The Fifth Photograph
by SwitchMan
[email protected]
© Copyright 2009 - SwitchMan - Used by permission
Storycodes: MF/f; bond; display; dungeon; kidnap; slave; toys; reluct/nc; X
Ghoul-gle jpn
The Fifth Photograph by SwitchMan MF/f; bond; display; dungeon; kidnap; slave; toys; reluct/nc; X

The Game

It was 3:00 am on the morning after Halloween. Mike rode his Harley out of town along the deserted back roads. He let his mind wander, and imagined what it would have been like for her.

“This isn’t supposed to happen,” she would have thought at first, in mild surprise. Something must be stuck or broken. Blinded by the flash of the camera, she would have been unable to focus enough to see his reaction or identify the problem. He could clearly see her reaction, though, and it sent chills through him as he continued to capture her experience with his lens.

Shortly following her initial confusion, she would have realized that it couldn’t have been a coincidence that all four cuffs malfunctioned at the same time. At first, she might have tried to get his attention with her beautiful, beseeching eyes. “Please, don’t do this,” they would silently plead, but to no avail. Moments later, her natural instinct would be to scream out in terror, but the over-sized ball gag filled her mouth completely enough to allow only a muffled “mmmpph, mmmpph.” She frantically struggled against her restraints and looked left and right to no avail. No one would be helping her.

She wouldn’t realize the game until it was too late. The leather cuffs and belts holding her so tightly to the chair in basement gave every ounce of control to him. Her struggles were meaningless. She was his to do with as he wanted. Once the last guest left for home, the real game would begin. He so enjoyed that game.

But that was all behind him now, he thought. Looking into the dark, open road, he drove his Harley anticipating his cross-country ride. Tomorrow, he would look for freelance work as he took his time moving west.

The Intern

Cheyenne was an intern for the Omaha Sentinel, a little-known independent newspaper with a virtually non-existent circulation. She hardly made enough to cover her rent each month, but she didn’t care. She was doing what she loved – investigative reporting. It was true that she didn’t have the dramatic or glamorous reporting assignments of her colleagues at the larger papers, but her assignments were every bit as important to the few dozen readers who followed her.

Like her assignments, her office wasn’t glamorous either. Every week started the same way, and this one was no exception. Cheyenne entered the aging office building. She smiled and said “hello” to Cindy, the cute blonde receptionist the Sentinel had recently hired, and she made her way toward the rear of the building to her office.

Cheyenne brushed the fiberglass and asbestos dust from her desk before getting her first cup of coffee and meeting with the photographer who was assigned to her current story. Today, that photographer was Mike, a staff photographer that the Sentinel hired two weeks ago when Joey, the last one, fell off the wagon.

Mike was a character. He had dirty blonde hair that extended to the middle of his back. On warmer days, he wore it in a ponytail. Regardless of the weather, however, Mike was never seen without his leather jacket which bore an emblem on the back reading “The Night Mares.” He often joked that it was an inner-city version of a horseback riding club.

Mike’s desk, little more than a card table, stood along an interior wall directly across from the door to Cheyenne’s office. His work space was just large enough to set his camera down and review photographs when he wasn’t out on assignment. He had a few personal items along the back of the desk, but it was otherwise nondescript.

Cheyenne walked from the coffee maker to Mike’s desk with her coffee cup in hand, and she realized that she had forgotten his last name.

“Some reporter…” she thought, but she was hesitant to ask about it for fear that Mike would lose respect for a reporter who can’t even remember her co-workers’ names.

As she approached Mike from behind, she said “Good morning Mike. How was your weekend? Ready to get the exterior shots of the waste water treatment plant?”

Mike, seemingly preoccupied with the settings of the newspaper’s digital camera, slowly swiveled around to face her, but remained dedicated to his task.

“Actually, the weekend was a bit slow. Slow enough that I already got the shots you’ll need. I just need to figure out how to upload them from this piece of crap camera.” He said, without looking up.

Once Mike had swiveled around, Cheyenne could see that Mike had added a few personal items to his desk since last Friday. In particular, she found herself intrigued by a sequence of five framed black and white photographs along the back of the desk. The fifth photograph was particularly troubling because of the genuine look of terror in the subject’s eyes.

The sequence of darkly lit photographs showed an attractive woman in her early twenties in what appeared to be a dungeon. Although she wore a sort of costume-party mask, her eyes were clearly visible. They were innocent and youthful. In the first photograph, the woman was holding a large rubber ball up to her smiling lips. The ball had a leather strap running through the center of it, and it appeared to be too large to fit into the woman’s mouth.

The second photograph showed the ball-gagged woman locking a leather cuff around one of her ankles to secure it to the leg of a heavy wooden seat jutting out from a wall of stone. In the background, the other ankle appeared to have been previously secured to the opposite leg of the seat using a similarly locked leather cuff.

In the third photograph, the woman was fastening a wide leather belt around her waist. The belt was part of a harness that crossed between and accentuated the woman’s breasts. The wrinkles of her dress around the crossed harness straps and above and below the waist belt suggested that they were uncomfortably tight.

The fourth photograph was a shot of the woman threading a lock through the hasp of a leather cuff on one of her wrists. A matching locked leather cuff adorned her other wrist, and cables could be seen running from each of the wrist cuffs into corresponding holes in the stone wall above and behind her. In this photograph, it was clear that she had fairly unrestricted use of her hands.

Then, there was the fifth photograph – the disturbing fifth photograph. In that photograph, the cuffs encircling the woman’s wrists appeared to be securely fastened to the wall at the points where the cables entered the wall. In the fifth photograph, the tendons in her forearms were taught as though she was struggling to free herself from the cuffs. The woman was wearing a wide collar that forced her head up, her dress was ripped and she appeared to be screaming into her gag as she looked wide-eyed to her left.

Cheyenne forced herself to stop staring at the photographs long enough to look over at Mike. By the time she turned to meet his gaze, he was silently smiling.

“See anything you like?” He smirked.

“Actually, they’re rather disturbing,” Cheyenne replied trying to mask her fascination as disgust.

“They were taken a last year at my annual Halloween party.” Mike replied without elaboration.

After an uncomfortable pause, Mike added “I’m having one again this year if you’d like to come. Last week, I put a flyer up on the bulletin board with all of the details.”

Cheyenne took another hard look at the fifth photograph.

“She certainly doesn’t look like she’s having fun,” she said sarcastically.

“Don’t be so naïve,” Mike chided. “Those were taken at one of the modeling stations at the party. Every guest was able to have a set of photographs taken with an authentic Halloween background. We had a guillotine set-up, the torture chamber shown in these pictures and an Iron Maiden – with rubber spikes, of course.”

Cheyenne stared back at him in disbelief.

“What! You thought those were real? She’s clearly participating in the photo shoot. You can see it in the first four photographs,” Mike said as though he was explaining how a bad magician performed a trick.

“Maybe the first four were voluntary, but the fifth one is clearly real. That woman is terrified,” Cheyenne said with her voice becoming progressively louder.

“She’ll be happy to hear that,” Mike said laughing. “That’s my girlfriend. She’s an actress, and she’ll be at the party again this year.”

She didn’t know what to think. So, she decided to change the subject.

“Well, when you print the proofs of the treatment plant, could you bring them to my office?” Cheyenne said, returning to business as she started back to her office.

The Party

A few weeks passed. Cheyenne finished her exposé of the safety violations at the local waste water treatment plant, and she was well under way with another assignment by the time Halloween rolled around. Although she tried, Cheyenne hadn’t forgotten about Mike’s Halloween party. It seemed that most of the office staff would be there, and everyone was talking about the five photographs on Mike’s desk.

Cheyenne had decided not to attend. Instead, she had accepted an invitation from Kate, her college roommate, to attend a costume party in the brewery district. Actually, if it had been up to her, she would have simply stayed at home and handed out candy to the neighborhood beggars, but Mike’s party had turned into the must-attend event of the year around the office, and she knew that staying at home wasn’t going to be a politically correct alternative to attending. A previous engagement, however, would be a fine excuse for missing the party.

Halloween fell on a Friday that year, and many of her co-workers wore their costumes to work. Cheyenne chose not to mix business with fun, however. Aside from the fact that she already had a reputation as a “cub” reporter, her costume was not fit for display in the revealing light of day. Since her alternate party cover story was a last minute plan, Cheyenne didn’t have the selection of costumes that she would have preferred. By the time she started looking for a costume, all of the good ones were picked over. All that remained were costumes that were exceedingly cheesy or exceedingly risqué. It might not have been the smartest move, but she decided to go with risqué.

Cheyenne intentionally worked late Halloween night, and after everyone else had left, she closed her office door to put on her costume. It didn’t take long. She was going as the “Slutty Witch” according to the cover of the box which contained only a bikini, a cape, a hat and a wand. The only things that the box didn’t supply were the stilettos and the make-up which Cheyenne applied to great effect. Deep red lipstick, dark eye shadow and eye liner complimented the under-sized bra that strained to contain her surprisingly full breasts. To complete the effect, Cheyenne shook out her hair to create a crazy, wild-eyed effect. When she was finished, the woman staring back at Cheyenne in the mirror was nearly unrecognizable.

As Cheyenne drove to her friend’s party, the drivers of passing cars leered at her. She felt more alive than she had in years. She was always so reserved and focused that she had never received a second glance from strangers, and she rather liked her new-found attention.

She arrived at a little after 8:00, and parked in an adjacent alley. Her entrance to the party immediately attracted all eyes like a magnet attracts metal shavings. The party was held in the lobby of her friend’s apartment building and in an open-air garden accessible through a rear door. The lobby was packed with people so Cheyenne was forced to stay in the garden which included the open bar. The brisk night air of late October caused Cheyenne’s nipples to harden and push at the strained material of her bikini top. She hadn’t thought ahead to bring a coat. So, she decided she would just have to warm herself up with a couple of drinks.

Her proximity to the bar, her crazed look, and her raw sexuality brought continued attention. Nearly every unattached man at the party, and some women, offered to get her a drink. More often than not, she politely declined, but that didn’t diminish anyone’s interest in her. The evening became an endless string of innuendos and propositions.

Two hours and several cosmopolitans after arriving, the unrelenting attention began to turn her carefree confidence into intoxicated self-consciousness, and she decided to leave. She politely excused herself from the conversation she was having with an attractive pirate and a handsome super-hero, and she meandered toward the gate leading to the alley where she parked her car. She made it to the gate at the same time as a Playboy bunny, and they bumped into each other knocking Cheyenne to the ground.

“I’m so sorry,” said the woman, apologizing for the accident.

As she helped Cheyenne to her feet, their eyes met, and Cheyenne recognized the bunny as Cindy, the receptionist from the Omaha Sentinel.

“Cindy? What are you doing here?”

“Cheyenne! Look at you! I didn’t even recognize you. My brother lives in the building, and he invited me to the Halloween party,” Cindy said as her smiling eyes ran up and down Cheyenne.

“But I thought you signed up to go to Mike’s Halloween party,” Cheyenne said, trying to clear the cosmo-induced fog in her head.

“Yeah, I did. That’s where I’m headed now. Why don’t you come with me?” Cindy invited.

“No, thanks. I’m going to go home and sleep,” Cheyenne replied reflexively.

“Cheyenne, you’re really in no condition to drive,” Cindy chided. “Besides, Mike’s house is only 6 blocks from here. We can walk, and you can clear your head before driving home.”

Although she was feeling a bit numb, Cheyenne knew deep down that she hadn’t wanted to go to Mike’s party. In her current state, however, she felt a bit ashamed of herself for being so concerned all because of a bad vibe she got from Mike and the photos on his desk. She also knew that Cindy was right about driving in her impaired condition.

“Okay, but I’m going to go home by 11:00,” Cheyenne relented.

“No problem. We’ll leave together,” said Cindy with a reassuring nod.

Cindy began to walk, turning left into the alley. Cheyenne stayed half a stride behind Cindy and let her lead the way. After two blocks, Cindy looked back and said “Don’t take this the wrong way, but you look hot as a sexy witch. Everyone at the party was mesmerized by you.”

“Well, thanks, I think. Of course, you’re one attractive bunny, as well,” Cheyenne responded.

“This old thing? It’s just an old costume that was hanging in my closet from a community theater production I was in a couple of years ago. The play was pretty lame, but I got to keep the bunny outfit.”

They walked a few more blocks in silence when Cheyenne said “You know, I wasn’t planning to attend Mike’s party tonight. He gives me the creeps.”

“Yeah, that’s why I’m so glad you agreed to go with me. He creeps me out, too. Did you see the photographs of his girlfriend that he keeps on his desk?” Cindy replied.

“They’re the reason that I decided not to attend his party. They looked a bit too real for me.”

The End of the Road

The two young women turned the corner to find that they had arrived at Mike’s house. Mike’s house stood alone at the end of a dead end road. It was a large but dilapidated three story house with a dead oak tree in the front yard. The howling wind, the dead end road and the house in need of major repairs all contributed to provide ample ambiance for a Halloween party. Loud music engulfed the house, and lights were on in the first floor and the basement. A few of the partygoers had spilled out onto the overgrown front lawn, and some were saying goodbye to their friends. Cheyenne and Cindy strode past the weeds surrounding the broken mailbox toward the concrete steps leading up to the front door.

In the darkness, it wasn’t clear until they were standing at the foot of the stairs that the front door was boarded up and that there was caution tape strung across the top of the stairs. Hanging from the center of the caution tape was a hand-painted sign. It looked like it was written in blood, and it read:

Halloween Party Rules:
  1. Landlord requires party to end by 12:00 sharp.
  2. All car keys must be placed in lockbox to prevent impaired driving. Your keys will be freely returned when the host is convinced you can drive responsibly.
  3. Modeling stations are in the basement. They close at 11:45.
  4. Front door is out of service. Use right side door.
  5. Have fun.

“Wow. That’s not what I expected at all,” Cindy commented.

“Are you sure this is Mike’s party? This sounds way too responsible for a guy like Mike,” replied Cheyenne.

They shrugged and began walking toward the side door entrance. A locked box labeled “Keys for the Sober” hung from a nail driven into the side of the house next to the side door. They decided not to deposit their keys since they had walked to the party, and they entered the house. They stepped up into a large square landing having two openings into the interior of the house. Proceeding straight would have taken them into the basement, but they both decided to steer clear of the modeling stations, and they turned left into the kitchen which was functioning as an open bar for the party.

A quick tour of the first floor revealed that the party was winding down. The only people left were three couples from the Omaha Sentinel, Cheyenne and Cindy. When Cheyenne and Cindy came into the living room, the others were discussing how fun the party had been. They all asked Cheyenne and Cindy if they had seen the modeling stations. Both women said they weren’t interested.

Either the others took their disinterest as a challenge or the modeling stations were truly superb because Cheyenne’s coworkers wouldn’t stop talking about them.

“Why aren’t you down there if they’re so great?” asked Cindy indignantly.

“We were down there almost all night,” replied Dan, the Sentinel’s managing editor. “We just came up for one last drink while we wait for Carl’s friend to finish up,” he continued, tilting his head toward a guy sitting in a recliner in the corner.

Cindy glanced at her watch. It was 11:30, and she nudged Cheyenne, turning her wrist so that Cheyenne could see the time.

“Well, we’d better be going,” said Cheyenne. “It is 11:30, and we both have plans tomorrow morning.”

“We’ll be leaving soon too, but you really owe it to yourself to check out the modeling stations before you leave – even if you don’t want your pictures taken,” offered Dan.

“Hey, I’m going down to check on Julie anyway. I’ll go with you,” added Carl as he got up from his seat in the corner and walked into the kitchen toward the basement stairs.

Cindy glanced at Cheyenne with an annoyed look of resignation and shrugged. They both followed Carl to the steps but slowed as they descended into the basement. Lining the wall along the stairs were six sets of photographs similar to the set on Mike’s desk at the Sentinel. Each series of five photographs depicted a different subject in a different environment: The first set depicted an older woman being encased in an iron maiden; the second set showed a man being strapped to an electric chair; the third set portrayed a straight-jacketed woman with wild eyes in an insane asylum; the fourth set showed a man being stretched out on a rack; the fifth set illustrated the use of a pillory to restrain a dirty young woman dressed in a revealing set of rags; and the sixth set were copies of the photographs from Mike’s desk.

The photographs lining the stairs gave the two women the same kind of chills as the photographs Mike displayed on his desk. Just like the photographs on Mike’s desk, the first four shots of every set showed a happy, willing subject. The fifth photograph of every set was different from the rest. In the fifth photograph of every set, the subject’s eyes were pleading, horrified, or completely lifeless.

Cheyenne stopped on the third step as the others continued. She listened as Mike instructed somebody in the basement to act terrified.

“No, no, no, Julie,” he insisted like a director on a movie set. “When somebody looks at this shot, I want them to shit their pants!”

Carl and Cindy were standing at the foot of the stairs watching. Cheyenne heard a short pause and a quick succession of camera clicks. Then, Mike said “That’s it! That’s what I was looking for. Great now let’s get you out of there.”

Cheyenne snapped out of her daze and completed her descent. As her head dropped below the basement ceiling and the basement came into view in front of the steps, she saw a padded leather backdrop behind a young woman wearing a mask reminiscent of Hannibal Lector in “Silence of the Lambs.” Tufts of hair sprung out from the sides of the mask, and she appeared to be hugging herself due to a straight-jacket that covered her upper torso. A heavy metal collar was fastened around her neck with a large padlock, and a matching metal shackle encircled one ankle. A length of chain with one end attached to the shackle trailed off to one side.

When the woman stood up to take off the costuming, Cheyenne’s heart lightened. The straight-jacket that appeared to be so tightly wrapped around the woman turned out to be a prop that only covered the front and sides of the woman. The woman’s arms were never actually in the straight-jacket. She had held them behind her so as to be out of the photograph. What appeared to be her restrained arms crossed in front were actually sleeves filled with stuffing, and the creases that gave the impression that the sleeves were pulled tight were actually stitched into the piece.

Laughing, the woman unfastened a set of Velcro straps behind the mask and removed it. As she was removing the collar and shackle, which were actually made of heavy plastic, she said to Mike “That was fantastic! How long before we can get copies of the photographs?”

“Great. I’m glad you enjoyed it,” replied Mike. “I’m going to print all of the photographs this weekend, and I should have them for everyone by Monday.”

With mounting curiosity, Cheyenne stepped further into the basement and turned left 180 degrees to see the other two modeling stations: an electric chair and a dungeon wall. They were set up side by side such that the wall along the basement stairs formed the back wall of the stations.

Mike stepped around Cheyenne to the two stations beneath the stairs and began turning off flood lights. Working farthest to nearest, he turned off the lights for the dungeon station and then the electric chair station when he looked up and noticed Cheyenne.

“Hey! Glad you could make it. I thought you weren’t going to come,” he said as he continued shutting down the equipment.

“Well, I was in the neighborhood…” offered Cheyenne lamely.

“Too bad you missed out on the photo session. I think you’ll be the only one at the office without a set of photographs.”

“Actually, you didn’t take my picture either,” offered Cindy now standing near the electric chair station behind Mike.

“Oh, yeah. Sorry I didn’t see you there,” Mike said as he turned around.

“Well, why don’t you two have your photo sessions now? Everyone else has done it,” Carl suggested.

“Yeah, it’s a hoot. I just finished up,” agreed his friend Julie.

“No can do,” said Mike firmly. “The modeling stations close at 11:45, and it is already 11:35. There’s no time. It takes about 15 minutes to shoot one set, let alone two, and I’ve got to clean up and have everyone out of here by midnight. Landlord’s rules, not mine.”

Suddenly, Cindy had a change of heart and wanted a set of photos.

“Can’t you just do one more set of me?” She asked.

Cheyenne felt unexpectedly slighted. The last thing she needed was to be the odd person out at work.

“Wait a minute! You said you didn’t want to do it,” Cheyenne whined.

“Well, that was before I saw how much fun she had,” Cindy retorted, motioning to Julie.

“Whoa. It doesn’t matter,” interrupted Mike. “It’s just too late.”

“What if we helped with the shoot?” offered Carl. “Julie and I can help Cheyenne and Cindy with the props, and you can tell us how to adjust the lights. You could alternate shots between the two which would save time. With our help, you could probably get them both done in ten minutes.”

“Well, for that to work, they would have to use these two stations,” Mike said, pointing to the electric chair and dungeon wall. “That way, I could position the camera between the two stations and take shots from a single position.”

“We can stick around for a bit if you want to give it a go,” offered Julie.

Cheyenne and Cindy looked at each other smiling. Then, Cheyenne turned to Mike and said “What the heck. We’d be interested if you’ll do it?”

“Okay, but let’s get moving. I really need everyone to leave by midnight. The last time I had a party, the landlord drove by afterward checking for cars parked in front of the house,” Mike said.

Cheyenne started moving toward the closest station, the electric chair station, but Cindy was too quick for her. Sitting down, Cindy looked up at her with a satisfied smile. Cheyenne, not wanting to draw attention to her preference, shuffled past Cindy to the dungeon station.

“Okay, we’re going to have to work quickly to pull this off,” Mike said to Carl and Julie. “Julie, hand Cindy the electrode helmet. Carl, you’ll need to turn the floods back on and get Cheyenne her gag.”

Carl turned on the lights, and as he handed Cheyenne the gag, Mike snapped the first shot of Cindy holding the helmet over her head as though she was in the process of putting it on. Cheyenne accepted the gag, but was shocked to see that instead of a ball gag, Carl had handed her a set of leather straps with a wide contoured panel that would completely cover the lower half of her face from under he chin to around her nose. The panel included nostril holes and an oblong leather pouch horizontally fastened to the inside surface opposite the wearer’s mouth. The pouch was not too deep, but it was so wide that it would completely fill any wearer’s cheeks.

“What happened to the ball gag?” Cheyenne blurted out in alarm. “I thought it would be the ball gag,” she reiterated.

“The ball gag broke last year, and I replaced it with something a bit more menacing,” Mike said smiling. “Hey, if it freaks you out too much, you can just bag it, and I’ll finish up with Cindy.”

Cheyenne looked back at Carl who raised his eyebrows and motioned with his head as though to say “Go on, it’s okay.”

Cheyenne looked down at the gag in her hands with a quizzical look just as Mike snapped the first picture.

“Carl, help Cheyenne put on that monster while I get the next electric chair shot,” Mike said quickly.

“Why don’t you get your mouth around that inside part, and I’ll adjust the straps for you,” Carl offered.

Cheyenne slid one side of the oblong pouch between her teeth and into her left cheek. It strained the skin on the corners of her mouth to pop the other half of the pouch into her right cheek. Once the pouch was completely inside her mouth, the gag naturally hugged the front of her face – even without the straps. Nonetheless, Carl moved behind Cheyenne to adjust and fasten the straps at the base of her neck. With all the fuss over the unexpected gag, she hadn’t realized that the underside of the panel formed integrated collar until Carl pulled all the straps taught and buckled them.

Cheyenne gave a throaty grunt and pointed to the back of her neck.

“I know it’s a bit tight,” said Carl apologetically, “but it’s on the very first slot for the buckle.”

Cheyenne sighed heavily through the nostril holes.

Having momentarily finished with Cindy’s second shot, Mike turned his attention back to Cheyenne.

He looked directly into Cheyenne’s eyes and said, in an understanding tone, “I know that the gag is probably pretty tight and that you can’t talk. I also know that it probably really freaks you out. So, let me explain the next part of the shoot so that I can put you at ease.”

Mike knelt down in front of Cheyenne and placed one of her ankles in front of the ankle cuff attached to a ring apparently fastened to the leg of the thick wooden chair.

“First of all, these cuffs aren’t really secured to the chair leg,” he said as he pulled the cuff and attached ring away from the thick wooden leg. The ring was held to the chair leg by a spring-loaded cable which gently retracted into the hollowed leg. The mechanism was similar to the wrist cuffs that Cheyenne had seen in the photographs on Mike’s desk.

“Not only do these cuffs move away from the chair, but the locks we’ll be using are magician’s locks that I found online.”

Mike showed Cheyenne that once the hasp on the lock was engaged, simply pressing on the center of the combination dial snapped it back open.

“Now, attach the first cuff to your left ankle, and we’ll shoot you attaching the second cuff.”

As Cheyenne leaned down to fasten the first cuff with the fake lock, Carl was treated to a view of her cleavage that made his evening. She graced the women with the same show when she fastened her right ankle for the second shot. Just as Mike clicked the shutter, Cheyenne looked up to see Cindy and Julie enviously staring at her assets.

The awkward moment was interrupted by Dan loudly calling down from upstairs.

“Hey Carl, are you and Julie about finished?”

“Yeah, we’re helping Mike take a few more shots of Cindy and Cheyenne,” Carl yelled back.

Mike continued his work without missing a beat. He took the third photograph of Cindy attaching a wide leather belt around her waist. He took the third photograph of Cheyenne fastening a leather harness with straps crossing over her shoulders. The harness held her surprisingly firm against her seat and created a visual separation of her upper body that was completely superfluous given the inadequate amount of fabric provided by her “Slutty Witch” costume.

Mike continued his quick pace to capture the fourth photograph of Cindy, but as he turned his attention to Cheyenne, there were several footsteps on floor of the kitchen above them. They could hear the back door open as Dan called down into the basement again.

“Hey guys, I hate to break this up, but it’s almost midnight and the four of us are ready to cut out. Marla and I have a 7:00 am flight tomorrow. So, if you two are catching a ride with us, Carl, you need to come on up. Mike, where is the key to this lockbox?”

Mike looked up from his camera.

“Julie, the lockbox key is in a black coffee mug in the cupboard above the sink. Why don’t you give them their keys, and you can catch a ride with these two,” he said irritably.

Julie looked at Cindy and Cheyenne for approval. Cheyenne nodded and grunted unintelligibly to signal her agreement before Julie went upstairs to get their keys.

Mike turned back to his work. He instructed Cheyenne to “lock” her left wrist into the retractable wrist cuff which extended from the wall just above and to the left of her shoulder. As he took her fourth photograph, he instructed her to “smile with her eyes.”

Turning to Cindy, Mike instructed her to snap fake cuffs onto her wrists and rest them on the armrests of the electric chair. Velcro strips on the fake cuffs engaged with corresponding strips on the armrests. When in place, the wrist cuffs gave the appearance of being unyielding leather straps, even though Cindy could raise her arms up any time she liked.

“Okay, this is where I let you in on the secret ingredient of my photo sequences,” Mike announced as he rose from behind his camera and began to move toward Cindy and Carl.

Cheyenne’s head was finally cleared of the alcohol fog that had allowed her to lower her defenses and attend Mike’s party. The disturbing images lining the staircase behind them filled her head, and she gave out a pathetic muffled whimper.

“Lighting!” Mike bragged as he leaned in to adjust the light above Cindy’s head giving her a significantly more severe appearance.

Mike stepped back behind the camera and directed Carl to nudge the floodlight left and then backward.

“Now, give me a look of utter surprise,” Mike said to Cindy as he opened his eyes wide, as though he were possessed.

He snapped several shots and said “Okay, you can relax. That was good, but stay put for a second. I want to review the shots in the camera before you get up.”

Julie called down from upstairs. “Mike, I can’t find the key for the lock box. Can you get if for us? Carl and I need to go with Dan and his wife after all. Our stuff is at their house, and we need to get it before they leave for their trip.”

Carl looked at Cindy and Cheyenne. “Are you guys okay with that? We’re almost finished.”

Cheyenne shrugged as much as the harness would allow and grunted “I don’t know.” Cindy mistook the three syllables as “I guess so,” and said “Yeah, sure. We’re almost done here.”

Carl started up the stairs, and Mike got up from behind his camera to follow. He stopped between the two women and looked at Cindy. “You stay put,” he said pointing his finger in an exaggerated motion. “I think we’re finished, but I still need to check out the shots.”

Then, he leaned over Cheyenne to adjust the light above her. He paused long enough to drink in the view of her bikini top.

“That’s better. This going to be my most disturbing photo essay yet,” Mike said to himself as he leaned way back to get a wider view of Cheyenne.

“One last detail - I want to see the shadows as they will actually fall on in the final shot. Could you hold your arms against the wall and you legs against the chair as though you were really trapped in a dungeon?”

Cheyenne closed her eyes and smiled under the thick leather gag. Mike didn’t seem too bad after all. Hopefully, she could do the shot justice. She pretended to struggle as she held her wrists and ankles back near the props.

“Good. Just one minor adjustment,” Mike mumbled as he stepped toward Cheyenne’s chair. He reached up as though to adjust the light, but looked downward to ensure that his left foot landed squarely on a pedal next to the dungeon chair. The cables attached to the wrist and ankle cuffs were swiftly and inescapably pulled back hard against the back of the set as though a massive weight was attached to the other end of the cables. It made a soft but ominous sound.

Mike smiled an evil smile and said “Now, you stay put as well. I’ll be back in a second to finish you off,” and he ascended the staircase two steps at a time to help the others retrieve their keys.

Game Over

Mike quickly squeezed past the group as they headed out the back door. Dan and Carl waited in the kitchen for the keys.

“Here it is,” Mike said in a condescending tone as he quickly located the hidden lockbox key and retrieved Dan’s car keys. “Are you okay to drive?”

“I stopped drinking over an hour ago,” Dan said impatiently.

“Okay, here you go.” Mike said as he slapped the keys into Dan’s hand. “Now, I’ve got to finish up downstairs.”

As Mike turned toward the staircase and the other two opened the back door to leave, a loud and incessant grunting made them all pause momentarily.

“Is everything alright down there?” Carl yelled.

Without answering, Cindy laughed and said loudly “Cheyenne, you are quite the actress. Stop goofing around! You’re going to break something.”

“You guys take off. I need to get back downstairs to take Cheyenne’s fifth photograph before one of them knocks over my equipment,” Mike said as he headed down the basement.

“Have fun girls. See you on Monday!” Dan yelled as he closed the back door.

The Accomplice

She could still remember how Mike had surprised her with the dungeon set at last year’s annual Halloween party. She had firsthand knowledge of how totally inescapable it was. She also knew that an ordinary ball-gag wouldn’t adequately silence an unwilling victim.

Still, it was amazing how well the plan had come together. Until the very last minute, it didn’t look like they would be in a position to make it a reality. Even though they had planned this for months, they had both agreed that unless they could get everyone else to leave the party, they would have to forego the opportunity and try again next year.

She wanted it so badly, though. Badly enough to keep their relationship a secret for the past five months. Badly enough to follow her to the other party and arrange the unlikely meeting. Badly enough to wear that ludicrous costume.

Once they had complete control, the plan was simple. They packed their prey into a panel van and took her to their new home in Montana. Nobody knew them there, and Mike already had a job lined up as a wedding photographer.

Cindy had always wanted a slave, but Mike just wasn’t as into that stuff. He liked having Cindy helpless and vulnerable, but he didn’t have the need for anyone else. Fortunately, Mike would do anything for her, and soon enough, so would Cheyenne.

True to his word, Mike developed all of the photographs early Saturday morning before they left Nebraska. He packaged them up and arranged for delivery to the Omaha Sentinel on Monday afternoon. The package was hand-delivered to the temporary receptionist by a local courier service. The package included 54 photographs – five photographs for every employee who attended Mike’s party – everyone except Cheyenne. The package contained only the first four shots of her. Cindy insisted on keeping the fifth photograph as a reminder for Cheyenne.

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