A TALE OF SEDUCTION, COERCION, & ART
by Van © 2003
Our story begins
Bess braked her Honda Goldwing, eased onto the gravel shoulder of the road, and coasted to a stop. Still astride the idling machine she pulled off her helmet and shook out her long dark hair. She was many miles north of Santa Barbara, deep into the Sierra Madres. Gentle hills covered with sere grass and groves of scrub oak loomed on all sides. She had seen scant evidence of human habitation for quite some time, other than wire fences, a few grazing cattle, and the road itself. Off to the side, shaded by several overgrown shrubs, Bess saw the start of an improved but unpaved road. The turnoff was so well hidden she knew if she hadn't been forewarned to look for it she would have missed it completely or dismissed it as a drainage feature of the main road. She unzipped her leather jacket and pulled a map from the inside pocket. The location on the map and the mile marker matched her scrawled notes; but there was no mail box or sign other than a rusted "NO TRESPASSING" sign on the aluminum rail cattle gate barring entrance.
This has to be it, Bess decided. She folded her map, zipped her jacket, donned her helmet, and eased her bike to the gate. It was closed, but not locked. She parked her bike, opened the gate, walked the bike through, closed the gate, then mounted up and roared down the road.
After about two miles, the ravine the road had been following ended in an open field and the road began climbing up the side of a hill. It turned back on itself twice, then crested the top. The top turned out to be a saddle linked to an even more massive hill, and atop that hill Bess could see a cluster of buildings nestled among a grove of huge oaks. She roared up the road another mile to a second gate, the only opening in a livestock barrier style electrified fence that appeared to encircle the hilltop. The gate was substantial, motor driven and opened via remote control. There was also a subdued but very tasteful sign hanging from a beam between two posts. It read "Kilborn."
Bess parked her bike, pulled off her helmet and gloves and set them on the seat, then stretched and walked to the gate. Slender and athletic, dressed in boots, jeans, a tank-top under her leather jacket, Bess was also covered in road dust and in need of a bath and change of clothes. Next to the vehicle gate there was a pedestrian gate, also locked. Nearby was a metal call box with a video camera lens. Bess straightened her hair as best she could, swallowed nervously, and pressed the call button. A raucous buzzer sounded. Several seconds passed with no response. Bess was about to press the button again when the camera lens whirred, a tiny red light winked to life, and the call box' speaker hummed.
"This is private property," a tinny, disembodied voice announced.
"Ms. Kilborn?" Bess asked, smiling for the camera. "I'm with the Development Division of Broadside Studios. Stephanie Canon sent me." There was no response from the tiny speaker grill of the call box. Bess waited politely. Eventually the silent interval became awkward. Bess swallowed and tried again. "Stephanie sent me to assist you... to help with the preproduction work on the Star Fox film project."
"So, you're here to spy," the voice accused.
"No, certainly not," Bess responded. "I'm here to help... in whatever capacity you require... honest."
There was another long pause, then the pedestrian gate opened with a loud click. "Close the gate behind you."
Bess glanced at her bike, then turned back to the call box, but the red light under the lens was out and the speaker silent. I guess I'll have to hoof it , she thought, stepped through the gate and pulled it closed. There was a second click, and just as she was releasing the metal handle Bess received a mild electric shock. "Son of a bitch! " she swore, fluttering her hand.
The vehicle road continued up the hill to the left, apparently leading to the back of the hilltop complex, but to the right a landscaped gravel path switchbacked towards what looked like the main residence. As she climbed the path, Bess admired the view. Something like five or six miles from the nearest paved road, she mused, at least thirty miles from anything you could call a town... Steph was right: 'Maggie Kilborn likes her privacy.'
Bess finally came to the end of the path. She looked down. The gate complex and her bike were perhaps 300 yards below, and from this distance the fence was nearly invisible. Bess turned back and started in surprise. Her hostess and temporary boss was standing immediately before her.
Maggie Kilborn was in her 40's, 5'6" (two inches shorter than Bess), with strawberry blonde hair cut in a tousled bob, fair skin with a sprinkling of freckles, a trim athletic figure, and a very beautiful face with high cheekbones and green eyes. She was dressed in jeans and a sleeveless top that showcased her toned arms and full breasts. Her pale feet were bare. She's stunning, Bess thought, also just like Steph said.
Maggie stared back at Bess, looking her up and down in a critical and not particularly friendly manner. "I generally prefer my models a little younger," she muttered, "but you'll do. What are you... about 30? Take off the jacket."
Bess blinked in surprise. "Uh... I'm not a model," she explained. "I'm a production assistant."
"The jacket," Maggie repeated. "You said Boom-Boom was sending you out here to help. What I need right now is a model."
Bess removed her jacket as Maggie watched. "Boom-Boom?"
"Boom-Boom Canon. What do you call her? 'Madame Producer?' 'She-who-signs-my-paycheck?'"
Bess smiled, and for the first time Maggie smiled back. "I call her Steph... or Ms. Canon... and I'm 32."
"What did Steph tell you about me?" Maggie asked, still looking Bess up and down.
"She said you did production design and development work for her, and that you're also a sculptor."
Maggie's smile turned sardonic. "That sounds like Boom-Boom. Actually, I'm a sculptor who on rare occasions does design and preproduction work."
"You also have an Emmy and two Oscar nominations," Bess muttered. "I did my homework," she added in response to Maggie's questioning stare.
"You did, huh? Than you must know what my pieces go for these days."
"Five figures," Bess responded, "and you've done one-woman shows on both coasts and in Europe."
Maggie nodded. "Very good... and flattery will get you everywhere." She gestured towards a cluster of teak garden furniture. They settled into a pair of chairs.
"It's beautiful up here," Bess said, smiling politely.
"What's the latest on Star Fox," Maggie asked, apparently not in the mood for small talk.
"The studio's still casting. Nicole is all but signed and supposedly Julia and Gwyneth are also interested. As usual, the problem is scheduling. You know how costs skyrocket, given any excuse. If they can get a star package together they want to be able to start shooting without any delays... like for prop design." There was an akward silence, then Bess continued. "The studio's happy with the current draft of the script, and are so confident this will be a cash cow they've funded development on two sequels and have feelers out with the networks for a TV series."
Maggie shook her head. "Are they still using 'Barbarella meets Star Wars' to sell investors?"
"Not since Drew and George started complaining." Bess answered.
"Again... why are you here?"
Bess regarded Maggie for several seconds, then finally spoke. "No blowing smoke, okay?" Maggie nodded. "You don't return phone calls or answer your e-mail. The studio likes the preliminary drawings of the Slaving Guild starship interiors, but want to know when the final designs will be ready for fabrication." Maggie frowned. "Steph knows how you work," Bess added hastily. "She's not worried. She just needs something to show the suits."
Maggie's frown faded. "What were her precise instructions?"
Bess smiled. "I'm to do whatever it takes to help move things along."
Maggie regarded Bess for several seconds. "Let me explain how I work. I sketch and model everything in the computer first, then I do full scale mockups of key elements to test the mechanics. I refine the designs, then send on the files to the imaging studios and fabricators. Real testing this far up front prevents surprises... and makes sure my designs don't get screwed around with as much."
Bess nodded. "So what do you need me to—"
"Model," Maggie interrupted. "I told you. I have some preliminary props ready and I need them tested."
Bess blushed. "Uh... I'm not a model, like I said."
"You'll do fine," Maggie said as she stood. "Come. We'll bring your bike up to the garage later. You brought some clothes and such, right?"
Bess stood. "One small bag. I travel light."
"Always a good idea," Maggie said and extended her right hand. "Welcome to my home, Bess. Call me Maggie."
Bess smiled and took Maggie's hand. Her grip was strong. "Thanks. May I use your phone? I tried my cell phone earlier, but apparently you don't have service up here."
"Later," Maggie answered and led Bess towards the house. "We'll get you cleaned up first."
Bess luxuriated under the cascade of hot water. If this is a guest bath, what must the master bath look like? Wow! I could get used to this. The shower was tiled with marble. A veritable waterfall poured over her head and massaging jets caressed her naked body from four sides.
Maggie's house was an earth-sheltered mansion, tucked into, under, and around the hilltop. From the outside it was flagstone patios and balconies and sheltered windows of mirrored glass painted with vaguely Celtic naturalistic swirls and branch-like patterns in several earth tones. "The window painting is to prevent bird strikes," Maggie had explained. "I used the pinhole masking technique they use to plaster advertising on buses. From the inside it's all invisible."
The window painting had indeed been invisible from the inside. The vistas of the surrounding hills were unobstructed and magnificent. "This place is a little like a bunker," Maggie had continued, "but that makes it safe from wildfire. I can close the steel shutters and ride out anything."
The interior was rustic and charming, a mix of Mexican, Native American, and Shaker. Very Sundance Catalog, Bess had noted, only this is what Sundance is trying to be. Maggie had led her to a "guest room" that was bigger than Bess' own Burbank apartment.
"The shower's through there," Maggie had explained with a gesture towards an adjoining door. "Towels, soap, shampoo, all of it's there. Give me your keys and I'll bring up your bike." Bess had surrendered her keys and Maggie had turned and left without another word, closing the guest room door behind her.
She likes having things her way, Bess decided as she turned off the water. She's not the first colossal ego I've run into in The Business, but from what I've seen of her work... she's one of the few who've earned it.
Bess toweled herself dry, then used a hand dryer and brush to sort out her hair. When she emerged from the bathroom she was surprised to find her boots and soiled clothes gone. In their place was a thin cotton robe. Its predominant color was sky blue, but bold geometric stripes, checks, and chevrons in navy, burgundy, and heather gray gave it a Mexican mien. Bess donned the robe. Its hem came to just above her knees, its generous sleeves to just below her elbows. She wrapped it closed and tied the sash with a quick half bow. Now what? she wondered, looking around the luxuriously rustic bedroom.
Deciding valor was the better part of discretion, Bess opened the door and ventured into the hallway. She was trying to decide whether to start exploring on her own when Maggie came into view.
"Good," the smiling redhead said and spun on her heel. "Come!"
"Uh... What about my clothes?"
Maggie turned back and regarded her guest with an impatient frown. "Something wrong with the robe?"
"No, no, of course not," Bess answered. "Just... where are my—"
"Your bag's still on your bike," Maggie said. "I'll get it later."
"C'mon!" Maggie ordered and spun on her heel again. "I have something to show you."
Bess paused uncertainly, then shrugged and followed her hostess and surrogate boss. Maggie led her down a long curving hallway that provided periodic views of the late afternoon hills. They came to a pair of doors opposite a picture window. Beside the doors was a side table. On the table was a pair of very unusual gloves.
"You've read the script and notes?" Maggie asked. Bess nodded. Maggie picked up one of the gloves and handed it to Bess. "These are the prototype 'Slave Mitts.'"
Bess inspected the glove. It was something like a boxing glove, only more spherical and compact. It had a wide rigid cuff with a small dangling steel ring solidly set in a swiveling socket. The ring and its housing were gunmetal. The cuff and the rest of the glove were glossy plastic of a matching hue. "This is what the Slavers put on the Star Rangers after they're captured?"
"Try it on," Maggie suggested.
Bess paused... then thrust her left hand into the glove's opening. It was a tight fit, but she wiggled her fingers into the small channels inside the sphere, rotating the glove to find the best fit.
"I used a semi-closed mannequin hand for the interior mold," Maggie explained, "so it should be most comfortable if you let your fingers curl. Here, I'll help you with the other one." Bess held out her right hand and allowed Maggie to help her snuggle into the right glove. "How do they feel?"
Bess flexed her fingers. They had very little freedom of motion. When she tried to open or close her fist the foam interior met her with increasing resistance. "The idea being that wearing these things the prisoner can't use her hands for anything, right?"
"Right," Maggie purred, and closed her hands around the right glove's cuff. She pressed and the cuff tightened with a series of ratcheting clicks. "Other hand," she ordered.
Bess lifted her left hand and allowed Maggie to tighten the cuff. "Uh..."
"Don't worry," Maggie said. "The cuff mechanisms are well tested. It's the mitts themselves that need a trial."
"A trial?" Bess muttered, inspecting her hands. It was as if she had buried her hands in two large foam balls and dipped them in liquid latex.
"They're supposed to make you helpless," Maggie purred, "so we'll see if you're helpless. The cover is a new plastic polymer that's very slippery and pliant, yet nearly impossible to abrade or cut... especially since you can't pick anything up... sharp or otherwise. Try the door," she ordered, gesturing towards the double doors.
Bess fumbled with the round doorknobs, but found it impossible to make them turn, even when using both hands in concert. The mitts' padding wasn't firm enough to let her take a grip, and the harder she tried the worse the frictionless covering slipped. "These things work," she said with a nervous smile.
"We'll see," Maggie said with a feral smile. She opened the doors. Beyond was a large room with several pedestals. Maggie thumbed a switch and spotlights illuminated a dozen large sculptures, most in bronze. She gestured and Bess entered.
"Your gallery?" the brunette asked.
"Some of my favorites," Maggie confirmed. "Take a look around. I have something to take care of."
Before she realized what was happening, the door was closed and Bess was alone. She held up her hands again and inspected her "Slave Mitts." They glistened in the indirect light of the bright spots like oiled glass. She glanced back at the doors. The inside knobs were the same round style. Bess didn't even bother trying to turn them. "What the hell have you gotten me into, 'Boom-Boom'?" she muttered under her breath.
Maggie leaned against the window opposite the gallery door, a very self-satisfied smile on her lightly freckled face. She stared at the doors for several seconds, lightly rubbing the crotch of her tight jeans with her right hand. She then shuddered and walked away towards the back of the house. She paused to grab the handset from a telephone base station. She hit one of the speed dial buttons, then continued through the house, talking as she walked.
"Boom-Boom! She arrived... Yes, she's everything you said she'd be. I'm very pleased, so far... Yes... Yes... Agreed. Consider me appeased and back on schedule. Watch for my e-mails. 'Bye."
She tossed the handset on the kitchen island, then exited the main house. The sun was low in the sky. It looked to be a perfect evening, with the golden glowing light of the setting sun bouncing off the grassy slopes, an effect for which the region was justly famous in the art world. Maggie headed for one of her studios. Like most of the complex it was half buried in the hill. She punched a code into the steel keypad next to the steel portal, opened the door, and entered.
Indirect light from several light tunnels lit the space. A welding rig, helmet, and leather apron were to one side. Racks of iron stock lined the walls and scraps of bar littered the worktables and concrete floor. The back of the room was hidden behind a heavy curtain. Maggie reached out and gave the curtain a jerk. It slid open along its low friction track.
Centered under a skylight was a large engine stand, extended to its maximum height. Dangling from the stand was an iron cage. Inside the cage was a naked woman.
The cage was quite literally a work of art. It was form fitting and gave its occupant no more than a half inch clearance in any direction (save the solid treads under her bare feet.) Left and right, front and back, the cage followed every contour and curve of its prisoner's body; however, it was not a simple grid of welded bar. Dozens and dozens of thick, curving, iron rods, like a computer generated wire form made substantial, solid, and real, symmetrically mapped the occupant's form.
The occupant herself was in her early twenties. She had short brown hair, blue eyes, and a trim, athletic figure. She was very beautiful... and very unhappy. Her wrists were bound behind her back with an abundance of thin cord, and she was gagged with two silk scarves, one stuffed in her mouth and the other cleaving her lips. She squirmed in her iron cocoon and forced piteous sounds past her gag.
Maggie crossed her arms over her ample breasts and smiled. "Such a pretty canary," she murmured, then stepped forward. She ran her hands over the cage, dwelling on the young woman's nipples, sliding her palms over the erect nubbins. "Do you like your new home?" The question was rhetorical of course, but she made a point of listening to the prisoner's gagged protestations anyway. "You do?" she purred, deliberately misconstruing the brunette's obvious displeasure. She stepped behind the cage. The prisoner's eyes followed her as far as she could, then she screamed through her gag and shuddered in frustration. "I'm particularly proud of the closing mechanism," Maggie continued. "The hinges are almost invisible and the interlocking series of clamps don't even shake when you struggle... and all held by just one lock. I'm so proud of this design... and just wait 'til it's chromed. The client is going to be very happy."
Maggie produced a small key and unlocked the padlock dangling between the prisoner's shoulder blades. She unsnapped the hasp, and all the pivoting clamps holding the back halves of the cage together released as one. Maggie opened the cage, plucked the squirming, squealing captive from inside, and set her on the floor.
Maggie stood back and watched with an amused smile as the bound and gagged brunette scrambled to her bare feet and edged towards the door. "It's closed and locked, Jane," Maggie purred. "Where do you think you're going?"
The brunette stamped one foot in frustration, pulling on her bound wrists and mewing through her gag.
"Poor Jane," Maggie cooed, then stepped forward and removed the prisoner's gag.
The angry brunette shook her head as Maggie pulled the silk stuffing from her mouth. "You Bitch! " she accused. "You left me in that thing all day! I want to go home!"
Maggie laughed, opened a metal cabinet and produced several coils of braided cotton rope. "At least I didn't hang you next to the bird feeders from the courtyard oak. You'd be half covered in bird shit by now if I had." She tossed the rope at the brunette's feet and reached back into the cabinet.
"I want to go home," the captive repeated.
"That wasn't our deal, Jane," Maggie said. She pulled a ball gag from an upper shelf then closed the cabinet door.
"I hate that thing," Jane muttered, staring at the rubber and leather gag.
"You're so cute when you pout," Maggie purred, advancing on the whining prisoner.
"No!" Jane begged. "Please, Maggie."
"So cute," Maggie repeated, and thrust the gag in Jane's mouth, wiggling the large red sphere until it snapped behind the mewing captive's white teeth. She pinned the struggling young woman against the door and buckled the gag's strap, then tripped her to the floor and climbed atop her nude, wriggling form. She picked up the coils of rope one by one and despite Jane's enthusiastic resistance, bound the short brunette's elbows, knees, and ankles, then pinned her arms to her sides with bands of rope above and below her breasts. Finally, she tied a tight crotch rope, cleaving Jane's labia and pinning her bound wrists to her dimpled buttocks.
"There," Maggie purred, then rolled her captive onto her well roped arms and gazed into her blue eyes. "My new model has arrived, so you'll have to entertain yourself for a few hours while I get her... acclimated." Jane shook her gagged head, but Maggie's only response was an evil laugh. She picked up the nude, bound, and gagged brunette, slung her over her shoulder, and exited the studio.
"The wind's picking up a little," Maggie observed, ignoring Jane's gagged tirade. She carried her captive back to the main house, entered the kitchen, passed the kitchen pantry, and went down a narrow hallway leading deep into the interior of the hill. She carried Jane into the wine cellar and towards a steel door in the back, behind the dusty racks of bottles. She unlocked the door, carried her squirming burden down another narrow hallway, and unlocked another door.
The room revealed was rather small, with a large door to the right and two half-height doors to the left. Jane's gagged protests escalated and she squirmed in earnest. Maggie slapped her naked rump. "Stop that!" she scolded, "or I put you to bed with no supper." She set Jane on the floor. The captive watched miserably as Maggie unlocked a high security padlock and threw back the heavy bolt barring one of the low doors. The thick steel portal pivoted open on a massive hinge with an ominous creak. Beyond was a concrete walled space roughly four feet wide and five feet deep with a four-foot ceiling.
Jane kicked and struggled, but couldn't prevent Maggie from sliding her into the small cell. She twisted her bound body around to face the door and locked eyes with her captor.
"So very very cute when you pout," Maggie whispered, gazing at her young prisoner with leering, gloating interest. She reached out and stroked Jane's right breast. "Such a pretty little thing," she cooed, then fingered Jane's nipple. "I'm thinking of piercing these for you." Jane started and went very still. "You're cute when you're frightened too... especially when you're frightened." The gloating redhead continued slowly, gently twirling Jane's nipple between her pale fingers. "We can make an occasion of it. I can design a special chair for you... sort of a cross between a rack and an examining couch. We'll use ice, but I can't decide if we'll use a painkiller as well... probably not. It can't hurt that much."
Maggie slowly closed the door, threw the bolt, and snapped the padlock closed on the hasp. She then opened a narrow slit in the door, revealing Jane's piteous, blue, begging eyes. "Something for you to think about," Maggie gloated, savoring her prisoner's obvious fear. "You missed lunch, so I'll bring you a midnight snack... unless I get busy. I have my new model to play with."
Maggie snapped the cover of the slit closed, leaving Jane to her meditations.