tagRomanceNot Passing Go! Ch. 07

Not Passing Go! Ch. 07


Chapter 7: Confinement

My head hurts. I don't know what chemicals Wrongturn, or whoever my assailant was, has sprayed of injected me with, but they ain't pleasant ones. It is pitch black where I'm held, strapped to some kind of bed. I have duct tape across my mouth. I test the bonds. They are secure. I am bound at the ankles, thighs, stomach and chest, with my hands cable-tied in front of me, my upper arms are held by the top two bands.

First, I work on getting my hands free of the cross straps, by flexing my knees and pushing with my heels. My head soon hits a headboard, but there is room to bend and push on for a couple more inches until my hands are free of the straps. I have been trained to get out of cable ties, so my hands are soon free. I tear the tape off my face. I don't call out with the sudden discomfort, not yet. They have removed the wig and beard I wore as the chauffeur, as well as my jacket and shoes. My beard growth is what what I would expect by the late evening, having shaved this morning before donning my disguise, so maybe between twelve and fifteen hours since abducted. I feel for my trouser waistband. Fortunately, I am still wearing my trousers and I can withdraw the abrasive cord velcro'd onto my waistband. I use it to saw through the strap across my stomach, allowing me much more movement, so I can either cut or slip out of the rest of the bonds holding me to the bed.

I believe that I am in a steel shipping container and it is moving. It must be a big ship as it is barely moving up, down or across. It is clearly a heavy ship. By feel, I find where the door to the container is, betrayed by the mechanism, and it is locked securely on the outside. I can feel fresh air coming through the various gaps and the faint whiff of ozone is refreshing. I know that I will not suffocate, and that I am on a ship at sea.

Right now I do not know whether I could be on the bed of a truck down in the hold, on a deck of a ferry, or in the hold or on the deck of a huge cargo ship.

I am alone in the container. Other than the single bed, the container is empty of furniture. The bed is of thin wood, probably pine, and cheap, held together with bolts, for which there is no spanner.. The headboard and foot panel are plywood between the uprights rather than solid. I could easily kick it to pieces, using a couple of the legs as clubs, perhaps, free some of the bolts for projectiles to use with the elastic? The mattress is an air mattress, no springs and thin wooden slats holding the mattress inside the bed frame.

They, whoever they were, who had tied me up, had removed my shoes and coat. I searched every inch of that container but no shoes. There was some litter rubbish in the container, a couple of newspapers, a lot of slightly elasticated ratcheted straps attached to the sides and, a real find, a can of beans with a ring pull lid. Not as sharp an edge to that lid as my razor blade hidden in my lost shoe, but better than nothing. Among the rubbish is a waxed paper cup, like you get in fast food joints, probably 500ml size and it smells clean, like maybe it held lemonade or mineral water instead of a milkshake. It still has the plastic lid and straw stuck in it. I keep hold of it for now, not knowing if it is watertight or not.

I worry about where my family are and whether they are all safe and sound.

No excuses, I was caught cold. It should never have happened. If my family have suffered as a consequence, then it was all my fault. I am to blame for anything that happens to them. For what may have already befallen them. I may be trapped but I'm alive and therefore dangerous. If I can't get my family back, someone will pay and pay heavily.

But my worrying can do nothing for them and does little to maintain my morale, so I thrust that out of my head until the problem has been dealt with.

I try to remember what happen to me and what I can learn from it. I was sprayed in the face by some nerve agent chemical, as I was distracted by the power outage at the gym and in a dark corridor. It wasn't a case of holding my breath to remain conscious, I just slipped away. I didn't see or feel a thing until I woke up in the boot of a car, with my hands cable-tied behind me. I was pulled out by two heavies I had not seen before. They don't talk, other than grunt and enjoy slapping me about so I know what they would do if provoked. They inject me with a syringe this time, probably the same stuff, and I am soon out of it again. A couple of times I think I am coming out of it and think that I am injected again, but I may have dreamed it. I am conscious that I am thirsty and also desperately need a piss, but try to hang on for the time being, as I don't want to waste that wee until I'm desperate.

When I woke up strapped to the bed, I realised that my hands have been released from behind my back and re-tied in front. I wonder what the reason for that was? Did they want to make it easier to escape? After a couple of times of almost coming out of it they know what level of tolerance I have to whatever drug they are using and have timed my unconsciousness accordingly. Did they want me to escape? Is there a way out of this container? I doubt it.

Could I bang on the sides until somebody hears and tries to release me? No, they would have known I would get out of the restraints easily enough and if this is a cargo ship. Well, those ships are noisy to begin with and sparsely manned. Even if the alarm was raised they probably cannot get at me if I am surrounded by other containers. Even in the port, I would only be heard during the final crane lift to the transport lorry. They would have thought of that and planned to move me at dead of night. I am stuck until whoever kidnapped me opens it. How will they expect me to react to the doors opening?

Up and at them as soon as they open it? They will be ready for that and armed accordingly. Besides, I will be blinded by the light, having been in pitch black for about a week. I will be weak from days without food and water, perhaps demoralised and resigned to my fate.

I feel like a live rodent in a Rentakill trap, waiting to be released ... or dispatched. They fact they removed my shoes doesn't lead me to believe I am going to be released into a nature reserve.

If I am passive, awaiting their next move, it will either happen immediately they open the container, somewhere secluded, or else they will put me into another vehicle to transport me where they want me. They are keeping me alive, so either Wrongturn or Simon want to speak to me on their own turf. Either that or some other scumbag has got it in for me.

OK, I did put Motormouth Mickie out of his misery in Spain, but it was unintentional and in direct response to his attempt to kill me. The other two could have guessed from that incident that I was involved and looking for them. My aim had been to find out where I could get my share of the money back and beat it out of Mickie if I had to. I was more interested in finding the other two scumbags. Maybe someone in his family wanted revenge for his death. Again, the Kollikov Russian mafia could be reneging on their agreement with me, or it could be associated with someone I killed or hurt during prison who are putting the hurts on me. Maybe there's just a price on my head and these guys want to deliver me to the highest bidder, or they are holding me ransom, hoping that Agnes would pay to get me back.

Ha! A couple of weeks ago I was sure kidnappers would find no takers. Now? Well, I live in hope that I was wanted as much by Agnes as I now wanted her.

I go back to worrying about Agnes, the kids and my friends. That is the trouble with being banged up, you are left with too much time to think, and it only adds to the torture. So I examine what I know. They got me at the school, so they could have ignored me, then followed followed us home and grabbed us all in one go already. But no, they took me at the school, so I think the only wanted me, without the family. They could have waited, followed me home and easily got all of us together.

There is nothing I can do. I retrace my steps to find my paper cup and piss in it, holding back to ensure I don't overflow and waste a drop. I feel the outside of the container. It is slightly insulated but just feels warm, not wet. I drink it. Well it is warm and I have drunk my piss before, during desert training, exercises and one mission when I was wounded, left behind and so cut off from supplies for a week until I could walk back across the border. I know I can survive a long time without food, but without water for a week would seriously impair me. Then I quarter fill it with the rest of my bladder and restore the lid and bend the straw over, it will reduce evaporation. I already found a place on the wall near the door where I could stow it away behind a stanchion. Even drinking my piss, I can lose unrecoverable water through sweat and breathing. So I must conserve my energy. I've earmarked a corner for when I'm busting for a Betty; the couple of newspapers were handy.

The container feels hotter. The left side, facing the door, it's hotter than the other three sides. It had the sun on it. The roof is cold, which means I have a container above me. So, I am in a sandwich. I wait and feel the side, counting the time in minutes, in hours. After about four hours the side cools down. Either the ship has turned or the sun has moved overhead and we are in shadow. I think we are moving south through the Bay of Biscay and that was the morning sun. My guess is more a stab in the dark, In 12 hours from now it will be midnight and in 18 hours from now I will feel the heat of the sun again. So, it may not be an Apple Watch, but I have a clock on the wall and a calendar in my head.

Wherever I am going, it is likely to be about a week.

I sleep, in short doses, maybe three or four hours at a stretch. The bed is uncomfortable, the slats too far apart and they sag because they are thin. The bed was designed for a slim youth to sleep in, not someone of my build. Moving the mattress to the solid floor is an improvement in comfort. After I judge it had been two and a half or three days, I open the tin of beans. They smell all right, and taste just fine, so I make a meal of them. I assume my abductors knew my background and knew I would conserve water and appreciate the meal, hence the cup and tin were not so random a find as you might think. After several days without food, my lower stomach responds with wind, which is unpleasant in a confided space.

I am no nearer working out who took me and where we were going. Wrongturn got his nickname earlier in his bank robbing career. As a getaway driver, he opened the boot from inside, so his partners could throw in the bags of loot and he drove off, leaving them to face the law, which was a tactic probably prearranged with the backers. However, nor did he meet the backers at the rendezvous point. Eventually they caught up with the muppet, and didn't accept his excuse that he made a wrong turn somewhere. They beat him up and left him for dead in a wood somewhere. I didn't think he was bright enough, especially as he had form, caught red handed twice and served two long sentences, to organise this taking of me as a hostage; he would have simply wasted me there and then at the school.

Simon was smarter, a lot smarter, and had never been caught. 'Safe-Sniffer' Simon Smithers was the civil engineer who drilled into the vault. He was the first man in London anyone called upon if you wanted to get into a vault. He started out young, cut his teeth on breaking into safes in pubs, offices, bus stations. At first he simply drilled out the locks. Banks and their vaults were more sophisticated, but he'd studied mining and drilling for water, oil and gas at university, paying his way with his cut from the safe cracking. As his techniques improved, so he was able to acquire better drilling equipment and was able to keep his nose clean by never getting caught. Several years after our caper, while I was in nick, we heard that Simon had pulled off a similar raid to ours, on a safe deposit vault, where he operated the drilling equipment remotely from halfway around the world, and ordering the rest of the team on-site to case the joint using mobile phones, get the right equipment, place the drills, replace bits and place the final charges. And then, after a very successful raid, he was paid by electronic transfer. Neat. When that story circulated, he was the toast of C Block.


I crossed off the two and a half to three days to my estimated time of arrival, making sure I relaxed, stretched, got plenty of sleep and made what preparations I could. And I waited patiently.

I had become sensitive to my surroundings. I knew when we docked at the port, as the movement changed and I could hear the scraping sounds of containers being chained and craned out. I had cut through one of the straps and swinging the metal fastening managed to bang and make quite a racket against the side, but no-one came, even when all the crane work finished for the day and it presumably became quieter. I was used to sleeping in three or four hour stints, so I relaxed, knowing my container wouldn't be released until well after dark. There was a slim possibility of being opened up in the port, but I doubted it. I was sure I was destined for somewhere remote.

Sure enough, chains were attached to my container during the quiet night. I kept quiet, thinking my best tactic was for them to think that I was either too weak to react or was already brown bread. The container was lifted and dropped onto a truck. Soon we set off.

I had no idea where we were. I had assumed the Med, further than Spain, but it could have been any larger port, probably one that specialised in container ships. I had never taken such an interest in container shipping and couldn't really recall much about them from my memory banks. I knew Wrongturn had been based in Turkey, the Kollikovs had a dacha in the Black Sea, but Safe-Sniffer? I had no idea where he went. I discounted the Black Sea, it was too far, but anywhere in the eastern Med, was a fair guess.

The relatively smooth and flat road the truck drove on petered out after about four hours' driving, then we moved on to minor roads for a couple of hours and then I believe we were climbing up a very rough track for ten minutes, judging from the number of gear changes. The roof felt warmer to the touch, too, so I felt it was daylight and somewhere hot, somewhere hot even in October. Perhaps the North African coast?

Then we stopped and even more I could feel the heat of the day rising. Let me tell you, the noise inside that empty container all the while we were moving on the road, especially this last ten minutes, was deafening. It was like being inside the large bell in Big Ben but with the clapper muffled and my ears were ringing. So far, I had remained relaxed, leaving my captors with doubts I was still alive. I alternately tensed and relaxed my muscles waiting for all hell to break loose.

It did, but not at all as I expected. Suddenly I could hear guns going off, the unmistakable firing of 9mm automatic fire, all around me. Some of the rounds pinged off the container, making it sound like Big Ben's clapper had been replaced with someone throwing one spoon at a time from a tray of loose cutlery. There was no danger of the 9mm penetrating the container, unless close, those shells are designed to be lethal within 50m, although the kill range is often a lot further than that in practice. There were too many rounds being fired and far too few hitting metal for them to be using the container or me as a target.

This was a fire fight, but between who and who?

As suddenly as it started, the shooting stops. Maybe it lasted for a minute.

Seconds after the firing stopped, I can hear the locks being released and then someone trying to open the door. Of course the mechanism wouldn't work! I had used the straps and, braced by wood from the bed, to jam the mechanism. Ha! I had thought, even if Safe-Sniffer wasn't involved, they'd need to send for him just to get into this baby!

Someone banged on the side in frustration, calling out, "Danny, are you all right, let us in, it's Agnes and Freddie, oh, and your old commander's here Major Forest."


"Agnes," I croaked, "what the hell are you doing here?"

"We tracked down the shipment, Freddie and the CIA and your old unit got here just as you arrived. All the bad guys are down or held, including Simon. Let us in, honey. We have a medic here and food and water for you."

I started knocking out the wooden braces, but it took a while, especially as I felt so emotional.

Soon the door opened and the light flooded in and I was blinking. All I could see was white light. Then someone embraced me, wearing a hard bullet proof vest, and started kissing me. I must've smelt horrible, I hadn't cleaned my teeth in a week and my body odour must've matched the pile of shit in one corner, but she, Agnes, tasted wonderful, even though my lips were cracked and sore, I sucked in the tears from her eyes as if it was milk from the gods. My knees buckled and I almost fainted, the emotion and relief from tension simply too much for me.

"Medic!" I could hear her scream and then I was gone.


"You could have been killed, Agnes."

"Agnes is a dead woman." Agnes replied.

"No, sweetheart, I told you I wouldn't kill you."

"Danny, Agnes is already dead."

I look at her. "You can't be dead. If we are talking, and if you're dead, then so'm I."

"Hadn't you ever considered?" Agnes ended the conversation with a question that send me off on a tangent, "That twins run in families?"

I had this dream running over and over in my head like a broken record. The noise of the US Navy helicopter, where I am lying, is deafening but I can read her lips and she can read mine. And then I sleep again, and dream that dream all over again.

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