The massive door closed behind her with a soft click, shutting her out from the plush office. She was dismissed. She had just been told to search for 'new challenges' outside the company. Or more aptly put, she had been sacked.
Alice took a deep breath to get a grip on her rage. Thankfully, the anteroom was empty, her boss’s, correction, former boss’s assistant having momentarily abandoned her fortified post behind the massive desk facing the entrance. Alice was grateful for the opportunity to regain her composure. She did not want to face her (as of now former) colleagues in a troubled emotional state, heck, she did not want to face them at all. She dreaded the thinly veiled schadenfreude of her rivals, who preferred to attribute her quick rise up the corporate ladder to her looks instead of her performance, and the palpable relief of her less intellectually gifted colleagues, glad at having been spared themselves. But most of all she dreaded the pity of the few people in the office she counted as friends. For the last two years, since the untimely death of her parents, she had thrown herself into her work and presented the front of an independent, tough, calculating achiever to the world. Now she feared she might break down, revealing the lonesome and frightened girl that still lurked inside. Better she held on to her rage.
Looking around, she weighed her options. Of course, like a well-behaved sheep standing in line for its turn in the slaughterhouse, she could wait here for security to arrive and escort her off the premises. Or she could take advantage of the assistant's rather exceptional absence. Let's misbehave.
Her gaze paused at the doorway to the right that was usually guarded by the assistant. With quick steps Alice passed through and went down the corridor. Actually, it was off-limits for lower echelon employees like her but what could they do? Fire her? She snorted at the thought.
Hurrying along the deserted corridor, she tried to make sense of what had just happened. She had come to the appointment expecting to be recommended for her diligence and resourcefulness in discovering some rather subtle financial irregularities in parts of the company's accounts. Granted, it had been suggested to her to cease this 'misguided and unproductive' line of inquiry repeatedly (and lately rather forcefully), but now she held irrefutable proof her suspicions were justified only to find out that her boss had shown no interest in her findings whatsoever; instead, he had referred to the company's unsatisfactory performance in the last quarter and stressed the deplorable necessity to 'close ranks'.
She rounded a corner and found another silent hallway stretching in front of her. At its end, the private elevator reserved for VIP's beckoned: her escape route for an ignominious exit. Of course, the universe at large did not care about fairness, but still, what had she done to deserve this?
The staccato click-clack of Alice's high heels suddenly faltered and her eyes widened. Had she really been so naive? Everything she had wondered about during the course of her investigation could be explained if her boss was somehow involved in the manipulations. But this would in turn imply that their scope was probably much broader than she had assumed up to now. She needed to bring this to the attention of the CFO, or even better, the company's founder and CEO. In his internal communications, the charismatic Mr. Kellermann always urged all employees to develop an entrepreneur’s mindset and take on ownership for their area of responsibility; he should be delighted with her display of initiative. And due to a stroke of luck, she already was deep within executive board territory, practically en route to his office. She rushed ahead with new found purpose.
When she reached the elevator, she pressed the call button, but nothing happened. Puzzled, she looked closer and swore. An unobtrusive slit next to the controls suggested that you needed a key card to operate the elevator. Well, she could always take the stairs, although she did not enjoy the prospect of climbing the additional eight floors or so to the skyscraper's top in high heels. At least the climb would give her an opportunity to practice her speech. Yet, how would she even penetrate the protective screen of his entourage? Lost in her deliberations, she was taken by surprise when there was a sudden electronic chime and the elevator's doors slid open. She was even less prepared for the stunning sight that was revealed before her disbelieving eyes however.
“Hello Alice! So good of you to join us.” Mr. Kellermann made an inviting gesture with his left hand. Impeccably groomed and attired with a bespoke suit that clung to his lean, hard body he looked even better in reality than in his public relation shots. Yet this unexpected confrontation with the man she had been about to seek out was not what kept her rooted in place, gawking. It was his companion.
Later on Alice could never remember what she noticed first. The whole scene had etched itself into her memory with complete clarity like it sometimes happens when you suddenly realize on a visceral level that a pivotal – usually disastrous - event in your life is about to take place.
Although only a few choice patches of skin were visible, the woman that stood at Kellermann's side appeared to be completely naked. This was doubtlessly due to the fact that the shiny black material clinging to her body followed its every curve and crevice perfectly, showing off her spectacular figure. Moreover, strategic openings in the suit left just her crotch and breasts exposed, like some kind of bizarre, reversed bikini. The revealed flesh was not completely bare, however.
Thick metal rods had been run through a horizontal piercing in each of her breasts just behind the nipple. From these, sturdy U shackles dangled and connecting both of them was a light, yet strong chain that twinkled in the glare of the elevator's bright LED lights. Clipped to its slightly larger mid link was another chain that terminated in an ominous, thick loop of black leather that Alice was afraid might act as the handle of a fiendish but certainly most effective leash.
At the woman's hairless crotch, her modesty had been partially preserved by a curved steel plate that had somehow been affixed to her body over her vulva. A thick band ran around its flanged rim, firmly secured with a miniature, tubular lock which evidently restricted access to her private parts to only those entrusted with a key. From the centre portion between her thighs, a short length of chain swung from what seemed to be some sort of button, serving as convenient anchoring point for another equally callous leash.
The latex suit ended at the top of her neck, leaving the dark-haired woman's head free. Otherwise, “free” was not a word Alice would ever associate with the pitiable sight it offered. For one thing, her face had not escaped the piercer's attention either: a heavy U shackle hung from her nostrils onto her upper lip, apparently anchored to her septum somewhere far up within her nose. True to form, yet another long chain leash was attached to it as well. This time however, there was no ambiguity with regard to its purpose. Kellermann held onto its other end negligently, tugging on it with small sharp jerks, thus compelling her head to minutely follow his hand’s every gesture. Moreover, the woman could not even complain about the careless manner in which he made her suffer.
A complex web of rubbery, black straps encircled her head, fastening a wide expanse of the same material over her mouth, without doubt to keep her from expelling the massive gag that distended her jaws and cheeks. The panel not only hid her lips, but covered the complete lower half of her face from just below her nose; in fact, it even captured her chin in a snug cup. No less than eight straps held it in place: two went up on either side of her nose, joining into one above its bridge like an inverted Y; the second pair ran across her cheeks, just below her cheekbones and passed above her ears, to meet with the joint strap from the first pair at the crown of her head. The next pair went around her head just below the ears, while the last crossed below her chin before meeting at the nape of her neck. At that point all the straps were connected to a complex tensioning mechanism that had been cranked up to pull all of them cruelly tight, as was evidenced by the way they indented her skin. Or maybe – keeping Newton's third law in mind - their tightness was rather attributable to the counteracting pressure exerted by the fully inflated gag bladder that filled her mouth. Anyway, Alice was sure the woman would not strike up a conversation any time soon. This part fell to Kellermann.
“Don't be shy, my dear! Please join us!” he smiled brilliantly and repeated his expansive inviting gesture.
This forced his companion to scramble to protect her impaled and sensitive nose from serious abuse when the tether flickered, rose and snapped tight. The fact that she had to balance on the high-heels of her ankle boots while massive steel shackles chained her legs closely together made her turn and perform the necessary gyrations into an even greater challenge; her valiant efforts demonstrated a lot of practice. Even so, a single tear trickled from the corner of each eye and a hissing intake of breath told of her silent distress.
Staring in shock at this tableau, Alice instinctively took a step, albeit backwards, then another – and collided with someone immediately behind her. She whipped her head around and found herself facing a broad chest. Looking up, she recognized Paul Jones, Kellermann's new chief of security.
“Hi Alice,” Paul greeted her with a grim smile.
She had met him previously at a self-defence class he had taught for the company's female employees and had come to like the taciturn ex-military man. At one time she had even entertained fantasies of becoming romantically involved with him, but when he grabbed her upper arms and marched her forcefully into the elevator, a deep sense of betrayal added poignancy to her lingering shock. The soft “Sorry” he mouthed into her ear was rebuffed with a scoff.
“After I've heard so much about you, I'm glad to finally meet you in person Alice” Kellermann said with false cordiality when she was brought before him like a recalcitrant child. Angrily, she averted her head, but he grabbed her chin and forced her to face him again.
“I must say, the photos don't do you justice. A little short for my taste, but nicely proportioned. And such spirit“ he added with an amused smile while her eyes flashed murder at him. Then he turned serious, “Your stubborn insistence to stick your cute nose into matters that are none of your business has inconvenienced me a trifle. Normally, I'd arrange for an inconspicuous accident or suicide, but Paul has convinced me what a terrible waste that would be. So instead you'll become a fugitive.”
“What?”Alice asked numbly.
“Well, apparently you didn't think we'd figure out your little embezzlement scheme. Pretending to investigate elusive financial irregularities that you had in fact masterminded yourself, so no one else would start looking... Very clever. When your luck ran out and your boss confronted you, you attacked him and bolted. Unfortunately, we failed to anticipate your violent reaction and allowed you to escape - 'sorry about that, detective'. But don't fret Alice! Fortunately, we'll be able to recover all the money you squirreled away in your hidden offshore accounts.”
“That's . . . preposterous. Nobody will believe a word of that. You're behind all the manipulations and I can prove it!”
“And that's why you'll never get caught.”
“You won't get away with it. My friend's won't buy it. They'll start asking questions...”
“No, they won't. We've done our homework and we've been thorough. You don't have any close friends or relatives. All work and no play...” he interjected, then added with a cold smile that did not reach his eyes. “We'll fix that for you.”
“But there will be an investigation. You won't be able to deceive the auditors. The regulators will become involved. They will see through this. They must!”
He listened calmly to her increasingly desperate pleas, not deigning to reply. His smug self-assuredness unnerved her. They could not all be in his pockets, could they? But then she remembered that her own superior had come from the regulatory authority through the infamous 'revolving doors'. Dejected, she let her body go limp in Paul's iron grasp and hung her head.
“What will become of me?” she whispered hoarsely.
“You, my dear, will make a most worthy addition to my stable, just like Sienna here,” he casually flicked the leash in his fist, forcing the woman at its other end to perform a spell-binding dance of desperate twists and turns. Alice let out a horrified gasp, unable to take her eyes from the erotic evolutions of the tethered woman. The uncommon name had a familiar ring to it and Alice studied what was visible of her face, then, with a shock, belatedly recognized her as the dazzling former intern from the Public Relations Department, who, after a promising start, had suddenly resigned 'for personal reasons' then later to everyone's dismay had reportedly been killed in a freak car accident.
So this was what had really happened to her? Kidnapped and enslaved by a megalomaniac madman! And the same fate was meant to befall herself!
Distraught, she stared more intently at the hapless Sienna. Clasped snugly around her throat was a wide, thick, and gleaming steel band that did not appear to have any kind of joining seam, and mounted at the front under her chin was a sturdy ring some three cm in diameter, that glittered and swung gently back and forth. Similarly, her narrow waist was encircled by what was obviously a very tight steel band that compressed her waist deeply.
Alice's first horrified impression of her had been that of a willowy female apparition, but one without arms. Thanks to Sienna’s frantic twists and turns, Alice now saw that they were kept in a position she recognized from her own yoga exercises as 'reverse prayer' – but this version had been taken to extremes! Sienna's arms had been twisted and bent up behind her back so that her forearms lay in parallel between her shoulder blades! Manacles around her wrists and others above her elbows enforced this configuration, abetted by a short chain that connected her joined-together wrist cuffs to a ring at the collar's back. To ensure that her arms remained in that posture, her above-the-elbow manacles were also connected to each other and from the central part of their joining link, another short chain led down and was locked to the central ring on the back of her belt. Thus, Sienna was forced to maintain a bolt upright posture, unable to slouch at all while at the same time her bondage arrangements compelled her to stick out her formidable breasts.
Alice shuddered at the realisation of how strenuous and painful it must be to endure this position for even a short length of time and of how completely helpless and vulnerable it rendered Sienna. If she wanted to escape the same treatment, the time to act was now.
With explosive speed, she swung her lower leg up behind her, aiming a vicious kick at Paul's crotch. At the same time, she started to scream at the top of her lungs and violently twisted her upper body around, trying to break his hold on her. Next, she would knee Kellermann in the groin and while he was bent over, finish him off with another well-aimed kick into his smug face. Then she would run away. She hoped Paul would be incapacitated long enough for her to reach a populated area before he was able catch up with her.
During the self-defence training Paul had more than once attested her considerable talent and had urged Alice to take up martial art lessons but she had never acted on his suggestion since she had found it somewhat preposterous – after all, she was a financial analyst, not a ninja, but in hindsight the decision had probably not been her smartest move given her present circumstances. Although in the final analysis, it would not have made much of a difference anyway. She might indeed have some talent, yet Paul assuredly was a past master.
Her impromptu battle plan was foiled at the first step. Paul effortlessly blocked her kick and tightened his grip to the point where she feared he would crush her bones. While she continued to struggle with a vengeance, Kellermann unhurriedly stepped closer and punched her hard in the stomach. Immediately, Alice doubled over and her loud screams changed into much quieter gasping while she desperately panted for breath. Behind her, the doors of the elevator slid closed.
“I suggest we wrap this up. We're on a time table,” Paul reminded Kellermann.
He nodded, “A pity, but you're right.”
Without another word, Paul bent her arms up her back and jammed her against the wall. He pinned both of her slender wrists against her spine with one of his large hands and with the other produced a pair of handcuffs. Her arms were twisted around until her palms faced outward in the small of her back, then cold, unforgiving steel tightened around her wrists.
Next, a hand burrowed into her long, blonde hair and forced her to tilt her head back. Still gasping for air she had little chance to resist when a big, black ball gag was pressed against her lips. Before she could react, it had been shoved halfway into her mouth, painfully prying her jaws apart. Then it became stuck.
“Please allow me to assist,” Kellermann offered helpfully and bestowed a patronizing smile on her.
He took hold of the ball gag's retaining straps at the corners of her mouth and none too gently used them to tilt and twist it around, slowly but surely levering its bulk past the barrier of her teeth, until it finally slipped into place, wedged deeply into her oral cavity. Her concomitant, vociferous but inarticulate protests suddenly reached a crescendo, then turned into a despairing whimper. Unfazed by her distress, Kellermann pulled the straps tight and buckled them at the nape of her neck, even bothering to secure the buckle with a small lock. Next, he accepted another pair of cuffs from Paul, these joined by a short chain instead of a rigid hinge, and fastened them around her nylon-clad ankles.
Almost as an afterthought, he ripped her blouse open to reveal racy, red lingerie that formed a nice contrast to her creamy complexion. Ineffectively struggling in Paul's unyielding grasp, Alice could not evade Kellermann's hands, while he let them roam freely over her body, fondling and squeezing her firm breasts until he had reduced her to mortified sobs. Satisfied for the moment, he whistled appreciatively, “Very nice, you're full of surprises. I wonder what else you hide beneath that cool demeanour. Are you even a true blonde?”
To her eternal relief, he refrained from giving in to his curiosity right away and left her skirt and briefs untouched. Instead, he turned away and mused in a conversational tone, “I must say, there's a satisfaction you can get only by doing things with your own hands.” He smirked, pressed a button and the elevator started to descent.
Alice blinked her eyes to clear away the tears. A cold lump of dread had formed in her stomach. She had squandered her best chance of escape, now only a wonder could conceivably spare her from becoming another one of Kellermann's playthings and he struck her as the type who regularly broke his toys. And, unfortunately, she was not the religious type at all.
She was close to giving in to her despair, when her erratic gaze met Sienna's eyes. Instead of the expected dull apathy, she was surprised to find burning defiance in them along with sympathetic pity for her, although Sienna's plight was considerably worse than her own. Despite all the torments that she must have endured as Kellermann's captive, her spirit had not been broken. Her refusal to quit fighting kindled a similar response in Alice who had never been one to give up easily. Her very own stubbornness had brought her into this fix, maybe it would help her come through it as well. If Sienna saw reason for hope, maybe there really was. With a conscious effort, Alice straightened her shoulders and sent a thankful glance in Sienna's direction which she acknowledged with a conspiratorial wink.
The elevator stopped smoothly and its doors, accompanied by the familiar chime, slid open. They had arrived at the underground garage in the building's basement, albeit a section that Alice had never seen before. In all likelihood it was reserved for Kellermann's exclusive use.
“Let's go, ladies. Our ride awaits,” Kellermann informed them cheerfully.
He grabbed the loop dangling from Sienna's breast chain and led the way. Since her ankles were chained together, she had no choice but to hop after him like a frantic kangaroo. True to form, Kellermann made no allowances for her handicap, so her ability to keep up with him was testament of her astonishing prowess regarding this peculiar form of locomotion. And of her nipple leash's superior motivational effect. Imagining the torment and embarrassment that she must be going through, Alice instinctively tried to protect her own breasts with her hands in a sympathetic reaction. For a short moment, she struggled in vain against her handcuffs, then Paul seized her upper arm and and frog marched her after Kellermann and his leashed captive. Thankfully, he allowed her to move in a more dignified manner, although the short chain between her ankles forced her to scurry to match his stride.
All too soon they arrived at a large black SUV with darkly tinted windows. In the rear, a large compartment allowed its occupants to sit facing each other; a privilege not extended to Alice and Sienna who were unceremoniously bundled onto the floor between the seats and stringently hogtied with the help of a few, expertly applied cable binders. Alice had a hard time adjusting to this newest aggravation of her bondage, yet her fellow in misery seemed to take it in stride.
Kellermann climbed in after them while Paul took the wheel. Some classical piece, probably Mozart, started playing when the motor was started, occasionally counterpointed by their subdued grunts and moans. During the drive not a word was spoken; once inside the car, Kellermann seemed to have lost all interest in his sport of torturing them. Instead, he had immediately opened a laptop computer and was now intently studying some business reports, absentmindedly kicking at his captives whenever their noises irritated him.
Alice desperately wanted to ask Sienna everything she might know about their likely destination and further disposition, yet all she could do was stare into the other woman's steady, hazel eyes, which for some reason exerted a deeply calming influence on her. For the first time since the showdown in her superior's office her panic subsided, which allowed her to assess her situation objectively.
When seen from a safe distance, the way events had played out probably seemed deeply ironic. Less than an hour ago, all she had wanted was a chance to confront Kellermann with her findings. In her mind, she had been frantically composing a speech to sway him in her favour. She had even thought of it as her 'elevator pitch' at that time. Well, she had literally gotten her wish; only things had not exactly worked out as planned. Planned by her, that is, because Kellermann's plan was going like clockwork. Alice could appreciate a good joke, even if it was at her own expense and - despite herself and to the bewilderment and alarm of her companion – she slowly began to chuckle. She doubted that Kellermann would be an equally good sport if by some miracle - preferably of her own devising - their roles were reversed, but she vowed to find out.
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