It was early afternoon on a bleak Autumn day and the scene was an unsealed lane that ran along the rear boundaries of a line of cottages in a remote mountain suburb. Dense bush stretched for miles on the other side of this narrow laneway.
A woman stood under the low concealing branches of a tree which grew on the side of the lane. She was looking towards the houses opposite.
She was thirty eight, slim, obviously healthy, a firm, pleasant face and might have been considered attractive but for her appearance. Her long, fair hair was very dishevelled and there were smears of clay on her black, solid shoes and also on her legs which were somewhat scratched. But the worst of all was what she was wearing. A coarse, blue denim uniform, short sleeved, calf length and secured by a wide cloth belt. It was damp from the rain, clay spattered and tattered around the hem. It looked like a standard, no frills, government issue outfit. Which it was. Prison issue.
What she needed was a complete change of clothes and this was just what she was looking for.
Her name was Maureen. It was two o'clock in the afternoon and she had come a long way since eight in the morning when she had started out on her day's journey. Then she had been walking across the yard in a well known city women's penitentiary. She had passed an unattended truck which looked as if it was about to depart soon. A hurried look around and she had impulsively climbed quickly and unobserved into the back and hidden herself under some stacked tarpaulins. Two men came out almost at once, got into the cab and drove the vehicle out of the yard. Nothing was checked at the gate and the truck was driven out of the city, along a western highway, apparently on its way to some remote country prison. Escape, which she had been thinking about for months, was as easy as that.
Sometime after nine the two drivers stopped for coffee at a well known roadside cafe in a semi rural locality. Maureen looked cautiously around the area and then slipped quietly over the side of the truck and into the bush alongside the car park.
She made her way through the timber until she came to a bush track. Since it was going directly away from the main road she made her way along it. It led to a fire trail,which went in the same direction. She followed this for several hours, though the going was not always easy and this contributed to her increasingly unkempt appearance. She knew very well that to stay near the highway, or any urban area, her blue uniform would be a dead giveaway. Finally she came to this lane at the rear of the row of cottages in this mountain settlement.
She studied the houses she could see. Ideally, a household occupied by a single lady in her own age group was what she needed. She could tie the woman up, take her pick from the victim's wardrobe, have a hot bath and a good meal and be on her way. As well as taking the contents of her purse and anything else of value to be had. But all the places she could see looked as if they were the homes of families (she wanted nothing to do with children) or possibly elderly retirees. One small cottage did attract her attention.
As she looked she saw a woman, perhaps in her early forties, wearing a raincoat and carrying a small shopping bag approaching down the street beyond the houses. She entered the street gate of this particular property and went in by the front door. Some minutes later she came out the back door, walked to the clothes line in the back yard and began to take in some washing. Maureen looked at the items being gathered in. All woman's clothes, no men's or children's wear. That was enough. This place would do.
Maureen crossed the unfenced rear boundary of the block and using the cover of trees along the side fence, made her way to the kitchen door. Through the windows she could see the woman bending over, doing something at the sink. Good, she could be taken by surprise.
This householder's name was Gladys. She was forty years old, a teacher by occupation, long divorced and had lived alone for many years. She was trim, still had a reasonable figure and a pleasant face with short wavy hair, just starting to go grey. She was known as a quiet, sensible person who kept to herself and had very few visitors. In short, Maureen could not have made a better choice for a home invasion. Luck was really with her today.
Gladys was just putting the last of her purchased shopping into the sink cupboard when she heard the outer door open then close again quickly. She glanced up to see a strange woman standing in her kitchen. She looked fit, tough and had both fists clenched. By her general bedraggled appearance and the mud on her denim uniform she must have come up through the bush beyond the lane. Not the usual way to approach the house and clearly not your average caller. Gladys was wearing the heavy glasses she needed for distance viewing and saw every detail.
"Good afternoon." Maureen began pleasantly enough, "I've come for a short visit and later I'll be taking some of your things and then I'll take my leave. If you're sensible and co-operative it'll be much easier for both of us." She raised both her bunched fists.
Gladys, though caught unawares and somewhat alarmed, remained calm. She could see this woman could be a fighter if necessary, something she definitely was not. And that she was younger and stronger than herself. She could also see from her dress that clean wearing apparel was probably her highest priority right now. She reasoned, from what had been said, that if she got out of this with the loss of some pieces of clothing, perhaps a few other items and no doubt all of the cash she had, she would probably be alright. She stood upright and showing a calmness and self control she did not entirely feel, said.
"I don't keep much money in the home and there's very little of any value." This was true. "As you can see," she nodded toward the shopping bag on the kitchen table, "I've just done some shopping, which means there's not much housekeeping money left. Why don't you take what you need and just go? Though it does look," (a faint smile here), "as if you could use a good bath."
Maureen herself smiled, pleased that her chosen target was not over frightened, hysterical or ready to make a fight of it. This was going better than she expected. "I'm glad you're being realistic. Certainly, I need a bath, but there are a few other things as well. First, I have to tie you up."
Gladys's smile vanished. "Look, you don't have to do that. I'm not going to fight you. I'm ....."
"Unfortunately necessary darling," Maureen was firm, "And the question is, what to do it with?" She stepped over to the washing basket that Gladys had brought into the house only minutes before and picked out an old worn pillowcase. "This isn't your newest and best linen. No sense in ruining that. This'll do very well." She picked up a paring knife from the sink, made a series of nicks along the end of the item and then tore it into eight long strips. "There," she held them up, "Instant bondage material."
Walking up to the now silent householder, the intruder quickly and expertly bound her arms to her sides, cinching them tightly under the armpits. Next, she crossed her wrists behind her back and tied them too. Finally she lashed the victim's forearms to her waist. The torn strips were very suitable for this and Maureen worked with thoroughness, yet at the same time with some regard for her captive's comfort. After all, the woman was being co-operative.
"There," she said, stepping back when it was done. "Just one thing more." She cut one of the long strips in half with the knife, took a damp dishcloth from the sink and knotted it in the middle. "This," she said holding it up in front of Gladys's face, "Is a gag. I'm not going to use it yet but it's ready if you try to make a noise or attract attention."
"Quite unnecessary," murmured the bound woman, "I'm not going to scream. There's no one to hear anyway."
"Perhaps not," retorted her captor, "But it'll be used if needed. And now, let's go and have look around this nice house of yours." She took the captive by the trussed forearm and steered her out of the kitchen.
The tour of the cottage proceeded. One of the two bedrooms was used as a study. It contained a filing cabinet and a large desk strewn with papers and an old typewriter. Maureen picked up one of these documents, looked at it and then replaced it in the same spot. The main bedroom had a double bed and a built in wardrobe. Gladys was stopped in front in front of this while her captor opened it and looked at the contents. She pulled out one dress, examined it, then carefully put it back where she had found it. "Some interesting things here," she said, "I'll have a closer look later. And," she laughed, "For what I take, I'll leave you this stunning government special in its place."
Gladys, meanwhile was making her own assessment of this woman who had taken her prisoner. On the run from some government institution she assumed. Probably a prison. She planned to replace that very obvious blue uniform with a change of clothing from her own wardrobe. Plus a few other items no doubt. But once she had equipped herself, she'd doubtless be quickly on her way. Well, that wouldn't be the end of the world, she could endure that. The woman seemed a practical, sensible type. Perhaps one could even talk to her up to a point. It was how she herself was to be left when her captor departed that concerned her. Bound and gagged? Unconscious?
"And now, back to the kitchen,"said Maureen cheerfully, obviously pleased with what she had found in this household she had taken over.
She seized Gladys by the forearm and marched her back to the rear of the house. In the kitchen she made her sit in one of the chairs. Then, taking the strips of torn pillowcase, she knelt and tied her ankles together. Next she lifted the bound householder's skirt and lashed her legs above the knees. Finally she used the two remaining strips to tie her victim to the wooden back of the chair.
"There," she said triumphantly, "That's got you firmly anchored. And now, I know you don't like the idea of this but it is necessary for a while." She took the prepared gag and moved to put it its recipient's mouth.
"Please," murmured Gladys, "It's quite unnecessary. I'll ..." Whatever else she had to say was lost as she was firmly and effectively gagged.
Maureen then left the kitchen. She was away for well over ten minutes and then returned and at once took the gag out of her captive's mouth.
"See. You didn't have it in all that long, did you? Meanwhile, I've just used your phone and you'll be pleased to know I've arranged to be picked up from here. But it won't be until eight this evening. My friend wants to arrive and depart in the hours of darkness. Which means you and I are going to be together for the next five hours or so. Well, there are some things I want to do. Have few hours sleep is one of them. So you'll have resign yourself to being my tied up guest for a while. In your own home." She smiled. "Don't worry. It needn't be all that unpleasant." Gladys wondered at this. So far it hadn't been.
"And now, something to eat. I'm famished. I haven't had anything since seven thirty." Maureen turned to the refrigerator. "Can I get something for you?" Things were going so well, she was feeling generous. "I could untie your arms, so that you could use your hands while still tied to that chair. We can dine together." She smiled at this. Gladys shook her head. "OK. Suit yourself." She turned and opened the fridge door.
Gladys reconsidered. It looked as if they might be together for a long while. She'd better have something to eat. "Well," she said slowly, "I usually do have a sandwich for lunch."
"Alright, I'll make you a sandwich. Will this do?" She held up some packaged ham.
Maureen set to work with food from the fridge, cooking herself a substantial meal. And a sandwich for her captive. Gladys noted she she was quick, neat and quite expert at food preparation. As if to confirm this interest she was told, "I worked for a time in the kitchen of the establishment I've just left. That's where I leaned the trade. They teach you well there." And it seemed they did. In a very short time she had a hot meal for herself and a sandwich for her unwilling hostess on the table. She made a large pot of tea as well and got out cups and saucers.
"And, so that we can dine comfortably together." She untied all of the lashings around Gladys's upper body, then carefully rebound her torso to the wooden uprights at the back of the chair, leaving both of her arms free. She pushed the chair up against the table.
She then seated herself on the opposite side of the table and with a lighthearted, "It's a late lunch, but - Bon appetite." They began to eat.
It was a silent lunch and when it was over Maureen took everything that had been used for the meal to the sink, expertly washed and dried the lot and put every item away. Clearly, she had learned well in the government establishment she had just left. Gladys was simply thankful that her property was being treated with such care.
"From here we go to the bedroom." The captive was untied from the kitchen chair and made to stand up. "Now, I'm sorry, but you're going to have to be tied up for quite a while now. Do you want to go to the toilet?" Gladys did and was escorted to the bathroom where Maureen waited outside while she relieved herself.
In the bedroom a solid wooden chair with a well padded back and seat was found. Maureen pulled it out so that it faced the centre of the room. "I'm glad it's comfortable," she said, "Because you're going to be sitting in it, bound and gagged for the next few hours." Gladys grimaced but said nothing. "Sit down please." The torn strips and gag had been brought from the kitchen.
Swiftly, expertly Maureen tied the now resigned householder to the chair. First her wrists were bound behind its back. Then several long strips were used to tie her upper body to the solid padded back and after that her thighs were tied firmly to the seat. Finally her ankles and legs above the knees were securely lashed. "I'm making you as comfortable as I can but you'll feel a lot better if you just relax and don't struggle," she was advised, "You haven't got a hope of getting loose. I know."
"There," she said, straightening up surveying the now securely bound Gladys, "I hope you're OK. And now it's me for a much needed shower."
She stripped off the muddied blue uniform, stepped out of the equally dirty shoes and finally shed her prison issue underwear, finally standing naked before her captive. "And since I won't be able to keep an eye on you from in there, I'll have to gag you." She did this, despite the victim's protests, then picked up all of her discarded items and went into the bathroom. "I'll put these in the dirty clothes basket in here," she called, "You can have them with the government's and my blessing."
Fifteen minutes later she came out, towelling her now clean hair and wearing a soft blue dressing gown she had found hanging on a peg at the back of the door. "How I needed that," she said," And eventually, I'll need a new outfit, courtesy of yourself." She smiled at the fuming Gladys, slid back the sliding doors of the built in wardrobe and looked at the contents. "Hmm, some nice things here but that comes later. Right now I need a few hours sleep. It's been a long day with a lot of miles through that bush." She turned to the bound owner of the wardrobe. "I'm going to use your bed darling. If need be, you could wake me by making mewing noises through your gag but you better make sure it's a real emergency. And I mean real emergency." And with that she turned, stripped off the dressing gown, draped it over the end of the bed and slid naked between the sheets.
About three hours later she awoke. She was one of those people who is instantly alert on waking. She looked straight away at Gladys, who she surmised, though not making any noise, had probably been trying to free herself. If unsuccessfully. She smiled, slipped out of bed, put on the discarded dressing gown, did up the sash-belt firmly and turned to her captive hostess and removed her gag. Which she placed conveniently close to hand. "There darling, feel better? I'll bet you do. Want a drink of water?" The bound woman nodded. Speech was beyond her at the moment. Maureen went to the kitchen and returned with a jug of cold water from the fridge and a drinking glass. Gladys drank two glasses, both held to her lips by her captor.
"Well then. My transport will be here in one or two hours. Time I was dressed for travelling." Still wearing the dressing gown, she went to Gladys's wardrobe and chest of drawers and opened both. Their owner shrugged resignedly. "Now I can see you've got some expensive and fashionable things here, but it may surprise you that I don't want them. Oh, they'd fit me and they'd look very fine on me, but they'd also attract attention. Which is the last thing I want. In a month or so I hope to be quietly out of the country." Gladys looked at her with some puzzlement.
And so Maureen began to dress herself from her captive's wardrobe.
First, serviceable, comfortable underwear - though silk items were available. Panti hose from the local chain store. A patterned woollen skirt, not new but suitable for the weather developing outside. A serviceable white long sleeved blouse and a grey button up jacket which would never be outstanding in any company. Lastly, black, flat heeled sensible shoes which fortunately fitted and were not so very different from the from the mud spattered ones she had left neatly beside the clothes basket in the bathroom, only newer. Finally she used Gladys's combs and brushes to get her hair in order, which she pinned back with pins from the dressing table.
"How's that?" she asked the bound owner of her new ensemble, "Much better than when I came here, aren't I?" Gladys merely looked and said nothing.
"And now, an accessory to carry a few necessary items with me." She took down an overnight carry bag from the top shelf of the wardrobe.
In it she put a few changes of sensible, practical underwear, hosiery, a couple of spare blouses, a pair of slacks and a somewhat used woollen sweater. Gladys watched all of this intently, still surprised that nothing really costly had been taken. "And finally some personal things."
This meant perfumed soap, a toothbrush, deodorant and so on. And a few handkerchiefs. Lastly, she picked a small bottle of expensive perfume from the top of the dressing table. Gladys became agitated at this.
"That's a present," she said with concern, "A present from a very dear friend."
Maureen looked at her, then at it and finally put it back. "It probably wouldn't suit me," she said quietly. She choose another bottle of more common fragrance. Gladys was grateful.
"Well, that's it," said the visitor, snapping the catch on the overnight bag closed. "Soon, I'll be out of your life forever. No doubt you'll be pleased. My transport should be here in an hour or less. I'm going to have a cup of coffee and a snack before I set off. Would you like me to make something for you as well? We could have it out in the kitchen." Gladys smiled faintly and nodded. She pondered at how friendly relations between them had become. Possibly because her captor had got what she wanted and would soon be on her way. "OK then. Oh, and I'm sorry but I'm forgetting you've been tied up for three hours. Do you want to go to the toilet again?" Again Gladys simply smiled and nodded. She was unbound and the lashings collected yet again.
The toilet visit was attended to as before. Then Gladys was tied to the kitchen chair again ("Definitely for the last time" she was assured), and once more her arms were left free. Maureen set to work and in about fifteen minutes had produced two cheese melts and two cups of coffee. She laid these on the kitchen table complete with cutlery and even napkins. She pushed her hostess's chair up to the table and then pulled up one for herself. "Well, Bon appetite once more, only this time I think we might talk a little."
And talk they did. Maureen began. "I had a look at some some of the papers on your desk while I was in there making my phone call. I see you use the Personal Columns to make social contacts." Gladys blushed with embarrassment and wished she had locked her correspondence in the filing cabinet. But then no one could have foreseen this visit. Anyway this woman was going to be out of her life forever in an hour or so. And she had a curious feeling she would keep her mouth shut. And so it was, "Don't worry. Anything you say is safe with me."
"Yes," she admitted quietly, "There aren't many places up here up here where a girl can meet partners socially." After she'd gone this woman would never come back here again. She could safely tell her a few items like this.
"And how much success do you have with the Personals? Not a great deal it would seem."
"Very little. Some of those I do make contact with have strange ideas of 'cultured interests,' that's the term I use if I advertise and a lot of them are simply fortune hunters."
"I can quite believe that," snorted Maureen. "And you can well imagine the place I've just come from is also very short of suitable male company. But I'm out of that now. And on my way to a new life and a new identity." Oddly, Gladys almost envied her. Next, she was asked, "You're divorced aren't you?"
"Long ago. It didn't last long. He was a real bastard."
"The world's full of them," commented her captor, "Believe me. I know."
"One thing I do have to ask you," the householder said, "When you go from here, how will you leave me? Will I be tied and gagged? I almost never have callers here, and if I can't get loose myself I could be like that for days."
Maureen was about to answer when the doorbell rang. Two short rings.
"That's my caller." she smiled, "But I still can't take any chances."
The gag was replaced and Gladys's wrists were swiftly tied behind her back. " And I'll answer your question when I get back."
She hurriedly left the kitchen and could be heard talking at the front door. After several minutes she returned, carrying a cloth bag.
Pulling out the gag, she explained.
"You'll excuse my visitor, but she'd rather not let you see her. I think you'll understand. Meanwhile, she's waiting in your lounge room. And she's brought the answer to your problem." Putting the bag on the table she took out a sealed dark jar and a large soft white cloth.
Gladys looked at it with distaste. "I asked her to bring this. It's hospital grade chloroform. The best available. You'll sleep like baby for an hour or two with no nasty side effects. And we'll put you on your own bed." She unscrewed the jar. "My friend wants to get under way as soon as possible and so I'll give it to you now." She began to saturate the cloth with the anesthetic.
Maureen raised the pad, ready for application. "This will be goodbye then. It's been a long six hours. It could have been a lot worse. Thank you for your co-operation," she smiled, "And I'll look after your things."
Gladys looked at the poised cloth, then at her captor. "I dare say you're right, it could have been worse. As to this," she nodded at the pad, "I suppose it's better than being tied up for an indefinite time. I really don't get many people come and visit me here."
Maureen applied the cloth to her face. "That's a pity then. You do seem a nice person. Breathe deeply now and you'll go out quicker."
Gladys's eyelids began to droop.
Five minutes later she was completely asleep. Maureen was untying the last of the torn pillow case strips holding her to the chair and putting them in the kitchen waste bin, together with the gag when her companion walked in. She was a woman of about fifty, solidly built with a square determined face and grey hair. She was wearing a nylon raincoat. "She's out to it," she was informed, "And I did tell her we'd put her on her own bed. So, if you'll give me a hand to carry her in there, we can put her away."
Both were strong women and Gladys was not heavy. They lifted her easily and soon had her lying on her bed. They adjusted a pillow comfortably under her head. Back in the kitchen Maureen insisted on washing up the items from their snack together. Her companion assisted to the point of doing the drying up. "Time we were on our way," the woman said when this was done, "I'm parked down the road, under some trees on the nature strip. Where the car can't be easily seen. Anything else you want to do here?"
"No, nothing. Let's go." Maureen picked up the overnight bag and they walked down the hallway. At the bedroom she paused, looked inside and said softly, "Goodbye Gladys." (using her unwilling hostess's name for the first time - she had learned it from looking at her papers in the study). "I hope you find somebody eventually. Under different circumstances I might have helped you. I'm owed a few favours by various men." Her friend smiled and shrugged at this.
The two women went out through the front door and off into the night.
You can also leave feedback & comments for this story on the Plaza Forum
story continues in A Change of Clothes 2