by Alan Smithee
See spoiler tags :#comic_book
Alicia stood in front of the mirror, and she was proud of her work. She’d slipped out of bed with the utmost care and she was grateful that Zoe was a heavy sleeper. Alicia had kept her up very late last night. She smiled at the memory, then decided that she actually did want to make a few more tiny adjustments to her makeup. I must always look my best at work, she thought.
She was happy that there wasn’t any ambiguity about what to wear today. Employees must always adhere to the dress code at work, she thought. That made things so much simpler. The skirt, the blouse, the heels, the garter and stockings, the jacket, it was all laid out for her. Hair must be blonde, and eyes must be blue, even if that meant wearing contacts. She wouldn’t need those, at least.
Panties were not permitted, and she’d needed to remove several piercings. She wasn’t thrilled about that, but what was she going to do, violate the dress code? Not likely. If they weren’t packing so lightly when they moved each time she wouldn’t have needed to buy a whole new ensemble, but she couldn’t deny, it had been a fun shopping trip.
Alicia walked past the bed, and she stopped for a moment to drink in the sight of her one more time before she set off. She felt another pang of guilt about what was about to happen. She was going to go off and be at work during office hours. Zoe was going to find out pretty soon that she’d gone missing, and eventually where she’d gone missing to. Maybe another good lie could buy her a day, but she didn’t want to put it off any longer. It was just delaying the pain.
Zoe was going to be furious that she was going to work for this sex pest boss who tried to chase her down leaving the building. Alicia was not bothered by any of this, but for whatever reason Zoe had been. Still, she hated disappointing her. It was eating her up inside. She decided to move on before she started getting all emotional. She couldn’t afford to be much later, or she might not make it before the start of office hours.
She did make it on time, but it wasn’t long before she realised that something very, very wrong. There was something off with everybody. Was it the unnatural smiles? That was part of it, maybe. But there was something bigger. Something far more unsettling.
“Good morning! You must be the new girl,” said a friendly, upbeat voice. She turned to look.
“Oh hi, yes, I’m Alicia,” she replied. The woman was quite imposing, probably a head taller than Alicia, but was doing her best to look disarming with her expression.
“Sofia,” said the lady. “Pleased to meet you Alicia. I’m Master’s lawyer. I handle the conveyancing and whatnot mostly.”
“Oh sorry, I didn’t realise you hadn’t completed your induction yet. Mister Bateman.”
“Oh,” she said, but she was starting to get worried. What kind of fucked up place is this? she thought. But then it hit her. The thing that had been bothering her since she walked in.
Sofia was an employee, but she was not adhering to the dress code. She recoiled in surprise when it hit her. Alicia immediately felt a deep second-hand shame. The kind you felt when somebody was making a massive fool of themselves in public and you couldn’t bear to watch. Her hair was a deep, dark red, and her eyes were a rich brown. She wore a tight, red v-neck sweater, and there was a lace choker on her neck. Her legs were covered by a set of black leggings, and she wore a pair of open toed low heels. As the initial shock faded, she started to think a bit more clearly. Isn’t that basically what Zoe was wearing on Friday?
“Um, Sofia, I have a- a question for you in private if that’s ok” Alicia continued. Sofia looked weirdly relieved when she asked.
“That’s a great idea sweety, let’s just pop into one of the meeting rooms,” she replied.
Alicia followed her through the sliding glass door into one of the small rooms off the hallway. It was filled with videoconferencing equipment. She took a deep breath.
“Why aren’t you adhering to the dress code?” she said. She tried to hide the disgust in her voice, but it didn’t work.
“Me? I am, silly. I was about to ask you the same question! Employees must always adhere to the dress code.” she replied.
They were both looking at each other, confused.
“Oh gosh, I just realised! You probably aren’t on the internal mailing list yet. Jan would have sent you all the employment details manually. You didn’t get the update!” Sofia pulled out her phone and started doing something.
“The... update?” Alicia replied, fear creeping into her voice.
“Yeah. The dress code changed over the weekend. I’m so sorry, I thought someone would have let you know. Here, take a look,” she said, holding up the E-mail on her phone for her to read.
It was from Alexander Bateman. It was real. It was all listed right there on the page, plain as day. Alicia’s world was suddenly flipped upside down. The disgust and confusion she felt moments earlier retreated and gave way to abject humiliation. She couldn’t believe it was her first day and she’d already fucked up so colossally. She had to fix it… but she couldn’t leave. She was starting to panic. All the colour drained out of her face.
“Are you alright?” said Sofia.
“Employees must always adhere to the dress code, but employees must always be at work during office hours,” she said. Oh god, oh god, oh god, how can I fix this? she thought. She started hyperventilating. Sofia opened the door and walked out, back into the corridor. Alicia followed.
“You need to calm down, Ma-Mister Bateman will be here soon, and he’ll fix everything” said the lawyer.
But she couldn’t calm down. How could she possibly calm down? Could I take her clothes? She wondered. She scanned the woman again. There was no way that was going to fit. She spotted Jan in the distance and swiftly moved towards her. She examined her with hungry eyes. The height was roughly right. The build was a bit off, but it would have to do.
“I need your clothes,” she pleaded. Jan looked at her blankly. She clearly had no idea what she was talking about. Sofia followed closely behind her.
“No, there won’t be any need for that, just calm down,” Sofia said.
“I can’t be fucking calm! You, give me your clothes, Now!” she screamed. When it became apparent that Jan wasn’t going to do that, she charged at her.
Jan jumped out of the way just in time. She, too, now looked panicked. Alicia chased her down the corridor. Jan ran, and her slightly more practical heels gave her just the edge she needed to stay in front, but she was fast running out of corridor. At that moment, the door to the main entrance opened. Alicia, now almost completely rabid, barely registered this fact. She felt a familiar pressure on the side of her mind. I’ve almost got you, she thought. Then her mind went blank. She almost fell over, but was caught by a pair of strong arms.
“Miss Parsi,” said Alexander. “I see you’re already causing trouble around here.”
The panic was gone. The worries were gone. She drifted, floating effortlessly on a cloud of tranquillity. People were talking, rooms changed around her, but she had trouble focusing on anything. She had no idea how long this all lasted, but she was not bothered by any of this. When her awareness returned, she was seated in a meeting room of some kind. Mastersat opposite, flanked by Sofia and another one of the imitation Zoe Sumners she didn’t recognise.
“Good morning,” she said groggily. She thought back to when she’d come into the office. “I’m so sorry. I don’t know what came over me,” she said.
“Nothing to worry about. It’s all sorted out now. I’ve given you permission to deviate from the dress code today,” he said. She felt so relieved to hear that out loud, although somehow she already knew. “And congratulations are in order, your employee orientation is officially complete.”
“Are you sure? I don’t remember anything,” she said. Master looked over at her, and she decided to drop the line of questioning immediately. Employees must strive to please their superiors. “Sorry, of course I did. That’s so silly of me,” she said, then let out a little giggle.
A whole world of realisations came crashing down on Alicia with that thought. She was an employee after all. That meant she really shouldn’t be questioning him, ever. She shouldn’t just be sitting around waiting for instructions, either. She should be striving to please. She stood up.
“Is there anything I can do for you Master? Anything at all,” she said. She moved towards him. He raised his hand in a halting motion. She stopped dead in her tracks. I must obey my master above all else. It wasn’t just a truth, the thought delighted her. Even something trivial like this was sending little shockwaves of pleasure down below. It was such a delicious feeling.
“There is something, but not that. I want you to head off with Sofia. You’ll be observing her in her duties until further notice,” he said. “Try to learn as much as you can.”
Master had given her an instruction, and she was going to obey.
When Zoe she woke up, she assumed that Alicia had stepped outside to fetch breakfast. It was nothing out of the ordinary. She yawned loudly and looked at the clock. It was almost a quarter past ten.She’d been riding Alicia into the wee hours of the morning, so she was kind of surprised that she was even awake yet. Something was energising Alicia lately, and whatever it was, she was a big fan.
Zoe decided to recline in bed and take advantage of the television. Alicia had mocked her relentlessly for watching TV. Nana she’d called her, like this was something nobody except the old timers did anymore. She wasn’t even thirty! I did bring this on myself, she thought. Serves me right for plucking someone that young. Still, she had no regrets. That night at the college party was one for the books, and they’d been inseparable ever since.
When lunch time rolled around, she started to think something might be wrong. She went down to the lobby and moved towards the front desk. She was relieved when she saw that Enrique was in.
“Hey,” she said, drawing out the word slightly.
“Good morning Miss Sumner,” he replied enthusiastically. “It’s always so good to see you.”
“And you, Enrique.”
“To what do I owe the pleasure? You’re not checking out already, are you?” he said.
Zoe liked Enrique. She liked him a lot. He was the guy you’d summon to clean your fantasy pool when you were thinking very unclean thoughts. She hadn’t even needed more than a hint of flirting before he gave her a discount on the room.
“Oh no. I was just wondering if you’d seen Alicia leave. She didn’t tell me she was going anywhere.”
“I did see her. Miss Parsi left quite early, I don’t recall when exactly. She said she was going in to work, I believe.”
“Going to work?” she said.
“Yes ma’am, that’s what she said.”
Zoe stormed back up to the room and opened the closet. She sorted through Zoe’s clothing, and her suspicions were confirmed. Nothing she’d shopped for yesterday was here. The wheels started clicking her head. Alicia had gone out to “work”, dressed up exactly like the girls she’d seen during the interview.
She sat down on the bed. There was a knot in her stomach. She wanted to bash her head against the wall for being so stupid. When Alicia pushed hard to stay for a while longer she should have realised something was going on. When they were having their shopping trip she should have connected the dots.
She held her wrist up and looked at the spot where the barcode used to be. She was told the slight scarring from the laser removal procedure would never go away. Painful memories started bubbling up inside her.
Alexander Bateman was not just some creepy boss. He was one of the others.
Alicia was absorbing all of this new information like a sponge. She had no idea she was ever capable of such focus, but she found that in the pursuit of her need to obey my master above all else, she could really push herself to the limit. In a sense, it was liberating.
Having all of her stuff knocked onto the floor and having her tutor fucked beside her was putting a damper on her learning, though. Sofia was explaining the finer points of the city’s zoning laws when Master had burst into the room in a fit of anger.
“I can’t fucking find her. She apparently doesn’t fucking exist!” he said. Alicia and Sofia had turned, ready to obey any new instruction he might have had for them.
He walked up to Sofia, lifted her up by the throat, then dropped her unceremoniously onto the table. All of her notes went flying. She was just grateful she hadn’t been taking them on a laptop.
“Oh Master,” said Sofia in an exquisitely husky voice. “Please take me Master. I’m so fucking wet for you,” she said, sliding one hand down into her panties and the other down to his crotch. He still had a hand around her neck. Is this what he likes? Alicia thought. She almost wanted to start taking notes about this now. She wondered briefly if she should be doing anything, but his instructions earlier had been unambiguous. She was to observe, not to help.
Master looked like he was seriously considering Sofia’s offer. She ran her hand gently around the outline of his cock, and it was having a visible effect. He was breathing heavily. It looked like he wasn’t even sure himself what he’d come in for, but he eventually made up his mind.
“No, no, no, this is all wrong. This is all wrong!” he said, then pulled away from Sofia and left her up where she sat.
“What’s wrong, Master?” she said.
“You, new girl, go stand over by the door,” he said.
Alicia complied instantly. She moved over to the exit and waited patiently. Master whispered things into Sofia’s ear and she nodded along. He must have had a lot to say, but eventually he finished, and she stood up and started backing away from him.
“Well then, I should be going,” said Sofia.
“Wait, no!” Master said. Alicia was confused for a moment, but it passed. This must be some kind of game he plays, she thought. “Let’s talk about this,” he continued, and he started sounding a little bit desperate.
“I’m sure we can work something out,” he said. “I can give you the job right now!”
“But you already told me I couldn’t. That things were tight.” He stepped towards her. She stepped back.
Alicia realised that this was pretty much the scene that Zoe had described to her after they got home from the interviews. She was right – she had hit him pretty hard. A tiny thought started percolating at the back of her mind.
“No please… I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I should never have been so rude to you.
“Let me think about it for a minute,” Sofia said. She paused for a few moments. “No. I don’t think I want this job. You can get fucked, I’m leaving.”
“No, please come back here,” he continued. She ignored him, and started walking towards towards the exit.
“Stop her! Grab her!” he screamed, looking straight at Alicia.
Her body immediately kicked into gear. Sofia started to run towards the door, and Alicia grabbed her. It was clear that the escape attempt was half-hearted, but they both did their best to put on a good show for Master. Employees must strive to please their superiors, she thought.
Master quickly followed behind Sofia, and grabbed her by the clothes. He put his other arm around her and pulled her towards him. She screamed and kicked as he dragged her over to the table they were just at moments earlier.
“You’re not getting away this time, Bitch,” he said. He started pulling her clothes off. Alicia caught Sofia smiling through the ordeal. She understood. It must have been sooo satisfying to be able to please her superiors like that.
Master took a moment to stop and he focused his gaze intensely on Sofia. Her struggling stopped immediately. She looked up at him, glassy eyed, and he started whispering things into her ear. She nodded several times. He dropped his pants and pulled out his cock. Sofia started writhing on the spot and making breathy sounds. He started fucking her, and it was not gentle.
“Oh Zoe, yes, yes,” he said, continuing to thrust into Sofia.
Alicia burned with jealousy. She really wished she could please her superiors in that way. She just knew she could make a fantastic Zoe for him. She knew Zoe inside out! But instead, because she wasn’t on a stupid mailing list, she had to sit there while someone else satisfied Master. It was infuriating.
Sofia mewed with pleasure, and met each stroke with movements of her own. She was obviously practised at this. Alicia had fucked guys before, but these days it was pretty rare, and they were always striving to please her, not the other way around. She payed close attention to how Sofia was moving, how she started getting more evasive and slowed the rhythm when she sensed that Master was getting close. There really was an art to it, and Alicia wanted in on it.
If she really was going to strive to please her superior, there was something she could do. The idea had started forming earlier, but now she really had the time to entertain it while Master was busy with Zoe/Sofia. Could I really do that? She thought. Alicia loved Zoe. She was the world to her. They’d been through so much in the last couple of years, and her feelings had never faded for one second. But Alicia had other priorities now. She must strive to please her superiors. She could feel the emotions welling up in her.
Ten or so minutes later, Master was finished with Sofia. Her pussy dripped with semen as she started gathering her clothes again. During the fucking, every time he’d called her Zoe, Alicia knew more and more that this was what he’d want. It was going to please her superiors tremendously. The emotions had kept building, and Zoe was struggling not to openly sob. She failed. Her perfect makeup was starting to smudge as tears dripped slowly down her face. Master turned to look at her when he heard her sniff suddenly.
“What the hell are you crying about?” He said. “Did you want to be fucked that badly huh?”
“No sir… I mean yes Master, I would love to be fucked by you! But that’s not…”
“That’s not what? Spit it out and stop fucking crying.”
She obeyed. Zoe, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.
“There’s something I need to tell you about Zoe Sumner.”
“You’re sure this is the place?” said Slade.
“If you want to look at the map, you’re welcome to,” Brianna replied.
“No. I just… I want to be totally sure, you know?” He looked over at his wife. They both took a deep breath, and stepped out of the van.
Slade threw the bag of equipment over his shoulder. There was no guarantee that Zoe would be here. They could really only confirm that she’d been here a few days ago, but he needed to be prepared. The inside of the building didn’t look like anything special. Boring office corridors, weirdly clean maybe. When he opened the door into the reception area, his heart skipped a beat. Brianna gasped. It was her. She was sitting behind a desk, quietly tapping away at a computer.
They moved closer, acting casually for fear of spooking her. As they drew closer, though, they both had the crushing realisation that it wasn’t Zoe at all. It was like someone was cosplaying as her.
“Hi,” the woman who was not Zoe said. She looked happy. Far too happy.
“Hey, I’m Brianna,” she said, cautiously.
“Nice to meet you Brianna, I’m Janette Holloway, but you can call me Jan. Is there something I can help you with today? Are you here about a sale?”
“Um no, not a sale. I’m not sure if you can help me. We’re looking for somebody.”
“Oh cool! Who is it?”
“Zoe Sumner,” said Brianna. The name hung in the air for a few tense moments.
“Oh that’s so weird,” said the woman. “That’s who Mr Bateman was looking for, too.”
Two other women walked past them while they were engaged in conversation. Slade’s heart nearly lept out of his chest again. Although they were different heights and had different faces, the two women both looked eerily similar. Their hair was cut exactly the same way as Jan from the front desk. They had the exact same tight red sweaters on. They both looked quite a lot like Zoe. As Brianna continued speaking, he was getting majorly creeped out.
“Oh? Is Mr Bateman around for us to speak with?”
“Oh no, he’s out right now sorry. I think he said he was gonna be back this afternoon though. Would you like to leave a message for him or make an appointment to meet him?”
“No, that’ll be fine,” Brianna continued. “We’ll come back some other time.”
They retreated back to the van to discuss their options. Brianna had noticed the same thing Slade had.
“What the fuck is going on in there? Do they have Zoe tied up to a xerox machine or something?” Brianna said.
It wasn’t hard to find information about Alexander Bateman, even just from a cursory search. He’d been profiled in several local outlets. They were all positively glowing, sycophantic with praise, even. He wasn’t even 30 and he already owned half the waterfront and was making aggressive inroads into the middle of town. According to interviews, the secret to his success was hard work and never taking no for an answer. Brianna rolled her eyes.
“Hey, look at this,” said Slade, interrupting her train of thought.
“That Secretary? Janette Holloway?”
“What about her?”
“She used to own the business. She apparently started it with another woman, Sofia Martinez. Bateman doesn’t show up for several years. It looks like ownership was transferred at some point, then the name changed. I mean, it’s listed as Bateman-Holloway but as far as I can tell she’s absolutely not an owner anymore.”
Brianna spend a moment processing the information.
“No. Now she’s greeting people at the door. I don’t know what the hell is going on in there, but it cannot be good,” she said. Slade nodded his head in agreement.
“I’m thinking we play wait-and-see,” he said. “But if he’s looking for her too, then he might just be doing us a favour.”