DAMSELS UNDER GLASS: THE
| A ONE
MINI-MELODRAMA by Ash Doush © 2001
It was a cold, inner
city night. The kind of night where the dozen steps from a cozy taxi to
warm gin-joint seemed like an eternity. The kind of night where even
the lowlifes and bottom feeders scrambled for a nice, toasty rock to
crawl under. Tall brick tenements loomed above the streets, damp with
a gray, chilling fog – a fog that had almost decided it was worth the
effort to turn into ice. Dark shop windows kept a silent vigil, the
shelter of their equally dark doorways denied by faded, dusty "closed"
signs. A block away a new '33 Studebaker police cruiser with its
blue gumball light cruised by, its occupants hurrying to arrest some
and coffee; determined to make the inside of a cosy diner safe with
presence. Discarded sheets of newspaper tumbled along the bitumen,
by the stiff, early winter breeze. One such sheet paused, caught on a
railing – its headline apparent to no-one but the closest of the shop
SLAVONION STAR FEARED
Then a sudden gust of wind
dislodged the sheet and it tumbled off down the street …
… only to briefly catch
against the leg of a slim, blonde haired woman. Linda Lane,
investigative journalist with The Evening Herald irritably kicked the
sheet of cold, damp paper away and stole a glance at her watch.
"Well, I’m here on time,"
she whispered to herself.
Shivering, she pulled the
collar of her grey coat tight against her throat and wished – not for
the first time – that she had decided to wear something other than the
fashionably short, calf length skirt, that had seemed like such a good
idea in the
warmth of her apartment. At least she had a scarf tied ascot style
her neck and a pair of black wrist-length gloves to keep her neck and
warm. Although if she was honest, she would admit that these, too, had
chosen for the sense of modern style they exuded, rather than for any
But then Linda could hardly
be blamed for wanting to look her best. The woman she was waiting for
happened to be a top New York fashion designer. And, furthermore, a top
New York fashion designer who claimed to have knowledge of the
whereabouts of the missing Slavonian film star, Nalia Kramer. It was
the kind of story that could make a career – and her weasel of an
editor had told her to layoff, that it "wasn't a story for a dizzy
dame." She'd show him. She'd show them all!
It was for that reason that
Linda had agreed to secretly meet with Ilsa Smythe at 11pm on a damp,
cold, inner city night. She was well aware of the risks, however. An
attractive woman, out by herself in the middle of the night, could
easily attract unwanted attention. So she had come prepared. Along with
the flash-bulb camera that hung heavily around her neck by its leather
strap, Linda had brought along a small pocket knife that she had stuck
into the waistband of her skirt, behind her right hip.
It was, after all, the late
thirties – and a girl simply could not be too careful in this modern
day and age.
At least, that was what her
cousin Lois always said. And since Lois was a hot shot reporter in
Metropolis, everyone told Linda that she should listen to what the
brassy, overachieving shrew had to say.
Well, just this once, Linda
– not Lois – was going to crack the big story. And it would be
an entirely different Lane who would grab front page headlines across
Linda suddenly heard a door
being opened and a moment later, the sound of thick heels on wet
concrete. She turned to peer down the narrower of the two streets she
was positioned to see, and saw a tall figure approaching. A
heart-pounding moment later she breathed an audible sigh of relief as
she saw it was the woman she had been waiting for.
Ilsa Smythe hurried to
within a few steps of Linda. She was a striking woman in her late
Blonde hair swept up and back in a bun, and all but hidden beneath a
black hat she wore. Likewise, her face, which Linda knew to be
beautiful if slightly severe, was shielded behind a mesh veil
from hat’s brim. Ilsa had also dressed more mindfully of the cold as
by her ankle length fur coat.
"Miss Lane," said Ilsa as
she stopped a few feet short of Linda. "I was less than sure that you
would take this opportunity."
"On the contrary – how
could I resist?" Linda took a steadying breath. "And I want to thank
offering your help."
"At least wait until you’ve
seen what I’m about to show you before you thank me," smiled Ilsa from
beneath her veil. "Although I am sure you will be very surprised."
"Perhaps you can give me
more of an idea of exactly what I’ll be …" Linda trailed off as Ilsa,
ignoring her, turned and quickly began to walk back down the street.
With little other choice, the reporter followed.
They walked for almost one
hundred yards before Ilsa turned sharply and trotted down a short
staircase to a doorway beneath street level. For a moment, Linda
paused, an inner sense of unease warring with her reporter’s instinct
for a story. But
then she heard the rumbling of an automobile engine and looked up to
headlights approaching her through the midnight mist. Rather than be
seen by the driver, she followed Ilsa down the steps and through the
door the fashion designer had just opened.
She stepped into the foyer
of a grandly furnished house. Oaken tables stood beneath classic pieces
of art, a suit or armour stood guard by the door, and a staircase began
on Linda’s left and spiralled up to a second floor landing. Although
liked to consider herself unflappable, Linda had to admit she was
It was not that they were in a particularly bad part of town, but this
kind of décor was better suited to a home west of 84th
Ilsa closed the door behind
her and took a moment to turn the key in its lock. Linda hardly
noticed. She was still too busy staring at her surroundings. Other than
the staircase, there were two main exits – a massive set of ivory
double doors to her right, and a smaller wooden door beneath the
"Quiet is now of the
essence, Miss Lane. If we are discovered within these walls …" Rather
than finishing her warning, Ilsa led the way toward the door beneath
the grand staircase, Linda sticking close behind. As they reached the
flimsy looking door, the designer paused to whisper: "What is beyond
this door will change
you life forever. Are you sure you still wish to see?"
Could she be leading me
right to Nalia Kramer ? Linda thought excitedly. She nodded
quickly, not wanting to wait a moment longer. In response, Ilsa twisted
on the door and pushed it open slightly. The two women exchanged a
and Ilsa motioned for Linda to take a look. The reporter slid past the
other woman, and peered through the partially open door. Linda gasped
in surprise and whirled around to confront Ilsa …
… Only to catch a face full
of noxious smelling cloth as the tall, blonde woman slammed her against
the wall. Linda fought to hold her breath while struggling against the
other woman’s superior position and strength, but knew she was fighting
a losing battle.
"Just breathe deeply, my
dear," Ilsa soothed from between gritted teeth, "and all your troubles
will soon be over."
Unable to break free of
Ilsa’s hold, Linda made one last desperate attempt to kick out at her
attacker. But the woman simply accepted the blow on her hip and pressed
on the cloth that was smothering Linda. Finally, the pretty reporter
could stand it no longer and opened her mouth to suck in a deep lungful
of whatever drug the cloth had been soaked in.
A few moments and two
further breaths later, Linda was allowed to slump to the floor, her
legs already too weak to support her. As her vision retreated down a
long dark tunnel, Linda’s eyes fell upon the room Ilsa had revealed
before attacking her. The room that was supposed to be occupied by the
But was instead nothing
more than a broom closet.
The last thing Linda heard
was Ilsa chuckling above her, and then, in a distinctly European accent
say: "Und now for ze ropes!"
Well in excess of 70
years in the future, and at least one plane of reality away, Anne
Clayton jogged along a gradually curving corridor of Tesseract
Seattle’s Inner Sanctum. She wore a figure hugging black leotard, white
running shoes, short socks, and a narrowly folded red bandana tied
across her short,
cropped hair as a sweatband.
Although Anne would not
have admitted it to anyone who cared to ask, she was not running in an
attempt to improve her already sleekly proportioned body, or because of
desire to raise her current fitness level. No, her true reason for
through the maze of corridors that was the Inner Sanctum was simply
to work off some excess sexual tension.
Work had kept her extremely
busy for the best part of the last three days, and she’d missed out
on at least one "Gathering of the Alices" that had reportedly resulted
in a great deal of fun. She had not realised just how frustrated she’d
become until she’d been able to tear herself away from the reams of
documents that she had been facing – only to find that most of the
Alices were with Margo on a trip to visit Madame Lian. So she had
that a late evening run was in order to allow her to get a good night’s
sleep. Although if she was honest with herself, she was well aware of
possibility that either she would find someone … or someone
Anne’s thoughts trailed off
as one of the Biosphere's rarely seen valet-bots came scuttling down
the corridor toward her.
Ahhh, she thought to
herself, now this is more like it.
The elegant little bot did
a quick loop around the panting lawyer as she came up to it and halted
at her feet. A panel in its side slid open, prompting Anne to bend down
and see the envelope propped inside. Smiling, she grabbed the heavy,
lightly scented, paper packet and stood, using her manicured nails to
neatly tear it open. Inside was a small piece of paper which she
mused, I wasn't the only person left behind when the fun moved to
Hong Kong. 'An evening of VR Entertainment,' hmmm... Anne
smiled. "I see this isn't addressed to me in particular," she
told the waiting bot. "Were you programmed to deliver this to the first
unsuspecting Inner Circle member you met?" The valet-bot's only
answer was to spin in a tight circle, emit a musical chime, and head
back in the direction it had come. Anne followed without hesitation,
but required a steady pace to keep up with the fast moving machine.
The little bot twisted and turned its
way deep into the bowels of the Inner Sanctum, until Anne was far from
sure she would have been able to find her way out of the maze of
pristine white corridors had she wanted to. Eventually, however, it
stopped outside a sealed door; Anne followed suit, puffing for breath.
"This … better be … worth it," she
panted at the machine.
In answer, the door to the room slid
open, revealing one of the specialized VR suites that were a main
attraction within Margo Wells’ personal playground. The first thing
Anne noticed was that two of the four pods in the suite were occupied.
inside and made her way toward a locker in the corner of the room.
she found two black spandex bodysuits, one of which she took down from
hanger. Quickly, she slipped out of her tennis shoes, socks and
and began to dress in the shiny bodysuit.
"Would you like to join the game in
progress, Ms Clayton?" a disembodied, melodious voice inquired.
Anne grinned, not at all startled by
the voice of Eve, the Artificial Intelligence created by Margo that
effectively ran the Inner Sanctum and Tesseract in general. "Aside from
my change of clothing, Eve, what gave my interest away?"
"Ms. Clayton, you are aware that I am
programmed to be able to detect the slightest physiological sign of
sexual arousal – and yours have been overly apparent for the past
Anne laughed and finished zipping
herself into the bodysuit. "So what’s the scenario?"
"1930s political espionage. Ms.
Curtis has just been taken captive by the villainous, Ilsa Heigelstein.
is playing Linda Lane, an investigative journalist with The Evening
"Sounds good," said Anne, her mind
awash with exciting possibilities as she climbed into the pod and began
to settle herself into the sensor lined cocoon-cavity. "And the other
"A surprise," answered the A.I. with
a detectable note of smugness. "Sufficed to say that she is playing the
role of a kidnapped Slavonian film actress."
"And the role I’ll be playing?" Anne
asked as she slipped her hands and feet into their appropriate
cavities. She was practiced enough at setting herself up for VR that
she could, and in fact had, done it blindfolded.
There was a brief pause as the panels
around her limbs snapped closed, and the interior of the pod began to
shrink.. "I believe the game would best be enhanced if you were to take
the role of Deb Diamond – a private investigator hired to watch over
"Tough as nails, cynical, embittered,
but firmly on the side of the angels, with a soft spot for puppies,
kittens, and helpless dames in need of rescuing?" Anne inquired.
"Exactly," Eve responded.
Anne watched as the sensory
hood lowered from above. "Cool! Thank you, Eve"
"Enjoy yourself, Ms.
The hood slipped over
Anne’s head, and the inner cavity moulded itself to her spandex encased
body. A familiar tingle spread through her. She closed her eyes, took
in a deep breath and …
… cursing, threw a
hand up to brace herself as the taxi she was in hit a particularly
nasty pot-hole. An elderly man was at the wheel, his face a mask of
concentration as he steered them through a thick mist. He wore a tweed
driving hat with a hack licence badge pinned to the brim.
Anne – in the virtual guise of Deb
Diamond – shot the man an annoyed glance. She instantly knew everything
about her character Anne. She also knew
that her transition to VR had not been as sudden as it appeared. In
fact Eve had kept her in a time compressed sleep-like state for several
minutes and subliminally implanted with the background information she
might need for the scenario. Her new knowledge ranged from the type of
office she worked out of (run down and poorly lit), to the latest in
long line of cases she had successfully solved (the recovery of a rare
jewel – and a kidnapped
co-ed – belonging to a wealthy family). So she knew that Deb was
not the kind of woman to take kindly to any kind of error.
"It’s improper for a lady
to swear like that," stated the driver, his eyes remaining fixed on
Anne shook her head and lit
a cigarette. She knew the PI also smoked, did not suffer fools, and
certainly did not take lip from anybody. "Just
drive the car and leave the thinking to me, pal," she snapped.
Deb took a drag on the coffin nail, then Anne snubbed it
out in the taxi's surprisingly clean ashtray. I'm not so
sure I want Deb to be that hard-boiled, Anne thought.
"Sorry pops," she muttered. "Guess I'm in a crappy mood." She saw
the driver's wrinkled eyes smile back at her briefly in the rearview
then he turned his attention back to the road.
Anne looked back out the
windscreen, and settled more deeply into her role. The mist was
to thin up ahead, and through it, she saw a woman standing uncertainly
the edge of a stairwell. The woman – all long blonde hair and shapely
– looked up in surprise at the approaching car, and ducked out of
recognised her quarry. She’d picked the lock on the Lane broad’s
earlier in the evening and found a scribbled message on the table next
to the phone. It had read: "Ilsa Smythe, Nalia Kramer??? Cnr of 108th
and 51st". She hadn’t needed an interpreter
to tell her that Linda was on to something big – or at least thought
was. Nalia was the Slavonian actress who had disappeared from her hotel
room over a week ago while on a tour of the States to promote her first
The driver did so, and Deb
tossed two dollar bills at him. "Keep the change." Without responding
to his muttered thanks, she climbed out of the car and peered back up
the street in the direction Linda Lane had disappeared.
She’d be the first to admit
the current job was far too easy. A phone call, a brief meeting, and
she, Deb Diamond – P.I. for hire – was suddenly working for Malcolm
The wealthy oil merchant, big game hunter and famous philanthropist was
offering her fifty bucks a day just to shadow his journalist daughter
because he was worried about her. Apparently she’d gotten herself in a
bit of bind on more than one occasion, and he wanted someone around to
sure no lasting harm came to the light of his life. Someone unobtrusive
because daughter-dear would not approve if she knew daddy was
Discretion, therefore, was of the utmost importance, he had warned.
Consequently, Deb did not
immediately charge in after Linda. Instead, she decided to give her
a good ten minute head start. Deb figured that if anything really bad
was going to happen, it would take longer than that to play out.
The first thing
Naomi felt was a gentle constriction around her chest becoming tighter
and tighter. She tried to sleepily knock the offending sensation away,
but for some strange reason, found that her hands would not move from
As awareness crept back,
she realised that her arms were also refusing to move apart, and were
being pressed against something hard and unyielding. It took a few more
moments for her chloroform addled mind to combine these various facts
the conclusion that she was … in the process of being tightly bound!
Naomi’s – no, no Linda’s
– eyes flew open. (Have to remember this is a game, she
thought). She looked down to see herself sitting in a padded wooden
chair. Her legs were free, but she could feel that her arms were bound
tightly behind her back at wrist and elbow. Her coat and jacket had
removed, leaving her wearing only a thin white blouse. White coils of
rope were been tied above and below her breasts, causing them to strain
against the thin fabric of her top. As she watched, the coils of rope
tightened further, and she realised that her captor had not yet
binding her. Linda turned as best she could in her seat and looked
into the glinting eyes of Ilsa Smythe.
"Zere! Goot und tight!"
exclaimed the grinning fashion designer as she stood up straight. Her
fur coat had been discarded and she now wore a black pin-stripe evening
suit complete with seamed stockings. Her blond locks hung freely about
the high collar of the suit. "Welcum back from ze land of dreams, Miss
to ze land of nightmares."
"You’re Slavonian?" Linda
"Ah! Ze accent, it zis
a dead give away, I know, but I find it zo much more komfortable zhan
Amerikan one, which iz merely a… how you say?" Ilsa stroked her chin
thoughtfully and then spoke in her regular American accent. "Yes,
that’s right: an
"But you’re Ilsa Smythe –
the famous fashion designer."
"Being a fashion designer
is but a kover for my true purpoze. Und my aktual name is Ilsa
ineffectually against the ropes holding her prisoner. Whatever crazy
game Ilsa was
playing, she certainly knew her knots well enough to hold a girl
"And what, exactly, would that ‘purpoze’ be?"
Ilsa looked surprised,
as if Linda should already have known the answer to her question. "Why,
to raize money for ze revolution in Slavonia, of kourse. King Bazha must
be dethroned!" Ilsa smiled slowly. "Vich is vhere you kum in, my
"Korrect! And not just
for you." Ilsa bent down alongside Linda and snatched up a short piece
of rope with which she began to bind the reporter’s ankles together.
"You zee, I waz not lyingk earlier. Nalia Kramer is here, und is alzo
Linda gasped. "You
kidnapped her? Your own star…how could you?"
"I vill do vhatever is
best for my country … And King Bazha is a spineless veaklingk.
Understand?" Ilsa chuckled. "Now, my associates and I vill be holdingk
for a few days, vhile ve arrange for your father to pay us ze vun
zousand dollars ve vill be demandingk."
"I believe ve kan, Miss
Lane." Ilsa savagely tied off the knot holding Linda’s ankles together,
then took a remaining end and bound it to the right leg of the chair,
as she added: "Und zere is nozingk you can ve doingk to stop us."
"He won’t pay you!" Linda
"Zat is vere I zink you are
vrong." Ilsa reached into the breast pocket of her blazer. "He vill pay
… but perhaps not until after he has received a few piezes of his
darlingk daughter in ze post."
Before Linda could reply
with further denials, Ilsa produced a wad of white cloth and pressed it
against Linda’s lips. She tried to turn her head away, but Ilsa’s free
hand suddenly grabbed her nose and pinched her nostrils shut.
Linda protested into the cloth, before the inevitable happened and she
ran out of air. As soon as she involuntarily opened her mouth, Ilsa
the wad of cloth past her teeth and into her oral cavity. The helpless
reporter tried to tongue the intrusive wad out of her mouth, but Ilsa
awake to her ploy, and pressed a firm hand across her lips to hold the
in place. A moment later she shoved a second wad between Linda’s lips,
stuffing her mouth; and then proceeded to tie a thick silken scarf
her teeth to complete the gag.
Linda shook her head and
glared at Ilsa angrily. But she could vocalize nothing more than
muffled grunts of indignation.
Ilsa patted Linda on the
head mockingly. "Nice and qviet, no?" she purred and began to walk out
of the room. She paused in the doorway to turn and stare at her
captive. "Of course, now zat you have zeen my face and know my zecret
identity, I can never let you leave here alive."
Linda’s heart seemed to
miss a beat. Fear formed in her stomach and scuttled up her chest to
affect her breathing. She stared in undisguised horror at her captor –
who simply threw back her head and laughed. "Und don’t bother straining
for zis," Ilsa said triumphantly, holding up the pocket knife that
had secreted in the waistband of her skirt – and promptly forgotten.
Slavonians are avake to you Amerikans every trick!" she spat, before
on her heel and slamming the door closed.
There was barely time for
the first of the tears Linda began to shed to trickle down her bulging
cheeks before the door was opened again. She looked up, expecting to
see Ilsa back to taunt her further, but instead saw a woman in a beige
trench-coat and beat up fedora slip into the room, leaving the door
slightly ajar behind her.
"MMMmmnngggnn!" she cried
out through her gag. The woman frowned and raised a single finger to
her lips, indicating silence. Linda nodded her understanding and
as the woman crept forward to stand over her.
"Don’t get your stockings
in a bunch, dollface," whispered the woman. "I’m going to get you out
Linda had no idea who her
mysterious benefactor was; however, given her situation, she had no
intention of complaining. Instead, she nodded once and tried to motion
for the woman to remove her gag. Her would-be rescuer, however, had
knelt down and begun picking at the knots binding her to the chair.
"Shhhh!" hissed the woman.
"You wanna bring that Slavonian bitch back?"
Linda felt as much as heard
someone in front of her. She was already looking up to see who it was
when the voice spoke.
"Ze ‘Slavonian bitch’,
as you put it, is already bak," said a pistol-brandishing Ilsa from the
doorway. "Now, step avay from my prizoner before I am forced to zhoot
Until that moment,
things had been going exceedingly well for Deb.
After finding the front
door locked, she had searched for an easier entry into the house. She’d
found one in the form of a partially open window, and had silently made
her way inside. She’d crept through an empty bedroom and out onto a
second floor landing. It was there that for just a moment, she’d
search was over – except that the bound and gagged woman she spied
the half open double doors leading off the lavishly furnished entry
below was not Linda Lane, investigative reporter.
She was unmistakably
Nalia Kramer, kidnapped actress …
…Whom Deb – or rather
Anne – instantly realised bore an uncanny resemblance to Elke
Weber, personal trainer and best friend of Margo Wells, Tesseract’s CEO.
There were certain
differences, of course. The "Slavonioan movie star’s" muscled physique
was not quite so pronounced, and her light blonde, almost white hair
was now a shade
darker than brunette. But otherwise …
From her obscure vantage
point Deb could distinguish that Nalia Kramer was wearing the same
strapless gown she had last been seen in on the night she disappeared.
It had been a light burgundy colour and very flattering, but was now
stained and hung in tatters off her body. Not that the Slavonian film
star was capable of
restoring her dignity. Her hands were handcuffed to the chair on which
sat, and she was further bound by tight coils of grimy grey rope that
her arms against her sides and also lashed her to the seat. She was
with a thick grey cloth that was knotted beneath her cascade of hair.
from this distance, Deb could tell by the "chipmunk" look of the
cheeks that the woman’s mouth had been severely packed to further
any noise she might try to make. Both bonds and gag looked tight,
expression was clearly one of bored disdain and mild
frustration. Deb knew that look – it was the expression of someone who
been in their predicament for a long time and was well and
Exactly how long has
Elke been a captive in this game? She (Anne) wondered with a quiet
chuckle. Should I rescue Elke first?, she pondered, then
decided to see how the game would play out if Elke was allowed to ...
enjoy ... her present condition for as long as possible. It
might make her properly grateful, Anne mused,
when she finally is rescued. Anne savoured the sight
of the helpless "star" for several more seconds, then sighed, and
herself to settle back into character.
Down below, the kidnapped
actress attempted to struggle free of her bonds. Her efforts caused
a previously unseen burly bald man to step into view and growl "None
of that, wench." Deb ducked back out of sight, surprised by the
of the goon. She nevertheless heard a second deep voice mutter
along the lines of "… or get a slap across that pretty face."
So ... the "actress" is
bound and gagged and guarded by two minions ... Which
begged the question: Where the hell is Linda Lane?
Deb had her answer a
moment later when she heard a female voice gloating from behind a
door further along the landing.
After that she’d heard only
snatches of the woman’s plans for Linda while waiting for her to leave
the room. But it was enough to know that an immediate rescue was
in order rather than leaving her charge to go for help.
The only problem was
that the plan had gone awry and she was now staring down the barrel of
a pistol held by that same woman, instead of escaping into the night
Linda (and Nalia) by her side.
"As I said, step avay or
die," repeated the blonde woman coldly
With gritted teeth, Deb
slowly stood and stepped away from the still securely bound Linda.
"Put your hands in ze air."
Deb complied. "Good. Now, vho are you?"
Deb forced a slow smile,
knowing that any sign of weakness would be inviting a bullet. "Deb
Diamond, PI for Hire. And you, sweetface, are …?"
"I am not your ‘sweetvace’.
I am Ilsa Heigelstein, und from zis point, I vill be askingk ze
Deb nodded, while taking a
sly step toward Ilsa. "Anything you say, sweetface. What’s
eating at your cute little kaboose?" She slid another step closer.
"I vant to know vhat
you are doingkin zis house, und I vant to know now!"
"Okay, sure, just take it
easy. No-one needs to get hurt here." She edged closer again. "Like I
said, I’m just a PI, hired to keep an eye on our nosy reporter friend
here. So I know what dollface can be like – all talk and no listen.
Hell, that gag is made for her mouth." Deb heard a muffled grunt of
indignation behind her, and used it to cover her next step closer. "But
I’m sure we can work something out." Step.
Deb was now only six
feet away from the woman. Almost close enough to make a play for the
All she needed was two more steps and then she could knock the bitch
and go for the .38 in the top of her right stocking …
Ilsa’s eyes narrowed. "Ztop
right zere, Miss Diamond, und lie face down on ze floor."
With little other choice,
the PI dropped to the ground. She heard Ilsa call out something in a
language that sounded like Slavonian, before again addressing her in
accented English. "Pleaze ztay still, Miss Diamond. My guards vill be
here in but a moment."
A thrill coursed through
Anne’s (if not Deb’s) body. She knew what was coming next and it was
what she had been craving all night long.
"Vhat?" said Ilsa with
genuine surprise. "No further komment from our plucky heroine? You
disappoint me, Miss Diamond."
Anne grinned inwardly, but
Deb’s expression was a snarl as she looked up and hissed: "You know
you’ll never get away with this!"
"Oh ho! Zat is much
better!" Ilsa laughed as the man Deb had earlier seen guarding Natasha
stepped into the room. He was bald and wore a dark pin-striped suit.
The other man, who was thinner and had more hair, was garbed in a white
pin-striped suit.. "Vut now I am goingk to prove you vrong. Boyz, tie
her up – and
be sure to make it tighter zan tight!"
helplessly as the PI was quickly grabbed by the two men despite her
animated struggles. One of them – Baldy – began pinning her hands
but was halted by a barked command from Ilsa.
"No! Check her for
veapons. Ze other one had a knife." Deb struggled against the men as
pulled her trench coat half off, pinning her arms to her sides. A quick
pat down revealed a .38 in the top of one of her black stockings. The
was taken away and tossed to Ilsa, while Tall Man wrapped a long length
of cord around the PI’s elbows and bound them together. That done,
tore her trench coat off and dropped it in a heap on the floor. There
a ripping sound as Tall Man forced Deb forward, but it wasn’t until her
hands had been bound palm-to-palm and she was permitted to stand
up again, that Linda saw her blouse had torn above her breasts. It was
half off, baring her left shoulder and exposing her left bra strap and
of the cup.
"Goot," Ilsa commented.
"Now her legs."
Deb cursed and kicked at
her binders, before Baldy managed to catch a hold of her feet and bind
them together at the ankles, lacing the thin rope down & encircling
the insteps of Deb's stylish heels. Tall Man chipped in by tying more
just above her knees, managing to rip Deb's skirt in the process. When
were done, they stood back momentarily to catch their breath, and left
teetering on the spot – her black three inch heels tapping a staccato,
tattoo against the floorboards of the room; her shapely, bound,
legs quivering as she struggled to maintain her balance.
Linda, for her part, subtly
began to twist her wrists back and forth against her bonds, while Ilsa
surveyed her newest captive.
"How do ze ropes feel, Miss
Diamond? Uncomfortable enough for you?"
Deb smiled sweetly, but her
eyes glimmered with anger. "Why don’t you untie me, bitch, and I’ll
show you just what discomfort is all about."
Ilsa cackled with glee.
"Ahhh! Zat is it! Brave but fruitless words. You Amerikans are all the
same. Boyz, string her up!"
The two goons almost leapt
to the task of again bending Deb forward and this time attaching a long
rope to her already bound wrists. Baldy threw the other end of
the rope up and over an exposed support beam above them. Linda gasped
into the cloth in her mouth as Baldy then tugged on the rope, pulling
arms up and back as far as their bound position would allow. "Higher...
higher still," Ilsa instructed. "I vant her heels to juuust leave ze
Baldy complied, prompting a groan of discomfort from Deb. "Zere!
Baldy tied off the
rope to Deb’s elbow tie and stepped back. Thin Man shook a black
handkerchief out of his breast pocket and was just balling it up –
stuff into the PI’s mouth – when Ilsa ordered them to stop.
Deb wavered helplessly on
the balls of her feet as the men backed away and Ilsa strode forward.
Linda saw Ilsa hold out a hand and Thin Man pop the wad of cloth into
her palm. Ilsa, frowning, cleared her throat as if pointing out an
obvious error. Thin Man, stopped, rummaged through his pockets and
placed a second wad into his Mistress’ hand. "Zat’s better," she
commented as she paused alongside the tightly bound reporter.
Linda looked up and glared
mutely at her Slavonian kidnapper, hoping that her expression
would convey more than she was able to say.
"Ohh, Miss Lane, such
anger. Vhatever vill I do with you?" Ilsa said mockingly, and raised
her hand as if to strike her. Linda involuntarily turned away, but then
instead of a blow, felt her paisley scarf being torn from her neck.
she dared to look back, Ilsa was bent down alongside Deb, her smile
"Let me guess," said the PI
as she struggled fruitlessly against her tight bonds, "you’re going to
gag me, mock us with our helplessness and then steal off to consolidate
Ilsa rubbed her chin in a
parody of thoughtfulness … then leant forward and quick as a striking
snake, stuffed the first of the cloth wads into Deb’s mouth. "Close,"
she answered as she forced the second wad in and covered Deb’s mouth
with the palm of her hand. Deb coughed on the cloth intrusion while
skilfully folded Linda’s scarf into a thick band. "But your comingk
has greatly changed my plans."
Ilsa snatched her hand away
and covered Deb’s mouth with the scarf, detective gag style, and tied
it off tightly behind her head. "You see, now I cannot be sure
zat others are not on zeir way to rescue you and Miss Lane here."
A sinking feeling began in Linda’s
Ilsa stood and spoke
quickly in Slavonian. Linda was only able to make out the name
In response, Baldy
quickly left the room. Ilsa issued another common in Slavonian, which
this time had Tall Man scampering off.
"Ve vill now be leaving ze
two of you," she said, still smiling – but now, Linda noted, the
smile had a dangerous edge to it. "Nalia is, of course, ze real
prize. You were but a bonus, Miss Lane." She paused dramatically as
returned and handed her something in the doorway. "And sadly, a bonus
I can no longer afford to keep."
Ilsa turned back to face
them, and Linda saw that she held three sticks of taped together
dynamite in her hand. These were attached by wires to some kind of
A thrill of horror coursed through Linda and she gasped into her gag.
for her part, began to moan loudly, shaking her head back and forth
Ilsa chuckled in response
as she made her way over to stand between the two helpless women. She
bent down and placed the bomb on the floor in front of Linda’s chair.
Linda added her muffled protests to those of the PI’s, but she too was
ignored, as Ilsa made an adjustment to the timer on the bomb.
"Zere! Ze two of you now
have five minutes to live. I vould tell you to say your goodbyes, but I
am hardly about to take your gags off! So Farevell!"
And with that, Ilsa
Heigelstein swept from the room, Boris trailing in her wake to slam
the door as he exited.
For a moment, Linda sat
there stunned, unable to believe what had just transpired. She leant
over to gawk at the bomb that lay ticking on the floor only three feet
We’re going to die
Panic set in. Linda threw
herself against her bonds, trying desperately to free herself.
She thought she felt a little give in the ropes binding her wrists,
but knew it wasn’t enough to get free in the time remaining to them.
Beside her, Deb did the same – struggling with such force that she
to lose her teetering balance. Both women gasped and moaned into their
muffling gags while they also worked their jaws in the vain hope that
could free their tongues and call for help. But like the ropes holding
their gags remained tight and secure …
… and the clock continued
to tick away; counting down their last seconds of life.
Terrified almost beyond the
capacity for reasonable thought, Linda came up with a desperate
plan. Without pausing to even consider its ramifications, she threw
herself to the side with all her weight. Once, twice, she repeated this
motion – and then she and the wooden chair she was bound to toppled to
In her panic affected
thoughts, Linda had envisioned the chair shattering into a dozen pieces
as she hit the hard floorboards of the room. So she was somewhat
surprised when the chair merely bounced and came to rest with her still
bound tightly to its frame.
For a few precious
seconds, she lay there stunned. Until, suddenly, Deb’s urgent, gagged
mewlings galvanised her into action. Linda glanced back over her
to see the bomb laying only a tantalizingly few centimetres from her
How long has it
been? she thought wildly.
Barely able to breathe
through the constricting gag, Linda strained with all her might to
reach the wires connecting the dynamite to the timer. The bonds around
wrists and elbows bit deeply into her flesh. Time continued to trickle
away as she struggled, but was unable to do anything more than brush
against the side of the dynamite with the tip of her longest, middle
And, suddenly, with a
horrifying flash of insight, Linda knew without a doubt that she was
not going to reach the connecting wires, and that she and the PI were
out of time …
this the end
stylish but disheveled heroines???
Or will they escape the imminent
& take their revenge on
the evil Ilsa Heigelstein?
Is this truly ...
||of Linda Lane: Byline-
| In a word...
| Find out in the
(Sorry Linda... Deb... Poor choice of
...of Linda Lane:
(so to speak) SOON!