"Mmmmmgg hhhmmm" Sam grunted.
"Phhhmmm tttrrrmmm" Alex groaned.
"Mmmmmppphhhh ggggrrrrmmm" Clover growled.
Yet with the red rubber ball gags wedged between their teeth and fastened behind their heads with leather straps that was about as far as their conversation got.
Rogerson hadn't been lying when he said he was taking them to his insect house. One by one they had been escorted to the mansions basement, and taken to a room that resembled the bug house exhibits more commonly found at Zoos. The room was shaped into a large square, and embedded into the walls were a number of glass cases. Inside each of them was a habitat specially designed for each of the creatures that inhabited it. The girls had spotted a small swarm of locusts, a menacing black coloured scorpion, a pair of massive goliath beetles and to Alex's horror, suffering as she did from arachnophobia, a large hairy tarantula trying to crawl up the side of its glass case. The biggest exhibit however, a rainforest environment big enough to fit several people inside, appeared to be empty.
Yet the first thing they had all seen upon entering was the row of five high backed chairs bolted to the ground in the centre. They quickly guessed this was where all the missing staff had been taken before their disappearance. But they were all powerless to prevent the tape being removed from around their bodies, before they were forced to sit in a chair each and were subsequently bound to it.
Sam glanced over at Alex sitting on her left, still in her red cheongsam dress, and Clover just beyond her in her maid uniform. Then she looked down at the ropes wrapped around her green ball gown, pinning her to the seat. They had all been bound the same way, their wrists pulled behind the chair back, crossed over each other and tied together. Ropes encircled their upper bodies above and below their breasts and around their waists. These ropes had also been pulled around the chair back pinning their bodies and arms to the seat, and more was fixed over their laps and under the chairs. Their ankles had been tied together with rope running underneath their high heels, and their legs tied above and below their knees. As an added piece of security, a long piece of cord had been fixed to their wrists, pulled to the crosspiece under the chair and wrapped around it, before being tied to their ankles, securing both sets of limbs as one unit.
Once secured the tape over their mouths had been cut away, yet before they could barely utter a word they had ball gags jammed into their mouths. Then after checking their bindings would hold them the goons had left the girls alone in the room with only themselves and the creepy crawlies for company.
Sam groaned and shifted a little, trying to make herself more comfortable. Her green opera gloves gave her arms and wrists some protection from the biting ropes, but not much. She had struggled with all her strength to free herself but she was unable to get loose on her own. With the chairs bolted to the ground it was impossible to move over to her friends to attempt to loosen each other's bonds. She stamped her feet in frustration, telling herself that they had got out of worse situations than this before, even though she was struggling to think of many.
Alex moaned softly. The bugs all around her were creeping her out and she was unable to prevent the drool forming around her ball gag from dribbling down her chin and onto her dress. She couldn't help wondering what kind of psycho held people captive in a room filled with such horrible animals? But more to the point why was Rogerson buying tonnes of insecticide when it was now apparent that he was fascinated by these creatures?
Clover had only just woken up from a very uncomfortable nap, and had resumed her struggling upon waking to find herself in the same predicament. She wondered how long they had been down here. They had lost all track of time but it must have been hours since they had been trussed to these seats. She thought of Penelope and hoped that somehow her disappearance would prompt her to get help, but it was a long shot. Chances were by the time any meaningful help arrived there would be nothing left of them to be saved.
All the three spies could do was squirm a little and wait for someone to visit them. They didn't have long to wait.
A large wooden door with iron hinges opened and into the room stepped Rogerson. He was now dressed in a pair of beige trousers, a white shirt with a silk scarf tucked into the collar and a blue coloured gillet. Once again his pet stick insect Richmond was perched on his left shoulder, and he continued to stroke it affectionately as he paced in front of the three spies like a lion inspecting its prey. The girls stared back as defiantly as they could. They wanted him to know that they were not quite broken yet.
"I hope you three are continuing to enjoy my hospitality" he smiled.
"YYYYMMMM CCRRRRMMM LLLMMMM MMMMPPPHH GGMM" Clover tried to shout at him.
"Wha-what was that Clover my dear? No defiant retort or humorous quip? Maybe you can give me one if I get that gag out of your mouth..."
With that he walked behind Clovers chair and unfastened the strap behind her head. The instant she felt the ball being released from her mouth she shouted "I said let us go you creep!"
Laughing Rogerson remarked "pretty tame insult when compared to some directed at me from others in your position my dear." Alex was next to have her gag removed, and was followed quickly by Sam.
"Whatever it is you're planning it won't work" Sam told him firmly. "When we don't check in our boss is going to..."
"Hold up a second. You mean you don't know what I'm planning yet?" Rogerson asked. When his question was confirmed by the three girls silence he clapped his hands and said "well this is a surprise isn't it Richmond? I knew I was one step ahead of secret services but I never imagined by how much."
"We know you've been ordering large quantities of insecticide" said Alex.
"...And then what?" asked Rogerson, outstretching his hand as he invited them to put the pieces together.
"Why would you order so much? I thought you liked bugs" Clover asked.
"Insecticides are not just harmful to bugs. In the right quantities it can be harmful to much, much bigger animals as well" explained Rogerson.
Suddenly Sam gave a gasp as she realised what his plan was, remembering the plans of the London sewage network that she had found in his bedroom shortly before being captured. "You can't" she breathed in disbelief. "Rogerson you simply can't put those chemicals into the London water supply! Think of all the people who could become ill drinking contaminated water!"
"Oh not just drinking water" said Rogerson, as if it were the most natural thing in the world to be explaining. "People will be showering and bathing in it, watering their plants with it, washing their clothes and dishes with it, even making cups of tea with it. There are over eight million people who live in the Greater London area, and all of them will be exposed to my chemical cocktail."
"That...that's horrific!" breathed Alex. "How could you even think of placing the lives of millions of people in danger?"
"Because humanity is a cancer that is slowly infecting everything that is beautiful about this world. We all deserve to pay for the damage we have caused in our ignorant attempts to make ourselves more comfortable. Nature cannot deal with the strain being placed upon it by large cities such as London, so I intend to release nature from some of its burden!"
The three girls looked at each other in horror. They had had to deal with some real whack jobs in their time but what Rogerson was planning was truly evil. It also filled them with a fresh pang of fear, because if their captor had no qualms about poisoning the inhabitants of a major city, he certainly wouldn't have any problems in dealing them a similar fate.
"You won't get away with this Rogerson!" Clover shouted at him.
"Oho and blondie wins the 'you won't get away with this' competition" Rogerson hooted as he walked behind her. "And her prize is to be the first one to be re gagged!"
"No don't you even think of dddgggggmmmmm!" Clover began, but was cut off as Rogerson once again forced the rubber ball back into her mouth.
"Personally I think a ball gag really suits you my dear" Rogerson smirked as he buckled it behind her head. "I think your two friends look smashing with them as well, wouldn't you agree?"
"No" Alex murmured fearfully. "You already have us prisoner where no-one can find us, why do you have to gag us?"
"For no reason other than my own amusement" Rogerson said as he advanced on her. "Now open wide!" Alex moaned as her gag was reapplied, and barely struggled as the straps were tied around her neck. Then Rogerson arrived at Sam, who stared at him with defiant eyes and kept her mouth firmly shut. "If you won't open up it will be your friends who suffer, not you!" Rogerson told her. Sam responded with an angry tut, before opening her mouth as wide as she could. Soon she too had been re gagged.
Beginning to pace in front of them again Rogerson said "you must realise now there is nothing you can do to stop my plans now, so I suggest you sit back and continue to enjoy my hospitality. Take care you three; I'll see you again once I've changed the world. Come along Richmond!"
The three spies 'mmppphhhdd' as much as possible but could only watch as Rogerson left the room and closed the door behind him. They then struggled and twisted against their bonds with a renewed vigour, desperate to stop this madman from completing his plan. Yet the ropes remained snugly tied around them, and one by one they gave up. They didn't want to admit it, but the situation for them looked utterly hopeless.
"Blimey Penny you look shattered. Did you get any sleep last night?"
"Only about five hours. Doesn't help when you're due to be serving tea and crumpets eight hours after serving at a banquet."
Barry gave Penelope another quick glance over the steak sandwich he had placed on the heated counter. The raven haired girl was fixing her apron around her waist having just started her shift as a waitress at the estate cafe. She was dressed in exactly the same maid outfit as last night, black with a white lace trim, black nylons and dark ankle strap high heels. As she fixed her dark headband in her hair she gave a yawn, as if trying to confirm how tired she was.
"Yeah well don't worry, we shouldn't be too busy today" Barry remarked, taking a quick look outside as the rain continued to fall.
"What hospital did Clover get taken to last night again?" Penelope asked suddenly.
Alarm bells ringing in his mind Barry replied "oh er, St Georges I think."
"Weird, when I couldn't get hold of Clover I called them up to ask how she was doing, and they said they had no record of her ever arriving at their hospital last night."
Barry nearly dropped the saucepan he had picked up. This hadn't been part of the plan. "It's probably a mistake. You know how big St Georges is."
"But she hasn't replied to any of my texts."
"Is that really that much of a surprise?"
"I've only known Clover a week, but each night she's bombarded me with about twenty texts. It's really strange her just going silent like this."
Barry felt his stomach begin to do cartwheels inside him. He had always liked Penelope, not in a physical way but she was a nice, sweet natured and intelligent young woman. The last thing he wanted was for her to get involved in all this. "Listen just leave it Penelope. Clover wasn't badly hurt and I'm sure she'll get back in contact with you when she's ready. Would you mind taking these out to table six please?"
Penelope paused briefly, before she replied "yeah I'm sure she's alright." She then picked up the two steak sandwiches and walked through the double doors taking them out into the restaurant.
The rest of lunchtime passed by without incident. Barry was right in the sense that they weren't busy, and by three in the afternoon the restaurant was almost deserted. At quarter past Penelope came into the kitchen to announce she was going on her break. As he watched her step outside via the back entrance Barry began to feel nervous once again. He knew it had been a risk taking those three spies prisoners so quickly, and it was natural some people were going to get suspicious. He needed to make sure however, so after wiping his hands with a tea towel he announced he was going for a cigarette, and made his way through the same exit Penelope had just gone through.
She wasn't by the back door as he passed through it. Quietly as he could Barry made his way along the edge of the building. When he heard a female voice talking just beyond the corner he stopped dead, in order to listen to every word she said.
"Hello this is Penelope Smith...yes I'd like to report a missing person. Her name is Clover...she disappeared from a night function at Rogerson manor that we were working at last night and I haven't heard from her since... yes I think it might be linked to those other disappearances...you'll be half an hour...yes I'll see you then."
Barry then heard the sound of high heels clicking off of the pavement, before Penelope came round the corner and almost ran straight into him. "Sorry Barry!" she said nervously "I didn't see you there."
"Yes Penelope, I'm sorry too" Barry replied grimly. And as she tried to walk past him he grabbed her by the arm.
"Barry, what the hell are you doing?" she cried, trying to wrench free from his grip.
"Something that I wish I didn't have to resort to" Barry told her as he reached for the radio tucked into his belt. He turned it on and said into it "Lord Rogerson, I'm afraid we may have a problem."