by Jennifer Harrison
The room is dark and empty. I feel the cool, conditioned air kissing my naked body. I wait. But then, I have no choice but to wait…
* * *
“Ashley, darling! Come in! So good to see you!”
I arrived at the apartment of my friend Sophie – well, we had known each other since our college days, I’m not sure if that means we’re friends, particularly in light of today’s events. She had invited me to dinner, to meet her ‘new man’. She air-kissed me in greeting, a practice I loathe, but she is one of those ‘creatives’ who think this is de rigeur.
“Honey, this is Heinrich. Darling, this is Ashley, my oldest and dearest friend.”
I instantly disliked him. He was at least ten years older than us, and I saw that his smile did not touch his eyes.
“Ashley,” he said stiffly as he took my hand. It was cold, his handshake limp, as if he resented the human contact. ‘Cold fish’ was about the kindest of my thoughts at the time. He spoke with a cultured German accent, and I could easily see him as a concentration camp doctor. In fact, as Sophie informed me with breathless excitement, he was a senior research director with a major pharmaceutical company.
Dinner was perfectly civilised. Sophie gave me chapter and verse on her upcoming art exhibition, which sounded as esoteric and ‘arty farty’ as all her exhibitions. Don't get me wrong, I knew she was a highly respected artist in her field, it's just that I'm not a very art-savvy person, and a title like ‘the artistic legacy and future potential of the primordial Eve’ sounded like so much hot air to me.
Heinrich remained silent throughout, and I could feel his unwavering gaze upon me, making me nervous and uncomfortable. I think that is why I began drinking the wine quite so enthusiastically - that's my excuse anyway. I was soon floating on a pleasant alcoholic haze as Sophie’s words washed over me.
She was talking about ‘the good old days’, back at university, when we were young, innocent, idealistic and stupid.
"Do you remember that time you streaked in front of the union bar?" We shrieked with laughter at the memory, clearly both worse for drink.
"As I remember it," I said, slurring slightly, "you encouraged me by betting me I wouldn’t do it, quite a lot of money as I remember."
"That's true," she replied, "but I made money on the deal by selling ringside seats in the bar beforehand."
"Ah, you never told me that before!" I protested, "and then, afterwards, you ran off with my clothes!"
"Oh yes," Sophie giggled, "it was so funny watching you trying to make your way back to your room in the nude!"
"I still haven't forgiven you for that, you know," I said in mock admonishment.
"Oh come on, you loved it!" she said, before turning to Heinrich. "I can tell you, confidentially, that our prim and proper Ashley fiddled herself every night for a week thinking about that! You're really an exhibitionist, aren't you?"
Bringing her boyfriend into the conversation reminded me how uncomfortable he made me feel, and the way he stared at me silently, unblinking and unsmiling, killed the jovial mood completely. As I tried to sober up, I could feel my head throbbing, but not like I was drunk and the room was spinning, it was something altogether more frightening, as if I was losing control.
"I'm sorry, Sophie, Heinrich, I don't… I don't feel well… I… think I… need to… go, can you… call me… a taxi, please…" I watched as if in a trance as Heinrich leaned over the table and took the wine glass from my hand, placing it on the table. I stared at my hand, which remained in front of me, fingers outstretched as if still holding the glass. I managed to drag my eyes away and look at Sophie who, rather than showing concern, was smiling at me.
"Don't worry, darling, it's only the drug we gave you taking effect." What was she saying? I had heard the words, but couldn't quite take on their full import.
"Whaaaaaaaat… thhhhhhhhhhhhhe… fuuuuuuuuuuuuu…?" Somehow, my mouth could no longer form the words.
I pushed back from the table, trying to stand. I heard the chair clatter to the floor behind me, but I only made it halfway, I suddenly couldn't straighten up, I was frozen!
"It worked!" I heard Sophie exclaimed excitedly, clapping her hands together.
"Of course it did," I heard Heinrich say coldly, "it may still be an experimental drug, but it's been through eighteen months of clinical trials already, it has proven to be safe and effective."
I tried to look up at them, tried to turn my head or even my eyes, but nothing would work. I was completely paralysed! I could hear the two of them getting up from the table, and saw Sophie's legs as she approached me. I felt one of her hands pressed against the small of my back, then the other against my shoulder, pushing, and I slowly straightened up.
"The drug prevents the brain from firing motor neurons," Heinrich explained, "while leaving the autonomic nervous system unaffected so, while your heart will continue to beat and you will continue breathing, you can instigate no movement."
I heard what he said and could feel the effect he described - yes, I was still breathing and my heart was pumping, but try as hard as I might, I couldn't move my body, head or limbs in any direction, even an inch. When I tried to speak, shout, then scream, I couldn’t take a deep breath, get my vocal chords into the right position, or even open my mouth or move my lips. I was scared - no, I was absolutely terrified - but there was a burning question in my mind. Why?
"How wonderful!" Sophie beamed. "Now you can be the centrepiece of my exhibition!"
What? They had drugged me with something which sounded highly illegal as well as potentially dangerous, whatever Heinrich said, so that she could have her precious exhibition?! This was insane! I wanted to scream at her, tell her what a mad plan this was, that she should just stop and think what she was doing for a moment and she would realise how ludicrous she was being. But of course, I could say and do nothing about it. I saw her lean in and kiss her boyfriend passionately, eliciting barely a flicker of reaction from him.
"Go and get the handcart, liebschen," he said, "and we can take her to the preparation room." Sophie beamed from ear to ear and positively skipped out of the room. When she was gone, Heinrich turned and walked towards me, standing only inches from me. I saw him smile for the first time, and it was not a pretty sight, even more frightening than the silent staring over dinner. He raised his hand and ran his finely manicured fingernail down my cheek.
"You are a fine figure of a woman, Ashley," he murmured in a scarily controlled voice, "I'm going to enjoy seeing your exhibition." If I didn't like him before, now I was utterly terrified of him. I fervently hoped that Sophie would return very soon!
I heard some clattering, then Heinrich stepped to one side and I saw that Sophie was pushing one of those two wheeled things you move boxes on, although this one had a wooden panel on it which went quite a long way above the handles. She disappeared behind me, then Heinrich was in front of me again and I felt his hands underneath my arms, leaning me forward so that my head rested against his shoulder. I felt something under my feet, and then I was being tipped backwards until I felt something - the wooden board - against my back. I realised I had been placed on the handcart, like a shop mannequin, and then I was being wheeled out of the room and down a corridor. I felt even more terrified at being treated like a piece of furniture, moved about against my will, and not even knowing where I was being moved to or what for. I felt like crying, but I couldn't even do that.
The tipping process was repeated so that I was now standing on the floor in what looked like, from the little I could see directly in front of me, some kind of shower room, with tiles on the walls and floor. Sophie came and stood in front of me.
"Aw, you look so peaceful like that," she said, stroking my hair, "the really interesting thing about this drug is that, while you have no control over your body, I can move you around like a Barbie doll! Don't worry, it won't hurt. Now, we just have to get you ready for the exhibition!"
She bent down out of my sight, and I felt her hands, one on my knee and the other on my bottom. She pushed the knee back whilst stopping me falling back by grabbing my buttock, and my leg straightened. She repeated this on the other knee, then straightened my back, and I was standing up properly instead of bent over. Hoping that this indicated some change in my paralysis, I furiously concentrated on moving my legs myself but, to my dismay, nothing had changed, I was still completely frozen. But now, I realised, my body was under their control.
I received a fresh jolt of alarm when I felt her fingers on the top button of my blouse, undoing it and then moving down to the next. Moments later the blouse was open, and she eased it off my shoulders and down my arms. What the hell?! When I felt her undoing the clasp of my bra, I realised that she intended to strip me, and my nightmare visions of the evening just got a whole lot worse.
As she took off my bra, every instinct screamed at me to raise my arm and cover myself, but I was just as immobile as I had been before, there was nothing I could do. I saw Heinrich move into my line of vision and my mind said ‘blush’, but I don't think even that instinctive reaction had any effect on my complexion. I felt Sophie unbutton my trousers and pull them down, along with my knickers, until they were around my ankles.
Heinrich moved around behind me, and suddenly I felt his cold, clammy hands around my body, just below my breasts. He lifted me up off the floor quite easily, and I had the sensation of my shoes, pop socks, trousers and knickers all being pulled off, leaving me stark naked. Heinrich put me back on the floor, but his hands slid up until they cupped my breasts, rolling my nipples between his thumb and forefinger.
"She's aroused," he said flatly, and I knew that my nipples were already hard before he touched them.
"I knew she would be," Sophie said, smiling at me, "I told you, she is an exhibitionist." The fact that she didn't seem to object to her boyfriend feeling me up did nothing to reassure me. I had just about come to terms with the fact that I was at their mercy, but now I started to panic about what they intended to do with me, now that I was naked and entirely unable to resist.
Sophie walked up to me and I saw her fingers approaching my face, then she closed my eyelids. I desperately tried to open them so that I could see what was going on, but could not. I felt my jaw being pushed up until my teeth met, and my lips being manipulated, moulded as though they were made of playdo, so that my mouth was now closed. I felt something being pushed into my nostrils and I began to panic, but whatever it was, it still allowed me to breathe easily.
I was rather surprised and alarmed when I felt a wet spray on my face, and I would have jerked back instinctively if I'd had any degree of movement whatsoever. As it was, I stood there as the spray coated my face, then proceeded to cover my hair, then down my neck. Gradually, every inch of my body was sprayed, even my most intimate places - in my ears, between the cheeks of my bottom, even between my thighs. The only places not coated were the soles of my feet, as I was standing on them.
"We just have to let you dry for a while, Ashley dear," I heard Sophie say, "then we can finish you off." I heard receding footsteps, then the door closing. I was alone. Terrified, unable to move, and alone. I felt like I was losing my mind.
I don't know how long I was there, I had no way of measuring time, but it felt like at least an hour, and all I could think about was ‘why?’ Sophie had always seemed highly strung and I think she may have spent some time in rehab, but this was extreme even for her! I wondered if her relationship with Heinrich was the key. It was obvious that he had provided the drug which had rendered me helpless, but I wondered if this crazy idea was his in the first place. Had he talked her into it? I knew that she wasn't a very practical person, and once she got a ‘bright’ idea into her head, she could never see the problems. But this?! On and on my mind whirred like a clockwork toy, but I didn't have enough information, all I could do speculate.
At last I heard them returning, and felt fingers pressing into my skin, on my cheeks, my stomach, the inside of my thigh, between my buttocks.
"Brilliant!" I heard Sophie say, "it's dried perfectly. Give me a hand here please, Heinrich."
I felt myself tipping back and then lifted under my armpits and by my knees. I was laid down on my back on some kind of table, because I could feel that my feet and ankles were hanging off the end. A few moments later, I felt the spray on my uncovered feet, meaning that I was now completely coated in whatever it was that they had sprayed me with. This only took a few minutes, and then I found myself alone again, left to dry. I wondered what it was that they had sprayed on me, and had a sudden thought that maybe it was gold paint, like that girl in Goldfinger. Should they have left a strip of bare skin over my spine to let my skin breathe? Would I die like the girl in the film? Or was that just a bit of movie guff? I was pretty sure it wasn't true, but it still scared me.
When they came back, I was lifted up and placed on the handcart, before being wheeled back down the corridor. We stopped, and I felt fingers on my eyelids, raising them, and I saw Sophie in front of me.
"I thought you might like to see your new look for my exhibition." She moved to one side and I saw that there was a full length mirror in front of me. The sight that greeted me was shocking.
Rather than gold paint, I had been covered from head to toe in silver. Even my hair was entirely silver. I looked like some kind of alien, in fact I could hardly recognise myself, I certainly didn't look human anymore. This was even more frightening than anything I had imagined. I looked like an exhibit in an art museum, and that thought seemed to make my predicament all that much more real.
"Okay," Sophie said next to my ear, "we just need to get you dressed now." Oh thank God, I thought, they're not going to display me naked! What a huge relief that was.
I felt Sophie pass a rope around my waist and tie it loosely in place. As I watched in the mirror, I saw her take what looked like a red ribbon about two or three inches wide and maybe three feet long, and thread it under the rope behind me, pull it between my legs and take it under the rope again at the front.
"There were are," she said triumphantly, "you're ready!" What?! That was it?! The ribbon hid virtually nothing, but seemed designed to draw attention to my naked groin rather than to cover it.
"Shall we go?" Heinrich said in a statement rather than a question. The vision of my silvered form disappeared as a sheet was thrown over me and I was wheeled away. I felt the air suddenly become chilled and realised we had moved outside, into the street. I was wheeled a short distance and then up a ramp, guessing that I had just been loaded into a van. This was confirmed when the engine burst into life and I felt the vibrations of the vehicle transmitted up into my body. We pulled away, and I realised that I was suddenly even more isolated. At least until now, I had known where I was, and other people might have looked for me there, but now there was no trail for would-be rescuers to follow. I was completely on my own.
It was maybe another hour before the vehicle stopped and I was unloaded. Another brief blast of cold air, and then we were in a building, one which sounded large, echoing, and empty. I was taken down several corridors, into a lift which descended, a couple more corridors and then we drew to a halt.
"Welcome to your exhibition stand, Ashley," Sophie said as she removed the sheet. The room was large, and it looked like we were inside a black marble box, the walls, ceiling and floor uniformly dark and reflective. There seemed to be a number of spotlights all focused on the perspex dais at the centre, with the light bouncing off in all directions, making it look very dramatic. The round platform was about two feet high and four feet in diameter. Sophie and Heinrich picked me up off the handcart and, after a bit of a struggle, got me up onto the dais.
They then began to manipulate my body to get me into exactly the position which Sophie wanted for her ‘artwork’. They made me squat down on my left leg, then pointed my right leg out straight to the side. My left hand was placed with the fingertips resting on the platform, while my right arm was positioned so that it looked as though I was reaching for the stars. Sophie carried out some fine adjustments, pushing my legs slightly further apart, straightening my back so that my breasts were thrust forward, and then adjusting my head so that I was staring up at the stars for which I was reaching. When she did this, I saw that she was pointing my face directly at a mirror attached to the ceiling, in which I could see… myself.
I have to admit, the display was magnificent. This striking silver figure - I had difficulty telling myself that it was really me - looked very heroic, perhaps like the Statue of Liberty, and surrounded by beams of white light as she seemingly floated in mid-air. I could also see Sophie and Heinrich looking at me, pacing around, checking every detail, straightening the thin ribbon between my legs so that it is just so, moving a silvered hair back into place.
"It is very impressive, my love," Heinrich said, "you should be very proud."
"I couldn't have done it without you, darling," Sophie gushed, "and, of course, not without you, Ashley. How long does the drug last?"
"About 24 hours, there's plenty of time," Heinrich replied. I watched in the mirror as he walked towards me, and I felt his hand on my breast.
"Now, now, darling," Sophie chided softly, "no touching the exhibits! Shall we go to bed now, I'm exhausted."
"Perhaps to bed," Heinrich replied in his steely tone, "but I have no intention of letting you sleep, my little slut!" Sophie actually giggled at that and, as they walked out of range of the mirror, their hands were all over each other. I heard a door close, a key turn in the lock and, once again, I was alone.
* * *
I don't know how long I have been here, it feels like days. The cold air in the room has chilled me, unable to move or even shiver to warm myself up. How much longer?
I hear the lock turn, the door open, and the sound of people - many people - entering, chattering, glasses clinking, but nobody steps close enough for me to see them in the mirror. Not until Sophie appears, dressed in a stunning red satin evening gown. She stands close to me and turns to face the crowd.
"Ladies and gentlemen of the press, we come to the climax of my exhibition, a piece I have entitled ‘The Triumph of Eve’. Please take as long as you wish to examine the works on display, I'll be here to answer any of your questions and, of course, there is more wine. Enjoy!"
Suddenly the view is full of people milling around me, I can feel them close, feel their body heat, smell their perfume and aftershave. And I can hear their conversation.
"My word, it's so realistic!"
"I wonder what it's made of, it looks soft, but surely it must be hard?"
"It is certainly a magnificent representation of the female form, quite the finest, most detailed statue I have seen."
"Can we touch it?"
"Well, we don't normally allow members of the public to touch the exhibits," I hear Sophie say, "but then you're not just members of the public are you, you're the press, and there must be some perks!"
Sophie laughs at her own witticism, and a couple of people politely join in. I jump (mentally, if not physically) as I feel a hand cupping my left breast, squeezing gently, then lifting it, weighing it.
"It feels so… lifelike! What is it made of?"
"Now that would be telling!" Sophie replies.
"I like the erect nipples, nice touch!" A woman's voice speaks up.
"Is she - I mean it - anatomically correct?"
"To the finest detail."
"Even… where we can't see?"
"Again, that's a trade secret!"
I feel more hands on me, on my thighs, stroking my stomach, squeezing my buttock. In my mind I am completely aroused, but it has no effect on my body… or does it? Is it my imagination or am I becoming wet down there? Is my physical arousal part of my unconscious mind? Now I'm sure of it, I feel moist and warm down there, with that tell-tale itch…
"I'm amazed that you could get your model to sit for such an incredibly detailed statue to be sculpted. It must have taken days, weeks!"
"No, I use a new technique, it’s remarkably quick."
"But still, it's so… intimate. Did she not object?"
"She's a very dear friend, she had no objections whatsoever, I'm very grateful to her."
The groping and fondling continue, making me more and more aroused, but unable to express it. It feels like the ultimate frustration…
Eventually, the crowd dies down, the people drift away, and I am once again alone. But after only a few minutes, I hear Sophie and Heinrich returning.
"That went better than I could ever have hoped!" Sophie enthuses, "this show is going to make my name!"
"Interesting," Heinrich remarks analytically, leaning forward, "look how damp the cloth between her legs has become." I feel him lift the tail of the red ribbon away and touch the damp material against my crotch. "This is the strongest sexual response I have ever seen from a subject whilst under the drug."
"You see?" Sophie replies, almost laughing, "I told you she would enjoy this. You’re loving this, aren't you, Ashley?" For once I am glad I cannot speak, because I don't know how I would respond. I am totally aroused, yet still terrified by my frightening situation.
"Look at her fingers," Heinrich says, pointing to my raised hand. I look across and see that my middle and ring fingers are moving, only fractionally, but they are moving! I realise that I moved my eyes to see that! I am coming out from under the drug! I'm becoming free!
"Quickly, we don't have much time."
I feel my arms being moved, pulled behind my back, and then I hear the soft click of handcuffs being closed and tightened around my wrists. Sophie stands in front of me and holds up a large square of black leather, moving it towards my slightly parted lips. I can move my head, but only a little and slowly, and I can't avoid her as she presses the panel over my face, something on the inside forcing its way into my mouth. I feel her tightening the straps behind my neck, and by the time my vocal chords have become free enough for me to speak, I am thoroughly gagged.
As strength and control return to my arms and legs, I struggle to break free, kicking out, trying anything I can to get away from them, but Heinrich holds me firmly, his strength too great for me even if I wasn't debilitated and handcuffed. He drags me off the platform and across the room. Sophie is ahead of us, and she pulls away a black sheet to reveal a cage, made of wire mesh, like a cage for a large pet!
My feet scrabble desperately on the smooth floor, and I twist and turn my body, trying to break his hold on me, but it doesn't matter what I do, I can't stop him dragging me closer to the cage. He forces me down on my knees and then grabs my hair, thrusting me inside the cage. Sophie slams the door and puts a padlock through the wire loop. I throw my shoulder against the door but it is already too late. I'm locked away, just as completely trapped as I was when under the influence of the drug. I look up desperately, my eyes pleading with Sophie, pathetic whimpers the only noise which escapes past the gag.
"Don't worry, Ashley," Sophie says as she crouches down beside the cage, "we will give you the drug again tomorrow and you won't have to worry about anything, you can just have fun in the exhibition, like you did today. And tomorrow will be even more exciting, because it's the first day we are open to the public! Ticket sales have been good, so there could be hundreds, thousands here. Just think of that, Ashley, all those people gawping at your naked body under that thin layer of paint, ogling you like you're the greatest sex symbol ever! That has to be an exhibitionist’s ultimate high, doesn't it? Anyway, we'll see you in the morning. Good night, darling, and thank you so much for making my exhibition such a success!"
I watch in dismay as they walk away arm in arm, switching off the lights and closing the door, leaving me in total darkness. I hear the key turn in the lock and, finally, the tears come…
Copyright© 2013 by Jennifer Harrison. All rights reserved.