by Van © 2002
To see the actresses the author would cast in ACADEMIC DREAMS: THE MOTION PICTURE, follow this LINK , and use your browser's "Back" feature to return.
OUR STORY BEGINS
"The Ancient Egyptians, like many other cultures, held dreams in high esteem. Dream time was an excursion into the Underworld. The journey could be very dangerous, but it could also be very beneficial. They believed one could communicate with the gods, learn of the future, practice magic, or heal illnesses while dreaming. They also believed it was possible to project nightmares to their enemies."Sally struggled to stay awake. Minerva Ross was one of her favorite Profs. She really didn't know her, but Ross was smart and classy and was a good lecturer. (Cassie, Sally's roommate, didn't like Ross, for some reason... but Sally did.) The sleepy scholar tucked an errant wisp of curly brown hair behind her left ear... and stifled a yawn. The topic was fairly interesting, but the near all-nighter she had pulled to finish her paper was catching up with her. The dim lights in the overheated lecture hall weren't helping either. Ross touched a button on the podium and the slide changed. The new image showed what Sally recognized as the bedroom of a 'Typical Old Kingdom Dwelling,' one of several highly realistic computer simulations Ross often used to illustrate her lectures. In this case a slender, nearly naked (and very beautiful) simulated Egyptian maiden was preparing for bed, her tan skin glowing golden in the light of a small oil lamp. Sally stifled a yawn and glanced sideways at Cassie, to see how her best friend and roommate was faring. To her horror, Sally found the freckled redhead down for the count, her head back and mouth open, dead to the world.
A quick glance to the front revealed that Dr. Ross was continuing her lecture, oblivious to Cassie's blatantly inattentive condition; however, Tabitha Reid, the Professor's Teaching Assistant, was staring in their direction, the short, fair-skinned brunette's blue eyes flashing angrily in the reflected light of the slide projector. That little bitch would notice, Sally thought, then carefully, surreptitiously kicked her dozing friend's leg.
Cassie snorted loudly, blinked, covered her earlier noise with a polite cough, then glanced sideways at her grinning friend. "Please tell me I didn't drool," she whispered.
"No more than usual," Sally whispered back, "now stay awake. 'Tabby-Cat' already has your number."
Cassie glanced down at the still glaring TA. "I hate that stuck-up little munchkin," she hissed, a dimpled smile camouflaging her sentiment.
Sally stifled a laugh. "I'm sure the feeling's mutual," she whispered, "now shuddup before you get us in real trouble."
"If one wished to communicate with the gods via dreams, a ritual in the god's honor would be performed. This may include fasting and abstaining from any type of social interaction. A clean piece of linen would be written upon with specially made ink. It would indicate which god was called upon and what the dreamer desired from the god."The slide changed again, and a tomb painting of the goddess Nuit filled the screen. Blue-skinned and naked, her body covered with stars, the sky goddess was in one of her traditional poses: feet flat on the ground, bent forward at the waist with her torso parallel with the horizon, her fingers just touching the ground. Tiny figures representing the entire mortal world were clustered under her overarching limbs and body.
Sally glanced to the side again. Cassie was awake, but her eyes were glazed. She was struggling. Sally thought she ought to probably kick her roommate again... but just didn't have the energy. Why do they have to keep this place so damn hot? she mused, stifling a yawn.
"The dreamer would then go to sleep, careful to have writing material by his side to record the message. The message would most likely be coded and require interpretation by a priest or a professional dream interpreter. However, if the god spoke directly to the dreamer, no interpretation was needed. "Sally knew she should be taking notes... but even that was beyond her current power level. I'm loosing it! she thought... then she gasped . On the screen, the goddess Nuit had turned her head and was staring right at Sally, a coy, superior smile on her beautiful, blue, divine face! A chill ran down Sally's spine, and the hairs on the back of her neck stood on end.
"A dangerous journey," the goddess said, her alto voice pleasant and melodious, with a subtle, exotic timbre. "Weren't you listening, my pretty little one?"
Sally knew she should answer... but how does one answer a goddess? Her eyelids drooped... and all was black.
Sally snapped awake. The lecture hall was still dark, save the pin spots focused on the podium, but except for Cassie (sprawled in blissful slumber at her side), and Professor Ross (casually packing her lecture notes and slides into a leather and canvas satchel)... the hall was deserted!
Cassie emitted a loud, echoing snore. Under other conditions this might have been hilarious, but Sally was too embarrassed to laugh. Sally kicked her roommate and began quietly packing away her notes. Cassie bolted upright in her chair, blinked, realized their situation, and began packing her pens and notebook as well (all the while blushing bright crimson, evident even in the dimly lit lecture hall.)
"The Sleeping Beauties awake!" Ross observed, smiling up at her distressed students.
Sally and Cassie exchanged a horrified glance, then turned to the front. "Uh..." they said in unison.
Ross laughed and shook her head. "By way of apology you can help me carry these term papers," she said, indicating the tall stack of slim, colorful, plastic and paper binders on the table next to the podium. "And I assume you both have something to add to the stack?"
Sally and Cassie reopened their backpacks and produced their papers, then hurried down the aisle to the front. Sally's curly brown hair bounced as they bounded down the stairs.
"I... I'm really sorry," Sally said, a blush coloring her cheeks.
"Me too!" Cassie chimed in, running one hand through her short, auburn mop.
Minerva Ross looked them up and down, obviously enjoying their embarrassment Her full lips were curled in one of her characteristically withering mocking smiles (the one usually reserved for idiot students), but the affectionate twinkle in her striking, blue eyes softened the effect. "You are both usually attentive and well prepared contributors," she purred. "We'll chalk this... transgression... up to the lateness of the day and your eagerness to begin the long weekend, shall we?"
Sally and Cassie (still blushing) mumbled their thanks, added their papers to the stack, then divided it into two equal halves and loaded them into a pair of empty cardboard boxes. By the time they had shouldered their backpacks, Ross had shouldered her satchel and was turning out the remaining lights.
"Our destination is not my office, but the museum sub-basement," Ross announced. "Ms. Reid has workspace there, and that's where she'll be doing the initial readings. We'll take the steam tunnel. It's quicker."
Sally and Cassie exchanged a worried glance, hefted the boxes, and followed. The campus steam tunnels were off limits to students. Dark and dusty, swathed with cobwebs, weakly lit by only the occasional bare bulb dangling from a ratty cord, steam escaping from rusty, lime encrusted pipes... There were legends (only a freshman would call them 'reports') of people disappearing down there, wandering in the supposedly endless maze until they collapsed and died (or were eaten by albino alligators escaped from the Biology Building, depending on who was telling the tale.) Everyone knew the greatest real hazard down there was bonking your head, but who wanted to get dirty and covered with cobwebs (and lost) in a dank tunnel? ...other than Dungeons & Dragons geeks looking for a place to exercise (or exorcise) their role-playing demons, of course.
The little caravan trooped down the hall of the seemingly deserted teaching building and through a door into the less used, semi-public area. Ross unlocked an inconspicuous door under a stairwell, locked it behind them, and they continued down a cramped, dark, dirty set of stairs to the basement. On the far side of the furniture and box cluttered space was a heavy iron door with an impressive lock. Ross had the key to this door as well, and Sally and Cassie found themselves descending yet another cramped, dark, dirty set of stairs, and facing another iron door. This door was unlocked, opened, and locked behind them... and they were in the steam tunnels proper.
"Geez, what's with the vault doors?" Cassie whispered. "Ya don't suppose there really are giant alligators down here, do ya?"
Ross had overheard. "It's to keep the Morlocks out of the dormitories at night," she purred, then smiled at her students' sheepish expressions. "The security has always been here," she continued, "to keep the curious out... not to keep the monsters in."
The girls laughed (nervously) as Ross started down the tunnel, obviously confident of her course and not in the least bit intimidated by their surroundings.
"It sure is spooky down here," Sally said, bringing up the rear (and trying to blow an errant strand of curly brown hair out of her face that had somehow escaped her hair clasp.)
"I'll see that 'spooky' and raise you a creepy," Cassie muttered. "Where's Tabitha, by the way," the freckled redhead continued. "Isn't she paid to be your beast of burden?"
"Cassie!" Sally hissed, glaring at her roommate's back.
Ross laughed. "She has one of her experiments nearing completion, and had to leave class early to verify her results."
Cassie looked back and exchanged a puzzled shrug with Sally. What kind of 'experiments' are done by a graduate student in Egyptology? Sally wondered. As far as Sally knew, Ross and her student were mostly into the Cultural rather than the Physical aspects of Archaeology; but before she could frame a question Ross had stopped before yet another rusty yet solid steel door and was inserting one of her keys.
Through the door and out of the steam tunnel, and the girls found themselves in what they assumed was the sub-basement of the museum. Numerous wooden crates were stacked about, all of which looked like they had been in their current locations for a very long time.
"So this is where the Lost Ark ended up," Cassie quipped.
Ross laughed and led them towards a dark corner and yet another steel door. "I assure you all of this material has been catalogued and inventoried," she said. "It's simply of very little value. Someday we hope to get it all unpacked and into the collections proper, but for now... The museum has limited resources, you see."
Sally and Cassie nodded, then trooped through the door and into yet another storeroom, this one cluttered with what appeared to be very old and out of date laboratory equipment. "As you may know," Ross said, leading the way through the shelves of dusty glassware and covered heaps of furniture and equipment, "the Museum is actually the old Medical Sciences building. Our esteemed colleagues in what is now the Health Sciences Department moved into plush new facilities several decades ago. What you see around you was probably abandoned decades before that." Sally and Cassie followed her to yet another door, this one semi-hidden behind a screen of stacked, dusty crates. "Fortunate for Ms. Reid," Ross continued, "because the Museum would never be able to buy new equipment for her brewery."
Sally and Cassie exchanged astonished looks behind Ross' back and silently mouthed the same question, in unison: Brewery?
The room beyond looked a lot more like Frankenstein's Laboratory than a brewery. It was large, with a surprisingly high ceiling. Several glass fronted ventilation hoods lined the walls, antique versions of the workstations designed to draw toxic or caustic fumes away from their users. Sally knew modern versions of such hoods could be found in all teaching and research laboratories. There were also several cabinets and shelves filled with old lab equipment, books, and incongruously modern plastic bins. In the center of the room, under a bank of spotlights similar to what one might see in an early Twentieth Century operating room, was a long, narrow, stainless steel table. It had shallow drain channels on its periphery leading to a small sink at one end. Sally surmised the room had once been a teaching lab. She gazed at the steel table and shuddered, imagining a cadaver with several students in lab coats or rubber aprons clustered about.
The lab had a strange, pleasant odor, something like fresh baked bread. Ross led them to an old wooden desk set in one corner and Sally and Cassie set the boxes of papers on its cluttered surface.
Just then Tabitha Reid appeared from somewhere in the back. She was wearing the same black jeans and white tank top they had seen in class, but her black denim jacket was replaced by a shiny black apron of rubberized cloth. She was carrying a large jug of unglazed terra-cotta. Sally recognized the design from Ross' lectures. The same double handled jug had been in use in the Middle East for thousands of years, with only minor changes. The jug was beaded with moisture and the top covered with a scrap of coarse linen bound in place with a hank of braided cord. From the TA's banded arm and shoulder muscles, it was full and heavy. Tabitha gave her Professor a smile, then shifted her gaze to Sally and Cassie, and her expression shifted to polite (but only superficially friendly.) "It's ready," she announced, setting the jug next to two tumblers of green glass.
"Ms. Reid is attempting to recreate different forms of Ancient Egyptian beer," Ross explained. "This has been tried before, but never in the systematic and scholarly manner we are attempting here."
"Millet beer? Yummy!" Cassie remarked sarcastically (rolling her eyes in Sally's direction.)
Ross laughed. "Yes, millet is one of the principal ingredients. Good to know you haven't slept through all my lectures, Ms. Donovan."
Sally gave Cassie a scolding look, then smiled politely at Ross. "Uh, isn't there a Roman account of how the Egyptians made beer?"
Tabitha snorted in derision. "Yeah, but it's little more than an incomplete ingredient list." The TA removed the cloth covering from the jug's mouth and carefully poured the contents into the two glass tumblers. The beer was a rich, dark brown, with only a slight head, and had a very pleasant aroma.
"Tabitha is using all available sources to recreate the technique," Ross explained, "including Ancient pictographic and written materials, analysis of the contents of recovered ceramics, and interviews with modern sources in the Middle East. The difficulties are the proportions, timing and sequence of steps."
"And the herbs," Tabitha purred, handing one of the glasses to her mentor. "They used different herbs for different brews. Small changes in the recipes can have drastic consequences.
Sally saw something pass between Ross and her grinning TA, a shared secret of some kind, but neither said anything more. They lifted their glasses and took careful sips.
"Really into our beer, are we?" Cassie asked.
Sally smiled sweetly and kicked her roommate's ankle (causing Cassie to turn and mouth a silent Ow!) "Beer was a staple of the Ancient Egyptian diet," she explained.
"That's correct, Ms. Randall," Ross said, then turned to Tabitha. "Much better this time. It reminds me of that Somali mash I told you about. I think you're on the right track with this batch." The Egyptologist then smiled at the two undergraduates. "But we're being very impolite," she purred. "Two more glasses, please, Ms. Reid."
Tabitha smiled, then stepped away and returned with two tumblers of glazed clay. "Sorry, all the Roman glass is dirty," she said, and poured the pot-like vessels full to their rims.
Cassie whispered in Sally's ear. "Lets drink up and get out of here. This place gives me the creeps, Ross gives me the creeps, and Tabby-Cat gives me the willies."
"Is something wrong?" Ross asked.
"No," Sally said, kicking Cassie's ankle again, "Uh... Cas is just reminding me that we have plans."
"All classes were finished, except the night sessions," Ross purred, "and it's the start of a three day weekend. Were you two planning on leaving town?"
Cassie accepted a clay tumbler from Tabitha. "We were gonna drive into the mountains tomorrow." She took a sip and smacked her lips. "Just a day trip and hike to get off campus and see some trees." She took a second sip and smiled at Tabitha. "This is good, sort of like a cream stout... sort of."
Tabitha handed the remaining tumbler to Sally. "Enjoy!" she purred. "Please finish the entire pints, if you can. I'm particularly interested in your opinions of the aftertaste."
Sally smiled at Tabitha as she drank. There was something in the TA's amused eyes, but Sally couldn't tell what. Whatever it was, it wasn't friendly. That's okay, Sally thought, smiling sweetly, I love you too, Blue Eyes. The beer had a full body... but was not Guinness . Must be an acquired taste, Sally mused.
Sally drank the rest of the beer... or almost. The bottom of the tumbler was a tangled slurry of... chopped up leaves? Sally's tongue was tingling... and now it was numb, and her head felt... heavy. She looked at Cassie and found the redhead looking at her with a confused expression on her face. She was speaking, but no words were coming out.
"What?" Sally asked, or more precisely, that was what she meant to say. All that came out of her mouth was a quiet hiss of air escaping her lungs.
"Don't be alarmed, girls," Ross said, setting down her now empty glass. "It's merely the effect of the herbal potion kicking in. The muteness is like a bad case of laryngitis and will only last a few hours. A general weakness of the voluntary muscles will be commencing shortly." Cassie dropped her tumbler and it shattered on the floor. The freckled coed stared at her slowly clenching and unclenching hand with a puzzled expression, her lips moving soundlessly. "Make that has commenced," Ross amended.
Sally caught Cassie's eye and glanced towards the door. The roommates nodded and turned to flee, but it was as if they were moving in slow motion. Although Cassie had a couple of inches on Tabitha, the grinning TA grabbed the struggling redhead by her arms and controlled her easily, slamming her down across her cluttered desk. One of the boxes of term papers fell to the floor and several binders full of scholarship scattered in a sliding heap.
Sally lifted her tumbler to throw it at Tabitha, but Ross plucked it from her fingers and locked her left arm around the distressed brunette's elbows, pinning her arms. "Settle down, my little one," Ross whispered in Sally's left ear. "Neither of you are going anywhere."
Meanwhile, Tabitha had opened one of her desk drawers and produced several plastic cable ties. Sally watched as Cassie's wrists were captured in a pair of joined loops and the ends pulled, binding the struggling and gasping redhead's wrists behind her back. Next Tabitha rolled Cassie off her desk and onto the floor. The bound student shook her head and tried to rise to her knees, but Tabitha laughed evilly, stooped, and zipped a cable tie around Cassie's crossed ankles.
Sally struggled to help her friend, wheezing and gasping as she silently screamed. Tabitha left Cassie writhing on the floor and approached Sally and Ross with a smug smile curling her lips and a fist full of cable ties.
Ross spun Sally around and locked eyes with the now weeping student as her TA zipped ties around the brunette's wrists, then knelt to cross and secure her ankles as well.
"Oh... don't cry, Sally," Ross cooed, then leaned close to lick the captive's tears from her cheeks. Sally shuddered in disgust, which only seemed to amuse her captors. Tabitha tripped Sally to the floor. Sally and Cassie exchanged a horrified look, pulled weakly on their bonds, then looked up at their captors.
"I want their mouths stuffed and taped," Ross said, gazing down at Sally and Cassie with a chilling smile.
"The potion won't wear off until morning," Tabitha objected, also smiling. "I enjoy watching them try to call for help."
"You will take no chances, understand?" Ross responded, her eyes flashing.
"Yes Doctor," Tabitha muttered, her gaze submissively on the floor.
"Good," Ross purred. "I'd hate to have to punish you, Tiny Tabitha," she added, placing her hand against her TA's cheek.
Tabitha flinched, fear in her eyes... then she relaxed and snuggled against Ross' hand.
Sally and Cassie watched this exchange from their prone, captive perspective on the floor.
Ross smiled down at them for several heartbeats, then turned and walked to the door. "You know the rest of my instructions," she told Tabitha. "I have to be seen eating dinner at the Faculty Club, in front of witnesses... in the highly unlikely chance that there are any questions to be answered later. Lock the door behind me and open it for no one."
With a final cold smile, Ross spun on her heel and was gone. The heavy steel door closed with a dull thunk and Tabitha turned the lock... then turned back to gaze down at her prisoners, a smug, gloating expression on her shining face. "Is it hot in here, or is it just me?" she purred.
Sally pulled on the pair of cable ties encircling her wrists and tried to kick free of the single tie binding her ankles. Her mind was quick and clear, gripped in adrenalin-laced terror, but her limbs were weak and clumsy. Her lips, tongue, and throat were no longer numb, but her vocal cords were totally paralyzed. She watched in miserable helplessness as Tabitha removed her rubber apron and hung it on a coat rack near her desk, then turned and began carrying out her orders.
The evilly grinning TA hauled Sally into a chair and made sure the disheveled brunette would stay there by the simple expedient of lifting Sally's arms over and behind the chair (leaving her armpits snuggled against the top of the chair back), using an additional cable tie to secure her joined wrists to the center slat, and a second tie to secure her joined ankles to the chair legs' cross-brace. Tabitha placed her left hand on Sally's sweater-covered right breast, and slid her right hand under the squirming, gasping captive's skirt to caress her pantyhose-clad left thigh. "You wait right here, Lambikins, okay?" Tabitha purred, giving Sally's breast a tight squeeze. Sally bucked in her bonds, but was obviously well secured to the chair and totally helpless.
Tabitha laughed evilly and released her hold, then hauled Cassie off the floor and to her feet (the short, blue-eyed, dark-haired Tabitha was strong for her size), and rolled the weakly resisting redhead onto the steel table. A pair of wide leather straps made sure she stayed there, one across the captive's chest, the second across her thighs. Cassie's bonds and drug-weakened condition made resistance futile, but not impossible. As Tabitha peeled the green-eyed, freckled captive's blouse up her torso and over her head, Cassie did her best to impede the process with her fluttering, weakly clutching fingers.
With a theatrical, mockingly frustrated sigh, Tabitha stepped away to her desk, opened a drawer, and produced what both roommates recognized as a tazer, a palm-sized box with two wicked looking metal studs protruding from plastic horns at the business end. Tabitha flicked a switch and a quiet popping buzz echoed through the still room. Sally and Cassie stared, mesmerized, as blue sparks arced from stud to stud. "I'm going to strip and bind you both," the gloating TA told her captives, "and we can do it hard, or easy. Hard means more work for me, but a lot of pain for you. I'll enjoy myself either way." She slowly moved the snapping, flashing tazer towards Sally, then paused, the snarling device less than an inch from the gasping, struggling brunette's angelic, distressed face. "What's it gonna be, Green Eyes?" Tabitha asked Cassie. "You want me to play this thing over your pretty girlfriend's pretty face for a few minutes, or will you be a good little slave and let Auntie Tabitha get you all naked and tied up?" She thumbed the tazer off and ran the studs over her own face, shuddering and smiling. "Minerva had this one modified, by the way. It has two settings: one for shocking an... 'attacker' into unconsciousness, and one for... well, there's no other way to say it... for torture." Sally and Cassie locked eyes and shivered in their bonds, cold terror on their mute faces. "On the lower setting it doesn't burn or cause any physical harm... it just hurts... a lot. I know, of course, 'cause Minerva used me for the test subject."
Tabitha left Sally to her hopeless struggles and sauntered towards Cassie. "She strapped me to that very table, you see," the gloating TA continued. "We found several boxes of leather restraints in the old medical supplies. They were probably used for electro-shock therapy, back when such torture was accepted medical practice. With a little saddle soap, some leather polish, and a lot of elbow grease, they came right back to perfect condition." She clutched Cassie's hair with one hand and used the other to stroke the sides of the helpless redhead's face and bare, freckled shoulders with the (thankfully) inert taser. Sally watched as her roommate went very still, her bra covered and leather strap compressed breasts heaving as she panted through her open, silent mouth. "There's an elaborate head harness to pin your head back and keep you perfectly still," Tabitha purred, "also a stiff collar for your neck; cuffs and straps for your upper arms, wrists; waist; thighs, and ankles; more straps for your shoulders, upper and lower body; and finally a padded bit that clamps around your tongue and snaps to the head harness." She set the taser on the table, beside Cassie's head, and continued undressing the prone captive. "I was naked, of course," Tabitha explained. "The table's very hard and cold against your bare skin, isn't it Cassie?" The gloating TA's face grew wistful and she paused in her labors. "The batteries last a very long time," she confided to the staring, helpless prisoner lying prone before her, "...hours and hours. I thought I was going to die... then I wanted to die... then I was reborn, and now no one can harm me... no one but Minerva, of course.
Sally paused in her struggles. She's crazy as a loon, the helpless student thought. Oh, somebody help us!
Back at the table, Cassie was offering no resistance. In a surprisingly short time the helpless redhead's blouse and bra were a tangled mass behind her back, enshrouding her bound wrists, and her jeans and panties had been peeled down her legs and were bunched above her bound ankles.
Sally stared at her roommate's nearly naked, bound body. She'd seen Cassie naked before, of course, but she looked so helpless... her muscles gliding under her freckled skin; her lithe, athletic body straining against the cable ties and straps holding her captive. Cassie's green eyes were wide with fear, a film of sweat glistening on her face and body as she writhed and squirmed. God please help us, Sally prayed.
Tabitha walked to a cabinet, opened the door, produced what looked like a rolled tool pouch, and returned to the table. The cylindrical bundle of natural canvas was tied with a piece of light green cord. Cassie and Sally watched (the prostrate redhead lifting her head from the cold, shining table) as Tabitha untied the cord and unrolled the pouch. Its row of sewn pockets were occupied not by tools or other hard instruments, but by thick, neatly coiled hanks of thin, braided, nylon cord, all identical to the cord securing the pouch. "We've been planning this a very long time," the gloating TA explained. "All of these cords are cut to just the right lengths, and I know exactly how I'm going to bind you; exactly what knots I'm going to use; exactly how I'm going to place the bands and hitches so your circulation won't be affected..." She leaned close to Cassie's sweating, worried face and smiled, sweetly. "That doesn't make me obsessive, does it?" Cassie squirmed and her lips moved wordlessly, soundlessly. "I think it just makes me well organized," Tabitha continued
With a cruel, mocking laugh, Tabitha set to work, rolling her victim under the straps binding her to the table, loosening and tightening them as needed, cutting the cable ties around Cassie's wrists and ankles as she came to them. True to her word, Tabitha's actions were practiced and efficient. In a surprisingly short time Sally's best friend and roommate was completely naked (all of her clothes neatly folded and placed in a plastic bag on the floor), and she was bound with cord at the elbows (thick, well-hitched bands causing the redhead's elbows to nearly touch behind her back), at the wrists (palm-to-palm and secured together atop her dimpled rump); above and below her knees; around her ankles; and with additional cords binding her thumbs and big toes. Even if she had wished to resist (and risk torture for Sally or herself with the modified tazer), it would have been pointless. Tabitha had made sure her freckled, squirming, ever more naked and helpless victim was restrained and helpless during the entire process.
Tabitha rolled Cassie onto her back and slid her up the table until her head hung off the end, unsupported other than by the captive's straining neck muscles. She tightened the straps, now over Cassie's waist and just above her knees, until they dimpled her prisoner's flesh, making sure Cassie would remain precisely in the new position, and then returned to her cabinet of supplies. Cassie struggled in her obviously inescapable bonds. She and Sally watched as Tabitha loaded a steel tray, placed it atop a small, stainless steel instrument table, and wheeled it towards the main table. On the tray were several rolls of surgical tape, a clear glass jar of finely chopped herbs, neatly stacked squares of surgical gauze, and several other items.
Tabitha stared at Cassie's prone, helpless body, her blue eyes wide with sadistic pleasure, a feral smile curling her full lips, beads of sweat on her pale, smooth face. "I chose the mossy green of the cord to go with your complexion," she confided to her prisoner. "My second choice was rust red... but the green is better, don't you agree?" Cassie squirmed and struggled, her flesh dimpling under the tight cords and taut straps. "I just love your freckles," Tabitha continued, running one hand over Cassie's pert breasts, smooth shoulders, and flat stomach, "I wonder how long it will take for them to fade... now that you're going to be out of the sun."
Tabitha unfolded and spread a square of fine gauze on the free area of the side table, opened the jar of herbs (releasing a pungent, spicy odor into the still, hot air), carefully loaded a steel spatula, and sprinkled the green flecks over the white gaze. This was repeated until the gauze was lightly covered over its entire surface. The jar was restoppered and the gauze rolled into a long, thin cylinder. A second square of gauze was unfolded, and the cylinder was carefully arranged "S"-fashion on its surface, then the second gauze was folded and rolled over the first, producing a smooth, white, cylinder, perhaps six inches long and four in diameter. This was tucked into a gauze tube, which stretched over the cylinder like a fine, taut net. Tabitha's practiced fingers tied knots in either end of the tube. The final result was like a fat, short, white sausage.
Cassie had watched this process, continuing to squirm and struggle.
"The herbs are a concentrate of the mixture that robbed your of your voice," Tabitha explained. "After your saliva soaks the gauze, the resulting fluid, slowly sliding down your throat as you swallow, will make sure you remain voiceless. It also represses your gag reflex, by the way. Kind of ironic, eh?" She pinned Cassie's head down and back against the side of the table by the simple expedient of clamping the prisoner's head with her denim-clad thighs and taking a step forward. Cassie's gasping, silently screaming mouth and lips were thus easily accessible, the prisoner's desperate green eyes and flaring nostrils close against the crotch of her captor's jeans. Tabitha smiled and stuffed the herb-laced gauze lump into Cassie's mouth. It was a tight fit and took some persuasion. The naked, bound and helpless captive struggled, but resistance was impossible. A cleave-gag of several tight, head-encircling bands of strong, narrow surgical tape made sure the gauze stuffing remained in place.
Tabitha took a step back, releasing Cassie's head. The now gagged redhead writhed in her bonds and bobbed her head, futily attempting to expel the cloth intruder so tightly packed in her mouth. "Could you smell me?" Tabitha asked. Cassie paused in her struggles and locked eyes with her captor. "My panties are practically floating away," the evilly grinning TA continued. She reached out and took Cassie's nipples in her hands, delicately rolling them between thumbs and forefingers. Cassie squirmed, her face again less than an inch from her tormentor's crotch. "It's making me very hot; stripping, binding, and gagging you, Cassie," Tabitha purred. She released her prisoner's nipples (which were now engorged and erect), and began sorting the remaining rolls of tape. She then used a pair of bandage scissors to cut lengths of various widths and lightly tacked them to the edge of the side table. "Now, I'm going to seal your lips together, plaster a few strips over them at various angles to make sure they stay that way, then wrap your lower face from nose to chin with compression tape; and you're going to hold your head perfectly still while I do it, aren't you?" Cassie squirmed in her bonds and glared at her captor. Tabitha gave a mocking sigh, picked up the tazer, thumbed it on, and touched it lightly to each of Cassie's nipples, first the left... then the right.
Cassie bucked and strained against her bonds, sweat beading on her forehead, her nostrils flaring above her stuffed and cleave-gagged mouth. Save a quiet hiss of escaping air, her scream was totally, completely silent. The minuscule creaking of the straps as she strained against her bonds was louder.
Tabitha thumbed the tazer's switch to the off position and set it down. "Feeling more cooperative?" she purred. Her wide-eyed prisoner slowly nodded her head. The gloating TA used a gauze square to wipe the light sheen of sweat and saliva from around her captive's mouth and set to work.
Sally twisted her wrists against their inescapable bonds and watched as her roommate's stuffed mouth disappeared under a series of carefully applied strips of tape. The final result was a smooth, featureless zone of glossy white, from Cassie's bulging cheeks to just under her pointing chin. Her friend's eyes were wet and staring, strands of her tousled, auburn mop plastered to her sweat-dampened forehead.
"There," Tabitha said, released the straps pinning Cassie to the table, and helped her prisoner roll off the cold steel and stand (uncertainly) on her bound feet and drug weakened legs. "A smooth job," the grinning TA gloated, then forced Cassie to her knees. "One last thing," she said, and stooped to unclasp and remove the two sets of posts and one set of tiny loops from the redhead's ears. Cassie started and tried to move her head away, but Tabitha grabbed a handful of auburn hair and took a tight grip. "You like having your tits zapped?" she asked pleasantly. "How 'bout if I stuff Minerva's toy up your smelly twat, turn it on, and leave it there 'til the batteries wear out?" Cassie went very still. "I thought you were a quick learner, Red," Tabitha teased, continuing the task of removing her victim's earrings. The jewelry went into a small plastic zip-bag. "Rings too," the gloating brunette purred, pulling two rings from Cassie's unresisting fingers. They went in the bag, it was sealed, and placed in the plastic bag with Cassie's clothes and shoes.
The prisoners watched as Tabitha used a twist tie to secure the bag. She then tossed it next to Cassie's backpack. "After we sort through your stuff for room and car keys, credit cards, whatever else will be useful for laying false trails and making sure no one ever traces you back to the Museum, all of it will go into the incinerator. We'll cut off the metal and melt it in a jar of acid before tossing it all in, you see. After a week at a thousand degrees, not even the FBI Crime Lab would be able to make sense of the residual slag. Don't worry, though," Tabitha said as she hauled Cassie to her feet and helped her hop towards a hanging curtain. "Where you're going you won't need clothes, and you're getting all new jewelry."
Tabitha jerked the curtain aside and Sally and Cassie could see that the revealed space was a small alcove, possibly an old coat closet. Cassie started in her bonds as they came near. Two lengths of thin, braided steel cable were threaded through pulleys dangling from heavy rings bolted to the ceiling. The cables ended in tight loops... nooses!
Cassie writhed in her bonds as one of the nooses was passed over her head and cinched around her neck. Then Tabitha stepped to the side and thumbed a switch on some sort of steel device. Neither captive could see exactly what she was doing, but as a quiet, rythmic series of clattering clicks sounded, the cable vibrated and shortened... and shortened... and shortened, until it was taut, and its noose had begun to dimple the flesh of Cassie's throat.
Tabitha turned her back on Cassie and walked back to her supply cabinet, then returned, a thick coil of thin rope in her hand. It was the same moss green, but was perhaps twice the diameter of the cord binding Cassie's limbs and torso. "Too much is never enough," the gloating TA quoted, and set to work.
Several minutes later, when the diminutive brunette was finally satisfied, Cassie was looped and hitched from shoulders to toes; horizontal bands biting her flesh from top to bottom; a diamond lattice from bottom to top; a neat, looping, shoulder harness anchoring the upper bonds; several carefully placed bands encircling her already bound ankles, insteps, and already bound toes anchoring the lower; a tight crotch rope cleaving her labia and pinning her forearms, wrists, hands, fingers, and already bound thumbs to her dimpled buttocks; and everything, horizontal bands, diamond lattice, and all the rest; everything was hitched and knotted into one complex, interwoven, inescapable, very tight net.
"I think that'll hold you 'til morning," the grinning TA gloated, then gave a mocking frown. "No, something's not quite right," she purred, then walked to the ratchet device securing the cable. "I know," she said brightly. "Up on your toes, Red."
Cassie squirmed and writhed, but had no choice but to comply as the ratchet clicked and the noose tightened even further. Finally, her straining toes her only contact with the cold concrete of the floor, she stood rigid in her incredible bonds, her eyes wet and begging above her bulging cheeks.
Tabitha stepped to the front and inspected her handiwork, idly toying with her captive's nipples with one hand as she traced taut green bands of rope and cord with the other. "It makes your calves look better," she purred, "being up on your toes, I mean. It's like wearing heels." She ran her hands over Cassie's smooth, freckled shoulders, down her arms and cupped her rope-framed and slightly bulging breasts, down the captive's rope-encircled, flat, smooth tummy, and cupped her rope cleaved sex. Cassie's nostrils flared and she panted through her nose, her roped breasts heaving, as Tabitha lightly caressed the sensitive flesh of her nether lips.
"Minerva has special plans for your girlfriend," Tabitha whispered (causing Sally to listen very closely), "but you're mine." She hugged Cassie close, her hands wandering over her prisoner's captive arms and taut buttocks. "I have such plans for you, Cassie. I've always wanted a slave..." she took a step back and gazed at her prisoner. "...and now I have one. It's a dream come true..." She watched as Cassie writhed through the minuscule range of motion allowed by her bonds and stared back at her with wet, green eyes. "...or a nightmare, maybe," she added, then spun on her heel and faced Sally. "Don't worry, Cassie darling," she called back over her shoulder. "I won't leave you up on your toes 'til you die... only 'til I'm done dealing with your roommie. After all... it's no fun training a corpse to be your love slave... is it?"
Tabitha slowly paced towards the chair-bound, struggling Sally. "One down and one to go," the gloating TA purred. She stopped and smiled at the second bound, beautiful prisoner; watching as Sally shook her head of tousled, gleaming brown curls. The prisoner's wet, frightened, blue-gray eyes darted from Tabitha, to Cassie, and back again. Her drug-silenced mouth gasped soundlessly as she pulled on her bonds, sweat glistening on her tan face. "You're going to wind up next to my new slave," Tabitha gloated, nodding back over her shoulder towards Cassie, "with your pretty, swanlike neck in that second noose... but I think we'll handle things... by which I mean your things, of course... differently."
THE END of ACADEMIC DREAMS , Chapter 1
FOOTNOTE: Professor Ross' lecture is lifted... uh... borrowed from the FRUIT OF THE NILE web site.