So let those sleigh bells ring-a-ling,
Come on it’s lovely weather
For a sleigh ride together with you...
“Thank you very much, and have a happy Christmas,” Alex said as she waved off the young couple, smiling as she closed the door. She enjoyed working at the jewellers, especially at times of year like December, when people came in looking for that special gift.
She was in her late twenties, and was wearing a purple roll necked sweater and pleated knee length skirt, with a brown leather waistcoat and knee length leather boots. Her red hair was permed, and her blue eyes twinkled as she looked at her follow worker.
Marlene was a couple of years longer, with long brown hair that fell over her neck and shoulders, and she was wearing a long sleeved purple dress with a dark purple tank top, tan hose and low heeled brown suede shoes. She smiled back at Alex before glancing up at the clock.
“Soon be knocking off time,” she said with a sigh, “and I can go and finish my Christmas shopping.”
“You still haven’t finished? What else do you need to get?”
“Oh – just about everything,” Marlene said as Annabeth, the store manager came out. A smaller woman in her late thirties, she wore a cowl necked purple sweater with a light blue leather belt around her waist, a knee length black skirt with a design along the hem, and short black leather boots over her dark hose clad legs.
“We’ve had a good day today,” she said as she smiled, her dark hair held back in a strict ponytail, “even if for some reason we all decided this was going to be a purple day.”
The two younger assistants looked at her and laughed as she went back to the office.
“It’s quiet out there,” Marlene said as she went and looked out of the shop window, “fancy a cup of tea?”
“Oh yeah, I’d love one,” Alex said as her friend went to the small kitchen, leaving her to man the shop by herself.
The silence was broken a few minutes later by the door opening, and Alex looked up to see three people walk in, wearing long grey coats with hoods covering their heads. She noticed that one of the was carrying a large brown bag, and they all had grey felt boots on their feet with grey leggings tucked into them.
“Good afternoon,” Alex said as the third of the women turned and closed the door, “How may I hel...”
Her introductory words were cut short when one of the women pulled her hood down, and she saw that her head was covered in a grey hood, and over her face was a white, featureless mask. As she removed the coat, she saw that the hood and leggings were actually a grey body suit, and that all three were dressed in the same way, their coats falling to the floor as one of them locked the door, and turned the sign to ‘CLOSED’.
Finally, she saw the first of the women produce a small pistol and point it at her, her head cocked to one side as the others came alongside her.
“Can... Can I help you,” Alex finally stuttered, but the women said nothing. The one with the gun merely put a grey gloved finger to the mouth of her mask, while another opened the bag and took out a length of brown rope, doubling it over and making a small loop in the middle, all without saying a word.
The armed intruder then beckoned to Alex with her finger, the young woman coming forward as her eyes were fixed on the gun. Stopping in front of her, she saw the masked woman twirl her finger, and slowly turned round, feeling the rope as the woman draped it over her shoulders, and then wind it down her arms in two spirals, pulling them behind her back as she realised she was being tied up in a way she had never seen on television or in the movies.
Her arms were brought together behind her back, as she felt them being secured together at her wrists, and then pulled further up as the woman fed the rope through the loop and wrapped it round her wrists again.
IT was as if she was caught in a dream, as the masked woman wound the rope around her upper body, trapping her arms to her sides as it encircled and nestled on her chest. She could see her waistcoat being pulled back, and the ropes holding her arms firmly into her sides, before she was turned back round to look at the three masked women.
The armed woman indicated to one of the other women, who collected another length of rope and went behind the counter, while the second one produced a second length of rope and took Alex by the arm, taking her behind the counter as well...
“Couldn’t wait for the tea then,” Marlene said without turning round as she heard the footsteps behind her, “must be really quiet out there Alex.”
She finished pouring the tea into the teapot, and said “Want some milk with that?
As she turned round, she saw not her workmate, but a tall woman, clad literally from head to foot in grey, save for the white mask that covered her face and sat with the hood around it.
“Whoooooo who are you,” Marlene stuttered, but the masked woman said nothing, instead producing a length of rope from behind her back and cocking her head to one side.
“Oh no – is this a robbery,” Marlene whispered, her fear only confirmed as the masked woman slowly nodded.
Marlene swallowed, and said “please, don’t hurt me. I’ll do whatever you say, but don’t hurt me...”
The masked woman said nothing, but instead indicated with her free hand that Marlene should turn round, twirling her gloved index finger to do that. As Marlene turned round, she tried to control the terror rising in her chest, watching as the two long lengths of rope were draped over her shoulder, and then wound in a spiral down each arm, pulling them behind her as she felt her wrists been secured together.
She flexed her fingers, realizing very quickly there was no way she was going to be able to free her wrists, even more so as they were pulled up behind her back and then secured even more. As the ropes went around her arms and chest, she tried to relax, figuring it would be better for her to allow this woman to finish her work than to struggle.
As the last knot was tied, the woman took Marlene by the arm and led her back into the shop, putting a finger to the lips of her mask as she saw Alex sitting on the floor behind the counter. Her legs had been bent, and rope used to secure her legs together below her knees, then played down and tied tightly round her ankles.
“Are you all right,” she whispered, Alex nodding as she was made to sit next to her, and her legs bent, the masked woman taking another length of rope and binding her legs tightly together below her knees, taking the rope between her legs to further tighten the binding. She then took the rope down and bound her ankles in the same way, the knot tucked in behind her ankles.
She was watching Alex the whole time, her friend’s lips over the knot of black cotton that had been tied into her mouth. As she tried to move her legs, she saw another masked woman fold a red cotton scarf into a tight band, and tie a knot in the middle of it, before holding it in front of Marlene’s mouth.
“You... You want me to open my mouth,” she whispered, watching as the woman slowly nodded. As she opened her mouth, she felt the cotton on her tongue as she eased the knot behind Marlene’s teeth, and then tied the band around her head, trapping her hair underneath as she did so.
The two women looked up at the third masked intruder, who nodded to the other two. They collected a number of black velvet bags from the larger brown bag, and started to empty the contents of the display cabinets in, before the third woman picked up the bag, and went towards Annabeth’s office.
“I appreciate the call, sergeant,” Annabeth said into the telephone, “but we haven’t seen any unusually dressed people near out store.
“Three in the last week? Well, if I see anything suspicious, I’ll be sure to give you a call.
“And a merry Christmas to you as well,” she said as she put the phone down, shaking her head. “Masked female robbers,” she mumbled, “whatever will they think of next.”
She heard the knock on the door, and said “come in” without looking up, concentrating instead on the balance sheets she was looking at. She heard the door opening and closing, and waited to see whatever Alex or Marlene had to say.
But there was no word spoken, so she looked up – to see a woman clad in a grey bodysuit and grey gloves looking at her through the slits in a white mask, a small pistol held in her gloved hand and pointing at Annabeth.
She took a few minutes to process what she was looking at, before she said “oh dear lord – masked women. You’re one of the China Dolls aren’t you?”
She watched as the woman slowly nodded and then pointed to the small safe that sat on the floor.
“My assistants, are they harmed?”
The Doll shook her head from side to side, and then pointed again at the safe.
“All right – I’ll do it,” Annabeth said as she slowly stood up, the grey clad woman watching with her head cocked to the side as the safe was opened up. Without stopping looking at the manageress, she picked up a brown leather bag, took out several lengths of rope and a blue scarf, and then handed it to her, pointing to the safe and then to the bag.
“You want me to empty the safe into there?”
She saw the intruder nod again, and nodded herself as she started to pack the gems and money in the safe into the bag. The masked woman said nothing, instead unplugging the telephone and moving it across the table, and also taking Annabeth’s mobile phone from her purse.
Eventually, Annabeth stood up and said “now what?”
In answer, the Doll pulled the desk back from the chair, and indicated that she should sit down. The char itself was a modern desk one, with a padded seat and back support connected by a curved length of metal, and a single support under the seat with three legs protruding from the bottom.
Annabeth took her seat, and stared straight ahead as the rope was draped over her own shoulders, and then wound tightly down her arms as they were taken behind the chair back, her wrists secured together before they were pulled up by feeding the ropes through the small loop at the back of her neck.
She then felt her legs been pulled back as the ropes fell from her wrists to the floor, and then wrapped individually round each ankle, before they were taken back up and tied to her wrist again, leaving her feet suspended in the air with the toes of her boots just above the floor. She then watched as the Doll rolled the blue scarf into a band, and tied a knot in the middle, before she walked round and held the knotted scarf in front of Annabeth’s mouth.
She simply nodded, knowing talking any more was useless, before opening her mouth and allowing the masked robber to gag her, the silk in her mouth strangely comforting as the band was tied tightly round her neck. Looking down, she saw her skirt was covering her knees, despite the position of her ankles, then she looked up and watched as the masked woman closed the brown bag and walked out.
In the main shop, Alex was trying to find some sort of give in the ropes holding her arms in place, but without much success, Marlene just sitting and watching. The return of the third Doll made them both look up, as the other two placed their bags in the large brown one.
They all looked at the two trussed shop workers, before they went out of their line of sight. They could hear the sound like someone putting coats on, and then the door opening and closing, leaving them in silence.
Looking at each other, they waited until they were sure they were alone, before Alex shook her head.
“Whtrrutrrngtddd,” Marlene mumbled, watching as her friend tried to push the gag out of her mouth using her lip and tongue. It took a while for her to figure out what she was trying to do, but when she did, she shook her head and then looked over her shoulder.
Nodding, Alex waited until Marlene had shuffled over slightly, her boots squeaking, and then she allowed herself to fall over, wriggling along the floor until the cotton band holding the knot within her mouth was within reach of Marlene’s fingers.
She then lay as still as he could as her friend tried to ease the gag from her own mouth. She knew it would take time, but she also knew it was the only way any of them were going to get free.