"The Hooded Claw? But he must be dead - it was your great-grandmother who had all the trouble with him. Why would you think that?"
Velma looked across the table at Dee Dee and Daphne, while Peter held Penny's shoulders. "It just seems so funny hearing that voice," was all she would say eventually.
"Look, Penny, it's just somebody's stupid idea of a joke. Don't let it get to you - besides, it's time for all of you to get into costume. Go on - I'll see you outside."
Daphne and Velma stood up and walked out of the room, as Dee Dee looked at a small parcel that had arrived for her.
"Wonder what the girls are sending me now," she said as she looked at the return address label.
San Francisco, two days ago0
"I know the seventies are coming back into fashion, young lady, but even then sleeveless mini dresses and Farah Fawcett hairdos were so passé."
Taffy tried to lunge forward to hit the man who had just taunted her, but the ropes that were wound round her torso and the back of the chair she was sitting were too strong. "Whtdummnnntttoopsseee," she mumbled through the thick white cloth that was pulled between erg teeth.
She had been grabbed as soon as she had walked into the office by two burly men dressed like old time hoodlums, with tweed jackets over mustard jumpers, trousers and cloth caps. Their outward appearance notwithstanding, they had been very efficient, carrying her in and lashing her wrists to the side of the chair back before encasing her in the longest length of rope she had ever seen.
She was dressed as the masked man had described - a green sleeveless minidress with a zip front, and matching heels. So what if she liked the dress, she thought as she tried to kick out, forgetting for the moment that her ankles were secured to the front legs of the chair.
Instead she looked at the man in front of him, dressed in an old fashioned double breasted green suit and an over sized purple trilby. Why on earth was he wearing a cape and an eye mask anyway - he looked like something from a silent film.
"I do hope your friend will not be long," he sneered as he looked at Taffy. "After all, the bomb under your seat is on a tight schedule, and we need time to get away from here." Taffy shook as she heard that, the ticking under her chair seeming to get louder and louder as she mutely called out.
Velma looked at herself in the mirror, turning from side to side. Penny had been right - the outfit was not orange, but a deep red velvet. It consisted of a floor length full skirt, under which she was wearing a white lace petticoat, a high collared blouse and a fitted jacket which allowed her to show the brooch that Penny had left for her.
"Not bad at all," Velma said as she lifted one leg, the skirt rising with her as she tied the laced white ankle boots onto her feet. As she set her foot down again, the door opened and Daphne came in.
"That is definitely a new look for you," she said as she saw Velma standing there. She was wearing a white lace dress, fastened with small pearl buttons at the front and cuffs, which was tightly cinched at the waist before flowing down to the floor. A straw hat was jauntily placed on her head, and she carried a parasol in her lace glove covered hands.
"Do you think shaggy would like this," Velma said as she allowed herself to twirl round, the red velvet rising as she did so.
"He would be an idiot if he didn't - but then again, he is Shaggy," Daphne said with a laugh as the two friends made their way along the corridor and down the stairs. At the bottom was Penny, who smiled as she held a small box in her hands.
"Well, don't you two look the part," she said as Daphne landed gently on the floor. "Listen, Dee Dee got a package which she has passed to me, but looking at it I think it would suit you much more, Daphne." She opened the box to reveal a dark green emerald, fitted into a gold filigree brooch.
"My god," Daphne said, "It's beautiful. What is it?"
"A present to me from an admirer - at least, that's what the note said. Anyway," Penny said as she fixed the brooch to Daphne's neck, "I think it looks stunning on there." Satisfied, she picked up a white racing helmet and walked to the door.
"Come on then - let's get this party started!"
The trio walked out onto the front porch, where a small crowd had gathered around the world famous pink racing car known as the Compact Pussycat. "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls," Penny said as she put on the helmet and climbed into the car, "I am Penelope Pitstop, and I declare this day OPEN!!"
The crowd applauded as Penny smiled, while Velma and Daphne made their way down into the crowd to look round, unaware of the people who were following them with their eyes.
Brenda slowly opened the office door and walked in, closing it quietly behind her. The fear on her face was plain for all to see as she looked round, her long brown hair falling in soft curves around her face.
"All right," she called out, "I'm here. Where's Taffy?"
"Right here, my sweet," the voice said as the lights went up, and Taffy called out "BRNDRRNNNNN!!!!" Brenda looked at her old friend in the chair and said "If you don't disarm that bomb right now, we won't talk."
"And if we don't talk, then the bomb kills us all."
Brenda swallowed as she said "I can take that risk - can you?"
There was silence as Taffy looked on, wide eyed at the new found courage of her friend, before the voice said "All right - boys, go and throw the bomb into the sea."
"Right Boss," one of the goons said as she reached under the chair and ripped the bomb away, carrying it outside. They listened for a few moments, before an earth shattering "KA-BOOM" rent the silence and a splash of water hit the window.
"I do hope he remembered to throw it this time," the voice continued as the masked man stepped into the light, a very real looking pistol in his hand. "Now, if you pleas my dear Brenda, the Star of Alamein."
"I don't have it."
"Don't try my patience girl," he said as he walked forward and grabbed Brenda by the arm, pulling her over towards him. "Where is the Star?"
"I don't have it," Brenda replied in a choking voice, "It was sent directly on to my partner, Dee Dee."
"I don't believe you," he said as he pushed Brenda over to the other goon. "Make her uncomfortable while I search this place," he said as the goon pulled the frightened girl's arms behind her back, crossing her wrists and using rough rope to bind them together as she stood there shaking.
As Daphne walked down the grass lane between the tents, she was stopped by Peter Pitstop. He was now dressed in a double breasted red jacket, a cravat tucked in around his neck, white riding pants and knee length black boots, with a pair of grey driving gloves on his hand.
"Impersonating your great-grandfather now," Daphne said with a smile as she twirled her parasol on her shoulder.
"Well he was her great love," Peter replied with a smile. "I was just going to see how Penny was doing - care to accompany me?"
"OF course," Daphne said as she took his arm and they walked to the front of the house, where Penny was posing for photographs in front of the Pussycat. Velma was at one side, talking to Dee Dee, who was wearing a dark blue jacket and skirt over a cream top for the occasion.
"Business dress? That's different for you Dee," Daphne said as the couple approached them.
"Well, ladies of my colour in those days tended to serve behind the master's table," Dee Dee said with a smile, "so I think I will take a more modern approach." Her eyes narrowed slightly as she saw the brooch at Daphne's neck. "I didn't think Penny would let anyone wear that - still, it does match your eyes."
"Why thank you kindly for saying so," Daphne said as she looked round the crowd. A glint of light on metal caught her eye, and she squinted slightly in the direction of the sunburst. "Dee," she said quietly, "why is someone taking camera shots from that far away of Penny?"
Dee Dee looked in the same direction, before saying "I have no idea, but I will find out." She walked in the direction of the tents, as Velma said "I need to talk to Penny" and walked towards the car.
"Would you excuse me, Peter," Daphne said as she looked at the young man, "I need to go and powder my nose." Peter stood to one side and watched Daphne as she walked away, a strange gleam in his eye.
"It's not here, Boss!"
The masked man looked at his goon, and then at Brenda as she rolled on the floor. Her wrists had been tied together, and then secured to her waist, before ropes had been wound over her purple striped top to hold her arms tightly into her side. More ropes surrounded her ankles and legs, the bottoms of her bellbottom jeans flaring out from under the brown band.
"I told you, if it went to the Haight-Ashbury drop it would have been sent to Dee Dee automatically," she said as she watched Taffy sweating in the chair.
"Oh - and where is your lovely Nubian partner."
"Security detail, somewhere in Richville - I think the name was Pitstop."
"Pitstop? Pitstop you say?" The man stood up and started chuckling, before he laughed, a manic laugh that brought no comfort to either Taffy or Brenda. "Well, this is just too, too good. I get to kill two birds with one stone - but first, I get to send two angels back to heaven."
Taking a length of white cloth, he pulled it into Brenda's mouth, silencing her as he forced the corners of her mouth back and secured the ends under her brown hair. Taking a small package from the goon, he set the timer to fifteen minutes and laid it on the floor in front of Brenda's eyes.
"I wonder if your tame Neanderthal friend will get back in time," he smirked a she started the timer, the green neon number counting down as the two men left the office, closing and locking the door behind themselves....
As Dee Dee approached the tent, she saw the side close rapidly, as if someone was trying to hide. "Who's in there," she called out as she lifted the side of the tent, stepping in and stopping at the sight before her.
Daphne finished washing her hands and placed the lace gloves back over them, before picking up her parasol and leaving the ladies rest room. She had not taken more than two steps before a damp cloth was clamped over her nose and mouth, while a strong arm wrapped itself around her waist. She struggled for a few minutes, before the sweet smelling fumes began to make her fall into a deep sleep.
As Velma approached the Compact Pussycat, a sound like a snake hissing started to fill eh rears, and she saw a dark pillar of smoke rising round the car, enveloping Penny and the vehicle. She didn't hesitate, but ran forward, plunging into the smoke as the crowd scattered in every direction. The smoke seemed to linger for a few minutes, before it slowly started to clear, but where two women should have been standing, only one remained.