“We… we have to!” Kelle implored. “They kidnapped you!”
“No… no cops.” She was sitting in the chair that Kelle had been in when Adriana had done her pedicure last week. Kelle hovered just outside the door of the room watching the front of the building. The suite was totally dark, illuminated only by the light that crept in from the parking lot.
Kelle paced up and down the hallway. She wasn’t sure what ‘no cops’ meant to Adriana but she could think of a half a dozen good reasons she wouldn’t want them digging too far into her. She looked back out the front doors of the spa. The parking lot was empty save for her own car and Adriana’s.
Would they be watching the parking lot next door? Would they rush out and try grab them both before they could run to their vehicles and escape?
“I guess… I feel like we have to tell somebody or they’ll do it again. To someone else.”
Maybe to us… again.
Kelle tried a different tack. “What if I called… anonymously? Just told them they need to do a welfare check on some made up person. They’ll go room by room next door and it’ll scare the shit out of Hatcher and her goons. Make them think twice about trying to snatch us or anyone else.”
“I thought you said you’d lost your phone,” Adriana said behind her, dodging the question entirely.
Kelle wished she could see the other woman’s face but maybe Adriana preferred it this way? She didn’t sound good. Getting away hadn’t lifted her spirits, though she had thanked Kelle at one point for getting her out of that place. She sounded very unhappy and Kelle could understand why.
Adriana worked here. How was she going to show up for work tomorrow, or any other day, after what had happened? How was she ever going to walk to her car in the dark again without having a panic attack?
“I can call from home but that means making it to our cars first.” She heard Adriana climb down from the chair and take a deep breath.
“I don’t have a key to lock the door from outside.”
Kelle thought that over. “My car is closer. You let me out and then lock the door behind me. I’ll get to my car and pick you up at the back door. You have your phone ready in case anything happens. Can we do that?”
Kelle didn’t hear anything for several seconds and realized Adriana had probably nodded out of habit, forgetting that Kelle couldn’t see it. Finally she said, “Yeah. Let’s do that.”
Everything went to plan. Kelle made it to her car without so much as seeing a light come on next door. She drove around to the back of the building and collected Adriana as planned, then drove back to the front and parked next to Adriana’s car.
They’d talked a bit. Kelle had invited Adriana to stay with her tonight, not for anything romantic, just to have someone else close. She’d offered to drive Adriana home. Adriana had politely declined, telling Kelle she couldn’t ask her for anything else.
Kelle understood. If their roles had been reversed, Kelle would probably want nothing more than to go home, get clean and be alone. Kelle had done her good deed. There was nothing else for her to do right now.
The pair of women embraced as Adriana finally climbed out of the car. She stood staring, for several long moments, at the sex club where she’d been abducted only hours ago. Finally, she climbed into her car and switched it on. She managed a half smile and wave before she pulled away.
Kelle took one last look at the vile office suite and then went home.
They’d traded contact info, of course, and Kelle had insisted that Adriana call her once she got home. Just to let Kelle know she’d made it. Kelle had gotten a vague idea of where the other woman lived which is why she was pacing back and forth through living room of her condo. Adriana should’ve been home fifteen or twenty minutes ago.
Had something happened? Had the club done something? Or… could Adriana have had car trouble? Gotten into a wreck? Should Kelle have let her drive home after such a traumatizing-
The phone on the kitchen counter blared and Kelle snatched it up before the first ring could finish. “Adriana?”
“Hi there. Yeah it’s me.”
She sounded okay. Better actually. Better than she had back in the parking lot. Maybe she’d taken a drive and cleared her head a bit?
“Thank god, I was starting to think the worst.”
“You didn’t call the cops did you?”
Kelle laughed weakly. “No, but I was starting to think about it.”
“That’s good, ‘cause I already did.”
Kelle blinked. “You did? You called the cops?”
“Sure did, just like you said. Didn’t give them my name just told them a friend had gone into that club and they needed to make sure she was okay.”
“And, they’re gonna do that?”
“I think they’re doing it right now.”
“Great!” Kelle tried to hide her shock. “That’s great I’m glad you did that. I think it’s for the best.”
“I don’t think it had really sunk in before… y’know what happened.”
“Of course… that’s exactly how shock works.” Kelle grimaced and hoped that telling Adriana she was experiencing shock wasn’t too presumptive.
“Yeah, I think you’re right. Listen, I’m just now realizing what you did for me tonight and I… I barely thanked you before and I know I was hardly talking and…”
Kelle was shaking her head furiously, just waiting for a chance to cut in and put a stop to Adriana’s apology.
“… so I just wanted to say, again, thank you so much. For everything. My god, if you hadn’t been there? I can imagine would would’ve happened.”
Kelle breathed deeply, making sure Adriana had said what she needed to. “You’re welcome Adriana. I… just couldn’t leave you there. After everything that had happened with us at the spa… I just couldn’t.”
“Quite a first date, huh?” Adriana quipped, even managing a slight chuckle.
“First date?” Kelle said, chewing on her bottom lip. Now this was the Adriana she remembered. The insufferable flirt. “That implies there’s going to be more.”
“Well of course,” Adriana sing-songed. “We could go get oral corrective surgery together and it would still be the best second date I’ve ever had, by comparison.”
Kelle laughed. And, oh god did that feel good. “You say when and where and I’ll be there.”
“You’re a poet and I betcha didn’t know it,” Adriana shot back.
“I’m really glad you’re feeling a bit better.”
“Thanks, Kelle. It’s all thanks to you. I’ll never be able to say that enough.”
“You’re welcome,” Kelle didn’t know what else to say.
“I’ll call you soon okay? Let me know if you get a new number, okay?”
“Okay! I’ll talk to you soon. Night.”
Kelle hung up the phone and sank into one of the chairs at her kitchen table. She’d never quite felt such a mix of so many strong emotions. Anger, fear… lust… hope, sadness and joy. This had been the craziest night she’d ever had and that was saying something considering her sophomore year of college.
Despite everything that had happened. She had really hit off with Adriana and it felt like nothing, not even an attempted kidnapping was going to keep them apart. Kelle smiled and nodded to herself with a great sense of satisfaction.
All that was definitely worth the cost of a new phone.
Kelle climbed out of her car and scanned the parking lot. Adriana was here, parked in the same spot she’d been that crazy night last week. Four days had never seemed so much like a lifetime, as far as Kelle was concerned.
She locked her car and headed for the glass double doors. The four days since hadn’t been quite as strange as that night but… they’d certainly been different.
For the first time in her life, Kelle had gone looking for porn on the internet. She laughed at herself. It was a strange achievement to finally be unlocking at her age.
It had felt wrong that first time, the day after their ordeal with the sex club. Something about typing crass names for women’s body parts into a search engine, after what she’d experienced, seemed very unhealthy.
But weighed against that was the knowledge that suppressing a part of herself or something she enjoyed would likely be far more unhealthy. And, as it turned out, Kelle enjoyed pornography.
It went without saying that she’d discovered this in one of the most noxious ways imaginable. And yet, she’d chosen to look on it as a positive. Something good that she took with her out of a situation that had been decidedly bad.
It had helped her enormously with processing what had happened. Gave her a sense of ownership over that dreadful night’s events. Not only was that night not holding her back, she’d gained something from it. She’d discovered a whole new side to her sexuality.
One that could appreciate the erotic theater that was adult entertainment. The way the sexy performers seemed to be talking right to her as she watched them and touched herself.
Sure it was obnoxious and a bit gross but… that was kind of hot too. The wrongness of it. The wrongness of a woman like her getting off watching women like that do those kinds of things with toys and boys and each other.
And always to a music track that just oozed sex. Kelle had to get her phone situation sorted out so she could put together a playlist of the new artists she’d discovered to feed her emerging need for sex music.
It was kind of crazy actually, how good she felt. If she’d been a different sort of person she might have even stopped by the sex club to thank them for helping her discover this new part of herself.
But no. They were kidnapping assholes and the only reason she was walking back through their door was to get her phone back.
If the receptionist was surprised to see her, she hid it well. Kelle was playing the game too. Not letting the other woman see anything but a mask of casual serenity as she strode through the doors. Inside though, her stomach was doing gymnastics.
“Good afternoon,” Kelle flashed a smile. “I left my phone here a few days ago and I’ve come to collect it.”
The receptionist nodded and tapped a finger against her wireless earbud. “Miss Hatcher, the woman is here about her phone. Yes, Miss. At once.”
She motioned Kelle to the hallway. “Second door on the right, go right in.”
Kelle smiled brightly and strode past the desk. Entering the hallway complex again was strange. It had all seemed so nightmarish last time. Now it just seemed mundane. Kelle turned the handle and stepped into a spacious and cozy office.
Given Hatcher’s dress sense, the room seemed a good fit for its occupant. Just inside the door there was a huge plush rug in warm tones marking off a sitting area with dark brown furniture. The woman herself sat at the far end of the rectangular room, standing behind a large oak desk opposite a single comfy looking leather chair. Today’s dress was white and it contrasted sharply with the dark hair gathered up on top of her head.
“Good afternoon, Miss Hatcher,” Kelle smiled and shut the door behind her confidently.
One of Miss Hatcher’s eyebrows was up and there was a ghost of a smile on her face. “Good afternoon.” She gestured to the chair. “Won’t you sit down Miss… you know, I don’t know your name. What should I call you?”
Kelle lowered herself into the seat. “You don’t need to call me anything, really. It’s going to be a brief conversation and I can’t imagine we’ll see each other again after today.”
“Pity,” Hatcher slowly took her own seat.
Kelle looked around the office, nodding in approval. “It’s not what I expected, I’ll admit. When I think ’human traffickers’ I think of dingy basements and ranches in the middle of nowhere. That’s probably from watching TV, though.”
Hatcher studied her for several moments with her dark eyes. That same hint of a smile played at the edges of her mouth. “And, you do enjoy watching TV.”
Kelle stared her down and felt something like a cold chill run down her back. Her mind had been elsewhere these past few days. She hadn’t really taken the time to realize that the people with the porn dungeon and dozens of cameras would have seen the full record of her… visit. It was unnerving, that Hatcher knew something so intimate about her. But, it also felt a bit like being watched and that was, just a little, arousing.
Maybe she’d think about this the next time she was parked in her office chair back at home. With her legs splayed open and resting on either side of her computer.
“What was that room, anyway? I mean we- uh… they weren’t just watching porn together. It was deeper than that.”
“Much deeper,” Hatcher nodded, “excuse me a moment.” She reached over to an electronic device on the desk beside her and flicked a switch. She studied the array of lights on the front a moment, then turned back to Kelle. “Apologies. To answer your question: no, they are not just simply watching. They are using what is playing on the screens to enter a prolonged, heightened state of meditative sexual… trance I suppose. The euphoria that comes with it is more potent than any designer drug.”
“On the internet they just call it gooning,” Kelle cocked her head.
“That’s an awfully small word for such a profound experience.” Hatcher seemed like she didn’t want to show just how insulted she was. ”Some of them stay in that room, more or less, for days at a time. You must know, or you can certainly imagine, what it must be like to spend days on end… high on pure sexual bliss.”
“It’s more than that,” Kelle said pointedly.
“Our clients have very unique sexual tastes,” Hatcher spread her hands diplomatically. “We’re in business to provide an outlet that is equally as distinct.”
“That’s not what I mean,” Kelle leaned forward. “I watched you kidnap my friend.”
Hatcher shook her head but didn’t interrupt.
“I was terrified of what you might be doing to her. Which, it turns out, that you tortured her after you abducted her.”
“Absolutely wrong. On both counts.” Hatcher sounded like they were disagreeing on whether or not some new downtown high-rise had changed the feel of the neighborhood.
“The point I’m trying to make,” Kelle waved her hand impatiently, “is that I really wanted to leave that room… and I couldn’t. And, since I’m being honest, I’ve watched a lot of porn since that night and I haven’t experienced anything like being in that room. So… what happened, exactly?”
Hatcher seemed to silently debate whether to answer. Then, with a slight nod, she said “Our clients, who seek out this type of experience, enjoy the fantasy that it is an irresistible compulsion: to watch and pleasure themselves. We employ some technology and presentation techniques to help them feel that way.”
“Yes, that’s one part of the equation. There’s others I can’t get into, trade secrets and so forth, but they are very effective in creating that sense of compulsion I mentioned. As evidenced by your being here today.”
“No,” Kelle shook her head, “that’s… not what this is about.”
“Really?” Hatcher blinked in faux shock, “How much pornography have you watched since your visit last week? How much had you consumed prior to that?”
“That’s just because this was my first experience with something new and I-“
“And, you’ve been trying to recreate the experience at home ever since. You’ve matched it closely enough that you’ve worked out the music you have access to isn’t giving you the same feeling. And you need that feeling again, don’t you?”
“No, that’s… that isn’t what-“
“Yet here you sit in the office of someone you believe is a kidnapper and torturer. Why not tell Amber you want your phone and wait in the lobby for it to be brought to you? If I’m as dangerous as you think, then what on earth are you doing sitting in a windowless room with me?”
Kelle stared at her for several long moments. “I think I’ll have my phone now, please.”
“You’re welcome to go get it. It’s still in the room where you dropped it.” Hatcher nodded towards the door. “You shouldn’t have any trouble fetching it yourself, right?”
“You should know,” Kelle reached into her pocket and pulled out an envelope and dropped it on Hatcher’s desk, “that I dropped off an identical document at my attorney’s office on the way here. It’s a full statement of what I saw and experienced here last week. It’s got contact information for the heads of the kidnapping task force for the state police as well as the FBI. If I haven’t checked in with a phone call to them within the hour, my lawyer’s office is going to forward my statement to both of them.”
Hatcher’s slight smirk faded quickly. She looked Kelle over and began to slowly nod. “Well played,” she said finally. She picked up her phone and tapped something then held it to her ear. “Could you fetch our mutual friend’s phone and bring it to her in my office please?” Hatcher hung up and dropped the phone back on her desk.
“It’s too bad, really,” Kelle shrugged in a disappointed fashion. “If I didn’t know what I know I’d love to be a client here. I’m not embarrassed to admit there’s a part of me that still loves the idea. But, I witnessed you kidnap and torture a friend of mine.”
“I’m sure it seemed that way, watching from the outside and without all the facts,” Hatcher said calmly. The door opened behind them and Kelle heard footsteps on the carpet coming towards them. “But, the truth is that everything that Adriana experienced that night was the fulfillment of a long held fantasy of hers.”
Kelle felt the air move beside her as someone stepped close to the chair and an arm held out her phone to her. Kelle’s eyes never left Hatcher’s. “I happen to know that she called the police after what happened. So you can stop that bullshit, right there.”
Hatcher was shaking her head. “No, that’s just what she told you to put your mind at ease and give you a bit more time to realize you needed to come back to us also. Isn’t that right Adriana?”
“Yes, Miss Hatcher,” Adriana said.
Kelle spun in the chair and felt her mouth drop open. Adriana stood beside her holding out Kelle’s phone in her left hand. There was a pinch in Kelle’s arm. That’s when she noticed the syringe in Adriana’s right hand.
“Adriana?!” Her eyes were blank and dull. She was staring ahead at absolutely nothing.
Kelle leaped to her feet and snatched her phone. She swiped open the menu and dialed 911. There was dead silence as the phone refused to connect.
“Oh, I’m afraid this jamming box is going to prevent you from making any calls while you’re in the building,” Hatcher nodded to the box she’d been fiddling with earlier.
Kelle ran for the door, her legs felt wobbly and there was a horrifying sensation of heat making its way up her neck and into her head. The door opened just before she reached it and the severe looking woman that had been wearing latex the other night stepped into the room wearing black pants, boots and a sleeveless green shirt. Her arms were frighteningly chiseled.
“Thank you for joining us Colonel Müller,” Hatcher said pleasantly. “I have a new recruit for you.”
“Wunderbar,” the Colonel smiled, eyeing Kelle.
Kelle backed up a step and stumbled on her unsteady feet. She tripped, backwards, on the edge of the coffee table in the sitting area and fell. Half her body landed on the sofa. She rolled off, not especially by choice, and slipped into the gap between the couch and the coffee table.
Kelle feebly crawled away but it was like swimming through shallow mud while dragging a small car. All her focus was on the jamming box as she managed to get up on her hands and knees. If she could just reach the desk she could—
Kelle collapsed into the rug and fell asleep.