I’ve had my share of sleepless nights in my life, with causes that have been both usual and unusual. Most were forgotten with the subsequent dawn, but the night before my first kidnap still haunts me. Even now, if I revisit those hours, the memory makes my heart race. As I play it back, it feels like a sequence from a movie. I almost need to suppress my own disbelief to accept that I actually did go through with the insanity of it all …
In order to reach the woodland rendez-vous before daybreak, I had to get up at 5. I had barely slept. Faced with the uncertainty of the coming hours, my body had suffered fight-or-flight adrenalin rushes throughout the night. I felt wired. The snatch was less than an hour away, but somehow it felt surreal. Perhaps I had imagined it all? Surely Mistress Pip and Mistress Kali were not about to kidnap me. The doubts were soon dispelled by the vibration of my phone. The text said it all: “Are you ready?”. It was real all right. There would be no reprieve.
Situations like this are bizarre. The immense excitement of the soon-to-unfold scenario dominates. Yet, scattered amidst its jangly noisy chorus, you hear the odd mundane note.  I remember mine well. Moments before the taxi arrived I obsessed over a flashlight. I had to have one. It would be dark. I could fall in a lake near the snatch point and drown.  My death was imminent without it. Eventually, I found one in the garage. It failed to calm me down though. Instead my panic simply found a new borehole. Now I suddenly realised that my local taxi firm were about to send a driver, to my house, to drop me off at a deserted carpark. What the hell would the driver think? Would he take me for a dogger? What if he collected me in the future when I was with friends?   Thinking on the hoof, I told the driver that my friends were meeting me at the car park to play golf somewhere distant. And yes, I told them that they had my clubs too. Feeble. Luckily, I haven’t seen that driver since he drove off into the distance. I wonder if he remembers me?
The moments after he left were the loneliest of my life. I felt so exposed. And, even though the chorus was reaching its crescendo, I still had no idea of how the final notes would be powerfully struck. Standing in the dark with my headphones on and Tinie Tempah blasting at full volume, I was a kidnap waiting to happen. I didn’t have to wait long.
The Takedown. Ultimately, that’s why I get kidnapped. Those sweet moments when I know my predator is near, but as yet unrevealed, can’t be equaled. And so, as I stood in that dark deserted carpark, surrounded by trees and with only the stars for company, I had no idea whether the car that pulled in and slowly drove to the back of the clearing was part of the trap or not.  Place yourself in my shoes for a moment.  You are alone, in the dark and cold, feeling a mixture of afraid, exhilarated and awkward, when a car appears out of nowhere.  For obvious reasons, I expected my kidnappers to arrive in a van. This vehicle couldn’t be them. Could it?  I felt its presence unnerving, especially as it parked out of sight with its headlights on. Unsure of what to do, I decided to continue to follow instructions and just wait. I turned my back on the interlopers and placed headphones over my ears. As I did so, I saw two shadowy figures out of the corner of my eye. In a trance, I looked the other way.
What happened next took place swiftly and violently. A hood covered my head as I was pushed to my knees. Next, a rag was roughly shoved into my mouth as my assailants worked me over. The force of the attack took me completely by surprise. It was brutal, scary. These ladies were expert at grappling and I had little chance to resist. Before I knew it, I was cuffed and lying on the ground. Small punches were aimed at my vulnerable torso and threats were menaced in my ear. I’m not used this kind of aggression and I quickly submitted. I knew I was beaten.
As soon as I was subdued, Pip and Kali set about emptying my pockets. Without the power of sight, every sound became magnified. One of them went to fetch a vehicle. Car doors were slammed, the boots opened. The resonance of hurried, yet purposeful, activity abounded. Now, I experienced my first wobble. Not only did I not know these ladies, I had paid in advance. What if they just left me here? Could these women be as callous and dangerous as those atmospheric photos that first drew me to them suggested? I didn’t have to wait long to find out.  A few more digs were aimed at my ribs before my ankles were roughly tied. The two of them hauled me up and half flung, half dragged me, into the back seat of their car where they commanded me to lie down. Covering my body with a blanket, they slammed the doors and pulled out of the carpark, wheels spinning, as they escaped with their prey intact.
The whole takedown took less than five minutes. The next phase of the kidnap had now begun.