Stopping only to change back into my street clothes and grab my rucksack from my closet I cycled across town to Moriarty High.
Unlike us their students were in school today, mainly because various ASBOs* prevented most of them from actually taking part in tonight’s festivities. Somehow I had to sneak in, get the document and make my escape without anyone noticing me.
As I approached the school I saw the answer, as luck would have it a group of year 10or 11 girls were in the playing fields adjacent to the school-playing hockey. It must be their sports lesson. I watched them for a few minutes, they were all dressed in canary yellow T-shirts, burgundy pleated sports skirts, white knee socks and black trainers There were thin girls, fat girls, small girls and tall girls, at least three of them looked to be roughly the same height and size as me.
Of course the best way to get around the school unnoticed would be by blending in and to do that I needed a uniform. Keeping close to the walls in the hope I wouldn’t be seen I made my way to the girl’s changing room and slipped inside. There was a short passageway through to the changing room itself, the only way in or out.
Perfect, at least 30 uniforms hung on pegs or – in most cases – lay strewn on the floor. I began trying on blouses looking for one that fitted. I finally found one and hastily began to change, stuffing my own clothes into the rucksack.
Maybe it was just an in-built prejudice but I didn’t like the uniform. The beige, almost transparent blouse was a bit garish, Then there was the black skirt which in the case of whoever I was borrowing this particular uniform from was little bigger than some of my belts. (Gosh, that makes me sound like mum – it’s true though the skirt was tiny.) I fought tights, hoping they were clean and pulled them on. Shoes and just as I was finishing off the Windsor knot in my borrowed red & blue Moriarty school tie I heard voices and froze. Someone was outside.
“Do you want me to come in with you Vicki? That ankle looks pretty bad.”
“No, you get back out on the field. I’ll be fine from here. I think it’s just a sprain. I’m just going to sit in the changing rooms and rest it for a bit.”
“Are you sure?”
“Course I’m sure. Tell you what, if it’s no better by the end of practice you can help me to the nurses office okay?”
“Okay” I heard footsteps in the doorway. Now I was in trouble – I was cornered and in a few seconds this Vicki would see me and raise the alarm. I’d be lucky to get out of there alive.
“Hey Vicki” I heaved a sigh of relief as her friend called out to her again, but I knew I only had a moment’s respite.
“Yeah?” Vicki had paused, taken a couple of steps back towards the door even.
“Do you want me to get Suzie back for you?”
“Yeah, break the bitch’s kneecaps – both of them.”
I realised that I had two advantages; one was that Vicki was apparently injured while I was (reasonably) fit; the other was one of surprise. The other was that while I knew she was coming, she didn’t know I was waiting for her.
I desperately looked round for something to disguise myself with; a pair ofdark blue tights lay on a bench to one side. I gave them a quick sniff; they smelt of sweat but weren’t too bad. Trying my best not to breathe in I pulled one leg over my head. Everything took on a slightly fuzzy blue hue but a quick glance in a nearby wall mirror confirmed that my face was sufficiently disguised. Not that I expected this girl to recognise me but if I managed to pull off what I intended I didn’t want my description being circulated among the year 10 girls. There were at least two girls here who knew me by sight and I didn’t want either of them recognising my description.
Quickly grabbing a handful of neckties from the hooks around me I crossed the room and pressed my back to the wall, hiding myself as best as I could. The doorway was to my right and my best hope was that the girl would walk in and head straight for the benches without looking round. It was a mad crazy gamble but it was better than getting my face smashed to a pulp.
The inner door swung open and the girl limped in using her hockey stick as a crutch. As I’d hoped she didn’t bother looking round just made her way carefully to the bench closest to the door. I took a moment to assess her before pouncing; she was about 170cm, skinny with a long neck and bleached blonde hair tied in bunches. She was dressed as all the other girls had been in a yellow T-shirt, short pleated burgundy sports skirt and white knee socks. There were no trainers on her feet and I guessed she’d taken them off, perhaps to make her bad ankle more comfortable.
Reaching the bench Vicki set down her hockey stick and made to sit down. This was it, now or never, while her back was to me. There was no time for stealth, I just had to leap on her and get this over with.
With a hearty cry of – of something or other I’ve no idea now, I just remember running out screaming – I ran towards the unsuspecting girl and pinned her face down on the bench. She struggled and lashed out but with her nose pressed against the wooden bench she couldn’t do much.
Now came the tricky part, I had to secure my captive, something I hadn’t done before. Well, once but that was a friend of Dippy’s and it was hardly a fair fight, she was barely half my size. Oh, and I had plenty of experience of being tied up but when it comes to tying up other people, well I wasn’t really sure how to begin. For the moment I had her tightly pined to the bench but I knew I had to move to start tying her and that was where I risked her getting loose, perhaps even gaining the upper hand. If that happened I was a goner.
Still, I couldn’t sit on her indefinitely; I had to do something. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw Vicki’s discarded hockey stick.The benches in this room were placed back to back in 3 columns like supermarket aisles and along the back of the benches separating them was a wire mesh, like chicken wire. I grabbed the hockey stick with my free hand and experimentally placed it along side the wire; excellent, the holes in the wire were just large enough to fit the handle through.
Resting the hockey stick against the back of Vicki’s neck I pushed it through the net until the head was pressing against the side of her neck. There now she was pinned down. I could relax a little and ease up. First though I fumbled for her arms. Grabbing her bony wrists I pulled them together behind her back and began to tie them together with one of the neckties I’d picked up. All the time I could hear her cursing me and threatening to get even but her words were muffled by the wooden bench kissing her mouth. Just to be extra careful I tied her wrists again with a second neck tie just above the first. I didn’t want to risk her getting loose.
The tights over my head were getting uncomfortably sweaty, I had to take them off but I couldn’t risk Vicki seeing my face. Luckily there was a towel hanging from one of the hooks over my head, I grabbed it and folded it as neatly as I could before wrapping it around her eyes and tying it at the back of her head.
Satisfied she couldn’t see me I pulled the blue nylon mask off of my head. My face felt moist and clammy and my hair was sticking up in clumps, I was going to have to freshen myself up before I left. First things first though. Very carefully I removed the hockey stick from the back of Vicki’s neck and taking her by the shoulders helped her to sit up. With her hands tied behind her back there was little she could do to protest.
“Why you little bi-mmph” she started to say before I managed to wad the smelly blue tights in her mouth. I used another necktie to secure the gag in place. Great another hosiery gag.
“Can you walk?” I asked softly trying to keep my voice low and disguise my accent at the same time. She shook her head meekly, I was a little surprised, from what I knew of Moriarty girls they didn’t normally give in this easily.
“Well you’d better try” I demanded standing up and pulling her with me. I’d spied a janitor’s closet set into one wall and I figured that would be the best place to stash her so she wouldn’t be found straight away. I began to walk forcing Vicki to walk with me.
After a couple of steps she faltered, screaming with pain through her gag and her legs started to buckle. Instinctively I tried to help her and that was my big mistake. I struggled to get a hold of her by the shoulders but Vicki suddenly and unexpectedly lashed out. She head butted me on the chin and pulled away, apparently intending to make a run for it. I staggered back letting go and she started to run, only to collapse with a (heavily muffled) yelp, this time of genuine pain.
I had no time to feel sympathy for the girl though. Reeling and shaking my head to clear it I leapt on top of her again, this time sitting on her stomach. Grabbing her kicking legs and reaching for more ties from my small collection I tied them together above and below the knee. Despite her escape attempt I felt sorry enough for her not to tie her ankles, the last thing I wanted to do was aggravate a genuine injury.
When I was done I stood up again, I watched the captive Vicky for a moment, she lay on her back, Blindfolded, gagged and bound, giving little feeble kicks with her good foot at where she imagined I might be. It felt strangely empowering to be on the other end for once.
I checked my watch. It was 2.20, time was running out. Grabbing Vicki by the collar of her T-shirt I dragged the struggling, mmpphing girl towards the closet, she was heavy and she put up a struggle but for once I had the advantage of not being the one tied up.
Reaching the closet I opened the door and rolled her inside before closing it again. I listened carefully at the door, she was still shouting and cursing at me through her gag but it was barely audible. Good, with 30 odd girls in here all shouting and screaming there was little chance they’d hear her cries for help from in there.
I fished a comb from my rucksack, wetted it and combed back my hair. Then I wetted my face to make myself more presentable.
I had to get to the library but I had no idea where that was, leaving the changing rooms as casually as I could manage – not easy when your heart’s beating at 10 times the normal rate – I headed across the courtyard into the main school building.
I looked round and she had already turned her back to me. I noticed that her cardigan was rather big for her and hung slightly off her shoulders. Before I knew what I was doing I had grabbed her cardigan by the collar and pulled it down about her elbows, the cardigan had buttons up the front, about half of which were fastened and my action succeeded in trapping her arms against her sides.
I honestly expected her to start screaming at this point and calling for help but she was surprisingly calm and detached.
“Vicki” she said and I had to remind myself she was talking to me “What do you think you’re doing? Let me go at once. This isn’t funny.”
She struggled a bit testing her restraints and fumbled for the buttons on her cardigan. Not daring to speak in case my voice betrayed me I grabbed her hands and held them together in front of her, Miss Harris had surprisingly slender wrists and while I don’t have big hands I found I could just about hold both her wrists in my left hand while I used my right one to undo the belt that was loosely tied around the waist of her cardigan.
Taking one end of the belt I wound it around her wrists three times knotting it securely, I still had more than half the belt left. I forced Miss Harris to sit on a chair and pulling her bound wrists forward I wound the free end around both her ankles. When I was finished she was stooped forwards in the chair, unable to lift her wrists any higher than her knees.
All the time she was talking to me (to Vicki, even now I find it hard to credit myself with what happened in the library), reasoning with me, calmly demanding to be untied.
In the end I couldn’t listen to her any more, I spied a white lace handkerchief poking out of the corner of her cardigan pocket and I grabbed it, wadded it up into a ball and stuffed it in her mouth, cutting her off mid speech.
The woman continued to talk although her speech was less coherent now. I could see her tongue was already working at the gag trying to push it free, before she could do so I whipped off my Moriarty High neck tie and wound it round and round her mouth before knotting it between her teeth. Finally she fell silent; her big brown eyes looked up at me with a mix of trepidation and anger as she tried to maintain her authority status despite the circumstances.
I smiled at her apologetically “I-I’m truly sorry about this,” I managed to say, then I grabbed my rucksack and ran for the exit.
“Hang on in there” I whispered. “I’ve got the ransom. You’ll be free in no time.”
Giving the boot what I hoped would come across as a reassuring pat I took my torch and the documents and entered the stone shelter. Inside it was surprising well lit. Lanterns hung from the walls illuminating the open barn-like space. In the centre of the barn was a wooden chair and sat in that chair was Kelly Macintosh. Her hands were tied around the back of the chair and criss-crossing white ropes covered her chest and legs; from shoulders to ankles there wasn’t a part of her that wasn’t covered in rope and her mouth was sealed with black tape.
Her head hung forward against her chest and at first I wondered if she might be unconscious, but then she groaned slightly and her eyelids flickered open. Her eyes widened when she saw me and I gave her what I hoped was a reassuring smile.
From behind me came a slow handclap.
“So the legendary Charlotte Angel saves the day again” A familiar female voice purred.
Slowly I turned round. In the doorway stood the Cat, exactly as I remembered from Halloween Night, she was dressed in the same black leather jump-suit and pixie boots, her face and hair were hidden under a pink motorcycle helmet with a tinted visor. Who is this girl? I asked myself. And how does she know so much about me?
“You bought the item I requested?” It was more a statement than a question.
“Of course” I waved the document by way of proof “Now let Kelly go and you can have it”
“I’m sorry. You seem to have forgotten I call the shots here” she replied coldly. She clicked her fingers and a man in a black motorcycle helmet appeared from the shadows snatching the documents from my hand. He took them to the masked woman and she perused them briefly.
Apparently satisfied she nodded and handed the papers back to her henchman.
“Okay let’s go” she said and snapped her fingers again. There was the roar of engines starting up and two motorbikes appeared in the open doorway. Breaking into a run the Cat and her associate hopped onto the back of the bikes and the drivers sped off.
By the time I got to the door of the barn they were gone.
Behind me Kelly let out a low moan through her gag and I hurried back to where she was tied in the centre of the barn.
Removing the tape from her mouth, a pairs of knickers fell out. I turned my attention to the ropes that held her in the chair, whoever had tied her had done a good job, I’d never seen so much rope used on one person and there were knots everywhere. I fished in my rucksack for a penknife and as I did so I asked Kelly to tell me what had happened.
Friday December 5th 2003 was a night I’m not likely to forget in a hurry. With three weeks to go before Christmas Crooksville was hosting it’s annual ‘Dickensian’ evening – a mix of late night shopping and charity fund raising. I’d been looking forward to it, even though I was going to be working in Mr Keats’s bookstore all night. Then my elder sister Verity had volunteered me to be ‘kidnapped’ by the local Pixies. The Pixies are a bit like the Brownies, they are a group for 7-12 year old girls where they can socially interact with each other and earn merits for different skills. I hope they don’t give merits for knot tying I thought grimly as I walked round the market place waiting for the girls to find me.
I felt a bit self-conscious especially as I was dressed as a Victorian street urchin. I was wearing a black jacket with tails, white crinkled shirt, grey checked trousers and black brogues, with a grey cap and grey wool scarf. I also had on a pair of white pop socks under my shoes, just because they were comfortable (hey my underwear was anachronistic too, no one said I had to be 100% Victorian).
” Excuse me are you Charlotte Angel” asked a voice. I looked round and saw two girls in the bright pink uniforms of the Pixies, it consists of a high collar jacket, T-shirt and below the knee pencil skirt in an old fashioned style that I think must date back to the 1940s at least. I wouldn’t be seen dead in an outfit like that I thought. The girl who had spoken was of Asian descent with shoulder length hair tied in plaits behind her ears. She wore a pair of black trainers with her uniform and had a coil of white rope slung over one shoulder. The second girl was white with close cut blonde hair and wore pink calf boots.
I nodded and smiled at them “Please, call me Charlie”
The blonde girl grabbed my arm “Come with us” she said without returning my smile.
The two girls led me through the square and down a side road. The shoppers bustled about us, most ignored us but a few people stopped to watch, a couple even cheered the girls on. I saw my friends, Roxy and Laura, stop to stare and gave them a friendly wave.
“Stop that” Snapped the Asian girl “No one is going to rescue you.”
“Wh- What are you going to do with me?” I played along fighting back a fit of the giggles.
“We’re going to take you to our hideout and hold you for ransom” the blonde girl said.
The girls stopped in a side road “Put your hands in front of you” said the Asian girl. I did so and she wound the rope around them knotting it securely.
“Ow, does it have to be that tight?” I asked lamely.
“Silence Prisoner” she said harshly “Or you will be gagged”.
Her blonde accomplice produced a pink wool scarf and I crouched down so she could tie it round my eyes. As she did so she whispered in my ear. “You’re lucky it’s Anna. Our pack leader’s much worse. She’s got merits for knot tying”
Oh, goody I thought what have I let myself in for? I am so going to have words with Verity when this is over.
Blindfolded and unable to see I was led by my bound wrists for what felt like 20 minutes. The longer we walked the less noise I could hear and it was obvious we were getting further and further from the town centre. The concrete beneath my brogues gave way to grass and I suspected given the general direction we’d been walking in, that we must be in the park. Finally I heard a door creak open and I was led in to a wooden building.
“Okay sit down.” said a voice, I think it was Anna’s but I’m not sure. Obediently I let myself be guided to a wooden chair and sat down. Immediately I felt more rope being wound around my waist securing me to the chair. At the same time someone was at my feet tying my legs together at the ankle.
“Right Lucy, pass me the camera”
I heard the click and whirl of a Polaroid camera thought about smiling for the picture but decided it might be better for the cause if I at least tried to look scared instead. Another photo was taken and a third.
“Okay Lucy I’m going to start collecting the ransom. You stay and guard the prisoner till Pack Leader gets here”
I heard the door to the clubhouse, or barn – wherever it was I was being held – swing open and close again. Anna had gone, I wondered idly how much I was worth to the citizens of Crooksville, I wasn’t exactly in Kelly Macintosh’s league but I was a bit of a local celebrity, albeit a reluctant one. In the 4 months that I’d been here I’d witnessed and even thwarted several crimes, and got my picture in the Oxford Mail twice. Having said that I was still a relative outsider.
After a few minutes I could bear the silence no longer. “Hello” I said, “Lucy is it?”
“I’m not supposed to speak to you” She said, “Pack leader wouldn’t like it”
“I won’t tell if you don’t”
“She’ll find out. She always does. She scares me”
“What’s to be scared of? What can she do to you?”
“She’ll punish me, like she did before”
I began to feel slightly uneasy, was this girl being bullied?
Before I could press her any further the door creaked open again
“What’s going on here Anna? Why isn’t the prisoner gagged?” I guessed this was the pack leader, there was something familiar about her voice, why did I recognise it? I didn’t know any young girls in this village, did I?
“S-Sorry Pack Leader. We didn’t think we needed to, she came quietly”
“Never mind, go and stand guard outside, I’m expecting a visitor, Don’t let anyone through without the password, right?”
“Y-yes, pack leader” There was an uncomfortable silence that I could sense even through the blindfold “Er – pack leader?”
“What is the password?”
“What it’s always been – ‘Pixies Forever’”
I heard Lucy open the door and go outside. The Pack Leader turned her attention to me.
“Hello Auntie Lotte” she chirped and for a moment my blood ran cold. It was Amber Matthews, my kid sister’s best friend. She was a horror and a brat; I hadn’t seen her since the previous Friday when I’d been baby sitting her and Dippy. They’d tricked me and tied me up but with a little help from my boyfriend Mark I’d managed to turn the tables on them. Amber had been pretty angry with me for getting the better of her and had sworn her revenge. Had I realised she was a Pixie I doubt I would have agreed to this kidnap stunt.
“Hello Amber” I replied keeping my voice steady “I would say it’s nice to see you but I can’t see anything just at the moment”
Ignoring my attempt at humour Amber continued “You humiliated me last week, in 6 years no one has ever managed to tie me up like that, Never”
“What can I say, maybe I know more about ropes than yo-ow” I let out an involuntary yelp of pain as Amber tightened the ropes that held me in the chair “What are you doing? I’m not planing to escape”
“Better safe than sorry”
I bit back a fit of the giggles as it dawned on me that Amber was almost inevitably wearing the same prim pink uniform as the girls who had ‘kidnapped’ me. Somehow it didn’t seem to fit with her tough tomboy image.
“Why don’t you take the blindfold off Amber?” I asked “I’d love to see you in your Pixie uniform. Tell me Amber are you a pretty little Pixie? I’ll bet you are. Why I’d bet anything you look cute as a button, all in pink”
“Shut up” She snapped “Don’t diss the uniform, no one disses the Pixie uniform. You say another word and I’ll make you regret it”
“Oooh, I’m scared Amber” A favourite tune of dad’s came to mind, Pretty in Pink, I think it was by the Psychedelic Furs but they were a bit before my time. I hummed a few bars of it for Amber’s benefit and I swear I could feel her blush.
“You won’t be laughing when your visitor gets here” Amber scolded, although I thought I heard a slight waver in her voice. I guess I got to her but it was a hollow victory, she’d gotten to me as well.
“Visitor? What visitor?” I asked. Despite myself I felt a little scared, just how vindictive was Amber? Tied to a chair and blindfolded I was completely at her mercy; she could let anyone in to get at me. I thought back to earlier that day and the Moriarty student I’d left bound and gagged in the girl’s changing rooms. Could she have worked out who I was? Would she be out for revenge? She wasn’t my only enemy either though most of them were in borstal or prison.
“Let’s just say an anonymous party offered us a considerable donation in exchange for some time alone with you.”
“And was that a donation to the charity or to you personally”
“Both” Well at least she was honest about it.
I heard the door open again, the newcomer didn’t speak but Amber did.
“You got here then. Have you got my money?” I heard a rustle of notes and wondered how much Amber was getting. “Spot on, well she’s all yours. I’ll be outside, just shout when you’re done.”
The door creaked shut and a silence fell on the room. I had no idea who was in the hut with me. Part of me was terrified.
Finally after what felt like an age the person spoke “Charlotte Angel we meet again” a feminine voice purred. The cat, my arch enemy. Of course it had to be her.
“So we do” I replied doing my best to hide the fear in my voice “And to what do I owe this honour?”
“Oh I think you know, Charlotte. Do you honestly think I’d let you get away with keeping copies of that document? I told you to steal it for me not for you”
“Copies? What copies?” It was a weak bluff but worth a try I thought.
The Cat laughed “Nice try but didn’t your parents ever tell you never kid a kidder? I’ve played poker with professional gamblers, I can spot a weak bluff like yours a mile off. And besides that I know how you think Charlie – you don’t mind if I call you Charlie do you? -I know you wouldn’t let a clue as important as this slip through your fingers, not if you had the choice. Well, sorry Charlie I can’t take that risk, as soon as you left the house for our rendezvous this afternoon I had someone go into your house and relieve your sister of the copies.”
“Serendipity!” I screamed “What have you done to her you- you..” My voice trailed off as I fought back tears.
“Oh, don’t worry she’s fine.” the Cat purred “although you might want to check your wardrobe when you get home tonight. From what I hear it’s a bit cramped in there”
I pulled angrily at the ropes that held me to the chair but it was hopeless, I was too well tied.
“Relax Charlie, you’ll hurt yourself”
“Don’t call me Charlie,” I said through gritted teeth “Only my friends call me Charlie. You call me Charlotte. Got that Delores!”
The Cat froze, even through my blindfold I could sense her eyeing me up and down. Then she started clapping her hands together slowly.
“So you finally worked it out did you?” She said at length. “What gave me away?”
I had her full attention now, I thought about it carefully before answering “It’s been bothering me all day, Why would the Cat kidnap Kelly Macintosh just to get at me? It would have been far easier to snatch Serendipity or Leona, any one of my friends. Taking Kelly required a lot of planning what with getting her driver out of the way first. There had to be more to it. You specifically targeted Kelly because you wanted to get back at her as well as at me. She stole your boyfriend so you thought you’d punish her for it.
“You know I might not have made the connection even then, but you slashed her dress. That’s when I knew for certain it wasn’t a random kidnap and that Kelly had been deliberately targeted. I realised then I’d seen you driving the limo earlier, you slipped up. You’re hair was peaking out from under the cap. Red hair. All the clues were there – I just needed to piece them together.”
“Well I can’t say I’m impressed Charlie. To be honest I thought you would have got it weeks ago, maybe you’re not as smart as I thought you were”
“I still reckon I’m smart enough to bring you to justice” I retorted
She laughed coldly “I doubt it, I’ve been committing crimes a lot longer than you’ve been solving them and believe me knowing who I am and proving it are two entirely different things.”
She was right of course, no matter what I thought I knew I had no evidence. I hadn’t even realised I knew who the Cat was until a moment before I said her name out loud but suddenly 5 weeks of investigation had paid off. The stupid thing was the answer had been right under my nose all the time, at the same time I’d had my first run in with the Cat, Delores DeMontford had suddenly started stalking me. I’d been treating these as two separate mysteries; who was the Cat and why was Delores so interested in me when in reality each question answered the other.
“I’ll find a way to prove it” I told her feeling defiant “and when I do your feet won’t touch the ground, you’ll be sitting your GCSEs in a young offenders institute.”
“Ooh, fighting talk. Now I’m scared” There was a silence then she spoke again. “Still it wouldn’t hurt to teach you a lesson, just like I did Miss Big-Time Celebrity.
“You know” she added “that Pixie girl, – What’s her name? Amber? – She shows a lot of spunk, reminds me of myself at that age. Maybe I should take her under my wing. Show her the ropes so to speak. What do you reckon Charlie? Good idea? No, you’re right. I should test her first, give her a little challenge, If she comes through I may make her my protege. I’ll go talk to her now. Thanks Charlie, it’s been a blast talking to you. Now don’t go anywhere”
“Where am I gonna go?” I retorted “Ipswich”
The Cat laughed coldly. “That’s what I love about you Charlie. You have such a good sense of humour”
I heard the door open and close and realised I was alone in the hut. I pulled at the ropes that held me to the chair wishing I’d never agreed to be kidnapped, even if it was in a good cause. It was hopeless, I was securely fastened and with my arms tied down I couldn’t even reach up and remove the blindfold.
I don’t know how long I sat in that chair; no one came in to check on me. My stomach rumbled loudly and I realised I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. It had been a strange and hectic day.
Finally the door opened and I heard at least three voices chattering excitedly.
“The ransoms been collected now” said a voice I think was Lucy’s
“Was I worth much?” I asked
“Two hundred and Twenty Seven Pounds fifty-four pence. A new record. The most we ever got before was £93.06 and that was for the mayor”
I nodded impressed, then I asked myself how much of that was from Delores and I felt a little sick
“I take it you girls are letting me going now then,” I asked, not unreasonably I thought.
There was a pause before a voice I recognised as Amber’s replied “Not exactly. We’ve been offered another £25.00 if we… Well you’ll find out.”
I didn’t like the sound of that; I opened my mouth to protest but one of the girls forced a cloth into my mouth ( I think it was!) and a moment later a strip of tape held it in place.
The door to the hut creaked open yet again and I heard Amber’s voice “Okay lady, she’s all yours.”
My heart leapt into my mouth as stiletto heeled footsteps entered the hut. At the same time I could hear the girls leaving, they sounded slightly nervous. This was not good.
A surprisingly smooth hand brushed my face, inspecting my gag and blindfold to see they were secure.
“So this is the girl the boss wants humiliated?” It was a question more than a statement
“That’s her” I was surprised to realise Amber was still in the room. Was this the test the Cat had intended for her? “Her name’s Charlotte and she thinks she’s some great detective. It’s pathetic really. I mean look at her, does she look like Nancy Drew to you?”
“Don’t know” the older woman replied “I was more into the Famous Five myself. Come on let’s get her ready to move”
I heard a noise like plastic snapping and a sickly sweet aroma pervaded my senses.
“The boss invented them” I heard the woman explain to Amber “Chloroform phials, you crack them open, hold them under the nose and Hey Presto.”
“So, she’s unconscious?”
No I thought, I can hear every word you say.
“Not exactly. As I understand it she’ll still be able to hear us for a while. The drug paralyses at first, sleep comes a little later. It will knock the fight out of her though so it’s safe to untie her.”
Sure enough I felt the ropes fall away from my arms, legs and finally my wrists but I felt as limp as a rag doll. I just slumped in the chair.
“Right” said the woman “I’ll hold her up while you undress her.”
Undress me? No way. I have to fight this. It was no use my muscles remained frustratingly uncooperative. I felt my jacket pulled from my shoulders, then my shirt and skirt. If I was paralysed, I would have shivered and turned bright red being exposed
“Now, quickly, tape this over her crotch. She’ll be wetting her herself because of the drug.”
Tape this? My eyesight was fuzzy as I heard the sound of adhesive but due to the lost of my sense of touch I couldn’t tell what they were doing.
What was probably hours later, I heard a voice cry out, “Miss, are you ok? Oh my gosh, you’re bound!” Seconds later, I felt hands work around my wrists and the rope I found myself bound in was free. The stranger’s hands like wise remove the rest of my leg and knee bounds and then carefully pulled away the tape. Out of my mouth came a pair of knickers–yucks!
“Here, miss, take my coat. You must be cold, al’ naked,” I looked down and gave a yelp: My bra was missing and I was wearing…oh my gosh! A nappy! I turned a beetroot red.
“Miss, let me call the coppers,” he said, yamking out his mobile.
Suddenly, the events of the past few hours flooded back to me. “No, no, there no time! Do you have a car? Can you quickly drop me at…” I gave him my address.
Fishing my front door key from a mat (luckily mum kept such a key) I let myself into the house. “Serendipity!” I called out her name again “Serendipity!”
No reply. I cast my mind back to my conversation with Delores earlier. ‘Best check your wardrobe’ She’d said. I took the stairs two at a time and threw open my bedroom door.
“Serendipity are you in here?” I shouted
A soft thud from inside the wardrobe was my only response.
Hastily I made my way to the far side of the room and turned the key, opening the wardrobe door. A small pink and blue bundle fell out at my feet.
It was Serendipity! her clothes were removed and she was wearing her blue knickers and training bra. Her wrists had been handcuffed behind her back and she was tape gagged.I eased the gag from her mouth an another pair of knickers fell out.
“Dippy can you tell me what happened?”
“I-I’m not sure. It all happened so fast. Amber came round and I was showing her the information I’d gotten for you. Then she had to go to this Dickensian thing. Next thing I know there’s this big woman in a ski mask stood over me, don’t know how she got in. She makes me hand over the disc and the copies of that document you bought back earlier. Then she does something to the computer, drags me up here and ties me up, stuffs me in the closet. Oh, Lotte, I’ve never been so scared. Wait, why are you naked and wearing a nappy?”