Here is Part Thirteen of the bondage serial The Abduction Company, written exclusively for Oxy-Shop by Taped2. Melody attends her first management meeting. She also hears from one half of the couple who harboured Martin in his hour of need. And she receives an expert’s introduction to the art of the cane. Inspiration provided by the classic bondage artist, RobertBishop.
Everyone's a lie but you're so true
You're symphonic, you're the light of the moon
How could I forget you?
-- Symphonic, Emm Gryner
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Melody rapped on the dark oak door of Mistress Stephanie’s suite. She had spent the last thirty minutes in the Warden’s office in the second sub-basement, beside the Men’s Prison section – waiting for her second day of tutoring with Head Mistress. The Warden had found two prisoners for Stephanie’s use and they too had sat for slightly less time that morning, side by side on a metal bench, their wrists locked behind them in Peerless police-grade steel handcuffs.
When Stephanie had not appeared by five past nine, Melody called her cell phone. No answer. After twenty more minutes, Melody told the Warden to send the prisoners back to wherever they were previously scheduled. She took the elevator up to level three.
Stephanie’s door opened. A pudgy middle-aged white man, an AbductCo. security guard squinted at her. One of his eyes twitched. “Yes, miss?”
“I’m looking for Stephanie.”
The guard smiled. “Yes, so are we. Did you have an appointment this morning?”
”With Mistress Stephanie, not with you.”
“Of course. Not with me.” He smiled faintly. “Come inside, will you? Speak to my chief?” The guard stepped back. Melody entered. There were six or seven Abduction Company prison guards pretending to be cops. Specifically, TV cops. One was picking up hairs and lint with tweezers and collecting it in a small plastic bag. Another dusted for finger-prints on a credenza. A third examined the underside of a chair. A small, electronic device had been found. Several investigators, two whom wore white lab coats, discussed the device excitedly.
“What’s going on? Where’s Head Mistress?”
“Missing, miss. We’re received a ransom note. It wasn’t taped together out of random letters cut out of magazines. Oh no. It was laser-printed, if you can imagine. And left on the dining room table.” A very tall man came towards them. “This is my chief. Supervisor Baggly.”
Melody stood five-foot-ten inches in her sneakers. Baggly towered over her. He seemed to slouch a little and his eyes wandered. Melody thought he might be trying to avoid looking at her breasts. She’d dressed in a vintage-style long-line white brasserie, with a sleeveless white T-shirt over top.
Baggly carried a clipboard, a pen poised in his other hand. “You are . . .”
“Melody Throckmortense. Domme-in-Training. I had an appointment with Stephanie in sub-basement two. She never appeared.”
“Hmm. Let me show you this.” Baggly took the ransom note – a plain sheet of white paper – from one of the men. The entire investigative team was male. The page had been folded in half twice. “We’re treating this as a kidnapping.”
We have kidnapped your precious Head Mistress.
“The head of The Abduction Company has, herself, been abducted?”
“Looks that way.”
“A perfect example of irony.”
“Are you a student of literature, miss?”
“No, I’m a travel agent. I wouldn’t recommend any clients vacation here though, if you guys can’t keep the head of the organization safe from harm.”
“Us?” spluttered Baggly. “Are you blaming the security department for this crime?”
“Not sure it’s a crime, yet,” said Melody. “I’m just saying that perhaps members of the security or the guarding department in the prison section should not be investigating a failure to keep the boss safe.” One of Baggly’s subordinates tugged on his arm, eager to show him something. He let himself be diverted.
We have kidnapped your precious Head Mistress. To see her alive again you will:
1) immediately disable the tracking wrist monitors throughout the complex. Disable every monitor on every staff, on every client, and in every private room.
2) bring the CEO of Qualificent Holdings hedge fund to this premises for negotiations with our representatives.
3) Failure to do so within 72 hours will result in all clients being notified via texts of our organizational turmoil and poor security of personal data.
4) Failure to do so within five days will result in our demands being released to major media organizations and the exposure to public scrutiny of the business practices of The Abduction Company. Additionally, we will upload a video manifesto and announce the immediate closure of the facility.
We represent the genuine employees of this facility. We are aggrieved by the use of volunteer slaves taking our jobs. We are prepared to strike for higher wages and better working conditions. The Ministry of Labour and the Human Rights tribunal will be notified. Our representatives are numerous and well-embedded in your information technology, security, human resources, housekeeping, and facilities departments.
The note was unsigned. No organization claimed responsibility. Who would do this? The word strike made Melody think of unionization. Labour grievances? Here?
She looked around, then carefully put the ransom note on the table. Pretty severe bargaining tactics, to abduct the boss, she thought. She caught the eye of the guard who had admitted her. “Good luck with your investigation.”
The guard showed her to the door. “You have a good day too, young lady.”
The hall was busy now, with Abduction Company staff and clients. Melody ducked under the yellow tape perimeter that had been established while she was inside. “Crime Scene. Do Not Cross.”
Mistress Destiny strode towards her. She wore a gorgeous forest-green silk blouse with white accents and a matched pair of darker green wool slacks. At the sight of Melody, she burst into a wide smile.
Since she came to Abduction Company, Melody had seen Destiny twice. First, when Sir Stephen had taken Melody – securely bound – to the Ball and Chain lounge for drinks with Stephanie and Destiny. And later that day, Melody had witnessed the first of Destiny’s job interviews in the Women’s Prison section, at Stephanie’s order.
“Fancy meeting you here,” said Destiny. “Are you a suspect too?”
“Stephanie was going to tutor me this morning. She’s missing now.”
Destiny ducked under the tape and barged into Stephanie’s quarters. In a few minutes she returned, a stern look on her face. “We should have real cops in a crisis, not these amateur fools. All uniform, no brains.”
“Let’s make ourselves scarce. You fancy a coffee?” They worked their way back along the hallway. Destiny glanced back, to ensure Melody was following. “So, Stephanie was tutoring you. Do you seek a new career?”
“I don’t know. I suppose while I’m here I might as well learn some things.”
“Martin would like that, I’m sure.” Around them was a hubbub of conversations, voices on cell phones, groups of staff and clients speculating about what Stephanie’s disappearance meant. Once they were clear of the crowd, Destiny checked her device. “A meeting of senior dommes and corporate management on level seven, in forty minutes. I don’t know why they’ve invited me. Oh, yes. All the department heads. Counselling. That’s me, now.”
Destiny drew Melody aside. “Obviously, there’s been some upheaval in the organization. Number Two isn’t here. Head Mistress is missing. They say she’s been kidnapped.”
“Isn’t that a hoot?” asked Melody.
“That the top authority figure at a place called The Abduction Company, has herself been abducted?”
Destiny furrowed her brow.
“Am I the only one who finds that funny?” Melody said.
“How can you find this funny? Aren’t you worried about her?”
Melody paused. “Sure. Anything might have happened. You might have grabbed Stephanie. You might even have arranged for me to be kidnapped, days ago. That sure as hell wasn’t funny.”
Destiny looked away, then down at Melody’s sneakers. Did the girl know for certain? Destiny wanted to come clean about Melody’s kidnapping, but she wasn’t going to apologize for it. So what would be the point?
“Stephanie will turn up o.k. Don’t worry,” said Melody.
“I’ve known her for thirty years. She’s a friend. I didn’t kidnap her!”
“Let’s get that coffee.” Melody went around the corner to the elevators. Slowly, the older woman followed, eyes glued to her phone. On the first floor, they found the snack shop – Lead Me On – and snagged a pair of chairs by the entrance. “Busy place,” Melody observed.
“Sorry about this,” said Destiny. “I just remembered I have to call Number Two.” Melody left her at the table and lined up to buy a coffee and a tea. Destiny explained the morning’s news to Francis.
He spoke barely above a whisper. “I’m in a meeting Evelyn. Can’t this wait?”
Destiny ploughed ahead. “Don’t talk, just listen. Head Mistress, chief executive of the Canadian branch is missing. Without explanation or leaving much in the way of clues. Efforts to reach her phone produce only the canned message that her number is out of service. This means you, Francis Purley, are now the organization’s de facto leader. As Number Two, leadership falls on you.”
“Yes, but I’m in Toronto, two hundred and fifty kilometers away. And I won’t be able to head north for a couple more days.”
“What do you want me to do? I’m so new to the staff, I don’t have any clout. I’m not even officially hired yet. I have the status of a temporary character.”
“Pardon?” asked Francis. “You said character.”
“Did I? I meant to say contractor.”
“I’ll call Willoughsby, the chief of the Breviston detachment. He’s trustworthy.” Destiny protested but Francis continued. “We have no choice but to call law enforcement. He’ll be discreet. I’m going to ask him to only employ officers whose discretion he trusts completely. Keep the investigation small and in plain-clothes.” Destiny and Number Two spoke for a few more minutes. Destiny hung up as Melody returned to the table.
She put down a tray with a tea and a coffee and two pastries. “I charged your account.”
“You can’t do that.”
“Kidding. Just kidding!” said Melody. “I have my own account here now.” Melody pointed to her AbductCo identity bracelet.
“You’re coming up in the world,” said Destiny. “Tell me, have you found Martin?”
“I have actually.” Melody beamed. “He’s not here, but yesterday, over the phone, he proposed to me. And I accepted him.”
“Well! Congratulations to you. That’s wonderful” Destiny raised her paper coffee cup. Melody touched her porcelain teacup to Destiny’s in a toast. “I’ve just finished training courses in counselling and applied for authority to perform wedding ceremonies. Here at the Abduction Company!”
“We haven’t set a date. Or, chosen a place to be married.” Melody changed the topic. “A lot of uncertainty now, with Stephanie gone.”
“I have an emergency management meeting, in about ten minutes.” said Destiny. “But I wanted to ask, are you going to be working here now? Or . . . “
Melody avoided this too. “Did you in fact arrange for me to be kidnapped last week?” Again, Destiny looked away. A lovely young couple, both dressed head-to-toe in polished grey latex, whispered to each other as they stood no more than six feet away in line to receive their order.
“You did. I knew it!”
“Whatever gave you that idea?”
“Timing. Two days after I tracked you down at your suburban dungeon, two guys break into my apartment. You sent them, didn’t you?”
“They didn’t break anything. Not even the lock on your door!”
“Aha!” Melody said. “You knew the lock wasn’t broken.”
“Sorry sweetie. I know nothing.” Destiny stood. Her face was grim with anger. She picked up her coffee. To no one in particular, she said, “What a lousy time for her to disappear!”
Destiny looked down at Melody and forced herself to smile. There was not hint of apology in her eyes. “Can’t stay, kiddo. Gotta run.”
Melody texted Mistress Blaise and Madame Baton. Mistress Stephanie is missing. Do you still want to instruct me in rope technique (Blaise?) and Introductory Canes (Baton?) this afternoon? Blaise quickly replied. She was at the meeting Destiny had gone to on the seventh floor.
Next, Melody called Martin. No answer. Likely busy at work. Probably hasn’t heard the news. Perhaps that guy he mentioned during our long, long phone call – he had a funny title – Number Two – would tell him. She heard the sound of Martin’s voice message, prompting her. Melody related what she had heard (which wasn’t much) about the disappearance of Head Mistress.
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The boardroom was full. Twelve senior dommes, who privately referred to themselves as the Heirs, had managed to arrange themselves along one side of the massive table. Three of them doubled as instructors at the academy. The meeting also included seven department heads along with several unidentified assistants to those department heads. Close to thirty people had packed in to hear the latest about this morning’s crisis. Mistress Destiny had secured a padded executive-style office chair to sit in, but she was well back from a place at the table. Crammed in a corner, she felt powerless. The Heirs had already scheduled a private meeting for themselves, this afternoon.
An older, grey-haired executive in a leather business suit stood up. His legs touched the edge of the boardroom table. The only feature that might have kept him from an executive position at a different corporation was the pattern of heavy rings in his nose, ears, and eyebrows. “As Head of Human Resources, it falls to me to chair this meeting. Let’s begin by briefing you all on the current security situation. Baggly you have the floor.”
Baggly read his report as if it was a list. “Monitors in Head Mistress’s suite went off-line at 1:30 a.m. Cameras in the hallway went down at 1:32 a.m. We observed faint tire tracks in the carpet outside the suite and inside her living room and bedroom. A cart with four wheels, each two and a quarter inches wide, was used. There were some signs of a struggle in the bedroom. Small clumps of hair in the carpet. Not her hair. A faint odour of knock-out chemical. We have the hair and a discarded handkerchief under analysis. Several keys, unmatched to any locks in her suite were found too. Her storage containers of restraints were not touched.” Baggly paused. He wiped his brow with a large handkerchief. “The abductors used all their own gear. We have taken a few sets of fingerprints but so far they have matched up with staff who would have had a logical reason to be in her suite over the last few weeks.” Baggly sat down abruptly, happy to have reached the end.
The Human Resources chief spoke again. “We have what we believe are demands for Mistress Stephanie’s release. They might also be demands for an employee bargaining unit, or they may simply be a warning that an ownership fight is brewing. There have been threats to violate our privacy protocols.”
A voice asked, “Where is Number Two?”
“He’s on the video conference app.”
“This would be the video conferencing app that is only providing audio at the moment?”
“I’m here.” Number Two’s voice came over the ceiling speakers.
From the questions of a few of the senior dommes it was clear each of them resented Number Two being elevated to the executive function.
“How will HR manage the transition to one of us?” Mistress Purr asked.
“I don’t think we can talk about transition until the ownership transfer is complete,” one of the HR managers offered.
Number Two spoke again, trying to reassure a room full of people he could only hear. “I have the tenth investor. His name is Martin Porter. Yes, he gave me permission to use his name with all of you. He’s looking forward to joining the management board. I gather a few other board members are at this meeting. Mr. Porter’s partner is here too. Or there, I should say. She’s on the premises. Some of you may have met her. Her name is Melody.”
Mistress Vera spoke up. “We should bring her in. Find out if she’s in line. What her plans are.”
Destiny raised her voice. “I know her. She’s a good kid. I don’t think she has any plans. She’s pretty young.”
“But she’s related to one of the new owners!” someone said.
Destiny replied, “Not related, not exactly.” She decided not to share what Melody had told her – that Melody and Martin were engaged.
There was general agreement to summon Melody. A few minutes later she entered the room and began to inch along the wall. There was nowhere to sit. Everyone watched her. She blushed. Her clothes were all wrong for a business meeting. A few of the senior male employees welcomed her. She made eye contact with Mistress Blaise – the one who had used her as a rope dummy in her seminar -– and there was Destiny, in the far corner. She wished Amber or Sir Stephen or that nice Professor Yates from the academy was here.
A familiar voice called her name. It was Agatha, the HR manager of Client Services, who had helped Stephanie discipline Melody when she’d been caught in the men’s prison section on her second night. Agatha gestured to a vacant seat beside her at the table. Melody pressed on, along the back of the room, until she gained the seat. “Lovely to see you, dear. Sit by me, please. Welcome to management, such as it is.” Agatha giggled and put her arm across Melody’s shoulders.
The head of HR stood again. “I am going to move that until Number Two can join us on premises, we name Mistress Magda as Acting Head Mistress. This is a temporary position, an appointment made for diplomacy’s sake as much as for communications in this emergency situation. Additionally, law enforcement has been summoned to discreetly investigate Stephanie’s absence. They will be working incognito and out of uniform. All of you will assist when requested to, and the Security Department will be a primary point of contact. Security however will not be directing the investigation from this point forward.”
The temporary appointment of Mistress Magda as acting Head Mistress was approved by a simple show of hands.
Madame Baton spoke: “I think I and the other dominas understand we need leadership, and we ourselves have a few rivalries that have built up over the years. We are all aware that Mistress Destiny has joined us as Head of Counselling. I would like to propose she be given an appropriate title, once she takes over that snazzy new church that I understand is still not quite finished. Destiny is presently a contractor, like so many of us! I would like to move she be given the job – or the title -- of our Mother Superior.”
Melody glanced at Agatha beside her. She didn’t want to laugh but the idea of a Mother Superior sounded so silly. The room raised more hands in favour than against Baton’s suggestion. Destiny was conditionally named Mother Superior.
The Head of Information Technology spoke: “A hacker named Soglardio has messaged us, issuing demands of the management board, the IT department, the Doms/Dommes/Instructors, and Human Resources, Security Department, and the Facilities Management. In fact, the entire management structure of Abduction Company Canada has been warned that Sogliardo will notify all guests via text message of abductions taking place within the facility, that the facility is not safe.”
The Head of HR interrupted. “Sorry Bill, I must point out this is a blatant exaggeration. There is only one suspected abduction from within the company. It appears that once Stephanie was known to be missing, further demands were distributed beyond the note found in her quarters. Demands such as unionization, raises, rolling back the use of bracelets and employee and client monitoring, impeachment of Mistress Stephanie. The list goes on and on.”
“We are examining ways to block unauthorized texting on our systems,” Bill resumed. “But our hacker is using an access we haven’t identified yet.”
The room had become noticeably less patient. “Who is Sogliardo?”
The Head of HR said: “We don’t know.”
“Is this an attempt to unionize?”
The Head of HR replied: “We have seen evidence of unionizing at The Abduction Company, both years ago and more recently. A unionizing organization needs 40% of cards signed from the employees in this group. To my knowledge there are nowhere near forty percent of our employees disaffected enough to join a bargaining unit.”
“But you don’t have numbers on how many people have signed. They aren’t telling you, are they?”
“So, it could be they have more than forty percent signed. And these are just paper cards they are signing, so they can’t be tracked or digitally counted?”
The HR head shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “No. It is true they can’t be counted or tracked. I have no idea how many – if any – have been signed. We have close four hundred non-management employees. Almost all work between 24 and 48 hours a week.”
“Or is this a tactic in the corporate takeover?”
“No comment on that.”
Number Two’s voice came over the audio connection. “Yes. No comment on the corporate takeover. We have a plan to deal with that. I really doubt Qualificent turn down the offer I am preparing for them. Nor will they succeed in eliminating the kinky aspects of our service.”
There were audible sighs of relief. The Head of HR adjourned the meeting with the request that departments should send their leadership to a daily meeting to quell rumours, share new information, and to stress confidentiality with all their employees. “Our number one priority is to locate Mistress Stephanie and stabilize our communications systems. Good day.”
Later, there was a smaller private meeting of The Heirs, dominas employed directly by AbductCo. Each probably thought that by reason of their lengthy service, they deserved to be the next Head Mistress. One of them had invited Destiny to join, out of respect for her status as a semi-public figure.
Others were skeptical about Mistress Destiny. They snacked on a tray of food they’d ordered and shared rumours and exaggerations they’d heard over the years about her. Finally, it became apparent she wasn’t going to appear. The Heirs then turned to gossiping about Melody, who they had just met. That girl would give them nothing to worry about! She was so young!
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Melody looked up from the laptop that had come with her new status as Mistress Stephanie’s student. “Open!” she told her suite monitor. The door to the corridor slowly swung inward. Melody watched a woman in a wheelchair approach, her hands propelling her through the hall of the suite, into the brighter main room.
“Hello. I’m Portia McBride. Sorry for not making an appointment. Are you Melody?”
Melody stood up from the table. “Yes, I am.” They shook hands. “I don’t believe we’ve met.”
“I hope I’m not interrupting. I’m on a break. We’ve been working in this building . . . I wanted to talk to you about your boy-friend.” She paused. “Martin, right?”
At the mention of his name, Melody wanted her visitor to stay. She sat again at her table and picked up her phone. “If you’re on a lunch, I can order you some room service.” Half a submarine sandwich sat, untouched, on a plate beside her laptop.
“I don’t want to impose.“ Portia took off her gloves and then shrugged off her jacket. She wore a uniform Melody didn’t recognize. Dark blue shirt and coveralls. It lacked any marks of authority. She saw smudges of dirt on Portia’s hands and arms. Some machine oil had dripped down one of her pant legs. Portia was in terrific physical shape: tanned skin, light brown hair, a beautiful woman who would be even more striking, if she would only smile.
“How to say this? I know your boyfriend Martin Porter. I met him shortly after he arrived. Well, about five or six days after. He told us a lot about you. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Melody.”
Portia paused. “My partner, well he’s my husband actually. An older man, Antonio. He and Martin hit it off wonderfully for the week or so that Marty was living with us and working with us. My husband helped Martin to escape from the Abduction Company.”
“Did he?” said Melody. “I wondered how that was done. I mean, I’ve talked to Marty, since my phone was unblocked. He’s in Toronto now, back at work. He’s going to come back for me. I hope.”
“Would you like half of my sandwich?” Portia nodded. Melody passed it across the table. Portia squirted some hand sanitizer into her palms and rubbed them vigorously together. “Handy, to have a bottle of that stuff with you.” Melody’s guest tucked into the food eagerly. “Marty didn’t mention anyone helping him escape. I should have asked!”
Portia nodded and continued to eat the sandwich. Her hunger had momentarily overcome her reason for coming. Finally, she said, “Yeah, I’m here about Antonio, mostly. But Martin is the reason I’m talking to you and not someone else.”
“I don’t follow. How do you know me?”
Portia laughed. “Marty wouldn’t stop talking about you. Anyway, now he’s going to invest in The Abduction Company, you’re going to become quite the authority, if you know what I mean.”
Melody got up from the table and poured her a glass of water. “No. I don’t know what you mean.” Melody put the glass down by Portia’s hand. She picked up her phone and punched in an order for a second submarine sandwich. “Melted cheese on tuna salad. Black peppers, spinach, tomato slices.” She sent the order to the kitchen. “Room service is very quick here.”
“Thanks,” Portia said. She had eaten almost all of the half-submarine. She drank all the water in the glass and wiped her mouth.
Portia nodded. “I’m worried my husband has made a big mistake. He’s involved in the employee organization. He’s been cranky for years about the technology they use here. As the former head of Information Technology, he’s one of the original employees. Calls himself a founder, which he isn’t, really. And he never liked being a manager either. He’s been hooked up with couple of other tech guys for years. I’m afraid they’ll drive this company into the ground – do something very risky, publicity leaks, scandal – to get what they want.”
“What do they want?”
“A lot of things. Unionizing, getting rid of the monitoring bracelets. To have management trust the decisions of employees. The problem is that BDSM in public gatherings often does need to be monitored. And there are just so many nooks and crannies at this facility where people can have their privacy. The occasional bad actor does need to be weeded out.”
“Does your husband know anything about the disappearance of Mistress Stephanie?”
“Holy shit! What? She’s gone?” Portia slumped back in her chair. “I didn’t know. Oh, he hates her. And her Number Two, Tony blames him for a lot of the problems we’re experiencing with our systems.”
“But did your husband abduct her?”
“I don’t know. He leaves for long periods. Several days at a time. Recently, he’s taken off his chastity cage. He barely talks to me any more. I don’t think so, but I’m afraid he would know where she is.” Portia paused. “Instead of retiring, when they forced him out of IT, he insisted they give him the Landscaping and Gardening departments to manage. But lately, I’ve had to run the department, using his employee account, in his absences, to get things done. Re-order materials, that kind of thing. But then he comes back and catches me making decisions, he flies into a rage. But he shows no interest in the department’s work any more. He’s not the man I used to know.”
“How did you know my boyfriend – well, my fiancé now – is going to be an investor here?”
“I spoke to Number Two. There are all sorts of back channels. We old-timers understand confidentiality, but we also know with whom we can share. Marty’s going to come back for you. I know that much.” Portia downed the last piece of the sub and rubbed her hands together.
Melody laughed. “I seem to be on a strange new career path here. No longer a prisoner. Yes, Marty will be back. I don’t think I need rescuing any more.” Melody checked her phone. The second sandwich would arrive in two minutes. “Why do you think Antonio might know about Mistress Stephanie?”
“Just a hunch. You live with a person long enough, you know when they are being evasive. The problem with Antonio is this place is too much in his blood. He needs to retire from it. Go away. Far, far away. Like as far as Europe. He’s too old to lead. He’s smart enough to disrupt the place but not wise enough to lead it.”
Melody pushed the conversation back towards Stephanie’s disappearance. Alleged sightings were all over the chat rooms. Melody quoted to Portia some of the rumours about where she was and why she had disappeared.
Portia had nothing to add about Stephanie. “I only know that Mistress Stephanie dominated Martin when he arrived, as is her right over every unattached male.”
Portia’s words came as a shock. Melody recalled Mistress Stephanie coming on to her the second night she was here. And Amber had done that too, had made it clear she wanted some intimacy. If she had yielded to either of them, how would Martin have felt? “How long did he stay with you and Antonio?”
“More than a week, less than two. Antonio gave him a false identity and employee cards, false personal data. We clothed him. Established him as new hire. He got paid full gardener’s rates. My husband can exploit all the older software here.”
“And you . . . were the nights full of fun with Marty too?”
Portia blushed and looked away. “Yes.” There was a long pause. “I did. A couple of times. I’m sorry. He was very needy when he came to us. He was lonely and sad about your situation. Guilty, I would say. We gave him sanctuary. When I first saw him, he was dressed in a maid’s outfit, all comically dishevelled.”
Melody’s eyes widened. Now she knew where Martin had gone after he’d foolishly grabbed her ankle as she stood on the stage above the auditorium crowd.
“He’s a fun submissive. But I don’t let any man dominate me. Not something I’m into, not with the disability, and all . . .” Portia drained the glass of water. A waiter knocked, then entered and delivered another sandwich. Portia reached up and took the packet from him. She began to unwrap it.
Melody suddenly felt great sympathy for Portia. She wanted to ask how she had lost the use of her legs but was afraid to. “What do you want from me?” Melody asked. “Remember, I’m a nobody here. Two days ago, I had the status of an abductee. An unattached female prisoner with no financial standing, who was going to have to work off the cost of the services, my room and board, by modelling in public bondage demonstrations. Recently I was being bound and used to train young male dominants. Not an easy thing to put up with. All their groping, all the teasing, the careless smacks with a riding crop. Lately, I’ve been promoted to domina-in-training.” She laughed.
“I’d better go,” Portia said. She rewrapped the sandwich, closed the package it came in, and put it up on the table. “Thanks for lunch, and for listening.”
“Take it with you.” Melody came around the table and gave her package.
“Thanks.” Portia placed it in her lap and wheeled out. “If I need to reach you again, I’ll send a message to your room’s server. It will bounce over to your personal device. You can reach me through the Landscaping department web-page.”
Melody felt very glad of Portia’s visit. Her jealousy over Martin had faded. The notion of Stephanie taking him, became oddly satisfying to imagine. Melody had never dominated him. Martin had always been the one to tie the ropes and give the orders. And Martin hadn’t said much about what happened before he’d escaped from Abduction Company. Why was she not surprised? She wasn’t mad at Portia. He could be fun in bed. She was just angry Marty had left out so much, when describing what happened while they were apart.
Portia had to be in her late thirties or early forties. A somewhat tragic figure. Her husband creating problems. Despite the need for honesty in D/s relationships, it was evidently difficult for experienced people too. The Abduction Company suddenly seemed like an illusion. Should I just forget about Martin and this fantasy island in the rural north? Perhaps there was still time to get back to her job at the travel agency. Despite what she had said about not needing to be rescued, she still had to find her way out of AbductCo.
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She had just laid down for an afternoon nap, when her room monitor spoke in a quiet baritone: Important message for Melody Throckmortense from Madame Baton. Please review this communication immediately on your phone or similar device. Or if you like, I can read it to you.
Melody remembered her appointment, an instruction tutorial -- Introductory Caning. Madame Baton’s message was that she was running late and had moved back Melody’s start time by fifteen minutes. Melody saw the current time and leapt up from her bed. She jammed her feet into her sneakers, tied the laces in a hurry, and bolted out of her suite. Not gonna make it. They were to meet in Room One of the Men’s Prison section. The elevator took forever to arrive.
“Melody! You’re late. Get in here, girl!”
Melody slipped in through the open door. Madame Baton wore black wet-look tights, a gleaming red latex blouse with very short sleeves, and leather driving gloves. On her feet were equestrian boots of brown leather that ended just below her knee. The two men Melody had met this morning were back. As before, each was naked except for a black spandex thong. They had been whispering to each other and Madame Baton was evidently fine with that. But when one of them saw an attractive young woman approaching down the hall, he had let out a wolf-whistle.
The men sat on a wooden bench, their backs against the wall. Madame Baton had laid out six canes on the table. There was also a riding crop, a leather cat-o-nine tails, and a short black single whip.
“You may warm up your slave.”
“Wha? Which one?”
“It is not for me to decide. Choose one!” Madame Baton was interested in how confident (or careless) Melody was. Her words also had an effect on the men, falling like a summer rain on their naked backs.
Melody still wore her vintage long-line brassiere under a white vest. She also wore form-fitting blue jeans. “I like the Cybill Troy look you have going there. Very nice,” said Baton. “But let us begin. What cane would you choose?”
Melody picked up the thinnest one on the table, thinking it would hurt the least.
“Lots of snap in that one. A bit hard to control. Not the easiest choice here.” Madame Baton took the cane from Melody and whipped it back and forth in the air. Then she demonstrated it on the nearby brown leather couch, striking the cushions several times. The whistling sound terrified Melody. “With any cane, you can strike hard, or lightly. When you use the entire length, with your hand fully at one end, not half-way up, then the tip end, the part that strikes your victim, will strike him (or her) all the harder. The longer the cane, the more distance the tip travels as it arcs through the air. The longer the distance from the start of the swing to the point of contact, the greater the impact. You can shorten the effective length of the cane by holding it near the mid-section. This will lessen your force but increase your control. I recommend it for beginners.” She handed the thin cane back.
Melody swung at the cushions as Baton had, but the thin, whippy cane seemed to go all over the place. She was unable to strike with any force. “Did that hurt you, little couch?” Melody joked.
Baton smiled. “Have you ever been caned?”
“Have you ever caned another person?”
“No, I haven’t. I haven’t even held a cane, except the walking stick my father has to use every day now. It’s much thicker than any of these. A real piece of European birch, thick, dark, and all lacquered and shiny with a rubber foot on the bottom and a curved handle.”
“Well, we’re not using anything like that.” Baton took the thin cane from her hand and put it with the others on the table. “Most of these are rattan from Southeast Asia. Notice the handles, what we call the grip. The winding covers about seven inches on these.” Her hand moved gently across the row of canes on the table. She picked out another. “This is my favourite. A little longer than three feet.” She put it down again. “Beginners should start a shorter cane which, regardless of thickness, is easier to control.”
Baton pointed to another cane. Melody picked it up. It was shorter, but twice as thick as the first. It was relatively heavy.
“You should have a loose and relaxed grip on the cane,” Baton continued. “That will help with control too.” Melody tried the heavy cane several times against a seat cushion. Each time there was a loud thump. She tried to hit the couch harder and harder.
Suddenly she stopped, a little out of breath. “How was that?”
“How do you think it was?” Baton asked. “Actually, don’t strike the couch again.”
Madame Baton went to a nearby storage cabinet and took out a large pillow in a black pillowcase. She placed it on the brown cushion Melody had been striking. Madame Baton took the cane from Melody’s hand and replaced it on the table. Baton picked up another – it was shorter and a lighter colour of wood. She gave it to Melody.
“This is the cane for you, I think, for now. I don’t want to go all Harry Potter on you, but to some extent, the cane calls out the abilities of its owner. This one is a little lighter (in weight, I mean). It is slightly less than 90 cm long and 9 mm thick.” Melody swung it up and down rapidly. “You can see it is less whippy than the first.”
“Give it back, just for a second.” Madame Baton replaced the cane on the table, and from her bag took a stick of white chalk. She rubbed the chalk up and down until the shaft of the cane was covered with a fine dust. She handed it back to Melody. “Now, when you strike the black pillow, we will see where you strike it and hopefully we will be able to determine the relative force you have used for each stroke.”
Melody brought the cane down, softly at first, then harder and harder with an over-the shoulder motion. After eleven strokes, she stopped. Baton asked, “How is your shoulder?”
“Sore. I’m sure it will pass.”
“If you were to use that stroke for any length of time, I mean daily, for a week or more, you would strain yourself. The shoulder is the most complicated joint in your body. You will have no career as a caner if you don’t start from day one to handle your cane in a more relaxed manner.” Baton picked up a longer cane. She surveyed the men on the bench. “Which one of you is handcuffed? You?” She pointed at one of them with the cane.
“No Mistress.” He held up his unfettered hands.
“On the floor then!” He leaped down and poised on all fours on the linoleum, about eighteen inches in front of her.
“Melody, you will begin with this one. He had the temerity to whistle at you as you came down the hall. How do you feel about male lechery?”
“I don’t like it.”
“Good. But the question, my dear, is how would you begin a caning session? Do you speak to the slave directly? How do you determine his readiness? And how do you determine how severe to be? What are his limits? Or are you simply going to whack him a few times and see how it goes?”
There’s a trick question. Actually, it’s a bunch of them, thought Melody. “I don’t know. I’ve never done this,” she said.
“Well you’ll need to develop an approach. You start gently, frequently checking with your sub. But over time, you’ll find a way to develop your style through practice. It’s like playing the violin. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice!”
“You will have to practice every day. Your choice of shoes is good! Sneakers, yes. I always wear flat heels because I often end up doing the heavier kinds of caning, which are the most dangerous. Severe and Judicial caning. And, though I didn’t ask you to, you managed to wear an appropriate pair of trousers too. Jeans, or leggings, or anything close to the body is best. Good.”
Baton continued, “The last thing you want is to be distracted by your clothes. I have seen a man – not a word of a lie – in a full floor-length dress, trying to cane another man. It was pathetic. He spent more time trying to get clear of his skirts and keep his billowy sleeves under control. And Melody, please, no high heels. Unless you are really, really comfortable wearing them – and even then – nothing over three inches. Change to your skyscrapers afterwards, if you must, if you think foot worship is in order.”
Melody nodded. The men listened to Madame Baton in mute adoration. Neither appeared frightened by her use of the term Judicial Caning.
“What are the different kinds of caning?” asked Melody.
“Different dommes will categorize differently. I think of a Light, Medium, or a Hard caning. And I have to two categories beyond those: a Severe caning and a Judicial caning. Which caning I give depends on whether you’re a first timer, or perhaps, if you have some limited experience, or if I think you can handle a severe caning. When I first meet a submissive they must complete a questionnaire before they are accepted on my bench. That helps me know what is most likely to satisfy. I’ll send you a copy of the questionnaire I use. It is lengthy.”
Baton returned to the table. “I’ve laid out some of my favourite canes. Pick up each one. Give each a little swing in the air.” Melody did as she was told, picking up one after another.
“There are other implements, of course. Hairbrushes, wooden paddles of various shapes and weights, tawses, leather straps including the kind of belt that holds your pants up, rods, cat of nine tails, and single whips, riding crops . . . the list seems endless. Your techniques however, should be finite in number. You must practice them, until they become second nature. You don’t want to injure yourself or your victim.”
Melody rolled her eyes.
“I mean it! Any punishment that is not sanctioned or encouraged by your sub, that causes injury, is an accident. You should do nothing by accident. These two . . .” – Madame Baton jerked a thumb over her shoulder – “even if I was to cane them until they bled, would not and should not ever be harmed by accident.”
Melody nodded. “Yes Mistress. Uh, sorry, Madame,” she corrected herself.
Baton ordered the second man to come down off the bench and kneel on the floor. As his hands were cuffed this took a little longer, but eventually, he was on his knees before Melody. Baton walked behind him, a short, heavy cane in her gloved hand.
“Melody, come to this side. Why would I not want to cane this man’s bottom in this position?”
“Because of the danger of hitting his hands, his knuckles?”
“Very good!” Baton handed her cane to Melody. “Wait, you need gloves. I don’t want you to develop blisters.” Baton rummaged in her bag at one end of the couch and found a pair of grey leather gloves. “Before you put them on however, I think you should feel the cane yourself. Have you ever had a boy-friend or girl-friend who struck you? With passion, I mean. In order to arouse you?”
“Not really. My boyfriend and I haven’t been together all that long. He’s into bondage. I’ve been bound. I’ve even been suspended.”
“He’s the dominant party in your relationship?”
“It’s complicated. I think it’s changing.”
“Why? How is it changing?”
“He’s been here. To the Abduction Company. He’s been enjoying the punishments the mistresses dispense. He’s probably been up to a lot he hasn’t told me about. Once we get back together I think we’re going to have a little chat.”
“You’re training here then, just to turn the tables on your man?”
“I don’t know. We’ll see.”
“Do you want to learn corporal punishment? Specifically, the cane?”
“Yes. Yes, I do.”
“Then, as your instructor, I’m ordering you to experience the feeling of a cane on your own body. You can refuse of course. I am completely opposed to non-consensual violence. But in my opinion, you have to know what it feels like in order to dispense the pain of the cane to another.”
Melody nodded. “I understand. That’s o.k.”
“I’ll go easy on you, my little novice. But first we have to deal with these two.” She gestured at the two men on the floor before them, one on all fours, the other on his knees. “I’ll be back in a minute.” She strode out of the room and down the hall.
Melody watched the two men who faced her. No one said a word for quite a while. Nor did either man make eye contact. Finally, the man on all fours said, while looking down at the floor, “It’s an honor to meet you Mistress. I think you will make men very happy (and women too!) if you go through with your training.”
“Did I ask you to address me? To say anything to me at all?” Melody demanded. She stepped closer to him. “Look up at me!”
She leaned down and slapped him hard across the face. She watched his cheek redden. Was that the imprint of her fingers on his skin? She realized she had struck him hard, without any inkling of what his reaction might be. “Oh, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have . . . “
“Thank-you Mistress. I deserved that. I was the one who whistled.”
The man on his knees, with his wrists handcuffed, spoke. “Begging your pardon, Mistress. Would it be possible to take these cuffs off? I’ve been wearing them a long time. They really ache.” Melody walked behind him. She couldn’t see any problem with the cuffs. She slid two fingers between each cuff and the enclosed wrist. “I’ll speak to the other lady when she gets back. I don’t have a key.” The man on his knees nodded. “Thank-you,” he whispered.
In a few minutes Baton returned holding two rubber masks. She laid them on the table. She produced a key and knelt behind the man in handcuffs. In a few seconds, both his hands had been released.
“I thought it was time,” Baton said. He rubbed each of his wrists. “Once you get back some normal feeling in your hands, I want to see you on your hands and knees like your pal here. I’m going to blindfold you both. And if I can scare up some gags, you’ll be silent too. You are merely props for this session. Some of what I am going to show Mistress Melody is not for you to witness. Worthless pigs!” The second man was already down on all fours, like his companion.
“Is it alright to be calling strangers, pigs?” Melody asked.
“Sometimes one has to guess about the harm. Language, choice of words, causes no harm.”
“I don’t mind,” both men said, almost in unison. Everyone laughed.
Baton handed a rubber blindfold to Melody and then demonstrated with the first man. how Melody should put hers on the second one. Melody tried to attach the straps behind his head, but no matter how she connected the press studs, the mask fit loosely. Sloppy bondage, she thought. Martin had complained about her sloppy rope-work the one time she had tied him. And when he had tied the knots on her, he would always go on about the importance of a tidy job.
Baton had found a handful of ball gags of different colours and sizes in the cabinet. She quickly gagged the first man. “You will both remain in place, on all fours.” Then she looked at the latex blindfold hanging half off the face of the man in front of Melody.
“Tsch, tsch, you have much to learn, my dear.” Baton fixed the blindfold tightly across his eyes and filled his mouth with a large pink ball-gag. She tightened its strap hard behind his head.
To Melody she said, “OK. They won’t see and they won’t comment. Now I want you to bend over the armrest of the couch.” Melody did so, folding her arms under her breasts. Baton approached her from behind. “If you look straight ahead you’ll see a strategically placed mirror. You can see for yourself what my posture is like, how I handle my cane. I’m going to cane you while you are wearing your jeans. Then I’ll give you the same caning while you are wearing only your panties. And lastly, I’ll cane your naked bottom. Or, as you Americans like to say, I’ll cane your sorry ass.”
Melody wanted to protest that she was Canadian and not an American, but she decided not to. Mistress Baton proceeded to give Melody three solid strokes through her jeans. She heard the cane make a faint whistling sound in the air before it struck. “How was that?”
“Not bad. The jeans really protect the skin.”
“Yes, they do. And you thought the heavy-weight cane would hurt the worst, didn’t you? Now pull down your jeans to your ankles, keep your panties up, and bend over again. I will endeavour to hit you with exactly the same amount of force, in slightly different places on your buttocks, so I am not increasing your pain by hitting the exact same place over and over.”
The cane hurt more when she was struck through her white nylon panties.
“And now, dear Melody, I will strike your naked bottom. Come on girl, drop them.”
“Have I hurt you so far?”
“No, I suppose not.”
“Will you recover?”
“Yes, of course I will.” Melody pulled her panties to the floor and put her head down on the seat of the couch, so the armrest supported her mid-section. She felt the first blow mostly against her left buttock, but also, partly on her right. “Oh!” she cried. Her voice echoed in the mostly empty room. She was ready to tell Madame to stop, but her pride wouldn’t let her.
The second blow came, with slightly more intensity. Melody winced but made no sound. “I have given you two strokes at what I would call ‘light severity.’ I see you are still alive.” They both laughed.
Melody looked up at the mirror and saw Baton’s strong tanned arms, her gloved fingers manipulating the cane, flexing it, feeling all its texture and weight. “One more.” And it came with exactly the same intensity as the second stroke had. There was a long silence in the room, as if everyone was listening to an echo from the last stroke.
“How was that?”
Melody eyes met Baton’s in the mirror. “I wish the last one had been harder.”
“Ah, you do! Harder , she said. Here is a fourth one, a little bit harder.”
“Oh! Oh, oww, oww . . . ” cried Melody. “Oh, that was sharp! Did it make a mark?”
“Barely. Well, give it a few seconds. There. A little mark is rising. Now, before I let you up, I’m going to show you a different kind of stroke – one that is particularly useful with beginners. It is called twilting. You hold the cane relatively close to the target and you hit the bottom rapidly, but rather softly. The effect is mild at first but if you do it long enough, it can be quite agonizing. Would you like to try?”
“Can I tell you when to stop?”
“Of course, you may.” Madam Baton began the rapid strokes over both of Melody’s buttocks and very soon she felt her skin heating up. After ten seconds, her ass was starting to feel very hot. She was on the verge of saying this was all too intense. But before she could utter a generic safe word, like Mercy, Madame Baton stopped.
“That’s enough, I think.” Melody heard her put the cane back on the table. Then, Baton said, “Don’t forget that you have to clean your canes after every use. I will give you a sample of the cleanser I use. You can order the same product here, from the company.”
Melody pulled herself up from the couch and pulled her panties and jeans up to her knee. She turned to see her reflection in the mirror. She could only see part of her ass. There was a generalized redness all over her buttocks. There were very faint lines from the earlier cane strokes delivered in threes to her naked skin.
“Yeah. Sure, I guess.”
“Have I left you wanting more?”
Melody grinned. “Yes!”
“That’s good. Mostly you had to get over your fear. If you feel you can take it, then you should also feel like you can relate to the cane in your hand objectively. It is just a tool. For some, a cane resonates emotionally, with childhood experiences and often with their parental relationships, or relationships with teachers. But for you, as a professional caner, it must be something you understand both intellectually and physically.”
Melody pulled up her panties and jeans and fastened her belt.
“Now, I want you to practice twilting on the young man on the left. First, put on the gloves I gave you. I will position the other man some distance away, for safety’s sake, but in parallel. And I will demonstrate on him, while you mimic what I do on yours. We will warm up their bottoms together and leave them wanting more. Ready?”
Melody nodded. And so, they did. They spent the last ten minutes using medium thickness canes to bring out a beautiful red texture in the white asses of their two male prisoners. Often, Madame Baton would stop Melody to offer pointers on her posture, her grip of the cane, the distance and severity of her strokes and so on. In the end, the prisoners had received less than three minutes of direct beating. Melody noticed how Madame Baton spent a lot of time caressing the men’s backs and bottoms, while talking to her about technique.
“And now we’re done. The hour is up. How are you, girl?”
“Great. The hour went by very quickly. I have to say I feel very different about the business of the cane. Thank-you for training me!” She caressed the light blond stick in her hand. She glanced at the man she had just caned. He was young and prematurely balding. Melody removed his gag and his blindfold.
“Put your cheek right on the floor,” Melody ordered. “Stay there. I want to inspect your poor bottom. While you’re there you can gently kiss my sneakers. No hands around my ankles!” Madame Baton nodded approvingly. “He wants to. I can tell.”
A prison guard was summoned to take the men back to their cells. Melody and her instructor hugged. Melody helped her pack her paraphernalia and canes. They would reconvene to continue Melody’s tutoring in two days’ time. Baton gave her two canes – one light and one heavy, both relatively short – with which to practice during the intervening days. Melody was also given the assignment of completing and critiquing Madame Baton’s questionnaire before her next session.
+ + + + + + + (five) + + + + + + +
Number Two (Purley) had returned to AbductCo and met Bill and Ben, the IT Managers. Purley asked for information about former employees, current IT staff with misconduct incidents, and the possibility of outside hacking, especially from other countries with Abduction Company franchises. Ben told him of six technology staff who had been bribed during the last two years to violate policies of the company. All had been dismissed.
Then, Bill and Ben gave Purley a brief history of the IT department. They spoke of Antonio’s former leadership of a much smaller group, a clutch of programmers who had faced a completely different range of information and systems challenges during the company’s early years.
Ben was certain Mistress Destiny or someone close to her was responsible for the breakdowns with the identity bracelets and the corruption of location data. “All this started with a bracelet assigned to Martin Porter, but it quickly spread to malfunctions in hundreds of active bracelets. Our analysts are still trying to identify patterns in the breakdowns that might help us redesign the operating systems or the bracelets themselves.”
Francis was not convinced. “Mistress Destiny is not likely your target. She’s not a geek, or a technical person, in any way. She’s recently redefined herself in a pastoral and consulting role. She’ll be good for the branch. Might even help us with some reputational issues. I would rule her out, or rather, I would urge you to not spend a lot of time investigating her comings and goings.”
Bill said, “We know we have a hostile agent on our staff and we are trying to track him. All I can say is, he’s good. He’s like an underground critter, like a gopher with its tunnels.”
Purley could see that catching a hacker in their midst would not be easy. They also discussed the possibility that other dommes were plotting to destabilize Stephanie’s management.
At this point Francis Purley’s friend, Chief Willoughsby joined the meeting and Francis, Bill, and Ben updated the chief on the progress of the investigation into Stephanie’s disappearance. Willoughsby indicated he would have an assistant with him, beginning tomorrow.
– End of Part Thirteen –
Author Note: For this part, I have drawn some details about caning and its instruction, from a twenty-eight minute video posted to FetLife.com in April 2019 entitled Caning 101.This video was created by Mistress Baton of South Africa. The character of Madame Baton in my fiction is shaped somewhat in the likeness of Mistress Baton as she appears in her video. I have done this to applaud her talent and leadership in the area of BDSM instruction and as a sign of my gratitude for her work. Her video is full of common-sense advice about caning and submissive care. The few details from the video that are mentioned in this part are but a taste of the full scope of Mistress Baton’s expertise.
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