Lisette and the Cyber Geeks


Brian Sands




The Avengers, HtF Vidcaps


Chapter Sixteen Bandes Dessinées

Lisette lifted her head and listened to the vibrations of the big car. Her head was the only part of her body that she could move! She had read somewhere that modern cars had an escape latch installed in the boot, so that it could be unlocked from the inside, and that an interior lamp made it easier to find ... although being able to see the close walls around her would intensify the claustrophobic feeling. But she was blindfolded. And what could she do if she managed to get her hands to the latch? She stretched her fingers to test the idea. Her hands were growing numb from the combined constriction of the cords holding her wrists and the layers of tape wrapped over them. Her fingertips pressed into empty air. The rear of the boot might have been in another country for all the good it did her, though she knew it was only inches away. If she was in a larger area, a room for instance, she might have been able to rock her body to and fro and so move about a little. But that was impossible in the small, cramped space, curled up and held in what she found much later was a ball tie combined with the better known hog tie.

Breathing was a continual difficulty, especially as the interior of the boot became increasingly stuffy and oppressive from the heat of her body and the stale air she exhaled. Lisette reflected that she was becoming more experienced with different sorts of gag. The thought chilled her. It was not the experience she wanted to revel in, and she did not, but there was a sort of comfort in knowing that she could take the punishment with relative stoicism. This gag was similar to the rough ones she had been forced to wear before, and she paced herself, relaxing her body and breathing in slow, gentle sighs.

The horror had to end, sooner or later, she told herself. The gang will be more confident when they have me in their latest hideaway. They might give me some relief from these awful bonds, though I suspect one of them will think of a simple but effective way of keeping me immobile and quiet.

Were they going back to the farmhouse where she and Chérie were held prisoner? If so, it meant a very long trip, at least three hours. That was a long time to lie bound and gagged as she was. More than likely they were going somewhere else. Lisette, curled up in a ball of misery, tried to blank her mind. She was successful. In the end, she did not remember much of the journey.

What Lisette next became aware of was the cessation of movement. It was followed a short time later by feeling someone cutting the cords that bound her ankles to her elbow ties and the ropes around her knees and body. She was lifted out of the boot and carried, she guessed, in Sigrid’s huge arms.

She heard the sound of feet crunching on gravel around her. The whole gang’s here, she thought vaguely. Next came heavy feet on floorboards. All the sounds were distant, muted because the tape of the blindfold covered her ears as well. With her face almost completely sealed under blindfold and gag, Lisette did not at first register changing room temperatures. But those parts of her body that were not also taped up did sense the changes. She felt cool air on her neck and on a patch of skin around her thigh where the skirt of her silk dress was bunched at her hips. The cold air began to revive her. Lisette realised that she had to gather her wits about her if she was to use any opportunity for escape. She could not give in and wait for rescue to happen. Rescue might never come.

I’m being taken underground, she thought. Another cellar perhaps?

Yes, it felt as if they were descending. Lisette heard the distant echo of shoes on wooden steps. She was carried further a short distance, then she was laid face down on a cold surface. The unevenness against her breasts suggested that she was lying on flagstones. It was not the cement floor of the country house. The cold began to seep upwards through her body, chilling her breasts which were almost pushed out of their supporting half-cup bra and the top of the flimsy dress. On the other hand, she was lying with her legs straight, no longer with her knees flexed close to her body or with her ankles tied back. The relief was a mixed thing however, for the muscles of her calves began to spasm and cramp agonisingly. She cried out through her gag. As usual, all that emerged was a strangled croak. Tears of pain pooled under her eyelids and seeped out from beneath the thin linen pad that was taped over them.

Madame Vellum’s voice, raised to an almost strident pitch, reached Lisette’s ears through the tape.

"The girl’s in spasm! Get all that stuff off her, and the ropes. We don’t want her dying on us, not like that other one almost did! Sometimes I think you three experts at restraints overdo things."

"Ja. Vill tread li’l mice more nicer. Now ze iss here, ze escape can not do."

"How many times do I have to tell you, dear, dear Sigrid, that the word iss ‘mouse,’ singular, and not mices or mice?"

"Ja, Madame Wellum."

Sigrid began slicing away the rope and tape at different parts of Lisette’s body with single economical movements.

"Come to think of it, she iss - now you’ve got me doing it - is a rather singular person. Look how she’s lying now. She’s been cramped up in the boot of a car for almost two hours, expertly bound, gagged and blindfolded. Many other women would be completely hysterical, almost out of their minds after such an experience. But this one ... she’s a small woman, so slender, but she’s got guts. You may be our prisoner, my dear," continued Vellun addressing Lisette who was looking up at her and blinking away the tears, "But you’re a professional in your own right, and you have my respect."

Madame Vellum turned away and began pacing across the flagged floor of what was obviously a cellar. The other gang members stood in a row like respectful school children in front of the headmistress: Alvina Gamms, Dorothea Wimple, Priscilla Moons, and - a little to the rear - Bombodil Kidd. Sigrid was still cutting away tape and ropes from Lisette’s body. Legato stood sulkily by the foot of the wooden steps down which they had just come. Sigrid had pulled Lisette upright. The young woman’s arms were free but they hung uselessly by her sides and she was shivering uncontrollably from the pain of the cramping. Under the circumstances, Lisette could not understand how Madame Vellum saw more than just a very frightened girl.

"Massage her legs and arms, dear Sigrid, then take that gag off her ... I’ll have to interrogate you, Miss Rivers. There are too many unexplained occurrences ... I am sure our pretty captive knows more than she pretends ... Don’t worry, dear. We’re not going to torture you. Ah hah! Locking normal captives in this cellar would be enough. You will be restrained as an added precaution. So you will be uncomfortable. That’s where your colleague is, by the way, in another cellar, regretfully, gagged and restrained like you. We will allow you to meet later and, if one of you does not cooperate the other will pay the price."

"I- I thought you said there would be no torture," Lisette stammered, her voice scarcely audible.

Sigrid had continued with the removal of her bonds, which included cutting away the tape from around her face and removing the gag from her mouth, and was only now beginning to massage her legs expertly.

"It will not be torture so much as discomfort," Vellum replied. "Your friend does not know that, and we will question her first. You, of course, will not be able to speak at that point in the interrogation."

Sigrid’s powerful fingers kneaded the kinks and aches from Lisette’s calves, then worked their way down to her feet, massaging different points in the soles, paying attention to the toes, manipulating the ankles. As Sigrid began to work on Lisette’s arms, bringing life back into fingers stiff from being denied proper circulation for so long, Lisette looked into her eyes.

"Th- Thank you," she said softly, "I- I see a different side to your character. You’re very ... very good at this. It’s Swedish massage of some sort isn’t it?"

Sigrid’s face glowed with pleasure.

"Ja, vif a li’l off der deep tizzue sports massage, a li’l Shiatsu, ‘a li’l trik-point massage, a li’l Reiki alzo."

"You- You could make a really great career with those skills, you know. Why don’t you go straight?"

"Are you going to tell us all to go straight?" interjected Madame Vellum with a short laugh.

"She ought to be gagged all the time, keep her trap shut!" It was Legato’s voice from the other side of the cellar.

"No, no. I’m finding this quite diverting," said Vellum with a chuckle. She hunkered down in front of Lisette as Sigrid started work massaging the captive’s shoulders. "What advice do you have for the rest us of, me for instance?"

"You seem to be a really good organiser." Lisette was finding her voice again. "I think you would do well in the corporate sector."

Madame Vellum roared with laughter. "You really are the limit, my dear. I am in the corporate sector already, near the top of this little empire."

"But a counterfeiting empire."

"Oh, so you’ve unearthed that little fact. You must agree that it’s unique. The payoff in the long-run will be splendid." Vellumn turned to the others. "I said she was a professional ... But that’s enough for now, Sigrid. Our Miss Rivers looks a lot more refreshed."

Lisette turned to Sigrid. "Thank you again."

"Ja, iss nozink," but the woman’s demeanour still showed her pleasure at the compliment.

"This little woman is a charmer," observed Vellum with a smile. "I think, Sigrid dear, that we’ll put her in charge of someone else for a change. Do you mind?"

"Neigh. Iss okay."

"Good ... You have a strong sales resistance, don’t you, Alvina?"

Alvina Gamms nodded. "Our little trickster won’t get past my feelings, Madame."

"I thought not. So we shall leave you to take care of her. Sigrid uses rope. Dorothea uses a lot of tape. I used wire. Tape and wire work very efficiently. But this little room has other novelties for you, Miss Rivers, as Alvina will show you ... Come. We have work to do. Once the last consignment is crated and sent off, we shall have to leave ourselves. This country is getting a little too hot for us."

Madame Vellum left the room. The rest of the gang except for Alvina Gamms trooped obediently after her up the steps.

Gamms turned to Lisette. "Can you stand?"

"I think so."

Lisette struggled to her feet, the movement allowing the skirt of her beautiful silk dress to flutter down over her legs. The dress was not only décolleté, its skirt also stopped some two or three inches above Lisette’s knees to allow her shapely thighs to grace the gaze of any observer. At present the rope marks still showed from the long journey, forming an interesting attention-getting pattern on her soft skin. During that journey the skirt had rucked up to her hips so that it exposed all of her long slender thighs. The return to its original decorum was welcome, a problem of modesty resolved. The dress’s bodice, however, would have to wait until more feeling returned to her hands. Being forced to lie scrunched up on her side for so many hours had pushed her breasts almost from the cups of her bra, and a lot showed through the deep V slash of the silk’s cut.

"Good. Come over here ... Don’t think you can overpower me, by the way."

Lisette looked at the short, solid woman facing her and knew that she had little chance in a match of strength.

"Wh- Where do you want me to go?"

"Over there, by the wall, dear."

Puzzled, Lisette walked towards the wall of the cellar indicated by Mrs Gamms. When she drew closer, she saw what had not been visible in the shadows from a distance. There were chains on the wall, and metal rings. She looked back. Alvina Gamms followed, a large blanket folded over her arms.

"Here," the woman held out the blanket and Lisette took it dutifully. "Place it on the floor in front of that iron ring and sit down. You may wish to lie down, although I doubt whether you will find that comfortable after what I am going to do next."

Lisette spread the blanket on the flags where she had been told, laying it out so that she could rest on her side protected from the cold floor by a couple of thicknesses. It was obvious that she was going to be tied up again, and anchored to the ring in the wall somehow. She sat on the blanket with her knees drawn up to one side and looked expectantly up at her captor.

She used this moment to re-adjust her bra, to ensure that her breasts were properly seated in their unpadded half cups. With a defiant flirt of her head, Lisette then adjusted he shoulder straps so that nothing showed despite the dress’s revealing neckline. Her captor guffawed softly but said nothing.

Mrs Gamms walked to a large cabinet that stood against a wall near the steps, opened it, and returned almost immediately with something in her hands that clinked. She came up to Lisette and squatted down beside her.

"Turn around. You should know the drill by now."

Lisette turned and put her arms behind her back. She looked over her shoulder, trying to see what the Gamms woman was holding.

"I don’t blame you for taking an interest, my dear," said Mrs Gamms chattily. "These are manacles. They’re from a bygone era but I assure you they’re working models." Lisette felt cold iron settle around one wrist. "You see," continued Gamms as she inserted a screw and began to tighten the broad ring, "This place used to be a museum of medieval artefacts. And when the property passed into Sir Hoffnung’s hands and became Flowers R Us in the levels above, this little dungeon stayed almost as it was left, with the original displays carefully stored away in that cabinet. You are going to learn how it feels to be shackled, like they did to suspects in the witch trials."

The second band of iron was screwed in place about Lisette’s other wrist while Gamms was talking, and a short chain of three links now clipped into place to join both wrist bands together.

"Almost like handcuffs. I wanted to use my collection on you, but this paraphernalia is convenient. I quite forgot to bring my handcuff case along, otherwise you could have had a choice of styles ... There, that will hold you, little Miss Houdini."

Lisette moved her hands experimentally and found with a shock that she could not budge them. Her arms strained helplessly. Mrs Gamms chuckled, then climbed to her feet and walked back to the cabinet. What she carried back clinked as well. This time she squatted near Lisette’s feet.

"Ankle shackles ... Probably unnecessary considering that you’ll be chained to the wall. But I might as well use them since they’re here, and it will prevent you from trying to use your feet for anything."

Lisette had been silent up till now, watching each of Gamms’s movements in remote fascination as though it was not her own body that was being so tightly bound and shackled. But she found her voice at last.

"What are you going to do with me and Chérie Chalmers?"

"We’ve told your colleague already, but of course we haven’t had a chance to brief you. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t know ..."

The woman paused. Lisette held her breath, her heart beating rapidly.

"We’re not going to kill you, if that’s what you fear. But we can’t just let you go either. The original plan was to hold you both incommunicado out in the country. Your continual escapes kept on interfering with our plans, distracting us from our work. Your last escape was with help naturally. I for one do not believe any longer that you are a real Houdini. And, now that we have you, there will be no more of that nonsense."

"So ... You’re going to hold us here?"

"Yes. Or in some other place. But moving you is such a nuisance, and not at all comfortable for you. The Chalmers woman passed out, she was so tightly mummified, and for a bad moment we thought that, if we were caught, murder would be among the charges - and none of us are murderers ... a little cruel perhaps, but not killers."

"I’m glad to know that," said Lisette fervently, thinking of both Chérie’s narrow brush with death and the gang’s relative harmlessness.

"That’s why we’re under Madame’s orders not to bind you so tightly any more. It was almost overdone, again, in your case, coming here ... All I want you to do is be quiet and cooperative and in due time you’ll be rescued."

"When will that be?"

‘Ah ... When we’ve packed up the last consignment ... That will take some hours."

"What is that? What is it you’re counterfeiting?"

"Haven’t you worked it out for yourself yet, an intelligent young woman like you?"

"Well ..." said Lisette slowly. "Can I make a couple of guesses?"

"Go ahead, dear." Gamms looked at her watch. "You have seven minutes before I have to go up and help the others."

Lisette gathered her thoughts. "When I was locked in one of the storerooms, with that man Jakes Bottomly on guard ..."

"Oh yes, poor Jakes. He had a bad headache after you hit him. We almost discharged him, but he would have disappeared into the dockside pubs. No, he’s upstairs with the other helping with the crates."

"Well ... I got free by rubbing the tape on the edge of one of those crates."

"Is that how you did it? Ingenious!"

"And before I got out, I saw that the bales were full of comic books, the sort called Bande Dessinées. Well, for a long time I thought that you were drug runners and that the drugs were being shipped out hidden in the comic books. But there’s another possibility, that you are smuggling Bande Dessinées themselves ... counterfeit Bande Dessinées ..."

"Almost full marks, my dear! But not just any Bande Dessinées. Counterfeit copies of out-of-print books in mint condition, sold to private buyers no questions asked. There’s a particularly good line in special collectors’ editions of early adventure series, Tintin and the Jewels of Opar, Tarzan and the Mangliofore Ruby, and more contemporary Bande Dessinées such as Faux Projet or Tara in the Beaver Park by Noir ... You haven’t seen some of those titles, have you?" she added in response to Lisette’s puzzled expression.

"No ... But is it really a paying proposition?"

"Very much so."

"But you could have done that on a bone fide basis. There’s a big business in facsimile editions of popular old comic books, and there would have been tax concessions."

"Ah, but not as lucrative as our product. We pride ourselves, by the way, that although they are mass-produced the buyers get quality for money - a lot of money of course."

"So I was very close."

"Yes. You have good powers of deduction ... But now I have to go, and there’s one more thing to do."

Mrs Gamms rose to her feet and walked again to the cabinet. There was another chink of metal as she returned towards Lisette. She held up what looked like a metal helmet. Lisette shivered apprehensively.

"It doesn’t look appealing does it, dear? That’s because it isn’t. It’s very practical, but it’s also somewhat ugly and, I’m afraid, a very uncomfortable fit."

"Wh- What is it?" But Lisette already had a very strong suspicion of its nature.

"This, my dear, is what they call a scold’s bridle. It’s a particularly inventive metal helmet designed to force the wearer, a woman of course, to hold her tongue. Actually, the scold’s bridle will hold your tongue for you."

"You- You’re not going to put that thing on me?"

"But of course I am. I am expecting you to be cooperative ... This is iron." Gamms held it up and manipulated some of the links. "If you struggle, you’ll risk chipping a tooth, or having your face cut on parts of the metal ... This part, see, goes in your mouth. It’s a particularly nasty but quite effective metal gag, so I am told. I am most interested in seeing its effect on you."

Lisette licked her lips nervously.

"Do I- Do I have to wear it for long?"

"Perhaps not. But it will be necessary for it to be in place when we bring your friend in here and question her. You heard what Madame said."

"I guess I don’t have any choice."

"No, you haven’t. I’ll be as gentle as possible when I put it on ... Hmmm."


Mrs Alvina Gamms was holding up the helmet and inspecting it critically.

"This thing." She indicated a flat tongue of metal that was folded over at its end to make a bulge. "We’re not out to torture you, just to make you uncomfortable, so that you know your place as our captive. I think I’ll pad this, but what to use ..."

The woman looked down at the skirt of Lisette’s little black silk dress, which was riding up to mid thigh.

"Let’s see."

Mr Gamms delved into the pocket of her apron and came out with a knife-like object. She held it up to the light.

"So that’s where it was."

It was a potato peeler of the sort made from folded tin with a sharpened slit down the middle. It had a point, though that did not look very sharp.

"I suppose this will have to do."

She reached down, grasped Lisette’s skirt by the hem and drove the point of the potato peeler into the luscious silk. It went through with a ripping sound. Mrs Gamms inserted her fingers and with a single steady movement tore the skirt all the way round, just above the hem. Involuntarily Lisette drew her legs up.

"My best silk dress!" cried Lisette in consternation. "There was a mini-dress on the rack that I almost bought ..."

"Too bad," was the reply. "You should be thankful, dear, that you didn’t choose that mini-dress. And ... you’ll thank me for this, I assure you ... Anyway, that dress will have to go, and other fripperies as well ... as part of the theatricals.


Mrs Gamms did not respond but instead concentrated on the job at hand.

Lisette watched with tears of hurt pride, and hurt pocket, as Alvina Gamms finished the job of ripping away a sizeable swathe of two-inch silk. As she worked, she muttered under her breath as though to herself.

"It will be disposed of, just as we did away with your suit ... and the nosy lawyer’s woollen dress ... and her bra and panties ...when we captured you both."

The silk strip was now wrapped around the metal tongue many times, a couple of layers also going over the ends. When she was finished, the contraption had a stump of thick black silk protruding from it.

"All right, dearie, open wide."

Mrs Gamms brought the thing to Lisette’s face with the wad of silk against her lips. Lisette tried to obey. She could scarcely get her mouth around it.

"Keep trying, dear. You’ll gag on it first, but soon you’ll be able to close your mouth a little, when it’s all in."

Lisette had to stretch her jaws wide before the thick wad of silk could slide into her mouth. It penetrated past mid-way, almost to the back of her throat, and stayed there pressing down on her tongue. She heard a faint metallic squeal as Mrs Gamms turned screws at the back that tightened the helmet around her head and face. It was a simple enough affair. The broad metal band with the silk-wrapped gag passed across her lower face to the back of her head, and to it was attached another band that went over her head vertically. It was bifurcated to pass on either side of her nose and, when the screws tightened, drawing those bands together, Lisette’s head was held literally in a vise. Her lips were uncomfortably close to the metal, but all that she could feel on her tongue was the soft wedge of silk that filled her mouth.

"There, that wasn’t too bad was it?" said Gamms in the same tones that a dentist might use after a particularly difficult filling.

Lisette tried to reply, but hardly a sound came out.

"I think you will now be ‘ver qviet like liddle mices,’ as Sigrid would say," observed Gamms with a satisfaction that had in it more than a hint of cruelty.

"I’ll leave you now," the woman continued. "You can try to lie down, but I think the, um, bridle, will not be very comfortable against the floor. Think over the advantages of cooperating with us. You have two or three hours in that thing before we will have time to interrogate you and your friend. Later you can have it off ... Oh, your wrists and ankles will remain shackled. But we will resort to normal cloth when we gag you again."

With those words, Mrs Alvina Gamms turned and stumped up the steps and out through the door. Lisette watched her go with mixed feelings. The woman had seemed so nice when she started to put on her restraints, only to turn nasty when the gag was in place. And what a gag! It felt embedded in her mouth, pressed against her upper palate, pushing down on her tongue, and threatening to choke her. It was as bad as the early tape gags with their mouth filling cloth, worse because the silk wad was fixed rigidly within a simple iron matrix. All she could do was to bite on the thick silk and try not to scream with frustration ... Not that a scream would get through.

She tried to move her hands. Nothing happened. She could move her fingers and legs a little, but the ankle cuffs were connected to each other by a single link on either side of a short rod. She had very little freedom of movement.

On the other hand - Lisette realised with a sudden flaring of hope - the Gamms woman had forgotten to chain her wrist shackles to the wall. Lisette could move about the whole of the cellar, as far as her present wrist and ankle chains allowed. If she and Chérie were left alone together ...

Lisette cast her eyes around the room. The walls looked back, their stonework creating within her a hemmed-in claustrophobic feeling. The only protection from the chill of the walls and floor was the two layers of blanket on which she was sitting. At least that was thoughtful of Mrs Gamms.

The scold’s bridle weighed heavily on her head. Perhaps Gamms was wrong. Maybe it was more comfortable to lie down. At least the weight would not be so unbearable. Carefully, Lisette lowered herself to her side, falling helplessly the last foot, and tried to arrange herself with her knees curled up and her head on the other end of the blanket. But her weight pressed the bridle against the floor and made the angle of the shaft with the protective silk gag shift in her mouth. It brought on a fit of choking and she had to raise her head to relieve the pressure.

The fresh tears streaming down her face almost caused her to miss the dull gleam of metal near her shoulder. Lisette blinked and tried to focus. She had to lift her head a little further back. And then she saw the potato peeler where Mrs Gamms had dropped it.

Lisette managed to push herself upright. Her muscles ached with the effort. It was a lot harder to struggle against iron shackles and chains than against ropes or tape. She caught up the potato peeler in one hand and edged over so that she was sitting with her back to the wall. She would have to wait for two hours before anything happened. Escape was a possibility, she reminded herself, but anything could go wrong. The potato peeler might not be usable. Mrs Gamms might miss it and search for it. The woman might remember that Lisette was not chained to the wall. They might be moved and the implement found on her.

And all the time the metal frame pressed down on her head, giving her a headache, making her thoughts disjointed and leading her into despair.


To be Continued ...

ã Brian Sands 2004


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ã Brian Sands 2004