Julie Ford was glad to have left school and started her first job. Whilst not the most gifted of children she had always been a model pupil as far as her behaviour. She was rarely in trouble and gained a reasonable number of basic qualifications. Her time at school was not without its traumas though. Being slightly small for her age and of average looks she had been teased and bullied a little. Consequently she was a little shy and often lacked confidence.
Julie was not an unattractive teenager. In fact her girl-next-door looks many found attractive. Her mousy hair for the past couple of years had been cut in a bob style. She occasionally wore a hair band to hold it away from her face. Despite approaching her 18th birthday she still liked to place girlish broaches in her locks. Her face was childlike, almost impish with a tiny turned-up button nose. She stood at about five foot tall and her petite frame and despite her 17 years had the figure of a budding teenager. Unlike many of her friends she was still a virgin. As yet she hadn't had a boyfriend.
She enjoyed her work in a Call Centre and was only to pleased to say yes to some overtime when the Office Manager asked her. On this particular occasion it was just after 7pm when she and her colleagues finished the extra work. Julie was grateful for the offer of a lift most of the way home. Without it she would have had to wait for the infrequent bus service. She thanked her boss for the lift and started the 15-minute walk home. The bus would have taken her outside of her block of flats, but the car lift had saved at least forty minutes on her journey.
She glanced down at her watch as she started climbing the steps of the long footbridge that spanned the railway lines behind her flats. Normally she avoided the bridge but using it cut a 15-minute walk down to five. On this evening she was tired and eager to get home. It was now nearly 8pm and she quickened her step so as to get in before the top of the hour. The light was now starting to fade on this mild April evening but still bright enough to see clearly. As she got to the top of the steps she noticed a group of young women about half way across the bridge. She could clearly hear their laughing and giggling and was not at all concerned. As she approached the gang she noticed that they were sharing bottles of wine and cans of beer.
She was now within feet of them. A drunken female voice spoke,
'Let the lady through... '
The crowd parted.
Julie didn't say a word. She held her head up and started to walk past trying not to catch any of their eyes.
'Rude bitch!' spate one of the gang.
Another put her foot out attempting to trip her up. Julie saw it coming a stepped over it and continued to walk.
One of the group then blocked her path forcing her to stop.
'Not so fast!' she said.
Another girl then also blocked her way.
'Let's have a little chat! She announced in a drunken slur.
Julie was then aware that someone had taken hold of her left arm. She then recognised some of the girls. They were in a gang that hung around at the local Railway Station. One of the number she recognised from school. Charlotte Smith had been one of the school bullies.
Julie mustered up all her courage and demanded that they let her go. This statement was meet with laughter. The girl holding her arm then grabbed her wrist and brought her hand into view.
'Nice rings!' she said.
She proceeded to try and remove them, whilst Julie clenched her fingers in a fist to prevent her. At the same time another was trying to pull the shoulder bag from her other arm.
To Julie's relief she then notice a man walking towards them. Ordinarily she would have been a little concerned at being approached by a man on this isolated bridge but this evening she was grateful. She planned her next move. Once he was nearby she would scream for help!
Unfortunately her plan could not be tried. Members of the gang had also noticed him.
'Quick let's go...' said Charlotte, who was clearly the ringleader.
Julie begged them to stop as they pushed and pulled her slight frame back along the bridge. One of them caught hold of her right wrist and gave her a Chinese burn along with an order to shut up!
Julie was taken back down the steps and back along the route she had just walked. She was surrounded by about ten young women of various shapes and sizes in varying states of alcoholic stupor. She knew the streets all to well, having walked them for many years as a child. The gang then made a detour. Julie wondered why they were taking her along Farm Road. It seemed strange to take her away from an isolated place where they could rob her away from preying eyes to a suburban road.
She then saw the familiar iron railings at the entrance to the local recreation ground. She had played there as a child. Her last two schools had used its sports fields. She was glad to see that the large black gates were firmly locked with a large padlock. Clearly there plan to take her into the seclusion of the park had failed. She hoped that they would now run-off and let her go as to hold her here would draw too much attention.
Her heart then sank! Julie noticed one of girls pulling out one of the rails, revealing a secret entrance. Four of the gang pushed through the narrow gap. Julie again felt herself being pushed and then pulled towards the gap. Soon she was manhandled threw. The remaining four gang members hurriedly followed her. Once inside they all kept the voices to a whisper as they led the now trebling girl along the tarmac path and past the changing rooms.
They then left the path and trampled across the grass and were confronted by some old tatty paling fencing. A couple of the gang pushed aside some of the hanging wood and got through the hole. Next Julie was shoved through the gap. The rest of the group followed and after a few paces they were in a clearing under some large trees. In the fading light Julie recognised the area as the remains of the Adventure Playground were she had played as a child.
In the middle of the clearing were some large logs and a broken park bench.
Charlotte then spoke,
'Welcome to our residence!' she said, gently mocking Julie's quiet and polite Middle Class voice.
Julie said nothing but was filled with rage and fear. She would have liked to have told her what she thought but knew it would not be a good idea.
'I like to have those rings I saw earlier... ' Said a redheaded girl.
'I like her jacket...' said a blond teenager.
Before Julie could think hands were pulling her from all sides. She felt her lovely rings being prised from her hands, along with her silver bracelet. Her handbag was gone and she felt her designer jacket being pulled off her shoulders. Strangely she felt relieved that they had finally got what they wanted. With her jewellery, money and jacket in their possession they could now let her go. She was upset at losing the rings but she resolved to call the police when she got home and was sure that they would soon get them back for her.
All went quiet for a while as they looked through her bag and shared out her belongings. She waited patiently to be told she could go. Charlotte approached her and then spoke,
'Let's see what else she has got?' She said in a questioning voice like some interrogator.
Within seconds hands were upon her again pulling at her clothing.
'No!' Julie shouted. 'Get off me!' she demanded.
Someone behind then placed her arms around her waist. Her assailant easily lifted her up right of the ground. She kicked her legs in a desperate attempt to keep the others away. As her legs flew towards them they showed no fear and after a few grasps took hold of them. Her black-heeled shoes were removed to prevent her injuring any of them.
.... There is more of this story ...