Part 3: Delusion's EndObvious
She sat on the toilet listening to her pee spray awkwardly through the slot in the belt. At least he hadn’t locked the grille on. He was probably saving that as an extra punishment if he needed it.
The rubber coated metal jarred with every move, resting atop the bones of her pelvis, too tight around her waist to pull down. The crotch fitting, held close against her by the metal straps at the back stopped it riding up. There was a firm and unrelenting pressure against the soft parts of her sex. Near her pussy, the gap between bone and metal was too small to allow even her slender fingers access.
Without the grille in place it was perfectly possible to rub her clit through the narrow slot. Uncomfortable, but possible. If she worked her nipples along with that she could cum if she dared. Not that she was in the mood for it.
Seb was listening. There was no door on the ensuite and the other toilet was off limits to her. If she took too long to pee he’d probably look in on her. Never a moment to herself.
She’d tried to talk him out of the belt idea on the way back in the car.
“I can’t wear this to work,” she’d said. “People will see it.”
“Given your history, who the fuck would bat an eye?”
“I’ll get the sack. Is that what you want?”
“Then you better hope they don’t notice it.” He paused and scratched his chin. “You might really mean it.”
“Of course I mean it. How can I stop them noticing? It will show through anything, and it clunks.”
“I reckon you’ll manage it. You can get some new clothes this afternoon. How about a corset? I’ve seen you like them.”
“I hate them,” she said. She immediately regretted it. It was like begging Seb to wear one. He could be relied on to do whatever made her most miserable, though she couldn’t understand why.
“Corset it is then,” he said. He glanced sideways at her for a moment, eyes off the road, then turned back and smirked to himself. “Nice expression. Definitely corset. Don’t pout so. I’ll start laughing. We might crash.”
“Haven’t you punished me enough? Why do I have to go through this? Can’t you just leave me alone?”
“No can do. You can get off your high horse. I’ve seen your toy collection. Hardcore. If you keep whining you can wear the stuff out of that box.”
God forbid he made her wear the evil rubber corset, even if it was a relic from Scott.
Scott… What wouldn’t she give to be back with him now? She wouldn’t have minded so much, wearing it for him. As long as it was just an occasional thing. Seb probably had something much more … life-style … in mind.
How would a corset work with the belt anyway? There was no room to get one underneath it. Even if her waist was narrower, the belt would be pushed up too high on her hips. As for wearing a corset over the top of it, it would be impossible, wouldn’t it?
Seb was delusional. He wasn’t the one wearing the belt and he clearly didn’t understand how it worked the way she did.
Seb’s voice dragged her back to the moment. Sitting on the toilet with the lights off.
“You better not be playing with yourself in there Nelly. Time get dressed so we can go shopping.”
She could dream all she liked about Scott, but Seb wasn’t likely to let her go. She reached for the paper and gave a sigh of relief when it turned out there was still some left. She’d have to dry carefully from now on.
The cheap yellow dress was waiting for her when she came out. There were matching shoes, bright yellow, glossy plastic with platforms and six-inch heels. Cheap and hard with sharp edges and rough stitching. She’d probably get a mass of blisters walking in them if she didn’t fall off and break her ankle.
There was no underwear of course, but there was no point complaining about that. Seb calculated his wardrobe choices to punish and humiliate her – she couldn’t deny his intent any longer – he wouldn’t be happy until he’d ground her down to nothing.
When he put his hand on her ass to push her into the car, he pressed against the belt. It felt like he was gripping her entire body; such a weird sensation. The belt had control of her body from the ground-floor up. Her whole being pivoted on it.* * * * *
“Where are we going?” She said.
“Here’s a new fucking rule Nelly. Seen and not heard. Speak when spoken too. Be a good girl eh? I’m sick of your bitching. The shit I want to hear from you has not been forthcoming, so unless you have a sudden attack of honesty about what you were up to with Dave, I don’t want to hear zip out of you.”
She chewed on her lip. That was how it was going to be. Bit by bit, he would take away everything that made her human. Things could still get worse, for now. At least she’d persuaded him to abandon the corset plan earlier, but apparently he’d become frustrated with her objections to his ideas.
Darkness flashed before her eyes. A knife glittering in the shadows. Two half-moons regarding her as meat for the slaughter. The floor pitched and swayed.
It was just the bumping of the car. Was she remembering a nightmare? She’d been having them since she finished with Scott. No. They’d started before that, but Scott had distracted her from them.
“I was thinking of doing something you’d like. We could go to an adult shop and I could send you in by yourself to buy a list of kinky shit. You’d have to do anything that anyone asked you to. Nice. Obedient. It’s not as if they could fuck you. I’m pretty sure you know the scenario off by heart.”
She shook her head. Sniffed. Blinked. She wouldn’t cry, he’d laugh at that.
“Not to your taste eh Nelly? I thought you liked the taste of cum?”
“No sir,” she said.
“Boring. Well, it is a bit tired out, isn’t it? And fifty-fifty any guy working in Porn Supermarket is gay anyway. I guess we’ll go to the CBD. I’ll give you five-hundred cash and it’s up to you to buy whatever clothes you need for work. Get something to clean and paint in too. How’s that? Don’t say I never give you anything.”
“Thank you sir,” she said. She was smiling. How pathetic she’d become. It was a small mercy. Thankful for being allowed to mis-spend her own money. Five hundred wasn’t much, especially not in the CBD shops, but if she kept herself to the low-end places, the bargain stores for teens, she might be able to get a few things to pad out the incredibly limited wardrobe Seb had got for her.
“Good girl. Don’t forget you’re a slut though. I don’t want you giving yourself airs and confusing people about what you are. Don’t say I didn’t give you a chance.”
Her hope shrivelled. He’d find a way to make the worst things happen. That was obvious.* * * * *
He met her outside Meyer and helped carry the shopping back to the car-park.
They drove out to his favourite place, that sinister little café with the butcher-waiter, where the old men muttered in hushed voices, shooting disapproving glances her way. Her spirits rose when he started to ordered a meal for her. At least she’d get to eat.
No. No. No.
When it arrived in front of her, she didn’t need to taste it. The smell was enough to confirm her suspicion: acrid, musky. She smiled her best fake smile and tucked into it with gusto.
The taste wasn’t as bad as she’d expected. There was plenty of real cream. Along with the bacon it masked the cum-taste pretty well. It wasn’t like cum had all that strong a taste anyway, and she’d be lying to pretend she’d never tasted it before.
It was sickening to think who had contributed to it. All the old men? Just the cook? She had to keep her churning stomach under control. Who knew how long it would be before she got a decent meal again? She couldn’t afford to waste this one.
It wasn’t the taste that got to her, it was the thought of it sitting there in her stomach. Some stranger had rubbed one out onto her salad, thinking about her eating it. Maybe it was more than one person. Now their fluid was in her. Sitting there, becoming part of her. She fought back the nausea.
Was this what she’d sunk to now? Eating the semen of strangers because she was so desperate for a bite of food?A Phone Full of Regrets
Scott thumbed through the pictures in his phone. Nelly smiling. Nelly laughing. Nelly making a stupid face. Nelly posing, trying to look cool. She was gone. He’d lost her. What a dumbfuck.
It wasn’t just the sex, though that was burned into his memory. She had been so funny, and she’d thought he was funny too. That was the phrase, wasn’t it? The thing everybody wanted on the dating sites: Good Sense of Humour.
They’d got on well together, it had been easy, comfortable, a near perfect fit. At least until he fucked it all up. Wanted too much, too soon; a miserable little fetish he’d probably have lost interest in after a few years.
He should have known better. No matter what, when a girl says she wants to do this or that, she might not mean it. Women were a puzzle that way. They’d do things because they thought you wanted them – to make you happy – then hate you for it afterwards.
She might have liked it. She’d said she wanted it, but really, it wasn’t credible. A woman with everything to offer like her, why would she ever want that? It was all him. He was probably the only person who’d ever had an urge to make something like that real. Well… Maybe not.
Still, he should have known better.
Being philosophical about it, if the Rolling Stones qualified as philosophers, what people wanted and what they really needed were two different things. It would be nice to think they’d both wanted it, but it hadn’t been good for either of them.
He’d called her a million times and she hadn’t answered. Then he’d started getting the unknown number message. She’d killed her phone to get rid of him. She hadn’t needed to do that. Really. All she had to do was ask him to stop calling, but she’d never even answered once.
Eventually, he’d gone round to her place. It had all been dark. The locks were changed and the lights were out. It was up on the second floor. There was no way to see anything besides dark windows without any blinds or curtains behind them. It looked deserted.
He’d sat there for a while, watching from his car, waiting for her.
She hadn’t shown up. Other people went in and out of the flats. Some stared at his car suspiciously. He gave up and drove off before somebody called the police.
He tried a few more times, but he never saw any more than on the first. In the end the fear of somebody noticing him was too much and he stopped.
He didn’t give up completely.
Early one morning he’d driven by and taken a furtive look in her mailbox. There was nothing but junk circulars and a letter with a guy’s name on it. Her mail was probably being forwarded. If he wrote to her, would she get it? Would she read it?
Had she got the parcel he’d left? It seemed weeks ago now. What had she thought? Maybe that had been the final straw. Maybe she’d taken it the wrong way. If that was the problem, she wasn’t likely to read anything that looked like it came from him. He’d sent a hundred emails. Did she read those? More likely they went straight in the delete-filter, if she even checked that address any longer.
There had to be a way to get to her. There had to be a way to make her understand now sorry he was; how much she mattered; that he’d never repeat the mistakes of the beach house again. They’d worked together before, hadn’t they? They could work again. If he could just talk to her.
She’d changed her phone, changed her flat, and changed her email, but what about her job? She wouldn’t have quit that just to get away from him, would she? Was she so desperate to be rid of him? Why would she act that way? When they’d split up it hadn’t been like that.
It had just been supposed to be a break, hadn’t it? A chance to get their heads straight. Why had she suddenly shut him out completely?Another Week
Sunday came and Seb held good on his promise to buy paint. She started covering up the graffiti in the flat.
Another week of work came and went. Nobody mentioned her belt. Not exactly. A few people looked at her strangely, but the woman always blanked her now anyway.
She’d found some padded ‘control’ panties that came up over her waist. They’d been the most expensive thing she’d bought. She only had two pairs and she washed one every night. They concealed the presence of the belt as much as anything could, obscuring its distinctive hard shapes and muffling the hard metal sounds it made when it touched anything.
It was the men that were acting strange. As before, sometimes they’d grope her bum or touch her waist. Now their hands pulled back as if burned when they sensed something hard beneath the padding.
Probably they weren’t certain what it was. Chances were nobody would ever believe what she was wearing – couldn’t even imagine such a device – but after they’d felt the metal, they’d stare at her in a strange, unsettling way. Was it frustration? Disgust? Contempt? She couldn’t tell, but it didn’t seem like they liked it much. By Thursday she had earned the nickname ‘Iron Maiden’. She wasn’t going to ask why.
After that they didn’t stop handling her completely, though there was less of it. But they did stop including her in any kind of conversation. They never directed a word her way unless it was to bark an order, and most of those came by email. Nobody would listen to her at all. She doubted they even read her emails unless it was to take a document she’d prepared and put their own name to it.
Sitting in the belt for any length of time was painful. She began to make more and more trips to the toilet and the lunch room, just to get out of her seat. Her shoes hurt her feet when she walked. She couldn’t win. Standing was painful and sitting was worse.
She knew better than to try and get to the bank this time. Seb wasn’t likely to allow access to her money anyway. He’d made her fill in some forms. He probably already had her new bank card in his wallet. No doubt, her money paid the bills, bought the food, paid for jizz-covered salads and skanky humiliating outfits.
Chances were, he’d even used her money to pay for the belt.
On Friday night he took her to his favourite spot again and fed her cum-salad. By that point she was hungry enough not to have to fake enjoying it. She barely spoke a word apart from yes and sorry.
Seb was in a good mood. When they got back to the flat he drank a lot of beers. He fell asleep in his beanbag, phone still gripped in his hand, streaming some American drama where everything was colour-graded blue and grey.
He was near-unconscious, snoring like a hog.
She reached for the phone. She was shaking. There was a ball of cold fear in her gut. If he caught her messing with his phone he’d go overboard with the punishments for sure. What would it be? The grille on the belt? The corset? New shoes? All of the above, just as a starting point?
A chance like this might not come again for a long time. Seb had never got drunk before. How long might it be before he did it again? He couldn’t be faking. It couldn’t be some trick, could it? The empty bottles were real, and they weren’t ‘lite’ either. Nobody could drink that much and be ok, could they?
It was too late for second guesses, the phone was in her hands now. It had to contain a clue of some kind. She brought up his contacts. What was she looking for? Where had he hidden the evidence from the murder? The bloody clothes that held her hostage… The contacts were just names, no pictures, useless. She needed to look elsewhere. Maps maybe?
She looked back through the history. There were too many locations she’d never visited with him. It was a waste of effort. Even if she could somehow get to those places without him noticing, she’d never find the buildings or the rooms he’d been to. Why was she taking a risk like this when there was little hope of learning anything?
Still, she couldn’t help opening up his photos. Maybe there’d be something incriminating.
There were several pictures of the same woman. Selfies. The sort of thing teenagers sent each other. Most of them just showed her tits, or her fingers in her pussy. Unsubtle. One towards the end showed her face. Now she knew why the pictures had seemed oddly familiar.
Seb and Christy had a thing going on.
She went back and checked the dates. The pictures were from weeks ago, before it all went sideways. It would make sense for Christy to hate and suspect her, if it wasn’t for Dave being in the flat. She had to know that Seb hadn’t even been there. Clearly, she’d hated Dave worse. He was the one she killed.
She looked through the rest of the pictures. None of them made any sense. There was no pattern to them. She didn’t recognize any of the people. Many of them were women, photographed from a distance. Some were men. Others showed only cars, number plates, items in shops, buildings. What did it all mean?
The library of photographs of meals made an odd kind of sense. Lots of people photographed their food. Her cum-salad was amongst them. She couldn’t remember him taking it, but he must have done it when her mind had been elsewhere. He was always playing with his phone, she probably wouldn’t have noticed.
Amongst the older photographs was a picture of Christy in a yellow police jacket. It only showed her from the waist up. It could be fancy dress, or maybe it was Seb’s jacket. Not likely though.
There were even photos of her own wrecked flat. She had meant to skip them. Why was she looking at them? It could only depress her to look back at the past. It was time to put the phone back in Seb’s hand and go get some sleep. He’d be in a foul mood in the morning, better to be rested and ready for it. Not that she could sleep well with no bed, and the nightmares.
But she had to look.
It all came back. The mess, the broken glass and plates, the ruined rooms. All re-painted now. He’d made her work on it every night after work. After several coats the graffiti had stopped showing through.
She’d even covered up the scratched-in messages on the fridge with some electrician’s tape.
She looked again. There was something wrong with the pictures. Half the graffiti she’d covered up was missing. Instead of the incoherent gibberish words and black symbols, paint streaked and dripping, there were words in red.
“Bondage porno whore. I’m coming for you. Just wait. I’ll paint the walls with your blood. Cunt,” she read. Her hands were trembling so badly she could hardly swipe through the pictures. Christy clearly had some issues.
“I’m going to cut your fucking arms and legs off and fuck the torso while you bleed to death, doll bitch,” she saw in another picture. The hair on the back of her neck prickled. The room felt cold.
“I hope you’re waiting. You’ll get yours. Just see. Cunt. You’ll die slow,” she read in another. Did Christy plan to come back?
“You’ll regret what you did. Prick-teasing slut. You can’t hide. I can smell your stink from a mile away. You can’t run now.”
The messages were plain. Clear. Easy to read. Unambiguous in meaning. She would have remembered words like those on her wall. She had definitely not seen them. Even in the chaos of that night she would have remembered.
She’d been busy painting over those walls all week. They’d been covered in thick black aerosol scribble. A trace of red here and there, but just the odd word.
Seb had hidden them from her. He’d sprayed gibberish over them in black after taking the photos. Why would he save those messages? Who were the photos for?
He must have done it while she was waiting outside in the car.
No wonder he took so long. It had to be that. He’d expected them. He’d made her wait outside for a reason.
She closed up the pictures and brought the video player back up. She wedged the phone back into Seb’s clumsy fingers and backed away.
Christy meant to kill her and Seb knew it? Or was it all just mind games? Why would she write that? Why would he hide it? Christy had all the time in the world to torture her – or kill her – before she wrote any of those threats. Instead she’d run off to perpetrate her robbery and vandalism. Was there something in the flat that made her angry? Was it the box? The computer with its stories that she’d so conspicuously left? Who would want to kill someone just for that?
None of it added up right. If Seb had anticipated the messages, he must have known how Christy would behave before she saw the box or the computer. And Christy had been in the police… Still was, for all she knew.
The lazy explanation was that Christy was nuts. After all, she’d killed Dave. Seb had made allusions about her unreliability. It was too comforting an answer. It didn’t really explain how Seb had known what to expect or why he’d bothered to hide the writing.
She crept into her miserable bed-replacement and kicked off her shoes. Blessed relief. Any time Seb saw her without them, he’d go apeshit. She lay very still, staring up at the ceiling. A ceiling that had once been hers. It now seemed to be the property of Seb and Christy, just like she was.
After a week, the belt was driving her nuts. Sure, knowing that you couldn’t get off made you want to more than ever. That was one thing, the sexual frustration did become distracting – made it harder to think straight – difficult to concentrate with the one thing you can’t have always on your mind.
The sex thing was nothing compared to the itching and the aching. She couldn’t scratch underneath it. Not all of it. She tried to get the shower water under as best she could. She could never dry properly afterwards. She stank like old gym socks down there. The grip of the metal made her whole pelvis sore somehow. Her bum ached from the chains digging in all the time. Her stomach ached from the pressure of the tight belt. Wearing the padded pants was hell in heated buildings. It was a slow, subtle torture, and the sexual element was just a part of it.
If the belt was intended to ensure she didn’t get any sexual pleasure, it certainly did its job just fine. Not so much due to lack of access. Seb seemed to be teasing her by not fitting the grille. She could probably get herself off in the toilets at work. She had a feeling that somehow he’d know and punish her double.
Had Christy been the one who’d called Seb? Had the story about complaining neighbours been a lie, a distraction?
It made a kind of sense. Maybe Seb had expected to arrive and find her chained to the bed? Maybe the only thing that had surprised him was finding her roaming around the flat?
Even that seemed suspect. There was something too convenient about the handcuff key being so easy to find. Or maybe that had just been luck and it didn’t matter either way.
Why had Christy done so much damage and written all those threats? Why had Seb hidden them from her? The thoughts ran around in her head, chasing each other, denying her the sleep she deeply desired.
Eventually, exhaustion overwhelmed her.
Then the nightmares came.
It was always the same face, metal rimmed, demi-lune glasses catching the moonlight. The lapping of water. The world gently swaying.
She was naked, no steel belt to protect her in this dark reality. Her arms were bound in front of her with rope. Lots of rope. New, clean, white rope. It ran from her elbows right down to her wrists.
It was a strange nightmare. Deceptive. At the beginning, she felt happy, excited, hopeful – breathless with anticipation.
He held her from behind, hands exploring her body. His fingers touched her sex, finding it wet. He slipped inside her from behind, effortlessly. Pounding into her, doggy-style, the smooth finish of dark-varnished marine timber rubbing against her knees.
It didn’t last though. As always, things turned bitter after he’d taken her that first time, and found he couldn’t finish. Raging at his impotence, he blamed her. A hundred curses pouring out of him, every word that had ever been used against a woman turned against her, beating her down.
Then the knife at her throat. A cut to her ear. Blood in her hair. His hands in her sticky hair, dragging her into the cabin. Lashing her across the table with more perfect white rope.
It slowed down after that. There she stayed, bound, no food, barely any water, and freezing cold. Day after day. Week after week. Just him fucking her over and over. Popping his little blue pills. Every word from his mouth some new kind of hate.
In the end he would start to cut the words into her body. It wasn’t a quick death, no clean blow to a vital organ. Instead her life trickled away, drop by drop. Congealing around her, red turning darker until there was nothing but the cold swallowing her up. A world of ice.
This time though, it was different.
She walked towards him. He looked the same as ever, except this time he had his clothes on. Designer jeans from fabric so soft you could have made panties out of it, a collarless white shirt. Sun reflected in the demi-lunes.
There was a look of terror on his face. His gaze darting frantically. Face drained of blood. She glanced over her shoulder but there was nothing behind her apart from the boat. What was he so afraid of?
She was still naked, and her arms were still bound down to the wrists, a length of rope dangling loose. She held them out towards him. Offering.
He stumbled back.
His heel caught against a rope he’d been coiling, fallen from his shaking hands. He tripped.
His head thudded against the top of the gunwale. Not a glancing, skull-cracking blow, but lower, with less leverage, his shoulder soaking some of the force.
He was stunned but not unconscious. His eyes weren’t darting now. Instead he stared straight at her, eyes too wide and unblinking. His face had gone from white to grey.
His breath came shallow and uneven, the wheezing of a broken machine.
She hadn’t wanted this to happen. He wasn’t supposed to fall. It wasn’t fair or right for it to end this way.
A girl came running and knelt at his side. Her bikini was tiny. Her feet bare on the beautiful timber deck. She was so young, but old enough for him to use.
The cold woke her then and the nightmare started to swim away from her, mercifully. She had a vague sense of it and that was more than enough to leave her haunted.Workout Culture
Saturday passed quietly with Seb nursing a hangover. Sunday morning saw her left alone in the flat with cleaning duties and orders to open the door to nobody. Seb returned in the late afternoon.
“I got you a present. Lucky girl,” he said. He abandoned a bag from a sports shop in the middle of the kitchen floor and settled himself in his beanbag.
“Thank you sir,” she said.
“Bring me a beer while you’re at it. It’s been a long day already.”
She opened the scratched-up, ruined fridge with its indelible hate slogans. There was nothing in it but beer bottles and they were clearly off-limits to her. It might as well have been empty.
She opened the bottle as she walked over to him, and kneeling next to him, she handed over the open bottle with an empty smile.
“Thanks slut. You’re getting better at that. Nothing to punish this time.”
She breathed a sigh of relief. He’d been making her fetch his beer all week. If he didn’t like the way she handed it to him, or she didn’t open it for him, or he didn’t like the look on her face, he’d give her a nasty look and make a note in his phone.
“Thank you sir.”
“You’re improving, but Sunday night will still be punishment night, and you’ve built up a few black marks.” He looked at his phone. “Seventeen black marks so far. I want you to think about that.”
“I’m sorry sir.”
“I hope you will be. Go and get your present. Put it on for me.”
She swallowed, her throat constricting. What new horror had he bought this time? What fresh humiliation did he have planned?
She tipped the contents of the bag out onto the kitchen table. Spandex exercise shorts that would come down to the middle of her thigh; a matching t-shirt top; a full-busted support sports bra from a well-known brand, little white socks and a pair of bright-pink running shoes from another famous brand.
She blinked and gave a little shake of her head. What was he up to now? She couldn’t wear this stuff. It would be too obvious, even for Seb’s twisted standards.
“Sir, does this go over the belt?”
“Here,” he said. He laughed and threw something towards her in a slow arc. She caught it without thinking. She opened her hand… a key. The barrel was circular with odd little dints cut out of the edge and a stumpy peg poking from the side. The key to the belt.
She didn’t pause to ask him. She hitched up her oversized t-shirt and clicked the key into the lock. With a twist it fell into her hand. She put it on the table. There was a heavy clunk as it came to rest on the weathered wooden surface.
The main plate of the belt engaged onto a machined brass post that stuck out of the front of the belt. She slipped her thumb behind it and pulled it forward. It came free with a sharp scraping noise and then a horrible sticky tearing sound as the plate came away from her sex, taking a layer of dead skin with it.
The sour smell of unwashed crotch made her eyes water.
Eyes screwed closed, she reached through behind her, trying to find how the front-plate connected to the chains at the back. After half a minute of fiddling she worked out that the back chains hooked in through the circular opening cut through the slot, just above her pubis, where the grille probably also slotted in.
The front plate came free with a clatter – disgusting – and she dropped it into the sink. The belt unhooked from the same post that held the front-plate. There was no hinge. Instead, the steel was springy enough that she could slip out of it simply by pulling the opening apart. It wasn’t easy, and it would be impossible in a hurry. The springiness was almost too much for her and held the belt in place even when it was unlocked.
The built-up dead skin under the belt came away in ragged yellow strips. It stank almost as bad as the crotch plate.
“Sir. I think I need to shower to get rid of this smelly stuff.”
“Alright then. Take the belt with you. Give it a good wash. I can smell your stink from here.”
Half an hour later she was standing in front of Seb again, her back to him, as he checked out her ass in the shorts.
He moved closer and reached around from behind, his erection brushing against her bum-cheeks. He pressed a card into her hand.
“There’s a map on the card. You’re going to this gym. It’s a couple of miles away. I expect you to run there and back. Take your phone so I can track you. When you get there, ask for Chris at the desk. You’ll be getting one-on-one training,” he said.
“Don’t think of dawdling. I might come by your route in the car to check-up on you. And obey your trainer as if she were me. Understand? I’ll hear about it if you’re annoying.”
“Yes sir,” she said, nodding.
“Be back by ten. Off you pop then. Don’t stand around.”
She didn’t have any pockets, no keys, no purse. She’d have to carry her phone in her hand. She let the door latch behind her and began to hurry down the stairs.
The map showed the gym was at a road junction she knew well. She’d driven past it dozens of times. It wasn’t very far but she wasn’t used to running.
She was barely half-way and her lungs were on fire. She had a stitch in her gut and splints in her shins. With no choice to but to continue as fast as she could, she dropped to a walk. Just as long as Seb didn’t drive past now and catch her slacking… She ought to be able to run again soon.
Despite a chill in the air, she arrived at the gym, hair soaked through, body pouring with sweat. The reception had a health-snacks station and some exercise bikes in front of giant screens as well as the desk.
A man, barely eighteen years old, if she had to guess, was behind the desk. His eyes dropped to her boobs and then back up to her face.
“Hello. You got your tag?” he said. His voice had a girlish perkiness to it that did nothing to calm her nerves.
“Tag? Uh, no tag. I’m supposed to ask for Chris. Is that you?”
He laughed. “No. Chris is just doing her filing.” He ducked through the door behind him and a woman walked out.
A tight, lean face. Bleach-blonde hair dragged back into a severe ponytail.
Christy. Of course.
Narelle’s stomach turned to ice and the fine hair on her arms and at the back of her neck prickled. Her knees wobbled and locked up, stiff. She grabbed onto the counter to stop from falling, fingers white and trembling.
“Nelly. So good to see you,” Christy said with a cold, shit-eating grin. Her voice was friendly and familiar, and all the more sickening because of it.
“You…” Narelle whispered.
“Come with me. Let’s get you started,” Christy said in her customer-service voice, stepping around the end of the desk. Anyone who didn’t know better might think she wasn’t planning something nasty.
She took Narelle by the arm and steered her towards a door marked ‘Ladies Only. No Men Please.’ Her grip was like a claw. Narelle couldn’t resist. What would be worse? Getting in trouble with Seb, or irritating Christy? She was screwed either way. There was no point trying to run. She was already spent, and even if she wasn’t, Christy was probably super-fit.
Beyond the door was a silent corridor, heavy fire-doors on both sides and another at the end. A door on the left was marked ‘Ladies changing’. Not females or women here, but ladies, apparently.
Christy pushed her through the door opposite, into a large deserted room, high ceilinged, filled with row upon row of unused Spinning bikes. Spinning class, it seemed, was not in session. Her tormentor closed the door behind her, blocking it with her body.
There were big screens at the far end, mounted high up, showing a mix of different programs. The audio from the music video channel was piped into the room. Images of some over-curvy woman she didn’t recognise, dressed like a Vegas showgirl who’d decided that twenty-kilos of sequins wasn’t enough and had added a few thousand LEDs to fill any dull spots.
“Well, well Nelly… I’ve been looking forward to this. From now on you’ll spend every evening with me. We’re going to have so much fun. You have so much coming to you. You’ve earned it.”
“Why are you doing this?” Narelle said, her voice a cracked whisper.
Christy clicked her tongue, “Nelly. A dirty little piece of shit like you shouldn’t talk to her mistress like that, should she? Tell you what, I’ll let you off easy. This time.” She stepped forward sharply and in a quick, fluid motion planted her fist into Narelle’s solar plexus.
Narelle’s vision went white. Black spots swam before her eyes. She was on the ground gasping for air but it wouldn’t come. Her lungs wouldn’t work. Her throat had closed up. All she could do was wheeze. She was going to die. She was…
The blade in front of her eyes, bright in the moonlight. The sound of lapping waves. The distant cry of a seabird.
No. She was on the floor of some under-used gym training room, rolling around in the dust, tears streaming from her eyes, gasping for breath.
Christy put her foot down on her hair, pulling it, trapping it against the ground. Narelle would have screamed in pain if there was any air in her lungs.
“Are we straight now? Call me Miss Coelho, or simply Mistress if there’s nobody else listening. But first off, keep your mouth shut because there’s fuck-all you have to say I want to hear. Anything I need to know about you I can see plain as day.”
Narelle gasped for breath, finally managing to fill her lungs.
“Are we straight now skank?”
“Yes. Yes Mistress.”
“Good. I see the wank-salad diet has knocked off a few kays but you’re still a bit flabby. Seb wants you to lose a little more chub. I’m happy to make you hate every second of working on it. Understand?”
“I hate spoiled sluts like you. Daddy’s girl. Catholic school. Taxied about in the Volvo by your doting mother from one fucking indulgence to the next and finally parachuted into some cushy job where they pay you a fortune for talking bullshit, drinking lattes and getting a fat arse.”
The injustice was unbearable. Narelle had never had any of those things. After they took her away from her mother, all she had was one short-term foster family after another. A lot of the time they hadn’t been much nicer than Seb and Christy. Some of the time it had been worse. Some of the other kids were even angrier than she was. Alone, nobody to look out for her, she’d had to drag herself by her fingernails out of that pit.
There was no point whining to Christy. She knew people like her of old. All that would earn her was a fresh beating.
Christy pulled Narelle roughly to her feet.
“Don’t tell me that’s not you? Are you just a slut from Collingwood putting on a posh voice? A piece of trash that makes her money doing the sort of shit that would make me throw up my lunch? I don’t really care which story fits. You’ve got it coming, either way.”
She pulled Narelle towards her and then thumped her back into the wall, hard, knocking the air out of her again.
“Bitch. Seb still thinks he can get his shit back but I said goodbye to that weeks ago. Wouldn’t matter if we got it all. Suspended without pay? You know what that means? Where I come from that’s code for fucked up the arse. They won’t let me back. I plan to take my payback out of you in blood and tears, understand?”
She knew better than to argue. She nodded. Anything else would just make the pain come sooner.
Christy let go of her, pushing her back towards the wall. “Wash your snotty face and we’ll get started,” she added.Inevitable
Narelle was dead on her feet when she arrived back at the flat. The downstairs door was locked and she had to get Seb to buzz her in. He was still wearing his suit pants and a crumpled white shirt, half unbuttoned, feet bare.
“So how’d that go slut?”
“Sorry sir. If I don’t die from the exercise, Mistress Coelho will probably beat me to death. She seems to intend me serious harm.”
“Don’t be so melodramatic. As long as she’s making your life hell she won’t do that.”
She couldn’t tell him that she knew better. If he found out she’d seen those photos she’d be in even more trouble. Why had he bothered saving her before if he was fine with Christy killing her now? Maybe he was simply tired of her now he was running out of things to take away from her?
“You should be. Now get in the shower. You’re disgusting.”
She kicked off her shoes and stumbled into the ensuite, still in her workout clothes. Turned on the tap. A shock of cold water blasted her.
As the water gradually turned to warm, she stripped off and washed everything with shower-gel from the giant container.
She stood for a moment, letting the warm water ease her aching muscles.
Christy was horrible. Even though other women had been in the gym, Christy had an endless repertoire of petty ways to torture her without anyone noticing. If she made a fuss, presumably she’d be punished worse.
She’d been pinched, slapped, needled and scraped in parts of her body she hadn’t realised she had. The hot water started her nose bleeding again. Christy’s nails had scratched it deep inside when she’d jammed a finger up each nostril and dragged her onto her tip toes.
The belt was still sitting in the bottom of the shower.
Should she leave it off? Seb would probably have something to say if she did. On the other hand, there were still punishments to come. Maybe he’d administer those first. Finally putting the belt back on could be one of them? She could only hope.
She towelled off, climbed into her shoes and with a growing nausea she went to face Seb, naked.
“Ah Nelly. At last. You certainly take your time in the shower. A long time for a slut like you. Keep it down to five minutes in future.”
“Sorry sir.” She bobbed her head.
“Would you like me to get the punishments over with?”
Should she answer yes? If she let him leave it a bit longer, it might be more time without the belt on. Maybe it would be worth it? Of course not. He’d find a way to make her regret it. Everything was about maximising her misery. What was the point? It was insane.
“Yes sir. Please sir.”
“You’re getting a bit easier to live with Nelly. So much quieter. So much more respectful. Don’t you think it’s better this way? Better than you nagging and fussing all the time?”
More like he couldn’t stand to listen to her because then he’d have to accept that what he was doing was senseless and evil, justified by some insane self-deception.
“But we’re still playing out this ridiculous lie, and you’re still not actually obedient, are you? Seventeen punishments. What am I to do with you Nelly?”
She looked down at her feet. Her shoes were bright red plastic platforms with five inch stiletto heels. Little spaghetti straps wound around her ankles and buckled them in place. They were among her more modest and easy-to-wear pairs.
Seb stepped forward sharply. She winced instinctively, tensed, remembering Christy’s punch in the gut.
“Answer me you cunt,” he yelled, spittle flying into her face. Her knees practically gave way with the intensity of it, the volume.
Her voice quavered as she struggled to get the words out. “Sorry sir. I’m… I’m not obedient. You’re right. I’m sorry. I’ll try harder next week. I promise.”
“Eighteen punishments now. And what should I do with you?”
“Sorry sir. I’m afraid… I’m afraid to say. I don’t know.”
“You don’t know much, do you Nelly?”
“Another reason your advice is unwanted. It’s shit. You don’t know anything. What could someone like you know eh? How to suck cock? How to fake orgasms? How to get three cocks in you at once?”
“So I guess it’s up to me to decide how to punish you?”
“Thank you sir.”
“Put your belly and your face down on the table. Crush those fat tits down into the wood and spread your legs.”
Narelle stumbled to the table and did as he demanded. Her bottom was facing him. She leaned further over. She shuffled her feet a bit wider apart. If she spread any more she’d fall off her shoes.
“Hold that position. Don’t move.”
She could hear him moving about behind her but she couldn’t see him with her face pressed to the table.
He was going to hit her with something. Where? Would it be on the ass, or her thighs? Maybe her back? If he was feeling really sadistic he could probably hit her exposed pussy.
The table stank of disinfectant. She’d scrubbed it earlier, wearing nothing but her red shoes, the baggy t-shirt and a PVC apron. She hadn’t had much money left for cleaning clothes after shopping, the apron was all she could afford.
“Count for me Nelly,” Seb said.
Smack. Something hard hit her ass-cheek. Whatever it was, it wasn’t his hand. She winced at the initial sting.
“One,” she whispered.
“One,” she said, louder. Her voice cracked, almost a sob. It wasn’t the pain, which was still building. The stinging wasn’t as bad as anything Christy had done. Yet.
It was her pathetic compliance she couldn’t bear. What was wrong with her? What sane person would put up with this? She had to fight back somehow.
“Alright. Seventeen more to go,” Seb said. “From here on, if you screw up counting we’ll start over.”
Another blow. “Two,” she said. Now her other cheek had a matching pain.
Smack. It landed back on her left cheek. It hurt worse, the second time around.
“Three,” she said.
So it went, blows alternating from one cheek to the other, pain increasing step by step. It had only been twelve, but it seemed to be taking forever. He was in no hurry. He would wait between blows. He would wait until the anticipation was worse than the pain itself.
Smack, came another blow to her left cheek. Tears were flowing freely. Her nose was blocked. She was so humiliated. Why was it so degrading? How could this be worse than the enema?
“Thirt – sob – teen,” she said. She sniffed.
“I don’t know what you just said then Nelly.”
“Sorry sir, thirteen sir.”
“Did you just mess up Nelly?”
“No sir. No sir. I counted right sir.”
Smack. Another blow on her left cheek.
“What was that Nelly?”
“Thirt- Fourteen sir.”
“You messed up, didn’t you Nelly? You can’t even count past twelve. A fucking five year old can count past twelve. Is that how smart you are?”
“Yes sir. Sorry sir,” she said, sniffling.
“Alright, let’s start again. From one. Make sure you get it right this time. I don’t want to be here all night.”
Reading about scenes like this had been fun. That seemed like an eternity away. Now she was slipping down this downward spiral and it just wouldn’t stop. She’d read about this slippery slope. The point before it got too steep was always the most exciting.
But in the stories, nobody ever came back from where she was now. By this point, her fate was a done deal. She was clawing, fingers bleeding from desperation, trying to slow her descent, but it was hopeless. The spiral was too steep and she was falling too fast.A Private Word
Monday, at work, Narelle’s bottom was still on fire from the spanking the night before. She couldn’t think about much else.
Something else was distracting too. The people on the other side of the partition were talking about Randall Westbury, the company’s founder and CEO. He’d been on holiday so long she’d forgotten about him.
“All I heard was he’s in intensive care. Touch and go. They don’t know if he’ll pull through.”
“Who would have thought? He seemed so fit?”
“Yeah. It comes to us all in the end though. A man like that in his fifties, you never know when the old ticker’s going to quit.”
“Thought you said it was an accident?”
“An accident that brought on the heart-attack. I didn’t want to press Pru for too much. She was quite upset. She said she’d let us know if there’s any change. She’s flying out to the US tonight to be with him.”
A quiet cough came from behind her.
She was so intent on listening that she must have missed when Dave, her boss’s boss stopped by her desk. Another Dave... Men called Dave seemed to be bad luck for her. A pity there were so many. Too bad nobody had killed this one really. She didn’t mean that, but probably he deserved all the indignities she’d suffered better than she did. Probably.
No. That wasn’t true either. It would be a better world if nobody had to suffer, wouldn’t it?
“We need you in Meeting Room Three for a private word. Didn’t you see your calendar?”
“Sorry, I must have missed it,” she said. That was definitely wrong. Outlook was open right in front of her. There was no meeting scheduled, no pending invitation.
“Hurry up then.” His tone was snappish. Long ago, or so it seemed, she might have drawn attention to his rudeness. She knew better now… Now she understood her real status.
Jumping up, she hurried after him to the smallest of the meeting rooms. His long strides left her behind. She couldn’t keep up in her stupid shoes.
Meeting room three was a windowless, stuffy little closet. It smelled of stale sweat and cigarette smoke, despite the fact that smoking had been banned in the building as long as she’d worked there.
Her supervisor and his boss had seated themselves by the time she got there. Both had ominous looking ring binders. In her panic she hadn’t even brought a notepad… Or her phone. Oh no. Her phone… What if Seb called to check on her?
She settled herself in the only remaining chair. It seemed that all the others had been stolen for use elsewhere. It was leaking bits of foam from a rip in the cover. The crumbs immediately stuck to her skirt. She seemed to be sitting six inches lower than the other two but with her eyes on her, it would be too embarrassing to start fiddling around trying to adjust it – if the adjustment wasn’t broken.
Dave stared at her, his eyes obviously focussed on her breasts. At least today she had a bra, a slutty balconette that made her chest look enormous, but better than nothing.
“How long have you worked here Narelle?” Before she could answer, he continued. “Three years isn’t it?”
“Nearly four,” she whispered.
“Yes. I suppose. Nearly four,” he gave a sniff. “You’ve done some good work in the past. I had high hopes.”
He had? This wasn’t going to be good.
“Brad here really has gone the extra mile trying to convince me otherwise, but I’m afraid we just don’t have a role for you here any longer.”
Narelle’s eyes felt tight around the edges. What was he saying? No. She knew what he meant. Somehow she’d known what this would be from the moment he ambushed her.
“I’m sorry,” she said. It wasn’t a question but he could take it as one if he liked. “I’m being made redundant? Or is it worse than that?” She looked across at Brad. Fucking weasel. He’d had his hands all over her a couple of weeks ago, but now he couldn’t meet her gaze. He just gave a small shrug. It was out of his hands, and that suited him just fine no doubt.
“I didn’t take this decision lightly. I asked around, and nobody here seems to know what you do apart from Brad. Nobody remembers talking to you. It’s not the team spirit we’re looking for. A lot of people seemed to have the idea you stopped working here months ago.
“I’ve done work for so many people. I was-”
He cut her off. “There’s nothing with your name on it since last year …nothing … Narelle. How can you explain that?”
“You just need to check the emails. I contribute…” She stopped herself, let her voice trail off. It was hopeless. The decision was taken. Anything she said now was only going to look like excuses and false accusations. “How much notice do I have?”
“Two weeks, but there’s no need for you to come in. It would be best if you cleared your desk and left before lunch.”
She squirmed in the chair. The belt was digging in as it always did and the straps aggravated the pain from the spanking. The belt made every chair feel like sitting on a solid metal bicycle seat, only worse. It had been bad enough before Seb turned her ass red-raw with a ping-pong bat.
“I’m sorry Narelle. I did the best I could, but you know how it is? It’s a tough climate. We’ve been asked to make savings,” Brad said. “I tried to get you an offer to stay on, part-time at a reduced rate. There were too many issues even for that.”
She nodded, silently. Brad was looking at her tits too. She shivered, almost thankful for the belt. Things could happen in a tucked-away private room like this. With the soundproofing, nobody would hear her screams, and there was no chance at all that anyone would see.
Seb wouldn’t be happy if she lost her job. She would be punished, or perhaps killed. She had to find a way to stay.
“I want to prove I’m still useful. I’ll work any hours for a token amount. I don’t care what the job title is. Just let me have another chance. Please…”
Dave and Brad exchanged glances.
“I didn’t want to say this, but some people have made complaints about you. If we don’t act they could report you to the state government and it would all become a matter of public record. None of us want that, do we?” Brad’s voice was soft, the tone of a disappointed parent explaining to a toddler that they shouldn’t play with knives.
Narelle opened her mouth to respond. There was nothing she could say. Nothing to fix this. “I can’t believe this.”
Dave took over again. Brad’s little job was done. “I’m afraid I’ll have to be circumspect with any references. Given the work history I dug up last week… I’ll try to be complimentary but I can’t say anything that isn’t true. If people ask specific questions I’ll be obliged to answer truthfully. You understand?”
“Of course. But please, at least have a look at the emails. Check the history. I’m sure there’s something there. There has to be … something.”
“Narelle. Do you imagine I haven’t done that already? Your mailbox has over six hundred unread messages, and nothing sent since last year. IT told me there would be more unread messages except the system hit a limit and wouldn’t let the box get any bigger. The only thing IT could see you’ve done is hit a number of internet sites of questionable work value. Probably just malware on your machine. Those kind of sites will definitely be blocked in future, to avoid any unfortunate accidents.”
“That doesn’t make sense. Maybe it was the wrong account? Maybe they swapped me over to a different one? That would explain what you found, wouldn’t it?” She said.
Her voice had cracked. She was beginning to sound desperate. It wasn’t like she thought she could save things at this point. It was just so unfair. So unbelievably unfair. What was going on?
“Don’t worry. I’ll double check that. I’ll get IT to do a search. You know? Check other people’s boxes to see if they received anything from you,” Dave said. His voice was amiable, placating.
He’d never check. What if he did and found something? He wouldn’t reverse his decision. The best she could hope for now was to get out with the tiniest shred of dignity intact.
“I understand,” she said. She looked down at her lap. “I’ll get finish up right away. No point wasting more of anyone’s time.”
Nobody said anything.
She got up and made for the door before one of them got some kind of idea.
Back at her desk her heart beat a hundred to one. Had she narrowly escaped something or had it all been in her imagination? Given the circumstances it would have been all too easy for Brad and Dave to rape her on the meeting room table and pass off any complain as the hysterical accusations of a disgruntled ex-employee with an obvious grudge.
The belt closed one avenue of attack, but there were other things they could do to her… Could have done. She was safe now, wasn’t she?
She picked up her phone. There were three missed calls from Seb. Her slowing heart-rate picked up again. Seb would not be happy.
She had thumbed the call-back gesture before she’d thought about what she was going to say.
“Nelly. Where have you been?” Seb said. There was a firm, but disappointed tone to his voice. It reminded her of her foster parents when they caught her fighting again. She’d always get the blame.
“Sorry sir. I was in a meeting. Couldn’t answer.”
“What kind of meeting Nelly? A client?”
“I’ve just… I’ve just got the sack.” The words were out of her mouth before she knew it. That was stupid. She shouldn’t have told him. At least, not like that.
“Dear me Nelly. Dear me. Can you get anything right?”
“I’m sorry. It’s just. It’s hard to keep a job the way you expect me to. These clothes…” He was right. She couldn’t get anything right. She shouldn’t have said that to him. Now he would be really angry.
“Oh. So it’s my fault? Why didn’t you say earlier? I thought I let you do your own shopping. Was that a mistake?”
She wanted to tell him that the damage was more than done by that point. Not that his shoe rules or the belt had given her much freedom to fix things anyway. She wanted to. She’d already said too much. He was just baiting her now. He’d made her rise to it once. She mustn’t do it again.
“Sorry sir. Things are what they are.”
His sigh was audible, even over the phone. “And when do you finish Nelly? Do I need to come and get you?”
“Sorry sir. I’m afraid you do. Or I could wait.”
Any bullet she’d dodged back in the meeting room would be nothing compared to Seb’s anger now. The only scenario that made sense was that he’d been keeping her as a meal ticket. Christy had been a clear message as to how he’d get rid of her if there were any fuck-ups. Now she’d have to come up with another reason to justify him keeping her alive.
Nothing promising sprang to mind.Casual or Full Time
Seb’s hand on her ass, on the belt, completed the ritual of her getting into the car. She’d had a box with some things from her desk but he’d indifferently left it sitting at the side of the road outside her ex-workplace. At least she hadn’t put her phone in there. He wouldn’t have been happy about going back for it.
She knew better than to talk to him unless he told her to, so she sat there in silence while he drove by an unfamiliar route. Finally, he spoke.
“It’s funny that you should finish up work today. Almost helpful in a way. See, I sub-let your flat this morning. All your things are loaded in the back. Except the fridge. I sold that. It wasn’t worth much. Damaged goods.”
He hadn’t asked her opinion, so she kept it to herself. She’d seen this coming too, but now it had happened it was still unsettling. Everything was happening just like one of those stories. Usually, at this point in the plot the girl would make the transition to full-time slavery now. He’d put her on the street to turn a profit, or turn her into some sick kind of pet.
But this wasn’t a story. He clearly had no interest in her sexually and had joked and dismissed the idea of her working as a prostitute. He’d joked, but this was all too in-genre. Still, if this was a story, back in the meeting room, she’d definitely have ended up with two cocks in her at once.
They’d probably have let her keep working for a pittance in some demeaning new role too, where everyone in the company disciplined her by spanking. The company operations would devolve into little more than a non-stop orgy with her at the centre. At least things like that didn’t happen in the real world.
The real world? What about her existence had been real since that time with Scott back in the beach house? Since then it had all been a twisted nightmare. Maybe that explained everything that had happened at work?
She pinched herself hard, but of course, she didn’t wake up. That only worked in children’s stories.
“Your flat should turn a minimal profit. Demand is up since you signed that lease. I knew this was coming of course. It’s plain obvious you’re just too fucking stupid to get a regular job. So what is it now? You’re bored of the charade of working? Bored of sitting about all day in some lobby? Or is your real employer somewhere inside that building, hidden under some trick name? Did they give you new orders?”
He waited a minute then continued. “Aren’t you going to run your mouth the way you do, giving me all your bullshit?”
“Sorry sir. I thought you preferred me seen and not heard.”
“I do Nelly. I do... I understand your dilemma, I do. Am I supposed to believe that you couldn’t keep your job once people saw through your disguise, saw what you really are? You had an illusion to maintain, a role to play. You had to appear unobtainable, competent, at least somewhat business-like... Once they saw what a cheap slut you were, your words started to ring hollow. They saw through you. The bubble popped. You could probably have staved off the inevitable for a while by playing the office fuck-toy, but that could only last so long. You couldn’t even be bothered to do that though, could you, Nelly? And so on, and so on. So many stories. Your onion of lies has enough layers I can’t figure out how to begin peeling it.”
“What I’m wondering now, is what fucking use you are to anyone in that belt Nelly? What use is a whore that can’t fuck?”
“Sorry. I don’t know sir. I don’t know anything.”
“Don’t try and be clever. It doesn’t suit you.” He shook his head. “I’d let Christy have you. She really wouldn’t kill you. Fuck no. She wouldn’t let you off that easy. She’s not real reliable though is she? Too much chance of my co-workers picking you up, still alive. I’m fed up of you though. I might just have to chance it.”
That was it, he was driving her to her death. He’d collected her belongings – or the things he’d bought for her – and he’d dispose of her and them together. She was going to die.
Lashed over a tiny table, her wrists tied together and then to a funny little recessed cleat in the floor. The sound of water. A hand on her ass-cheek as the knife slowly slid from her shoulder down to her waist. Her blood spilling out easily, like grain from a burst sack.
She blinked. She was still in the car, Seb to her right, pulling to a stop outside a vaguely familiar building.
“Take the shoes off and put this on,” he said. He handed her a familiar baggy hoodie top. “Hood up, eyes down, don’t let anyone see your face.”
As soon as she had it on he was at her door, dragging her out of the car. He frog-marched her up the stairs and into his flat. It was still lunchtime and everyone would be out at work.
He slammed the door of the flat closed behind him.
“Take your clothes off and go into the shower. You remember where it is?”
This was it. He was finally going to slit her throat. What could she do? She couldn’t fight him, could she? If she screamed, maybe somebody would hear, but they wouldn’t come running, would they? She’d only get one scream out before he silenced her for good. It was hopeless.
If there was any fight left in her, it was gone now. She was as weak as winter sun. The resistance had been bleeding out of her the last few weeks. There was nothing left now but a lingering grudge. Oh well. Maybe she could take his eye out before he cracked her skull, or her neck, or whatever.
She lunged at him, fingers outstretched.
She was on the floor. His knee in her back.
“Nelly. Nelly. I expected that from you weeks ago. What was that? The last attempt? Are we finally getting somewhere near the real you?”
“Get it over with,” she hissed.
“As ever, you have the wrong end of the stick. Did you think I was going to slit your throat and wash the blood down the shower drain? Fuck. I’m not that much of an idiot. Even with a gallon of bleach down the hole, I wouldn’t take the chance with that much blood. Too many nooks and crannies.”
His stubbly chin was pressed against her naked shoulder, digging into her. Her head was twisted to the side. She could see right into his eyes. They weren’t monster eyes, just the usual human kind. Quick and grey. Watching her.
“Besides, I still want my shit back,” he said.
He was back on his feet, dragging her by the arm along the floor. She scrabbled for purchase trying to stand but he kicked her feet away. She didn’t cry out, though her shin ached from the blow.
“Stupid Nelly. I’m just going to chain you to the sink. I’d put you in the bedroom like before, but you remember the window? Thought you’d like a little privacy. Mirror glass. People can’t see in, but you never know, do you?”
She couldn’t put up a fight after all. Not even her best effort meant anything. After a failure like that, being chained up naked didn’t seem so bad. Her attempt at resistance hadn’t got her anything other than bruises.
With the Seb and Christy crowd as companions that was the best you could hope for.
Sure, the floor was cold. She was chained by the neck to a big chromed stand that formed a decorative support for the hand-basin. On the plus side, she had enough slack to reach the toilet or the shower. Still not enough to get all of her out of the room.
She was sure she’d read this scenario in a story or two. Some weird author who had a fixation with girls getting chained in bathrooms.
It wasn’t going to be like that though. In the stories, the victims were kept as sex slaves. Even if they were treated as objects, it was as objects intended for a very intimate purpose. Seb’s idea of intimacy was a knee in the back. He’d never shown anything but disgust at the idea of sex with her.
He was only keeping her until he found a neat way to dispose of her cleanly.
That felt familiar too.* * * * *
She measured time by the sounds in the building. The quiet period was probably the night. Then a rush of noise. Morning? She slept on and off. The floor was hard and cold, not good for sleeping. A deep chill got into her. She ached like she had the flu, and the belt was intolerable as always.
Some time in what she guessed was mid-morning, Seb came back. She was afraid it might be Christy when she heard the door. Not that Seb was all that much better, but he hadn’t hit her unless she was fighting him.
Unless you counted the spanking. That should probably count.
“Still sticking to your bullshit story? Can’t say you’re lacking in commitment, but I guess once you’ve come so far it would feel pathetic giving up now.”
“I still don’t know what you mean.”
“You forgot something slut. You can still earn punishments. That counts for three.”
“Sorry sir,” she said, feeling stupid. Why was she going along with this? She was going to die wasn’t she?
“Lucky for you I’m not a believer in torture. People will say anything if they’re frightened enough. What you want to hear instead of the truth. You though… Somebody else has you a lot more scared than I could manage. As long as you’re more frightened of them, I’m not going to get shit out of you.”
“Sorry sir,” she said. The same old words just tumbled out, she didn’t even have to think about them. What was the point? What was he trying to say anyway?
“I guess I’m giving up with you. You get a choice. You level with me, I’ll keep you hidden, keep you alive. Get you out of the country if you want. I can get you a passport. All you have to do is let it all out.”
“Or if that’s how you want to play it. You can be Christy’s problem. I’ll tell her, no killing… no maiming. For now. Other than that, whatever she likes. It seems fair. After all, Dave’s fucking dead. You’re getting off lightly.”
“Sorry sir. If I knew anything I’d tell you. I would. I don’t even know what you want from me. I don’t have it.”
“Of course you don’t.” He toyed with the belt key, flipping it between his fingers. “I figure Christy has a chip on her shoulder about posh whores. Chances are, once she’s done with you, you won’t be making money that way in the future. Dumb really. She could probably make a decent buck off you, and she has the balls to manage it. Maybe it doesn’t matter if you have all that rubber on. Even if she messes up your face, you can still do that job, though I don’t see her getting mixed up in that shit just for the money.”
“Please sir. Don’t let her have me.”
“Just… Please explain what you think I know. Anything. Please…”
“And then you feed my own story back to me with bells on? No.” He hesitated. “Look. I could make sure that nobody knows where you are. Your handlers, Christy, they wouldn’t be able to get to you, and nobody in my office would have a clue. Even I wouldn’t know.”
“I want to help. I just don’t know how. I was drunk. He found me in the club. We came back here. I woke up. He was dead. Tied up. Blood on my clothes. I was chained to a bed. Christy knows I was. You know more than I do.”
“You could have chained yourself there. But why? Too contrived. Makes more sense to leave. But if you were supposed to be the patsy, chaining you up still makes no sense. Better to be sure I arrived in time to catch you trying to leave. There’s been chances for your handlers to pull you out, so either they don’t value you, or you’re working alone.”
“Dave could have chained me there…” she said.
“Oh yeah. And then Dave let someone in. Christy probably. She killed him. Sure. She had motive. But she denies it and she doesn’t have to. She knows I wouldn’t give two shits. If you’re trying to make out she was behind everything, it’s a weak scenario.”
She shook her head, trying to clear her fuzzy vision. She was a mass of dull pain. Thoughts unclear. She’d drunk from the tap earlier but she was still so hungry.
“I guess you’re not going to crack this time either. Never mind, let’s see how this plays out with Christy. One of you will make a mistake sooner or later. If she kills you, I promise I’ll bury her myself. At least you’ll have that.”
She wanted to plead, to beg, but it wouldn’t work. It was hopeless. It was as if he couldn’t hear anything she was saying.
He walked out. When he came back he had a large holdall. He taped her wrists behind her with duct-tape, taped her ankles together then taped them to her wrists. He sealed her mouth with more. Then he zipped her up in the bag.
He wasn’t gentle carrying her downstairs.Missing Persons
Scott waited arrived outside the office building just before lunchtime. It had to be the right place. He remembered it pretty well. If only he knew what company she worked for. There was always trial and error. People would be coming out soon.
As expected, a small group of men in suits came out of the lobby. He started to approach them. He swallowed as he drew close. This wasn’t going to be easy. He wasn’t a people person. Asking strangers questions was too much for him. He felt sick.
Just tough it out.
How hard could it be really?
“Excuse me. I’m looking for someone who might work here.” He held up the photo. “Do you know her? I think she might be missing.”
The men looked away, shook their heads.
That wasn’t so bad. He could do this.
Two women appeared a minute later. More suits. Not dark like the men. One was beige, the other pastel yellow. Would they report him to the police? On the other hand, they might know her.
“Excuse me. I’m looking for someone. She might be missing.” He held up the photo again. “Do you know her?”
The woman in the yellow suit shook her head, made to hurry away. The other, beige-toned, followed her lead. Then hesitated. Looked again.
Over her shoulder, “Maybe I do. I haven’t seen her in over a year though.”
“Over a year?”
“Yes. I think that’s right. I used to see her in the lunch room all the time. Her name… Do you know it?” She turned a little further towards him. Still ready to edge away but not actively retreating.
“Narelle. Narelle Grey.”
“That’s it. She was in marketing or something. We didn’t talk about personal stuff much. I thought she’d left. People leave all the time.”
“Can you tell me the name of your company?”
She didn’t answer. The woman was distracted, looking past him at something.
“Sorry, what did you say?” she said.
He glanced over his shoulder, following her gaze to an old Land Cruiser with fading black paint, parked across the road.
“That guy is always lurking around lately,” she said. “Gives me the creeps. Somebody should tell the police.”A Change of Scenery
Christy lived in a single room that smelled of kebabs. The toilet was outside in the hall. There was a window that went almost floor to ceiling. At some point in the seventies it might have had a curtain. Somebody had put a thin wash of yellow paint on the inside in lieu of that.
The narrow bed had a mattress and quilt but no sheets. Most of the space, and there wasn’t much, was taken up with Christy’s clothes hanging on lines she’d stretched from the door-frame to the window.
The floor was bare boards, black with age. The gaps between them were big enough to lose a toe. A chilly draught whipped about the room, especially at floor-level, where Narelle had been dumped.
Her things were piled up there on the bed. The cardboard box with Scott’s gift and another holdall like the one she’d been delivered in. It probably had her slut clothes in it, though it might just as easily contain another naked woman bound up with duct tape.
She was still taped up, hogtied and gagged with duct tape.
Her tears had dried on her face but more were coming. She blew snot bubbles. It was hard to get enough air through her nose.
Seb had taken the empty holdall and left it up to Christy to release her. Christy was clearly in no rush to do so. Instead she was rambling on. Pacing back and forth and muttering to herself. Her words were hard to make out, though it wasn’t like Narelle could answer, or was expected to.
“Need to make sure nobody recognises you. Can’t be anything expensive. Can’t take too long. Have to stick with the basics. Fucking Seb. Expecting me to pay for this. That cunt Dave did this. He so fucking owes me. So fucking broke. Expenses. I can’t believe the expenses. Money goes out. Money goes out. Nothing but the gym job. Nobody will deal with me after what he did. I know you were in on it. I know it you bitch. Fuckers. Fuckers the lot of them.”
She stopped, turned towards Narelle. Aimed a kick in the ribs.
Narelle shrieked pain through her nose.
“Whoever got the stuff, they threw you away, bitch. You’re not going to see shit. You might as well come in with us. Save yourself a whole lot of pain. Save me a whole lot of trouble. What am I? A fucking babysitter? I should have finished you off that day in the flat. It’s all gone to shit now. This is pointless.”
And so Christy went on, and on and on. Narelle was fading in and out. Half asleep despite the discomfort. Her stomach rumbled. If she hadn’t got so used to being hungry she’d be weeping from the hollow pain in her gut.
After a while Christy went out, leaving her gagged and alone. She was helpless on her belly, splinters from the floor sticking into her delicate skin. Her ribs ached from the kicks. The belt ached as usual. The freezing cold of the floor sucked the heat out of her almost as quickly as the tiles in Seb’s bathroom and her stomach was gurgling with hunger.
She’d gone beyond ordinary shivering to an uncontrolled shaking that hurt as it pulled against the tape. How long before she ran out of the energy to do that much?
Her tears were making a puddle on the floor when Christy stalked back in and slammed the door behind her.
“Hey there. Nelly,” she said.
She settled over Narelle’s back, hovering over her on her hands and knees. Slowly, she put her weight on Narelle’s back, forcing her knees and shoulders to stretch so they burned with pain.
Narelle screamed through her nose, spraying out a stream of snot with strands of blood in it.
“Now now,” Christy said. “We’ve got to understand each other. If you try to run away from me, I’ll have to break your ankles. That’s not strictly maiming, is it? I don’t want anyone spotting you. Don’t want you out in the open, being seen. We don’t want your buddies finding you, do we? They might want to tidy up loose ends, or whatever it is the kind of shits you work with do.”
She stood up and sighed loudly. There was a sound of rustling clothes, then the sound of a box being opened.
“I told Seb to eBay this shit. Just look at it. Can you really fit into this? You’re one fucked up cunt, you know that? But we can work with this, can’t we?”
She crouched down and Narelle felt her wrists and ankles come apart. The tape was cut. She was so stiff she could hardly move. Slowly, she stretched out, moaning through her nose, sniffling for air.
“And if you make a racket I’ll give you something to really scream about.”
Christy ripped the tape from her mouth. She pulled hard and tried to get it in one go, but it was stuck too hard. It came away in three ragged tugs. Narelle’s face was on fire.
Christy laughed. “You should see yourself. Bleeding lips. You look just like you ought to. Fucking bitch.”
“Been thinking, seeing as you’re such a porno queen, it would real poetic to make you up a bit more photo...gen. Whatever the fuck. You know? Never knew a bitch like you without half a dozen tramp-stamps. The way you don’t have any, it feels kinda funny, just like everything else about you. Just one more thing wrong, you know?”
Narelle groaned quietly. Her voice still worked. At least she still had that.
“Mistress, can I speak? A little?” she whispered.
“Alright. But when I tell you to shut up, you shut up good. Fact of life. You don’t ever say shit to anybody that’s not me. Landlord comes, you’re fucking dumb…” She grabbed Narelle by the jaw and jerked her head back and forth. “I take you out, someone speaks to you, silence is golden. Somebody gives you aggro, you don’t hear it, you don’t answer. Got it?”
Christy was staring into her eyes, her face too close for comfort. “Default setting. Nobody hears your fucking voice. Not a yes, not a no, not sorry Mistress, not shit. Nothing. People get to think, that poor dumb girl. Such a pity she can’t speak. Maybe she’s deaf or retarded or some shit. Understand?”
“OK. Good girl … or whatever.”
“I haven’t eaten anything in days. I’m so cold. Could I have something to eat please? It doesn’t have to be much.”
“Seb said you probably eat pussy real good. Fucking joker. Thought makes me sick. Alright, I’ll get you something in a minute. What we have here, is kebabs. I hope you like them. Seconds thoughts. No. I hope you fucking hate kebabs. I’ll get the guys to wank on it for you, alright? We’ll pretend it’s yoghurt sauce.”
“Thank you Mistress.”
Christy laughed. “You’re beat down good aren’t you? Still not scared enough though. I keep telling Seb, whatever you got to say, you’ll always be more afraid of them than us. If you were going to say shit, you’d have said it by now. Just a waste of time. Except it’s good to see you suffer. You just don’t know how good. When someone has it coming to them, it’s justice. You know? Fucking justice.”
Narelle nodded, helplessly. What else could she do? Argue?
“Here,” Christy said. She dropped the long, lace-up rubber boots on Narelle. “Put these on. Should stop you making a run for it.”
Narelle cleaned the tape off her ankle and began to put on a boot.
“Fuck sake. Get on with it.”
Narelle tried to hurry up, but her fingers were frozen and numb. She could hardly wrap the laces around the hooks, and there were a lot of hooks.
“Sorry Mistress, I’m trying my hardest. I can’t feel my fingers. Is it cold in here?”
“What a baby. Just hurry up. Whatever they’re paying you, if they’re paying you… It’s not enough for all this, is it?”
“Sorry Mistress. I tried to tell Master Seb. I tried to explain. I’m not anybody. I’m just an ordinary office worker that met a bloke in a night-club. I don’t know anything that can help you. I’m not covering for anyone. I never saw Dave before that night.”
“Pull the other one bitch,” she nodded towards the box. “Because the little office girl next door has this shit in her pantry, right? Then there was that creepy computer. I couldn’t even sell that. I’d have been arrested if they found a trace.”
Apparently, Christy had some weird ideas about computers.
“I figure you were working a con on somebody. So many deleted emails. Like you were hiding something else. Oh yeah, and your ID that totally doesn’t check out. Nelly Grey? You sure aren’t her. Seb checked up. Unless somebody swapped some dental records. Ruled that one out right away. What do you think started this shit?”
“No. That’s not true. Sorry Mistress.”
“Not a single document or piece of ID in your whole flat that checked out. How the fuck you even manage that? You part of the CIA or something? Chinese? A tax file that goes nowhere. A Medicare card for nobody. Cards the machine doesn’t even recognize. Bank account records, forged. Nearly got arrested myself figuring that one out.”
Narelle shook her head. It couldn’t be true. It couldn’t. It was like the emails at work. Somebody had methodically made her disappear. It was like that awful movie with Will Smith where spy-satellites could see through solid objects.
That had all seemed pretty far-fetched, but this… Could it be Scott? Was it some kind of sick revenge? He knew about computers. He knew other people who used computers. How far did that go? But even if he could, he wouldn’t do this, would he?
She blinked back tears. “I’m sorry Mistress. Somebody made me disappear. I thought it was you. I guess it’s not.”
“Up side, if you don’t exist we can do as we like with you, can’t we? As long as you aren’t found. But somebody is looking for you. Some guy looks like a body-builder. Ring a bell bitch?”
“Sorry Mistress. I don’t know.”
“Anyway. He could walk right past you in the street once I’m done. Have you got those bloody boots done up yet?”
“Sorry Mistress. Almost done.”
Normally she would have been sweating from the effort of doing up the boots, but not this time. The chill hadn’t lifted. She was still cold through to the bone.
Christy pulled her to her feet. She hadn’t been able to walk in these boots before but she’d lost weight and they weren’t so tight now. Christy let go. She didn’t fall. She took a step. She wouldn’t be running anywhere but it wasn’t much harder than tottering around on Seb’s stupid platforms.
“The belt was my idea by the way,” Christy said. “Saw it in your photo collection. How’s that working out for you?”
“It’s hard to bear Mistress… Sorry.”
“You seem to be bearing it fine. Pity really.” She dropped a pair of heavy rubber wrist cuffs into Narelle’s hands.“You know what to do with these? Or I’m fine with zip-ties, take your pick.”
Narelle gripped one cuff in her teeth while she fastened the other around her wrist. The rubber was thick, layered around with straps that were so stiff she could hardly get them through the buckle.
It would be impossible for her to undo the buckles with anything less than perfect leverage, even if she could reach them.
“Spread your legs.”
Narelle obeyed, sliding her feet as far apart as she dared without risking tumbling off the spike-heeled boots.
Christy unfastened the belt and clipped the metal grille in place through the wide spot in the front slot. She slid it down and engaged the top on the main lock post before replacing the lock. She would have to pee through the grille. Any hope of touching herself was gone. Surprising how little that mattered when all she could think about was the cold.
Her tormentor passed her the pale pink dress, the short one. She eagerly pulled it over her head without being told. It didn’t offer much warmth but it was something.
“Hands behind your back,” Christy said.
Narelle turned around and pushed her wrists towards Christy, who clipped something between the cuffs. Whatever it was, it was small and light. She tested her bonds. There was no give at all.
She got a glimpse of a steel collar, rubber padded like the belt as Christy reached around to wrap it about her neck. Had Scott bought that? It closed with an ominous click. The chain lead clipped on. The other end was in Christy’s hand.
A firm tug indicated that she was to follow. She stumbled along behind Christy and out into the corridor. She must look a sight, being dragged on a leash, with her long, form-fitting rubber boots with their five inch spike heels sticking out from under the short teen-girl dress.
She looked down. The belt was sometimes visible through the sheer fabric. It offered as much cover as some underwear from the front. From the back it was a bit explicit. The way the straps spread out as they reached up from the crotch, if she made a wrong move her anus would be exposed, and the dress was barely long enough.
Christy led her down flights of unlit stairs into ever increasing darkness, finally bursting out of a creaky wooden door into a hallway lined with broken mailboxes. There was a heavy gate at the end – the kind drug dealers seemed to have – the size of a door and made from metal bars. Christy unlocked it and let her out.
The street was full of people, mostly the hipster kind. Others looked poorer, begging for change or clustered together smoking, empty beer tins sitting nearby.
She was out in public, being dragged on a leash, obviously bound in bondage gear. Nobody even looked at her. Some seemed particularly determined not to be seen looking her way.
Half a block down the street Christy dragged her into a narrow alleyway, and then through a door. Inside was the smallest, darkest beauticians she’d ever seen. A photograph of the Thai King stared down from the wall. Golden trinkets with intricate designs, elephants and flower patterns everywhere, reflecting the dim incandescent lights in a thousand starbursts.
The thinnest woman she’d ever seen was there too. Narelle tried to be charitable, perhaps she was dying from some awful disease of the body rather than the mind. Her dark brown skin was stretched over a plainly visible skull. Her hair was nothing more than thin wisps. Her cheap red work clothes draped loosely over her bones. It probably wasn’t the best look for a beautician.
“This is the one I was talking about. Bitch is well kinky. Right into this shit. She loves it.”
“Girl girl love?” The woman asked Christy. Her accent was heavy but her voice was stronger and deeper than she’d expected.
“No. Not me. Just her thing. I’m helping her for a friend. We’re not like that.”
The woman in red laughed a cold crazy laugh. “Right. Right.”
Narelle looked again. At first she’d thought she was about a hundred years old, but she’d been mistaken. She wasn’t young though. Forty, maybe fifty.
Christy unclipped the leash, span her round and released her wrists.
“I’m going to get something to eat. I’ll be back shortly. You know what to do with her?”
“Right. Right. I know.”
“Behave yourself now Nelly. Remember what I said. And be nice to the lady.”
Narelle nodded. She remembered alright. Silence was golden.
The woman guided her into a chair as Christy closed the door behind her, an old-fashioned bell tinkling at her departure.
As soon as she was settled, the woman began to cut her hair. Not styling it, just cutting it off short. Long clumps of silver-blonde hair fell to the black concrete floor. She should protest. She ought to grab the woman’s hands and stop her, but it wasn’t worth the punishment that would surely follow. After all, it was only hair.The New You
Once she was practically bald, her eyebrows plucked completely out, the woman took her into a cramped shower cubicle and made her strip, even removing the collar somehow. She blinked at the belt but made no comment.
She offered a bottle of expensive exfoliating cleanser. “Here. Wash,” she said.
Narelle turned the hot water up as far as it would go. Even that didn’t banish the chill in her bones. Once she was cleaned and carefully dried, the woman set about her with the spray tan. The product came in bottles with only Chinese writing on.
The smell wasn’t so bad and as far as her recent experiences went, it was one of the better ones. The faint taste of sugar lingered on her lips. The stuff probably caused cancer but she’d be very happy to live long enough to have to worry about that.
Afterwards she settled back in the chair while the woman put on long white acrylic nails, finishing them with a rather tasteful pearl white lacquer.
“That woman no good,” the woman said.
A whisper in the back of her mind was saying something. Had she missed some of it?
“She doesn’t know what you are. Doesn’t guess how many like us there are. All around, all around. Lingering.”
Was it her own thought, or was the woman doing it somehow? Probably just a delusion brought on by hunger and cold. A pity she couldn’t ask her.
Christy crashed through the door, setting the bell jangling again. It looked dark outside. She took a white parcel out of a carrier bag.
“Here. Food for you. I got them all to pitch in with the wank juice.”
Narelle silently accepted the parcel and unwrapped it. The sauce was white, slightly mint flavoured yoghurt.
“You didn’t polish her off like a cue ball,” Christy said to the so-far nameless woman.
“Better to fix wig this way.”
“Would have pissed her off more though.”
The woman stared at her, a quizzical expression on her face.
Christy shrugged and sat herself down in a cheap plastic chair to eat her own kebab.
By the time the woman was finished working, Narelle had gained an electric-pink wig, a face half paralysed with botox and sausage lips pumped up with collagen. Her skin had darkened a little, but not much. From what she could see in the mirror, she looked ridiculous, but not quite herself.
“She looks funny with no eyebrows.”
“Tan set. Eyebrows after,” the woman explained.
“I like it this way. Suits her.”
The woman laughed her cold mad cackle again.
“How long ‘til the tan kicks in?” Christy said.
“Two days. Finish. Eight hour clothes OK.”
“Two days? Is she going to turn orange?”
“Brown. If skin OK. Like this,” she said, pointing to her arm.
“Alright. Orange would have been funnier. I’ll bring her back tomorrow to finish up,” Christy said. She turned to Narelle. “Boot up bitch.”
Narelle went to pick up her boots.
“No boots…” she said, then wagged her finger back and forth indicating something naughty. “Spoil tan. You wait,” the woman said.
“Ah fuck,” Christy said. “You got a pair of thongs she can borrow?”* * * * *
Two days later, Christy had her dressed in lock-on bondage shoes that were just short of ballerina boots, a fluorescent pink spandex mini-skirt that barely covered the belt, a mesh top over a fluorescent pink bra and a matching pink collar.
A large gold sleeper stud was punched through her nose on the left side, a stainless hoop through her septum. Her new, drawn-on, eyebrows had a perpetually surprised look about them.
The tan had come in, and her skin had turned a fairly convincing brown. Convincing if it were summer. It was gratuitously fake, which was probably the point. Narelle would never have considered a tan in her life, let alone a fake one. Every time she saw a part of herself it felt deliciously wrong.
As for the rest of it. Christy had intended the piercings to hurt, and to horrify her. It was a way to take possession of her body away from her. Somehow, it wasn’t working. They hadn’t hurt that much at all, and something about them looked just right.
When she was a teenager she’d have never dared anything like it. Not because she wanted to fit in. In that world, a piercing was a weakness. The other girls would have torn them out to hurt and ruin her.
Later, she’d realised that she couldn’t have things like that and succeed at work, not with her other disadvantages. Anything, even slightly out of place would be interpreted as the acting out of a damaged foster brat. People would have shaken their heads knowingly and dismissed her as a flake; probably assumed she was on drugs too.
That Christy had tried to crush her with a long dreamed of but impossible fantasy was ironic. As long as she could conceal it, it would be to her advantage. She had to pretend to hate it. She’d put on a face of mock horror when Christy showed her pictures from a body-mod magazine.
She wouldn’t mind anything really. Lip piercings would be interesting. A tongue split would be really something. It would be a pity that if she got tattoos, Christy would get to choose them, but probably wouldn’t matter that much. She wasn’t afraid of the pain; it was a constant in her life anyway.
Christy seemed to be getting caught up in the whole thing. The availability of a living doll to play with in whatever way she could afford – and sadly she couldn’t afford all that much – was getting her excited.
Perhaps Christy had similar urges of her own that had been put aside from the same necessities. It did seem a little like she was trying these things vicariously through Narelle.
“Today you’re going to get a pretty butterfly on your tit, and maybe in a couple of days a bird of paradise starting on your cheek, curving down your neck and its tail feathers across your shoulder. What do you think?” Christy said.
They were alone, so Narelle was allowed to answer.
“It sounds painful Mistress. I’m afraid of tattoos. I don’t want to have your mark for the rest of my life. Sorry Mistress.”
“It will be agonising I should imagine. Expensive too. But worth it to see you squirm under the needle for hours. The bird will take several sessions. Anybody that looks at you won’t see anything but the tat I chose to put on you. A stamp on my possession.”
Things wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the cold deep in her bones. It hadn’t let loose. If anything it was worse. She’d stopped shivering. It was just a feeling of pain and distance that never went away.
Christy was feeding her but wasn’t forthcoming with warm clothes. It didn’t matter anyway. Even in warm places she was still icy.
She had to sleep on the floor with nothing but a cheap quilt. It didn’t keep out the draught. That icy blast could cut through anything. It had moved into her bones and she’d never be free of it.
“My life is a pointless ruin Mistress. It doesn’t matter whether people see me or not.”
“Don’t get complacent bitch. There’s still room on you for so many more piercings. You’d look cute with gauges, but no quick fix for that. The sooner we start though…”Helping With Enquiries
Scott hadn’t planned on ending up in a police interview room. It had always been a possibility, but he hadn’t really done anything wrong. What was the worst that could happen? Some pretty terrible things, possibly.
With any luck they’d soon realise the situation and let him go.
“You could be charged with wasting police time. I should have written you off as an annoying prankster,” the policeman said. Was he a detective? It looked like he was wearing uniform pants.
“I didn’t come to you. I was simply asking questions. I’m worried that she’s disappeared.”
“Can you clarify for me, exactly when you last saw her?”
“It would have been just after Christmas but before new year.”
“Really? You’re certain of that? Last Christmas?”
“I think so. It would be hard to forget something like that.”
“I just wondered if you’d mis-remembered, or mis-communicated.”
“No. I’m pretty sure it was last Christmas. Well, just after. Like I said.”
“I suppose it’s not impossible.”
“What? Of course it’s not.”
“No. You see. I thought you would be aware. It was one of those things though. Other more interesting news at the time. Nobody gets excited about a missing person report. The press only prick up their ears when a body is found and only then if there’s something to make a sensation.”
Scott felt his heart jump painfully. His blood thundered in his ears. “A body?”
“Not exactly a body so much as a collection of bones wrapped in plastic and weighed down with anchor chain. But that was months after the disappearance.”
Scott’s face was dead. The policeman would probably notice something was amiss. He couldn’t help it.
“Do you own a boat Mr. Mitsotakis?”
“A boat? No. I can’t swim and I get sea sick.”
The policeman rubbed at his temples, as if trying to massage away a headache, or seeming to.
“It was found off the peninsula by a diver last October.”
“It’s nothing to do with Nelly then. She was fine at Christmas.”
“Yes. I see that. You understand why I thought you might be playing a prank.”
The policeman opened a folder, just like in the movies. It had nothing in it but a couple of photographs. Both were of Nelly. One obviously a group shot from her work. The other older, the fashions dated. It was taken at a party by the look of it. He hadn’t known her then. Her hair was dark instead of blonde.
“Narelle Grey. Missing. Presumed dead. Fourteen months ago she failed to show up for work. Due to its poor state of preservation, we can’t match the body to her with certainty, but the dental records and other characteristics lean strongly towards an identification.”
“But you’re not certain?”
“Not a certainty, but in most cases it would be considered sufficient on balance. So you see why any information you can give us would be of value?”
Scott took a deep breath. With any luck it was nothing but a mix up. That had to be it. A simple mistaken identification.
“I can give you her address, and the address where she worked. You probably have both already. Some people there told me they haven’t seen her in a year. That shook me up a bit. They didn’t seem to know anything about a disappearance, or a body though.”
“Not everyone pays attention to these things. If this poor woman had been murdered in a public place, everyone in the city would know her name. But you’d be surprised how many suspicious deaths go unremarked by the news services. I’m not complaining. Publicity isn’t always helpful. In this case, perhaps it might have made a difference.”
“I’m sure it’s not her. She was alive at Christmas. Very much so.”
“Just tell me everything you know. When did you first meet her?”Misadventure
Seb crashed through the door into Christy’s tiny room. The clothes lines tore free from the window and dropped the collected mass of Christy’s entire wardrobe onto the floor.
“What the fuck Seb?” Christy screamed at him.
Seb slammed the door closed behind him, treading on one of Christy’s polo-shirts from the gym.
“Somebody is helping with enquiries regarding Nelly Grey,” he said.
“Who?” Christy said.
“Fucked if I know. They’re keeping it quiet. I can’t ask questions. You know why.”
“I thought you said they had Westbury in the frame for that now?” Christy said. “In your cagey way… So what’s this all about?”
“They got a forensic report from the US on Westbury. He took that massive boat fishing off Florida or whatever it is millionaire pricks do. There was some kind of incident.”
“What does that mean?” Christy said.
“I dunno. He had some kind of attack is all I heard. Somebody saw something suspicious and the people there elbowed their way into a search warrant. Yanks were on the lookout for a missing student. Found her DNA on the boat, so they’ll probably get him for that. The fucking idiot was keeping Grey’s driver’s license as a souvenir, so that looked like case closed.”
“You reckon. There’s hardly any fucking proof he was one of hers then? QC would run rings round that one.”
“Right. But they found another set of DNA on the boat. Last I heard the lab was still working on matching it to the body that came out the bay here.”
“That would be harder to shake off,” Christy said.
“At least they’d be sure enough the bag of bones came from a Nelly Grey.”
“Which leads us to you,” Christy said. She hooker her finger into one of Narelle’s newly inserted nipple rings and dragged her to her feet.
“What the hell have you been doing to her?” Seb said. “She looks like a fucking freak show.”
“Nobody’s going to recognise her though, are they?” Christy said.
“I reckon you’re right. Not in a million years,” Seb said.
“You’re right to be afraid,” Narelle said flatly.
She was naked, apart from the belt, hands cuffed behind her back. Christy had been photographing her. There had been talk of selling the pictures to a porn site. Narelle doubted anybody would pay for them.
“What?” Christy and Seb said in unison.
“You’re right to be afraid. I could tell them exactly who those remains belong to. I could tell them all about Randall Westbury and what he got up to on that boat. I could tell them all about how he was mixed up with some crooked cops that were bringing in guns. How Randall paid for his fancy new house and his pretty yacht with gun money he’d laundered through a shell game of share dealing. The same shell game he used to clean drug money made from lost police evidence.”
“Fucking bitch,” Christy said, her voice a growl.
“I knew it,” Seb said. “Finally. You were his all along.”
“And Dave, who you blamed for running off with an entire lockup full of guns and drugs… Well, after you realised it wasn’t Christy… Good old Dave the serial rapist. Christy tied him to your bed with my stockings and stabbed the shit out of him,” Narelle said. She smiled, purposefully.
“No,” Seb said.
“Now. My work is done.”
“No chance,” Christy said.
She span Narelle around and shifting her weight, launched her through the tall window. Glass shattered. Rotten old woodwork gave way.
Down the woman tumbled amidst the broken glass and broken woodwork.
Three floors down.
The crashing and the tinkling of the broken window almost masked the thud of something heavy and wet breaking on the road below. The body, already broken was driven over by the unfortunate plumber in a bright-orange Falcon sports ute. He would always remember the figure plummeting down in front of him. No time to stop. The sickening sound as bones crunched beneath his wheels.
Enough to give anyone nightmares.
Narelle looked Seb in the eye. “They’ll work out that you pushed her. You should run.”
“Pushed me out of the window?”
“How could she do that Seb? How could she, when I was never anything but a figment of your guilt anyway? If I was anything else I wouldn’t have needed her to kill Dave.”
Though it was impossible, when he looked again the woman that had claimed to be Narelle Grey wasn’t there. He stepped up to the window and looked out, hoping that Christy had somehow survived or that perhaps the body of Narelle was down there. The chaos outside suggested that either was very unlikely.
A large dark slick had pooled around the front of the ute. The driver – he assumed it was the driver – had his head in his hands, weeping.
As yet, there was still no sound of sirens.Death on the Waves
Fourteen months earlier.
Randall was balding, in his fifties but he still looked good with his shirt undone. Narelle hadn’t realised he was in such good shape.
It had probably been a mistake to take him up on the offer to come out on his yacht. He was the CEO of the company she worked for, and she was just an ordinary employee. Besides, it was no secret that he was married.
Definitely a mistake. She wasn’t a gold-digger. She really wasn’t. It had turned out that she shared something with him. She’d never have expected him to be as interested as her in dollification. She certainly hadn’t expected him to be something of an expert – a person of some influence in the scene – or so it appeared.
Besides, he certainly hadn’t told her that she’d be alone with him on the boat. She’d expected there would be a whole party of people from work. When it turned out there wasn’t she’d been at once shocked and secretly pleased.
He handed her another glass of expensive champagne. “I’m building a wing of my new house especially to house my doll collection,” he said. “Special storage, special plumbing. Temperature control. Every detail attended to.”
“What does your wife think of that?”
“She’s looking forward to spending a little time there herself. She loves looking after the dolls, or being one, as the mood takes her.”
“She wouldn’t like it much if they weren’t just dolls though, would she?”
“Oh you’re quite mistaken about that. Far from it. She loves the living dolls the best. I’ve had visitors from around the world spend a little time in my collection. She always gives them special, personal, treatment. I pretend not to know what she gets up to. It might upset her if she thought I wasn’t a little jealous.”
“It’s fantastic. I can’t believe what you’re telling me. It sounds like a dream, a story too good to be true.”
“Doesn’t it though? Only possible through success in business of course. Not everyone can do that. But if one can, one should take advantage of the rewards. At least, that’s my approach.”
“I don’t know how I’d feel about getting special treatment, but I’d love to spend a little time in your collection. It’s not too presumptuous of me to ask is it?”
“Of course not my dear. It would be a privilege. You would certainly be the centrepiece of my collection. For a time. It would almost be a shame to let you go.” He gave a quiet chuckle. “I don’t know if I could bring myself to do it.”
“That’s a little scary.”
“Isn’t it though? Does it excite you? It does, doesn’t it?”
She downed the rest of the glass in one. She was afloat on the warm buzz of the alcohol. Anything was possible. She couldn’t take her eyes off him. He wasn’t young, but still vigorous. There was something about an older man that made her feel safe. It had always been the younger ones that had treated her mother badly.
She moved closer to him. “I have to admit. It does,” she whispered.
“Do you know what’s even more exciting?” he said, peering down at her over his spectacles.
“No,” she said. Her heart hammered in her chest, leaving her breathless.
“A little restraint. You’ve never been a doll have you? Not in real life? It doesn’t suit everyone. We could do a little test. I’ll just tie your hands. In front of you. Very light bondage to begin with. If you find it excites you, then you might be ready for more. Are you-”
In her eagerness, she cut him off before he could finish.
“Yes. Yes, I’ll try it,” she said. She was pleading. Was she coming on too needy? Mustn’t scare him off.
“Why don’t we get undressed and try it?” he said.
She was shaking with excitement.
“Help me with my zip.” She turned her back to him and gave a giggle.
“Oh course, my dear. Do you mind, actually, if I call you darling? That’s alright isn’t it?”
Narelle’s chest heaved.
Who would have thought Randall was such a charmer.
She really did feel like putty in his hands.
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