Dell’s eyes stung from staring at a singular light, its glow a harsh splash of color amongst the drab patchwork cream of the ceiling. Sweat clung to her in slick uncomfortable places, dripping like tiny tendrils pooling at the small of her back. It was one of the only thoughts to float to the top of her settled mind other than the ache of muscle and the prickling across her skin. Earlier, she’d tried counting time against the static in her head, anything to clear away the mind-sucking weight of silence.
But there’d been no clocks to help track her missing moments and numbers lost their meaning from one blink to the next. What hadn’t lost its meaning was the tightness of her neck as her raised arms trembled, horizontal before her arched chest with fists together and elbows out.
An odd pose, she’d thought, when there’d been more time to do so, but one of reverence--or so the sisters of Nu Zeta taught.
It was also much easier to do, despite the floating notion of pain, than when she’d attempted it her first ‘captured’ night. She’d taken it many times since then, with the same amount of discomfort and forced respect. Just another face, among their structured row, dressed in lifeless unattractive gray sweats stiffened to attention. Every night had been the same since her initiation; endless, murky, strange, and… forgetful.
She squinted against the harsh sudden flicker of the light.
“Let’s begin,” a voice rolled to her right. Eerie, tolerant. Empty. She’d heard it once, during the day; the owner of the voice enjoying the heat of the sun on her mellow-brown skin. She was livelier away from the ceiling, away from this house and its strangely warm basement, where they weren’t the Voice. But she couldn’t be sure and that was an alien feeling.
She’d always been sure, before night after night she stood in this room, so focused on the ceiling—so completely utterly bored--that she kept forgetting what happened each time.
“Ace,” the Voice spoke again, “run your program.”
In the silence of their row she heard a woman sputter. She felt more than she saw the ripple of movement down their line, the slight shift of arms and the tensing of legs. She swallowed the thudding of her own speeding heart and kept her body as still as possible. She hated this, their standardized presence in their empty cold room, on display for these women--
Then the one addressed—the ace, she thought--spoke and she… forgot what she’d been thinking.
But the words that flowed from her mouth appeared to have no meaning. They slipped through her ears with a semblance of heat, low and tugging, but her mind couldn’t process much beyond their sound. It was a low vibrating buzz, crafted by moving lips and tongue, that hummed and sighed behind her eyes but left her feeling oddly numb.
Then someone gasped and the ace’s words were choked as the room returned to silence.
There was a click of heels on marble flooring and the Voice turned to the second one of the line--
“Run your program.”
Much like the first another spoke with words that felt strange and disconnected. Again, Dell felt the hum of sound, like tiny thunks against her skin, rising and falling between sharp inhales, but their message felt lacking.
When the next woman spoke as bid by the Voice the light above her flickered again, caught in the cadence of sound not properly heard. She continued her staring--she hadn’t been told she could look away, was never told she could look away--as her belly churned with an uneasy weight.
There should have been more there, more worry, more concern, but with each nervous swallow her thoughts felt late, too slow to churn up, too vague and so flat. Even the ache of her muscles, once prominent in mind, felt distant.
This sensation--of being both heavy and light--was familiar too.
The Voice continued down the row, and soon sound and not-words mingled with the click of posh heels. This part of the night was always so overwhelming, driven by a strange coiled need for the Voice’s attention. She’d never been much for limelight and focus, not before this, not before now. Something about this ritual, once tedious and annoying, now made her feel strange… or was it wanton? She felt off, almost empty, up against the haze of her mind, where thought always dominated, but whenever she was here waiting for her turn there was something else occupying that crowded space--
Something softer and hot. Something that didn’t feel like herself.
Dell blinked, inhaled sharply and shivered. The Voice was now before her, with a narrowed gaze of hardened steel grey. How long had she been standing there, losing time and thought to the daze that clogged her head? She was so… distracted, tickled by her dripping sweat and the ceiling light, which seemed to flicker in time to the blink of her heavy-lidded eyes. Had the Voice already gone down the line? Commanding the other girls whose names kept… slipping her mind?
Did it matter now that the Voice was here?
The Voice placed a single fingertip at the center of her glistening forehead and Dell swore she felt that gaze comb her body with more than a perfunctory glance-over. She parted her lips, searching for words to speak, but she had not been given order…
Then the finger pressed forward, firm and digging.
Dell whimpered softly at the pressure as something spread behind her eyes, warm and waiting, eager--
She choked on a sharply inhaled breath, scrambled by the husked out order. Never had another spoke, not during their beginning rituals.
“Who is that?”
The other’s tone droned soft and playful, ringing with confidence behind the Voice’s back.
The Voice rumbled against her cheek, her heated breath a ghost across her arched neck, “The anchor.”
“Interesting.” The other drawled, “give me her brain.”
The Voice removed her finger from the center of her forehead and Dell hissed between clenched teeth. That odd and sinking peeled away sensation seemed to uncomfortably revert. She felt off-center. Unnerved. Incomplete. There were things she’d meant to do and statements she was supposed to say when she was addressed during worship of the ceiling.
Her eyes crossed as she tried to consider why.
While her throat bobbed from building nerves the Voice toyed with the edge of her sweatshirt. She lifted it slowly and Dell’s eyes remained steady on the ceiling even as her stomach tightened, now exposed to a… a predator.
A wave of vulnerability approached her, knocking with panic at the back of her skull—warning, warning, warning!
As a hot palm pressed at the soft center of her belly, that wave swelled ever higher, tangible and near real before her vision, which blurred as her eyes opened wider. That hand swept down and hovered slightly, as Dell gasped loudly in swelling terror—what was this? What was happening?
Then the Voice tucked her hand between her waistband and… something else, something she’d forgotten had sat there, trapped and warmed by her body.
A palm-sized notebook.
The wave trembled then fell, soundlessly violent and drowning. Dell’s mouth popped open, but no sound was forthcoming. The Voice had the booklet, the Voice held her brain, the Voice contained and controlled and--
“Yes yes,” the other groaned, “having fun are you? Bring them both to me!”
The Voice snorted against Dell’s strained throat before she blocked her vision with the appearance of her brain.
“You’ve lost yourself.” The Voice whispered and beside her Dell hear a linemate moan.
Dell’s eyes practically crossed as they switched from the ceiling to the brain the Voice now firmly held. She was hyper-focused, connected, lost. She was the brain the Voice now held.
“You’ve lost yourself, your soul, your heart. Your mind? It and all the secret information inside it now belongs to me.”
Dell squeaked when the Voice gave her brain a gentle squeeze, threatening to crinkle the papers—herself--within it. Her vision narrowed, her chest heaved, and she swore she felt her mind squeezed with it.
“I… I’ve lost myself?” Dell repeated.
“You’ve lost yourself.”
“I’ve lost myself a-and my secrets with… it.”
The brain moved forward, and her line of vision followed. She knew this… game, she’d seen it happen. A linemate must protect their brain for if anyone were to grab it they would... be captured. She had to follow whoever held it, small before the might of their written doctrine. Her arms fell limp, numb at her sides and the Voice led her from the line.
Dell followed, thoughtlessly, with a slight swagger, a shift to her hips that might have looked hungry.
The book was given to the other and Dell’s attention tracked its passage.
“You’re interrupting set, Mistress President.”
“As if the one before me didn’t interrupt yours.” Mistress President mumbled.
Mistress President, Dell’s mind echoed, but there were no further thoughts that told her how to react. Instead, she sighed when Mistress President opened it, her brain now spread, and her secrets bare. With umber fingers she stroked her pages, and for each gentle touch Dell felt it echoed within. Her mind was so open and eager to be read and her thighs twitched from a strange heat that swelled there. The reading of her brain felt so intimate. It felt good to be held, contained in the palm of Mistress President’s manicured fingers.
Mistress President tapped a nail on a page and Dell mewled softly when she felt it between her legs. “Name?”
Dell’s lips trembled but she couldn’t speak, sh-shouldn’t speak--
“I have your brain, anchor. Deference.”
The words burst from her mouth, no matter how tight her throat, as she obeyed. “Dell, Dell Morr.”
Mistress President frowned. “She can still…?”
The Voice spoke then, irritated, “That is not your name, anchor. Tell Our Most Gorgeous your true title.”
Dell whimpered but husked as her brain was squeezed and the real answer spilled from her lips in a cry, “l-little rock.”
“little rock?” Mistress President grinned and shifted slightly as she returned to the pages of her scribbled-in brain. “How cute.”
little rock blinked once, twice, then glanced down slightly, away from the enticing sight of her bound brain. she saw beneath Her feet another body, a linemate positioned on all fours. She breathed softly, her eyes heavy and empty, and Mistress President had no qualms about using her as Her stool.
little rock bit her bottom lip and quivered, uneasy and flushed beneath the hue of her golden copper skin.
“she’s a bit shaky, how deep has she been?” Mistress President inquired and little rock watched Her gaze comb her form with interest.
“As deep as the others. Or she should be.”
little rock whimpered when Mistress President lightly tugged on her clothing. She wrinkled her nose, but said nothing else, nonetheless there was slight contempt in her gaze.
“I don’t think so. she noticed my stool. she should only be focused on the notebook, right? Has she missed a session?”
“I could put her in the cut?”
little rock’s bottom quivered, craving the pain of routine correction.
“No, they usually get so dopey after that. I think it’s cute that she’s trying to think.”
little rock frowned a little, unsure at the flare of drowsy irritation, but Mistress President caught it and gave her brain a firm squeeze and--
her knees buckled, her mouth opened, and drool dribbled just a bit as heat burst behind her eyes and assaulted her now swollen clit.
Mistress President licked Her lips hungrily, “Undress, little rock.”
she did so without grace or hesitation.
Mistress President stood from Her throne—armchair--and pushed away from Her fleshstool to instead squeeze and pinch at Dell’s reddening flesh. her pulse pounded hard against her throat as Mistress President eyed her like a new gift to be taken.
“I need a new warmblood,” She told the Voice, “We could get her there. What’s her schedule?”
“Cloud Security in the morning, Lunch, then Effective Programming in C and C++, but not until three. It’s her last class.”
Mistress President wrinkled Her nose, “Computer Science Major?”
“she was inducted with glasses, where are they?”
“I have her wear contacts when she’s at set. I like to look into her docile brown eyes. Oh, and less liability.”
They spoke about her around her as if she were nothing, reduced only to her flaws and qualities. her eyes felt heavy along with her warm humming body as Mistress President stroked Her thumb along her biceps.
Something primal rolled within her and thoughtlessly she flexed. Mistress President cooed with interest.
“Set her up an appointment with an Advisor. I want her with me.”
Slowly, with a click of Her tongue against the back of Her teeth, Mistress President went back to Her seating. When Her heeled foot hit the back of Her fleshstool the woman moaned, low and needy. The little twitch in her hips and the stain between her legs filled little rock with envy.
Then her brain was given to the Voice and she forgot what she’d seen.
“Will you break in my mustang, lineMommy?”
The Voice gave off a soft and guttural sound, “I deeply dislike when you call me that, Sam.”
Mistress President huffed out a short laugh, “And I really wish you’d just call me your lineDaddy.”
The Voice ignored her, turned to little rock, and flicked one of her nipples, making it harden and throb from the abuse. “Return to the line, anchor, and resume position.”
And as little rock hurried to do so, with a sway in her hips, she heard the Voice return to its dullness, unamused--
“Run your program.”
* * *
Nu Zeta claimed to be one of the most prestigious of the diverse and influential sororities that made their home at Moorgroves University. Founded in 1918, they were the fourth and last of the great international sororities to purchase real estate on Moorgroves Greek Row. Yet, despite their rich and alluring history, there was a shroud of mystery around their culture. All that the bulk of the student body knew was that to join Nu Zeta, meant to be likened to power.
Dell had only found the statement to be haunting, and her interest in Greek life had been zero to none. Initially, she’d decided there hadn’t the time for it. She was a junior in a competitive four-year program, most of her interest was devoted to study. But her peers had been different, desperate and hungry in their adulthood. All around her, they’d scrambled, trying to to increase their selfhood. It was the Moorgroves way, infused in their motto. Encouraging every student to scrap over political capital.
If nothing else would get you noticed, joining an org could power you forward.
But Dell was a scholarship student of science, playing mean-girl games with the snobby elite. They had jobs lined up, and networked contacts and Dell? She had little else but an empty resume. She was a no-one in a sea of mania, described as unfashionable and terribly antisocial. Who cared if she preferred her grunge t-shirts or rocked off-brand glasses and green crocs? All that should have mattered were her G.P.A numbers, but in a school of strings that wasn’t enough.
She needed an internship and she needed one badly, but her Advisor was hesitant because she’d forsaken social clubs.
Then Greek Week came, the campus grew colorful, and she’d decided with reluctance that enough was enough.
She was a junior in a competitive four-year program and had all but been declared a Moorgroves nerd, but one thing she had that they did not was an eccentric aunt with green and white connections.
That was how Dell Morr became a legacy pledge.
She was trapped in some strange ordeal. Adjusting her perception to fit the sorority. Doing anything, anything, according to their whim. Begging to be broken and rebuilt again.
Even when she was away from the house.
Her body lowered and tension hit her belly, threading throughout her thighs and hips. She wheezed and shivered as the weight increased, one for each side of the bar against her upper back. As her biceps flexed and her fists tightened over the bar, she felt a surge of pressure against her backside. She tried to swallow through the strain of the weight, but a band of leather was squeezing her throat.
Keeping her mouth open as she tried to breathe.
She pushed up through her heels and sprung out of her squat, groaning as relief flooded her legs and lower back.
Then, she was… touched by the warmth of a hand, and her trainer slowly loosened the squeezing leather.
She gasped for air as the hand of her trainer swept low down her spine, tickling along her flexing back.
Then the chain that connected to the leather tightened, compressing the binding around her throat. It always just held her firmly at first.
Dell whined, eyes fluttering.
And the chain around her trainer’s palm tightened further, pulling the leather into a possessive choke.
She removed her hand from her back and Dell lowered, stressing her muscle beneath the pressure of weight.
Her lungs were full, yet burning as her inner thighs began to twitch.
She pushed again through her heels, slower to straighten, and when the trainer’s hand touched her back the leather loosened.
A mantra beat truth beside the prickling power in her limbs. Touch. Breath. No touch. Breathless.
Beneath the soft buzz of lowered lighting, there was only this motion, the weight, and the leather. Every noon she was shuffled forward, taken to her own personal trainer, courtesy of Nu Zeta. It helped that her trainer was also a member, proud of the horse-shaped badge pinned to her trendy green jacket.
The trainer swept her palm across the heat of her belly, as Dell fought to control the greed of her breathing. A voice curled across the back of her mind, slow in, slow out, and keep your breaths even.
The flat tip of a crop smacked the back of her knee.
“This is your eighth session, I know you know this position.”
Dell adjusted slightly, rapidly blinking, as the trainer gave her bicep a squeeze.
“You know how this goes, I want those squats deeper. Show off for your future big sister.”
Then she removed her hand and in the same motion tightened the leather. Dell could do little else but groan.
She dropped and relished the burn of her muscles as the fever of breathlessness pushed against her ribs. As she held her position the heat within pounded, rattling impatiently as it swam between her ears.
The harsh thud of her heart became a primal drum beat, demanding the oxygen she was denied. It deafened her thoughts with a song of urgency meant for her body to hear. As pressure joined the heat in her skull her thighs flexed with a wild energy. Her entire being was restless, awake, and ready to commit to mindless thrashing.
Then a word brushed against the beat in her mind and she stood into the palm of her trainer’s hand.
The leather loosened.
The hand was removed.
Dell dropped into a squat, knowing just what to do.
“You’ve lost some weight around your middle.”
The energy built with the beat in her skull, full and rushing, ready to be used. She was tapped with the crop and she curled her toes. The trainer knew just what to do too.
She came up for touch.
“Your muscle definition is coming in. Good girl, adjust those knees. Up. Down. Then up again.”
She reached for the haze and felt so light, despite the weight that continued to punish her body. What little thought she’d felt was simple. Reduced to up or numbers or down. When she was up she felt touch and relief. When she was down, she felt the sweet agony of the burn in her lungs, and the primal haunting of beast-like vigor. The sweet agony of the leather’s control was literally suffocating, rewriting muscle memory with its perverse invasion. It was wrong and worrisome but the method and motions felt good and addicting. Efficient and perfect for molding her body. Soon she was squatting only to the beat of the chain with the heavy pants and gasps of her workout disrupting the silence. Always working for her next order of up. Always flexing into her touch.
Solidifying absolute truths: to be touched was to breathe. Without touch she was breathless--she wanted to be touched, to be silently commanded. She was a good girl and they made great fillies.
She panted, and paused with her head slightly tilted.
The leather was loosened and the chain clip fell away. Without word or complaint Dell put the weights and the bar in their proper place.
“Yes,” The trainer whispered as Dell held her breath, trembling and blissful in place, waiting, waiting...
For the palm that rested at the small of her back.
Dell breathed and shivered, warmed by relief as she lightly touched the dark patch of her leggings. Was that sweat?
When had she gotten so… wet?
The palm tapped her hip and she moved forward, forgetting the thrill that pulsed between her legs.
Hot breath pushed against her ear, “You’re doing much better. Falling faster. Deeper.”
Tucked in the waistband of the trainer’s pants sat Dell’s square-shaped brain, not yet opened. Yet the threat, the worry, was still there.
Then forgotten as someone called her name.
The trainer paused their walk, tapped Dell again, and immediately turned them to face the name caller. Stiff and uncomfortable, Dell swallowed against the leather.
She wanted to keep moving, to be back under the lights, to be pumping her legs and arms to the burn the trainer easily placed in her mind.
Against her ear the trainer whispered, as if sensing the tremors of distress in her shifting. “In and out, relaxed and simple.”
The trainer kept her hand at the small of Dell’s back.
“I’m kind of surprised to see you here! Didn’t realize you were a woman of the gym.”
Dell eyed her greeter with half-lidded eyes as familiarity bubbled to the surface of her slow mind. She didn’t want to stand there and indulge in chatter. She wanted the burn of the workout and the controlling touch of the leather.
When she didn’t answer right away, her peer continued talking, her gaze lingering against the leather--which probably looked innocuous to her, like a fashionable choker.
It was so much more than just that.
“You haven’t been at the lab in a bit. I don’t even see you during lunch anymore.”
Dell frowned somewhat and wrinkled her nose. Goodness it was so hard to… think. “I… don’t go to the labs anymore.”
There was something a bit unkind in her classmate’s gaze, “Oh yeah? Are you still in the Computer Science Program?”
Dell swallowed a moan and licked her bottom lip, a motion she caught her classmate following, “No. I’m not a part of that major… anymore.”
Her classmate seemed eager for that tidbit, but also distracted by Dell’s sweat-slick body. It must have been the way her tight muscles quivered in her sweat drenched tank top and leggings, painfully inactive. “Couldn’t cut it? Moorgroves’ curriculum can be hard, after all.”
She wanted to be moving.
Nails dug into her back and her body’s cries grew louder.
Briefly she remembered, after a hard driving session, that a sister of Nu Zeta had walked—corralled--her to her Advisor. She remembered them speaking, both wearing shiny horse-shaped pins, dressed in the green and white of University privilege. When all had been said and done, her Advisor had grinned and signed her new papers to make adjustments to her credits.
“I’m in Fashion Design now.”
“R-really?” Her former peer sputtered, “That’s an invite-only major here. It’s practically run by Nu Zeta!”
Then she blinked, glanced at her trainer, and made an odd face of discomfort, her gaze lingering on the badge pinned to her jacket. When she looked back at Dell, it was with contemptuous envy.
She preened and practically purred in that glower.
“Y-you’re hanging out with Nu Zeta? You? Dell Morr?”
A small portion of her being, sleepy and exhausted, wishing only to fall back into the rhythm of work, blurted impatiently. “Yes...!”
Thinking was not moving. She didn’t need to think to breathe.
Then a hand was at the back of her neck, rubbing its thumb against her thundering pulse.
The trainer spoke, “I’m sorry, do you need anything else? We have a limited time frame before Ms. Morr has to return to her classes.”
Her former peer swallowed, but said nothing more, and the trainer walked them away from the student.
“We’ve no time to waste on the riffraff,” She said, her grin somewhat cruel as she wrapped an arm around Dell’s waist. “Soon you’ll be in Hell Week, and the Alumni Chapter will visit. Mistress President wants you to be perfect.”
The trainer surged forward and bit Dell’s bottom lip. Dell only had enough time to yelp at the sharp slice of pain before she was yanked harshly into a nearby empty workout room. With the bottom of her foot the trainer closed the door before she clipped on the chain leash back onto Dell’s leather collar. Something tight and anxious started to melt, and her mind spun as the trainer leapt into her open arms. Her pelvis crashed against Dell’s belly, but once her strong legs were wrapped around Dell’s waist she held her easily, even when the trainer tugged impatiently on her suppression collar.
She’d learned how to lift her as well as her weights just last week. Dell shivered, proud of her progress.
With a dark mutter around Dell’s captured lip the trainer snarled. “Maybe I’ll convince Sam to call you Big Sister Flex when you become a neo.”
Dell moaned as the trainer drew a hand through her hair and yanked, sending a shock down the length of her spine as more heat spilled between her legs.
“Fuck, I love training pledges.” She hissed, right before she took Dell’s bitten bottom lip harder between her teeth in a pull.
Then, with a wet pop she released her lip, and revealed that she held Dell’s brain in her hand. With a squeeze to the book the trainer husked. “Bench press me, little rock.”
little rock did as commanded.