Story 2 - Lady of The Mists
Lady of the Mists
Lewis Cartwright hadn't intended to go up to the study that night. It was true that he had been spending more and more time in there lately; there was no better place in the house for sitting quietly with a book, or writing in his leather-bound diary, or simply thinking. He regarded the room as something of a refuge. The twenty-first century had spread through the rest of the old house like a cancer, or a sinister octopoid monster with its tentacles of technological complexity, cascading information, frantic overwork, and relentless pursuit of the fashionable and the sophisticated. The computers and digital cameras that were necessary to his work were only the tip of the iceberg. There were DVD players in all three of the guest bedrooms, as well as his own, and Rebecca had stocked the kitchen with an array of intimidating devices that still defied his efforts to understand their manifold functions. There was a fax machine, and a complicated alarm system that necessitated embarrassing calls to the security firm when he triggered it by mistake, and of course telephones everywhere. But the upstairs study was full of antiques and curios and old books, and the soft light of the lamp gleamed on polished mahogany instead of soulless grey plastic. There was a fireplace if he wanted warmth, and an old turntable if he wanted music. Now that Rebecca was gone, there was absolutely nothing that could call him out of this tranquil haven when he chose to barricade himself within. In this room he allowed himself to ignore the ring of distant telephones and the beeping of pagers. There was only one other place in the house that felt similarly isolated and private, and he hadn't felt like going down there for a good long time. Not since – anyway, he hadn't felt like going down there.
But that evening he'd had work to do, and a couple of clients to call back. These days he dealt almost exclusively with the sort of people who didn't like to be kept waiting. But when the mists had started to roll in off the bay, enveloping the house in their ethereal veil, he'd abruptly decided that Mr. Elgood and Ms. Mushevsky could wait another twenty-four hours after all. Or perhaps he had not been making a decision so much as responding to a compulsion that he was powerless to resist. At any rate, he had shut down the computers and made his half-excited, half-reluctant way up three flights of stairs.
Now he was ensconced in his comfortable leather armchair with a glass of brandy at his elbow and a heavy book spread out across his knees, a volume he'd selected from the shelf without looking at the title. It seemed to be a work of architecture, the small print – in Spanish, or maybe Portuguese – interspersed with plates that showed ink drawings of slender towers and gloomy cathedral vaults. Like most of the books on that shelf, it considerably pre-dated the beginning of his residence at the house. Every so often he would glance down at the book, or turn a few random pages, or moisten his lips with a small sip of brandy. But really he was waiting, and listening. For the moment there was nothing but the ticking of the clock, a clock that had to be wound at least every week or so, and the quiet sound of his own breathing. He shook his head, smiled at himself, and turned to a page with a picture of a ruined old structure with fluted columns and broken walls. A misty evening was no guarantee that anything would happen, up here or elsewhere. And anyway, did he really want it to? Things had been so much simpler a year ago.
Eventually he returned the book to the shelf and went to the desk where he kept his diary. His diary and the bottle of brandy – he refilled his glass, liberally, before sitting down and selecting a pen. Perhaps diary was the wrong word, actually, considering that the entries were never dated and rarely discussed the daily events of his life. It was more of a disorganized journal of thoughts and imaginings, hopes and fears. The sorts of things he had used to discuss, respectfully of course, with Rebecca. Now he needed to commit them to writing if they were not to remain pent up inside him.
"I sometimes wish I could bring myself to reopen the dungeon," he wrote a couple of inches below the last entry, in his crisp, even script. "It would be good, if nothing else, to get rid of all the things she kept down there – her tools. Have been meaning to do it ever since the day. But I can't bear to. Even without her there to give the command, I think that if I walked into that room I would strip off my clothes and fall trembling to my knees, desperate to suffer and obey. That side of me is too powerful. Even here in the study, I never feel as fulfilled, as pure and perfect, as when I used to lie naked at her feet with her manacles on my wrists. Perhaps in a few months, or a year, it will be safe."
Again, that wry smile touched his lips, as he realized that he was erect inside his briefs, enough that it was almost uncomfortable. She had liked to keep him there beside her, helpless on his belly, while she busied herself with other things. One evening in particular came back to him, when he had been made to lie at her feet for a good two hours while she communicated with a friend she had never met outside the confines of an internet chatroom. He had been hogtied, although not as stringently as she liked to do it sometimes, his wrists cuffed together behind him and tethered to his bound ankles with a a leather strap that left him a bit of wiggle room. The sound of her long, slender fingers tapping at the keyboard, and her occasional laughter, had drifted down to him as if from another plane of existence. His own reality had been the growing ache in his arms and legs, the softness of the carpet under his belly and his groin, her bare foot casually prodding at his body to remind him that she knew exactly where he was and had plans for him. But nevertheless, it had been a long time before she untied his ankles and raised him to his feet to lead him, staggering awkwardly on cramped legs, down and down to the austere room where the instruments of torment hung like a flock of misshapen leather and steel bats on the bare stone walls…
He shook his head ruefully. Even now, the memories were so powerful,
so dangerously erotic. He remembered how her jet black ringlets had tumbled
against the pale expanse of his chest as her teeth clamped down on his
nipple, and the sudden flash in her dark eyes as she sent her flogger
whipping across his unprotected chest. Her scent and her cruel, delighted
laughter. He could have dealt with her vibrant beauty, but he had been
powerless to resist the seduction of her masterful authority and her endless
lust for inflicting pain on his pinioned body. And yet, she had not been
unkind. She had known and understood how deeply and profoundly he needed
her chains around his wrists and the welts of her flogger on his naked
skin. Her boot on his neck, literal or otherwise, pressing him down and
subjugating him. In the end, he had found that desire in himself intolerable,
had acted ruthlessly to quell it. He remembered, too, how her eyes had
grown wide and terrified, right there at the dinner table, as her mouth
filled up with bloody froth and she realized what his desperation had
led him to do to her. He had had been sure there was no other way, not
if he wanted to be anything more than her abject slave for the rest of
his life. And yet, he had the mild discomfort of a massive erection in
tight briefs to remind him how futile his actions had proven.
And suddenly, understanding what was about to happen, he tossed back the rest of his brandy in one gulp and pushed away his glass. He put his diary back on the desk, and his pen beside it. And Lewis sat waiting, his fists clenched and his breathing ragged and his penis stiffer than ever.
There it was again. A whisper of sound that could only, on a still and
misty night, mean one thing. He bowed his head, and said quietly, "Mistress,
are you there?"
"Why, Lewis, did you come up here?" she hissed after a moment. "You must have known I would – find you." Her voice was still impossible to pinpoint, but nevertheless he thought he could see a thickening of the mist just outside the window, a coagulation.
"Perhaps I wanted you to find me, Mistress," he replied quietly. "Perhaps I wanted to serve you tonight."
"Oh, you will, Lewis. You know how to begin, I think."
"Yes, Mistress." She had always loved his nudity. Even at forty-four, his body was still slender, trim, and wiry, but there was more to it than that. Rebecca had revelled in the vulnerability of a naked male body, its exposure to her scrutiny and her touch. She had enjoyed knowing that any arousal on his part would be instantly apparent to her, and that he had no clothing to dampen the effect of a caress or a sudden, cruel pinch or slap. And since she had rarely allowed him to see her nakedness, even in the privacy of their marital bedroom, she had been able to take pleasure in having him bared to her while her own body remained comfortably concealed. It left no doubt as to which of them was the mistress, and which the slave. And even now, that had not changed. Lewis knew what she wanted from him.
He stood up, slowly. He took off his shirt first, and left it neatly folded on the chair where he had been sitting. His torso was thin and hard, his muscles not large but certainly well-defined. He had no hair at all, not on his chest or his belly or on his arms, or under them, and his small nipples protruded from bare, smooth skin. His legs, when he dropped his pants, were just as lean and just as free of hair. Facing the window, as if she were looking in through it – although he had no idea whether she retained anything that he would understand as sight – he hooked his thumbs through the waistband of his underwear, and slowly peeled them down his thighs to his ankles, and then off. His stiff, slender penis was as smooth as the rest of him. Perhaps he had kept shaving all this time because a small part of him had known all along that her death could not set him free.
"Ah," the voice from beyond the window said. "How beautiful."
Lewis drew a long, shuddering breath. The room seemed suddenly cold, much more so than usual even at this time of year. He began to shiver as he stood there in his skin, looking out into the condensing mist.
"I await your instructions, Mistress."
"Oh? Have you forgotten how, then?"
"No, Mistress." He sank smoothly to his knees and interlaced his fingertips behind his head, carefully spreading his legs a little so that his balls hung free between his thighs. His cock, of course, still protruded straight forward like the eager lance of some knight determined to prove his courage to his aloof, indifferent lady of the court. Rebecca had made him learn that position long ago, back when she'd been alive.
"There, Lewis," she whispered. "Now you're ready. Take your nipples in your fingers, then. Pinch them. Hurt them for me."
He grasped them between his thumbs and index fingers and squeezed, inflicting pain for her. He did not know what faculty might permit her to appreciate his suffering – whether or not she could see his drawn face and bitten lip, or hear his sighs and gasps as he rolled his nipples back and forth between his pinching fingers. In life she had rarely made him use his own hands to inflict pain on his body – that had been her task, and her privilege and great pleasure. Now it was otherwise. A disembodied voice, a stirring of nocturnal mist, could not bring a heavy paddle down across his buttocks, or caress him with a diabolical glove whose steel thorns left a trail of pinpricks on his naked flesh. But he could still suffer at her command, as if he had become an instrument in the service of his own torment and subjugation.
"How long – Mistress – are you going to make me do this?"
The laughter in the mist was as clear as he had ever known it to be,
or more so, high and wild and quite definitely feminine. "Not long,
Lewis. I think I would rather come in – and do it myself. You may
stop and put your hands behind you."
"Mistress!" he cried, and started to his feet in abject terror.
"Down, slave," her voice hissed, and now it seemed to come from within the room, where the mists were condensing into a white cloud just inside the window. But a single, sinuous arm lashed out from the swirling mass and struck him like a whip across the shoulder. It was made of fog, and it melted back into the fog as it withdrew, and yet it had kept its cohesion as it slashed rapidly through the air and stung his naked skin with enough force to make him yelp in pain and fall instantly to his knees. He knelt there trembling, his head bowed and his penis shrivelled with fear. He had grown almost used to hearing her disembodied voice and obeying its cruel, exciting commands, and had even found himself looking forward to the foggy nights that might herald its appearance. She was his Mistress, and even her death had not blunted the edge of his submissive adoration. His great mistake, on that night when he had mixed a few very unusual ingredients into her dinner, had been to think that perhaps it would. He had accepted weeks ago, after her third or fourth visit, that he would be hers for as long as she had a use for him. But never, ever, had he suspected that she could find a way to make him feel her touch.
And yet, when he looked up, she was standing before him, shrouded in her mists but no longer lost in them. His naked body quaked with awe and fear as he feasted his eyes on the fine, almost aristocratic features that had filled his fantasies and dreams ever since that first night, long before their wedding, when she had fixed him with a cool smile and told him to undress and get down on his knees if he wanted to please her. On that night her eyes had sparkled blue as they roamed up and down his nakedness, but now they were as grey and colourless as the rest of her. She was faint, wraithlike, translucent. And yet, the sharp nose, the delicate cheekbones, the unruly ringlets that tumbled around her shoulders, and the firm, generous curves of her bosom, were all unmistakably hers. Even her dress, the long gown she often wore on the most formal occasions, was familiar to him, though it looked strange when rendered in woven mist instead of the bright red fabric he remembered. But it was her. He whimpered as she slowly began to move across the room toward him, half walking and half drifting as if pushed by a wind that he was powerless to feel.
"Please, Mistress…" he moaned, but that only made her laughter tumble through the stillness of the room.
"Please vanish back into the mists, my poor, frightened boy? Or please come closer? Please leave you alone, or please grasp you and subject you to all the old cruelties that you've been craving in my absence?" He tried to answer, and only made an incoherent noise, but she continued relentlessly. "Surely you didn't think it would be like this. You thought that my death would free you. But to escape me you'll need more than a dash of strychnine, or whatever it was you used. You'll need a clever surgeon who can find the fear and desire in the depths of your spirit and cut them right out of you. As long as you fear me and desire me, Lewis, you will be mine. I will be able to come to you, and I will have power over you. And as your fear and your desire grow stronger, so do I. See how the colour is returning to my cheeks. Listen to the timbre of my voice and the sound of the breath in my lungs. Why, how abjectly you dread my control – and how badly you crave it. Shall I leave you, my boy, to be a slave no more?"
When she put it like that, there was only one possible answer. Once,
he had overcome his devotion to her enough to embark on a course of action
that he had thought would rid him of her domination forever. He could
not do so a second time. "Please take me, Mistress, he whispered.
"Please make use of your slave."
But in fact she gave him no time at all before she sent her tendrils of mists lancing out to seize him and bind him. They boiled out of her hands and her eyes and twined around his limbs and torso like serpents or living ropes. They felt very cold and clammy against his naked skin. One gathered his arms behind him and slipped down to tighten with merciless precision around his wrists, while another caught his ankles and pulled his hands toward them until he was bent somewhat backward in his kneeling position, still looking up at her. One serpent of mist wrapped around his neck and simply remained there, a collar to mark his servitude. But a fourth tendril slipped between his legs and twined itself around his balls, lifting them and separating them, and then tightened the rest of its length around the shaft of his cock until he moaned in pain.
"Tonight," she said coolly, as she walked slowly around her helpless, naked captive, "is a night for harshness. You must pay, Lewis, for trying your desperate little plan to put me out of the way and win back your precious freedom. And you must be reminded of your place, if you are to serve me."
"You will return again, Mistress?" he gasped, and she laughed at once.
"Such hope and such dread in one human voice! But yes, I'll be back for you, again and again. You are my slave now, as you never quite dared to be when I lived with you and shared your bed, and you will serve me as a slave. I will feed on your fear and desire, and preside over the dismantling of your business and your other worldly affairs. You have too much money and too few ideas to make it worth continuing. You will still live here, but you will live to please me and obey me. And to suffer."
"Yes, Mistress! Oh, yes." And again, she was quick to oblige. The tendril of mist that enwrapped his cock and balls seemed to clench itself tighter around him, and although he groaned and squirmed in an effort to shake it off his movements seemed to only make it dig in deeper. But meanwhile Rebecca towered over him, as of old, and the mist had shaped itself into a dozen tiny whips that she held bundled in her hand. She brought them down across his chest, with their savage sting and their wet, bitter cold, and he burst at once into cathartic tears. He had never been able to absorb much pain from her in silence. He writhed and screamed as she lashed him and lashed him, now standing over him and raining down the blows on his chest and shoulders, now moving around behind to torment his buttocks on either side of his pinioned wrists. He felt his body hit the floor, sideways, and could not say whether he had fallen on his own or whether she had pushed him with her foot.
"Stop, Mistress! It hurts! It hurts!"
"Yes." Her bundled whips descended across his thighs. "But do you not feel it is well deserved?" And suddenly he felt his body turn, so that he was looking up at her and at the ceiling overhead, and he realized that it was the mists themselves that were manipulating him, as if the strands twined round his wrists and ankles were living tentacles with the power to exert considerable force on their helpless prisoner. Nor was it only the ones around his wrists and ankles. The cord of mist around his genitals tightened further and drew his cock and balls upward and away from the rest of his body, presenting them to the shade of Rebecca like a precious gift or a sacrifice. And her whips, now light and stinging, descended across them until he howled in agony.
"Yes!" he whimpered. "I deserve it – but not this! Anything but this – I'll obey you – I'll be your slave forever –"
"Of course you will," she replied soothingly, and hit him again. But after a few more strokes the whips of mist receded back into her fingertips, and she stood looking down at him with pensive blue eyes. "Are you ready, then?"
"Ready for what, Mistress?" he sobbed.
"To begin your slavery. To go down and begin to get acquainted with your new home and the new order of your life."
"Go down, Mistress? To the dungeon in the basement? It's still sealed – I mean I haven't –"
"Hush." She knelt and stroked him, her hand as warm as living
flesh on his forehead and his shoulders. "Nowhere in this house is
sealed to me. You haven't been down there for for some time, but I have.
I've haunted that room in the darkness of the night, dreaming and brooding,
waiting until I was strong enough to bring you down to meet your fate.
And now it's time."
"As you wish." His bonds of mist lifted him and turned him, so that he was hanging from his wrists and ankles in midair. Ethereal or not, the bonds cut cruelly into his flesh.
"Mistress, the pain –"
"Ah, yes. But you see, I can be merciful when I choose." Two more strands snaked out lazily from the tips of her fingers and slid beneath his chest and his belly, cradling him and supporting his weight. She put her hand on his upraised buttock, stroking him, and he sighed under her touch. The pain of the whipping was beginning to fade, though it had left him clammy and shivering. Her hand slipped down between his legs and cradled his scrotum, its warmth a sharp contrast to the coldness of the tendril that still held his genitals captive. It was tight enough that he gasped in pain as his cock began to swell to fresh erection.
"Oh – ow –"
She laughed. "Frustrating, my slave? But not to worry. I will leave you, and later tonight, the mists will melt away – you will be free to do as you like. But remember, I can return whenever I choose. Your fear and your desire, your need to serve me, have grown so strong that I no longer need wait for a night when I can ride the mists to your window. I expect you to begin to get your affairs in order and prepare for a long and most interesting retirement."
"Yes, Mistress. And you'll be back soon? To check on my progress?"
"Of course. But you can worry about all that in the morning. Tonight, you will come with me." And how could he do otherwise, naked and bound and helpless as he was? She hooked her finger through the collar of mist around his neck, and made her way out of the study and down the long winding stairs that led eventually down to the basement, towing him behind her through the air. And now his bonds writhed against his body, caressing him and tantalizing him, sometimes tightening painfully around his wrists or his ankles or his cock. Fresh tendrils branched out and crawled across his skin, and he was not really surprised when two of them seized his buttocks and spread them apart so that a third could push its way inside the tender passage between. He let out a long, whimpering sigh as its chill penetrated the core of his body.
But now she was taking him down the last flight of stairs, and he began to squirm and struggle in his bonds. He couldn't help it. They had last been down here a few days before Rebecca's death. He had been naked, firmly chained, moaning and thrashing as she tortured him with an exquisite little metal wheel that had sharp points all along its narrow rim. And finally, when she had been finished with him, she had kissed him, and turned to leave.
"Please, Mistress," he had gasped. "Aren't you going to unlock me, and let me come up to bed?"
Her nonchalant shrug had made him clench his teeth in fear. "Why should I?" she'd said coolly. "Perhaps a night down here in the dank cold would do you good, my slave."
"But Mistress, I have things to do early tomorrow – clients
to see –"
"No, Mistress, you're not wrong. But I still enjoy it – I've just established a style, that's all. And what am I supposed to do," he had pleaded frantically, "just live here and be nothing but your slave?"
She had nodded, slowly. And then she had turned away and left him crying in the dark, she really had. And the problem was that he had loved her for it, had felt so utterly fulfilled and at peace as he'd hung there in his chains, even knowing that he was going to be a wreck tomorrow and probably exasperate the hell out of his clients. He had found himself wondering, there in the darkness, if he really could retire and devote the rest of his life to her service. If the thought had been a bit less tempting, or her smile a bit less knowing when she'd descended in the morning to finally release him, perhaps he wouldn't have panicked and cooked her that special meal.
But now they had come full circle. They were at the entrance of that
same dungeon, and he was helpless and at her mercy. He was writhing and
kicking, and the bonds of mist held him perfectly, absorbing his futile
struggles as a thick fog absorbs and muffles the force of a human voice.
He was her prisoner. And he watched in lust and terror and ecstasy as
a thin finger of mist slipped into the padlock and wiggled it open, and
the door of their homemade dungeon swung wide at her touch. All the furnishings
were just as she had left them, the whips and floggers, the bench with
leather straps, the steel chair, the standing cage and the little waist-high
one on the floor, the heavy chains that hung from the ceiling, the subtle,
cruel clamps and genital restraints. The mists dropped Lewis unceremoniously
to the bare concrete floor, and melted away from his wrists and ankles,
and from around his torso. But the collar around his neck stayed in place,
and so did the strands that bound his cock and balls and penetrated his
"Crawl into the cage. I want to stand here and watch you do it." He got to his hands and knees, trembling. He glanced at her, his Mistress and tormentor, the ghost of his wife, and saw no mercy or hope of reconsideration in her the grey depths of her eyes. She was fading again, growing faint and ethereal, preparing to depart. She had no doubt, then, that he would obey. But the tears welled up and began to drip onto the floor beneath him as he crawled slowly into the kneeling cage and heard the metal door bang shut behind him. As Rebecca dissipated and melted away, a strand emanated from her and wound around the door of the cage, sealing it closed. He bowed his head and accepted it, as he accepted the collar and the binding of his genitals. Later that night it would all fade and leave him free, as she had promised.
In tears, a naked captive, Lewis Cartwright curled up on his side in the cramped little cage and prepared to try to sleep. He could see the last wisps of mist flow out through the door and up the stairs. And he heard, faintly but unmistakably, her final whisper: "Use your time well, beloved slave… I will be back."
Copyright ©MVI 2003