“And you join us here at Walton College as we start the final of the ladies final, where hot newcomer Allyson Harrison is taking on the senior player Hannah Succomb for the US College title. The girls have warmed up, and we are ready to start the first game.”
The two girls faced each other across the net, the sun shining down as the crowds settled down to what promised to be a fascinating match. As Allyson threw the ball into the air, and swung her racket for the first service, the crowd let out a collective gasp of relief and turned to watch Hannah return the ball. The game continued, rally after rally, with the spectators applauding and letting out gasps of admiration in equal turn.
Not everyone in the college town, however, had their attention on the game. For those for whom tennis was not a great interest, life continued as it would any other day, in the streets and avenues of the town. On one quiet street, the house that was home to Allyson Harrison stood back from the sidewalk, the carefully manicured green lawn being moistened by the sprinklers as the kids played nearby.
To all intents and purposes, there was nothing unusual happening at the house – but if one was to walk round the back of the house, they would notice that the screen door at the rear was slightly ajar and closer examination of the main wooden door would have revealed splinters around where the lock was located. The fact the blinds were down at the front was not that unusual, given the bright sunshine, so nobody realised there may be a problem inside.
“So Harrison has taken the first set 6-4, and it’s Succomb to serve and open the second set.”
The two men looked at each other as they listened to the radio commentary.
“So she might actually win this thing?”
“Possibly – it may be worth waiting a little while and seeing if she comes back – fancy a drink?”
A smile crossed his face as he stood up and made his way to the kitchen, returning with two bottles of Coke.
“A magnificent victory, Allyson – you should be proud.”
“I am – at least Hannah was gracious in defeat.”
Allyson was sat in the back of the SUV, cradling the trophy in her hands as her coach and mentor Susan Duncombe drove to the house. Allyson was about five foot eight, slim with short blonde hair held back by a white headband. She had a small jacket on over her white tennis dress, as Susan had hassled her out of the stadium and into the car after the presentation ceremony.
“Why did we have to leave so quickly anyway – I didn’t even have a chance to shower.”
“We need to pack for the flight tonight – there will be time to shower while I make the final arrangements.” Susan was taller, older, and dark haired, but was a past champion herself and prided herself on knowing the best way to manage her charge.
Susan drove into the driveway of the house, and jumped out to open the door for Allyson. As she climbed out, she glanced up at the windows, with the blinds pulled down.
“Funny,” she said as she closed the door behind her.
“What is?” Susan asked as she rummaged for the keys to the front door.
“I could have sworn I left the blinds open this morning. Oh well, let’s get this over with.”
Susan unlocked the front door, and held to open as Allyson carried the trophy in. Making her way to the front room, she opened the door and placed it carefully on the table, next to the two empty drink bottles.
“Huh?” Allyson said before she felt the gloved hand over her mouth, and the male voice said “Congratulations – now shut up and do as you are told.”
Susan was staring at the young man standing in the kitchen. He was dressed in a dark blue sweater and jeans, with dark glasses covering his eyes, and was smiling at the coach as she continued staring.
“Say that again?” she stammered.
“I said, do as you’re told or you and your young protégé will not like what happens. So, put your bag on the table, and don’t make any sudden movements or loud noises.”
As she stood there, assessing her chances, Susan was more concerned about the lack of noise from Allyson then her own personal safety. She weighed up the options in her mind, and came to a decision.
“Fuck you,” she screamed as she threw the kit bag she was carrying at the intruder and made a dash to run past him to the rear door. To her dismay, however, he dodged the bag and leaped on her as she tried to run past, pushing her face down to the ground. Rolling her onto her back, he straddled over her and sat on her waist as he held her wrists firmly down against the floor.
“That,” he said as he brought her wrists together above her head and held them with one gloved hand, “was a really stupid thing to do.” To emphasise the point, he brought his other hand up and slapped Susan hard across the cheek.
“Try that again, and I’ll strip you and make sure you cannot move an inch. Do I may myself absolutely, perfectly fucking crystal clear?”
Susan looked up at the young man, and nodded, afraid to open her mouth in case she started crying. The man looked up at the table beside them, and took a napkin from the top.
“Open up, Bitch,” he snarled, and as Susan opened her mouth he stuffed the cloth into her mouth. Getting off her body, he pulled her up and held her tightly by the arm.
“What on earth is happening to Susan?” Allyson asked as the man knelt in front of her. He had allowed her to remove her jacket, and she now sat there in a short sleeved tennis dress, made of white material with a pleated skirt, tennis shoes and socks.
“I think your coach is trying to be a heroine – you’re not going to do that, are you?”
“N…. no,” Allyson said with a slight sob. After she had been grabbed, the man had sat her down and explained in very great detail exactly what would happen if she failed to do exactly as he said. So great was the detail, especially the part about the coarse rope and the bed, that she had merely nodded and agreed to do what she was told.
On the floor beside her, she could see a large canvas bag that now contained the trophies and plates that had adorned her display cabinets that morning, her latest prize nestling on the top. The intruder had placed it there before kneeling back in front of her, taking her wrists in his hands and starting to wrap a doubled over length of rope around them. It wasn’t actually hurting Allyson as he pulled the ropes tighter, but she knew as he methodically wrapped the rope around that this was just the first step of her immobilisation.
As he tied the ends of the rope out of reach of her long fingers, the room door was opened and she saw another young man push Susan into the room. She had a welt rising where she had been struck, and a cloth napkin stuffed into her mouth. Other then that, she was still wearing the white tracksuit with blue side panels that she had come into the house wearing.
“Give you some trouble, did she?” the man attending to Allyson said as he watched his companion push Susan face down onto a long couch in the room.
“Nothing I couldn’t handle – pass me some rope. What about this one?”
“Quiet as lamb after I explained what was going to happen – weren’t you, Allyson?”
“Yes,” the young player whispered as she watched the other intruder pull Susan’s wrists behind her back and begin to tie them together, palm to palm. Once they were secured, he took a longer length and started to pull Susan’s elbows together as well.
“Please, don’t do that to me,” Allyson pleaded with the first man as he knelt in front of her, tying her legs together above her knees while she sat there.
“You just do as we tell you, then that won’t happen to you. Put your ankles together now.”
Allyson hardly noticed the fact her ankles were being crossed and bound as she watched what was happening to her coach. With her wrists and elbows tied, the young man had started to tie her ankles together, pulling tightly as he did so, then rolled Susan violently over as he pulled more rope around her legs, both above and below her knees.
Susan looked over at her student, sat in the chair with her wrists, ankles and legs bound, and wanted to offer some support, but a mixture of pain and shame, not to mention the fact her mouth was filled with cloth, made that next to impossible. She merely watched as the other man pushed Allyson back into the chair she was sitting in, and took a long length of rope from a bag. Doubling it over, he passed it around Allyson’s upper body and the back of the chair, and pulled tightly.
In return, Allyson could only watch silently as Susan was rolled back onto her stomach, and her ankles pulled back until they almost touched the backs of her knees. A final length of rope was then used to secure them to her wrists, leaving Susan in an incredibly tight hogtie. For her part, the rope that was passed around Allyson’s body to secure her to the chair was then passed down and around her wrists, then her ankles before it was pulled under the chair and the ends secured to a bar at the bottom of the rear legs.
The two men stood up and checked each other’s handiwork, before coming together and looking at their captives.
“Did you find it,” the older man said almost casually to the younger one.
“Upstairs, but we need the combination.”
“Well then ask her.”
The young man who had bound Susan walked over and squatted in front of Allyson.
“What’s the combination?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“The safe combination - what is it?”
“I…. I don’t know.”
The sting of the slap took her by surprise. “I won’t ask so nicely again,” the young man said as he cupped Allyson’s chin in his hand, “What is the combination to the safe?”
“I swear, I don’t know,” Allyson sobbed, but this didn’t seem to satisfy the man, who pulled back on Allyson’s hair, making her scream loudly.
“The combination, you little tart, NOW!!” he screamed, but Allyson merely started crying as Susan tried to get his attention.
“I think she wants a word,” the other intruder said as he walked over and pulled the napkin out of Susan’s mouth. “Well?”
“She really doesn’t know,” Susan gasped, “I’ll give you the combination.”
“See, all it takes is a little persuasion,” the young man said as he walked back over to the couch. As he said “Well”, the other intruder walked over and removed a handkerchief from his pocket.
“I am sorry you got hurt,” he said as he wiped the tears from Allyson’s cheeks, “but he does get enthusiastic. Try to stop crying, please - it won’t help with what comes next.”
“Next?” Allyson asked quizzically as she stopped herself from crying and watched the young man leave the room.
“Just sit quietly,” was the reply as the two men left Allyson and Susan alone for a moment.
The two women stared at each other, sizing up their respective situations, before the intruder returned with a number of rolls of white material in his hand.
“Open wide,” he said to Susan as he stood to the side of the couch. Although she stared at him, she did as she was asked and offered no resistance to the roll of white gauze that he put into her mouth. Starting with one end of a roll of white bandage, he started to wrap it tightly around Susan’s mouth and head, gagging her more tightly with each pass.
Allyson watched, entranced, until he fixed the end of the bandage with white tape and slapped Susan’s bottom. The muffled squeal satisfied him that she was silenced, and he walked back over to Allyson.
“Now, are you going to be a good girl?” he asked as he brushed some stray blonde hairs from her cheek.
“Yes,” Allyson whispered in reply.
“Good girl. Put your lips together and keep your breathing regular through your nose, and you’ll be just fine.”
She looked up into the face of the man, the sunglasses obscuring his eyes and the stubble on his chin, as he tore a strip of wide adhesive tape off the roll and carefully smoothed it over her lips. Four more pieces followed, each layered over the other, until she felt a pulling on her jaw and realised it was next to impossible to move her lips.
“Will that be enough?” the younger man asked as he came back in and deposited a number of velvet sacks into the bulging canvas bag.
“I think so – they’re not going to cause any trouble, are you girls?”
Susan and Allyson both shook their heads, only eager for their visitors to go and the ordeal to be over.
“See – no trouble at all. Well,” he said as he picked up the bag, “Sorry to disrupt your plans, but we’ll be on our way now. Good luck to both of you!”
The two bound women watched as the men left the room, closing the door behind them, and listened to the sound of footsteps retreating towards the kitchen. They stayed still for some time, listening to the sounds outside and wondering if they were truly alone. Allyson tried moving her arms, but the way the rope had been tied around her wrists and ankles made it difficult to move more than a few inches.
For her part, Susan was testing how much give she had in her hogtie – to which the answer was very little at all. Little as it was, however, she could see she had more movement that her protégé, sat as she was and immobilised in the chair. As the sun began to set in the front of the house, she began to despair of what she would be able to do when her thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the door.
“Car for Miss Harrison and Miss Duncombe,” a male voice called out, and Allyson and Susan stared at each other.
“PLS….. HLP SSSS..” Allyson called out as loudly as she could. They heard the bell ring and the knock, and then nothing. Thinking their chance had passed, they were beginning to despair when they heard the voice saying “What the hell….”
Looking up, Susan could see a uniformed driver staring through a gap in the blinds. “CM RND T BCK” Allyson called out as he backed off, and then the sound of footsteps could be heard in the corridor.
The chauffer burst into the room, running to Allyson and peeling the tape away from her mouth. “I’ve asked despatch to call the police – you’re going to be all right,” he said as Allyson started sobbing, her head pressed into his chest.