Tamiko struggled as she looked across to the bed, wondering how much longer she was going to be left in this chair. Her arms were pulled round the chair back, her wrists secured together with rope and then tied to the chair back. More rope had been used to secure her upper body to the chair, pulling the green waistcoat she was wearing to the sides as they stretched the fabric of her fawn roll neck jersey over her chest.
Looking down, she raised her legs again and looked at her booted ankles, the rope holding them together as the olive coloured leather of her boots was compressed underneath. Her legs were further secured by a band of rope around her legs, above her knees, and the band lightening the green suede of her long skirt as she twisted round, the chair squeaking under her.
She wanted to say something, anything, but the brown coarse square was tied firmly between her lips, filing her mouth as the material soaked up the saliva and kept her quiet. It had been two days since they had been taken from their home, and brought here, and while one was in the chair, the other was on the camp bed…
Keiko twisted round and opened her eyes, looking at Tamiko as she whispered “hmghhddwhrsthllhrrr?” Tamiko nodded as she looked at her sister, dressed as she was except for the fawn blouse she had on over her sweater, and just as tightly tied, the rope framing her chest and holding her arms tightly to her sides. She twisted her legs round, the leather squeaking as she did so, before they both heard the lock of the room door a sit was turned, and the door opened.
The two that came in were wearing grey boiler suits and balaclavas, one of them pushing a trolley with plates and bottle of water on it, the other armed with a rifle. The first person left the trolley and walked over, untying Keiko’s arms as she was sat up, and then peeling the tape away from her mouth and catching the soaking wet cloth that the young Japanese woman spat out.
“Don’t move,” they said, their voice distorted as she walked to Tamiko, and untied her arms and upper body from the chair, before she removed the soaking wet scarf from her mouth.
“Eat,” the armed captor said as they were each given a plate, the two of them looking at each other as Keiko said “how much longer will you be keeping us here?”
“As long as it takes for your father to raise the money for your safe return,” the first person said, Tamiko shivering as she started to eat. Keiko nodded as she bit into he sandwich, and said “I need to go to the toilet.”
Tamiko nodded in agreement as their two captors looked at each other.
“Very well – one at a time, and you are bound when you come back,” the first person finally said as they passed each of the women a bottle of water. They each took a drink before Tamiko said “our father is a shop owner, he does not have a lot of money…”
“You dress well – does he pay?”
“No,” Keiko said, “our grandfather… You are forcing our grandfather to pay the ransom? You are either very brave, or very foolish…”
“So long as the ransom is paid, where it comes from is irrelevant – now, who wishes to go first…”
DI Jim Corrigan picked up the phone and said “give me some good news.
“They were – when?
“And they are unharmed? Okay – have them checked over, and then get a statement before their family collect them.”
Putting the phone down, Corrigan turned over the page of the file. The Tanaka girls had been taken a week ago from their home in Chelsea by two people – and today, they were discovered in a shop storeroom in Chelsea. They would get a statement, but something told me their grandfather was responsible – and he was a powerful man.
Looking up, Corrigan saw WPC Fleisher standing there, wearing the blue uniform and white blouse.
“What is it?”
“We’ve had word of another kidnapping…”
Janice squirmed round as she was frogmarched along, the sack covering her head blocking her eyesight and the brown sticking plaster covering her mouth stopping more than the faintest mumblings coming out. She was wearing a taupe coat dress, with a matching belt tied loosely round it, and a black scarf with white spots tied loosely round her neck and tucked in at the front. Her arms were behind her back, her wrists bound tightly with rope, like those of her flatmate Susan.
Susan was being walked behind her, wearing a brown checked jacket and skirt with a chocolate brown V-necked top under the jacket, but she stayed silent as a door was opened, the masked captors walking them both in and sitting them in two highbacked chairs.
Janice tried to look round as her ankles were put together, the rope compressing the mustard coloured leather as they were forced tightly together, going and between her legs before they were taken to the side and tied to the leg of the chair. At the same time, Susan felt her own ankles being secured, the white rope contrasting with the burgundy red leather as they were also secured to the chair leg.
“Remove the hoods.”
Susan blinked as the sack was taken off, and looked round the bare room, a bare lightbulb hanging from the ceiling. “Whttssghhnn,” she said as she looked at Janice. The brunette shook her head, her long locks flowing as the masked person said “behave, do as you are told, you ill be fed and watered…”
“So what happened,” DI Corrigan said as he sat at the dining table, WPC Fleisher taking notes. The housekeeper looked over, and said “there were two of them, dressed in boiler suits, masked. They tied me to the chair there, then when Miss Janice came in they grabbed her and her friend, bound their wrists, gagged them, covered their heads, and then marched them back out. I heard a vehicle drive off, and then managed to free myself. I called the police, and…”
“Okay,” Corrigan said quietly, “have you contacted her father?”
“He’s in the US, but he’s flying back. I don’t understand, why those two?”
“That, my dear lady, is the question…”
“How much longer do you think,” Susan said as she drank from the water bottle. She was still tied to the chair, but her arms were free, and an empty plate sat on the table in front of her.
“I don’t know – whatever it is they want Daddy to do, I hope he’s doing it,” Janice said as she twisted round. Her scarf was long gone, and the sweat was glistening on her chest as Susan looked over.
“Can I say something stupid?”
Janice nodded as Susan looked over, her head tilted to one side as she said “you do look kinda sexy tied up like that.”
Janice stared over, then smiled as she said “so do you. I wonder…”
Both girls looked over and nodded as the two captors came in, standing behind them as they pulled their arms behind their backs, and started to tie their wrists together.
“Can I… Can I ask you something,” Janice said as her binder started to wrap the rope around her arms, pulling them again into their sides.
“Will you… Will you put us on the same bed please?” She smiled at Susan, who nodded as her own arms were bound.
“All right – lips together.”
“Thank you,” Susan whispered as she watched the masked binder press a fresh strip of sticking plaster over her friend’s mouth, and then felt the tug on her skin as she was gagged in the same way. The captors helped them both to stand and hop over to a bed, Janice lying on her side as Susan was helped to lie next to her, the two looking at each other. Susan twisted round, the ropes forcing her chest out under her brown top, as Janice nodded – and then they leaned over, pressing their taped lips together.
“Oh how sweet – any word?”
“The job’s been done – we’ll return them later. How about at your end?”
“No ideas yet – which is good. Move to phase 3.”
“Well,” Corrigan said as he looked at Fleisher.
“They were blindfolded and returned last night. No idea what was paid, and the father is saying nothing.”
“Dammit – I don’t like this,” Corrigan said as he stood up and waked round the room, “I just hope these are two unrelated snatches.”
“Why do you say that sir?”
“There are organized kidnap gangs out there Fleisher – I just hope one of them is not on our patch…”
The sound of Dvorak’s New World played over the tannoy as Elaine and Cynthia Drew made their way along the supermarket aisle. Even though it was July, it was a cold day, and Elaine was wearing a brown flecked coat over a cowl necked ribbed cream jumper and skirt, her legs in knee length tan leather boots.
Her younger sister Cynthia was wearing a brown patterned coat with a wide collar, over a roll neck bream sweater, her cream leather boots with a dark zip on the inside. The heels clicked on the hard floor as they looked in the store front for Laura Ashley.
“Nothing strikes me here – fancy a coffee?”
“Sounds good,” Cynthia said as they walked into Wimpy bar, the waitress coming over and saying “what do you want?”
“Two coffees and toasted teacakes please,” Elaine said as Cynthia stood up. “I’ll be back in a minute,” she said as she made her way to the ladies’ room. Elaine nodded as the waitress brought her a coffee and teacake, Elaine taking a bite before she took a sip from her drink.
“What’s keeping Cyn,” she said to herself as she took another sip of her coffee and then blinked.
And blinked again, as she suddenly started to feel very tired. Looking round, she was sure the room was starting to swim, her eyes closing as she saw the waitress walk over and smile at her…
“Fleisher – what is it?”
“We just had a call from Sir Simon Drew – he’s had a ransom demand for his daughters…”
Elaine slowly opened her eyes and shook her head – it felt like it was full of cotton wool, and something was stopping her talking. She stopped for a moment, allowed herself to recover as she wondered what the whimpering sound was.
Then she turned her head to the side, and saw Cynthia staring at her, her eyes wide over the silver tape that covered her mouth and jaw. She was sat in a high backed seat, her wrists taped with duct tape to the back of the chair, a band round her waist, and her ankles taped to the front legs of the chair.
As she looked down, she saw the silver round the tan of her own boots, and then she called out “Whhhhssdhdnnthhsssss!”
Elaine looked at the two people, their voices altered, wearing masks and boiler suits, as one said “be calm, relax – you will be returned as soon as your uncle does what we ask.”
“That’s right,” the second person said as both girls struggled “relax. Hopefully it will not take – too long…”
“Why has there been no answer,” Sir Simon Drew said as he sat in DI Corrigan’s office. “The ransom was paid this morning as they asked, and…”
“I know sir,” Corrigan said quietly as Fleisher came in, her uniform pristine as she stood to the side. “Well?”
“Apologies for the interruption sir, but we just had a call from Dr Angus Drew.”
“My brother – what about him?”
“He says we should go to his lab – your daughters have been found there, bound and gagged, but unharmed.”
Corrigan slowly stood and looked at the WPC, before he said “what does your brother do?”
“He’s a lecturer at London University – physics. Why would they be left there?”
“Sit down Fleisher,” Corrigan said when they returned to his office, “I want you to be my sounding board.”
“Yes sir,” Fleisher said as she took a seat, smoothing her skirt down as she sat to attention.
“We’ve had three kidnappings in the last two weeks – first, the Tanaka girls.”
“Is it true their grandfather is a Japanese crime lord?”
“They call them Oyaban, but yes – then we had the Everfield girl and her flatmate.”
“Sir – when we interviewed them, they seemed – close.”
“You know – as in…”
Corrigan looked at the WPC, and said “Anyway, then we had the Drew girls. What connects the three?”
“Very little – what are you thinking Sir?”
“WPC Fleisher, I wish I knew what I was thinking right now…”
Rebecca smiled as the customer left their craft store, and looked round. She had short dark hair, a red scarf with white dots folded into a triangle and tied over it, and wore a short sleeved blue top with a scoop neckline, tucked into a long denim skirt with a matching belt tied round the waist, a floral print embroidered on the front, and flat plimsols. She had a pair of black hooped earrings, and sang a Jodi Mitchell song to herself as she tidied the counter.
“Anyone left out there?”
“Nope Tanya,” Rebecca said as her co-worker came out, a dark blue scarf tied over her hair. She was wearing a black top and long denim skirt, in the same style as Rebecca, but with an orange design and belt. “How much longer do we need to remain open for?”
“Another half hour or so I guess,” Tanya said as the door opened, and a couple walked in – a man and woman, the woman wearing a chocolate brown jumper and jeans, tucked into knee length laced brown suede boots, the man wearing a blue denim jacket and jeans with cowboy boots.
“Hey – how can I help you?” Tanya said.
“I think so,” the woman said, but her voice seemed distorted – and Rebecca watched as the mand closed and locked the door. “You can do exactly what we say, and you may enjoy the experience.”
“What do you…” Tanya’s words were cut short as she saw the man produce a gun and point it towards her and Rebecca.
“That’s better – now, we want you both to take those lovely headscarves off, and fold them into nice small pads.”
The two girls looked at each other, before they slipped the headscarves and folded them up.
“Very good,” the girl said, her voice distorted to sound like a man, “now put them in each other’s mouths.”
“Just do as you are told,” the man said as he raised the gun, Tanya saying “I’m sorry” as she opened her mouth, waiting as Rebecca pushed her red scarf into her mouth. She then pushed her own scarf into Rebecca’s mouth, as the man picked up a roll of clear Sellotape from the counter.
“Take this,” he said as he looked at Rebecca, “tear a strip off, smooth it over her mouth. No creases, it must look natural.”
“Ghhmmm,” Rebecca nodded as Tanya tore the tape off and smoothed it down, making sure there were no air bubbles or creases. She then handed the roll to Rebecca and nodded as her lips were covered in tape, while the man took her hands behind her back and tied her wrists together with rope.
“See if you can find something to cover them,” he said as he walked behind Rebecca, binding her wrists as his partner went out back, coming back with two crochet ponchos.
“Perfect,” he said as they were pulled over the heads of their captives, covering their arms and the binding before they were marched out of the store, and towards the waiting van…
“Seriously – you were held captive for thirty six hours…”
“and then left in our store,” Cynthia said as she looked at WPC Fleisher. “We were kept quiet the whole time, fed and given drinks, but they never said why they took us.”
“And no ransom demand was made,” DI Corrigan said as he looked at his notes. “Okay – thank you Cynthia,” he said, “we’ll be in touch.”
As the plain clothes officer left with the uniformed WPC, he said “I have no idea what’s going on here. Go home, Fleisher, we’ll talk again tomorrow.”
“Yes sir,” Fleisher said as she drove the car back to the station, going into the squad room. When she emerged a few minutes later, she had her light brown hair down, and was wearing a black blouse, open at the neck, a grey knee length skirt that buttoned up the front, and long black baggy leather boots.
“Mandy – over here!”
She smiled as she saw the other woman waving from the car, wearing a dark felt hat over her blonde hair, a white blouse and dark skirt, and long grey suede boots.
“Hey Jo – how’s your day been,” Mandy Fleisher said as she sat down. Jo Aparo smiled as she said “busy – lot of people getting money to fly to Spain. You?”
“Another two girls kidnapped. Still, you wouldn’t now anything about that, would you?”
“Me? Sweet innocent me?”
Mandy shook her head as she looked over the road, where two women were looking in the shop window. They were wearing hot pants and knee length white boots, with crochet tops.
“I can go call him from the phone box – why?”
Mandy smiled as she said “suit up – we have two more guests…”