I’m in hell.
I’m walking through Alia’s front door, and I’m in hell.
And not in one of the nice circles, oh no. This entire evening has been a gradual, but unstoppable descent into my worst nightmares.
I’m wobbly on my feet. My heels – which I hate wearing – have hurt my feet, my cocktail dress is a pallid imitation of Alia’s that only seems to emphasise rather than reduce our differences in wealth and status, and I’ve lost a good six hours I could have spent studying, prepping for early bedtime, and therefore rising bright and early tomorrow morning.
And that’s only the first circle of my own, personal hell – as I am reminded by the sound of the front door shutting behind us, ominously, trapping me here.
“Anbar!” Alia shouts, leaving me dumbfounded by the door as she storms down the main hallway. “Anbar, I was right!”
I don’t know what Alia is talking about, and I’m not sure I care. I need to understand what’s happening to me. Agreeing to accompany Alia to the club is only the beginning. Once there, I didn’t even get to let loose, or enjoy! The club sucked – sweaty people who’d spent way too much time on their feet, obnoxious music, overpriced drinks, bathrooms that were constantly occupied by people either vomiting or having impromptu sexual encounters.
And that was the least of it! I had to wait on Alia, hand and foot. Hold her purse, grab her cocktails, play second fiddle while she flirted with guy after guy.
I got the skin-crawling impression that Alia was using me to bump up her own stocks. Her chosen quarries would look at her, then at me, then back at her. No words were needed. She was beautiful, wealthy, the hazel-haired, honey-eyed goddess with a smile that lights up the whole room. And I? In my cheap dress, thick-set, on wobbly heels, holding her purse like some kind of abused PA? I was the loser.
I’ve always known Alia can have a mean streak, run roughshod over you if you let her. That’s why the outspoken rule exists. And yet I have been completely unable to invoke it tonight. Not even once. Ever since she’s asked me about that damn foot massage, it’s like I’ve been on autopilot. Everything she says is law. Hell, I’ve even followed her here, rather than go straight back home, as any sane person would have done.
Like I said: I’m in hell.
This is the first time I’ve been out of Alia’s sight since this afternoon. I think she’s storming Anbar’s room or something, I can definitely hear rapid-fire giggles of excitement coming from that direction. My eyes slink towards the handle to the front door. Should I make a run for it?
I don’t know what’s happening to me. I don’t know if physically getting away from Alia will help. But at this point, what do I have to lose? Sure, she might be upset, but I can always use it as a pretext to tell her off for bossing me around all evening. Maybe I can start to re-establish some boundaries, then. Maybe at least some of this damage can be undone.
My body is fighting me, resisting me as I painfully inch towards the handle. It’s like I’m trying to escape the orbit of some dark planet. I know Alia wants me here… but I think my despair is winning. I extend my hand towards the handle… closer and closer…
The weight of the entire world crashes down on me, and I almost let out a scream of frustration. I was so close!
“Come on up! We need to show Anbar!”
God, even with the supernatural pull she can now exercise over me, Alia still manages to sound like an insufferably spoilt brat. And yet, there is no room for defiance, or even passive resistance. My body is way ahead of my thoughts, and is enthusiastically climbing the stairs to the second floor, basically frog-marching towards Anbar’s bedroom.
I don’t know what’s going to happen in there. But I know that a decaying orbit around a dark planet never, ever ends well.
I step into Anbar’s room, and hours of accumulated foot scent slam over me like a tidal wave. What little remained of my confidence drains out of me in a sad hiss, and I feel myself physically deflating under the gaze of the two imperious sisters. I feel like a passenger, awaiting to know my fate.
The place is a mess of tangled blankets, clothes thrown in every direction, and crumpled snack packaging scattered over every hard surface. I truly do not envy Anbar’s maid. She’s reclining in her gaming chair, socked feet crossed at the ankles. Her headphones lowered so as to listen to Alia, who’s standing by the chair, staring at me with an arched eyebrow.
The visual contrast is something to behold. Even disheveled from a night of clubbing, Alia looks like the cover of a magazine, fashionably and effortlessly in command, a centre of gravity on kitten heels.
In her jumper and yoga pants, Anbar looks more like a cave-dwelling dragon, watching over her hoard of nerdy posters, gaming equipment, and – well – trash no one’s cleaned up yet. Less glamorous, perhaps, but fearsome n her own way.
A goddess, and a dragon. And me, I think, gulping: a lamb to the slaughter.
“I told you, sis,” Alia says. “I was right.”
“Right about what?” I ask, and even then takes all my available willpower – coming out in a feeble, unassuming tone of voice that makes me feel incredibly small.
“You hear that?” Alia tells Anbar. “She sounds like a fucking mouse.”
Anbar ignores her sister, boring into me with inquisitive eyes. “Big sis here told me you’d basically become a wimp overnight, that you were doing everything she says. I didn’t take her too seriously, so I told her, if she does come clubbing with you, you let me know.”
“She did come clubbing!” Alia jumps in, before I can reply. I lower my gaze and let her talk for me. God, this would be slightly less tolerable if they opened the bloody window. Between Alia’s sweat from the night, and the pungent odour of Anbar’s feet, I can barely hear myself think!
“Beyond that,” Alia continues, “I’ve bossed her around all evening, and she didn’t even put up a fight!”
Anbar shrugs, swivelling away from me on her gaming chair. “Maybe she’s just weak-willed.”
Alia shakes her head. “If that were true, I would have stamped out all of her resistance a long time ago.”
Hearing my friend talk like this sends a dagger through my heart, and my eyes water – and not just from the foot scent. I know Alia respects only strength.
Now that I inexplicably find myself defenseless, her view of me is already changing. Will I still be a friend to her, by the time this is over?
I want to question whether I want her as my friend still, but this damn foot scent… I can’t focus. I can’t question my loyalty and affection to Alia.
“Sis, what do you want from me?” Anbar rolls her eyes, exasperated. “Maybe you just wore her down over time. What do I know?”
Alia’s foot taps irritably on the ground. She’s powering up her brat-self. Normally, that would make me roll my eyes, too, but instead it sends a cold shiver down my spine. The idea of Alia being displeased is almost physically repulsive to me.
“I swear, you can be smart when you try, sis,” Alia says. “You’re not listening to me. This isn’t normal. She isn’t just yielding to my magnetism,” she says, running a hand through her mane like she’s posing for a perfume ad or something. “She’s doing everything I tell her!”
Anbar swivels back in her chair, turning more purposefully towards her sister.
Alia spends a moment deep in thought – but only a moment. “Ok, a demonstration. Zainab – get down on your fucking knees.”
The sudden meanness in Alia’s voice makes me melt in fear and horror. I recognise the tone – it’s the one she uses with her family’s maid, butler, cook, hairdresser… the tone for people she thinks of as less than human. I would be paralysed, but thankfully, my body obeys before my brain can even process what is going on, and my knees hit the posh wooden floor with such force that it creaks.
God, this is so humiliating. Worse, there are so many layers to my horror. I’m kneeling before someone! I’m doing it because I was told to. That someone happens to be my sadistic rich friend and her bossy sister. I have no control over my actions, and I can’t stop!
Alia crosser her arms and looks at Anbar expectantly, as if to say, see?
Anbar brings her hand to her chin, and crosses one leg over the other, pensive. Ugh, now the foot stench is even stronger! It goes to my head like a drug, and I feel more passive than I ever have in my life.
“Ok, that is weird,” Anbar concedes. “Maybe she’s done something horrible behind your back, and is crushed by guilt, or something.”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“But what else could it be, Alia? Even our maid wouldn’t kneel just because we ask, and we’re literally paying her!”
Anbar’s words hit me like a sledgehammer. Blood drains from my face and I gasp as my stomach ties in a knot. God, she’s right. I’m debasing myself in a way not even an exploited worker would ever consider. At least they’re doing it to survive. What’s my excuse?
“But that’s what I’m saying! What’s causing this?”
At this point, the two sisters are completely ignoring me, their words flying overhead while I wait on my knees, submissively. There is danger lurking in this conversation. They’re looking for the root of my meekness, but were they to find it, would they set me free? Somehow, I doubt it.
Goddesses and dragons have no use for people like me. Big-boned, plain-faced girls with no avenue in life except hard work and long odds. They’re raised to exploit every easy opportunity that presents itself, right from the very first day. They don’t play by our rules.
Well, they do have a few uses for people like me… but not the kind of use I would even remotely like to contemplate.
Regardless, I have no input on this discussion. No control over how it will go. All I can do is wait.
I truly am in hell.
“Wait,” Anbar says, drumming her fingers on the chair’s armrest, and bringing my attention back to their conversation. “You said this all started with a foot massage.”
Alia nods. “I didn’t even mean it when I asked! I was just, you know-“
“Fucking around and waiting to find out,” Anbar finishes, “as one does. Well, sis, I think you struck gold with that request.”
Alia pouts her lips, the way she does in those rare occasions where she’s not in control of a conversation. “What do you mean?”
Anbar cocks her head in my direction, an evil smirk playing across her lips.
“Zainab is a foot fetishist.”
Alia looks from Anbar, to me, back to Anbar, and again back to me. “No way!”
“Think about it,” Anbar says, with a tone of excitement. “She gave you a foot massage without complaint, and has been doing your bidding ever since. She’s on her knees, Alia. What more signals do you need?”
I have just enough motor control left to shake my head with all my might. This one thing, I’m certain of, even above the cloudy, hazy effect their foot scent had on me. I’m not in denial, I’m not secretly turning a kink into a phobia or viceversa. I just have precisely zero interest in feet, or in girls for that matter.
Nothing about this situation is even remotely erotic. If it were, it might be slightly less intolerable.
I look down, trying to suppress the wave of panic that threatens to overcome me, while Anbar swivels away from Alia, focusing on the screen once more. I need to get a grip. I want my normal life back. What is happening to me?
I look up to find Alia towering over me. One thing I can’t deny – and I hate myself for admitting this – is that looking at her from below seems appropriate. She looms over me in splendour, beautiful and terrible, and I feel weak and harmless as a mouse.
“Is it true?” She asks, prodding my thigh with the point of her heels. “Is it a fetish?”
Anbar groans in the background. “If the answer is yes, you two need to get a room.”
Alia ignores her sister, resting her foot on my thigh, the heel pressing into my flesh. “Do you actually like me using you as my doormat? My errand girl? My… bitch?”
“That’s it, get a room!”
I ignore Anbar, too – much as that goes against my instincts – and muster what little confidence I have left to look up at Alia. She’s staring down at me like I’m dirt under her shoe. The heel is pressing into my thigh, hurting me, but I can’t find the words to tell her – or even beg her – to remove it.
I must accept that I have no spare capacity. I can only accomplish one task at a time. And now, what matters above all else is dispelling this misconception once and for all, before things spiral even further out of my control.
“No.” I say, and it’s the most confident I’ve sounded since that cursed foot massage. Alia notices, too, blinking. I want to tell her that I find feet gross as hell, but even worse, that her attitude is repulsive. That I am her friend, and as much a person as she is. That I’ve always been there for her when she needed me. That we have so many happy memories together that she’s sullying. That I will be treated as a friend, or walk out of her life.
But I do none of that. I can’t stand up to Alia like that anymore. The words that come out of my mouth surprise even me.
“Respectfully, Alia, I’m not into feet,” I say, “or girls for the matter. There’s nothing wrong with your feet, they’re very pretty.” What? “And I’m sure there are others out there who will consider themselves lucky when they get to service them.” What?! “But I get no enjoyment out of this.”
I flinch internally, awaiting Alia’s inevitable temper tantrum. I can’t stand her disapproval… but thankfully, her reaction surprises me. She removes the foot off my thigh, nods thoughtfully, and says, “Good.”
I breathe a sigh of relief. Surely now that she knows I’m not actually enjoying this, she will let me go, right?
“Except for the fact we’re back to square one,” Alia mutters. Then, as if on an afterthought, she turns to Anbar. “You need a shower, by the way. Your gaming friends might not notice you’ve worn the same pair of socks for the past week, but trust me, I do.”
Anbar goes suddenly rigid, her spine completely stretched out, her eyes wide open. She swivels slowly on the chair for dramatic effect, turning towards Alia.
“You’re a genius, sis.”
“Because I’ve mastered the arcane art of personal hygiene?”
“Don’t you get it?” Anbar says, rising from the chair. “Wait, let me check.”
Anbar stands up and draws closer to me, circling me like a predator.
“Bow down to me,” she says at last. “Bow the fuck down like I’m your goddess, you filthy worm.”
The words cut through me like a spear – belittling, humiliating, outrageous – but of course I immediately prostrate myself, pressing my forehead against the ground. Anbar stops mere inches away from me.
“Damn, you look good when you grovel at my feet like a fucking slave,” Anbar says, laughing. “Look at you, no resistance as a younger girl reduces you to her lapdog. You should have been in this position from the start.”
I snivel, trying my best not to cry, but Anbar gives me no quarter. “Answer truthfully,” she says. “How do you feel?”
“Humiliated,” I say without hesitation. “I don’t understand. Why are you doing this to me? I-“
“Enough,” Anbar cuts in, silencing me. One of her feet prods my forehead. “Now breathe in.”
I do so, and cough – God, her feet taste so rancid that my eyes are watering up. Just smelling them deprives my limbs of what little strength I had left.
“So how are you feeling now?”
I sit back up, rolling on my heels. My voice comes out mousy and pathetic, and the words my brain picks for me are even worse. “Weak… please Anbar, please have mercy of me.”
“I can’t believe I’m saying this,” Anbar mulls, turning to face Alia. “It’s our foot scent!”
Alia blinks once, twice, processing. Then, she makes the connection. “I thought we agreed Zainab isn’t a fetishist!”
Anbar’s head bobs up and down. “That just means she doesn’t enjoy it. Look, I don’t know what’s causing this but… think about it. Was she equally passive at the club as she’s being here?”
“No, you’re right. She’s way weaker here.”
Oh God. Oh God. Surely Anbar cannot be right, can she? How can that be physically possible?
“Look, let’s test this again.”
Anbar resumes circling me, with none of Alia’s lithe elegance – she stomps down with each step like the Tyrannosaurus rex in Jurassic Park. She has the same kind of animalistic, predatory power – its own kind of magic. Moments later and the younger of the two sisters is also looming over me, placing me in her shadow.
I managed to survive the goddess’s judgement. Will I survive the dragon’s?
Anbar flashes me an evil grin – when they do this, you really can tell they’re sisters – and lifts a socked foot in the air, moving it ever closer towards my face in circles.
“Stay still,” she orders, and I comply… until her foot smacks right atop my nose and lips, pushing me backwards until my head hits the wall. I’m trapped between it, and Anbar’s foot, and her sweat-drenched sock is sending so much horrible scent up my nose that I feel like I might faint.
But I don’t move.
“Breathe in. Deeper. That’s it, that’s a good girl…”
I’m starting to fear Anbar may be right. The scent is awful, truly disgusting, but in a way also intoxicating. With every passing breath, I feel more stupid, more docile, more compliant… more submissive.
“I was right,” Anbar tells Alia, smugly.
“It isn’t just my feet then,” Alia says, thoughtfully. “It clearly works with yours too. I wonder what it means.”
“Personally,” Anbar says, chuckling with amusement, “I wonder what else she’ll let us do now that the smell is making her foot-stupid.”
Anbar’s foot travels down my face and chin, then traces my body clumsily, leaving a trail of fluff and sweat in its wake that makes me feel icky and gross. Eventually, it reaches the hem of my dress…
God help me. Is Anbar about to sexually molest me? Please wake me from this nightmare!
Anbar’s foot reaches underneath my dress, fumbling from left to right between my spread thighs, and eventually, it finds its target. It lands on my crotch, not painfully, but firmly enough to let me know who’s boss. I find the contact repulsive, and I squirm in place – but I can’t move away.
“Yep,” says Anbar, retreating her foot. “It’s dry as the Mojave desert down there.”
“I can’t believe you just did that,” Alia says with a gleeful giggle, like she’s just gotten the latest over-expensive present from her rich daddy. I don’t even try to stop the dread anymore. I’ve fallen into it, like a pit of despair. Only my new meekness prevents it from showing outward. My demeanour remains calm, while my mind is a hand’s breadth away from becoming unwound.
If Anbar is right, that is all thanks to their foot scent. It sounds impossible, but what alternative explanation is there?
Anbar’s foot snaps back upwards, slamming against my throat, and nailing me against the wall. That sends a message – my consent is irrelevant here. They’re not letting me go. I’m at their mercy.
Alia joins her sister by the wall – she’s taken her heels off, and I’m terrified of what is to come. My worst fears come true. She’s more flexible than her sister, and her foot lifts in the air with a ballerina’s grace – before landing squarely atop my head.
My cheeks are so red with humiliation that I’m heating up. It gets even worse when Alia starts dragging her foot back and forth on my head, rubbing her clubbing night’s sweat into my hair.
“I’m happy you’re not a fetishist,” she tells me. “I don’t want you to enjoy this. I don’t want this to be about you or your pleasure at all. It should be about me. It is only right.”
I look up at her, tears forming in my eyes. My friend… what have I ever done to deserve this treatment?
“Oh, come on, miss me with that sentimental bullshit,” she says, wiping the tears from my eyes with her toes, before returning her foot to my head. Anbar’s own foot is still pressing against my throat, keeping me in place.
“This is such an aphrodisiac,” says Alia in a husky tone. “You’re not just going along with me to get off. You’re not yielding to my every whim and demand because it’s your kink. You’re not obeying me because you like this. You obey because I want you to. Tell me that isn’t super cool!”
There’s an edge to her voice I’ve never heard before. It terrifies me.
“It’s hilarious that, of all the things it could have been, this is what finally put you in your place. You’re not even a fetishist, and yet here you are, powerless to resist!”
“It’s amazing. She always was such a stuck-up bitch,” Anbar says, twisting her socked heel into my throat. “Now? A whiff of our foot sweat, and she’s bowing to our every whim. Never let her spend too much time away from your feet, or the influence might wane.”
“Oh, no worries,” Alia says with a giggle. “I don’t plan on letting her get away from my feet any more than I absolutely have to.”
My life is over. So over. This isn’t a joke anymore, or a predicament between friends, this is… I don’t know. Illegal? Human rights abuse? I don’t even know what this is anymore, except that if not for their foot control, I would be trembling like a leaf now.
“It’s not like she even has the money to go on vacation anyway,” Alia adds with a snigger – another dagger through my heart, yet another today. Even if I had the strength to escape her, I don’t have the means. It’s like I was born to be her prey. The thought alone crushes me. All those years, priding myself of my independence, have led me here, with Alia’s foot resting atop my head, and Anbar’s foot mastering my very breathing.
“We’ll have to do some tests,” Alia adds, pensive. “Find out what works and what doesn’t, for how long… you know, that sort of stuff.”
“Happy to help,” Anbar says. Of course she shows solidarity over something so horrible. “But I want something in return for my assistance.”
“What is it, sis?”
Anbar nods towards me. “I want her to submit to me, too.”
Slightly craning my head up, I can barely catch a glimpse of Alia’s face, currently contorted into a pout. She doesn’t like to share – she wants me all to herself. I honestly don’t know if that would be an improvement or not.
“Fine,” she says at last. “But let’s make something clear. I own her. I’ll happily loan her to you when I’m not using her, though.”
“Works for me,” Anbar says with a shrug. “It’s not like I’m sufficiently invested in the bitch to stake a claim on her. She’s yours, but she has to bow and scrape before me, too. I’m as much her superior as you are.”
They’ve already thrown themselves at me like I’m a pound of flesh to be fought over, a thing being passed around, with no feelings, no thoughts, and no rights. This is so dehumanising that I feel walls inside my mind collapse and rearrange and shift and narrow. My spirit has been broken.
“We’ll devise a programme to train her,” Anbar says, ruffling my hair with her fingers – and leaning harder against my throat to do that. I leave out a few desperate choking sounds, until her pressure relents. “Figure out how this works, and where we go from there.”
“Sure,” Alia says, and she moves her leg slightly, so that our eyes meet again, her foot still pressing atop my skull. Tears swell in my eyes again. This time, Alia makes no move to clean them away.
“One thing is certain, though.” She stamps down harder, making me squeal in pain. I’m begging her with my eyes to have mercy, but I know I will get none. Alia has no mercy.
“You’ve been busting your ass for years to build up your life. I’m going to have so much fun ruining it all!” she says, grinning sadistically at my desperate whimper of pain. “You’re my toy now, and you’ll keep me entertained. I’m going to take away everything that makes you feel like a real person, until all that’s left is the snivelling bottom bitch I’m reducing you to. And by the time I’m done with you…”
Her foot descends downward, staining my entire face with sweat, finally resting atop my lips.
“You will thank me for it.”