“Come on mum, I want to go out back and watch the fireworks.”
Karen smiled as she made her way round the streets of Pinner. “Come on, Coleen - you already saw the fireworks at your cousin’s house. Why do you want to watch the displays from the garden?”
“Because they look so wonderful against the night sky - isn’t that right Gran?”
Margaret turned and looked at her seventeen year old granddaughter. “Yes, they look wonderful, Coleen, but your mother’s right - we should not break the speed limit in getting home. I’m sure there will be plenty to see when we get there.”
Karen turned left into the driveway of their detached house, without noticing the small grey transit van that was parked just outside the gateway of the house. The lights of her Daimler illuminated the driveway as it came to a stop, the gravel crunching under the tyres as Karen turned the engine off and stepped out. She was in her early forties, and looked good for her age, with a tall slender body and light brown hair that sat tonight under a beret.
She was dressed in a long sleeved camel coloured jumper, with a matching pashmina wrapped around her neck and shoulders, a light brown skirt that came down to just above her knees, and tight high brown leather boots. As she walked to the door, searching in her large shoulder bag for her keys, Coleen stepped out from the rear of the car and walked round to open the door for her grandmother.
She looked a lot like her mother, although she had her short hair dyed red, and was wearing a green gilet with a fur lined hood that hung down the back over a thick white Fair Isle jumper. Her legs were covered in a pair of thick dark leggings, the cuffs of which were tucked into her black faux workman’s boots.
For her part, Margaret was wearing a thick black coat over her clothes, and her legs were snugly enclosed in a pair of fur lined black suede boots that came to the hen of her outer garment. The edges of a large headscarf could be seen under the collar of her coat, and her silver grey hair was cut into a tight bob around her face. “Thank you, Coleen,” she said as she made her way to the front door of the detached house, as her granddaughter closed the door, locked the car and followed them in.
As the door closed, they did not see the shadowy figure that made its way quietly up the driveway, stopping and indicating as a second vehicle approached at low speed, the headlights off as it came closer...
“Oh, that is so beautiful...”
Coleen took the cup of hot chocolate from her mother’s hands as the two of them stood on the porch in the back garden, watching the fireworks exploding from the nearby houses. “It is - and we have a little while before the main display in the park gets going.”
“Is Gran going to come out and join us?”
“In a little while maybe - she said she wanted to rest first.”
In the front room, Margaret looked out of the window at the exploding lights in the sky. A single standard lamp lit the room as she looked out, a small tear running down her cheek. “You always loved this time of year, George,” she said to herself as she looked on, “I wish you were still here to see it.” She had discarded her coat to reveal a blue silk blouse over a white undergarment, with a grey and blue scarf tied over her shoulders, a knee length pleated blue skirt and thick tights.
As she continued to gaze out of the window, she failed to notice the door to the room opening very slowly, or a grey shadow that seemed to pass into the room. In fact, the first that Margaret knew of what was happening was when the standard lamp was turned off.
“I’m sorry, Karen, I must have lost track of time,” she said as she turned round, before she said “Oh my god.” The white apparition that had appeared before her seemed to tilt to one side as Margaret felt something pulling her arms back, her mouth still open in shock...
As she felt the rope been placed around her neck, crossed in front of her and then wound down her arms, the only word Margaret could say was “You?”
The explosion of colour and noise lit Karen and Coleen’s faces as they gazed up at the night sky.
“Gran really has got to see this,” Coleen eventually said as she handed her mother the mug, “I’ll go and see if I can drag her out.”
“Well, don’t worry if you can’t,” Karen said as she watched her daughter walk in, “I’d rather she rested if she wanted to.”
Coleen made her way towards the front room, saying “You really need to come out and see this, Gran,” as she walked in. The room was in darkness, with only the light from the displays shining in through the bay windows illuminating Margaret as she sat on the long couch.
“Gran,” Coleen said as she came in, “Are you all right?” To her eye, her grandmother seemed to be unnaturally still, her eyes wide as she stared into the shadows. As she walked closer, a large burst of light filled the room with red and green, and Coleen stopped as she saw her grandmother’s true state.
Margaret had coils of rope encircling her chest and arms, which had been pulled behind her back and her scarf, had been used as a very thick and rather effective gag, her lips closing over the thick band of silk as it sat in her mouth. “GTTTTT CLNNN” she tried to scream out, but as Coleen turned she was confronted by what appeared to be two white faces, floating in the air at the same height as her own head as she looked at them.
“What the...” Coleen said as another burst of light filled the room. She saw that what she had taken to be ghosts at first were in fact two women, dressed literally form head to toe in grey with some sort of white featureless mask covering their faces. She also caught the gleam of the light against the metal of the gun that one of them was pointing at her, as both of them cocked their heads to one side with frightening precision.
Coleen sensed rather than saw the third person behind her, and as she looked over her shoulder she saw the same white mask, looking at her as the person held a long length of hemp rope in her hand. Turning back, she saw one of them raise a grey gloved finger to her lips as she felt the rope been draped over her shoulders.
“Plsdntyhrthr,” Margaret pleaded as the rope was taken under Coleen’s arms and wound round them, the motion forcing them back behind her as they were drawn slowly together, her forearms resting on each other as they were secured tightly. She grunted as she felt them been pulled up behind her back, as the intruder fed the ropes through something behind her neck and held them in a horizontal position.
“Why don’t you say something,” Coleen whispered, her eyes wide as she felt the rope been wrapped around her arms and chest, pining them tightly against her back even as her jumper was stretched over her chest, her breasts forced out by the tightness of the bands. She gasped as she felt her chest been constricted, and she was forced by gentle pressure on her shoulders to kneel down.
“What do you want,” Coleen whimpered as she watched one of the apparitions walk to her grandmother, a coil of rope in her hand illuminated by the flash of green light in the window, as she felt her own boots been pulled off and her ankles been pushed together. “In the name of God, say something!”
There was only silence, save for the whimpering of Margaret and the grunt from Coleen...
Karen was still looking at the night sky as she realised just how cold it was outside, and also the fact that she had been standing there alone for some considerable time.
Walking back into the kitchen, she placed the two mugs on the heavy wooden table and made her way down the corridor. As she passed the door to the living room, she called out “I’m just going to the toilet- I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
Inside the room, both Coleen and Margaret tried to reply, but their calls were muted. Coleen now had the knot that had been tied in a band made from a red bandana nestling in her teeth, the end pulled tightly round her hair, and was lying on her stomach, her ankles and legs bound as she struggled to free them from the rope holding her ankles to her chest.
Margaret was on her side on the couch, struggling as well to free her legs from the bands of rope that encircled them as she looked at her granddaughter. On the far side of the room, one of the white faced apparitions had removed a painting from the wall, and was working on opening the small safe that had been uncovered.
As Karen went up the stairs, she unwrapped her pashmina and left it hanging on the banister, walking into the bathroom and closing the door behind her. There was silence for a few minutes, as she took care of herself, before flushing and opening the door. As she did so, she was stopped in her tracks by a woman in a grey catsuit, a white mask covering her face, standing in her way with a pistol in her gloved hand pointing at Karen.
“Oh.... No,” Karen said as the woman slowly tilted her head to one side, and placed a gloved finger to her lips, “It’s you, isn't it? You’re one of those Dolls they talk about in the news?”
The woman said nothing, but bent her finger towards her own body as she looked at Karen. “You want me to come with you,” Karen said quietly, and the Doll nodded as she indicated her bedroom.
Walking in, Karen could see a second Doll, dressed identically to the first one, searching through her drawer. She turned to look at Karen, cocking her head to one side before nodding to the bed. As if at a command, the masked woman pushed Karen gently forward, and pointed to the ground.
“You want me to kneel down,” Karen said, and the intruder nodded as she took a pillow from the bed and placed it on the floor. Karen slowly knelt as she watched the second intruder searching and uncovering one of her jewellery boxes, before a soft thud behind her caught her attention.
As she looked over her shoulders, she saw the Doll doubling over the longest length of rope she had ever seen, and making a small loop in the centre. Placing that against the nape of Karen’s neck, she watched as the grey arms and gloved hands passed the rope over her shoulders and back under her arms, then felt them been drawn back behind her as the rope was looped around them.
“Please, don’t,” Karen almost whimpered as she watched the second Doll removing her jewellery and placing it in a velvet sack, totally oblivious to the fact her arms had been secured in a box tie behind her beck and were held up as her binder pulled the ends of the rope through the loop. The first she became aware of what was happening to her was when she gasped as the rope pulled into her stomach, and she saw that her upper body was been encased in a rope harness.
“Is this what happened to my mother and daughter,” she said as she looked over her shoulder. The Doll tied off the last knot, cocked her head to one side, and then simply nodded. “Are they safe?” Another nod, as Karen was helped to stand up and then sit on the edge of the bed.
“I know you have to do this, but do you have to be so silent?” It was beginning to worry Karen, the complete lack of noise, but the Dolls said nothing as she watched her skirt been folded back and another length of rope tied around her legs, pulling them tightly together as the Doll wrapped it around and between them. Once that was tied off, she fed the rope down her legs and bound her ankles together, side by side, the rope making her lather boots squeak as it rubbed against them, and her legs rubbed against each other.
As she was gently pushed onto her side, and she felt her legs been pulled back and held in place, presumably by more rope, the second Doll went to the wardrobe and took out a large cream silk square, with a picture of a red dragon embroidered on it, and a long length of green chiffon. Rolling that into a ball, she walked over to Karen and held it in front of her mouth.
“All right,” she said quietly as she opened her mouth, and felt the soft sensation of the chiffon on her tongue as the wad was pushed gently in. Rolling the head scarf into a thick band, the doll then pulled it between Karen’s teeth, holding the stuffing in place as she bound it tightly around her head.
The Doll turned the light off, and through the uncovered window Karen could see the firework displays going off, the bursts of yellow, red, green and blue illuminating the room as two white masks seemed to take on a multicoloured hue. “Hgdsssss,” she mumbled as she heard the door closing, and started to try and free herself, the only other sound in the room apart from the squeak of her boots the grunts that escaped from her gagged mouth.
The two Dolls walked down the stairs, and entered the front room, just as a loud bang came from outside and a mass of red and gold sparks illuminated the room. Coleen and Margaret both gasped at the streaked white faces that looked at them, as their colleague joined them and looked out of the window.
Silently, without a word, the three Dolls seemed to melt into the darkness, their faces fading as the light dimmed and the firework displays came to an end. All the bound and gagged women could do was whimper quietly, hoping, praying that someone would come to their aid, before the morning light...