© Copyright 2011 - Ludwig - Used by permission
Storycodes: FM/ff; FF; latex; bagged; vacbed; toys; insert; breathplay; fist; mast; climax; cons; X
Chapter 16: Wintering Out
There was a knock on the doorframe behind her. The cottage was relatively small and quite cosy, but Alex had an eerie ability to disappear in silence bordering to condensed when she was doing some work or wanted to have a few moments on her own. This meant that she effectively reappeared out of nowhere, often startling whoever was in the room. Niamh thought she would never really get used to it.
“Are you awake?”
“Well, obviously...” Two warm hands gently landed on her shoulders. “Am I a lord? And have I such a lady? Or do I dream? or have I dream'd till now? I do not sleep: I see, I hear, I speak; I smell sweet savours and I feel soft things...”
“I’m not fat, Al. Stop Shakespearin’ on me, won’t you?”
“Was it ten tomorrow morning?”
“Yes.” Niamh sighed, trying to get her mind up to speed. “Does it still feel...”
“No, you have to have your check-up done.” Alex pressed her palms down on Niamh’s shoulders, as if she was trying to brake. “Do mind your own health and family first, and you will make me a happy old bag. You know that from our thousands of tiffs about this.”
“Tiffs? I told you I’m not used to have someone caring for me like you do.”
“Your bark is worse than your bite. People might find that out once you let them come close. Does she still look like Hogarth’s Shrimp girl, by the way?”
“What? Who?” Niamh sneezed out of sheer start-up problems. “Sandra? Well, I reckon she hasn’t changed much save those snazzy moustaches. I don’t even remember having seen any shellfish around her, though. Stop throwing those culture gears now. What’s gone into you?”
“Work.” Alex stated levelly, slowly moving her fingers upwards through Niamh’s hair.
It was her Alex’ of shunting, Niamh thought, and she was definitely dealing with the whole situation much better than expected. Instead, the butterflies seemed to have nested in her belly. For her, there was no real work to bury her nose in, and therefore nowhere to escape but feeding her face till she felt too full to worry... and return to daydreaming for a while.
“But enough guff for now, sweetie. I’ll get the leash so we can go for walkies. We could need a bit of fresh air.”
The whole estate appeared to be getting ready to enter a state of hibernation. All the colours in and around the lush garden were fading into a deep shade of greenish gray, and the main house looked like it was closing its eyelids in the waning light. Rickety Rick, Niamh thought to herself, cherishing her memories of those first Dr. Snuggles’ episodes she had watched together with her brother. Indeed, this whole year had been like a really weird episode; perhaps not fit for kids but nevertheless mind-boggling. Luckily, she didn’t feel like Mathilda Junkbottom either, even if mevrouw DeVries had a few quirks in common with the dear doctor.
Alex had an air of relief of acceptance and relief about her as she walked along with a purposeful stride, which made Niamh’s heart a lot lighter. It was no use spending more words on what was coming. Two weeks, three tops and everything would be sorted. No more fuss. Perhaps, Niamh thought, except that Alex seemed to be all about change of some sort all of a sudden. The Mercedes was going in favour of something less snazzy, she worked considerably less and only dealt with things that didn’t require conspicuous armed backup or the like, and... Niamh noticed that she didn’t feel the need to play the role of the haughty widow in public any longer, which was an interesting transformation. She wondered if it was she that had made all this go Penny Laney, and hoped it would stay only moderately vanilla. Nice sometimes had a bland aftertaste.
“You’re laughing again, meisje.”
“Yes. Without anyone tickling me. As-ton-ishing, innit?”
“Oh no, I’m really glad to hear that pearly laughter every once in a while. It was quite some time since I heard it.”
“Vivid imagination and fond memories of weekends past; that’s it.”
“Oh, really? I tend to cherish those in a slightly different fashion, myself.”
“Using different noises, yes. That usually tickles me, though.” That, and the pretty photos too.
Somehow, it was very interesting to witness Theresa’s onerous way back to a reasonably balanced state of mind- and appearance, not to mention. It took her twenty minutes to get out of the deflated suit and back into the sultry-looking pyjamas again, and the amazing ongoing process of getting her face back on during constant complaints of a fishy smell and sticky sweat was really worth watching. Alex had a hard time keeping a reasonably straight face, but that was partly because it was her prerogative to have Niamh doing all the polishing. That, of course, was quite a pleasurable task for her. She made sure to use plenty of the silicon-based gel Alex had brought with her in the bag, even if it made the suit glossy to the brink of oiliness and very slippery. The smell close to her crotch resembled exotic opiates and Niamh took extra care smoothing over every single matted speck around that area, which Alex didn’t seem to mind at all.
“Perhaps you have come to your senses about things now,” she said to the not-really-listening Theresa. “You can’t keep us as guests here longer than a few days before- and I refrain from referring to fish- you’re virtually on your knees. Will you be able to work at all for the rest of the week?”
“You would make quite a good fighter, you know. There really is no easy way to knock you out cold, and you keep bouncing back up even more at it each time you go down.”
“Two hours with Niv would do me in, for real.”
“Well,” Alex ruffled Niamh’s hair a little. “I guess there’s no harm in dreaming, is there?”
“I’m right here if you want a word, aren’t I.” Niamh grunted. “Don’t try to barter with her.”
“So sorry, sweetie.”
“Hardly. And I’d do you in within a feckin’ Piggly Wink, T-Lo. Be advised.”
“My face is your bidet, sugar buns.”
“Now, now.” Alex cut in, tugging Niamh’s hair a little less playfully. “Let’s not ruin the show. Terry still has a few more surprises in stock, I think. I happened to come across some really, er... titillating novelties right over there, for example.”
“Yeah, s’ave a shufti on the porny stuffy... Ow! Not my ear, ma’am.”
Quickly finding her way back into the role as the jolly tour guide, Theresa tiptoed away across the floor towards the undisclosed goods further down the corridor. Niamh smiled a little to herself as she was led by the hand when Alex strode off after Theresa. The bidet concept was gradually catching on, and was certainly worth some consideration. She was not feeling too keen on reversing the roles when she felt the trailing pang of a fun afternoon at Santa Pod raceway. Jesus. Thick suit leave thick smell, old wise men say.
Alex almost immediately spotted something that made her squeal with delight, which was quite an upsetting experience for Niamh since it was accompanied by a four hundred foot pound squeeze that threatened to grind the bones in her hand to dust.
“Aaah! Een skippybal... I remember those! What did you call them here?” she cheered, pointing towards a bright orange rubber ball half hidden under a table. It had a grinning devil’s face on it.
“Space hoppers.” Theresa giggled. “And that’s not the approved version for people under the age of eighteen, I’d say.”
“Let me try it!”
“Did you bring the lube?”
Alex looked a bit questioningly at Theresa as she bent down to pull out the bouncy toy, but froze with a strange expression on her face as the thing rolled out in front of her feet. A pair of fitted dildos, one considerably larger and more lifelike than the other, flapped down on the floor.
“Oh. I see.” With remarkable ease, Alex straddled the ball and pushed the adult options aside with a gentle twist with her fingers. She gripped the horn handles and tried the elasticity. “Make way, you two. I haven’t used one of these since 1971.”
After a few tentative attempts to make it bounce properly, Alex found out how to ride it without falling off or having to force it too hard. She took off across the floor, pumping fervently.
“Get the fucking camera.” Niamh whispered to Theresa under her breath. “Get it now!”
Along the driveway, there were still traces of her first visits to the house. Remarkably enough, the oil stains caused by the incontinent Metro had refused to go away despite combined efforts of many a helping hand. That was how it all had begun; a jumpy heart and a shitty car, she thought. Since then, a whole new life had taken shape... and nearly vanished. Luckily, her heart remained jumpy whilst the Metro was put to rest in Leyland heaven.
There was a tinge of fresh wood and two-stroke oil in the air. The unmistakable wail of a chainsaw rang through the chilly silence. Mr. Whitley and his brother-in-law were fighting an uneven battle with the trees shadowing his new patio. Alex chuckled a little at the violent profanities oozing out from the men as if they tried to add a little extra sulphur to the exhausts.
“Those trees were probably planted when the people living here spoke Danish. Most of them are almost petrified, and those two poor bastards won’t get far without explosives.”
“Shouldn’t we just let them...”
“No.” Alex smirked, adding a little more spring to her step. “This, I think, will be fun to watch.”
Perhaps, Niamh thought, there were more than a few similarities between Alex and the place she had called her home for nearly forty years. At least they seemed to share the proclivity to make life tough for those who tried to mess with them, and another, wonderful feature. Once you learned to love them, they never really left you.
"I only wish we could’ve recorded that ‘Two Front Teeth’-massacre as well…” Theresa murmured as she switched back to single picture mode again. The memory card was beginning to fill up, but there was still enough capacity left to secure every single golden moment of insanity for at least a few hours more. “God, this is the best ever.”
Alex banked slightly to the left and bounced around a shelf, making a beeline for Niamh, who was forced to step back before they would collide. She was a sight for sore eyes with her muscular legs working away, and a childish smile adorning her face with a few wisps of black hair flying freely as she bobbed up and down. Niamh knew what those legs were capable of and admired the way Alex managed to propel herself like that, wearing dangerously pointed heels without breaking them. She finally succeeded to avoid slamming into anything and wobbled to a halt right in front of the girls.
“Whoo! That felt like a long time ago.” she panted, prodding the front dildo with curious fingers. “But Terry, how are you supposed to steer deze verdomde bal-dier when you are…plugged in, so to speak?”
“You can’t go around like you just did. Honestly, I haven’t tried it, but I suppose it’s enough just to mosey on back and forth a bit. Up and down, sort of.”
“Perhaps you could arrange races.” Niamh sniggered. “200 yards tonkerball. Very popular wiz ze audience.”
“It still works wonders for your thighs. Does it sell?”
“Yeah, well, not as much as the rocking horse over there.”
Theresa pointed at a very strange version of the nursery feature placed next to the wall among some pieces of construction material. Apart from the beautifully crafted head and the mop-like tail, there was a nifty saddle in the middle of its back. Niamh ogled the knobbly ridge and the mount for the massive shaft meant to ensure a pleasant ride.
“Ever tried the Pony Express then, Terry?”
“I won’t tell you.”
“All the way to Banbury Cross. No? Anyway, I think Alex would want one all the same.”
“There’s no one for me but Harry. At least he moves when you tell him to.” Alex chided.
“Not always. He vibrates, though, I’ll grant you that. Probably rheumatism.”
Theresa moved some material and patted the seat on the horse encouragingly. She seemed rather proud of it, although it looked a bit too suitable for the Moron Marital Aid Society. Niamh thought she would feel totally off it if she was to try the thing out. Why not bring along the baby stroller once she was at it?
Alex had her eyes set on something completely different. Among the rolls of material, she had noticed a special kind of rubber sheeting that apparently was much more interesting than bouncing or rocking toys.
“Sweetie, would you pick that large roll up and get it over here?”
“No!” Theresa warded her off with waving hands. “Please don’t try to lift that. It weighs more than you do. There are sheets already cut out to be fitted bunged away among the furniture.”
“Back the way we came, then.” Alex smiled. “That I’ve got to try.”
Even if the lady herself disapproved of excessive curiosity, she was definitely not the one who passed on a chance to bug someone really bad by being nosy to the point of ridicule. Two headstrong men fighting shrubbery was to her like shooting fish in a barrel using a howitzer. A few silly questions would make them go off like spring-loaded garden gnomes. Still, they were obliged to act suitably polite since she wasn’t just anyone, and that leverage, Niamh thought, she used only for spite. Luckily, “Wild Bill” Whitley knew her sense of humour by now and always rose to the occasion. She liked that as well. Her target practice now would be the brother-in-law.
“A twit,” she confided to Niamh, “of such a massive magnitude. Did you ever watch the Pythons? Think Mr. Gumby, and then add some.”
Niamh left her to it and walked a bit further along the path. The weather was deceptively mild, but a gust of wind promised icy rain later. She hoped there would be snow here when she returned. Her brother had once said that the new year wouldn’t come until there had been at least a little snow, and perhaps that was the main reason to why they always had to take that trip to the Pennines every single year. Yes, she thought, it had become sort of a tradition.
Looking up into the sky where the clouds seemed to chase each other, she wondered if she would be around long enough for Alex and her to start a few new ones. Sometimes, the ordinary was the greatest of things.
“Oh, wow.” Theresa sighed, shaking her head at the dazzling display before her. “I think I’ll leave you two alone on this one.”
“Back away really slowly, look down and don’t- whatever you do- turn your back and run. She might think you want to play chase.” whispered Niamh with a nasty grin on her face. “Keep your finger on the trigger, though. You might catch her doing something naughty.”
Alex had spread a generous length of her new favourite rubber sheeting on over the divan in their little corner. It made the piece of furniture look like a slice of a little asteroid, since the rubber was riddled with stubby spikes and bumps, which Alex now enjoyed to the full. Niamh watched her with her eyes wide open, as she lasciviously rolled back and forth over the surface like a lioness on a patch of sand. The noises she made actually caused Niamh’s hair to stand on end, far from entirely out of excitement. Primeval signals appeared to tell her to head the other way fast or look for a suitable tree.
Instead, she closed in on the purring and rolling Alex and placed herself gently next to her on the divan. The knobbly rubber was much more comfortable than she had imagined, and she couldn’t help but giggling a little. Instantly, Alex opened her eyes and floated out as she relaxed. Her red suit was a sharp contrast to the patchy black where her hair seemed to merge with the sheet.
“This, sweetie, is one of the better Christmas gift ideas for this year. Hint.”
“Black Pete is going to get stuck in your chimney with all the stuff you want, Dulle Griet. But it’s better than any of those bloody spike mats, I reckon.”
“Isn’t it just? Fancy a bit of yoga, hm?”
Strong arms pulled Niamh down on the divan, and before she even had time to make herself even slightly comfortable, Alex’ hands had ridden up under her top and found her breasts. Niamh thought that it sometimes seemed like the more relaxed Alex was, the more bang-on-the-assets she became. Not that there was any reason to complain about her handling- it was as painstakingly meticulous as ever- pure torture served on a silver plate.
“You feel familiar.” Alex whispered, “Have we met?”
“Just like that? Wabbit still huwts, does it?”
“Don’t make me laugh, that’s all.” Niamh winced and drew her breath between her teeth. “Aaagh. And please be gentle.”
“Wabbit wants a kiss later, eh?”
Niamh nodded. She could put up with all the dotty Elmer Fudd- talk in the world for two minutes of heavenly tongue. Sore or not sore down there didn’t matter. She could sense a series of tiny contractions in her lower belly as she imagined the feeling. The fluffy numbness, so very similar to the strange sensation of light anaesthesia, which she had become dangerously addicted to, and then the sudden outburst when she was tipped over the edge. A word or a look was enough to set her off. Like a key opening a lock.
Niamh smiled at the thought of the old widow down the road again. She wondered why those images wouldn’t leave her alone. There certainly was something very endearingly charming about that story, and she wondered if that woman had taken pleasure in ‘tuning’ the boys in her lair the same way Alex had done with her. Using those ancient elephant-skin thick reusable condoms to desensitise the poor buggers, so that they wouldn’t stain her floors when they practised behind closed curtains... Perhaps letting them, ever so slightly, have a taste of her warm breath and wet lips through the rubber. That’s right, fill it up. Don’t worry. Oh, yes; quills. She must have tried those feather thingies on them as well. That would’ve been slow and very, very frustrating. Nice exercise, though. Ready? There’s a good boy. No, look at me, not your John Thomas. Yes, much better.
Feeling Alex under her like a warm, pulsating and purring being slowly draping her in alien-looking red, shiny limbs made Niamh drift further into darkness. A recognisable chill passing through her made it painfully clear that she’d better get a quick release quite soon, or suffer from nasty cramps during the rest of the day. There was something decidedly off about imagining it the way she did, Niamh thought, but she still longed for Alex to use her as a sock puppet again. Perhaps only to watch the expression in Alex’ face when her hand suddenly slipped inside and the muscles closed around her wrist.
“That wasn’t me, sweetie.”
“I know.” Niamh rolled on her side, down on the knobbly surface beside Alex. “Oh, Jesus, these things don’t half tickle...”
“They do! I love it. Do you think they would make me a suit out of stuff like this if I asked them? That would be fun.”
“Fun porcupine or fun Swiss cheese?”
“Ooh, both.” Alex laughed hoarsely. “But it would be a damn good thing to wear if you ever got the idea of playing with yoghurt again, sweetie.”
There was a clatter and some muted cursing from behind the shelves. Theresa was eavesdropping in a less inconspicuous fashion. Niamh decided to give her reason to stumble and fumble a little more back there and let her fingers trace the outline of Alex’ scarlet breasts, playing gently with the protruding nipples. She hoped that poor Terry had a few spare fingers to operate the camera. This could be worth watching again.
The art of confusing twits by acting the silly old lady was something Alex had spent years perfecting, but it was better viewed from a certain distance. Niamh often stayed out of earshot to avoid a fit of crimsonitis, and this time it was better to contemplate the fusty odours rising from the brook running under the little bridge. It was a very brown smell, Niamh thought, but not entirely unpleasant. Earthy, not really as much death and decay as one might have expected. It wasn’t much of a brook any longer, either. The water wasn’t exactly flowing, as such, but rather oozing slowly downstream.
There were footprints in the mud among the scattered bushes and trees. When Niamh followed them, she caught sight of someone familiar having a spot of bother on the bank by and old wired fence.
The girl heard her, but swivelled badly as she tried to turn and dropped the stick she had used as support.
“I’m stuck!” she growled. Niamh was a bit impressed by the tone of her voice. There was not a hint of squealing.
“Give me a minute.” Niamh shouted. “I’ll pull you out. I just have to figure out how to get there.”
It was easier than she had imagined. The tricky part was to stay on her feet, as the slope was a little slippery and steep. A yew tried to act fiendish on her as she passed with considerable speed, but she managed to pass it unharmed if slightly greener here and there. She wondered how Mille had been able to get all the way down to the brook without falling.
“There we go...” she puffed as she reached the spot where Mille stood swaying. “How the hell did you get stuck here?”
“I was checking up on Chas. He was supposed to stay with dad, but... Anyway, mum was afraid he’d gone down here.” Millie said. “Well, he wasn’t that stupid this time.”
The silty mud almost reached up to her knees. Niamh tried her acrobatic skills and moved closer to the girl. She realised that if she used the little brute force she possessed, they would both end up very muddy and wet.
“You’ll have to get out of those wellies.”
“What? I’ve only got thin socks on...”
“Ditch ‘em. Put one foot right here, there’s a dry...drier spot, at least. Then I’ll try to pull you loose.”
Fifteen seconds later Niamh’s trousers had a new heart-shaped dirt print right where it would most certainly be seen, but Millie was free. The additional weight of the soon-to-be teenager ending up in Niamh’s arms had caused a little mudslide, but luckily, the ground was quite soft to land on. The girl appeared to have bones made out of sharp-edged hardwood.
“Ouch. All right. There we are.” Niamh groaned, carefully rolling Millie off her to avoid getting drenched in the mud.
“I’m going to kill that little snot.” Millie stated, looking like an angry ball of oversized outerwear with two pink exclamation marks in the lower part. The socks looked quite out of place, Niamh thought.
“Let’s get out of this stinkhole first, shall we? Leave it to dad to fish the wellies out later, or you’ll end up head first in the water.”
They made it quite easily up the bank to the path across the bridge, even if a few sharp twigs made things a bit more difficult on the way there. Niamh tried not to be overly helpful in order to avoid an excess of teenage attitude response to her aid, but was surprised when Millie hauled her up on the path instead, with quite a powerful tug.
“Got boots and socks and stuff in the stables.” she puffed, pulling at her trousers. “Gotta change these too, now. Ewch. Can you follow me there?”
“I should think so,” Niamh said, glancing over her shoulder. “because Mrs. Motormouth over there won’t mind as long as your dad keeps trying to be nice to her.”
“They get along, though. Dad won’t listen to those sayin’ she’s a bitch. She is nice. To me, at least.”
“Yeah. No reason why she shouldn’t, if you know what I mean.” Niamh sighed, shaking something sticky off her coat. “Stay on the grass. I won’t be able to do much more than be sick if you tread on something sharp, so be careful, yeah?”
It didn’t take long for them to reach the stables. Watching Millie trot along like on hot coals was more painful than fun, but Niamh noticed that she didn’t utter a single syllable of complaint. The chill radiated from the ground and bit through the soles of her damp boots, so walking close to barefoot must be like treading on shards of glass. The very last bit of ground before they entered the door was brown, rich soil, which seemed like a welcome change. It wasn’t any great improvement, though, and it made the girl’s feet and lower legs even more messy.
Millie took a sharp left once she had got the heavy door open and entered the tack room. She couldn’t wait to get rid of the soppy trousers and socks, and performed an outstanding act of undressing while running. Niamh thought she might have a future as a dancer with that sense of balance and disrobing ability.
“Ooooh, I hate this.” Millie growled. “It’s not the first time, either.”
“You lead an active life of sorts, you. Shall I bring the hose, milady?”
“Why, hah. Nearly made me laugh. No, get me the brown towel... that one over there, it’s Ossie’s, really. That’ll do.”
“He won’t mind, then?”
“It’s me getting the doggy smell, innit? Thanks.”
Niamh turned away, allowing the girl a little bit of privacy even if she didn’t seem to mind her presence at all. It had been a bit of a surprise to see that Millie had a pair of healthy-looking sinewy legs under those trousers, instead of teenage-scraggy chicken thighs and shanks. Thanks to the fact that she hardly ever kept still, probably, which was all the better for her.
“Fresh pair of khakis, then, or what? Where did you keep ‘em?” Niamh asked, peeking out through the narrow door. She wondered why the stable was so silent.
“Mum keeps her breeches somewhere in that locker. Have a look.” Millie grunted, fervently rubbing her feet with the towel. “Woolly socks on top of the boots, I think. God, it’s freezing!”
Niamh opened the little metal locker and blinked twice. Then, she produced a pair of black and tan lycra breeches and a pair of nice, warm socks that seemed to fit.
“Did you see a mouse or something?” Millie said, throwing the towel away carelessly.
“What? No. I just...”
Before Niamh could come up with anything to say, Millie had tiptoed over to her and snatched the socks from her hands. She nodded towards the locker.
“Mum won’t let me wear those, you know. You picked the right ones.”
Millie waltzed across the tiled floor while pulling the socks up, and managed to withdraw a hanger from the locker balancing on one foot as she tried to get the other one through the right trouser leg. She tugged ‘those’ breeches off the hanger and held them up before Niamh, who tried to keep her not-at-all-proficient poker face.
The breeches in question, now flapping in Millie’s hands, were not really of the ordinary kind. Unlike the ones Millie had struggled to get into, these were not exactly girlie-oriented, made out of what looked like very expensive, exquisitely cut fine leather with proper reinforcements in the seat and down the inner legs. Uncannily black and, as Niamh noticed rather quickly, a bit too buffed up for comfort. Jesus. No wonder mummy won’t let you, sister.
“She has a couple of these, but she never seems to have the time to take a ride these days. Keeps saying they’re not meant for me.” Millie mused, holding the breeches up. “Love the smell, though. Doesn’t get more neigh to it unless you rub one of those blankets in your face.”
Man, this was embarrassing. Exactly how great were the odds that she, only recently turned a full-on flaming perv, would run into a neighbour-to-be whose mother obviously harboured very similar interests? No, it couldn’t be like that. That was ridiculous. She had to be reading too much into this, she thought. Millie’s mother was straight as a meridian. Which isn’t fucking straight at all, if you know how to look at it. Massive genius, there. And here, her daughter, sniffing the bloody things and calling them horsey. At least that was a true sign that the world was still spinning right- never mind the meridians- because there was absolutely nothing strange with a girl totally infatuated with every conceivable thing horse-related. Or rather, in this particular case...
“Do you...” Niamh tried, eager not to touch the wrong button. “How’s things getting on with horses and you, by the way?”
“Fine. Don’t think much about it any longer, which is sort of good. Bikes are actually a bit worse, and that’s funny.”
Millie fell silent, still pensively plucking at the soft leather. It wasn’t worth banging on about old accidents, Niamh thought, and Millie still seemed a bit hesitant about bringing it up again. After a moment, she suddenly looked up and fixed her eyes on Niamh.
“Heard you were going home now.”
“For a fortnight or so, and then I’ll be back.” Niamh cleared her throat. “The doctors want to have a look, and then I’m going to see mum, and...”
“I thought you were waving goodbye that night when Ossie ran away.”
“Oh, no; I wasn’t.” Fuck. I knew it.
“No. That was good, I think. Would’ve felt strange. And you brought Oz back.”
“Well, he sort of found me, you know...and...”
“What were you doing out there, anyway?”
“Walking. It was a warm night, and...you know, there was some sort of meeting Alex...er...” Spare me, blessed Mary. This is getting sticky. “Ossie ambushed us... me halfway back, and then I just followed him home. It was his idea of fun, I think.”
“Yeah.” Millie deftly put the breeches back on the hanger and weighed it on her fingers. “Well, I was wondering since it was dark and not raining, and you were like all black as if you were dressed for a proper storm, and you were sort of...”
“Oh, well...” Fuck-a-doodle. Help. “You know...”
“...looking almost like a vampire. I thought it was cool...”
“Oh, yeah?” She’s a kid, still just an innocent girl; don’t screw her up. Just don’t.
“... but still a bit unkerd, ‘cause you scared me first, you know.”
“Vampire?” Niamh parroted, still not convinced that she was getting out of this easily. Somehow, the girl had crossed the right wires and caused some kind of spark even if she didn’t understand any of it, or why Niamh suddenly glowed feverishly purple. Soon, she’ll be getting real up close and personal about what’s going on between me and Al, I swear. Why me?
There was a sound of big boots on small feet outside the room. Millie’s younger brother had mysteriously reappeared out of nowhere, prepared to let the world know he was back; singing and stomping like a regular rugby fan. Niamh turned around, finally able to draw a real breath. She was willing to adopt the little sod for being such a timely nuisance.
“I was just wondering...” came from behind her. She had made the mistake of dropping her guard a few seconds too soon. Again. Shit. Pigshit in my panties.
“You looked like you’d had lots of fun. What did you really do?”
It felt like Alex was slowly drifting into sleep under her, still happily wriggling and rubbing herself against the prickly surface. This made Niamh a little jealous. She was still waiting for something in return for being such a nice girl, even if she was close to falling to pieces out of pure fatigue. This did not include Alex using her as a hot water bottle while taking a nap snoring like a piglet. Without wasting another minute, Niamh decided to try a proven effective way of stirring things up a bit, and sought out a few sensitive spots to attack.
The second scarlet skin slid under her fingertips, and she could feel the hardening muscles covering the ribs underneath. She pressed a little harder.
“Oh, no.” Alex grunted, “Don’t you do that. Not now.”
“I’ll go for your feet next. Payback ticklefest coming up just for you, ma’am.”
Alex stiffened, but Niamh felt that it wasn’t her doing. She stopped and looked up.
“Did you hear anything?” Alex whispered.
“Listen. There’s no one here but us. Where’s Terry gone?”
“She got bored with us and...” Niamh rolled over, resting on her elbow. “No, you’re right. Funny. Want me to have a look?”
“Well, it doesn’t seem that fun to lie in the midst of all this all by ourselves, does it?
“Depends on what you do when you’re lying there, says I. And I bet she’s up to something again. Seems very likely...” Niamh puffed as she heaved herself off the divan, “...if you ask me.”
Both of them tiptoed off to see where Theresa had gone. The little hideout from which she had spied on them, and hopefully managed to capture them with the camera, was empty but showed traces of badly controlled excitement. Niamh followed the trace of moist droplets on the floor back to where Alex had re-enacted an important- and bouncy- part of her adolescence. Now, they could hear sounds of someone obviously very busy from the part adjoining the main house.
“This is in fact quite exciting.” Alex squeaked behind Niamh. “Am I being silly, sweetie?”
“Not right now, no.” Niamh breathed, glancing at the abandoned Space Hopper below a table. It had those strange-looking eyes on it that made it look like some toy out of a Stephen King novel, and Niamh didn’t think the idea of attaching massive shtookers to it improved its appearance that much. She looked up and saw a new contraption placed on the floor only a few yards away. A few scattered rays of sunshine seeped through the skylight and illuminated a familiar type of framework. “Now, I think you have reason to be a bit alarmed.”
“I say! What is that?”
“I dunno, but I’m fairly certain who’s responsible.” Niamh chuckled. “Alrite, Andy Pandy?”
There was a slight cough from behind the contraption, and André appeared seemingly out of nowhere. He had an uncanny little smile on his face, Niamh noticed.
“There must be a reason to you being visible all of a sudden, André.”
“He probably didn’t want to miss out on this.” Niamh gave André a meaningful look and tapped her nose with a finger. “I think he’s got a surprise for you...ma’am.”
“Is that right?” Alex added loftily, circling the strange construction. A hollow PVC pipe support frame held up a number of what looked like thin plastic hoops, which in turn formed a skeleton wrapped in transparent rubber. Niamh thought it bore an eerie likeness to a large cocoon. It wasn’t hard to figure out what it was meant to do, but she wondered how it did it and what it would be like. “Is...that...right? Well, well...”
“Andy, tell her what it is before she breaks it.”
“Yes, well...” André began, his smile slightly widening. “It’s a vacuum tube. This one might look a little like a Japanese paper lantern, or perhaps one of those tunnels kids play with. People insist on calling these things toys, but I don’t know about that. Anyway...”
“Does it work like the bed?” Alex asked, already trying to find a way to get into it. “That was an interesting thing, you know.”
“Even better- or worse- depending on your point of view. What I was trying to say, chérie, is that it becomes very rigid, and...”
“It’s got two collars up here.”
“Two? Andy? What?” Niamh squeaked.
“Deux pour le prix d’un, Nini. There’s room for you in there, too.”
The feeling of being somewhat detached came slowly rolling through her again as she watched André carefully pour almost a pintful of clear, nearly viscous lube through both apertures on top of the tube. Clicking his tongue, he sent a brilliant smile towards the two waiting customers and undid the top by removing a rigid sealing strip in a single tweak.
“So that’s how you get into the damn thing.” Alex stated matter-of-factly.
But you won’t check out until they let you. Neither will I. Niamh shivered slightly. It was a strange, unfamiliar thing to let someone else than Alex dictate the terms. To have her incarcerated together with her was also something new, but that would at least not be anything else than a great comfort. Perhaps a chance to catch up with some much-needed intimacy as well, if the mad cook and his willing accomplice only had the decency to leave them to their own devices for a moment or two.
“You know,” Alex went on, “it sort of reminds me of those escape chutes you sometimes see on building sites.”
“Can’t see anything related to ‘escape’ in that. Looks more like a huge birth control kit for a rhino, complete with cock rings and all.”
“They are quite flexible,” André put in. “and you won’t even notice them. Please step in and make yourself comfortable, so we can begin.”
“Quite the charmer, in’t he?”
Theresa emerged from the narrow corridor behind the shelves, dragging a heavy cart equipped with surprisingly noiseless, soft wheels. There was something about how its contents were carefully covered that caught Niamh’s attention. Surely, André had the charm of a ringmaster, and he was about to present his pièce de résistance including two witlessly compliant guests, but however charming he might be there was not a single trace of predictability in the man. Together with the walking short circuit called Terry, Niamh thought, he would most certainly find out how to make things go bang really quickly. This was definitely not the quiet afterplay-like little tour they were going to enjoy today.
“I wonder if she’s ever considered a career in Japanese television.” she sighed a little to herself as they tried to make out who was going to enter the tube first, and how.
“What?” Alex gave a little laugh.
“Nothing.” Niamh whispered through her teeth. “Those game shows are out of style anyhow...”
“I seriously doubt they would ever dare airing anything of what we have been enjoying ourselves with...Give me your hand and take a step to the left...No, my left...”
“Ooh, bastard, it’s clammy. Why, you couldn’t have picked something that had been kept warm, Andy?”
“I’m afraid that’ll have to do.” André replied, not at all sounding bothered. “And you should really consider taking off that loose outfit, no matter how good it looks on you, Nini. It just does not work together with these vacuum things if you’re not lying ab-so-lutely flat.”
“All right then. I must be off my farting head doing this.”
Niamh didn’t waste any more time arguing. Both the comfy jacket and the trousers were off in a matter of seconds, but she kept the bra on. The moment the weak light shone on the parts of her that had been hidden, everyone around her seemed to notice exactly how excited she was and she wished that she had thought of donning a pair of knickers as well. Alex apparently fought a strong notion to touch her right on the spot by holding on to the thin supporting frame so hard it began to sway, desperately trying to look only mildly curious about what was happening despite the glistening temptation moving only a few inches from her.
André carefully helped them get their heads through the top piece before he assembled the tube and sealed it shut. Alex appeared to be quite amused, taking keen interest in everything happening around her. That didn’t keep her from taking quick advantage of the tight situation, as it were. Niamh became fully aware of exactly how slippery the lube was as Alex began to play squid with all four limbs, enveloping her quite efficiently. It felt like being sucked into a slimy, carnivorous plant. She wondered if there was any possibility to bail out if it got a little too interesting when the actual thing was set to work.
The vacuum pump started with a less pleasant rattling sound. Soon enough, Niamh thought, that thing was going to break into pieces if Terry et al. had more ideas about how to use it improperly. Now, it was revving quite happily, and would continue to do so until the remaining air inside the weird contraption began running out. She shivered as the chilly, sticky film adhered to her skin, and still didn’t feel very certain about the whole thing being such a great idea to jump into after all. Alex, on the other hand, looked even more like a kid enjoying a fun fair as the suction rapidly increased. A kid having had far too much sugar already, Niamh added to herself.
Gradually, it dawned on her why André had lavished all that lube and why he had insisted on having her in her birthday suit. As the filmy rubber slowly tightened around them both, Niamh noticed how she was still able to move around quite freely. Instead of trapping her limbs, the tube encapsulated her body in a strangely organic way, almost like a membrane shielding sensitive tissue. What felt almost unbearable was its intense, tickling caress that caused her to giggle fiercely when the air pockets around her were depleted. Alex’ way of trying to reach and fondle virtually each and every part of her all at once was not a great help to stay in control, either. She tried to respond, but it was no use trying to parry the red tentacles moving quickly inside the slippery tube. It was quite amazing how fast Alex learned new tricks, but also quite annoying, she thought.
Theresa was watching them silently, and Niamh suspected she had something else up her sleeve. She was certainly not the one to stand back and enjoy the show if she had ideas about how to improve it. Not, of course, to the benefit of the poor sods currently at play.
“There...” André almost chirped as the pump went silent after a few laborious last chugs. “That wasn’t too bad, was it? What do you think?”
“Sauce boat.” Alex said to no one in particular, her eyes growing dangerously dark. “Like swimming in a sauce boat. Lovely. Love it, André. Très joli.”
It was indeed getting more pleasant as the thing grew warmer from their body heat, and a wee bit less tickling. But if someone would add a little fizz like that of a bath bomb, Niamh thought while fending off an attack on her armpits, it would be like a Jacuzzi womb. Interesting Freudian things going on there, no doubt.
“If we throw in an extra fifty,“ Niamh grunted with Alex nibbling at her nose, “do we get a gimp to operate this widget? Could come in handy, Andy.”
“Shows the importance of really good friends, I’d say. Don’t you agree? Now, give me surprised!”
Niamh and Alex were suddenly caught in a soft, bright flash as André fired off the camera. He sneaked around the tube, seeking out a good angle for the next shot as Theresa cavorted happily in the background. Niamh noticed that she had begun biting her fingernails quite ferociously, and that could only mean that she was definitely aching to take part of the action. It was, as always, difficult to judge how far you could wind her up before she spun off like a rubberised dreidel, but this was looking like she was rapidly gaining momentum.
“Do you have to do that sort of thing right now, André?” Alex sighed, not sounding too annoyed at all. “I’m not looking my best right now, and this is rather an unusal...position for me to be in.”
“Pff. Where did all that zesty wit go? You can be such a bore when you stop thinking of anything but sex. Now, this one will look amazing in that little book of yours. Pouty lips...C’est ça.”
The only effect the impromptu photo session seemed to have on Alex apart from the fact that she made half-hearted complaints, was that she redoubled her efforts inside the tube. Niamh let her have her way since there wasn’t really any use wasting precious energy resisting something that really started to grow on her. Perhaps this was a variant of the yoghurt-in-the-suit thing Alex had enjoyed so immensely? It certainly had that scrummy gooey feeling, and with Alex going on full blast in there with her was like wrestling a couple of boas in a rubber sack, only with a slightly diminished risk of being consumed. She had to admit, though, that Alex had started working on her face with such fervour, that the prospect of teeth meeting flesh probably was imminent. Niamh could faintly taste metal in her mouth, telling her that her tongue had already taken quite a beating...or biting, to be precise.
“Does he know about your album?” Niamh whispered under her breath.
“Regrettably, yes. I’m such a blabbermouth sometimes.” Alex murmured. “He won’t find out he’s in it himself, though. Hee hee.”
“And how! Oh, baby.” Alex tried to avoid being overheard by leaning as close to Niamh’s ear as she possibly could, which sent a stream of hot breath straight into her ear. “You’d think twice about letting me enter your back door after seeing those pics, I can tell you that much...”
“Doubt it. I seem to get hooked on everything, me. Then I just...won’t...let...go.”
“Here he comes again. Ooh, I hate when he puts that bloody lense right in me face...”
Niamh closed her eyes and made a face, but the expected flash with added commentary did not occur. The light but determined steps moved away from them, and within a moment the room went dark. Four spotlights close to the floor spread some light over the little set, creating interesting shadow effects through the transparent tube.
“Ambience. Nice.” Alex whispered, sounding like she was about to move in for the kill.
Snapping and shuffling noises alerted Niamh, and she tried to turn her head to see where Theresa was and what exactly she was doing. The lights from below made it almost impossible to discern other than contours and movements around them, but she had a nagging suspicion that they weren’t being left alone just yet. As she moved to get a chance to squint through the glow into the dark behind Alex, the noises suddenly came very close. Before she had a chance to react, a surgical face mask was placed over her nose and mouth and deftly strapped to her face with a harness. As the heady, rich rubber aroma hit her nostrils with her first sharp inhale, she noticed how Alex underwent the same treatment carried out with a little less consideration. She’s got bloody Andy helping her. This is going to be a ride.
Oh, how she wished for a mere moment alone with Terry in a soundproofed room when her smug face passed by alongside the tube and vanished in the darkness again. That would be an interesting anatomy lesson indeed.
She watched Alex tossing her head, trying to get rid of some of the tubing curled up between then and, Niamh thought, also testing if the harness would be possible to remove if things got a bit too interesting. It was no use. Niamh recognised the Clausen-type harness, and knew that the mask was going to stay in place unless Alex went for an Eskimo kissing manoeuvre, which would mean some serious facial bruising and noses plenty askew. At least she kept her hands a little more to herself now, allowing Niamh to focus better on what was going on around them.
They were still not hooked up to any system, she concluded. She was a little surprised to see that someone had bothered with equipping the masks with a twin hose setup and t-valves. It was some kind of rebreather affair, she suspected as a trace of expensive cologne, perhaps Grey Flannel, which André seemed to like, still lingered in the air passing through her mask. Besides, the infamous cabinet was as far as she could tell not even on this floor, so what were the other options? Of course. Niamh recalled the spaced look in Terry’s face from her first visit to this wretched place. The bloody suitcase. Portable fun.
Alex went silent as she saw Niamh’s eyes widen, cutting short her mumbled tirade consisting mostly of interesting vituperative Dutch. The familiar ffftt noise of a valve being opened, closely followed by a brief squeaking of tubing, told Niamh that the game was no longer put on hold. Slightly stale-tasting bottled air wiped away the remainder of the sweet cologne, and Niamh’s brain shifted into a higher gear. She started flicking through all conceivable scenarios, but tried to stay on top of things to avoid giving Theresa the pleasure of watching her freak out. That was not going to happen. Not yet, anyway.
Fluttering valves and Alex’ eyes growing intensely dark distracted her. She wondered if Theresa would have the gall to pour her own piss in the circuit vaporiser, or perhaps try those foul-smelling poppers yet again. No, André would probably have the last say there. That, on the other hand, didn’t mean that he had even nastier things to feed them himself. Then again, where was the fun in knocking them out straight away by using potent anaesthetics? Besides, he knew she would be violently sick if he even let her feel a hint of something smelling a bit too strong or sweet, which effectively ruled out his whole medicine cupboard. At least, that was what she hoped.
A strained, constipated noise revealed that the compressed air was forced to take a different route through the system, and Niamh braced herself for what was coming. She tried to detect something suspicious in the air she was carefully letting into her lungs, but it was Alex who first caught the whiff of what obviously had a strange effect on her. She inhaled deeply, groaning hungrily.
“Oh, this is sooo... unfair, André.”
There it was. Niamh sniffed once, then twice. She couldn’t keep herself from laughing madly into the mask. This was unexpected, to say the least. Alex’ muffled voice echoed in the dark.
“I’ll get you for this, you tentateur satanique...”
Torture certainly came in strange packages sometimes, Niamh thought. This time it was the full, nearly florid, yet tantalisingly evasive aroma of roasted chicken with lemon and rosemary that drove poor Alex close to frothing at the mouth. Niamh giggled maliciously, although she actually felt a little jealous of how Andy the Kooky Cook always seem to find the right buttons to push when he wanted to make Alex lose control...or rather face. He sure had the power to ridicule by inventive chemistry and culinary prowess. She was amazed with how the pleasant, slightly oniony smell easily outgunned the oily liquorice tinge of the medical grade rubber, and wondered how the hell he had managed to pull it off.
She yelped as a buzzing thing nudged her rear end through the restricting rubber, and noticed that Theresa had decided to make things more difficult by playing around with the almost-weapons-grade wand. Alex’ lack of response seemed to vex her, but she didn’t give up trying to do her worst. Niamh felt a little sympathy for her for the first time in quite a while. You should have brought a five-course meal instead, Terry.
“Sauce boat, wasn’t it?” André hummed. “Very well. I’ll leave you to it now. Enjoy.”
“Bastard...” Alex slurred, barely audible while trying to give Theresa an elbow through the membrane as she got a bit too close to certain areas. Poor Terry almost looked like an excited kitten trying to catch fingers moving under a blanket, and soon enough she turned her attention back to Niamh.
Instead of continuing her little toy excursion, she shut off the wand and waited for the vacuum pump to slow down to a halt again. Then, she leaned close to Niamh’s ear, winking at her in a conspiratorial way and whispered.
“Here we are at last. I’ll have to thank you properly...later.”
Niamh tried to articulate something about Theresa being completely out of her tree, but three nimble fingers pressed the mask tighter to her face, and only mumbled grunts came out.
“Sshh. Listen” Theresa grinned. “Do you hear that blipping noise? Yeah?”
There actually was some kind of electronic device giving off a high-pitched noise, Niamh realised. It seemed to come from where the suitcase was, somewhere in the back.
“That, poppet, is a timer circuit at work. You’ll see what that means.”
Niamh watched Alex getting shorter of air out of the corner of her eye, and she noticed how the delicious aroma was waning along with the air. The dull hissing was definitely growing weaker, and she stared angrily right in Theresa’s smiling face.
“Cycle two.” she added, switching on the vibrator again. “A little warm-up before we get serious for real. Don’t worry, I’ll look after you.”
Claustrophobia threatened to set in as she had to put more and more labour into each breath, not being able to move more than the restrictive tube allowed and almost blinded by the creamy amber light from below. Alex kept her eyes fixed on her, and Niamh could see beads of perspiration appearing on her forehead. It made her feel even more uneasy, and it was hard to imagine where the notorious T&A would take it from here. André stayed out of sight, Theresa kept bumbling about with the wand much to Alex’ silent annoyance, and the thing they had to rely on to be able to stay conscious was run by some electronic doodah that went ‘bleep’ when something new was coming to them.
Niamh tried to listen for any other giveaway noises, but the wand was far too loud. She managed to draw a bit of relatively fresh air through the corners of her mouth if she grinned like a mad wolf. The mask wasn’t covering her whole face even if it was tightly strapped on, thankfully, which would have been quite a bugger if things got worse. Alex tried the same trick, and her eyes narrowed with what looked like pure spitefulness.
With what seemed like a deep sigh, the system allowed unrestricted passage again and Niamh watched Alex’ shoulders drop under the surface. Niamh couldn’t relax that easily, knowing that the third cycle with all condiments probably was due any minute, but her body still betrayed her a little by signalling a whole lot more pleasure than she would dare to show openly and risk an attack on two fronts from Alex and Terry. Annoying, yes. A little frightening, yes, not half. Exciting? Like snakes in the linen cupboard, only more fun.
Alex’ fingers had sought their way back to her, but the sensory overload made them feel less tickly, and she accepted the caresses without as much as a single twitch. It was a weird but quite agreeable numbness that made her feel a bit less tense. The tube would probably work fine as a ‘hugging machine’ as well, she thought. Not a bad plaything after all, even if she had some trouble with how it messed up her bearings. How long had they been kept inside it, and how would it feel if they were going to sit there for much longer and then be released just like that? She had had a few bad roller coaster experiences, and this would probably be something like that if things changed a bit too fast for her.
Niamh was amazed with how her limbs were beginning to feel seriously heavy and warm, not unlike the feeling she got from a nice glass of whisky or three. A slight tingle fluttered throughout her body, as if a chilly breeze suddenly blew from below. She blinked, and Alex suddenly seemed to be out of focus for a fraction of a second. Niamh still felt her fingers wandering here and there, but they were barely noticeable now. Feeling slightly woozy, she drew a deep breath and froze when she could trace a certain sweetness along with the warm rubbery scent. Immediately, her heart took up the challenge and started pounding away, which created a strange flow of heat flushing over her.
Alex tilted her head questioningly, but Niamh just shook her head drawing another deep breath, and then another. Andy, you wonderful, crafty bastard. The familiar floating sensation ensued, and she already had lost track of Terry’s humming wand when she bit down to stay focused enough to watch Alex tumble down the hole before she did. It would take some kind of grit, she thought, since someone obviously had amped up the mixture quite well. The deceptive freshness was clearly present, threatening to overpower her as it seemed to make her want to breathe even deeper. Already, lights danced before her eyes and her lips felt prickly. A little distantly, she noticed with pleasure how her nether parts responded expectantly and tried to make Alex understand where to put her hand, which wasn’t easy. Eventually, the fingers hit home and she sighed with relief, hoping that they would stay reasonably lucid for a few moments longer. She wouldn’t need more than a minute or so. I’m beginning to like this way too much, and whose fault is it?
Bright blue and white headlights in the distance cut through the icy fog as the door closed behind her. Time seemed to freeze in the inhospitable air, and she hoped that this awkward moment before getting into the car and putting some distance between her and this place she didn’t really wish to leave, even for this short period of time, wouldn’t last for long. Alex, almost looming in the mist beside her, was as much against long and taxing goodbyes as she was. This was not really the time to spill more words, but the hand slowly stroking the back of her neck spoke millions.
The car closing in sounded as if it wanted to ward off all strange creatures lurking in the obscure surroundings, and Sandra guided it through the old gates with a slight drift. There was nothing ceremonial about her entrance, and for some reason it felt a little like a good omen for Niamh. The French supermini cavalry had finally arrived.
The scenery in this particular district was something she under normal circumstances really appreciated. This time it was like a silent film flickering past her eyes through the window. The shifting autumn colours kept her from falling asleep. She felt nauseously tired, although the dizziness wore off a bit as she straightened herself up in the seat, and a bit ashamed for not keeping the conversation alive the way she used to whenever they were travelling together.
Sandra seemed to understand, though. There hadn’t been too many words from her for at least twelve miles, but now she turned her eyes off the road and asked her in a concerned voice:
‘You seem like you’ve been through things lately. Sure you’re all right?’
Since there wasn’t much to say just yet that would make any sense at all, she wet her lips carefully before she chose to answer as truthfully as she could without revealing anything.
‘I guess I will be.’
A strange grin forced itself upon her face.
‘I think I’ll be just fine...’