© Copyright 2012 - Nate Walis - Used by permission
Storycodes: Solo-F; other/f; M/f; machines; strip; transform; straps; rubber; mermaid; bodymod; reform; condition; mc; cons; X
Fingers crossed as she stepped into the lift and jabbed a finger at the button, Heather Stepney had no need to even glance at what she was doing thanks to the innumerable number of times she had performed those same actions before. As the familiar grinding rumble began and the car began to inch its way upwards, she wondered how much of her daily routine she could have managed to complete with her eyes closed or in a state of trance. A moment later she was reminded by the stench of the enclosed space finally hitting her that there were some things that even a blindfold would not have kept her from having to deal with in the course of her day.
It frankly amazed her that as the decrepit lift made its faltering ascent up the tower, anyone could be far enough gone with whatever they had been taking to even think about doing anything but praying they reached their chosen floor. The idea of actually choosing to drain her bladder in anything but unconscious terror had never crossed her mind.
When the lurching judder that signified the lift coming to a stop shook the fillings in her teeth, Heather allowed herself to breathe out once more and willed the doors to open. Metal scraped on metal and the aged graffiti that had become a part of her trip home as regular as the wait at the bus stop was split in two allowing her to step out onto the concrete landing.
She was thankful for the small mercy of walking only a few metres across the landing that was little better than the inside of the lift before she was presented with the sight of her own front door. The key found the lock on the first attempt and she stepped through the doorway and slammed the heavily reinforced door closed in one smooth motion, sealing the rest of the world outside for another day.
Heather lived alone and was proud to say that she knew none of her neighbours, keen to distance herself from the kind of people who thought their environment could be enhanced by the application of endless layers of graffiti and generous lashings of urine. She would also have lived anywhere else had she the choice, but there was precious little chance of that when a person was as deeply sunk in debt and so long without employment as she was.
Every week it seemed that there were new measures being touted by the government that it was claimed would stimulate the population to rise up from its slumber and return to the world of the employed in massive numbers. But the truth of the matter was the most that materialised at ground level was a fresh wave of claimants being unceremoniously dumped off their state benefits or turfed out of their accommodation provided by the local authority.
For the moment the best she could hope for was this small flat halfway up a depressing tower block and just enough money in her giro to survive. Heather was well aware of how precarious her situation had become and she was not about to rock the boat and end up being thrown overboard in the act.
Heather hung her coat in the hallway and pulled off her shoes before massaging the soles of her feet through the thick black tights that she wore. She had spent most of the day walking through a mixture of rebellion and necessity, choosing to travel from one hopeless interview to the next on foot supposedly because of her lack of funds. The conditions of her benefits claim might have required her to attend the dreary appointments for the hope of a job that never materialised, but that did not mean she had to rush to them and allowed her to walk and snatch a precious chance to think about whatever took her fancy as she did so.
Feeling no need for something scraped together from whatever was hanging around in the fridge; she made her way into the cramped living room and flipped on the TV. Doing so was as good as admitting that she had nothing better to do and nowhere else to go for the night, but since that was the case she ignored the vague sense of defeat and tried to find something that if not actually worth watching would instead serve as an acceptable background noise.
If there was no entertainment to be had from the TV and she was too tired to read, Heather would be forced to fall back on the ever reliable option of the internet for her stimulation that evening. She pulled the battered old laptop that was her only link to the online world out from under the couch and flipped on the power as she sat down and tucked her legs under herself.
Like many people in her economic position, the internet had become a lifeline for Heather as she could afford to do so little else with her limited resources. This was aided by the fact that access to the online world had been for some time now deemed as a basic human right in parts of the real world where it was readily available. There was virtually no home in the country that did not have some form of state sponsored connection and although the quality of the signal varied greatly depending on location, it was a boon that was simply too good to be ignored.
After spending a cursory amount of time trawling social media and news pages she followed a link that was for all intents and purposes nothing more than an advertisement for an innocent looking singles site. But as soon as the certificates logged on her hard drive were detected by the site, she was redirected to an altogether less innocuous destination where she keyed in a deviously longs password and allowed to enter.
Though the false front masqueraded as a dating site, it was clear from the imagery that abounded in the site proper that the services on offer here were far more imaginative, dangerous and offered for a strictly stated price. In times of hardship there had always historically been an upsurge in the number of individuals prepared to offer their time and bodies in exchange for money and Heather was ambivalent about her status as one of them in the present day.
On the one hand there was the all too understandable aversion to the act of selling herself that made Heather desperate to put her finger on another solution to her problems. But on the other she was well aware of the size of the debts that still hung over her from her student days and the small but not inconsiderable amount of money that she had already managed to amass and secrete in a well-hidden location.
Not that any casual observer would have argued against the visible evidence that there was a great deal of value to be seen in what Heather was actually selling. Though not the tallest of women, she had a curving figure that was in no way burdened with excess weight and had always commanded attention. Her breasts were noticeable and appealing without the tendency to make her back ache and someone had actually once balanced a drink on her backside in a moment of humour and been amazed when it failed to topple off afterwards.
The daughter of a West Indian father and an English mother, Heather had been fortunate enough to inherit well from both sides of her ancestry. Her skin was the warming colour of milky coffee and free of any blemishes, complementing the dark copper of her curling hair that she allowed to reach past her shoulders.
There was also no way to deny the fact that she was pretty, not beautiful in the way that one might describe a portrait or an unfathomable vision of womanhood paid to stride the catwalks, but rather possessing a pleasant face that shone with a warm and genuine smile.
Not that she was perfect by any means, being quite lazy at the best of times and in the habit of laughing at the most inappropriate of moments. But all in all there would have been few men or women interested in her gender for company that would have sniffed at the prospect of her person.
For a number of months now she had been in the position of teetering first one way and then the other on the prospect of committing herself to the act of taking another job or quitting the whole sordid business altogether. She had been kept in a state of indecision in no small part also by the distinct lack of well-paid offers accumulating in her private inbox on the site. In the end she had come to the decision that the only thing capable of breaking the current malaise in which she found herself would be an offer significant enough to grab her attention, but at the same time she was unsure as to what kind of limit would feel right in terms of the time she would wait before it turned up.
Heather was not expecting to find that the situation had changed as she opened the inbox and scanned the contents with less than rapt attention. So it was that she almost missed the message when she was done discounting the one before and ready to treat the next in the same manner. Only the address of the sender made her stop and scrutinise the individual message, the fact that it ended with the letters JP rather than the more common UK that she was used to seeing almost as a matter of course.
A message sent to her from Japan was unusual enough, but one soliciting the kind of attention that she was prepared to offer coming from such a vast distance was simply baffling. Heather was well aware of the fact that some in the world’s oldest profession might have been able to attract the attention of clients willing and able to cross continents to sample the delights that they offered. But what on earth did anyone of that calibre want with a girl of her standing who specialised in house calls no more than a twenty pound cab fare from her own front door with no questions asked?
More than likely she was sure the message was either simply a mistake on the part of the sender or just another scam asking for passwords and account numbers in return for some mythical financial reward. But on the other hand there was nothing else worth looking at inside the inbox and the sounds coming from the TV had not caused her to look up even once from the screen, so she decided to see for herself what the contents of the message might be.
Subject: Solicitation of services
I am writing to you in the role of intermediary and on behalf of a wide range of clients for whom I am engaged in the task of securing certain sensitive services. Your name has come to our attention as a potential provider for the needs of those clients and thus I would like to take this opportunity to offer you a contract of employment.
The offer that is being made to you at this time is for an extended period of employment and would require exclusive use of your skills until the end of the term stated in the attached contract. As always professionalism and discretion must be at the heart of any dealings that we undertake and we hope that all parties concerned will be pleased with the arrangement.
Puzzled by the odd way in which the message was worded, Heather failed to note the fact that there was no name given at the close of the passage or that the terminology almost assumed an understanding and rapport with the sender that she simply did not have. She quickly ascribed the issues she found with the fact that the person responsible was clearly writing in a second language and therefore prone to making such errors as a matter of course.
She clicked on the attached document that had to be the contract mentioned in the body of the message and read through the details as soon as it popped up on the screen before her. Heather was baffled by most of the language used therein, terms and phrases that meant nothing to her at all, but she was able to grasp the idea that she was being offered the chance to perform a job for a client that would involve swimming and the use of latex.
Neither point was a particular worry for Heather as she was both a strong swimmer and quietly fond of the sensation of latex herself. Provided that the terms were to her liking and there would be nothing required of her that in her own mind crossed the line, she could see no reason not to take the job. Indeed, compared to some of the things she had been asked to do in the past, a couple of lengths in a rubber swimsuit followed by something more intimate would be no challenge at all.
It was only when she scrolled down to the bottom of the document and began to read through the details of the money involved in the contract that she started to become really excited. The figure was quoted in Japanese Yen, but a hasty visit to an online currency convertor sent Heather’s pulse racing. With that amount of money she could not only pull herself out of debt for the first time in years, she could get out of the monotony of the tower block and into a real home with enough in the bank to keep her going while she really tried to get a decent job.
Suddenly the nagging little details in the message and the contract seemed to fade into the background as she attached an electronic signature to the document and sent her eager reply. What did it matter that the location, specifics and means by which she was to make it to the job were far from clear? Those were just minor points that would no doubt be cleared up with the messages that would inevitably follow from the intermediary, not something she needed to worry about at all.
Heather was amazed to see that no more than a matter of minutes after she sent the reply, another message appeared in her inbox, the surprisingly prompt response from her mysterious Japanese contact.
Subject: Confirmation of acceptance
Thank you very much for your positive response to my earlier message and the confirmation that you will be accepting the offer of employment that has been extended to you. I look forward to the next stage of our working relationship and hope that you too will be pleased with the role in which you will serve.
Contact will be made with all haste in order to deliver your person to the appropriate location and begin the required preparation before the actual commencement of your position. Please do not trouble yourself with arrangements as these will be handled on your behalf and at a time suited to all parties.
And that was it, as with the previous message this one ended abruptly with no mention of the sender’s name or position and no contact details whatsoever. Heather was unsure as to how the response had arrived so quickly or what she was supposed to do next. Perhaps she had been far too rash in signing the contract at such short notice, but then if the whole thing did turn out to be a sham, what did she have to lose?
Sure that she was about to either be whisked away on the most lucrative job of her short career in the sex industry or else be proven to have been taken in by a very strange scam, Heather decided that there was nothing to keep her from her bed and some welcome hours of sleep. She closed the laptop and slid it back under the couch before pulling herself to her feet and making her way out of the room on her way to the bedroom.
If she had been in two minds as to the veracity of the job being offered in the message when her head hit the pillow the night before, Heather was totally sure that it was nothing more than a scam when she woke the next morning. The whole thing just seemed so unlikely when she turned it over in her mind that she was almost ashamed of herself for even taking the chance and signing the contract when she should have deleted the whole thing and moved on.
She tried to banish the ghost of the idea from her head with action, crawling out of bed in the gloom of the midwinter morning and forcing herself into the shower before she had the chance to revert to her more usual pattern of slobbing in bed until midday. This was motivated by the notes she spotted on the bedside table, reminding her that she had an interview later in the morning for a job that she might have possibly considered becoming interested in and therefore some effort would have to be made in terms of her appearance.
Emerging from the steam of the shower, Heather wrapped herself in a towel and bound her hair up into what she hoped was a professional style rather than an explosion of curls and set about getting herself ready. Her dilemma as she chose her outfit was between wanting to look like a serious contender for the position on offer and at the same time retain the impression that she was young and outgoing enough to keep her self-esteem intact as she did so.
Dropping her towel to the floor, Heather pulled on a pair of plain cream knickers and slipped her arms into a matching bra on the fair assumption that no one needed to be impressed by the sight of her underwear. Next she sat on the edge of the bed and stretched a pair of tan tights over her bare legs, inching them a little at a time until she reached her waist in order to keep them even. A simple cotton blouse seemed like the logical choice and she shrugged the most pristine one that she could find over her head, but made the concession to her vanity of arranging the buttons so that her cleavage was visible but not objectionable at the same time.
Heather settled on a suit consisting of a matching jacket and skirt in brown that while not exciting, was well matched to her complexion and could not have been described as inappropriate for the workplace. While the winter weather meant that the skirt reached below her knees, it was cut at the side in order to show a few inches of thigh when she was seated and that fact made her feel as though she retained a little of the rebellious in her choice of dress.
Completing the outfit with a pair of low-heeled leather shoes, she collected her coat and bag from the hallway and let herself out of the front door. Finding she was as usual alone on the landing, she walked quickly to the doors of the lift rather than risk the chance of bumping into a neighbour to whom she had no wish to talk on the stairs and be trapped there at the mercy of the icy winds that wound up from below.
Heather pressed the call button with her elbow rather than her finger, why she chose to not make use of her finger she could not have said. But there was something that seemed wrong about spending so much time and care getting ready that morning and then touching such a filthy thing only minutes later. It was ridiculous to think in such terms, but she was loathe to let even the smallest element of the dirt she associated with the tower block touch her that morning.
When the sound of the lift reaching her floor filled her ears and the doors slid open, the previous moment’s obsession with avoiding filth was suddenly turned on its head by the interior of the car. Unable to fully believe what she was seeing, Heather stared at the spotless and practically gleaming inside of the lift in a manner that might have been more commonly associated with laying eyes upon a pile of random body parts and walls painted with spurts of blood.
Heather had simply become so accustomed to being surrounded by the evidence of urban decay and casual vandalism that the sight of anything so new and pristine filled her with mistrust and unease. She stood there without moving for so long that the doors began to close once more, prompting her to jam a foot in between them so that they trundled open once more.
With that reminder of how long she had been gripped by indecision, Heather shook her head and stepped into the lift. What could be so sinister about a freshly cleaned lift that would stop her using it? The thing could not be as likely to get stuck or plummet to the bottom of the shaft as a decrepit old one and why was it not possible that someone was cleaning the lower floors of the block and done the lifts early on in the course of things? If they had then of course the newly scrubbed lift would look out of place when it climbed to the floors that were still waiting to receive the same attention.
Heather laughed to herself as the doors closed, amazed that she could have been so paranoid about such an obvious thing as a cleaning crew.
It was only as the lift began to descend that her conviction that something was amiss returned, at first on account of the way in which she realised she was not feeling the normal sense of trepidation at the laboured sounds of the mechanism that moved the whole thing up and down the shaft. On a normal day she had grown used to the terrible groans and scrapings that penetrated the walls of the car, but today they were oddly absent. The lift made its progress from one floor to the next with so little outside noise that the whole experience was deeply unnerving.
Heather glanced at the numbers that stood over the panel of buttons and lit up as the lift passed each floor; they were working perfectly, though that was not what had drawn her eye. She recalled vividly that the night before those same numbers and buttons had been worn, faded and even gouged with a blade of some kind. They had previously been scared but functional, but now they were intact and seemed newly installed in the lift, another strange anomaly that ate away at her sense of normality.
She supposed that it was not too far of a stretch to imagine the panel being replaced as the lift was scrubbed clean, but there had been no notice of such work being carried out and under normal circumstances a letter would have arrived long before the event to inform the residents. In fact, could the whole car have been replaced with a new one? She dismissed that thought in a second, assuming that such a task would have required cranes and a great deal of messing about that was simply not possible in the space of one night alone.
But all of that was still no reason to panic, she told herself as the lift approached the ground floor of the block. A lift could go from pure shit to spanking new overnight and there was no need to think that she was being set up by some prank show to appear on TV for the amusement of the nation. All she had to do was wait a few seconds and then walk out of the thing and get on with her day.
Things went from bad to worse in terms of her paranoia when the lights happily sailed by the ground floor and the lift carried on down to the basement. Heather had no particular fear of the lowest levels of any given building, but on top of the disturbing elements of her ride in the lift so far, she was getting close to tipping over into a state of panic.
She instinctively huddled into the back corner of the lift as the thing came to a smooth halt and the doors slid open. Beyond them was a nondescript corridor of breezeblock walls and a concrete floor that might under other circumstances have been simply functional and ugly to look at. It was rendered sinister only by the dim illumination of utility lights and the experience of being delivered into its presence in such an unexpected manner.
Heather took it as a good sign that the lift had not been inundated with slavering rapists or a swarm of zombies in search of human flesh after a few minutes had passed. She gathered her courage and made her way to the panel by the door, pressing the button for the ground floor in the hope of the whole thing being nothing more than a random quirk of the mechanism.
But when there was no response of any kind, she began to press the other buttons on the panel with a growing sense of urgency. No matter how many he pressed, held down or hammered upon, there seemed to be no effect on the lift and it remained stubbornly sat at the bottom of the shaft with the doors wide open.
Her next response was to press the intercom in the hope that another human being could solve the problem where she had been defeated. Her hope was dashed though when the mesh covering the speaker responded with nothing apart from harsh static.
It appeared that she was well and truly on her own.
Heather poked her head gingerly out of the lift and tried to get a look down the corridor, but the poor light meant that she could make out no more than the fact that it ran straight ahead for what might have been twenty feet before she could see no more. A glance upwards inside the lift confirmed that while there was an access panel in the ceiling, it was well out of her reach without some kind of ladder.
“Hello,” her voice drifted down the corridor to no immediate response, “is there anyone there?”
She thought there was no point in creeping down the corridor in silence like a character in a horror film. Either there was no one there or else there was someone there who would most likely be willing to help her get out of the basement. The very idea that there was something awful lurking out there and waiting to grab her was the product of her own overactive imagination. She told herself that over and over as she took the first step out of the lift and into the corridor, but somehow it did not help as much as she hoped it would.
The sound of her footfalls echoed off the concrete floor as she made her way cautiously into the gloom, glancing back every few steps to see the open doors of the lift still there behind her. Though there was no means to escape her current predicament in that small space, she somehow felt reassured that it was there behind her as a reminder of the normal world she had been temporarily separated from.
So when she heard the inevitable sound of the doors sliding closed, she turned with a sense of dread and began to run as fast as she was able towards the lift. Not fast enough to catch them as they came together, she was still more than ten feet from the lift when she found herself marooned in the basement and for all she knew totally alone as well.
Starting to think that the world was turning against her, Heather could have sworn that the lift doors had waited for the precise moment when she was too far down the corridor to make it back before they began to close. It was a paranoid thought that she would have dismissed in a second on a normal day, but this seemed to be turning out to be anything but.
Having no choice left open to her, she began to make her way further down the corridor, following the utility lights in the hope of stumbling across an exit of some kind. It did not take long for her to realise that she had walked far further than the distance from one side of the tower block to the other above ground. While she could have seen the basement being wider, she was sure it could not have been that much larger than the building it served. The only logical explanation that she could think of was that she had somehow left the basement and was now beneath another building entirely or else making her way into the sewers.
Neither option was particularly welcome and Heather was somewhat relieved when she finally came to a heavy metal door set into the wall ahead of her that seemed to indicate at long last the end of the corridor.
Heather was reminded of the doors she had seen on submarines in movies and trying to glance through the small window set in the thing just above the circular handle that she assumed stood in place of a conventional handle, had no reason to wonder why it was there at all. What did she know about the things that existed in the basement of the average tower block? For all of her knowledge on the matter, this could have been as normal as litter and dog shit on the streets above.
Turning the handle seemed to move the bars that were set into the top and bottom edges of the door so that they slid to opposite sides with a dull metallic thud. From there Heather gave the handle an experimental tug and was surprised to find that the door swung towards her on its hinges almost silently and so easily that she was able to simply guide push the whole thing against the wall and step over the lip of the doorway beyond.
Where the walls and floor of the corridor behind her had been made of more familiar materials, Heather found that she was now standing in a narrower passage made totally of metal. The walls were formed of rectangular panels of a uniform size and riddled with a collection of pipes, wires and junction boxes, the purpose of which she could not begin to guess. The floor was a metal grid that rang slightly as she made her way forwards and there was the suggestion of yet more baffling assorted pipes beneath.
One blessing was that the lighting was far better in this new section of the basement, provided by evenly spaced fittings that gave out a bright and constant glow by which she was able to see her way without any trouble.
It was by that very light that Heather was able to see the door through which she had just come begin to close behind her just as the doors of the lift had done before. Though she had been allowed to go far enough beyond the metal door to be able to reach it before it closed in the same manner as those of the lift, she found that she was not filled with the same sense of panic that she had been the first time.
What the difference was she could not have said, but there was a strange hint of a scent on the air now that she was beyond the metal door. It was something that she could not quite pin down although she was sure it was there all the same, like an object glimpsed in the corner of the eye. For some reason since it had been there, nothing had seemed to be such a hassle any more or matter enough to really be worth worrying about.
So the door had closed behind her, so what?
Heather simply turned her back on the door and kept walking on down the corridor, sure that if there was a way out of the predicament that she was in it would be found in that direction rather than by trying to go backwards where she had already failed to find any solution. It felt rather good in that moment to be so clear and focussed on a goal rather than cowering in the lift that she never thought to question where her newfound sense of calm and ease had come from, all that mattered was that it was palpable and helping her to move forwards.
She had not gone far when she came to a second metal door that might have been identical to the first save for the fact that it lacked the handle with which she had opened the previous portal. Unsure as to what she could do to pass this new obstacle, Heather searched in vain for a means to open the door. Casting her eyes over frame, the walls on either side and the surface of the door itself and still finding no clue to solve the mystery, she placed her hands against the cold metal and stood on the tips of her toes in order to see through the round window and glimpse whatever lay beyond.
But no sooner had she pressed her palms on the door than she heard a thudding sound not unlike the one that had accompanied the opening of the previous door. She stood back and watched as the door seemed to swing open of its own volition, only able to assume that somehow her own touch had triggered a mechanism designed to negate the need for any kind of handle.
The odd nature of the door and the unlikely location in which she had found it and the other baffling elements in the corridor were, like the closing of the doors behind her, not something that even occurred to Heather to question. If anything she was now feeling so free of concern that it was becoming ever harder to concentrate on doing any more than just walking ahead in a straight line and impossible to see why she would want to stop and question her own actions when there was such a clear and simple choice right there in front of her.
Similarly she was too caught up in that same feeling of simplicity and lack of complication that the possibility also never occurred to her that she could have been coerced or had her judgement impaired in any way. As far as she was concerned she was seeing things more clearly than she had in quite some time.
The room in which Heather found herself once she had stepped through the second door was perhaps twice the width of the corridor outside and maybe fifteen feet in length. Its ceiling was higher than that of the corridor and like the walls and floor it was formed of metal which was smooth and unadorned where it was not run through with a myriad of intersecting lines and baffling grooves cut into its surface. The space was bare of any furnishings or contents and the door behind her was the only visible means of entrance or exit.
Heather walked into the rough centre of the room as if compelled by some unseen force to move away from the doorway. She was by that time so far gone with the effects of whatever had managed to cloud her judgement that she made no effort to even turn her head as the door inevitably began closing behind her. The light in the room was no brighter than that in the corridor, but for some reason it had become almost too much for her to bear as she covered her eyes with a hand and swayed slightly as she stood in the middle of the floor.
All of a sudden she felt her legs give out beneath her and she collapsed like a puppet with cut strings, landing on the metal floor in an undignified slump that would have been painful were she fully aware of her surroundings. Her bag spilled its contents as she allowed it to fall from her hand and she simply remained where she was, not able to collect her wits sufficiently to remember how or why she should even begin to get up again.
The floor was warm to the touch and Heather could not have guessed how long she had been sat there before she became vaguely aware of a new sensation tugging at the corners of her fogged mind. As with the floor itself, this too was warm, but she soon managed to discern that familiar feeling it inspired around her backside and outstretched legs was that of a liquid. She was sat in the middle of a quickly expanding puddle of some kind that showed no sign of stopping as it spread across the floor.
Well, Heather thought as she leapt to the obvious conclusion, it’s been a while since I did that.
It was only when she realised soon afterwards that she was now sitting in perhaps a few inches of whatever the liquid was, that she must have been mistaken in her original assumption as to its source. No matter how far gone her brain seemed to be, she was sure that she could not have held anywhere near the amount of liquid that was now filling the sealed room at an alarming rate in her own bladder.
By the time the level of the liquid reached her waist, Heather had decided that there was really no point in trying to get off her rear end and make a fuss about the situation. She felt certain that she was in no condition to go running around and hammering on the walls when there was no chance that anyone would ever hear her anyway. Much better under the circumstances to just sit where she was, nice and warm and just let the drowning get underway.
She began to float as the liquid got up to the level of her armpits, easing back into a reclined position and then further backwards until her legs and torso formed an almost perfect horizontal line with the surface. She had dropped her bag as she fell to the floor and now it drifted away from her on the surface of the liquid without demanding a moment of her attention. Instead Heather’s eyes were filled with the slowly approaching ceiling of the room, the finer details of the metallic surface becoming more defined with every second that passed.
When the liquid finally filled the room and Heather found herself pressed against the warm metal of the ceiling, there was no way to keep her mouth closed or pinch her nostrils. The liquid seeped into her mouth and was pulled into her lungs as she went through the motions of trying to draw a breath that would not come. But while the unconscious reactions of her body were those of desperate survival, her mind was calm and unperturbed, convinced by whatever malaise had overtaken the course of her thoughts and turned them towards total surrender.
Heather did not remain floating in that same position as she waited to succumb, but instead found that she had begun to sink back downwards. Her legs descended beneath her until she was almost vertical once more and she came to rest in the rough centre of the room, bobbing and swaying in the liquid that suspended her.
The smallest part of her mind began to wonder just how long it took for a person to drown, amused in a far off manner that she could actually be in a position where it was possible to become impatient while awaiting death.
Suddenly there was a flash of something that was not quite light and yet penetrated the whole of the room in the same way that the illumination of lightning flooded the senses. Heather felt the effects of the flash like a physical blow that struck her mind without warning, replacing the resigned state of languor that had filled her with an immediate and irresistible loss of consciousness. Her eyes rolled back into her head as their eyelids closed and she seemed to fall into a deep and impenetrable slumber in mere seconds.
Heather could have floated in her unconscious state for no more than a few moments before a myriad of tiny hatches began to open in the walls, floor and ceiling of the room. From each there emerged a small army of metallic creatures that resembled a blending of crustaceans, beetles and household appliances. They moved through the liquid under the power of miniature engines beneath their metal carapaces, numerous legs tucked beneath their bodies as they approached the motionless woman.
Upon reaching their destination, the tiny automaton seemed to divide themselves up into distinct groups and attend to specific tasks with the unspoken determination of worker ants. One band landed on Heather’s coat, unsheathing cutting teeth that sliced through the fabric from the collar, down the arms and then to the hem so that the garment came apart in three pieces and floated away from her body. At the same time two smaller groups deftly cut the shoes from her feet and another cut down either side of her skirt while the original team repeated their earlier attack, but this time on her jacket. In a matter of seconds they had left her clad in only her blouse, tights and underwear, but they were far from done, not even pausing before moving on to the remaining layer of clothes.
Where the fabric of Heather’s coat and suit as well as the leather of her shoes had been far tougher than the cotton of her blouse and underwear and far more so than the nylon of her tights, the teeth of the diminutive metallic bugs proved to be delicate enough to remove these as well with no visible damage to the subject. Reorganising themselves according to some unspoken logic that would have baffled any observer, they set about dealing with the second layer of her clothing with the same speed as they had the first.
On her upper body, one team cut away her blouse in the same manner as they had her coat and jacket, the cut pieces simply floating away on the currents in the liquid. At the same time another sent its members down both sides of her legs, slicing away the delicate tights without once making a mark upon her skin.
While they worked, the rest of the bugs gathered at Heather’s midriff, waiting for their turn to come in the final stages of her undressing. Once the first teams had completed their tasks, they fell back and allowed those waiting to move in and complete the job. Those that travelled up her body made short work of snipping away her bra so that her breasts floated free in the liquid for the first time. Those that descended below her waist did likewise with her knickers, exposing her most intimate parts to the warm liquid as well.
The bugs that had made way for those working on the task at hand were not idle while the last of her clothes were removed. They scuttled to the extremities of her body and busied themselves with removing the few items of jewellery that Heather had been wearing. The same teeth that had removed delicate fabric now cut through metal without pause and yet with equal speed and precision.
Heather was now left naked as she floated in the flooded chamber, the remnants of her clothing falling slowly to the floor where it was drawn towards circular opening previously hidden beneath the metal. Much like a common plughole, the opening sucked the cast off pieces of material and fragments of metal away to some unknown destination before closing once more.
At another silent and imperceptible signal, half of the bugs ceased their efforts and launched themselves from Heather’s body, swimming back through the liquid to the hatches where they had entered the room. These opened and allowed them to leave the other half of their swarm to begin a new task entirely.
The bugs that remained began to move as one, retracting their visible metallic teeth and replacing them with tools so fine that it was hard to tell they were there at all. With these new implements, they set about making a complete and thorough exploration of Heather’s body. At first their purpose in doing so was not clear, but as soon as one of their number reached a portion of skin that was covered with body hair, no matter if it was actual follicles or merely the most neat stubble, they removed it utterly and left no trace behind.
Once the only trace of hair that was left upon Heather’s body was that on her head and her eyebrows, the bugs ceased their attentions and soon followed their comrades back through the liquid and into their concealed hatches.
Heather was now not merely naked and sedated as she floated in the liquid; she had been scoured from head to toe so that there was not a single trace of makeup, daily grime or even a trace of body hair to mar the image that she presented. It would not have been far from the truth to say that she had seldom been so devoid of any kind of blemish or imperfection in many years and that it would have been difficult to achieve the same results with access to the finest professional treatments and the funds with which to afford them.
But the purpose of the process that she had been subjected to was not merely to cleanse her body that much was made evident by the fact that she remained suspended in the liquid once the task was completed, as if patiently awaiting the next stage of her treatment.
Indeed it was only a matter of moments before the hatches opened for a second time and the metallic bugs emerged once more. This time they were fewer in number and as they swam towards Heather, each carried a burden almost larger than itself, the purpose of which was impossible to discern on account of the diverse shapes that they took.
The bugs wasted no time in crawling over her body once they were close enough, positioning themselves according to yet another pattern known only to themselves. At once they began to arrange the components that they carried about Heather’s limbs, working together to bring certain parts into close connection and then pressing them tightly against her flesh.
Soon they had constructed a frame of some kind around her legs, the bands of which were wound around the middle of her thighs, knees, claves and ankles and then linked by a strips that ran up the outside of each limb. To the bottom of this they attached a section that bound her feet together and then fused to the end two halves that came together to form a wide, powerful monofin.
Heather’s hands were sandwiched between two layers of rubber, which when sealed in place could be seen to have transformed her hands from sporting individual digits into what resembled more a broad pair of paddles. Her fingers could still move, but now they were trapped in the material of the gloves and would no longer be able to function individually of the others.
The last modification that was made to her body involved a small team of bugs manoeuvring into position on either side of her groin a complicated array of pipes and valves. These they gently eased into the natural openings of her body, working them inside until seemingly satisfied with their position relative to the points where they had been inserted.
There was no hope of these new additions to Heather’s body working loose or being removed either by accident or design. The merest touch of them against her skin was enough to activate the molecular bonding agent, with which they had been coated, binding them to the body so closely that they could only be torn away with great pain and scarring as a result.
Now that she had been modified in such a way, Heather might have been mistaken for some strange form of diver or performer in a bizarre circus. But she still seemed strangely incomplete, like a being trapped between two worlds and waiting for the act that would permanently pull her into one or the other. It seemed that there must be one final stage in her transformation yet to come.
This began in earnest as a hole opened in the ceiling of the room above her head, almost the perfect reflection of the one that had drawn away the remnants of Heather’s clothing. But rather than allow anything to leave the room, this second circular hole was soon filled by an amorphous aquamarine mass that began to emerge into the liquid-filled room below. The stuff was liquid itself, but flowed with the languorous motion of a substance far thicker than that into which it was spreading which reflected the light of the room upon its surface. It ballooned out of the hole and began to descend towards the floating human form below, reaching the tips of Heather’s hair before it had wholly left the opening behind.
As it approached her body, the liquid seemed to be subject to some invisible form of attraction or static charge that drew it inexorably towards the surface of her naked skin. There it simply engulfed her as soon as it was able, as if possessed of life and determined to swallow her whole it flowed over her body and soon covered her from head to toe. But the shiny material did not just entrap her in the centre of a floating ball; instead it clung to the lines of her body, making her seem to have become a crude rendering of a human form. Soon the material had resolved itself to her basic shape and began to move less and less as it settled around its new host.
Once the shiny cocoon seemed to have settled upon Heather’s body, a larger pair of hatches opened on the far wall of the room to allow the entry of two identical metal objects perhaps seven feet in length and three in width. These strange objects were carried towards her on complicated mechanical arms that adjusted their angle and height as they came closer until it became clear they would close around her like a metallic coffin.
When they were close enough to begin to close in on the floating mass of shiny matter that Heather had become, the inside edges of the two halves could be seen to be made of a black material that held the negative impression of a vaguely human form. It was into this recess that the enveloped woman was pressed as the two halves finally came together and enclosed her between them.
There was a sudden flurry of bubbles as the oxygen and other gasses trapped inside the space between them was evacuated, leaving only the form of Heather and her aquamarine coating within. Then there seemed to be no perceivable motion or change in the state of the container into which she had been sealed from the exterior for some time. But the interior was another thing altogether as the force that had expelled the gasses was applied in concert with intense heat to her helpless body.
Only when the two halves finally parted again were the effects of the process upon Heather revealed and the true nature of the device clear at last.
The woman who had been stripped, bound, coated in an aquamarine skin might have entered the space between the two metal halves, but she was not the same creature that floated in the liquid once they had parted to release her.
Heather’s features could still be seen as those of the sleek and shiny thing that emerged, her body still gave it shape and her thick hair still hung around its head like a chestnut halo. But there was much that had changed as well. The Heather that emerged from what could only have been a mould large enough to accommodate a fully grown human being was unmistakably a mermaid formed of latex rubber and intended to catch the eye in a very unsubtle manner.
The aquamarine skin of latex covered her from head to toe, or more accurately in light of her new shape from head to fin. It clung as tightly to her as had her own skin and accentuated every inch of her body while smoothing out any minor imperfections beneath its uniform surface, hiding perfectly the devices that had been attached to her form to trap her in the shape of a mermaid.
Beneath her crown of chestnut curls, Heather’s face was a mask of rubber. Her lips were plumped and like her brows and lashes picked out in a darker shade to emphasize them against her blue skin. There was no restricting her features which would move and react just as they had always done before she was sealed in her new latex body.
Her torso proudly displayed breasts that might have been mistaken for nothing more than balloons of rubber had they not retained their natural nipples, now the same shade as Heather’s lips. They rubbed together in the gentle currents of the liquid and seemed to cry out to be touched as it moved them to and fro. Beneath them the curve of her stomach flowed gracefully into the shape of her tail and drew the eye towards the feminine shape that it had been given by her thighs and calves as well as the rounded mass of her buttocks.
Heather had been denied hands and feet, with the former replaced by broad paddles that would propel her through the water, but allow only basic manipulation when compared to normal human digits. Likewise the line of her tail forced her former feet straight down and held them there as a connection between the sweep of her tailfin and the muscles of her lower body so that she could swim with ease and yet never stand erect no matter how she tried.
But then what need did she have of hands and feet?
The question seemed to Heather to be the first thought that entered her head as she regained a small degree of consciousness. It was so subtle and reverberated so deeply in her waking mind that she could have no way of perceiving that the suggestion was being transmitted directly into her defenceless brain from some unknown source.
Why would she need hands and feet, by now Heather could not discern the voice in her head from her own thoughts, those were trapping of humanity. As her eyes opened and caught sight of the aquamarine tail swaying in the liquid before her, she simply accepted the logic of what was passing through her mind. After all, there was the tail and here were her fin-like hands that she could gaze at underwater where a human being would simply have drowned.
Did it not make sense that she was a mermaid?
Heather tried to remember if there had been anything else, anything before this as the voice continued to speak directly into her mind, telling her of the things that were essential and important to her life as a mermaid. She searched her memory, looking for one shining memory that would remind her of the life she might have had before she had been a mermaid. Had there been one thing worthy of recalling, one moment in her life as a human being that made it all worthwhile, then she might have fought the gentle urging of the voice and remembered her humanity.
But her memories were nothing more than a collection of dreary days and nights made bearable by the effects of either alcohol or the less dangerous chemicals that altered the state of the mind. None were able to stand up to the wondrous existence that the voice promised if only she would stop resisting and accept the fact that she was a mermaid and had always been such a creature.
At last the final confusion was washed away as Heather realised to her shock that she had been deluding herself for so long, trying to invent a life for herself as a human being for some perverse reason that she no longer seemed to understand. Why had she tried to inflict such painful delusions upon herself when the life that she had been denying was so simple and wonderful in comparison?
Now that the mental conditioning that completed her transformation was complete, there was no need to allow her mind to fully awaken from the state of slumber it had been placed in. Better to keep her brain from reviving the centres of higher reasoning that would cause her to question or ponder for too long, just in case she was tempted to return to those thoughts of having been human or think too deeply on her new life and its trappings. All parties concerned had come to the conclusion that she would be happier as a rather dull mermaid than an intelligent woman who eventually realised what had been done to her.
Heather turned to see a circular hatch open in the far wall, and though she had no idea where it might lead she was nevertheless sure she was required to simply swim through and follow it to whatever end it lead her.
There was simply no room in her thoughts anymore to question such matter.
With a flick of her tail and a stroke of her hands she was into the tunnel beyond and away.
The sun was fading slightly with the coming of the afternoon and Heather noted the change more due to the sensation of its warmth decreasing on her skin than a conscious assessment of the quality of its light or the time of day. Such things really had little meaning for her beyond giving a basic sense of what she had done already that day and what might be in store in the time that followed before she slept.
Somewhat disappointed by the loss of the chance to bask in the sun, she sat up on the rock she had chosen as her perch and stretched the kinks out of her muscles as she did so. Once the last of her slumber had been shaken out of the tip of her tail, Heather surveyed the commanding view she had of the vast pool complex and made a basic calculation as to what her options were and what would produce the most reward for her afterwards.
She was one of many mermaids who resided within the complicated landscape of pools, grottos, waterfalls and thermal baths that made up the complex, though she understood the term only vaguely as her home and the centre of her existence. They were somewhat akin to a small community of individuals or more aptly a pod of sorts, although their relationships were complicated and more often than not less than cordial with one another.
Heather knew that this was, in her own case at least, mostly due to jealousy over her beauty and the popularity that she enjoyed with the special individuals that were the true centre of a mermaid’s existence within the complex. While the others may never have been short of attention, none of them were as loved and adored as she was and their jealousy both delighted the wicked side of her personality a little while at the same time boring her all the same.
Why should she feel guilty that she was the most popular, the one the humans who came to the poolside desired more than any other mermaid?
No, she had never let them poison her fun and today would be no different.
Heather spotted her quarry as he approached the side of the pool which her rocky perch overlooked and sat on the edge with his feet in the water. She noticed other members of the pod across the pool and realised that there was no time to lose if she wanted to claim this one for herself.
Quickly twisting onto her belly, Heather dived off the rock and into the waterfall that cascaded down into the pool below. She went under like a bolt of blue and powered herself towards the spot where she was sure he would be seated, beating her tail and keeping her arms by her side. When she broke the surface she emerged in a plume of exploding water, throwing her head back and emerging far enough to display herself like a salmon leaping upriver.
As soon as she was able to clear the water from her eyes, she knew she had landed her catch by the way in which he was fixated by the sight of the droplets making their way between her breasts and down towards her tail.
Heather swam to the edge of the pool and smiled as he plucked her from the water and carried her to a more secluded spot. He sat down on a recliner, still seeming to be lost for words as she slipped around in his arms to lie on top of him.
For a moment she was lost as to where she should start, the human body being a thing with so many different ways to stimulate and enjoy that to choose one would be to neglect another. But even as she lay there in a temporary state of indecision, his unconscious reactions to the weight of her slippery body on top of his own was the beginning of something that she was sure would be nothing short of wonderful for them both.
Heather’s paddle-like hands reached up and took hold of his shorts as she read in his eyes the same spark of excitement that was running through her as they lay together. The sensation of his skin against the slippery rubber of her body told in his expression as something that he had never imagined possible. That same expression also told that he was totally under her spell.
There was room and need for nothing else in Heather’s mind but the sun, water and satisfaction that she could find in moments such as this.
What need did she have for tower blocks, graffiti and dreary weather?
The lot of a rubber mermaid was composed of boundless pleasure and endless ignorance and Heather was forever lost in both.
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