Author's Note: This story is a sequel to Mock Rape, Inc. It assumes you already know why Claire is missing and why Malcolm is abducting women. It might work as a stand alone story, but I would recommend reading Mock Rape, Inc., first in order to really understand what’s going on and who Grace, Mike, and Manfred are.
A word of caution is in order. Although most of this story is consensual, the conclusion includes non-consensual activities in which Claire and her sister are treated quite brutally. If that's not your thing, you might wish to read something else.
Amy was worried. Well, maybe not worried, she told herself, but certainly concerned. She had not heard from her sister Claire in over three weeks. They usually talked once or twice a month, so a three week lapse would not normally have been cause for concern. However, Amy had been trying to contact Claire for several days with no success. Claire’s office had informed her that she hadn’t been to work in over two weeks and the message on her answering machine was decidedly odd. Amy tried to call again.
“This is Claire. I very much regret that I am unable to take your call .” A pause was followed by a sigh which bordered on a whimper, “Yes, very much.” There was no beep. The machine simply delivered the message and hung up.
Becoming increasingly concerned and not knowing what else to do, Amy drove to Claire’s apartment. She was relieved to see Claire’s car in the lot. However, Claire did not answer her door. Pounding on the door and yelling produced no response.
Now Amy was definitely worried. Claire might be hurt or ill. She had a key to Claire’s apartment, but had neglected to bring it. She left to get it.
Malcolm had likewise not heard from Claire for over three weeks, but since he had made no attempt whatever to contact her in that time, he was not at all concerned. Tonight, however, he intended to make most intimate contact.
The last three weeks had been spent planning this evenings encounter. Claire had not been entirely satisfied with her last fantasy encounter and Malcolm was determined that this time she would have no cause for complaint.
Malcolm noted Claire’s car in the lot, drove around to the back and parked next to the back door. He let himself in with the key he had from a previous encounter.
Once inside, Malcolm sensed that the apartment was empty. The interior was dark and silent. The air was stale. Malcolm was considering whether to wait or come back another time when he heard a key in the front door.
Amy stepped into the darkness of Claire’s apartment. As she groped for a light switch, she was surprised as the door closed of its own accord. She was even more surprised when a hand wrapped itself around her throat and jerked her sideways off her feet. No sooner had she hit the floor than a body landed on top of her, knocking the wind out of her. By the time Amy could catch her breath to scream, her arms had been jerked behind her and her wrists tightly bound. Just as she filled her lungs with air, a hand clamped itself over her mouth.
“No screaming. You know you’ll be punished for that.”
“And I would know that because...?” Amy thought to herself. She was surprised that her brain would choose such a time to be sarcastic, but not too surprised. Amy was a sarcastic person.
Amy slowly exhaled and the hand was removed from her mouth. Quickly, she inhaled again and opened her mouth wide to scream. Something round and slightly yielding was jammed into her mouth. Straps were pulled tight and fastened behind her neck, jamming whatever it was deep into her mouth and forcing her jaws uncomfortably far apart. She did manage to scream, but her effort was so muffled by the gag, she doubted she could be heard out in the hall.
After fastening her gag, the hands left her neck and grasped her ankles, pulling her legs out straight. Amy jerked one leg loose and kicked, producing a yelp from her assailant.
“You will be punished for that, bitch,” the voice informed her.
Amy only wished she had been wearing stiletto heels instead of the clunky heels she had worn. The grip on her ankle was renewed and a strap now encircled both her ankles. It was cinched tight, pinning them together.
Despite her terror, Amy’s mind kept making odd little observations. Her use of the past tense with respect to her shoes was appropriate, she noted, as they were unbuckled and removed.
The blindfold being buckled in place caused Amy to feel some sense of relief. If he didn’t want to be seen, Amy thought, he might be planning to let her go when he was done with her. Maybe she would survive this night. Amy’s ankles were drawn up and fastened to her wrists, leaving her hogtied. Then she heard her assailant get up and go out the back door.
Malcolm had been rather surprised by the violence of Claire’s struggle. She’d never put up this kind of a fight before. He would teach her a lesson. A couple of hours bound and gagged in the dark and she would understand how helpless she truly was. Malcolm went off to get something to eat. Even if Claire managed to free herself before he returned, which he doubted she could do, he would simply tie her up again.
Amy felt relieved when she heard the back door close. Maybe she could free herself before he came back in. Time passed with both her fear and her hope unfulfilled. Whoever had attacked her did not return, but neither could she free herself. “What’s with this?” Amy wondered. “The guy just ties me up and goes away? He doesn’t even do anything to me?”
As time passed, Amy’s fear grew. By now her struggles had made it clear to her that she would remain bound until someone released her. Would anyone find her? She had been here a long time already. With the blindfold on, she had no idea whether it was day or night. What if no one found her for days? Amy renewed her struggle, but accomplished only the further abrasion of her wrists.
Malcolm, for reasons he couldn’t quite put his finger on, was angry with Claire. Although he hadn’t given her the opportunity to say a single word, he had picked up something in her attitude that rubbed him the wrong way. Besides, his knee still hurt where she had kicked him. He would have to come up with an appropriate punishment for that one. Perhaps he would whip the soles of the feet.
“Whoa,” Malcolm told himself. “We’re getting vindictive here. This is supposed to be fun.” Nevertheless, at the moment, his idea of fun was to inflict sufficient suffering on Claire that she would beg for mercy, which he would delight in denying her.
Malcolm’s sensible side informed him that this was a bad time to revisit Claire. She could wait a while longer. He went to a movie. He chose a comedy and was feeling much more light hearted when he returned for Claire several hours later.
The sound of the back door opening caused Amy both fear and relief. The footsteps that approached her were too heavy to be Claire’s. Amy wondered what was going to happen to her.
Amy’s hands had gone numb and her cramped joints were causing her increasing pain. She thought she would acquiesce to just about anything that involved untying her.
Her ankles were released from her wrists and Amy yelped into her gag as her knees began to straighten.
“Easy, take it easy,” the voice said. “You’re going to be very stiff. You don’t want to move too suddenly.”
Amy was surprised by the solicitousness of the voice. She winced as she slowly straightened her legs. She was rolled onto her back.
“Bring your knees up slowly to your chin, then back down again.” Amy complied and after two repetitions was once again reasonably flexible. Then she was picked up and carried outside.
Amy lay on the floor in the back seat of a car. She was hidden under a blanket and the car had been driving for some time. It stopped at intersections, got on the freeway, got off the freeway, drove through city traffic, got on the freeway again ... The trip seemed interminable and Amy began wondering if the driver was wandering around randomly so she wouldn’t have any idea how far she was being taken. She took this as another sign that her captor would release her when he was through with her. Just the same, Amy found herself wishing they would get where they were going so he could do whatever he was going to do and get it over with.
When the journey finally ended, Amy was carried inside and placed on the floor with her back against the wall. Her gag was removed.
When she had been left in Claire’s apartment, Amy had mainly been concerned with whether or not she would be left there until she died. In the car, she had given more consideration to how to deal with her current situation. She already knew that she was bound too tightly for physical resistance to be of any use. Her other options were total submission and attempting to humanize herself to her abductor. Once her gag was removed, she opted for humanization. She would still have total submission as a fallback option..
Amy worked the stiffness out of her jaw for a moment, then began talking. “Would you like to know my name? It’s Amy. Amy Cooper. I work at Morgan National Bank. I’m a loan officer. Maybe you know that already. I want you to know I’m frightened. I’m afraid of what you’re going to do to me. You won’t need to hurt me. I’ll do what you want. Maybe we could be friends. You could tell me your name. Not your whole name, just your first name so I’ll know what to call you. I won’t...
“Amy, please be quiet a moment.” The voice was not unfriendly. It sounded concerned rather than threatening. Amy was confused. Had she not been blindfolded, she would have been even more confused by the look on Malcolm’s face.
Malcolm would have described himself as confused, had he been prone to understatement. The woman tied up on his floor may or may not have been Amy Cooper, but she was definitely not Claire. He had abducted the wrong woman.
Amy felt herself picked up and placed in a chair. Her blindfold was removed. She blinked and looked about. She was sitting at what appeared to be a round dinner table in a loft apartment across from a man she assumed was her abductor.
“I’m afraid we have a bit of a situation here...” Malcolm began.
“Oh, really?” Amy thought to herself. Considering the fact that she was still bound, she chose to keep her comment to herself.
“You see, when I abducted you, I thought you were Claire,” Malcolm continued.
“Oh, I see,” said Amy, unable to restrain herself any further.. “If I was Claire, then this would all be okay.”
“Yes, but since you’re not Claire, I have a problem.”
“You have a problem?”
“Of course. It’s so obvious. I’m the one who was attacked, I’m the one who was abducted, I’m the one who’s tied up, but you’re the one who has a problem. How self centered of me not to have noticed. What can I do to help? How can I be of service? What assistance might I render? What...”
“One thing you might do for me is open your mouth a little wider so I can put your gag back where it belongs.”
Amy looked at Malcolm. She was pretty sure that his threat to gag her again was rhetorical, but considering her current condition, she decided against further comment. She wanted to demand that he untie her, but that would require him to move, and she rather liked him where he was at the moment--on the opposite side of the table.
“Despite your tone, you’ve got it right. You won’t have a problem until after I put you back where I got you. At that point, you’ll have to decide what to do about your little adventure this evening. In the meantime, I’ve got two problems. The first is to put you back where I got you, and the second is to convince you not to do anything about this evening, or at least make it very difficult for you or the police to ever find me. But before we get into all that, I have a question.”
“And that would be?”
“Why aren’t you Claire?”
“I’m her sister. Is that close enough?”
“That depends on how you feel about your current predicament. You do look a lot like her. Would you like me to proceed as though you were Claire or take you back where you came from?”
“Proceed to what?” Amy wanted to know.
“Considering your attitude so far, I think major spanking would be in order.”
“My attitude? What about you? You attack me in the dark and abduct me and I’m the one who needs a spanking? I think you’ve got it backwards.”
“You’re confused about how this works. You’re the one who’s tied up, so you’re the one who gets the spanking.”
“I think you’d better take me back.”
“I thought you might say that. But before we go, I have another question, or rather the same question. Why did I get you? Where’s Claire?”
“You’ve got it backwards again. I should be asking you. She’s missing and you’re the one abducting people. Don’t you know where she is? And while I’m on the subject, just what were you doing in Claire’s apartment and why were you trying to abduct her?”
“I suppose that does seem rather odd. I’ll try to explain. We play this game where every once in a while I abduct her and drag her off for a few days of debauchery.”
“And who exactly are you? Are you her boyfriend? She’s never mentioned you.”
“No, I’m just a friend.”
“Just a friend? A friend who kidnaps her and drags her off for a few days of sex and spankings? Something’s not right about this. You can’t be all that close a friend if you didn’t know she was missing. Why would she be doing all this with someone she doesn’t know all that well? You’re not telling me the whole story. I think you know very well where she is.”
“Then why was I at her apartment? I grabbed you because I thought you were Claire.”
“I think you were there to rob the place and I just happened to walk in on you.”
“Claire’s car was in the lot. Why would I rob the place if I thought she was home?”
“Because you’re the one responsible for her being missing. You knew she wasn’t there.”
“Amy, you realize that if you’re right about this, you’re in deep shit.”
Amy turned white. She hadn’t stopped to consider where her argument was leading. Maybe she should have kept her mouth shut. This guy Malcolm wasn’t likely to let her go now that he knew that she was on to him.
“Fortunately for you,” Malcolm continued, noting the look on Amy’s face, “you’re wrong, so you don’t have anything to worry about, except possibly your sister. So tell me, how do you know she’s missing? When did you see her last?”
Amy regarded Malcolm. She had ceased to be frightened of him, but was still suspicious. She still didn’t understand who he was or what was going on, but decided to answer his questions and see where it led. “About three weeks ago. I’ve been trying to contact her for over a week. She’s never home and at her job they told me she hasn’t been to work for over two weeks.”
“Did you leave a message on her machine?”
“You can’t. You just get this weird recording and then it hangs up.”
“What weird recording?” Malcolm wanted to know.
“Call her number and see for yourself.”
Amy noted that Malcolm didn’t have to look up Claire’s number but couldn’t decide if that was a good thing or a bad thing.
Malcolm listened to the message.
“Amy, I’m going to take you back to Claire’s apartment.”
Malcolm now seemed distracted. Amy had the distinct impression that Malcolm was disturbed by the message on Claire’s machine. Her own status had changed from major problem to minor nuisance and Malcolm obviously wanted to dispose of her as quickly as possible so that he could deal with more important issues. The message on Claire’s machine apparently meant more to him than it did to her.
“You know something, don’t you” Amy said. “What is it? What’s happened to Claire?”
“Have you notified the police about Claire?”
“Do so,” Malcolm said as he got up and approached Amy. “I’m taking you back now.”
“Wait a minute, damn it. Now you’ve got me really worried and you haven’t told me anything. What’s going on? Who are you, really?”
Malcolm wondered how much he should tell Amy. Would she even believe him? Would she believe that Claire had paid him to forcibly abduct her and subject her to a few days of sexual servitude? And would Claire want her sister to know that about her?
The only people who knew of Malcolm’s business were his customers. Malcolm worked hard to keep it that way. Neither he nor they would be served if others were aware of his activities. So what to tell Amy?
“I’m just a friend. Now, come on,” Malcolm said, fastening a blindfold over Amy’s eyes and scooping her into his arms. “We need to go.”
“Wait. Stop. Put me down.” Amy was completely exasperated. “Aren’t you even going to untie me?”
“I hadn’t planned on it.”
Amy began struggling violently. “Put me down. I said put me down!”
Malcolm set Amy back down in the chair. “I thought you wanted me to take you back.”
“I do, but not until I get some answers. I want to know who you are and what you know about Claire.” Amy did have some sense of the irony of a woman in her present condition making demands, but she didn’t care. She was angry, and she was frightened for Claire.
Malcolm made a decision. “Alright. Against my better judgement, I’ll tell you. Although I consider Claire a friend, my relationship with Claire is primarily a business one.”
“What business? I didn’t know Claire was in business.”
“No, you don’t get it. Your abduction this evening was intended for Claire. She contracted for it.”
“You’re trying to tell me she paid you to do that?”
“Yes, that’s it exactly.”
“That’s ridiculous. Why would anyone want that? And why would Claire pay for it? She never had trouble attracting men. She wouldn’t need to pay for sex.”
“You’re right. In general, women don’t need to pay for sex. Almost any woman, once she’s decided to have sex, can find someone to oblige her in fairly short order, although few are that indiscriminate. Good sex, on the other hand, is a different matter.”
“So, you’re like a prostitute.”
“I tend to consider myself a private contractor, but you could probably make a good argument for that viewpoint.”
“It still doesn’t add up. I can’t see Claire paying for sex, no matter how good it is.”
“There’s more to it than that. Amy, some women have special needs, special desires, that aren’t fulfilled by ordinary sex. I give them what they want, what they need.”
“So your customers want to be tied up or spanked or whatever it is you do to them, and you’re telling me that’s what Claire wanted..”
“I still don’t believe it. Why would Claire want that, and even if she did, why would she pay someone for it?”
“There is no why. If that’s what you want, then that’s what you want. She has to hire it done because it can be hard to come by.”
“What’s hard about it?”
“Okay, suppose you’re someone who likes to be tied up. You don’t just like it, you need it, but you’re also embarrassed by these needs. So it’s not likely you’ll just randomly run across some guy who’ll do what you want, and it’s hard to ask for it. But suppose you do bring yourself to ask your husband, lover, whoever. You’re likely to encounter anything from derision to a bumbling compliance where you have to direct the whole encounter. ‘Okay, tie my hands behind me...no, not like that, I can get loose...now tie my ankles...tighter...put me across your lap...now spank me...harder...HARDER.’ You end up in total control of the situation, which is the opposite of what you wanted and it turns out to be worse than outright rejection. It’s fairly easy for a woman to find someone to have sex with, but it’s much more difficult for her to get herself tied up. Then, of course, there’s always the danger that she’ll get more than she bargained for.”
“Assuming that’s what she wants.”
“True. Most women don’t want that, but a significant minority do. I provide it with their safety guaranteed. They know they’ll survive the experience.”
“And that’s what you do. You tie them up and spank them.”
“I do what they need. It varies with the individual. Some only want to be tied up, others want to be spanked. Some want to be dominated verbally, some want to be humiliated, some want to be punished, some are turned on by pain, some aren’t. Some want to be taken by force. I usually have to find out by trial and error, since in many cases she’s either embarrassed to say what she wants or sometimes doesn’t know.”
“I see. And what does Claire like?”
“She seems to like a bit of everything. She’s a new customer, so I haven’t gotten really zeroed in on her. I’m exposing her to a variety of things to help her find what she likes.”
“I am not believing this.”
“Amy, I’m going to remove your blindfold and untie you, but should it become necessary, I’ll tie you up again.”
Amy rubbed her wrists as Malcolm rummaged in a file drawer. After a moment, he returned with a piece of paper.
“This is Claire’s last customer survey. I destroy most of my source documents, but these I save in case I ever need to prove a customer’s participation was voluntary. I assume you can recognize Claire’s handwriting.”
“Yes, this is her writing,” Amy said, examining the paper. “Oh...oh, my...you did that to her?...and she liked it when...Oh, Claire...Claire.”
Malcolm watched silently as Amy examined the paper. Finally she put it down and looked at him. She seemed bewildered, and somehow defeated.
“So where is she now?” Amy wanted to know.
“I don’t know. I saw her last about a month ago. Tonight I was going to fulfill her latest contract, but as you know things didn’t work out as I expected.”
“So now what?”
“So now I take you back. If you haven’t heard from Claire by tomorrow, go to the police. I would prefer you didn’t mention me.”
“I still think you’re not telling me everything.”
“I’ll contact you if I learn anything. Now, I’m afraid I’m going to have to take you back the same way I brought you here.”
“I’m sorry, Amy, but in order to protect the privacy of my customers, no one is allowed to know this location. This is not optional. I insist.”
Malcolm took Amy’s hand. “Stand up, please.”
Reluctantly, Amy stood.
“Stand straight, Amy. Shoulders back, feet together,” Malcolm said quietly.
“Malcolm, I’m not one of your customers.”
“Don’t worry, I’m not going to charge for this. Now, cross your wrists behind your back.”
Amy complied and her wrists were bound, then her ankles, then the blindfold was reapplied.
“Are you going to gag me?” Amy wanted to know.
“Only if you make it necessary.”
The return trip was much like the trip out. Amy was under a blanket on the floor of the back seat. She had no idea if they followed the same path back or not. When the car finally stopped, Amy was picked up and carried in. She was laid face down on a bed and her ankles bound to the footboard. Then Malcolm untied her wrists and removed her blindfold.
“No, don’t move yet,” Malcolm told her as she tried to push herself up on the bed. “I’m going now. I’ll let you know if I learn anything.”
“So how do I contact you?”
“You don’t. I’ll call you.”
“You don’t know my number.”
“Don’t be so certain,” Malcolm said and he was gone.
Amy tried to get up to at least get a look at his car through the window, but her ankles were still bound to the bed. Malcolm had left her in a position that made it awkward to reach the ropes on her ankles, but finally she succeeded in freeing herself. She went to the window, but he was long gone. She went looking for her shoes and found them by the front door where they had lain since Malcolm had removed them.
From Claire’s, Malcolm drove to his regular apartment. The loft apartment was in an otherwise abandoned building in an old industrial district and Malcolm used it exclusively for his sojourns with his customers. He had maintained the loft apartment there for several years, but had recently purchased the building. This enabled him to ensure that he was the only tenant. The building always looked deserted from the outside, but Malcolm had carefully secured all the entrances. He didn’t want some random vagrant wandering in when he was with a customer.
As he drove, Malcolm considered his encounter with Amy. Too bad he couldn’t get a contract out of her. She was someone in definite need of a spanking. The main subject of his ruminations, however, was Claire. He could only think of one possible explanation for her disappearance, but before he got too carried away, he needed to verify Claire’s disappearance for himself. It was obvious that Amy was concerned about Claire, but Malcolm didn’t know Amy well enough to know if she might tend to exaggerate. It wouldn’t do to get all worked up only to find that Claire had been off visiting her aunt.
The next morning, Malcolm called Claire’s workplace. They confirmed that she hadn’t been in for two weeks and they were obviously puzzled and concerned by her absence. He called her apartment and got the same weird message on the machine. Malcolm drove to Claire’s apartment building and examined her car. One of the tires was nearly flat and the windshield was coated with a light layer of grime. It didn’t appear to have been driven in a while.
After looking to make sure no one was paying attention to him, Malcolm let himself into Claire’s apartment. It had that same empty feeling he had noticed last night. He looked around. There was a huge pile of mail on the floor under the mail slot. Malcolm looked at the postmarks. The oldest was delivered over two weeks ago. Clair’s suitcases were in closet and he didn’t see any gaps in the clothes hanging in the closet or more than one or two empty hangers. He looked in the bathroom. There was a toothbrush in the holder above the sink and a half-used tube of toothpaste next to it. It didn’t look as if Claire had packed for any sort of extended absence.
Malcolm returned home. Time to check other possibilities. He called Mike and Grace.
Mike and Grace had been among Manfred’s former victims. Malcolm had maintained contact with them and they talked occasionally. Grace had given up her apartment and moved in with Mike.
“Mike, it’s Malcolm. I thought I’d see if you two were interested in going out for a drink one of these evenings.”
“Yeah, I would, but don’t expect Grace.”
“She’s left me, Malcolm.”
“Oh, no. What happened?”
“We had a fight Sunday. I usually drive her to work and back, but yesterday she insisted on driving herself. She never came home.”
“Did she go to work today?” Malcolm asked.
“They say she isn’t in, but I think she might have told them she wasn’t in for me, if you know what I mean.”
“Mike, Claire is missing, and we didn’t have a fight.” Mike was aware of Claire, but didn’t know the actual nature of Claire and Malcolm’s relationship. He thought Claire was Malcolm’s girlfriend.
“Oh, Jesus. Do you think...?”
“I don’t know yet, but I’m worried. Let me see if Grace is in for me. I’ll call you right back.”
A few minutes later, Malcolm called Mike again.
“Mike, she’s not there. She didn’t come in today.”
“Maybe they’re not connected. How long has Claire been gone.”
“Almost three weeks.”
“That’s sort of far apart. It’s probably just coincidence. Grace will get over it and show up tomorrow.”
“Mike, I’m going to give you Claire’s number. I want you to call it, listen to the answering machine, then call me back.”
“Just do it, okay?”
Malcolm waited. After a few minutes, the phone rang.
“What do you think it means?” Mike asked.
“I think it’s probably an understatement. I suspect Claire is extremely sorry she’s not there to answer the phone.”
“Then why the message?”
“I think it’s a little joke on the part of a mutual acquaintance.”
“God damn that little bastard. If he’s done anything to her, I’ll take him apart piece by piece. I won’t leave an unbroken bone in his body...” Mike paused and his tone changed from angry to worried. “What are we going to do, Malcolm? You know what he’s like. We’ve got to find them.”
“I know, I know. I’m working on it, but I’m not sure where to look. Why don’t you call the others and see if they’ve had any incidents, then call me back.”
Malcolm considered the situation while he waited for Mike’s return call. He was now reasonably certain that Manfred had Claire. He still wasn’t one hundred percent sure, but the disappearance of Grace put the probability in the nineties.
Mike called back. “They haven’t had any problems,” Mike reported. “I talked to all four of them."
“Well, it was at Grace’s and Claire’s that he got beat up, and now they’re both missing. Maybe he’ll leave the others alone.”
“We can only hope, although it might be useful if he’d show himself again. I told them to keep their guard up.”
“You called the police yet?”
“No point. They won’t even take a missing person report until she’s been gone for three days. We can’t wait that long. He’s out for revenge. God only knows what he’ll do to them.”
“Didn’t you say you knew where he lived?” Mike asked.
“Yeah, but he’s gone. There’s a realtor’s sign out front.”
“Okay, we’ll start there. I’ve got a buddy who’s a realtor. Give me the address and I’ll get the lockbox number, then we’ll go through the house,” Mike said.
“Good idea. He left rather suddenly, I think. Maybe we’ll find a clue. Can you get away?”
“Yeah, pick me up in an hour. That’ll give me time to call my friend and get the combination.”
Mike was waiting in front of the building where he worked when Malcolm arrived. They drove across town to Manfred’s former residence, neither of them saying much. When they arrived, Mike twisted the dial on the front of the lockbox and extracted the key. They let themselves in through the front door.
They were in the living room of a ranch style house built in the 50's or 60's. The living room was average sized and empty. They checked the kitchen and bedrooms, but found nothing there, either. The bathroom was likewise normal, except that it had a cable TV outlet on the wall, which seemed slightly odd to Malcolm, although he supposed some people might watch TV in the bathroom. All the other rooms also had cable TV outlets, but there was nothing unusual about that.
The electricity was off, so Malcolm fetched a flashlight from his car before they descended into the basement. The land sloped down toward the back of the house so that the rear entrance was at basement level. Almost the entire rear portion of the lot was occupied by a large cinder block garage which was attached to the back of the house. The garage was large enough for at least four vehicles and the portion of it closest to the house was broken up into a number of small rooms, all of which opened onto a hall which led from the garage into the basement proper.
Like the rest of the house, the garage and adjoining rooms were empty. Each room had a cable TV outlet, with several in the main garage.
The basement was laid out in mirror image of the garage. Four small rooms opened off the hall with a large room at the end opposite the garage. Once again, there were cable outlets in each room.
Malcolm swept his flashlight around the large room. “Holy shit!”
Malcolm moved the light back to the object that had caused Mike’s exclamation. In one corner of the room stood a cage. It was about seven feet tall and four feet square, constructed of black steel bars each about an inch square. The door hung open and the top nearly brushed the low ceiling. Malcolm wondered how they had managed to stand it up, since the diagonal would seem to be greater than the height of the room. It must have been brought in in pieces and assembled in place. Even if they could have laid it on it’s side, it wouldn’t fit through the door.
“There’s another one,” Mike said, pointing along the wall to the adjacent corner.
“Wine cages,” said Malcolm.
“They’re wine cages. Restaurants and hotels use them to protect their more expensive bottles of wine from pilferage.”
“I don’t think he kept wine in there.”
“I know he didn’t,” said Malcolm, bending over and sniffing around the floor. “Smell that?”
Mike bent over and sniffed. “Urine.”
They looked around the rest of the room. There were a few eye-bolts screwed into the ceiling and holes in the wall where others might once have been, but otherwise, nothing remarkable.
“Let’s have a look outside,” Mike suggested.
The two men made a circuit of the exterior, but once again found nothing amiss, with one possible exception.
“I don’t think this house has ever had cable,” Malcolm commented. “There’s no drop from the pole, and I don’t see a ground block or any exterior attachments.”
“He probably didn’t need it. I think he produced his own video entertainment.”
“That would explain all the cable outlets. They probably weren’t outlets at all, but inputs for cameras,” Malcolm surmised.
“Too bad he didn’t leave any videos. We ought to be able to hang him with one of those.”
“Assuming we find him. He didn’t leave us much to work with.”
“I’m surprised he didn’t take the cages. Without them there’d be nothing.”
“I think it was too much trouble. They’re welded in place. He’d have to take them apart with a cutting torch to get them out of there. Besides, they don’t really help us find him.”
“You’re right about that. There’s nothing here that might lead us to him.”
Malcolm didn’t say anything to Mike, but the cages worried him. They indicated that Manfred was probably entertaining unwilling guests more often than he had suspected, and perhaps more than one at a time. Malcolm was beginning to fear that he had underestimated who and what he was dealing with.
Malcolm drove Mike back to his office, then returned to his apartment. Their only real accomplishment at Manfred’s old house was to heighten their fear for Claire and Grace. Malcolm was now convinced that Manfred had forced Claire to record the message for her machine as a taunt to anyone who might seek her.
The next morning, Malcolm called Amy from work.
“Hello, Amy. This is Malcolm.”
“How did you find me?”
“Don’t you remember telling me your name and where you worked?”
“I guess I do, sort of.”
“I called Morgan National and asked for Amy Cooper. It wasn’t too tough. Anyway, I wanted to know if you’d heard from Claire.”
“No, have you?”
“If I had, I wouldn’t be asking you. Have you called the police?”
“I filled out a missing person report. They said they’d check it out and get back to me. What have you learned?”
“Nothing. I called you hoping you’d tell me she was back and there was no need for concern.”
“Meaning you feel there is need for concern. There’s still something you’re not telling me.”
“If I learn anything, I’ll let you know.”
Malcolm was sorry he’d called Amy. Not only had he learned nothing, he’d increased her suspicion of him and raised her level of anxiety. Although he felt there was ample justification for anxiety, there was no point worrying Amy excessively until something concrete could be done about the situation.
Amy’s level of concern had indeed been raised by the call from Malcolm. She decided to revisit Claire’s apartment after work. Perhaps she could learn something there. Her previous visit had been interrupted by her encounter with Malcolm. This time, she would take her time and examine the premises thoroughly.
Amy entered Claire’s apartment, this time without incident. She turned on the light, then visited all the rooms, turning on all the lights, making sure she was alone. She then began a careful room by room examination of the premises. She quickly came to the same conclusion that Malcolm had. All Claire’s stuff was there. The only thing missing was Claire herself and whatever clothes she had had on at the time.
Amy examined Claire’s clothes more carefully, hoping to find something out of place or inconsistent, but all the clothes in Claire’s apartment were ones she’d seen before. She went through Claire’s mail, which was piled on the floor in front of the mail slot. Bills and junk mail, not even a card or letter. One piece did catch her eye. It was a standard size envelope with a post office box for a return address. The thing that caught her eye was the stamp. Junk mail usually didn’t bear first class postage. Amy opened it.
The envelope contained only a single white business card:
The Bit and Bridle
An Adult Social Club
Couples only. Dress code strictly enforced.
Amy turned the card over. “Hope you can make it” was scrawled on the back in blue ink. It was signed “Cindy”. Amy looked at the front again. This was exactly the sort of clue she was looking for. It was cryptic and mysterious and not the sort of thing she would normally associate with Claire. It was the sort of thing that would have been intriguing even if Claire hadn’t been missing.
Amy wondered just exactly what they meant by ‘adult’. Looking at the ‘couples only’ line, she began to form an image. She decided it must be one of those clubs where all the guys put their car keys in a hat, then each woman would draw a key and have sex with the owner. She considered the whole wife swapping thing rather tawdry. Although Malcolm had presented her with a whole new vision of her sister, Amy couldn’t see Claire being interested in something like that. Besides, Claire was single and not seeing anyone that Amy was aware of. Claire wasn’t part of a couple. If Claire was single, why was she being invited? The invitation was apparently from a woman, so she wasn’t being invited by some clandestine lover.
The other thing that puzzled Amy was the name. “Bit and Bridle” had to do with horses. Maybe they meant “Bridal” instead of “Bridle”--nobody could spell these days--but that didn’t go with “Bit”. Either way, it didn’t make a whole lot of sense, and what was the deal with the dress code?
Amy decided the only thing to do was to check it out. She had the card in case an invitation or some such was needed and she looked enough like her sister to fool anyone who didn’t know them well. Amy looked at her watch. It was about eight, plenty of time to go check it out.
The “Bit and Bridle” was identified by the tiniest of signs above the door and was the only commercial building on the block. Amy entered rather tentatively and found herself in a small anteroom. She looked around. The anteroom was decorated to look like a tack room, with bridles, harnesses, saddles, and other equine accouterments festooning the walls. The only occupant of the room besides herself was a middle aged man wearing a fox hunting outfit, complete with red coat, white pants, black boots, and silly hat.
“May I help you, Miss?” The man spoke with an English accent.
“I thought I’d stop in for a drink,” Amy replied. “You do have drinks here, don’t you?”
“Yes, we do, but I’m afraid we don’t allow entry to unaccompanied young ladies.” Amy was Claire’s older sister. She would normally have been flattered to be addressed as a young lady, but on this particular occasion, she was pretty sure the term was meant to diminish rather than compliment.
“But I was invited,” Amy protested, handing the card to the doorman.
“So I see,” the doorman said, examining the card. “However, I’m afraid our policy forbidding entry to unaccompanied females overrides your invitation.”
Amy’s status seemed to be dwindling. She was now a ‘female’. “So you’re not going to let me in.”
“I’m afraid not, Miss. Not without a suitable escort. I must, in fact, ask you to depart. If it’s any consolation, I’ll see to it that the young lady who issued this card is reprimanded.”
Amy got the feeling that the reprimand implied something more than a lecture or letter of censure. Nevertheless, reprimand or not, Cindy had retained the title of ‘young lady’ rather than ‘female’. Amy wondered just exactly who Cindy was.
Not willing to simply give up and go home, Amy sat in her car and watched the entrance. It was a Thursday night and didn’t seem very busy. A few couples arrived and were admitted, or so she assumed, since they didn’t come back out. There were only couples, she didn’t see any singles try to enter. It seemed like normal bar business on a slow night. The only odd thing she noticed was that on three occasions the couples entered single file, the man first, followed by the woman a few paces behind. In each case, the man simply entered. He did not hold the door for his partner, nor even look back to see if she followed.
Amy returned home. She fell asleep pondering the mystery of the Bit and Bridle Club.
The mystery haunted Amy all through the next day. She just knew the Bit and Bridle Club was the key to finding her sister. She mentally flipped through her list of friends, looking for a ‘suitable escort’. She even briefly considered her ex-husband, but put the idea aside as ridiculous.
Malcolm would likewise have spent the day haunted by the Bit and Bridle Club had he known about it, but he didn’t. Instead, he spent the day trying to figure out how to go about locating Manfred. He considered hiring a private detective, but decided he couldn’t afford it. Maybe he and Mike could go in together on it. Amy might even be able to pitch in something, although that was a last resort, since he didn’t want Amy to know about Manfred. The reason he didn’t want Amy to know about Manfred was because he felt responsible for what had happened to Claire. If Amy knew about Manfred, she might blame him (Malcolm) for Claire’s disappearance, and Malcolm didn’t want that.
The only link to Manfred that Malcolm could see was the tape in Claire’s machine. That seemed pretty flimsy, although given Manfred’s fondness for telephones and tape recorders it might be the sort of thing he’d do. He was fairly certain that it had been made by Claire under duress. On his last visit to Claire’s apartment, he had only looked for signs that she had packed her things and disappeared voluntarily. This time, he wanted to examine her answering machine, her mail, and whatever else might present itself.
Malcolm called Amy. He didn’t want to meet her there again by accident.
“Amy, this is Malcolm. I’ve been thinking that it might be useful to go back over Claire’s apartment.”
“I already did that.”
“Oh? Find anything?”
Amy told Malcolm about the card and her trip to the club. “It’s such a weird place. I think they’re some sort of wife swapping horse fanciers. They wouldn’t let me in without an escort, though. Maybe it’s just as well. I wouldn’t want to get involved in some kind of wife swapping orgy.”
“Well, you’re right about the horse part, but wife swapping isn’t what they do.”
“You know about that place?”
“I’ve taken the occasional client there.”
“Would you take me there?” Amy asked.
“Yes, I’ll take you there, but you need to know what you’re getting into.”
“So they’re some sort of horse people, then.”
“Some sort, yes. Horse women, anyway.”
“I like horses,” Amy said.
“That’s good. If you go there, you’ll be one.”
“It’s a pony girl club.”
“And what, exactly, is that?”
“A pony girl is a girl who pretends she’s a pony. She’s harnessed and treated like a horse by her owner.”
“To be a proper pony girl, you need an owner. To get you in, I’ll have to act as your owner.”
“I’m not sure I like this.”
“You don’t have to go. I can probably get one of my clients to go with me.”
“No, I’ll go. It just all sounds pretty weird.”
“Don’t say I didn’t warn you. You know all those bridles they’ve got on the wall?”
“If you go in there, you’ll be wearing one of them. Are you sure you want to go?”
“It’s okay. I can get someone else. I’ll let you know what I find out about Claire.”
“That’s okay. I’ll go. I don’t mind.” Amy wasn’t really sure she wanted to go, but she certainly didn’t want Malcolm investigating the lead she had discovered without her.
“I’ll pick you up this evening. Here’s what you should wear...” Malcolm did not share Amy’s ambivalence. Unlike her, he knew exactly what she was in for and was very much looking forward to it.
Malcolm picked Amy up at the bank. She was still uncertain of Malcolm and didn’t want to reveal her home address, which was fine with Malcolm since he didn’t want Amy to know he knew it.
Amy approached the car wearing a long coat. She had changed into the clothes Malcolm had specified before leaving work, but didn’t want to be seen in them by anyone she knew, hence the coat.
Malcolm greeted Amy and asked her again if she was sure she wanted to spend an evening as a pony girl. Amy assured Malcolm that she was willing, although she didn’t feel nearly as convinced as she tried to sound. As it was, she wasn’t entirely successful at concealing her trepidation from Malcolm, who was secretly pleased.
Malcolm parked a block from the club. He helped Amy out of the car and insisted she leave the coat behind. This was Malcolm’s first chance to get a look at her outfit. She was wearing a pair of lace up boots with chunky heels which came nearly to her knees. Above these she had worn her shortest mini skirt below which the tops of her stockings were visible. A short sleeved low cut sweater made an inadequate attempt to cover her torso. As requested, she wore no bra.
Amy felt quite exposed in this outfit, but Malcolm assured her that by pony girl standards, it was quite demure.
Malcolm strode off down the sidewalk, leaving Amy to clump along behind. The door of the club had already closed behind Malcolm when she got to it. Amy opened it and entered.
“Good evening, sir,” the doorman greeted Malcolm. “May I assist you in outfitting your guest?”
On her previous visit, Amy had wondered if the doorman’s accent was real or feigned. She decided he must truly be English. He had managed to be helpful, discreet, obsequious, and snooty all in the same sentence.
“If you would, please, Gerald. We need gloves, cuffs, collar, bridle, the works.”
“Of course, sir. Shall we start with the gloves?”
Malcolm accepted a pair of long black leather gloves from Gerald. He nodded to Amy who rather timidly extended an arm. Malcolm slid the glove up Amy’s arm, almost to the shoulder. Amy wriggled her fingers, trying to work them into the fingers of the glove, but there didn’t seem to be any.
“Make a fist,” Malcolm instructed her.
Amy did so and Malcolm worked the glove into place around her hand. The operation was repeated on her other arm.
“Cuffs, sir?” inquired Gerald.
“Metal, I think.”
“A wise choice, sir,” said Gerald, handing Malcolm a pair of silver handcuffs.
Amy reluctantly allowed Malcolm to draw her arms behind her. Malcolm latched one cuff around each wrist, then snugged them down so that her gloves were held in place. Amy was now unable to unclench her fists. She realized that she had no use of her hands whatever.
“In for a penny, in for a pound,” Amy thought to herself as Malcolm locked leather cuffs around her ankles, then joined them with the short length of chain presented by Gerald.
Amy’s chin was on her chest as she tried to watch Malcolm fastening the hobble chain to her ankles. Malcolm finished, then wound his hand in Amy’s hair, returning her head to an upright position. He accepted a wide leather collar from Gerald and fastened it around her neck, tightening it to a degree which caused Amy to complain.
“Hush,” Malcolm scolded. “Pony girls are not allowed human speech.”
“In this getup, my only option is likely to be telepathy,” Amy croaked, her throat constricted by the collar.
“You’ve seen the horse acts on TV. One stomp for ‘yes’ and two stomps for ‘no’. And no stomping without permission.”
“Now, we’ve got to do something about your posture,” Malcolm continued.
“My posture is just fine,” Amy complained.
“Not by pony girl standards, it isn’t,” Malcolm said. “If you please, Gerald.”
Gerald handed Malcolm a pair of short straps. Malcolm buckled one around each of Amy’s upper arms, just above the elbow. Amy gasped as Malcolm pulled her arms sharply behind her back and fastened them together with a double ended snap hook, leaving her elbows about four inches apart. Amy’s shoulders were now held back and caused her to hold her upper body more stiffly erect than ever before in her life.
“Oww, don’t. It’s too tight.”
“Not by pony girl standards, it isn’t. I told you to be quiet. Gerald, the bridle, please.”
“Yes, sir. Will that be the standard, or might I suggest the total control model?”
“I think the standard will be sufficient.”
Gerald plucked a handful of leather straps off the wall and handed them to Malcolm. Malcolm shook out the straps and held the center of the bunch up to Amy’s face.
“Open your mouth, Amy.”
Amy clamped her jaws and backed away. The object which Malcolm had been trying to put in her mouth consisted of a bit about five inches long and a little over a half inch in diameter. Mounted on pivots at the center of the bit were a small plate with stubby spikes on the underside and a long narrow cylinder with a rounded end. A lever projected from each end of the bit at right angles to the axis and a long thin leather strap hung from the end of each lever. Amy didn’t know what this stuff was for, but she was certain she didn’t want it in her mouth.
“Right as always,” Malcolm commented to Gerald. “Bring me the total control bridle.”
Gerald handed Malcolm another bridle in exchange for the original one.
Malcolm ran his hand up the back of Amy’s neck and seized a handful of her hair, then pulled, tilting her head back.
Amy’s eyes widened when he held the new bridle up to her face. Rather than being smooth, the pivoting cylinder on this model was covered with stubby spikes similar to those that had been on the metal plate. The metal plate was missing, replaced by a pair of rowels bristling with long needle like points.
“I may need your assistance getting this one on her,” Malcolm told Gerald as Amy began to struggle. Gerald seized Amy from behind and held her as Malcolm began to force her mouth open.
“Please,” Amy begged through clenched teeth. “Not that one. I’ll let you put the other one in.”
“See that you do,” Malcolm told her. “I need to go in there, I can’t go in there without you, and you can’t go in without one of these.”
Malcolm retrieved the standard model and Amy opened her mouth allowing Malcolm to work it into place. The long cylinder rested at the back of her throat and the spiked plate rested on her tongue. The spikes were uncomfortable and though not really painful, they held her tongue immobile. The straps dangling from the levers at either end of the bit were apparently reins.
Malcolm buckled a strap behind her head, fixing the bit firmly in place. Straps from either end of the bit met at the bridge of her nose in an inverted ‘V’. A strap from the apex of the ‘V’ ran up across the top of her head then down and buckled in the back. Malcolm tightened another strap under her chin which held her jaw closed and forced her to bite down on the bit. Amy’s mouth and tongue were now held in place, rendering speech impossible.
Amy was beginning to panic. This was turning out to be a lot more than she had bargained for. She had been foolish to allow herself to be put in this position, and now there was nothing she could do about it.
“What color plume would you like, sir?” Gerald inquired.
“Lavender, I think.”
“A fine choice.” Gerald produced a large lavender ostrich feather which Malcolm affixed to the strap on top of Amy’s head.
“Would you care to install a tail, sir?”
“Not on this occasion.”
Amy wondered what the ‘installation’ consisted of, but was grateful she wasn’t going to find out.
“Now, I think we’re ready,” Malcolm said to Amy, gathering her reins into his right hand.
“If I may be so bold, sir,” Gerald interrupted, proffering a riding crop. “One additional accessory. I fear you’ll find it necessary with a guest so inexperienced as she.”
“Right you are, Gerald,” said Malcolm, accepting the crop and slapping it against his own thigh with a loud crack.
Amy reacted to the noise and began backing away fearfully.
“Come back here,” Malcolm commanded, tugging sharply on the reins.
The tug on the reins caused the levers to pivot in the bit. The spiked plate mashed Amy’s tongue painfully into her immobilized lower jaw and the rounded cylinder was pushed down her throat, causing Amy to gag and cutting off her air supply.
Amy desperately lurched forward to put some slack in the reins, but tried to overstep the length of her ankle chain, causing her to stumble and fall heavily against Malcolm who caught and righted her.
“You’re not going anywhere without me,” Malcolm informed Amy, holding the reins in his fist before her face.
“One final suggestion, sir,” Gerald said. “I’m afraid we’re a bit overdressed.”
“Yes, we are, aren’t we,” Malcolm replied, accepting the scissors offered by the all too helpful Gerald. He slid the scissors up Amy’s arm to her shoulder and snipped. A second snip up her other arm and Amy’s sweater was converted to a tube top. Then Malcolm slipped a hand into the top of Amy’s former sweater and pulled it away from her body. It was obvious what he was going to do next.
Amy renewed her struggles, which angered Malcolm. “On your knees,” Malcolm commanded. He jerked down on the reins and the bridle performed its function. Amy fell to her knees with alacrity. She ceased her struggles and Malcolm eased off on her reins.
Amy knelt quivering as Malcolm resumed the destruction of her sweater. He snipped up the front, then pulled the garment away, leaving her exposed from the waist up.
“Stand,” Malcolm ordered and Amy complied. “For tonight, you are a pony girl and I am your owner. Obedience is expected. If you disobey, if you embarrass me, if you displease me in any way, I will make you aware of my displeasure,” Malcolm said, tapping the end of the crop meaningfully against Amy’s breast. “Do I make myself clear?” Amy gulped and nodded, then squealed as Malcolm slapped the crop against her nipple.
“You’re a pony girl. You don’t nod. It’s one stomp for ‘yes’ and two for ‘no’. Do you understand?”
Amy lifted her foot to the limit of her ankle chain and stomped it down on the floor. “Good,” declared Malcolm. “And we aren’t going to have any more misbehavior, are we?” Amy stomped twice. She hated it. Of all the indignities she had suffered this evening, this stomping routine was somehow the most humiliating. Nevertheless, she would comply. The crop and bridle would see to that.
“We’re going in now,” Malcolm informed her. “We’re early, so there won’t be many here yet.” Malcolm set off for the door in the far wall, and Amy shuffled along behind, desperately trying to keep up so her reins would not go taut.
Once inside, Amy looked around. The room was mostly filled with tables. There was a bar along the far wall. The place also had a dance floor and a stage.
“Face straight ahead,” Malcolm instructed Amy. “Don’t go gaping about. I don’t want you attracting attention.”
Amy continued to examine the room as best she could without moving her head. There were a few couples at tables. The chairs were used only by the men. The pony girls either stood or knelt beside them. A few other couples moved about, the owner always leading his pony by her reins.
“There’s someone over there I need to see,” Malcolm announced. “You wait here until I return for you.” He led Amy to what appeared to be a towel bar attached to the wall about level with her shoulders. Malcolm looped Amy’s reins around the bar and walked away.
Amy stood tethered, staring at the wall a few inches in front of her face. Never had she felt so controlled. She wanted to look and see who Malcolm was talking to, but was prevented by her reins. She would stand here and stare at the wall until Malcolm came and led her away, at which point she would follow wherever he led. She would be permitted no choice in the matter, nor did she have the means to express any choice.
Someone walked up beside Amy. She tried to see who it was, but didn’t have sufficient slack in her reins to turn. Another set of reins was looped around the bar next to Amy’s. The footsteps of the newcomer’s owner retreated.
Amy tried to get a look at her new companion and finally managed to do so by bending her knees and leaning close to the bar. The woman standing next to Amy was naked except for boots, gloves, and harness. A wide belt encircled her waist and a strap descended from its center to her crotch. She stood stiffly erect, not moving a muscle and showed no curiosity about Amy. There was dried blood on her lips and between her teeth. Amy correctly surmised the woman had been fitted with the total control bridle.
Amy squealed as a sudden scorching pain caused her to jerk her head up, which led to additional distress as the bridle tormented her mouth. Malcolm had lashed her across the back of her thighs with his crop.
“You were told not to go gawking about,” Malcolm reprimanded her. “If you’re going to insist on embarrassing me in public with behavior like that, I just might find it appropriate to have you disciplined in public.”
“Backwards again,” Amy thought. “You lead me around half naked in chains and you’re the one who’s embarrassed?” It occurred to Amy that it was probably a good thing she was unable to speak at the moment. This was a different Malcolm she was dealing with. With the exception of her abduction, which had been an error, and for which Malcolm had been apologetic, she had known Malcolm to be polite and generally considerate. This Malcolm expected to be obeyed, and was quite prepared to enforce his will should she prove uncooperative, as attested by the searing pain across the back of her legs. All too aware of the helplessness of her current condition, Amy chose to emulate the unflinching posture of the woman tethered beside her.
“Much better,” Malcolm commented as he loosed her reins from their hitch and led her away.
Amy looked around as best she could as Malcolm led her across the room. What attracted her attention the most was the other pony girls. Most of those she saw were attired like her companion at the hitching bar--naked except for boots, gloves, and harness. Many had rings through their nipples, usually joined by a short length of chain, although she saw one girl being led by her owner with her reins threaded through her nipple rings. Just seeing it made Amy cringe.
Malcolm led Amy to a table in the back of the room near the door. He sat in a chair and instructed Amy to kneel beside him. “Keep your eyes open, but don’t turn your head,” he told her. Amy wanted to ask what she was watching for, but was, of course, unable. Nevertheless, Malcolm had positioned her so that she had a good view of most of the room, as well as a view of newcomers as they entered.
More people were arriving and Amy began to realize that Malcolm had been correct. By pony girl standards, her current level of restraint was not particularly harsh. Some women arrived in corsets that had been laced unbelievably tightly. Some had their arms strapped to their sides, but those with their arms bound behind them were bound so that their elbows actually touched. Amy seemed to be the only one whose ankles were chained. The others all moved with a high stepping prancing gait. Almost all had tails, long horselike tails that dangled to their ankles, tinted to match their plumes. Amy at first thought that they were affixed to the strap that ran from their waist belt through their crotch, but as one pony passed particularly close, she saw that the tail passed through a hole in the strap. The tail had indeed been installed, and Amy winced once again, imagining what it would be like to have to prance about with one implanted in her own posterior.
Amy watched Malcolm out of the corner of her eye. He could look around all he wanted and was actively scanning the room. She hoped he had a better idea what he was looking for than she did. She also wanted to know who he had been talking to while she had been tethered at the wall. He had not bothered to inform her of what he’d learned and it was, of course, impossible for her to ask.
A spotlight appeared on the stage, illuminating a man in a riding outfit similar to Gerald’s, although this man was both taller and heavier than Gerald. He adjusted a microphone on his lapel, then addressed the crowd.
“Good evening, gentlemen.” The man had an English accent, not unlike Gerald’s. “Mr. Knowles, whom most of you know, has cause for complaint with his mare, Cindy. He has elected to admonish her publicly, and so we invite the attention of yourselves and your guests so that all may be instructed by what she must now endure.”
Two heavy vertical pipes were fixed to the floor of the stage and a crossbar attached between them at a height of about four feet. A pony girl was led onto the stage to stand before the crossbar. Her arms had been cruelly twisted up behind her so that her wrists were bound together above her elbows. Her reins were fastened to the crossbar, then a light chain was fastened from each nipple ring to the crossbar. She was then required to spread her legs so that the slack was taken out of her reins and nipple chains. Her ankles were chained to the floor. Even from the back of the room, the apprehension on Cindy’s face was apparent to Amy.
Cindy’s owner unbuckled her crotch strap from her waist belt and extracted her tail. He slowly worked a new tail into her. This one was bright red and once it was in place, Cindy began to writhe and squirm, grinding her hips. Her movements were restricted by her reins and nipple chains, and the yelps she was now giving voice to were sometimes cut off as the cylinder attached to her bit was forced down her throat.
Cindy was left to suffer her fiery new tail for some fifteen minutes or so. Amy watched her torment, both fascinated and horrified. Finally, as Cindy’s struggles began to diminish, her owner approached her. He carried his crop and began to lash her with it.
Amy had never seen anyone whipped before. Cindy was standing with her legs spread, attempting to keep her balance as she was whipped. She seemed to be trying to lean away from the bar, despite the tension this put on her reins and nipples. At one point, she leaned too far forward in an attempt to ease the tension and fell against the bar. As soon as she touched it, her body convulsed and she leapt backward. The bar was apparently electrified. It was part of Cindy’s punishment to stand fast as she was whipped, in order to avoid the further suffering imposed by the bar or the restraints attached to it.
Cindy howled pitifully throughout this part of her ordeal, and Amy looked away, unable to watch any longer. Was this the Cindy of the card? Was this the reprimand Gerald had promised? Was Cindy suffering for Amy’s attempted intrusion?
Malcolm placed the end of his crop under Amy’s chin and redirected her gaze to the punishment of Cindy. “Didn’t the gentleman say you were to watch and be instructed? If you don’t wish to learn from Cindy’s example, I can arrange for you to learn from experience.”
Amy returned her attention to Cindy. Even though she felt somewhat responsible for what was being done to Cindy, she had no desire whatever to join her.
At last, it was over and Cindy was released from the bar. She found it painful to watch Cindy’s agonized expression as she was led away and was glad when Cindy passed from her line of sight. She felt sorry for Cindy, but also angry. How could people do this to someone? What had happened to Cindy to cause her to fall into the clutches of these people? Had she been someone evil in a past life to cause her to be so victimized?
Amy’s musing was interrupted by a particularly striking sight. A man had entered leading a pair of matched pony girls. They were tall and slender, with dark hair drawn tightly back in the Robert Palmer style. Their faces seemed quite similar, although it was hard to be certain because of the bridles and facial harnesses they wore. They were, however, so similar in other respects that Amy wondered if they might be twins. Their bodies were proportioned identically, with arms and legs of equal length. Even their breasts were the same size and shape. They pranced proudly behind their owner in perfect lockstep. Their mien was haughty rather than subdued, which Amy thought was odd, considering their rather stringent bondage. Were these two women actually proud of their degradation?
Amy yelped as Malcolm slapped his crop across her nipples. “Eyes front,” he commanded. Amy realized she had turned her head to follow the prancing pair, and reluctantly returned her gaze to the front, allowing them to pass from sight.
A man approached Malcolm and Amy’s table. Amy was surprised to see that the pony he led was her companion from the hitching bar. She pranced behind her owner in an overly energetic but unenthusiastic fashion. Her body above the waist remained absolutely rigid, and rather than exhibiting the pride of the pair of ponies Amy had just observed, this woman radiated an intensity that caused Amy to think that the woman was extremely frightened. Amy looked directly into the woman’s eyes, but was unable to engage her attention. Although she was directly in the path of the woman’s gaze, she looked right through Amy. Her stare was not vacant. Instead, Amy perceived an intense concentration as the newly arrived pony sought to avoid eye contact without shifting her eyes aside.
The man seemed unremarkable. He was medium height and build, and unlike many of the men here who wore some form of riding outfit, he wore slacks and a sport shirt. He seemed average in every way, except for his rather intense gaze, which was fastened on Amy.
“Your pony seems inexperienced,” the man said to Malcolm, seating himself in an empty chair.“You should let me train her for you.” The man faced Malcolm as he spoke, but always his gaze returned to Amy, accompanied by a rather quizzical expression.
He gave a light tug on the reins and his pony quickly knelt beside him. Amy could see a slight ooze of fresh blood begin to appear around the woman’s bit.
“I should?” Malcolm asked.
“Yes. I do that, you know--train ponies. Here’s my card.”
Malcolm examined the card he had been handed. “Take Ingrid, here. A week ago, she was completely undisciplined. No one could do a thing with her. As you can see, she’s coming along quite nicely.”
“Is she, now?”
“Yes, indeed. In another week she’ll be completely trained. I can do the same for your friend there. My partner and I specialize in rapid results. Give us two weeks and she’ll be a completely different woman. Her only thought will be to obey.”
“I see. Have you trained many girls?”
“Quite a few. We work with them intensively to produce a quality product. We’re sort of a pony girl boot camp. Our rates are reasonable and I’ve got an opening now. I could take her tonight if you wish.”
“I must admit it’s an intriguing idea. As you’ve apparently noticed, Amy here is new to her bridle. It probably wouldn’t hurt to have her taught some proper discipline.”
Amy was aghast. The events of the evening had been disconcerting, uncomfortable, surprising, even painful, but the stranger’s suggestion was truly frightening. Should Malcolm agree, she would be led away by the stranger, helpless to resist or even protest, and she was frightened of this man. Amy had seen what had been done to Cindy, Amy had looked into Ingrid’s eyes, and Amy was afraid.
Malcolm, for his part, was interested in the service the man was offering because of it’s similarity to his own business.
“So what’s this going to cost me?” Malcolm wanted to know.
“Three thousand dollars. That’s fifteen hundred a week for two weeks and we guarantee results. If you’re not satisfied, we’ll process her again.”
“Will I be able to see her while you have her?”
“No. We’ll want to keep her totally focused on her studies and that would prove a distraction.”
“So if I go ahead with this, how does it work?”
“You pay me and I take her away. If don’t wish to pay the full amount now, you can pay half and the other half when we bring her back.”
“I see. What forms of payment do you accept?”
“We’ll take cash or check. If you like, you can write a check for half and we’ll hold it for a few days before we cash it.”
“What if I don’t want to do it now, but change my mind later? How do I contact you? I don’t see a number on your card.”
“Let Gerald know. He’ll let me know next time I come in and we’ll contact you. Or, you could give me your number and I’ll check with you periodically.”
“I’ll have to think about it.”
“Like I said, we have an opening. I could make you a deal.”
“What sort of deal?”
“How ‘bout half price and nothing down? Just hand me her reins and I’ll take her with me. We’ll start on her tonight and in two weeks you’ll have the most obedient pony you could ever wish for, guaranteed.”
“Sounds interesting. Where do I pick her up when you’re done?”
“You don’t. We’ll deliver her to any place you specify. By the way, my name’s Sebastian. Don’t worry about a thing. I know you’ll be pleased,” said Sebastian, reaching for Amy’s reins.
Amy leaned away from Sebastian, trying desperately to object, but able to make only the most inarticulate sounds. She started to rise, intending to flee as fast as her hobble chain would permit.
Malcolm’s arm snaked out and seized Amy’s reins. He jerked sharply downward and Amy tumbled to her knees. “Thanks for the offer, but not tonight.”
“But you see how undisciplined she is. Why not let me take her? I can promise she’ll never again disgrace you like she just did. If price is the problem, perhaps we can offer you a somewhat larger discount.”
“You have my attention,” Malcolm said.
“Tell you what. We’ll do the whole job for a thousand. You don’t pay anything until we bring her back. We can even arrange payments if you like and no interest.”
“That’s a very generous offer.”
“Good. It’s all settled, then. You won’t regret it,” Sebastian said, reaching again for Amy’s reins, which were now wrapped tightly in Malcolm’s hand, holding Amy in place.
Amy was in a frenzy. Sebastian was being very persuasive. If Malcolm relinquished her reins, she was lost. Never in her life had she been so frightened.
“Thanks, but no thanks,” Malcolm said.
“Are you sure? What can I do to change your mind? You really should let me take her. Look at her. You see how she is? She wants to flee, to resist. I can make her obey, make her submit, remove every last shred of resistance, every thought of rebelliousness. Just send her with me. I’ll force her total surrender.”
Sebastian was practically foaming at the mouth. Amy knelt, quivering, awaiting Malcolm’s decision.
“Sorry, Sebastian, but she stays with me. I’ll tell Gerald if I change my mind.”
“Have it your way,” Sebastian huffed and turned to go. “Come, Ingrid,” he said, giving her reins a particularly vicious yank and causing the kneeling Ingrid to lunge forward and fall on her face.
“Up, you stupid slut, up,” Sebastian raged. “You have not earned a passing grade.” Ingrid struggled to her feet, blood leaking from the corners of her mouth and tears streaming from her eyes as she was led away.
“Wasn’t that interesting,” Malcolm commented, mostly to himself.
He placed the card Sebastian had given him on the table within the range of Amy’s vision. Amy read the card.
S & M Enterprises
Instruction for Women in the Equestrian Arts
Basic Training Show/Dressage Racing
Racing? Did these guys race their ponies? The rest she sort of understood. The matched pair she had seen had obviously been show ponies, but she hadn’t considered racing. Despite her revulsion at the whole idea, she couldn’t help but wonder what a race would be like.
Malcolm interrupted Amy’s thoughts by placing his hand under her chin and tilting her head to look into her eyes. “Did you really think I was going to let him have you?”
Amy nodded, tears leaking from her own eyes.
“And what did I tell you about how to answer a question? Maybe I should have sent you with him. You’re definitely in need of training. Shall I call him back?”
Amy raised one knee and stomped her foot twice.
“That’s better. Now, it’s time I took you home. I think we’ve learned all we’re going to tonight.”
“And just what have we learned?” Amy wondered. Regardless, she was relieved to be going. She couldn’t wait to be released from her bonds, and she especially wanted that horrid bit out of her mouth.
Malcolm led Amy back into the entry/tack room. “Good night, Gerald.”
“Good night, sir.”
“Gerald, if it’s alright, I’d like to borrow the equipment for the evening. I’ll have it back tomorrow.”
“Quite alright, sir. I’ll make the appropriate notations on your tab.”
“Thank you, Gerald. Have a pleasant evening.”
“And you as well, sir. I wish you the full enjoyment of your guest.”
Amy was furious with Malcolm for not releasing her, but she was also frightened. Gerald’s parting remark suggested that Malcolm intended to take full advantage of her inability to resist. Her night at the Bit and Bridle had made it abundantly clear how helpless she was and what might be done to a woman who didn’t cooperate. She had assumed that when the evening was over, Malcolm would take her back to the bank, where she would pick up her car and drive home. Where was she being taken?
Malcolm put Amy in the car and buckled her seat belt. He was amused by the look on her face. She was angry, but she was frightened, too. That was good.
Malcolm considered the events of the evening as he drove. He had not seriously thought that he would learn anything of consequence regarding Claire’s whereabouts at the Bit and Bridle, but Amy had wanted to go and he couldn’t resist the opportunity to own her for an evening. Once there, however, the events of the night had proven curious indeed. His thoughts about the punishment of Cindy paralleled those of Amy. Was she the one on the card, and was she being punished for Amy’s attempted solo entry? If so, what did it mean? In due course, he would ask Mr. Knowles, or perhaps Cindy herself.
Then there was Sebastian. He had seemed unusually interested in Amy. Malcolm had seen him around once before, but hadn’t talked to him. On that occasion, he hadn’t seemed to be soliciting business. Also, there was something about the way he had looked at Amy. He hadn’t been after business; he’d been after Amy. Why? And who might be the ‘M’ of S & M Enterprises? And had that little pun been a product of the same mind that had placed the odd little recording on Claire’s answering machine? His evening at the club had produced lots of questions and no answers, but that was still more than he had expected. He wasn’t sure what any of this had to do with Claire, but events had been sufficiently odd to warrant further inquiry.
Amy was bursting with questions. What about Cindy? Who was Sebastian, and why had Malcolm found him so interesting? Who had Malcolm talked to when she was tethered at the wall with Ingrid? And most of all, what about Claire? Malcolm remained silent, and Amy’s frustration grew.
Amy began to recognize the streets. Was Malcolm taking her home? How did he know where she lived? Amy’s frustration increased as Malcolm drove. To her disgust, a new frustration had begun gnawing at her and she began to anticipate arrival at their destination with considerable ambivalence. As she pondered this, Malcolm pulled into her driveway. Amy hoped none of the neighbors was watching as she was led, bound and topless, onto her front porch. Malcolm had gotten her key from her coat pocket. He unlocked her front door and pulled her inside.
"On your knees," Malcolm commanded, once inside, and Amy once again knelt in submission to the imperative of her bridle.
Amy was surprised when Malcolm began unbuckling her bridle. Once the bit was finally out of her mouth, she worked her jaw to relieve the stiffness and licked her lips which had become very dry. She wanted to speak, to ask questions and demand explanations, but her other need had grown to the point that it was now primary. She didn’t want to embarrass herself by saying something that would encourage Malcolm in what she thought he was about to do. Even more embarrassing, she didn’t want to say anything to discourage him.
Malcolm stroked her cheek and ran his hands through her hair, restoring order to the disarray caused by the straps of the bridle. Amy nuzzled her face against his crotch, feeling the hardness there that she had inspired, and pressed her face more closely against him. He unzipped his fly, and Amy took Malcolm into her mouth.
To be continued in part 2.