Tuesday 15th August 2o23
“In recent news, a young girl has been found dead in the toilets of Cargo, a nightclub in Shoreditch. Her autopsy reported high levels of methadone in her blood. The Police have previously commented that this drug can be found only in possession of an underground drug circle based here in London. They ask that any and all individuals with information about this group come forward.”
He ignored the news in favour of burying his hands in his hair trying to pull it out. Too much shit went on in the world for to try and figure out how much to care anyway so wouldn’t it just be easier to focus on the problems he could actually deal with?
For example the huge stack of coursework that needed to mark within the next 24 hours. If he’d known how much marking teachers really had to do over the holidays, Gabe would have chosen an easier job. Like plumbing.
“Fuck!” He whispered harshly. Staring at it wasn’t making it go away. Nothing would. It needed to be done but he was gonna ignore it - ‘cause that was what he did best.
Instead, he lit a cigarette and moved to the balcony of the flat. It was a shitty place; the paint was chipped and it had smelt like piss when he’d first got here but it wasn’t like he could afford anything better.
He’d just managed to light the damn thing; the cold air making his balls freeze but Gabe had needed to smoke too badly to care. And then his phone went off.
He took it out, trying to get the screen to open but his hands were too cold. Gabe groaned in frustration. What the fuck was wrong with London that it was so god damned cold in September?
He blew into his hands to warm them up enough to open the text and nearly laughed in relief.
Gabe...party at Regent’s Street. Starts at 10.
He looked through the glass windows - the coursework still visible from the balcony and it made his mind up instantly.
He didn’t have to teach first period anyway so what did it matter if he was a little late?
His head was pounding and his throat felt dry. Gabe really, really didn’t want to get up but there was a bright light in his eyes and someone was mumbling around him. “Oh my head. What time is it?”
“Who the hell are you?” Someone was screeching right near his ear and he sighed.
Well now he really didn’t want to open his eyes. Please god, please! Without opening his eyes Gabe answered the banshee. “Yeah I was wondering the same thing. Also wondering why you were in my flat. Fucking leave already.” The last part was mumbled and he moved his hands so he could place them under his head but couldn’t.
That sent an alarm to Gabe’s whisky brimmed brain.
“What’s going on? Who are you all?” And if that inability to move his hands wasn’t a warning then the very young sounding voice did.
Gabe’s head snapped up to where he heard the voice and they focused on a small tanned brunette girl.
He frowned. Why was she in his flat?
He hadn’t slept with her had he? Oh fuck no - that couldn’t have happened. She looked twelve! He wouldn’t!
Then another voice was added to the goddamn mix and he was even more confused. “Oh good, you’re all awake now.” He sounded old. Gabe turned to look at the owner of the voice and found he was right.
The man was old - at least sixty. He had grey hair that peppered a few black locks but he looked too miserable to be anything other than some arrogant dick grandad.
“What the fuck kind of party was I at?”
“Oi - I know you!” Another voice. This time it came from an Indian man with one of the stupidest haircuts Gabe had ever seen. It was some sort of gangster wannabe shit but it made him look like a prick.
Grandpa was talking to him again but Gabe hadn’t heard it. He’s been too busy trying not to laugh at the Indian prick.
“Huh?” He asked.
“We might be able to call for help.” Grandad told him. Gabe looked at him and didn’t know what the hell he was talking about.
Then banshee stepped in and her voice made him cringe from the ever growing headache. “And why would we want to call for help?”
“Because I think we’ve been kidnapped.” Grandpa said. There was a beat where everyone was quiet.
The Indian burst out laughing, his head almost falling forward in the seat he was in. Now that Gabe thought about it, why was he in a seat?
The Banshee said something and then tried to stand up but immediately fell back into her chair crying in pain. “What’s on my legs?” She asked in a whining tone.
Gabe winced again. She needed to shut up. She really needed to shut up.
“We’ve been cuffed to the chairs.” Grandpa said, and Gabe looked towards his feet. Well shit. He’s right.
Though why they were cuffed to chair was beyond him. Gabe looked at the old man, he really looked. Because he was starting to get a bit worried now, and apparently the old man had been awake long enough to figure this out. So why wasn’t he worried?
“We’ve been cuffed?” The girl asked. The old man nodded firmly and she looked like she was about to faint.
Gabe tested the strength of the cuffs but failing to see or feel any weaknesses, he stopped. It was rubbing against his leg, chafing at the skin and at the moment, it probably wasn’t a good idea to be doing that.
The Indian laughed again. “Man, he’s really gone all out for this one.” He was looking around the room - the very white, pristine, almost clinical room as if to look for cameras. “Nice one!”
Who was the ‘he’ anyway? Cause if the Indian guy knew whoever was doing this then he had some messed up friends. Banshee seemed to have the same opinion as Gabe because not a moment later she snorted. “Look I don’t have time to sit around here while you play your stupid games. I don’t need to be here. Who the hell are you anyway?”
“Me? Oh Mo. Nice to meet you.” He reached over the table offering his hand to the Banshee but she only looked at it, not touching it. Mo Pulled his hand back, shrugging and began rocking on his chair.
The room almost echoed with the creak-creak of Mo’s rocking and Gabe was finding it as annoying as the handcuff on his feet. Why would you do that anyway? Why not rope or god-damned - he looked at Mo again as there was a particularly loud creak and thud as he almost fell off his chair.
“Stop messing around!” Grandpa shouted, getting slightly red in the face.
Mo stopped rocking and gave a mock salute. “Sir, yes sir!” It only made Grandpa go redder, Gabe noticed. But he disregarded it opting to instead try and get the hell out of there.
“Come on man,” he said, trying to loosen the bonds again. “Get us out of here. I’m missing a paid work day.” Okay so that wasn’t exactly true. He could call in sick of course but it might have served to drive home how much time they were wasting here. It wasn’t like he wouldn’t get his arse handed to him anyway. He hadn’t called in sick.
“Dad’s gonna be so worried.” The girl moaned next to him. He looked at her; up close and not as fuzzy she didn’t seem as young as she had before - but she was still younger than him marginally.
The banshee was now thoroughly pissed off it seemed because she rounded on the girl and looked at her with such a withering glare Gabe was sure she would crumple into a pile.
“Oh shut your whining. How old are you anyway? Wasn’t that party way past your bedtime?”
The girl glared at her. “And what about you?”
“What about me?” The banshee asked.
Yeah, Gabe thought. What about you? “Did you bribe the bouncer or just suck him off? I can’t imagine he knew what grandma wanted at the party.”
Gabe did nothing to hid the snort and only raised his eyebrows when the banshee whipped her head around to glare at him. It didn’t last long because soon she was hissing. “You little bitch! Didn’t you mother tell you children were supposed to be seen and not heard?”
“No. She didn’t.”
Mo whistled lowly. “Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.”
“Shut up all of you!” Grandpa suddenly shouted startling them all momentarily. “This isn’t a game. I wasn’t at a party and neither was Rose.”
Who was Rose? Gabe looked over to where Grandpa had motioned and saw a small ball of cotton shaking slightly. He leaned over more and saw a mess of black curls but nothing more.
So that was Rose.
“Someone broke into our homes, knocked us out and brought us here! Now check your god-damn phone to see if we have a signal!”
“Why don’t you just use your phone?” Gabe rolled his eyes. What, was she a child? She was petulant enough. He smirked at the comment the girl had made. While she wasn’t the oldest out of the six of them - that title went to Grandpa - she was certainly a lot older than the rest of them.
The old man didn’t even dignify her question with an answer.
“What about her?” Gabe, who had been trying to find his phone and then repeating every swear he knew under the sun in his mind when he couldn’t find it, looked up to see Mo pointing at the unnaturally quiet Rose.
She started fidgeting under all their gazes and lowered her own. “I don't have it.” She muttered quietly.
“No I meant how did you get here?”
“I – I was asleep I think. I don’t know.” Right. She didn’t know. So why did he think she did?
But he wasn’t going to voice those opinions. No Grandpa seemed pretty damn protective of Rose so trying anything was going to cause trouble. Not it was best at the moment to find his phone cause then maybe he’d be able to call...someone to get him out of there.
He rooted around in his pocket again. Maybe it was in the other one. How had he lost his phone? Well no that was pretty easy but he was sure he had it on him when he’d gone to the party and why would Mo’s friend take their phones if this was only a joke?
He patted his chest pocket and rolled his eyes when he felt the familiar rectangular shape. “Found it.”
“Give it here.” Grandpa ordered. Gabe snorted and kept his phone in his hand.
“I know how to check if there’s a signal on my phone - there isn’t one.”
“Show me!” He ordered again. That was annoying him now.
Gabe looked at his phone and then back at the old man. He seemed to religiously believe if he looked at the phone then it would magically get signal. Fine. Whatever made him stop the fucking ordering. “Knock yourself out.”
He tossed the phone to him and then waited. The sigh signalled Gabe was right and he held his hand out for his phone cockily. “Told you.”
“Hey,” everyone turned to the girl. Her green eyes staring at her feet. “Aren’t these cuffs plastic?”
“They feel like it.” Banshee muttered. Gabe sighed. He had been enjoying the silence way too much to be healthy at this moment.
“So then can’t we cut them?” The girl asked.
“Not unless you have anything to cut them with.” The old man said gruffly. Gabe’s eyes flicked over the group to see if he saw any recollection in their eyes. He saw one.
“Not even a nail file bondie?” Gabe asked. She turned to look at him pouting.
“No.” She said. “My niece bent it. Stupid brat.”
“I have a knife.” Mo said. Gabe turned to look at him as he shuffled around in his pockets before taking out an army knife. “Surprised you didn't have one Tom. You seem like the kind of guy that would.
“What are you talking about?” Grandpa asked. Gabe wondered when Mo had even found out his name. Hadn’t they all woken up around the same time? Also if this was some elaborate prank then what would be the point of - well whoever giving them the chance to escape.
Or maybe that was part of it. Maybe there were cameras recording them for some reason.
“Why didn’t you get that out earlier!” Banshee shouted angrily, watching as Mo stood up and stretched.
“Forgot.” Mo said.
“You forgot?” She asked. “You forgot. Give it here you twat.” She was practically huffing in anger as she placed her hand out for the knife.
“Woah - ladies first.” He handed it to the girl and she thanked him.
The knife was passed around and Gabe grabbed it as soon as he could. He sighed in relief as the cuffs came off and the circulation returned to his leg. He stood up and started walking around some. It felt good to be able to walk and with his headache clearing somewhat, it made it easier to look around the blindingly white room.
There wasn’t much to go on. There was the table and chairs that they’d been sitting on, a shelf and a door. That was it. Though there was a box under the table that Gabe picked up.
He set it on the table near Rose and she looked at it. Gabe turned it around and tried to open it but it was locked. He frowned. What was going on?
There was movement near Gabe and he turned to look at it. Tom was moving towards Rose. Tom looked at Gabe with some out of place look. Gabe ignored it. Tom bent down so his back was to him and moved closer to her ear. Gabe assumed that he was saying something to her and so strained his ears to try and hear but he couldn’t.
Rose nodded and followed Tom as he stood up and moved towards the door.
“Won’t the door be locked?”
Tom stopped. Gabe saw his eyes steel over and become determined. “If this is just a prank then all they want to do is scare us. They’ll let us go.”
“What if it’s not?” Gabe asked. Tom didn’t stop this time but Rose paused for a second. She turned to him and blinked. Gabe saw that question in her eyes. Something told him she was far more worried about this being real than anyone else was. But why?
Tom slowed down momentarily because of Rose but was still making his way towards the door. “Don’t worry kid. It’s not.”
He was at the door by now and turned the handle. The door opened and Tom turned around and smiled. “See.” He said.
Gabe had plenty of time to warn Tom, he had. But that wasn’t on my mind. By the time the gun shot could be heard, Gabe was as far away from Tom as he could have been. It was far enough to be away from the danger but it didn’t stop the blood hitting his face.
He was looking at the body falling to the floor by the time the screams echoed throughout the room.