Saturday night, and all over the town people are preparing to leave for the evening’s entertainment. In one house, a dark haired woman was sitting in a chair, perusing a magazine when her mobile phone indicated a message. Putting the magazine down, she read the text, which simply said “Go!”
She turned the phone off, brushed a few crumbs off her smock top and headed for the door.
Elsewhere, a tall dark skinned girl was applying her makeup, sat at a dressing table in her black bra and leggings. Looking at her phone, she read the message and went to put on the blue dress that was laid out on her bed.
Another girl was pulling a light blue chiffon dress over her head when she received a message. After looking at, she checked how she looked in her mirror, the green metallic peacock feathers glistening in the sun, and left the room.
Another woman was adjusting the straps on her black body stocking when she received a message. Hurrying to her wardrobe, she pulled out a tunic dress and continued to put on her apparel.
In a cul-de-sac on the outskirts of the town, Alice pulled the front door of her house closed behind her. She was eighteen years old, with shoulder length red hair, and this particular night was wearing a red woollen bat winged sweater with a cowl neck, faded blue denim jeans with the cuffs of the legs turned up, and red suede high heeled boots. As she walked down the street, she didn’t look at the traffic passing, and therefore failed to notice the small grey van parked a little further down.
She walked on, the heels of her boots clicking on the pavement, and turned the corner. A few moments later, two men left the van and started to walk in the direction of her house. Both were dressed casually, in jumpers and dark jeans with leather jackets, and carrying small rucksacks. They walked casually along, before turning into the driveway and making their way to the front door.
“Can you open it,” the taller of the two men said to his companion, who nodded and produced a small canvas package from his pocket. A few moments later, the door swung open and both men moved inside.
“That’s the alarm disabled,” the smaller man said as he joined his partner in the main room.
“Excellent – well, let’s be about our business. I think we have enough time before the daughter gets back to get what we need and out again.
“You take the bedroom and I’ll try and find the safe down here.”
“No problem,” the smaller man replied as he made his way up the staircase. The other man smiled as he looked round the main room, mumbling “Where is it, where is it” to himself as he did so. Eventually he looked at a large portrait, showing Alice with her parents and peeked behind the canvas.
“There you are,” he said, but a sound caught his ear and he gently replaced the canvas. Looking round, he saw a large display cabinet and hid himself against the wall beside it.
Upstairs, the other intruder had heard the same sound, and reaching into his pocket eh pulled out a black balaclava, listening intently all the time.
“Alice really has no idea what’s happening?”
“Nope – she’ll be back from her trip to the library in an hour or so, which gives us enough time to get things ready.”
Hannah smiled as she walked towards the house with Gail. As two of Alice’s oldest friends, they had not had the opportunity to celebrate her eighteenth birthday with her, so now they and tow others were going to surprise her.
“How did you get her key anyway?”
Gail tossed her dark hair in the warm air. She had put on a dress made of aqua blue cotton over her top, cut in a Grecian style with a gathered waist and a hem that was slightly gathered and pulled up, and knee length grey soft leather boots.
“I took a copy in art class, and then made one for each of us. She won’t know what hit her.”
Hannah nodded. Her blue smock top had a paisley pattern on it, completing the silk sweater she had on underneath. Over her black leggings she was wearing leather ankle boots.
“Well, I hope it’s a nice surprise,” she said as they walked up the pathway, her heels crunching the gravel as she did so. Gail took a key from her pocket, and opened the door. Both girls walked in, Hannah closing the door behind her.
“I’m going to put these in the fridge,” Hannah said as she lifted the canvas bag she was carrying. “What are you going to do?”
“I need to visit a place,” Gail replied as she headed for the staircase. “I’ll join you in the kitchen in a minute or two.”
As Gail climbed the stairs, Hannah made her way through to the kitchen. Opening the fridge door, she started to put a number of bottles of wine in to cool. As she closed it, she turned to be confronted by a tall man dressed in black, with a balaclava over his head, who merely said “Good Evening.”
Gail washed her hands and made her way back down the stairs. As she turned to make her way towards the kitchen, she failed to notice the dark clad man coming silently after her down the staircase.
“Is the wine in to cool, Ha…” she started to say as she walked into the kitchen, but the sight of her friend with a tall gentleman holding and gagging her with his gloved hand stopped her short.
“Please,” a voice said from behind her,” do not scream or make any sudden moves. Neither I nor my partner which to cause you unnecessary distress. Simply put your hands on your head, and stay quite still.”
“What’s going on,” Gail said as she placed her hands on her head, the hem of her dress rising slightly as she did so.
“That,” the taller gentleman said, “is a very interesting question. Neither of you actually live here – we would know – so perhaps you could explain why you are in the house?”
“We could say the same to you,”” Hannah said as he pushed her over towards her friend.
“True – and we apologise for our manners just now. My name is Mister Tall, and my friend here is Mister Small. We intend to rob this house – which brings us back to you.”
Gail and Hannah looked at each other. “We… We just wanted to get a surprise party ready for our friend Alice. Please, don’t hurt us.”
“A surprise party, you say? DO I take that to mean there are more of you to come?”
“Yes – why?”
“Mister Small, I think we may have to stay a tad longer than we had hoped. Can I ask you to see if you can find something to make our unexpected guests comfortable?”
“Give me a few minutes,” the smaller man said as he walked off. The two girls continued to look at the masked man as he stood in front of them.
“Would it be impolite to ask you your names?”
“Yes, it would,” Hannah said.
“Well, as we will be here some time, we need to call you something.”
“All right,” Gail said. “My name is Gail, and this is Hannah.”
“Splendid. Ladies, it appears that your plans are going to slightly inconvenience ours, but we will try to make this as painless as possible. How many others are coming?”
“Two others – why?”
“You will see – and how are they to gain entry?”
“They both have a copy of the front door key.”
“Thank you, Gail. When can we expect the first person to arrive?”
Hannah looked at the clock on the wall. “In about twenty minutes.”
“I see,” Mister Tall said as Mister Small came back in. “Mister Small, it appears we must prepare for two others to arrive, and we need to be quick. Are you ready?”
“As ready as I will ever be.”
“Very well. Gail, if you will please go with Mister Small, then Hannah can stay here with me. Hannah, please turn around and place your hands behind your back.”
“Will you be all right, Gail?” Hannah said as the smaller man took her friend by the arm.
“I’ll manage – you worry about yourself,” she said as Hannah felt rope passing around her wrists and pulling them together. Mister Small led Gail by the arm into the dining room, where he had placed a chair some distance from the table.
“Sit down, Gail,” he said as he pointed to the chair and lifted a roll of silver tape in his hand. “I need to make sure you cannot raise the alarm.”
The church clock was striking the hour as Suzie walked down the street, the skirt of her dress blowing in the light wind and the fading sunlight glistening on the metallic green details. The “clip clop” of the heels of her mid length boots were all she heard as she walked along. She quickly turned into the driveway and walked up to Alice’s door, letting herself in with a key as the others had earlier.
“Gail, are you here? Hannah?” she called out. From the kitchen she heard Hannah say “We’re in here – can you give me a hand with something?” As she walked past the dining room, she thought she heard a moan, but thought nothing of it as she opened the kitchen door.
“What do you want me to do?” she asked as she walked in, only for the man standing behind Hannah to say “We want you to come in, and do nothing else unless I say so. Do you understand?”
Suzie stood, there, dumbfounded as she took in the scene. Hannah was sat on the kitchen floor, her back up against the cupboard under the kitchen sink. Her arms were pulled behind her back, and rope was tightly tied over the ankles of her boots and the black leggings above her knees.
“I/m sorry, Suzie, but there’s nothing I could do,” Hannah said as tears started to roll down her cheeks. “They’ve got Gail somewhere, and he wouldn’t let me warn you.”
“A necessary precaution, Suzie,” Mister Tall said as he walked round and opened the kitchen door, his gun trained on the woman the whole time. “Mister Small, when you have a moment our next guest has arrived,” he called through the open doorway before closing it again. He walked round and looked at Suzie as she stood there, her blonde hair hanging around her head and shoulders.
“Who are you?” she said a she looked at the black clad man.
“You may call me Mister Tall, Suzie. We had hoped to be undisturbed in this house, but your commendable plans for the surprise fro Alice has meant we had to – adjust our plans accordingly.
“Besides, I think I may need Alice’s help, and this surprise we are now going to prepare for her should make her most – amenable to assisting.”
As she stood there, Suzie was aware of a sudden chill passing over her. The door behind her opened, and she turned her head to see a man, about five foot seven in height and dressed identically to the other intruder, come in.
“Mister Small, perhaps you could take Suzie here to join Gail? I am sure she would enjoy the company.”
“Of course, Mister Tall,” the new arrival said as he pulled a small gun from his pocket. “This way, Suzie.”
The frightened girl was escorted back down the passageway to the dining room. Opening the door, Suzie’s eyes widened as she saw Gail sitting there.
“Szy?” Gail said as Mister Small pulled another chair away from the table and set in front of her.
“Please, Suzie, take a seat and let your arms fall to the side.”
“Are you all right, Gail,” Suzie said as she sat herself down. Gail nodded and watched as Mister Small took hold of Suzie’s wrist, placed it against the back rest of the chair and start to wrap silver tape around it.
Katie smiles as the wolf whistles carried across the road while she walked down. She had placed a tunic dress over her black body stocking, made of cotton dyed a dark blue from her breasts to the hem above her knees, and a light cream collar up to her neck, and golden flat shoes were on her feet.
She made her way up to the front door of Alice’s house and let herself in, saying nothing until she had closed the door behind her. Chuckling softly to herself, she quickly walked down the corridor, but hearing a noise behind the dining room door she ignored Hannah’s call from the kitchen and let herself in.
“What’s going on, girls,” she called out but the sight before her stopped her in her tracks, with her hand on her short cropped brown hair.
Gail and Suzie were sat in chairs facing each other, but both had turned their faces to look at Katie. Strips of silver tape covered their mouths and lower jaws, their cheeks betraying the fact that there was something in their mouths behind the covering. Both women had their wrists taped to the backs of the chairs they were sitting on, and layers of silver tape were holding their chests against the wooden supports.
Both girls had their ankles pushed against the front legs of the chairs, the skirts of their dresses rising up as they did so. Plastic zip ties had been used to secure their ankles to the bottom of the chair legs, and their thighs to the top, ensuring they were unable to stand or move. The two girls tried to scream at their newly arrived friend, who slowly walked towards them, not hearing the increasing pitch in their muffled calls.
Katie could see the sweat glistening on Gail’s dark skin from her struggles, while the dark spreading patches on Suzie’s dress were indicative of the effort she had put into trying to escape. The tape, however, was holding firm, and the plastic ties showed no signs of loosening as they moved their legs up and down.
“Who did this to you?” Katie said as she reached over to remove the tape from Gail’s mouth, but she saw the wide eyed panic in her eyes, and slowly turned round. There in front of her was a man clad in black, smiling through the mouth hole in his balaclava.
“You must be Katie,” he said as he walked towards her. “My friend and I were wondering when you would get here. Please, put your hands on your head and stand perfectly still.”
In the kitchen, Hannah grunted as Mister Tall pulled the rolled up napkin into her mouth and knotted the ends together at the base of her neck. He had made her lie face down on the floor and pulled her bound ankles up to secure them to the rope holding her wrists behind her back. Patting her lightly on the head, he stood up and left the room closing the door behind him as he made his way to the dining room. Entering, he saw Katie standing there.
“Ah – this must be the last of the friends. Tell me, do you have any idea when Alice is likely to be back?”
Katie said nothing, but looked as Mister Small came over and took her handbag from her. Opening it, he took out a mobile phone and looked at the messages.
“It would appear she is already on her way back. I guess we have – oh, half an hour.”
“Fair enough, Mister Small. I presume you are Katie?”
“Very well, Katie – sit down and we will make you as comfortable as we can.” As he said this, Mister Tall picked up some plastic zip ties that his colleague had left on the table and held them up in his gloved hand.
The sun was starting to set as Alice turned back into the driveway of her house. Looking up, she saw nothing wrong as she opened the front door and let herself in.
“That’s strange,” she thought as she looked at the control panel just inside the doorway, “I thought I had put the alarm on. Ah well, I guess I just forgot.” Putting her bag on the table by the telephone, she walked up to her bedroom, not noticing the connecting cable had been disconnected from the wall socket. Climbing the staircase, she walked in and looked up to see a tall, black clad gentleman wearing a balaclava mask looking at her.
“Good evening, Alice – I hope this is a surprise,” he said as he pointed a pistol at her. “My name is Mister Tall, and I need your help with something.”
“Wh…. What do you need my help with?” she said as she stared at the gun.
“We can discuss this downstairs – I have a further surprise for you down there. Please, walk in front of me and make no sudden moves – you would find it…. Regrettable if you did.”
“I see – I really have no choice in this, do I?”
“No – no, you don’t. Please, after you.”
Alice turned and walked down the stairs, Mister Tall following her down. At the bottom of the stairs she saw a second black clad man standing there, a good six inches smaller than the man behind her but smiling in a similar way.
“Ah, so that was Alice coming in.”
“It was indeed, Mister Tall. I need to take her into the front room for a few minutes, but before that I thought we would show her our surprise. If you would open the door?”
“Of course, Mister Tall,” the other man said as he opened the door to the dining room. Alice looked in, her eyes widening as the muffled screams reached her ears.
“So, Alice, if you will help me by ensuring the safe is opened safely, your friends will all be kept safe. Will you come with me?”
Alice silently nodded, whispering “I’m sorry,” as the door was closed and Mister Tall led her to the room at the front of the house. Making her stand to one side of the family portrait, she watched as he took the painting off the wall and laid it on the floor, revealing the safe.
“Now, Alice, if you would be so kind as to give me the combination, I can then complete our business and take you to join your friends. They were planning a surprise party, and I think it is indeed going to be a very big surprise.”
Some thirty minutes later, Alice grunted as Mister Tall smoothed the tape over her mouth. Standing up, he looked at the four women as they glared back at both him and Mister Small.
“Ladies, I do apologise for the fact you have had to be indisposed in this way, but I trust you have not been made too uncomfortable. We will contact the authorities in due course and let them know of your predicament.”
“Hnnh” Gail grunted through the packing in her mouth.
“I beg your pardon,” Mister Tall said as he stood in front of Gail.
“Wht bt hnnh?”
“Oh yes, I had almost forgotten about her. Mister Small, would you help me please?”
“Of course, Mister Tall,” the smaller man said, and the two left the dining room. A few moments later, they came back in, carrying the bound and struggling Hannah between them. Laying her on her side, the two men collected their bags and looked over the group of women.
“Ladies, it has been a pleasure,” Mister Tall said as the bags he was carrying jangled. “The Gentlemen Robbers bid you adieu!”
As the door closed on the room, Hannah looked at her four friends. Gail and Suzie were as they had been since Mister Small had secured them to their chairs, but she could see both Alice and Katie sitting behind the chairs, Alice behind Suzie and Katie behind Gail. Their arms had been pulled behind the rear legs of the chairs and their wrists taped together, with their arms secured to the wooden legs with zip ties. Both were sitting in a lotus position, with their crossed ankles secured together with ties as well. All four women had silver tape covering their lower jaws, with their cheeks bulging.
All five stayed silent for a few minutes, listening to the sounds coming in through the closed curtains. As Hannah lay there, she realised that she was the only one in a position to do much, and decided to act upon that. Rolling onto her stomach, she somehow managed to get herself onto the knees, and shuffled over to where Gail and Katie were sitting.
“Zip ties? You had to sue zip ties?”
“I had no choice – for once, we did not bring enough material, and that was all I could find in the office before I started.”
Mister Tall grimaced slightly as he drove the van. “Not our usual style, is it?”
“I know, and I was truly apologetic to the girls. At least I did my best not to put them over skin when I used them.”
“I hope they are grateful for that consideration,” he said as they drove off.
It was a slow process, but eventually Hannah managed to position herself so that Gail’s hand could reach the cloth in her mouth.
“Gl? Cn u mv t cvlth?” she mumbled at her friend. Gail looked down, her blue eyes filled with tears, but as she looked at Hannah she slowly nodded and tried to hook one of her fingers through the cloth that was tied in Hannah’s mouth. It took several attempts and some effort on Hannah’s part, but eventually she managed to pull the sodden cloth out.
“My god, that feels good,” Hannah panted as she knelt there. “Gail, I’m sorry I can’t get that guff off your mouth, but I might be able to help Katie. You understand, don’t you?”
Gail nodded as Hannah shuffled over to the back of the chair. “Katie, try to push your head forward and I’ll try to get that tape off your mouth. All right?”
Katie nodded as Hannah picked at the corner of the tape with the fingers of her bound hand. The room was darkening quickly as the sun set, but she kept at it until eventually she managed to get a grip on a corner.
“I’m sorry, Katie, but this is going to hurt,” Hannah said as she pulled on the corner, easing away the layers of tape. As she pulled the last bit away, she looked over and saw a corner of cloth sticking out of Katie’s mouth. Grabbing hold, she gently pulled a handkerchief out of Katie’s mouth; her friend’s breathing becoming easier as she pulled the saliva soaked cloth out.
“Oh my God,” Katie said as the last bit of cloth was pulled away, “I am so glad that’s over. Where did they keep you?”
“In the kitchen – I tried to warn you when you came in, but I wasn’t allowed to.” She looked at her friends as she sat there, the hem of her dress pulled up and lying on the floor around her bottom. “Is there any way you can try to loosen the knots around my wrists with your teeth? I might be able to call for help then.”
“I’ll try,” Katie said as she looked at Hannah’s wrists, the other three giving encouragement as best they could.
Some days later, in a little country bar with a sign that seemed to call the place The Ropanga, tow men were sitting drinking a pint of beer and reading the paper. The taller of the two put the paper down.
“It would appear the girl called Hannah managed to get freed and was able to let the police in when they finally arrived. So, why are we here?”
“An old friend asked to meet us here – and here he is now.” The smaller man stood up as they were approached by a man in his early sixties, with greying hair and smartly dressed.
“John – good to see you again?”
“You as well, son, you as well. May I?”
He took a seat next to them as the barmaid brought over a pint of beer.
“Thanks, Molly,” he said as he took a drink.
“So, why did you ask to see us?” the smaller man asked as he took a sip from his glass.
“Gentlemen, we may have a problem – one that involves a mutual acquaintance of ours.”
John Jacobs took another sip of his beer. “George Simpson.”