Chapter 15: A Plethora of Tortures
The almost inaudible flutter of what seemed like a thousand candle flames; the soft plopping sound as a drop of molten wax fell to the stone floor; the gentle straining sound of the rope as it chaffed against the pulley, high above on the ceiling; the creak of the timber cogs, behind her back and out of sight. All these sounds paled into insignificance when compared to the thump, thump, thump of Cathy’s heart, and the irregular sound of her breath as she fought to keep her terrified mind and body under some sort of self control. Although remaining motionless wasn’t a problem for her in the short term, how would she fare after many hours of this stretched out immobility? What if she fell asleep and inadvertently stirred during her slumbers? Would this be enough to submerge Bethany in the deadly waters of the well?
All was quiet from the other side of the low stone rampart that hid the plaster covered form of her co-captive from her gaze. Was she alright, or had the shock of the perilous situation in which she found herself taken its toll and rendered her unconscious...or worse?
Cathy’s attempted communication with her equally helpless comrade came out as a thin, raspy whine that spoke of a throat that had been starved of lubrication for many an hour now. It was, however, enough to elicit a response of sorts from her cocooned colleague, although the low groan that emanated from below ground level and reverberated around the subterranean grotto had a melancholy tone that sent a shiver through Cathy’s entire being.
This slight shudder, lasting no more than a second or two, would, under ordinary circumstances, have seemed of no consequence. But even as this quivering sensation surged through her, Cathy felt the wheel at her back shift a fraction of an inch to the left. And a split second later, the winch – high above and virtually invisible in the gloom – gave a strange whining sound that suggested that it too had moved, as the rope passed over it.
This short burst of almost imperceptible activity may have only propelled Bethany an infinitesimally minuscule distance further down into the well shaft, but it brought home to Cathy exactly how volatile this whole setup was, and how fragile Bethany’s hold on life had become. All those fractions of inches would, over the course of several hours – or even days! – accumulate until finally she was plunged head first into the stagnant pool. So movement of any sort had to be kept to a minimum, for there was no way of knowing exactly how long this marathon torture session would last, nor what fiendish intentions Dolores and her machine-like minions had in mind for her when they returned.
As it happened, the return of the mute trio occurred far sooner than Cathy was anticipating. This could have been because time had flown far quicker than Cathy had gauged. Or alternately, their arrival back on the scene was perhaps down to an eagerness to continue their quest to make the lives of both Bethany and herself as intolerable as possible. Given that time usually flies when you’re having fun, but drags under more stressful circumstances, the latter seemed a far likelier explanation. Whatever the reason, Cathy’s thoughts were soon sidetracked away from such abstract considerations, and instead her focus shifted onto far weightier matters; namely the nature of the events that these devious females had in store for her next.
Although there was no sign of Dolores, it seemed that the evil threesome had no need of guidance in their allotted tasks. The black suited figure – named Crystal, if Cathy’s memory served her correctly - was first to feature prominently in Cathy’s line of vision, as she began unbuckling the heavy straps that held her upper body in position on the wheel. Firstly the tight lashing just above her breasts was removed, followed by its counterpart just below. The belt around her waist, however, was left in situ.
Whilst this had been going on, the other two had not been standing idly by, and now that Crystal had completed her assignment – at least for the time being – Cathy’s attention was redirected towards their labours.
Just above the wheel, hanging from the ceiling, Cathy had earlier noticed a length of rusted chain which at the time had seemed to serve no particular purpose. The main piece of chain ended in a stout metal ring, dangling from which were four shorter lengths, each of which ended in a hook. What with everything else that had been going on, she’d paid scant attention to this ancient relic until now. But as one of the women began to pull this downwards, a heavy clunking sound of metal links grating against some unseen hauling device high above vibrated around the room, as the chain slowly lowered to within a few inches of the helplessly spread-eagled captive’s chest.
Cathy could only watch with a mixture of fascination and horror, as Crystal stepped forwards again. In her hand she held a wire grille, in size about twelve inches square. Holding this out horizontally, her cohorts quickly attached one of the chains to each corner, creating a platform only inches above Cathy’s quivering form. At first this swung from side to side, but after a second or two, Crystal grabbed hold of the makeshift shelf to steady it. Whilst this was happening Cathy glanced away to her left, where Sapphire and Electra were removing candles from their holders on the wall. Now, with one in each hand, they slowly came back towards Cathy, taking care not to allow the flame to become extinguished as they moved, and attempting to ensure that they didn’t leave a trail of dripping wax in their path. It took Cathy a few seconds to fathom out their intentions, but with Crystal holding the grille, the other women placed the flickering lights onto the metal criss-cross wires.
Suddenly, without warning, Sapphire reached up to Cathy’s throat. The whooshing sound of a zip briefly reached her ears, and in an instant the helpless woman felt the spandex being stripped away from shoulder to waist. It hadn’t occurred to her until now that the cat-suit she’d been clothed in while asleep was, unlike the ones she’d previously worn, of front opening design. But now, with the zip pulled down to her navel, cooler air wafted over her and she realised that her breasts were exposed to the elements. And they were directly underneath the burning candles, whose tiny flames burnt brightly into her retinas, mocking her with their cheerful fluttering dances.
As the reality of what she was facing became suddenly apparent, Cathy’s body and limbs stiffened in fright; desperate of avoid shifting her position for Bethany’s sake, yet fearful of the imminent dripping of molten wax onto her soft, pale flesh. It took maybe thirty seconds for the first drop to ooze through the grille and splatter down onto the areola of her right breast with a soft plopping sound. Immediately, Cathy felt a searing pain as the liquid wax burned into her skin. She squealed in anguish, and without thinking tried to twist her vulnerable body from out of the firing line; causing the wheel to vibrate and move a fraction of an inch to her left. Two more drips from different candles, followed in quick succession; one splashing into her cleavage, the other hitting the bulls-eye of her left nipple. She shrieked in agony at the intensity of heat from the fiery missiles, that were beginning to bombard her at frequent intervals from above.
And worse was to follow, as the three women grabbed more candles from the periphery of the room and placed them onto the rack, until there were twelve wax excreting torches emitting their streams of liquefied venom in her direction. Wide-eyed, Cathy could only watch as riverlets of seeping hot gel made their way slowly down the side of each candle, before dropping their load in slow motion onto her trembling skin.
Cathy screamed and begged for mercy, but as she’d come to expect, with their work now complete, the threesome made for the door, not once looking back in the direction of the bare-breasted, wheel-tied damsel-in-distress.
Once alone, Cathy’s immediate reaction to the predicament she found herself in was to attempt to blow the candles out. But with her mouth sealed with tape, the only breeze she was capable of whipping up were the weak exhalations that emanated from her nostrils, and although she could make the flames shimmy and gutter slightly, these feeble outpourings of air were never going to be sufficient for her purpose.
As the candles burnt, so the flood of dripping wax increased, until it seemed that every other second another dribble of fluid torture would slap onto her waiting breasts, until her areolas, nipples and the smooth tender skin all around felt as if it must by now be covered in slowly congealing and hardening wax. Every time, however, the droplets seemed to seek out a spot of as yet unprotected, virgin skin on which to wreak their mayhem. Every so often, a short hiatus would ensue, during which the constant globules of terror would momentarily cease their assault.
And each time this happened, Cathy wishfully prayed that the candles were burning themselves out, and that the nightmare was about to end. But on each occasion, the deluge of wax would come back with a vengeance, and it would take all her willpower to stop herself squirming in her strapped and trapped helplessness. How long would the candles last? To her dismay, all were still at least three inches in height, and each flame glowed in rude health before her eyes; like mini volcanoes spewing magma down their slopes and onto the surrounding hills and valleys of her flesh.
After what seemed like a geological epoch, but was in fact probably no more than two or three hours, the sound of footsteps heralded the return of the three servant girls, and this time they had been joined by their leader. Dolores strutted around the helpless figure strapped to the wheel, watching as a steady dripping stream of wax coated Cathy’s skin. Finally, she stopped circling her prey and walked nonchalantly over to the well. Peering down, she finally spoke.
“Hmm, not bad Cathy. Bethany’s head is still quite some distance from the waterline. I’m impressed with your self control under severe provocation.”
She nodded to her waiting crew.
“Okay girls, that’s enough of the wax torture. It seems that Cathy’s become too accustomed to having her tits splattered with molten wax. I think it’s time we gave her something else to think about.”
Immediately, Dolores stepped forward and, in one breath, blew out all the candles on the now severely encrusted grille. For several seconds, plumes of smoke wafted around the vicinity of Cathy’s head; getting into her nose and almost making her choke. As the fug cleared, Sapphire and Crystal moved closer and began unhooking the tray from the chains that held it in the horizontal plane. As they lifted it away, one end tilted slightly, sending a waterfall of semi-liquid gloop to rain down on Cathy’s already caked left breast. Despite the protective layer, some of the hot fluid managed to seek out areas of her skin not yet immune to the tortuous flow. Cathy squealed and bucked violently at this unexpected reprise of a situation she thought had come to an end, and as she did so, she felt the wheel slowly shift another couple of inches. Dolores, watching from only a few feet away, smiled.
“Careful now Cathy, we wouldn’t want to undo all the good work you’ve done, would we?”
With the grille now deposited on the floor out of harm’s way, Cathy breathed a huge sigh of relief. Yet still her heart pounded loudly in her chest. So that part of her ordeal was over, but what other nightmares did Dolores have planned? The answer was soon forthcoming.
The Mistress once more approached and surveyed the mayhem of what had once been Cathy’s lilywhite, unblemished flesh.
“So Cathy, I’m guessing that those candles burning in such close proximity to your body will have made you a bit hot and bothered. Well I think I have the perfect remedy for that.”
Cathy’s eyes had been focused on the figure standing directly over her, so she was unaware of exactly what the other three women were up to. So the sudden placing of a large transparent polythene bag containing what seemed like a hundred or more ice cubes onto her still tender breasts, caused her to writhe uncontrollably for several seconds. But two of Dolores’ minions were holding her shoulders down by this point, to ensure her movements were kept to a minimum. This action wasn’t a preventative measure to stop the wheel turning, nor an altruistic gesture to save the helpless Bethany from further descent, however, but was instead an attempt to make their colleague’s job of zipping the cat-suit back up to Cathy’s neck an easier task. With this completed in less than two seconds, the two leather straps that had held her torso tight against the wooden anchorage prior to the candle torture, were quickly wrapped around her and tightened to their ultimate limits. With one just above and one just below her breasts, Cathy now found the ice packed solidly beneath the tight spandex, with no leeway for it to slip either up in the direction of her throat or down towards her stomach.
The chill factor around Cathy’s already traumatised breasts was almost unbearable, and she felt goose-bumps rise and swell throughout the affected area, whilst her nipples hardened and stood erect within the Arctic-like pack-ice. Her yearning for the chance to take whatever action necessary in order to alleviate her suffering was overwhelming. But this would have meant that squirming and struggling were the order of the day, and that, she was only too aware, didn’t augur at all well for her less fortunate fellow captive. Did she want Bethany’s death on her conscience for the rest of her life, simply because she couldn’t endure a little pain and discomfort? With a Herculean effort, she managed to contain her anguish and remain motionless.
“There you are Cathy. That should cool you down after all that nasty hot wax. By my estimates, the ice in that bag will probably take two hours or so to melt in its entirety. So until then, we’ll bid you farewell.”
Dolores clicked her fingers, and her ever obedient servant girls instantly sauntered towards the door, their latex second-skins reflecting back the light of the candles around the walls. Soon, with Dolores following behind, their sleek forms had disappeared through the cellar door, which slammed shut with a sound so thunderous that it would almost certainly have been audible throughout the house, if there had been anyone else around to hear it.
After a few minutes, Cathy found that her whole upper torso area had become almost numb with cold. This in turn caused her entire body to begin shivering uncontrollably. For no other reason than sheer frustration, she found herself shouting for help through her gag, and within seconds this outburst was taken up by Bethany, whose own mournful wails echoed from somewhere below floor level. Cathy took comfort from the fact that her one and only ally was still alive.
For what seemed like forever, Cathy suffered the latest episode in her ongoing torture saga without moving. Her head, she now found, was roughly in the two o’clock position, having shifted slightly downwards after her involuntary fit of squirming as the ice first made its presence felt. Gradually, she felt the ice cubes begin to shift within her spandex sheath and realised that, at last, they were beginning to melt; although as Dolores had hinted, it was going to be a long process before the temperature reached a level that could be thought of as pleasant. Not only that, but it was becoming apparent that the bag in which the cubes had been packed was riddled with tiny holes, and soon, what started as a trickle of melting ice, turned into a sluggish river.
Soon, Cathy felt the until now dry area of her skin-tight covering, both above and below the strapping around her chest, becoming damp, and this rapidly spread down past her waist until it reached her crotch. But although still retaining its icy qualities, Cathy knew that the worst was over – for this particular trial at least – and a sense of triumph briefly came over her. The fact that she hadn’t panicked and sent Bethany ever nearer to a horrific death, fortified her spirits. For if she could overcome both the wax and the ice tortures, she told herself, then she could get through whatever else Dolores decided to throw at her.
But, as it was about to become apparent, her next ordeal turned out to be not of Dolores’ making, but stemmed instead from the antics of some of the other residents of Shackleton Grange’s vast underground cellar complex.
Cathy’s body heat and the stuffy underground atmosphere conspired to finally melt the majority of the ice cubes that had covered her upper torso, until only residual pockets of slush remained between her breasts and in her armpits. As the worst of the chill began to ease, she closed her eyes and relaxed, hoping to get some respite for her stretched muscles during this period of calm that would surely, sooner or later, erupt into another storm.
After a few minutes of light meditation, however, Cathy found the peace of the dungeon disturbed by a faint scratching sound. For a minute or two she tried to block this nuisance noise out, but it soon became evident that the sound was growing, if not in decibels, then at least in the frequency of its occurrence. Cathy opened her eyes, but could see no cause for this strange scraping, and for a while she failed to comprehend the nature of the disturbance. But then, from the corner of her eye, she glimpsed something small darting at great speed across the floor, and this momentary sighting corresponded with an increase of the sound. Then the true nature of the noise hit her, and she found every tendon and sinew in her body tighten, and a stifled scream of fear escape from her stuffed and taped mouth.
The sound was that of a rat’s scurrying feet. Or more correctly, rats plural, as she suddenly found the sound of tiny claws scuttling across ancient flagstones reaching her in stereo, from both in front and behind her. Of all the ordeals and trials that she’d been subjected to these past few days, and all the hypothetical torments and tortures that could conceivably be thrust upon her in future, the thought of large rodents scampering all around was probably her greatest phobia. Wide-eyed, she scanned the floor area within her range of vision, in an effort to locate the exact whereabouts of her foe. And in the flickering candlelight, she caught sight of the distorted shadow of what looked like a giant of the species cast onto the wall directly in front of her. Without conscious thought, Cathy pulled violently at her bonds, desperate to get as far away from her worst nightmare. And things were about to get even worse for the terror struck young woman.
The sensation of something jumping onto, then crawling cautiously up her left leg, had Cathy writhing in horror. For a few brief seconds, all concerns for the fate of Bethany were jettisoned as she simultaneously fought to rid herself of the creature, whilst apprehensively gazing down her body to where the scratching feet were slowly making their way over the tight spandex of her attire. Then she saw it, as its head appeared over the mound of her breasts. For a moment or two Cathy’s convulsions ceased, as, paralysed with dread, she watched the inquisitive rodent sit up on its hind legs and sniff the air. Then, having deduced that this strange padded shape offered no threat of any kind, it slipped down onto all fours and took two tentative steps forward, its beady little eyes now only a few inches from Cathy’s face. Again it stopped, and began cleaning its long whiskers with its front paws, keeping watch on its petrified human host as it did so.
Cathy was in a dilemma. Her initial terrified struggles had already caused the wheel to turn another 90 degrees or more, so that she was almost upside down. Yet she knew that the thought of this devil creature having unrestricted access to her entire tethered form would send her into a state of uncontrollable panic, which in turn would have dire repercussions for her helpless companion. Trying to stay calm, she hoped and prayed that the greyish- brown monster would get bored soon and look elsewhere for its next meal.
But, typical of her luck at present, the opposite actually occurred, and suddenly her troubles doubled, as a second rat springing onto the wheel close to her right arm crossed her line of vision, and within a second this creature had climbed up onto her ribcage and joined its mate close to her breasts.
It was more than Cathy could take. Heaving with all her might, she desperately shook whatever parts of her anatomy were capable of moving, in a frantic effort to rid herself of her two mangy visitors. And her efforts seemed to have the desired effect, for as she arched her back and puffed her chest out as far as the straps would allow, as one, the rodent duo jumped ship and fled into the dark shadows from whence they had come. Cathy’s relief at becoming a vermin free zone, however, had come at a price. For this act of rodent removal had been accomplished with a force that had triggered a reaction in the volatile wheel, and set it spinning at a speed not encountered before.
As she found herself once more careering around into an upright position, Cathy desperately tried to halt the process by attempting to push herself back in the opposite direction. But this only seemed to make the spinning worse. From the well, a low moan of despair could be heard, which suggested that Bethany was in fear for her life if this went on much longer. There seemed only one way to stop the momentum, and that was to do nothing.
For a few long seconds, the cogs turned noisily, and the wheel continued to rotate. But slowly, the momentum decreased until finally, with a slight jolt, Cathy came to a halt. For several seconds more, she held her breath, fearful that to in- or exhale would cause a resurgence of movement. There was silence from the well now, and Cathy made a sound into her gag that she hoped Bethany would interpret as an enquiry as to her wellbeing.
For what seemed an eternity, she heard no response, save for the sound of the blood pounding hard in her head. Had her rampant murophobia been the catalyst for Bethany’s demise? Then, just as she was beginning to think the worst, a whimpered groan reached her ears, informing her that Bethany was still in the land of the living. But for how long? Would another episode similar to the debacle with the rats be the final straw? Even as these thoughts buzzed around in Cathy’s troubled mind, another sound filled her ears; a sound that she had become familiar with over the preceding days, instantly recognisable as high-heeled boots on uncarpeted floor.
The reappearance of Dolores and her henchwomen was a mixed blessing as far as Cathy was concerned. On the one hand, she was sure that they wouldn’t actually let Bethany drown. That would be far too quick and easy for the sadistic tastes of the Mistress, who obviously revelled in long term torture; both psychological and physical. But on the other side of the coin, the fact that more of this callous treatment was almost certainly about to be inflicted, had her cowering with dread.
Entering the cellar with her three-woman entourage following closely behind, Dolores initially ignored the wheel-bound female, and instead made a bee-line for the well. Shining a torch down into the depths, she smiled to herself. Only then did she turn and acknowledge Cathy’s continued presence in the room.
“Well Cathy, I see you must have been fidgeting a bit since my last visit, judging by your friend’s descent to within a few feet of the waterline.”
She strolled up to where Cathy stood in her strapped helplessness, stretched out her right hand and gently placed it under her prisoner’s chin. Making eye contact, her red lips parted to reveal her pristine white teeth. Her smile bore no sense of warmth, however.
“Still, I suppose given the trials you’ve been subjected to – the tickling, the candles and the ice – I have to say that you’ve done remarkably well to keep her head above water.”
She released her grip on Cathy’s tape swathed face and took two steps backwards.
“Don’t look so worried Cathy. I’ve just got one last test for you before we’re done here. If you can keep from squirming about too much during this final ordeal, then both you and Bethany will be taken back upstairs.”
She turned to the three waiting women, who stood in line behind her, hands behind their backs, legs slightly apart.
“Okay girls, I’m sure you know what’s required here.”
The trio needed no further encouragement from their leader as they stepped towards their victim, who cringed as they came and stood beside her. She noticed that Sapphire carried what looked like a silk scarf, but other than this they appeared to be empty handed. Were they going to tickle her again? Even as this question was forming in her mind, she watched as the scarf was brought up to her face, and seconds later everything went black. She felt the hands wind the blindfold around her head and pull it tight, before knotting it above her eyes. Once this task was complete, Dolores’ voice once again echoed around the stone chamber, only now it seemed that she had retreated still further.
“I’ll leave you in the capable hands of my girls, Cathy. I know that this is the part that they enjoy most, so please forgive them if they get a bit carried away. I’ll be back in a few minutes to see how you’re getting on.”
Cathy braced herself for the pain that she expected to course through her body at any second. But nothing of the sort transpired. Instead, silence reigned for several seconds, before the sound of several pairs of feet shuffling close at hand reached her straining ears.
Then suddenly, without warning, two sets of hands were laid on her spandex bodysuit in the vicinity of her severely traumatised breasts, and began stroking this area of her tender flesh gently and seductively. A second or two more elapsed, before a third pair of hands joined in, only these provocatively probing fingers commenced their work in the vicinity of her upper thighs, and slowly made their way upwards into her crotch. Cathy gasped, more in surprise than anything else; still waiting for the moment when pleasure suddenly turned to pain. But this also failed to materialise. Instead the fingers placidly went about their business of tenderly massaging her tired, aching body.
And as the hands continued to weave their magic, so her body began to respond. Cathy felt goose-pumps form on the tender, wax and water ravaged skin of her breasts. In an instant, her nipples hardened and stood to attention, and against her better judgement, she found herself arching her back upwards as high as her restraining straps would allow, in order to better experience the full force of this soothingly enticing ‘torture’. And lower down, as the fingers in her crotch began to explore ever deeper inside her, she felt a warm, wet patch start to form on the tight spandex, and she found her pelvis automatically begin to thrust in harmony with the rhythmic tempo of the probing hand. Soon, despite the knowledge that Bethany’s life could be at risk unless she stemmed her carnal instincts, Cathy found the stimulation of so many hands working her up into a frenzy too great a delight to sacrifice, and as one of the most intense orgasms of her life ripped through her, she had no option than to let her whole body writhe and contort in ecstasy.
As she reached this extraordinary pinnacle of sexual ecstasy, Cathy’s senses all seemed to heighten and clarify to an extent she’d never experienced before. Okay, so her sight was obscured by the scarf, but notwithstanding this, bolts of lightning flashed across her inner eyes and exploded with such intensity into a highly defined spectrum of radiant brilliance that, had this display been viewed normally, she would have been forced to close her eyes or look away. Her hearing, too, went into overdrive, with the faint swishing of her spandex attired body vying with the sound of her grateful purring moans of contentment and the pounding of her wildly beating heart; all of which became abnormally amplified.
And the touch of the lightly caressing fingers gliding effortlessly across her body, the rub of smooth, soft spandex against her skin, and the sensation of being tightly restrained, all became enhanced to a degree that she would have previously thought impossible. Her sense of smell also seemed keener than normal, as the musty odour of the room mingled with wax and smoke from the candles to create a heady aroma that made her feel giddy. Even the cloth gag that had been a permanent feature in her oral cavity for more hours than she cared to remember, now seemed to become imbued with a richer, deeper zest to its otherwise bland taste at the point when she reached her wonderful climax.
With her energies all spent, Cathy sighed deeply into her gag and relaxed her whole body. For several seconds the fingers continued to trace the outlines of her now satiated being, before finally being removed. It took several minutes for Cathy to come down from the lofty peaks that her reeling mind had recently scaled, but as her focus began to return to more mundane matters, she realised that she was now upside down, with her feet high in the air above her. And this insight caused her to shiver inwardly, as the image of Bethany immersed in an inescapable lake of cold, dark water flashed across her mind’s eye, and she realised with horror that her quest to maximise the pleasure of her arousal may have coincided with her fellow prisoner’s last minutes of life. She groaned once more into the gag, but now her recent cries of joy were replaced with howls of regret and dismay. The irony of the situation was that, whilst she’d endured pain and hardship with remarkable stoicism, at the final hurdle, when pleasure, not torture had been on the agenda, she’d succumbed to her own cravings for sexual gratification at the expense of her only friend in this whole sorry affair.
Suddenly, Cathy felt the blindfold loosen and fall away from her eyes, and the vision of Dolores’ latex cat-suited legs and shiny leather boots met her gaze.
“Well Cathy, I hope that this final ‘torture’ session hasn’t proved too costly for your little comrade-in-bondage. I think we may have found your real weakness at last.”
From her upside down position, Cathy watched Dolores walk slowly over to the well, aim the torch beam down the shaft and gaze into its murky depths. For several seconds she remained silent, adjusting the beam’s trajectory to take in every available angle. Finally she turned the torch off and looked over towards where Cathy waited anxiously.
“So how do you think you’ve done Cathy? Has Bethany survived despite your inability to control your deepest desires?”
Taking hold of the rope that disappeared into the abyss, she swung it from side to side for a second or two. From somewhere below, a dull thud reached Cathy’s ears, followed by a low sound that made Cathy breathe a huge sigh of relief. For although being faint to the point of almost inaudible, there was no doubt in her mind that this was some form of vocalisation, and proved that her actions hadn’t led to a fatality after all.
For half a minute or so, Dolores stared into the well, mesmerised, it seemed, by the sight below. Then she beckoned to her slaves, who immediately knew what was required of them. Crystal disappeared briefly out of Cathy’s line of sight behind the wheel to make some adjustment to the workings of the mechanism. Upon her reappearance, both she and Sapphire began to rotate the wheel, only now - Cathy was overjoyed to find - they were propelling this back in an anti-clockwise direction; which must, Cathy hopefully assumed, be a sign that they were extricating Bethany from her subterranean hell.
And so it proved, as after only a minute or two, Bethany’s encased feet appeared above the low wall, followed by her stiff, plaster-coated body and head. Dolores calmly watched the unfolding re-emergence of her captive from the well’s edge, whilst Electra stood by, on hand to haul Bethany in once her head was high enough to swing over onto the floor. As she was laid to rest on the ground, Bethany’s eyes met Cathy’s, and it was clear that both women were experiencing similar emotions: relief at the knowledge that this particular ordeal had now run its course, yet apprehensive as to what was to follow.
Bethany’s day had started off badly...and from thereon it had all been downhill – quite literally! Once suspended over the well shaft, she had been incapable of any meaningful action, as events above her spiralled out of her – and Cathy’s – control. Long periods of virtual silence had transpired throughout the day, when the only sounds had been the creak of the rope as it strained to keep her suspended above the swirling black waters below. These periods of tedium and terror were, however, subject to interludes of activity, when the sounds of footsteps above would soon give way to stifled howls and screams from Cathy, as she was subjected to unknown and unthinkable tortures. During these periods, Bethany would suddenly feel her lifeline jolt and the sensation of moving in a downward direction would have her gasping with despair. Sometimes, a series of jerking motions would follow in quick succession, at the cessation of which she would discover that the pool of water below now appeared larger, as she inched nearer to its uninviting surface. And it was at times like this that Cathy would be heard shrieking in response to whatever particular torment was being meted out to her at that moment.
But then, after what had seemed like days, just prior to a spell when Bethany would once more experience that dreaded sinking feeling, a different sound had penetrated the depths of the well. For on this occasion, instead of the usual cries of terror, the gasps and moans took on a more consensual tone, and she realised that, whatever it was that Dolores and her team were doing to Cathy, it was most definitely not the usual inflicting of pain that had been the norm up until now. In fact, if she didn’t know better, Bethany could have sworn that the noises emanating from her fellow torture victim were of a type normally associated with sexual arousal.
For several minutes the rope continued to inch Bethany nearer and nearer to the water. Mercifully, these short, sharp jolts eventually ceased, although when Bethany opened her eyes and dared once more look downwards, the sight of the water no more than six inches from her head made her wonder if the end for her really was at hand.
Dolores could be heard talking now – an occurrence that had taken place at irregular intervals throughout this whole ordeal – and a second or two later a beam of light flashed briefly around the lichen covered brickwork that surrounded her. Almost immediately, the rope that held her swung violently to one side, smashing her well insulated body against the wall with some force, which prompted an unplanned whine of misery to rise from within her and find release through her breathing tube.
For a few seconds she swung from side to side, eyes closed and waiting for the moment when she was plunged into the forbidding darkness below. And sure enough, the sensation of movement did once more come over her. Bracing herself, she waited for the liquid to begin lapping around her head. But something was different this time.
It took Bethany maybe ten seconds to realise that, although she was in motion, it was in an upward direction. She opened her eyes and sighed with relief as the circle of water gradually receded. The sound of wooden cogs grinding against each other filled the air now, and became louder and louder as her ascent continued. Soon the rim of the parapet came into her line of vision, and within seconds her face was passing within inches of Dolores’, as the Mistress looked on in amusement whilst one of her dogsbodies toiled to hoist the plaster cast and its inmate high enough into the candlelit cellar, so that she could retrieve her swinging form and lay her on the stone floor.
“So ladies, I hope that you’ve both learnt a very valuable lesson here today.”
As she spoke Dolores began to pace the room, as was her wont.
“Never again will you use physical violence on either me or any member of my team. Is that clear?”
She walked across to Cathy. When no response was forthcoming, she approached to within an inch of the still wheel-bound woman, and repeated her question in a voice filled with much malice.
“I asked if that was clear?”
Sheepishly, Cathy nodded. Seemingly pacified by this show of compliance, Dolores turned and sauntered across to Bethany’s prone form.
“What about you Bethany? Have you got the message loud and clear too?”
A sound that may or may not have been in the affirmative issued from the tube that protruded from the otherwise almost completely plaster encrusted head region of the hardened white shell. Whatever the interpretation, Dolores seemed satisfied with the response.
“Anyway ladies, I’ve been doing some thinking while you’ve been sampling the delights of the cellar, and I’ve come to a decision.”
She paced to a point midway between her two prisoners and looked briefly at each in turn.
“As you both seem to have trouble obeying orders, I’ve decided that it’s almost time to commence your retraining programmes. So next week we’ll begin the process of transforming you into a pair of model, obedient slave girls...”
She motioned towards Sapphire, Crystal and Electra, who stood passively in the shadows to one side, hands clasped behind their backs.
“...just like my three servants here.”
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story continues in The Secrets of Shackleton Grange 16: Saskia the Amateur Sleuth