by John Savage
Once upon a time, in a tiny kingdom in the middle of Africa, there was a king. He was not a benevolent king – no, indeed. He was sadistic, cruel and extremely oppressive to his people; mostly by stealing the pretty young women of the land and imprisoning them in his dungeon where nasty things happen to them.
Then, one day, he saw a gorgeous American movie starlet on the television and decided he wanted her in his dungeon. The foolish young thing was visiting a nearby country for a vacation, so he sent his Security Chief, an outlaw Irishman, to fetch this movie star and bring her back to what would be a prolonged and painful visit to the king’s dungeon.
The starlet and her female companion are snatched and begin a journey across the plains of Africa – a slave safari – to take them to this hated and disgusting monarch. Both women are kept in handcuffs and tight ropes for the journey, captives doomed to a horrible fate. But something happens along the way. Something between captor and captive. And that’s to say nothing of a legendary treasure, and I do mean say nothing. After all, it’s something everyone would be after if they knew about it and thought they could get away with it… and the treasure, too…
Across the road was a jeep that had turned on its side and was blocking the entire road. The driver got out and approached the jeep, only to find that no one was in it or around.
While the driver was puzzling over the problem of the jeep, two masked men, one white and one black, approached the rear of the bus with drawn guns. Quickly the door was opened and the occupants were ordered out. The driver was also ordered to stand alongside the guests.
It was not hard to tell which one was Tawny Millian. She had long, wavy golden hair, the richest blue eyes that O’Connor had ever seen, pouty lips just made for kissing, and a figure not too successfully hidden by the safari suit and that would have matched one of the better centerfolds.
O’Connor pointed the .45 automatic at her and waved it towards the rear of the bus in an order for her to move. Anyone could tell that she was scared but, strangely enough, apparently not as much as her companions. She did, however, refuse to move until he cocked back the hammer of the automatic. Then she reluctantly moved away from the others. O’Connor approached her when she had taken a dozen steps and, after checking to make sure that Jomo was covering the others, produced a pair of handcuffs from his pocket.
“Put your hands behind you,” he ordered but in a quiet voice.
“What do you think you’re doing?” she asked with only a slight tremor to her voice.
“Kidnapping you. I intend to get a nice ransom from your studio for your safe return,” he told her. “Now get those hands behind you before I have to get rough.”
Tawny frowned, but did as she was ordered. She even turned her back, knowing that would be the next order. She felt the steel cuffs press against her wrists and heard the clicking as they closed.
Leaving his captive standing near the end of the bus, O’Connor turned and shot the left rear tire. Then, while the people standing there cringed at the loud noise, he shot the front tire, walked around to the other side, and blew out the tires there.
When he came around, he took Tawny’s arm in a firm grip and told her to begin walking back down the road. They had not gone more than a dozen paces when one of the passengers called out.
“Hey, you can’t take her!”
Sara had taken a couple steps forward, but froze when she saw Jomo point the gun at her.
“Don’t take her. I won’t let you,” Sara nearly screamed.
Rather than tell her that she had no say in the matter, O’Connor turned to Tawny, and asked, “Is she your friend?”
Tawny did not reply but he could tell from the look in her eyes that this protesting woman meant something to the movie star.
O’Connor looked back at the woman and liked what he saw. She was a redhead, not bad looking at all, and with a pretty good figure herself. Right then she looked as if she might run towards them despite the gun pointing at her.
“Very well,” he said. Then, more loudly, so Jomo would hear, “Bring her along too.”
Jomo grinned widely under the bandana covering the bottom half of his face. Taking this pretty redhead with the emerald green eyes would make the trip back home much more interesting. Much more interesting…
“All you people get back on the bus,” he ordered them. “I’ll shoot anyone who isn’t in there in five seconds. And I’ll shoot anyone I see getting off again.”
It took them more like ten seconds, but he was feeling generous and did not shoot anyone. He took Sara’s arm and pulled her along. Tawny was looking back and shaking her head in an effort to tell them not to take her friend also.
“You won’t get any ransom for her,” she pleaded with O’Connor. “Please let her go.”
“She comes,” was all he said and hurried her along with a tug on her arm.
Their Range Rover was hidden just off the road a hundred yards back. O’Connor reached it first and opened the second door. With a rough hand, he forced Tawny into the vehicle, and then pulled another set of handcuffs out and locked them on her ankles.
From a bag, he pulled out two additional sets of handcuffs and used one pair to secure Sara’s hands behind her as Jomo brought her up. She was put into the SUV and her ankles locked together also. Then the doors were slammed shut and the two men drove off with their captives.
“Wow! That was fun!” exclaimed Jomo as he pulled his mask off. Turning around to face the two frightened women, he told them, “Now, don’t you get any ideas about trying to open the door and dive out. You’ll probably just hurt yourself, and you couldn’t get very far in your condition anyway.”
O’Connor was driving back the way the bus had come. He had taken off his mask and was grinning.
“I don’t know if it was fun, but it did go smoothly,” he commented. “I was afraid another car or truck would come along. We were lucky.”
“Lucky? Hell, no! Careful planning and execution, you mean,” Jomo told him.
Fifteen minutes of driving gave all of them time to calm their nerves down. Then Sara spoke up.
“What are you going to do with us?” she asked.
“Well, honey, I told Tawny here that I was going to hold her for ransom,” O’Connor said. “Maybe we’ll hold you, too. Got anyone who will pay to get you back?”
Sara said nothing. Glancing in the rear view mirror, O’Connor could see that Tawny was not buying the ransom story. Sara maybe, but Tawny was smart enough to know that one of the first rules about kidnapping for ransom is not to let the victim see your face. Having taken the masks off told her that either they did not plan to let either of them live after the ransom was paid, or that ransom was never the plan in the first place.
He could see the doubt in her lovely blue eyes, and could almost read her thoughts. If not ransom, then what?
They drove on until they came to a road leading off to the northwest. The roads there were paved but hardly superhighways. Still, they were making good time in an attempt to get away from the scene.
“These handcuffs hurt my wrists,” Tawny said.
Neither of the men said a word, which spoke loudly enough that they did not care if the handcuffs were painful or not.
In the back seat, the two women were exchanging looks that told of their fear and their love for each other. It was hard to miss that these two really did care about the other.
Finally, O’Connor turned down a side road and stopped behind some tall bushes. Both the girls tensed up. What would happen now?
“We’re going to change your restraints,” O’Connor informed. “Word of your kidnapping will get out soon enough and the authorities will be looking for you two. So leaving you just sitting in the back seat is not a good idea.” He unlocked Tawny’s ankles and told her to get out. As she stood beside the Range Rover, Jomo opened the other door and did the same for Sara. Both women were brought around to the back and the hatch opened. Inside, was a wooden box marked “shovels”. Next to it were a dozen five gallon metal petrol cans. Jomo began taking the gas cans out. When enough space was emptied to fit another box like the first one, he stopped.
From the bag with the handcuffs in it, O’Connor had taken a length of white rope, relatively thin and made of soft nylon. But before binding Tawny, he attached the pair of handcuffs onto her ankles again. “Just to make sure that you don’t try to kick me and run when I take the handcuffs of your wrists,” he told her.
Next to her, Jomo had done the same to Sara.
O’Connor must have had experience at binding women with rope, because he placed the rope upon Tawny’s arms expertly and quickly. Before she could realize what was happening, her arms were being bound behind her with the elbows tightly together. He added another rope around her waist and arms, pulled tightly to make sure her arms were welded to her back.
Jomo was following and doing the same on his captive. He might not have the experience O’Connor did, but he watched and learned quickly. When he was finished, the bondage might not have been as tight or precise but it was quite adequate to keep her helpless.
They slid the box out and rested the end on the ground. The lid came off, revealing that the inside held not a single shovel. The two men lifted Tawny off her feet and set her inside the box resting on her bound arms. Before the lid was put on, O’Connor pulled a red rubber ball out of the bag. It was just small enough to push into her mouth to serve as a gag, secured in place by winding of gray duct tape around her head. Silenced in that manner, Tawny was looking more afraid than she had at any point in her kidnapping. Being handcuffed was one thing, but now she was tightly bound with ropes, gagged effectively, and being shut into a box.
The lid fitted on perfectly and was quickly nailed down. Then they shoved the box back into the Range Rover. Inside, Tawny was breathing heavily and very much afraid. How would she breathe? As it turns out, easily. They had cut air holes in the sides, but she had not seen them. From within the wooden boxcame faint whining noises. O’Connor slammed his fist against the end of the box and told her to be quiet. The whining ceased.