You inhale the oils in the water, carried across from the steam. You can no longer hear the ambient murmurs of the audience. A quiet relief blunts your discomfort to a degree where it becomes part of the burgeoning arousal within you. Your acceptance has unlocked the first stirrings of a wild, terrible power within you. Your need for ritual, seen perhaps as discipline to the unknowledgeable gives you permission to participate and now that you are aware of the memory block, you no longer feel powerless in the face of Sir and the guards. You take a breath in deep, to alleviate the trembling in your fingers.
One of the guards takes your arm and leads you to the table. He drops into a squat and starts to lift the hem of your hospital gown, you squirm away and there is a sharp, displeased intake of breath. Your skin tingles with disquiet and anticipation, making your nipples harden, visible through the cotton of the gown. The guard steps backwards, and Sir’s voice booms out from the darkness.
‘They act on my authority. Please do not incur my anger.’
You lower your chin to your chest, fighting the creep of blood to your face. The resistance is part of this for you, a show of defiance before the surrender in the same way that a bird flaps its wings as it takes flight. Your need for this resists the rational, and your body speaks to its power with an eloquence that your words never will. You go to remove the gown yourself and Sir speaks up to interrupt you.
‘I want him to do it. Autonomy must be earned here, little girl.’
His vocal relish in speaking aloud the title he’s assigned you sets sparks in your stomach, a slow, inexorable warmth that has waited for affirmation. You put your arms up, give the guard a stare of mock-defiance that you can comprehend but not quite feel and he comes forward. He has brown eyes, warm with interest, flecked with motes of a lighter brown within the iris. You notice a small shaving nick on his cleft chin and smile to yourself, relieved that there are small signs of humanity within the scenario. He hides his smile with a small degree of practiced care, but interest animates him, and in turn, you but you are both subject to a higher authority at this point in time.
His expression becomes neutral, hiding behind the shield of authority as he comes towards you. You do not resist, and as he lifts the cotton gown over your head, your pulse sounds in your ears and the rush of chill air to your bare skin raises goose pimples all over. Your vulnerability, your self awareness are as much instruments in your submission as any number of toys or implements. You go to cover your breasts and pudenda with your hands but the guard tosses the gown to one side and grabs your wrists to draw your hands away. He looks at you with a second of open, primal appreciation and you enjoy how he loses himself within that for a brief amount of time before he leads you to the station. You are arranged on the board, the leather underneath is warm and your buttocks sit ably in the cut out section, leaving you exposed there.
The guard adjusts the cuffs and slips them onto your wrists and then moves the stands into play. His rough fingers dance against the soles of your feet, but you are too suffused with feeling to laugh. You test the restraints and find they resist your struggles with ease. The guard looks out into the darkness, then walks around to the bowl and picks up the natural sponge, placing it into the bowl and you turn your head to watch him.
Unable to move anything more than your midsection, the spotlight’s glare forces you to close your eyes. You hear the sponge being squeezed out into the bowl and then the rough-wet drag of it against your skin. The water is hot and you give a small cry of surprise as the guard washes you in small, deliberate circling motions of the sponge. Where he has washed you, the air caresses your damp skin. Each breath carries the scent of lime and coconut, diffused by the steam. Without the means to resist him, he draws the sponge over your breasts, and the slow drag of the sponge’s fibres makes your nipples harden, tender and electric with sensation. He runs the sponge down your stomach and you twist, involuntarily against it.
‘Does my little like being washed like this? I like how you wriggle.’
His voice bypasses your resistance, and although the guard is carrying out the task, in your head, his touch and Sir’s words combine into a thrilling whole. Supine in your constriction, you arch your back when the sponge returns, swollen with fresh water and starts to wash you over your hips. You push your knees together but the guard shoves them apart and sweeps the sponge against the tender skin of your inner thighs.
‘If she does that again, pinch her.’ Sir’s voice has a playful harshness.
You do it again, and good to his word, the guard takes a section of skin on the inside of your right thigh and pinches it with a clinical expertise. The pain travels upwards and you fight tears and hiss at how sharp and clean it is. Without ambiguity, the control asserted is a route to the most divine liberation.
You do not recall choosing this, but your decision reflects your wants like a mirror.
He carries on washing you, and you feel the blunt tips of his fingers parting your labia and the sponge applied there, pressed with an enthusiasm against the tender, pulsing flesh.
‘I see there’s hair there. I think we need to get rid of that, don’t you little girl?’
The pain has started it’s work, aided by the knowing yet uncaring touch against your throbbing clitoris. His fingers are either side of it, tweaking and pulling at the hood to ensure that you are both entirely on display to him and clean.
You must be clean for Sir.
You gasp out an affirmative and hear the click of fingers.
‘Now, let’s see what we can do about that, shall we?’
He sent them to be seen by her. That he had tangible proof of his commitment to his purpose and his growth. Each session, each rejection of easy but costly temptation was there in the heft of his pectorals, the lines and striations in his hip flexors and the way that the softness around his jawline was disappearing. He loved the reaction, knowing that she carried the coiling heat of want within her. A talisman against the bland sweep of days. He could not fake the look in his eyes, in a moment sourced in purest expression of his primal, sexual self. Such awareness and acceptance was rare, he had denied it before, but now he was comforted and protected by it.
She struggled with it. She knew the angles to offset the parts of herself that remained distasteful to her. Her body rebelled with the marks of time, but his reaction cast its magic over her. A litany of informed praise, fuelled by want rather than need. Through him, she saw herself and it rubbed raw against everything else around her. A sweet pain, an eroticized grief that in its rejection, left deep scars that only he would be able to heal.
Now the mirror, the chain of static images connects them both and they pretend it is not there for the sake of sanity.
It remains though, and it would take so little yet so much to pick it up again and feel its comforting, powerful weight.
You swallow but your throat is acrid with tension. You cannot make out the details of the people watching you, only that they are there. The gown continues to shift up on the back of your legs, adding self consciousness, drop by drop, over the stir of emotions that collide and change within you.
‘To complete processing, you will undergo a cursory medical examination and a bathing procedure. Once those are complete, you will be assigned sleeping quarters and then left to your own devices until tomorrow morning.’
You narrow your eyes against the light. The voice has retreated behind an air of routine and its emotional content is all that you have to go on in terms of figuring out what is going on here. How much trouble, you potentially are in depends on what information you can glean from your present circumstances.
‘The correct response is yes sir.’
Your heart beats hard and faster. There is a low murmur of conversation, and a stifled giggle which rakes its nails down your spine. A hot flash of humiliation bursts in your stomach, a perfect emotional time travel, taking you back to high school again. The spotlight is hot, and you can feel perspiration beginning to teem underneath your arms and at the small of your back. At this precise moment, every sense is sharpened, ready to cut like a theatre of eager surgeons. Whether it’s you or someone else, depends on the response you give.
You raise a hand and a titter snakes through the audience.
‘Am I being held here against my will?’
The laughter grows and someone calls out ‘not with those thighs, dear.’ Your cheeks burn with blood and tears well in the corners of your eyes.
‘Don’t laugh at me.’
That draws a series of oohs.
‘What upsets you more, being held here against your will or being laughed at?’
The voice comes through, silences the others in its wake. The way a comet burns up air on its passage through the night sky.
‘Don’t play doctor with me. I want an answer to my question.’
The voice gives a dark chuckle that makes you shiver to be its subject.
‘What if you had already been asked that question?’
You frown, aware that the spotlight makes every expression exaggerated. Another ripple of laughter starts up. It hurts more than the first time and you start to back up.
‘Stop right where you are.’
You jerk at the change in tone and volume and in response, the back of your gown hitches up a centimetre, highlighting the backs of your thighs where they meet your ass. You give an involuntary yelp, which fuels the embarrassment even further.
‘I wouldn’t, there’s nothing wrong with me.’
He pauses and the laughter dies away again. It’s application reminds you of a whip or a paddle and its sting unsettles rather than the pure, stable joy of pain that you enjoy. That you recognise this comes to you unbidden and without import.
‘My point, exactly.’
A wall to the left bursts into brilliant, white light and coalesces into a screen. A series of numbers dance across, teeming in patterns of deliberate complexity before it opens on a woman’s face, smiling.
‘Hey, look you’re probably freaking out about now, but that’s kind of the point. I am you and you are me, before all this starts off.’
You watch yourself give your name, date of birth, social security number, mother’s maiden name and that you have paid to experience SIR, signed a raft of paperwork to avoid indemnity and that you should just relax and go with it.
Offscreen, a female voice asks you onscreen how you heard about SIR. You smile, and you recognise yourself, the telltale blink that you give and the bitemark on the inside of your lip that you could probably slip the edge of your front teeth again and find the indentation by instinct.
Your capacity to tear yourself to pieces without cause, a thought arises, might be part of why you are here.
Not that you are sure what here means.
‘I go to a munch two towns over once a month and one of the subs there went. She did not stop talking about it so I looked into it and -‘
You watch yourself spread your arms and grin. A hopeful light twinkles in your eyes. If this is not you, then it’s terrifying in its accuracy.
‘Here you are. Or I am. Sorry, I get tongue tied with things like this.’
The interviewer chuckles and you join in, a little ahead of the beat and the audience in the room follow along. The screen fades into black.
‘We’ve installed a block on your memories. We don’t change anything about you, and at every turn, we’re a bit like the opposite of a supermarket. We always offer choice. You are here because you want to be, but part of what makes this so popular and so important to maintain discretion is that we agree that this is all part of the play.’
Your breath is molten in your lungs and a heat begins to pool in the pit of your stomach, drawn downwards by gravity and you clench your thighs together to make the sensation flare deeper and warmer.
‘So, I volunteered for this?’
A hum fills the air and you experience the interview directly again. The leather chair underneath you, the scent of the Ethiopian coffee that you were offered on arrival and the drive over, calculating how much this was going to cost you. Chrissy had said it was ‘life-altering’ and you knew that your life could use some of that.
Some people went into simulations about the zombie apocalypse, you came here.
‘Does that answer your question?’
You stare into the darkness. The want is bolder than your fear, it puts a leash on it and a muzzle. The courage hardens your nipples, relaxes the muscles between your thighs, opening and transforming the emotions into fuel for the engine of your desire and your fear and your need.
There have seldom been clear distinctions between them and that, you know is part of why you are here. You smile and lower your head. Deferment is part of it, and you know that there is expectation and a responsibility here for you. It is a misconception that the submissive is powerless, and you stopped explaining this to vanilla types a long time ago. Here, you have the power and the voice, the eyes in the darkness are asking you to take it.
‘Yes, where do we start?’
The table is wheeled in with stainless steel stirrups mounted on telescopic stands mounted on the ends, a section cut away in the middle and velcro straps at the top end. A second table is brought in with a bowl of steaming, lilac and coconut scented water and a natural sponge. You run your tongue over your lips, and your heartbeat drowns out the thoughts in volume and rhythm.
No one is laughing at you now. Which is a good place to start.
‘Whenever you are ready.’
TO BE CONTINUED.