Your Master Requires Your Company

by Jack Peacock

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© Copyright 2023 - Jack Peacock - Placed in public domain by author

Storycodes: M+/f+; bond; kidnap; collar; cuffs; prison; hood; strip; naked; gag; cons; nc; XX

This is the seventh story in the "Your Master Requires" series. You may wish to start from the first story: Your Master Requires Your Presence

The Problem

“So here’s the problem we face,” the Director began his explanation for calling in Robert and Big Mike. “A serious situation is developing that threatens to expose the Center, one that forces us to act immediately. There’s an investigative reporter who uncovered some potentially damaging information. Fortunately we have someone on site who is working to deflect the reporter’s attention, but that’s not going to buy us much time. We do have a long term solution, but to implement it we need your help.”

“We all have a vested interest in the Center,” Big Mike replied. “I’ll do whatever I can, and I’m sure Bob feels the same. What do you have in mind?” Robert nodded in agreement.

“Thanks, Mike. We really need to borrow your Paula for a few days. And Bob? Once before, I asked if Cathy could help us with a pick up. This is a similar situation, except the stakes are higher. She’s the clear choice, considering how well she handled the last time we asked for her services.”

The Center depended on secrecy for its existence. It was housed in an obsolete, underground strategic missile base, sold off to a commercial real estate management company after the property was listed as surplus. Its location in the vast, mostly empty southwestern American desert guaranteed anonymity. There were no nearby towns, and the only access road ran through a long stretch of barren desert before it connected to the nearest highway.

The syndicate members who owned and operated the Center controlled substantial financial resources, which were often used to suppress any inquiries into why the Center existed. Privacy was essential, for the Center operated outside of legal boundaries. The underground complex existed for the sole purpose of “educating” a particular type of woman on the virtues of being obedient and submissive. Where it crossed into the criminal realm was the policy of confining those women, regardless of their opinion on the matter. In many cases kidnapping was also involved, or in Center terminology a “seizure”.

The Center was split into two sections. The Secure Area operated under conditions that made a supermax prison look like a resort hotel. No one had ever escaped from this part of the Center, and for good reason. Security, unhampered by legal technicalities, was intense and pervasive. The other section, living quarters for the staff, wasn’t as restrictive but did impose close supervision over the women who lived there.

Going Undercover

“I think you’re on to something here, Alisha. Inspector LaRonde, from Internal Affairs, agrees with me the facts you’ve uncovered are disturbing. They’re not enough to file charges though. If we go public now everyone involved will simply disappear.” Perry Kaiser, the General Manager of the TV station, was doing the talking while Alisha Grey, a writer and researcher for the station, and the police inspector listened. They were in his office, meeting after hours to avoid arousing suspicion.

“Ms. Grey,” Inspector LaRonde began, “from what I’ve heard I don’t feel safe trusting anyone in my department. I’ll have to take the evidence straight to the state Attorney General, but to go to that level I need an airtight case, one that can’t be covered up. There’s no easy way to say this, so I’ll be blunt. The only way I can move forward is by placing someone undercover who can gather more information first hand. Naturally, it should be someone from the police department, but you can see my problem. Any officer I select might already be compromised and even if not they run the risk of being recognized.”

Alisha had an uneasy feeling she knew where the Inspector was heading. She studied the woman who was about to ask the unthinkable. The Inspector was a small, unremarkable woman, not the supermodel type portrayed on TV cop shows.

Perry interrupted. “Look, Alisha, we know this is a lot to ask of you, way out of line for your job, for any investigative reporter much less a staff researcher. I’ll be frank; I’m against this, even though the Inspector can be very persuasive. It’s potentially dangerous. No pressure here, say no and we’ll look for some other solution.”

Question asked without actually saying the words, Alisha thought. They want me to go undercover. It made sense; from the facts she’d gathered she fit the mysterious organization’s targeted profile. With a bit of luck she might get in. Getting out afterwards, that was the real problem. She had to clear that part up first.

“Okay, assuming I’m somehow kidnapped by this group, how will you be able to track me, and I hope rescue me from wherever these women wind up? I’m not too keen on simply disappearing.”

Inspector LaRonde had an answer. “I’ve held this back until now. You discovered these women go missing, and there’s an implied link to law enforcement. What you don’t know is they were all white collar convicts, serving multi-year sentences at a state minimum security facility. These people are clever; it looks like the prisoner walked off the premises, which is possible in those types of facilities. I don’t think that’s the real story. All I’m asking is that you be, umm, the ‘bait’ for my trap. I’ll have a few trusted people around you at all times; some help I’ve recruited from other departments, long-time friends with unquestioned integrity. I’ll fake a history for you; after that you wait for their move.”

That didn’t sound nearly as risky for Alisha. True, she’d be sent to a prison, but it wasn’t a real sentence, and at worst it would last a few months in one of those “Country Club” locations. I’ll come back as a real, credited investigative reporter, with national exposure. Her career would skyrocket after that.

“So, do I rob a liquor store? Or hold up a bank?” Whatever happened, it promised to be a memorable adventure.

“No, no violent crime. We’ll set up a conviction for a victimless crime, something ‘white collar’ dealing with taxes. I’ll take an old trial, update the transcript for modern dates, change the suspect to your name and have you sentenced to prison. You’ll have a sentence for, hmm, somewhere around two or three years; that seems to be what this group looks for. Chances are excellent they’ll zero in on you immediately, since you don’t have any close community ties.”

Alisha felt a small pang of guilt. Like virtually everyone else she wasn’t one hundred percent honest on her tax returns. “So then what, a patrol car comes around to arrest me?”

The Inspector laughed and shook her head. “Oh, no, nothing so dramatic. This isn’t a TV show. For minimum security prisons you show up at the police station on the reporting date. They process you, arrange for transportation, and you get a free ride out to the location. Your room door is locked at night, but otherwise there are no barbed wire fences, guard towers, all that stuff you see in movies. The idea is, if you run away, then they send you to one of those maximum security hellholes. You’re far better off staying put, at least in theory.”

Alisha nodded. “Yeah, but people can be irrational. Okay, so how long do I have to go through the charade, in case this mysterious group ignores me?”

Inspector La Ronde leaned back in her chair. “Hmmm, do you think you could hold out for a month? Any longer and we’ll call off the operation. Bear in mind no one at this place will know you are working with the police, not even the Warden. Except for myself and some trusted associates no one will be aware you are not authentic.”

Alisha didn’t hesitate to accept. Even if the operation wasn’t successful she’d be in a position to write all about the experience. “Okay, I’m in. What’s next?”

On The Way

Robert helped Cathy into the back seat of the van, holding her waist as she climbed in. “I want you next to the window, on the right side behind me. Now, sit up straight while we get you situated.” Robert kept a hand on her shoulder, but motioned for Paula to come up next to him.

“This will be a day-long trip, which means we need the presence of a female officer to avoid suspicion. Cathy is going along as the companion in adversity, to help keep our new guest calm. So Paula, as the Corrections officer, you need a quick tutorial on procedures. Let’s start with her seat belt.”

Looking uncomfortable, Paula reached across Cathy’s waist and picked up the loose end of the combination seat belt and shoulder strap. She pulled it across and down to the latch on the other side. It closed with a mechanical click. Paula took in the slack in the lap belt until it was close around Cathy, but not too tight. Robert put the fingers of one hand under the belt, to make sure it was a proper fit. “That’s a little tight for me, but it’s within acceptable limits. Always make sure the locking buckle is fully engaged, too.” He yanked on the lap belt, testing the buckle.

“Yes, sir,” Paula answered. She tested the belt herself before checking to make sure the buckle wouldn’t open. Paula had been on the other end, in the car seat, several times but this was a first for her. Cathy, watching the procedure, saw the keyhole in the buckle of the seat belt. She might be able to maneuver her hands around to the side, close enough to reach the seat belt release, but she wouldn’t be able to open it on her own.

“Now, Paula, you’ll need to make sure her legs are secured, so the prisoner can’t start kicking the front seat. There’s a ring inset on the floorboard, under the bench seat. Get one of the padlocks from the bag in the front floorboard, so you can lock Cathy’s leg chain to the ring.”

Paula went to the front and opened a bag lying on the floor. “Any lock, sir, or a particular one?”

“They’re all keyed the same; just pick one,” Robert answered.

She came back with an open padlock in her hand. Reaching under Cathy’s seat Paula pulled up the recessed D-ring. With her other hand she hooked the chain between Cathy’s ankles in the padlock shackle and fastened it to the floor. Paula gave a final tug on the lock to make sure it held. “Is that the correct procedure, sir?” she asked, looking up at Robert.

Cathy leaned forward, as much as the shoulder strap allowed, looking down at Paula’s work. She could still move her legs, but she wasn’t able to reach the security grill separating front and back with her foot. Robert pushed her back with a hand on her shoulder. “I told you to sit up straight.”

Forbidden to speak, all Cathy could do was hang her head to express an apology. In order to stay in character she wasn’t allowed to wear her collar. Technically she shouldn’t even call him “sir” but that habit was too ingrained to ignore. This wasn’t the first time she’d been chosen to be the Judas Goat, the decoy to set the example of cool and composed and with any luck avoid screaming hysteria from an unwilling passenger. It wasn’t easy, sitting in a transport van hour after hour, chained like a dangerous criminal, without a clue as to their destination or how much longer it would go on. She’d had that unpleasant experience more than once, and wasn’t looking forward to another. If it was up to her she’d turn down the offer, but Robert didn’t ask for her opinion. He did explain how important it was, that the Director had personally asked for her, and everyone at the Center was depending on her.

None of the reasons mattered to Cathy. Robert wanted her to play the part. Everything else was essentially irrelevant, though it was nice to know her role was important. Her master required her company. In Cathy’s life there were absolutes; obedience to the man who owned her soul was one of those inflexible laws of nature. On the positive side, he’d be in charge for the entire trip, which would keep them together.

At least I’ll know where we’re headed, on the trip back. The restraints didn’t bother her. After her visits to the Center’s secure area it was a vacation, of sorts. Robert would be with her, and that’s all that mattered. He had given her an assignment; whatever it took she would see it was carried out to the very best of her abilities.

“Good job, Officer Paula,” he leaned over and kissed Cathy on the forehead. “I think our prisoner is suitably prepared for the trip.” Robert stepped back, closed the security grill and slid shut the side door of the van. “Hop in, and we’ll hit the road,” Cathy heard him say from the front passenger door. She turned to watch him through the bars covering the window. After Paula got in the passenger side, he closed her door and walked around the front of the van to get in the driver’s side.

While both her guards were looking elsewhere Cathy took the opportunity to test her bonds. The handcuffs on her wrists weren’t tight, but she couldn’t slip out of them. Robert had too much practice to make a clumsy mistake like that. The connecting chain between her wrists passed through a ring on the front of the heavy leather transport belt that encircled her waist. A quick, surreptitious tug on the cuffs confirmed there was little freedom of movement. Her master had plenty of practice; the belt was a tight fit, impossible to slip over her hips, and the locking buckle in back was far beyond her reach. Her hands would have to remain in her lap for the duration of the trip. Satisfied there were no possible means of escape she settled back in her seat. As always it was reassuring to know Robert still cared about her, and he showed it in the extra time he took to be thorough in seeing she was properly controlled.

Cathy couldn’t lean over again without Robert or Paula noticing, but she did slide the leg chain through the padlock on the floor, to see how far she could reach. With one foot under the seat she couldn’t quite reach the base of the security grill with the other. Overall it was a very effective restraint system. She could move around a bit in her seat, and that was all.

The windows on either side of her compartment were crossed with metal bars. In front and behind her, and blocking the door were heavy grills that formed the prisoner compartment. A glance at the side door confirmed there was no door handle on the inside. Combined with the restraints she wore it was intimidating. Cathy felt helpless, unable to do anything on her own.

When Robert closed his door she immediately pulled back her foot and straightened out, sitting primly, legs together, hands folded together in her lap, the way he liked. He did glance back to check on her before starting the van. She sat very still for his last inspection, not even daring to breathe, hoping she would meet with his approval. The brief smile and a wink from his eye was all she needed. Regardless of how uncomfortable the trip might turn out, she didn’t care. Nothing else mattered except that she was where he wanted her to be.

Cathy and Paula were close friends at the Center. Judging by the frown on Paula’s face on the other side of the grill she wasn’t satisfied with Cathy’s demeanor, though she didn’t say anything. Poor Paula, I bet she’d trade places with me in a second. Not that Robert would allow it. Paula was the perfect choice for the role of Corrections officer. Her single-minded determination when given a job was legendary at the Center. Nothing and nobody, not even their friendship, would entice her to laxness in her duties. For the duration of this trip they were jailer and prisoner.

Paula may have been the best choice, but it wasn’t going to help Cathy. She straightened up, carefully lined up her legs and feet, folded her bound hands in her lap and stared at the back of Robert’s head. There, that should meet with Paula’s approval. Just my luck she’s going to supervise me. Robert wasn’t nearly as demanding.

Rest Stop

It was still morning when Robert turned off the highway into a rest stop. Cathy needed to use the restroom, and looked forward to a few minutes’ worth of exercise. Being restrained wasn’t painful, as long as she didn’t fight the bonds, but neither was it all that enjoyable during a long drive. Her shoulders and legs were stiff from inactivity, and her behind hurt from sitting too long.

When Robert parked the van there was one other car at the stop. Cathy saw two kids come out of the restrooms and head to the other car. Robert had chosen a parking spot some distance away. “Paula, why don’t you go first? I’ll stay here and watch Cathy. Remember, check the rest room for any security issues before you come back for the prisoner.”

“Yes, sir,” Paula answered. She glanced back at Cathy before she opened her door and got out. The people in the other car noticed Paula’s uniform but didn’t approach her.

“Sir? I’d never try to run away. You don’t need to keep me hooked up like this.” Cathy held up her shackled hands, straining against the transport belt.

Robert frowned, which told Cathy she’d gone too far. “I’ll decide how you will be dressed for this trip. Your job is to be a convicted criminal being transported to another location. I intend to see that you are treated accordingly until we reach our destination. Whether or not you will try to escape is immaterial. I will enforce the rules on how you are to be treated, and I’ll require Paula to do the same. Is that clear?”

Cathy dropped her hands into her lap and looked down. “I’m sorry, sir. I shouldn’t have said anything.”

The other car pulled out of the parking area and drove back onto the highway, leaving them alone. “Good,” Robert said, “we don’t have any spectators. Now, let’s get you taken care of.” Cathy looked up and saw Paula approaching the van. Robert opened his door and walked around to the side. When Paula stopped next to him he handed her a set of keys before he opened the side door.

“Cathy,” he said, to get her attention, “Paula is going to escort you to the women’s restroom. You will do exactly as she says, understand? If you don’t, she will force you to cooperate, by any means necessary.” He glanced over at Paula to emphasize his point.

The two women were about the same size and build. In a contest of physical strength they’d be evenly matched. However, Paula wasn’t encumbered with handcuffs and leg irons, unlike Cathy. Any altercation would be one-sided.

It was Paula who retrieved Cathy’s jail-issue sandals from behind the rear seat. They matched the Corrections department inmate dress for women: drab and flimsy. She slipped her feet into them while Paula unlocked her ankle chain from the ring in the floor.

That still left Cathy trapped by the seat belt. Robert pointed out to Paula which key to use. “Don’t take too long. We have to be at the rendezvous location in three hours.”

Back Seat

“You still want to go through with this? Once we start there’s no backing out. The Inspector and I are the only two people who know you’ll be undercover, until you get to your destination. You walk out that door, you’re committed.” Perry was playing his role to the fullest as the concerned editor.

“I’m sure, don’t worry. We’re going to bust this racket wide open. The exposure will reach all the way to the top. I bet by next year we’ll have a new governor.” Alisha was positive her investigation would yield sensational results. Meanwhile, no one knew who she was. In her position as a researcher she’d never appeared on air; there was a zero chance she’d be recognized as a plant.

Her bravado also helped to hide the tinge of fear at what Alisha faced. She wore the scratchy prison uniform, a cheap sleeveless dress that ended at her knees. A leather belt around her waist kept the handcuffs close to her body. Leg irons on her ankles made it difficult for her to walk. She’d never felt so vulnerable in her life. They did a good job to make sure I’m not going to escape.

Alisha’s guard waited outside the small room where she was getting her final instructions from the Inspector. “Please, please remember, this isn’t acting. You are a convicted criminal, being transferred to a minimum security installation. Don’t forget it’s still a prison, and if you try to escape you go from minimum to maximum. It will be just you, plus the two officers in the car. Don’t confide in anyone about who you are. Chances are they won’t believe you anyway. Above all, follow the orders from the officers, no matter what. If you cause trouble they are authorized to use ‘appropriate’ force, the extremely unpleasant kind, and that you don’t want.”

That part was clear. Everything depended on her being in the right place. Minimum security couldn’t be that bad; the inmates were all white collar criminals, not violent mental cases. Alisha jerked on the handcuffs locked on her wrists. “Are these really necessary? I figured, you know, minimum security, I’m not a flight risk.”

“Sorry about that, but there’s nothing I can do. There’s a fixed policy for transportation, no exceptions, no matter who you are or where you’re going. Don’t forget your cover: three years for tax evasion.” The Inspector chuckled. “You better file on time from now on. Don’t forget, that’s how they got Al Capone.”

Alisha had read the full background prepared for her. Not just tax evasion; according to the confession she’d also hid away more than a million in illegal income in a Cayman Islands bank. Not exactly in the same class as a gangland boss, she thought. Undeclared income smuggling exotic animals, I wonder who came up with that one?

She heard the garage door open. Looking out the window she saw the unmarked car drive in. “That’s your ride, Alisha. We’ll have a big party for you as soon as you get back. Hang in there; something should happen within a few weeks. Worst case it will be one month; after that we’ll cancel the operation.” The reassuring words were from Perry, the station manager.

“I’m looking forward to four weeks of an ‘all expenses paid’ vacation at a state sponsored luxury resort. Just make sure it doesn’t turn into the full three years.” She was nervous; it showed in the feeble attempt at a joke.

A woman got out of the car and came to the door. The Inspector gestured for her to enter. “I’m here for an Alisha Grey?” the woman asked.

The Inspector handed her a clipboard. After the woman, dressed in a Corrections officer uniform, signed for the prisoner she immediately took hold of Alisha’s arm. “Let’s go.”

With a backward glance at the two people she relied on to eventually rescue her, Alisha slowly shuffled out to the car. The chains on her ankles were frustrating in the way they slowed her down to little more than a crawl.

Once she was seated the female officer sat next to her in the back seat. The male officer started the car and off they went. Alisha watched the city go by when they drove onto the freeway. In the custody of strangers, the phrase ran through her head. This was the point of no return.

She turned to the officer next to her. “How long is the trip?” Alisha wasn’t looking forward to being locked up in chains all day long.

The woman frowned. “We’re not going to be friends. If you expect a conversation, forget it. I’m not going to answer your questions. Nor do I want your life story. Everyone has some sad tale of woe to explain how they got here. I’m not interested.”

So much for empathy and compassion, Alisha thought in reaction to the officer’s sharp words. It was going to be a long trip in silence.

A Fateful Meeting

Green farmland faded into brown brush and finally empty desert. Alisha had a good idea of where they were, based on the infrequent road signs. Not many people lived in this part of the state, since there wasn’t much economic activity. The ground was too dry to farm, so other than a few small mines the area was basically uninhabited. The highway had narrowed to a somewhat poorly maintained two lane strip of asphalt, with nothing but sagebrush and mesquite to either side. Traffic had dwindled to a handful of cars and a few trucks, likely trying to slip around weigh scales. There were no towns, or even overpasses. Looking out the side window Alisha saw an occasional dirt road weaving through the sage, heading off to the nearby hills. Most were overgrown, likely access roads to mines shut down years or decades ago.

She had to admit this was an ideal place for a prison. No neighbors to complain, and anyone walking away had nowhere to go. There was no need for a fence; the desert was a most effective barrier. Not even there yet, and already Alisha was starting to feel depressed. The wisdom of undertaking her secret mission was starting to fray at the edges. Weeks, months living in a place like this? Why didn’t I think this through?  She consoled herself with visions of a major book tour, complete with TV interviews.

The car started to slow down. From what she could see out the front windshield there were no buildings anywhere, or even paved side roads. “Is this it? Are we here?” she asked.

“I told you before; I’m not going to answer your questions. What is it with you, some kind of learning disorder?” Again that sharp toned retort came from the woman next to Alisha.

Frustrated, Alisha gave up trying to get any information from her decidedly unfriendly guards. The driver turned off the highway onto a gravel road. What’s going on here? She had an uneasy feeling something wasn’t right. “Okay, it’s obvious this isn’t the road to any state building. I want to know where we’re going, right now!”

Neither her companion nor the driver deigned to answer her demand, even though she was practically shouting. That’s when the enormity of her situation hit home. Alisha could yell and scream, but that was about the limit of her ability to protest. Bound hand and foot in cold steel chains she could offer no physical resistance.

Past a rise they dropped down into a depression in the desert floor. Alisha was surprised to see a rest stop complete with a canopy over a concrete slab with a picnic table. The driver parked the car next to the small building. “We have about fifteen minutes. Do you want to wait outside?”

Alisha immediately agreed but the driver ignored her. “Sure,” the female officer replied. “I need a break.” The driver got out, opened the rear passenger door for his companion, and the two of them went over to the table. Alisha could see them talking but was too far away to hear the conversation. They left her alone in the car.

The woman took out a cell phone and waved it around, holding it high above her head. Looking at the screen she shook her head. Alisha took that to mean no signal, not unusual given the remoteness of the region. The driver came back to the car, glanced in at Alisha, and then went to the rear to open the trunk. When he finished he walked back to the shaded table, carrying some kind of equipment in one hand.

That turned out to be a radio, when he extended the antenna and attached the microphone. She could see him working it, turning a dial, until he suddenly stopped and began talking into the microphone. Again, Alisha couldn’t hear anything, but her guards seemed to be satisfied with the results.

The woman walked over to Alisha and opened her door. “Okay, you didn’t cause us any trouble so I’m going to be nice and tell you what’s going on. I’m sure you’re anxious, since this,” she waved her hand around, “isn’t where you expect to be.”

“Can I stand up?” Alisha asked. It was getting warm inside the car. The cool desert breeze felt good.

“Be patient for a little longer. Here’s what just happened. We have an emergency satellite link in the car. HQ can send us messages if we’re out of radio range, but we can’t send back. That’s what the satellite radio is for, the one on the table. Anyway, this morning a federal court unexpectedly issued an immediate order to reduce the inmate count at several state prisons, including your destination. Legally we can’t deliver you. The state had negotiated a temporary agreement to house you in a neighboring state, at a comparable location. However, we can’t cross state lines. So a van is coming to pick you up, along with at least one other prisoner we know of. They should be here any minute now.”

This wasn’t part of her undercover plan. Should she reveal the real reason she was here, and if she did would they believe her? Probably not, in their place she would laugh at such a feeble attempt. Maybe something could still be salvaged. Better she wait and see what happens.

“As you can imagine, the state Corrections Department is pure chaos at the moment. We have a copy of your basic records; we’ll hand those over along with you. I can’t tell you how long this will last. I’m sure your lawyer will be contacted when your final location is determined.”

It all made sense, to Alisha’s relief. “Thanks for explaining it all. I was worried, but now I understand why we’re here.” She stopped when she heard another vehicle’s tires crunching on the gravel. Turning to look out the back window she saw a white van approaching.

“That’s your ride. C’mon, let’s get you out of the car.”

It felt wonderful when Alisha was finally able to stand up and stretch her legs. The guard held onto her arm while she walked around.

“Okay, this is against regulations but I’m going to trust you. You have a long ride ahead. If I take off the handcuffs for a few minutes you promise not to cause any trouble?”

Alisha agreed, eager to work the stiffness out of her arms and shoulders. Cautiously the officer unlocked her wrists before stepping back. Alisha didn’t miss the furtive motion where she put a hand on what looked like a stun gun attached to her belt.

In a cloud of dust the van parked on the other side of the rest stop building. What was a rest stop doing way out here anyway? The road continued on up into the hills beyond. Maybe there was something of interest up there. Her reporter instincts were always running, looking for the unexplained, pieces that didn’t fit into the puzzle.

But the mysterious road would have to wait for another day. The van’s driver, wearing a uniform not too different from her guards, got out and walked over to the table. Inside the van she could see the silhouettes of another officer in the front seat and a passenger, who must be a fellow prisoner, sitting behind the driver’s seat. There was a Public Safety Department logo on the side of the van, with the seal from a neighboring state.

While the two men talked to each other and on the radio Alisha had the opportunity to get some much needed exercise. She alternated between raising her arms up over her head and spinning them around. All the while her guard followed her, one hand on that device on her belt.

All good things must come to an end. When the van driver waved at them to come forward the handcuffs immediately went back on her wrists. Alisha sighed, resigned to finishing her trip in equally unpleasant surroundings in the van. The other officer in the van got out and came forward. Alisha wasn’t surprised to discover she was female too. There must be some regulation about it; a man to provide the muscle and a woman to avoid any accusation of abuse along the way.

It didn’t take long to exchange one set of restraints for another. When the van driver slid open the side door her fellow passenger nodded in greeting. Once Alisha was seated and secured in place, by seat belt and the leg irons padlocked to the floor, the driver closed the security gate and slid the outer door shut.

Meanwhile the car she arrived in had already disappeared down the gravel road, headed back to the city. While Alisha and her new traveling companion waited, the driver and the other officer in the front seat went over her paperwork.

“Tax evasion?” Robert asked. “Tsk, tsk, gotta render unto Caesar his due. Three years? It must have been a tidy amount. Paula, explain the rules to our guest.”

“Yes, sir.” Paula turned to face the rear compartment.

“This is how it works. You behave, we go easy on you. Act up, we come down hard. Trust me, we have any number of ways to make every minute on the road as miserable as possible. I like order and obedience. Keep that in mind, because if I’m unhappy I guarantee both of you will be much worse off.

“Now, against my better judgment the Sergeant has decided to allow the two of you to talk to each other while we’re on the road. If either of us starts to speak you shut up immediately. I don’t want to hear any arguing, and I am especially irritated when I hear shouting. I hope I made myself clear?”

“I understand.” That was from Cathy, in a meek voice. Paula had her role to play, and she would be fanatical in following her instructions. The implied warning in her little speech wasn’t a bluff. Any ties of friendship ended when the van left the Center.

“I’ll cooperate,” Alisha added.

On The Road Again

The van was back on the highway, headed for...where? The scenario reminded Alisa of one of those Mission: Impossible movies, where something in the carefully contrived plan is disrupted by an unexpected event. No one anticipated a court order forcing her to be reassigned to a different location. Would the Inspector be able to move her team, to keep Alisha safe?

How long did she have to be incarcerated at this new, out of state place? Maybe it really was temporary, and she’d be back in a week with the plan on track again. On the positive side, the gang behind the kidnappings had to adjust their own plans, so if she were to become one of their targets, and the Inspector was positive they’d come for her, the sudden change meant they had to revise whatever plot was in place to grab her.

Alisha watched the barren desert landscape roll by, out the van’s side window. Between the grating of the prisoner cage and the bars across the window it was difficult for her to ignore her own situation, which wasn’t the best. Chained hand and foot like a common criminal, which technically she was, and confined to the back of the van there was no possibility of escape, or even calling off her undercover role. Like it or not, everyone around her saw only the story of the criminal so carefully crafted by the Inspector.

One thing kept nagging at her. Why was the meeting in the middle of the desert, hidden from view from the highway? Maybe it was respect for her privacy, but that seemed like a weak argument. Why not a police station in the next town? That was the logical place, not a deserted shack. And if she was in another state, how was it the people supposedly watching out for her, the Inspector’s trusted team, were able to operate?

“My name’s Cathy,” her traveling companion announced. Alisha turned away from the window to scrutinize her fellow prisoner. Her uniform was similar to Alisha’s though not exactly the same. The handcuffs and transport belt were identical. Based on appearances they were both headed toward the same destination.

“Alisha,” she replied, raising one hand in a wave of greeting. She tilted her head to see how the officers in front would react to a tentative conversation. The driver hadn’t said much; he seemed to be more intent on the road than paying attention to his passengers. The female officer, in front of Alisha, was more worrisome. First impression, she had taken an instant dislike to both Alisha and Cathy.

“They got me for shoplifting. Well, failing to appear, that’s why I’m here. The day I was supposed to show up at the prison I was two states away. Unfortunately I didn’t do my research. I went to a state that still enforces extradition laws, so I’m headed back, just a few days later than scheduled.” That was Cathy’s cover story.

Alisha frowned. Something didn’t sound right. “Shoplifting? I thought that was a misdemeanor, you know, just a fine, maybe a few days community service?”

Cathy shrugged. “Normally you’d be right. Turns out organizing a flash mob to loot a jewelry store is a bit more serious. I thought the cops wouldn’t try to chase anyone down. I was wrong.”

“Tax fraud, I was creative in declaring certain income. The auditors didn’t agree with me.” Like Cathy’s background, it was pure fiction. Alisha did relax a bit upon learning her companion was no psychotic serial killer. If they were both in the “white collar” category, surely whatever corrections facility lay at the end of their trip had to be better than the maximum security horrors so popular in movies.

The two of them passed the time in small talk, about where they lived, their background, mostly the truth on Alisha’s part. Never tell a lie unless absolutely necessary, that had been the Inspector’s advice. With the truth there are fewer worries about consistency. It’s extremely difficult to make up an entire identity and keep to it under questioning.

Cathy was from Los Angeles. Did that imply they were headed back to California? Alisha didn’t pursue it further.

“We’re about to arrive in Las Vegas,” the driver announced. “Sorry, we don’t stop here, so no time out to visit the slot machines. We’ll be taking the beltway around the city, but you can see some of the hotels downtown on the skyline.”

“Thank you, sir.” That was from Cathy. From the way she spoke she struck Alisha as someone who was very deferential to men. Maybe it’s to get him to like her, go easy on her. Alisha wasn’t very talented in that respect.

Alisha had to be content to lean forward to see what she could of the famous Sin City. She’d never been to the local Indian Casino, much less the Mecca for gambling. Cathy asked if she’d ever bet on a blackjack table.

“Nope, I’m what you might call risk averse. I’ve never bet on anything, not even the office Super Bowl pool.” And yet here I am, risking it all with a trip to a real prison and not to visit someone for a story.

It didn’t take long to circle around the outskirts. They crossed over a low pass full of railroad tracks and drove on south. Arizona, we’re not going in the right direction for California. It was another of those small anomalies that were beginning to concern Alisha. Where are they taking me?

They crossed the bridge over the Colorado River. Alisha got a quick look at Hoover Dam before they were once again into featureless desert. The sun was dropping down behind the mountains. The van continued on in the dark.

There was one final stop, when the van drove off the freeway onto an overpass. There were no signs to identify where they were, other than an enigmatic Access Road which told her nothing. The van stopped out of sight of the freeway, at a gate across the road. “Paula, will you help our guests?”

The driver turned to face Alisha and Cathy. “No talking from this point on. You’ve both done well so far, don’t spoil it now. I regret, we must implement an additional security procedure for the last leg of our journey. Be patient; it won’t last too long.”

Alisha had no idea what he meant until Paula opened the side door. There were two canvas bags in her left hand.


As soon as the door rolled up Robert backed the van into the garage. The moment he shut off the engine the door began coming down. He waited until it stopped before getting out. Almost done, it’s been a long day. He was tired and a little irritated Cathy wouldn’t be with him tonight.

On Paula’s side Big Mike, wearing a Center uniform, opened her door. When he took hold of her arm she got out of the van. He held open the van door. “Get those clothes off, now! Put them on the seat.”

Paula stripped off her Corrections officer uniform in record time. Robert could see the relief on Paula’s face, now she was back in her preferred environment. When she finished all that remained was the chastity belt, which only Big Mike could remove. He left it on, though he did snap shut Paula’s collar around her neck. Her elation showed in the way she threw her arms around his neck when he took hold of her for a long, passionate embrace, literally lifting her off her feet.

The show of emotion was short-lived. Big Mike dropped her to the floor, slammed shut the van door, spun her around to face it and roughly pulled her arms behind her back. Robert heard the distinctive click of the handcuffs when he secured her. “Stay there, no talking.” Through the van windows Robert could see Paula, standing as rigid as a statue, staring straight ahead. She’d stay that way all night if necessary. Paula would rather collapse from exhaustion than disobey her master.

Robert came around the front of the van to join Big Mike. Using the van keys he unlocked and slid open the side door. Behind the security grill Alisha and Cathy were stirring, still unaware of their surroundings due to the canvas bags over their heads. That was deliberate, both to conceal the location of the Center, and to add to their disorientation. Cathy had been through this more than once, but for Alisha anxiety and uncertainty made it easier to control her.

Big Mike backed up while Robert opened the van’s side door. He unlocked the security grill and swung open the gate to the prisoner compartment. “Olay, ladies, we’ve arrived. Let’s get you out of there.”

He loosened the drawstring on the bag over Alisha’s head. After pulling it off he leaned over her to remove Cathy’s cover too. The order was not random. It was important that Alisha see Cathy receiving the same treatment. Robert counted on Cathy doing her best to set an example.

Free from the seat belt and her ankles no longer chained to the floor, Alisha was able to step down from the van, with Robert’s help. Big Mike took charge of her, with a hand on her arm. The choice of Mike to help him was no accident. He was easily the largest man at the Center, and looked the part. Decades of experience in hard rock mines had left him with a muscular build to go with his imposing height. An intimidating appearance for her escort was crucial in keeping Alisha from panicking.

Cathy came out next and joined Alisha outside the van. “Good, next we’ll take off those transport belts. I can imagine you’re tired of wearing them.” Robert wanted to come across as friendly and helpful, the good cop versus Big Mike’s implied bad cop. What was coming next would be traumatic for Alisha. He started with Cathy, in order to provide an example for Alisha to follow.

Mike knew his part. He took up a position behind Alisha. Robert used a key to unlock the left side handcuff on Cathy’s wrists. He pulled the open cuff through the belt retaining ring. “Face the van,” he ordered.

Behind her Robert quickly brought her arms back and closed the open cuff around her bare wrist. Next he unlocked the transport belt and pulled it from around her waist. He tossed the loose belt back into the open side door of the van. So far so good, he thought. Alisha is watching but she hasn’t said anything.

Alisha didn’t resist when he freed one hand. Knowing what to expect after seeing Cathy she was cooperative and soon was in place next to Cathy. Robert took note of the way she kept staring at Paula. Any minute now she’s going to realize this isn’t any kind of “correction facility”, state run or private.

It All Goes Wrong

Nothing made sense, from the moment she got into the van. Alisha’s suspicions were growing by the minute that she wasn’t where she ought to be. There was a long list of little oddities that began to add up to one big question mark. It was time to start demanding some honest answers.

“What’s going on here? Why is that woman stripped and chained? I thought she was a Corrections Officer? Why were we hooded? Prisons are hardly in secret locations. I want an explanation, now!” She started to step away from the van and turn around to face her captors.

Alisha didn’t get very far with the indignant approach. The giant behind her simply grabbed hold of her arms, lifted her up and planted her back in her original spot facing the van. One of his massive hands planted squarely in her back was sufficient to hold her in place. “Stay where you are,” he growled, in a low, ominous voice. “Don’t speak unless you are given permission.”

The shock of being so easily manhandled had the intended effect on Alisha. She turned her head to see how Cathy was handling their situation. Unlike Alisha, Cathy didn’t seem to be overly concerned. Was that resignation, being pragmatic, or was she simply too stupid to realize the two of them were in serious trouble? Maybe pragmatic was the best explanation. After all, what could either of them do, being chained and in the custody of men twice their size?

“We’re going to walk over to that counter you see in the corner. You’ll be processed there before entering the Center’s Secure Area. There will be an orientation briefing to explain the regulations here. After that you’ll be assigned sleeping quarters and have some supper. Cooperate and you won’t be harmed. Cause trouble and you’ll be punished. That’s how it works here.” That speech was delivered in a gruff tone from the huge guard. If it was supposed to be intimidating it worked.

I don’t have much choice, Alisha told herself. The big guard’s hand was wrapped around her arm in an iron grip. Cathy was in front of her, and that officer, Paula was her name, was on the other side of the man holding onto Alisha.

A chastity belt, that’s what she had on. And she’d worn it all day long during their trip. What was her story? Her apparent unconcern for her surroundings seemed to suggest this wasn’t a one-time event. Instead of staring, the men around her all but ignored Paula, what was that?

It got rough at the counter. It started with Cathy being pushed face down, bent over the counter. Alisha soon joined her. “This isn’t going to be pleasant. We’re going to remove your clothes, with or without your cooperation.” That was the driver, standing behind Cathy. He started with a pair of scissors, methodically slicing through her jail uniform. Cathy tried to twist to one side and then rise up, without success. Within seconds her uniform was gone.

Alisha was next. When the man behind the counter began on her she screamed at him to stop and tried to back away. Her protests were ignored, and the enormous thug behind her proved to be as strong as he looked. He held her down while her dress was reduced to rags. With her hands still bound behind her back there wasn’t much she could do to stop them.

What she could do is keep up a steady stream of yelling, demanding she be allowed to see the prison warden, to complain about her treatment. None of the men seemed to be concerned about her threats. When nothing was left both women were allowed to stand up again.

Alisha glared in defiance at what had been done to her. This was sexual abuse by any legal definition, and she said as much to the man facing her across the counter. “We’re the law in here,” was his enigmatic reply. Alisha stated to him, unsure of how to interpret his answer.

Alisha soon learned the indignities were just starting. The guard holding her grabbed her hair and pulled back, forcing her head back and chin up. Before she could react a metal collar went around her neck and snapped shut. It was cold and heavy. Cathy received the same treatment.

“This is your identification. It will not be removed as long as you are here at the Center. You are required to wear it at all times.” There was a click and flash when their pictures were taken, with the collars prominently displayed.

Alisha wanted to grab the ring around her neck and pull it off. In vain she struggled with the handcuffs, which refused to open. The Center, that’s the name for this place? There was something familiar about that name, from what she’d uncovered.

Alisha felt like she’d been punched in the stomach. The Center, it had come up as the kidnap gang’s hideout. The worst had happened; she’d been neatly and efficiently kidnapped before even reaching her supposed destination. So much for the Inspector’s carefully laid out plan. Surveillance by her team members wasn’t going to start until she became an inmate. All the careful planning was moot now. No one had any idea of where she was.

“We’re almost done here. There’s just one more thing…” The guard behind the counter placed two cardboard boxes on the counter top. “This is required, no exceptions.”

Alisha’s worst fears were confirmed when he pulled out two of the chastity belts, virtually identical to the one Paula had on. Stunned by the seriousness of her predicament Alisha didn’t react immediately when she felt the band close around her waist. It wasn’t until she heard the click of the lock when the centerpiece between her legs was fastened in place did she fully comprehend what they had done to her.

“This has gone far enough!” Alisha screamed. “Take these things off me, right now! I know who you are. The police are onto you too.” There wasn’t much point in keeping to her undercover role now. What mattered was persuading them to see the futility in continuing on. “They were tracking me, so they’ll know where I am. Look, let us go,” she nodded towards Cathy, “and I’ll ask that your cooperation be taken into account when you’re arrested. Can’t you see? I’m sure the SWAT teams are already on the way. It’s over, can’t you understand?”

The large man behind her spun her around. There was a grim smile on his face. “You’re bluffing. You know nothing about us, or where you are. There’s no police involvement, and there certainly won’t be any rescue in the near or far future.”

His smirk drove Alisha to an angry response. “Yes there is! And you can go to…”

Something soft and filling was forced into her mouth. A large panel held it in place against her face. She felt the straps tightening behind her head. Another went over her head, holding the gag in position. The guard behind her, at the counter, tightened the straps.

“You must learn to temper your speech, and to speak only when given permission. In here actions have consequences.” This came from the man holding onto her. “If you wish to continue grandstanding, bear in mind you don’t have an audience. We don’t care to listen to your rants.”

He turned her to face Paula, standing quietly at the end of the counter. “You should learn from Paula here. She won’t say one word until I allow it. You might want to consider doing the same. Until then you can yell into the gag to your heart’s content.”


Alisha was terrified, and for good reason. The plan had fallen apart, she had been easily kidnapped, and no one had any idea of where she was. Stripped of her clothes, along with the medieval chastity belt locked around her body, she had no doubts as to what was coming. She’d read stories about women kept as sexual slaves; now she was about to become one of those statistics.

She looked over at Cathy, sitting next to her on the bench. On the other side of Cathy there was a newcomer, a woman the guards had just brought in. Like Alisha and Cathy she was dressed, or rather undressed, in the same way, including the chains. And like Cathy she wasn’t wearing a gag. Apparently Alisha was alone in her added misery on that count.

The three of them were in a long narrow room, divided into two parts by the bars enclosing her side of the room. The hallway entrance was on the other side. Not that she could get to it, even if the bars weren’t there to stop her. Alisha leaned back against the wall and closed her eyes, trying to take stock of her options.

Her hands were bound behind her back with sturdy metal handcuffs, which in turn were fastened to a ring in the wall. She couldn’t even stand up. The collar pressed into the back of her neck where she rested her head against the wall. They’re using that collar to mark us as someone’s property, a thought which angered Alisha.

They had been ordered not to talk to each other. It was a minor point for Alisha, since the gag was still in place. Cathy and the other woman were more compliant; neither whispered a single word. That gag was ratcheting up her misery index by the minute. Whatever it was made of had turned into a soggy mass with a taste of rubber.

The door to the room opened. In came Paula with another guard she hadn’t seen before. How many men were in on this? He stopped in front of them, his eyes sweeping back and forth.

“Sit up straight,” he snapped an order. Cathy and the other woman reacted immediately. To her surprise Alisha also did her best to obey him, despite her determination to fight back.

“That’s better. Paula? You may begin.” He took a step back.

“My name is Paula. I’ve been selected to present your orientation lecture. You will remain silent while I explain the regulations here. It’s in your best interest to learn these rules quickly, and follow them without question or hesitation.” She paused.

“Alisha, if you promise to cooperate, stay quiet, speak only when permitted, the Warden will remove your gag. I must warn you, break that promise at your peril. Deliberate disobedience is dealt with on the harshest terms. Nod if you agree.”

Much as she wanted to shout out her defiance, Alisha had to be realistic. Her protests fell on deaf ears. Along with that fact the increasingly unpleasant gag was getting to her. Reluctantly she nodded in agreement. This was one fight that would have to await another day.

The guard, or rather Warden now she knew what they were called, used a key to open a gate in the bars. Alisha’s relief was immediate once he loosened the straps and removed her gag. She wanted to scream at him but held back. The threat of the gag’s return was too strong for her to ignore.

Paula continued once the gate was shut again. “This place is called the Center. I’m sure you figured out it’s somewhere in the desert southwest. I’m not going to be more specific; don’t ask. All you need to know is this place is isolated and well hidden. I’ve lived here for years, so I can assure you no one has ever escaped. No one has even tried. You’ll learn for yourselves soon enough that any attempt is doomed to fail.”

Paula paced back and forth. “Let’s start with the obvious questions. Why are you here? I have no idea. Chances are you won’t get an answer. Get used to being kept in the dark; that’s how it works in here. You will be told what you need to know, when you need to know it. Asking questions won’t get you any explanations. Learn to live with it.”

Do they know I’m supposed to be undercover? For the moment Alisha had no indication they were aware of her secret, even though she had blurted out her role under duress. The police would be looking for her; that was a slim thread of hope in an otherwise bleak situation.

Paula continued, “The first rule you need to follow is obedience. Do as you are told! Maybe you think you can be defiant, hold out until you’re rescued. It isn’t going to work out that way. All it earns you is an unpleasant punishment until you correct your attitude. Time is not on your side.”

Alisha had to admit to herself Paula was right. The gag had been enough to persuade her to keep quiet, though she had plenty to say about how they were being treated.

“You will show proper respect to the men you encounter. The Wardens, that’s their designation, are not cruel or brutal, but as far as you are concerned they are the ultimate authority in this place. You will address them as ‘sir’; that’s mandatory. Don’t forget, because they aren’t lenient or compassionate when it comes to enforcing the regulations. I can’t stress enough how important this is. Follow their instructions, to the letter, without delay.”

Wardens, what a nice, euphemistic term for a bunch of petty dictators. Alisha had a good idea of what to expect from them. Considering this place obviously operated outside the law, there would be no limit to their base instincts. Barely literate thugs, cavemen dragging their knuckles on the ground, the dregs of society, out to take their vengeance on defenseless women for all of their self-inflicted problems.

That gave her pause. Is that the reason we have to wear these chastity belts, to keep them out? That would be ironic, but it raised the question of who did have the key to these belts, if it wasn’t the Wardens?

“Okay, I’ll take questions. Before we start, I’ve been instructed to inform Alisha the authorities here are well aware of her supposed undercover secret, playing the role of an investigative reporter. You can drop the pretense; we know you aren’t a criminal.”

So much for the last hope, but how did they know? Had she been set up all along? Was the Inspector in on it, or even worse, her editor? Alisha saw any chance of rescue vanishing with Paula’s announcement.

“Keep in mind anything off the topic of getting along in here, I probably can’t offer any help. You first,” she pointed at Darla.


“Who decides how long we have to remain here, at the Center, isn’t that what you called it?”

Paula faced Darla, separated only by the bars. “Yes, you can refer to it as the Center, that’s permitted. Who decides your fate? Someone you may or may not know. Chances are you won’t be told, so don’t ask that question again. From now on your life is in that person’s hands; you don’t make the decisions anymore. Will you meet this person? Maybe, I have no idea. How long will you be here? That’s easy, until that person decides you can leave. How long is that? Again, I can’t answer you. Best I can offer is some advice. Get with the program, adjust your attitude. You’re starting a new life from today.”

Paula moved on to Cathy. “What’s your question?”

Cathy didn’t reply at first. Alisha turned to look at her. She seemed to be thinking about what to ask.

“What happens next, after we finish here?”

Paula laughed. “A practical question, but I regret I don’t have the answer to that either. The Warden who brought me in here didn’t inform me of their future plans towards any of us, so now you know as much as I do.”

The question struck Alisha as odd. It was as if she had already accepted their circumstances and had chosen to be obedient. Thinking back to earlier in the day, Cathy had been remarkably unperturbed by the trip in the van, or the treatment they received when they arrived at the Center. She didn’t fit the picture of a petty criminal being sent to a low security prison.

Paula stood in front of Alisha. “How about you, what’s your question?”

Alisha leaned forward. “Why the collars? What purpose does it serve to lock this thing around my neck?”

Paula actually smiled, as if she was pleased someone had brought up the subject. She lifted up her chin, to better display the band encircling her throat. “This is how my master chooses to mark me as his property. Yes, his property, he owns me body and soul. Those aren’t empty words. I obey him, without question, without any doubt, to the best of my ability. I trust him to decide what’s best for me.”

She continued, “All of you have a collar too. Like me you are a man’s property, even if you don’t know who he is yet. Your first reaction will be denial. In time that will give way to acceptance, and finally, I hope, you’ll come to understand what it means for you personally.”

That wasn’t the explanation Alisha wanted. I am not a man’s property. That’ll never happen, she promised herself. Paula had drunk the Kool-Aid, buying into whatever propaganda came out of the people in charge; she was clearly brainwashed into adopting the Center’s doctrine.

Alisha decided to say what she thought. “Look, I don’t ‘belong’, as you put it, to anyone. For one thing, slavery went out of style in the nineteenth century, not to mention it’s illegal just about anywhere in the world. I don’t know what’s going on here, but this isn’t a state run correctional center. That much is self-evident. I choose not to play the game, so get me out of here.”

Paula didn’t respond right away. Instead she just stared at Alisha. The silence became an awkward pause, broken only when the outer door opened to admit one of the Wardens.

“Wall,” he snapped. Paula immediately turned around to face the wall, away from the bars. The Warden took up a position directly in front of Alisha, towering over her. “You aren’t very bright, are you?”

Alisha bristled at the insult. “I have a Masters in journalism. My job is researching background for news stories at a TV station. I think that qualifies me as something more than an idiot.”

The guard shook his head. “Despite your dubious credentials you show a remarkable inability to grasp the realities of your situation, which explains where you worked. The collar stays on; you are not leaving. We define what is ‘legal’; there are no laws to protect you. In here your opinion doesn’t matter. We don’t care if you don’t like what we impose on you. You are property; you have an owner, and we don’t require your consent. Nor will you be allowed to quit the ‘game’. And from now on, you will address all men as ‘sir’. Failure to comply will be punished. Do you think I’m bluffing?”

Alisha was taken aback by the ferocity of his little speech. He did confirm all her worst fears, especially the use of past tense in “worked”. She was trapped in here, for who knew how long. For the first time the realization she was in real trouble began to sink in. “No…sir,” she answered.

The Evaluation

“You did well. I’m quite pleased at how you helped me handle the situation. Your plan worked to perfection. You did me proud, Rosalie.” Perry Kaiser, Alisha’s former editor, sat in his chair carefully scrutinizing the woman in front of him.

Rosalie LaRonde, Inspector for Internal Affairs at the metropolitan police force, straightened her back and pulled her elbows back just a bit more. She knelt on the floor rug, wearing nothing more than her master’s collar, knees wide apart and hands behind her head, displaying herself for her owner’s pleasure.

“Thank you, sir. I’m glad it all worked out. If I may ask, the Center, the issue has been resolved to a satisfactory conclusion?”

“Yes it has, literally and figuratively. The Director asked me to pass on his personal appreciation for all your efforts. We won’t be hearing from Alisha for some time to come. I deleted her findings about the Center’s backers. And thanks to you no one’s going to come looking for her for, what was it, the next three years?”

“I thought that would be about right, sir. Not excessive, but long enough for everyone to forget about her. I have ways to make her records gradually disappear.”

“It’s unfortunate this had to occur, but it was self-preservation. We had no choice other than to contain the threat as quickly as possible, without drawing any attention.” Perry leaned back in his chair. “Keep those elbows even! Don’t go lazy on me, Rosalie.” In fact there was nothing to criticize in her pose. He was simply enjoying the moment, exercising his power over her. He suspected Rosalie could see through him, yet she still made a slight adjustment though it wasn’t necessary. She looked forward to these moments as much as he did, though he’d never understand what went on behind her green eyes.


At almost the same time Cathy stood in front of the locker in the Secure Area transfer room. Her assignment was over, as was her time being subject to the severity of Secure Area regulations. Her master, Robert was behind her, sitting at a table filling out her paperwork. What trumps even total domination, when it comes to power? Bureaucracy, the grinding tyranny of forms and more forms. At least she was spared the necessity of handling them; that was solely Robert’s responsibility as her owner.

Robert had not opened the locker containing her clothes, nor had he removed the restraints mandated for all females in the Secure Area. The significance wasn’t lost on her. She could almost feel his eyes on her, even with her back to him. The slightest deviation from protocol and she’d be spending the night, maybe several, in a cell next to Alisha and the other newcomer, Darla.

“Just a wild guess, but I bet you’d like to get out of here, go home and have a nice, long, hot bath.” That came from Robert, sitting behind her.

Normally she’d jump at his implied offer, except for where she was standing. Cathy had to be very careful in how she responded. Secure Area rules were inflexible and rigidly enforced. One wrong word and Robert would be left with no choice but to keep her on this side of the door.

“If I had your permission, sir, then yes I’d love to go home.” That should work. There was no hint, direct or implied, that she was asking to be released. Unless he was in a bad mood her reply should be acceptable. Cathy had been through this routine many times; she knew where the line was drawn.

Robert stood up and put his hands on her arms. Leaning around her head he kissed her on the cheek. “You always know the precise words to use in any situation. Okay, let’s get you out of those cuffs. I’ve seen enough of the Secure Area for today.”

Together Again

Paula buried her head in Big Mike’s chest. His large, powerful arms gently wrapped around her, holding her close. She would have thrown her arms around his neck, except he’d left the cuffs on, behind her back. Paula didn’t even notice. If that’s what he wanted she was happy to please him.

“I missed you, master. I wish you could have come with us.”

Big Mike laughed, but he still held her close. “It would have been crowded with me in the van too.” He let go of her, took hold of her arms and pushed her back.

Paula immediately recognized the expression on his face. She froze, as still as a statue. Her owner was inspecting his property; she felt the familiar, overpowering compulsion to be perfect for him. Slowly he ran his hands down her arms, stopping at the cuffs encircling her wrists. “So, Officer Paula, what was it like, getting a chance to hold the keys instead of wearing the cuffs for a change? Think you might come to enjoy it?’

Paula shook her head. “I hated every minute of it, sir. It felt so wrong. Please, master, if at all possible don’t make me do it again.”

Big Mike smiled, which had the usual effect of melting away any hint of defiance or anger in Paula’s head. “Not to worry. It was an emergency. Bob tells me you did quite well under difficult circumstances. I wasn’t concerned; I knew you’d do your best.”

An Uncertain Future

Alisha sat on her bunk, leaning against the wall. Across from her Darla, her cellmate, perched on the edge of her bunk, hands in her lap, both feet on the floor, legs together and back ramrod straight. Alisha didn’t know quite what to make of this stranger.

“I got three years for tax evasion. What are you in for?” She decided some conversation might ease the tension.

“In for?” Darla looked perplexed. “I don’t know what you mean. What was Paula talking about, you being undercover?”

Alisha sighed; this was going to be like pulling teeth. She decided to ignore the glaring question about her own background story. “You know, why were you sent to prison? What did you do? How many years did the judge set for your sentence?”

Darla shook her head. “None, I’m not a criminal. Why, do you think this is a prison? Didn’t you listen to the orientation?”

A cold shiver went down Alisha’s back. The woman across from her wasn’t a convict. “Okay, then how did you get here? I arrived in the back of a Corrections department van.”

Darla shrugged. “I made some bad choices, and I think I pissed off someone very important, someone who had the means to put me in here. I was supposed to be in Los Angeles by now, driving home from the airport.” She grimaced, shaking her head again. “I expected to be sleeping in my own bed. Tomorrow I’m supposed to go back to work. Except, I don’t see it working out that way.”

She’s telling me she was kidnapped. Is she a victim of the same thing that happened to me? Alisha couldn’t ignore her new reality any longer. “Why are you sitting like that? Isn’t it uncomfortable?”

Darla didn’t answer right away. Alisha got the impression she’d asked some question so absurd she couldn’t figure out how to answer.

“Look,” Darla finally began, “you do whatever you think best. I don’t want to be here anymore than you. Maybe I have a better understanding of what’s going on, so I’ll explain.” She lifted her chin, clearly exposing the collar around her neck. “While I have this on I have a duty to be obedient and pleasing to those in authority over us. Yes, I know it sounds ridiculous, but I have some experience with the type of men we will encounter here. They won’t be patient with you. You can do the defiance thing, but me, I’m not going to look for trouble. The way I sit is how I was taught to show respect. For your own good you might want to adjust your attitude and do the same.”

Alisha was taken aback by the forceful response. However, she did sit up, balancing on the edge of the bunk like her companion. Rescue, even if it was a miniscule chance, might be months away; meanwhile she had to find a way to survive until then.


The Director sat at the conference table along with the advisory board, watching Alisha on the large screen display. “So, the immediate threat is eliminated. Now comes the hard part. What do we do with her?”

“No need to be hasty. Let’s see how well she fares in the Secure Area.” That came from the psychologist. He was known for his cautious approach to any issue, though in this case he might be right. “She does show some promise.”

“What’s your take on this, Robert? You were able to observe her for several hours on your trip,” the Director asked.

“She’s smart, very observant, and ambitious. I believe we can work with that. I do recommend we keep her access to information severely restricted, on a strictly need to know basis. If we’re careful we can use her innate curiosity to steer her in the right direction.”

The psychologist nodded in agreement. “We can certainly control what she learns in here.” Everyone around the table laughed. “Is she a repressed submissive? There are some positive indications, especially the ‘overachiever’ drive. Look at the way she wanted to please her editor.”

The Director nodded. “So then, we’re agreed. She goes into the program. We’ll meet again in six months for a review.”


Cathy returns in the second "Your Master Requires" tale: Your Master Requires Your Attendance

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