The Perils of Lady Penelope

The Penny and the Pendulum ---Swoosh!---


Penny lay back in the lounge chair and enjoyed a full length stretch, arms above her head, toes pointing.  It felt glorious.  She'd already done her exercise-of-the-day, an hour long swim in the lagoon, had enjoyed a small breakfast, and now, bikini clad, was enjoying the morning tropical sun.  Penny sighed. Another day in paradise, she mused.  Truth be told, Penny was a little bored.  There were no interesting resort development projects she was working on (short-term or long-term), and no visitors were scheduled for the next six weeks.  Penny sighed and stretched again.
RAELEE HILL as Dr. Jamie Seaton
"Perfect!" Jamie's voice echoed across the verandah.  "Hold that thought!"

Penny relaxed her stretch, lifted her head, and watched her Aussie friend approach.  The petite redhead was dressed in a TESSERACT T-shirt, hiking shorts, and boots, and was carrying a small TESSERACT HEALTH CLUB gym bag.  "What are you prattling about?" Penny mumbled.  "I thought your schedule had you going deep into the rainforest today?"

"Ya got it right," Jamie said amiably.  "I'm doin' an upgrade to one of the weather sensors on Big Peak," she explained.  "A two hour hike, the module swap'll take less than five minutes, then a two hour return.  I'm leavin' after lunch.  Should be back before sunset."

Penny watched her friend drop the gym bag and loom over her (or rather loom as much as the biologist's short stature would allow).  "'Module swap'?" Penny purred.  "Sounds like a boondoggle to me, an excuse to get away from your desk and all that troublesome data you've been manipulating for the past fortnight.  Why not let Eve do the upgrade?"

"Eve could send one of her bots," Jamie said, "but I can get up the steeper parts of the trail quicker... and I don't manipulate data!"  Jamie's smile turned slightly feral.  "I'd invite you along... but you're gonna be busy."  The grinning redhead reached behind her back and produced what Penny recognized as a small emergency flare pistol, molded in orange plastic.  Jamie struck her best Charlie's Angels pose, drawing a bead on her incredulous friend.  "Don't move, or I'll blast ya!"

ANNA WALKER as Penny Brightman "What?" Penny blurted.  She started to sit up, then swallowed nervously.  "That's not funny," she scolded, with proper English reserve.  "Playing with firearms is..."  Penny squinted into the sun and frowned.  "There's a cork stuck down the barrel of that thing," she observed.

"Of course, silly!" Jamie giggled.  "Don't get yer Pommey buns in a clench.  Eve hasn't had time to fabricate our toy guns yet, so I had to improvise."

Penny sighed.  "This is that silly role playing game idea, isn't it?  I'm sorry I suggested it."  Penny settled back down in her lounge chair.  "We can't start playing now, in any case.  We don't have costumes."

"We don't have to start with costumes," Jamie observed, waving her pistol.  "Come on, up you come!"

"I have simply too much work to do to waste time on—"

"I checked your schedule," Jamie interrupted.

Penny lifted her sunglasses and smiled.  "Okay, so I'm not busy at the moment.  What do you have in that twisted evil mind of yours?  ...not that I'm surrendering, mind you."

"That secret project you've been so curious about is finished," Jamie said with a smug grin.

"'Secret project? IVR suite two?"

"None other," Jamie confirmed.  "Finished and tested.  Now, are ya gonna come quietly, or do I have to fill ya full of imaginary stun darts?"

Penny stared at her would-be captor for several seconds, then sighed.  "I'm going to regret this," she mumbled.

"Oh, desperately," Jamie agreed.  "Now, sit up and turn around."

Penny sat up, spun on her bikini-clad rump and turned her back to her friend, her legs straddling the lounge chair.  The tall, tan blonde turned her head to the side, just in time to watch Jamie pull a coil of thin microfiber rope from her gym bag.  "I don't suppose you'd be willing to tell me—"

"Silence!" Jamie ordered.  "Hands behind yer back, 'Lady Penelope'."

Penny frowned, but complied.  "Mother will be most upset if she learns you've killed her off just so my silly gaming character can have a title."

Jamie crossed Penny's wrists at the small of her back and set to work binding them together.  "We can always say you married some fabulously wealthy inbred twit, he died in some pointless and easily avoidable accident, and you've inherited his money and title."

"I like that much better," Penny agreed, testing her bonds.

"Suitably inescapable?" Jamie inquired.

Penny continued twisting her wrists, then sighed theatrically.  "I'm helpless, you beastly savage!"  She half turned and batted her eyes innocently.  "What are you going to do with me?"

Jamie smiled, reached between her captive's shoulder blades, and slowly pulled on the strings of Penny's bikini, unraveling the bow securing the top.  "Ya mean after I strip ya naked?" she asked.

"Cheeky Monkey!" Penny chuckled, coyly pulling on her bonds as Jamie untied the bow at the nape of her neck and pulled the indignant prisoner's top free.  The grinning redhead then used a second, longer coil of rope to bind her prisoner's arms to her sides and lash her elbows together, yoking the captive's shoulders and armpits and framing her pert, tan breasts, cinching the bands tight .  "This is uncivilized!" Penny protested.

Jamie said nothing, but reached back into the gym bag and produced a scarf of purple velour-like fabric.  Penny watched as the freckled Aussie smiled and folded the cloth into a narrow bandage.

"I suppose you're going to gag me now," Penny sighed.

"I wouldn't dream of it," Jamie said pleasantly, then leaned forward and tied the scarf over Penny's eyes.

"Beastly!"  Penny protested.  "Uncivilized!"

Jamie untied her prisoner's bikini bottom, jerked it free, then grabbed the bound and blindfolded blonde by her elbow bonds.  "C'mon, yer Ladyship," she ordered, stooping to pick up her gym bag.  "Your unspeakable fate awaits."

Penny climbed to her feet, lifting one leg over the lounge chair, and allowed herself to be led away.  "I demand to be taken to Her Majesty's Consul or other duly appointed representative!"

"Don't make me rethink the gag thing," Jamie said with a chuckle.
The Penny and the Pendulum A MINI-MELODRAMA

Despite the blindfold, Penny could follow their progress as captor and captive wound their way through the resort.  There was a quiet hiss (a door opening), and they took several steps forward.  Penny could no longer feel the warm sun and ocean breeze caressing her skin.  The hiss repeated, and Penny knew they were indoors, specifically, in one of the Resort's many maintenance tunnels.  The journey continued, punctuated only by the occasional sound of air whistling through a ventilation grille or the distant echoing throb of machinery as they passed a junction.

"Amazing how docile a simple thing like a blindfold makes you feel," Penny said as they trudged along, her own bare feet soundless on the cool, concrete floor, the soles of Jamie's waffle-stomper boots making a quiet scuffling noise.

"They have their uses," Penny's captor agreed amiably, then the unseen redhead's small strong hand tightened on Penny's arm and the bound, naked Brit was pulled to a halt.  "On yer knees, milady," Jamie ordered.

Penny sighed and complied, kneeling on the cold, hard floor.  Jamie took a step away, and the blindfolded captive heard a series of quiet bleeps (a keypad in use)... then a heavy door slid open with a low, whining rumble.

"On yer feet, Blondie," Jamie barked.

Penny sighed, then after a slightly awkward start, gracefully stood.  "You made me do that just to humiliate me," she accused.

"And so I could watch ya scramble around," Jamie smugly agreed.  "It's kinda hard bein' ladylike when yer naked and tied up, ain't it?"

"Just you wait, Savage," Penny mumbled.  "Uh... you are in your 'Jungle Girl' persona, aren't you?"

Jamie grabbed Penny's arm and their journey resumed.  "I'm not sure of the character yet," Jamie admitted.  "I'll have to give it more thought.  Let's save the real role playin' for after we get our costumes.  Fer now, let's just say I'm good ol' Jamie, takin' her friend Pens to enjoy a nice quiet day of exquisite torture, deadly peril, and horrible demise."

"Exquisite torture?" Penny inquired, her voice slightly worried.

"Oh, good acting!" Jamie laughed.  "One would almost think you were really afraid.  Yes... exquisite torture... very exquisite, and speaking of which..."  She pulled her tall, naked prisoner to a halt and dropped her gym bag to the floor.  "...we're here."

"Here?" Penny asked, turning her blindfolded head from side to side.  "What here... I mean where here?"

Jamie laughed... then her voice grew serious.  "You really are afraid," she whispered.

Penny shuddered delicately as Jamie's warm hand caressed the countless tiny raised bumps of her gooseflesh covered arm.  The prisoner gasped when her captor's other hand caressed her two considerably larger other raised bumps: first her left nipple... then her right.  "I am afraid," the captive confirmed, her lips curled in a shy smile, "but it's the good kind of afraid... the waiting in line at the amusement park kind of afraid."

Jamie giggled, stood on her toes, and gave her captive a deep, long kiss... a kiss her blindfolded prisoner returned with enthusiasm.

The kiss ended and Penny, still smiling, turned her scarf covered head coyly to the side.  "I trust you completely, Jamie darling," she purred, "it's that beastly, half-naked, vine-swinging, uncultured, little jungle savage about which I'm not so su-uuuu-re!"

Jamie had encircled Penny's bound arms and waist with her left arm and used her right hand to delicately probe the helpless Brit's glistening sex.  "Yer not just afraid," the amused Aussie observed, "yer randy as a rabbit, ain't ya, yer Ladyship?"

Penny gasped and squirmed, her cheeks blushing.  "Barbarous Monkey Girl!" she whispered.

Jamie laughed and her grip tightened, her right hand caressing Penny's flat, tan stomach.  "It's no use strugglin', Lady Penelope," she said.  "I have you... and I'll do anything I want to you... and there's nothin' you can do about it."

Penny shuddered again and turned her head away.  "Beast!"

Jamie placed both hands on Penny's waist and turned her prisoner a few degrees.  "I'm going to back you up about half a meter or so, then help you sit," she explained.

"Sit on what?" Penny asked as she allowed herself to be shuffled backwards.

"That would be telling," Jamie chuckled.

Penny felt something hard contact the back of her calves, then settled her naked rump on a chair height surface that felt like cold steel.  "The least you could do is provide some padding," she complained.  Jamie chuckled but said nothing, then gently lifted Penny's legs and helped her swivel to the side and lay back on her bound arms.  Her unseen cold unpadded seat was thus revealed to be more of a table than a chair or stool.  Penny squirmed and explored its surface as best she could.

"Be still," Jamie scolded, "or ya might fall off."  Penny felt wide, rigid, padded shackles being clamped around her ankles.  She tried to kick and found the shackles were joined closely together and attached to a rope or cable.  "I said, be still!" Jamie barked.  "Now... I'm going to untie your upper body, and I expect your full cooperation... or else!"

"Or else what?" Penny inquired pleasantly.  "You'll smear by body with over-ripe bananas and let your ape friends have their way with me?"

"Hmm..." Jamie mused aloud, "note to self: have Eve lay in some extra bananas.  Uh, no," she continued, "actually, I was threatening you with exquisite torture," she explained as she untied Penny's rope bonds, rolling the tall blonde on her side as needed.

Penny frowned behind her blindfold.  "I thought 'exquisite torture' the order-of-the-day, whether I cooperate or not?"  Jamie lifted Penny's wrists over her head, one by one, and snapped them into wide padded joined manacles, similar in feel to the shackles on Penny's ankles.

"Well, it's a moot point now, ain't it?" Jamie observed.  Penny heard a quiet hum, like an electric motor, and whatever cables or ropes were securing her ankles and wrists slowly retracted until she was stretched taut.

"Hey!" the helpless captive protested, pulling on the mere centimeter of slack in her now stringent bonds.

"Let's get this show on the road," Jamie purred, and Penny felt her friend's strong fingers fumbling with the knot of her blindfold.
The Penny and the Pendulum A MINI-MELODRAMA
Penny's blindfold was removed and she blinked in the sudden light.  Except for several glaring pin-spots shining down from above, the ceiling was dark.  Penny recognized the dome of one of the Resort's several Interactive Virtual Reality suites with the hi-resolution projectors turned off.  The nude prisoner lifted her head and looked down her stretched body... and found she was bound to a long very narrow table, little more than a wide ribbon of rigid textured steel.  Her ankles were attached to a stainless steel winch and electric motor assembly by a taut steel cable.  She craned her neck back and confirmed a similar arrangement securing her wrists.

Penny flinched when Jamie's warm, freckled hand caressed the her taut stomach.

The petite captor slowly slid her hand up Penny's body, pausing to trace her now very prominent ribcage, then continuing to give each of the her flattened breasts a deep gentle caress with her palm.  "I like you like this," the gloating redhead announced, "all taut and deliciously stretched."  Jamie's hand returned to her prisoner's flattened chest, teasing her friend's erect nipples.  "It's almost as if your titties aren't there..."  Her fingers flicked Penny's nipples, eliciting a slight wince from the squirming captive.  "...except for these little fella's.  Of course, yer tits aren't very big, even when you aren't bein' racked."  Jamie's fingers flicked again, and Penny winced again.

"Stop that!" Penny scolded.  "It's most inconsiderate."

Jamie giggled.  "I wonder...  Ya think my larger fuller B-cups would flatten to nothing like that if I was in yer position?"

"I'm perfectly willing to trade places," Penny gasped, continuing to squirm in her bonds, "if you're truly curious."

"That's okay," Jamie laughed, then separated and coiled the ropes she had previously used to bind Penny's wrists and upper torso.

Penny watched this process, then lifted and swiveled her neck as best she she could to examine the device to which she was bound.  "What is this thing?" she inquired.

"Eve," Jamie called out with a grin, "please educate Her Ladyship."

"Lady Penelope," the voice of the Eve-6900's local avatar intoned, "you are currently the victim of TESSERACT Entertainment Division's new, Mark-III, Steel Bishop rack armature."

"'Steel Bishop?'" Penny asked.

The Steel Bishop The lights faded and the hi-resolution projectors came to life.  Directly over Penny's head a classic graphic illustration rippled into focus.  She recognized the work of one the most talented (and tragic) bondage artists of the last century, Robert Bishop.  The illustration showed a naked woman stretched (exactly as Penny herself was stretched) on a narrow, hi-tech, steel rack.  She was being whipped by a second naked woman (naked but for what appeared to be a chastity belt).

Penny shuddered in her bonds.  "The Steel Bishop," she whispered, mesmerized by "The Bishop's" vision.  As she watched, the image morphed into a photorealistic representation of herself, bound in identical condition, to a nearly identical device.  Penny lifted her head and swiveled her hips slightly, actions mimicked perfectly by her projected, racked, Virtual twin.

"It's called a 'rack armature'," Eve explained, "because it forms the mechanical core of a family of torture rack devices, each appropriate for different Virtual Entertainment venues."  As Penny watched, different appliances and trim pieces appeared and disappeared on the projected armature, changing its appearance from Medieval to Modern, from Oriental to Art Deco, from wood to plastic to stone.

"Raise 'er about a third of a meter," Jamie asked, "would ya please?"  The rack slowly elevated on its massive central piston.  "There ya go," Jamie said, and the piston locked, presenting her blonde, naked friend at convenient countertop height.  The grinning redhead selected the long coil of rope she had used to bind Penny's arms and elbows, and began binding the already helpless blonde's legs together, above and below the knees.

Penny gasped as Jamie cinched the bindings several times and jerked the free ends of the rope taut.  "Do you have to do that?" the prisoner complained.

"No," Jamie admitted, "it's an act of free will."  She tied several redundant knots, picked up the second, shorter coil of rope and stepped even with Penny's worried head.

"Not the elbows!" Penny protested.

"Of course the elbows," Jamie confirmed with a chuckle, then began lashing the anatomical features in question tightly together.  "Now, stop yer complainin' or I'll have Eve raise that nasty padded bar under the small of yer back."

"Complaining?" Penny inquired, instantly contrite.  "Who's complaining?"

"It sounded like you," Jamie mused.  The grinning redhead tied a final knot, then stooped and produced something from her gym bag.  "Well, no worries," she said with an evil smirk.  "I'm about to remove the option."  Penny looked down as her gloating captor dropped a wide roll of silver-gray tape on her flattened chest.

"Duct tape?" Penny asked.

"Don't you worry yer pretty little aristocratic head," Jamie purred.  "It's TESSERACT Dermafoam, properly hypoallergenic.  The last shipment came in several colors.  Silver seems appropriate for the present setting."  The petite redhead held up a rubber egg-shaped object for her prisoner's inspection.

"I hate those things," Penny grumbled, giving her captor her best wounded pout.

"We all hate them," Jamie chuckled, then gave the object a squeeze.  Her knuckles whitened and they both heard a hollow snap.  "Open wide," she said pleasantly.  Penny sighed and did as ordered.  Jamie popped the egg in the cooperative but unenthusiastic prisoner's mouth, then placed her hand over her friend's lips and pressed.  Penny's eyes widened as the egg slowly expanded, filling her oral cavity completely.

"Mmmfrr," she complained.

Jamie leaned close and smiled.  "Shh... shh...  I know, I know... It tastes like yer bitin' on a tire and it feels funny... almost tickles," she cooed.  "You know the drill.  Bite down as hard as you can, so the foam in the core will set in the best shape."  She leaned close and locked eyes with her victim.  "We've both experienced these little monsters before.  Ya know it'll keep ya nice..."  Jamie kissed the tip of Penny's button nose.  "...and quiet."  After several seconds the gloating redhead removed her hand.  "Has it set?" she asked.

Penny nodded.  The egg now trapped her tongue and gripped her teeth, having molded itself into every nook and cranny of her mouth.  She might have been able to expel the horrible thing, with considerable effort, but Jamie was already moving to remove even that option.

The redhead ripped a long strip of tape from the roll and pressed it over Penny's lips.  The first strip was followed by a second, then a third.  The fruity smell of the ketones in the Dermafoam's catalyst filled the air as the strips fused together into one tight, skin-grabbing mask.  "Nice and quiet," Jamie repeated with a gloating smile, leaning close and surveying her prisoner's tautly covered lips, then gazing into her wide blue eyes.  "Hmm... a test is in order... don't ya think?  Scream fer me, yer Ladyship."

Penny squirmed in her bonds.  "M'mmmpfh!"  The sound was little more than a loud hum.

"You can do better that that... if properly motivated," Jamie gloated.  "Eve, prepare to take in a few centimeters of slack, and start the hydraulic ram so we can raise the back bar."

Penny's eyes grew even wider.  I don't have 'a few centimeters of slack,' she thought in alarm.  The naked captive put her head back and screamed.   "MFFRRRF!"

"Never mind, Eve," Jamie laughed, then patted Penny's gagged cheek.  "Good girl."  Jamie laughed again as her naked, helpless friend mumbled something no doubt very rude and unladylike behind her quite effective gag.  The redhead reached out and placed her hand between Penny's flattened breasts, feeling her friend's steady strong heartbeat.  "You're probably wonderin' why I've called ya here this mornin'," she said.  Penny rolled her eyes in disgust.  "Eve," Jamie said, "...the main event, please."

Penny locked eyes with her gloating captor and pushed an inquiring sound past her gag.

"Oh, yes," Jamie purred.  "All this is only preliminary."  Meanwhile, the lights faded to complete darkness... and the surrounding reality of the hemispherical dome dissolved, then resolved into... Virtual Reality.
The Penny and the Pendulum A MINI-MELODRAMA
Penny discovered she was in a dark, quite large, circular chamber.  As her eyes adjusted to the gloom, she made out walls constructed of huge blocks of dressed stone.  Two colossal statues loomed over her.  They were women, clad in long, elaborately pleated skirts, slit to reveal their shapely legs.  The stone women were bare breasted and masked, one with the visage of a snarling panther or tiger, the other, some sort of bird of prey.

Jamie made a theatrical gesture, and several torches flared to sudden life.  Now, Penny could see things more clearly, and the roaring flames of the torches provided scale.  The chamber was vast... hundreds of meters across, with wide terraces, and grand stairways leading to dark, semicircular openings.  The statues were equally vast, almost on a par with New York's Liberty.  Their style was vaguely Egyptian... Babylonian maybe.  They were, Penny had to admit, very beautiful, projecting an air of grace and ideal athletic beauty, despite their towering size... but there was something, their masks, especially the half-smiles on their barely revealed mouths, something that suggested... malevolence... even evil.  The stone womens' arms were outstretched, supporting the framework of a machine of some sort.  It was still too dark to for Penny to see much, especially at that (Virtual) distance, but Penny could see the torch light glinting off several metal gears and other components.  Whatever the thing was, it was big, on the order of a shipyard or building construction crane.  The gears... if they were gears... had to be tens of meters in diameter, at least.

Jamie turned and smiled down at her prisoner,  "Do you know Veronica Allbriton?" she inquired, "...Ronnie Allbriton?  TESSERACT Entertainment, in Seattle?"  Penny shook her head.  "She designed all this."  Jamie took a step back and gestured at the surrounding chamber.  "Welcome to The Lost City of Kul'Dakar!"

The torches flared, doubling the light, and Penny stared in wonder.  She could now see that the walls were intricately carved, both with some unknown (probably fictitious) cursive script, and with elaborate pictographs.  One of the nearer staircases was decorated by a long line of helpless maidens, chiseled in bas-relief.  The maidens' wrists were bound behind their backs and they were bound neck to neck, in coffle.  By their features, hair, and costumes, they were Egyptian, Minoan, Persian, Nubian, Hindu, Han, and other cultures Penny didn't recognize.  The captives were being herded by whip wielding female warriors, dressed in short versions of the pleated skirt worn by the masked colossi.  The warriors had strange weapons, and shields embossed with a stylized hawk and a leaping panther.

"No one knows much about the Kul'Dakar Amazons," Jamie explained, "but apparently they were the scourge of the Ancient World, raiding for plunder and tribute, possessing strange technology, centuries ahead of their contemporaries."  Jamie smiled and toyed with the rope binding Penny's elbows.  "They would capture beautiful maidens by the thousands, dragging them back to their magnificent hidden city.  There, they would subject their captives to a series of sadistic erotic trials and tortures.  Those who survived either joined the Amazon ranks, or became slaves."

Jamie slid her hand down Penny's outstretched arm, across her stretched white armpit, along her ribs, and to her flat taut stomach.  "It's all fer Virtual and Video Game design, of course, but the attention to detail is incredible," she mused, rubbing the area between her captive's navel and the start of her blonde, pubic bush.  Penny squirmed and pulled on her bonds.  "I told Elke that Ronnie's an Inner Circle Alice waitin' to happen," Jamie continued, "but she told me... how did she put it? ...'Keep yer nose freckles out of Margo's recruitin' program'!"  Jamie lightly scratched her finger's through Penny's bush, eliciting a delicate, quivering shudder from her prisoner.  "Anyway...  to return to Ronnie's creation... the Kul'Dakar are long extinct, and their city a picturesque overgrown ruin buried in the jungle... but if an intrepid explorer, like say..."  Jamie's fingers slip lower to caress her captive's glistening sex, eliciting more squirming,  "...Lady Penelope, were to find the place, she'd discover that not only were most of the Kul'Dakar torture chambers and dungeons completely intact, but so are several of the elaborate, intricate, blood-curdlingly sadistic devices they used for ritual executions, such as—"

There was a low frequency, creaking groan from high overhead, like the outraged and surprised cry of a hibernating monster rudely awakened.  Penny could see the huge gears slowly beginning to mesh and turn on the device being held by the hawk and panther masked colossi.  There was a second groan, a snap, and something hurdled through the darkness and flashed through the air above.  A steady rhythmic cacophony of metallic protest began, and Penny's mind finally made sense of what she was seeing.  Despite herself, her eyes grew wide and she moaned softly behind her gag.

"The Pendulum of Kul'Dakar!" Jamie finished.  A second, much higher ring of of torches flared to life, and Penny's dread vision was confirmed.  —Swoosh!—  The metal arm of the pendulum was long, on a scale with the statues supporting it and its workings.  —Creak!—   The blade was curved and wicked, as long as the wingspan of a small airplane, and looked to weigh as much as a small lorry...  —Swoosh!—   ...the sort of thing a giant might use to dice a full grown elephant!  —Creak!—  Penny knew it wasn't real, that like all of her surroundings (save Jamie and the inescapable 'Steel Bishop') were projected fantasies... —Swoosh!—  ...but it seemed very real, right down to the hawk wings engraved on the blade's flank, and the light glinting off its razor sharp edge.

"It's gonna land right... here," Jamie gloated, tracing a line across Penny's chest, just above the prisoner's nipples.  Penny dragged her eyes away from the horrific blade and locked eyes with her friend and torturer.  Jamie nodded towards the ancient creaking machine and whistling blade high overhead.  "It has a period of about thirty seconds," she explained, never taking her green, self-satisfied eyes from her victim's huge pale blue eyes.  "Right now it's dropping at the rate of a few centimeters every sweep... but as it gets close... it will start dropping only a few millimeters per sweep... and as it gets very close, every few sweeps the rack will tighten, a millimeter at a time... and the back bar will start rising, a millimeter at a time... and in about seven and a half hours... when it first begins to touch you..."  Jamie leaned close and kissed Penny on her tape covered lips.  "...something very interesting happens."

Penny's wide-eyed gaze darted to the blade as it hurdled overhead... then back to her redheaded friend.  She forced a whining inquiry past her gag.

Jamie laughed and backed away from the nude, helpless prisoner.  "What happens, you'd like to know?" she purred.  Penny nodded.  "And spoil the surprise?" Jamie answered coyly, shaking her head.  Penny mewed and struggled in her bonds.  Jamie turned and took several steps, then turned back.  "One thing, darling," she said.  "I know you're aware that all this—" She gestured around them.  "—and especially that—"  She pointed up.  "—are Virtual, but that, of course, is the opinion of yer fore brain.  The primitive hindbrain knows better.  It knows the blade is real.  It knows the rack doesn't have slip gears that won't allow your delicate joints to come to any harm.  It knows you're going to die... horribly ... in a little over seven hours."  Penny stared at the sweeping relentless blade.  "So," Jamie said lightly, "be sure to keep telling yourself: 'It's not real! It's not real'!  It'll be interestin' to see who convinces who, yer forebrain, or yer hindbrain."

Penny tore her gaze from the blade... and found Jamie to be gone.  Then she saw her again, walking across the vast chamber (and Penny knew she was seeing a Virtual version of her friend).  It took about a minute (two sweeps of the blade) for Jamie to cross the stone floor, and another three (six sweeps of the blade) for her to climb a steep set of stairs.  The redhead turned and waved.  "See ya in the afterlife!" she shouted across the considerable distance, then disappeared into the darkness of a cavern-like corridor.

Penny's eyes returned to the blade.  —Swoosh!—  It's not real! she thought, knowing from experience that Jamie's gloating advice had been genuine and good.  —Creak!—  Penny squirmed in her inescapable bonds, and continued to stare upwards.  —Swoosh!—   It's not real... and I'm gonna get her for this!   —Creak! —  High overhead, the blade of "the Pendulum of Kul'Dakar" swept lower, and lower...  —Swoosh!—  ...across the region of her heart.
 Poor Lady Penelope!

Poor Lady Penelope!
How can Jamie be so cruel?
...& what "something very interesting" awaits our Brave Heroine?
Can this truly be...
THE END of The Penny and the Pendulum...??

In a word... yes.
...but Stay Tuned for the NEXT
thrilling episode of...