heavy metal

[Author's Note: Sorry I've been away for so long, everyone. School work has kept me busy. Here is Part One of a story I've been working on for a while. This is still a rough draft, but I do hope you enjoy it. Reviews are welcome.]



Chapter 1: An Ancient Sign of Coming Storm



An eerie echo emanated forth from what seemed an endless void, yawning open in every direction, silent yet eternally present. The echo solidified into a faint, wailing scream, a cry of agony and terror, a protestation against one’s grim fate. As the cry droned on in unheeded desperation, a crackling sound swirled out of the mist to surround and bolster it, a cacophonous torrent of static noise, dissonance in its purest form. Then, from nowhere, over this amalgamation of torment, came the laughter: low and grim, then rising in fervor, pitch, and volume to a maniacal crescendo that seemed to shake the unseen boundaries of this abysmal prison. And then the drums kicked in with a blazing blast-beat, the dissonance settled into a tremolo-picked guitar riff, the atmosphere and ambience of this void became an artfully played synthesizer swelling and fading into the mix, creating atmospheres perfect for this grimly operatic piece, over which soared, howled, shrieked, and gurgled the haunted vocals.



Necrosadist’s album spun in the CD-CHANGER of Tristan’s sizeable stereo. The unit had cost him a good sum of his birthday money two years ago, and had earned him the raised eyebrows of his parents when he’d carted it out to the car. / A/ /sixteen/ /year-/old,/ they said, /doesn’t need a big stereo system for anything useful./ Sixteen year-old Tristan disagreed. Looking back on it, eighteen year-old Tristan disagreed, too.



Flopping back on the couch, brushing a black strand of hair out of his eyes, he let out a contented sigh as the sounds of the biggest local black metal band wafted over him like the scent of a fine wine that only the most discriminating of tasters could truly enjoy. The band, in Tristan’s opinion, captured the symphonic elements of Emperor, the raw bombastic sonic smiting of Burzum, and the theatricality of Mayhem’s stage presence, all in one perfect, evil package.



“Lo, into the void I walk,” sang the seemingly-agonized vocalist, “and into its depths did I stare. Plunging in shadows my chains ripped asunder, and mountains I crumbled without care.”



Tristan loved this part of the song. He leapt onto his couch, bringing up his hands into the mighty air-guitar pose. Up-turning his clean-shaven face, letting his long black hair flow out behind him, he sang along:



“And as from the moorings of mortality, I so blissfully tore. Now into the skies of wicked ascension, I gracefully spread, MY, WINGS, AND… SOAR!!”



The last word erupted from a deep scream into a heart-stopping operatic note, which Tristan strove to match. / Those vocal lessons are paying off,/ he thought, /this doesn’t hurt my throat at all./ He sang along with reckless abandon in the privacy of his own abode, knowing no one would see him being so… natural, no one would challenge him for his bold, wild abandon.



Tristan was not usually quite so gregarious, not so outwardly expressive. He often found himself channeling his desire to leap about, to sing and perform, into his writing or his private thoughts. But today, this time, this place, was different. Firstly, he was home, in his off-campus apartment, away from prying eyes and scornful words. He was free to be silly, crazy, normal by his own standards, to be what he felt compelled to be. But one reason made today even more specifically special, more a reason to cut loose and relax. And that reason lay on Tristan’s coffee table, the one his parents had provided when they helped him furnish his apartment for college.



Tristan hopped down from the couch, his bare feet padding softly on the carpet as he landed lightly on the balls of his feet, like he always did. / Silent/ /landing,/ he told himself proudly, /silent, cat-like, and deadly, for I am the warrior./ This brought a smile to his face, a creepy smile to others perhaps, but a smile of joy to Tristan. Leaning over, he picked up the piece of paper from his coffee table and looked at it again, looking at it once more as if to assure himself that it was real. / Necrosadist, live at The Den, September 31st, 9:00 pm./ And today was that very day.



Tristan’s heart beat faster just thinking about it, his blood stirred within him an anxious fervor, a need to move wildly and revel in the excitement. Tristan was not a big guy, by any stretch of the imagination. At a roughly average height and a slender build, he was nowhere near the mighty barbarians hailed in his beloved heavy metal anthems. His pale skin and long dark hair did fit him in nicely with the metal crowd, though his hair was well-cleaned and not the least bit greasy. Tristan was much too picky to let his hair become matted and repellent. It just wasn’t in his nature. The very thought made his skin crawl.



But now was a time for rejoicing, for Necrosadist was only three short hours away. Tristan had to prepare himself for the show. To that end, he strode into his bedroom, stripping off his clothes and entering the small bathroom. He worked the shower knobs until a warm stream issued forth from the showerhead, and then he stepped beyond the curtain and let the water surround him.



Tristan always loved water, ever sense he was a child he’d loved it. Swimming, running in the rain, even bathing. Water was so relaxing, so comforting. When you floated in it, it was like you were being held, cradled by an unseen but benevolent presence, kept safe and comfortable. Now, in the shower, he simply stood as if in a trance, his hands mechanically moving through his long, thick hair, letting the hot water wash it out. The sensation was pleasurable beyond compare.



When he felt clean, Tristan stepped out of the shower, firmly turning the knobs to ensure the stream entirely ended and didn’t continue with that irksome little trickle that would so annoy him later. After drying off, he enshrouded himself in his black bathrobe and walked briskly into the living room, shivering in the cold air. From over his bed, his poster of Milla Jovovich from a promotion for the movie UltraViolet stared down at him, menacingly. He smiled up at her, even as she brandished an automatic weapon in the general direction of his CD tower. From another wall, Manowar’s faceless Immortal Warrior held aloft a flag on a poster festooned with flags of the world’s nations. This soon had Tristan humming the chorus to Manowar’s “Warriors of the World” as he opened his closet to procure his attire for the night.



Heavy metal fashion was, to the outsider, paradoxical. If heavy metal fans, these metalheads, listened to this music to rebel, why did they all want to look the same? How could they criticize others for following a crowd when they looked similarly themselves? Tristan and any other knowledgeable headbanger knew that this view was full of shit, like those people who unleashed such gems of wisdom as: /tattoos are so popular now, the rebellious thing to do is to not have one./ Metal, for its fans, was a source of solidarity, it was something that linked them all together. They were alienated from the mainstream culture, but like moths to a light they were drawn to metal, for it espoused their views, intrigued their intellects, made real their fantasies. They wouldn’t all be grouped together listening to the same music if they didn’t share at least something in common, and an aesthetic naturally arose from, or perhaps helped stimulate, this fact. What good was a subculture that so based itself on rebellion that it had to rebel against itself? Metal wasn’t founded on rebellion, it was founded on individuality, independence, a ferocious speaking of one’s mind, and barbarian warriors fighting demons and evil wizards. If that happened to be rebellious, so be it.



Tristan mused on these facts as he laid out his clothes on the bed. Black jeans, a sleeveless black shirt sporting a Slayer logo on the front, studded leather wristbands, a gleaming silver bullet-belt, and of course, his black, steel-toed boots. Add to that the silver Thor’s hammer pendant which he never removed, and Tristan was entirely geared up for the glorious events of the evening.



Tickets were only $15, and Tristan had managed to scrape that cash together selling some old movies and books at a local used bookstore. It was all worth it, all going to pay off in just a little while. Tristan couldn’t believe it was really happening: his first heavy metal show, and with his favorite local group no less. With that in mind, he pocketed his wallet, cell phone, and apartment key, and strode boldly from his apartment, locking his door and double-checking its security before he stomped down the stairs in his heavy boots.



Tristan was not normally so publicly confident. But everything was different tonight. The atmosphere charged him, his clothing was his armor, metal was his fuel and his objective. He was strong this night, despite his lack of actual muscles, he was ready to be heard despite his shy demeanor, he held his head high despite his tendency to keep his eyes downcast. This night was different, it would all be different from here on out. He could sense it.



Chapter 2: Caught in A Mosh



The bus screeched to a halt, its breaks wordlessly begging for attention from a mechanic, from anyone with the capacity to repair them. The doors swung open and Tristan exited the vehicle amidst a stream of others, some dressed similarly to him, some less so. With a loud roar, the bus trundled off on its route, belching a cloud of foul-smelling exhaust behind it as it clattered along.



The night sky was dark, the air cool but not cold. The city, the more developed area of the Pine Ridge community, bustled about its night-life all around him. And there, only a few feet away, was the long line snaking its way toward the entrance of The Den, Pine Ridge’s venue for “alternative” performers. That is, anyone who wasn’t seen as “marketable” by the media powers-that-be. Checking and double-checking his right front pocket for the ticket, Tristan moved forward and took his place at the back of the line, behind two tall, bulky guys in Cannibal Corpse t-shirts.



“Fucking line!” one of them growled unhappily. “This sucks.”



“Been here forever!” the other agreed.



“Hey man,” the first guy said to Tristan, “you see this fucking line here?”



“Uh yeah,” Tristan replied, doing his best to sound like them, deep-voiced and intimidating, “yeah it’s going nowhere, man. Fuck this shit.”



The two men agreed rather vocally.



Slowly, despite his companions’ statements to the contrary, the line did in fact wind its way past the ticket-taker and into the club’s dim interior. When Tristan reached the ticket taker, he had a brief moment of panic as he scrabbled in his left pocket for the ticket, before recalling it was in his right pocket and handing it quickly to the man at the door, who admitted him with a short nod and a grunted utterance of no particular meaning.



The interior of The Den was illuminated with simple, unimpressive lights. The building was packed, wall-to-wall with leather-clad metalheads in all shapes and sizes. A girl in a skin-tight leather top rode astride a hulking man’s shoulders as he plowed his way up to the stage to stake out a prime place in the impending mosh pit. Tristan looked on in awe until a teenager of about his height, but twice his muscle-mass, slammed into him with jarring force.



“Hey, wake up man,” the other boy said, “you’re going to get yourself trampled just standing around all zoned out and shit.”



“Oh yeah, sorry. Thanks, man.” Tristan replied in his best Cool, Laid-Back Concert Attendee voice.



“No sweat,” the other kid said, “let’s get up front, you and me bro, come on.”



Without any further warning, the kid, a blonde haired teen in a Celtic Frost shirt, dug into the crowd, elbows out. Tristan, experiencing this all for the first time, followed along, trying his best to look imposing and as if he knew what exactly he was doing. Then at last, he was near the stage, touching it, in fact. His mind boggled at the fact that Necrosadist would be so near to him, personally. Could this really be happening, was this all not some dream of roaring fans and stifling air? And then, the lights went out and the crowd went silent.



Slowly, a red glow washed over the audience like some infernal wave bathing them in its unearthly essence. There, on the stage, figures emerged, backed by the red glow, taking up positions on stage, seen only as shadowy forms, wraiths in the glow. Then, as the light began to grow brighter, the roaring of the crowd returned, increasing in volume until the stage erupted in an inferno of light and sound, to a tumultuous reaction from the crowd as Necrosadist launched into a fast-paced track.



Tristan couldn’t believe it. How was it possible that they sounded even better live than on their albums? The clarity of the guitar, the pummeling drums resonating in his rib cage, the mind-blowing synthesizer work, and those terrifying lead vocals being barked, shrieked, and sung into the microphone mere feet away from where Tristan stood. The crowd went wild, and Tristan found himself fighting for his balance, elbows extended to fend off pressing attacks from all sides. For a moment he stood there, a pillar amidst the tide, and then he was swept away, riding the current of the pit in haphazard directions, flailing about, heedless of the firsts, elbows, and knees that jabbed at him and of those he returned.



The band, in perfect form, filled Tristan with their sound as though it were a liquid and he a vessel; everything else was pushed out. His social anxieties, his claustrophobia, his discomfort with crowds, his concerns for the future. The music at once seemed to anchor him in the “here and now,” so to speak, and yet removed him from his own limitations. It was as if all that existed was the mosh and the metal, and Tristan could not be happier. Was this what those people who writhed about and spoke in tongues felt at their tent-revivals? Probably not, because no one here was trying to show off for anybody.



The big guy with the scantily-clad girl atop his shoulders bludgeoned Tristan in the side of the head with his elbow, and sparks danced behind the smaller man’s eyes. But it didn’t matter, what was this pain, what did it concern him?! /I am the warrior,/ he assured himself, /I have a heart of steel, I am invincible here./ And the music that both infused and surrounded him did nothing to dispel that notion as he fought to clear a space and began to headbang in the classic “windmill” style, his hair spinning as his head completed one quick circuit after another.



“Rock on, man!” said Celtic Frost Shirt, taking up a position by Tristan’s side.



Soon, the two teenagers had a crowd of hair-spinning headbangers gathered, all facing outward in opposite directions as the band launched into a blistering fast song called “Tales of Ancient Deception.” The mosh pit around this shield wall-like enclave of headbangers began to form into the visually astonishing circle pit: metalheads continuing to mosh as they all ran in a circle with Tristan and his headbangers as the hub of the wheel. Truly, it was glorious to see that improvised coordination, that perfect, primal flow of the circle pit.



“Going up!” came a loud voice in Tristan’s ear.



Before he could react, the two guys from the line were hoisting him up between them, and were quickly joined by others from the hub of the circle pit. Tristan was lifted up on all of their hands, he was being passed along. He was /crowd/ /surfing!/ The audience churned beneath him like a black ocean, yet he rode strong. Necrosadist’s singer looked out at him. Tristan quickly flashed the “Devil Horns” symbol, coined by Ronnie James Dio during his career, a metal salute returned by the singer on stage. To Tristan, there could be no greater honour than this: to have exchanged Devil Horns with this singer whose work he so loved.



Then the crowd lost interest in holding Tristan aloft and he was let down, gaining his feet again shakily and striking out toward the stage once more, sweat stinging his eyes, his hair a tangled mess. But that was not a setback, it was an encouragement, it was all part of this metal ritual, it was all meant to be. With a mighty, metal scream, he plunged into the pit once more, gleefully reveling in the fray. / How/ /is/ /it,/ he asked himself, /that I can plunge into a pit of violent strangers, but I can’t get up the courage to ask a girl on a date? By the Gods, I don’t make any sense /sometimes./



But this question was gone from his mind as quickly as it had come, banished by the beauty of the synthesizer as it took over the sound for a melodic bridge in one of the bands longer epics: “Fate’s Condemnation.” The crowd began to clap and chant in rhythm with the double-bass drum, Devil Horns filled the air, and the ritual was clearly at its height of momentum. The singer walked to the edge of the stage, microphone in hand, and he spoke.



“You mother-fuckers always put on a show for us,” he proclaimed, “and it never fails to please. This is our last song of the night, so let’s put this night down in a blaze of glory!”



With that, the music erupted again and the vocalist’s voice soared to a nigh-inhuman pitch. The lights blazed, the crowd surged like a tide somehow unleashed in every direction at once. The room was thick with the smell of sweat adrenaline, and pot smoke. In a daze, Tristan spun, whirling in circles, aimless in direction, only moving as he was carried by the power of the metal. And then, with a final roll of the double bass, a swell of the symphonic keyboard, and prolonged notes from guitarist and vocalist alike, the song came to a crashing end. Two hours of music gone by, and it had felt like only a moment.



“Thank you Pine Ridge,” roared the ever-energetic front man, “you never let us down! Goodnight.”



/It’s/ /over,/ Tristan dazedly thought, /it’s over just like that./ The crowd quieted down and began a steady, surprisingly calm exodus of The Den, making for their cars, taxis, or other means of transit. Tristan stepped out of the concert hall, and was amazed by the chill in the air. Had it been hot inside? Had he been so wired on adrenaline that he’d not noticed the sweat pouring down his face and moistening his shirt? /Apparently/ /so,/ he mused, shivering slightly as he looked for a northbound bus with the number designated for his route. But just as he finally discerned that bus in the darkness, it’s doors closed and it pulled away from the stop, leaving him waiting for another.



“Fuck,” he muttered eloquently, clutching his Thor’s hammer pendant by compulsion, “fucking bus.”



Turning momentarily away from the bus stop, Tristan saw three girls getting into a car. Like much of the audience, they were dressed in black, but otherwise he got little in the way of a visual on them. One of them saw him glance over at them and then turned to say something to her friends. / Crap,/ Tristan sighed, /I was just looking in that direction, now they’ll think I’m some kind of freak who watches girls… get in cars, or something./ But the girl who’d noticed him did not come back with some reproachful quip. Instead, she beckoned him over with a hand motion.



“Hey,” she called, “you need a ride?”



“Huh?” Tristan dumbly asked, his ears still ringing from the show.



“A ride!” she repeated.



“Oh, oh yeah!” he replied, picking up the pace. “Yeah I just missed my bus home, I could definitely use a ride if you’re going north.”



“Good thing we saw you,” said one of the other girls, who sat in the backseat, “the buses just made their last run for the night.”

“Get in.” said the first girl, having already climbed into the driver’s seat and started the engine.



It sounded more like an order than an offer, but who was he to turn down a free ride. An audible “click” told Tristan that the rear driver’s side door had been remotely unlocked by his benefactors, and so he made for that door. As his hand touched the handle and the door came open, he sensed something was wrong, but he couldn’t say what. Something about the silence in the car, the stillness of the atmosphere, the predatory gleam in the backseat passenger’s eyes.



It happened in a second that seemed to stretch on for an eternity. The girl in the back seat dove across the car and pulled Tristan all the way into the vehicle, slamming the door behind him, which the driver remotely locked. He was too dazed, too concert-weary to have struggled much, but even if he had, her ferocious grip was astonishing. An attempted scream was muffled by a black bandanna forced over his nose and mouth, and at that same moment a sharp scent assailed him from the cloth gag. / Drugs,/ his mental voice said in a panicky tone, /they’re/ /drugging/ /me./



Already his senses were swimming, a strange “falling” sensation dropping into his belly as the girl pinned him painfully to the seat. He felt the sharp bite and heard the raspy “zip” of a zip-tie as it cinched around his wrists, which were painfully pulled behind his back. The bandanna fell away and he let out a groggy croak of a scream, his voice catching in his throat. Was it the drugs or fear that kept him from screaming, from kicking and biting and ramming his head into his assailant?



He gazed out the window into the dark night, at the silhouettes of people walking to cars or hailing taxi cabs. He watched and he did his best to cry for help, though his cries were quiet and feeble. He was /not/ invincible, not here. He had /no/ power. But why wouldn’t they, those people out there, help him? Couldn’t they see him? Didn’t they know what was happening? /No,/ he told himself, /they don’t know because I don’t even know what’s happening! Oh Gods, I don’t know what’s happening to /me!/ As the car backed out of its space and pulled away into the night, as Tristan was painfully pushed down to the floorboard, his face pressed to the mat by his attacker’s boot on the back of his head, as the drugs took their final hold and began robbing him of his consciousness, Tristan became acutely aware of the possibility that he very well may die.



Chapter 3: Welcome to Hell



Fog clouded his mind. He walked amongst it, amongst the mist, a wanderer in his own head, shrouded in confusion and displacement. / Where/ /am/ /I?/ he asked himself again and again. But there was no answer, and the environment around him stayed in that same, murky, intangible form, such that he gained no sense of direction as he walked forward through the mist.



He knew he was in his own head, like a dream, but not quite. He was aware of his body, or so he thought, and yet aware of himself in this strange place. Like some sort of astral projection. This made no sense at all to him! /But/ /wait,/ /what’s/ /that?/ A light in the distance, faint, almost indiscernible, but definitely there amidst the fog. With that in his sight, Tristan began to run (/was it really running?)/ toward the light. It grew brighter, solidifying into a single orb, /there just in the distance, just out of reach./ Tristan threw himself toward it…



He awoke in a cool, but not cold, room, laying on his back on a soft bed. The light he’d seen in his semi-lucid state was a single white bulb set in a ceiling fixture. A ceiling fan whirred quietly, keeping the air moving between the unadorned walls of this rather austere chamber. Tristan took stock of his surroundings, which were not much. A bedside table with a single drawer, closed of course. The floor and walls were of no particular note, and he could see no windows. On the wall in front of him, from where he lay on the bed, there was a door situated somewhat left of center. Plain, white, with a small knob. Nothing of note… / nothing/ /describable./ Nothing he could ever link to this place.



But Tristan could not rise and approach the door, though his curiosity overwhelmed his fear at this moment. Attached to his left and right ankles, tightly so as not to slip off, but not tight enough to cut off his circulation, were steel rings, locked tight and attached to the bed’s footboard via a short chain. They were spread apart, not absurdly so, but enough so that his legs were held apart from each other. Tristan quietly pulled at the chains with his legs, but to no avail. He sat up and examined them, but that proved fruitless as well, for the chains were sturdy and the footboard was far too thick to break.



Yet, Tristan did realize that his arms also were adorned by these steel rings. / Shackles./ But his wrist-shackles were not attached to anything. / Yet./ But he could be, easily. Twisting around he saw chains already hooked to the headboard, their ends complete with little locks to secure them to his shackles. / Where/ /am/ /I,/ he demanded silently, /what is going on here?!/ Why was he lying here, helpless, why hadn’t they killed him, or robbed him and left him by the roadside. He was still clothed, save for his boots and socks, and his pants pockets still contained his wallet, but his cell phone was missing. / I can’t call anyone,/ he thought, /I’m/ /helpless./



“Hello?” he called out, his throat dry. “Hello, is someone there? I have no money, please let me out of here.”



Then he thought about his situation a moment more. What if this wasn’t a robbery? What if this was some sort of sick ritual and they were going to mutilate him for some sacrifice or other? What if they were going to steal his organs for the medical black market? What if it was some sort of government facility and he was being falsely detained for an interrogation? His mind ran wild with potential scenarios, but nothing could have prepared him for what lay ahead.



The sound of a dead-bolt being drawn back caught Tristan’s attention. He sat alertly, though a cold sweat now stood out on his pale skin, his hands shaking ever so slightly. Then came the click of another lock, this one sounding like the turn of a key. Finally, the door opened enough to admit a person.



A girl, tall and raven-haired, with skin as white as liquid paper. From her hair to her boots, she was clad in black. A long-sleeved black shirt, tight black pants, and what sounded to Tristan like fairly heavy black boots. She strode into the room with a brisk pace, almost business-like in her actions, looking Tristan over, but not meeting his eye. In her right hand, she held a cup. One of those red, plastic cups that you can buy a pack of for seventy-five cents at any corner store.



“You.” Tristan said, recognizing the girl from the car who’d drugged him. “Look, this must be some misunderstanding. I didn’t do anything, I don’t have any money, you’ve got to let me go.”



She just laughed.



“I’ve got to?” she repeated, her voice smooth and commanding. “I’ve got to do what the helpless, scrawny kid says? Or else he’ll what? Huh?”



“I uh… no I just meant that–”



“You aren’t in command here,” she explained, walking closer and sitting on the bed, “you don’t get to give orders and expect anyone to follow them.”



“You have the wrong guy, I don’t do that.” Tristan insisted.



“So I’m wrong too, am I?” she demanded, a hard edge coming into her voice.



CRACK! Tristan didn’t even see it coming. She set the cup of water on the table and with that delicate, slender, pallid hand, struck him a terrific blow across the face. His face stung, his eyes watered, his nose briefly throbbed with that sensation one gets from an impact of any sort in the nasal region. And then another blow, two blows, one with the front of the hand and another with the back. CRACK CRACK! Tristan threw up his hands, covering his face.



“Stop hitting me.” he whined in a tone too weak, too childlike, not at all as commanding as he’d intended.



Now she was on top of him. In a second, she had him flat on his back, her left shin planted across his belly, pressing down until Tristan grunted in dismay. Grabbing his head, painfully pulling his hair, she held his face inches from her’s, their noses almost touching.



“Listen, you little /fuck,”/ she snarled, her breath smelling of mint and cigarettes, “you had better drop this attitude right the fuck now, or this is going to be a miserable time for you, do you understand me?”



“Y-yes, yes I understand.”



“Good,” she snapped, pushing him back down and getting off of him, “now drink this water, to get you hydrated so you don’t get sick and then bitch about that too.”



“Okay, thank you.”



“There you go,” she said, a smile crossing her lips, “see, you’re doing better already.”



Leaning down, she sweetly kissed his forehead, as though she’d not just been yelling at him and striking him, as though she were rewarding him for his kindness. She handed him the cup of water, and then left the room, shutting and locking the door behind her, leaving Tristan alone again, to drink his water and to wonder just what she intended to do with him.



He was alone for a while then, left with his legs shackled to the bed. He grew bored, his fear smoldering without new fuel, his helplessness tiring him. He wanted to reach for his Thor’s hammer pendant, to feel the comfort of the thunder god’s strength, but the pendant was gone from its usual place around his neck. Instead, he merely lay back on the bed, resting his head against a pillow. Apparently, he drifted back off to sleep, because when he awoke, three white faces, framed in jet-black hair, were staring down at him from the sides of the bed. He started and the three girls laughed.



“Rise and shine,” said the tallest one, who’d given him the water, “we have a gift for you.”



From behind her back she produced a thin band of leather with a lock at one end and a small metal ring at the other. / A/ /collar,/ realized Tristan, and he began to squirm in dismay.



“Girls,” the apparent leader barked, “get his hands.”



“No, please!” begged Tristan.



The two girls on either side of him took his wrists. He couldn’t fight back, he was genuinely not strong enough to resist as his hands were pulled up and his wrist-shackles secured. The lead girl set the collar on the bed and reached into a pocket of her pants. What she held up next glinted in the light, and Tristan screamed in terror. / A/ /knife!/



“Please,” he beseeched, “please, oh Gods please no, don’t do this.”



“Shut up.” snapped the leader.



“Just lie still,” said the girl on his left, a shorter girl with equally black hair, “we’re not going to cut you.”



The girl on his right sneered derisively, as if to silently say, “We might.”



Moving over him, straddling him, the lead girl moved toward his body with the knife. Tristan whimpered incoherently, closing his eyes and tensing up for the cut, the cut that never came. The knife sliced like a razor, but not through his skin, only through the fabric of his shirt. The cloth parted easily to her careful incisions, and soon the shirt was pulled away. She had a harder time with the thick cloth of his jeans, but somehow managed to cut them off as well. At last came his only remaining bit of clothing, his undergarments. Tristan’s begging redoubled as she slit both sides of his underwear, pulling them away and leaving him helpless and naked.



“And now, the collar.” she proclaimed.



The two other girls held his head in place as their leader took up the leather band and fitted it around his neck. The “snick” of the lock was a clearly audible tone, and it echoed in Tristan’s memory like a door being slammed on his freedom, on his control over his own body. The girls laughed and smiled with glee at their accomplishment, before departing from the room once again.



Tristan was alone for a third time, but now the fear was not going away, not ebbing like the waves of the ocean, but constantly around him, over him, cloaking him like the garments that had been taken away by his captresses. / Captresses,/ he couldn’t keep calling them that, couldn’t leave them inhuman. If he did, he would feel at the mercy of some unearthly beings. They were people too, he had to humanize them, had to keep himself feeling some sense of power, some sense that he was not a helpless little pawn in the hands of deities.



/Crystal./ That was the leader, Tristan decided. She was beautiful, they all were. But despite her beauty she was cold, her features sharp, like a crystal: gleaming yet cold and jagged, there was no comfort in its touch. That was perfect.



The girl who’d stood on his left, the one who’d told him to be still, he’d call her /Mai./ He wasn’t sure why, but it fit. Perhaps because the name Mai was (he believed) Japanese, and her eyes had a noticeable slant to them. / A/ /bit/ /racist,/ he admonished himself, /but I can’t think of another name, so it’ll have to do./ So that girl became Mai.



During his life as an avowed metalhead, Tristan had been exposed to bands from nearly every corner of the globe. As such, he’d picked up some interesting words and phrases from other languages. One of those was a Finnish name, Hilja, which he recalled to mean silence, or silent, or something of the sort. The third girl, a tough looking girl with a compact build, short hair, and a piercing on the cartilage of her right ear, had not spoken at all. He’d call her Hilja. For now, she was silence.



There now, they all had names. Names gave him power, the power at least to remind himself that these women were not inhuman, not all-powerful. They were people, mortal flesh and blood just like Tristan himself. They held the upper hand now, but that would not last forever. (/Would/ /it?)/ Crystal, Mai, and Hilja were not perfect, unstoppable, they were just people.



“They’re just people.” he whispered to himself again and again, hoping he’d soon start to believe it.



Chapter 4: A Nightmare to Remember



“Hello,” called Tristan, “girls, may I please go to the bathroom?”



It had been about a half an hour since he was given his collar, and that cup of water from earlier had made its way through his system. Naked and ashamed as he was, he had biological needs that he would not ignore. That and if he was slapped repeatedly for demanding his freedom, he’d probably get a lot worse for pissing on their bedspread. To that end he called out a few more times, his voice rising in volume, until the door was opened.



“Please, not so loud,” Mai said, entering the room, “we heard you the first time, there’s a baby monitor plugged into the wall under the table.”



“Oh, okay.” Tristan said. “Uh… sorry I guess. But I need to piss.”



“Right.”



Mai approached the bed and, with a small key taken from her pocket, unlocked all of Tristan’s chains. / That/ /was/ /it,/ he marveled /I’m free just like that?/ Then, the knife came up, leveled at him as Mai motioned him out of bed. The blade’s tip prodded his back, forcing him forward. Having only just been freed, Tristan stumbled a bit, but Mai’s free hand caught him by the forearm, steadying him. Her grip was firm, but the hand was soft, warm even. Gentle? Perhaps. But the cold steel blade was not, as it pushed him forward, on out of the room and sharply right, down a short hall and into a small room at the end.



“Take care of your business,” Mai said, not angrily, “and be quick. We have plans for tonight.”



/I do not like the sound of that,/ Tristan noted.



He made to shut the bathroom door behind him, but Mai gently pushed his hand away.



“No no, boy,” she chided, “we’re not supposed to let you free without observing you closely. Just go.”



“But I can’t with you here.”



“Please,” she murmured quietly, “please don’t make this hard on me, okay? Just, just go.”



Tristan went. That tone of voice she used, it was imploring, threatening but at the same time, imploring. It made him pity her. And so he walked into the bathroom, turning on the lights by reflex, even though the light from the hallway adequately illuminated the rectangular room. A double sink unit, with cabinets below, occupied much of the space, and a bathtub ran the length of the far wall. Between the sink and the tub was a toilet, on which Tristan sat to relieve himself.



While he sat, Tristan looked at Mai. She wore a long-sleeved black shirt, like the others. But instead of pants, she wore a skirt, whose length had it ending well above her knees. She also wore boots, though they looked more “fashionable” than practical. They were “cute,” not heavy or durable in their appearance. Between the tops of her boots and the hem of her skirt, a generous portion of her light-skinned legs was exposed to Tristan’s eyes. He caught her eye, realizing she’d (of course) seen him looking her over. A light blush crossed her face, but the innocence of it was marred by a smile, and that smile was something more sensual, more charged with intimate intention, than any smile Tristan had ever seen.



When he was finished in the bathroom, Tristan flushed the toilet and rose, returning to Mai, who guided him back to his room. / My/ /room,/ he thought, /already I’m calling it my room./ The hallway opened onto a living room, whose walls were adorned with posters for movies and musicians, some of which Tristan recognized. But he didn’t have much time to look at them before Mai firmly shepherded him back into the room. Guiding him back to the bed, she shackled his legs again, but let him keep his arms free.



“Thank you.” he said, genuinely meaning it.



“You’re welcome.”



Then, she leaned in and kissed him, hard on the mouth. Having sheathed her knife and put it away after shackling him, her hands were free to hold his head in place as her lips pressed against his. The kiss was moist, lightly so, her tongue gently probed his mouth, and she moaned lightly into him. Tristan was so taken aback, he couldn’t do anything. He wanted to push her off, to turn away. His first kiss shouldn’t have been like this. Even if she was the nicest of the three girls, he couldn’t pretend she wasn’t his captress too. He didn’t want her kissing him, doing ANYTHING intimate with him, especially not for the first time. Tristan found himself wishing now, more than ever, that he’d been better with talking to women, so he might have had a chance at not having his first kiss come at the age of eighteen, from a girl who’d shackled him to the bed after escorting him to the bathroom at knife-point.



As Mai pulled away from him, leaving Tristan dazed and out of breath, he recalled something that had, until this moment, dropped from his attention. His necklace, his Mjolnir pendant that always hung around his neck, was missing, as it had been ever since he’d woken up bound to the bed.



“Hey,” he said to Mai, before she left the room, “did you or your friends take a Mjolnir necklace off me?”



“A what necklace?”



“Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer.”



“Oh, oh that!” she exclaimed. “I have it, don’t worry, it’s safe.”



“May I please have it back.”



Mai came back to the side of the bed and sat down, moving to be nearer to him and hugging him affectionately. Smiling down into his face, she addressed him like a… not a friend, but not an evil captress.



“Look,” she sighed, “we all had a hand in capturing you, and we all have our reasons. But mine don’t involve wanting to see you hurt.”



“What were they?”



“That,” she continued, ignoring his query, “and I want you to be as comfortable as you can be while I have you to myself. I took your necklace so the others wouldn’t take it and throw it away or sell it.”



“Well thanks, I guess.”



“I’ll let you wear it when we’re… together.” and there was that predatory smile, that intimate gleam.



And with that, Mai patted his head gently, running her fingers through his long, black hair, before striding quickly out the door, locking it behind her and leaving Tristan, once again, alone. This was already becoming routine to Tristan: a sudden entrance, a brief interaction, and then he would be alone once more. But for how long? For that matter, how long would he be here? Would they ever let him leave, could they ever let him leave? They weren’t hiding their faces from him, did they intend to keep him here forever? /Or/ /worse?/ The thoughts raced through his mind like a derailed train hurtling through the walls of his now tenuous grip on composure and rationality.

An hour later, the door opened again. The draw of the dead-bolt, the rattle of the key, and the door came inward, admitting Crystal. She wore a robe of what appeared to be a soft but light cloth, which cloaked her body but did not conceal its beauty. Her hair was gleaming, it appeared to be wet, and the smell of a scented lotion was lightly drifting across the room. Tristan watched as she let the bathrobe slide off her shoulders and then off her arms, pushing it aside like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon. And under that robe, she was entirely naked, her body a firm, curvaceous, genuinely beautiful figure of light skin, shapely limbs, and an ample bosom.



“It’s time you get acquainted with your purpose here.” she explained, moving toward the bed, her hips lightly swaying with each step.



“Please,” Tristan said, calmly for now, “please don’t do this to me. This is my first time and I just don’t feel this way about you.”



“You’re tied up,” she explained to him, as though his shackle-bound ankles may have escaped his attention, “my will is your reality from here on in, little boy.”



Now she was on the foot of the bed, crawling over the footboard and moving over Tristan, whose free hands tried to keep her back. This action earned him a savage slap. His hands retreated to his sides, which seemed good enough to please Crystal as she loomed over him now, sitting erect, her thighs on either side of his waist. The smooth, cool skin of her inner thighs was tempting, alluring to Tristan, but this was just not what he wanted. He couldn’t make himself be excited about this fear, this helplessness, this complete disregard for his will.



“Please, don’t do this to me.” Tristan implored in a weak, frightened tone as his helpless state became all the more apparent.



“Oh come on,” Crystal said, “do you know how many guys would just kill to be in your position right now? You’re ungrateful.”



“I don’t want this,” Tristan insisted, his voice increasing in pitch and frantic tone, “I don’t want any of this! I’m not the guy you wanted, I’m not into this!”



But his protestations and beseeching cries did nothing to stop Crystal from reaching her right hand down, trailing her nails over his chest and down his belly, until her hand reached his manhood. Tristan’s legs tensed, his body shuddered in response to her warm hand closing around his most sensitive of regions, squeezing it firmly. Tristan shut his eyes tight, he hated himself for how his body reacted, how his penis grew hard in Crystal’s hand as she held it clenched in her fist, pumping her arm up and down until she was satisfied with the results of her careful actions.



“See, little boy,” Crystal cooed, “you wanted me all along. You just don’t know what you want.”



But it wasn’t true, Tristan didn’t want her, not at all. This was horrifying, this was unwanted intimate pleasure, the most terrifyingly paradoxic sensation. Why was his body reacting so… / positively,/ when all he felt was fear, fear that was quickly turning to self-loathing as his own physical form betrayed him. Why couldn’t he tell himself to go limp, to lay still and do nothing until Crystal lost interest in him? But what would happen then? He didn’t know, and wouldn’t know, because his body was responding to Crystal’s caresses as eagerly as if she were the love of his life.



With an eager, hungry look, Crystal raised herself up, then lowered herself down slowly over his erection. Her body pressed down upon him, his member pushing into her, squeezed between her tight inner walls. Crystal let out one squeak of excitement after another, getting louder as Tristan plunged deeper into her. Her hips began to move up and down in rhythm, her hands pressed on his chest, nails digging into his skin. The sensation around his penis was astonishing, warm and inviting, yet in the context of this encounter, repulsive and oppressive. He felt inhuman, like he was just an object for Crystal to use as her body moved up and down, her breasts bouncing, her head thrown back in animalistic gasps of ecstasy whilst she worked herself to a long, slow orgasm. Tristan felt his pleasure building as her tightness squeezed his full length, bringing him well past the point of orgasm, leaving him drained and disgusted with himself as Crystal finished off her climax.



“What a good boy,” she panted, laying upon him and kissing him feverishly, “what a good, good boy. You’ll do just fine here.”



Tristan was crying. / Damn/ /it,/ he was actually crying. Not great, wracking sobs, but tears rolled down his face, and he lay perfectly still as Crystal lay upon him, kissing him, invading his mouth with her tongue. He just lay there, tears blurring his vision. After all this trouble naming them, making his captresses seem human, he was now the one who felt so much like a non-human. But not like an immortal, not like a deity. He felt like a pebble helpless in the current of a river, like a feather in a wind tunnel, like a chess pawn in the hand of a vicious player. All he could do was cry.



Crystal rose from him eventually, pleased with herself and thoroughly satisfied. Donning her black robe, she gave him a last, lingering smile, before exiting the room. But there was no loneliness this time, no chance to lay still and reflect. The door opened almost immediately afterword and Hilja entered, closing the door behind her. She was clad in the same loose-fitting pants, heavy boots, and black shirt that she’d worn earlier.



“Having fun?” she asked, eyeing Tristan’s sweat-soaked, tear-stained face.



“N-no, no I’m not, I don’t want this.” Tristan replied weakly.



“We’ll see about that.” she replied. “I’ve got a very special treat for you.”



/Oh Gods, how can this get worse?/ Tristan thought.



Hilja began to take off her clothes. / Oh/ /this/ /again,/ Tristan sighed unhappily, knowing he was about to be subjected to another bout of unwanted sex. Again he was going to be used, again ignored in his dismay and discomfort, again worked to an unwanted climax by a pretty girl he didn’t love, but feared.



Hilja stepped out of her boots and slid off her socks, pants, shirt, underwear, and bra, in that order, tossing the clothes onto the wood floor of the room. It wasn’t proper wood, some sort of laminate that looked nice but sounded hollow and artificial underfoot. Hilja moved to the end of the bed and then suddenly unlocked Tristan’s ankle restraint with a small key she’d held in her hand, and which she now placed on the side table.



“I know what you’re thinking,” she noted, a faint laugh to her voice, “you’re thinking that you’re free and could just run out the door and go find help, aren’t you?”



“No no,” insisted Tristan, a guilty blush covering his face, “I’m not, I promise.”



“That is good,” she replied, cracking her knuckles ominously, “because I KNOW I could take you, boy, and I promise I wouldn’t be gentle. Now, turn over.”



“What?”



“TURN OVER!”



With that shouted command, she seized Tristan and painful jerked his shoulders, twisting him around and forcing him to lay on his belly on the bed.



“I do NOT like to repeat myself, do you understand?” she commanded.



“Yes, yes ma’am.” Tristan said, without thinking, driven by fear.



“What a fast learner,” praised Hilja, “now hold still.”



Hilja pulled his hands above his head, bringing them to the headboard chains and locking them in place, leaving him immobilized on the bed once more, on his stomach, his head laying on its side so he could watch her movements. Then, seizing the pillow on which he’d been resting, Hilja folded it in half and forced it under Tristan’s hips, propping him up in an awkward, arched position. / What in Hel is she trying to do?/ Tristan demanded internally, not wanting to anger her into another outburst.



Hilja moved back to the table, opening the unlocked drawer and produced a peculiar amalgamation of straps and a few buckles, like a harness of some sort. Hilja stepped into it, pulling it up to her waist and securing it, such that it strapped around her waist and had a loop around each thigh. It held now, at its center, directly in position with Hilja’s most intimate of regions, a sort of aperture, a connector for something. Next from the drawer came a device altogether more recognizable, and alarming for its familiarity. Tristan had never seen one in person, but how could he not recognize it? The smooth material, the large and phallic shape. A strap-on, double-ended, intended for mutual pleasure.



“Oh Gods,” he whimpered, turning his head away, “oh Gods please no, no no no.”



“Relax,” Hilja said, “it’ll make this go much smoother, and this is a nice small one.”



/Small?!/



Tristan couldn’t watch, but he could listen, and he could feel. He could feel Hilja climbing onto the bed, moving astride his propped up hips. He heard a popping sound, the sound of a bottle or tube being uncapped. Then he felt Hilja’s hand, now slick and slimy with a healthy dollop of what he presumed to be lubricant, moving down his backside, sliding her fingers into him slowly, first one then another, moving them around, lubricating him. Preparing him. He couldn’t relax, even though his mind screamed for him not to tense up. How could he relax? That cold, invasive sensation of her fingers, that would seem like nothing when the true torture began.



“I’ll do anything,” he begged, his voice cracking, “I swear, anything. But don’t do this, I’m begging you, please please please, don’t do this to me.”



“Stop whining.” Hilja ordered callously. “You’re going to love it.”



“No I won’t.”



“Then you’re just going to take it, just lie there and take it like a fucking man.”



He heard her lubricating the device, heard her slide it into herself, locking it in place in the harness. Then there was another sound, a button click and a sharp humming sound. / Vibration./ Tristan cringed and squirmed, but Hilja’s strikingly muscular legs held him still, immobile and prepared for this most cruel of violations.



The tip of the device was rounded, of course, slick with lubricant, vibrating wildly. Tristan couldn’t help but tense up as it brushed against him, pushing against him from behind, trying to enter. Tears streamed down his face, he did his utmost not to outwardly weep as Hilja just kept pushing, not letting up, just forcing the awful thing against him until slowly the lubricant did its work and the rounded, helmet-like head began to slide into him.



“Oh,” he grunted, “ah, no! Ah, it hurts, please. Ah!”



“Yeah,” Hilja sighed, falling upon him and grinding her hips, “yeah, you like it, I knew you would. Take it, you little bitch, you little slut. Take it.”



The full length was pressed into him, widening him out and filling him with the most peculiar, vibrating sensation deep within his body. It had to be seven inches long, and thick as well. The pain, the complete discomfort and sense of invasion was overwhelming, it was invasive in the most deep, disturbing way. Hilja was laying on him now, her breasts pressed against his back, her well-muscled arms wrapped around him, holding him to her as she panted with pleasure, her hips arching up and down, sliding the device in and out of him, slamming the tip of the strap-on hard into his insides.



“Fucking take it!” she hissed in his ear. “You little fucking bitch.”



The device slammed in and slid back in rhythm: in and out, in and out, over and over again. And Tristan realized, with horror, that it was hitting him in just such a spot so as to bring his manhood back to its erect state. Worse still, it was making him come closer and closer to a climax, his second unwanted one in this terrifying day. Hilja’s increased panting, her louder and higher pitched shouts of “take it,” the tightness of her legs increasing, and the faster, harder ramming of the device with her hips, told Tristan her climax was near. He came to his orgasm first, whimpering and shuddering, trying feebly to stop it from happening, but to no avail. As his seed spilled out of him, onto the pillow, he lay still while Hilja finished herself off, before sliding the device slowly out of him.



“What a good slut,” Hilja growled in her post-climactic fervor, “I’ll train you well yet.”



Tristan felt broken, defeated. Why had he climaxed from that, how could he have let himself do that? His backside was hurting, it felt slick from lubricant, and his bowels ached like he had to go to the bathroom, which he knew he did not have to do. Hilja climbed off of him, wrapping up the device in a little sheath of plastic, presumably to take it to the bathroom and clean it. Then she dressed, sliding back into her clothes and petting Tristan’s head firmly, before departing from the room, whilst Tristan cried quietly, his body still quivering in absolute, broken dismay.



Why was this happening to him? Sure he’d been socially awkward all his life, made few friends, fewer close ones. Sure he was a bit odd. But he wasn’t a bad person. Why would his Gods do this to him? Why would any human being do this to another? Was this what so many women endured, what they suffered at the hands of abusers, or at least something similar? Could he, a man, really now know what it was like, the horror of being raped? /Rape./ That was it, an ugly, painful word. It sounded so much like “rip,” as though he were being ripped away from his innocence, as though his freedom was being ripped away from him. Had he just been /raped,/ by these two girls?



/No, no, that can’t be it, this can’t count as that. I’m supposed to like this, these girls are hot, they’re beautiful, they just… they love me, in a unique /way./ But if that was true, why would they have drugged him, tied him up, beaten him, collared him, ignored his pleas for mercy, and taken his virginity. / Does a guy even have a virginity to take?/ He didn’t know, but he definitely felt like something was gone, something that, when gone, left him feeling cheap, violated, robbed, and defiled. They had no regard for him, for his needs and wants, for his fears and his discomfort. Maybe this was rape… maybe.



The sensation of warm hands made Tristan jump, as much as he could, letting out a startled yelp. He hadn’t heard the door open and then close, nor the sound of footsteps on the laminate floor. But there they were, hands upon him, unfastening his hands and turning him over.



“Hello,” Mai said gently, “are you having a good time?”



“A good time?!” he all but exploded. “No I’m not having a fucking good time, are you fucking insane asking me a stupid question like that?! I’m chained up, naked, getting fucked by psychotic bitches and you ask me if I’m having a good time?!”



Mai’s eyes went wide, her lips trembling. / Damn, I actually feel bad,/ Tristan realized. Mai looked like she was about to cry, her eyes wide, her face tightening up to hold back tears. Looking away from him, she set about to shackling his limbs once more, leaving him on his back and unmoving.



“I’m sorry,” he said, guilt tingeing his voice, “I didn’t mean to scream at you. I’m just in a lot of pain and I’m, well I’m scared, and I hate all of this and I…”



He trailed off as Mai, already stripped naked, climbed into bed, moving to sit astride his hips, but facing away from him, sitting on his chest.



“You yelled at me.” she said, a hard, bitter edge climbing into her sweet little voice. “You were very mean, and now I must punish you for what you said.”



“Punish? Oh no no no, please I’m sorry I’m so so sorry.” the words came out in a wild jumble of terror.



“You will be sorry,” Mai said, “you’re just saying you are now because you’re scared, but I’ll make you be sorry for saying I was stupid. I’m doing this for your own good, little Tristan.”



Tristan didn’t like when she said his name, which she’d presumably learned from the ID in his wallet. It made everything feel so personal, so close, like they knew everything of him. But he liked what happened next even less.



Mai’s hands moved ominously downward, past the base of his manhood and to his testicles. Already, Tristan was squirming, pleading over and over again with her to stop, that he was truly sorry. But Mai persisted, taking one of his testicles between her left thumb and index finger, and doing the same with the other and her right hand. Then, she began slowly to squeeze, applying more and more pressure slowly.



Tristan began to grunt, to strain at his bonds and to try and pull his hips away, all fruitlessly. The pressure grew harder, until his grunts turned into yelling, screaming, high-pitched crying. His head thrashed about desperately with the pain, and he truly thought he would pass out as the agony exploded through his groin and lower abdominal region. At the moment when he felt himself at the brink of passing out or vomiting, Mai lightened up the pressure, allowing Tristan a chance to catch his breath. Sweat stood out on his forehead, he felt like he was going to be violently ill.



The pain was only gone for a while, it returned hastily, and without the build up of the first time. Mai squeezed hard, then released, again and again, keeping no tempo, doing her work at random so as to increase the fear, tension, and resultant pleas for a mercy that was not forthcoming. When she’d had her fill at last, she wrapped her index finger and thumb around the base of his scrotum, locking them together to form a ring so that his balls were sealed, trapped within their sac, unable to retract in case of pressure put upon them. Then, raising her left hand, she brought it down, flat and hard with a resounding “smack” against his captive testicles.



Tristan’s entire body tensed up, his stomach locking up, his eyes rolling back, a long, wordless, animalistic groan issuing forth from his mouth. Then she struck him again, twice, three times, four times, and finally one more terrific blow, before releasing his bruised, agonized testicles from her vicious grasp.



“Tristan,” she asked, turning so she was now seated astride his hips and facing him, “sweetie, are you sorry for what you said?”



“Oh Gods yes, yes, I’m so sorry. I was wrong to speak out of turn, and to speak to you that way. I’m so sorry, please forgive me.” Tristan wept openly with great, heaving sobs.



“Oh Tristan,” she squealed, “my poor, sweet little boy. I’m sorry I had to do that to you, I’m sorry you made me do that. But you learned, you learned, you’re so so good!”



She fell upon him, seizing his head in her hands and drawing him into another kiss, her lips covering his, smothering his mouth as her tongue invaded, exploring his mouth at length before she pulled away, biting his lower lip affectionately. Mai cuddled Tristan happily, heedless of his shivering, his trembling from the still resonating sensations of pure agony that she so recently bestowed upon him.



“You are such a good boy,” she cooed, nuzzling his neck, “thank you for being sorry for what you said. I knew you would learn if I gave you a firm hand, a loving hand.”



“That really hurt.” gasped Tristan. “I think I might be sick.”



“Hush sweetie,” Mai insisted, kissing his forehead, “you’re okay, I’m going to take care of you. And now you can have your reward.”



Mai moved on top of him, her hips over his, her hot body pressing down against him, her lips brushing his neck and collarbone. But before she had him, she reached over to the table, whereupon rested Tristan’s necklace, the silver Thor’s hammer on a silver chain. With a smile, she put it around his neck, before returning her attentions to more carnal matters.



The sex was slow with Mai, it was intimate. It was not the dominating rough ride of Crystal, or Hilja’s brutal violation. Mai’s hips moved against him gently as his manhood, somehow still erect despite the pain in its vicinity, filled her tight inner depths. The movement of her body was slow, deliberate, and seductive, enticing him to move with her, which Tristan did, even as he mentally begged his body to be still, to lay quietly and do nothing. Biology betrayed him again, his manhood throbbed with pleasure, his hips moved in complete synchronization with Mai’s, and he moaned quietly all the while, even moaning into her mouth when her lips wetly smothered his once more.

The climax was now a familiar sensation, one he had already come to dislike. All the more so because it /should/ have felt amazing. Mai was wildly ecstatic with her orgasm, squealing and crying out in joy, clinging to Tristan and kissing him passionately, over and over again. When she was at last finished, she rose from him, unshackling him but for one ankle, and retrieving the necklace from around his neck.



“I’ll bring you a meal later,” she informed him, “something good for my good boy.”



“Thanks.” Tristan said dully, blankly, feeling no passion, no more sympathy and kindness for Mai.



She left him then, alone and more free than he’d been all day. Physically. Mentally, he felt ruined. In one day, he felt entirely wiped clean of his humanity, his will and ability to make choices for himself, to decide what he wanted. He had been taken, tortured, bound, and tormented. Only one day and he already felt like a trauma-scarred victim of some great atrocity. He felt that he had truly been /raped./



Chapter 5: Release



He stopped keeping track of the days after a long while, it wasn’t worth the tedium, and it only served to prolong his deepening sense of self-pity. He spent most of his time shackled in the room, on the bed. They would bring him his meals, escort him to the bathroom, and they took it in turns to shower with him, scrubbing him thoroughly clean. But those showers never left him feeling clean, not truly so. And then it was back to the bed again.



The sex was a near constant in his life, which he had grown to not fear, but hate. He forced himself to zone out, to make his mind go blank, to let his traitorous body do what it would under the thrusting hips and fondling hands of his captresses. Sometimes he would think of songs in his head, humming lyrics silently, trying to imagine the full songs playing in his mind, as if he wore headphones. Sometimes he thought of his Gods, the Nordic deities which he worshipped, thinking of their strength, their adventures, wondering if they would ever help him in some way. But still he was aware of what was happening to him, and he began to learn each girl, their personality, their wants, their style.



Crystal was entirely enthralled with the domination aspect of the sexual encounter, emotionally so. She would free Tristan from his shackles only to have him kneel before her, to kiss her bare feet and call her “Mistress.” He would beg her for the tortures he so hated and feign gratefulness, lest “Mistress Crystal” use her whip or paddle to punish him. That being said, little he could do would ever stop her from using that whip to score his skin, or the paddle to violently bruise him. And between each stroke, he would thank his mistress for her beatings, and he only hated himself for consenting. But what could he do? Be beaten endlessly until he agreed?



Mistress Crystal’s sexual appetite was boundless. Often she would secure his manhood, around its base, with a tight ring, forcing it to stay erect such that she could ride him for a far longer period of time, reveling in the several orgasms she received as Tristan desperately squirmed, kept from the brink of orgasm by that tight ring, forced to beg for a release of the built up tension.



Hilja was strong, her lust, her passion was all inexorably entwined with her physical strength. Often she would let Tristan free of the bed-chains and force him to fight her, to wrestle her as hard as he could. Once he’d, in a fit of this fighting desperation, clawed at her face to get her off of him, to get her knee off of his groin. This had drawn blood and he’d had to be punished. Painful clamps were affixed to his testicles, squeezing them relentlessly. And the clamps ran, via long wires, to a battery. When the wires connected, Tristan received a current of electricity through his testicles that left him flailing, screaming, and eventually losing consciousness.



After that incident, he learned to “properly” fight Hilja. He was NEVER to draw blood, never to strike at her face, or to bend her finger joints to loosen a hold. Punching, kicking, and grappling were all acceptable, and in those skills, Hilja ruthlessly dominated him, beating him into submission and then torturing him just for fun with punches to the kidneys and abdomen, violent kicks in the groin, or painful joint and neck locks.



Their sex was always the same, always with Tristan on his belly, either flat on the bed or bent over its footboard. Hilja would penetrate him with that awful strap-on, though she in time worked him up to a far larger, thicker one that left him feeling internally devastated. It was a wonder he wasn’t rectally damaged. But the damage he was dealt was far more subtle, for it was psychological in nature.



Mai was the only exception to the pain related torment. So long as he never went against her wishes, she would talk to him, sitting with his head in her lap and talking with him. This was how he learned that the girls were all roommates at this location, which she would not disclose. This was how he learned that they had all agreed that keeping a man in a relationship was just too difficult.



“You guys just aren’t easy to trust.” she said. “And guys don’t like what we want, they don’t understand how to please us, how to properly respect us.”



“So this was your alternative?” Tristan asked. “This isn’t respect, it’s servitude.”



“But you don’t know how it arouses us,” she explained quietly, “you don’t know how it arouses us to have you this way, little Tristan. You’re our perfect lover.”



“This isn’t about respect or love, it’s about power.” Tristan murmured, and he’d been slapped for that comment.



Mai would ask him questions about himself, but Tristan was not forthcoming. He didn’t want to get to know her, to connect with any of them. He had no desire to feel anything but cold, slow-burning contempt for Crystal, Hilja, and Mai.



Mai was a tender lover, as tender as an abductor could be. She would often let him stay unshackled as she moved astride him, bringing their bodies into a slow rhythm, working them together. If this were consensual sex, she would have been an astonishing lover, so in tune with Tristan’s body and what excited it. But out of tune entirely with his mind and its protestations. She would work them always to a simultaneous (or nearly so) climax, and lay with him for hours afterwards, often spending the nights curled around him, after shackling just one of his limbs to the bed to keep him safely captured.



It was on one of those nights, where they lay together, drenched in sweat, Mai draped across Tristan’s slender body, her head against his neck, her lips brushing his skin lightly, punctuated by soft kisses and gentle bites. Her body shook, and suddenly Tristan realized that Mai was crying as she held him, weeping uncontrollably, silently shaking.



“What is it?” he asked. “What’s wrong, have I done something? Do I have to be punished?”



“No, no you sweet, sweet boy.” Mai replied, her voice thick with sobs. “The others are tired of you, they think they’ve worn you out, broken you. It’s not fun for them anymore, they’re, they’re getting rid of you.”



“Oh Gods, are they going to kill me? Mai, you have to protect me.”



“Mai?”



Tristan realized, in his haste, he’d used her given name.



“Oh, sorry. I uh, I named all of you in my head, so I could help differentiate you.” he explained. “I called you Mai.”



“Mai,” she repeated, “I like it, it’s cute. But the girls aren’t going to kill you, and they won’t let me keep you. They’re letting you go.”



“What?” he exclaimed.



“They’re letting you go, they’re not interested in you anymore.” Mai replied. “Oh Tristan. Sweet boy, my boy, my Tristan.”



She dissolved into incoherent sobs, hugging him and kissing him. Tristan hugged her tight, more a reflex than sympathy. He’d learned he could be kind to Mai and she’d be kind to him, in certain ways like this, but she still was one of them, one who had taken him against his will. There was no love in his heart for Mai. But still he held her, stroking her hair as she so often did to him at night, until she wept herself into a fitful slumber. Tristan was soon to follow, sleeping as he always had since arriving here, tentatively and surrounded by dreams of oppression and pain…



The next morning was a flurry of activity. The light came on sharply, jolting Tristan awake in time to see the three girls at the foot of the bed. Crystal was the one who approached suddenly, lunging in with a cloth in her hands, with which she blanketed his mouth and nose. Tristan reflexively struggled, which earned him several disciplinary blows from Hilja. Mai just stood there, watching quietly, somberly, sadness written like great glowing letters in her teary eyes.



Again Tristan felt that sensation from the night of his abduction: a suffocating sensation as the drug vapor forced its way into his lungs, followed by a loss of control, a sense that he was slipping out of his body, up and out of his head, falling out of his senses and out of control. The last thing he saw was their pale faces, all three of them. Crystal’s indifferent, cold look, Hilja’s amused smirk, and Mai’s trembling lips and wide eyes. And then, like phantasms in the night, the faces were gone, the room was gone, blackness consumed him, and he knew nothing more…



The warmth of the sun on his face was an odd sensation, it was unfamiliar yet not at all unwelcome. The cool wind, the heat on his face and hands, and the sensation of hard ground under his back. These were all unfamiliar yet welcomed sensation. And one familiar sensation was entirely gone, the steel rings around his wrists and ankles and the collar around his neck. / They’re/ /gone!/



Tristan sat bolt upright, half expecting the sensations around him to melt away, to find himself back in the room with “Mistress Crystal” leering down at him, whip in hand. But all that happened was that his head rushed, his stomach churned, still feeling unwell from the drug. His eyes shut tight from the sudden brightness of the sun, but slowly he was able to open them and survey his surroundings.



Tall pine trees grew up around him in every direction, the ground was blanketed in light grass and the occasional patch of tall grass and low foliage. The ground on which he sat was a soft bed of grass, and the trees provided him with shade. Behind him, a gravel and dirt road ran, and from the angle of the sun, Tristan could ascertain that it was an east-west road. / Probably, I’m in West Wood, in the undeveloped areas./ If that were so, Pine Ridge proper lay to the east, and so he turned to his right, after having climbed shakily to his feet and clearing his head.



But before Tristan set off, he performed a hasty self-inventory. He was clad in new clothes, not his own, save for the socks and boots. The pants were uncomfortably tight, but he assumed they were the same size as Hilja’s, which would fit her legs more loosely. The shirt, also small, was plain and black. That was all he had in the aspect of clothes. In his pockets, he found his cell phone (with a dead battery), and his wallet, which was empty but for his ID. He had /nothing./ Strangely, he found himself missing the ticket stubs from his first metal show most of all, more than the $50 in cash he’d kept in his wallet, more than his own clothes. He’d have missed his pendant, but it was hanging around his neck, adding its comfortable weight to his body.



He began to set off eastward along the curving gravel road, hoping his guess was right as to his location. His feet crunched on the gravel, adding a rhythm section to the orchestra of the wild: chirping birds, rustling trees, and the whirring of the wind in the brush. The unbroken wilderness enthralled him. Were he in a better mood, he might have erupted from his quiet, reserved shell, with a mighty roar and raced down the path like Conan from the Robert Howard tales, or “yarns” as Howard called them. He would have found a stick to swing like a blade and battle his unseen foes. But today was not a day for such merriment.



Tristan’s trek was long, but not unbearable. The sun was not scorching, the wind was cool, and the humidity was strikingly low, lending a clean, open feel to the surroundings. The land felt free. Tristan made good time on his journey, until houses became more frequent, as evidenced by mailboxes and winding driveways leading away from the dirt road. Soon, he saw a sign that read “Pine Ridge,” indicating the more developed areas of the town.



Pine Ridge was somewhere between a town and a city. Its suburbs were fairly rural, but its heart was fairly developed. Its northern reaches were most prominently noted for Pine Ridge University, the liberal arts college which Tristan attended and lived near in his apartment. Without money, Tristan could take neither bus nor cab, and so his walk continued through the streets, over sidewalks and crosswalks, moving east and north until he found himself on the south end of his small college campus. From here, it was not a long walk until he arrived at his apartment building.



“Tristan,” came a voice as he approached the complex, “is that you, son?”



Mrs. Anita McKinley, the 70 or so year old land lady was walking down the sidewalk with a trash bin rolling in front of her. Tristan moved across the parking lot to help the blonde-haired old woman with the heavy bin. As they wheeled it to the corner and made their way back to the complex, Tristan spoke with her.



“I haven’t seen you about in a dog’s age.” she declared.



“It’s really been a long time, huh.” Tristan sighed.



“Yes indeed,” she said, “Arthur went to your room a few times after the first of the month passed, to try and collect the rent.”



Tristan cursed himself silently. / The/ /rent!/ It was well overdue by this point.



“Mrs. McKinley, I’m so sorry.” he said. “I have been… away, and unwell, for a while.”



“I know you’re good for it, Tristan,” she assured him as they reached her doorstep, “just bring the check by later this evening, will you?”



“Yes ma’am.”



The aging woman moved up the short flight of stairs to her ground-floor apartment door, grasping the knob with a slim hand, and stepping inside. But she did not close the door, she turned instead to Tristan and looked him over. Maybe it was the unkempt appearance, the odd clothes, the dirt in his hair from when he’d been lying upon the dirt out in West Wood. Maybe she saw how much thinner he’d gotten, fed on meager meals. Or perhaps it was the defeated, broken look in his eyes, which stared at everything like an alien observer, watching not from inside Tristan’s mind, but from well over-head, detached from the world as it happened around him. Whatever she saw, she spoke to it then.



“Tristan,” she said, “what happened to you?”



Tristan stopped, his hand nervously clutching one of the quaint wooden rails that flanked the steps to Mrs. McKinley’s apartment. He looked at her in silence, fighting the urge to run and hide, and the urge to break down there on the steps, to tell her everything he was feeling, everything he’d endured.



“I’m fine, ma’am,” he assured her without much feeling, “nothing happened to me, it’s just been a… a long day.”



“If you need anything,” she said, “anything at all, Tristan, come and see me and Arthur. We’re always here, okay?”



“Yes ma’am, thank you.”



“Even if it’s just a home-cooked meal or a person to talk to.”



“Yes ma’am.”



“Alright,” she chuckled, “I won’t keep you busy with my rambling. Have a nice day, Tristan.”



“You too, Mrs. McKinley.”



And then she was gone, the door to her apartment closed and locked. How many times in the past many days had he heard that sound? Slam, click, and then the aloneness after the door was sealed. But this was different, this time he was not left with a feeling of exhaustion and defilement, this time he was not immobilized in some way, this time he was free to go at his will.



A hurried rummage through his pockets and Tristan managed to find his apartment key, tucked into one of the sections of his wallet. / Must have missed that earlier./ His room was on the second floor. Mounting the stairs on the building’s right side and then doubling back along a railed walkway to the front of the building at the second floor level, he came at last to his door. Room 201. His home. Genuinely, Tristan had come to believe, during his captivity, that he would never again see this door or the walls beyond, that he would spend the rest of his life in that austere room feeling used and ignored.



The key rattled in the lock, and Tristan felt the give of the dead-bolt. Replacing the key in his wallet, he turned the doorknob and stepped into his apartment, hastily locking the door behind him. He didn’t know what he expected then. To wake up suddenly back in that awful, impersonal room? To find Crystal, Hilja, and Mai standing in his apartment with chains and shackles ready for him? Whatever he was expecting did not in fact come to pass.



The apartment seemed as he’d left it, a bit dusty and dry of air perhaps, but untouched. The short hall led from the door into the living room, whose large rear window looked eastward, with a smaller, adjacent north-facing window. A sofa sat under the longer window, with a coffee table in front of it. Off to the right was the kitchen: a long counter with a sink embedded in it occupied the kitchens farthest wall (the south wall of the apartment), a window looked out from the eastern wall, a refrigerator between the window and the stove, which itself was between the refrigerator and the counter. A little island designated the border of the kitchen and the living room, with two bar stools on the living room side. And off to the left, across the living room, was the bedroom.



The living room was just as Tristan had left it. The coffee table held a few metal magazines, a Robert Howard book, and a paper he should have finished for his sociology course. The wall opposite the couch housed Tristan’s television, stereo, and wide array of music and movies. It was all just like he’d left it, so normal, so real, when it had faded into only vague memory in his mind. He turned on the ceiling fan to get some air circulating a bit more and brought the thermostat down a few degrees, having raised it before that night at the concert. / That/ /night./ How long had it been?



The stereo had a clock which was always on, regardless of whether or not the unit was fully active. It read, “Time: 1:30 pm, Date: November 1st.” /November! A whole /month!/ They’d kept him for the whole month of October, kept him away in their prison for their own pleasure. Tristan’s mind reeled, he sank onto the couch, breathing hard. A whole month, what had happened in this time?



He sprang up from the couch and hurried into his room, plugging his cell phone into its charger. Surely he’d missed calls in this time. The phone “beeped” to life, lighting up slightly to show its power had at last been restored. Tristan took this opportunity to retrieve his debit card from where he’d left it in the drawer in his bedside table before the concert, lest it disappear on him during the show, and replace it in his wallet. The girls had taken his cash, which he’d withdrawn, but they didn’t have this, they had not drained his savings. / Thank the Gods for foresight./ Well, foresight in a way. He’d never foreseen what actually befell him.



Now he watched as his phone came alive, with its background picture of a Dio album cover and an icon in the upper left portion of the screen that read: New Voice Mail Messages. Tristan clicked the icon with the arrow keys on the phone pad, calling his own Voice Mail to retrieve the messages. Then he listened.



1. Hello sweetie, it’s your mother. How was the show? I bet you’re exhausted, aren’t you? Well I hope you had a good time, and I’m sending you a rent check with your allowance for the month as well. I love you Tristan, bye.

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