© Copyright 2015 - AmyAmy - Used by permission
Storycodes: Solo-F; M/f; college; blackmail; favors; innuendo; denial; hum; anguish; stuck; porn; cons/nc; X
Chapter 1: Good Intentions Rimkoff
Professor Rimkoff made the motions of examining her file while she squirmed in the cheap plastic chair. His attention wasn’t on the file, it was on her. He didn’t give a damn what was written there. But whether or not she passed the year was up to him and there was nobody else to appeal to.
He put down his tablet and peered over the top of his glasses. His x-ray gaze travelled back and forth between her breasts and her crotch in a leisurely way. It was plain where he was looking, he didn’t try to hide it.
Until this moment the phrase ‘undressed her with his eyes’ had sounded like a cheesy cliché. But the way he was looking at her now made her shiver. His gaze stripped her naked. How did he do it with just a look? It was all she could do not to cover herself. At least she’d put on clean underwear. Not that he could really see that, but it felt like he could.
He licked his lips and her stomach lurched. The hairs on her arms and the back of her neck prickled with alarm. She gripped the edge of the chair, knuckles white.
Was he saying something? She’d nearly missed it.
“…on record that you failed to meet even minimal standards of attendance. I understand that you don’t dispute that. The question here is your medical waiver. You needed to submit the supporting letters to the review board before the end of term. That was over a month ago Erica.”
Her tongue didn’t want to move. Her mouth was dry. Her face felt hot, and her jaw clenched tight didn’t want to open. She had to answer though. She had to. His lies were so unfair. “But… But I did submit them. I brought them to you personally Professor.”
“I’m quite certain I would recall such a thing, and even if it had somehow slipped past me, my assistant would have made a note. There is no such note in your file Erica.”
“There must have been a mistake. A filing error or something? Don’t you remember when I dropped them off?”
“I remember all our meetings very clearly Erica, believe me I do. Unfortunately, our recollections differ.”
His mobile phone started to ring.
He ignored it. It kept ringing and vibrating at the same time. It looked like it was about to shake itself off his desk.
He reached out and grabbed the phone. “Hello, Rimkoff,” he said, snapping out the words.
He listened for a moment. “What is this call concerning?” His tone that made her realise that he’d been using his ‘nice’ voice on her. If he’d used the same one he was using on the phone she would probably be in tears by now, or worse.
He listened a bit longer. His frown growing more evident by the moment. Erica looked around the room. She’d had several tutorials in this office. None of them had gone well. Every time she came here it was the walk of shame. Mostly she’d been sitting down, but the ‘sit of shame’ didn’t have the same resonance.
All those times she’d never noticed the collection of unusual Lego men on the professor’s desk, though presumably they’d always been there. Was that one doing something funny to the other? Oh… It was a Lego lady, not a man… Oh…
“Is this a marketing call?”
“You are making a marketing call. You have clearly misrepresented yourself, and I can assure you, I do not need or want to hear anything further from you.” The look on his face suggested he might be about to bite the phone in half.
A shorter pause.
“No. Thankyou. Goodbye.”
He slammed the phone down onto the desk, Erica winced, expecting the screen to crack, but it didn’t.
“Telemarketers,” he said, reverting to his ‘nice’ voice. “Sorry about that.”
“No problem,” Erica said quietly. She chewed her lip. What had he been saying earlier?
His smile might have been intended to be reassuring but it reminded her of the walrus from Alice in Wonderland. Was she another baby oyster to him?
“Well… Back to business. You don’t make this easy for me Erica. I want to do the best for you, but you… Well… You don’t have a history of reliability. I would like to believe you, and yet… How can I put this delicately? You miss most of your lectures. You don’t hand in your lab work. You arrive late or run out of the middle of tutorials without explanation. And we both know there is more...”
He meant the time she’d wet herself in one of his tutorials. It wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t picked on her. She’d always had a nervous bladder. He still smiling that awful walrus smile that he saved just for her. She daren’t even look at him properly. She was twisted sideways in the chair so she could see the door handle. The room was a trap. She had to find the way out.
She needed to say something. Anything, before he found more things wrong with her. “Could you possibly have a look to see if the letters got misfiled or something?” She blurted the words out in a rush, all running together.
“I or another senior staff member would need to determine that another investigation was justified, but you haven’t shown me that there are any grounds to suggest these supposed missing letters ever existed, have you Erica… Miss White?” he said. “Though, it’s possible that if they had been submitted the board would be able to make allowance for your attendance problems. Would you like to offer anything more?”
He was back in his zone now. The leering look on his face entirely disconnected from his words. He raised his eyebrows in a very purposeful way. It looked almost comical. If she’d been watching a recording of him talking to somebody else she might have laughed at that cartoon expression. Power-eyebrows in full effect, but up close and personal it made her hair stand on end.
She didn’t know how to answer. Nothing came to mind. Her last year of study was a write-off and there was nothing she could do. The walls closed in around her. She was trapped in a very tiny space with this beady-eyed predator. He wanted her. His nose flared at the scent of her. If he made his move now she would be helpless to stop him.
She shook her head, unable even to say the word ‘no’.
He slowly unzipped the fly of his trousers. His sinister grin had become a full blown smile.
Erica gasped. Her hand flew to her mouth.
“Would you like to ask me to look for that letter again? Or perhaps you’d like to explore other grounds for making an exception? Are you a promising student who regularly performs above and beyond expectations Erica? I think you could be if you just applied yourself.”
Even if some cynical part of her considered going along with his suggestion, it was impossible for her, not with him, not with anyone. It wasn’t the morality of it; the idea of him putting his hands on her was unbearable – paralysing –that other part of him, poking out of his fly, would be even worse.
She screwed her eyes closed. She couldn’t look. If he touched her now she’d freeze up completely. Catatonic. Tensed into a ball like a dead spider. It had happened before in less stressful situations.
“Erica, whatever are you doing?” His voice was so incredulous she forgot to panic.
She opened her eyes. His pants were zipped back up. It was as if she’d imagined it. Her face glowed hotter than the sun, the flush running down right into her chest. She had to leave; couldn’t stay a minute longer.
She tried to explain but her throat seemed to have closed up completely. All she could do was cough and splutter.
“Miss White, are you ill? Is there something wrong?”
She finally managed a feeble sputtering whimper. She couldn’t seem to get any air.
She had to remember the process. Doctor Belling had drilled her in it over and over. Slow deep breaths. Slow deep breaths. Don’t see it as an absolute. It’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t matter as much as I think. It’s no big deal. Nobody thinks I’m strange. Even if they’re looking at me it doesn’t mean anything. They won’t hate me forever. They don’t want to hurt me. I’m just a stranger to them and all this will be forgotten soon. I can get through this. I’m a calm rational individual, in control of her actions.
Who was she trying to kid?
She was fucked. At least it was only metaphorical.
“Erica? Miss White? You do understand what I’m saying don’t you? Are you even listening?”
The professor had tilted his head and given her a sad concerned look, as if he was surprised she was upset.
“So-so-sorry Professor,” she said, barely controlling her stammer. “I’m not good with, um, people. I’m sorry. I appreciate you seeing me. Social situations make me nervous and… It’s… It’s an old… It’s an old problem. Not your fault Professor. I can’t… If I could, I would, honestly. I’d better go. Sorry. Sorry.”
She jumped out of the chair and pushed it ahead of her, gripping the back of it as if she was about to use it to fend him off like an old-time lion tamer.
“A pity I couldn’t be of more assistance Miss White. In any event, there’s nothing stopping you applying to repeat your course. You understand don’t you? I can’t make an exception unless you do the right things.”
“Sorry. I, I think so Professor. Thank you. Um, sorry,” she’d said. Still holding onto the back of the chair she edged backwards towards the door.
“Good. Good. It would be my pleasure to see you overcome whatever personal difficulty is preventing your success for the present, and I do look forward very much to seeing you here again next year. If you do come back we need to make sure you get the help you need, don’t we?”
Erica winced at that.
“Thank you Professor… Sorry.”
She bolted out of the office, her heart hammering in her chest. Her eyes filled with tears, her vision dark, she could barely see where she was going as she rushed down the corridor. At last the elevator doors closed. She concentrated on slowing her breathing, counting the floors to the ground.
Something felt wrong… Missing… Her bag. Oh no. She’d left it behind. Still sobbing, she couldn’t go back for it. No way. There was nothing in there she really needed. She would have to pick it up another time; she could live without her tablet for a few days… or weeks.
She was shaking. She walked home on auto-pilot. Thoughts of Rimkoff, her behaviour, and her failed course tumbled back and forth in her head.
Some people behind her were whispering and sniggering about “the Flake”. She was used to it. At least they weren’t mocking her openly. It was worse when they called her names to her face, or made everything they said to her a euphemism about one of her incidents. Rimkoff had told the truth about her record. But he shouldn’t have brought up that humiliating episode, it was going too far. He probably didn’t know about the others or he’d have mentioned those too.
She’d escaped for now but she wasn’t off the hook. If she repeated the year, he would start with her again. What had he said? ‘Make sure you get the help you need?’ Ominous. Probably some scheme to blackmail her into compliance. Why couldn’t she stand up to him? Why wouldn’t he leave her alone?
Even if she was a normal girl, coping with Rimkoff would be tough. She wasn’t normal, her mother clearly didn’t think so. Doctor Belling might say that she was, but the doctor just said it to reassure her. It was obviously a lie. What normal girl had anxiety attacks like hers? What normal girl turned catatonic or throw up her guts at the touch of another person?
Erica found herself back at home, the time between leaving Rimkoff’s office and arriving at her front door had disappeared.
As she so often did on returning home, she went upstairs to her room and collapsed face down on the bed weeping. What could she do to fix this latest failure? Was there anything at all?Mother
Half an hour later, her eyes were still red. She washed her face with cold water. She had to talk to someone and her appointment with Belling wasn’t until tomorrow.
Her tablet was in Rimkoff’s office, so she booted up the old beige desktop she sometimes used for web-browsing and chat. It clunked and rattled and farted out dust, taking forever to bring up the desktop. The only person online was her mother. The only person she could talk to, anyway.
She’d probably regret it. No. Her mother wasn’t always awful. Who else could she turn to? She hit the call button. Maybe there’ll be no answer?
Her mother answered almost straight away. A few seconds later her jerky video image appeared.
“Hi,” Erica said.
“Oh, it’s you darling. Well I never. Should I get my ice skates?”
“You called me. If hell’s frozen over, I’ll be able to go skating on the lake later?”
“Mother. I call you all the time.”
“Twice. In a year.”
“That’s because you call me every week. There’s never any news so… Nothing much happens does it? Well…”
“I have some news now Erica. I was going to call you but I just kept putting it off. You probably don’t want to hear it.”
“What is it? Is someone ill?”
“No, Erica darling, but we have to budget. We just can’t afford the money for your tuition. You know your father has only worked six months this year and we’re out of savings. I meant to tell you earlier but I didn’t want to worry you. Besides, I wasn’t sure if you would continue with that silly computer course.”
“You weren’t sure I would continue? What does that mean? I’ve just finished the second year of my degree. I can’t give up now. I mean, I could, but it would be incredibly stupid.”
Now there was no way she could ever admit to her mother that she’d failed her second year. How was she possibly going to keep that a secret?
“I thought you might give up. It’s not like you are cut out for it. It’s all men in computers darling, they’ll walk all over you like a cheap doormat.”
“Mother, honestly? Would you rather I just flunked out now? It would be simpler, right? And it’s not very nice to call me a doormat?”
“I didn’t mean it that way darling, but you have your … problems. You can’t help them, but going to college seems… A little ambitious… With your issues. There are times I wish that just one of my children were normal, but it’s not to be … not to be. Why don’t you come home where you belong and we can look after you?” She used her special euphemism voice whenever she mentioned problems or issues. Erica wanted to slap her every time she did it.
“I’m getting better. It’s not nearly so bad now. My therapist says I’ll probably grow out of it.”
It wasn’t true but she’d worked to improve. She’d been to counselling sessions, she had a psychiatrist… But since the speech therapy for her stammer she hadn’t made any significant progress.
There had been so many things to deal with lately, and she had failed half her labs, despite doing the work, too afraid to go up to most of the assistants and get her work marked. Then she’d been genuinely ill in hospital with pneumonia and there’d been no chance to hand it in later. As for Rimkoff’s tutorials, if she’d gone to all of those, he’d definitely have found a way to get into her pants.
“With things as tight as they are we can’t afford to waste money on courses if you aren’t going to make anything of it. You’re already quite clever with computer thingies, why don’t you just come home and make your little softwares here? I hear that everyone doing that kind of thing now. You don’t need a degree for it.”
“Oh, and your father said that if you come home, Connie has a job waiting for you. He sounded quite keen on the idea. I think that for once he talked her into it.”
“Aunt Connie? Not the dental receptionist job again? You can’t be serious?”
“There’s nothing wrong with that job. It’s perfectly respectable work and it offers opportunities.”
“Wonderful… If by opportunity you mean marry a thirty-five year old dentist. Why would you ever think I’m cut out to be a receptionist? Have you forgotten I don’t do social? At least I.T. isn’t entirely about talking to people.”
“You said you’d improved. You can manage to answer phones and do a little filing can’t you? I’m sure you’ll manage somehow. At least you have something waiting for you if you come home. You’d be taking over from Connie. It would be very rude to say you don’t want it, especially if you don’t have anything else.”
She was on a video call. The picture was lagging behind the sound. Erica watched her mother make that face about five seconds after she heard the tone of her voice. Her mother was in do-not-budge mode and any attempt at argument would only make things worse. Even though her plans were as terribleas ever, the only thing to do was to back off and try again another day.
“Yeah, well she wanted to marry a dentist didn’t she?”
“There’s nothing wrong with marrying a dentist darling. You’d be a lot better off than we are. Who’s going to look after me in my old age, hmm? What’s so awful about living in a big beautiful house you can fill with babies?”
“Don’t talk like that mother, it’s disturbing. If I wanted anything to do with dentistry I’d be doing a dentistry course.”
“Well, your father’s set on it.”
“Is he really?” she said. It was certainly a lie. It was her mother’s plan through and through.
“I wouldn’t have thought of it myself, but there’s a decent life there and you know it. Your useless brothers are never going to amount to anything. Musicians? We all know that’s just a euphemism for an alcoholic working on trading up to a heroin addiction.”
“Mother… You are impossible. It is not!”
“Though the sort of places they play I doubt they make enough money to pay for beer, let alone prostitutes.”
“Mother! Now you are being disgusting and unnecessary. You do this to spite me.”
“It’s not all about you darling. I won’t go–”
The call dropped out suddenly. Her parents had a terrible internet connection and didn’t seem to care about it. It couldn’t be her end because the house she shared with three other students was practically next door to the exchange and she’d pitched in with the two guys downstairs to make sure they had good equipment.
How could she have deluded herself that calling her mother would make her feel better? As usual it had made her feel like an idiot. Her mother always made her feel bad. How stupid could she be to think that would ever change?
Maybe she should just give up on her course and let her mother win? It was a triple bind. Even if she could raise the money, she couldn’t face Professor Rimkoff’s special tuition. But going home with her tail between her legs to work as a dental receptionist… She’d be the living dead, her mother’s puppet going through the motions of a life.
She could never be a receptionist anyway. She’d be sacked in her first week, which would be humiliating in itself. Even if it were possible, she couldn’t bear sitting in that funny-smelling room all day, listening to the awful whining sound of drills and polishers.
Everything was broken because of her problems. Her problems… Her appointment with Belling was tomorrow. At least she ought to have something constructive to say about Rimkoff.
She’d have to find the money to enrol in her course again and pay all her living expenses. How on earth would she do that? Not on a single McJob, but maybe if she got two? Or something that paid piece work and she worked illegal hours?
There were too many students chasing too few jobs in this town. Her chances weren’t good.A Lust for Literature
She was working through her third online recruitment site when her browser started popping up adverts for porn sites. Some of them looked downright nasty, and there were also all kinds of odd fetishes that had never seen advertised before, along with the usual boobs, blow-jobs and viagra.
She kept clicking them away but whenever she went to a new page more would materialize. It seemed like the hot thing was ‘streaming webcam’ and half the sites seemed to be pushing ‘hardcore or amateur girls streaming live to your computer’ or some rearrangement of the same words. Well, this was why she kept a box just for browsing. She could just nuke it and restore from an image.
She’d used the internet to educate herself on every possible sexual practice, fetish, deviation and sub-culture but commercial porn wasn’t something she’d really seen before. It was a little intriguing.
She preferred the free story sites. Currently she was mainly reading stories where an innocent damsel was corrupted by a cruel master who would struggle against his overwhelming love for his victim. There was no shortage of stories in exactly that vein.
Her obsession with genre fiction had started when she was only little, reading westerns. She had found a shop where she could buy them ten or twenty at a time for almost nothing and once she’d read them she could trade them back to the store for credit.
She must have read thousands of westerns. The other half of the store was devoted to romance novels and she graduated to those when she got a bit older. She liked the historical ones where the men were rich and dashing. It wasn’t until she was approaching the end of school that she started to read fantasy and occasionally science fiction.
She did most of her reading on her tablet or on her little e-book reader now, though she still had a handful of old-fashioned books. Since she’d been at college she’d been reading erotic – some would say pornographic – stories on the internet.
There were lots of sites where she could read her fill for free. Most of the stories were rewrites of the same few basic patterns, and many were badly written, but there were still hundreds and hundreds of good ones – the ones she liked – ones where the men were really in charge.E Z
Erica’s dodgy computer was overdue some attention. She stopped surfing Buzzlist and returned to the task in hand. Before she restored the machine she needed to know how it got infected, but nothing she had could identify the problem. Perhaps somebody in her regular chat room would know how?
She was trying a diagnostic when her online friend Ezgrrl123 came online.Ezgrrl123: Hey Rica, what’s up? El-rica111: Pooter has the mals. Keeps popping up porn. Ezgrrl123: Did they steal anything? El-rica111: Nothing on this old pooter. I got it free and just use it for the web and throwaway chat IDs. Guys in the house probably on the warez sites again, maybe some worm on the network.I wanted to find out what’s on here and how it got on tho. No point restoring it just to get a repeat infection. Ezgrrl123: Any joy on your review? El-rica111: NO!Professor is a total jerk. Lost my documents on purpose and my appeal rejected. Ezgrrl123: That’s awful. So sorry. El-rica111: I know, it’s a pain. /cry Ezgrrl123: They just blew off your entire year. Are you OK? El-rica111: Upset? Or worse. Will be ok tho. In the end. Ezgrrl123: Worse? El-rica111: Need a heap of cash to repeat year. Also, Prof is a real creep. Came on to me. Wanted something in return for finding the letter. He spelled it out. Even if I get back in next year, he’ll be after me. If I wasn’t so cautious he might have got me by now. Ezgrrl123: Shit. Rica. You have to report him. El-rica111: No way. If I do that it’s my word against his. It’ll look like me trying blackmail/revenge. Ezgrrl123: If he did this to you, he’s probably done it to others right? El-rica111: Probably he has. You think I’ll feel better if I go back and find there was a complaint before? If there was, I bet the uni turned the blame back on her and she got the boot. Accused her of blackmail or something. Or maybe there’s no complaint and he just got what he wanted. Ezgrrl123: This is Girl*** movie territory. You’ve got to Lisbet that bastard. El-rica111: How would I do that? He’s not dumb. Ezgrrl123: Like the book, you go back, video him when he tries it again. El-rica111: I bet he’s seen that movie too and I’m not a ninja pirate like girl in the story. I’m not going near him for that. No way. Ezgrrl123: You can’t let him get away with it. What about next year? Say the word, I’ll come over and help. El-rica111: Please no. And don’t think of posting anything about this. He’ll know it came from me. I have to cope with this some way that doesn’t lock me out of my course. Ezgrrl123: Don’t wuss out. Even if you find a way around this- Wait, you’re not thinking of actually giving him what he wants are you? El-rica111: You think I’d do that? I couldn’t do it even if I wanted to. I have a phobia of that stuff. Ezgrrl123: You’re kidding right. Men creep you out? .oO New info! El-rica111: Not just men. Anyone. I can’t talk to people. If they touch me I freak out. I got bullied a lot. Still do I guess. Ezgrrl123: You never thought to mention this before? El-rica111: Didn’t think you needed to know how pathetic I am. Doesn’t make a good impression when meeting and greeting. I’m fine with the net. Only broken IRL. Is it a problem or something? Ezgrrl123: I’m sorry Rica. I didn’t mean to upset you on top of what you have to deal with. All that going on and I can’t even say the right thing. I can’t help it. I’m just an angry bitch, that’s my problem. Right? El-rica111: I just came on to vent. I’m so screwed. I won’t have to deal with the Prof because there’s no way I can afford the course fees next year. I don’t know if I can even pay my rent and food. Ezgrrl123: Yeah, well that is pretty much my life, apart from the fees problem. If you want to talk about your other problems, it would have been OK if you’d said earlier. I volunteer for the women’s shelter. It’s not their fault they got beaten up by assholes. El-rica111: Sorry. I guess everyone has troubles, but I’ll spare you the gory details of my neurotic behaviour. It would only make you think I was a flake. Ezgrrl123: I wouldn’t think that. El-rica111: Everyone else does. With my anxiety it’s hard to get a job, impossible to keep one. Not many jobs you can do without leaving your room. Ezgrrl123: Some you can. I know some guys who make a living from their bedrooms but they are probably going to prison one day, you know? Wannabe script kiddies. I don’t think they do anything illegal, but they probably will one day. Ezgrrl123: I probably shouldn’t have said that. I’m sure they are good kids really. El-rica111: Sure. Ezgrrl123: Anyway, you’ve got to do something. You can’t let that asshole get away with this. You owe it to the people he got already and the ones he’ll get in the future. It’s a duty, a responsibility to other women to stand up to these assholes. You agree, right? El-rica111: I don’t know if I’m cut out to fight that battle. Need to think. I better go. Sorry to bother you with this stuff.
Erica smashed her fist down on the keyboard. There was a crack sound and the T key came loose. She should never have told Ez about her problem, not even a hint. Now Ez would always think she was a nut, or a flake or some other kind of crazy. By the sound of it, Ez probably thought she was practically a collaborator with The Patriarchy or some feminist shit too. Erica had enough problems without getting into causes. Ez might get a bee in her bonnet about ‘fixing’ her anxiety issues, and that might be worse.
Probably Ez didn’t want to come out and say it, but she knew some hackers who could plant kiddie porn on the Prof’s machine, it was right there between the lines in her chat. She wouldn’t say they were into something grubby like ransomware or credit card fraud in case it was used against her, but she’d said enough.
With access to people like that Ez wouldn’t find it very hard to track down Erica’s real identity if she got the urge.
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story continues in The Secret Life of Rica