Nice jacket!

Oh, the Humanities! by Van ©2012

Chapter 4

Dramatis Personæ


Her eyes wide with alarm, Gwen screamed through the ball-gag plugging her mouth.  "M'mmpfh!"  The many holes piercing the thick-walled, hollow sphere allowed significant volume to escape, but it was a gag.  Unless Clem and/or the campus cops were in the hallway immediately below the Room of Requirement, Gwen doubted they'd be able to hear anything.  The sinister intruder in black could hear, of course.  Whoever she was, she straddled Gwen's squirming body with her black knee-boots, dropped to her leather-clad knees, and settled her weight on Gwen's tummy, pinning her on her back.  "Mrrrrrf!"

"Quiet," the masked stranger said.  "I'm not going to hurt you, I promise."

Gwen continued squirming—"Mffff!"—then froze when the stranger clamped a gloved hand over her gagged mouth.

"I said be quiet, Gwendoline," the stranger chuckled.

Gwen's green eyes locked with her captor's blue eyes.  She knows my name!  Somehow Gwen could tell the apparition-in-black was smiling, despite the mask.

"You may call me... The Phantom," the stranger purred.  Her voice was (Gwen had to admit) pleasantly soprano, maybe mezzo-soprano.  "You have my solemn word as a sinister archetype that I'm not going to hurt you."  She took her gloved hand from Gwen's ball-gagged mouth.
The Phantom!
Gwen's heart was hammering, but somehow she managed to control her panic.  She watched as her captor grabbed the chin of her mask and lifted the mask and hood from her head.  She shook out her shoulder-length, blond hair and smiled.  "Mrrrf?"  Gwen recognized the intruder's decidedly pretty face... sort of.

"I can tell you recognize me," the blond purred.

She's old, Gwen noted, girlish, but old... like twenty-five or something.

"Yes, you know me," the catsuited blond continued, "but we've never been formally introduced."  She placed her gloved hands on either side of Gwen's gagged head and leaned close until their faces were less than a foot apart.  "My name is Inga Berg.  I'm a graduate student of English Literature and Cultural Semantics."

That's where I've seen her! Gwen realized.  She was at that guest lecture on Semiotics that Clem and I sat in on!

"I've been watching you and your roommate play," Inga said, then leaned even closer.  "It's not like I've been stalking you," she whispered, and kissed Gwen's ball-gagged lips.  She then sat upright and began untying the rope knotted through the D-ring in the collar of Gwen's bolero straitjacket.  "Okay," Inga chuckled, "I suppose I have been stalking you, by any reasonable definition of the term, but I assure you my intentions are... honorable."  She finished untying the tether, then tied a complicated, decorative knot at the very end of the rope and tossed it aside.

Gwen noted her captor—Inga!  Her name's Inga!—was also wearing a black leather fanny-pack.  She'd missed that detail earlier because: (1) she'd been too busy FREAKING OUT! and (2) the fanny-pack's leather and hardware matched the rest of Inga's Leather Bitch Goddess outfit.  She watched as Inga spun the pack around so it was riding her tummy instead of her fanny, then lifted a booted, leather-sheathed leg and reversed direction.  Most of her weight settled back onto Gwen's naked waist, but now Inga was facing her feet.

And speaking of feet, Inga unzipped the fanny-pack and pulled out a pair of black leather cuffs.  They were joined by something like ten inches of stiff bungee cord, elastic rubber clad in black fabric.  It was coiled around itself like a spring or a hangman's knot.

Once Gwen realized Inga was buckling the cuffs around her ankles, she tried to resist—tried and failed.

Inga reversed position again, then smiled at Gwen.  "We need to get out of here, but first..."  Her smile broadened.  "Will you agree not to scream for help?"

Gwen's heart was still hammering, and the way Inga's lips curled when she smiled was kinda cute.  Okay, really cute, and...  What was the question?  "Mrrpfh?"

Still smiling, Inga heaved a theatrical sigh, reached back into the open fanny-pack and produced a rectangular sponge and a wide roll of black, PVC tape.

Gwen's eyes popped even wider.  "NRRRrrrrr."  Inga had clamped the sponge over her ball-gagged mouth, freed the end of the tape with her teeth, and was now wrapping turn after tight turn of tape around her head, over her mouth, the sponge, and her tousled hair!  "
Nrrrrr!"  Inga stretched the tape as she worked, causing the shining black bands to grip Gwen's lower face something fierce.  She used the entire roll, giving Gwen the most stringent multilayer gag of her young life!  Okay, it was the first multilayer gag of her young life.  She'd multi-gagged Clem back in the dorm, but this was Gwen's first.  And one thing was absolutely true—"M'mpfh!"—it was pretty damn effective!

"There," Inga chuckled as she returned the roll's cardboard tube to the fanny-pack.  She then produced a thin, black leather leash and clicked its terminal clip through the jacket collar's D-ring.  "Time to go."  She pulled the hood and mask back over her head, then stood and took a step to Gwen's right.  The loop in the far end of the leash was in her right hand and she gave it a firm tug.  "Up you come."

Gwen struggled to her feet.  What choice did she have?  She certainly didn't want to make Inga angry.  She yelped through her gag when Inga embraced her from the side, cupped her left breast, and gave it a gentle squeeze with her gloved hand. 

"I know you're scared," Inga whispered.  The lifeless lips of her mask were inches from Gwen's left ear.  "I swear, I'm not going to hurt you, or your roommate.  You like this game.  You know you like this game, and we're going to play."  She released her embrace, including Gwen's breast, then started for the stairs.  Tap, tap, tap...

The leash snapped taut—
"Nrrr!"—and they were off.  The hobble allowed only very short steps, but it wasn't as stiff as she thought it would be, and it stretched more than she'd expected, as well.  Gwen managed not to stumble.

Truth be told, Gwen did like this game—Duh!—but HOLY CRAP!  She was being kidnapped FOR REAL!  By a STRANGER!  Granted, a cute—okay, hot—slightly older stranger, but a STRANGER!  And where the hell is Clem?

Oh, the Humanities!
Chapter 4

Clem bounded up the front steps of Nicholson Hall.  Night had finally fallen, a pulled pork sandwich (with peppers and caramelized onions) and a side of double-dipped fries from the Sac were digesting in her stomach, and it was time to either let Gwen go... or do something nasty to her.  Clem hadn't decided which, but was leaning towards "something nasty."  After all, why take Epic Revenge on your BFF if you weren't willing to go overboard and do unspeakable things to her you'd regret in the morning?  She reached into her jeans pocket and pulled out her keyring, selected the key for the front door, and—

"Excuse me," an alto voice called from somewhere behind Clem's back.

Clem nearly jumped out of her proverbial skin, but managed not to drop the keys.  She turned to find a campus cop smiling up at her from the sidewalk.  The cop was female, blond, thirty-something (possibly late 20's), and pretty, in Clem's opinion—pretty in a butch, tomboy, could-kick-my-ass-without-breaking-a-sweat kinda way.

"What is your business in Nicholson Hall?" the cop inquired.  She was in uniform: tan shirt, brown jeans, boots, wide cop's belt with pistol, flashlight, handcuffs, etc.  Her badge was clipped to the belt and the name tag over her right breast read "BALLANTINE."

Clem swallowed, then realized she had no reason to be nervous.  "Uh, I'm working for Dr. Pappas, inventorying the furniture before the contractors start the renovation, and I need to do something."

The cop climbed the steps and smiled at Clem.  "At this hour?"

Clem swallowed, again.  "I forgot to check the closet of one of the classrooms.  Sometimes people shove broken desks into closets rather than reporting them to Maintenance and... I need to check."

The cop held out her right hand.  "May I please see your ID?"

"Uh, sure."  Clem pulled her wallet from the side pocket of her messenger bag, extracted her student ID, and handed it over.

The cop had pulled what looked like a rubberized iPhone from a case on her belt.  It had a built-in card-reader and she swiped Clem's ID, then read whatever was being displayed on the device's small screen.

Clem waited... nervously... even though she'd already decided she had no reason to be nervous.  Some students, mostly the party animal types, considered the campus police to be buzz-kills, but Clem had always found them to be polite, helpful, and professional.  And why should—Clem read the cop's name tag again—"Officer Ballantine" suspect Clem was up to something?  So, her roommate was naked, strapped into a borrowed straitjacket, gagged, and locked in one of the attic rooms, and Clem had done the deed.  Big deal.

"Okay," the cop said.  She handed back Clem's ID.  "With the campus more or less shut down before the start of Summer Quarter, we have to be extra vigilant against break-ins.  Do you expect to be long?"

"Uh, no," Clem answered, "not at all."  So much for tickle-torturing Gwen 'til dawn, she thought.

"I'll be patrolling this side of campus if you need assistance, Clementine.  Thank you for your cooperation."

"Clem.  Call me Clem."

The cop extended her hand and they shook.  "Tori Ballantine.  Pleased to meet you."

"Same here," Clam answered.  Officer Tori Ballantine had a firm grip.  I bet she works out, Clem decided, watching Tori descend the stairs... then walk away.  Hmm... maybe I ought to buy a pair of handcuffs.  Gwen and I can play cop.  She turned back to the door and inserted the appropriate key in the lock.

Oh, the Humanities!
Chapter 4

Gwen minced along in Inga's wake, taking the short, abbreviated steps allowed by her hobble.  Her leather-clad captor was setting a reasonable pace, but Gwen's heart was hammering.  It had never stopped hammering.

After all, Gwen was virtually naked, strapped in a skintight bolero-jacket, stringently gagged, and being led on a leash by a masked, leather-wearing villainess down the dark, echoing corridors of a totally deserted Nicholson Hall!  To coin a phrase: HOLY CRAP!

After descending the stairs from the Room of Requirement to the top floor, Inga had locked the door, then headed for one of the building's back stairwells.  The only sound was the tap, tap, tap of her boots.  Gwen's bare feet made no sound on the smooth, cool floor.

They descended to the next floor... then the next... then the next.  The hobble stretched as required to make a safe descent possible.  Gwen realized the coiling was just to keep the bungee cord off the floor.  Clever!  Also, she noted the way her tits flopped against her folded and leather-encased arms as she dropped in altitude, step by step, but there was nothing clever about bouncing boobs.

Where is she taking me? Gwen wondered.  Suddenly, something she'd just seen registered: Inga has a key to the Room of Requirement!  Where did she get a key to the Room of Requirement?

They arrived at the ground floor and approached a solid door bearing the sign "AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY."  Inga produced her keys, again, and unlocked the door.  Beyond was a landing and yet another set of stairs.  She closed the door—
"Urrr!"—and they were plunged into complete darkness.

"Easy, Gwendoline," Inga's voice chuckled, then a small LED flashlight winked on.

Gwen watched as The Phantom locked the door behind them, then headed down the stairs.  The leash snapped taut and Gwen dutifully followed.  She knew Nicholson Hall had a basement, everybody knew Nicholson Hall had a basement; but it was off limits to students and locked up tight.  More darkness loomed at the bottom of the stairs, and beyond was dark, empty space.  There were boxes and stacks of what was probably more furniture, but Inga kept the light on the dusty floor.  Speaking of which, Gwen realized the soles of her bare feet were probably now black with dirt.  Funny what you worry about when you're naked, bound, gagged, and in the process of being abducted, she thought.

The parade of two continued through the basement, the tiny pool of light just ahead of Inga's feet the only illumination.  Indistinct shapes hinted at more clutter, but Gwen still couldn't make out any details.  She isn't going to leave me down here, Gwen worried, is she?  How will Clem find me?

The journey continued.  Gwen was convinced they should be running out of basement, and then they did.  A concrete wall loomed, and set in that wall was a steel door studded with bolts, the sort of thing Gwen would want between herself and a horde of rampaging zombies.  Enough! Gwen chided herself.  Focus!  You're being kidnapped!  She watched as Inga turned the lock and pulled it open.  Beyond was more darkness and yet another set of stairs leading down, this time cast in concrete with textured steel treads.

Down they went, pausing only long enough for Inga to close and lock the door, and Gwen found herself in... a tunnel?  Inga clicked off her flashlight.  It was no longer needed.  Dim, widely separated industrial lights glowed overhead, shedding more than enough light for The Phantom and her prisoner to avoid bumping into the walls or the many pipes and conduits traveling in steel brackets on either side and overhead.

Gwen was amazed.  Secret tunnels under the campus?  That's sooo cool!  It was also terrifying, but Gwen couldn't do anything about it.  She was helpless.  She was Inga's captive.  The Phantom said she wasn't gonna hurt her, and for some reason—for no good reason, actually—Gwen believed her.  She kinda had to believe her, and follow her lead (her leash, actually), and hope for the best.

As she minced along down the seemingly endless tunnel, a curious but generous thought entered Gwen's mind.  Poor Clem!  What's she gonna think when she finds me gone?  What's she gonna do?

Oh, the Humanities!
Chapter 4

Clem stared at the empty futon cushion in disbelief.  The white cotton rope that should have been tied through the D-ring in the collar of Gwen's straitjacket was in her right hand, and she was examining an elegant, flower-like knot tied in its very end.  It was like macrame, or some other kind of craft thing, and Clem realized it was a message.  Gwen couldn't possibly have squirmed her way out the jacket, and with her fingers trapped in the sleeves, she couldn't possibly have tied the knot.  Nor could she have tied the knot with her lips and tongue, not with the ball-gag strapped in her mouth.  That left her toes, but there was no way Gwen could tie this knot with her toes.

Someone else had tied the knot!  And that someone had taken Gwen!

What to do?  What to do?  What to do?

Clem's heart was thumping and she knew she was on the verge of panic.  Stop it! she chided herself.  Clem knew she had to calm down, think, and do something!  But what?

Clem dropped the rope, spun on her heels, and sprinted for the stairs.  If she called for help she'd get in trouble, but so what?  Someone has taken Gwen!  She bounded down the stairs, sprinted down the hall to the main staircase, then hurried down to the ground floor.  By the time she reached Nicholson Hall's front door, hit the panic bar, and threw it open, her heart was really hammering and she was gasping for breath.  She bounded down the front steps and looked around.  The campus appeared to be completely deserted and—

"Clem, is something wrong?"

Clem spun around again to find Tori Ballantine stepping from the shadows.  Apparently—make that obviously—she'd been leaning against the trunk of a tree and Clem had missed her.  Clem tried to speak, but all she could do was pant.

"Easy," Tori said, and placed a reassuring hand on Clem's shoulder.  "Deep breaths."

Clem nodded as she continued gasping for air.  Finally, after a few seconds she was able to speak, after a fashion.  "S-someone!  Wheeze. Took!  Wheeze.  My roommate!  Wheeze.  Gwen!"

Tori frowned.  "Your roommate?"

"Gwen was upstairs," Clem explained.  "In the attic.  And she's gone!  Someone took her!"

Tori gestured towards the building.  "Show me."

They hurried up the front steps, Clem unlocked the front door, and she led Tori as quickly as she could up to the Room of Requirement.

Tori looked around at the strings of purple icicle lights dangling from the rafters, the futon cushion on the floor, and the long, tangled rope with one end tied around a support column and the other tied in a decorative knot.

"Uh, this is our study nook," Clem explained, pointing at the reading lamp in one corner.

"Study nook," Tori muttered.

"Uh, yeah.  Only I have the key and—"  She shook her head, nearly losing her glasses in the process.  "That's not important."  She used her right index finger to seat her glasses against the bridge of her nose.  "Gwen, my roommate, was up here, and somebody took her!"

"Somebody took her?"

"I'm serious!" Clem blurted.  "The door was locked, and she couldn't have gotten away—I mean, she couldn't have left on her own."

"The door was locked."

"And only I have the key!"

"Because of the inventory," Tori suggested.

"No!  I've been the only one with a key all year!"  Clem watched as Tori pulled her rubberized iPhone thing from her belt and began tapping the keys.  "She... someone has to have taken her!"

"I'll put out a campus bulletin and then you can give me a full report," Tori said as she continued tapping and sliding her finger.  "I assume you mean Gwendoline Percy?"  She held the device so Clem could see the display of Gwen's student ID photo on its small screen.

"Yeah, yeah, Gwen Percy," Clem nodded.

"Okay."  Tori continued tapping the screen.  "What was she wearing the last time you saw her?"

Clem's blushed, then swallowed.  Here goes everything, she thought.  "Uh, she was wearing a black leather straitjacket... but was otherwise naked."

Tori stopped tapping the screen and stared at Clem.  "Naked?"

"Okay, okay, we were, uh, playing," Clem admitted.  "Please.  Somebody's taken her.  She couldn't have gotten free on her own."

Tori returned the iPhone-like device to her belt.  "Let me get this straight.  You've established a private, unauthorized 'study nook' in a classroom building, you had your roommate naked and strapped in a straitjacket in said study nook—"

"And gagged," Clem interrupted.  Her cheeks felt like they were about to burst into flame, and she'd like nothing better than to sink into the floorboards.  "She was gagged."


"A ball-gag," Clem confirmed.  "It was hers.  It was her ball-gag.  She bought it."  Clem's eyes popped wide.  Tori had reached behind her back and produced her handcuffs.  "Uh, look, I know I'm in trouble, but—No!"

Tori had spun Clem around, pulled the messenger bag off her shoulder, slammed her against the support column, and was cuffing her wrists behind her back.  Click-click-click.  "You're in trouble all right."  Click-click-click.
"Please!"  Clem tugged on the cuffs.  They were the hinged kind, the kind without the little connecting chain.  "Somebody took Gwen!  I don't care what happens to me, but we have to find Gwen!"  Tori spun her back around.  She watched as Tori pulled a large bandana from her hip pocket, shook it out, and crumpled it into a wad.  "What are you gonna—No!  M'mmpfh!"  Tori had stuffed the bandana in her mouth, and was holding it there with one hand.

"Don't worry, Clem," Tori said as she reached into her pocket and produced a roll of half-inch wide, black electrical tape.  "I'll take care of everything."  She freed the end of the roll with her teeth, planted the strip across the wad and between Clem's gaping lips, then began taking turns around her head.


Tori continued wrapping bands of stretched tape, firmly anchoring the wad in place and giving Clem a tight, no nonsense cleave-gag.  "There," she chuckled as she snapped the roll free and returned it to her pocket.  "Now you won't be disturbing the peace."

"Mfffh!"  Tori had plunked her on her butt at the base of the column with her back and cuffed wrists against the hard, square wood, untied the rope from the post, and was using it to lash her in place!  "Mrrf?"

With practiced competence, Tori took three turns around Clem's squirming body and the column, hitched the rope bands between Clem and the wood, then tied a knot somewhere behind the column.  She then untied the decorative knot in the other end of the rope, pulled Clem's ankles against the wood and lashed them together and to the post.  "That should hold you," Tori purred as she stood.  She took a step back and smiled down at her prisoner.

"Nrmpfh?"  Tori's smile was... disturbing.  Is she the one? Clem wondered.  Did she take Gwen?

"I think I may know where to find your friend," Tori said, then turned and walked towards the stairs.  "Don't go anywhere."

"Mffh!"  Clem squirmed and fought her bonds as Tori descended the stairs.  She heard the door close, and then... silence.  Clem fought her bonds, again, but it was hopeless.  She wasn't going anywhere, as per Tori's mocking instructions.  All she could do was wait, and wonder—



Oh, the Humanities!
Chapter 4

Chapter 3 Chapter 5