than Anna – one was 21, the other 23 – but they were good friends and the three of them did a lot together. They stood there in their work outfits – white blouse, dark blue scarf tied as a cravat round their necks, blue jacket and skirt and black boots, with their hands on their heads and their handbags over their shoulders.
“Ladies, you will have to forgive us but time is short. Will you please give your bags to my wife, and empty your pockets onto the bed beside Anna’s mother.”
The two women looked at each other, before doing as they were asked. The masked woman quickly searched the contents of the bags, taking their mobile phones and pocketing them as well as two pass cards.
“Very good, ladies,” the man said, “now we must take care of you both. Do you have anything to say?”
“Are you all right?” Betty asked Josephine, who nodded as the masked women took two large handkerchiefs from their handbags and handed one to each of them.
“All right ladies,” the man said as he picked up the gun and pointed it at them, “Put the handkerchiefs into your mouths.”
“All…. All right,” Veronica said as she balled up the cotton cloth and placed it in her mouth, Betty following suit.
“Very good – now take your scarves off and fold them into bands, before tying a knot in the middle. Do it quickly.”
Josephine watched as the two friends looked at each other, did as they were asked and then pulled the knot between their teeth, tying the ends together behind their heads while the two masked intruders watched.
“Stand quite still and put your hands behind your back,” the man said as he passed two lengths of cotton cord to his partner. The women stood still, wincing slightly as the cord was used to tie their hands together behind their backs.
“All right, my dear, why don’t you take these two downstairs and make them comfortable while I finish here. Take these with you,” he said as he handed the woman a pair of green cotton headscarves. Betty and Veronica looked back as they were led out of the room, while the man picked up the two cotton handkerchiefs.
“Time to say goodbye,” he said, and Josephine offered no resistance as he used the pale blue silk scarf to secure the pads against her eyes. She could here some noises from downstairs as her world became slowly darker, as more scarves were tied over her eyes and head. She then felt herself being lowered and a pillow under her head.
“Thank you for the company,” was the last thing she heard the man say as he left the room. From the room downstairs, she could hear conversation and then the sound of doors closing, followed by silence. She tried calling out, but nothing even remotely decipherable came out, and all she heard was moaning from the other rooms in the house. She lay there, shaking slightly and desperately trying to stay calm.
How much time passed, she had no idea, but Josephine felt rather then heard somebody sit on the bed next to her and pulling at whatever was over her eyes. Slowly, she felt material being pulled back over her head, and light began to seep through the coverings on her eyes. Eventually, she felt the last piece of cloth being removed, and she opened her eyes to see Anna looking at her.
The cloth gags were still tightly tied into her mouth, with a damp patch visible at the edges, and she was still bound, but she had managed to loosen her own blindfold and hop into her mother’s room. The two looked at each other, wondering what to do next, when they heard a crash in the room downstairs.
Indicating with her head, she watched Anna slip off the bed onto the floor, and start to push herself along the floor, grunting as she did so. Sitting herself up with some difficulty, Josephine shuffled over to the edge of the bed and allowed herself to drop down as well. She followed Anna as she made her way slowly along the corridor and position herself at the top of the stairs.
“Rdy?” she grunted at her mother, and Josephine nodded as Anna slowly allowed herself to drop onto the next step on her bottom. As she made her way down, Josephine followed suit, the seat of her pyjamas getting warmer as it rubbed on the carpet.
As she reached the bottom, she watched Anna force herself to stand up, and then hop over to the door of the main room. Pulling down on the handle with her bound hands, she eventually managed to open it, but was unable to stop herself from tumbling over, to the sound of muffled screams.
Josephine contented herself with sliding on her bottom to the door, as Anna struggled to right herself. She could see Betty and Veronica sitting on the floor of the room, with the items the man had scattered around when he had searched the room earlier still there.
They were sat back to back, their upper bodies encased in layer after layer of rope that held them together. Each layer had small ropes tied between their arms and chest, holding them even more tightly. Their ankles and legs were bound in front of them, and the squeak of leather as they struggled to free their legs was unmistakable. The green headscarves were tied over their eyes, as they twisted round trying to work out where the sound was coming from.
“Hldn, grls,” Anna mumbled as she righted herself against a chair, and shuffled over to sit next to them. The two women responded as they felt the new body against theirs, and started to call out as the sound of police sirens came from the distance. Josephine looked at the large clock on the sideboard as it struck noon – eight hours after their ordeal had started. Tears began to flow down her cheeks as the sirens came closer, followed by doors slamming and the sound of someone hammering on the door calling out “Police! Is there anyone in there?”