Thanks once again to Suzi, for her kind help in editing this story.
Alice - The Auction
Alice waited, watching, until there was no one near the registration table, no one except the slave who signed in participants. She must be a slave, thought Alice, because I can see a thin little chain, going from the ring around her neck down to the table. She must be a slave, but she's dressed like just anybody: jeans and a white blouse, high-heeled sling-backs, but not super-high.
Alice felt a little light-headed, she had trouble swallowing. There was no one else in sight; no reason not to go ahead.
As she approached the table, she couldn't take her eyes off that ring around the woman's throat. A satin-finish, ten-millimeter round section in white metal; anodized aluminum or perhaps brushed stainless steel. Graceful, beautiful. Alice had to force her fingers to stay at her sides, to keep them from drifting up to the ring around the slave's neck.
The woman smiled up at Alice. "May I help you?"
"I ..." Alice's voice was an inaudible raspy whisper. She cleared her throat. "I'd like to register for the auction."
"Fine. Who do you want to register?" The woman opened a folder and withdrew a blank form.
Whom, thought Alice, whom do you want to register… She felt dizzy. "Myself. I want to register myself." Her voice was thick and deep this time.
"Oh... ... oh, I see... ... um, yes." Vaguely, Alice drew strength from the slave's fluster.
"Fill out this form," the slave said. "It will be used by the auctioneer."
"Yes," Alice whispered. Her breath came with difficulty.
"Are you OK?"
"Yes, I'm fine." Alice clutched the form in one hand and leaned on the table with the other, trying to catch her breath, hyperventilating.
A couple was coming toward the table. "I'll bring it back to you," Alice croaked, lurching away.
The woman started to rise to help, but was caught short by her leash. Alice did not notice.
WEIGHT: 135 lbs
HAIR COLOR: brown
EYE COLOR: brown
MEASUREMENTS: 35 - 25 - 36
TATOOS / BRANDS: none (Alice breathed in deeply, exhaled slowly.)
CONTRACT RESTRICTIONS: . . . . . .
(Alice stared at the page, wondering what it meant. God, I can't even fill out the damned form. She felt tears of frustration rising.)
"Excuse me, what does this mean? What should I write?"
The slave behind the table half smiled and half smirked. "You've never drawn up a scene contract before?"
"No", Alice whispered, her voice giving out again. She felt ridiculous. Her head hung, her eyes stayed down.
The slave hesitated, and then smiled gently. "Look, are you really sure you want to do this? The master who buys you may not take any account of your not having any experience. It could get rough."
"I have to. Have to." Alice could not speak a full sentence.
The slave sighed. "Yeah, OK... I guess I see.... OK, look, that last item is really important for you, then. That's where you put down what your buyer can't do with you. For a first time, you better put down everything you can think of. Your buyer'll think of anything you forget, you can be sure of that."
"I don't know what ..." Alice was leaning on the table again, trying to breathe.
"Ummm, you know: 'No whipping', or things like that."
Alice shook her head. "He has the right to do that," she whispered.
"Oh, dear... Oh my dear... Look, let me put down at least the minimum for you: 'No permanent marks; No permanent damage; No blood; No piercing'. At least that, dear; you don't know how far some masters will take you if you let them. They won't care if it's your first time. Just leave me the form, I'll put that down for you. Please." She shuddered; her eyes clouded. "You just leave the paper with me."
"Yes, thank you." Alice was not sure she had understood what the slave was saying, but knew she was being helpful. "Thank you." She put the paper down on the table.
"Be at the auction stage by nine o'clock. It's at the left front of the reception hall. Someone will take care of you. I mean, will take you in hand."
"Yes." Alice turned away from the table.
Quarter to eight. Some artisans had stands along the sides of the corridors surrounding the main reception hall. Alice roamed, looking but more often than not without really seeing anything.
She spent a few minutes looking at a small black woman's leather-clothes stand. Hip-riding miniskirts that looked more like wide belts. Wide belts that looked more like corsets. And corsets that looked frightening and sublimely sensual.
Eight o'clock. Alice's eyes sparkled as she looked over the wares of an artist metal-worker. This man had surely made the registrar's collar. Alice clasped her hands behind her back to keep them from caressing the pale white hoop which lay like a jewel on a deep-green velvet cushion.
"Like the collar, Ma'am? He does such marvelous things with brushed aluminum. What sort of object are you looking for?" The woman wore a delicate, large-diameter/thin-section gold chain from her pierced left nostril to her pierced left ear. Her right ear lobe was adorned with a very large ring which visually balanced the chain. Lovely.
Alice turned away without answering.
Eight fifteen. Shoes and boots. Dear God, the heels! Alice always wore high heels. It was one of the few real-world concessions she had long-since made to her dreams. The lowest heels she owned were 2 1/2 inches, and they went up to four inches like the pumps she was wearing now. But here ... these started at four inches and went higher. She smiled softly at a pair of spidery sandals with heels at the very limit of wearable, over five inches, with slim black straps doubled by thin steel cable, and lockable buckles.
Alice averted her eyes from the dildo stand. She had never brought herself to that. Ridiculous, she thought. In half an hour, you're going to be sold to someone who will spend the whole evening ramming these things into you - if that's what he (or God forbid, she) wants.
Eight forty-five. Breath coming shallow and painful again. Close your eyes, breathe.
Slowly, slowly, Alice moved toward the left front of the reception hall.
There. A low dais, only about six inches higher than the floor; forty or fifty feet wide; and ten feet deep. A tubular structure carried a curtain that hung above the perimeter of the stage, masking whatever might be happening behind it. Near the center of the curtain, a sign read "Slaves to be auctioned will be remitted to the auctioneer, backstage, before nine o'clock." A clock high up at the center of the reception hall's right-side wall said seven minutes to nine. (Alice was not wearing a watch -- she was wearing nothing which she would mind losing. She had no idea how she would recover her things at the end of the night.)
Alice took a deep breath, shivered as though she were about to dive into a chilly pool. Taking a breath and blocking it, she plunged behind the curtain.
At the left side of the stage, two women were already naked, with rope nooses around their necks, running vertically up over a part of the tube structure, and tied off on a bar at the rear of the stage. Newcomers apparently would gradually form a lineup, the length of the stage, facing the curtain.
At the third position, another woman was being put in place. A man -- her current owner? -- was handing her over to the auctioneer. He held a leash attached to the slave's collar, his hand up close to her neck, pulling her head forward. Her lower face was distorted by a bright yellow ball filling her mouth; tears flowed from her eyes. Her wordless whimpers were articulate, "Forgive me, please forgive me, don't do this, please". Her master shushed her gently, stroking her cheek, calming her. Another man, certainly the auctioneer, finished tying her hands behind her back, then caught one of the lines that hung from above, tied it around her neck, drew in the slack, and tied it off. The woman was pulled up to a taut upright posture, though her bare feet remained flat on the floor. "Quiet now," the master said, reaching behind her neck to unbuckle the ballgag. He withdrew the ball, turned, and was gone. The woman stared straight ahead, unmoving.
"May I help you?" the auctioneer asked Alice.
"I ... I'm to be sold," she stammered.
He smiled. "Frankly, I figured as much. First time?"
"OK. So get naked, while I find your sheet. Put your things in the cupboard at the back. What's your name?"
Alice's fingers flew to unbutton her blouse. "Alice."
The man riffled through his papers. "I don't have any Alice tonight. What name did your owner put on the registration form?" She was lowering her skirt. "I'm sorry. There's no name on the form. I'm 41, and 5'8". That was at the top of the paper."
"Got it." His eyes ran down to the bottom of the page. He stopped smiling. "Who filled in the contract restrictions?" His eyes were hard and dared her to lie. The handwriting was not the same as the rest of the form, of course.
Alice was now naked, holding a pump in either hand. She lowered her eyes, unable to meet the auctioneer's. "The woman at the registration table. I didn't know what to put down."
"Of course. Well. Mary'll get hers later on. She just doesn't want to learn. Can't keep her place. Put your damned shoes away and get your butt over here."
Alice wanted to defend the woman who had tried to help her, but her voice was gone. She realized that it would do no good; the registrar's punishment would not be stopped. And with a sense of guilt, she understood that the woman must have known her intervention would be noticed. Alice felt a sisterhood with the other woman's kindness.
She scuttled over to her place in line.
"Turn around." He grabbed her shoulders and turned her. The movement was neither rough nor violent. It was efficient. It was not meant to hurt her, nor caress her. It was totally indifferent to her. She had become an object, to be handled indifferently.
She crossed her wrists for him, at the small of her back. She felt the rope which looped around them. Despite knowing what would come next, the noose around her neck was frightening. The auctioneer said nothing. The rope went taught, pulling Alice up, cocking her head ever so slightly to the left. She felt more than saw the auctioneer turn from her toward the couple now waiting to her left.
She wasn't really immobilized. Her feet were not tied, and there were no restraints preventing her from moving. But any movement tightened the noose. So she stood still, as tall as she could.
Off to her left, she could vaguely follow the other women being put in position. She was fourth in line, there were quickly three more strung up to her left and more waiting to be put into position.
The curtain in front of her needed cleaning. She tried to keep her eyes front, but a compulsion forced her to examine her neighbors - at least as much as she could without actually rotating toward them. Somehow that would have been rude.
The woman on the right was young, maybe only twenty or twenty-two. Blonde, a bit chubby, but wrinkle-less. She had stopped crying, but still snuffled a bit.
On the other side, the woman was older, between thirty and thirty-five; still a lot younger than Alice. Slim, maybe even skinny, with small breasts. Pretty face and long flowing blond hair.
Alice gritted her teeth and looked straight ahead again. You knew it would be this way, you knew you would be the hag.
(In reality, Alice was fairly attractive, with a lively, intelligent face, wide-spread eyes and a button nose. A few laugh lines. Her forehead was not as smooth as her companions-in-misfortune, but certainly not "wrinkled". Her breasts, neither small nor large, were nicely shaped and only sagged a bit. Her belly showed little sign of the twins' passage nineteen years earlier. There were traces of cellulite on her hips, and inside her thighs and upper arms; but only traces. Her hair was bobbed short, but well-kept and framed her face well. Alice was forty-one, an attractive forty-one. Her legs were shapely, and in heels and miniskirt she could still turn a lot of male heads.)
She was glad the noose prevented her from looking down at her breasts. Not so long ago she had been "pretty" rather than "pretty for her age". Her memories were still clear, so the sag in her breasts was far more important to her than to anyone else, as did all her other "defects".
Please, let's get on with it, she thought. Don't give me time to think.
Down the line a woman's voice half sobbed, "Please, Richard, don't do this."
The auctioneer's voice reacted, "Gag the girl, Dick. I don't want the audience to hear her. ... I'm surprised. Your girls don't usually cause any hassle. There'd better not be any problem when she's sold."
"Won't be. ... Hold still, you stupid cunt." A sharp "crack!" was followed by a muffled gasp. "Just think some about what I'll do to you if your new owner comes back to complain to me. I'll hang you from your goddam nipples and whip your back into hamburger. Think about it, bitch. So ... shut ... your ... fucking ... mouth."
Please, God, not one like that. Please no.
Alice began hyperventilating again. She closed her eyes and tried to empty her mind. Panic was rising. She staggered slightly, and the noose tightened brutally. A squeak escaped from her mouth as she resumed position, hoping that no one had noticed.
"She OK now, Dick?" the auctioneer's voice was surprisingly near. "She can't keep the gag during the auction. Either you pull the gag or you pull the girl, but do it now. All the others are ready. It's time to start the sale."
"She's OK. She'll be good. She knows what's good for her. There, the gag's off. And you, bitch, don't you forget you are MINE, and I'll do whatever I want with you. Including sell you. That's what I'm doing, and you better not give anybody any hassle. Clear?"
"Yes ... (sob) ... Richard. I'll be good. (sob) You'll take me back, afterwards, won't you? ... (sob) ... Please, Richard..."
"Dick, for Christ's sake, shut the fucking girl up." The auctioneer was at the end of his patience. His voice had dropped to a hiss. "Shut her up or pull her ... and do it NOW!"
Say something else, you idiot, thought Alice, say something, say anything. The auctioneer will make him pull you off the stage. You won't be sold.
The master's voice dripped mockery. "Sure I'll take you back, cunt, sure I will. Now be a good girl."
"Yes (sniff), Richard (sniff). I'll be good. (sniff)."
A loudspeaker sounded. "Ladies and gentlemen, the girls' auction will be beginning in a few minutes. The auction stage is in the left front corner of the reception hall."
The curtains separated to each side of the dais.
Alice clenched her abdominal muscles like she expected a punch. Her sphincter tightened. Her eyes stung.
Look straight ahead, don't even see them. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in. Stay relaxed, don't fidget.
"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to our semi-annual slave auction. This is the first half, the girls' sale. The boys will be sold at about ten-thirty.
"I'll give you a little information on each girl before I open the bidding. Bids will be by minimum steps of fifty dollars.
"You'll take possession of your slave as soon as the auction is over, and your ownership lasts for this night. She reverts to her current owner whenever you've had enough, or at six in the morning at the latest."
As she got herself under control, Alice allowed herself to see the people in front of her. A half-dozen rows of folding chairs formed an arc facing the stage. Not all were occupied, but there also some people standing to the right and rear of the chairs.
At the far end of the stage, the auctioneer began. "First lot. Her name is Karen, she's twenty-seven. Turn around, Karen, show them all of you. ... Karen's asshole is off-limits, so I won't bother you with that. She doesn't want anything rough, either -- not even temporary marks. So... At least she's hugely pretty, so you'll enjoy using her pussy and her mouth. Bidding starts at one hundred and fifty dollars."
The buyers were mainly men. There were quite a few women in front of the stage as well, but most of them were slaves, judging from their dress. Only a few women seemed to be present as bidders.
The spectators' heads and eyes were turned toward the far end of the stage. Alice would not have been able to observe these people if they were looking in her direction. Her eyes drifted over the crowd, trying to imagine. How it will be? Who will buy her? Her belly stirred.
One man was looking straight into Alice's eyes.
Their gazes locked for only an instant, before Alice turned away. She wanted to cast her eyes down, but her neck rope kept her head high.
Her heart was thundering in her chest. Her breathing locked up again. Who was that man? Why was he looking at her? Was this her future owner? Her fists clenched and unclenched uselessly, invisible behind her back. She wanted to look toward the man again, she needed to know if it had been no more than a coincidence. But she was too nervous. She needed to pee.
"Third lot. Those of you who are regulars recognize Suzy, who's up here every time. Thirty-one, and the only limit on her contract is 'no blood'. For those who don't know her, I can testify that Suzy is first rate material. She'll make it through to six o'clock, but I'm not so sure about whoever who buys her. Better have a good arm, 'cause Suzy needs a lot of work to get warmed up. Right, dear?" He gave her a roundhouse, resounding spank.
Alice's face was reddening. Damn, how stupid can you get? You've been strung up here for a good fifteen minutes, and it's only now that you start blushing. If he is still looking at you, he'll see you blushing. That thought made her face burn even brighter.
Is he still looking? She slowly swung her head and eyes back toward him. Their eyes locked. He smiled, imperceptibly, a strange smile. His eyes enfolded her.
Her neck was paralyzed, incapable of moving. A Herculean effort wrenched her eyes away. She staggered slightly, the noose tightening instantly, bringing her up short.
Unwilled, her gaze returned to Him. Had He seen her stagger? (The pronouns capitalized themselves, she had no choice in the matter.) He was still watching her. His invisible smile was amused now, but not mocking.
Was there really any smile at all?
With an effort, she pulled her sight from His eyes, to look at all of His face, and the rest of Him: dark suit, marine maybe; pale blue shirt and a yellow and blue tie. Well dressed.
How old? There were quite a few lines on His large square face, but he had a full head of hair and no gray. Rimless glasses. Hard to guess his age.
"Lot number six." The woman on Alice's left. "Ella is thirty-two. She's strictly lesbian, so this sale is for ladies only. 'No blood, no permanent marks.' Turn around, my dear, show the Dommes your lovely little rear end." His hand caressed her ass cheeks. He turned her back to facing the crowd. "Bidding starts at one hundred and fifty dollars."
Alice closed her eyes, concentrating on the bidding, trying not to think about herself. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in.
"Two hundred and fifty, from Domme Serena. Anyone else want to bid up?"
This was the sixth sale, and she had heard nothing of the others.
"Once, twice, ... Have fun, Serena."
Alice's noose went slack as the auctioneer released the far end. Alice stood all the more straight.
"Lot number seven. No name. Forty-one. She looks pretty good to me, for forty-one."
Alice wanted to die.
" 'No permanent marks, no permanent damage, no blood, no piercing.' Pretty good tits, really nice, in fact, for over forty." The auctioneer's hand lifted her left breast, jiggling it and then letting it fall. "Cute nipples."
Alice fixed her eyes on Him, beseeching His help. His eyes glittered.
"Turn." She did, and the auctioneer laid his hands on her shoulders, forcing her to bend over. Her ass projected out toward the public, toward Him. The auctioneer grabbed a cheek in each hand and spread them wide, displaying both of her holes. "Looks pretty good from this side, too. Doesn't look too used."
"Bidding starts at one hundred dollars." Lowest opener of the evening, thought Alice, mortified. Even the lesbian had started higher. But then nobody wants a hag. Her eyes started to water.
"Five hundred", He said. The highest bid of the evening. Alice felt faint. Her eyes brimmed with tears.
"Wouf!" cried the auctioneer. "That sounds a lot like 'I want her, and nobody's going to get in my way.' FIVE HUNDRED dollars from Mr Philippe Costain. Anyone want to tangle? No? Sold!"
Alice hardly noticed the tautening noose that drew her back to her rigid upright posture. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in. Despite the noose, she bent forward with the intensity of the throbs hammering through her sex.
"Lot number eight." Alice barely heard the auctioneer continuing on.
She wanted so much to see Him, to fall into His eyes. Her own eyes were useless with her tears. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in. Calm yourself.
As the tears cleared, she searched for Him. He was gone. Her heart froze. No!
"Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your attention. And happy buyers, you can collect your new property at the left of the stage. Your left, I mean."
One after another, the auctioneer untied the far end of each woman's neck rope, used the rope as a leash to lead her to the edge of the stage, and handed it over to the waiting buyer.
He was there, waiting. It was done. She had a Master, if only for a few hours.
Expressionless, He held the hand with the rope to her lips. She kissed His hand, would have done more, but he dropped it to his side, turned, and led her away.
Alice - Beginning
As He led her away from the auction stand, Alice wanted to catch up with Him, to thank Him, to cover Him with kisses ... And yet, He had said nothing to her, had hardly acknowledged her. Her joy descended into confusion as she watched the back of His head. What does He want me to do?
She bumped into someone, losing stride, falling behind Him. Without looking back, He yanked on her noose - leash. Her head jerked forward, a gurgle escaped from her lips and she leapt after Him. She concentrated on navigating cleanly through the crowd, not wanting the noose any tighter than it already was. Just keeping her eyes on Him was not a simple task.
Big. He was BIG. Tall, well over six feet. Alice could estimate height with pretty good accuracy up to about 6'2". But above that, foreshortened perspective made sizing more difficult. He had broad shoulders, and a broad, thick body to go with them. Not fat, but thick. Heavy. She lost breath as she imagined that mass crushing her. Sweet helplessness.
The noose pulled her on. Her mind fell into a jumble of oddly connected fragments of thought. He paid so much, He wanted me badly ... He is hurting me ... He can do that if He wants to ... He doesn't need to hurt me, I'll do whatever He wants ... Yeah, like you're following Him ... Whether you want to or not ... But that's what I wanted ... to have to, whether I want to or not ... I wanted no choice ... ... ... I do not want to be hurt ... I do not want Him to hurt me ... He didn't really want to hurt me, He just wants me to follow Him ... He didn't care if He hurt me ... You don't pay top dollar if you don't care ... Why should He care, He doesn't know me ... How do you know He doesn't know you? He was watching you, not the others ... How could He know me? I don't know anyone here ... I know Him, now ... The hell, you do ...
She almost slammed into Him when He stopped.
He gestured towards a high, narrow table with leather-covered padding on its surface. "Sit on the edge of the table," He said. Alice had been concentrating on navigating through the crowd, without paying any attention to her whereabouts.
She obeyed without thinking, and then looked about her. They were at the tattooing / piercing stand. Panic rose in her chest. This could not be. The contract said No.
A man approached. "Good evening, Mr. Costain. I'm almost finished with the customer I'm doing now. I'll be with you in just a few minutes."
"That's fine with me, Michael. Just lock her ankles for the moment, please."
Alice was completely inert as the tattoo artist squatted, spread her ankles wide, locked them into cuffs attached low on the table's legs, and then went back to his customer.
Stunned, unable to think, Alice turned her tear-filled eyes toward Him. She wanted to speak, but did not know what to say. The contract said He could not do this, but of course He would do whatever He wanted.
"Lay back," He said, pressing her shoulders rearwards.
She did so, her back arching high over her wrists, still crossed and tied behind her. Her head rolled to face Him. A tiny peeping, frightened noise escaped. She had trouble seeing Him through her tears, but she could tell He was watching her.
Her arched back forced her chest up, her breasts sagging a bit to her sides. Old hag. He must be examining her, inch by inch. She felt her shame rising again. She closed her eyes. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in. Time passed.
When she opened her eyes, He was still watching her. His face was utterly blank, carrying no expression at all. She needed His help, but He gave her none.
Her mouth opened to plead with Him, but she could not speak.
The tattoo artist returned. "Your turn, Mr. Costain."
She jerked involuntarily against her ankle restraints, so great was her need to turn away from Him, to hide from His eyes. She burned bright red with her shame for not having trusted Him. She closed her eyes again, the only shelter she could find.
Dammit, dammit, dammit ... the first thing He does is something I've dreamed of for years, and I screwed it up. My first chance to please Him and I screwed it up, my first chance to show Him I trust Him, ... I have got to be the stupidest woman in the universe.
She tried to drown herself in the sweet warmth of the damp towels that the tattoo artist applied to soften her pubic hair. This is what He wants. Give yourself, open yourself, make the man's work as easy and quick as possible. She concentrated on the blade dragging left to right, top to bottom.
Another hot, damp towel. The man's fingers spread something, a cream of some sort, all over her pubic region.
"We'll just let that act a short while ... Let me go take care of some other customers ... I'll be back in a few minutes."
Alice locked her eyes shut. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in. She did not have the courage to open her eyes - she could not bear seeing Him.
Surprised by a new towel, she strained against her bonds. She felt the cream being wiped away from her.
"That's it, Mr. Costain. She's naked. You want me to put a few rings on her, as long as I'm at it?"
"No thank you, Michael. That will do for now. Put it on my bill, please. Please release her now."
The tattoo artist knelt and released her ankles.
Seeing Him turn to walk away, Alice fairly leapt from the table to follow, before her noose could tighten. He said nothing as he led her weaving through the crowd again.
Alice felt like everyone should be staring at her naked sex. She could think of nothing else; the cool, almost cold air passing over her sex was somehow burning her, was lighting a fire in her belly. She wanted to look down at it, this naked sex she had dreamed of for years, but she had to concentrate on the crowd. It should have been the most erotic moment of her life, and she was just dodging traffic. She would have felt cheated, but she did not have the time.
Suddenly, there was no one around them; they were in a wide corridor, with stuffed chairs and low tables along one side. He led her to the far end, reached up to the slipknot at her throat, and swung her around to face the last of the big leather chairs.
She obeyed, sitting back on her ankles. She could feel His presence, physical and looming. Overwhelmingly close to her, no one else anywhere nearby. Alone with Him, on her knees, her wrists still tied behind her back, her noose still close around her throat, she felt more naked and more vulnerable than she had on the auction stand or in the crowd. Her head jerked left and right in small nervous tics.
He sat in the chair, facing her. Watching her. Studying her.
"Spread your knees a bit."
She obeyed, moving each knee outwards a few inches at a time, then the other, until she began to feel splayed.
"I said 'a bit'. You are to be open to me, not to the whole wide world."
She jerked her knees together, burning them on the carpet; then had to open them again.
She avoided facing Him. Her eyes dropped, she could breathe again.
"Look at me."
It was unbearable, looking up. Like looking at the sun. Blinding.
She looked away again.
He drew taut the rope leading to her neck.
Gritting her teeth, she raised her eyes to Him, flinching again and again. As she gathered courage, he let the rope slacken.
"What is your name, girl?"
Her stomach heaved. She must speak. Impossible. Girl? He had called her 'girl'? Of course. All during the auction, the word 'woman' had never been used.
What was her name? How should she answer? How could she please Him?
"Errh ..." Her voice betrayed her.
He waited, expressionless.
"Whatever you desire, Sir."
He leaned forward as He drew the noose towards Him, pulling her face inches from his own, grown glinting, flinty hard in an instant.
Alice gasped, straining away from Him, panting rapidly. His eyes, hard and bright, filled her vision. So close, looming, crushing her. The noose held her firm in His light. Terror was near at hand.
His voice was a tight hiss. "I do not need YOU to tell me my rights. Believe me, girl, you shall do far more of my will than simply carry whatever name I desire. ...
"But for the moment, little one, I have not renamed you. Your name is as it always has been, except that now it belongs to me, like ... all ... of ... you."
He slackened the rope and leaned back in his big chair.
Alice's head was nodding convulsively, she gasped for breath.
He let her settle a moment.
"What is your name, girl?"
"Alice, Sir," she answered without hesitation. She realized she was panting, taking quick, short pulsing breaths as though she were in such close quarters that normal breathing was impossible.
He sat without either moving or speaking. His face had again lost all expression.
As the seconds spun out, she had an instant of crystal understanding. He did not want her to try to please Him. 'Trying' to do anything of her own invention meant having a will of her own. He was not interested in what she might want, even if it was His own pleasure. He wanted one single thing. He wanted her to obey, without thinking, instantly and completely. Obey. No more, no less. Obey.
Alice filled with joy. No will. No choice. No responsibility. Obey, only obey.
"Alice is a good name for you."
He tilted His head to one side, and a ghost of a smile touched the corners of His mouth. He leaned forward, and for the first time He touched her. Softly, he ran His fingers beneath the roundness of a breast.
"You shall be quite a beautiful girl."
Alice's eyes widened at His words. For the first time, she looked hard at Him. Mockery would be too cruel. She could support any pain (she thought, but then she was still a beginner); but mockery would be unlivable. She could see none in Him.
"Alice, I want to possess you. All of you, not just your body. Not just your name, even." He smiled, gently mocking. "I cannot even begin to possess you as I desire in a few hours of one night.
"You must decide, now. I own you by contract for this night. That is not enough. I want to keep you for the weekend. I shall release you Monday morning, at whatever time is necessary for you to get to work on time, or anywhere else you must go.
"If you do not agree, then I shall end our contract now."
After a moment, he forced her. "Speak."
"I am yours, Sir."
"Am I to understand by that answer that you accept a prolongation or your contract until Monday morning?"
He nodded faintly, smiling. He rose, tugging lightly on her rope leash.
She rose at her turn, and followed Him back toward the crowd.
He led her to a stand selling ... hardware. She had no time to see what was happening, before He pressed a rubber ball against her lips, past them, to lodge behind her teeth.
Was He surprised by the ease with which her jaws distended to let the ball enter her mouth?
What had it been, ten years already? The boys were still pre-teens, in any case, when she had seen that ball. Featureless rubber, light blue in color, two inches in diameter. The boys never noticed its disappearance.
It was a treasure for her. Whenever she was alone in the house, which was not frequent, she would stuff the ball in her mouth, pretending it was locked there. She reveled in the invading taste, in the loss of speech, in the constantly rising ache of her jaws. The ball represented everything she dreamed of, with its sweet violation of her very existence.
Early on, one weekend morning, the twins were away at a friend's home and Bill went shopping "for an hour, maybe". As soon as he was out of sight, she gagged herself. She promised that she would not remove the gag until she heard him come back. A string of incidents kept him away until late afternoon. By then, she was in their bedroom, weeping, moaning, pressing her head hard against the pillows to try to distract herself from the awful ache in her jaws. Unable to do anything, think anything. Utterly filled with an aching taste of rubber, to a point where "she" almost no longer existed. She had hardly touched herself, but a chain of orgasms had finished drowning her. When she heard Bill slam the garage door, she fled to the shower, needing time to return to Earth. She had often repeated the experience since then, though never quite like that first time.
She bent her head forward, giving Him better access to her neck, to buckle the gag. From the corner of her eye, she saw Him smile.
"'Evenin', Mr Costain," said the woman with the lovely chain from nostril to earlobe. "New girl, huh? She already come by here a while ago. Looked a little zoned. She seemed to like the brushed aluminum hoop, though. I said something to 'er, and she damn near fell over herself, she skipped out so fast."
"She's new. ... Is John here?"
"No, Sir. I don't know where he's off to."
"Do you have a ten-set of miniatures? While you're finding that, I'll fit her with cuffs."
"Yes, Sir." She began rummaging through a stack of cartons at the back of the stand.
With a light tug on her rope, He led he to a low table with baskets full of cuffs of all sorts. A tape measure lay there. "Turn around." He measured her wrists. "Put a foot on the table." He measured the ankle, then her neck.
Watching Him paw through the basket marked 'BRACELETS', Alice tilted her head back and slurped to swallow the saliva that accumulated in her mouth. He chose a pair of fairly narrow bands, perhaps a half an inch wide. They had no buckle. She could not see them clearly enough to understand how they would be fixed.
"Milly, I am waiting for you."
"Yes Sir, Mr. Costain." Her voice trembled. "I'm sorry, Sir. I can't find a ten-set. Here's an eight, if that will do. I'm sorry, Sir."
"It will have to do, for tonight. You are to tell John that I am not happy with you, and that I want this set exchanged for a ten as soon as possible."
The woman looked shattered. "Yes, Sir. I'll tell Him. ... Please, Sir, is there something I can do to make up to You? ... Please, Sir?"
Alice held her breath. On the one hand, her Master (oh my, oh my, what a marvelous word) was frighteningly short on patience. On the other, she felt just a bit jealous of the attention the other woman was getting -- she was young and pretty, and most importantly her lovely nostril-to-earlobe chain made Alice's stomach lurch with envy every time she looked at it.
Alice did not know what to think of her rival (??!!) being punished. She frowned inside at her own lack of charity. After all, Milly was going to be punished, she would feel pain. Then again ... .
"No, Milly. You have inconvenienced me. That is not acceptable. John counts on you to prepare these sales, so you have let him down as well. You are to request punishment."
"Yes, Sir." There were tears in her eyes.
"Put these on her." He gave the bracelets to Milly, and turned to the other basket.
Milly said nothing. The way Alice was handled forced her to turn away; she could not see His choice of ankle cuffs. No matter, she would see them soon enough.
Alice closed her eyes as Milly attached the bracelets, concentrating on feeling the woman's hands, feeling the bracelets, savoring 'real' restraints after years of make-believe. She slurped again.
"That is a very unpleasant noise, Alice. Do not make it any more."
Wonderful. How do I avoid drooling, then? Is that 'pleasant'?
"Now these, Milly."
"Yes, Sir." An almost inaudible sob slipped from her, bringing Alice's attention back. The woman glared at Alice, as though her upcoming punishment was her fault. Alice's small stock of sympathy was running out fast. If that's the way you feel, Milly, well then too bad for you.
"Put a foot on the table, please." The 'please' dripped sarcasm. Milly put on the cuff. The tiny padlock's click was barely audible. "Other foot now, 'please'."
Oh, well. Anybody who knows they're going to be punished has a right to be in a foul mood. Alice gave Milly her best 'I feel for you, dear' smile.
Milly glared on.
Alice shrugged off the glare, and tried another communicative smile. Not my fault, she implied.
In turn, Milly shrugged, too, and then gave Alice a rueful small smile. Not your fault, maybe, but if it weren't for you, he wouldn't even be here.
"I shall also want this collar." He handed her what looked like a scaled-up version of the bands on her ankles. "I want it engraved immediately, so you must find John. Tell him I want it engraved 'Alice' on one line, and 'Property of Philippe Costain' on a second line. I have a few other purchases to make, so I shall return here in a short while to collect the collar. I need not tell you how things will go for you if it is not ready."
With a light tug on Alice's rope, He moved away. She risked a glance back over her shoulder at Milly. The girl was gnawing a fingernail. Her obvious fear was itself frightening to Alice.
There were far fewer people milling about now and less obstacles to maneuver around; so Alice could watch where He was leading her. Next stop, the shoe stand. Alice was bursting with pleasure. Behind her back, her fingers were scrabbling with desire to masturbate.
"Sir," said a muffled voice. Alice's joy froze. The voice came from a strange and frightening creature standing in front of the shoe stand. Its head was a smooth ovoid, featureless except for a V-shaped, screen-covered area from the edges of its hidden eyes to somewhere between its mouth and nose. The creature was identifiable as female by the breasts thrusting through its otherwise hermetic leather body-stocking. The breasts were adorned with pins. Perhaps a dozen pins in each globe, plunged into the soft flesh up to their colored plastic heads. Thin lines of blood ran from most. Each nipple was transpierced by two pins, horizontally and vertically. At second glance, the creature's sex was also visible, with a large gray-metal weights hanging from serrated-jaw clips on the lips.
It had no arms, or rather its arms were tight behind its back, forearms crossed horizontally, encased in the body-stocking.
"Sir," it repeated. Master was watching Alice. He pointed at her feet.
"Sandals to go with her ankle cuffs, please, T. Wearable, but barely."
"This way, please." The creature walked slowly. It progressed more by rotating its hips than by stepping forward. Of course. Any bump between thighs and the hanging weights must cause excruciating pain.
They came to a table covered with high-heeled sandals.
"Sir," it said again.
"Sandals to go with her ankle cuffs, please, T. Wearable, but barely."
Alice looked at Him, surprised. After His uncompromising attitude toward Milly, He was now behaving quite differently.
"T has a lot of trouble concentrating, of course," He explained.
T nodded towards the table, then stood immobile.
"That's fine, T. You may leave us."
"Where ... ... Sir? ... ... Go ... where?"
"Be still, T. Do not move. I shall move you later."
"Sir." The creature froze into perfect immobility, lost in its permanent cloud of pain.
Alice was stunned. She could not take her eyes off the creature. She wanted to ask Him what it had done, why it was so horribly punished. Her mouth was full of saliva; she needed to swallow; she must not make noise. Dammit! Too late. Spit spurted past the ballgag and rolled down her chin. Dammit, dammit, dammit.
He did not seem to notice her drooling. He tied the end of Alice's rope leash to a table leg, and left her.
Alice stared after Him until He disappeared into the assembly hall. When He was no longer available to hold her gaze, she turned it to T. The sight of what extremes could be done to a woman -- could be done to Alice herself -- caused her to turn away, and in turning she found that she was nearly opposite a mirror. Without thinking, she moved to see herself.
All that was really new in the mirror was her shaved sex and the bands around her ankles. (She had seen herself often enough with a blue ball stuffed in her mouth.) And yet she had difficulty recognizing the woman preening in the mirror. She half-turned to admire her bracelets. She smiled to herself, at herself.
And she avoided looking back at T.
She turned to the table with the sandals. "... to go with her cuffs. Wearable but barely." What had He meant by that? "Wearable but barely" -- that was probably the height of the heels. Some of these shoes forced the foot into a ballerina's 'points' position. Maybe some women (no, no: maybe some girls -- get used to it, get used to thinking it, to saying it) ... Maybe some girls can walk in those things, but not me.
She mentally eliminated everything over 5 1/2 inches. "... go with her cuffs ..." There were several pairs which were incomplete; their straps were insufficient for holding the shoes on a girl's feet. But if their straps were looped over her ankle cuffs, then not only would the shoe stay on but... it would be impossible to remove, without the key to the cuff. That is what He meant by "go with her cuffs".
"Have you found something you like?" Just inches away, His voice made her jump.
She nodded, and pointed with her chin. Then she blushed. Her gesture was impossible to interpret -- it necessarily covered the whole table. She leaned over and nudged the shoes she liked best with her nose.
"Very good, Alice, they are in fact exactly what I had in mind." He smiled. Alice nearly burst with pride at His compliment. He held out a tiny key to the man who accompanied Him. "Put them on her."
The man -- no, no, this is a 'boy' judging by the way he's dressed -- took the key and the shoes, knelt, unlocked a cuff, slipped the shoe on, re-locked the cuff, and then went on to the other foot.
Alice staggered. Light pain lanced through her shins. She moved in front of the mirror to admire herself. Once there, she realized she had done so without His permission. She looked at Him in fear.
He smiled. "Not to worry. I gave you no instructions to remain still. You are restrained by the rope around your neck, but within its limits you may move as you please."
She turned and turned before the mirror. The shoes were stunning. Her already-long-and-pretty-good-looking legs were now unending-and-fabulous. Her eyes sparkled. Then, to spoil it all, she let loose a huge glob of spittle that dribbled down her chin.
She whined in frustration.
He laughed, untied her rope from the table, and led her away.
Despite the mess on her chin, Alice strutted.
Alice felt ashamed of the rope. The cuffs on her wrists and ankles were thin and elegant, jewelry to compliment her. Her shoes were magnificent. The rope was vulgar. It looked improvised, out of place.
You are utterly ridiculous. You're a naked old hag with saggy tits, spit all over your chin, and a shaved sex to tell the world that you'll fuck whatever you're told to fuck. And you worry about your image?? You are absurd.
Yes, and it is ab-so-lutely marvelous. She had never been so alive.
They again went weaving through the crowd.
To each side of the high double doors of the main conference hall, a hitching rack had been installed. Three or four slaves were hitched to either side, while their masters were off somewhere else. He led her directly to the nearer bar, tied her leash, flashed a quick smile at her, said "Be pretty", and left.
She would have called out after Him - the suddenness of His abandoning her was a shock. But her mouth was full of rubber. She watched Him enter the conference room, and disappear.
'Be pretty'. Ridiculous thing to say. You are or you aren't.
No, He is quite right. What you are depends very much on what you feel. Alice felt pretty. Her head was high, and her shoulders back. Her belly was sucked in just that little bit that made it look flat. She wanted to be pretty. She was.
She looked down at her neighbor. Strange. In fact the boy was at least as tall as she, even with her heels, and yet she has the distinct feeling of looking down at him. Forty-five, a bit pot-bellied, and going bald. He was blindfolded but not gagged. Naked except for a minimalist loincloth. In fact, the boy could have been not all that bad looking, but his body language prevented it. His head was down, his shoulders bowed. He looked pitiful. Alice did not feel pity, only disdain. As she studied the boy, her own back straightened even more. She turned away from him.
Her neighbor to the other side was a girl about thirty, fully dressed in a most conventional manner - other than her collar, leash, and whatever held her hands behind her back. She was watching Alice watching the boy. As Alice turned away from him, the girl smiled at her. She was not gagged but was probably forbidden to speak, because she only gestured toward the boy and shrugged with distaste. Alice nodded, pleased to commune with this other girl, even silently.
Then Alice's Master reappeared, untied her leash, and led her away. She had just the time to nod goodbye to the other girl.
They returned to the 'hardware' stand. Milly was waiting for Him, on her knees, thighs open, hands behind her back, and head down. "Permission to speak, Sir?"
"I had a second collar prepared for you -- one I think you will appreciate."
"And you hope that I will then lighten your punishment for your previous failures ..."
The girl hesitated, then answered in a low whisper, "Yes, Sir."
"Show it to me. Show me both of them."
She produced them from behind her back. The first was an exact match for the bands Alice was already wearing at her wrists and ankles: black leather about a half-inch wide. Though they did not show, there were steel cables sandwiched between two layers of leather. Alice knew this from examining her bracelets by touch. Opposite its lock mechanism, the collar carried a satin-finish oval plate, now engraved as Master had instructed,
Property of Philippe Costain
The second collar used the same basic black leather band. On this one, the engraved oval plate was bright-finished, and not riveted to the band. It was suspended about four inches below the band, held by thin, silvery chains at each end, running upwards and outwards to attach to the leather band almost half-way around. A thick stud at the front of the band carried a bright, two-inch diameter ring. Where the basic collar was strict and severe, this one was romantic and flattering. Alice's eyes glinted with desire.
"Yes. You are quite right. This will be very nice."
Milly's brow smoothed a bit. Alice frowned.
"Come here, Alice."
Her heart leaped. A collar. She was to have a collar. She had dreamed of this for so long. Any collar. A dog collar, a cut-down belt, a length of chain, sheet metal, anything at all, as long as it would encircle her throat, touch her, hold her. She moved close to Him, turned three-quarters away from Him, and lowered her head. Her whole body was burning, her sex was melting.
She did not see His smile as He passed the collar around her neck and padlocked it.
"Show me," He said.
She turned to face Him, but kept her eyes down.
"Look at me."
She did, her eyes humid, her lips trembling.
"There is a mirror just there. You may go look."
She almost ran. Her breath stopped. Stunning. Beautiful. No words. Hypnotizing. She stood transfixed in front of the mirror.
From far, far behind her she faintly heard her Master's voice, "Do you like it?"
She nodded. Somehow even the mess on her chin looked right. Her hair was a mess, but that too seemed appropriate.
"I said you would be a beautiful girl. You will make me proud."
Her eyes stayed fixed on the mirror. Please make me beautiful, Sir. Please. She wanted so badly to be able to speak.
"Come back here."
She wrenched herself away from the mirror and returned to His side, breathing hard, head whirling, dizzy.
He turned to Milly. The girl was smiling softly.
"You said you 'had it prepared'. Did you tell your Master that engraving this second collar was your idea, and yours alone?"
Milly's mouth opened and closed several times in quick succession, as she searched for words. Her face crumpled back into despair. "No, Sir."
"Please ask your Master to join me. Do not stand."
"Yes, Sir." Milly turned and trotted on her hands and knees, behind a curtain which masked the right-side third of the stand.
A young man with a beard appeared. He had an accountant's half-glasses; neat, short-cut hair; trim, light-brown trousers; and a pale red shirt. Meticulous.
"Philippe." He pronounced the name with the accent on the second half, and the two 'i's pronounced 'eee'. French pronunciation.
"Good evening, John. This collar is very nice work. You should offer it in your catalogue. But I did not ask you to come just to compliment you. We must speak about Milly."
Alice watched the other girl. She was kneeling, head down. Sweat beaded on her forehead, although the room was anything but too warm.
"Yes? Has she done something to displease you? Something more, I mean. She already told me a while ago about the lack of ten-sets, and that you told her to ask to be punished. She will indeed be punished for her carelessness." John was proving that his slave was well-trained, and in particular he was indicating that he did not need any meddling from another master, to ensure her training.
Milly's head did not move, but the corners of her mouth lifted just a bit. Her Master was taking her part.
"Oh, no, not at all," said Philippe Costain. (Milly's mouth was close to smiling, now.)
"On the contrary, she did something for me which I appreciate greatly. (Milly's face went slack again. Master Philippe was overdoing His compliments. Alice also felt a vague uneasiness, her Master was toying with Milly. He was setting her up for a fall.)
"I'm pleased to hear it," said John with obvious irony. He was no longer defending his slave. He too could see that Master Philippe was toying with Milly, and was now collaborating with the big Master.
Milly's composure dissolved.
"Yes," continued Master Philippe, "she had the very good idea of having you prepare that second collar. A lovely piece, as I say. The engraving she had you do is perfect."
Milly was trembling now. Master Philippe was telling Milly's Master that she had manipulated Him, that her training was woefully inadequate. The outcome was clear and inevitable.
In spite of herself, Alice felt sorry for the other girl. She was weak, helpless, before these two Masters who played with her mind and feelings. What if Alice's own happiness was no more than a cruel game? What if He was just setting her up, the better to crush her? She shivered. Delicious terrible helplessness, even here.
Master Philippe thumbed quickly through a rack of leashes, selected a shiny, chrome-link chain with a leather hand-strap at one end and a snap-link at the other. He clicked it onto Alice's collar's front ring. "Put this on my bill, please, Milly. And thank you again for having had this collar engraved."
"Yes, Sir," she answered. Her voice did not break. She would not give Him that satisfaction. Tears flowed from her eyes, but she did not sob.
Master Philippe tugged lightly on Alice's leash, and led her away. Looking back, she saw Milly crawling on her belly toward her Master's feet.
Master Philippe led Alice to a clothing stand. She was fitted with a deep-blue, skin-tight (and then some) dress. Set standing in front of a mirror, she watched the process with gleaming eyes. Clips in the shoulder straps, and a full-length front zipper allowed the dress to be put on without releasing her wrists. It was made of a glossy, silky-looking synthetic, light in weight with no stretch at all. As the wide chromed zipper was closed, from stratospheric hem to deep squared neckline, the dress gathered her in, crushed her. She had to suck in her stomach as much as she could, as the zipper passed over her belly and waist. The dress took her breath away, both literally and figuratively. Her breasts certainly no longer sagged. The dress lifted and compressed them, presented them, offered them.
Her long legs, stretched even longer by the towering heels of her sandals, now seemed endless below the above-mid-thigh hem. She hoped the glint inside her thighs was only sweat, but she was not at all convinced. Her heart boomed in her chest as she admired the marvelously seductive image in the mirror. She did not notice that He left her undisturbed a long moment, transfixed, hypnotized.
Arriving at the next stand, He pulled her leash up close. "I am going to remove your gag. You are still forbidden to speak. Do not disappoint me."
A wildly made-up boy cleaned her up, combed her hair, and made up her face. The cosmetics were somewhat heavier than her habit, but not outlandish. She stood calmly while he worked on her, grateful not to have to sit. Somehow she had felt less embarrassed at being entirely naked than she did now at the idea of having to sit in a dress that would surely ride up to uncover her now-so-very-naked sex.
The boy removed the cloth he had put around her shoulders to protect her clothes. The girl in the mirror was stunning. Splendid. Alice could not recognize herself. Was she was already someone else? It would happen, she hoped. But so soon?
A tug on her leash led her back toward the main reception hall.
"We shall be leaving shortly," He said. "We have one more stop to make."
The huge reception hall was dark, except for four spotlighted islands. In each spotlight, an X-shaped frame held a slave. A lump rose in Alice's throat. A gasp escaped her lips.
"Silence!" He hissed. "I do not want to gag you right now, but you are to be silent. And you have been dressed up and made up to be attractive. Be very careful to do nothing that might harm what has been done on you."
He led her through the murky darkness, where she could barely distinguish the crowds around each cross. She would have liked to look more closely at what was happening under the spots, but she could not. Her attention was needed for following her Master through the dark throng.
A guttural cry rose from ahead. Not a high shriek; rather a sharp, low, violent mix of groan, gasp, and whine.
Alice trembled. He had toyed with Milly, raising her hopes, then dashing them. Making her smile, then plunging her into despair. Had He done the same with Alice? Had He created a beautiful girl, with only the purpose of better smashing her?
They arrived at the edge of one of the lighted zones, just as a whip cracked across the back of the girl hanging from the X. This close, the victim's cry was almost a bark, a brutal exhalation rising somewhat in volume and pitch, and then dropping off. Although the sound only lasted a second, Alice seemed to hear it in slow motion. The cry gave way to a low, throbbing, keening whine.
The girl hung from the cross, her legs limp and unable to support her. Her back was a jumble of criss-crossed welts, from shoulders to knees. Her skin was broken and bleeding at a few spots. Her head lolled from side to side.
He led Alice around the cross, in front of the victim. Then, grasping her leash high up, close to her collar, He pulled her face to within inches of the tortured girl on the cross.
Alice knew the girl's identity long before they arrived. It must be the slave from the registration desk, who had warned her to put a few limits on her contract, who had filled out that part of the contract when Alice had proven too shaken to cope.
The girl's eyes were half-closed; the pupils were absent, rolled back. Her cheeks were wet with tears, and her nose was running. Her mouth was distended around a whiffle-ball-gag, which let her breathe easily, but prevented any coherent speech. Her chin was covered with the spittle that flowed through the ball-gag's holes. Sweat-soaked hair ringed her face, completing the picture of pain and exhaustion. Her whole head rolled in a slow circular movement, as though too heavy for her neck to support it.
Involuntarily, Alice leaned away, pulling hard against her leash. Not so much to escape from the vision as from the noise. Nasal and oral, both; pumping out along with her breath; cresting and flattening in pitch; keeping time with furrows appearing and disappearing on her brow.
The whip cracked, the girl's head snapped backwards and a pain-loaded bark ripped through the girl's lips. The cadence of her whine accelerated for a few panting breaths and then slowed back down to a grinding moan.
Alice's own head was bobbing in her effort to lean away from the horrific tableau. Her own breathing was staccato. He held her firmly, forbidding any relief.
"You know why she is here, don't you?" His whispered voice was close to her ear, though she had not noticed His approach.
Alice nodded. Her neck was aching from pulling against her leash.
"Because she filled out your registration form."
She nodded again.
"Do you understand why that was wrong?"
The whip cracked, the girl's head snapped backwards and another pain-loaded bark ripped through the girl's lips. The cadence of her whine accelerated for a few panting breaths and then slowed back down to a grinding moan.
Her whine -- rise-and-fall, keening, panting, totally mindless -- filled the time between barks. The sound of pure pain. The girl was not in some endorphin paradise. She was in pain; deep and terrifying pain.
Alice's mind was overloaded. She had been so happy just seconds ago. Now she was filled with guilt for the pain the girl was enduring. And He gave her no respite. He questioned her, knowing she was incapable of answering. She wrenched her gaze from the girl on the cross, to meet His regard. She shook her head. No, she did not understand. She hoped she did not understand.
His face was totally blank.
Alice wanted to comfort the girl, but He had forbidden her to speak. She would have pressed her cheek to the tortured girl's, but He had warned her not to damage her make-up. Alice was helpless. Her heart bled.
The whip cracked, and another pain-loaded bark struck Alice. The whine accelerated and then slowed again, the mindless whine, he sound of deep and terrifying pain.
"You will learn." He turned, and led her back through the dark crowd. Just before they reached the door, another cry made Alice cringe and blink back tears. She knew that He would be very displeased if she damaged her make-up.
Blinking as they returned to light, gasping for air after having hardly breathed while in the reception hall, Alice was unaware of the admiring stares she was receiving. Then they were entirely out of the building, into the cool night air.
The building's entry was a Roman-style porch in white marble: wide, shallow, with big fake-marble columns. She fell, leaning against a column, gasping, unable to get her breath back. He gave her time. Her breathing settled gradually, though her mind remained a mass of frightened jabber. A tug on her leash took her away.
She breathed carefully, letting her eyes and her mind's eyes fix on the path they were following. In her monster heels, she was vulnerable to the slightest defect in the macadam surface. More importantly, it was a plausible excuse for not thinking about the scene they had just left.
A "thunk" followed by yellowish light told her that they had arrived at His car. He helped her sit down and swing her feet inside. With a quick, obviously practiced gesture, He clipped her ankles together. From either side of her seat, He produced clips which he attached to her bracelets. He released her wrists from behind her back. He pressed a button on the dashboard, a motor hummed softly, and her wrists were drawn down to the sides of the seat. The seatbelt clicked home. Finally, He closed the car door, plunging her into desolate, lonely darkness. In the moment the darkness lasted, Alice was engulfed by abandonment and solitude. Her desolation lasted only seconds, or forever, before the driver's door opened.
They sat in silence for a moment.
"Mary's crime was not in helping you. She is a very dear, kind, loving person whom we all admire. Helping an innocent in danger would also be admirable in most circumstances. But this evening her job was to register girls for the auction. Just that.
"She did something no slave may ever do. She infringed on Masters' rights. Do you understand?"
No, she did not. Or not really. Not completely. She looked at Him, and shrugged, sighing. He had still not authorized her to speak.
"No, I suppose not. It is too much, too soon. All the same, think on it. It is important that you understand when you may act and when you may not."
He fell silent again, for a long time. Alice kept her eyes down and her mind blank. She isolated herself from the terror she had just felt. Wondrously, she admired the gleaming blue tissue tight across the tops of her thighs, nearly hidden by the roundness of the flesh bulging from her bodice. Her breasts heaved high, in time with her breathing; the rigor of the dress allowed no inflation of her lower chest. She felt detached, as though she were admiring some other person, one she could only dream of resembling. Time passed.
"You should also know that Mary told me about you. That is why I was watching you during the auction."
He started the engine, and they drove away. Heart aching, Alice wondered if Mary was still hanging from her cross.