He was sure that Emma Watson would love him if she’d only give him a chance

Alan Wrenshaw sat down at his computer, nudged the
mouse and his monitor flared into life. He sat back and
stared at the screen for a moment or two, considering
the best way to elicit the information he needed.
Perhaps, he thought, the best way to start was the most
obvious. He pulled the keyboard towards him and clicked
on the Google icon. Immediately, the opening screen
appeared and he entered “Emma Watson” into the search
box. The result was instant. A new screen appeared
labelled “Results 1 10 of about12,900,000 for Emma
Watson.” Swiftly, Alan added “Contact Information” to
the search enquiry and 19 new results appeared.

Clicking on the first one, he discovered the address of
her American Agent but also a Production Office address
in Hertfordshire. The site also warned that any e-mail
addresses he might see listed were like to be phony or
long since abandoned. Checking all the other websites
yielded no better information so he copied down the
Hertfordshire address and sat back in his chair.

Even a cursory glance at his room would have shown that
he was a Harry Potter fan but a closer look would have
suggested that, more accurately, he was a Hermione
Granger fan. It would be difficult to explain his
obsession with Hermione’s portrayer in rational terms
but the fact was that he felt an affinity with both the
character and the actress who were, in his mind,
virtually identical. Like Hermione, Emma was pretty,
intelligent but somewhat more amusing than her alter
ego. Not surprising since, in real life, Emma had no
Voldemort seeking to eradicate her from the face of the
earth.

Obsessions tend to form when someone has few close
friends and a lot of time to brood. This was certainly
the case with Alan. He was best described as “scrawny”,
virtually unmemorable and certainly not even on the
fringe of the “in crowd”. It wasn’t that girls didn’t
like him so much as they barely noticed that he
existed. Nor did he have anything in common with the
sports-loving, girl-chasing, weekend-boozing jocks who
made up the vast bulk of his male schoolmates, although
“mate” was a distinct misnomer in his case.

Not that Alan wasn’t smart. He was. In fact, his I.Q.
was way above average and, like many of his generation,
he had been brought up with computers. It was to these
that he devoted a great deal of his spare time,
shutting himself in his room most evenings and
weekends, while his single mum did the household chores
or collapsed, exhausted, into an easy chair to watch
television after a hard day’s work. Usually she would
fall asleep there and Alan would have to wake her to
get her to go to bed.

Alan’s natural aptitude for computers and computing
soon led him into increasingly dubious areas of
exploration. Always a loner, he never attended any
hackers’ conventions but learned his quite exceptional
skills from extensive reading and experimentation. Nor
did he intend to draw attention to himself but doing
anything malicious. For him, the thrill was to bypass
the most skilfully designed protection programmes, gain
illicit access to locations, examine those items that
were of interest to him and then get out of the site
totally undetected. Thanks to the amount of time he’d
had on his hands over the months, he had become very
good at it… no, he had become one of the best out
there and that was saying something. Most important,
because he had no desire to boast of his hacking
accomplishments, he was unknown to that tight
fraternity.

At first, he had tackled the relatively easy stuff,
looking at the contents of fellow student’s computers.
If blackmail had been his thing, he could have made a
lot of money because he quickly discovered which of the
girls were having sex with who, which of them were
putting on strip-shows for their boyfriend using their
webcams, which of the guys and girls were secretly gay,
and so on, However, he preferred to keep this knowledge
to himself, building up little private dossiers against
future need. Only once did he ever use what he knew.

It is not uncommon for nerds to be bullied and Alan
would not have escaped that fate but for the fact that,
when Jackson Keane started to give Alan a hard time
after school one day, the usual precursor to physical
violence, Alan quietly informed him that if he or any
of his chums ever laid one finger on him, he would
release the proof he was holding that Jackson was
screwing his own thirteen year-old sister. Jackson was
so stunned that Alan would know this, and so scared
that he might tell the authorities, that he never went
anywhere near Alan again and he made sure that all the
other jocks in the school were warned off as well.

Now, eighteen months later, out of school finally, and
gainfully employed as a programmer for a software
company, Alan’s hacking skills were about as good as
they get. In other areas, though, he was totally naive.
At eighteen, his hormones were fully active and the
fact that girls generally ignored him did not mean that
he was not seriously attracted to a few of the better-
looking girls that he had known at school or who worked
at his office. When he wasn’t making surreptitious
forays into the archives of major institutions
worldwide, many an evening would find him beating his
meat over pictures or video that he had collected on
one or other of his hacking sorties into the computer
of his latest fancy.

Of late, however, his interest in them had waned in
favour of Hermione/Emma. He collected every picture he
could find of her, watched every interview taped with
her and read every article written about her. He formed
the view that, unlike the girls at his school and work,
most of whom were proving to be sluts, Emma was the
genuine article …pure, unsullied, intelligent… in
short everything he could wish for in a girlfriend.

He dismissed reports of her having a lover, preferring
to accept her statement that the males in question were
“just good friends”. So, as far as he was aware, she
was available. He did not kid himself that she would
immediately be drawn to him. He was self-aware enough
to know that, if he was to make any impression on her,
it would have to be a meeting of intellects first and
then, when she realised what a loving individual he
would prove to be, she would, he was sure, recognise
that they were, in fact, soul-mates. After all, what
girl could resist a genuinely heart-felt confession of
eternal love. “I just have to find a way to have her
get to know me,” he reasoned. “Perhaps the best way
would be to write to her.”

The idea of a letter had a lot of appeal because it
gave him the chance to polish it until it was perfect
before he sent it. Hence the fact that he was sitting
at his computer making a Google search for an address
where he could reach her. Writing to Emma care of a
production office was not ideal because he didn’t want
anyone but Emma reading the letter but as he had no
alternative, he figured that he would seal the letter
in a envelope with just her name on it, include a stamp
and a covering letter asking someone at the Production
Office to forward it to her.

It was the writing of the letter that took the time
because it had to be exactly right, He made several
starts. Would being funny get her attention …but then
she might think the whole letter was a joke. Trying to
be too cool could also backfire because she might not
think him serious enough. In the end, he decided that
simple, sincerity was best. He wrote a draft, edited
it, rearranged it, tweaked it until he finally had it
the way he wanted it.

Dear Emma,

You don’t know me, and I won’t claim that I am your
biggest fan because I know that you have millions of
fans all around the world.

What I will claim, though, is that no one admires you
MORE than I do. The difference is that I know you
better than most of us do. I know what makes you laugh,
I know what music you like to listen to, what fashions
you like to wear. I even know a your favourite colours
and foods.

In other words, I know that I would be a perfect friend
for you because we have so much in common, Oh, and we
are the same age too. How perfect is that?

I know that you are famous and and I’m not but I read
that, when you are not filming “Harry Potter”, you like
to be as normal as possible so I think it could work
out really well.

Anyway, all I wanted to ask was that we might just go
out one day, just for a walk or something, so that we
could talk and so that you could see for yourself just
how well we would get on together.

I hope that you will write back soon.

Your soon to be (I hope) very good friend,

He signed it at the bottom and mailed the it. He tried
to calculate how long it might take before he received
a response and finally figured about three weeks might
be reasonable. In that time, he continued researching
Emma so that they would have plenty to talk about when
they went for their very important first walk.

His letter reached the Production Office and was
promptly passed on to Emma’s Agent who passed it on to
the Administrator of her official website who scanned
it. “He can’t be serious,” she thought and tossed it to
one side onto the pile that should receive a standard
response. As a result, about four weeks later a letter
addressed to Mr. Alan Wrenshaw dropped onto the front
door mat early one morning. Fingers trembling, Alan
tore open the envelope and read the single page.

Dear Alan,

Thank you so much for your very kind letter and I am so
pleased that you enjoy the “Harry Potter” films. They
are great fun to make.

As you will have read, we have all signed on to
complete the series and, by the time you read this,
will be back in the studio working on the next one.

I hope you will continue to watch them and thank you
again for writing.

Love,

The signature, “Emma”, had been machine generated but
it looked so authentic that Alan told himself that she
had actually signed it. He was puzzled, however, that
she had not suggested a time that they might meet. On
the other hand, if all the “Harry Potter” cast was
going back into the studio, it was likely because she
was going to be too busy for a while. But at least, he
had broken the ice and she now knew that she had a
soul-mate out there. She had even sent him her love so
she must have been impressed with his letter. Still, it
would be good if he could get to talk to her and just
confirm that, when she finished filming, they might get
together for an afternoon.

Two weeks from then would be Emma’s eighteenth birthday
and maybe that would offer an opportunity. He kept a
watchful eye on the papers and, in one of the more
gossipy tabloids, spotted a short paragraph that said
the Emma Watson was rumoured to be celebrating her
birthday at Automart Club and Restaurant. This could be
perfect. He checked the address and then went to the
local Hallmark store where he spent a lot of time
picking out a birthday card for her. Finding a present
was the hardest thing.

What could he buy a girl who was just about to be given
control over more than 10 Million? He settled for a
small locket on a 14 carat gold chain. Once the two of
them were together, there was room inside it for a
picture of each of them. He had it gift wrapped and
tried to wait patiently for the big day, April 18th
2008. Actually, her birthday was the 15th but she was
filming that day and the celebration had been saved for
the Saturday.

Going into London for the evening was no trouble for
him. He simply took the train up from nearby Chertsey
Station. Arriving in Mayfair late in the afternoon, he
took up a position in a coffee shop across the road
from the club from which he could keep a close watch on
events. Late evening saw a number of paparazzi show up
outside the club. There was no mistaking them.

They all knew each other and stood around, smoking and
talking, their cameras dangling from one hand or slung
around their necks. With the paparazzi’s arrival, a
small contingent of police officers appeared and some
good-natured exchanges took place, with the newsmen
being urged to keep back far enough not to impede the
flow of pedestrians and the normal comings and goings
from the club.

The sight of the two groups milling around the Club’s
entrance caused a small crowd to start gathering,
curious to see who was arriving or leaving. The police
were non-communicative but one of the press guys let it
be known that “Hermione” from “Harry Potter” was
expected and an instant buzz started. Other people
began to stop and hover. By the time that Alan had
found the waitress, got his bill and paid for his tea
and snack, he found himself in the rear of the crowd
who were now being held at bay by the police. Ten
minutes later, a car and a limo drew to a halt outside
the entrance. Four fairly hefty, muscular types got out
of the car and stood close to the entrance, surveying
the crowd. Obviously, the studio or someone from Emma’s
entourage had provided some security. One of the
security guys went up to the limo and opened the door.

A couple of Emma’s friends got out first as cameras
began to flash. Emma started to slide forward on her
seat, ready to get out. The cameramen went crazy.
Dozens of flashes lit up the area and kept flashing
as she stepped out of the limo wearing a sweet, black,
short-skirted cocktail dress. The small crowd cheered
and clapped. “Happy Birthday, Emma”, several of them
called. She stood for a moment, smiling and gave the
crowd a little wave.

Alan was clutching his card and gift but found himself
being jostled by new arrivals of passers-by who were
now trying to see what was going on. He tried
frantically to push through to the front row. “Emma,”
he called out, “it’s Alan. I’m over here.” Whether or
not she heard him in the hubbub is doubtful but it did
so happen that she looked in his direction for a
fleeting moment and then turned on her heel and with a
final wave, disappeared into the club. The security
detail closed ranks and that was that. They would
remain there until whatever time she decided to finish
partying and then ensure that she got safely home.

Alan was shattered. All that effort, all that time, the
thoughtfulness of his letter, the card and present that
were still clutched in his hand, all for nothing. After
all, she’d clearly heard him because she’d looked right
at him. And then, having encouraged him by sending him
her love, she’d just ignored him. Everything he thought
he knew about her was suddenly reversed. She was, it
appeared, a heartless bitch who, now that she had
money, had no time for the likes of him. He brooded
along these lines all the way back to Chertsey. Maybe
she got a kick out of setting people like him up
because he was quite sure that there were lots of
people like him.

Well, of course there were. The Internet was full of
fan groups who were sending her letters online,
swearing eternal devotion. Alan was contemptuous of
these types because they had not taken the trouble to
even find an address at which to write to her
privately. Besides, their letters were, in most cases,
barely literate and they certainly had not taken the
time to research Emma’s likes and dislikes as he had.
There was no way that they were worthy of her. As he
continued to consider what had happened earlier that
evening, Alan began to feel humiliated. It was not the
first time he’d felt like that but this was the
occasion that hurt him the most deeply. He spent a
restless night, tossing and turning, stewing over
Emma’s rejection of him.

The following day delivered the final blow. “Emma
flashes her Crotch, – See Page 3” screamed a banner
above the headline on the tabloid that his mother read
daily. He turned to page three and there was a picture
of Emma either getting out or getting back in to the
Limo. Her short black dress had ridden up and,
according to the report, had shown that she was wearing
see-through panties that showed her… well,
everything. The picture in the paper had masked the
area in question. In total disbelief, Alan rushed to
his computer. The gossip sites were full of it. There
were even uncensored pictures and, sure enough, there
was Emma’s crotch on full display through her panties,
her dark pubic hair clearly visible.

Alan reeled back from the screen, stunned. He had been
such a fool. He had thought her totally different from
the harlots at his school who enjoyed flashing their
stuff for the boys but here she was, out in public no
less, and flashing everyone who cared to look. She was
a slut just like the rest of them; just like Paris
Hilton, Brittany Spears and Lindsay Lohan who went out
in public with no panties at all and made sure that the
paparazzi got a good view.

Then he remembered an interview that he had seen in
which the interviewer has asked Emma about her reaction
to seeing Daniel Radcliffe totally naked on stage in
the play “Equus”. After she had confessed to giggling
mightily in embarrassment, the interviewer had asked
her if she would have done an equivalent role. “I’d
like to think I would have done. Not that I want to get
naked but I hope something like that will come along.
That’s the plan anyway.”

At the time, Alan had dismissed her response as a way
of disarming the incivility of the interviewer. “I
mean,” he thought, “what sort of question is that to
ask a minor?” Now, he was not so sure. Did she really
plan to have “something like that come along.” Alan had
seen the pictures of Daniel on the net …totally naked
and his thing hanging there for the world to look at.
It sounded as if Emma was eager to do the same thing.
Hadn’t she already done a “nude” scene in the film
she’d made about ballet. Well, she had, sort of, but
you couldn’t see anything of course. It was just a way
these gossip websites had of attracting hits “See Emma
Watson nude” and there were obviously an awful lot of
people out there who would like to see Emma naked.

With this realisation came another thought. What if
there was a way that they could? What if “innocent
little Emma Watson” could be made to show herself
totally naked to the whole world? Wouldn’t that be
humiliating for her? Wouldn’t she feel as humiliated as
he felt now after her rejection of him? Wouldn’t it
serve her right? But how could it ever be achieved?
He’d seen how carefully the studio guarded their
investment and figured that it would be an impossible
task to get near her directly so was there another way?
He went back to the Internet again and started doing
some more digging. The first thing he found was an
article about Emma being stalked at her school. Well,
that’s what was claimed. It turned out that the guy was
an over-zealous fan who had approached her at an open
lecture. Naturally, he’d been pounced on …but it did
give Alan an idea.

By the end of the morning, he had a whole bunch more
information and a very rough, ill-formed plan. It
needed a lot more work but it had some promising
aspects to it. He started listing the things that he
would need to put it into operation, all kept in a file
so carefully encrypted that it could not be opened by
anyone but him. He would need an excuse for being away
from home for up to a week, maybe ten days.

He would need a space to keep people where nobody would
be able to find them for about four days. Those were
the hard problems to solve. Oh, and he’d need to find a
van from somewhere. The rest of the things he needed
were fairly easy to find. He knew how to drive but,
this close to London, he didn’t need a vehicle. But he
was planning to visit Oxford so he would need the van
for that… preferably a nondescript vehicle that no
one would notice particularly.

First then, a hiding place. It should be remote but
fairly easy to reach for him – a seemingly impossible
combination. His normal mode of transport was his
bicycle, with public transport as a backup. Right now,
though, the bike offered him freedom of movement over a
reasonably wide area and a chance to think while he
rode. So it was that the next Saturday afternoon, he
set out for a ride to mull over the general strategy
that was coalescing in his mind.

Within a short time of leaving his Chertsey base, while
riding down a road that ran parallel to the river, his
attention was suddenly caught by a stretch of open land
beyond which a fair number of pleasure-boats were
moored up for the winter. They were lined up in a
boatyard situated on a body of water that looped off
the main river. He left the road and cycled across the
rough ground to take a closer look. These particular
craft were traditional “Longboats”. Some were privately
owned and had been converted from old working barges.
Other were custom-built for the summer holiday crowd
who loved the romance of cruising the old waterways at
4 m.p.h., the maximum speed permitted. What all these
vessels had in common was that they were closed up for
the season, and would likely remain so for another two
or three months.

He had always known about the pleasure craft that used
that stretch of river for mooring but, until that
moment, they had never registered deeply with him. Now,
however, a thought struck him. He stopped and found a
spot on the bank where he could sit for a while. The
road was several hundred yards away, and the access-way
alongside this section of the basin showed no evidence
of walkers since most preferred the established
footpath on the opposite bank.

The collection of boats here presented real
possibilities for solving Alan’s most difficult
problem. In the end, he sat for over an hour and never
saw another living soul. He figured that it was quite
safe, therefore, to go closer and look around. He spent
another twenty minutes examining the moored vessels.
They were all locked up but, peering through the cabin
windows, he confirmed that all had kitchens, showers,
cooking facilities, bedrooms, etc., …perfect for his
needs. He cycled back home in a very cheerful frame of
mind, determined to revisit the boats next day, but
better prepared.

On the Sunday, he gathered what he needed into a small
backpack and set out fairly early in the morning. He
made a short stop at a hardware department of a large
store in the local Mall, and was soon back at the
boatyard. As on the previous day, the yard was
deserted. He, nevertheless, put his cycle out of sight
in a covered storage area.

The longboats were moored, it seemed, on a “first-come,
first-served” basis. The first vessel was moored along
the dock with subsequent arrivals being moored
alongside the previous one and all parallel to the
first. This meant that to access any particular vessel
except the first, you had to clamber across the first,
and any others in between, or row a skiff to the back
of the barge you wanted and climb up from the stern.

Alan chose to clamber over the intervening vessels. He
had chosen a boat that was approximately in the centre
of the group. For one thing, it was one of the newer
craft but, he reasoned, it also insulated him as far as
possible from both sides of the basin. It took very
little time for him to force open and replace the
padlock which secured the steel shutter covering the
rear companionway steps down to the cabin. He opened
the shutter and found that the conventional door under
it was not locked. He stepped down to the cabin level
and pulled the shutter closed again, just in case any
passer-by happened to notice it. It was highly
improbable but why take unnecessary risks?

Once inside the cabin, he was pleasantly surprised by
how well-fitted these boats were. He found himself in a
bedroom with two single beds . At present, the beds had
only mattresses on them as the bed linens had clearly
been taken home by the boat’s owners. No matter. As he
moved forward, he passed a tiny shower and toilet
facility and then moved into a second bedroom, this
time with a double bed. Forward again was a galley and
dining area from which another door led to a second set
of steps and one more steel shutter. Beyond this was
the small deck at the prow of the boat.

As Alan looked around, he decided that he could not
have found anywhere more ideal. The toilet was a
chemical one, the stove ran from bottled gas with a
universal connector, so he could pick up a supply
almost anywhere. There was storage space for food, even
a gas-operated fridge if he needed one. He spent an
hour making his preparations, then relocked the shutter
with his own padlock and scrambled back onto the quay.
Looking around again, he found electrical outlets in a
locked cabinet but the lock was designed to discourage
not prevent access so now, with a suitable length of
cable, he could have electricity should he choose.

Walking around to the far side of the largest building,
he found an office area with a sign on the door which
said “Re-opening May 31st.” That gave him a little more
than three weeks to accomplish his goal. From this
area, winding away across the far end of the waste
ground was a dirt road that led up to the buildings.
Collecting his bike, he followed this route, emerging
onto the road he had left earlier, but a little further
along it. The frontage was not fenced off but the
general state of the wasteland made this track the only
viable access for a motor vehicle. To discourage
illicit entry, there was a steel pole which pivoted at
one end so it could be swung upright to allow a vehicle
to pass. It was then dropped back down into a U-shaped
seating to close off the entrance. In this horizontal
position it was padlocked into place when, as now, the
office not open.

“Hmm,” thought Alan, “that means another visit to a
hardware store and another padlock.”

Having found an easy solution to what he thought would
be his hardest problem, he was having a good deal of
difficulty solving what he had expected to be a fairly
easy challenge… the van. He could hardly rent one at
his age and with his experience, quite apart from the
fact that it would create a paper trail that would
swiftly identify him. Borrowing one was equally
impractical for a similar reason. He had no intention
of being identified over this escapade. Stealing a van
was out of the question and buying one was beyond his
means. He pondered over the problem all of one day
without any answers coming to him. By the time he went
to bed, he had almost decided that his plan could not
fly and was thinking of abandoning the whole idea.

He slept fitfully for a long time, finally falling into
a deep sleep around three-thirty in the morning. He
woke with a start around seven and found that,
overnight, his sub-conscious had popped a possible
answer to his problem into his brain. The longboats
were only used seasonally. What vehicles could he think
of that were also only used for part of the year …and
the answer, of course, was ice-cream trucks. They plied
the streets during the summer months and were stored in
yards or lock-ups during the off season. It took very
little time for Alan to come up with a list of local
ice-cream makers and vendors. He located one, in
particular, in south-west London whose trucks he had
seen all over the home counties.

He considered several ways of obtaining the information
that he wanted, but opted for the easiest way for him
of locating where the company’s vehicles were to be
found. He hacked into their Accounts Payable files and
discovered a monthly rental fee being paid to a number
of storage facilities, including a yard in Wandsworth,
London, S.W. 15, with the address kindly provided. Alan
decided that he had nothing to lose by scouting the
place and, next evening, he took a train into town and
the tube to the nearest station. He discovered that the
“storage yard” was located down a side-street and was
not much more than a piece of waste ground surrounded
by chain-link fencing.

Even the gates were made of the same chain-link
material fixed to a metal pole frame held closed by a
piece of chain and the inevitable padlock. He looked
around carefully but saw no evidence of closed-circuit
cameras covering the site. He had seen a couple of
closed-circuit cameras on the main street but spotted
none on the side street and, more specifically, none
were evident overlooking the site where eight ice-cream
vans were parked side by side. There was nothing
remarkable about any of them. They were the basic box-
van with a sales window on one side, presently covered
by the roll-down metal shutter that was kept in place
when the vehicle was travelling.

Not wanting to look in any way suspicious, Alan
strolled past the yard slowly but his eyes noted every
detail. The lock was no problem. His choice would be
the fourth vehicle in the row. It was a little smaller
than some of the others so it sat back a little
further. If it were to be removed, it would not be so
obvious from the street that it was missing and,
hopefully, he would have it back in place before its
absence was discovered.

He continued down the side-street to the end where it
joined another busy road. There was a little cafe on
the corner. Alan went in and had a cup of tea. He
didn’t think anyone would have paid any attention to
him as he passed the yard but, just in case, the cafe
stop provided a “justifiable destination” and allowed
for his returning the way he had come and thus a second
look at the vehicles.

The pieces were now just about all in place. The
question was, did he have the bottle to carry out his
plan. He sat at his computer and did his last piece of
research. What he discovered convinced him that his
plan could work and so, next morning, he phoned in
“sick”, telling his supervisor that the doctor had
indicated that he would be off for about seven to ten
days. His supervisor sympathised with him and told him
not to worry. Alan suggested that he could, if it would
help, carry out some of his functions from home. The
supervisor thanked him and said that he would e-mail a
couple of projects to him to work on, as long as he
felt up to it.

With any luck, within the next week, Alan would have
achieved his objective anonymously and could slip back
into his normal daily routine with nobody being any the
wiser that it was he who had engineered what was likely
to be the most watched net-cast in history. He still
had some shopping to do and needed to be extremely
careful how he did it.

It was easy to design and print a letterhead for the
non-existent Chertsey Amateur Theatre Association. At
the head of the page, under the equally non-existent
address, he printed the heading “West Side Story Props
List” and typed up a long list of all the items that a
production of this popular musical would require,
ending with “Replica Pistol”. He then printed it off.
As the finishing touch, he hand-wrote a note at the
bottom.

“Michael, please pick up these remaining items for next
week’s dress rehearsal and bring me the bills. Thanks.
Sarah.” That done, he took a red pen and drew a line
through most of the props leaving just a few of the
cheapest and, of course, the replica gun.

With this list in hand, he travelled up to London and
visited a theatrical suppliers who were happy to help
him put together the few remaining items on his list.
He was a little concerned that he might have trouble
getting the pistol but, in the event, his cover story
must have passed muster because he was supplied with a
perfect plastic replica neatly packed in a cardboard
box without any question being asked.

He left the store with all his purchases in a large
plastic bag. Back home, he examined the replica gun.
The shape was right but it did not look very real. He
spent an hour with some painters’ tape and some spray
paints. When he had finished, the replica looked
totally authentic. He took the outer casing off one of
his computer tower units and placed the gun inside.
With the case back in place, it was completely hidden
and no one would think of looking for it there.

That evening, he told his mother that he was to attend
an advanced training course in programming, to be paid
for by his company, and that his hours would likely be
very erratic for the next few days.

“I may be getting home quite late some nights. I’ll try
not to wake you when I come in. In fact, I may even
stay away overnight if we finish late, so don’t worry
if I’m not in bed any morning.”

“Okay, dear,” she said. “I’ll see you when I see you
then.”

“That’s it, mum,” he said affectionately. “I’m off up
to the smoke tonight to meet with a couple of the
people who’ll be in on the sessions with me. Don’t wait
up. I’ll be leaving early tomorrow so I’ll see you at
breakfast.”

“Alright then. As a matter of fact, I’m quite tired so
I’ll probably have an early night. You have a good time
then, dear, and I’ll see you in the morning.”

She gave him a quick kiss and he went up to his room to
change. He put on black pants, black socks and a black
T-shirt. He pulled a white golf-shirt over the Tee, put
on a pair of dark, slightly worn, rubber-soled shoes,
one of three pairs that he had purchased at a thrift
shop earlier in the week for 2 a pair. Slipping on his
black leather jacket, he picked up his backpack, called
goodbye to his mother and slipped out of the house
quickly, before she could stick her head out of the
kitchen to reply.

Forty minutes later, he was back on the Wandsworth
side-street, walking briskly past the yard where the
ice-cream trucks still sat exactly as he had seen them
previously. He kept his eyes peeled for any sign of
activity. He saw none. The streetlights were on but
were well spaced so there were pools of darkness
between them. Lights were on in some of the buildings
but he did not see anyone visible through the windows
which overlooked the lane. At the far end of the
street, the cafe was closed but there was a pub
opposite so he walked across the road and went inside.
He was feeling hungry anyway, having missed his evening
meal.

Hardly a head turned as he walked in and up to the bar.
He did not want to be asked for I.D. by ordering
alcohol so he asked the girl behind the bar for a meat
pastie and a coke. She smiled her professional
barmaid’s smile, fetched him his order and, five
minutes later, could likely not have described him
except in the most general of terms.

“There are times,” Alan thought “when being instantly
forgettable is a bonus.”
He sat himself on a stool at one of the tables, facing
a wall, and ate his pastie. He took a few gulps of his
coke and then slipped into the men’s toilets. In one of
the stalls, he slipped off his white Tee and stuffed it
into his pack, from which he took out a pair of
surgical rubber gloves and some black woollen gloves.
He put both pairs on.

He did not intend to leave any fingerprints just in
case the van was missed before he could get it back in
the yard. Likewise, he intended to abandon his three
pairs of second hand shoes later so that any footprints
left behind in Oxford, in the storage yard or on the
waste ground around the boat basin could not be linked
to him or to each other.

Rooting around in his pack, he took out a bolt cutter
which he slid up inside his jacket settling the top in
his armpit. Slipping his pack over one shoulder, he
stuffed his hands in his jacket pockets and walked
quickly out of the washroom and out of the pub, if not
exactly unnoticed, then certainly unremarked and
instantly forgotten. Back on the side street, Alan made
his way a little more slowly towards the flimsy gate
that protected the ice-cream fleet. Still nobody was
visible.

At the gate, he halted and looked around. Nothing! He
slid the bolt cutter from his jacket and with one quick
motion, cut through the padlock. He put the severed
lock in his pocket and took out the replacement he had
purchased. This was the real gamble. As long as no one
came to work on any of the vehicles over the next few
days, they would not know that the lock had been
changed. If he managed to get the van back undetected,
he could remove his lock and just leave the gate open.
It would then most likely be assumed that vandals had
smashed the old lock, maybe to go joy-riding in one of
the vehicles.

He was now inside the yard and heading for the small
van that he had chosen on his scouting expedition. To
his amazement, the van door was not locked. It was
almost as if the company was asking for the vehicle to
be stolen. He climbed in and looked around. Behind the
two seats was a pass-through into the back of the van.
There was a refrigerated cabinet below the sales window
with cupboards on either side to house wafers, napkins,
plastic spoons and the like. The rest of the back area
was empty.

There wasn’t a lot of space but it was enough for his
needs and he was well pleased with his choice. Hardly
anyone would give a second glance to an ice-cream van
and the few that did would have no reason beyond a
subconscious tweak of their taste-buds to make note of
its passing.

He went back to the driver’s seat, prepared to hot-wire
the ignition but, for no reason that he could later
think of, decided to look in the glove-box to see what
paperwork was there. He pulled out a plastic wallet
containing a manual and registration information, and
heard something clink as he did so. Shining a small
torch into the glove box, he saw a key. Hardly able to
believe his eyes, he took it out and tried it in the
ignition.

It was definitely the right key. He could only surmise
that the driver had, at some time, had a spare key
made, in case he lost the original and then left it in
the glove box when the van was not in use. Shaking his
head at how dumb some people can be, he turned the key
and after a couple of false starts, the engine coughed
into life, spluttered a little and then began to run
smoothly.

Alan had learned to drive on a manual shift so the van
offered no problems to him. Leaving the lights off he
pulled slowly out of the rank of vehicles and turned
for the gate. Leaving the engine running, he got out
opened the gate, drove out, and then closed and locked
the gate behind him with his own padlock. He only put
the lights on when he reached the end of the side
street and joined the other traffic. With the dashboard
light now on, he saw that he had no more than a quarter
of a tank of petrol. He didn’t want to fill up at any
nearby station in case it was one that the drivers
habitually used, and where the vehicle might therefore
be recognised, so he waited until he was well over the
border into Surrey before finding a busy petrol station
where he pulled in to the furthest pump.

Thinking that a person dressed totally in black might
present a sinister and memorable image to the petrol
attendant, he put on his white Tee again before getting
out, filling the tank and paying cash for his purchase.
No debit card or credit card transactions to provide a
trail, he thought.

Reaching Chertsey, he stopped briefly a block away from
his home, crept down the side of his house, collected
his bike, stowed it in the van and then headed for the
boat basin where he cut the lock on the pole guarding
the entrance and drove the van to the back of the
office building. He parked it under the cover of one of
the open storage buildings, retrieved his bike from the
back and cycled back to the road, using yet another new
padlock to lock the pole down again.

As he cycled back home, he could not help smiling.
“Schlage is going to make record profits this year if I
have to replace any more locks,” he thought. By
midnight, he was in bed, his alarm set, and by five
past, he was snoring.

Next morning dawned bright and clear. He retrieved the
replica gun from its hiding place, revisited the Google
Earth site that he had researched previously and
printed the high-resolution picture of his destination.
Downstairs, his mother was bustling about in the
kitchen.

“Morning, Alan,” she greeted him. “Did you have a nice
evening with your friends?”

“Yes, Mum,” he said, kissing her on the cheek. “Great.”

“What time did you come in? I didn’t hear you?”

“You were fast asleep, that’s why. Not late.”

“Do you want some breakfast? Bacon and eggs?

“Sounds great,” he smiled. “I’ve just got a couple of
things to pack. I’ll be right back.”

“Alright, son,” she called after him. “Five minutes!”

Alan packed a few well-prepared items into his back-
pack and hurried through breakfast.

“I’m not sure if and when I’ll get home, mum. If I can,
I’ll be here at nights but it might be late so don’t
wait up, okay?”

“Alright, dear,” she said, kissing him on the cheek,
“Take care now.”

“I will, mum,” he said and hurried out to collect his
bike from the back of the house. He put on a pair of
thin latex gloves under his woollen ones, cycled to the
boatyard and collected the van, locking the access gate
carefully behind him. Ten minutes later, he was on the
M3 motorway heading west. He turned north on the M25 as
far as the A40 junction where he swung left. By late
morning he had reached his destination, the all-girls
school that Emma attended when she was not filming. His
research had shown him that there was a band of trees
on the far side of the school’s playing fields which
could be accessed from a side-road.

He parked the van on the hard, grass-covered verge
separating the side road from the trees and then placed
a reflective triangle behind the vehicle to make it
look as though it had broken down. He would have to
take a chance on someone stopping to help. Hopefully,
with no driver in sight, they would assume that he had
gone for assistance and drive on. In the back of the
van, he changed into his all-black clothing and stuck
the black balaclava in his pocket.

Making sure that nobody observed him, he slipped into
the trees and began to work his way slowly and
carefully towards the playing fields. The gardens of
some large, adjacent properties came close to the copse
but he had enough tree and shrub cover to avoid being
seen from them. The next part of his plan was largely
dependant on luck but he had reasoned that most schools
encouraged their students to get out in the fresh air
at lunchtimes and that there was, in his experience, a
good chance that a few of the students would take
advantage of the nearby sports fields to get away from
the crowd. He was prepared to return for up to three
days in a row if he did not succeed first time.

He need not have worried. Things could not have gone
more his way if he had written a script. He was safely
in position at the edge of the playing field by 11.30.
About 30 minutes later, he saw girls starting to mill
around outside the main building. Five minutes later, a
trio of the older girls started to stroll around the
outer perimeter of the field, engrossed in
conversation. There was a lot of laughter as they
meandered, enjoying the sun on their faces.

Alan had plenty of time to pull the balaclava over his
head, slip the replica gun out of his pack and check
them out before they reached the point at which he was
concealed. Looking across at the main building, nobody
appeared to be paying any attention to the girls who
were now fairly close. He saw that there was one girl
with mousy blonde hair and two dark-haired girls. All
were in school uniform. He allowed them to get within
six feet of him before he stepped into their path, the
pistol levelled at the head of the blonde.

“Don’t make a sound or I’ll shoot,” he growled.

The blonde was about to scream but the sound died in
her throat as he stepped forward and placed the barrel
to her temple.

Jerking his head in the direction of the trees, he
indicated that the two brunettes should go ahead, with
the blonde following while he brought up the rear.

“Remember, not a sound.”

As soon as they were safely out of sight of the school,
he halted them and then placed the blonde in front, gun
to her head and his hand on her shoulder.

“Follow us,” he barked to the other two. “One wrong
move, and you’ll none of you see tomorrow.”

Guiding the blonde by pressure on her shoulder, he led
the way back towards the van. When it was within easy
reach, he halted them. With the gun still trained on
them, he opened his pack and took out six lengths of
cloth. He screwed one into a ball and ordered the
blonde to open her mouth. She looked hesitant but
slowly did as he told her. He stuffed the balled up rag
into her mouth then handed one of the strips to the
nearer dark-haired girl.

“Tie this over her mouth… and make sure you tie it
tight. I’ll be checking.”

The dark–haired girl took the cloth with shaking hands
and placed it over the blonde’s mouth and wrapping the
tails end over end.

“Now, pull it tight,” Alan commanded. He saw the girl
tug on the ends.

“Good. Now knot it,” he added.

With the knot in place, Alan checked it and it seemed
firm.

He made another ball of rag and repeated the process
with the second brunette. He thought about how he could
gag the remaining girl. He would need both hands. He
told all three to lie face-down on the ground and put
their hands behind their backs. There was a little
shuffling as they sought to do so without their skirts
riding up.

Once they were all prone, Alan removed his woollen
outer gloves, pulled out a large roll of duct-tape and
bound their wrists tightly together behind them. He was
now easily able to gag the last girl. Finally, he
blindfolded all three. That done, he put his woollen
gloves back on over the latex pair, helped the girls to
their feet again and cautioned them to stand still
while he peeked out of the trees to see if anyone was
in sight on the side road. It was deserted. Swiftly, he
hustled the girls out of the woods and into the back of
the van.

He picked up the reflective triangle, jumped in after
them and pulled the door closed. The space was really
crowded but he had planned exactly what he would do. He
forced the girls to sit side by side with their backs
against the side of the van, their knees raised and
their feet against the freezer cabinet that usually
held ice cream. Wooden bars ran laterally over vertical
metal ribs, evenly spaced along the entire length of
the van’s interior similar to the inside of a removal
van. And, as in a removal van, this allowed a rope to
be passed behind the bar to secure items against the
wall.

Alan tied a rope at one end of the line of girls then
looped it around the first girl’s neck, back around the
bar, on to the second girl’s neck, round the bar again,
round the third girl’s neck and then gave a gentle tug
to ensure that all three could not move more than an
inch or two but were not actually choking. He wanted to
make sure that they had enough slack not to be
seriously uncomfortable but not enough to be able to
slide out of the restraint. Happy that they were
secure, he tied off the rope.

With the girls safely stowed, Alan went through to the
front of the van, pulled off his balaclava and started
the engine. He pulled a U-turn from the packed earth
verge onto the hardtop and jumped out, a stiff-bristled
broom in his hands. He went back to the verge and
carefully swept it to remove any tyre imprints that
might just possibly be linked to the van. The he jumped
back in and started back to Chertsey.

He deliberately went at the maximum the speed limit
would allow. He wanted to put as much distance between
himself and the school before the alarm was raised. He
figured that it would take time to discover that three
pupils were not in class. Then there would likely be an
immediate search of the playing field area. Only when
that revealed nothing, he reasoned, would the police be
notified. His reckoning was that he had an hour, maybe
ninety minutes before any sort of alarm was raised.

With no clues to aid them, no vehicle to look out for,
Alan would be some seventy miles away and it was most
unlikely that he would draw any attention unless of
course he was stopped for speeding. And so he drove at
the limit, meticulously signalling turns and lane-
changes, with the result that he arrived back at the
Chertsey boatyard just after dark. A few moments later,
he pulled into the pool of dark shadow inside the open
storage shed and switched off the engine.

From the passenger seat, he grabbed a couple of long
extension cords and a pry bar. He popped open the
cabinet housing the electrical outlets, plugged in one
of the cords and started crossing the moored barges
towards the one he had prepared ahead of time. He
needed to add the second cord shortly before reaching
his destination. Once aboard “his” boat, he opened the
steel shutter and the cabin door, took the end of the
cord into the engine area and connected the ships
lighting to the external supply. He was now able to
power the 40 watt bulbs that he had installed in the
light fixtures. This would provide dim illumination,
but sufficient for his needs. He had already blacked
out the windows so that attention would not be drawn to
any lighted windows in the boat in the event that
someone chanced to pass by.

Everything set, he went back to the van, donned the
mask again and released the neck restraints before
helping all three girls out of the van where they
stood, legs quivering from their cramped position on
the floor. He gave them a few moments to recover and
then, knowing it was going to be the most difficult
part of the entire operation, he helped them, oh so
slowly, move from boat to boat until he had all three
inside their new “prison”. They were still gagged,
blindfolded and terrified. He pushed them into the
forward lounge area and onto the seats. He removed
their blind-folds first and gave them a chance to
adjust to the dim lighting before addressing them.

“Now listen carefully,” he commanded. “In a minute, I’m
going to take out your gags. I expect you not to scream
but, if you do, I have to tell you that it is very
unlikely that anyone will hear you. All it will do is
piss me off and that would be a very bad idea …a very
bad idea indeed.

“The second thing you need to know is that I do not
mean to harm you unless you make me do so. If all goes
as I have planned, you will be home safe and sound with
your families in four days time. Any attempt to escape,
raise an alarm or interfere with my plan in any way
will change everything and I will no longer be able to
guarantee your safety or even your lives. Do I make
myself clear?”

One by one, the girls nodded that they understood.

“Right then. When I take out your gags, we will talk
about what is going to happen next.”

He walked round behind them and undid the knots and
pulling the rag balls out of their mouths. He set the
makeshift gags on the table in front of them so that
they could be re-used later. The girls’ hands were
still taped behind them, however.

“Right then,” Alan said. “I need names.” He produced a
pen and paper.

“You,” he said, pointing at the blonde. “What’s your
name?”

“Melanie Sinclair,” she murmured in a low voice.

“And you?” he asked, pointing at the girl in the
middle.

“Ashley Barton” she answered.

“You?” to the third girl.

“Sandra Mills.”

“Stand up, Melanie,” he ordered.

With some difficulty, Melanie pushed herself up off the
couch and stood in front of him. He looked at her
carefully, then walked around the back. She was wearing
a ladies wrist-watch. He took it off her wrist and then
walked back in front of her, holding it up in front of
her.

“This watch,” he said. “Who gave it to you?”

“My parents,” she whispered.

“How long ago?

“Five months… for my birthday.”

“Perfect,” he smiled. “Sit down again.”

She sat as he consulted his notes.

“Your turn Ashley. Stand up.”

Ashley stood. Alan studied her and saw that she was
wearing a gold necklace. He went behind her and removed
it, before waving it under her nose.

“And this?” he demanded.

“A Christmas present from my folks.”

“Excellent,” he said. “Sit please. And lastly, Sandra.”

Sandra struggled to her feet. He found that she was
wearing a distinctive ring on her right hand. It was
tight but he managed to slide it off her finger.

“Where did this come from?” He asked her.

“I bought it in Greece last summer when I was there
with my parents,” she said.

“Thank you, Sandra. Please sit.”

He collected the three items and, from his pack, took
out a 9″ x 12″ padded envelope which was already
stamped and addressed with a white, self-adhesive label
to the Chief of Police in Hertfordshire. Alan took off
his black woollen gloves, placed the watch, necklace
and ring in the envelope, peeled the paper covering the
adhesive strip and closed the envelope tight. No finger
prints and no saliva that might provide the police with
a clue or DNA sample.

“So here’s what is going to happen. I am going away to
post this right now so that it catches the last
collection. I want to remind you that, as long as you
do everything I ask, you will be back home in four days
time where you will get your belongings back. I am not
looking to rob you, simply to prove beyond a doubt that
I have you hidden away and that the police had better
do as I have asked.”

“What if they don’t?” Sandra asked.

“Then they have been told that the next envelope will
contain some body parts… an ear maybe, or a finger.”

There was an involuntary gasp from all three girls.

“So, now, I am going to gag you once more, for about
twenty minutes and then I’ll be back and we can eat
before I settle you down for the night.”

He dipped into his pack once more and produced a small
bottle containing a clear liquid. He pulled the stopper
and passed it very briefly under their noses, watching
them reel back at the smell.”

“This, ladies, is ether. I am asking that you cooperate
with me in restraining you once more. If not, I will
not hesitate to use this and the after effects can be
very unpleasant. Now, do I have your cooperation?”

Once again, three heads nodded. In minutes, he had all
three gagged again. He led all three to the double
bedded room and made Ashley and Sandra stretch out on
the foam mattress face down. He quickly taped their
ankles together and then cut their hands free with a
box-cutter.

“Roll over,” he commanded.

They did so.

“Stretch your arms above your head.”

Once again, they complied and he duct-taped their
wrists to the bed-frame.

“Okay, Melanie,” it’s the back bedroom for you.”

He led her aft and repeated the process. Now all three
were held fast to their beds. He turned off the lights,
grabbed several more pre-addressed and stamped
envelopes from his pack, picked up the padded one as
well and slipped back to the dock.

Thirty minutes later, the girls were back in the galley
area, free of all their restraints and watching
sullenly from the couch as Alan cooked eggs and bacon
on the Calor-gas stove. He dished up the meal onto
three plates and set them on the table. There was bread
and butter, a jar of jam, salt and pepper already set
out.

“Come and eat, girls,” he said.

They sat diffidently at the table but they were hungry
and the smell of cooked gammon rashers was too enticing
to be ignored. In the end, in spite of their
reservations, they tucked in and ended up clearing
their plates.

“Put the dirty dishes in the sink,” he instructed.
“Sandra, you can wash and Melanie can wipe. I shall sit
here with Ashley and my pistol just to make sure that
you don’t try to do something foolish.”

Once everything was clean and put away, he had them sit
on the couch again.

“Now then,” he said. “I’m going to leave you here
overnight. You’ll be secured to your beds and gagged
but I’ve got blankets to keep you warm and I’ll be back
in the morning to release you. You won’t have your most
comfortable night, I’m afraid and I’m sorry about that
but you’ll be safe and, as long as you continue to
cooperate, you’ll be one day closer to freedom.”

He could see that Melanie was bursting to ask him a
question.

“Have you kidnapped us for ransom?” she asked.

“Yes, but not the sort of ransom you’re thinking of.
I’m not looking for money.”

“What then?” Melanie asked, somewhat alarmed.

“You’ll find out when you get back home,” Alan said.
“Now I’m sure that you’re bursting to use the bathroom
so, one at a time, you can go but I’ll be right outside
with the other two and, any sign of trouble, they’ll
pay.”

One by one, the girls trooped through the minuscule
bathroom, highly embarrassed that their captor could
hear everything they did until they emerged. As the
last girl completed washing and drying her hands, he
shepherded them back to their beds again.

As soon as he had the girls secured and covered
comfortably, he detached the power cable, locked the
shutter and scuttled back to the quay, winding up the
extension cords as he went. He pushed the outlet
cupboard closed and went back to the van. He removed
all sign of its occupancy, put his bike in the back and
then drove back into Chertsey. Stopping a block away
from his home, he wheeled his bike quietly round the
back of his house. Lights showed inside but his mother
did not hear him. He returned to the van and drove it
back to Wandsworth.

He was able to put it back in its original position
between the other ice-cream vans and he doubted if
anyone would ever suspect that it had been used when it
was collected for the summer season. At the gate, he
put his own padlock back in his pocket, pulled out the
original damaged padlock and dropped it into the hasp
on the closed gate. At first glance, it appeared to be
intact. Hopefully, whoever discovered it had been
forced would assume that the lock had been broken by
vandals but, with nothing missing, nothing further was
likely to occur. If it wasn’t discovered, Alan could
use the van again if it became necessary.

On the train home to Chertsey, Alan reviewed the plan.
Everything now depended on the Hertfordshire police
taking his letter seriously and the press reacting to
the letters he had posted earlier to most of the
national tabloids. By nine-fifteen, he was home and
found that his mother had saved him a generous serving
of beef stew and dumplings. It was only as he was
tucking into the food that he realised that he had not
eaten all day. He exchanged small-talk with his mother
and then pleaded the fact that he had to do some
preparation for tomorrow’s workshops to escape to his
room to set the next part of the plan into operation.

He brought up the news broadcasts on his computer. Not
surprisingly, the disappearance of three seniors from a
well-known Oxford school for girls was the headline
story on all of them. Names of the victims were not
being released pending all the families being informed.
The stories all concluded with the hackneyed phrase
that “the police are pursuing several lines of enquiry
and are asking any member of the public who may have
information of any sort to contact the Oxfordshire
Constabulary at the number listed on the screen.” In
other words, thought Alan, they literally do not have a
clue. Good!!

At the Leavesden Film Studio, the news reached Emma
Watson more or less by chance at the end of the day’s
shoot. She overheard one of the grips talking about it
and immediately asked him what he knew. He said that he
had nothing beyond what had been said in the news.
Three Seniors had vanished from an all-girls school in
Oxford. Emma felt her stomach lurch.

How many all-girl schools were there in Oxford. Somehow
she knew it had to be her school and, if they were
Seniors, she likely knew them. She hurried to her
dressing room and phoned her parents to see if they
knew anything more. They didn’t but, like her, they
feared that it boded something bad. As she was about to
leave the dressing room, an Assistant Producer tapped
on her door.

“Come in,” she called.

Sid Mellville looked extremely grave.

“You’ve heard, of course,” he said.

“Yes,” she answered.

“We have no idea what it means at present but we are
not going to take any chances. If those girls should
turn out to come from your school, it may still just be
a coincidence but until we have more information, we’re
going to have twenty-four hour security on you.”

“Is that really necessary, do you think?” Emma asked.

“Maybe, maybe not but it would be really dumb to assume
that this has no connection whatever with you.”

“I guess,” Emma sighed. “Well, thank you. I appreciate
your concern. I just hope that the girls will be okay.
I’d like to know the names if the police will tell
you.”

“They haven’t so far,” he replied. “I’ll try again for
you.”

“Thank you, Sid. Do the police have any leads do you
know?”

“I don’t know but I doubt it. If they do, they’re
keeping them very close to their chests. I’ll get back
to you if I hear anything. In the meantime, go and try
to get some sleep. It’s a heavy schedule tomorrow.”

“You’re right. Okay, thanks again for taking care of
me. Goodnight.”

“It’s a pleasure. Night!”

He left Emma sitting at her dressing table looking
extremely thoughtful.

**

Early the next morning, the phone rang at the
Oxfordshire Constabulary’s main switchboard. The
operator picked up the call.

“Oxford Police H.Q. How can I help you?”

“Bagshaw, Daily Clarion here,” said a gruff voice.
“Who’s handling the missing schoolgirls case?”

“That’d be Inspector Ballard in C.I.D. but he’s not
giving interviews…”

“Put me through, woman. I’m not looking for an
interview. I’ve got information and it’s urgent.”

“Just one moment,” the voice said.

The operator rang through to the incident room where
Ballard was talking to a small group of detectives. He
looked up angrily when the phone rang and snatched up
the receiver.

“I told you not to interrupt me…

The operator cut him off.

“Sorry, sir, but I thought you might want to take
this. It’s Stan Bagshaw of the Clarion and he says that
he has information.”

“Hell’s teeth,” snarled Ballard. “This had better be
bloody important. Okay, put him through.”

The operator made the connection and saw that two more
lines were now flashing. She connected to the first.

“Hold one moment, please,” she said and switched to
the second line.

“Hold one moment, please,” she said and went back to
the first.

“Oxford Police H.Q. How can I help you?”

“This is Michael Cleaver, London Chronicle. May I
please speak to whoever is handling the case of the
missing students.”

“Inspector Ballard is on the line at the moment. May I
ask what it is you want with him?

“I have just received the most amazing letter about
those girls and I wanted to know if he had received the
same information.”

“I see. Do you mind holding. He’s talking to another
journalist right now. It may be that they are
discussing this. I’ll check as soon as he clears the
line.”

She went to the third line.

“Oxford Police H.Q. How can I help you?”

“Sarah Ballantine. I’m with the South London News. I
have some information about the girls who disappeared
from school.”

“Does this concern a letter that you’ve received this
morning by any chance?”

“Yes it does, Sarah replied. “Why, is this a hoax?”

“I have no idea, but you are the third journalist in
less than five minutes to phone us. Inspector Ballard
is talking to the first one now.”

Another line started flashing.

“I think, Ms. Ballantine,” the operator continued,
“that a number of news outlets must have received the
information that you have. I’ll talk with the Inspector
as soon as I can and I suspect that he will issue a
statement once he has had a chance to investigate the
matter, seeing that the entire press corps seems to
have whatever information it is that you wish to pass
on.”

The operator took contact names and telephone numbers
for half-a-dozen callers before the line to Inspector
Ballard cleared. She phoned him at once to inform him
of the other calls and what she had told the callers.

“Thank you, Anne, that’s great. You’re right. We’ll
have to say something as everyone seems to have this
but I’ll have to clear it with the old man. God knows,
the press are going to have a field-day with this one.
And it’s my anniversary too. The wife will never
forgive me!”

Some miles away, the Headquarters staff of the
Hertfordshire Constabulary was busy with the daily
routine when, as usual, the postman dropped the
incoming post at the front desk and, as usual, it sat
there until the duty sergeant had a few moments to deal
with it.

Finally, he picked it up and scanned through it. The
padded envelope was on the bottom and it caught his
eye. All regular mail, unless it is clearly personal,
is opened no matter to whom it might be addressed, and
is then sorted out according to the appropriate
recipient. The sergeant, tore the opening strip and
poured the contents onto the desk. He looked surprised
as a wristwatch, necklace and ring cascaded onto the
desk. Looking inside the envelope, he extracted a
folded letter, scanned the contents and whistled out
loud. He snatched up the phone and punched in an
extension number, envelope now held gingerly between
two fingers.

Someone elsewhere in the building picked up the call.

“Ian, it’s Paddy. I think you’d better get down here
fast.”

He listened for a second.

“No…this is going to need the personal attention of
the Chief Constable but I think you’d better see it
first.”

Three minutes later, Chief Inspector Ian Bairstow
arrived at the front desk. One look at Paddy Harrigan’s
face told him that this was serious.

“What have you got, Paddy,” he asked.

The sergeant handed Bairstow the letter, the envelope
and the contents. Bairstow read the letter.

“Bloody Hell!” he said, “If this is for real, the shit
is about to hit the fan big time. Thanks, Paddy. I owe
you one.”

He hurried off up the stairs to the top floor where the
Chief Constable had an office. As fortune would have
it, Charlie Gorman, G.C., was in his office when
Bairstow tapped on the door.

“Do you have a moment, sir. This is important.”

“Okay, Ian. I was just on my way out but if it’s
important…”

“Here, Sir, you’d better read this.”

Gorman took the letter and scanned it.

“Shit. This can’t be. It’s got to be a hoax hasn’t it?”

“I don’t think so, Sir. These came with the letter.”

He showed the Chief Constable the watch, necklace and
ring. He saw the Chief’s eyes open wide at the
jewellery.

“If these are what he says they are, then he definitely
has the girls,” Bairstow said.

“You’re quite right of course,” Gorman agreed. “What do
you propose?”

“Well, sir, I’ll talk to Oxford as soon as I get out of
here. Do we know who’s handling the case over there?”

“Not for sure, but my guess is that they’ll put John
Ballard on it. Next?”

“Well, Ballard’s sure to be in contact with the
parents. I’ll ask him to see if they can confirm that
these items belong to the girls. If they can, then I
guess we have to wait until this bloody website comes
up at noon and see what he wants.”

“You’re sure it’s a “he”, are you? The Chief asked.

“Not one-hundred percent, of course, but it seems most
likely.”

“I agree,” the Chief nodded. “What about the Watson
girl and this Radcliffe boy? Who’s going to handle
that?”

“I thought Sylvia Merrill, sir. She’s just made
Inspector, as you know, and I think she has the
delicate touch this might need.”

“So be it then, Ian. I think you’re right. She’d be a
good choice. Right, get to it but keep me fully
informed. I’ll be here for that webcast, or whatever
they call it, at noon, but if anything breaks in the
meantime, I want to know.”

“Of course, sir,” Bairstow said, and hurried out of
the office.

Back at his own desk, he placed a hasty call to
Oxfordshire County Police Headquarters.

“This is Chief Inspector Ian Bairstow, Hertfordshire
Police. Is John Ballard handling the missing girls
case? He is? Great. Can you put me through to him
please.”

A moment later, Ballard answered the phone.

“Ballard here,” he said.

“Hello John. It’s Chief Inspector Ian Bairstow,
Hertfordshire Police. We received a letter today from
the kidnapper of your girls.”

“You too?” Ballard said.

“What do you mean, ‘you too’?” Barstow asked in
surprise.

“I mean that half the bloody press corps has received
a letter and is bending my ear about it,” snapped
Ballard.

“Did theirs also include personal items of jewellery
from the kidnap victims?” Bairstow asked calmly.

There was a pause as Ballard took in what Bairstow had
just said.

“Personal items? From the girls? No they didn’t!”
Ballard said quietly.

“Ours did. A watch, a gold chain necklace and a very
nice ring. I was hoping that you could check with the
parents to make sure that they really do belong to the
girls.”

“Jesus,” Ballard swore. “Of course. Give me a
description.”

“I’ll do better than that. Give me your e-mail and
I’ll send you a jpeg.”

Ballard gave him the e-mail address.

“I’ll send the pictures in a couple of minutes. Did
this e-mail to the press say anything I should know?”

“Only that a website would come up at noon for just
five minutes when the kidnapper would outline his
demands.”

“Yes, our letter said the same thing.” Bairstow
confirmed. “It also said that we were to make sure that
Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe watched the netcast.
They’re filming just down the road at Leavesden.”

“Well, we did wonder if there was a connection,”
Ballard said, “but it explains why the bastard mailed
the stuff to you and not us. He seems very sharp,
whoever he is.”

“You’re right about that,” Bairstow agreed. “We’ll
have our I.T. guys trying to trace him but I don’t rate
our chances too high.”

“We’ll be trying too. Who knows? We may get lucky.”
Ballard said

“I sure as hell hope so. I’ve got my Chief Constable
riding me on this.” Bairstow groaned.

“Me too,” Ballard said. ‘Give me your mobile so I can
reach you as soon as I’ve checked with the parents.”

Bairstow gave him the number and took Ballard’s.”

“Will you contact me as soon as you have one item
confirmed?” he asked Ballard. “Chances are if one
checks out, the others will too.”

“My thoughts exactly,” Ballard said. “I’ll call you.”

They hung up. Bairstow E-mailed the pictures he’d had
taken of the jewellery to Ballard and then hurried to
let the Chief Constable know what he had discovered
from his conversation.

“The Press know about this?” the Chief exploded.

“Yes, sir,” Bairstow replied. “Apparently the
kidnapper wrote to a whole bunch of newspapers inviting
them to watch the netcast at noon.”

“No chance of keeping this quiet then,” Gorman
groaned. “Just what we need …a press spotlight on our
every move. Okay, Ian, I want to nail this bastard and
hang him out to dry. Make sure that we cover every
angle on this and I want it played absolutely by the
book. There can be no cock-ups on this one or we’ll be
pounding the beat again before you can say hobnails!”

“Right, sir,” Bairstow nodded and beat a hasty
retreat.

As Sylvia Merrill drove herself from H.Q. to the
Leavesden Film Studios, she was still reeling from the
brief that Ian Bairstow had laid on her that morning.
At the studio security gate, she found that Bairstow
had phoned ahead and she was quickly whisked to the
dressing room area. Waiting for her were the Director,
Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Sid
Melville. Hardly able to believe that she had found
herself so intimately involved with the world of Harry
Potter, she took a deep breath and looked directly at
Emma.

“Miss Watson,” she began.

“Emma, please.”

“Okay …thank you,” she smiled. “Emma, the three
girls who were abducted were from your school are all
seniors …Melanie Sinclair, Ashley Barton and Sandra
Mills.”

With each name, Emma gave a little gasp. She knew all
of them.

“We have no idea yet what the kidnapper is going to
ask for but he sent us a letter that included personal
items from each of the girls so there can be no doubt
that he has them.”

“Do you have any leads at all?” Emma asked.

“I’m embarrassed to say that we don’t,” Sylvia said.
“He seems to have vanished. However, there is a
particular reason that I needed to see you and Daniel.”

She paused, thinking how best to break the news.

“Which is?” Daniel prompted her.

“Which is,” she resumed “that he sent us a covering
letter along with the possessions saying that he is
setting up a temporary Internet site at noon for just
five minutes at which time he will broadcast his
demands for the girls’ safe release.”

“I see,” said Emma. “But why exactly is it important
that we know this?”

“Because the one demand he has made so far is that you
and Daniel should watch it. If you don’t, he will start
mailing us body parts.”

As Sylvia watched, the blood drained from Emma’s cheeks
and, for one moment, she thought Emma was going to
faint. Daniel must have thought so too because he moved
quickly to stand behind her and put his arm around her
shoulder.”

“Crap,” said Rupert, “I don’t like the sound of that.”

“Exactly,” said Sylvia, turning to Sid. “Now, I
understand that you have put private security on to
look after Emma.”

“Yes,” said Sid. “Effective with last night’s news.”

“Good, but from here on in, we’ll have our people
involved as well and I think the two teams should
liaise.”

“This netcast is to take place at noon?” Emma asked.

“Yes,” Sylvia confirmed. “Can we set up for you to
watch it with Daniel in one of your dressing rooms?”

“No problem,” Emma said. “I have high speed Internet in
mine anyway.”

“Okay, that’s it then. I’d like to tell you not to
worry, Emma, but that would be pretty stupid of me. All
we can do is wait and see what it is he wants. In the
meantime, have you received any crank fan letters,
threats… anything like that in the past.”

“She gets mail from perverts all the time,” Daniel
said. “We all do. We used to get pretty upset by it but
now we just ignore it.”

“Nothing that really stands out as seriously strange
then?”

“No,” said Emma. “Not really.”

“Nevertheless, I’d like to have one of my detectives
contact your fan-club administrator to see if anything
unusual strikes us.”

“Absolutely,” Emma said at once and provided the
necessary contact information.

“So, there’s nothing more we can do until noon,” Sylvia
said.

“Clearly, there’s no question of you filming until this
is settled,” Sid said. “We’ll try to get some of the
stuff we need with the extras.”

He left the area with the Director in tow. The trio of
young stars, sat in a huddle in the dressing room,
talking and waiting for the hours to pass.

Alan had slept like a log. His alarm woke him at seven
a.m. and he showered, had a quick bowl of cereal,
grabbed his bike and rode back to the boatyard. Back on
the boat, and masked from head to foot in black again,
he freed the girls, pistol in hand and sent them
forward for breakfast. Cereal, bread and jam, coffee
and muffins were on the menu this morning. Once they
had eaten and cleaned up, Alan produced a sheet of
black cloth which he pinned to the wall behind the sofa
and then draped over the seats.

He made the girls sit down and took out a digital video
camera. Checking the framing to make sure that the
background was totally black, he told the girls to each
say a brief sentence indicating that they were okay,
being well-treated and expecting to be home in another
three days, as long their captor’s demands were met.

It took several takes before Alan was satisfied with
the results. He told the girls that it would be a
fairly dull day for them since he was going to have to
restrain them again for most of it. He would return
late that afternoon and spend the evening with them as
long as all went to plan.

By ten a.m., he was back home. His mother was at work
and he had the house to himself. He went up to his
computer and started preparing for the big moment. He
edited the video appeals of his “guests” and checked
that his webcam was properly set up, and that the
lighting showed him as only a silhouette. The
microphone was linked to a filter which altered his
voice. He checked the codes he had written that would
automatically route the transmission through dozens of
servers spread over five continents, switching the
routing randomly every thirty to sixty seconds, making
it virtually impossible to identify the originating
point.

By eleven, Ballard had called Bairstow to say that
there was no doubt that the items that had ended up in
Hertfordshire were from the kidnap victims.

“Still no indication of what he wants I suppose,”
Ballard said.

“No. I guess we’ll find out at noon.” Bairstow replied.

“I guess. Okay. We’ll talk soon.” Ballard said.

“You bet,” Bairstow answered and hung up.

Shortly before noon, everyone who had received
notification, and a large number of people who had
heard about the upcoming netcast, were punching in the
temporary URL. This included just about every
newspaper, magazine and television newsroom in the
kingdom and beyond …as word had spread like wildfire
throughout the news community.

Exactly at noon, Alan brought up the server that was to
carry the netcast. The watching world saw the three
kidnap victims sitting on a couch against a plain
black, unidentifiable background. One by one, they
assured their parents and the police that they had not
been hurt and were being well treated so far. They
implored the police to make sure that their captor’s
demands were met because, if they were, he had promised
to release them in three days time. If not, he had told
them that his next mailing to the police would include
body parts.

In a number of computer centres around the country,
experts were frantically trying to track the source of
the netcast. In London’s Scotland Yard Communications
Command Centre, Inspector Charlie Meadows watched his
tech pounding the keyboards as lines of meaningless
numbers scrawled across the screen.

“Anything?” he asked.

“According to this, he’s broadcasting from the Bank of
Canada building in Montreal,” the frustrated techie
announced. “No. Wait, he’s switched it.” He hammered on
the keyboard again for some time.

“Jeez, now it’s coming from the Australian Rocket
Testing Range at Woomera.”

He started punching keys.

“Nah, he’s moved it again”

A few moments later, he gasped.

“You’re not to believe this, sir,” he said, eyes glued
to his screen.

“What?” barked Meadows.

“The signal’s now coming from the Vatican.”

“Son of a bitch!!” Meadows swore. “How’s he pulling
this off?”

“I don’t know yet, sir,” the Tech answered, “but he’s
good… bloody good.”

“Can you get a lock…” He got no further.

“He’s switched again.”

The Tech worked feverishly as Meadows paced. Meadows
heard a laugh of disbelief from the Tech.

“The cheeky bastard!!” he exclaimed.

“What?” Meadows demanded.

“Well, sir. Right now, the signal appears to be
originating from our own server.”

“What?” Meadows screamed.

“That’s right, sir. It’s our server he’s using right
now but he’ll be gone before we can trace the signal
further. He’s set up switching pattern that has no
regular timing but stays nowhere for longer than sixty
seconds. There’s no way we’ll be able to find him
before he moves on again.”

“Oh, the Chief is going to love this,” Meadows groaned
and stormed out of the room.

In Leavesden, Emma, Daniel, Rupert, Sid and Angela
Merrill watched the computer screen as the seconds
ticked down to noon. Right on time, they watched in
shock as the three terrified girls made their appeal.
Emma was crying openly at the sight. As their pleas
ended, Alan’s silhouette appeared and his distorted
voice filled the room.

“I’ll be brief. You will already have discovered that
you will not be able to trace me electronically…”

In their respective viewing areas, Ballard and Bairstow
both groaned.

“So,” Alan continued, “here’s what is going to happen.
Tomorrow, at noon precisely, another URL will open up
at www.seehermionefucked.com and this site address has
been e-mailed to every Harry Potter, Emma Watson and
Daniel Radcliffe fansite in every country on the
Internet. It will also be published in every major
newspaper and on every television station in the
country tomorrow or it won’t be rings and watches that
you receive in the mail.

“At eleven-forty-five, you will have Emma Watson, in
her Hermione Granger clothes, and Daniel Radcliffe in a
three camera television studio with the best camera
operators and multi-cam director you can find. At ten
minutes before noon, you will receive an e-mail at the
Leavesden film studio asking you for an e-mail address
to the television director who is cutting cameras at
the TV studio. You will have thirty seconds to e-mail a
response or I will start some cutting of my own. From
that point on, someone beside the director will monitor
that e-mail address for instructions from me as to what
each camera should be showing should the director not
be doing his job properly.

“At noon precisely, you will upload to the URL that I
just gave you high-definition video, including close-
ups, of Emma doing a slow striptease on camera until
she is completely naked. She will then masturbate to
orgasm, with close-ups on her fingers and on her face,
after which, in full view of the world, Daniel will
fuck her on camera. Then, and only then, will the three
girls I am holding be released.

“If this does not happen as instructed, tomorrow
afternoon I will mail to Emma’s studio address Melanie
Sinclair’s little finger, right hand, Ashley Barton’s
Left ear and Sandra Mills’ big toe, right foot.”

The screen went blank.

“He’s gone,” the Tech announced to the empty room.

In the Film Studio dressing room, Emma was hysterical.
Her phone began ringing and Rupert picked it up. He
listened for a second and then held it out to Emma.

“It’s your mother,” he said.

Emma took the phone.

“Oh, Mummy,” she sobbed.

Her mother spoke to her for some time before she
answered again.

“I don’t know. What can I do? It’s too horrible to
think about but, mummy, I know all those girls and you
know their parents. If it was me that he was
threatening to mutilate, what would you want Hermione
to do?”

There was another silence while she listened to her
mother. Then she pulled herself together.

“No, I need to work this out for myself and I need to
talk with Daniel… no, the police and the studio
security people are looking after me. Right now, I’m
almost too tired to think. I’ll call you in the morning
but, mummy, if I have to go through with it, please
don’t let Daddy watch. I couldn’t bear it. …yes, of
course. Love you too. ‘Bye.”

She handed the phone back to Rupert who replaced it on
the receiver. She smiled gratefully at him and turned
to everyone in the room.

“I’m sorry, but Daniel and I need to be alone for a
while. I’m really sorry, Rupert, but you do understand,
don’t you?”

Rupert managed a half-grin.

“Of course,” he said, crossing to her and giving her a
huge hug. “This sucks big-time. Love you, Em,” he said
as he followed the others out of the room.”

“Love you too,” Emma murmured.

When the others were alone, and the door was closed,
Emma turned to Daniel.

“God, Daniel. What are we going to do?” she wailed.

“Emma, we are going to do whatever it is that you
decide is the best thing to do. It’s you he’s aiming
at, quite clearly, and I’ll support you to the hilt, no
matter what you decide.”

They clung to each other for a long time.

Ballard and Bairstow watched the netcast with their
respective Chief Constables and an open line speaker-
phone between them. Ted Nettles, the Oxfordshire Chief
Constable broke the uncomfortable silence that settled
on them as the screen went blank.

“Bloody Hell!! Those poor kids. And, of course, the
Press has all of this. Shit, what a mess!!”

In Hertfordshire, Charlie Gorman nodded his head
emphatically.

“You got that right, Ted. It seems to me, with two
forces being involved, the first thing we need to
decide is who is going to do what here. I’m going to
suggest that we have John and Ian delegate everything
else they have on their books and work together
exclusively on this. We’re stretched for manpower here
but this is a priority and we’ll provide whatever
resources from here are needed to handle it.”

“I agree completely,” said Ted Nettles, inter-force
rivalry being set aside because of the gravity of the
situation. He looked at Ballard.

“John, do it. Let me know by four o’clock what you plan
and what resources you need. I suggest that you and Ian
meet for an initial review at 5 p.m. in Hertfordshire.
Is that okay with you Charlie?”

Charlie looked at Bairstow, who nodded agreement.

“It works for us, he said.”

“Charlie, we have no choice at the moment but to
proceed as he’s demanded,” Nettles said “but what do
you reckon are the chances that he’s bluffing?”

“Let me ask you a question,” Gorman replied. “How do
you fancy telling the parents of those girls that their
daughters have been tortured and mutilated if we guess
wrong?”

“You’re right, of course,” Nettles said “but what sort
of nutter would do this?”

“That’s a good point,” Gorman answered. “Ian, see if
you can get a good profiler available for your meeting
with John. Let’s try and get some insights into who we
may be dealing with here. Right, Ted, that’s it for
now, I think. We’ll keep in close touch.”

“You bet,” Nettles said.

They hung up.

The meeting that evening was a desultory affair. Sylvia
Merrill brought them up to speed on her meeting with
Emma and Daniel who were remaining at the studio to
meet with them after this planning session. They were
basically no further forward. The Technical divisions
had been unable to trace where the signal had
originated and, although they claimed to still be
working on it, it was clear that if they ever traced
it, it would be much too late. Other experts had
studied recordings of the netcast but there was
absolutely nothing to identify where the girls were
being held beyond the fact that it had to be somewhere
in the U.K, and most likely close to a major city – but
which city was pure speculation.

With John’s agreement, Ian had delegated one of his
senior Assistant Inspectors to organize a television
studio and staff for the following day should Emma and
Daniel feel forced to give in to the captor’s demands.
The location was to be kept strictly secret although it
was likely that the Press were already staking out the
Leavesden Film Studio, hoping to get pictures and
comments from the young stars.

Sylvia Merrill addressed that situation.

“As soon as I saw the netcast, I figured that the
Press would run for the studio. I had Sid Melville, one
of the Assistant Producer’s get hold of Emma and
Daniel’s stand-ins and ask them to stay behind. Studio
security is pretty good but some of the local force are
also on scene to back them up. If we can keep the press
far enough back from the gates, I suggest that we dress
the stand-ins in Emma and Daniel’s things and hurry
them into their limo. The darkened glass will mask who
is actually in there and, hopefully, the Press will
stream off after it. We can sneak Emma and Daniel out
of a back gate in a catering truck or something.”

Bairstow and Ballard looked impressed.

“Good thinking, Sylvia,” Bairstow said. “Well done.
That’s exactly what we’ll do, then. Amarjit, anything
from your end?”

Constable Amarjit Sharma shook her head.

“I spent quite a while with Emma’s Fan Club
Administrator. They get hundreds, make that thousands,
of letters and e-mail messages through fan-sites, chat
rooms and the like. Many of her fan’s claim they want
to marry her, many more would like a date. Most of that
is harmless fantasizing on the part of the senders.
They all receive a polite note thanking them for their
interest in the Harry Potter films with a printed
signature from Emma.

“If the writer is persistent, he, or occasionally she,
is flagged. If there is any hint of a threat, the
letters are immediately passed on to the police.”

“And…?” Bairstow asked.

“Nothing of note in recent weeks,” Sharma replied.

“Could be an old grudge, I suppose.”

“Then you would face investigating hundreds of letters
and messages.” Sharma said, “and there just isn’t
enough time before the deadline.”

Bairstow shrugged.

“You said that, occasionally, persistent writers are
female.”

He turned to look at Dr. Eileen Preston, the profiler
who had joined them for the meeting.

“I don’t suppose that our perp could be a woman could
it? With the voice disguised like that, such an thought
had not crossed my mind until now.”

“No,” she said. “He can disguise his voice on the
Internet but not in person with the girls, and one of
them asked us to a do as “he” asks.

“Of course,” Ballard said. “I must be getting senile.”

“No, just tired, like the rest of us,” Bairstow
smiled.

He turned back to Eileen.

“What can you tell us?” he asked.

“Only probabilities, I’m afraid,” she replied. “My
feeling is that the man you are looking for is a loner,
likely an only child.”

“What makes you say that?” Bairstow asked. “I’m not
questioning it. I’d just like to understand how you
arrive at that conclusion.”

“Clearly, experience plays a large part in any profile
but …let’s see …well, he is technically brilliant.
To achieve that degree of proficiency, where even your
best tech guys can’t trace him, means that he has spent
hours and hours learning to hack. That, for obvious
reasons, is a solitary occupation and requires enormous
concentration and secrecy. That’s not easy to achieve
if you have siblings.”

Bairstow nodded his head in approval.

“Makes perfect sense when you explain it. Sorry,
Doctor, I won’t interrupt again. Anything else?”

Dr. Preston smiled.

“That’ s quite alright. A lot of people think that I
practice the Black Arts. Actually, there is not a lot
more I can tell you. I think that he will likely prove
to be fairly young …I’m guessing late teens, early
twenties. That’s the time when hormones in males are at
their most active and the strong sexual demands here
fit. However, this is not likely a sexual act.”

“Not!!!”, Ballard exclaimed. “How can demanding that
two teens have sex on camera not be a sexual act?”

Dr. Preston remain unfazed.

“Clearly the act that is to be filmed is sexual, but
what the captor needs is power and control which he is
using to humiliate Emma. He is not demanding that he
have sex with her. The key here is that the act should
take place on camera in front of a world-wide audience.
Humiliation is his objective and that suggests very
strongly that he feels that he has been humiliated by
her. I suggest a very thorough review of fan mail over,
say, the last six months. We’re looking for someone who
may have requested something… a date or a personal
meeting of some sort, or who may have any reason to
think that Emma failed to live up to a promise, actual
or implied.”

“I see what you mean,” Ballard nodded “Any thoughts on
where he might be?”

“Well, likely in or close to a city. Given the care
with which he has planned this, he will probably reason
– quite correctly that it will be far more difficult
for us to find a needle in a haystack. However, to keep
three girls prisoner for three to four days, unseen and
unheard, is not that easy in a densely populated area.
I suspect that he is in a suburb on the fringe of a
city. The fact is that it could be any city, but if I
were forced to make a guess I’d say London. It’s the
biggest haystack of all.”

“Do you think he’d really mutilate the girls if Emma
refuses to do as he demands?” Ballard asked.

Dr. Preston considered the question for a moment.

“Yes, I think he would,” Dr Preston said finally. “Not
that I think he necessarily wants to but he has done
everything he can to ensure maximum impact on Emma. He
picked three girls from her school, guessing that she
either knew them or at least knew of them. The fact
that she knows all three was probably just chance.
Then, he chooses a particularly grisly threat, one that
is sure to terrify her, adding to the chances that
she’ll comply. Should she refuse, however, he will now
be trapped by his own words and will, I think, feel
compelled to carry out his threat. He will also up the
ante.”

“Up the ante?” Bairstow said. “How?”

“I imagine that he will mail you the body parts, as he
has threatened, and will add the threat of killing one
girl at a time to force Emma into complying.”

“Jesus,” Ballard exclaimed. “She’s damned if she does
and damned if she doesn’t, isn’t she?”

“I’m afraid so,” Dr. Preston nodded sadly.

“And there’s nothing more you can tell us?” Bairstow
asked.

“I’m afraid not. I’m sorry. I haven’t been very
helpful, have I?” Dr. Preston said

“On the contrary, doctor,” Bairstow smiled, “you’ve
given us a lot more than we had before.”

“Just one question, Dr. Preston,” Sylvia Merrill said.
“What is your view about telling Emma of your fears
…about what might happen if she says no? I mean, it
only adds to the pressure on her, doesn’t it?”

“It does but I suspect knowing that her friends had
been mutilated as a result of her decision might prove
extremely difficult for her to live with. I think you
should talk to her and see if she has decided what to
do. If she says that she has, and intends to meet the
captor’s demands, you need not alarm her further. If
she says that she won’t or can’t do it, you may need to
tell her of my suspicions so that she can rethink her
answer. In the end, we will have to accept whatever she
says and hope for a good outcome.”

“Aren’t we forgetting someone in this equation?”
Bairstow asked quietly. “What about Daniel and what he
feels?”

Everyone looked at Dr. Preston.

“I think that you will have to leave that to him,” she
replied. “There are three entities to be considered
here; the captor, Emma and Daniel. There is no way that
all three are going to be happy with any outcome. But,
from the little I know about him, I suspect that Daniel
and Emma will work out a joint response that both agree
to.”

“Thank you, Doctor,” Sylvia said. “She turned to
Bairstow. “If it’s alright with you, sir, I’ll go
straight back to the studio now and see how Emma and
Daniel are doing,”

“Absolutely, Sylvia,” Bairstow said. “God, sometimes
being a copper is the worst job in the world. If
there’s anything you need…”

“Thank you, sir. I’ll call you as soon as I have
something to tell you.”

She hurried out of the room and headed for her car.

Following his netcast, Alan went back to the boatyard
and, completely masked in black again, fed the three
girls and allowed them bathroom privileges. They asked
him why he was doing this but he simply said that they
would find out once he had released them …that is, he
added, as long as my demands have been met. They
naturally wanted to know what would happen if his
demands were not met.

“Then we switch to Plan B,” he said but would not
elaborate.

His argument was not with the girls. It was with Emma.
She’d betrayed him …let him down. Well, now she would
pay for it. The girls were just the instrument through
which he could force payment. He wasn’t sure that he
could carry out his threat, hoped very sincerely that
he would not have to, but trusted that anger would help
him perform the grisly act should it come to it.

Sylvia Merrill was whisked straight through the studio
gates past the hordes of newsmen who had rushed to the
scene as soon as the news broke. A cordon of police and
the studio security personnel were keeping them back
from the gates. Sylvia drove to Daniel’s trailer. There
were a couple more security guards standing a
respectful distance from the door. Inside the trailer,
Daniel and Emma were sitting, lost in thought. They
looked up as Sylvia entered. It was clear that Emma had
been crying.

“Any news?” Daniel asked immediately.

“I’m sorry …nothing. We’ve got absolutely nothing to
work from except a profiler’s best guess. Barring a
total miracle, there is very little chance whatsoever
that we will find him before the deadline. I hate to be
so brutal but it would be wrong to give you false
hope.”

“Thank you for being so honest,” Daniel said. “Yours
can’t be an easy job either.”

“It’s never been harder, to be honest,” Sylvia said.

There was a moment or two of silence before Sylvia
broached the subject again.

“I have to ask you if you have made any decision about
tomorrow.”

Emma looked up at Daniel and her eyes filled with tears
again. Daniel put an arm around her shoulder and nodded
at the Inspector.

“Yes, we have. We both feel that we have no choice. As
awful and humiliating as it will be, we will do as he
asks. Neither of us could face those girls and their
parents if this ghoul were to carry out his threats.”

Sylvia looked at him admiringly.

“I think that you are both being incredibly
courageous. I can’t think of anything else to say to
you.”

She coughed to mask the fact that she was choked with
emotion, then took a deep breath before continuing.

“In case that was your decision, we have made
arrangements to spirit you out of here while your
stand-ins act as decoys for the press. You will be
staying overnight in a private residence at a secret
location close to the studio that will be used
tomorrow. The studio location is also being kept secret
so that no paparazzi can set up anywhere near it. We
have a bit of a drive ahead of us so we’d better gather
your things and get started.”

Emma stood up.

“Where are our stand-ins at this moment?’ she asked.

“They’re waiting in the refectory. They will be going
out through the main gate in your limo, with a police
escort, at the same time as we leave through a back
gate.”

“I’d like to go and thank them before we leave.”

She and Daniel walked out of the trailer, with Sylvia
at their heels. In the refectory, Emma and Daniel spent
a few moments talking to their doubles. When they’d
finished, Emma approached Sylvia.

“Our things are ready. Shall we go?”

They picked up two suitcases from Daniel’s trailer,
placed them in the boot of Sylvia’s vehicle and then
got into the back seat.

Sylvia pulled out her cell-phone and called Bairstow
back at H.Q.

“They’ve agreed to go ahead with the netcast tomorrow,
sir. We’re about to leave for location Alpha. Yes,
sir… of course sir… Who? Sergeant McCleish? Yes,
sir. Yes, sir. I’ll call as soon as we get there.”

She snapped the phone shut.

“Just one moment,” she said to the two in the back
seat.

As she turned round, a short, stocky figure detached
itself from the shadows and came towards her.

“I believe you’re looking for me ma’am,” the figure
said with a pleasant Scottish burr. “Sergeant Angus
McCleish.”

“Are you police,” Sylvia asked.

“No, ma’am,” he replied. “I’m S.A.S.”

“My god,” Sylvia gasped. “Is someone expecting
trouble?”

“Not to the best of my knowledge, ma’am, but it was
felt that it was better to be safe than sorry, given
what’s at stake. I’ll try to ensure that your night
remains undisturbed. Shall we go?”

He climbed into the passenger seat. Sylvia got back
behind the wheel and flashed her headlights. On cue,
the limo started driving towards the main gate as
Sylvia, lights off, drove round the back of the sound
stages, through the storage area and on towards a rusty
gate that was rarely used. Tonight, however, three
security staff and a police officer were there.

As the car approached, the gates were opened and she
was waved through onto the deserted back lane and away.
Sylvia watched her mirror very carefully but they were
not followed. On the way, Emma called her parents to
tell them of her decision and again begged them not to
watch. She promised to call them after the netcast.
They asked where she was staying but she told them the
police were keeping the location a complete secret and
even she didn’t know where they were heading.

In the speeding vehicle, everyone’s heart went out to
her, forced as they were to share the intimacy of the
moment that she told her parents that she loved them.
Emma sensed their discomfort and managed a painful
grin.

“I guess that’s the least of the things that I’ll be
sharing in the next twenty-four hours.”

She turned away and stared through the darkened window.

**

The next morning, newspapers everywhere carried lurid
headlines. “Kidnapper demands that Harry Potter stars
have public sex,” one said. “Will she or won’t she?”
asked another. Radio and television were full of the
story as well. But it was the Internet that sped all
the details, including the website URL, around the
world. By early the next day, millions of people were
aware of what might take place at noon, Greenwich Mean
Time.

At ten a.m., Sylvia and Angus drove Emma and Daniel
from a large private house situated a short distance
from the studio. Access to the house was vas via a
gated, large semi-circular driveway. The house was
screened from the road by a large hedge. No one saw
them get into the car and fifteen minutes later, they
were entering the underground parking facility at the
studio.

They were met by a senior producer who led them through
an emergency exit and a maze of deserted corridors into
a studio. There was a gasp from Emma as it appeared
that a simple set had been constructed. A soft green
plain wall provided the background for a double bed.
Nothing could have brought home the reality of what was
soon to happen here than that bed.

Only five people were present …three camera
operators, two of whom were women, the director and the
sound operator. The producer introduced the team and
they all shook hands. He turned to Emma.

“The people in this room, plus one tech who will be
ensuring the upload of the signal from the studio to
the internet, are the only ones who know that the
netcast is originating from here and they have been
sworn to secrecy, which wasn’t difficult under the
circumstances. We have set dressing rooms aside for you
and Daniel. There are the usual refreshments there but
if there is anything else that you would like, I’ll do
my best to get it for you.”

“That’s very kind of you,” Emma said,

“You’re welcome,” the Producer said. “We did wonder if
you would want hair and makeup…”

Emma shook her head,

“No, I’ll take care of my own thank you.”

“Right then, I’ll leave you.” He nodded at Michael
Everett, the Director. “Michael is in direct contact
with me by intercom and will relay any additional needs
to me should they arise. It seems fatuous to say ‘good
luck’ but I don’t know what else to say.”

He turned around and left the studio. A brief
discussion ensued during which is was decided that
Sylvia and Angus should stay in the control room where
three secure direct lines to the outside, with secret
numbers, had been hastily installed overnight. Emma and
Daniel went to their dressing rooms. There was a
connecting door between them. Daniel tapped on it and
Emma opened it immediately.

“How are you holding up, Em?” he asked.

“Miserably, thanks,” she smiled. “You?”

“About the same,” he replied. “I thought that doing
‘Equus’ was a challenge. I mean, at least anyone who is
interested has seen me naked, because pictures of me
were all over the net, but this…”

“I thought you were great in ‘Equus’,” Emma said.

“I understood that you giggled when you saw me naked,”
he said.

“I’m really sorry about that, Daniel. I was
embarrassed.”

“Hey, it’s okay. I understand that. It was a good play
and I chose to do it, but this is so wrong…

“I know. It’s sick. If there is any comfort at all in
this, it’s that it is you he wants to deflower me.”

Daniel looked up at her at that.

“Deflower you? You mean that you’re still a…”

“A virgin? Yes.”

“But I thought that you and…”

She shook her head.

“We came close but it wasn’t right at the time. So you
get to be the first.”

She looked up at him.

“Don’t take this the wrong way, Dan. You know I love
you …”

“Me, too, Em,” Daniel said,

“Right, but just not that way.”

Daniel nodded agreement. Emma smiled at him but she
looked anxious nevertheless..

But …I do feel comfortable with you and I know that
you respect me as a person. That won’t change will it?”

Daniel put his hands on her shoulders and looked her
directly in the eye.

“How could you even think it, Em?” he said. “This is
nothing of our making and I think that you’re
incredibly brave to go through with it, even though we
both know it is the only thing we can do.”

He looked off into space.

“No, my big fear is, what if I can’t perform? Will he
take it out on the girls?”

Emma had not considered that possibility and it raised
her self-doubts again.

“Why, Daniel, don’t you think I’m pretty enough to
excite you?”

Daniel looked genuinely shocked.

“Emma, you stop that. You’re beautiful and you must
know that by now, But having to do something like this
in front of millions of people can have a dampening
effect on anyone’s libido.”

“I’m so sorry, Dan,” Emma said, immediately contrite.
“I’ve been so wrapped up in my own worries that I
hadn’t really considered that. God, what a mess. I
suppose a little part of me hopes that you can’t manage
it but then he’d likely come up with something much
more humiliating instead.”

Daniel nodded miserably. Emma looked down at the floor.

“So, should you not …you know … be able to…” her
voice tailed off

“Get an erection?” Daniel finished.

“Yes,” she blushed. “I guess that I would be smart to
help you.”

“That’s not part of what he has demanded,”

“I know but I hate to think what he might demand if we
don’t perform as he asks. I can’t imagine feeling any
more humiliated than I will later this morning so one
more step to make it happen seems highly preferable to
an unknown alternative.”

Daniel considered what she had just said and he loved
her even more at that moment.

“You’re right of course,” he said finally. “I guess
we’ll just have to see what happens and play it by ear
from there.”

By eleven-thirty, Emma and Daniel were in the studio,
both in their Hogwarts uniforms. The atmosphere was
tense. By unspoken agreement, the camera operators
stayed silently behind their cameras and the others
remained in the control room. Michael, the Director
could talk to the studio over the intercom.

“We only have the camera-mounted mikes but I guess we
should do a voice check just in case he demands audio,”
he said. “Daniel?”

“Voice check… one… two… three.” Daniel said.

“Good. Just a little more, please.”

“This is Daniel Radcliffe feeling shit-scared,” he
said.

The crew grinned.

“Thanks, Daniel. Emma please.”

“Mary had a little lamb, it’s fleece was white as
snow…” Emma intoned.

“That’s great. Thank you both. Now we wait.”

Slowly, the clock ticked round to nine minutes to noon.
Suddenly, one of the phones in the studio rang. Michael
snatched it up. It was Leavesden.

“He’s called and he now has your direct e-mail.”

Michael hung up as a second phone rang. He picked it
up.

“Is this Michael Everett?” Alan’s distorted voice
asked.

“Yes.”

“Are they in the studio?”

“Yes.”

“And they’re going to do as I have asked.”

“Yes.”

Alan heaved a sigh of relief. There was a slight pause
as he digested the information. He’d done it.

“That’s good.” I’ll call you again at one minute to
noon. Oh, and tell your police friends not to bother
trying to trace my calls. They can’t.”

He hung up, and in the communications room at Scotland
Yard, which was monitoring the lines, the Techs cursed
because he was quite right. They couldn’t get any sort
of trace before he either rerouted the call or hung up.

Michael Everett was sweating. This was like no
broadcast he had ever done. There was no script, no
rehearsal and everything was to be done on the fly. He
breathed deeply to calm his nerves and spoke quietly to
the couple on the floor.

“That was him. He’s calling back in seven minutes so
it looks as though this is a happening thing. I’m going
to bring up the lighting now so it’s going to get
pretty warm down there.”

“That’s good,” said Emma. “I’d hate to have the world
see me with goose-flesh.”

Everyone smiled at that.

The clock ticked on relentlessly.

“Coming up on ninety seconds,” Michael called from the
control room.

“Well, here goes our last shred of dignity,” Emma said
and Daniel saw that she was shaking like a leaf.

“At least we don’t have four hundred and fifty people
sitting as close as fifteen feet away,” he said.

“More like twenty-five million staring at their
computer screens,” Emma grimaced.

“Maybe but concentrate on me and try to imagine that
it’s just you and me.”

“I’ll try,” she said. “Thank you Daniel. I could never
do this without you here.”

“Sixty seconds,” Michael called.

The telephone at his side rang and he picked it up.

“Yes, they are,” he said. “Very well.” He snapped open
an audio link to the camera operators.

“We’ll be coming up on a two-shot of Emma and Daniel.
Camera Two, you take it …full length.” He listened
again.

“Camera One will be a close-up on Emma’s face and
Three will be a matching shot on Daniel.”

There was a pause.

“Thirty seconds. Emma, wait for a beat of about five
seconds after we are up and then begin dancing and
stripping to the music.”

Emma took a deep breath and squared her shoulders.
Daniel gave her a quick hug.

“In ten.”

“In five …four …three …two …one. On you,
Camera two and we’re up.”

On computer screens around the world, the largest
Internet audience ever assembled watched, spellbound,
as the familiar forms of Harry Potter and Hermione
Granger materialised in front of them. The camera
started a slow zoom in and then cut to the drawn
anxious faces of the two actors. Music began to fade up
in the background… slow, sexy music and the picture
cut to a full-length shot of Emma as she started to
move, almost imperceptibly at first, in time with the
music.

As it reached full volume, her movements became more
animated and she twisted her body from side to side and
then backwards and forwards to the beat. Arms up by her
shoulders, she did a slow pirouette and the viewers
could see her skirt swishing side to side as she
gyrated.

She kept going for a while but knew that she could only
defer the moment for so long. She bent over and pulled
off her “sensible” school shoes and long grey socks.
She tossed them to one side of the studio. She was now
barefoot and her white legs contrasted with the grey of
her uniform. A few more twirls and her hands went to
the buttons on her blazer. Only two were done up. She
unfastened them and slid the garment off her shoulders.
She was trying hard not to think of the cameras and
only of Daniel, but that was embarrassing enough in
itself. The blazer joined the other clothes on the
studio floor.

The school tie was the next to go, seen in close-up. To
this point, Emma remained completely respectable but
from this point on, the world was about to see parts of
Emma Watson that had never been deliberately on display
before. She knew that she was pushing the limit as she
twisted and twirled for almost two minutes before her
fingers searched for the buttons of her blouse. Camera
three was holding on her fingers while camera one had a
close-up of her face. Viewers could see the anguish in
her eyes and the ever-widening gap in the blouse front
as the five buttons were undone one by one.

First white flesh showed, then white cotton with the
shadowy line of her cleavage, then more white flesh
below the cotton, and more down to the waist-band of
the skirt. Camera two went to a medium shot, as Emma
pulled the blouse out of the waistband, allowing the
front to flap open a little to reveal one of the cups
of her bra as she turned her back to the camera. She
slowly slid the blouse off her shoulders to reveal her
back and the back of her bra. She tossed the blouse and
turned back to face the camera.

Still gyrating her hips, she slid the thin bra straps
off her shoulders and down her arms, over her elbows
and withdrew her arms from them. Without the support of
the straps, the bra dropped a fraction, revealing the
tops of her breasts which, the world was discovering,
were neither large or small but almost perfectly
proportioned for her small frame.

Part of Emma wanted it all to stop now. Another part
just wanted to get it over and done with. She knew,
however, that the captor wanted a slow tease and so she
continued, scarlet with shame but determined somehow
or other to see it through for the sake of her
school-friends. She unzipped the skirt and let it slide
slowly down her legs before kicking it sideways and
clear of the floor area. Plain white cotton panties
and, in close-up, evidence that she did not shave that
region.

At last the moment arrived when she would have to bare
herself to the world and her hands went behind her back
to unclasp her bra. Over twenty-five million people
held their breath as she let the bra slide off her
breasts, aware that camera three was zooming in for a
close-up. Her breasts stood firm and full, her nipples
erect and the brown mottled areolae also a little
swollen. She covered herself briefly with her hands but
then gave in and let the camera get its shot. She could
feel her naked flesh bouncing lewdly up and down as she
danced.

Now her hands moved to her panties and, as if in a
dream, she slipped her fingers into the waistband and
started to push them down over her hips as camera two
moved to get a clearer view. Down, down the panties
went until her pubic bush came into view. Down further,
and now her pussy was clearly visible, a camera getting
a detailed close-up of her most private part. She bent
and eased this last garment over her knees, throwing it
onto the pile. Now, totally naked, she did another
pirouette for the sake of the cameras. She saw Daniel
looking at her, and wanted to die but she knew that
worse was yet to come.

One of the camera operators gave Daniel his headset.
Daniel listened for a moment, nodded, handed the
headset back and crossed to Emma.

“I’m to lead you to the bed and watch you masturbate,”
he whispered. “I’m to make sure that your orgasm is
genuine and that you’re not faking it.”

“Oh, God,” Emma gasped.

“Oh, and I have to be naked while I watch.”

He took her hand and led Emma over to the bed.

“Lie down,” Daniel told her.

She lay back in the middle, her head on the pillows.
Daniel did not have to perform to music. He simply
removed his clothes as quickly as he could and sat on
the bed beside Emma as he cameras were repositioned for
maximum coverage. There was some movement at the side
of the studio and one of the camera women went away for
a second, returning with another set of headphones,

“Wear these,” she instructed and Daniel put them on.

“You are to follow my instructions,” he heard Michael
say. “For now, just sit and watch. Tell Emma that she
is to begin.”

“He wants you to begin,” Daniel said to Emma.

Emma felt tears forming in her eyes and fought to keep
them back but she was not entirely successful. She
closed her eyes tight and allowed her hand to inch down
towards the triangle of dark hair at her groin. She was
close enough to Daniel to hear the faint, metallic
sound of a voice from the control room issuing
instructions to Daniel. Opening her eyes again, she saw
Daniel look up to where Michael sat behind the glass
cutting cameras as instructed by Alan. The voice spoke
again and Daniel nodded.

“I’m so sorry, Em, but he wants you to spread your legs
and use both hands and hold your pussy wide open while
the camera takes a close up.”

A sob escaped Emma’s throat but she lowered her other
hand and using her index fingers, prised her labial
lips apart, then pressed into the soft flesh on either
side of her closed vagina and spread it as wide as she
could. Camera three zoomed in and was even able to
establish that she had told the truth. She was still a
virgin.

“Hold it like that for a moment,” Daniel whispered.

To Emma, it felt like an eternity but it was only
around ten seconds.

“You are to start masturbating,” Daniel said.

Emma placed one hand on her stomach and began rubbing
the other index finger up and down her crack, In normal
circumstances, her body might have responded fairly
readily, but these were not ordinary circumstances.
Knowing that three cameras were transmitting every
minute detail of her anatomy to a world-wide audience,
that it would be recorded by millions of voyeurs and
that she would always be the film star who got to lose
her virginity live and on camera would be enough to
inhibit anyone’s ardour.

Inwardly, she was in turmoil. This was something she
rarely did even in complete privacy. She could never
have imagined even in her most erotic dreams
performing the act publicly.

Trying – and failing – to put the thought of the
audience out of her mind, she continued rubbing herself
but nothing much was happening. Daniel heard Michael
asking if Emma was really trying. He nodded vigorously.

“Then help her, for god’s sake. ” Michael said. “He’s
getting angry.”

Daniel reached over and placed his hand on Emma’s
breast. Her eyes flew open in surprise.

“Michael wants me to help turn you on. The kidnapper
thinks you may be faking it.”

Even knowing what was yet to come, Emma was startled by
the physical contact. On the other hand, she was not
getting wet and since Daniel was about to fuck her
anyway, what more did she have to lose. She closed her
eyes again and lay back as she felt his hand explore
the firm, full flesh of her breast. He squeezed gently
and ran his finger over her nipple. She tried to
remember all the good, happy times they had shared
together on and off the set and felt her nipple start
to respond. He pulled gently on the hard little button
and she allowed herself to enjoy the sensation.

She felt his lips close over it as he teased it with
his teeth and heard herself take a sharp intake of
breath. Her own finger began to caress her clit which,
too, began to peep out from its hiding place. She
continued to rub it, and finally felt some response as
the first traces of lubricating juices began to form
along her cleft, glistening wetly under the studio
lighting, all caught in high-definition close-up by
camera three for the benefit of the watching millions.

As Daniel continued to fondle her, and the studio
lights warmed her skin, she used every ounce of her
imagination to picture the touch being that of a
boyfriend, tenderly caressing her on some private,
isolated, idyllic beach, the sun bathing their bodies,
their pleasure in each other about to be consummated.
Finally, her acting training began to pay off as she
placed herself in that moment. The faint trace of her
juices became a flood and her finger now slid easily
along her inner lips that had opened to reveal her now
welcoming hole. She allowed the finger to probe at the
opening before returning to that sensitive spot at the
top.

Her body began an involuntary jerking in time to her
finger’s motion as nerve-endings sent urgent messages
to her stomach muscles. The outer warmth of the lights
was now matched by an inner warmth that began racing
downwards to her groin. Daniel sat back and watched as
Emma arched her back and pushed her swollen breasts
into the air. Her legs were now slightly bent, her feet
were planted firmly on the bed and her buttocks bounced
up and down on the bed as her thrusts increased in
intensity.

Each thrust was now causing a slight gasp and moan to
escape her mouth. Her finger moved ever faster and
then, suddenly, her body went rigid, frozen at the top
of an upward arching thrust, before she groaned and
shook in the throes of a massive orgasm. She collapsed
back on the bed, trying to catch her breath as the
deserted beach faded from her mind and reality
returned. She felt her face flush but whether from
exertion or shame, she could not have said.

She heard Daniel say something to her but she was not
listening to him. He took off his headset and said it
again.

“Stand up, Emma. It’s time.”
Emma was unsteady on her feet so he took her hand and
led her to the end of the bed. She looked at him and
saw that he was not erect. Looking into his eyes, she
saw that he was worried. He shook his head and shrugged
imperceptibly. Frantic as she was, she felt
considerable empathy for him. To some extent, hers was
the easier role. As long as a man could get it up, he
could always penetrate a woman whether she was willing
and ready or not. If, under these appalling
circumstances, Daniel could not perform, what would the
kidnapper do?

At the end of the bed, she gently turned him to face
her. Although she had seen him naked in the play, this
was entirely different. He was now less than a foot
away from her. As if in a trance, she reached out and
took his penis in her hand. He made to pull away but
stopped himself. The touch of her fingers on his dick
something he had never thought to feel sent an erotic
charge through him. He felt her sliding her hand up and
down his shaft and saw her breasts, nipples still
rampant, rising and falling.

He had always thought her beautiful but, by mutual
consent, they were destined to be just good friends.
Now, in spite of what he was being compelled to do to
her if she succeeded in rousing him, she was still
trying to help him. His heart went out to her and his
body got the message. He felt himself starting to
stiffen. Camera three caught his dick straightening and
growing under Emma’s stroking while camera two caught
the look of surprise on Emma’s face because Daniel was
extremely well endowed.

In fact, Emma was more nervous now at the thought of
such a large penis entering her than she was at the
thought it would happen on camera. She looked up at
him.

“Thank you, Emma,” he whispered, then, more loudly,
“You are to face the bed and bend over it.”

Legs shaking, Emma did as she was told.

“Feet further apart,” he said.

She adjusted her position. Without being told, she knew
that camera three was now shooting a close-up of her
still damp pussy and her anus. She saw camera two
adjust its position so that it could capture the look
on her face as she lost her virginity while camera one
was concentrating on her breasts that now swung freely
over the bed. Camera three pedastalled up to capture a
clear view of Daniel’s penis entering her for the first
time.

Daniel cleared his throat as a means of warning her
that he was about to begin and she felt him stand
between her spread legs. She took a deep breath and
braced herself, determined not to scream as he tore
through her hymen. Camera three frantically refocused
as Daniel inched forward until the tip of his prick was
against her slit and he placed his hands on her hips.
Cautiously, he slid his dick up and down, making sure
that he nudged her clit each time. Having been so
recently stimulated, it did not take long before Emma
was wet again and he made sure to coat as much of his
shaft as he could.

Not able to delay any longer, he slid his long rod down
to her opening and pressed lightly against it. Emma
stopped breathing for a moment. She felt him push a
little harder and the skin of her vagina stretched to
allow the head of his penis to enter a little. He
paused for a second, and Emma breathed again.

With the next push, Daniel came up against the thin
fleshy veil that barred his way. He paused again and
Emma knew that in the next five seconds, her life would
be changed forever. She felt the tears form again. She
had so wanted to save this gift for the right man but
it was not to be. As this thought was running through
her mind, she felt a searing pain and, in spite of
herself, let out a yelp. It was done, she was no longer
a virgin. She felt Daniel slide deeper into her,
withdraw and thrust again. She was in agony but was
pinned in her position. She could feel something warm
trickling down her inner thigh and knew that it had to
be blood.

Daniel paused for as long as he felt the kidnapper
would tolerate and then began a slow pumping motion. He
heard Emma’s distress as he pushed his way into the
tight, warm passage he had just forced open. He kept
his pace slow at first but everything was combining to
bring him to the edge quickly. Much as he would never
have allowed himself to imagine this as a situation, he
was disgusted with himself for finding that it was also
extremely arousing to be having sex with a lovely young
virgin who excited huge numbers of ardent young, and
not so young, males everywhere, all of whom no doubt
envied him beyond measure.

He felt his pace quickening in response to these lewd
thoughts and hoped that he was not hurting Emma further
as a result. Emma could now feel the tip of his penis
bouncing off her cervix but, as the assault continued,
she was aware also that, along with the pain, a new
feeling of intense pleasure was asserting itself.

For both of them, the saving grace was the fact that
Emma’s enforced orgasm had left her still in a state of
semi-arousal and so, as Daniel rocked back and forward,
faster and faster, Emma found a second wave building.
She felt Daniel’s hands go round her to grab her
breasts as he exploded into her, jet after jet of hot
jism washing her insides as she, too, thrashed around
in ecstasy, clamping her thighs together to hold him
until the last jerk of his body told her he was
finished.

There silence in the studio was broken only by the
sound of their gasping for breath and then Emma felt
Daniel starting to go limp inside her. She felt him
slip out of her and straightened up. He pulled her to
him and just held her as emotion overcame her and she
sobbed loudly on his shoulder.

Michael’s voice came over the studio speaker.

“He’s gone. He has promised to release the three girls
within the next twenty-four hours.”

There was nothing more to say. One of the camera
operators, a woman, brought Emma a robe and led to her,
still crying, off to a dressing room. Daniel, too, was
given a robe and went to comfort her.

In Chertsey, Alan was in his own world of ecstasy. He
had jerked off three times during the netcast, while
still being able to call the shots, literally. He had
done it. Emma would never be so bloody proud again. The
world had seen her act like the slut she was. Now,
she’d be glad to go on a date with almost anyone, if
anyone would still want her.

He called up his eradication software and shredded
every single file that could possibly be linked to the
netcast from his hard-drive. No matter what forensic
tests the police might carry out if they should ever
find him, which he doubted, they would find no evidence
whatsoever on his machine. This done, he cycled to the
yacht basin, dressed in his blacks and boarded the
longboat. He released the girls from their restraints,
supervised their feeding and let them use the bathroom.
That done, he sat them down.

“I have some good news and some bad news for you,” he
told them. “The good news is that my demands have been
met and you will be going home.”

He saw the girls exchange relieved looks.

“The bad news is that it will not be until tonight and
I am going to have to restrain you one more time. I
will release you late this afternoon if you agree to
cooperate with me and not try anything funny. If I get
the slightest hint that you plan something to distract
me or establish where you are, I will change my mind
about ever letting you go.”

None of the girls was prepared to risk their freedom
and so he allowed them to sit and talk until dusk. He
led them to their beds and secured them one last time,
then headed back to Chertsey station and caught the
first train into London. Back in Wandsworth, he
strolled past the ice-cream van lot, which looked
unchanged from his last visit. In the pub, he went to
the washroom, removed his white golf-shirt and slipped
back out again.

Four hours later, he pulled “his” van over in a quiet
unlit country lane about two hundred yards from a main
road on the outskirts of Oxford. The three girls in the
van were blindfolded and had their hands tied loosely
behind their backs. With the engine still running, he
helped them out of the van. They stood in a huddle at
the side of the road.

“Listen carefully to me,” he said. “I am going to drive
away. You should be able to untie yourselves after I
have gone. You are close to a main road not far from
Oxford so you should soon get help. I shall be watching
you in the rear-view mirror. If you try to remove your
blindfolds before I am out of sight, I’ll return and
shoot all three of you. Do I make myself clear”?

All three girls mumbled their assent.

“Good,” he said. “Lie down.”

They all did so. Immediately, Alan jumped into the van,
slammed it into gear and shot off towards the main
road. By the time the girls had staggered to their
feet, untied themselves and removed their blindfolds,
he was three miles away. By the time they had managed
to stop a passing vehicle and explain who they were, he
was over ten miles away and home free. Back in
Wandsworth, he replaced the van and the severed lock,
caught the train back to Chertsey and cycled home.

The papers and television next day were full of the
news of the girls’ release. Police, it was said, were
totally frustrated. Their technical staff had been
totally unable to trace the hacker. The girls had been
unable to offer anything but the vaguest description of
their captor whose face they had never seen because he
was always masked.

They had no idea where they had been kept, except that
it was on a narrow boat somewhere. Nor could they say
what sort of vehicle they had been transported in
beyond the fact that it was obviously a van. Police, it
was said, were still actively pursuing the case but
nobody believed that they would ever find the
perpetrator.

That afternoon, Alan cycled back to the boatyard and
went aboard the barge. An hour later, only the most
perceptive of owners would have found anything
different about the interior. Only the broken lock
would give away the fact that someone had been aboard,
but with nothing missing, it was not likely that the
owners would report it. In any case it would be days,
weeks or even months before they came to check it.

The police, faced with the prospect of checking every
long-boat in the country, would take weeks to establish
that this particular boat might have been broken into
but there was absolutely nothing to show that this was
THE boat.

Alan went back home, certain that he would not be
traced. Whistling happily, he got home just in time to
greet his mother as she came home from work.

“Hello, son,” she smiled. You’re home early. Has your
course finished.”

“This afternoon, mum,” he grinned. “Fancy a cuppa?”

“That’d be lovely, Alan. Thank you.”

“Right, I’ll put the kettle on,” he grinned and went
out to the kitchen.

That evening, he was watching television and happened
to catch an episode of “The Tudors”. As he watched, he
was mesmerised by one of the most attractive young
women he had ever seen, playing Mary Boleyn. He waited
anxiously for the credits and found that she was
Perdita Weeks. She was a little older than he was, but
only a couple of years and she was sweet, had a
beautifully cultured voice and was clearly a “lady”,
unlike that Emma girl. He hurried to his computer, did
some detailed research and began typing…

Dear Perdita,

You don’t know me, and I won’t claim that I am your
biggest fan because I know that you have millions of
fans all around the world.

What I will claim, though, is that no one admires you
MORE than I do. The difference is that I know you
better than most of them do. I know what makes you
laugh, I know what music you like to listen, what
fashions you like to wear. I even know a little about
your favourite colours and foods.

In other words, I know that I would be a perfect friend
for you because we have so much in common, Oh, and we
are the same age too. How perfect is that?

I know that you are famous and I’m not but I read that
when you are not filming “The Tudors”, you like to be
as normal as possible so I think it could work out
really well.

Anyway, all I wanted to ask was that we might just go
out one day, just for a walk or something, so that we
could talk and so that you could see for yourself just
how well we would get on together.

I hope that you will write back soon.

Your soon to be (I hope) very good friend.

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