(Author's Note: The principal characters in this story were originally featured in a rambling epic known more or less unofficially as Alexandra Anderson and the Case of the Multiple Damsels. And while I hope you'd enjoy reading that story, it's honestly not necessary to have done so to enjoy this little tale-- I think you'll find all the exposition you need here).
“Wow. Not leaving a lot to the imagination there, are we, Captain Crane?”
Alexandra Anderson was trying not to stare, but the sight in front of her was downright head-turning: a tall, busty, green-eyed woman was practically spilling out of a severely-cut black vamp-style dress, and the enormous black beehive wig perched on her head made her look even taller—but then, you’d need a huge wig to stuff all that red hair up into it.
“Who is--- Anderson?” Police Captain Cynthia Crane squinted, then snarled at the “flapper” grinning up at her. “What the hell are you doing here?”
“Same as you, I’d
imagine,” the pretty reporter responded blithely, adjusting the combination
cloche cap and bob wig that hid her waves of blond hair. “Seeing just what this
‘Contessa’ woman has to offer the city’s different charities, with this fancy-dress
Halloween party of hers. Are you investigating her, too?”
”Nothing to investigate.” Cynthia Crane kept her voice low and clipped, clearly unwilling to prolong the conversation. “I’m just here to ensure that there are no incidents to embarrass a woman who—”
”Is being wooed for a huge campaign contribution when the Police Chief runs for mayor next year,” Alexandra finished the sentence with her own slant.
“And you got invited how?”
”I have my ways,” Alexandra shrugged; her blue eyes were in constant movement about the elegantly-appointed ballroom as the city’s movers and shakers milled around, drinking watery champagne punch in their expensive, custom-tailored Halloween costumes. “And I’d say you’re here undercover, except that you’re not covering all that much.”
Cynthia glanced instinctively at her more-prominent-than-ever bosom, and flushed furiously. “There was a mixup. I was supposed to get an Elizabeth the First costume.”
“Uh huh,” Alexandra nodded. “And who was responsible for the mixup?”
“Well, a couple of the desk sergeants took care of ordering…” Cynthia’s voice trailed off as embarrassed realization struck home. “They were very apologetic,” she muttered.
“I’ll bet they were. Wonder
how long it took the cellphone pictures to start getting sent around? Anyway,
never mind your wardrobe malfunctions—what kind of dirt is going on behind the
”Anderson, don’t you ever give up? Not everything that happens in this city is some giant conspiracy. This is just a charity fundraiser, allowing important civic patrons to partake in—”
“Yeah, yeah—rich folks play dressup and feel good because they tossed a few bucks in the charity pot. Sorry, not buying. Just for starters, who’s this mysterious ‘Contessa,’ anyway?”
“I haven’t met her personally,” Cynthia responded stiffly. “But she’s clearly produced a great turnout that will benefit our local nonprofits.”
“We’ll see about that… how
can I meet her?”
Cynthia Crane’s eyes narrowed, and she sent a hand to her head to adjust her wig.
“Anderson, let me make this clear: My job is to ensure that nothing untoward happens here. Nothing untoward is going to happen here. And that includes snoopy reporters pestering our hostess. Particularly reporters who have, in the past, meant nothing but trouble for me.”
Well, that’s certainly true enough, Alexandra thought to herself. She and the red-haired police captain had reluctantly shared more than one dangerous adventure in the past, but being kidnapped together, drugged, bound, gagged, molested, and nearly killed hadn’t exactly been a bonding experience for the two of them; if anything, Cynthia Crane was more wary than ever of the blond reporter’s intentions.
“Now,” Cynthia continued, “unless you want me to—“
“Oh, never mind,” Alexandra said airily. “You know me—I always do much better with the ‘unofficial’ version of the story. I’ve got my own sources. In fact…”
She broke off at the approach of a tall, blue-eyed handsome man in an expensive-looking Musketeer getup, holding slender champagne flutes in each hand.
“Ah, there you are.” His voice was light with amusement as he surveyed the two women. “My dear Millie, aren’t you going to introduce me to…?”
Cynthia glared at Alexandra, her blazing green eyes warning that dire consequences would follow any “outing” of the policewoman’s identity, but she couldn’t help asking.
Alexandra giggled as she accepted the champagne.
“As in Thoroughly Modern Millie,” she chirped. “You know: flappers, bathtub booze, opium dens, white slavery—all that fun stuff!”
“You, sold into white slavery?” Cynthia muttered. “I should be so lucky.”
Alexandra stuck her tongue out in return, then smiled up at the man with the champagne, and indicated Cynthia.
“And now, Clive Bannister—or should I say D’Artagnan—may I introduce you to Elvira, Mistress of the Chest—I mean, Dark!”
For an instant, she had the pleasure of watching the shock and fury cross Cynthia’s face, and she was almost disappointed when the policewoman chose to swallow her anger and stalk away. Almost disappointed: she loved pushing the redheaded cop’s buttons, but there was always the danger of pushing just a bit too hard…
Bannister’s eyes followed the retreating Cynthia; Alexandra let that go on one beat longer than she preferred, then coughed. The man took his eyes off Cynthia’s buttocks, and returned his appealing, if slightly boozy, gaze to Alexandra.
“So, you were telling me about your latest investments?”
“My…? Oh, right!” Alexandra recovered; no more champagne if she was going to keep her cover story straight. It was hard enough keeping her mind on her work when she had to pump a distractingly good-looking Musketeer for information. “Well, it’s more daddy’s money than mine, but he can’t be here tonight, and he’s really interested in making a contribution.”
Bannister regarded Alexandra carefully; for the first time, he seemed to be looking past the flapper getup, and she squirmed uncomfortably until he seemed to relax, and his face once more took on its air of genial humor.
“But you still haven’t told me your real name!”
“Something wrong with Millie?” Alexandra teased. “A girl likes to keep some mystique, you know.”
Bannister smiled and shook his head, defeated. “Very well. Have you seen the program for the evening’s entertainment?”
“Uh, yeah.” Alexandra
tried to feign interest. “Scenes from famous horror movies, right?”
”Oh, my dear,” Bannister smiled. “You scarcely do it justice—an entire floor of the Convention Center, with individual stages in separate rooms, each with a tableaux re-creating a famous scene in staggering detail, with live models as your favorite madmen, monsters, and victims, from the silents, right up to today.” He beamed with an almost childlike pride that Alexandra found disarmingly attractive. “All arranged by yours truly!”
“O… kay…” Alexandra frowned. “But getting back to my dad and his donation-- he was hoping I could talk to the hostess personally—you know, get the real inside story.”
Bannister seemed to hesitate a moment, and Alexandra was afraid she’d overplayed her hand. He laughed, though.
“Let it never be said that a Musketeer failed to aid a ‘damsel in distress’.” He took Alexandra’s arm, sending an exquisite warm buzz through her body. “Let’s go meet the lovely Contessa.”
Alexandra tried to keep from appearing too anxious as they made their way through the crowd of extravagantly outfitted vampires, pirates, naughty nurses, and god knew what else. Why these people wanted to dress up just to watch a bunch of models pretend to be in scenes from old movies—no, why they’d pay huge sums of money to do it—still baffled her, and bolstered her conviction that there was something strange—perhaps sinister—under the surface of all this.
“Ah, Contessa.” Bannister had led Alexandra through to a small anteroom, where some gift baskets were being assembled by the hotel staff. They were being supervised by a woman outfitted in a Queen Elizabeth gown that, at a glance, Alexandra guessed probably cost ten times as much as the one Captain Crane had been planning to wear. At Bannister’s voice, “Elizabeth” turned and walked toward them.
The woman who approached was nearly as tall as Cynthia Crane, and the costume she wore was even more expensively regal than it had appeared at first. Like many of the guests, she wore a small domino mask—though it was incongruous with the Elizabethan regent’s garb, it did provide the requisite air of mystery. Even through the stiff crinoline and boning, Alexandra could tell that the woman was fit and shapely; exotically dark eyes showed through the mask, and full red lips that needed little enhancement smiled below it. She was accompanied by a stocky blond woman in the comically-striped outfit of a jailbird, and Alexandra thought to herself that it seemed to fit her grim face and bulging muscles a bit too well.
“Contessa, may I present ‘Miss Millie DuMont’?” Bannister bowed grandly, sweeping his enormous hat through the air.
The dark eyes seemed to glitter behind the mask, and she appeared to study Alexandra with a surprising intensity.
“Hmmm… I don’t know that I recognize the name. And I certainly don’t recall any of my invited guests planning this particular getup.” The woman’s gaze was disquieting, even from behind the mask, and Alexandra hesitated before giving her the same response she’d given Cynthia Crane.
“Um… from the movie? Flappers, bathtub booze, opium dens, white slavery…” her voice trailed off as the woman’s eyes regarded her, unblinking.
“White slavery? How interesting.”
The voice was low and rich with amusement. “Such a clever costume,” she purred.
“It makes me want to just pull it off you, to see which of my very
special friends has fooled me so completely.”
”Pull… off… ah… yes…” Alexandra stammered.
“I’m sorry, dear—too much champagne?” The woman’s smile was one of the least reassuring Alexandra could ever remember seeing, and her instinct that something stunk about this whole operation was stronger than ever.
“Well, see, as I was telling Cli—ah, D’Artangan here, my father’s a wealthy man, and quite interested in making a donation to support good causes, but he had a few questions about the organizations you represent.”
The woman’s voice was cool and level, but her eyes sparked with something that might have been interest… or suspicion? Alexandra put that from her mind and hurried on.
“Well, you know you can’t be too careful these days.”
“No, indeed not,” came the smooth voice. The Contessa gave Alexandra a wintry smile. “But if that’s your concern, why not take a few minutes and peruse some testimonials? They’ve set me up with an office here for the duration of the event, and you could join me there for a drink while we discuss this.”
“Is she bothering you, ma’am?” They turned to see Cynthia Crane approaching, wig once more threatening to topple from her head. She reached the group and thrust her face forward to glare at Alexandra. “I warned you…”
She stopped at a surprising intake of breath from The Contessa, and for a moment, the women stood, regarding each other, a tension in the air that Alexandra could sense, but not quite read; what Bannister made of it, she couldn’t even guess. Finally, the regally costumed woman smiled, her face creasing merrily around the mask.
“Oh, no. She’s been no bother at all.” She had stopped scrutinizing Cynthia, and seemed much more relaxed now. “And unless I miss my guess, you would be the Police Chief’s ‘secret operative’ I was told to expect.”
Cynthia nodded shortly. “Let’s just keep that quiet, please. Now about this one—“ she jerked her head at Alexandra.
“Hey, I’ve got as much right as anyone to get the inside scoop on things!” Alexandra protested, and the Contessa chuckled.
“Ah, yes… the ‘scoop’ as you Americans call it.” She pursed her lips. “Well, we shall have to see what we can do about that.”
“You mean it?” Alexandra was surprised at how quickly she had agreed.
“Certainly,” The Contessa smiled, and nodded to Cynthia. “Perhaps your friend would like to accompany us?”
Before Alexandra could answer, Cynthia nodded. “Don’t worry—I’m hardly her friend, but I am coming along. I wouldn’t trust this one as far as I could throw her.”
“Clive, dear, you’ll come too, won’t you?”
“Accompany three such charming ladies? Wild horses couldn’t keep me away.”
Three? Alexandra looked around, and noticed that the blonde in the jailbird outfit was no longer with them. But then, he probably wasn’t counting her anyway-- he did say “charming.”
The women walked in awkward silence—Alexandra wasn’t going to risk posing questions while Cynthia Crane was there to censor her, or possibly toss her out on her ear, and for her part, the policewoman alternated between glaring at Alexandra and trying to keep her wig in place.
Bannister filled the silence, though, nattering on about his horror-movie tableaux. And while Alexandra wasn’t particularly interested, he would solicit reaction now and again, forcing her to pay more attention to him than to where they were going. Some kind of office, she knew, but when The Contessa showed them through the door into it, Alexandra realized that she had no clear idea of where they actually were, compared to where they had been before. Bannister closed the door behind them, saying something about privacy.
“Drinks?” The Contessa asked, but Alexandra declined.
“We’re not here for that—let’s see those testimonials.”
The elegant woman shrugged. “As you wish.” She walked to a desk, and began to draw file folders from a drawer.
“Listen, 'Millie', if you make any trouble,” Cynthia Crane warned, “I won’t just throw you out of here, I’ll toss you in a holding cell for the weekend.”
“Please,” The Contessa smiled behind her mask. “It is no trouble. I simply wish to allow Miss… Dumont… to satisfy her… curiosity.”
Cynthia gave the woman a long look, then stepped back, surveying the room with her back to the wall like a gunfighter determined to let no one get behind her.
“Here, allow me.” Alexandra bent over the desk, keeping a wary eye fixed on The Contessa… and blatantly ignoring the annoying presence of Cynthia Crane.
For her part, the shapely policewoman glowered under her black wig, shifting her feet to take some weight off them, and leaned back against the wall… that promptly opened up behind her.
What had appeared to be solid wall now gaped open and black. A burly arm wrapped around Cynthia’s torso, pinning her arms to her sides, while a hand snaked around from behind her, clutching a white cloth that smelled of anesthetic. Before she a chance to turn her head or even flinch, the reeking pad was pressed across her nose and mouth, and fumes heavy with narcotic began to flood into her nose and lungs, and swirl up into her brain.
In the instant that the cloth had been placed over her face, powerful muscles had simultaneously yanked her back into the inky darkness, and from the corner of her eye, she saw the wall panel slide back into place, leaving no trace of her abduction!
Drugged and reeling, her strength ebbing with every passing second, Cynthia’s feeble struggles were easily defeated: the hand holding the pad to her face seemed to be that of a powerful woman, whose other hand had found a convenient purchase on the bosom that swelled Cynthia’s ridiculous costume, allowing her to keep the drugged cloth in place while simultaneously groping her victim. As the room swam before her eyes, Cynthia felt lips pressed to her ear, and a gravelly female voice murmuring, “Hey, Captain. Nice to see you again.”
Frightening recognition sparked in Cynthia’s brain, flashing back to her brief, terrifying time in Klaw Women’s Prison on trumped-up charges, but her body refused to respond, only sagging further into the woman’s clutches.
“Ya know,” the blonde
continued, “they sprung you from the joint the same day me and some of the
girls were planning to party with you. But we can do some catching-up now, whaddya
Cynthia Crane said nothing, as she sank finally into blackness.
In the darkness of the hidden antechamber, the large blonde hefted the unconscious policewoman to her shoulder; the wig fell off, Cynthia’s crimson mane now tumbling down her captor’s back, between her drooping arms. Making certain they’d not been observed, the blonde picked up the wig with her left hand, and used her right to balance Cynthia on her shoulder, stubby fingers lewdly mauling the buttocks that strained the flimsy black costume, carrying her prize into captivity.
“I’m impressed,” Alexandra looked up from examining the papers. Impressed that she thinks I’ll be fobbed off with such lame forgeries. “I’m sure this will all be very interesting to daddy.”
“Doubtless,” The Contessa murmured. There was a quiet humming from within her costume, and she withdrew a tiny cellphone, glancing at the readout.
“Do excuse me,” she purred. “Business.” Turning back to the phone, she listened for a moment, and said into the phone, “I’ll be right there.” She turned to Alexandra. “Can I leave you in Clive’s capable hands for a few minutes?”
Alexandra nodded, Bannister grinned, and The Contessa strode regally from the small office.
“Huh.” Alexandra nodded absently. “Is she always this mysterious?”
“How so?” Bannister asked, with the same bemused indulgence he seemed to treat everything.
“I don’t know…” Alexandra mused, getting up from the chair. “I can’t help thinking there’s something strange—and maybe familiar—about her.” She glanced sideways to see if she had made any headway at removing the lightly mocking expression from the man’s handsome face. He shrugged, and raised an eyebrow.
“You sure you’re not taking all this dress-up a bit too seriously?” he grinned, dropping his right hand inside his tunic.
“No, I’m not,” Alexandra snapped, and turned away to where Cynthia had been standing. “I’m sure that I’ve seen her somewhere before and it wasn’t at— wait a minute… where the hell is Captain Crane? She was right there—”
She stopped herself as she saw the movement, but was far too slow to turn away as the elegantly-clad arm descended toward her head, and she had just registered that what he held in his hand was a blackjack—what is a Musketeer doing with a blackjack?—when the thing made contact with the back of her head, and the room went explosively white… and then black.
The force of the blow had knocked the hat and wig off Alexandra’s head; blond hair pooled on the floor beside the unconscious reporter’s face, and a woman’s black leather pump trod on the spilled tresses, as The Contessa looked down with satisfaction.
“As I suspected,” she murmured, her voice now laced with a light Parisian accent. “She almost recognized me, but not quite.” She gave Bannister an amused smile. “Even a face as pretty as yours wasn’t enough to distract the determined little bitch.”
The man pursed his lips. “I suppose there’s a first time for everything.”
“And a last time, too… for her,” gloated the woman. “Bring her.”
With that, the man bent down, and lifted Alexandra’s limp form, throwing the senseless woman over his shoulder, her arms and long blond hair dangling limply down behind his back.
Awakening from a cosh on the head was one of those experiences that Alexandra had more practice with than most women, and it was never pleasant, what with the headache, nausea, and blurred vision. Particularly unpleasant was the fact that it too often involved waking to find herself a bound, half-naked prisoner… and this time was no exception.
She was sitting on a backless wooden chair, with her arms fastened down to the chair arms by leather straps; similar restraints were buckled at her ankles, with one large leather belt encircling her waist, holding her to the seat of the chair. Not only were her hat and wig gone, but the rest of her costume had been removed, leaving her dressed only in bra and panties against the rough wood of the chair. The dirty floor was chill against her bare soles, and her neck ached damnably as she slowly raised her head from where it had been drooping against her chest for who knew how long.
In the muted light, Alexandra became aware of her surroundings as a stagy representation of some kind of dingy, run-down building. I’m on one of the horror-movie stages. And I guess it’s one I haven’t seen. Not that the specific film would likely matter, but even through her dizziness, her reporter’s instincts were grasping for any piece of information that might prove useful.
OK… tied to a chair. Been there, done that… not gagged—yet—which probably means no one’s likely to hear if I scream… now I just have to hope that Captain Crane notices that I’ve disappeared and brings the cavalry…
As her eyes adjusted to the dimness, though, Alexandra’s hopes were dashed, as her hope of salvation lay on the floor, unconscious, and trussed every bit as effectively as she was. Cynthia Crane lay face-down, also dressed only in bra and panties. Her arms had been drawn behind her back, and bound close to her body with what looked like straps of leather. A length of chain held her wrists together behind her back, and wound from there around her waist. More leather bands encircled her long legs in three places, from thighs to ankles. Though Alexandra couldn’t see her face, some kind of thick fabric that she assumed to be a gag appeared to be tied in or over her mouth, disappearing under the long mane of her red hair; a faint, muffled moan of returning consciousness confirmed that Cynthia was, indeed, effectively gagged.
O.K., guess it’s Plan B. Wish I had one.
Light suddenly came through an opened doorway, and Alexandra was able to see that she and Cynthia were not alone: the stocky blonde in the prison getup was leaning back against the wall in a folding chair, Clive Bannister was adjusting some kind of dial on a control panel at the side of the elevated stage, and The Contessa entered, having exchanged her gown, wig, and mask for an expensive-looking pantsuit. As she turned toward Alexandra, the pale light fell full on a beautiful, deadly face that Alexandra knew all too well.
“Simone Beauvais!” Alexandra’s voice sounded thick and dull in her ears, and she shook her head to try to clear it.
Well, this just goes from bad to worse.
Even knowing it would likely be futile, Alexandra threw back her head and yelled “Help!!!”
The response was the crack of an elegant palm against her cheek, sending waves of dizziness through her tender skull. From the other side of the room, a smiling Clive Bannister pressed a button on a small console, and shrieks of pain and terror echoed from the speakers mounted in the wall, providing background for the various horror-movie tableaux; the clear message being that any noise Alexandra chose to make would simply be lost in the sound effects.
“My thanks to you for adding to the ambience,” he told her smugly. “But we actually do have plans for that big mouth of yours.”
“Miss Anderson.” Simone Beauvais stood before her captive, hands on hips, and Alexandra was glaring weakly into the familiar, treacherously beautiful face of the renowned international white slaver and vice merchant. “I must say, I’m somewhat disappointed you didn’t recognize me sooner—I’d hate to think that you’d already forgotten the delicious times we spent together.”
“You mean the times when I
was your prisoner, and you did everything you could think of to molest and
”Oh, please,” the woman demurred. “You must think me terribly dull if you believe that was everything I could think of.”
“And you, you rat—” Alexandra spat at Clive Bannister, whose maddening smile never wavered.
“Sorry, my dear. If it
makes you feel any better, I truly did enjoy keeping you company this evening.
But, then… business before pleasure.”
”Mmmm… pleasure.” The stocky blonde was down on one knee, next to the helpless Cynthia Crane, running thick fingers through the silky red tresses. Cynthia tried to pull her head away, prompting laughter from the blonde, and Alexandra could now see that the policewoman was gagged with what appeared to be a thick pad of velvet.
“Enough!” Simone Beauvois snapped. “There isn’t time for fun and games. Clive, finish getting Anderson ready.”
The grinning Musketeer walked toward Alexandra, holding a thick ball of black rubber, fitted with straps and buckles. “It’s called a ballgag,” Bannister grinned. “All the rage among the kinky set, and a highly distinctive prop in the cinematic gem we’re saluting here.”
Like I’ve never seen one of those before! Alexandra had to stifle the impulse to tell him that he was hardly the first well-dressed smoothie to use one of the damn things on her, but decided that keeping her mouth shut was the better course. Not that it mattered, of course, as the blonde in the jailbird costume simply gathered up a fistful of Alexandra’s hair and yanked her head back so hard that pain shot all the way down Alexandra’s neck.
“Aggh! You miserable, low-down aagglle gahhkk ugghgrrgh!” The crooked smile never left Bannister’s face as he worked the black rubber between Alexandra’s white teeth, jamming the huge ball in deeply enough to stifle whatever other choice descriptions the captive reporter might have had to offer. He nodded to his accomplice, who used her grip on Alexandra’s blond mane to force the girl’s head down so that the strap of the ballgag could be cinched and buckled at the nape of her neck. The leather bit into Alexandra’s cheeks, while the taste of the rubber did nothing to help her nausea.
“All right, Clive,” Simone instructed, “Go pay off the last two models and send them home. I think our two guests here will suit your little scene just fine.”
Bannister laughed, and departed through the backstage door. Simone Beauvais looked down at Alexandra, her face grim with memories of their previous meetings.
“You may recall that, after our last encounter, I wound up in prison.”
Which is where you belong! Alexandra thought to herself. And how the hell did you get out? She growled behind the gag, and did her best to work a few choice insults around the black rubber ball in her mouth.
“There I was, sentenced to imprisonment,” Simone went on, ignoring the outburst. “A woman who believed she had pockets full of bought politicians. Who had years of providing wealthy businessmen with mistresses and slaves. Men—no, not men: worms!—who ought to have been grateful! And do you know how many of these worms raised even a finger to help me? Precisely none.” Her face darkened. “They stood by and watched as I was humiliated like some piece of common gutter trash.”
“Shame they didn’t reckon on our girl’s determination,” Bannister chuckled, having returned to the darkened stage. “Of course, if the warden hadn’t been a woman of indiscreet tastes, we couldn’t have blackmailed her into letting Simone escape. But she was, we did, she did, and happy endings all around.” He glanced at the two bound women. “Well, almost all.”
“And not ended yet,” Simone snarled. “Though it’s about to be.” She pretended to be surprised by Alexandra’s quizzical look. “Oh—didn’t I tell you?” She leaned over Alexandra, their cheeks nearly touching, her breath stirring Alexandra’s blond hair, and whispered “Bomb.”
For an instant, Alexandra thought the woman’s accent had mangled some common word, but Simone’s smile of demented glee drove the word home.
“Aaahnn?” Alexandra gargled behind her gag.
“That’s right, my nosey friend: a rather elegant little device that is going to destroy this room, and everyone in it, while you and Captain Crane are entertaining the crowd.”
“Ngghhh!!” Alexandra flailed her body in the chair, throwing her head from side to side, blond tresses whipping through the air, to try and somehow loosen the gag. It was, as she knew it would be, useless. She stopped, defeated, and cast a pleading look at Simone, but the woman just shrugged.
“Yes, a few innocents will die along with the worms… but I console myself with the fact that I am going to be rid of you two, once and for all, into the bargain. But now it’s time for the climax of Clive’s little project, so I’ll let him have the floor.”
“It’s really a shame you didn’t have the chance to view the other tableaux,” Bannister swept his hand in a gesture around the room. “But I think this will be one of the better ones, as we personify modern horror moviemaking with… Hostel 2!” His voice dropped ominously at the title, but the two gagged women simply stared at him. “You never saw it?” he gasped in feigned amazement. “A modern classic of inhuman perversion, with helplessly bound women facing unspeakable fates?” An exaggerated sigh. “Well, suffice it to say that you two ladies will be providing some verisimilitude to this little project. One more detail yet, though. Eden, if you’ll assist me?”
The stocky blonde grinned, and joined him as he approached Cynthia’s tightly-trussed form. She picked up the captive’s legs, allowing her hands to take a few liberties with the shapely limbs, while Bannister hooked Cynthia’s ankle bonds to a heavy steel cable that depended from the ceiling. He then stepped to the wing, and began to slowly turn a large hand crank… and Cynthia’s feet began to rise up off the floor.
Cynthia squalled into her gag, squirming her bound body as best she could, but even a wiggling parcel is still just a parcel if sufficiently well-packaged, which she was. As Bannister turned the crank, the blonde held Cynthia’s body steady—or as steady as ten occasionally groping fingers could manage. Up and up, a few inches at a time, the captive policewoman’s toes pointed toward the ceiling, followed by the ascent of her long legs. Alexandra watched in horror as Cynthia’s hips twisted and her panty-clad ass lifted off the floor, then her back, her shoulders. In moments, despite all her gagged threats and frantic writhing, Cynthia Crane was suspended, upside down, her long red hair sweeping the floor beneath her, while her face began to take on a similar crimson hue.
“I did take a few liberties,” Bannister informed Alexandra casually as he tied off the winch. “We’re conflating two different scenes from the movie, and the woman in Captain Crane’s role was actually a brunette. But I think we can accept a bit of license in the name of art.”
Or in the name of allowing your drunken guests to gawk at two half-naked women in bondage before you kill us all! Alexandra growled into her gag.
“Mind you,” Bannister continued providing his ludicrous commentary, “in the film, this character is hung up so that the beautiful, evil lesbian can slash her to ribbons and bathe in her blood.”
“Now that does seem like a real waste,” Eden giggled as she fondled the helplessly-suspended Cynthia Crane, whose muffled protests grew more and more despairing. After the blonde spent a few more minutes playing with the dangling prisoner, Bannister informed her dramatically that it was “time to clear the stage.”
Alexandra knew what he meant—she had heard the murmurings nearby, as the crowd of well-lubricated dignitaries took in the other horror movie tableauxs, and moved closer to this climactic display. Now, with the three kidnappers taking off in the wings, the curtain parted to reveal the final tableau: a ballgagged blonde strapped into a chair, and a chained and leather-strapped redhead suspended upside down.
“Oh, my god,” the first drunken voice greeted the sight, to be joined by an approving murmur. Smatters of applause mingled with strained laughter, as it seemed that half the patrons were admiring the reproduction, while the other half focused their attention on the dishabille and the bondage; both groups seemed equally delighted.
Alexandra’s eyes bulged with disbelief. She raged and screamed into her gag, yanking furiously at her bonds.
What the hell is wrong with you people?
But her desperate fight for life was greeted with more applause, and lewd murmurs of appreciation for the women’s seductively staged plight. And the sound of retreating footsteps indicated that those responsible for that plight were now putting distance between themselves and the impending explosion.
Sweat beaded Alexandra’s face, and her stomach churned with frustration and fear. God, was there no way to get these people to see that the danger was real? She shook her head, hair flying, heedless of the saliva she was flinging around… and suddenly, in a quick, cold realization, she saw that there might be one hope. Under normal circumstances, the sight of a struggling bound and gagged woman would be unusual enough that someone would investigate—so the only way to get out of this mess was to do something equally unexpected for this situation.
Taking as deep a breath as she could manage around the gag, Alexandra quieted her struggles, doing her best to relax into the bonds. She gave a light toss of her head, to clear the waves of blond hair from her face… then tilted her head just enough to let a few tresses slide provocatively across one eye. She held that pose for a few seconds, desperately fighting down the fear, then fixed her eye on one middle-aged man, standing by himself, dressed as a pirate. She let her gaze languidly meet his, until she was sure she had his attention… then winked at him!
The man blinked in surprise, and Alexandra lowered her eyelids and arched her eyebrows just enough to throw a serious bedroom look at the man, who flushed madly. She lightly waggled the eyebrows, again tossing her hair seductively. She hummed low around the gag, trying hard not to spoil the effect by drooling, then jerked her head slightly, beckoning him to approach.
I just hope he’s not here with his wife! Her feet spasmed in their bonds, as though wanting to stamp the floor with impatience. Time is running out! But this had to be played just right.
The portly pirate moved uncertainly toward the stage, and Alexandra moaned in frustration as he hesitated… a sound she quickly converted to an unmistakable purr of carnal invitation.
“Go on—see what she’s got for you!” Alexandra could have kissed the drunk that was urging her potential rescuer on. With a sheepish grin, the slightly befuddled pirate came to stand over the captive Alexandra. She gave him another flutter of her eyelids, then inclined her head so that her hair slid forward, the buckle of the gag now in plain view. She felt trembling fingers fumble to part her hair, pull a few strands as he tugged the strap tighter… then felt the glorious release of tension as the strap loosened and he started to remove the hateful gag. Alexandra helped him, pushing frenziedly at the ball with her tongue, then took a breath to compose herself. Keep it cool, Alex… just another couple of minutes.
“Why thank you, gallant sir,” she cooed, and as he leaned closer, he rested a hand on the arm of the chair where Alexandra’s arms were fastened. Desperately, she twisted her wrist against the bonds, allowing her fingers enough purchase to grab the man’s wrist. Before he could react, she craned her neck and put her mouth close to his ear.
“Now, lover,” she willed ice into her voice. “We have a very dangerous situation here. This is no joke. For the sake of all our safety, you need to remain cool and calm.” The man tried to jerk away in surprise, but Alexandra’s hand was a talon pinning him in place. She broadened her smile and looked over the man’s shoulder to address the assembled crowd.
“Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for being a part of this fine charity event. If you’ll now exit through the doors behind you, our generous hostess has some very nice gifts for all of you.” There was warm applause, and some of the crowd began to file out… but not enough of them—in particular, most of the men seemed to prefer to hang back and continue enjoying the sight of the half-naked tied-up “models.”
How much time have we got?
“Listen, Captain Kidd,” Alexandra hissed at her rescuer. “There is a bomb in this room.” She redoubled her grip on his wrist as he started in fear. “You have to undo the straps at my wrists, then go pull that curtain closed, so these people will quite staring and get out of here before they’re blown to bits or die in a panicked rush for the exits. I’ll undo my legs, but you’re going to have to help me get my friend out of here—I can’t carry her by myself. ” She glared fiercely up at him. “Don’t panic, don’t blow it, or we’re all dead.”
The man swallowed hard, but seemed as though he might have more grit to him than Alexandra had dared assume, as he nodded, and reached to unfasten her bonds. He turned to the remaining guests, managed a nervous grin, and stepped to the side of the stage to pull the curtain closed. Alexandra continued to smile and nod pleasantly, until she saw the last of the leering faces disappear with the curtain’s closing. She then reached with trembling fingers to unbuckle the straps holding her legs in place, and undo the belt around her waist. By the time she was finally up on unsteady legs, the man was standing in front of Cynthia, and evidently trying very hard to ignore the fact that her face was at approximately the height of his groin.
“Lift her up,” Alexandra gasped. “Get her off that hook.” The man hesitated, as though trying to decide where would be the least embarrassing place to take hold of the half-naked prisoner. He finally settled for putting his hands around her hips and lifting straight up. Alexandra stooped down to put her arms under Cynthia’s shoulders, and the two of them lifted the half-conscious policewoman between them. A red EXIT sign glowed at the back of the wing area of the small stage, and Alexandra led the way through the door, and out into the cool night air. Moving as quickly as they could while carrying the trussed and gagged redhead, Alexandra and her rescuer made their way across the street, to startled reactions from guests leaving the reception, and sat down on the curb, trembling.
“Call 911,” she snapped as they lay Cynthia down, her head in Alexandra’s lap, and the reporter began undoing the redhead’s gag. The man nodded, and pulled a cellphone from the pocket of his doublet.
Alexandra had just slipped the thick pad of cloth from Cynthia’s mouth, and was stroking her forehead, when the ground beneath them shook, a roar assaulted their ears, and she looked across the street in time to see a section of the Convention Center’s roof shudder and collapse in a cloud of dust and debris.
The crowd had stopped milling, and was staring bug-eyed at the sight, as the sound of sirens began to approach. Alexandra was staring right along with them, when she heard Cynthia moan and felt her raise her head. She looked down at the policewoman.
“Help’s on the way. Your hands are chained, and I’ll need help to get them free. But it’s over now—we’re safe. Just take it easy till the cops arrive.”
Cynthia sighed, letting her head fall back into Alexandra’s lap.
“So… the good news is that everyone got out alive?”
“But the bad news is that Simone and her crew got away…”
Alexandra’s nod was gloomier.
“… and there’s no money
for charity. That about sum up the bad news?”
“Well… that’s most of it…”
“What am I forgetting?”
Alexandra grimaced. “I doubt we’re going to get our costume deposits back.”