Secretaries don’t work from home.
It’s a slow, but inescapable realisation. You’d think that the utter and flippant destruction of my career, of my professional hopes and dreams, so many years of hard work, would be impossible to top. But no, it does get worse: because secretaries don’t work from home.
My safety has been taken away from me. Wittingly or no, the company has placed me in a position where I need to be at the office in person, every day.
That means I need to commute, every day. Always travelling with groups of women, so we can march into coffee shops together, or occupy train carriages as far as we can. Seeking ephemereal safety in numbers.
I try to tell myself that the walls aren’t closing in on me, that most men are absolutely supportive of our plight, even after so many months of the payload slowly eroding our independence. Unfortunately, what I can’t chase out of my mind is a singular, chilling thought.
I need to be lucky every time I commute to and from the office. A would-be predator only needs to be lucky once.
And then, there’s the office itself, which is by now a terrifyingly heady concoction of humiliation, rage, fear… and arousal. I’m overstimulated and oversexed every damn minute of the workday. The entire situation looks engineered to provide ammunition to the payload.
I oversee a group of women who used to occupy the most varied positions in the company. Jen, who was head of legal. Francesca, who’s been around the world at a dozen different headquarters for the company, until she made it to the board of directors. Jasmine, who used to oversee logistics.
Now, they all dress in secretarial nylons and skirts. Worse, their attitudes have changed. They simper and bow, answer in meek tones and bow their heads docilely at every request that comes from a man. Periodically, when the payload seizes them, their eyes go glassy and vacant, until they snap back to reality, looking flustered, ashamed, and terrified… but also aroused.
In short, looking just like me.
These women used to be in charge of entire departments. The most they can be in charge of now is photocopying. They fetch coffee for their former subordinates, and it’s impossible to ignore how the collared ones get called into a man’s office near closing time, with the doors being conspicuously locked…
Is this what the corporate world looks like now? This… parody straight out of a porn shoot, with strong women reduced to a slutty secretarial or PA role? My life is like the cruel joke of an easily amused god. I stand guard over a kingdom of defeated femininity, a veritable army of women who have been demoted, cowed into submission, and made lesser by their new male overlords.
Maybe that’s just how work is going to be from now on. Are we going to have a blowjob rota for the secretaries? Will I read my name, pencilled in pretty handwriting, next to a time slot where I’m supposed to drop to my knees, crawl under a man’s desk, and show him with my mouth just what kind of an asset a competent businesswoman can be to the office?
I squeeze my thighs in desperate arousal at the mere thought that this is the future. That these and more, will be the terms imposed upon us if we lose this war.
When we lose this war.
Some of the women in the office are sporting collars. More now than a week ago. I wonder how many were collared here by their very colleagues, how many by friends they thought they could trust, how many by strangers on the way to work. I could ask… but my fight against the payload is desperate as it is. Instead, I keep quiet, and immerse myself in the work… such as it is.
I’ve never done anything even remotely secretarial, but at least as head secretary I have a nominal organisational role that I can try and acclimate myself with. But in truth, I mostly spend the workdays obsessing over what I’ve lost.
The money’s not the same, of course. To put it mildly. I have enough savings that I can get comfortably by for a long time, especially because I own my house, but the meager sum of my new paycheck reminds me just how much my stocks have fallen in this place. In this world.
My office is gone, claimed by Sharpe of course, who immediately seized my former position, to his endless glee. It’s unclear who will occupy the slot he’s vacated in turn, and a decision will be made in due time, but of course it will be a man.
In the payload’s world, our place is on our knees—literally, and metaphorically. I suppose that’s were a war’s loser belongs…
In exchange for giving up my prized office, I’ve gotten a… cubicle. I refuse to personalise it, I can’t. My mind still won’t accept that this demotion is real, that it’s going to stick. And in a sense, that sense of misguided confidence proves the origin of my downfall.
At lunch, one day, I confide in Shannon. I’m mulling over a plan, I tell her. I’m doing it because I refuse to go down quietly, to let a man’s shoe press down against my throat, silencing my objections until I can only whimper as a way to beg for breathing…
I’m going to resign, rather than accept this. I really do have enough money saved that I could ride this out, especially if I’m a little careful. Even so, I don’t plan to stay at home forever. The payload will be undone eventually, and when it does, I need to be in a position to capitalise on it. What if it takes five years? How can I rebuild a career with five years of unemployment behind me?
No, I’ll start looking for another job. I’m liable to run into the same issues, after all, women no longer have legal personality… a thought which makes my traitorous cunt begin to lubricate.
But no matter how long the odds are, I have to try something. A workplace even slightly less demeaning than this. One without Sharpe in it, though I don’t say that out loud. I’m not asking for the moon, I know the world has changed… all I’m asking for is stable ground beneath me, so I can lay the foundations for a better future, once things get back to normal.
I share all this with Shannon in an almost manic phase, the adrenaline from feeling in control again pumping through my veins. I’m not sure what a collared woman will think of all this talk of career and independence, but she notes my description with uncharacteristically muted interest, and then changes the topic.
The office Christmas party is two days away, she reminds me. She can’t wait to dress as sexy santa. Very work-appropriate, she says, to my silent bewilderment.
In retrospect, that should have raised my suspicions... but like I said, I’m no soldier. I wasn’t cut out for fighting, scheming, and plotting. My rise through the corporate ranks was never predicated on elbow-rubbing and backroom maneuvering. I always believed that if I was good at my job, really good, then I’d make myself near-indispensable, and I wouldn’t have to worry about the politics… too much.
The next day, I’m summoned into my… or rather, Sharpe’s office. It’s an experience I can hardly put into words.
Seeing the bastard sit behind my own desk, his portly ass resting in my chair, makes my hands ball into fists. I don’t know what’s more awful—the humiliation, the fury, or the payload, urging me to drop to my knees, crawl beneath the desk, and offer him my unconditional surrender in a way befitting my womanly status… recognising that the fight is over, the job is his now and so am I… that he’s won.
Nails dig into my flesh. I step back from the brink, and as clarity returns and brings the world into focus, I realise something I’d missed in my submissive reverie.We’re not alone in the office.
I almost didn’t notice her, but Shannon is sitting in a corner of the office, swivelling in a chair, one nyloned leg elegantly draped over the other. My eyes linger on the way her calf looks when pressed against her other knee. On the way she smirks at me with something that looks like victory. I remember our conversation from yesterday, and recall our conversation from yesterday.
Even worse, I recall something I read once, as part of my efforts to prepare for the brave new world we live in.
Yes, women are safer in groups, and yes, there’s some way to deter dangerous social interactions in numbers… but collared women are a safety hazard, and not just because their owners might order them to do just about anything. It’s actually much worse than that.
After you surrender, the payload uses addiction to train you, programme you… it makes victims go to more and more extreme lengths to re-experience the original thrill…
Like, say, betraying uncollared women to a man. Maybe uncollared women who were too unwise and stupid to shut up about their plans to leave the company. For example.
“Let me clarify something,” Sharpe says as I curse my dumb, sorry self. “You try to resign, I will do everything in my power to stall it, to slow you down. I will call back every favour I’m owed, and make sure you’re fired in disgrace instead. I can blacklist you, and you know it. You’ll never find another job again.”
“B-b-but,” I ask, tears welling in my eyes, making me feel like a stupid little girl in the presence of this man I once presumed to call my rival. My subordinate, even. The man who’s now blackmailing me into staying here… and why? That’s what I ask him, what I want to know. “Why? You… You’ve got the promotion you wanted, j-just let me go and live my life!”
“There’s something I want even more than this chair,” Sharpe says, and the way his eyes linger on my neck leave no doubt as to what he means. “And I plan to get it.”
In a way, I should have seen it coming. What better way to really put me in my place? To get back at me for ever challenging him? The horror must be apparent on my face, because he leans back in his chair, waving his hand.
“Don’t look so shocked, Celeste,” he says, leering at me. “Every hot-blooded male in this office has thought about fucking you at least once, and you know it. Way I see it, you only leapfrogged me because of all that affirmative action silliness. Well, that’s over now, and I plan to get my dues.”
That makes my insides twist in horror… and it sends a hot, searing jolt of traitorous arousal, lancing through every fibre of my being.
“If you get yourself collared by a friend or someone outside this company, I’ll end you. If you try to resign, I’ll end you. Sure, you could take the character assassination I’m planning on you, I suppose… but I know you, Celeste. We’ve sparred too long for me not to know you.”
I gulp, feeling pinned in place by his words—a man’s words, spoken while a man’s eyes reads me like an open book. I’m outmatched in this fight, and I always have been. The payload is telling me that he deserves to win, and it’s so hard to ignore it…
“Work is everything for you,” he says, “and life without it is meaningless to you. And that’s why you’ll yield to my blackmail. You’ll stay right here, and try to salvage something out of the ruins of your career, try to resist me… until you no longer can. Then, at last, this little feud of ours will end, and the spoils will go to the rightful winner.”
The sheer arrogance, toxic entitlement, authority in his voice takes my breath away. Staying here, in this office, is very, very dangerous. I take a faltering step back… but that’s when Shannon suddenly stands to her feet, sauntering towards me with a sultry look on her face. I look down, blushing in embarassment, suddenly aware that she’s taller than me. I never noticed before, but somehow, it seems important now.
“Really, I’m most displeased,” Sharpe says, “We’ve done you a favour by retaining you, I even insisted that we keep you on as a secretary. For entirely unselfish reasons, of course.”
His grin stretches even wider. “And this is how you repay us?”
“J-j-just let me go,” I say, stuttering, fully aware of what a self-admission of defeat and impotence that is. “Please.” Nobody’s physically stopping me from rushing the door, but it’s like I’m in a dream, trying to move underwater. My body is sluggish, slow to respond, fighting the payload every inch of the way, trying to ignore the suggestion that I should just descend to my knees…
“I really do have favours to call back,” Sharpe says, his eyes drilling into mine. “I’ve called one now, in fact. I think the secretarial pool could use… a fresh leadership. Of course, I’m afraid that does mean we’re going to have to demote you. Again.”
There’s that word once more. It strikes the very centre of my being like a gong, the sound rippling outward, tickling my overstimulated feminine brain, my needy sex, making my thighs quiver as I struggle to stand up.
Demoted. Has there ever been a more beautiful word, one more closely linked to weakness, inferiority… and womanhood?
“Your cubicle is mine now,” Shannon says, drawing close to me, pushing me against the wall. I know there is nothing properly sapphic in her display. It isn’t for her or my entertainment. It’s for the male audience. It’s her master she’s trying to impress, her sudden lesbianism nothing more than a performance to stir his arousal.
And yet, my hips buck, trying to draw her in between my thighs.
Her lips brush mine as she keeps whispering, just loud enough for him to hear.
“You better clean it well, girl,” says this person who’s fifteen years my junior, who never even finished university… and who is now my superior.
“Yes ma’am,” I say, and at that, Shannon purrs, nibbling at my ear.
“That’s not enough,” she says. “Thank me properly. Make him see.”
Her hands push me to my knees. I find myself bowing, forehead pressing to the floor, on all fours, panting like a dog, or… a worshiper. The payload lets loose with a stream of fever dreams, visions of a world where men get fed up with us, and our entire gender is finally brought under control.
Visions where each sigh of our parted lips, each movement of our thighs, each bated breath as a man’s hand clasps our throat, is programmed for perfect, unfailing eroticism. A world with a clear division of tasks, between those who rule and those who serve.
A better world.
With visions of man’s empire pounding women into the dust, I find myself kissing Shannon’s shoes and feet, regretting that she isn’t a man and I can’t whisper the words the payload whispers into my ear. Every woman knows them by heart now, our secret prayer.
I consider myself owned.
I know my old rival is relaxing back in his chair, listening to the sounds of his vanquished foe kissing another girl’s shoes. He’s taken away my job, my ability to resign, and now… what else will he take? What do I hope he will take?
Look at me. I’m pathetic. I deserve to be stepped on. Shannon betrayed me, and how am I rewarding her? By lavishing her shoes with worshipful kisses.
That’s not something you can just recover from. I know the shape, texture and taste of a woman’s shoes now, I know how glossy the surface looks after each smooch I leave upon it. I know what it’s like to stare at Shannon from down here, this girl who is my junior, prettier than me, who’s just usurped me to feel the thrill of her submission to a master who hates me…
If even this is so humbling, how much more terrifying would it be to look up at a man? Tenfold. Like being in the blinding orbit of a star.
It occurs to me just how… collarable I am in this position. Just how much like the ritual all of this looks, and I know it’s only the beginning.
I will have to work under this girl, with her master looming in the shadows, pulling all her strings. Shannon will be a brutal governess, ever loyal to Sharpe. I can see it so vividly in my mind’s eye, how she’ll make it clear she intends to remould all us former female executives into good, obedient secretaries and PAs for the men… while no doubt taking her delight in bossing around women who used to make ten times her salary.
She will expose me to Sharpe as much as she can, until I just can’t take it anymore. Even if I don’t fall now, eventually I will. And the mysoginist bastard who hates me will finally get to clinch a collar around my neck and call me his, and that’s so wrong and so hot that I almost want to give in, stop fighting…
And that’s when the old habit kicks in, just as Sharpe begins to rise to his feet. Shannon, ever the obedient pet at the beck and call of men, immediately pivots to him, ready to attend to his needs.
But out of pure instinct, my nails dig deep into my palms, so much that I have to bite my lips not to shout. For only a second, the whispers of the payload recede. It lasts a heartbeat, but it’s all I need. Fuelled only by adrenaline, I rise to my knees in one swift motion, and launch myself at the door.
There’s no stopping, not here, not now. I don’t care about work and its rules—just like work doesn’t care about my well-being and safety. I gather my things in a rush, and flee home as far as I can. I don’t even change into something more comfortable—I just throw myself in bed, crying my heart out, sobbing at how close I came to losing everything to the worst person I’ve ever known.
And to my horror, I find my hand wandering down between my thighs at the thought. God, why is it so easy to eroticise the fear of losing everything? Of letting one’s life burn, consumed in the hungry flame of the payload? Yielding to the need, and letting it rule me?
I spend the night sleeping restlessly, disturbed by half-formed dreams of male hands and fastened collars. I call in sick at work, feeling like a mole rat, burrowing for warmth and safety under my blankets. I never want to go out there. I can’t take this anymore.
What hope is there for salvation, if we women are made to betray one another just for the gratification induced by the payload? If we fight over scraps and crumbs, deliberately let to drop from the men’s table?
I know the answer in my heart: no hope at all. I cry to it, touch myself to it, gasp softly to it. It’s over.
They have won.
That’s when I sit up suddenly, my eyes wide as an idea begins to form.
So far, every defense I’ve tried to put up against the new order has failed. Hiding didn’t help, my career was taken away from me like candy from a baby, and one brush with Sharpe was nearly enough to drag me into the abyss. Even confiding in a fellow woman only led to my betrayal.
But maybe, just maybe… there’s still one more card I have to play.