A Walk in the Forest
“I have got to admit,” Elizabeth Massey said as she looked out of the bay windows at the garden leading to the wood, “it was good of Aunt Roseanne to invite us to come and stay for a week.”
“Yeah,” her younger sister Caroline said as she looked out, “we both needed a break after the year at university.” Caroline was nineteen, and wearing a white fair isle sweater over a white t-shirt, and black leggings, the cuffs of the legs tucked into white socks. Her long brown hair fell down her back as she looked out of the window.
Elizabeth had just turned twenty one, and had long blonde hair that fell over her red cable knit sweater. That was tucked into a pair of white jeans, a thin brown leather belt around her waist, and the red socks on her feet wrinkled as she wriggled her toes.
“Ah there you two are – fancy a walk this morning?”
Both girls turned and smiled as their Aunt Roseanne appeared in the doorway. In her early forties, she was their mother’s younger sister, and wore a white long sleeved top as well as a pair of blue jeans.
“Why not,” Elizabeth said, “will Uncle John come with us?”
“I’m just getting ready,” a male voice called out, “you need to get something on your feet though.”
“No problem,” Elizabeth said as she went into the hallway, returning with a pair of dark brown leather boots which she pulled up over her lower legs, tucking her jeans in. Caroline fetched a pair of lighter brown leather boots, slipping them on and zipping them up the inside of her legs as Elizabeth wrapped a white wool scarf around her neck.
As both young women stood up, Roseanne appeared, wearing a pair of black patent leather boots with flat soles. Behind her stood her Uncle John, putting a leather jacket over his grey shirt and black trousers.
“We’ll make sure we’re back for lunchtime – come on,” he said as the quartet left from the rear door of the house, heading down and across the lawn before they made their way into the forest.
As a result, they didn’t see the grey transit van that pulled up at the front of the secluded house, or the two men who got out...
“Nearly one,” John said as they walked back to the kitchen door of the house, “how about we all take a short break, and then I’ll cook lunch.”
“Why don’t you let me and Elizabeth fix lunch,” Caroline said, “and we’ll bring it through in a few minutes.”
“Thanks,” Roseanne said as Elizabeth unwound her scarf and put it over the back of a chair by the table, “John, why don’t we go and see if there is any mail?”
“All right,” he said as he and his wife left the kitchen, letting the door close behind themselves. As Caroline walked to the fridge and started to take some cold meats out, Elizabeth took a loaf of wholemeal bread out of the bread bin and started to cut some slices.
“Can you put the kettle on,” Elizabeth said as both girls heard their aunt and uncle talking on the other side of the door. “We can make some tea as well.”
“No problem,” Caroline said as they heard two sets of footprints walking up the stairs. She filled the kettle and plugged it in, before arranging cold meat and cheeses on a platter.
“All right,” Elizabeth said as she looked round, “meat and cheese, check. Bread, check. Tea about to be brewed, check. Man in balaclava standing in doorway, ch...”
Both girls suddenly looked at the man who was standing in the doorway, smiling as he looked at them. He was tall – at least six foot seven – and dressed from head to foot in black, a leather jacket over his sweater, black jeans, black trainers, and black gloves over his hands, as well as the balaclava that only allowed them to see his eyes and mouth.
“Good afternoon,” he said in a calm, polite voice as from his jacket pocket he drew out a knife and looked at it. “Might I suggest, for your own safety and continued health, you do not make any loud noises or try to run. I assure you, your aunt and uncle would much prefer you do what I tell you to do.”
“Who are you,” Elizabeth whispered.
“Before I answer that, might I impose on you to very carefully put that bread knife down, and place your hands on your head – you as well my dear,” he said as he looked at Caroline. Elizabeth looked at the bread knife, and then laid it on the board as both girls placed their hands on their heads.
“Many thanks,” the man said as he walked in, taking two lengths of what looked like washing line from his other jacket pocket as he did so. “You may call me Mister Tall – I am afraid you returned home before my friend and I had the opportunity to complete our business, and so with deep regret we have to ensure that the alarm cannot be raised until we have sufficient time to ensure our safe departure.”
Caroline looked at her sister, before she said “I beg your pardon?”
“They’re robbing Aunt Roseanne and Uncle John,” Elizabeth said quietly, “and they’re going to tie us up to stop us calling the police.”
“A rather crude, if accurate statement of the situation,” Mister Tall said as she nodded to Elizabeth. “I assure you, if you allow us to do what we must needs to do, you will not be too uncomfortable, if mildly inconvenienced. Now, kindly turn around, both of you, and put your hands behind your back. Once I have ensured your wrists are secured, you may join your aunt.”
Slowly, the two young women turned round and moved their hands behind their backs, Caroline looking over her shoulder as Mister Tall crossed her wrists before swiftly wrapping the thin cord around them, forcing them together as the rope went round in several turns, and then between her arms, making the bands tighter still.
“Are you all right,” Elizabeth said as he felt the cord around her own wrists.
“I’m scared,” Caroline said quietly, “but I’ll manage. It’s not as bad as I thought it was going to be.”
Elizabeth nodded as the masked man pulled the rope tight between her arms, and then secured the ends together out of reach of her fingers. “There now,” he said with a smile, “why don’t we go back into the front room and join your aunt?”
“What are you going to do,” Elizabeth said as she and Caroline walked through.
“Well, as you said, we are robbing your aunt and uncle,” Mister Tall said as they walked into the front room, where the curtains had been drawn over the windows. Aunt Roseanne was sitting in a leather armchair, her arms behind her back and her feet resting on the wooden coffee table. As they looked at her, both Elizabeth and Caroline could see her ankles were crossed and lashed together with white cord, the leather compressed under the bands.
“I’m so sorry girls,” she said as Mister Tall invited them to sit on the couch to her right, “we walked in on both of them, and they forced us to stay quiet.”
“Both of them?”
“My colleague Mister Small is currently upstairs with your uncle,” Mister Tall said quietly, “asking his help in liberating certain items. Now, would you please put your feet on the coffee table, and cross your ankles?”
“So that I can secure your ankles in the same way as your aunt,” Mister Small said with a smile as he produced two lengths of rope from a leather bag. “It would be best if you did so quickly.”
The two sisters looked at each other, and then put their feet on the coffee table, the heels of their boots resting on the wood as they crossed their ankles.
“Thank you,” Mister Tall said as he started to bind Elizabeth’s ankles together, the rope making the leather squeak as he forced her ankles together, the masked man taking the rope around and between her legs before securing the ends under the binding.
He then took the second length of rope, but instead of going to Caroline he wrapped the rope around Elizabeth’s legs, the white denim pulled tight under the band as he secured her legs together below her knees, making sure he took the rope between her legs as well.
“There,” he said as he tied the rope off, “you may now take your feet off the coffee table, my dear.”
Caroline watched as Elizabeth slowly lowered her legs, trying to twist her legs round and the leather squeaking again while the tall masked intruder began to bind her sister’s ankles and legs together.
“Please,” Roseanne said as he started to bind her legs, “I promise we will not try to raise the alarm, just leave us alone.”
“As I explained, Roseanne,” Mister Tall said as he pulled the rope between Caroline’s legs and tied the ends off, “we need to ensure none of you are in a position to raise the alarm. With deep regret, that must include your charming nieces.”
Roseanne nodded as they heard footsteps on the stairs, and a second man walked into the room, dressed and masked identically to the first. The thing that both the younger girls noticed was the disparity in height – he was at least a foot smaller.
“Will you make the introductions Mister Tall,” he said as he smiled at both of them.
“Oh – forgive my lack of manners ladies. May I know your names?”
“I’m Caroline, and my sister is Elizabeth.”
“Caroline, Elizabeth, my colleague Mister Small. Would you do the honours with the two younger ladies, Mister Small, while I complete the securing of Roseanne?”
“It would be a pleasure,” the smaller man said as he took a long length of rope from the bag, and doubled it over. Standing behind Elizabeth, he passed the rope around her body, pulling her arms into her sides below her chest before he passed the rope around above and below her chest, each pass tightening her arms in place as her jumper was stretched over her chest.
He did this three times, before bringing the two bands together behind her back, and then passing the rope under one arm, up and around the back of the neck, and then under the other arm.
“Where is my husband,” Roseanne said as Mister Tall bound her legs together below her knees, making sure it was tightly cinched. The ropes were not uncomfortable, but she knew she could not move without help.
“He is resting upstairs,” Mister Small said as he started to bind Caroline’s arms to her sides, “I came down to inform you that we had completed the first phase, Mister Tall, and you may wish to take her up to join her husband.”
“All in good time, Mister Small,” Mister Tall said, “I interrupted these young ladies in the process of preparing lunch. While I regret to say the food will be delayed, I am sure all three would appreciate a drink before we do anything else?”
“Of course,” Mister Small said as he tied the rope off behind Caroline’s back, and then made his way to the kitchen while Mister Tall started to bind Roseanne’s arms to her side. Both girls watched as her top was stretched over her chest by the ropes, trying to move themselves.
“Are you both all right,” she said as Mister Tall pulled the rope tight around her.
“Not bad – just wondering what’s going to happen now,” Elizabeth said as she tried to twist her legs round, only to stop as the sound of squeaking leather from all three of them made them laugh.
“There,” Mister Tall said as his partner came back in. “Ah – an excellent idea Mister Small.”
The smaller of the two intruders had brought in a tray with three glasses of iced water, straws in each of the glasses. “Why don’t you go and conclude our business with Roseanne’s husband,” Mister Small said as he held a straw to Roseanne’s lips, “while I ensure these beautiful young ladies have a chance to refresh themselves.”
“Of course,” the taller man said as Roseanne took a long drink of cold water, saying “thank you” as Mister Small wiped her chin with a paper napkin. He then allowed both Caroline and Elizabeth to have some water, both girls sipping through the straws before he wiped their chins and put the napkins on the tray.
“Have you both had enough to drink now?”
The three women nodded as Mister Tall came back in.
“I trust you have all had a chance to refresh yourselves,” he said with a smile, “because, with deep regret, we now need to ensure your comparative silence. Mister Small?”
“Caroline and Elizabeth,” the smaller of the two intruders said as he took two small blue silk squares from the bag and folded them, “I need you to open your mouths and allow me to place these inside. It will feel strange for a moment, but I assure you it will soon become more comfortable.”
The two girls looked at their aunt, who nodded and said “It’s all right girls. I think I will be in the same position soon anyway.”
As Elizabeth opened her mouth, she felt the silk on her tongue, and tasted the slight perfume before she closed her lips over it, watching as Caroline had her mouth filled as well. Mister Small then took two larger white silk squares from the bag, and rolled them into bands, tying double knots in the middle of them before using them as cleave gags on the two younger girls, the knots sitting on top of the silk behind their teeth.
“Now, will you clear up here and keep an eye on the young ladies,” Mister Tall said as he lifted Roseanne in his arms, “while I take their aunt to join their uncle?”
“Ntrrrsnnn,” Caroline called out as she wriggled about.
“Stay still, girls, and don’t struggle,” Roseanne said as she was carried u the stairs, and into the master bedroom. John was lying on his side on the bed, his arms folded behind his back and his wrists tied to his elbows, had ropes tied around his upper arms and body. His ankles and legs were also secured, and his ankles pulled back before they were tied to the chest ropes.
He looked over at his wife, and mumbled “hmgsgsrthgrrlslslrrt,” through the white tape covering his mouth.
“They’re fine – but they’ve bound and gagged them downstairs,” Roseanne said quietly as Mister Tall placed her on the bed, rolling her so that she could look at her husband before he pulled her ankles back and tied them to her chest ropes.
John nodded and watched as Mister Tall pushed a compressed sponge into his wife’s mouth, and then smoothed a strip of the white tape over her lips as well, making sure it was pressed firmly and formed to the contours of her mouth.
“Now then,” the tall masked man said as he checked the ropes on both of them, “I am sure the alarm will be raised in due course, but we will also ensure the correct authorities are informed when we have a chance to get as far away as required. On behalf of myself and my colleague, The Gentlemen Robbers bid you adieu – may we never meet again.”
As he walked down the stairs, he saw Mister Small help Caroline to lie face down on the long couch, pulling her ankles back and securing them to her chest ropes. Looking in, he saw Elizabeth in the seat her aunt had vacated, her legs tucked under her body, and walking over he saw the rope connecting her ankles to her back.
“I felt a little more security was prudent, given the others upstairs,” Mister Small said as he brushed Caroline’s hair away, a damp patch spreading on the knotted scarf in her mouth.
“Regrettably so,” Mister Tall replied. “Farewell ladies – enjoy your afternoon.”
The two girls looked at each other as the masked men left, carrying their bag with them as the front door opened and closed, and they heard a van drive off.
Sometime later, Elizabeth was sitting with her eyes closed when she heard footsteps in the hallway.
“Hsssthrr,” she said as Caroline opened her eyes and looked to the doorway.
“Excuse me,” two young women in hiking gear said as they looked in, “we were walking in the woods, got lost and... Ohmygodcallthepolice!”