by Van ©2014

Chapter 2

Dramatis Personæ

Charlie Simms was dressed in sensible and very expensive designer shoes, an equally expensive pair of designer jeans, a loose, baggy, heather-gray T-shirt over a burgundy tank-top, and a leather jacket in a very pretty shade of very dark jade that was almost black under the streetlights, with a long, narrow designer scarf looped around her neck.  She wasn't a fashionista, but at least some of the expertise of the wardrobe professionals she'd worked with in the course of various projects had rubbed off.  Also, she could afford fine clothing... now, unlike when she was first starting out.

Clutching her butternut leather shoulder-bag, she strolled down the sidewalk.  Traffic was light, as was usual for this time of night, and it was mostly taxis; however, the cliché was true: New York really is the city that never sleeps, and Charlie loved it.

She was mildly irritated at being summoned to an after-hours meeting at Gail Tarkington's office, but only mildly.  Like most people on Broadway, Charlie had long ago become accustomed to late nights and equally late starts in the morning.  That is, after a performance, if one wanted to have any kind of life outside the theater, one learned to eat dinner much later than even Europeans found acceptable, to turn in in the wee hours, and to sleep 'til mid-morning.  Dance rehearsals for Tatooine Nights had only just started and the choreographers were still feeling their way to the final dance sequences—or something suitable for out-of-town previews, anyway.  Song rehearsals were the same, still in the preliminary stage.

This was far from Charlie's first rodeo.  She knew that despite the apparently impossible deadlines looming, things would come together.  They always did, unless the entire production fell flat on its face.  Charlie had seen her share of both successes and failures.  Anyway, she was still in what she called the "vacation" phase of the process, before the show's elements fully crystallized, rehearsals kicked into high gear, and her free time went to near-zero.  The period before previews was always the most hectic.  The full schedule on Broadway, if/when Tatooine Nights made it to Broadway, would be relaxing by comparison, a mere eight full performances a week—plus media appearances, of course.

No, what had Charlie irritated wasn't the late hour, but being summoned to listen to Gail groan and moan about Disney and her investors... again.  Charlie had a reservation at Diogenes, the restaurant chain that had just opened its New York branch.  She'd eaten at the London and Paris restaurants and the food had been excellent.  Now, she'd probably have to cancel and reschedule.  It was irritating.

Tarkington's building was near the theater district, but far enough removed that the property values were merely very high, instead of ridiculously high.  The streets were well lit and there was some pedestrian traffic, even at this hour, and Charlie wasn't nervous.  She had pepper spray in her jacket pocket and could handle herself.  Also, the front entrance of Gail's building was well lit, there were no places where would-be muggers could lurk in the shadows.  Also, conspicuous security cameras in armored housings were mounted at either corner, about thirty feet above the sidewalk.  They captured the entire block, and a third camera was mounted directly above the front entrance.  Charlie climbed the steps to the heavy glass and steel door and punched the code she'd been given into the keypad in the door-frame.  The buzzer was useless, of course, as it was well after business hours and there was no receptionist on duty.  Also, Gail would be in her office on the second floor and wouldn't hear it ring.

The door clicked, Charlie pulled it open, crossed the threshold, and let it close behind her.  The lock reengaged with another click.  She was in the tiny vestibule that served as a heat lock during the winter months.  It was very dark, but enough dim light filtered through the glass of the interior door for her to find the handle.  Ahead was a hallway with a hardwood floor.  All the floors in the building were hardwood.  To the left and right were "small" rehearsal halls, suitable for the composers and arrangers to practice with the cast, or for the choreographers to run them through the more intimate dance numbers.  In the back was a much larger space, nearly the size of a high school gym and suitable for big numbers involving large numbers of the company.  She knew that somewhere in the back were washrooms and a shop for banging together props.  These weren't full-blown props for the actual show—there were specialized subcontractors that made performance props—but crude, undecorated props for blocking the dancers' movements during rehearsals.

Charlie's eyes were adapting and the glowing "EXIT" signs mounted above the interior doors were providing a feeble, viridescent light.  But by and large, the practice halls were yawning black caves.  There were footlights on the stairs, however, and they helped as she climbed to the second floor.  There, the shadows were equally deep and the illumination equally dim, but Gail's office door was open a crack and spilling a sliver of light into the hallway.

Charlie sighed, adjusted her bag on her shoulder, and walked down the hall.  She knocked on the open door, then pushed it slowly open.  "Hey, Gail," she said brightly, "I hope you—"  Charlie froze in her tracks, her eyes popped wide, and her jaw dropped.

Gail Tarkington was sitting in her chair, behind her desk, but...  Something substantial was stuffed in her mouth and was being held there by a tight band of tape or medical bandage—a collar, a dog collar, was around her neck—and what Charlie could see of Gail's upper body was tied up and tied to the chair, with brown rope!  Gail's eyes were as wide as her own, but Charlie realized they weren't focused on her, but on something behind her, on something behind Charlie's back!

Pepper spray! Charlie thought.  She dropped her bag, started to reach into her jacket pocket, and—"M'mmmpfh!—someone grabbed her from behind and pinned her arms behind her back, crushing her elbows together!  Also, a cloth soaked in some sort of chemical was pressing against her nose and mouth!  "Mmmf!"  She tried to fight, she tried her best to break free, but her assailant was too strong.  Charlie lifted her right foot to slam her heel down on her attacker's toes, but...  The chemical invading her nose, throat, and lungs was both sweet and tart... and cloying... and...

Charlie's eyes rolled up in her head and she went limp in her attacker's arms.

"Well, that was easy," Suki remarked, stepping from the shadows behind Beebe and the now unconscious Charlie.

"I don't mind in the least," Beebe chuckled, then shifted her grip and half-lifted, half-dragged her prize into the office.

Suki picked up Charlie's bag and followed.

Chapter 2

Gail watched in dismay as Beebe gently deposited Charlie's limp form on the expensive Persian carpet in the middle of her office.  Suki dropped the new arrival's shoulder-bag well to the side and began examining its contents with her latex-gloved hands.

Meanwhile, Beebe knelt, removed Charlie's jacket, checked the pockets, and tossed it away.  Charlie was sprawled on her stomach with her peacefully relaxed face turned towards Gail.

Gail squirmed and tugged on her bonds.  She had a perfect view of what was happening, despite the intervening desk, and her instinct was to help, even though she was the one who'd hired Beebe to kidnap either Charlie or Adele in the first place.  But that had been a reluctant and personally removed business deal, not something she ever thought she'd have to sit and watch happen, and certainly not as a bound and gagged captive audience of one with a front row seat.  Also, she'd tried to call it off, so it wasn't her fault.  That's what she kept telling herself, anyway.  Gail Tarkington was an old hand at rationalizing questionable decisions.

"Nothing unexpected," Suki announced as she carried over the duffel-bag and deposited it at Beebe's side.  "I turned off her phone, so there'll be no clever but annoying ring-tones to disturb our evening." 

"She had pepper spray in her jacket pocket," Beebe noted as she unzipped the duffel and pulled out a modest coil of what could be called either very thin rope or heavy cord.  It was the same brown color as Gail's bonds.  She pulled Charlie's hands behind her back, placed them palm-to-palm, and began tying her wrists.  Her fingers were nimble and her actions quick and well-practiced.  She made multiple figure-eight passes, then cinched the bindings between both wrists.  Multiple knots were tied, but a couple of feet of free end remained.

Beebe reached back into the duffel and produced a coil of the same nylon rope binding Gail to her chair.  She released the coil, doubled the rope, and found the center.  Then, with equal dexterity and precision, passed doubled loops above and below Charlie's breasts, pinning her upper arms to her torso.  She then took several turns around both upper arms, cinching the bindings and leaving her elbows about three inches apart.  Next, she passed the doubled rope under Charlie's left armpit to the front, behind her neck, back to the front, then back through her right armpit to the rear, yoking her shoulders.  The remainder was passed from the nexus of rope between her elbows, up through the rope at the back of her neck, then back down.  All slack was removed, significantly tightening all the bindings, a knot was tied, and the free ends neatly wrapped and knotted around the vertical neck-to-elbows rope.  Finally, the free ends of the wrist cord were stretched up to the same elbow ropes, threaded through the bindings, and knotted.

She's good, Gail conceded, not that she had any real experience with tying up helpless damsels-in-distress, of course.  Theatrical bondage was Gail's bailiwick, and it was a matter of appearance, with equal weight given to getting the actor in and out of the ropes quickly and easily.  Onstage bondage was seldom, if ever, actual restraint.  But obviously, Charlie was tied up for real.  She'll never be able to free herself.  Gail tried twisting her bound wrists, again, with predictable results.  Like me.

Beebe used more rope to bind Charlie's denim-clad knees together... followed by her ankles.  The two kidnappers then lifted Charlie and settled her into one of the pair of visitor chairs in front of the desk.  Suki held her steady while Beebe used yet more rope to lash her to the chair.  Again, her actions were quick and professional.

Next, Suki gathered Charlie's hair and held it atop her head while Beebe buckled and padlocked a second dog collar around her neck.  It also had a rectangular plastic module with metal studs and was obviously another shock-collar, identical to Gail's.  Suki continued holding Charlie's hair while Beebe stuffed a wad of white cloth, possibly a large cotton handkerchief, into the prisoner's mouth.  She then used a roll of some sort of white tape to cleave Charlie's mouth and further compress the stuffing, taking turn after tight turn around Charlie's head until her cheeks bulged.

Gail assumed the same materials and technique had been used for her gag.  The stuffing filling her mouth certainly felt like cloth, and the tight band cleaving her lips, tight enough to make her cheeks bulge, might be tape, possibly from the same roll.

"Two down and one to go," Beebe purred.  Both kidnappers were standing side by side and smiling down at Charlie's unconscious, bound, gagged, and collared body.  Beebe's cord, rope, collar, cloth, and tape would keep Charlie helpless and quiet, and the ropes lashing her to the chair would kept her body upright and "comfortably" seated.  Her head lolled forward, and her loose, tousled hair half-covered her gagged face.

"I guess I better get ready for Big Mouth," Suki said, continuing to gaze at Charlie's unmoving form.  "She's not due for another half-hour, but..."

"Better safe then sorry," Beebe agreed, also continuing to gaze at their latest victim.

"Yeah," Suki nodded... but made no move to put her words into action.

Seconds passed.

"Well?" Beebe inquired.

"Well what?" Suki muttered, then shifted her smile to Beebe.  "Oh, sorry."  She turned to the office door—and froze.

Adele Dazeem was standing in the doorway, her hand raised as if to knock on the half-open door!  She was dressed in basically the same costume as Charlie: jeans, leather jacket, T-shirt over a tank-top, scarf, and a shoulder-bag, only all in black.  Needless to say, her eyes were wide and her mouth open in surprise and alarm!

Chapter 2

Adele stared at Suki and Beebe.  Beebe and Suki stared at Adele.  Then, the scene exploded into a frenzy of flight and pursuit.

Adele started pulling the door closed, to buy herself a little time, but Suki lunged forward and managed to grab the edge.  Beebe was close on her heels.  Adele turned and sprinted away from the office, down the dark hallway with the kidnappers in hot pursuit.

Gail tugged on her bonds and twisted her body, fighting the ropes lashing her to her chair.  The door was open and she could see something of what was happening, but not much.  There was too little light for her to make out more than vague, moving shapes.  Adele screamed—"Heeeeelp!—and fists flew, also feet.  And then, it was over.  "Help meeeee-mmmf!"  There were a few seconds of squirming and scuffling, but again, Gail couldn't see much.  Then, Beebe carried Adele's limp form back into the office.

Suki followed with Adele's shoulder-bag, rummaging through its contents as she came.  "Well, Big Mouth's at least a green belt in something."  She extracted Adele's phone, turned off its ringer, and dropped it back into the bag.

Beebe eased her unconscious burden to the carpet at the same spot where she'd bound and gagged Charlie, then began pulling off Adele's jacket.  "Perhaps a green belt in fight choreography," she purred, "but not in any actual martial art."

"Theatrical kung-fu," Suki chuckled, then tossed Adele's bag next to Charlie's.  She strolled to the duffel holding their seemingly endless supply of kidnapping supplies, reached inside, and produced a folded white cloth of the same material she'd stuffed in Charlie's mouth and, Gail assumed, her own.  An evil, happy smile on her pixie face, Suki delved back into the duffel and produced the roll of tape.

Gail turned her head and focused on Charlie.  She was still unconscious, but as Gail watched, the bound, gagged, and collared singer-dancer-actress began to stir.

Chapter 2

A hangover...  It felt like a hangover...  But Adele knew she hadn't been drinking.  She'd stopped for a slice at John's Pizzeria on her way to the meeting, but she'd ordered a diet coke, not beer or wine or...

Adele's eyes popped open, she tried to move, and found she was tied up!  She screamed into whatever was stuffed in her mouth—"Mmmm-urrk!"—and received an electric shock across her larynx!  She shuddered and blinked in pain, but it was over as quickly as it started.  Eyes wide, she surveyed her surroundings.

She was in Gail's office, sitting in one of the visitor chairs in front of the desk—tied to one of the visitor's chairs in front of the desk.  Charlie was sitting in the other visitor chair and Gail behind her desk, and they were also tied up.  They were also gagged, with something stuffed in their mouths and narrow, tight bands of white tape cleaving their lips.  Leather collars—quite obviously shock-collars, like Adele's—were around their necks, and their rope bonds were tight, elaborate, and almost certainly inescapable.

A little more squirming and a quick visual inspection of as much of her bondage as Adele could see confirmed that her bonds were similar to the others.  In fact, her bonds appeared to be more or less identical to Charlie's in every detail.  The placement of Gail's bonds had minor differences, but they were a variation on the same theme.  Adele decided not to repeat her inadvertent "test" of her shock-collar, but attempted one last full-body, rope-impeded heave and kick, to confirm that she wasn't getting out of her chair.  Then, she focused on her fellow captives.

Adele had questions and Charlie and Gail might have at least some of the answers, but obviously none of them were in a position to engage in conversation.

"Good, everybody's awake," a voice observed from the open door.  All three captives watched the tall, undeniably beautiful brunette kidnapper enter the office, followed by her shorter, equally beautiful Goth companion.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," the Goth muttered.  "Now will you please make your choice so we can get out of here."

Adele blinked in confusion.  Her choice?

"What's your hurry?" the tall beauty chuckled.  "Sometimes it's important to stop and smell the roses."  She grinned at the captives.  "Or in this case, the fear."

"It's after midnight," the Goth stated, a pout on her pixie face and her hands on her hips.

"It's just after midnight," the tall kidnapper countered.  Then, her smile broadened.  "Oh, where are my manners?  Ladies, allow me to introduce by partner, Suki."

"Hi," Suki giggled, raising a hand and wiggling her fingers.

"And you may call me 'Dr. Bondage,'" the tall brunette continued.

"Tah-dah!" Suki sang, striking a stereotypical magician's assistant pose.

Adele turned her head and locked eyes with Charlie.  Her costar seemed equally confused.  'Dr. Bondage?'

"However," Dr. Bondage said, "if you find yourself ungagged and the occasion should arise, you will address me as 'Mistress.'  Anyway..."  She strolled to the duffel-bag on the floor off—the duffel-bag containing the rope and gag materials Gail had watched them use on Charlie, and Gail and Charlie had watched them use on Adele—leaned down, and pulled a small zippered case from a side pocket.  She then walked to the desk.

The captives watched as Dr. Bondage unzipped the case and pulled out a small glass vial and a hypodermic syringe!

Three pairs of eyes—one blue and two brown—watched in horror as Dr. Bondage filled the syringe from the vial, then tapped the syringe and depressed to plunger to remove all air from the needle.  Her actions were quick and deft.  Clearly she was a doctor, or at least some kind of health care professional.

"This is a very unusual drug," Dr. Bondage said.  "It leaves the patient completely paralyzed, but fully conscious.  All control of the voluntary muscles are lost, but he..."  She smiled at Gail.  "Or she... remains fully awake and aware of all that is happening around her... and to her."

Meanwhile, Suki had walked around the desk and was gathering Gail's hair atop her head.

"Urk!"  In her fear, Gail had forgotten the shock-collar, but it instantly reminded her of its voice-stealing function.  She squirmed in her bonds, but with Suki's right hand still gripping her hair and the grinning Goth's left arm around her neck, Gail was helpless as Dr. Bondage approached with the syringe.

All Adele and Charlie could do was watch in bound, gagged, and shock-collared horror as Dr. Bondage injected the drug into the side of Gail's neck.

Dr. B and Suki stepped back and Gail continued wiggling and struggling.  Then, in a matter of only a few seconds, her struggling ceased and she went perfectly still.  Her eyes were open and focused on her fellow captives.  She blinked.  Then, even that motion stopped and she was staring blindly.

Dr. B returned the syringe and vial to the case and the case to the duffel as Suki cleared the blotter, pen set, iPad, framed photographs, and other clutter from Gail's desk.  Then, the Goth stepped behind Gail's chair and began untying her rope bonds.

Again, all Adele and Charlie could do was watch.  Whatever was about to happen, whatever the kidnappers were going to do to Gail, they had front row seats.


Chapter 2

Chapter 1
Chapter 3