Slowly, Amy stood. Malcolm circled her, looking her up and down. This brought Amy’s attention back to her own nakedness, causing her to blush. Nevertheless, she remained stiffly erect as she had seen Ingrid and Trish stand.
Seizing her reins, Malcolm led Amy from the club. He nodded to Gerald, who handed him Amy’s coat. Malcolm wrapped the coat around Amy, buttoning two buttons in front, then led her out the door. He would have liked to lead her to the car without the coat, but for obvious reasons, leading naked women from the club was frowned on by the management. After helping her into the car, he surprised her by binding her ankles tightly together, then blindfolding her.
Amy found the car ride to be intensely uncomfortable. Her arms and shoulders already ached and leaning back in the seat magnified her discomfort. Sitting upright tended to ease the tension, but that drove her tail deeper into her, which was even worse than the pain in arms. She wondered if Malcolm knew how distressing her position was.
Malcolm was not only aware of Amy’s discomfort, he was, in fact, quite turned on watching her squirm in her seat. He managed to tear his eyes away from her in time to avoid rear ending the car in front of him. He turned down a side street, seeking a route where it would be less likely that someone would notice his passenger’s blindfold and bridle.
Amy thought she knew where she was being taken. Malcolm had blindfolded her on one previous occasion, when he had transported her to and from the secret location where he entertained his clients.
At long last, the car ride ended. Amy was pretty sure it hadn’t really been as long as it had seemed. She heard Malcolm get out of the car. Amy pressed her feet against the floor, holding her butt off the seat, but forcing her arms back against it while she waited for Malcolm to let her out.
Amy’s door opened. Malcolm did not unbind her ankles. Instead, he picked her up and carried her up a flight of stairs, then set her down. He unhooked her elbows and some of the strain on her shoulders was relieved.
Malcolm untied Amy’s ankles then removed her blindfold. Amy looked about. She was in a smallish room, wood paneled with a high ceiling. The walls on either side were lined with cabinets, the doors to which were closed. The principal feature of the room was what appeared to be a log somewhat less than a yard in diameter. The surface was smoothed and varnished and it rested on a low A-frame trestle.
Malcolm tugged on Amy’s reins and positioned her at the end of the log, facing along its length. He unbuckled and removed her belt and crotch strap, but left the tail in place.
“Amy, when I release your wrists, I want you to bend over and wrap your arms around the log.”
Amy shook her head and tried to back away, then screeched as Malcolm’s crop delivered a stinging blow across her backside.
“Did I say maybe?”
Amy stomped twice. Between her bridle and the crop, Malcolm would have his way. Better to capitulate than to be beaten into a submission which was inevitable anyway.
“Are we going to be an obedient pony?”
Amy stomped once. Malcolm unbuckled the strap confining her wrists and Amy reluctantly leaned forward and wrapped her arms around the log. Malcolm joined Amy’s wrists with a short length of chain, threading it through a ring on the underside of the log, thus preventing her from sliding her arms forward or back along its length. He pulled one of her ankles to the side and secured it to the leg of the trestle, then did the same to the other ankle. Amy was now bent over hugging the log with her ankles bound about three feet apart. Malcolm unbuckled and removed her bridle.
“What are you going to do to me?” Amy asked as soon as her jaws had sufficiently recovered from their captivity to allow her to speak.
“I’m going to give you what you asked for last time. I told you it would be tonight.”
“I’ve changed my mind.”
“I’ll give you a little time. Perhaps you’ll change your mind again.”
“Oh, yes, of course I will. And even if I don’t, how convenient for you that I’m tied down. I’m sure the utter romance of it all, being bent over and naked and everything, would turn any girl’s head. Why didn’t someone think of this before? Maybe you could get a patent, or has someone already patented rape?”
“Open wide, Amy,” Malcolm demanded, holding the bridle in front of her face.
“No, Malcolm. Please don’t. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you angry, but you’ve got to understand...”
“And what is it that I’ve got to understand?”
“That was last time. What I may have wanted then isn’t what I want now. You can’t do this and pretend that you have my consent.”
“Don’t worry. I won’t do it without your consent,” Malcolm said.
“So, are you going to let me go?”
“I didn’t say that. You’re going to stay where you are for a while. Perhaps you’ll change your mind.”
“So you’re going to keep me tied up until I give in. I don’t think you know the difference between consent and coercion.”
“We’ll see. In the meantime, perhaps we might deal with your obedience problem,” Malcolm said, tapping her lightly with his crop.
“My what? You’re going to beat me? Malcolm, no. Ow! Malcolm...ow. Stop it.”
Malcolm noted that Amy was demanding that he desist rather than begging him to. He increased the severity of the blows.
“Malcolm, stop...Please stop, please...I’ll be good, I promise...oww.”
Malcolm continued with Amy’s punishment until her pleas dissolved into tears and incoherent shrieking. When he stopped, Amy was hugging the log with all her might and gasping for breath. He gave her a few moments to calm down, meanwhile running his fingers softly along the interior of her thigh.
“Have we resolved to be obedient?”
“Yes,” Amy gasped, still not completely composed.
“Yes, what, Amy?”
“Yes, I’ll be obedient. Just tell me what you want,” Amy replied resignedly.
Malcolm drew his hand up between Amy’s legs. She was well lubricated and obviously aroused. He ran his fingers over her slit, teasing, not penetrating. Amy’s breathing quickened.
“I want you to tell me what you want. Shall I call a cab and send you home?”
“Do what I asked for last time. Do I have to stay tied down like this?”
“Yes, you do. And you didn’t exactly ask for anything last time. All you said was ‘please’.”
“Do me, Malcolm. Please, do me.”
“Do what to you, Amy? What do you want me to do to you? You have to say it,” Malcolm said, thrusting his finger deeper into her, causing her to gasp.
“Fuck me, damn it. Just fuck me.”
“You forgot the ‘please’. A woman in your position doesn’t make demands. I want you to beg.”
“Don’t make me,” Amy whined.
“Please fuck me, Malcolm. I need you to do it. Please fuck me. Please.”
“That’s better,” Malcolm said and plunged into her.
Once again Amy was hugging the log with all her might and shrieking.
Amy lay limp as Malcolm released her from her bonds. He helped her to her feet and she wrapped her arms around him.
“Let’s go to bed.”
“It’s time to take you home.”
“And then what?”
“And then it’s another day.”
Amy sat quietly on a stool as Malcolm bound her wrists and blindfolded her. He put his hand in the middle of her back, indicating she should stand. Instead, she extended her legs and crossed her ankles. Malcolm took the hint and tied her feet, then scooped her into his arms. Amy liked it when he carried her. She lay her head on his shoulder.
Amy was carried into her house and laid on the bed. She was still blindfolded, but she had no doubt where she was.
“Now what?” she asked as Malcolm removed her blindfold.
“Now it’s time for me to go.”
“Stay with me,” Amy whined. Was she begging again?
“I have to go.”
“Are you going to untie me?”
“Somewhat. Where do you keep the handcuffs.”
“I threw them away.”
“I see,” Malcolm said. He opened the top drawer in the night stand. The handcuffs lay inside. “I guess it must have been the other pair you threw away.”
“Oh,” was all Amy could say.
“You’ll be punished for lying.”
“What are you going to do?”
“You’ll see. Wait here,” Malcolm commanded unnecessarily and left the room.
After a short while, Malcolm returned. He removed Amy’s blindfold and untied her ankles. When he untied her wrists, she put her arms to the side and pushed against the bed, attempting to rise.
“Oh, no you don’t,” Malcolm said and jerked her hands behind her, locking the handcuffs on her wrists. “Okay, here’s the deal. I’ve hidden the keys to your handcuffs somewhere in the house. You’ll have to find them in order to free yourself. They shouldn’t be hard to find, but if you can’t, call me and I’ll come over and free you--but there’ll be a price.”
“But, what if...” It was too late. Malcolm was gone.
Amy was furious. She had lain on the bed for a few minutes after Malcolm’s departure, trying to summon the will to get up and look for the keys but had instead fallen asleep. The sky was light when she had awakened. It had taken her three hours to find the keys which had been laying on top of the dirt in one of her potted plants. It wasn’t spending the night handcuffed that made her angry, although the search for the keys had certainly contributed to her ill humor. What made her mad was that Malcolm had done it to her again. She had been stripped naked, tied up, led around on a leash and whipped, then forced to beg for sex. What was she, some bimbo slut? “Oh, Malcolm, please, please, please fuck me.” Amy was furious with herself. After a performance like that, she couldn’t even pretend she’d been raped. And after all that Malcolm had prevented her from learning anything about Claire--if anything had been learned. She had no way of knowing since she had been purposely excluded from the conversation.
Amy was angry at Malcolm, angry at herself, angry at the world. So far she had submitted herself to two evenings of degradation and servitude and had nothing to show for it. She was no closer to finding Claire than when she started. Malcolm had played her for a fool and Amy was now convinced that he was responsible for Claire’s disappearance. That Sebastian guy was a major weirdo, but Amy now doubted that he had anything to do with Claire.
Maybe she should tell the police about Malcolm. She decided against it for the time being; she couldn’t actually prove anything. What was required, she concluded, was a confrontation with Malcolm. She wanted to look him in the eye and demand that he reveal Claire’s whereabouts. She called Malcolm.
“Malcolm, we have to talk.”
“No, this has to be done face to face.”
“Alright. Would you like me to come over?”
“No.” If Malcolm was at her house, it might be hard to make him leave and she would have no place to run to. “How about where we met Cindy?” This appealed to her as neutral territory and she could make Malcolm buy her lunch.
“See you then.”
Amy hung up. She decided to dress and put on one of her work outfits--hose, heels, makeup, and jewelry. It made her feel professional and she would need the psychological leverage to deal with Malcolm properly. Most of her previous encounters with Malcolm had ended with her being tied up and relieved of some of her clothing and most of her dignity. No such outcome would be permitted this time.
She had just finished dressing and had sat down to compose herself for the upcoming confrontation when her doorbell rang. Amy opened the door but saw no one. She stuck her head out the door and looked around. Still no one. The phone rang. Amy returned inside and picked up the receiver. There was no one on the line. She returned and closed the front door. After a moment, the doorbell rang again. This was too much. It could only be Malcolm. Amy stomped to the front door and flung it open. There was no one. Amy slammed the door and locked it. Time to call the police.
As she turned toward the phone a canvas sack was pulled over her head from behind and the drawstrings jerked tight around her neck. Amy screamed, but the heavy sack muffled the sound. Her arms were jerked behind her and tied, then her ankles were bound as well. She was carried from the house and dumped in the trunk of a car. The trunk lid slammed.
Amy was more angry than frightened. Malcolm had definitely gone too far this time. She didn’t even care what he did to her. She would make him pay afterwards. She fumed and struggled as the car drove her to Malcolm’s hideaway.
Malcolm waited at the restaurant until 3:00, but Amy never showed. He called her number, but there was no answer. Concerned, Malcolm drove to her house. Her car was in the drive. The front door was locked. Malcolm rang the bell and pounded on the door, but there was no response. Not knowing what else to do, Malcolm returned home.
As he drove, Malcolm considered the situation. Was Amy jerking him around? Had he carried things too far last night? Perhaps some emergency had arisen.
When he arrived home, he called and left a message on Amy’s machine, then listened to the messages on his own machine. There was nothing from Amy, but there was one from Mike who wanted him to call. He dialed Mike’s number.
“Hey, Mike, what’s up?”
“Malcolm, can you come by? I’ve found something rather odd I’d like to show you.”
“Sure. Be about 30 minutes.”
“See you then.”
Malcolm had kept in touch with Mike, but neither of them had made much progress. He hadn’t told Mike about Sebastian and the Bit and Bridle. It wasn’t that he was holding out on Mike. Malcolm fully intended to inform him if anything came of it, but in the meantime, he didn’t want Mike to know about his visits there with Amy. It would raise too many questions about his own activities.
When he arrived, Mike handed him a beer and a white business card. Malcolm looked at the card.
To Love and OBEY
Men, is your significant other lacking in these qualities?
Is she giving you the full measure of respect that is your due?
We can help.
Malcolm turned the card over.
Schooling for women with an emphasis
on the virtue of obedience.
“So that’s where he gets them,” Malcolm exclaimed.
“Where who gets what?”
Malcolm told Mike about Sebastian and the Bit and Bridle.
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about this before. It’s just that it’s sort of an embarrassing subject and unless it really turned out to be something, I didn’t want to mention it for Amy’s sake.”
“For Amy’s sake. Right. Malcolm, you could have told me. I would have understood.”
“You’re right. I’m sorry.”
“Apology accepted. Anyway, it looks like somebody took your idea and ran with it.”
“I know about your business, Malcolm. Claire told me.”
Malcolm was stunned. He took a long sip of his beer, trying to formulate a reply.
“It’s okay,” Mike said. “You’re secret’s safe with me.”
“That’s good to know,” Malcolm replied, still feeling uncomfortable. “On to business. Where did you get that card?”
“A guy at work gave it to me. Remember when Grace first disappeared? It was just after we had a fight and I thought she was just avoiding me. Before you called me, I was grousing about women in general and Grace in particular. So yesterday, this guy comes up to me and asks if Grace and I ever made up. He said if I was still having problems I should send her to these guys and they’d straighten her out.”
“There’s no number or anything on here. Can this guy contact them?”
“I don’t know. I already tried to call him this evening. I’ll try again tomorrow.”
“Did this guy use their service?”
“I would guess so. I’ve met his wife more than once at company parties and elsewhere. She’s a total bitch. She treats Brad like crap, flirts with guys in front of him, probably cheats on him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he sent her in for regrooving.”
“Maybe we could arrange to meet her.”
“That might be revealing. I’ll try to set it up.”
“The real question is whether or not these are our guys.”
“It sounds like it might be Manfred’s kind of thing. There can’t be all that many guys doing this kind of shit.”
“In the meantime, we can pay a visit to the Bit and Bridle. Maybe Sebastian will show up.”
“With Grace gone, I don’t have anyone to take. Besides, leading women around on a leash just isn’t my thing.”
“We don’t have to go in. We’ll just ask Gerald; he’s the doorman. Besides, if Sebastian is there, I don’t necessarily want him to see me. Maybe we can follow him when he leaves.”
“Yeah, I’d love to get my hands on that bastard Manfred.”
“I’ll come back by about 8:00. We should go in your car.”
The car stopped and the engine was shut off. Shortly thereafter the trunk lid opened. Amy began screaming at Malcolm, who did not reply. She felt a pressure against her thigh, followed by a sharp pain, and blacked out.
When Amy awoke, she was naked. She was kneeling in what appeared to be a stall. The wooden walls on either side of her did not go all the way to the ceiling, although the wall behind her did. She was chained by the neck to that wall. The chain was short and she didn’t have enough slack to stand or sit. She could only kneel or squat. The door to the front of her stall was open and she could see across the room to another stall opposite. Its door was also open and it was unoccupied. Amy’s hands were tied behind her.
She was kneeling in straw and she couldn’t decide which was worse, the straw or the bare concrete under it. Each provided its own discomfort to her sore knees. She tried shifting her weight to find a more comfortable position, and discovered that everything hurt. What had been done to her? This didn’t look like Malcolm’s building. Where was she?
At least she wasn’t gagged. She began yelling.
A man she had never seen before entered her stall carrying what she thought might be a stun gun. Now she thought she knew what had been done to her.
The man ignored her questions and demands. Speaking not a word, he walked up to her, grabbed her hair and pulled her head back. He pressed the stun gun against her breast and pulled the trigger. Amy’s entire body exploded in pain
When Amy awoke the next time, she was in the same place, on her knees leaning against the wall to which she was chained.
Amy was now truly frightened. The man who had stunned her was not Malcolm. The stun gun he had used on her had produced the most painful experience of her life. It had taken a while to recover from its effects and she was still a bit confused, but her recovery this time had been different from her first awakening here. That had been more like regaining consciousness or awakening from sleep. This was more like what she imagined recovering from an epileptic fit would be like. What had been done to her on the trip over must have been something different. Amy knelt in her stall. As uncomfortable as the position was, it was the best she could achieve.
She waited. She was afraid to call out again. After what seemed a considerable period of time, nothing had changed. The building she was in was eerily silent. Once she had heard a clink of chain and wondered if there were other women here, chained as she was. If so, they were being very quiet, not unlike herself. She must be at Sebastian's place. It was too much to believe that this had just randomly happened to her. Malcolm must have paid them abduct and train her. If so, the man she had seen must be Sebastian's partner. She wondered if she would see Claire here.
Time passed. Amy was beginning to wonder if she would see anyone at all. More time passed.
Footsteps were approaching. The man who had stunned her came into view.
“Please...,” Amy started to speak, then stopped abruptly as a second person came into view. The man was leading a woman by a chain around her neck. She was naked, with her hands tied behind her. Her hair was matted with sweat and although tears streamed down her face she made no sound. Her breasts were red and swollen. The man glowered at Amy, then led the woman into the stall opposite Amy. She knelt and was chained to the wall. The man closed the door to her stall, obscuring Amy's vision. The walls rang with an ear splitting wail, then silence returned. The door to the woman's stall was opened and the man emerged. The woman was kneeling within, stiffly erect, eyes cast down, tears dripping from her nose and chin.
The man crossed the hall to Amy. “I see you’re going to insist on learning the hard way,” he said as he unclipped the stun gun from his belt.
Learn what, Amy wondered? She tried to shrink away, but there was nowhere to go. He repeated his performance of the previous occasion, pulling Amy's head back by her hair. This time he placed the gun against her other breast, paused to let her contemplate what he was about to do, then pulled the trigger. Once again her entire body was filled with incredible pain. She lost control of her muscles and slumped against the wall.
When Amy recovered enough to look about, she saw that the other woman was still kneeling in the opposite stall. She did not appear to have moved at all, although Amy noted that her hair and skin were now dry. Amy was now beginning to understand Ingrid and Trish. She would gladly spend an evening as a pony girl, even in a total control bridle, if only they would stop doing this to her.
Amy wondered if she could attract the attention of the woman. First she tried relatively innocuous things that she hoped wouldn't get her in trouble. She squirmed about and rattled her chain. She tried inhaling and exhaling noisily. The woman didn't react. Amy's efforts so far had produced no adverse consequences, so she tried hissing quietly. Still no reaction. Amy grew bolder.
Footsteps. The man entered the other woman's stall and closed the door. Another horrific shriek filled the room. The door opened. The man approached Amy again with the stun gun. Once again he seized her by the hair. He took her lower lip between thumb and forefinger and pulled down sharply. Amy opened her mouth and the man put the end of the stun gun inside, pressing it into her tongue. A perverse little corner of her mind observed that people seemed to be putting a lot of things in her mouth lately. The rest of her mind was too frightened to comment. The man held her in this position for a few moments, savoring the terror in her eyes, then pulled the trigger. The increased conductivity in her mouth made the effect of the jolt even worse. Amy's body was consumed by a level of agony that exceeded all experience or expectation.
The woman in the other stall did not appear to have moved even an eyelash when Amy was next in a condition to observe her. Amy began to realize that the woman had been placed there for her benefit, if you could use that word in this context. Whenever Amy was punished, she would be punished as well. Amy decided to try another tactic. She knelt stiffly erect in the same manner as the other woman, trying to remain utterly still. Amy wondered how the other woman was able to do it. She had been kneeling there without moving much longer than Amy. The desire to fidget was nearly overpowering, but Amy decided that if this other woman could do it, then she could.
It seemed to take forever, but finally she heard footsteps. The man came into Amy's stall, bypassing the other woman.
"I'm glad to see you finally caught on. Took you long enough."
Amy didn't move or answer. The man had a slight accent. She would have remembered that voice if she’d ever heard it before, but she hadn’t. The man was a total stranger.
"Your sister was a slow learner, too."
"Claire? Where is she? What have you done with her?"
The man's hand lashed out, slapping Amy hard on the cheek and knocking her head against the wall, then he waited, hands on hips, until Amy once again knelt erect. He crossed the hall and paid another visit to the other woman, who gave voice to a long ululating wail even more horrifying than her previous screams.
Returning to Amy, he placed the tip of the stun gun to her lips. Amy fearfully opened her mouth.
When she could move again, Amy painfully resumed emulating the immobility of the woman in the other stall. After yet another forever, the footsteps returned.
"Learned your lesson yet?"
Amy nodded, afraid to speak. Once again, the man held the gun to Amy's lips. Tears streaming down her face, Amy opened her mouth to be tortured. The man slid the end of the gun into Amy’s mouth, waited for her fear to reach a peak, then withdrew it without pulling the trigger.
"You've passed your first test," the man informed her. He unlocked the chain around her neck, replaced it with a heavy collar, then locked the end of the chain to the collar, allowing her a little more slack between her neck and the wall.
"Lie down." The chain was just long enough for Amy to rest her head on the floor. "Cross your ankles." Amy complied and he bound them tightly with a short length of rope. "Now get some sleep. You're going to need it."
The man crossed over to the other woman's stall, unhooked her chain, and led her away. She limped painfully, but hurried to keep up with the man's brisk pace.
Mike and Malcolm entered the Bit & Bridle. Mike gawked at the pony girl being outfitted by her owner as Gerald greeted them.
“Good evening, gentlemen. Do you have guests arriving soon?”
“Guests?” asked Mike.
“We can’t go in without ponies,” Malcolm told him, then turning to Gerald, “Good evening, Gerald. No, we’re not staying. We’re looking for Sebastian. Have you seen him this evening?”
“No, I’m afraid he hasn’t been in. He does usually visit us on weekends. If he comes in, I’ll tell him you would like to speak with him.”
“That won’t be necessary, Gerald.” Malcolm handed Gerald a twenty dollar bill.
“While I appreciate your generosity, I may not take your money.”
“I didn’t realize there was a club policy against tips.”
“There is no such policy.”
“I see. So it conflicts with a prior obligation.”
“I’m glad you understand, sir.”
“What if I doubled the amount?” Malcolm asked.
“I’m sorry, sir, but that would be dishonest. I wish you had come to me first.”
“Alright, then,” Malcolm said, stuffing a fifty into Gerald’s pocket. “This if for the future. The next time you get such a request, tell them what you just told me.” Malcolm followed the first fifty with a second. “And that’s to let us know when you’ve made your report.” A third fifty followed. “And that’s to keep the whole thing confidential.”
“I quite understand, sir.”
“Thank you, Gerald.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Mike and Malcolm departed. “I’d say we’re on the right track,” Malcolm commented.
“How do you figure? What was that all about?”
“Sebastian paid Gerald to let him know if I came looking for him. Also, Sebastian hasn’t been here all weekend, which is unusual for him. Fortunately, he only paid Gerald to report my activities to them. He didn’t pay Gerald not to report his own activities to us.”
“How do you come to that conclusion?”
“Gerald just told us.”
“But he hardly said anything.”
“He said more than he needed to when he refused my bribe. He could have just said no and clammed up, but he let us know there was no rule against tips. When he admitted to a prior obligation, he let us know that he would have to report our inquiry, but in doing so he also let us know he was not prohibited from reporting the fact that he would make such a report.”
“Wasn’t telling us that kind of dishonest?”
“Not to Gerald. He probably got handed a tip with the request to report any inquiry on my part. When I tried to tip him to prevent that report, Gerald revealed the conflict. He hadn’t been paid to conceal the fact that he was reporting our inquiry.”
“So why didn’t he just come out and say it?”
“You have to understand Gerald. He lives an implied life. Nothing is said unless it can be inferred. That’s what caught my attention. He was uncharacteristically blunt when answering some of my questions.”
“So why give him all that other money.”
“He told me to. When he said he wished we had gotten to him first, he let me know that I could shut down any future reports by giving him money now to turn them down, so I just covered all the bases. He’ll let me know when he hears from Sebastian.”
“But if he turns Sebastian down on his next bribe, won’t that tip him off?”
“That’s what the third fifty was for. I don’t know how he’ll do it, but he’ll shut Sebastian down without raising suspicion. Don’t worry about Gerald. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t like Sebastian very much, although you’d never get him to say so.”
“So now what?”
“So now we wait to hear from Gerald. Tomorrow we’ll try to get ahold of your friend Brad , but right now I want to go by Amy’s again. I’m afraid it might not be a coincidence that I can’t find her and Sebastian is trying to keep track of me.”
Amy was having a miserable night. The air was chilly and the concrete on which she lay was no warmer. She tried to burrow into the straw, but there was too little of it. Her limbs ached. Except for the brief period between the time when she found the handcuff keys and her abduction, she had been bound for more than a day. She shivered uncontrollably, and not just from the cold.
At long last, exhaustion gained the upper hand and Amy slipped from awareness.
Consciousness returned. A boot thrust against Amy’s thigh and rolled her onto her side. Amy looked up. The owner of the boot was the man from last night. He untied her ankles. Amy struggled to her knees and knelt as she had before.
“Good. I’m glad to see you remember yesterday’s lesson.” He unfastened her collar from the wall and tugged. “On your feet.”
Scrambling to her feet as quickly as her stiff joints would allow, Amy followed her captor as he strode away. Once outside her stall, she was able to look around. There wasn’t much to see. She was in a hallway lined with stalls identical to her own. At each end of the hall was a door. Both were ajar, but she was unable to see what lay beyond either. She was led toward one of the doors.
Amy wanted to ask about Claire, but she was afraid.
Amy’s suspicion that she was not the only occupant of this place was confirmed. She saw two other women kneeling in their stalls as she had knelt. Both were chained by the neck as she had been and had their hands bound behind them. Neither of them was Claire. Neither moved so much as an eyelash.
As they neared the end of the hall, an odd sort of crinkly sound followed by desperate screaming issued from the door at the other end of the hall.
Amy was led through the door and it was closed behind her, cutting off the screaming that was still coming from behind the far door. Looking around, Amy found herself in a large room, the ceiling of which was supported by a series of wooden posts, each about a foot square. She was led to one near the center of the room and required to stand with her back to it.
“Please, what are you going to do to me?”
The blow to the stomach was so sudden that Amy hadn’t even seen it coming. She doubled over, then crumpled to the ground and retched.
“Since you ask, we’re going to teach you obedience. Today’s lesson will focus on learning not to speak without permission. From this point on, hardly anyone will speak to you except to give you an order. Henceforth, you are forbidden to say anything except ‘yes, sir’, do you understand?”
“Yes, sir,” Amy coughed.
“That’s good, but I don’t think you really understand what’s required of you, so I’m going to give you a little demonstration. Stand up.”
Fearfully, Amy got shakily to her feet.
Amy turned her back to the man and he untied her wrists.
“Grace, get in here.”
A woman entered from the far end of the room and approached. Amy recognized her as the woman who had occupied the stall opposite her last night and been punished whenever she herself was.
“This is Grace,” Amy was informed. “I’m sure you recognize her from last night. She currently plays the role of whipping girl around here. I bear her a special enmity and she’s so frightened of me that I really find her quite delightful. I have no immediate plans to dispose of her, so here she remains, spending each day in fear of whatever new horror she will suffer at my hands, and each day I create some new torment to justify her fears.”
“Dispose of her?” Amy wondered. She looked into Grace’s face. Grace appeared utterly defeated. She possessed the deadest looking eyes Amy had ever seen on a living person.
“Grace is going to help me demonstrate the level of obedience that you will be expected to achieve. Grace will do absolutely anything she is told, won’t you Grace?”
“And why is that, Grace?”
“Because of what you’ll do to me if I don’t.”
“Exactly. Light one of these for me, Grace.” Grace was handed a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. Clumsily, she held one to her lips, coughing as she attempted to set it alight.
“As you can see, Grace isn’t a smoker. For that matter, neither am I. Better put it out, Grace,” the man said, tapping his forefinger against her bare nipple.
Amy looked on aghast as Grace ground the now lit cigarette into her own nipple.
“You don’t think you could ever do that. I can see it in your eyes. Trust me, when it’s time to send you back to Malcolm, you will do anything to leave here. But before we send you back, you’ll have to pass a test, a final exam to prove your obedience.”
Graces’s head had jerked up at the mention of Malcolm. Did Grace know Malcolm, Amy wondered? What was going on here? She now had confirmation that Malcolm had indeed arranged her current captivity and torment, but who was Grace and what did she have to do with Malcolm?
“So let’s get started,” the man continued. Amy still didn’t know his name. “First, we need to get Grace secured. Grace, back up against the post.”
Grace obeyed and the man pulled her arms around behind it and locked handcuffs on her wrists.
“She doesn’t need to be restrained, I just like her that way. Now, as for your little task...”
The man--Amy decided to call him “Henry the Grape” in the hope that giving him a comical name might somehow diminish her fear of him--produced a pin cushion from which he withdrew two hat pins. He handed them to Amy. Amy briefly considered trying to plunge them into Henry’s eyes, but decided the consequences of failure didn’t justify the risk.
“What you are to do is push one these slowly into each of Grace’s nipples. All the way in.”
Amy looked at Grace, who stared back with both fear and resignation in her eyes. Did Grace really think she was someone who would do something like that?
“I can’t. I just can’t,” Amy whimpered.
“I see. In that case, you’d better step over here,” Henry the Grape said, leading her to an adjacent post. Amy’s arms were pulled behind the post and secured as Grace’s had been. “Now wait here while I tend to Grace.”
Henry the Grape returned to Grace and held a pin to her burnt nipple. Grace inhaled sharply and whimpered as Henry slowly pushed the pin into her. Henry paused once it was seated, then slowly inserted another pin into her other nipple. He then released her wrists and led her over to stand in front of Amy.
Amy looked at Grace. Grace stood perfectly still, making no sound. Each of her nipples now terminated in the opalescent tear drop head of a pin. Amy tried to look into her eyes, but she avoided Amy’s gaze.
Grace had barely cried out when the pins were inserted. What had been done to her last night to make her scream so? Amy hoped never to find out.
“As you can see,” Henry the Grape said, “Grace was not spared by your refusal. Grace, do you have any advice for Amy?”
“Do what he says. Always do what he says, no matter what it is. Now he’s going to hurt you.”
“Very good, Grace, although not quite accurate. Actually,” he said, turning to Amy, “Grace is going to hurt you.” He handed the pincushion to Grace.
“Grace, I want you to put these pins into Amy’s breasts, alternating until you run out of pins.”
Amy shrunk against the post to which she was confined. The pincushion held a dozen or more large hat pins. As frightening as the pain was her fear of disfigurement.
Grace withdrew a pin from the cushion and stepped in front of Amy. She placed the point against Amy’s nipple and slowly pushed. Amy shrieked as the pin pierced her nipple and Grace ceased her pressure.
“All the way in, Grace,” Henry the Grape commanded.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” Grace whimpered as she resumed pushing the pin into Amy.
“Grace, did I tell you to speak?”
“Step over here.”
Henry the Grape opened a cabinet and withdrew a small brown bottle and another item. The second item appeared to be a wedge shaped piece of rubber, somewhat wider than it was high, with a strap passing through the wide end. Henry the Grape unscrewed the cap of the bottle. A stalk which terminated in a daub was attached to the top. He used it to smear a brown slightly viscous liquid over the surface of the wedge, dipping back into the bottle several times until the entire surface was coated except for the face opposite the point. Amy noticed he was being careful not to come into contact with the substance.
“Open up, Grace.” Grace opened her mouth and Henry the Grape pushed the wedge in, tip first, securing it by locking the strap behind her neck. Grace’s eyes went wide and her face screwed up. Her lips drew back, revealing her teeth. Her hands flew to the back of her neck and she clawed futilely at the lock. She shook her head violently, as if attempting to throw off the gag, then staggered to the nearest post and wrapped her arms around it, where she remained for several minutes, panting and making odd gurgling noises.
“Grace, you have a task to complete,” Henry the Grape reminded her, holding out the pincushion which she had dropped.
Amy watched fearfully as Grace, obviously in considerable distress, approached unsteadily. She rested her left hand on Amy’s shoulder for support, raised a quivering right hand, and plunged the pin she held into Amy’s breast. Amy shrieked, then looked fearfully at Henry the Grape.
“It’s okay, you have permission to scream,” Henry the Grape informed her. “In fact, I prefer it.” Turning to Grace, he said, “You missed.” The pin had gone in an inch and a half wide of the nipple. “I expect you to get at least one of those in the nipple.”
Grace pushed a second pin into the other breast. It went in at an angle, nearly protruding from the other side. Amy screamed again. Returning to the other breast, Grace tried to put a pin into the nipple. She placed the heel of her left hand under the breast. Holding the pin between thumb and forefinger of that hand, she dragged the point of the pin across Amy’s breast until it rested on the nipple. She grabbed the head of the pin with her right hand and pushed, but her hand shook and the point skidded across the breast again and went in an inch wide of the target. Amy screamed again.
“Closer,” commented Henry the Grape.
Grace continued her efforts. Amy continued her screaming.
Malcolm was awakened by the phone. He had slept fitfully, worrying about Amy. It was Mike on the phone.
“Malcolm, I got hold of Brad, the guy from work. We’re going over there this afternoon. I’ll pick you up about 2:00"
“See you then.” Malcolm hung up, then dialed Amy’s number. He got the machine again and left another message.
Amy had not spent a comfortable night either. After Grace had put the pins in her, she had been led back to her stall, where she spent what she assumed was the rest of the day kneeling rigidly as she had come to understand was required in this place.
Henry the Grape spent the rest of the day attending to other trainees, as evidenced by the screaming which echoed through the hall. After what seemed like, and probably was, hours, she had been fed and put down for the night. This consisted of being hog tied on her stomach. Her arms and shoulders ached from pulling against her ankles, trying to keep her weight off her breasts.
By morning, Amy’s body was numb. Unfortunately, the numbness didn’t extend to her breasts. Every time she relaxed her arms, her chest pressed into the floor, disturbing the pins.
When at last she was released, Henry the Grape required her to stand immobile while he removed the pins. The pins had been in place long enough that they hurt almost as much coming out as going in, but whenever she would cry out or flinch, the pin would be reinserted and then withdrawn again until she endured its removal with outward passivity.
After the removal of the pins, she was fed. The rest of the morning, if morning it was, was spent in obedience training. Henry the Grape would issue various commands--stand, sit, kneel, fetch, blow me--and if she was slow to obey or otherwise gave him any cause for complaint she was struck instantly with the short whip Henry the Grape carried, then forced not just to submit, but to cooperate, in an even more painful and prolonged punishment.
Amy understood what was being done to her. She was being conditioned on two levels. A stroke of the whip provided immediate feedback when she erred. This would make her obedience almost reflexive. She would then be very slowly and deliberately tortured by Henry the Grape, which had a much greater psychological impact than the immediate feedback of the whip. By the end of the day, Amy was absolutely terrified of making even the slightest mistake.
Mike picked Malcolm up slightly before 2:00.
“How well do you know this Brad guy?” Malcolm wanted to know as they drove.
“Not well. He works in my department, but he’s not really my kind of guy.”
“He’s not really anybody’s kind of guy. Keeps to himself, doesn’t have any close friends at work. For that matter, I would have said he wasn’t Bev’s kind of guy. Always at company functions she’d split off from his as soon as they arrived and start flirting with whoever she could find that would flirt back. She’s really pretty disgusting.”
“She have any problems getting guys to flirt?”
“No, not really. She’s pretty cute. Disgusting, but cute, and she’s a talker. Can’t shut up for a second. Just the opposite of Brad.”
“I assume Brad knows I’m coming. What’d you tell him about me?”
“I told him you were a good friend of mine and had the same problem I did, that you had a woman who needed to learn some respect.”
“So he didn’t have a problem with me being there.”
“No. He seemed pleased you’re coming. I think he wants to show Bev off.”
Mike and Malcolm parked in front of Brad’s house and walked up to the door. Brad opened the door and invited them in before Mike had even rung the bell.
After introductions had been made, they followed Brad into the house where Malcolm caught his first sight of Bev. She was kneeling in the corner, maintaining a rigidity that reminded him of Ingrid and Trish. Her outfit was reminiscent of a cheerleader, short pleated skirt, tight sweater, white socks and tennis shoes.
“Have a seat, guys. This is my wife, Bev.”
“Say hello to the gentlemen, Bev.”
“Yes, Brad dear. Hello, gentlemen.”
“Hello, Bev,” Malcolm and Mike said in unison.
“How ‘bout a beer? Bev, honey, go get everyone a beer.”
“Yes, Brad dear.” Bev started to get to her feet.
“Hands and knees, sweetums,” Brad commanded.
“Yes, Brad dear,” Bev said. Dropping to all fours, she crawled to the kitchen. Malcolm got a good view of her butt as it waggled its way behind her into the kitchen. He had half expected her to be wearing no panties, but she obviously was. Nonetheless, it was an enticing view. He noticed that Bev also had Mike’s undivided attention.
“As you can see,” Brad said, causing both men to tear their eyes away from the departing Bev, “she’s perfectly obedient.”
“She seems to be,” said Malcolm, putting just a hint of skepticism in his voice, hoping to get a reaction by playing on Brad’s insecurities.
“You’ll see when she gets back,” said Brad, rising to the bait. “Those guys really delivered. Imagine having a beautiful woman who’ll do anything you tell her to, and no back talk.”
Bev returned from the kitchen with a tray holding three bottles of beer and three glasses. She was not able to perform this task on all fours, but she was on her knees. Her progress was a bit unsteady and the bottles rocked precariously on the tray.
“You know what’ll happen if you spill those,” Brad scolded.
“Yes, Brad dear.”
Bev made her way over to Brad, set a glass next to him, and filled it with beer.
“Bev, honey, what’s wrong with you? You know a proper hostess serves her guests first.”
“I’m sorry, Brad dear.” Bev picked up the glass of beer she had poured for Brad and set it back on the tray. Bev scooted over to Malcolm and Mike on her knees and served each a beer, then returned and set the original glass she had poured next to Brad and set her tray down.
“Thank you, dear,” Brad said. “Now lets deal with your little faux pas. There are always consequences when we don’t do things correctly.”
“Yes, Brad dear.”
“Sweater,” Brad snapped.
Bev lifted her sweater up to her neck. Brad grasped her nipples and twisted cruelly, causing Bev to gasp, but Malcolm noted that she was careful to remain rigid and not draw away.
“As you can see, she’s perfectly obedient. That doesn’t mean she won’t make the occasional mistake, but she submits to punishment without a problem. You two are the ones who were treated discourteously. Either one of you want to punish her?”
“No, that’s quite alright,” Malcolm said.
“Yeah, I do,” said Mike.
“Sweetie, present yourself to Mike.”
“Yes, Brad dear.”
Bev crawled over to Mike and knelt in front of him.
“Sweater,” snapped Mike.
Bev lifter her sweater again. Mike twisted her nipples even more cruelly than had Brad, causing Bev to cry out.
“You know better than to complain when you’re being punished,” Brad told her. “This is the second time you’ve embarrassed me in front of our guests. You’ve earned yourself a session.”
Bev paled. “Yes, Brad dear,” she said in a quavering voice.
Malcolm looked on in surprise. This was unusual behavior for the normally gentle Mike. He seemed to have some sort of grudge against Bev. There was apparently some history here that Malcolm was unaware of.
“Looks like she’s not quite there,” Malcolm commented, trying to stir things up a bit more.
“No, she’s totally obedient, but like I said, she can still make mistakes. Here, I’ll show you.”
“Oh, Sweetie pie,” Brad said to Bev.
“Yes, Brad dear.”
“Be a dear and go over to the hall door and bang your head against the frame. Hard. Raise a good lump.”
“Yes, Brad dear.”
Mike and Malcolm looked on stupefied as Bev walked over to the doorway, cocked her head back, and cracked it against the doorframe with considerable force.
“Again. Same spot,” Brad commanded.
Bev closed her eyes and slammed her forehead into the doorframe a second time.
“Excellent. Now crawl over to Malcolm and let him feel your lump.”
“That’s quite all right,” Malcolm said as Bev dropped to all fours and moved toward him. “I can see it from here.”
“That’s very impressive,” Malcolm said to Brad, hoping he hadn’t been indirectly responsible for Bev getting a concussion. “So where can I get my woman trained like that?”
“Leave me your number. I’ll have them get in touch with you.”
Malcolm didn’t like this idea. He wished he’d given Brad a phony name. His real name wasn’t all that common and if Brad reported that someone named Malcolm had been to see him, Manfred and Sebastian would have no doubt as to which Malcolm.
“So how did you find them?” Malcolm asked, stalling for time while he tried to think of some other approach.
“They found me. One day, I came back to my desk and there was this card laying there. It’s the one you saw, Mike. An hour later I got a phone call asking if I’d gotten the card. Things went from there.”
“So you never had any way to contact them,” Mike said.
“No, never. They always called me.”
“Do you work with anybody named Sebastian or Manfred?” Malcolm asked.
“Sebastian was the guy who contacted me, but I never met him before. I have got a customer named Manfred, though.”
“Who is he with?”
“They’re a small telecommunications company.”
“What’s Manfred do there?”
“Why all the questions?”
“I just want to know who we’re dealing with.”
“I don’t really want to get in the middle of anything here. Just give me your number and I’ll give it to them next time they call me.”
Mike caught Malcolm’s eye and nodded toward the door.
“I want to think this over some more before I commit. I’ll let you know,” Malcolm said.
Malcolm and Mike made their excuses and departed.
“Can you believe those two? Talk about dumb and dumber,” Mike laughed.
“Truly amazing. ‘Yes, Brad dear.’,” Malcolm said in a squeaky imitation of Bev’s voice. “I do have some sympathy for Bev, though. Imagine what they must have done to her to make her behave like that.”
“Believe me, it’s an improvement.”
“You really don’t like her, do you?”
“No, I don’t.”
“Care to talk about it?”
“No, I don’t.”
“Well, I don’t think there’s any doubt we’ve found our boy. There can’t be many more Manfreds than there are Malcolms. And if that isn’t enough, he’s working for a telecom company,” Malcolm said.
“Yeah, and he stole your idea of leaving the cards, too.”
Malcolm winced at Mike’s further revelation of his knowledge of the workings of Malcolm’s business. “So what do you know about this DSS company?”
“Not much, but if they’re a customer they’ll be in the computer. I’ll find out who manages their account and have a talk with him tomorrow.”
“Why don’t we just look them up in the phone book and drive over there.”
“’Cause I didn’t think of that. Let’s try it.”
They had no trouble locating DSS in the phone book. They drove to the listed address, but there wasn’t much to see. DSS was in a pre-stressed concrete building, sandwiched in between two other businesses in the same building. There was a short stairway to the door and a loading dock next to it. The building appeared deserted.
“Well, I guess that’s all we could expect on a Sunday,” Malcolm commented.
“I”ll be on it first thing in the morning,” Mike said.
Amy’s day had been a long one. Henry the Grape had devoted his entire day to her training. Her training regimen had been fairly simple. Obey or be tortured. By the end of the day, she was even more thoroughly terrorized than on the previous day. She was afraid to breathe without permission. It was a great relief when she was finally chained in her stall for the night.
When morning came, Amy was awakened and fed. Breakfast consisted of a bowl of something (she didn’t want to know what) shoved under her face. She ate lying on her stomach with her wrists bound behind her and her face in the bowl.
Amy remained bound in her stall for a considerable time after she was fed. Her stall door was closed but she could hear the sounds of hammering and sawing coming from the main hall. She shivered in fear. She hoped that whatever it was that they were building was intended for someone else. It made her feel guilty to hope someone else would be tortured, but not guilty enough to volunteer. In spite of all the noise made by whatever they were doing out there, it seemed unusually quiet due to the fact that no one was screaming at the moment.
Amy heard a stall door open and a clink of chain. She sagged in relief at the sound of someone else being led from her stall. Amy had just started to relax, her fear slowly draining away, when her own stall door was opened. She was gagged, then her ankles were untied and she was led forth by the chain attached to her collar.
A wooden beam was stretched horizontally across the hall. A woman she didn’t recognize was chained by the neck to the center of the beam. Amy was led forth and chained next to her. Grace and two other women were led from their stalls and chained to the beam in the same manner. All were gagged. This was unusual. Henry the Grape seemed to get off on the sound of women in pain. Gags were not often employed.
The women stood facing a small table in the center of the hall which bore a camp stove upon which a kettle of water boiled furiously. All five women eyed the boiling pot fearfully.
Sebastian was there. Although she knew he must be around somewhere, this was the first time she’d seen him. It had been he that led three of the women out and secured them. Henry the Grape had tended to Grace and Amy.
Sebastian left through the far door. Amy was frightened of that door. She had never been through it, but the noises that came from there were appalling.
“Ladies, if I could have your attention, please,” said Henry the Grape, striding to the center of the room. “As I’m sure you all know, we guarantee our work. If any of you fail to give complete satisfaction, you may be sent back for additional training. We further guarantee that if you do come back, you will very much wish you hadn’t. And that brings us to the reason for our little gathering this morning. For the first time, we have had a young lady come back to us for remedial training. Her owner is not completely satisfied and we are determined to honor our warranty. We have worked with her over the last few days to impress upon her the advantages of total obedience and today is her graduation exercise. We think it will be an educational experience for all of you. After today, we hope you’ll be more motivated in your studies and less likely to have to visit us again.”
“Okay, bring her out,” Henry the Grape called over his shoulder. Sebastian emerged from the room leading a woman on a leash. She was naked, her wrists were tied behind her, and her ankles were shackled with less than a foot of chain between them so that she followed Sebastian at a shuffling quick step. Her hair was matted and stringy, her body was covered by a large number of welts and other marks. Her sunken eyes and hollow cheeks caused Amy to think she had been bled dry of tears. Despite her startling appearance, there was no doubt who it was. It was Claire.
Amy couldn’t believe it. Owner? What owner? Henry the Grape’s remarks indicated that she had been in the possession of her “owner” until rather recently. Did he mean Malcolm? Had Malcolm kept Claire secreted in his building the whole time he was pretending to help her look for her sister? Amy struggled and tried to shout through her gag, but was ignored by Claire. She did, however, call Henry the Grape’s attention to her.
Henry picked up a short springy whip and lashed Amy 4 or 5 times across the breasts with it. “Believe me,” he told her, “you don’t want to join her.” Claire didn’t look up.
Sebastian led Claire over to Henry the Grape and handed him her leash. Claire looked at the assembled audience and Amy tried to catch her eye, but her gaze slid over Amy without apparent recognition.
“Some of you already know Claire,” Henry the Grape announced, “and I’m sure all of you wish her well in the task she is about to undertake.”
Amy turned a sharp eye upon Grace at Henry the Grape’s use of the plural regarding Claire’s acquaintances. If Grace knew Malcolm did she know Claire? Did any of the others know her? She wondered how many of these women had been sent here by Malcolm.
Henry the Grape untied Claire’s wrists and her arms dropped to her sides. Then he dug into his pocket and pulled out a quarter. He showed the coin to Claire, then tossed it into the pot. “I dropped my quarter. Get it for me.”
Claire looked around the table. “No, Claire, there are no utensils. Just reach in and get it. If you’re quick, you’ll get by with only second degree burns.”
Claire hesitated a moment, then timidly extended a hand toward the roiling water. She withdrew as the steam burned her arm, then reached forth again. She plunged her hand into the water about half way up her forearm, fished about for a moment, then screeched and withdrew it reflexively, holding it to her face and blowing on it. She had failed to retrieve the quarter. Claire extended her hand again, then pulled away. She turned and reached toward the pot with her uninjured hand, but couldn’t bring herself to put it in the water. She made two more half hearted attempts, then sank to her knees sobbing, cradling her burned hand.
“It looks like you don’t graduate today,” Henry the Grape said. He turned to Sebastian. “Let’s make some space here in the center.”
Henry the Grape unfastened Amy from the beam and Sebastian released the woman next to her. The men moved the two women to opposite ends of the beam, leaving a large gap in the center. They grabbed Claire by the arms, hauled her to her feet, and dragged her to the open space they had just created. Claire’s collar was fastened to the beam, then her arms were extended and tied to either side.
Once Claire was secured to the beam, Sebastian and Henry the Grape carefully picked up the table with the pot and set it in front of her. Sebastian produced two large soup ladles and handed one to Henry the Grape.
Each man dipped his ladle into the pot and then poured the boiling water slowly over Claire’s shoulders. Claire shrieked hideously as the men refilled their ladles. This time the water was poured onto her breasts.
“Stop...please stop,” Claire cried. “I’ll do it. I promise I’ll do it. I promise.”
“No, Claire,” Henry the Grape said, “we aren’t going to stop. You had your chance. You know what happens when you don’t obey.” He dipped his ladle into the water again.
“Help,” Claire screamed in desperation, jerking frantically against her bonds. “Help me. Somebody help me. Oh, please help me.” Fresh ladles of water were lifted toward her body. “Don’t...please don’t. I’ll do what you say. I’ll do whatever you want. Please.”
Sebastian pulled Claire’s hair aside and the water was poured down her back. Claire ceased her begging and reverted to incoherent shrieking. This seemed to annoy Sebastian. He produced a gag and forced it past Claire’s lips, securing it behind her neck.
The only effect of the gag was to lower the volume. Claire continued shrieking and trying to beg, struggling frantically against her bonds as each new ladle of water burned a fresh patch of skin. Henry the Grape and Sebastian continued her torture until they had used all the water. They covered every inch of her body below the neck. With the last two ladles, they grasped her ankles and jerked her feet from beneath her, leaving her hanging by her arms as they poured the boiling water onto her upturned soles.
Having exhausted the water, Sebastian released Claire from the beam, tied her hands behind her, reattached her leash, and led her away. It was a painful trip for Claire, as her ankle chain forced her to shuffle along on her burned feet.
“Well, ladies, I hope you’ve learned something,” Henry the Grape announced, then began returning the women to their stalls.
After what seemed like a long time, Sebastian opened Amy’s stall and led her forth.
“I’ll be conducting your training today,” Sebastian informed her. “Manfred is going to be busy.”
“So that’s his name,” Amy thought. She decided that she would continue to think of him as Henry the Grape.
As she was led through the main hall, Amy’s thoughts were interrupted by screams issuing from the room at the far end. Even though she knew who it was, the voice was barely distinguishable as Claire’s.
“...and be quick about it,” Sebastian commanded.
Amy had been distracted by whatever was being done to Claire and had missed the first part of Sebastian’s command. She had no idea what he had ordered her to do. In short order Claire’s screams were drowned out by Amy’s own.
Malcolm was not having a good day. Had he known of the day that Amy and Claire were having he might have concluded it wasn’t so bad after all, but he didn’t know. He had hoped to get out of work today in order to track down Manfred, but it hadn’t been possible. As a temp worker, he had to show up for his assignments if he expected to get future ones and today was the start of a new one--not a good time to be absent. His assignments usually lasted two weeks to six months and after he’d been there a while and gotten to know people, he could wangle the occasional day off if he needed it, but for the first day he had to be there.
Not that it would have done him much good to be off anyway. He’d called Mike who was also getting nowhere. His company’s computers were down, Brad hadn’t shown up, and he hadn’t been able to find anyone else who had heard of Manfred. Additionally, the crisis caused by the computer system being down meant that he couldn’t get away either.
The day offered no promise of any progress in locating Manfred. Malcolm decided it was a good day for a distraction and placed a phone call.
“Suzanne,” Malcolm said into the phone, “today is the day you open your envelope.”
Suzanne opened the inner envelope and read the instructions.
You are to dress as follows: your red silk blouse (no bra), black miniskirt, red panties to match your blouse, white stockings and red pumps. Take a cab to the shoe store at 15th and Olive. Take enough money for cab fare, but no more. Don’t wear any jewelry or take any ID. Enter the store at precisely 7:00 PM and ask for Harold. Tell him you want to buy the sexiest shoes he has. Do as he tells you. He may try several pair on you before choosing a pair. The decision as to which is the sexiest pair will be his, not yours. Once he has made a choice, you are to stand and approach each person in the store and ask, “What do you think of my new shoes?” Memorize their answers. You will be required to repeat them to me. You must say, “Thank you for your opinion,” to each one and nothing else. You are then to stand 10 feet from the front door until the store closes at 8:00 PM. If anyone else enters during that time, you are to ask them what they think of your shoes. Once Harold has closed the store, you are to pay for the shoes in whatever manner he specifies. After making payment, you are to leave the store and stand at the curb in front and wait for me. You will stand straight with your hands clasped behind your back. You will look straight ahead and not speak to anyone. When I arrive, you are to get into the car and do as I tell you.
“He’s up to something,” had been Suzanne’s first thought when she had read the instructions. There seemed to be a major omission. She had not been instructed to wear the new shoes out of the store, and in the absence of any such stricture, she fully intended to present herself to Malcolm in her old shoes. Malcolm surely knew her better than that. How could he make such an error? She had been told to obey Harold. Perhaps he would issue the necessary command. She studied the rest of her instructions, but didn’t see anything wrong. She reread them again and again, memorizing each detail.
The cab dropped Suzanne in front of the shoe store at three minutes to seven. She spent the three minutes looking in through the windows. There was only one salesman and one customer in the store.
Suzanne entered and approached the counter, where the salesman was ringing up a sale for the departing customer.
“I’m looking for Harold,” she told the salesman as the other woman headed for the door with her parcel.
“I am Harold,” the salesman replied.
“I want to buy the sexiest shoes you have.”
“Certainly, miss. Sit in the third chair from the end on the back side. Once seated, place your hands behind your head, fingers interlaced, elbows parallel to your shoulders.”
Suzanne happily did exactly as she was told. Harold had obviously been carefully instructed by Malcolm. There were two short rows of back to back chairs. She sat in the third chair farthest from the front of the store and facing away from the register.
Harold seated himself in front of Suzanne. Upon command she extended each of her feet and Harold removed her shoes. He carefully measured her feet, issuing a continuous stream of instructions. Suzanne complied, extending first one foot and then the other, holding them exactly as required by Harold and becoming more turned on as the process progressed.
“Place the balls of your feet on the floor with heels elevated as high as possible,” Harold ordered when he had completed his measurements, then strode off to the stock room.
While he was gone, another customer entered. She passed in front of Suzanne and then disappeared behind her to take a seat out of view. She was somewhat older than Suzanne and, although not unattractive, dressed rather severely in a business suit with a skirt that hung below her knees and rather clunky shoes. She looked down her nose as her eye was drawn to Suzanne’s rather provocative pose.
Harold returned a few minutes later carrying several boxes. Suzanne was sitting exactly as he had left her. “I’ll be with you shortly,” Harold said to the newcomer. He put a pair of red high heeled shoes, not all that different from her own, on Suzanne’s feet and required her to walk the length of the store and back. She was not allowed to take her arms down.
Suzanne was surprised that there were no mirrors in the store. Without mirrors, how would customers be able to see themselves in their new shoes?
“Nope, not what we’re looking for,” Harold commented upon her return and fitted another pair of shoes onto her feet. These were white with slightly higher heels than the last pair. Once again, she was required to parade the length of the store and back.
“Still not it.”
The next pair he put on her was black and had even higher heels and ankle straps. This time she tottered a bit as she tried to walk a straight line in the shoes with her arms up behind her head.
“That’s it,” Harold announced as she sat down. “These are the shoes you will buy.” He leaned down and tightened the buckle on each ankle strap another notch. “What about my old shoes?” Suzanne asked, her voice sounding breathy due to her increasing arousal.
“I will retain them,” Harold replied.
A younger couple had entered the store during her last parade through it.
Suzanne had orders to carry out. She walked over and stood before the older woman, hands still behind her head. “What do you think of my new shoes?”
“You look like a trollop. I certainly hope they’re going to spank you,” the woman replied.
“Thank you for your opinion.”
Suzanne approached the young couple, standing first in front of the man. “What do you think of my new shoes?”
“Very sexy,” he replied enthusiastically.
“Thank you for your opinion.”
“What do you...think of my new shoes?” she gasped, positioning herself in front of the man’s companion. She was beginning to have trouble controlling her breathing.
“Very nice,” she replied with considerably less warmth than her escort.
“Thank you...for...your...opinion,” Suzanne replied, just barely retaining control of herself.
Suzanne positioned herself to the side of the front door, waiting to see if anyone else would enter before it was time to pay Harold. She wondered what the new shoes looked like on her. The posture enforced upon her had only given her a brief glimpse of them when they had been taken out of the box. She had not seen them since.
As she waited, her excitement seemed to diminish. She began plotting how to exploit Malcolm’s omission in her instructions. She still hadn’t been commanded to wear her new shoes out of the store, but since Harold had taken custody of her old ones, she decided she would exit wearing no shoes. That would teach Malcolm to formulate his instructions more carefully, she gloated.
Harold waited on the couple. Suzanne was surprised that he waited on the young couple first. It was after 8:00 by the time they were gone.
Harold placed the “closed” sign in the window. He still hadn’t waited on the other woman.
“Follow me,” Harold commanded and led her to the stock room.
Upon arrival, Harold ordered her to stand in the center of the shipping/receiving area near the back door. Suzanne did as she was told.
Harold left the stock room to wait on his remaining customer. He returned after a short while.
“Now, on your knees and clasp your hands behind your back.”
Suzanne knelt, then gratefully took her arms down. They were beginning to tire. She looked expectantly at Harold, her juices beginning to flow again.
Harold stepped behind her, bent down, and latched a pair of handcuffs on her.
Suzanne’s arms jerked suddenly as she felt the bracelets close about her wrists. “Why...,” she began.
Suzanne was crestfallen. She had just started getting all worked up again and the handcuffs trashed the whole experience. They made her feel helpless and that frightened her. What she liked was choosing to obey, not being forced or coerced.
Harold seemed oblivious to her sudden change. He stood before her, unzipped his fly, and presented himself. “Make it good,” he commanded. “Your performance will determine your discount.”
Suzanne opened her mouth and set about the task of pleasing Harold.
When she had finished, Harold led her out of the stock room. Suzanne was startled to see the woman who had called her a trollop still sitting in the store. She sat stone faced, not looking at Suzanne. Her hands were folded primly in her lap, but her shoes were off and her feet positioned exactly as Suzanne’s had been. Her left ankle was chained to the chair in which she sat. Just what kind of shoe store was this?
Harold led her to the register and told her fifty dollars was being charged to her credit card, then opened the front door for her. Just before exiting, she bent to unbuckle her shoes, intending to leave them behind, only to discover that attached to each buckle was a small padlock. The shoes were locked onto her feet. So that was Malcolm’s little joke. She knew he had been up to something, but had been completely taken in when no instructions to wear the shoes outside had been forthcoming.
Suzanne strode forth and stood at the curb as required. She longed to look back into the store, to see what was going on with the chained woman, but she had been commanded to look straight ahead, and so she did. She endured catcalls and various other insults from passing cars, but as per instruction, didn’t respond.
A car pulled up to the curb, right in front of Suzanne. “Hey, baby, you wanna ride?” Suzanne didn’t move or speak. “Hey, bitch, I’m talkin’ a you. I axed you if you wanna ride.” Suzanne remained as before. The passenger door opened. As the occupant started to get out, he glanced past Suzanne to see Harold standing in the door, idly twirling a handgun around his finger. He got back in again. The car sped away, but not before whoever it was had splashed his drink all over the front of Suzanne. Dr. Pepper from the smell of it.
Shortly thereafter, Malcolm pulled up next to her. “Get in.” Suzanne opened the door and got in. “What have you got all over you?”
“I think it’s Dr. Pepper.”
“I hate that shit. Take your blouse off.” Suzanne did as she was told. Malcolm pulled over. “Now go put it in the trunk,” he ordered, pulling the trunk release latch.
People in passing cars honked and yelled as Suzanne, now topless, walked back to the trunk, tossed her blouse in, and returned to her seat.
“Better,” Malcolm commented, “but you still smell like that crap. We’re going to have to hose you down once we get there. Now, close your eyes and keep them closed until I say to open them.”
Most of Malcolm’s customers arrived at his building blindfolded. This wasn’t necessary with Suzanne. Once instructed to close her eyes, they would stay that way. Meanwhile, Suzanne was getting turned on again obeying Malcolm.
Once at their destination, Malcolm directed her inside. Suzanne, eyes still closed, proceeded according to Malcolm’s instructions. “Three steps forward, now turn right, five more steps, then stop. Before you is a stairway. Go up ten steps and stop...”
This was the kind of thing Suzanne loved. By the time she got to where they were going, she was breathing heavily, although the journey had not been physically taxing. Malcolm knew that if she was ordered to submit to sex now, she would go off like a rocket. However, Malcolm had other plans.
“Open your eyes, Suzanne, then come over and sit before me, hands behind your head like at the shoe store.”
Suzanne obeyed. They were in a medium sized room that resembled a living room. Malcolm stood before a low stool. Suzanne sat on the stool facing him. Malcolm commanded her to extend her leg and place her foot in his lap. He unlocked and removed her shoe, then repeated the operation with her other shoe. Malcolm then told her to stand and undress, directing her disrobing in minute detail.
“Now, go through the door behind you and take a shower, then dry yourself and return here,” Malcolm instructed her once she was naked. “And don’t touch yourself in any way that’s pleasurable.”
Suzanne did as ordered and after a bit returned to stand before Malcolm who was now sitting in a large easy chair.
“Now, tell me how everyone liked your shoes.”
“Well, there was an older woman. She called me a trollop...”
“What were her exact words?”
“She said, ‘You look like a trollop. I certainly hope they’re going to spank you.’ What did she mean by that? She was chained to her chair when I left.”
“She probably didn’t want to be the only one getting a spanking tonight. And the others?”
“There was a couple...The man said... ‘very sexy’... I think he was pretty turned on.” Suzanne’s breathing was becoming increasingly ragged. “The woman...said...’very nice’...but she...was pretty...turned off.”
“What about Harold? How did he like your shoes?”
Suzanne turned bright red. She had been so wrapped up in the thing about wearing the shoes outside that this one had gone right by her. She had been commanded to get everyone’s opinion and she hadn’t asked Harold. She considered making something up, but she was pretty sure Harold would have given her a canned response scripted by Malcolm. He would spot the lie instantly. Besides, that wouldn’t be fair.
“So you didn’t ask Harold, did you, Suzanne. You didn’t obey.”
“No,” Suzanne groaned.
“Tell me what you think I should do about that.”
“Punish me?” Suzanne replied in the tiniest of voices. Suzanne didn’t like being punished, but felt that she deserved it when she failed to obey. If Malcolm failed to impose a penalty, Suzanne would punish herself and everyone around her by being a total bitch, a fact that Malcolm had learned the hard way.
“Yes, of course you’ll be punished, but tonight you’re going to choose your own penalty. So tell me, how shall you pay for your failure to obey?”
Suzanne couldn’t believe Malcolm was letting her get away with choosing her own penance. She was thinking five Our Fathers and five Hail Marys might be about right when Malcolm interrupted her deliberation.
“One thing, however. I’ll administer whatever punishment you choose, but if I feel it’s inadequate, it will be followed by a much harsher one of my own.”
Suzanne reconsidered her choice. “Maybe that woman should get her wish. Maybe she shouldn’t be the only one getting a spanking tonight.” Suzanne said almost inaudibly.
Malcolm was astounded. He had never spanked Suzanne and had always assumed her aversion to bondage included corporal punishment. He had occasionally used bondage as a punishment, but it had never occurred to him to spank her. Malcolm decided to hand her some more rope and see what she did with it. He led Suzanne into the room where he had spanked Amy and opened one of the cabinets that lined the wall. It contained a short multi-thonged whip, a riding crop, a cane, a couple of paddles, and a heavy wooden ruler.
“Select one and hand it to me.”
Suzanne gazed at the implements for a few moments, then selected the cane and handed it to Malcolm. Again Malcolm was surprised. She had selected what was probably the most painful implement of the group. He wondered if she knew that. The other items did look more intimidating. Nonetheless, she had made her choice. He would use the cane on her.
“Now,” Malcolm announced, “you’re going to choose the number of strokes you’ll receive. Choose a number between 1 and 50. Whatever number you choose is the number you’ll get.”
“There’s got to be a catch,” Suzanne thought to herself.
“However, there’s a catch. If you choose a number that I think is too low, you’ll receive the whole 50.”
“Is ten too low?”
“Choose a number, Suzanne.”
“A good choice. Twenty it is. Now walk up to the end of the log, bend over and wrap your arms around it.”
“You’re not going to chain me down, are you?” Suzanne asked, eyeing the manacles dangling from the underside of the log.
“Certainly not. It will be up to you to keep your arms wrapped around the log while you’re being spanked. If you let go or stand up, however, then I will chain you down and you’ll receive the full fifty. Do you understand?”
“Good. Now get in position.”
Suzanne bent over the log and wrapped her arms around it. Malcolm took up his own position and brought the cane down smartly on Suzanne’s backside.
“OWW! Hey, not so hard,” Suzanne complained, then “AHHH!” as Malcolm delivered an even harder stroke.
“Suzanne, which one of us is being punished?”
“I am, but...”
“You are, no buts. You’ve got your code word if you want to leave, but until then just remember that I’m the one doing the spanking. You’re the one being spanked.”
Each of Malcolm’s customers was given a code word. If she said the word, her adventure was ended in that instant and Malcolm took her home. However, it would cost her $500. Malcolm charged $1500 for the little adventure he provided to his client. If she completed it without using her code word, she would receive a $500 rebate. If, however, she used the word, she was charged the full $1500. This served to provide his customer with a feeling of security, knowing that she could bail if it got to be too much, but also provided Malcolm with a level of coercion that was a turn on to his customers.
Nonetheless, Malcolm moderated his blows. He didn’t want Suzanne to bail on him just when he was discovering fascinating new things about her.
By the seventh blow, Suzanne was gripping the log with all her might and starting to shed tears. By the tenth, she was shrieking.
“Malcolm, stop. You’ve got to stop. I don’t think I can stand twenty.”
“Then use your code word.”
“Couldn’t you just stop at twelve?”
It was obvious to Malcolm that Suzanne didn’t want to use the word. He decided to push her a little farther.
“No. You get the full twenty. You chose this penalty and you’re going to go through with it.”
“But what if I let go, or get up?”
“Then I’ll chain you down and you’ll get the full fifty.”
“Oh, god, oh, god...” Suzanne shrieked as another blow landed. Her hands jerked convulsively toward her flaming posterior.
“Malcolm,” Suzanne choked, “Malcolm, chain me down now. I can’t hold on for any more. Chain me down.”
Malcolm paused and locked the manacles on Suzanne’s wrists.
“I’m going to add a five stroke penalty since you’re not holding on of your own free will anymore.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean we’re going to twenty-five now, not twenty.”
“Oh, god. Oh my god.”
“Would you prefer fifty?”
By the fifteenth stroke, Suzanne was shrieking and kicking her feet about wildly.
“I think we’d better chain your ankles.”
“Spread your legs, Suzanne.”
Suzanne did as commanded and Malcolm chained her ankles to the legs of the trestle.
“Only ten to go,” Malcolm informed her.
“Oh my god. Oh god...I can’t stand it...”
Malcolm eased up a bit, not wanting to push Suzanne too far. Even so, she screamed at the top of her lungs and thrashed wildly. Her chains gave her a freedom to struggle that she hadn’t had when trying to remain in position by willpower.
By the twenty-fifth stroke, Suzanne lay limp against the log, physically exhausted and covered in sweat. Malcolm was afraid he’d gotten a little carried away. Suzanne’s backside was covered with welts. Nonetheless, she had endured the whipping without using her code word. That definitely said something about her.
Malcolm ran his hand up between her legs. Suzanne jumped as his fingers brushed across one of her welts, but she was definitely moist. It had to be the spanking, Malcolm told himself. He had bound or chained her on more than one occasion and it had always turned her off. The spanking had turned her on in spite of the bondage. It was a more severe spanking than he would normally inflict on a beginner. Perhaps she wasn’t a beginner when it came to spanking. “I sure know how to pick ‘em,” Malcolm told himself, remembering the night he’d spotted Suzanne in the bar. He continued caressing Suzanne who began moaning.
Like Suzanne, Amy had spent her evening obeying commands. Unlike Suzanne, Amy was bound in one way or another throughout the experience. Like Suzanne, she was punished for her errors, but there the similarity ended. Amy did not have a code word and would have used it if she had one. Amy felt no inner need to obey. Her obedience was compelled by an ever deepening terror of the consequences of disobedience. Commands now included doing various things to cause herself pain. Without hesitation she had applied a pair of heavy clamps to her nipples. They had hurt terribly, but Amy remembered the pins, which had been worse. She still wasn’t sure she could put a cigarette out on herself, but the idea was no longer inconceivable. It was just a matter of time. She looked forward to her graduation exercise with increasing dread.
On Tuesday morning, Malcolm got a call at work. “Malcolm, it’s Mike. I got Manfred’s number out of the computer, but when I call all I get is his voice mail. The receptionist said he won’t be in for the rest of the day. I never heard Manfred’s voice all that much, but the voice on the recording sounds like I remember him and has a slight accent. I’m pretty sure it’s our guy.”
“Any way to get any more information?”
“I’m working on it. I didn’t want to leave a message because he’ll probably recognize my voice. I’ll have one of the other guys leave him a message to call us. We’re a big enough account that we’ll probably hear from him.”
“So what happens when you hear from him?”
“I’ll try to get him to come over here. Once I get my hands on him we’ll get some answers.”
“Have you thought that all the way through? Are you sure you want to get physical with a vendor on company premises?”
“Okay, maybe I’ll just follow him home. Then I’ll kill him.”
“Keep me posted.”
Amy could have told Mike that he wouldn’t be hearing from Manfred that day. She had spent the morning being terrorized by Sebastian while Manfred had devoted the morning to Claire. Manfred had spent the night remonstrating with Claire about her lack of obedience. Her screams would have kept Amy up all night if it hadn’t been for Amy’s own exhaustion and the fact that Claire’s voice gave out early on. When she awoke, she could still hear Manfred working on Claire.
Amy was currently standing as she had on the previous morning chained by the neck to the beam with the other women. Manfred stood before them and it was obvious that there was going to be a repeat of Claire’s graduation exercise. Sebastian seemed to be absent, as did one of the women who had been there on the previous occasion.
A different kettle bubbled away on the camp stove this time. It was shallower and broader than the previous one. Amy watched it, wondering if she herself would be able to plunge her hand into it if ordered. At this point, she was pretty sure she would. Grace had been right, no matter how horrible a thing she was ordered to do, not doing it was worse.
Amy’s musing was interrupted by Claire being led into the room. She limped even more painfully than yesterday and her entire body below the neck was covered with blisters. Her burns were obviously extremely painful. Simply wrapping her in a scratchy wool blanket would probably torture her beyond endurance. Nevertheless, Amy was pretty sure Claire had been made to suffer more than a blanket. Her face was filled with pain and fear. Although she had looked bad yesterday, it was amazing how much worse she looked only a day later.
“Good evening, ladies. Once again, we’re assembled to watch Claire prove herself. As you can see, we’ve had to treat her rather harshly, but I think we’ve made progress. Claire promises that this time she will complete her assigned task, and so I’ve called you all forth to witness her triumph.”
Manfred produced a quarter and fitted it edgewise into a small flat metal plate so that the it stood on edge. Then he grasped it with a pair of tongs and lowered it into the water.
“Now, Claire, if you will, please, get my quarter for me.”
Claire stood confused for a moment. Her hands were still tied behind her. She looked at Manfred who stood impassively. Finally, she turned and backed up to the kettle. She was going to have to plunge both hands into the water behind her to get the quarter.
“No, Claire. If I wanted you to use your hands I would have untied them. You will retrieve the quarter with your teeth.”
Amy hadn’t thought that Claire could look any more frightened than she already did, but she had been wrong. Manfred had come up with a task that was even more horrible than anything Claire had prepared herself for. Nonetheless, there was no question in anyone’s mind, including Claire’s, that she would go through with it. Horrendous as the idea of plunging her face into the boiling water was, they had all learned the lesson of Claire’s previous failure. Not doing it would be worse.
Amy watched as Claire gathered her courage. Amy wanted to scream on Claire’s behalf, but she was gagged. She watched in enforced silence as Claire drew a deep breath and leaned over the pot.
Malcolm arrived home to a ringing telephone. “Hello,” he answered.
“Good evening, sir.”
“Gerald, I’m surprised to hear from you.”
“And why is that, sir? I had thought you would be expecting me to contact you.”
“For one thing, I didn’t think you had my phone number.” Gerald had called on the line which was reserved for Malcolm’s customers, a number he gave out only to his customers.
“Obviously I do, sir. Be that as it may, the reason for my call is that the individual about whom you inquired is currently visiting us. He has brought a guest with him, someone I haven’t seen before.”
“So Manfred’s at the club with a new pony.”
“Yes, sir. That is what I said.”
“I’ll be right down. I don’t have a pony tonight, so I’ll just wait outside until he leaves. See if you can keep him there ’til I get there.”
“I take it that you intend to follow him home.”
“Yes, something like that.”
“Would it save you the trip if I gave you his address?”
“You have it?”
“Yes, sir, I do.”
“Gerald, you’re amazing.”
“That coincides with my own opinion, sir.”
“What’s the address?”
“He has a farm fifty two miles north of town at the junction of highway fifteen and county road H. There is a two story white farmhouse with a blue roof and a large barn with a red roof. It’s the only property in the area with a barn.”
“Thank you, Gerald, I’m in your debt.”
“Hardly, sir. Until now I was in yours.”
Malcolm called Mike.
“Mike, I just heard from Gerald. He gave me Sebastian’s address.”
“We’ll go in my car. I’ll pick you up in twenty minutes.”
Amy had nearly died. She had watched Claire plunge her face into the water. Remarkably, Claire had retrieved the quarter, but her face had turned a bright red and blisters were already beginning to form. Claire had collapsed on the floor, possibly unconscious. Amy had vomited into her gag. If it hadn’t been for fast action on Manfred’s part, quickly slicing her gag strap with a knife and applying the heimlich maneuver, she would have choked to death on her own vomit.
After ascertaining that Amy was alright, Manfred returned to Claire. He revived her by opening a small brown bottle and passing it back and forth before her face. Claire sneezed, opened her eyes, and began screaming. Manfred worked a gag into her mouth, scooped her into his arms and carried her off.
Upon his return, Manfred addressed his assembled captives. “Well, ladies, as you can see, Claire has learned her lesson and graduated. I hope you’ll all remember the lesson of this day when it comes time for your own graduation.”
One by one, Manfred unchained each student and led her back to her stall. He left Amy and Grace until last. Amy was numb and therefor only mildly alarmed when Manfred led Grace and herself out of the room rather than back to their stalls. pp“That’s it over there,” Malcolm said to Mike, pointing to the house and barn which sat about a hundred yards off the road. “Shall we just drive up there?”
“No,” Mike said. “We don’t want Sebastian to return and see a strange car here.”
“That looks like a side road about a quarter mile ahead. We can park there and walk up.”
Rather than walk up the drive, Mike and Malcolm approached the house overland from the side. As they neared the house, they separated, each going to a separate window. Cautiously, they peered around the edges of the windows, then conferred.
“Looks like an ordinary bedroom to me,” Mike said.
“I didn’t see any sign of anybody. I don’t think there’s anyone in there. Let’s check the rest of the windows, then try the barn.”
They separated once again, working their way around the house in opposite directions, meeting up again on the other side.
“Anything?” Mike asked.
“Nope, nothing. You?”
“Me either. Let’s check the barn.”
The barn was large and the few windows it had were up high. It had a barn door at either end. Mike and Malcolm decided to attempt entry through the door farthest from the house.
The door didn’t seem to be latched and opened with little effort and less noise. Malcolm and Mike slipped inside to find themselves in a large room with wood pillars every few feet. The only light in the room was provided by two small lamps, each attached to a pillar, which shown downward casting a puddle of illumination at the base of the pillar. Standing in the center of each puddle was a naked woman whose wrists were tied above her head just under her light. Each woman had an alligator clip fastened to each nipple from which wires trailed off into the darkness. The women were Amy and Grace.
Mike and Malcolm started forward, then froze as all the lights in the room suddenly came on.
“Good evening, gentlemen,” Manfred said as he stepped out from behind a pillar. “What took you so long? I’ve been expecting you for days.”
“You bastard,” Mike yelled as he started forward.
“Stay where you are,” Manfred ordered, raising the gun he held in one hand. Malcolm grabbed Mike by the collar and pulled him back.
“Very wise,” Manfred commented. “I was hoping not to have to shoot you. I would hate for you to miss the entertainment. The ladies are going to dance and it would be a shame if there were no audience.”
“So you’ve been expecting us,” Malcolm said.
“As I said, for days now. I finally got tired of waiting, so I sent Sebastian to the pony girl club, anticipating that you might follow him here. By the way, what have you done with him?”
“Nothing yet. As far as I know, he’s still at the club.”
“Too bad. I hoped you’d dispose of that idiot for me.”
“Looks like you’ll have to do your own dirty work,” Mike said.
“Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps I’ll tie him down and set the ladies loose on him. They doubtless have a few frustrations they’d like to express.”
“I’m sure they do. So what have you got planned for us.”
“We’ll get to that. We’re going to start off with a little entertainment.” Turning to the women, he said, “Okay, ladies, time for your performance. Dance, if you please.”
Amy and Grace began dancing in place with weird high stepping motions. Manfred raised his other hand in which he held a small black box, which was apparently the destination of the wires attached to the women. He pushed a button on the box and both women began making garbled screeching noises and their movements became spastic and erratic, although they persisted in their attempts to dance.
“Amusing, isn’t it.”
Mike surged forward again and Malcolm again attempted to restrain him. Manfred fired a shot which lodged in the floor inches in front of Mike’s foremost foot. It was apparent to Malcolm that the bullet had gone exactly where Manfred had intended. Manfred was obviously a skilled marksman and it didn’t seem likely he’d get rattled and shoot wildly if they rushed him. Mike quietly stepped back to his previous position.
Manfred nodded approvingly, then pushed a second button on his box. Both women stood shuddering in place.
“I do so love making beautiful women suffer.” Manfred commented as Mike and Malcolm looked on helplessly.
After a bit he released the button and Amy and Grace collapsed, hanging by their wrists. “Alas, back to more mundane matters.” He turned to Grace and waited for her eyes to come back into focus. “Grace, you’d like to get out of here, wouldn’t you?” She nodded. “Good. Tonight is your graduation exercise. Pass it, and you’re free to go.”
Grace looked frightened as Manfred cut the rope holding her wrists overhead, then winced as the clips were removed from her nipples. “Step over here in front of me, that’s right.” Manfred reached in front of Grace with his right hand which held the gun. “Now, here’s all you have to do. Take this gun and shoot these men. Do you understand? Shoot them and you’re free to go.” Grace nodded. “Very well, obey.”
Grace took the gun, holding it in both hands which were still bound in front of her, arms extended and pointing it at Mike. She took a step forward. Mike and Malcolm tensed. “Don’t move,” she ordered in a shaky voice. She took another step forward.
“Not too close,” Manfred ordered. “We don’t want them grabbing the gun.”
Grace half turned toward Manfred when he spoke. This was the opening Mike and Malcolm had been waiting for and both men charged forward, as did Manfred, who stepped toward Grace as well.
“Stay out of my way,” Grace shouted at Mike and Malcolm as she stepped sideways and completed her turn. Manfred was closer and got there first. The gun went off just as he put his hand on hers and Manfred staggered backwards, hit in the chest. Mike and Malcolm halted their charge as the next shot hit Manfred in the face, the one after in the neck. Grace continued working her way down the thorax and into the abdomen until the gun was empty. “Am I free to go now?” Grace asked of what was obviously Manfred’s corpse.
“Grace, you shot him!” Mike gasped.
“Yes, I did,” said Grace. “I killed him. Would you rather I’d shot you?”
“No, no, of course not,” said Mike, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her to him. “It’s just...it’s just...you shot him.”
“It was just a matter of time. Just a matter of time. I knew if I did everything he said, let him do whatever he wanted to me, some day he’d trust me too far.”
“For a minute there, I thought you were going to shoot me.”
“I would have, if you’d tried to take the gun.”
“You really would have shot me?”
“Just a flesh wound, if that’s what it took to get out of arm’s reach of Manfred. I had to have enough space to be able to turn before he could get to me.”
“You really would have shot me,” Mike repeated, bewildered.
“Yes,” Grace said and burst into tears.
While the exchange between Mike and Grace was taking place, Malcolm walked over to release Amy, who shrank against her post in fear at his approach.
“Amy, it’s okay, he’s dead. It’s okay. You’re safe,” Malcolm said in his most soothing voice, but Amy did not look comforted. Malcolm released her wrists and her arms dropped to her sides, but she otherwise stood stiffly erect, not moving. He wrapped his arms around her, but she retained her rigid posture, except to quiver in fear. She reacted not at all when Malcolm removed the clips from her nipples. He noted the partially healed wounds on her breasts left by the pins, but didn’t know what had caused them.
“Tell her what to do,” Grace said. “She’s been terrorized. It will take her a while before she’s normal. She doesn’t know how to detach. She actually felt all the pain Manfred inflicted. For now, just tell her what you want. She’ll obey.”
“Amy, is Claire here? Where’s Claire?”
“Through there,” Amy said, pointing at the far door.
“Stay put,” Malcolm said unnecessarily and headed for the door.
Beyond the door, Malcolm was in a room full of stalls like in a stable. There were over a dozen of them, arranged on either side of the hall. Most were empty, but two of them were occupied by women he didn’t recognize who knelt rigidly on the floors of their stalls, each chained by her neck to the rear wall.
In the very last stall he found the most wretched woman he had ever seen. Her entire body was covered with blisters and welts. Her eyes were open and stared vacantly through Malcolm. She knelt as did the others, chained by the neck and hands tied behind her. Malcolm turned away and headed for the far door to the stable room to continue his search for Claire.
Passing through the far door, Malcolm looked about. Judging from the contents of the room, it was used for torture, but was unoccupied. Malcolm exited the room and headed back the way he came, then stopped and returned to the wretched woman.
She looked up but didn’t otherwise respond.
“Claire? Oh my god. Hang on, I’ll get you loose.” He looked at the lock on her neck chain, then said, “I’ve got to find keys. I’ll be right back.”
He returned to Mike and Grace. He and Mike searched Manfred’s body, but didn’t find any keys. They examined the rest of the room, which contained some cabinets and a couple of closets. The cabinets contained mainly items for restraint and punishment, but no keys. Malcolm found a pry bar in one of the closets and returned to Claire. He used the pry bar to rip the eye bolt at the end of her chain from the wood of the rear of the stall. Claire stood upon command and Malcolm led her forth by the chain.
Amy’s eyes widened as they entered the room. She was obviously frightened by the sight of Malcolm leading Claire in on her chain.
“Holy shit!” Mike exclaimed upon seeing Claire. “Is that Claire? What happened to her?”
“She’s been scalded,” Grace replied.
“Claire, what did they do?”
“I graduated,” Claire replied. “I’ll do whatever you want. Just tell me. I’ll do it. You won’t have to hurt me. I graduated.”
“She learned to detach,” Grace said, “and she doesn’t want to come back. I don’t blame her. She must be in incredible pain. A burn is the hurt that keeps on hurting.”
Malcolm looked at Grace. She was a different person since having shot Manfred. It had always seemed to Malcolm as if she had been hiding inside herself ever since he’d known her, but with Manfred’s death she had come back out.
“So now what?” Mike asked.
“Shh, somebody’s coming,” Malcolm hissed.
Mike and Malcolm stepped behind the nearest posts as a figure in a fox hunting outfit appeared in the door. Claire and Amy were already hiding and Grace pointed the empty gun at the intruder.
“Oh, dear, I had hoped I would be in time to prevent this sort of thing,” Gerald said, eyeing the former Manfred.
“Who are you and what’s with the silly outfit?” Grace demanded.
“It’s okay, Grace,” Malcolm said, “I know him.”
“I regret that I didn’t have time to change into something more suitable. I have a very nice Hercule Poirot outfit which would have been more appropriate to the occasion.”
“Gerald, what are you doing here?” Malcolm asked.
“I thought you might require assistance.”
“We probably do, but what do you have in mind.”
“I think the ladies are in need of medical attention, especially the one hiding behind the far pillar,” Gerald said, indicating Claire. He handed a card to Malcolm. “Take them to this doctor. He is expecting you and won’t ask questions. You should go there now.”
“He’s expecting us?” Malcolm asked in surprise.
“I had anticipated your needs, sir.”
“I see. And what about him?” Malcolm asked, indicating the former Manfred.
“Sebastian will bury him upon his return.”
“But what about the police?” asked Mike.
“Who will call them? The absence of the individual on the floor will be appreciated by all who knew him. I doubt that anyone will inquire as to the reason for it.”
“What about Sebastian?” Malcolm asked.
“Considering his own activities, he is unlikely to welcome police scrutiny. He will prefer to pretend the whole thing never happened..”
“And the other women he’s holding captive?”
“I will see to them, sir. Now take the ladies and go before Sebastian returns. I would prefer to deal with him without distraction.”
“Yeah,” said Mike, “I’d like to deal with him, too.”
“If you please, sir, although my methods are not as drastic as yours,” he said, glancing sidelong at the former Manfred, “they are quite effective.”
“Gerald, you’re amazing,” said Malcolm. “I’ve said it before.”
“As have I, sir.”
Malcolm sat pondering the last few months of his life. It had been three months since he and Mike had rescued the girls from Sebastian’s farm (rescued was probably an overstatement–it had been Grace that shot Manfred and Gerald that had picked up the pieces). Prior to Manfred, he’d been happy. He’d had a nice business doing something he really enjoyed, and it had been on the verge of making a good living for him. Of late, his only need for temp work had been as a source of new customers, but now all that was changed.
The problem was that he’d lost his enthusiasm for what he did and enthusiasm was essential to satisfying his customers. He hadn’t recruited any new customers lately, and contracts from his old ones were on the decline. The reason for this, of course, was Amy and Claire.
They lived with him now. Neither was yet capable of holding a job and Malcolm had outfitted a room for each of them in his building. To economize, he’d given up his apartment and now lived there full time himself.
Claire’s burns had healed but Claire had not. She stayed in her room almost all the time. She was tended by Amy, who was still suspicious of Malcolm. Malcolm had never been able to quite convince her that he hadn’t paid Manfred and Sebastian to train herself and her sister. Malcolm did in fact feel some guilt for having indirectly caused their captivity, which Amy picked up on but misinterpreted as direct responsibility.
Nevertheless, Amy had been trained and despite, or perhaps because of, her suspicions, she obeyed Malcolm. Both women did.
“Be careful what you ask for,” Malcolm thought to himself. It had been fun spanking Amy, making her a pony girl, but only because she had had the ability to refuse. Now that her will had been suppressed to the point of annihilation, her obedience had no value. He had punished her once since her training, bound and spanked her, but it had been a dreary experience. Amy had submitted to restraint, then endured her spanking in silence. It had left Malcolm feeling ashamed. He wondered if Brad had yet tired of Bev’s mindless obedience.
Malcolm had made one final trip to the Bit and Bridle. He thought about taking Amy, but there seemed no point. All he really wanted there was to see Gerald and thank him for his assistance. He had offered Gerald some money in return for his help, but Gerald had informed him that he had already been compensated. Malcolm had also inquired as to Sebastian’s fate.
“I sold him,” Gerald had replied.
“What do you mean, ‘sold him’?”
“Just that, sir. The purchaser and I agreed upon a price whereupon the transaction was consummated.”
“But...but...so that’s what you were talking about when you said you’d already been compensated.”
“Gerald, you’re amazing.”
Amy padded through the room on her way to the kitchen, interrupting Malcolm’s thoughts. Malcolm snapped his fingers and pointed at his crotch. Amy hurried over and busied herself pleasing him. There were, after all, some advantages to the current situation. Nonetheless, if he could go back to the way things used to be, he would.