Still, since we're all here, I should probably begin with some introductions.
My name is Samantha Ward and, in addition to being a full time student I am both an amateur sleuth and a semi-professional escapologist.
Or to put it another way, I’m a bookish nerd with a nose for danger and a well known affinity for knots
So, let me start by describing myself.
At 5’9 I am somewhat tall for my age (or indeed for a human girl) with extremely short, jet black hair and a pair of thick rimmed glasses. Despite a pair of strong, dancers legs I am almost entirely lacking in natural grace. I snort when I laugh and when engaged in conversation, my hands take on a life of their own as they emphasise and elaborate upon whatever whichever theme has sparked my interest. If I were an animated character I would be the clumsy, short sighted flamingo, or possibly some distant relation to Big Bird.
In short, I am a klutz.
Fun Fact Number One: The garish colours of our school uniform (since you asked, a starched, long sleeved blouse, green skirt and matching blazer, together with a yellow and green necktie) coupled with my, almost six foot frame lead to me acquiring the rather unfortunate nickname of the 'No so Jolly Green Giant'.
Fun Fact Number Two: My favourite movie of all time is Annie Hall, so much so that I was unique among my peers in being the only pupil who actually enjoyed wearing her starched white school shirt buttoned up to the collar because I thought it made me look a little like the eponymous heroine.
As you can imagine, this sartorial decision was rather more popular with my teachers than with my classmates - but I didn’t care - I thought it made me look smart and sophisticated, like Diane Keaton and to this day remain smitten with this look.
Fun fact Number Three: I actually own more neckties than my Dad (see above) In fact, just the other week he was forced to ask to borrow one of them for a job interview
Anyway, enough about my wardrobe for the moment (in short, I own more high necked blouses than a middle aged librarian) I should probably tell you something about how my interest in escapology began.
Growing up in an age before the internet (but after the dinosaurs I hasten to add) I was a huge fan of the Nancy Drew series of novels. She was my literary idol and I was completely obsessed with her adventures, often consuming an entire book in a single sitting (not counting meals/ bathroom breaks etc).
For the uninitiated, Nancy Drew was a teenage girl sleuth who, in the course of solving various local mysteries would often run afoul of various criminal elements of the town. For reasons I did not yet understand, my favourite part of all of her stories were the scenes in which she would be caught, and oftentimes tied up.
There was one particular scene I was strangely fascinated with, it was the one in which Nancy was left bound and gagged with a deadly spider for company.
I was both thrilled and terrified in equal measure.
It all just sounded so exciting! To be trussed up and fending off the attention of a sore tempered arachnid.
In fact, although they were written with a young audience in mind the bad guys were often quite unpleasant to Nancy, indeed I recall one scene in particular in which the female protagonist was described as taking particular delight in making her gag "cruelly tight"
I'm not ashamed to say that thinking about this gave me goosebumps.
Eventually I plumped up the courage to act out the scene in my bedroom using a handful of Mum's old scarves and a rubber tarantula I found in the toy cupboard.
Fun fact Number Four: I was still far too scared of real spiders to play these games in the shed where they might actually live,..
Blessed with an overactive imagination and plenty of free time I was always writing stories and drawing comic strips in which I was cast as the principal heroine. As you might imagine, these tales always seemed to feature a scene (or more likely several) in which my character was captured and had to escape from the clutches of an evil mastermind (the more things change,..)
Incidentally, I found a notebook from the time that was full of such tales (Mum had kept it in the loft) and they were almost hilariously bad.
Anyway, as I got a little older/ braver I began acting out some of these scenes, playing the part of the hostage of a gang of ruthless cattle rustlers, or a boat full of scurvy addled pirates.
Lets just say that our attic was a great substitute for the hull of a ship, an abandoned diamond mine, or even, on one occasion, a military submarine.
I soon got pretty adept at tying myself up tight enough that I would feel helpless, but loose enough that I could quickly get free if I heard anyone on the stairs.
Mostly I played these games by myself, however I occasionally managed to persuade some of the local boys to incorporate a kidnap scene into their war games (although truthfully they were all rather hopeless jailers and I was able to slip free without much difficulty!)
However the early highlight of my career as a wannabee teen detective was undoubtedly the Summer that I spent the holidays with my Grandparents, who, after a great deal of cajoling/ begging on my part were finally persuaded to join in with my games.
Naturally they were cast as kidnappers, more specifically a pair of retired spies who had caught me snooping around their house and were now intent on keeping me prisoner. With my hands and feet fastened together with skipping ropes it was pretty easy to lose myself in the fantasy that I was the young hero caught snooping by a pair of ageing villains, particularly since my Gran took such great pleasure in teasing me when I was captured.
"There! Not so smart now are you my little sleuth?! All tied up and nowhere to go!"
Clearly a lifetime of watching corny soap operas had given her an ear (and abiding love) for hackneyed dialogue. She even started wearing an eye patch during our 'scenes' together saying it made her character more "mysterious".
Well, who was I to complain? Eventually we all began developing our own characters:
Gran was the impossibly glamorous diamond smuggler Grace Fontaine, Granddad was her bungling sidekick Legs Malone and I was the teen detective Samantha Drew (Nancy's fictional cousin - naturally!)
For my part I would change into my school clothes (which I had smuggled over in my rucksack) buttoned primly at the neck and with my necktie knotted impeccably.
I’m not sure why it was more exciting to be trussed up whilst wearing my uniform, but all I knew was that it seemed to make the game much more enjoyable, and that something told me that my parents must never find out.
Granddad was always teasing us for our hammy acting, but secretly he loved playing and really threw himself into the role of Gran's henchman, particularly when she ordered him to "Tie up the meddling school girl and make sure it's good and tight!"
In reality Granddad was a total softie and the ropes were never terribly uncomfortable, but it was fun to pretend (although it should be noted that when Gran applied the cords herself I was rarely, if ever, capable of getting loose without help)
When the games were in their infancy Gran would usually be content simply tying my hands and feet and I often had to prompt them to gag me, however they soon began to take the hint and started to incorporate it into our games (and occasionally a blindfold too)
"You’ll never get away with this - Help! Help!”
"Legs, gag her! Teenage snoops should be seen, not heard!"
In fact these scenes went on to become such a key part of our adventures that Gran began keeping a pair of freshly laundered handkerchiefs in her purse specifically for this purpose. Sometimes she'd even remind me to put "my gags in the washing basket", which always made me smile.
As the plots became more developed, so too did the 'death traps' and it was not unusual for me to find myself tied to a chair with a 'bomb' in my lap (in reality an alarm clock radio) or threatened with being burned at the stake. It was, all considered, tremendous fun.
Sadly however, as with all things, the games died out when I went back to school.
Who knows, maybe they felt I was getting a little too old to be rolling around in a dirty old attic playing make-believe?
However, to this day Grace Fontaine and Legs Malone will occasionally make a sly reference to the Summer that their Granddaughter was a plucky teen detective.
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Join date : 2016-12-20
Houdini in Heels likes this post
- Posts : 154
Join date : 2010-11-19
Location : UK
Houdini in Heels likes this post
Thanks for the feedback - so glad you liked it!N00144119 wrote:Great story, looking forward to reading more
Haha! Aww, so glad you think so!Xerxes wrote:I love it. Great prose, great heroine, great story and perfect dress sense!
Really appreciate the words of encouragement - thanks!
The most amazing part of growing up in our hometown was the woods behind the school, the world's greatest backyard for an adventurous young girl and her very best friend (a fellow geek with a shock of red hair called Craig) Beneath the wide open skies we could be anyone we wanted- Ruthless spies, invading alien hordes, Teenage Mutant Turtles (I was April - naturally!) playing our parts without inhibition away from view of our peers and the harsh glare of any passing theatre critics.
For seven hours a day we were free to do as we pleased, so much so that we built our own secret base, a makeshift fort assembled from items scavenged from a nearby builders yard and a broken down sofa we found on the street.
Of course it is highly unlikely that our low budget version of Castle Greyskull would ever pass a safety inspection, but to our minds it was an impenetrable fortress and it was within these dilapidated walls that we would wile away the hours inventing silly games to keep ourselves entertained.
It was the last day of the Summer holidays and we were settling down to enjoy our picnic lunch of soggy banana sandwiches and juice boxes on the lawn outside our fort (or dining al fresco as he insisted we refer to it)
For those interested in such things, Craig was dressed in a pair of football shorts and a Dungeons and Dragon’s t-shirt that was at least two sizes too big for him, whilst I was wearing my usual outfit for playing outdoors: a pair of hiking boots, jeans and a blue and black checked lumberjack shirt buttoned to the collar.
We were just polishing off the last of the feast when Craig suggested playing a new game.
Apparently he had seen a documentary about Harry Houdini and wanted to try out one of the tricks.
"Sorry, you want to get me to tie you up?!” I asked as Craig produced a pair of frayed ropes from the bottom of his WWF rucksack.
“If you think you up to the task, although I don't imagine you'll be to do a very good job. After all,.. you’re only a girl!” He teased pressing them into my chest.
Of course as a fiercely competitive tomboy I was not going to let such rampant misogyny go unchallenged
"Ha!" I snorted derisively "We’ll see about that"
Working quickly but efficiently I set about binding his hands and feet together with thick cord.
Within moments he was stuck fast, like a rotisserie chicken with ginger hair.
It was, though I say it myself, a rather thorough job.
“Not bad s’pose’!” He grunted, trying not to appear impressed.
“So, what happens now?” I asked, already sounding bored.
“Well, you get to watch me escape of course” He said in a faltering voice.
“You don’t sound very sure?..” I teased
“Of course I’m sure! - I just didn’t want to embarrass you by getting free too quickly”
“Oh, Okay” I said sceptically.
“Just watch!” He snapped “You’ll see!”
After five minutes of fruitless struggling Craig remained firmly trussed up like a Christmas goose.
“Care to throw in the towel?” I asked happily.
“You’re enjoying this aren’t you!?” He said accusingly.
“Maybe a little” I admitted lightly pinching his cheeks.
“Okay I give up. This is too hard. Can you help me get loose?"
“Of course I can. What kind of friend would I be if I left you all tied up like that,..?”
“That’s a relief-”
“But it’ll cost you”
Craig wasn’t getting free (without help) and he knew it. The only thing that remained was agreeing the terms of his surrender.
“Fine!” He sighed, sounding exacerbated “How much?”
After a long, protracted negotiation we settled on a handful of Pokemon cards as ransom.
Armistice agreed I loosened the knots on his hands and feet enabling him to slip free.
“Yay! You did it!”
“Don’t patronise me”
“Sorry, I just thought your bruised ego might need a boost”
He harrumphed loudly.
“I can't help thinking you cheated somehow” He sulked as he rubbed his sore wrists.
“How in the World could I possibly have cheated? You are the one who asked to be tied up. How was I to know you were the World’s worst escape artist?”
“You think you could do better?!” He snapped, his pride wounded
“Duh! Of course I could. Besides, I can hardly do any worse,..”
“Touché. Okay hotshot, let’s see you try it!”
“You mean let you tie me up?”
“Sure, why not- Unless you’re scared,..”
“Nu-huh!” I replied with a typically witty rejoinder. ‘Take that Oscar Wilde!’
“Good. So why don’t we make it into a game. You can be the teenage detective snooping around the abandoned diamond mine and I’ll be the evil smuggler who catches you,..”
"Are you kidding?! You'll never hope to sneak up on anyone without your inhaler”
“I will too. I’ll be quiet as a mouse. No quieter than that even. As quiet as,..”
“A dead mouse?” I suggested helpfully.
“Ha! Really funny Sam!
“I’m glad we both agree!” I said boastfully.
“In fact, it was so funny,.. I forgot to laugh! Anyway, as I was saying, I take you hostage and lock you up in Greyskull and you have to escape”
“Easy peasy. I’ll be free in no time! Then we’ll see who’s better than who”
“Not so fast, we haven’t agreed terms yet”
“Terms! What terms?” I said, suddenly eager to begin.
“Of the bet silly”
“You mean a wager? - What are the stakes?” I asked, my curiosity heightened.
“Well how about this, if you don’t escape before the end of the game you have to wear a dress to my Birthday party next week”
“You fiend!” I said chortling, he knew how much I hated wearing a dress.
I pretended to mull this over for a moment.
“Okay, but if I do get free you have to do my Maths homework for a week!”
“Lady, you got yourself a deal”” He said spitting in his hand and holding out
“I’m not shaking that!” I said crossing my arms and looking suitibly unimpressed..
“Whatever” He grunted wiping the saliva down his jeans
“And make sure you wash those hands before you even think about touching me with those grubby paws”
“As you wish Princess!!” He said, whining like a guilty schoolboy.
I watched as he submerged his hands in the nearby stream and scrubbed them clean.
“Happy now!” He said holding up his nails for inspection.
“Much” However, before we could get started on my escapology display I noticed the time. I was already late for dinner.
“Where are you going?” Craig opined as I gathered up my supplies.
“TBC” I explained
“To be continued” I explained, “I’ll meet you here after school tomorrow for round two”
“Very well” He said, attempting some form of maniacal laugh, “Enjoy your last night of freedom”
“Ooo,” I said waving my fingers, in a mocking tone “I am, like, so scared”
The next day I made my way to the hideout, only to find Craig already lying in wait, several lengths of frayed rope stuffed in his pockets.
Arriving straight from class I was still dressed in my uniform, which in my case consisted of a starched, long sleeved blouse (buttoned at the collar) a green skirt and matching blazer, together with a yellow and green necktie.
It was sweltering hot and so I decided to remove my jacket (which I hung neatly over a nearby branch) before straightening my shirt cuffs and offering my hands to be tied.
"Ready and waiting I see. Okay Mr Smuggler, ready when you are” I remarked with a grin
"No, no. Put them behind your back!" he insisted
“Hey no fair, you didn’t have to do that”
“Do you want to back out?”
“I guess not,..”
Feigning reluctance I did as I was asked and watched over my shoulder as my best friend began wrapping the cord around my wrists in a complex tangle of knots.
He didn't pull the rope so tight that they might hurt, but they were certainly snug.
"Let's just say I'm 'comfy adjacent'"
Like an over familiar waiter my captor helped me sit down against the base of a tree and began tying the second rope firmly around my ankles.
“There! All done!” He exclaimed finally, stepping back to admire his handiwork “I’d like to see you get out of that!”
“Not bad!” I cooed admiringly as I shifted in my bonds “But I can see why you didn’t earn your badge in knot tying,..”
I couldn’t help but notice that Craig was staring at me a little strangely as I wriggled in my ropes.
I decided to have a little fun at his expense.
“But if I’m your hostage, shouldn’t I have something over my mouth to stop me talking?" I asked, aware that this was the type of thing that often happened to my literary idol.
"A gag you mean?" He said, trying and failing, to act dumb “Well, I guess it would be more realistic- and it might be nice to have some peace and quiet for a change. Erm, what did you have in mind?”
“I don’t know. In my Nancy Drew books they usually use a nice scarf, or a handkerchief,..”
“How about one of my football socks?” He offered rather unhelpfully.
“Urgh! Gross. Are you actually trying to poison me? Use your school tie- actually on second thoughts that thing looks it hasn’t been washed since last term - use mine”
Craig nodded silently but didn’t move.
“You’ll have to take it off for me” I prompted, lifting my neck.
With a nod of encouragement he gently pulled the knot loose (leaving my buttoned collar exposed) and held the scarf up to my face.
“Right, well I better gag you then” He said, and I could tell he was trying to hide the excitement in his voice.
“Go right ahead” I said wryly opening my mouth wide allowing him to tie the scarf firmly in place between my teeth.
It was surprisingly tight and caused my cheeks to bulge a little.
“Haha!” He taunted, “Oh, Sam You look so silly. Like an overfed hamster or something!”
“Hh, ghmm hn. Dhn't prmtmnd nhh'rm nht mnjhnnng thnf”
“Hmph, as if!” He snorted blushing. My best friend was still at an age when girls were considered icky-pants.
I rolled my eyes.
“Whhtmvmr nhh fhn,..”
With his tiny frame and red rimmed glasses he looked a little too like Milhouse from The Simpsons to be considered a dashing hero, or potential love interest. Yet there was something inherently exciting about being cast as his prisoner.
“So, are you ready to give up yet?!” He said mockingly
I said nothing but simply bought my hands out in front of my body, now completely free.
His astonishment was a joy to behold.
“What? How? What?!” He spluttered as I smiled back at him.
“Mhgng hf ghhrfm!” I said triumphantly, my boasts only marred by the gag between my teeth.
He stared at me in a state of shock, his mouth hanging open and his jaw flapping in the wind.
“A-a-are you a witch?” He asked, only half joking.
“You better hope not!” I said pulling down the scarf so it hung uselessly around my neck. “Now, untie my feet before I turn you into a frog or something!”
Unsure what else to do Craig stooped down to unfasten the cord around my ankles.
“So how did you get free?”
“Mad skills innit!” I offered by way of explanation.
“Let’s just say that this isn’t the first time I’ve been tied up” I said and proceeded to tell him all about my adventures with my Grandparents the previous Summer.
“Wow! That’s so cool. My Grandparents never do fun stuff like that. They’re so boring!”
“I’m pretty lucky I guess”
“But I’m afraid this does mean you broke the rules of our bet”
“You failed to mention you were a trained escape artist”
“Is it really my fault that you never thought to ask?”
“I suppose not, but you have to agree that you had an unfair advantage,..”
“I concede nothing, now let’s discuss the small matter of my maths homework,..
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(For any Millennial's among you, a VCR is kind of like an old-timey Bluray player, but roughly eight times the size!)
Anyhoo' I would daydream constantly about bank robberies that I would thwart, or kidnap fantasies where I would wriggle out of the ropes. During English classes I would write pages and pages of stories in which I would be the feisty Damsel in Distress tied in the path of an oncoming train, or somehow lowered into a pool of hungry sharks, only to slip free of my bonds at the very last second.
Heaven only knows what my teacher made of it all.
Soon enough I began to practice mild forms of self-bondage to experience the momentary thrill of being a teenage sleuth captured on a case. I began by simply tying my ankles with my school tie, before eventually graduating to stealing supplies from around the house (old belts, the cords from a dressing gown, shoe laces etc)
This early interest in damsels in distress (read: infatuation) soon morphed into a far wider fascination (read: obsession) with stage magic and far more specifically the dream of being tied up in front of a paying audience. Of course like any musical instrument there was no substitute for practical experience and this meant practise. Hours of practise.
Fearing ridicule, (or something worse) I kept this hobby hidden behind my bedroom door.
Or at least I thought I did.
It was the beginning of Winter in my third year of secondary school and dateless wonder that I was, I was home alone on a Friday night.
Tragic though my lack of a social calendar may have been, on the plus side of the ledger, at least this offered me the perfect opportunity to work on my fledgling escapology act.
Every cloud and all that.
Thus, left to my own devices (my parents were still at work and not due home for some time) I decided to entertain myself with a high stakes, quick fire escape drill.
Naturally, as something of a precocious drama queen, I decided to dress for the part, and this meant my DIY magician’s costume - a re-purposed black leotard worn under a long sleeved white blouse with a black bow tie I had liberated from my Dad’s closet space months earlier.
With time, very much of the essence, I changed quickly and retrieved my collection of ropes and gags from the shoe-box under the bed. Selecting a pair of die cast metal handcuffs (a Birthday gift to myself) some lengths of old frayed cord and a handful of bandanas from the handful of materials on offer, all that remained was a quick (precautionary) trip to the bathroom and I was finally ready to begin.
I started by tying each of my ankles to a separate leg of the chair with rope before tying a pale pale green bandanna, as tight as I dared, between my teeth.
I found, as I did so it was all too easy to lose herself in the fantasy that I was a young Nancy Drew wannabee being forced to bind myself at gunpoint.
The only thing that remained were the manacles.
With a slow, resigned action that suggested reluctance (the truth was anything but) I threaded my arms around the back of the chair and locked the handcuffs tightly in place around my starched shirt cuffs.
I was now was bound, gagged and in urgent need of rescue.
My parents were expected home within the hour, which meant I had less than 40 minutes to get myself free and change out of my costume before their return.
However, just as I was about to lose myself in the fantasy of being a world famous stage magician, I heard someone turning the key in the front door.
I frantically glanced up at the clock.
It was still only 16-15.
They were home almost an hour early.
Then I realised. I had forgotten to put the clock forward an hour.
Suddenly gripped by blind panic I began to desperately thrash about in my restraints as I struggled to retrieve the small handcuff that I kept hidden in the sleeve of my school blouse.
“Sam honey, can you come help get the bags from the car” Mum called up in a jaunty voice.
Working quickly I finally managed to unlock one of the manacles from my wrists before springing from my chair like a coiled spring, only to immediately find myself crashing face first to the ground.
As I lay in a twisted mess of limbs on the carpet I slowly became aware that, in my haste to get loose I had neglected to untie the ropes that kept me tethered by the ankles to my desk chair.
“Sam. What was the bang?” Mum cried out, sounding concerned
“Nothing” I finally managed, plucking the gag from my mouth “I’m fine”
But by then she had already raced up the stairs and was right outside my bedroom,..
“Is everything okay? What are you doing in there?” She said, her tone moving quickly from panic to curiosity
“Nothing. Uh, everything's fine. I was, Uh, everything's under control. We’re fine. We’re all fine now here, now,.. thank you”
“’We’re’? Is there someone in there with you?”
“Oh, no, I was, that is,.. uh, I was on the,.. I was on the phone with Emily,.. yes, that’s it! I was chatting with Emily”
“Oh. That’s nice Dear” She said, a trace of suspicion in her voice “Well. I was just going to say, there’s some pizza downstairs if you want some. Neither of us felt like cooking tonight”
“I’m not really hungry” I lied “I want to get a start on my homework”
“Oh” She said “If you’re sure”
Breathing an almighty sigh of relief at having avoided being discovered in a state of (self) bondage by my parents I waited until I heard my Mother's footsteps descending the staircase before slipping free from the remainder of the ropes and changing out of my costume.
SuaveDragon and N00144119 like this post
If you're gonna keep the magician plot-thread going, I wouldn't mind her exploring other illusions or escapes, with bigger props like a pillory, guillotine, or sawing in half. And maybe eventually she upgrades to a more professional tuxedo as opposed to the one she designed out of stuff just laying around.
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Join date : 2011-01-24
Houdini in Heels likes this post
Hehe! So glad you liked the New Hope reference, although it was very much a happy accident that it was posted on SW day!SuaveDragon wrote:I think I caught a Han Solo reference from A New Hope in that last entry. If I'm correct, great nod to it being Star Wars Day!
If you're gonna keep the magician plot-thread going, I wouldn't mind her exploring other illusions or escapes, with bigger props like a pillory, guillotine, or sawing in half. And maybe eventually she upgrades to a more professional tuxedo as opposed to the one she designed out of stuff just laying around.
The magician thread is very much one I'd like to continue utilising - Sam being very much a keen exponent of the art of escapology (which will very much come in handy for her teen detective career later)
Ha! Rest assured, she does eventually invest in a more professional outfit
Thanks for reading/ commenting
Somehow we were both firmly possessed of the unshakeable belief that writing/ starring and directing our own series of videos would be the gateway to unspeakable wealth and fame and that our diaries were shortly to be filled with champagne, red carpets and all the gold statues we could eat.
Sadly however our hopes of somehow becoming crowned the Queens of New Media were cruelly dashed when it became clear that no-one was actually watching our videos.
Well, I say no one, we had managed to coerce, bribe and cajole friends and family members to subscribe to our feeble efforts, but despite massaging the figures to within an inch of their lives, the number of views attracted by our site stubbornly refused to move beyond the single digits. Indeed it would be no great exaggeration to suggest that our entire audience could easily have fitted into a moderately sized saloon car with sufficient space remaining for most of the furniture in my bedroom.
It was becoming increasingly clear that if were ever going to achieve our goal of being filthy rich, internet squillionaires, something had to be done. And quickly.
It was at this point we decided to open up the floor to suggestions. Or to put it another way, we began shamelessly pleading for dares from our viewer(s) in a video we entitled “Give us your views and we’ll do stuff (pg13 only!)”
It was then that we received our first piece of feedback,.. or to be more accurate, the first example of praise we hadn’t written ourselves under an assumed name (so sue me!)
It came from someone identifying themselves as Sidney Whiplash (whose avatar was that of a cartoon villain with top hat and pencil moustache – ‘a sure sign of trustworthiness’ according to Emily) and after some lighthearted pleasantries “You’re so funny. I love all your videos etc” he moved onto the res, as it were, by challenging us to take part in something called the “What you say?” dare, the rules of which he included (in great detail) at the foot of his post.
For the uninitiated, it was essentially a parlour game, in which participants attempted to communicate a specific word, or phrase to their team mate despite having a sock, or some type of scarf, tied over their mouths. It all seemed like relatively harmless fun and eager to please our biggest (nay only) fan we happily agreed.
For the video we used a pair of old bandannas that Emily fished out of the darkest recesses of her closet space. Between laughing fits we each managed to somehow make ourselves understood using a combination of mumbled grunts and, in my case some rather abstract mime.
It was only later that night, as the views pushed over a hundred that we realised we had an unexpected hit on our hands.
Soon enough the self-appointed club president of the UK branch of our fan club got back in touch to commend us on our efforts and suggest a few tweaks to the format in the event of any possible sequel.
The communique read thusly,
“Hey Girls. Thanks so much for filming my “what you say?” video, it looked like you were having tremendous fun. I was particularly impressed with the way Emily was able to guess “Pride and Prejudice”, even if it sounded closer to “Prndm hnd Prmjhdngm” lol.
However, I wondered if using her hands to mime the book titles wasn't cheating just a little? Maybe you could make a second version of the dare in which Samantha isn't allowed to use her hands? Just a thought. Keep up the wonderful videos. Your pal, Sid x"
Emily, who had something of a pixieish sense of humour was quick to reply,..
“Dear Sidney, thank YOU for the dare and for the feedback. It would be so typical of Sam to exploit a loophole in the rules to cheat. How do you think we should punish her?
Luv Em. Xx
His reply was certainly swift, appearing as it did, within seconds of our last post.
“You should tie her up and see if she can escape. X”
I'm sorry, what?!
Was I really being challenged to an escape related dare? For a budding escapologist/ damsel in distress with knots on the brain this was almost too good an opportunity to pass up.
Fortunately Emily, immediately identified the comic potential and quickly fired off a reply
“Sounds like fun. What did you have in mind. Yours, Em. x
All at once our inbox was fit to bursting with recommendations as to precisely how I should be restrained (Typically these suggestions featured some combination of rope, duct tape and saran wrap, sometimes all three!)
Naturally my best friend proved only too happy to enter into any pact that involved my ritual humiliation and after a brief discussion we both agreed that the idea sounded fun and so naturally we decided to jump in with both feet.
Having gathered the appropriate supplies from all four corners of the house, (some old tow ropes, a roll of silver duct tape and a handful of scarves) we retreated back to her room to stage the video.
At this point I should probably describe my best friend. Captain of the netball team and champion shot putter, she was an athletic, if somewhat diminutive young woman with purple hair, bright red doc martens, ripped jeans and an old band t shirt that clung to her body like a second skin.
By contrast I felt somewhat overdressed in my school uniform (a starched long sleeved blouse, green pleated skirt and matching blazer) which, true to form I hadn't bothered to change out of after lessons ended.
Of course I pretended this was due to apathy on my part, but in truth it was because I secretly enjoyed wearing it!.
“Okay Champ, you’re up”
For some reason I found myself taking the time to ensure my tight shirt collar was buttoned primly and my green and yellow necktie was knotted neatly at the throat (I wasn’t familiar with the school dress code as it applied to fake kidnappings, but decided it was best to err on the side of caution,..)
Trying not to appear too confident I placed my hands together behind my back as if locked in a set of invisible handcuffs.
“Do your worst you villainous cur” I said, puffing out my chest.
Emily held up a length of rope as though she were assessing its suitability for the task and swung it a little whilst affecting a jaunty tune.
I found myself frozen to the spot and emitted a nervous sounding laugh as my arms were drawn behind me. Struggling seemed a little undignified so I decided to preserve what remained of my dignity by standing still and straight like a noble captured Princess.
I felt a strange, overwhelming surge of excitement as I felt the ropes constrict around my wrists before being drawn tight and knotted firmly.
“There. Perfect. How does that feel”
“A little snug. I feel like a rotisserie chicken. Where did you learn to tie knots like that?”
“The Girl Guides”
“You were a Girl Guide?!” I asked incredulously
“Only briefly. I was dating a Brown Owl,..” She replied enigmatically
Emily steered me towards the bed and helped me to sit down (itself no small feet with your hands behind your back).
Once there I found I couldn’t take my eyes off my best friend as she began to slowly wind another coil of rope around my stocking covered ankles. I had never felt so utterly helpless, or so strange,..
“You’re pretty good at this” I commented breathlessly as she pulled the rope taut and tied it into a perfect bow.
With both my hands and feet now bound I was officially a prisoner.
“Well, I was voted most likely to be a dominatrix in my high-school yearbook,..” She said, flashing a suitably wicked smile. “Besides, you wouldn’t want me to disappoint our biggest fan would you?”
“Of course not, but maybe you didn't need to encourage him quite so much with all your talk of ropes and gags”
“Nonsense. As we say in show-business, the customer is always right”
“I think you might be guilty of mixing your metaphors”
“Huffle-puff! The only thing I'm guilty of is loving (our public) too much,..”
“Ha, ha! Well, that and kidnapping,..” I said, indicating my bound hands
“You’ll never take me alive Copper!”
“You unconscionable fiend. I’ll never reveal the location of the hidden gem stone”
“Really? How disappointing. Are you sure I can't convince you to change your mind. I’m told I can be quite,.. persuasive,..” She said slowly tracing the back of her index finger across my tight, starched collar, causing me to squirm in my seat.
“Er, Em,.. what are you doing?” I stammered my cheeks reddening by the close attentions of my captor.
“You’ll see” She teased
For my shame I realised that I was sweating with anticipation, but secretly loving every second.
I was perversely grateful that Emily decided against unbuttoning my starched collar as she deftly removed my school tie.
“Since you still refuse to talk-”
I didn’t resist, but rather opened my mouth to all Emily to gently, but firmly, insert the cloth between my teeth and knot it behind my head.
In truth I was feeling extremely elated, which is very much the opposite of what a tied-up girl on a Youtube challenge video should be feeling. The scenario of being kidnapped was one that had always fascinated me ever since I had first seen Yvonne Craig (the original Batgirl) get tied up and menaced by Earth Kitt. And now here I was, thoroughly trussed up just like a character in some corny detective novel.
It was thrilling.
“Are you okay Sam?” Emily asked, no doubt mistaking my rapture for discomfort.
"The gag wasn't too much?"
Not at all.
"Dhn't whrrn, Hmt'f fnnm!"
"So, would you like a countdown or something?"
"Hmf nhh lngm"
I watched happily as Emily set the timer on my phone.
"Okay Sam, you have five minutes to escape - Your time starts,.. Now!
In the end I needed just two, and truth be told that was only because I wanted to make it look harder than it was.
This time the results were almost instantaneous. In the hours after we posted our escape challenge video we found we had acquired over 11,000 views.
Emily was overjoyed, if, a little perplexed by our sudden rise in popularity.
Naturally we tried to capitalise on our new found fame by posting further dares at regular intervals, videos of us taking part in the cinnamon challenge, flipping water bottles, eating saltines etc, but whilst they all drew respectable numbers, none of them came close to matching their predecessors.
We were mystified.
At least, we were at first.
However sifting through our correspondence one late winter evening Emily had an epiphany.
“Hey Sam, have you noticed anything unusual about the comments under our videos?”
“How do you mean?” I asked (not so) innocently
“Well, it’s just that so many of them are suggesting more challenges where you get tied up,..”
“Really?” I asked, careful not to appear too interested
“Here. Have a look” Emily said, handing me her mobile phone.
“I loved watching this - too cute! I subscribed!”
“I couldn’t do this. So brave”
“That was really good - more escapes please!”
“Nice challenge. Two thumbs up!”
“Carn’t stop laughing. 5 stars!”
“These seem harmless enough” I commented.
“Keep reading,..” She insisted
I read further down the page
“Dear Bubble gum twins, I really luv yur videos. Can you do a dare where the blonde won gets hogtied and gagged wiv a dirty sock?”
“Charmed I’m sure” I replied, not entirely dismissing the idea.
“Tickle her feet!”
“Great cleave gag!”
"I love her uniform!"
“Ah, I'm beginning to see what you mean,..”
“And it doesn’t bother you?”
I wanted to reply that no, it didn’t bother me, not in the least. Indeed, I wanted to explain that few prospects were as pleasing as the opportunity to be tied up again by her, particularly on camera, but my courage deserted me and I mumbled something non-committal.
But Emily seemed to detect the slightest of hesitations in my response
“Sam. Is there something you’re not telling me?”
There followed a period of intense silence so pregnant it was giving birth to triplets.
“How do you mean?” I stammered
“Well, it’s just that, when ever we mention tying you up you get the funniest look on your face, almost as if you had something to hide,..”
By now I was blushing very deeply.
Indeed, with my red cheeks and green turtleneck I was in danger of being mistaken for a traffic light.
“Well,..? Don’t leave me in suspense. Did you enjoy it?”
“If I said I did, would that make me terribly weird?” I asked sheepishly
“Not at all. It’s far more common than people think”
“Really?” I said sounding sceptical
“And you promise not to tell anyone?”
“Cross my heart” She replied, ever eager for gossip”
I went on to tell her all about my deep seated love of being tied up and my history of performing escapology displays for friends and loved ones”
“Sam that’s amazing. I had no idea”
“No one did. I stopped doing shows a long time ago, this was the first time I’ve been tied up in years”
“Well, based on that performance it must be like riding a bike”
There followed a long period of, far more comfortable silence.
“Hey Sam” Emily began “this gives me an idea,..”
“Should I be concerned?” I asked, trying to conceal the mounting excitement in my voice,..
“Well that rather depends doesn’t it?”
“How do you mean?”
“Well, let me put it this way, we seem to have accidentally attracted a fan-base obsessed with getting you into ropes,..”
“So I gather,..”
“Meanwhile, unbeknown to anyone outside of these walls you’re secretly an uber talented escape artist,..”
“So, I guess I’m saying why don’t we exploit this niche and give the people what they really want?”
“An official Samantha Ward Youtube channel. We could invite the audience to suggest escapes for you to perform. Naturally, as your theatrical agent I would expect the standard finders fee, not to mention a percentage of your earnings. Shall we say, 50%?”
We both agreed that this had tremendous potential and we spent the rest of the evening replying to our messages and canvassing our various subscribers for suggestions.
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“Who?” My Mother asked absentmindedly, her eyes barely looking up from her paper.
“The Children that you're asking me to babysit,..” I reminded her.
“Right, right. Well, what do you need to know?”
“Well, let’s start with the basics” I said retrieving my reporters notepad and pen “Any dietary requirements?”
“I’d recommend that you try not to poison them”
I couldn't fail to be impressed by my Mothers fastidious attention to detail and told her so.
“And what are they like?”
“In what sense?”
“Personality wise. What do they like to do? Are they well behaved?”
There followed a brief period of silence during which my Mother looked decidedly sheepish.
“Let me put it another way, do either of them have a birthmark in the shape of three tiny sixes?”
“Oh, don’t worry Sam I’m sure they’re both perfect little angels” She said, refusing to meet my gaze
“Really?” I asked smelling a rodent of the Rattus norvegicus variety, my eyes narrowing with suspicion,..
“She says she’ll pay double the going rate,..” She teased.
I sucked a thoughtful tooth.
“Fine. I'll watch the kids. If you text me the address I'll swing by tonight on the way home from school,..”
Perhaps I should explain - I’d recently started advertising my services as a babysitter for hire (mostly the sons and daughters of friends of my Mom) with the usual mix of well-mannered young angels, and feral youths seemingly Hell-bent on my total destruction.
Nonetheless the work was easy enough, especially since most of my younger charges were tucked up in bed (if not necessarily asleep) before I arrived (leaving me free to raid the fridge and catch up on my homework before their parents returned)
However number 9 Bannerman Road was where I met my Waterloo,
From the moment I crossed the threshold it was abundantly clear that martial law had been declared and that the children had seized power from their parents in what was almost certainly a protracted and bloody coup. Broken action figures and various articles of clothing were strewn haphazardly about across every square inch of the house and each of the bedrooms sounded like they were playing host to a rap battle.
I had been parachuted into a lawless outpost and it was going to take all my guile and cunning to escape the night with all my limbs still attached.
The mother (who appeared to have developed a nervous tick that flared up whenever she discussed her offspring) ushered me around the house (at some considerable speed) to meet each of the children in turn.
Almost uniquely among my peers I didn't actually hate having to dress in a uniform for school and consequently I was still dressed in the same starched white blouse and black trousers I had previously worn to class. This was in stark contrast to my young charges who appeared to have shed their own school clothes seconds after returning home, however, despite the path of destruction and some none to subtle teasing (apparently neither party approved of my sartorial decision to wear my shirt with the top button done up - it was not ‘cool') the kids seemed nice, if a little rambunctious.
Of the two I found Nicky (the youngest) to be the most engaging, whilst Germaine (who dressed a little like Wednesday Adams with PMT) was somewhat standoffish, bordering on hostile. But I guess, like most girls of her age, she felt a little too old for a babysitter (particularly one who was still at school herself) however I went out of my way to treat her as an equal and she started to, if not warm to my presence, at least thaw a little,..
Our time together passed pleasantly enough, their Mother had left money for pizza so we all ate take-out whilst watching cartoons in the living room. Since this was exactly how I spent my evenings at home this commission was already taking on the appearance of a busman's holiday,..
Things only got really interesting when Nicky suggested we play a game of cops and robbers.
Now I was no naive young ingenue, no backwater rube, no stooge, no patsy, I knew that the traditional role of the babysitter in such games was to be captured and act as the hostage in need of rescue. In fact I had actually been tied up in the course of several such games in the past, but each time the ropes were so loose a child could easily slip free and the only time I had been gagged it had been a simple school scarf tied over my mouth. I could easily talk through it and make myself understood and I expected nothing remarkably different this time.
Eager to begin, mostly so that I would be free to watch my soap opera’s later that evening, I happily volunteered my services as the robber, stuffing my trouser pockets with thick wads of stolen (monopoly) money. It was his task, as a fully deputised officer of the law, to apprehend me before I reached the border with my ill-gotten gains.
I was given to the count of 100 in order to hide before they would be released from the traps, like a rare gas, to bring me to heel,..
After some frantic searching around the house I eventually decided to stash myself in the larder where I attempted to conceal myself beneath a faded old dust sheet. Sadly however, between intent and execution there was a great gulf fixed and my feet were poking out the bottom like a character in a Scooby-doo episode.
Still, it was too late to find a better hiding place now,..
As the countdown concluded (they had quickly become bored and so resorted to skipping great swathes of numbers at random) “44, 43, 42, 41, 20, 19,..” I listened for the sounds of the approaching law-men,..
All at once I felt like Nancy Drew fleeing from a desperate pair of bandits.
It was, in short, tremendously exciting,..
Eventually the footsteps got progressively louder until I was certain someone were standing directly behind the pantry door
Curiosity winning out over self-preservation I decided to discover exactly what he planned to do with me (as their captive) and so simulated coughing.
What it lacked in subtlety, it made up for in results.
“Samantha!” Nicky yelled excitedly, “Are you in there?”
I didn't say a word in response but waited silently beneath my sheet.
I waited a fraction of a moment before coughing again.
"It is you!!" He said jumping up and down.
"No it isn't" I replied happily.
Moments later the door was opened and I was discovered
“I can see your feet! I can see your feet!” he howled with obvious glee and the heavy cloth was pulled away with a suitably theatrical flourish.
Nicky, who was scarcely able to hide his excitement, was wearing a tin sheriff’s badge and holding a toy cap gun.
“I suppose this makes me your prisoner” I said putting up my hands up in the universally recognised gesture of surrender.
“That's right!” He boasted proudly.
We stood in silence for a moment
“So,.. what are you going to do with me?” I asked, somewhat impatient to learn my fate,..
Nicky, whose briefing had evidently not covered this eventuality replied “Erm, I'm not sure,..”
“Hmm, maybe you could start by tying me up,.. you know,.. to stop me escaping” I suggested helpfully, presenting my arms as though held in invisible handcuffs.
That certainly got his attention.
He agreed that yes that would be a tremendous idea.
Having agreed that I would be restrained during my imprisonment Nicky seemed a little unsure how to proceed with my capture.
“So, what shall I use?” My pint-sized, would-be kidnapper asked
“How about this?” I said, spying a frayed skipping rope among the general detritus that littered the hallway floor.
He nodded eagerly and without ado being, in any way furthered, I placed my hands together behind my back, and interest piqued, watched over my shoulder as he wrapped the cord around my shirt cuffs and tied it off.
Sadly however, Nicky only knew one knot (presumably the same one he used to tie his shoe laces) and I was able to slip free without effort.
“That was too easy” I complained
“Sorry” he apologised, sounding dejected.
“Don't worry, you did your best” I said in what I hoped was a suitably encouraging tone of voice.
However, the brave Nicky Harmon PI was not about to be deterred so easily,..
“Wait, I know,.. I’ll take you to my Sister, she’ll know what to do with you,..”
In hindsight, THIS was the exact moment at which I should have cashed in my chips and called an end to the game, however, curiosity got the better of me, and I found myself agreeing that being taken hostage would be ‘such fun’.
After all, I thought to myself, maybe it would endear me to Germaine if she discovered that I had volunteered to act as the hostage in her little brothers game of make-believe?
Besides, what could possibly go wrong,..? (yes, I know now,..)
Nicky, pleased as punch at the prospect of delivering a hostage to his big Sister, was chomping at the bit to get started, however I was able to persuade him to wait for a moment while I made a few, subtle changes to my outfit.
“What’s that for?” Nicky asked, not unreasonably as I removed my school tie from my trouser pocket and placed it in my mouth, between my teeth.
“Hmt’f fh Gmrmhnnm gnhwf Hm’m nhhr prnfhnmr” I explained.
This seemed to satisfy his young, curious mind.
I pulled the material tight as I dared and tied it securely behind my head.
“Thmrm!” I mumbled, handing him back his weapon before placing my hands behind my back “Nhw Hm’m h hhfthgm!”
Nicky seemed delighted with this latest development.
“Shall we?” I suggested happily, putting my hands up.
With that I was marched, with the barrel of a cap gun pressed into the small of my back, up the stairs and across the landing until I found myself at the yawning dark chasm that signalled the gateway to the Underworld/ Germaine’s bedroom.
“Don’t move from that spot!” Came the order.
Silently, and filled with nervous excitement I stood stoically as Nicky disappeared inside to confer with his superior officer.
Eager to learn my fate, I was forced to wait for what felt like an age, but was probably closer to five minutes, before Germaine finally emerged from her tomb, now wearing a red and black checkered shirt over the many layers of her Gothic-style dress.
She looked, not a little unlike the illegitimate love child of Stevie Nicks and Kurt Cobain.
Somewhat alarmingly, it was the first time I’d seen her smile all night. However I couldn't escape the suspicion that her grin looked a little off,.. somehow unnatural, like a shark eating vegetables, or a doberman filing out his taxes.
Nicky, ever eager to be included and desperate for his work to receive full credit, breathlessly recounted the story of my capture (by him!) and subsequent imprisonment (once again, by him!)
Germaine listened patiently to his tale, for what must have been the second time, apparently overjoyed that the dangerous felon (me!) had been rounded up, especially when she learned that I (Samantha) was a willing participant in the game.
“Are you sure you don’t mind?” She asked, eyeing me suspiciously from somewhere beneath a solid wall of thick black mascara.
I motioned to remove my gag, but waited until I received a nod of agreement from my captors.
“Not at all” I said flashing a smile, my school tie now hanging loose around my neck “After all I volunteered to play the game didn't I? Anyway,..I thought it might be fun to be a damsel in distress for a while,..”
Germaine, for whom a future career as the tyrannical ruler of a banana republic seemed a mere formality, appeared deep in thought.
Finally a plan emerged.
“Okay Samantha, since you're already dressed for the part, why don't we switch roles, you can be a school girl detective and me and Nicky can be your kidnappers,..”
“Kidnappers? You mean you want to keep me as a hostage?” I asked, trying to mask my growing excitement,..
“Only for pretend” Nicky quickly explained eager to reasure me that I wasn't in any real danger.
“Oh. Well,.. I guess that sounds okay,.. erm,.. So, what would I have to do?” I stammered, trying not to appear too eager.
“Well, nothing really. We'll just tie you up and hold you prisoner,..”
“Do you promise to let me go when I ask?”
“Of course!” They both swore using the solemn oath of the pinky swears.
I pretended to mull this over “Okay,.. I'm game. I'll let you tie me up, but if I get loose,.. then you two can do all the washing up”
I added, using all of my well-honed skills of negotiation.
They appeared to ponder this for a brief moment.
“Deal!” Germaine said, taking the lead.
“Yeah!” Nicky chimed.
I shock each of their hands in turn.
The game was afoot.
Germaine (who, by now had armed herself with a bejewelled toy pistol) kept her weapon trained unwavering on me as she imparted some urgent instructions to her brother, sending him scurrying off in the direction of the laundry room.
When he returned moments later he was carrying a supply of odd lengths of rope and some old handkerchiefs. Did they have a secret stash of binding materials?
Why did I get the feeling she’d done this before?
I smiled and spread my arms theatrically, offering my hands for tying,..
“I hope you didn't go to too much trouble for lil' ol' me” I said, adopting a cod southern drawl that was equal parts Blanche Debois and Penelope Pitstop
“No trouble” Germaine said with an enigmatic smile as my wrists were placed together and a length of cord was wrapped around them,..
“Make sure it's tight” I teased “I want it to be a challenge”
“Are you sure this is a good idea?,..” Nicky whispered conspiratorially “When she ties me up I never escape”
“Don’t worry, I’ll be fine” I assured him as I wiggled my fingers in a happy wave
With her brother's endorsement ringing in her ears Germaine worked silently and diligently, binding the rope around my wrists in front of me before expertly drawing it tight and knotting it off.
When she was finished I tugged experimentally on my restraints. They were snug, but far from inescapable.
“Is that okay? Not too tight?” She asked, sounding if not concerned, at least a fair approximation of it.
“No, no its fine,..” I said pulling my hand free of the rope and handed it back to her with a smile.
“How did you-?”
“Sorry, trade secret”
“Hey, no fair! You cheated!
I assured her that I didn’t, but in the spirit of cooperation offered her a rematch.
“So, how do you want me?” I asked warmly, apparently eager to help,..
“Can we tie your hands behind your back this time Sam?” Germaine asked politely.
I smiled indulgently “Of course” I agreed offering my hands for binding
My wrists were crossed, then wrapped in rope, first one way, then the next, before Germaine finished the process by pulling the cords tight and applying a firm knot.
“There” She boasted proudly “I bet you can’t get out of that!”
I said nothing but simply bought my hands out in front of my body, now completely free.
I handed the rope back to my erstwhile captor and retorted “Au contraire”
Their astonishment was a joy to behold, even if Germaine’s was a little tempered by her frustration at being tricked. They begged me to let them in on the secret and after a few minutes listening to their pleas I finally agreed to put them out of their misery, explaining that I had some previous training as an escapologist.
“So can you really do magic?!” Nicky asked eagerly after I explained how I freed myself.
“Well, I suppose an escape artist is a kind of magician,..” I agreed
Nicky appeared to mull this over for a moment, then noticing my outfit,..
“So, do you go to Hogwarts?”
“Well, I’m not supposed to tell anyone,..” I confided. Suddenly my school uniform wasn’t so uncool after all.
However before Nicky could press me further on this subject Germaine interrupted
“So, does this mean you know how to get out of ropes and things like that?”
“Well, most of the time” I hedged defensively
They both looked suitably intrigued by my unexpected talent.
“So, can we tie you up? For real this time” She asked asked, all pretence of teenage moodiness replaced by girlish enthusiasm.
“Well,..” I teased
“Please” Nicky whined, adding his pleas to the crowd funded campaign “Pretty please,..”
“Okay, okay” I agreed (after listening to much wailing and gnashing of teeth) but only,.. if you tidy your rooms first” (Mary Poppins – eat your heart out!)
“And,.. if I get free,.. I get to tie the two of you up”
They appeared to mull this new condition over for a while, but eventually agreed.
The cabal of desperate villains readily ceded to my demands and, as per the agreement, spent the next hour running around the house returning it to something approaching showroom quality, leaving me free to sneak downstairs to the family den to watch my soap opera’s in peace.
It was just over an hour before my tormentors, their faces now disguised by bandanna’s, finally emerged from their respective sleeping quarters carrying all manner of assorted ropes and ties.
“Did you clean your rooms?” I asked, channelling Super-Nanny
Naturally they assured me that the house had never been in a better state of repair.
The words “Impeccable” and “pristine” were bandied about.
However, my parents didn’t raise a rube.
I demanded to see the evidence.
After the briefest of tours (I don’t think my feet ever touched the ground) and satisfied that at least some token effort had been made on their part I finally agreed to abide by the terms of our agreement and happily surrendered to my pint sized kidnappers.
After a great deal of hushed whispers I was instructed to sit in a tall wooden dining chair (which had been procured from the kitchen)
Instinctively I stretched my arms around my back and pressed my wrists together.
With two pairs of hands working in something like tandem I was soon wrapped up in a thick tangle of washing line cord which snaked around my arms pinning me to the chair. Some turns went over my shoulders and others beneath the chair seat. Every now and then Germaine would thread the cord through the slats of the chair or tie another knot in the rope for added security.
Meanwhile, Nicky was let loose with a roll of industrial strength duct tape which he used to lash my ankles to the front legs of the chair. Within half an hour it seemed that I had been thoroughly restrained with every type of cord, sash or neck-tie in the building.
I was imprisoned in a web of rope from my knees to my shoulders.
“Finished?” I asked with a wry smile.
“Not quite” She said smugly as she produced a bright red handkerchief.
I raised an arched eyebrow.
“A gag wasn’t part of the deal Germaine”
“You said we could tie you anyway we wanted” She replied in her best lawyerly voice.
“Besides, Nicky still thinks you’re secretly a witch so he wants to make sure you can’t cast any spells”
Silently I had to agree that this was flawless legal argument
“It’s a fair cop” I said opening my mouth wide.
After a moment's pause for effect Germaine roughly inserted the thick cloth between my teeth. Working quickly and efficiently it was pulled increasingly tight behind my head until I found I could no longer even touch my lips together. I felt a violent stirring of emotion as the gag was knotted firmly.
“Shouldn’t we blindfold her too?” the youngest sibling suggested cautiously.
“That’s a great idea Nicky. But let’s ask Sam first. Sam, do you mind if we blindfold you?”
Whilst I knew that the handkerchief would not be particularly effective in preventing me from speaking, I preferred not to demean myself by mumbling around a gag. Instead I simply
shook my head to say that indicate that no, I had no objections and soon enough my school tie was hastily re-purposed as a blindfold and was tied firmly over my eyes.
Clearly these tiny terrors were out for every scrap of indignity they could heap upon their captive.
They took their time checking all my bonds to make sure there was no sign of looseness anywhere on my body whilst I remained impassive gently flexing my muscles and chewing on my gag. There was little doubt that I was excited and having fun,..
Finally satisfied that I was thoroughly restrained, bound-up, gagged and tied they issued the time honoured challenge “Now, get out of that!”
Picking up the metaphorical gauntlet I began my performance with a bout of, what appeared to be, desperate struggling. Partly this was for show, but also so that I could assess the location of any slack in my ropes. Nonetheless the two Bateman children watched with rapt attention as I began thrashing against my, seemingly inescapable, bounds.
After a few minutes, I visibly relaxed in my ropes and took a deep breath. Forcing my right elbow outwards, whilst keeping my left arm wedged against the tension of the rope around my chest and arms, I found that the cords slid noticeably.
I repeated the pattern once more, this time in reverse, and was rewarded with yet further movement in my bonds. All at once the rope beneath my bust was uncomfortably tight against my breast, however, with the next few moves of my arms, the rope rode slowly and uncomfortably up over them. Triumphantly I pulled the blindfold over my head.
“Wow! You’re amazing!” Nicky cooed as Germaine stared daggers at him in reproach.
I didn’t reply but smiled behind my gag.
Once the rope was above my chest, it took only a determined wriggle to get it up over my shoulders. All at once, the network of cords was reduced to an unholy tangle of ropes around my neck. It was then the work of moments to unwrap the tape from around my ankles before lifting all the loose rope up off my shoulders and dumping it dramatically on the floor.
By now both of the children were watching in open-mouthed astonishment.
“So,” I said, lifting down my gag “I guess it must be my turn now,..”
Later that evening Mr and Mrs Harmon (who had arrived home early, half expecting to find the building on fire) was astonished to discover that not only was the house still standing, but that it was actually, if not clean and tidy, at least capable of supporting life. Even more extraordinarily, both of her children were sat, tied to a pair of dining chairs in the front room whilst I watched a movie.
I attempted to offer a (breathless) explanation for the tableau but found myself cut off by the Mother.
“I don’t care,..” Her face broke into a grin, “I just want to know,.. Are you free to work Friday?”
N00144119 likes this post
Of course, as the town's resident teen sleuth I saw it as my solemn duty to clear his good name.
Still dressed in my school uniform, my stiff shirt collar buttoned and tie still knotted neatly in place, the only concession I made in, my otherwise immaculate appearance was that the sleeves of my blouse were now rolled up to the elbow. I guess I thought it made me look like a real reporter.
Hunched at the desk I gradually became aware of the hum of what appeared to be heavy machinery.
‘That’s strange’ I found myself saying to no-one in particular ‘I thought I was the only one here this late at night’
I listened for a while.
Something about the noise sounded vaguely familiar,..
It sounded like a printing press,..
Deciding that this merited further examination I left the computer lounge in search of the origin of this most mysterious, and tantalizing of clues,..
Creeping across the mezzanine floor I suddenly became aware of the unmistakable sound of whistling coming from a location somewhere beneath the floorboards.
‘How peculiar’, thought I.
It sounded like someone was murdering an ABBA number.
Of course, distasteful as the tuneless warbling may have been, this in and of itself didn’t as yet constitute a crime. However there was something about the rumbling of the machinery that made me think I was on the cusp of uncovering a very large piece of the puzzle.
After listening for a moment longer I quickly realized that the noises were originating in the cellar (long abandoned, or so I thought,..)
Slowly I began, what I hoped was a stealthy descent down the staircase,..
As if the strangled performance of “Money, money, money!” wasn't enough, now our mysterious interloper was encoring with a quick run through of “Super Trooper” that suggested he was no longer on speaking terms with either pitch or tone.
Silently stalking my prey I arrived at the heavy wooden door that lead into the steam room.
To my surprise I found it was unlocked.
Clearly our resident Karaoke star was not expecting company,..
I (briefly) considered putting in a call to Her Majesty's constabulary, but almost immediately came to the conclusion that any respectable law enforcement agency would almost certainly demand far more concrete evidence than a young school girls intuition (Spidey-sense holding very little sway in court)
Peeking inside the attic I discovered a full-sized, printing press churning out great swathes of currency, it was almost like the Royal mint had inexplicably left it's home in North Wales and decamped to a sleepy North London comprehensive. However, of our mysterious operator, there was no sign,..
Of course as any budding teen detective will attest the only thing worse than a mysterious whistling coming from a dark attic is the sudden sinking feeling that occurs when it stops.
To mind there were two likely explanations for the sudden, inexplicable disappearance of a crook
1) He was a ghost (possibly of Swedish descent)
2) Whoever had previously been operating this equipment was aware of my presence.
Truth be told reader, neither prospect held much appeal for me and so, concluding that discretion is much the better part of valor, I quickly resolved to put as much difference between myself and any possible crook and/ or ghost as possible.
Grabbing a sheet of freshly printed notes as evidence I gently eased myself towards the door with every intention of showing a clean pair of heels to the forger,..
However, just as I was about to turn tail and run when I heard the unmistakable, if largely undecipherable, Scottish brogue of Mick Jones the aforementioned school caretaker.
“Oh thank Goodness it’s you Mr Jones” I said swinging open the door in relief, “You’ll never guess what I found-”
The words died on my lips as I was seized roughly by the lapels by a large, burly Scotsman.
“Never you mind that now Lassie” He said flashing a toothless grin “I think me and you should have a little chat,..”
"But- But-" I spluttered.
The janitor pressed his thick, fleshy finger against my lips.
The implication was clear.
"Not a peep!"
I simply nodded as I was ushered back inside the attic.
“Now bolt the door”
Reluctantly I did as I was asked sealing myself inside.
“There, that’s much better isn’t it? Now we can enjoy a nice cosy chat without fear of being disturbed”
“You can't silence the press” I said as he finally removed his shovel like fist from my face.
He looked at me with grim fascination. His long, lank ginger hair was receding fast, as though in a desperate rush to get away from his craggy forehead whilst the redness of his cheeks and smell of his jacket suggested that his lunch had been largely alcoholic in construction
“We'll just have to see about that,.." he said with an ominous smile.
He was enjoying this, I thought to myself.
“But why?” I heard myself ask.
The janitor shrugged “A man must eat my dear. Now hand me that cord” he said indicating a coil of packing rope on the nearby work bench.
“Is that really necessary? I’m hardly likely to run very far in a locked room now am I?”
He grunted noncommittally, “Maybe not, but your reputation as a meddling snoop precedes you, and I have no great desire to find my mugshot on the front page of every newspaper in the city”
Seeing little alternative I passed him the offending item and, after rolling down the sleeves of my shirt and buttoning the cuffs I obligingly placed my wrists together behind my back.
“So glad to see you are choosing the smart solution, my nosy young sleuth”
“Did I really have a choice?”
“Not really, but I was rather looking forward to seeing you try and stop me”
Now, I understand that most of you are probably lucky enough to have a job that involves little or no personal danger, however as an investigative reporter my unending quests to uncover big stories for the school paper routinely lands me in threatening situations and formulaic peril. Which is why I didn’t struggle (or even mount any kind of verbal protest) as my wrists were securely fastened behind my back, instead I simply concentrated on tensing my muscles as much as I dared in an effort to create some much needed slack in my bonds.
Likewise I tried to maintain a dignified silence and ignore the creeps close attentions (and rancid whiskey breath) as he tied my hands, however when he began goading me by asking
how the case was progressing I felt obliged to respond.
“Double crossed - tied up. Fairly standard investigation thus far” I reported
“My, my what a colourful life you must lead”
“You have no idea. But you know what really irks me?” I asked as the cord was pulled cruelly tight.
“I’m just dying to find out” he said completing his knots.
“It’s just, well, I can cope with all the rope stuff, but why is it that every villain I encounter seem to suffer from a virulent strain of halitosis?”
A brief pause.
“It means bad breath” I added helpfully.
His eyes blazed, his nostrils flared and steam appeared to come from his ears.
In short, he was not amused.
“So, I’m sure our famous teen detective knows what comes next”
He snatched up an old cloth from his work bench, fully intending to use it to gag me.
Considering his stated occupation it probably wasn’t a huge surprise that he was in flavor of keeping me muzzled, however the tattered material he’d selected for the task looked like it had been used to clean the toilets at a rock festival.
In short, there was no way on Earth I was going to let that thing anywhere near my face.
“Wait” I said, a hint of desperation in my voice “before you stuff that petri dish into my mouth, might I offer up an alternative suggestion?”
“I’m all ears” he said, flashing a hideous grin.
“Well, I was thinking, rather than poison me with that oily rag, why not use something a little more,.. hygienic?”
He seemed intrigued by the prospect of his hostage offering up suggestions for her own bondage.
“Why not my school tie?”
He appeared to mull this over.
“If you get your own way will you be quiet?”
“If you agree to give that rag a viking funeral I promise not to give any trouble for at least the next five minutes” I offered gaily.
“I’ll believe it when I see it” he grumbled, stuffing the rag into the back pocket of his overalls.
I considered pointing out the mixed metaphor, but remembering my promise decided to keep my own counsel.
“I have to say, I’ve always admired the way you dress so smartly for school, not like some of your fellow pupils who look like they've been dragged through a hedge backwards" He said admiringly as he tugged the tie loose exposing the top button of my starched blouse.
“Thanks, I guess” I replied unsure how else to respond to a compliment on my appearance from a man dressed in torn dungarees.
“I’ve never been able to tie a proper one myself” He lamented “Always used a clip-on whenever I'm hauled in front of a judge”
“Imagine my surprise” I whispered under my breath.
“I thought you promised to stop teasing me if I did as you asked” He said, sounding a little hurt.
“Sorry” I found myself apologizing “You’ve been very accommodating letting me pick out my own gag,..”
“That’s better” He said, apparently failing to notice the sarcasm in my voice.
The counterfeiter stepped behind me and held the green and yellow patterned material up to my face.
“Any last words?”
“You’ll never get away with this?” I found myself saying, more out of habit than anything else.
“They always say that” he sniffed with disdain as he pulled the cloth firmly between my teeth.
"There! Peace and quiet at last!""
Thoroughly bound and gagged I offered no further resistance as I was hustled into a nearby desk chair.
“Now you sit there quietly while I think about what do with you!”
However before I could begin plotting my escape I heard footsteps outside. The door handle jigged.
A female voice.
“Samantha? Are you in there?”
Panicked the Janitor glared at me accusingly.
I attempted to shrug my shoulders.
“Nhhr ghmff Hmf hf ghhd hf mnnm” I mumbled.
He loosened the bolt and opened the door a few inches.
“Can I help you Miss?” He asked politely, disguising his obvious alarm.
Unfortunately, from my position I was unable to see the young woman on the other side of the door, however I could hear her response
“I’m looking for one of my pupils. She was working late on a story for the school paper. Is she here?”
It was the Headmistress Miss Andrews.
“I’m afraid she’s indisposed right now” he said firmly.
“Indisposed?” Miss Andrews echoed “Is she ill”
“Sorry, I meant tied up,.. on a story!” He added hurriedly
“Hddngtmd th glnghmf mhgh?” I snorted through my gag
With that Miss Andrews peered into the room and her eyes went wide at the sight of her one of her students bound and gagged.
It is a truth, universally acknowledged by pupils, regardless of age, that it can be a strange and disconcerting experience seeing teachers outside of the classroom. Of course this feeling of discomfort only becomes more pronounced when said teacher catches you doing something you shouldn't. For the average teenager this might concern a spot of under age drinking, or maybe being seen smoking behind the supermarket in town – however, for a teen detective with a penchant for getting captured by local crooks this might just as easily result in being found in a state of bondage by your Headmistress.
A stern, tactile woman in her late thirties with dark, sleek black hair cut into an angled bob, Miss Andrews looked like the Mayor of a town that had banned dancing.
Her features were inscrutable.
Was she angry at me? disappointed that I had gotten myself captured again? gassy?
It was impossible to say for sure.
“So,” She said turning to address my abductor in a light and breezy tone “I see you’ve met our resident Nancy Drew”
“Aye! You could say that” He grumbled noisily “Meddlesome brat! Someone should tell her to keep her nose out of other people’s affairs!”
“Oh, believe me I’ve tried. We all have. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to call her parents in an effort to curb her extra-curricular sleuthing – but in my experience, there are few people as meddlesome-or as intrusive as a young school girl who thinks she’s the next Lois Lane”
“Hm prmfmr thm tmrm 'nnqhnfntnvm',..” I interjected to no response whatsoever
The janitor harrumphed in agreement “Ak, I should imagine she’s quite a handful”
“Oh, you have no idea. For such a quiet, unassuming town we seem to be positively awash with smugglers, counter-fitters and pirates- No offence”
“And Samantha seems to regard it as her duty to bring them all to justice,.. I mean she’s a good kid at heart, a gifted writer and an excellent student,.. but sometimes it can all be a bit much you know,.. I mean, you wouldn’t believe how much paperwork is generated for the school every time she’s kidnapped”
“I can only imagine,..”
“But it’s her parents I feel the most sorry for,.. being faced with a daily barrage of tiresome questions and crazed conspiracy theories,..”
“Not to mention the inexhaustible supply of sarcasm,..” He interjected
“Ha, ha! Yes, I did notice you discovered an innovative solution to that problem,.."
I grunted with a frown, moving my eyes towards my mouth and baring my teeth.
"And as for you young lady, I'm sure your parents didn't spend all that money on your school clothes for you to chew on them” She said accusingly.
“Fhrrn Mnff” I said, mumbling an apology, aware that the punishment for a uniform infraction was thirty minutes detention.
“Still, at least you kept you had to good sense to keep your top button done up, so I’ll let it slide this once”
“Thhng nhh Mnff” I replied, unsure if she was joking, but not wanting to take the chance that she wasn't.
However, if I was deathly embarrassed (and I was!) Miss Andrews appeared to be taking the whole situation in her considerable stride.
"Okay Sam, if I remove the gag will you promise to behave for the nice gentleman?”
Seeing little choice I nodded my agreement
“That’s a good girl” she said as she lifted the damp scarf from between my teeth where it was left hanging around my neck, most likely as a warning to mind my tongue,..
"So, what usually happens now?"
“How do you mean?” I asked, somewhat confused but happy to be finally be free to join in with the conversation after a lengthy period of being muzzled
“Oh come now Samantha, don't be so naive. I imagine the Janitor here will want to intern us somewhere while he makes his escape,.."
"Forgive me for saying Miss, but you seem remarkably composed at the prospect of spending the night locked up"
"Pish! I'm not scared of some third rate counter-fitter. Besides whatever he has planned, I'm sure it will be more entertaining than the pile of essay questions I've got waiting at home"
"So, you're not mad then?"
"Not a bit of it. In fact, I think I'm quite looking forward to joining you on one of your adventures. You always make it sound so exciting, all those trap doors and secret passages. Car chases and submarines"
"Well, it might be nice to have some company for once, if you're sure you don't mind?"
“Good, that’s settled then. We get tied up” She said pointing at the two of us
“And you make your getaway,..”
“Okay” The Janitor said with a grin picking up another coil of rope "You can start by tying your friend to the chair, then I shall tie you up. And make sure it's good and tight"
"Whatever you say Mr Criminal Sir!" She said happily.
Twenty minutes later we were sitting facing each other, roughly three feet apart, meaning I had little choice but to watch, absurdly fascinated as Miss Andrews was roped up to a chair.
I tried to remain casual and avoid any lingering eye contact, but when I looked up she was staring right at me, her eyes wide with glee.
“Well, isn’t this fun?” She said happily.
“I guess” I said in reply, desperately trying not to notice how the fabric of her dress stretched across her chest as the ropes were fastened.
“You might want to tie that one a little tighter Mr Jones” Miss Andrews suggested helpfully.
“Yes Miss” the Janitor found himself replying.
I found myself staring, fixated on every loop of cord as they were tied around her.
"Are you ok Dear?” She asked, perhaps noticing my discomfort "You look a little flush"
“I’m fine. I think I'm just getting a cold” I lied.
“Now my feet!” She ordered, kicking her heels in a rather delighted fashion.
I continued to watch, utterly mesmerized as our captor knelt down and began tying her shapely ankles together.
“And be sure to do a good job” She demanded “I don’t want Sam to think you’re going easy on me”
"No Miss" He replied sullenly as he completed the knots.
“There. That’s much better. I can hardly move! What about you Samantha, are you okay?”
Still feeling rather flushed I mumbled something non-committal whilst trying not to stare.
Despite Miss Andrews express instructions to the contrary, I had been tied with almost twice as much rope as my counterpart. It certainly wasn't going to be easy to escape, but I sure was going to have fun trying,..
All at once the Janitor stepped in front of me and I found myself thinking, I wish he would get out of the way so I could get a better view. In fact, I barely even noticed as he replaced the gag between my teeth.
"Are you okay Sam. That looks awfully tight"
"Mpth phine" I reassured her.
“Wait, don’t I get a nice pretty gag like Sam?” She said, sounding hurt that she was missing out on all the fun.
“I’m sure that won’t be necessary” the Janitor said dismissively
“Oh but I insist. I want you to treat me exactly as you would treat one of my pupils in the same situation”
“Very well” He said with a deviant grin.
I tried to warn her as he fished into his back pocket to retrieve the dirty rag but she refused to listen. She wanted the full Damsel in Distress experience as she wasn't about to let herself be talked out of it by an errant schoolgirl with a necktie in her mouth.
“It’s a matter of principal Sam” She explained proudly “Okay Mr Deville, I’m ready for my gag now"
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