Home > The Stolen Sisters(9)

The Stolen Sisters(9)
Author: Louise Jensen

‘Ooh, did the instructor want to see your bum as proof? Was he hot?’ Marie waggles her eyebrows.

‘I thought you had a new man, Marie,’ Carly teases her.

‘It’s early days. It’s complicated.’

‘Actually, the instructor wasn’t bad,’ I say.

‘Don’t let George hear that!’ Carly laughs. ‘You’ll ruin your perfect marriage.’

‘Nothing’s perfect,’ Marie says and the atmosphere that felt lighter moments before feels heavy once again.

Nothing is perfect. My marriage the least of all.

I start when I check the time on my phone. It’s almost time to collect Archie. An email alert tells me my parcel has been delivered. I jump to my feet.

‘I have to go, George will be…’ home to discover my secrets. I finish my sentence in my head. Really, he’s the last person I want to see after last night but I can hardly avoid him.

‘George will be what?’ asks Marie.

‘I just have to go, that’s all.’ My tone is sharper than intended, but then fear has the ability to harden; a soft stomach filled with knots, a tightening of the chest, muscles tense and solid.

The set of a jaw.

A clenching of the fist.

 

 

Chapter Seven


Carly

Then

Carly’s fist would often dangle a toy above Bruno the boxer’s head, until he’d hurl himself at her in a bid to reach it, his body slamming into hers, surprisingly heavy and solid. That’s the way her body felt now as she gathered her energy to jump again.

Heavy.

Solid.

As though her blood had been removed and replaced with stone. She was so tired it was almost impossible to move but she had made it outside. She had to keep going.

She was almost at the corner of the building. Strands of her blonde hair worked free from her scrunchie, trailed in front of her eyes. With the tape covering her mouth, she couldn’t huff it away. She wished again her hands were free.

Voices.

Louder now.

Carly took two quick jumps and stopped, shielded by the side of the building. She peeked back around the corner. The men were striding towards the front door, each carrying a twin over their shoulders as though they were weightless. As though they were nothing. The gold crosses the girls wore around their necks inverted like a sign of the devil as they dangled upside down. Not that her family were religious but the twins had discovered early Madonna.

‘I don’t know why you’re so fascinated with her,’ Carly had said just weeks ago as her sisters had chewed gum and loaded their wrists with bangles. ‘She’s been around forever.’

‘So had Marilyn Monroe when you plastered your wall with her posters,’ her stepdad had kindly pointed out. That was true so, instead of laughing at the twins, Carly helped them draw thick black lines under their eyes and crimp their hair when they played dress-up.

Now Leah’s hands – which had donned black lace gloves – were clenched into tight balls as she struggled to be free.

Marie was listless. Hanging limp.

Carly faltered. Her head urging her to move, her body crying out for a rest, and her heart? Her heart wanted to bound back towards the twins and reassure them it would be okay, but that was a lie.

Even then she knew that none of them would ever be the same again.

Think.

The men had disappeared in the building. In seconds they would realize she was gone. They’d know she hadn’t got far with her wrists and hands still tied. They’d expect her still to be blindfolded.

Carly had to move, but where should she go?

Her eyes scanned the area. There was a tank decorated with purple, pink and yellow spray-painted flowers, its gun pointing to the ground as though it was hanging its head in shame. Giving up hope. A water tower rose towards the sky. To her right was a larger building, ivy desperately clinging on to the crumbling stone columns that flanked its entrance. A sign that once hung straight and proud – NORCROFT ARMY CAMP – dangled vertically from a single rusted chain. She knew where she was now. An abandoned military training ground a few miles from town. She remembered Mr Webster, her teacher, projecting photos from his laptop onto the whiteboard of how the base used to look before it crumbled to dust while waiting for planning permission for a housing estate that never seemed to come.

Once during a sleepover at Nicola Morgan’s house her brother had shone a torch under his chin and told the terrified girls how he’d broken in one evening with his friends. He said they had seen with their own eyes the wailing, bloodied officers – soldiers missing limbs – who haunted the camp. It wasn’t until Leanne Patterson started crying that he backtracked and admitted that once you’d made it past the high, barbed-wire fences there was actually nothing worth coming back for.

No reason for anyone to come.

Carly drank in the sight of the small concrete building opposite, noting that the windowless and doorless structure looked like a face with empty eye sockets and a mouth eternally screaming. She saw how a beam of sunlight bouncing off the steel gate in the distance glowed fiery orange. She heard two birds chirping a conversation only they could understand, like Leah and Marie’s twin language.

Inconsequential details.

It wasn’t until Carly felt a hand on her shoulder, warm breath on her neck, that she realized she had lingered too long.

She hadn’t escaped.

She wondered if subconsciously she hadn’t wanted to.

The man lifted Carly from her feet, gently this time, none of the frenzied grabbing and pulling there had been before and she let him carry her back to her sisters, watching the rise and fall of his Dr. Martens boots as he walked.

This time, after placing her on the stained double mattress, he knelt next to her on the filthy floor and began to unpick the knots that bound her wrists.

‘What the fuck?’ the second man growled. Through the slit in his balaclava Carly could see the hairs of a thick black moustache tickling his pale pink lips.

The first man, Doc – as Carly called him in her head after his Dr. Martens boots – didn’t reply but continued working at the rope until it slackened. Her fingers tingled as she flexed them. Her eyes met Doc’s through the slits in his balaclava and for a split second she felt an unspoken message pass between them but she couldn’t quite decipher it. Nevertheless, some sixth sense told her not to try and fight him. She didn’t want to risk being separated from the twins again. Instead she knew that she should wait. That he wouldn’t hurt her.

The second man, though? Moustache. She wasn’t so sure.

Doc stood and brushed grey dust from his knees and this small act gave her hope. If he cared about dirt he wouldn’t leave them here in this grimy room. The sun barely filtered through the thick bars at the window. Sour air clogged her nostrils, making her mouth taste of wee. But he did leave, trailed by Moustache. As Moustache strode towards the door he scratched the back of his neck. His balaclava rose and Carly saw the tattoo of an eye. She shuddered. Even when he wasn’t facing her, he was still watching her.

She was left here for the second time that day but this time the door slammed shut although the men were still there, outside the room. Carly could hear their voices, one loud and angry, the other speaking more slowly and calmly.

Terrified, her eyes scanned the room. There were no other exits. No other way out.

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