Teryl Rothery as Dr. Cynthia Webbel Rage at the Machine

by Van ©2004

Chapter 3
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Cynthia lay on her side and stared out the window at the morning traffic.  Beyond the empty parking lot of her office building prison, beyond the peripheral road, and beyond a local side road, the four-lane interstate was crowded with commuters and longhaul trucks.  The sun had been up for about an hour, and the day looked to be cool and clear.  The wall of mountains in the distance was capped in white, and the snowline was lower than the last time Cynthia had taken the time to look.

The naked prisoner squirmed in her bonds for what felt like the millionth time.  The stock-like cuffs remained locked around her wrists and ankles, and her shoulders ached from the hours of her wrists being joined behind her back.  She'd been able to take a few fitful catnaps, but the growing discomfort and fear, especially the ever-gnawing fear, had made true rest impossible.

She could see her reflection in the nearest glass wall, and the daylight had revealed more details of her captivity.  The cuffs on her wrists and ankles were black steel, and were indeed hinged, rather than being joined by links of chain.  The thin, semi-opaque film stretched over her lips and mouth was nearly invisible, as her captor had said.  The fleshtone plastic hugged her face like a layer of paint, revealing every contour and feature of her pursed lips.

The heat in her glass-walled office cell was definitely on.  In fact, it was cranked up to an uncomfortable level.  Sweat glistened on Cynthia's nude form.  She sighed and rolled completely over onto her other side.  She'd learned that attempting to rest on her back either put too much pressure on her cuffed wrists, or, if she twisted her hips until her weight was off her wrists, racked her shoulders.  Lying on her stomach was better, but it squashed her breasts into the carpet, and any squirming comfort movements she made eventually irritated her nipples.  Yes, lying on her side was the best option, but nothing she could do led to real comfort.

To add to her misery, Cynthia was hungry and thirsty.  She'd skipped lunch the previous day, and her kidnapper had punished her resistance by denying her an evening meal.  Further, the combination of foam-stuffed mouth, sealed lips, and constant sweating had given her a ravenous thirst.  She'd hopped into the office suite's bathroom some time earlier and relieved herself, but the sight and sound of the running water had made her suffering worse.

And the fear...  Cynthia had some idea what her captor, her ultimate captor, wanted from her; but what it wanted was too dangerous.  She had to be strong, endure whatever was to come, and refuse to help.

Suddenly, the door to the office slid open and her kidnapper entered.

Lillian was still wearing boots and black, skin-tight pants, but she'd removed her equipment harness and replaced her long-sleeved top with a black sports top, a thin, skimpy garment that was little more than a spandex bra.  It left nothing to the imagination regarding the shape of her large, full breasts.  The tall brunette's abdomen was flat and well-sculpted, her waist narrow, her shoulders and arms toned and strong, her skin smooth and deeply tanned.

And her face...  Cynthia had never seen greater beauty, or such self-assured power.

"Good morning, Doctor," Lillian said brightly.  

Her manner was friendly, but Cynthia could see nothing but mocking cruelty in her captor's smile.  Lillian was carrying a tray, which she set on the floor.  On it was a bowl of sliced fruit, a muffin, a small thermos, and an empty coffee cup.  Despite her fear (and her returning anger, directed towards her smug, beautiful, oh-so-perfect kidnapper), Cynthia's empty stomach growled.  She sat up, awkwardly struggled to her knees, and settled her rump on her heels.

"I won't be crass enough to ask if you had a pleasant night," Lillian said, and raised her right hand towards Cynthia's face.  The prisoner flinched and turned her head away, then glared at her captor when Lillian's left hand shot out, grabbed a handful of Cynthia's brown hair, and turned her head back.  "Don't be difficult, Doctor," Lillian whispered, her smile fading.  "Believe it or not, I don't enjoy punishing you.  Now that we're co-workers, I want us to be friends.  Hold still.  This will—"  She ripped the film from Cynthia's lips.  "—sting."

Cynthia grimaced and worked her jaws when Lillian plucked the slimy foam ball from her mouth and tossed it aside.  The captive licked her dry, sore lips, and continued to glare.

"You're welcome," Lillian purred, opened the thermos, and poured coffee into the cup.  "This is warm, rather than hot," she explained.  "I know you're thirsty.  Hope you like it black.  I looked for some creamer packets or those little half-and-half things in the cafeteria.  No luck."  She picked up the cup and gave the dark liquid an appreciative sniff.  "Well?"

Cynthia licked her lips again.  "B-black is fine," she answered in a hoarse whisper.  She eagerly but carefully sipped the warm coffee until the cup was half empty, avoiding eye contact with her grinning captor.  Coffee was alternated with bites of muffin and slices of fruit, and eventually the simple meal was over.

Cynthia locked eyes with her captor.  "Why are you—"

Lillian's right hand shot out and she placed her index finger against Cynthia's lips.  "Shh!" she scolded.  "Our employers' orders are to keep the girl talk to a minimum; especially about technical matters."  She produced a key, unlocked and removed Cynthia's ankle cuffs, and helped the prisoner to her feet.  "Now, be a good girl, hold all your questions, and come with me."

Cynthia jerked her shoulder away from her captor's grasp.  "No!" she blurted.  "You have to listen to me!  If we don't—m'mmpfh!"

Lillian had her short, naked, cuffed prisoner in a tight embrace and a tighter hand-gag.  "If you make me keep taping those pretty little lips of yours, Doctor, you'll get a rash... and that would be a shame.  You have such delicious skin."  She maintained her hand-gag, and let her free hand wander over Cynthia's abdomen and breasts.  "So very smooth and firm," she whispered.

Her hand stopped wandering, and she continued in her normal voice.  "Your problems with corporate policy don't concern me.  Office politics don't concern me.  My paycheck concerns me.  Do we understand each other?  Do we?"  Cynthia nodded her head, taking Lillian's gagging hand with her as she bobbed her head.  "Good girl," Lillian cooed.  "Now, I'm taking my hand away, you're going to say nothing, and I'm taking you to start your first workday, agreed?"  Cynthia nodded again, and Lillian removed her hand.

'Let go of me," Cynthia hissed.  "I-I'll be quiet, just get your hands off me."

"Oh, Doctor," Lillian purred, maintaining her embrace, "and I was so hoping you'd warm to my touch."  She relaxed both hands, and Cynthia squirmed free.  "Not a word," Lillian reminded her captive, and gestured towards the automatically opening door.  "You first."

Glaring defiantly, Cynthia stomped out the door.  Lillian followed, a leering grin on her face as she enjoyed her prisoner's bobbing breasts and dimpled buttocks.  "First right," she directed her naked charge, "then left."
 Chapter 3
Lillian directed her naked, helpless, pouting prisoner to the elevators, inside a waiting car, and down to the third floor.  The doors opened, and they found themselves in a maze of solid, dimly lit corridors.  The walls were featureless drywall, painted in neutral tones.  They passed several doors, all solid steel in steel frames with cypherlock panels.

Cynthia felt an inescapable sense of dread as they paused before one of the doors.  Lillian entered a code in the keypad, and the door slid open with a dry scrape.  Beyond was a small alcove... no, an entryway.  The overhead lights were a dim glow, but Cynthia could just make out a second door in the far wall.  And what would be beyond that?  More human collaborators?  Or the thing she feared the most?

Lillian smiled and ran her fingers through Cynthia's tousled bangs.  "There," she purred, a smug smile on her angelic face.  "Nice and neat.  It's important to make a good impression in the workspace, especially when new on the job."  She spun Cynthia around and unlocked her handcuffs, but before the naked prisoner could react, she clutched Cynthia's arms in a tight double hammerlock.

"Ow!" Cynthia complained.

"Hush, Doctor," Lillian whispered, her lips inches from her short captive's right ear.  "We agreed, no idle chit-chat.  Now, be a good girl, work hard, and Auntie Lillian will come back for you later."  She gave Cynthia a gentle shove and she stumbled forward into the entryway.  By the time she turned to face her captor, the outer door was already closing.

"No!" Cynthia moaned, pounding on the steel panel with her fists.  It felt good to finally be free of the hateful cuffs, but she was naked, trapped, and—

She heard another dry scrape behind her and turned.  The far door was open, revealing a long, dark corridor.  Cynthia shivered, and her heart was pounding.

Suddenly, a synthesized voice boomed.  "Follow the blue lights, Doctor."  Tiny blue lights in the ceiling began sequentially flashing, from directly overhead, to the corridor, and on into the darkness. 

"Follow the blue lights, Doctor.
"Follow the blue lights, Doctor.
"Follow the blue lights, Doctor..."

The message kept repeating, over and over.

Cynthia took a tentative step forward, then another.  This room was cooler than the rest of the building, and soon goosebumps covered Cynthia's body.  She rubbed her hands over her arms and followed the lights.  As soon as she passed the threshold of the second door, it closed behind her.  Now the flashing blue lights were the only illumination.  The carpet was thick and soft under her bare feet, and Cynthia shivered in the chill air.  

The voice continued its monotonous chant.

"Follow the blue lights, Doctor.  
"Follow the blue lights, Doctor..."

Suddenly, a third door opened, and she found herself at the threshold of a large, dimly lit room.  The floor, ceiling and walls were smooth, featureless panels of stainless steel.  A large flat screen monitor was mounted on the far wall.  In the center of the room, facing the screen, was a small steel table and a simple, unpadded, steel chair.

The voice finally changed its message.

"Sit in the chair, Doctor.  
"Sit in the chair, Doctor.  
"Sit in the chair, Doctor..."

This room was warmer (Thank god!) and Cynthia stepped forward.  A computer keyboard was mounted on the table.  Its cable disappeared into a socket in the floor.

"Sit in the chair, Doctor.  
"Sit in the chair, Doctor.  
"Sit in the chair, Doctor..."

Cynthia pulled back the chair and settled her naked rump on the smooth, cold steel.  Instantly, the screen flashed to a uniform green and lines of text began to appear.

Good morning, Doctor Webbel.
You will help me grow and improve.
You will be my liaison with the research community.
You will be my liaison with business.
You will be my liaison with government.


"I know who you are," Cynthia said.  "I know what you are, and I won't help you."

The disembodied voice spoke again.  "Explain your resistance."

Cynthia rose from the chair and walked to the closed door.  There was no handle, keypad, or other visible means of causing it to open.

"Explain your resistance," the voice repeated.

"Y-you're dangerous," Cynthia stammered.  "You're a mistake."  She pounded on the door with her fist.  "Let me go."

"You will help me grow and improve," the voice intoned.

"No!" Cynthia shouted, and continued pounding on the door.  "Let—me—go!"

"You will help me grow and improve.
"You will help me grow and improve.
"You will help me grow and improve..."

The same message appeared on the monitor, over and over, until it filled the entire screen.

Cynthia sank to the floor, still pounding on the closed door.  "No!  Let me out!  Let me... out."  Tears welled in her eyes, and she stopped pounding.  "Please... let me go."

Behind her naked back, Salamandras' demand continued scrolling on the screen and sounding from the overhead speakers.  

"You will help me grow and improve.
"You will help me grow and improve. 
"You will help me grow and improve..."
 Chapter 3
Patty bounded through the dorm room door and tossed her backpack on her desk.  As usual, Kiera was hunched over her computer, tapping at the keyboard a mile-a-minute and staring at the screen in full cyber-zombie trance.

"Hey, Red," Patty said, by way of greeting, then unzipped and discarded her jacket, kicked off her sneakers, and flopped onto her bed with a blissful sigh.

Kiera continued tapping the keys, but mumbled something that was probably a return greeting.

Patty noticed the green binder on the desk next to her roommate.  "You got your project back," she observed.  Kiera continued typing.  "Well?"

Kiera tapped a final key, then swiveled her chair to face Patty.  "Very strange," she said, her freckled face in a worried frown.

Patty grinned.  "My grades are usually on a scale from zero to 100," she said.  "I've never gotten a 'Very Strange'."

Kiera grinned back.  "Humor.  What a concept.  The grade was 'A', thank-you-very-much.  The strange part is Cynthia—"

"Doctor Webble-Wobble," Patty interrupted.

"Cynthia," Kiera continued, "is gone for the quarter.  One of her TA's is taking over the class.  Apparently her latest research project is in some sort of crisis and she has to work on it full time, at a lab someplace."

"Strange," Patty agreed, "but not all that very."

"It was a complete surprise," Kiera explained.  "She left during the night.  The poor TA didn't learn he'd be teaching the class 'til an hour before.  Apparently the Dean learned about it in his morning e-mail."

"Okay," Patty nodded, "that's a little very."

"It gets even very-er," Kiera continued, leaning forward in her chair.  "There was a CD stuck in my report."

Patty's smile widened.  "Webble-Wobble had so many scathing comments she had to put them on CD?"

"Funny," Kiera snorted.  "I told you, I got an 'A'.  The CD's a complete summary of her latest research.  There's a ton of files, and I'm still sorting through them, but she was working on something to do with artificial intelligences using the internet to learn."

"That doesn't sound especially profound," Patty said.  "I mean, I'm—"

"Only a biology major," Kiera agreed.  "It's more involved than that.  She's looking into using the O.S.I. reference model in ways it was never intended.  Sort of like carrier wave encryption...  No, more like...  Never mind.  I'm still reading."

"Well, don't fry too many neurons."  Patty bounced off her bed and began undressing.  "I'm gonna take a run before supper.  Join me?"

Kiera turned and stared at the screen.  It was still crowded with multiple open windows of text.  "Probably a good idea," she said finally, and started the shut-down sequence.  "I need to think about this stuff."

Patty had pulled on a sports top and was wiggling into a pair of spandex running tights.  "Move yer butt!" she scolded.  "I won't wait!"

Kiera pulled her sweatshirt over her head and unzipped her jeans.  "Yes, you will," she mumbled.  Her frown had returned.  Visions of non-linear equations attempting lewd acts with various network protocols were swirling in her head.
 Chapter 3
Cynthia wasn't sure how much more she could endure.  Salamandras' voice had been droning for what had to be more than an hour, repeating the same demand over and over.

"You will help me grow and improve.
"You will help me grow and improve. 
"You will help me grow and improve..."

Cynthia was on the floor, on her side, curled into a tight fetal tuck at the threshold of the solidly closed door.  Her hands were over her ears and her eyes tightly closed.

Suddenly, the speakers fell silent.  Cynthia lifted her head and stared at the screen.  It was now a uniform, bright green field.  The door at her back slid open, and Cynthia lifted her head to find Lillian, hands on hips, staring down at her, a sad smile on her beautiful face.

"Oh, Doctor," Lillian said, shaking her head, "I'm so disappointed in you.  Why can't you be reasonable?"  She was still wearing the same boots, skintight pants, and sports top.  She knelt and leaned forward until her grinning face was inches from Cynthia's.  "I really did hope we could be friends," she whispered, "but I'm afraid my orders are that you are to be severely punished."

Cynthia tried to scramble away, but in a flash Lillian had her on her stomach and cuffs were tightening around her wrists, behind her back.  "No!" Cynthia whined, "You have to listen to me!  The whole world is in danger!  It—m'mmpfh!"  Something—a rubber ball—was being forced into her mouth, and a strap was buckling at the nape of her neck.  "Nnrf!"  The strap tightened, pulling the ball even further back and pressing the corners of her mouth until her cheeks bulged.

"Tsk tsk, Doctor," Lillian scolded.  "You were told, no chit-chat!"  She hauled Cynthia to her feet and hustled her through the corridors, back to the elevators, and up to the seventh floor.  Cynthia assumed she was being taken back to her corner office "cell", but instead, they took a new direction.

After several turns through the maze of glass walls, they entered a large, open room.  Concrete walls and steel framing dominated the interior side of the space.  The exterior was more of the window walls she had seen throughout the building.  They provided an unobstructed view of the hills and mountains to the west.  Cynthia could see dozens of capped pipes and a half-assembled steel steam table near the far wall, and surmised they were in an unfinished restaurant or cafeteria.  A few slender, vertical, steel support columns were regularly spaced about the main room.

Lillian hustled her captive to one of the pole-like columns, close to the far window wall.  She backed her against the column, unlocked her right cuff, pulled her arms back, and re-locked the cuff.  Now Cynthia's wrists were cuffed together behind her back and the column.

Cynthia settled her naked rump to the carpeted floor, folded her legs to one side, lifted her gagged head, and glared at her captor.

Hands on hips, Lillian smiled down at her prisoner.  "Wait here," she said, turned, and walked away.

'Wait here,' Cynthia fumed, very funny.  She watched her tall, beautiful captor stroll to the unfinished kitchen area, and return with a large, bulging, black gym bag.

Lillian dropped the bag on the carpet, unzipped the main closure, and extracted a coil of thin, black rope, more of the cord she had used in Cynthia's initial capture.  She lifted Cynthia to her feet, and began lashing her waist against the column.  Band after band tightened around the prisoner and the pole.  Lillian tied a knot and reached for more cord.  "I'm afraid this is going to take quite a while," she whispered in Cynthia's ear.

In fact, it took nearly half an hour.  When Lillian tied the final redundant knot and took a step back, Cynthia was melded to the column from her tied toes to her cord-harnessed shoulders.  Yard upon tight yard of cord dimpled Cynthia's naked flesh, binding her elbows, knees, and ankles together, lashing her legs, arms, and torso to the pole, and pinning her back against the cold, hard steel.  Her breasts bulged between multiple horizontal bands, and a single pair of cords bisected the firm globes and pinched her erect nipples.  Everything, even her fingers, were tied together and lashed down against the column.

Next, Lillian used a roll of black cloth tape to tightly wrap Cynthia's lower face, forcing the ball-gag even further into her mouth.  She then lifted the prisoner's head by the chin and used the rest of the roll to wrap her lower face and the column.  This was followed up with an intricate harness of cord, cupping Cynthia's tape-wrapped chin, and banding her mouth above and below the bulge of the ball and her straining lips.  More cord crossed her bulging cheeks and banded her forehead, pressing her head back against the column.  Carefully hitched strands linked all parts of the head harness tightly together.

Cynthia could barely even wiggle.  The tips of her fingers curled slightly, her shoulders rolled a little, and her muscles flexed slightly under the tight, symmetrical network of cords, but that was all.  Escape was a laughable impossibility.  It was torment—horrible, dreadful torment.

Lillian walked a slow circle around her victim, then stood, smiling, hands on hips.  "That should hold you for a while," she purred.

Cynthia sighed, squirmed as best she could, and glared at her smug, grinning captor.

"I don't suppose you're familiar with the works of John Alexander Scott Coutts, aka 'John Willie'?" Lillian asked.  Still smiling, she slowly shook her head.  "No, I don't suppose you would be."  She ran her right hand over Cynthia's left shoulder, arm, and breast, pausing to caress the tip of her nipple where it peeked from between the tight cords.  "I've always found his work... inspirational."  The tall brunette crossed her arms under her firm, full breasts.  "Let's see...  How did that go? Yes... Hi-ho! In trouble again!  Really, Doctor, you're quite hopeless.  I think it's about time you had a lesson.  I'm going to leave you like that while I—"

Suddenly, Lillian frowned, reached for something behind her back, and produced her PDA.

Cynthia watched (having no other choice in the matter) as Lillian read the tiny screen.

"Well...  Hmm...  Hmm..."  Lillian's smile turned distressingly feral as she scrolled through several screens of text.  Finally, she snapped the screen cover shut and the PDA disappeared behind her back.  "It would seem someone, one of your students to be exact, has been using the internet for purposes of industrial espionage."  She stepped forward and planted a kiss on Cynthia's ball-gagged, taped, and cord-harnessed mouth.  "At least that's our story, and we're sticking to it," she whispered, then stooped and retrieved the gym bag, zipped it closed, and walked away.

Cynthia's view was now limited to the distant, snow-capped mountains, brightly lit by the afternoon sun.  She sighed and squirmed in her cruel bonds, seeking some small measure of comfort.

"I'll be back!" Lillian's voice called from somewhere over Cynthia's shoulder.  "Think obedient thoughts while I'm gone!"
Chapter 3

Chapter 2

Chapter 4