Chapter Three- "Hypnotised"

The Presidio in San Francisco, once a garrison to secure the entrance to San Francisco Bay against an attack that would never occur, now is an outpost of red-roofed barracks and expanses of lawn that look almost as if they were planted to frame the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge for tourist pictures and joggers along her waterfront. This is where Kyla Mirdad found her new home. Since the army relinquished control over these picturesque grounds the city of San Francisco has tried to make them self-sufficient and profitable. That means leasing the building to business and residents. Businesses like Kyla's climbing gym; "Rope Up." Situated just east of the Golden Gate and, this morning, the center of danger.

Kyla wakes to sunlight streaming through the windows frosted by age and salt air. Some original panes in this high-ceilinged converted gym remain. Once used to house biplanes, now housing in-door climbers. Not the social type, for which there is no shortage in San Francisco. No, these are rock-climbers who will likely never touch the ancient granite of Yosemite. They will come here to sweat there way up fiberglass walls painted to look like rock. They'll rope in to colorful strands hanging from fifteen meters designed to catch their free fall before gravity introduces them to the shredded tire floor below. This is Kyla's new home and world. This morning, she entertains a client that said the one thing that catches the attention of any young lady who's trying to keep her young business afloat; "I'll pay you whatever you like."

A client in need of quick climbing skills to join her man on the cliffs. Probably told him a lie about how she has been on the rocks for years. Kyla smiles slightly as she descends from her loft in black tights, Nike sport bra, and lose shirt looking vaguely 80's if the colors were brighter.

The bolt is undone and silhouetted beyond is a woman carrying two Grande's from Starbucks along with a gym bag slung over her left shoulder. Thirties, green eyes, hair - the color of coffee with just a hint of milk to lighten it. "Ms. Mirdad. So very good of you to accept my plea for personal lessons. I can't tell you how grateful I am. Double skinny soy latte?"

Not one to act surprised Kyla stifled a flash of recognition regarding her latte'-toting client.

"Thanks you! And, you've obviously done your homework. My usual. Go ahead and put your stuff anywhere and we can get started right away. The place is all ours until eight; until we open."

Standing facing her client Kyla demonstrates, as if in a mirror, the proper tie-in techniques with a harness and belt. "Double loop through the belt to cover the red line." Pointing to a scarlet thread that runs through climbing belts. They're designed to remind climbers to double-check everything before trusting weight and life to a carabineer and rope.

A last sip of latte' and a walk to the nearest plastic wall that resembles rock with a mosaic of paint splotches in various shapes meant to imitate real holds and cracks found in granite.

Black ropes wave from rafters fifty feet above as Kyla reaches for one in an offhanded way. She misses it the first time but, with a bit more concentration, fingers the polyester rope and begins tying the familiar "figure eight" knot favored by climbers for it's strength and lack of give.

"You'll want to do a …" Kyla loses the direction of her sentence for a moment, then regains a bearing a starts again. "You'll want a …"

Green eyes and the smallest hint of a smile look back. "I'll want to 'what," dear?"

Is she speaking Kyla wonders as limbs and joints give in to gravity. A few moments later Kyla dangles back on her rope, tips of climbing shoes just scraping the rubber matte and arms splayed in space behind her as grip and consciousness leave her rope-supported supine body.

A world coming into focus with images inverted is disconcerting enough. Experiencing this with both legs and arms not answering requests sent from the brain is worse still.

"How are we dear?" A voice comes through to Kyla … taking its time to travel through air, ears, and finally to register in the clearing brain.

Her first instinct is to pull hard with every limb. Like a fox when first looped in a trap she pulls her legs hard which, thanks to Newton's Third Law, only offers the reaction of her being pulled as well; towards the climbing wall where her bound ankles had been tied off to a fixed carabineer. Her wrists are crossed and bound behind her, kept tight against the small of her back with one loop running through her own climbing belt. Her climbing shoes still on each ankle is ties with the 3/8 inch poly rope circling neatly, like a snake coiling up a tree, seven times then tied off with, what else, a perfect figure eight knot. Kyla can feel her wrists tight in the hollow of her lumbar region. Tied with something thinner than the standard 3/8 inch poly rope hanging like moss everywhere in the gym. Thin prussic chord? Maybe. Whatever it is holds her wrists tighter than any steel or cuffs could. Forming to her strong, but now completely helpless, wrists.

"What …" Kyla begins. "What is going on?" her capter quickly completes her most obvious of first questions in a tone that sounds almost condescending. "What is going on indeed, Ms. Mirdad."

Her "client" circles the dangling, struggling, helpless athlete - occasionally touching her to steady the swings caused by her ineffective flailing.

"Ms. Mirdad; Hush now and listen. I am in need of something you have in abundance."

"And you can't just ASK? Get me down from here. This is MY place …"

"Of course dear. But first you need to listen …"

"God damn it! Get me the hell down from here NOW!"

With that Kyla begins a series of twists and pulls that shake the rafter to which the rope is attached tens of feet above.

"Oh, Ms. Mirdad, you ARE going to be difficult. That is good, though. One of the things I need is your strength."

Reaching into a black duffel at her feet, sitting next to an empty Starbucks coffee, the green-eyed former client produces a silken scarf, knotted in the middle. Even upside down Kyla can see and predict the purpose.

"Don't you even THINK of mmmph …"

"That's better." Tightening the scarf with the knot effectively placed behind Kyla's teeth.

Kyla thrashes and squirms and the gag actually does little to quiet a series of loud grunts and complaints.

"Knot gags rarely actually silence a person, like you see in the movies." Said the client. Kyla notices that her captor has already changed out of her climbing gear and is in a simple jeans outfit with a black halter top.

How long has it been? The sunlight is coming through at acute angles, bouncing off glass and walls telling her it's almost time to open. Her captor offhandedly picks up some exercise equipment - small spring buttons for helping climbers strengthen their grip - the light plays with the metal carabineers, bouncing yellow rays in random directions. This would be Kyla's favorite time at the gym were she not struggling with limbs wrapped and held together.

"You must be getting tired of hanging like that, so you WILL do something for me."

A muffled grunt with wrinkled brow and a shake of her head, with her short dark hair brushing side to side is her only answer.

Her captor speaks again with a voice that is quiet, measured. A bit like music. "You WILL do something for me …"

This time the demand is met with less struggling and something of a puzzled look.

"You WILL do something for me …"

Why is she repeating herself? Kyla sways a bit in her bonds.

"You WILL do something for me …"

Kyla realized for a moment that her green-eyed companion is purposely letting the reflected sunlight from a metal carabineer play across her inverted eyes.

Kyla's not struggling now. Just feeling heavier and, strangely, relaxed.

"You WILL do something for me …"

Somewhere in the distance there's a sound. But, where?

The smallest sway of the ropes holding Kyla is like a hammock in the summer. Relaxing - soothing even - were it not for her situation.

"You WILL do something for me …"

The sun is noticeably higher now. Soon her employees will arrive to help open shop. Are they already knocking?

"You WILL …"

There's a familiar sound. A knock at the gym door and Kyla is in her usual space - behind the front desk preparing the shop for a day of people "bouldering" indoors and top-roping.

"Hey there Kay!" Comes the greeting from her first employee to arrive.

Kyla stands at the now open gym door. It's just the two of them.

"You awake yet boss?"

"Yeah, Yeah. Just foggy I guess."

Kyla looks around the room as if trying to remember something. High above a spider regards the goings on while a small fly struggles with silken web and no hope of escape.

"How was that client, Kay? The one you were supposed to have this morning?" asks her only company in the gym as he tosses his bag into a corner with a dull thunk.

"Uhm … Good….good …" Kyla's voice trails off and her eyes search for a memory of the morning, finding only a vague recollection of helping someone with basic ropes and harnesses.

Kyla gives her head a shake and looks around as if to say something but nothing comes to mind. She finally settles on; "O.K … let's get this place open before I take off to Sausalito."

"Right, boss!" comes a happy reply as the sun rises higher in the San Francisco morning.

Chapter Four

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