CXVI:Secrets Broken(5)

By: Angie Smith

In the dark she wriggled and pulled her wrists, trying desperately to free them. Relieved to find the handcuffs weren’t too tight she persevered, inwardly contorting her thumbs and fingers. She knew her right wrist was slightly smaller and felt her best chance at freedom would come from that one, so she gritted her teeth, and pulled and twisted with all her might. Although there was ample space in the boot it was warm and stuffy, and all the effort was making her hands sweat, but rather than hindering it was assisting. The right wrist was almost there. She paused and took another deep breath; one last excruciating pull and it would be free. She gritted her teeth again and screwed her eyes closed. Bingo! She immediately pulled the duct tape from her mouth and took a few seconds, rubbing the life back into her wrist. Then she drew her knees up in order to feel what secured her ankles. It was a cable tie. She felt at its pawl, hoping to find a tab that she could depress, thereby releasing the tension, and removing it. No such luck. She needed something small — screwdriver-like — that she could poke in the pawl and achieve the same result. Alternatively she could use the handcuffs to create friction on the tie, warming the plastic to the extent that it could be elongated, but that would take forever.

She started feeling at the boot’s lining, especially around the sides, tapping lightly, and trying to locate any compartments. Yes! She carefully ran her fingertips around the hollow-sounding area and found the plastic locking thumb-screw, which she twisted, hoping to reveal a tool kit. She took out a square box. It was light, not the sort of thing that would contain screwdrivers, spanners, snips and the like. Feeling for the top she located two tabs, and on flicking these opened the box. She delved inside and disappointedly discovered it to be what she thought was a first aid kit. Nevertheless she felt her way through its contents. Bingo! She held a small pair of safety scissors; they were no more than five inches in length, with plastic ring handles and rounded metal blades. She touched the ends; they wouldn’t cut through the tie, but she could improvise and get at the pawl, unlocking it. It took her several attempts; however, eventually the tie was removed. Now she had free movement in all four limbs. She slipped the scissors into her trouser pocket; even safety scissors would cause damage to Williams’ eyeball.

She held her breath as the roller shutter door’s squeaking metal and clanking chain indicated somebody was entering the building. Was it Williams, or someone else? She quickly bundled the first aid kit in the side compartment and lay silently back in the position she’d been left. She fought to control her breathing as she heard footsteps approaching, but there was no diesel engine Transit returning, and the roller shutter door remained open. She felt the motion of someone getting into the driver’s seat and heard the sound of the seat belt clicking into place. The engine roared into life and the Mercedes moved slowly off. Immediately there were voices; she was briefly puzzled, and then realised it was the radio. Or was it? It sounded like the BBC News Channel. She recognised the presenter’s voice. It was! Did the car have a TV? She listened intently to the broadcast; it definitely was the news channel.

Detective Chief Superintendent Malcolm Foster entered the Incident Room and glanced up at the clock. It was 9.55 p.m. Only Detective Inspectors McLean and Jacobs remained. Both looked up expectantly.

“Any news?” Jacobs asked.

Foster shook his head; he looked dejectedly at McLean. “Where in hell’s name are they? And why haven’t they checked in?”

“Aye, it doesn’t look good. Their phones are off. We’re searching for the car.”

Foster’s mobile started ringing; he flicked it open, glimpsed at the screen and answered. “Hello,” he said. “Yes, speaking.” He listened. “When was this?”

Jacobs stopped what he was doing.

Foster turned away and started pacing around the room. “Sorry, you’re breaking up… can you repeat that?” He slowly became ashen. “I’m on my way.” He ended the call and looked back at both detectives. “Woods and Barnes were involved in an incident with a Maserati on the A628, not far from Tintwistle. Apparently they forced it off the road and failed to stop. Both its occupants have been taken to hospital.”

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