(It's supposed to be Amateur - i can't spell, lol)
When Steph regained consciousness, her first though was that she had died and was in purgatory or something.
Then she recalled being drugged and having the gag forced into her mouth. Screaming at her friends to run and leave her. She was glad they had listened.
Steph sat up, making her head swim nauseously. Blinking rapidly, she tried to make sense of her surroundings.
From what she could see in the greenish light the room was bathed in, the walls were black with damp and slime, and the floor was no better. There was a small grate up to her left, which let in a certain amount of light and offered absolutely no escape route. She was lying on a worn mattress in one corner, the sort you get in ancient caravans. Dripping water somewhere reminded her of something they had learnt in class about the Chinese Water Torture, and she could see why it was so effective.
Drip. Drip. Drip. Like a clock counting the days, hours and minutes left until she died.
For she would die. Despite her natural optimism, she knew who had captured her and why. She knew he would not let her go alive.
The room itself was large, which was probably what made it so cold. And the smell! It was like a blocked drain, but intensified. It could be bloody anywhere. Only two things were certain. It was underground, and it was not exactly the standard of a five star hotel.
Steph looked around for any sign of a door, any indication of an entrance. It was hard to tell in the green half-light but she thought she could make out a dark rectangle in the wall immediately in front of her, as though something had been placed over an opening. She could see the lines of light which came with ill-fitting doors.
Suddenly, she perceived shadowy figures outside the opening. A mans’ bulk blocked out the sliver of light on one side of the door.
There was a loud creak as whatever had been placed over the opening was removed. The shadow of a large man filled the opening. Reflexively she shrank back, wrinkling her nose in faint disgust as the sliminess of the wall at her back. It felt like leaning against a wet slug.
The man approached her slowly. He was followed by a second man, of slighter build, but no less threatening. As the half light fell on their faces, she recognised the two men from the alleyway.
And behind them, the man they worked with.
He looked different from his photographs, although she supposed that was the point. Robyn had been right. His head was shaved and he was thinner and less brawny than he had been, but it was still unmistakably the same man.
He came right into the room and looked at her hard.
“So it is you,” he said. “I thought Sparks was having a laugh.”
“That’s me,” said Steph, sounding braver than she felt. “The proverbial bad penny.”
He laughed menacingly. “I send these two out to look for four brats barely above school age and they come back with only one. But what a find!” He crouched down so she could smell his breath. It was worse than the smell of blocked drains, the breath of someone who not only smokes and drinks, but hasn’t washed for a while and has no intention of doing so for the next month at least.
“We just can’t stop running into one another, can we?” he said, in a friendly tone. It made her feel physically sick.
“You set us up.” It wasn’t a question.
“And you walked straight into it,” he said, still in that friendly, polite tone. “It’s a pity you’re friends ran off though. They could have saved us time and energy by coming quietly.”
“And I’m bloody glad they didn’t,” said Steph viciously.
“Would like to save the time and energy by telling us where they are?”
“Fuck off,” Steph snarled. Adrenaline was giving her confidence; though her heart was pumping so loud she thought anyone above her could surely hear it clearly.
“That wasn’t a question, Stephanie. Will this change your mind?”
His hand ran gently up her left side until it reached her breasts. He began teasing them, playing with them. Steph bit back a scream of terror – she knew this would only make things worse.
The surge of terror caused her survival instincts to kick in. Frantically she kicked him away and bit down hard on his arm in same second.
Rabman let out a bellow of rage and pain and swiped her hard on the side of her head, so hard that she flew about two metres across the floor and succumbed once more to the delicious black abyss of unconsciousness.
* * *
By the next morning, all of us were starting to feel the emotional strain of what was happening. I was making crazy plan after crazy plan in my head, Alex was just sitting on the sofa, eyes closed, looking like he hadn’t gotten much sleep. And Freddie – Freddie was pacing, jiggling, tapping his feet, unable to keep still. He did this for so long I almost wanted to scream. I still couldn’t quite believe that Steph wasn’t just sleeping in late, that she would come through into the sitting room and ask us cheerfully what breakfast was. Which was why Freddie’s pacing was driving me up the wall, because each time he re-entered the room I looked up hopefully, thinking it was Steph, and feeling crashing disappointment and fear whenever I saw who it was.
Finally, I’d had enough.
“Will you please stop pacing!” I cried in exasperation. “You’re driving me mad!”
“But you don’t have your driving test yet,” Alex muttered from the sofa, without opening his eyes.
I glared at him. “Ha ha. That’s not very funny.”
“Hey, just trying to lighten the atmosphere here.” Alex acted all hurt. On any other day I would have laughed with him. Not toady. Not with Steph in danger.
“She’s right Alex. You’re not helping.” Freddie flopped into a chair at the kitchen table.
“Sorry.” Alex sat up slowly. “You don’t think there’s anything in reporting her missing, do you?”
I shook my head. “I think if we try and involve the police we’re more likely to find her dead than alive. No, we’ve got to find her ourselves.”
“And how do you propose to do that, Sherlock?”
“I’ll think of something. I read too many detective novels for my own good.”
Freddie groaned suddenly.
“How the fuck did we go from GCSE – level schoolchildren to amateur investigators in the space of one night?” he asked into the table top.
“Being in the wrong place at the wrong time,” I replied shortly.
“The point is, not that we’ve got to find her, we know that already. We need a plan of action.” Every single day I thank the stars for Alex’s level head.
“No shit Sherlock.” Freddie was still in a foul mood. I couldn’t blame him.
“Any ideas? Anyone?”
“Aw, c’mon, we can’t be that stuck,” I said. “There must be something.”
“We could always check out his accomplices,” said Freddie, seemingly glad to be doing something positive.
“Why?” asked Alex.
“Because we virtually ignored them during the previous investigation and know very little about them,” he replied, as though it were obvious.
The internet service at the flat is a bit slow and outdated, but it works – just about. I made us another cup of tea while Alex, who’s the computer geek among us, tried to get the Internet to work without freezing every five minutes. Eventually we got onto Google and from there to the BBC news website. There was a special link to the ongoing rapists investigation. It was big news. Even the USA, who had left it down to us Brits last time, were more interested now that he was out of the old lock-up.
It took about five minutes just to load up, but once we got there we found reports of sightings, Rabman’s past victims and then what we were looking for – a piece on his two accomplices.
The results were chilling to say the least. Jason Sparks, the man who had lured us down the alleyway, had been sent to prison for three counts of murder and four counts of sexual assault over a period of two years. Neil Attock, his friend who had been following us, had been charged with and convicted of indecently assaulting at least three teenage girls in various different places, and a spate of burglary’s across West London. And that was before they had met Rabman in jail six years previously. “You can see why they get on so well, can’t you,” said Alex dryly.
The article went on: The police first found that Rabman, Attock and Sparks were working together after the three of them were released in the same year and went straight back to their lives of crime. The prints and semen of all three were discovered on and inside the body of Amy Andrews in 2005.
“Poor Steph. What the hell are those bastards doing to her?” said Freddie, sadly.
“I don’t particularly want to think about it,” I replied.