Authors: Graham Smith
Caffeine Nights Publishing
Snatched From Home
Fiction aimed at the heart and the head...
Published by Caffeine Nights Publishing 2015
Copyright © Graham Smith 2015
Graham Smith has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1998 to be identified as the author of this work
CONDITIONS OF SALE
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, scanning, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher
This book has been sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental
Published in Great Britain by Caffeine Nights Publishing
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data.
A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
Cover design by
Mark (Wills) Williams
Everything else by
Default, Luck and Accident
To Helen and Daniel. I could never have achieved this without your support.
Without delivering an Oscar style speech, there are an awful lot of people who have helped me to get to this point. From the early writing classes I’ve attended, the friends I’ve made both online and in person, the whole community of crime fiction writers have been supportive and have welcomed me into their ranks. Special mentions of course must include Darren Laws of Caffeine Nights who has shown great faith in me, the team behind him, Chris Simmons at Crimesquad.com and Matt Hilton, Michael Malone, Sheila Quigley, Col Bury, David Barber and the whole Crime and Publishment gang for their friendship, advice and unconditional support. My sincerest thanks to you all, I just wish I could find the right words to say how deep my gratitude is.
Graham Smith 2015
Snatched from Home
‘When I come home late at night, don’t ask me where I’ve been. Just count your stars I’m home again.’
Guns N’ Roses
Victoria Foulkes’s head snapped up when she heard the crunch of her husband’s nose being broken. The next sound to assault her ears was him crashing to the floor. Heavy thumps followed, as a large man wearing black clothing and a latex Tony Blair mask dragged Nicholas into the lounge. He was followed by an even bigger man wearing an Elvis mask and carrying a holdall.
Victoria rose to her feet and squared up to the masked intruders fear somersaulting her stomach. ‘What’s going on? What the hell do you think you’re doing?’
Elvis was about to speak when screaming and shouting pierced the house. A series of thuds on the stairs preceded the Foulkeses’ children being ushered into the lounge by two men sporting masks of Barack Obama and Hannibal Lector.
Seventeen-year-old Samantha was clutching a strappy top in one hand while covering her bra with the other. Victoria guessed Samantha had been trying on various outfits in preparation for the date she had tomorrow night.
Her brother, Kyle, clung limpet-like to her back, his Mario Kart T-shirt belying his tender age.
Victoria pushed her children to the far side of the room and asked the men what they wanted.
Elvis answered, his accent holding a deep Lancastrian twang. ‘We’ve come to collect our money from Nicky Boy here. He owes us ninety-five grand.’
‘Don’t be silly. He doesn’t owe you or anyone else anything of the kind.’ Victoria turned to her husband who sat on the floor nursing his shattered nose. ‘Tell them, Nicholas. Tell them they’ve made a mistake. Tell them that you don’t owe any money.’ Victoria’s eyes searched her husband’s face looking for any sign that this was all a terrible mistake.
The way his chin dropped onto his chest made something inside her sink.
This can’t be true. There was no way he’s amassed such a debt without me finding out. It’s not possible.
Nicholas didn’t lift his eyes high enough to make contact with his wife’s. His body language shouted defeat. His head dropped to his chest and his shoulders began to shake as sobs wracked his body.
Victoria fell to her knees and with a tenderness she didn’t feel, lifted his head and forced eye contact.
‘Is it true, Nicholas?’
Unable to speak, he nodded his head, tossing droplets of blood from his nose onto her knee.
Victoria slumped beside her husband soaking up his aura of despair as his blood stained her tights. Her mind raced with thoughts of denial.
This can’t be happening. It must be a nightmare. I’ll wake up any second. Nicholas will start laughing and tell me it’s all just a joke.
Nicholas found his voice. ‘I thought my debt was eighty-five, not ninety-five grand?’
‘There’s an extra ten grand for operational costs.’
Victoria’s brow furrowed ‘Why do you owe them so much money? What is the debt for?’
Nicholas didn’t answer so Victoria flicked her eyes towards Elvis.
‘He’s been playing cards with grown-ups. Unlimited games of poker is where the debt is from.’
Pushing disbelief and panic down with a determined gulp, Victoria looked up at Elvis. His rubber mask was undeniable. A part of her brain told her this was not a nightmare or a joke. It was real, and it was happening right here in her home. Swallowing hard and working her tongue around her mouth, she forced herself to speak. ‘We can’t pay that amount to you today. We’ll need time to re-mortgage the house. To get a loan. To raise the money.’
‘It’s not that simple. Nicky Boy has been stalling us for months now, and it’s time he paid up. What we’re gonna do is this, we’re gonna take something very dear to him with us, so that he gets us our money.’
Elvis clicked his fingers, prompting Obama and Lector to brush Victoria aside. They grabbed Kyle and Samantha, then made for the door, dragging the struggling children behind them.
Blair took a large knife from the holdall he was carrying and held it against Victoria’s throat.
‘Hey, kids.’ Samantha and Kyle stopped trying to escape their captors long enough to look at him. ‘Be quiet, or else Mummy here gets a new necklace.’
Victoria felt tears filling her eyes as she begged Elvis not to take her children, but her pleas were ignored as she watched them being loaded into their van.
Elvis pushed Victoria across the room before pulling a lance-like implement shaped like a putter from the holdall and displayed it to Victoria and her weeping husband. ‘D’you know what this is?’
Nicholas was too absorbed by his own private hell to answer. Victoria shook her head wondering what the strange tool had to do with their children being taken. Her tears were blinked away as she sat stony-faced and broken-hearted. Her opaline eyes flickered between the lance and Elvis.
There were two pipes, which made up the shaft, and at the end they were fitted into a nozzle that stood out at ninety degrees from the lance.
‘It’s an oxyacetylene torch, used for cutting metal. It can slice through steel, so imagine what it will do to your children if you don’t pay up on time.’ Elvis gave them a minute to digest the threat, then putting the oxyacetylene torch back in the bag he asked Victoria for her mobile number.
‘No. Don’t hurt my kids. They’ve done nothing wrong.’
‘Make sure you and your husband get us the fucking money then. Now give me your mobile number.’
Victoria recited her number to Elvis with defeat weighing heavy in her voice and heart. She rose to her full height and, with arctic fury, tried one last tactic. Her arm extended until a mauve fingernail pointed at Nicholas. ‘Take him. He’s the one who owes you money. Hurt him, not my babies.’
‘Believe me, I would love to take him. But I doubt you’d pay us a penny to get him back after what he’s done. All I want is the ninety-five grand by midnight next Friday. ’Sides, you’ll likely need his help, or at least his signature to raise the money in time.’
Victoria felt her composure shatter and she rounded on her husband with a bitter rage fuelling her actions, kicking at him where he lay on the floor.
‘What have you done, you stupid bastard?’ A kick landed in his midriff doubling him into a foetal position.
‘If anything happens to my babies, I’ll bloody well kill you!’ The next kick hit his raised legs.
‘How could you run up such a debt and not tell me? How could you be so stupid? What the hell got into you?’ Victoria took careful aim and scored a direct hit on Nicholas’s balls, causing him to scream in agony. As much as she wanted to punish him, she knew she could never inflict upon him the level of pain she felt. Her heart had been pierced by a frozen stiletto. Her brain turned into mush as disbelief and denial battled the memory of her children being led out of the door.
Elvis caught Victoria by the shoulder. ‘Stoppit.’
Seeing he had her full attention he laid down his terms. ‘If you call the police, your children will lose a limb each. If you fail to pay us on time, they’ll lose an arm
‘But that’s only a week. We’ll need more time than that to get that much money.’
‘Sorry, lady. Your husband has been stalling us for six months. You should be grateful the boss isn’t charging him interest as well as costs.’
Elvis turned on his heel and strode out of the room with a final warning not to contact the police.
Victoria dashed to the window and watched Elvis climb into a van parked in front of their house. The van turned out of Park End Road onto the A66 towards Cockermouth and Penrith.
Grabbing a pen and paper, she wrote down the van’s registration number although she knew she didn’t dare call the police. The consequences of a botched rescue attempt were unimaginable.
Her stomach roiled like a stormy ocean, as her body succumbed to the numbing effects of the nightmarish situation. Her legs threatened to give way, forcing her to sit on the armrest of the sofa.
Surely this can’t be happening? My children have just been kidnapped from under my nose, taken as collateral against my husband’s debts. This is Workington, for God’s sake. A sleepy town on the edge of the Lake District. This kind of thing only happens in places like New York or Las Vegas.
She turned to face Nicholas, feeling nothing but contempt for him, for the tears of self-pity staining his cheeks. ‘Get up, you useless lump. You’ve got some explaining to do and then we’ve got to work out a way to pay them, so we can get Samantha and Kyle back unhurt. So help me God, if anything happens to them, I’ll… I’ll—’ Nicholas’s protested apologies cut off her threat, but she slapped his face. Anger fuelled her every word but Elvis had been right. She would need his help raise the money.