Karen Helster sat at the head table in the large private reception room, on the top floor of the new corporate building.
From here, she could see out over the entire city. She was flushed with pride and the feeling of success. She was being honored by all the top people in Fabricorp, one of the largest fashion clothing manufactors in the world! Beside her sat her husband, her son and daughter. Even her sister had received a special invitation, she wasen't aware the company even knew she had a sister!
It had not been an easy climb to the top, and she still hadn't quite come to terms with how fast she had risen, she had never expected to be honored in this way. All the top execs, the branch managers,their husbands and wives, were here because of HER! She could see her husband was nearly bursting with pride as well.
It really was a fairy tale come true for the 36 year old woman. Who ever would have guessed it? Pregnant and married at 17, then pregnant again a year later. A husband without a high school diploma, stuck in a dead end job. Moving from one too small apartment to another, each "new" apartment just barely large enough for the growing family. And now, finally, all this.
Then a few butterflies formed in her stomach. All this, to honor her, but what would happen if they new the truth? She had provided everything her family had now, the huge house, the expensive cars, the private schools for the kids, the pool and their tropical vacations.
And it hadn't been strictly on her salary, either. Fabricorp had been generous, yes, but not that generous.
Mr. Bains, the CEO, paused in his speech about her accomplishments. "And how did Karen manage to do so much, is such a short time? What fed her skyrocketing to the very top? Lots of hard work and imagination. And with her imagination, we would hate to lose her, but I don't really think there's much danger of that." Karen surpressed a giggle, oh,yes, she had imagination, all right, more than they'd ever know.
There was a round of polite laughter through the room. Bains smiled,but it was not a pleasent smile. "In fact, we here at Fabricorp want to bring her family into the company too. Charlie, you must be tired of that 'no future' job, driving a vending machine refil truck, in miserable weather, miserable traffic, miserable customers. We have a place for you here, inside building maintaince. And Chucky, busting your butt in a county parks job, in the heat, the cold, the rain. We have an opening in our mail room, nothing glamourous, but it's in an a/c building, and you get your foot on the first rung. Oh, we haven't forgotten Karie either, you don't need finishing school, come work for us, as a personal secretary, and learn something you can really use in life."
Karen was starting to get anxious. How did Mr. Bains know so much about her family? And why?
"So, tonight," Bains went on, "we are gathered here to show all the members of Fabricorp what using your imagination can bring you. It's just a pity that she was too fucking stupid to realize where her imagination would lead her."
Karen sat up straight. Had she really heard that? How dare he use language like that about her, in front of an entire room full of people and her own family! She was going to sue for every penny the company had!
The lights dimmed, the glass walls turned dark, and a series of document copies and computer logs were projected onto the windows for all to see.
Karen recognized them instantly, and the butterflies in her stomach turned to icy cold vultures, and began knawing at her insides.
First were the fake invoices and dummy accounts, diverting shipments to her sister's small boutique, totally illegal.
Bains began the next part of his speech, but his voice had lost all it's warmth. "By clever manipulation, Karen has been shipping Fabricorp clothing to her sister's boutique, and the two of them have been making a very, very nice profit from it. Using multiple invoices, she spread the costs out among numourous genuine clients, and let them pay for it. Except she forgot, when those invoices were paid for, and the checks sent through the mail, it became Postal Fraud, punishable by 5 years or $50,000 for each case.
The fine meal in Karens stomach had turned into a cold, solid mass.
"Karen, Kay, come up here."
Karen had trouble getting out of her chair and to her feet, her knees had gone weak. Kay was pale white under her red freckles. They stood at the podium beside Bains.
"These, of course, are just the beginning of the crimes, but more than enough to send both of you to jail for a very long time. But we would rather not do that. Aside from the general unpleasentness of years in prison, think of the humiliation your families would suffer, when the story came out in the press."
Karen didn't WANT to think about it, because it was obvious Mr. Bains was going to make sure the story did come out.
"And Kay, imagine your three children, no husband, they'd end up in foster homes while you were locked up. Then there's the damage to Fabricorp itself, bad publicity, made to look stupid, ripped off by some dumb blonde."
Kay's husband, Charlie, wanted to go up and shove the mic down the stuck up bastards throat, but it was obvious that Karen was all ready in a world of shit, and they had to be very, very careful.
"We would much rather deal with this internally, keep both of you out of jail, working for us, and being an example for other employees who might get imaginative. So, which will it be, ladies?"
The two sisters looked at each other, Kay spoke first. "I don't want to go to jail." Karen nodded in agreement.
"Bains smiled tightly, "Good. Front projector, please."
The documents showing on the windows disappeared, and reappeard on the large screen behind the women. They were just enough to the side not to dispurt the screen, but still enough in the light to be clearly seen themselves, though they both wished they could hide forever.
"Now, to deal with the stolen clothing first. We want all Fabricorp clothing obtained illegally to be returned to us immedately. Kay, a company truck will be at your store tomorrow morning to take back the stock."
Kay barely nodded, it meant the end of her store, but better than jail. Much better.
Bains slapped the pointer across the podium, the sound like a shot in the hushed room. "Ladies, you don't seem to understand, you just agreed that ALL stolen clothing gets returned." They looked at him blankly. "Karen, I believe you're wearing a dress you "bought" with a fake credit account you opened. Take it off and give it to me NOW."
Karen couldn't believe it, he could not be serious. Undress in front of all these people? In front of her own family? Besides, because the dress was pretty much "form fitting" and she had been daring, she hadn't worn a bra!
Charlie had gotten up to go and protect his wife, when two VERY large men from Fabricorp security seemed to come out of nowhere and forced him back into his seat. "You'll have even less modesty in jail, ladies, so choose."
They both knew they were trapped, Karen's hand felt numb as she began getting out of the dress. Kay's hands were shaking so badly she could barely undo the buttons, but still, all too fast, the sisters were standing in their underwear. At least Kay had panties and bra, Karen had only her panties and shoes.
Bains was watching them closely, as was every other person in the now totaly silent room. "That looks like lingerie from our 'rising executive' line."
Another security guard, even larger than the two standing by her family, moved close to the two women, looked at them, and nodded to Bains.
"When I said 'all clothing' stolen, that's what I meant."
The two sisters were now past the point of resistance, and almost in a daze,they removed their underwear, standing nude beside the CEO.
Kay's thatch of red pussy hair stood out against her pale skin, while Karen's thich black bush showed the world she was anything but a true blonde.
Bains used the pointer to lift up the two dresses that had been folded and put on a small table. "Well, this is a start. Chuck, Chucky, Karie, you're turn now. You're wearning Fabricorp clothes too."
They couldn't believe it, surely he was not suggesting that all three of them go and strip nude, in front of all these people?
"Our lawyers will have no difficult convincing a judge that you all were accessories to the crimes, as you have all benefited, and since you are all legal age, that means jail time for you as well, jail time, criminal records." He let the image hang for a moment. "Jail time, and maybe even worse. So, you agree to the terms your wife and mother agreed to."
The three of them, under the guidance of the huge security men, moved to the podium and undressed, all too soon were as nude as the two sisters.
Karie looked as if she would die. No one except her boyfriend had ever seen her nude, (she didn't count her parents changing her as a baby, of course) and she had allowed him to talk her into "sculpting" her bush, into a heart shape. Worse, her nipples were hardened and protruding like twin spikes. Thank heaven she had not let him convince her to have them pierced! Worst of all, she was having her period, and the string of the tampon now seemed like a fire hose hanging down between her legs, for every person in the room to see! How could her own mother get her into a situation like this? She was going to be the first person in history to die of shame.
Young Charlie had a problem, a big problem. Aside from the fact that his mom and Aunt could go to jail for a long time, and were being forced to stand nude in front of all these people, he couldn't stop looking at them, and had a hard on! There was muted laughter and giggles from the room, at the boys condition.
Bains ignored the nude people and continued. "Here we see the full extent of Karen's crime." On the screen came more documents. The forged cash transfers, the forged expense accounts for non existent employees, the computer hacked raises and bonuses. It was all there, they had found out. Her son and daughter wouldn't know what they were seeing, her husband might suspect, but every Fabricorp employee in the room would surely know what they were seeing.
Bains went on, his voice now hard and cold. "This is what too much imagination gets you, CORRUPTION!"
"After the return of the clothing, we will begin the process of restitution. Naturally, the house and cars will be sold, procedes to go to Fabricorp, you will be moved to a small apartment. You will all work for Fabricorp, the difference between the minimium wage you'll be getting and the market value earnings of your jobs will be deducted from what you owe the company. Karen, you will become my personal assistant, if I want a cup of coffee, you get it, if I want a letter taken, you take it, if I want something copied, you copy it. Your office will be on the third floor."
That didn't make sense, an office on the third floor? thought Karen. Mr. Bains' office was on the 15th floor, everytime he wanted something, she'd have to take an elevator or stairs up 12 flights, then back down again.
Bains went on, "Karie, you are my receptionist, at all times, I expect you to conduct yourself as one. It's not too difficult, answering the phone, setting up appointments and meetings. Your desk will be right outside my office. Kay," he looked at her coldly, "we'll find something appropiate for you." "Charlie, as I said earlier, will be a janitor and Chucky our mail boy."
"At mininium wage, all working together to pay off the enormous amount your mothers imagination ran up, you can all expect to be here a long time, but better than a long time in jail." He stopped at looked at each one, their hands and arms positioned to cover as much of themselves as possible. "No point in trying to protect your modesty, you might as well start getting used to your new work attire right now."
It took a few moments for Karen to grasp what he meant. She'd be going up and down 12 floors, dozens to times each day, every day, her daughter would be seeing sales people, executives, big shots, her husband, sister, and son would be moving through the building every day, stark naked! Bains idea of "providing an example" to other Fabricorp employees.
She leaned forward and threw up.