• Crime
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Detective Susan McDonnell was in the middle of a case report when her desk phone rang.

"Detective McDonnell," she answered, anxious for a reprieve from the drudgery of paperwork. "How may I help you?"

"Are you the officer working the Domingo case?" the female caller asked.

McDonnell almost dropped her pen. "I am," she replied. Franco Domingo was a major player in much of the south side's drug trade. They had managed to arrest him on a minor charge, but if they didn't come up with anything concrete before his arraignment hearing tomorrow, they would have to let him go.

"What if I told you I could provide you with some handwritten ledgers that would be very incriminating?" the woman asked.

"I'd ask how soon you could come to the station and if I could buy you a present afterward," replied McDonnell only half-joking. "That's exactly the sort of thing we could use right now."

"No way," said the woman. "Franco's got people everywhere, and I'm not exposing myself like that."

McDonnell sighed. Then she got an idea. "Which part of town are you in?"

"The southwest side."

"Okay," said McDonnell pulling out the safehouse address book, "we've got a witness safehouse at 7802 Rochester. Are you familiar with that area?"

"Roughly," answered the woman. "I can probably find it."

McDonnell looked at the property photo and remembered the last time she was there. "It's a two-story, red-bricked townhouse right across the street from a Korean convenience store. The curtains are this awful, Astroturf-green color. Honestly, you can't miss it."

"Sounds positively hideous," said the woman. "I'm sure I can find it."

"Great," beamed McDonnell. "Can I get at least a first name? I don't want to keep referring to you as 'potential witness'."

"It's Julie," answered the caller. "What time?"

"Give me two hours or so to get the keys and get down there," replied McDonnell, looking at the clock. "Say four o'clock?"

"I'll be there," said Julie, hanging up.

Well, that was a bit abrupt, thought McDonnell. Oh well, if this on the level, this is the break we've been waiting for. She gathered her things and rushed to the Chief's office. She gave him a quick run-down, and he wrote up an order for her to get the keys to the safehouse. When he asked if she needed backup, she said she didn't want to scare Julie off.

Once she procured the keys, she was on her way.

Yeesh, this place is uglier than I remembered, thought McDonnell as she walked up to the building. She unlocked the deadbolt and stepped inside.

No sooner had she kicked the door shut, when a gloved hand clamped over her mouth and another grabbed her left arm and wrenched it behind her back. McDonnell reached for her gun, but a man in a blue ski mask darted from the other side of the room and grabbed her right arm before she could get to her holster.

The man behind her spun her around and pinned her chest against the wall while the second man pulled her right arm behind her back, crossed her wrists, and proceeded to loop rope around them. McDonnell tried to kick at her attackers, but she couldn't get any power behind her legs with her knees against the wall. She felt several knots being tied, and as the blue-masked man relaxed his grip on her arm, she realized her hands were now useless.

Blue Mask reached into his jacket pockets and pulled out a rag and a roll of duct tape. McDonnell's eyes widened as the man behind her shifted the hand covering her mouth down under her chin and squeezed into her cheeks, which forced her mouth open. Blue Mask stuffed the rag into McDonnell's mouth and the hand forced her jaw closed over it. Blue Mask tore off a strip of tape and sealed McDonnell's mouth closed. He followed it up with two more strips, and McDonnell found herself effectively silenced.

As McDonnell complained through the gag, Blue Mask knelt down and began tying her knees together. Once her knees were hobbled, they turned McDonnell around and she now saw the first man who grabbed her was wearing an orange mask.

McDonnell winced as Orange Mask reached inside her jacket. He removed the gun from her shoulder holster, so at least he was keeping things professional. That didn't stop her from giving him a dirty look and unintelligibly calling him a nasty name, however.

Unphased by her dissatisfaction, each man grabbed an arm and half-led/half-dragged her into the living area where a pair of wooden chairs were arranged across from one another. They sat McDonnell in the one facing the entrance, and Orange Mask held her down while Blue Mask took a long length of rope and wrapped it over her torso and between the back slats several times before tying a knot off. With the remainder, he pulled it down to her wrists, circled them once, and took the rest down between the chair legs where he crossed her ankles and tied them together.

Satisfied she wasn't going anywhere, the men returned to the foyer, presumably to wait for Julie. McDonnell could hear them making idle chatter as if this were just another day at a normal job. Frustrated, she tried squirming loose, but found that no matter how she struggled, the rope tightened at one end or the other, depending on where she concentrated the force. After several minutes, she realized she wasn't getting free on her own accord, and for now she would just have to wait.

After a while had passed, she heard a knock on the front door, and frantically renewed her struggling. The person outside knocked a second time, at which point she heard the front door being flung open and a small scuffle ensue. McDonnell could only assume it was Julie getting the same treatment she herself had received earlier.

Orange Mask and Blue Mask appeared moments later, leading a short brunette bound nearly identical to McDonnell's own predicament. The two made eye contact, and mutual looks of despair passed between the two women.

Julie's expression flashed between fear and disappointment as she was tied to the other chair. McDonnell could only imagine the conversation they'd be having if they were able to speak.

Blue Mask double-checked McDonnell's bindings and turned to Julie. "You should have known the boss's pockets go pretty deep. I guess you put your trust in the wrong people."

He took out a mobile phone and dialed a number. When the other party answered, he said, "Both parcels are acquired and packaged. When and where would you like them delivered?"

After listening for a few seconds, he replied. "Okay, we'll be here. Just let us know."

Hanging up, he turned to Orange Mask. "He's is in a meeting, so we need to sit tight for a bit." He looked at the two women. "Although not quite as tight as these two."

The men laughed and walked into the kitchen area, where McDonnell could hear them raiding the refrigerator and making several rude comments about how they would like to "handle" the merchandise themselves.

She sighed and looked at Julie, who was still halfway between fear and anger. McDonnell couldn't blame her. Julie had contacted her looking to do the right thing and expecting protection in the process, but they had failed her right from the get-go. She tried wriggling free of the ropes again, but the results were the same as before.

A short eternity later, McDonnell heard a phone ring and Blue Mask pick up. He listened for a minute and confirmed the instructions. The two men walked back into the room.

"The Boss's son wants to see the both of you," he said. Turning to Julie, he continued, "You, because he wants to know what you were thinking and how much you were planning on passing to the cops." He turned to McDonnell. "You, because he wants to know what, if anything, the cops have on the Boss so far. Also, since neither of you is hard on the eyes, he might have some other plans for you."

A chill went up McDonnell's spine. Being captured and interrogated was one thing, but if it went further than that...

Blue Mask went on. "To make it easier on us, though, we're going to have to keep you ladies even quieter than you are now."

Orange Mask took a rag and a small vial from his jacket pocket. McDonnell reeled as she recognized a bottle of chloroform when she saw it. As Orange Mask poured some of the chemical on the rag, McDonnell began her struggles anew.

He clamped the rag over Julie's nose and leered at McDonnell as Julie tried to escape the sedating fumes. "Hard to watch, isn't it," he asked, "especially when you know you're next?"

It was less than a minute before Julie's head bobbed forward, and Orange Mask stood up. McDonnell's muffled pleas fell on deaf ears as he stepped in front of her and pressed the rag against her face. She tried to hold her breath, but the sickeningly sweet odor wafted up her nostrils, and her vision dulled before going black.

McDonnell's eyes shot open despite the pounding headache and the aftertaste of the chloroform in the back of her throat. It took a brief moment to realize where she was, which surprisingly wasn't bound and gagged in the Domingo house. Instead it seemed she was in the back of an ambulance.

"Just relax," said a voice to her left.

She turned, and it was a paramedic looking over her vitals.

"What... where...?" she tried to ask.

"I can't fill any details in before we got here, but we got a call a while ago about an officer and civilian needing assistance," he said. "The other girl got a bit too much sedative and is pretty sick, but otherwise, the two of you are fine."

Relieved Julie was okay, McDonnell laid back. The chief must have decided to send in some backup after all, and fortunately they arrived before she and Julie were taken away, otherwise...

McDonnell shivered. She didn't want to think about what could have happened had things gone decidedly different.

The End

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