by Van ©2017

Chapter 3

Dramatis Personæ


"W-what?  Ow!"

A hand was clutching Amanda's hair and lifting her off the bed.  She'd literally been dragged from a sound sleep and now found herself stumbling towards the bathroom of Blythe's apartment.  Her ankles were no longer crossed and tied, of course, but her wrists were still lashed together behind her back.  Also, she was still naked, as was her kidnapper/supervisor.

"Good morning to you too, doctor," Blythe chuckled as they entered the bathroom.  She plunked Amanda down on the commode.  "Take a tinkle like a good little librarian," she purred, then went to the sink, loaded a brush with toothpaste, and began brushing her teeth.

Amanda complied with Blythe's command.  It was as much a matter of dealing with a full bladder as not wanting to offend her handler and earn herself some sort of punishment in the process.  She was now fully awake, but her shoulders were sore and her glasses slightly askew and long overdue for a proper cleaning.

Her teeth clean and mouth rinsed, Blythe flushed the toilet, lifted Amanda off the seat, and dragged her to the sink.

Amanda shuddered in distress as Blythe used a cold, wet washcloth to scrub between her legs.  Next, Blythe reloaded the toothbrush... and held it to Amanda's pouting mouth.

"Untie me and I'll do it myself," Amanda grumbled, but was ignored.  Finally, she opened her mouth and tugged on her bound wrists as Blythe brushed her teeth—meaning, of course, Amanda's teeth.  The toothpaste was Wintergreen in flavor, and the experience of being treated like a helpless toddler by the naked, grinning Blythe was humiliating, to say the least.

And speaking of humiliating, the memory of what Blythe had done to her in bed last night, and especially what she'd been forced to do to Blythe in return was very fresh in her memory.  Amanda spit in the sink, as directed, then Blythe held a glass of water to her mouth to drink.  Amanda swished and spat in the sink, again.  Briefly, she considered spitting in her captor's face, but she knew such defiance would almost certainly earn her a great deal of pain, possibly for Ginger as well, and while rebellion might be momentarily satisfying, it would be both fleeting and pointless.

Blythe brushed Amanda's hair, then removed and thoroughly cleaned her glasses.  She then thoroughly scrubbed Amanda's face with the wet washcloth, taking her time... then replaced the glasses.  "Thank you," Amanda muttered.  The expression of gratitude was from force of habit and was not a genuine sentiment.

"You're welcome, doctor," Blythe purred, then took hold of the leather loop of the "Y"-shaped leash still clipped to and dangling from Amanda's nipple-stirrups and led her back into the main bedroom.  Amanda hadn't forgotten about the leash, but she had managed to more or less ignore the weight of the light steel chain.  That was no longer possible.

As they reentered the bedroom Amanda noted that Ginger's condition had been eased... or changed, anyway.  The fair-skinned, freckled redhead's upper body was still bound in the same manner: arms folded behind her back, wrists crossed and raised, and lashed against her spine by an elaborate,
symmetrical web of rope yoking her shoulders, pinning her upper arms against her torso, and framing her pale breasts.  Like Amanda and the remaining two captive librarians Amanda assumed were still elsewhere in the Library, Ginger's nipples were pierced and sported dangling stirrups, but unlike Amanda, Ginger's stirrups were unleashed.  The shock-collar was still around the redhead's neck, however, and she was still tethered to the bed frame by a long, stout chain.  Also, her big toes were still tied together, but the gag, earplugs, and black spandex hood formerly covering her head were gone.
Blythe plunked Amanda down on the carpet next to Ginger in a cross-legged position, then hitched the leather wrist loop of Amanda's nipple-leash around Ginger's neck-chain and used a pair of small, stock-like steel cuffs to lock Amanda's big toes together and through the end of the loop.

A little preliminary wiggling of Amanda's toes confirmed that not only was the shining device on to stay, but struggling against the hard steel would be painful.  Ginger's neck chain and Amanda's nipple-leash afforded sufficient slack for her to sit comfortably in a semi-lotus, but she knew she wouldn't be going anywhere, and her toes and nipples registered strong votes to the effect that she shouldn't even try.

"Now," Blythe said, smiling down at her captives with her arms crossed under her arguably perfect breasts, "you ladies play nice while I fix us some breakfast and I won't have to do anything nasty to you this early in the morning."  She then turned and strolled into the kitchenette area, showcasing her strong, tan legs, her equally strong, tan back, and her firm, tan, arguably perfect butt.

Amanda shifted her gaze to Ginger as the redhead heaved herself—with minor difficulty, thanks to her bonds—up and into a sitting position with her toe-bound legs tucked to one side.  The slack in her neck chain made this possible, and the final result actually afforded Amanda slightly more slack... not that any had actually been needed.

"Are you okay?" Amanda said quietly, expecting a nod in reply, instead...

"I'm fine," Ginger said quietly.  "Yourself?"

Amanda's eyes widened.  "I-I thought your collar gives you a shock whenever you try to speak."

Ginger managed a weak smile.  "It seems the thing has sensitivity settings."  She nodded in Blythe's direction.  "The bitch did something with her mini-pad and told me that if I keep things to a whisper I won't get shocked.  Apparently, 'whisper' includes speaking in a quiet voice."

"I see," Amanda answered.  "In answer to your question, I'm fine.  I'm perfectly—mmm!"  Amanda's eyes welled with tears and her breath caught in her throat.

"None of that," Ginger said with a warm smile.  "Be brave.  We all have to be brave."

"Be brave," Amanda huffed.  "You were the one being tortured.  All I had to do was..."  She found herself choking back sobs, once again.

Ginger leaned close and rested her head on Amanda's shoulder.  Amanda rested her head against Ginger's head in return.

"I-I'm sorry," Amanda sighed.

"What did she do to you?" Ginger whispered.  "Last night, I could tell something was happening, but...  What did she do?"

Amanda composed herself before answering.  "Intimate things."

"Oh."  Ginger eased herself upright and gave Amanda a comforting smile.  "Don't worry about it.  The bitch is like that."

Amanda sighed.  "You too?"

Ginger nodded.  "That's why I decided to be rude, to try and discourage her, but all it did was bring out her mean streak."

Amanda stole a glance at the shining steel "Willie Stand" still in the alcove.  "One could say that."  She turned back to her fellow librarian and captive and noted for the first time that Ginger's red hair was brushed and her face clean.  "She already took you to the bathroom?"

"While you were asleep," Ginger confirmed quietly.  Then, one eye on Blythe as the brunette puttered in the kitchen, she continued in an even lower voice.  "We have to be brave, and bide our time, and look for a chance to escape," she purred, barely moving her lips.

Amanda agreed with a surreptitious nod, also watching their kidnapper.  "And not provoke her... either of them... meaning the other one."

"Cassie," Ginger whispered, naming their blond handler.

"Just so," Amanda agreed.  "Anyway, we shouldn't provoke them."

"It seemed like a good idea at the time," Ginger muttered.

"Well," Amanda sighed, "don't do it."  She then tugged on her bound wrists and heaved another sigh.

"What?" Ginger inquired.

"My glasses," Amanda sighed.  "They fog when I get lachrymose... and now they need cleaning again."

"Oh."  Ginger grinned.  "Yeah, mine do that whenever I'm being tortured."

Amanda favored her fellow prisoner with an amused moue.  "Don't be a silly goose," she begged.  "You'll make me laugh and heaven only knows how that 'bitch' might respond.  Pardon my ill-mannered speech."

Ginger was still grinning.  "Pardon granted and point taken."

They both turned to watch Blythe prepare the promised breakfast.  It wasn't yet clear what was on the menu.

PERILS of the Dewey Decimal System
 Chapter 3

Breakfast for the librarians turned out to be oatmeal with raisins, a sprinkling of brown sugar, and a splash of milk.  Blythe delivered one large bowl and a single plastic spoon to her captives.  "Make a mess and I'll get very angry," she admonished as she untied Amanda's wrists.  She then carried a steaming cup of coffee and a small plate of flaky pastries and fresh fruit through a glass door and out onto the apartment's balcony, settled into a lounge chair, and began enjoying her breakfast.

Amanda did the honors, being the only naked librarian whose hands weren't bound.  She nodded towards the balcony, their handler, and specifically the desert and distant mountains beyond.  "Saguaro cactus," she said as she spooned a generous bite of oatmeal into Ginger's mouth.

"Sonoran desert," Ginger agreed after chewing and swallowing.  "Last night, I saw a flashing red aircraft warning light on a distant mountain peak."

Meanwhile, Amanda chewed and swallowed her first bite of oatmeal (which was delicious, by the way, infinitely better than pablum).  "Probably a cell tower.  Flashing the lights dramatically reduces the number of bird strikes.  I read somewhere the Audubon Society and other nature organizations are pressuring the service providers to change out their non-flashing for flashing warning lights, and with great success."

Ginger nodded, then accepted her second spoonful.  She appeared to be enjoying the change of breakfast fare as much as Amanda.

"I don't see any roads or power lines," Amanda sighed, "but we have a somewhat limited view.  Only about thirty degrees."

"Yeah," Ginger agreed.  "We need to find a way to get ourselves invited out onto the balcony at some point... as long as it's not tied up and dangling off the edge, staked out in the sun, or something equally unpleasant."

"Agreed," Amanda sighed, and the meal continued.

Out on the balcony, Blythe stretched her nude, arguably perfect body full length... then returned to enjoying her coffee, pastries, and sliced fruit and basking in the early morning sun.

Amanda and Ginger emptied the bowl and watched through the picture window as Blythe munched a slice of apple, the last of her breakfast.  They continued watching as their naked handler reentered the apartment, relieved Amanda of the empty bowl and plastic spoon, then strolled into the kitchenette, swinging her hips and showcasing her tan, dimpled butt.

"I'm sure you'll both agree that was much better than the 'Library Paste' we fed you while your tongues were healing," she purred, smiling back over her left shoulder.  "That stuff is fully nutritional and high in fiber, believe it or not, but I can't say much for the taste."

Ginger scowled and opened her mouth to share what would no doubt be a scathing critique of "Library Paste," as well as several salty and improbable observations concerning the character, ancestry, and sexual practices of Blythe and her fellow kidnapper/handler/supervisor, Cassie—but paused when she noticed the significant look Amanda was giving her.  Ginger closed her mouth and sighed.

Blythe laughed, having witnessed the exchange.  "I knew Dr. Harnois would be a good influence on you, Dr. Rockwell, but we have to hurry and get you two ready for your first day at work.  As much as I enjoy disciplining your freckled ass, Red, recreation will have to wait until after working hours."

Ginger continued glowering and Amanda heaved a sigh as Blythe quickly cleaned the kitchenette.  Once that was accomplished, their handler began preparing them for the promised work day.

First, Blythe cuffed Amanda's wrists behind her back with hinged, chrome steel cuffs, standard police models as far as she could tell.  Next, she untied Ginger's box-tie, which was an involved process owing to its complexity.  Midway through the unbinding, when any resistance on Ginger's part would still be greatly encumbered by her remaining bonds, Blythe locked the glowering redhead's wrists behind her back with cuffs identical to Amanda's new bracelets.

"Now, ladies," Blythe said as she unlocked the cuffs binding Amanda's toes, "when we join the others I expect you both to be on your very best behavior."  She then unlocked and removed the shock-collar from around Ginger's neck.  "No running away.  I'll be taking full precautions, of course, and in any case, the security system won't let you get very far before running into a locked door."  She smiled and shook a warning finger in Ginger's face.  "And no more intemperate language inappropriate to the workplace, Dr. Rockwell."

"I know," Ginger huffed, "otherwise you'll punish me."

Blythe's smile was absolutely evil.  "Yes, I will, but mostly..."  She nodded towards Amanda.  "I'll punish Dr. Harnois."  She grinned at Amanda.  "And the reverse goes for you, doctor."

Amanda and Ginger locked eyes and heaved simultaneous sighs.  Making them responsible for each others behavior was a despicable tactic... and unfortunately, an effective one.  The librarians didn't know each other very well, but neither was the sort of person that would cause another to be tortured on their account.

Next, Blythe released the "Y"-shaped tit-leash from Amanda's right nipple-stirrup and clipped it through Ginger's right nipple-stirrup.  She then passed the thumb-cuffs formerly binding Amanda's big toes through the leather wrist-loop at the end of the tit-leash and joined the librarians toe-to-toe, binding Amanda's left big toe to Ginger's right.

"Now," Blythe purred, "since you two won't be going anywhere, I'm free to get dressed."

Ginger and Amanda tugged on their wrist-cuffs and watched their handler stroll to her closet and don panties, bra, and work uniform—another black catsuit with the Votel Library logo—and finally, a pair of black boots.

"There has to be something we can do," Ginger whispered to Amanda.

Amanda nodded, very carefully.  "Stay alert," she whispered back, "gather intelligence, share it with the others whenever possible, and wait for our chance."

"Thanks again for helping me last night," Ginger continued.  "I know it couldn't have been easy."

Amanda stole a glance at the vibrating Willie Stand still standing patiently in its alcove for a visit from the next disobedient librarian Blythe decided to bring home to her apartment.  "Y-you're welcome."

"Should the need arise," Ginger sighed, "I'll do the same for you... whatever it is you actually did."

Amanda blushed, or rather, realized she'd been blushing for some time.  If Ginger was fishing for details, she wasn't ready to share.  Instead, Amanda nodded.  It was all she could manage by way of a response.  She wasn't sure she'd ever be ready to divulge what Blythe had done to her last night and had required her to do in return.

Now fully dressed, Blythe unlocked the toe-cuffs and slid them into a pocket of her catsuit, then stood, took a firm grip on the wrist loop, and gave the leash a firm tug.  "Off we go, ladies."

"Ow!" Amanda complained as she scrambled to her feet.

Ginger was also quick to stand, but confined her response to a withering hostile stare.  Blythe exited her apartment with the naked, cuffed, and tit-leashed librarians in tow.

Amanda looked back over her shoulder as the door closed, noting that the bed was still unmade and Ginger's former rope bonds and the shock-collar and its attached chain remained tangled heaps on the floor.  Apparently, in addition to her other personal shortcomings, Blythe was a slovenly housekeeper.  Granted, she'd cleaned up the kitchenette after the meal, but the rest of the apartment was a mess.  Disgraceful, she thought as she padded down the hallway beside her fellow "employee."

PERILS of the Dewey Decimal System
 Chapter 3

The descending elevator returned Blythe, Amanda, and Ginger to the subterranean, white-painted walls of the supposed library and the grinning handler led her captive charges down a nondescript hallway to an impressive steel door.  It slid open in response to her palm-print, retinal pattern, and voice and they found themselves in yet another plain white room, but this time Cassie, Phoebe, and Katy were waiting.  The blond handler was in catsuit uniform, like Blythe, and the two blond librarians were "dressed" like their brunette and ginger-haired colleagues.  That is, Phoebe and Katy were naked, their wrists cuffed behind their backs, and they were linked nipple-to-nipple by a tit-leash with its wrist-loop in Cassie's hand.

"It's about time," Cassie muttered, favoring her fellow supervisor with a disapproving stare.

"Chill out," Blythe chuckled.  "We set the schedule around here, remember?  And it was too nice of a sunrise to waste by wolfing down breakfast just to satisfy an arbitrary timetable."

Cassie's lips curled in a ghost of a smile.  "We'll settle this later," she purred, then released the tit-leash clips from Phoebe and Katy's nipple-stirrups while Blythe did the same for Amanda and Ginger.  Then, Cassie took a firm grasp on Katy's left arm and led her towards a glass door on the far side of the chamber.  Mounted beside the door was a rather curious access panel.  To the left were the usual retinal and palm scanners, but to the right there were three six-inch, shallow, hemispherical depressions.  Two were at chest height.  The third was at face height and had a horizontal, rubberized, six-inch cylinder with a rounded head protruding from its center.

"Now pay close attention, ladies," Cassie said, addressing all four librarians.  "This is the correct and only procedure by which you will gain access to the main library."  She pointed at the two lower depressions.  "You firmly plant your boobs in there..."  She then indicated the protrusion in the upper depression.  "Simultaneously, you take that dingus in your mouth and give it a good suck.  The readers in the panel interrogate the RFID tags in your nipples and tongue posts... and open the door.  It's simple.  And only one librarian at a time.  If more than one of you are waiting to enter and you try rushing the door, an alarm sounds and you'll be awarded a demerit, and demerits mean punishment."  She smiled at Katy.  "Understand?"

Katy stared at Cassie with undisguised loathing.  "I am not taking that mingy thing in my mouth," she huffed.

"But it's the only way you'll be able to report to work," Cassie purred, "and slackers also get punished.  You have ten seconds, doctor."

Katy stared at the panel.  "It's horrid," she muttered.

"Five seconds," Cassie chuckled.

Katy turned to Blythe, pleading with her blue eyes.  "Please."

Blythe's serene, evil smile was decidedly unsympathetic.

"Now, doctor," Cassie ordered.

With a blush and a delicate shudder, Katy took a step forward, squashed her breasts into the lower depressions, then took the protrusion into her mouth.  Her cheeks dimpled as she sucked—and immediately a chime sounded, a green light flashed above the door, and it slid open.

"In you go, doctor," Cassie chuckled, "but I suggest you wait for the others before going off and exploring on your own."

Still blushing, Katy muttered something under her breath, stomped across the threshold, and the door slid closed behind her.

Cassie turned to Phoebe.  "Next."

Dr. Phoebe Pratt stared at Cassie with pure venom, or as much venom as she could muster while naked with her wrists cuffed behind her back.  She repeated the procedure and joined Katy on the far side of the door.

Ginger was next.

And then it was Amanda's turn.

Her silent appeal to Blythe was met with the same infuriating smirk she'd given Katy, so Amanda stepped forward, pressed her breasts into the lower depressions, then sucked on the protrusion.  The smooth, well-rounded cylinder was still wet with her fellow librarians' saliva and Amanda reflected that if the thing hadn't been mingy before, it certainly was now.  She also reflected that her two American colleagues and their handlers might not be familiar with that particular example of contemporary British slang.  She'd enlighten Phoebe or Ginger if they inquired as to the meaning of "mingy," but as for Blythe or Cassie, the bloody pillocks could sod it.

Amanda joined her colleagues and the glass door slid closed a fourth time.  Cassie and Blythe remained behind.

"Have fun, ladies," Cassie said, thumbing an intercom button.  "If you hear your name called over the intercom, report to this chamber as quickly as possible.  Lunch will be in the 'Staff Cafeteria' at noon and we'll be back to escort you to your bedrooms at sunset."

"Or possibly to our bedrooms," Blythe added, "if you require counseling."  Then, both handlers turned and strolled back to the steel door.  It rumbled open as they approached.

"Wait!" Phoebe shouted through the thick glass.  "Our cuffs!  You forgot to remove our cuffs!"

Blythe paused on the far side of the steel door.  "Maybe tomorrow, if you're good," she chuckled, then waved as the door closed.

All four librarians turned to face each other with forced smiles.

"Well... isn't this just the dog's bollocks?" Katy inquired.

"My thoughts exactly," Amanda sighed.

"Uh... yeah," Ginger muttered uncertainly, then frowned at Phoebe.  "What happened to you?  Turn around."

Phoebe heaved a sigh of her own, then turned her back to her colleagues and stared at the far wall.

"Oh—the tossers!" Katy gasped.

Phoebe's butt-cheeks were crisscrossed with a dozen narrow, angry pink stripes, and there were tiny weals where one stripe crossed another.  Obviously she'd received a recent and rather severe whipping, probably last night.

"It's not that bad," Phoebe said quietly.

Amanda stepped forward and awkwardly took hold of one of Phoebe's cuffed hands and gave it a gentle squeeze.  "Cassie?" she inquired.

"Yeah," Phoebe confirmed, "the bitch wields a mean whip.  Really, I'm okay."

"We need to find you some ointment," Ginger remarked.

"Tossers!" Katy reiterated, her blue eyes welling with tears.

"I'm fine," Phoebe said, managing a brave smile.  "We should look around."

"Perhaps there's a first aid kit someplace," Amanda suggested, "or better yet, an infirmary or clinic."  What was unmistakably a large directory was mounted on one of the walls.  She padded it its direction and the others followed.

Most of the directory was taken up by a large schematic of the current floor, which was designated "L1."  Below were smaller representations of the floors below and were labeled "L2-Curation and Conservation," then "L3-Archive," L4-Archive," "L5-Archive," etc., all the way down to "L13-Utilities."  On the L1 schematic, a "You are here" label told them they were standing in the "Staff Entry Hall."  Other spaces on L1 were labeled "Staff Cafeteria," "Central Cataloging," various numbered reading rooms, and a small space labeled "Staff Infirmary."

Ginger turned to Phoebe.  "You're coming with me," she ordered.  "We'll be in the infirmary," she told Amanda and Katy.  "You guys start looking around and we'll find you later."

"Very well," Amanda agreed, then turned to Katy as Ginger and Phoebe exited through a side door that automatically swished open as they approached.  "Dr. Kellog, why don't we start with 'Central Cataloging?'  It seems logical."

"I quite agree," Katy said, "but please, call me Katy; or better yet, what my students at Lewis and Clark call me: KK."

Amanda smiled.  "Very well, KK.  Please call me Amanda.  I'm afraid if my colleagues at Harvard have given me a nickname, they've kept it a secret."  KK grinned—and Amanda thought it was a charming grin; also, somewhat mischievous.

"Pleased to meet you, Amanda," KK responded.  "I quite enjoyed your book."

"Thank you," Amanda said.  "Pleased to meet you as well... given the circumstances."

"Well..."  KK heaved a sigh.  "There is that."  She focused on the schematic, then nodded at a different door from the one used by Ginger and Phoebe.  "I believe that is our way."

They padded to the door, it opened, and they exited the "Staff Entry Hall."

PERILS of the Dewey Decimal System
 Chapter 3

"Central Cataloging" was something like a small "Mission Control" with a pair of horseshoe-shaped computer consoles facing a very large screen mounted on one wall.  There were very comfortable-looking office chairs before each console, but with their hands cuffed behind their backs, Amanda and KK decided it was better to attempt using the system while standing up.  It was awkward, but they managed.

The interfaces were large touch-screens with permanent virtual keyboards along the bottom, and they tapped and slid their way through various menus they found the system to be intuitive and easy to navigate.  Smaller touch screens mounted on either side of the consoles allowed them to send displays to the big screens on the wall.

Amanda noted a menu labeled "Locate Colleagues," but only Ginger ("DR. ROCKWELL") and Phoebe ("DR. PRATT") were listed.  She supposed that made sense as KK was standing right next to her and Amanda certainly didn't require the help of the computer to locate herself.  Amanda tapped both names and a window popped on her console's main screen showing what appeared to be live video of Ginger and Phoebe in a room with stainless steel cabinets and a gurney with medical restraints.  Phoebe was bent over the gurney and Ginger was in the process of somewhat awkwardly, thanks to her cuffs, rubbing some sort of ointment on her fellow American's abused buttocks.  Everything is going to be awkward for all of us as long as we're wearing these bloody cuffs, Amanda mused.

Then, Amanda frowned.  The system knows each of our exact locations, she realized.  That was obvious, of course, but she'd only just now realized the full implications.  With a swipe of the a finger she sent the image of Ginger and Phoebe to a corner of the big screen on the wall, then turned to KK.

"We're being tracked at all times," she said to KK.  "There must be RFID readers everywhere."

KK nodded, then heaved a sigh.  "Also..."  She indicated the main touchscreen at her station with an cuff-impeded gesture.  "Access to the internet is conspicuous in its absence."

"Which is hardly surprising," Amanda sighed.  "It's a safe bet this entire system is completely isolated."  She resumed the ungainly and tiring process of tapping and sliding her way through the various menus with her cuffed hands.  "We might as well try and discover what's so very special about 'Mistress' Votel's collection," she muttered.

For the next few minutes Amanda and KK perused the listings of the sections and subsections of the various collections of the Votel Library.  They seemed to be grouped by successive generations of various branches of the Votel family, all the way back to the sixteenth century, although there were routines that allowed cross-searching by topic.

"Oh.  My.  God," Amanda and KK gasped simultaneously.

"What?" Phoebe and Ginger inquired, also simultaneously.  They'd left the infirmary a few minutes earlier (obviously), and if their British colleagues hadn't been preoccupied perusing the system, they would have noticed their progress through the L1 level on the big screen.  Phoebe's pink-striped butt now glistened with ointment, by the way.

Amanda went first.  She sent information to the big screens and a window popped showing the details of a catalog listing.  "There are multiple copies of all of Shakespeare's works, including, supposedly, annotated drafts, prompt books, and..."  She highlighted a pair of entries.

"Cardenio?" Phoebe gasped.

"Love's Labour's Won?" Ginger exclaimed.

"The lost plays!" all four librarians said simultaneously.

"Also," Amanda added as she highlighted a third entry, "there are notes for an unfinished play entitled Elizabeth and Mary!"

"And look at this," KK said, then sent a catalog entry to a new window on the big screen.  It read: "Πυθαγόρα της Σάμου—Πλήρη κείμενα."  "Oh, sorry."  She tapped a button on her console and the entry changed to "Pythagoras the Samian—Complete Writings."

"That's nice," Ginger said, "but—"

"You don't understand!" KK interrupted with a stomp of one bare feet (which caused her breasts to bobble).  "According to the summary notes, these are the actual works of Pythagoras, not the attributions and tributes penned by his students or the infamous later forgeries... the actual works!"

"All of which are supposedly lost," Amanda sighed.  She turned to her fellow colleagues.  "This is only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, but I've already seen enough to convince me that this is an important collection.

KK nodded.  "Even if some of the material is fraudulent, it's significant."

Ginger also nodded.  "Meaning that even if something is fake, if we can authenticate the material and verify its provenance, it will provide insight into the period when it entered the collection."

"At the very least," Phoebe agreed.

"And if even a little of what we see is authentic..." Ginger added.

"This material is far too important to remain hidden in the desert," Amanda stated.  "This facility should be a World Heritage Site, protected by international treaty, open to mankind, and swarming with scholars from across the globe."

"We have to rescue this place!" Ginger exclaimed.

"And ourselves," Phoebe added, "including my poor butt."

The librarians couldn't help but laugh.

"Barmy Yank," KK chuckled.

"She's right, though," Ginger sighed.

"Indeed," Amanda said.  "All of our butts require a proper rescue."

"Well," KK said in a quiet whisper, "I have an idea that might very well effect such a rescue, and that includes Shakespeare, Pythagoras, and any others who might be lurking in the archives below."

The naked, handcuffed librarians huddled close.

"Whenever the occasion arises," KK continued, "I'm going to make a suggestion concerning the system's cataloging software."

"What kind of suggestion?" Phoebe asked.

KK shook her head.  "The less said the better.  Just back me up, but don't make it too obvious as you back me up."

"Well," Amanda sighed, "I'm afraid I'm fresh out of ideas, so certainly, KK, I'll back you up."

"KK?" Ginger and Phoebe inquired in unison.

Amanda smiled and nodded at her British colleague.  "Katy Kellog, 'KK' to her students and captive colleagues."

Ginger and Phoebe smiled.

"Pleased to meet you, KK," Phoebe said.  "I'll back your play."

"Same here, KK," Ginger said with a wink and a grin.

"Thank you," KK answered (with a charming blush).  "With any luck, I'll be able to get us out of here... eventually."

"Brilliant," Amanda said with enthusiasm she didn't really feel.  She had no idea how modifying the Votel Library's stack management software was going to effect their rescue, but even the promise of a slim chance was better than none.

PERILS of the Dewey Decimal System
 Chapter 3

The rest of the day was exhausting, mainly because of the reaching and stretching required by their handcuffs.  Also, revelation followed revelation as the librarians took turns perusing the Library's catalog.  If half of what was listed was actually there, the literary wealth of the Votel Library was the equivalent of Fort Knox and the Crown Jewels combined!

They also determined that most of the floors below were automated.  A robot system retrieved and delivered individual items to one of the reading rooms or the conservation laboratory on the L2 level, then returned them to their proper place in the stacks after use.

The Staff Cafeteria turned out to be an "automat" with a selection of packaged sandwiches, microwavable soups, pasta salads, and beverages available to the librarians during the hour set aside for the midday meal.  They made their selections via a panel incorporating the boob-and-tongue RFID authentication system and kept their meals simple as they were all cuffed.  Also, they assisted each other as required.  Amanda realized shared adversity was forging strong bonds between the captives, herself included.  Also, the unexpected contents of the Library was fostering professional enthusiasm.

An hour after lunch Amanda's name was called over the intercom.  She heaved a sigh, trudged to the Staff Entry Hall, and discovered she'd been summoned to perform an hour of exercise in the form of handcuffed power-walking on the treadmill in the gym under the smiling supervision of Blythe.  Phoebe's, KK's, and Ginger's afternoons were similarly interrupted for hour-long strolls to nowhere.

Upon returning from her walk—which, thankfully, had ended with a brisk shower and Blythe drying and brushing her hair and cleaning her glasses—Amanda decided to inspect the laboratories on the L2 level.  She found them to be modern and state-of-the-art, as well equipped as those at the Harvard Library and with more actual work space.  On the professional level, Amanda was impressed.

Finally, something like two hours after Ginger returned from her exercise, the end of the workday was announced over the intercom.  The librarians shut down the consoles and made their way to the Entry hall.  They agreed that going through the catalog in detail was going to take days, and the initial verification of the most important entries would require months, at the very least.  As for reconciling the individual collections into a unified whole, that could well be the work of years.

Nothing more was said about KK's "secret software escape plan."  Amanda, Ginger, and Phoebe agreed to let her decide when to act... whatever that might entail.

One-by-one the librarians processed themselves out of the main library using the tits-and-tongue reader.  Cassie was waiting to implement a new wrinkle on the tit-leash, something Amanda decided to characterize as a "tit-coffle."  The grinning blond handler used a light, yard-long chain with a clip at each end to link KK's left nipple-stirrup to Phoebe's right nipple-stirrup.  A second, identical chain was added to link Phoebe's left nipple-stirrup to Ginger's right nipple-stirrup.  A third chain linked Ginger's left nipple-stirrup to Amanda's right nipple-stirrup.  And finally, she clipped the "Y"-shaped leash with the leather loop handle through both of Amanda's nipple-stirrups.

"Step lively now, ladies," Cassie purred, took a firm grip on Amanda's leash, and stepped off.

The weary, frustrated, and humiliated librarians padded in Cassie's wake, being careful to follow each other quite closely so as to leave plenty of slack in the the swaying, gleaming, interconnecting chains.

Cassie's destination was the librarians' "bedrooms," the row of cells with glass doors.  One-by-one she detached the librarians from the coffle, removed their cuffs, and locked them in their cells.  The exception was Amanda.  She remained handcuffed and tit-leashed.

"I'll be back with your dinners later, ladies," Cassie promised, then left with Amanda in tow.

"Where are you taking her?" KK demanded, pounding on the glass door of her cell with her fists.

Amanda was grateful for her fellow Brit's concern, but she hoped the question wouldn't result in punitive action.  Apparently (thankfully), Cassie was content to ignore KK's defiant inquiry.

Not to Amanda's surprise, their ultimate destination was the well-decorated upper stories; however, unless Amanda's memory was failing her, which it seldom did, she was being led in the opposite direction from Blythe's apartment.

"Where are you taking me?" Amanda demanded nervously.  "Ow!"  Cassie had given her leash a firm, and heartlessly unnecessary tug.

"Wherever I want, doctor," Cassie chuckled, then opened a door.  "And this evening," she added, "that happens to be my home."

They entered an apartment similar to Blythe's with the same expensive and apparently authentic Navajo decor, and Amanda quickly realized its floor plan was the mirror image of Blythe's studio flat.

Suddenly, Amanda stopped dead in her tracks and stared in wide-eyed horror.  There was no "Willie Stand" tucked in an alcove off the conversation area, but there was something equally distressing, as well as being totally unexpected!

PERILS of the Dewey Decimal System
 Chapter 3


Chapter 2

Chapter 4