Ash : Chapter 1

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Lisa smiled as the man on the tattered mattress moved slightly.  She rose, and walked over to look down at her prize.  He shifted again just a little, and then his eyes flew open and he began thrashing at the restraints.  His hands were cuffed behind his back, and a second pair of cuffs secured his ankles.  The third set had been used to fasten the other two sets together.  “You’re going to hurt yourself it you keep that up.”

He shifted to glare angrily in her direction.  Whatever he tried to say was muffled by the rag she’d stuffed into his mouth.  She smirked, then removed his ID from her pocket.  “Bernard Rudolf Achterberg.  That’s quite a moniker.”  She ran her thumb over the badge.  “You don’t really look like a Bernie.”  He had a muscular, athletic build from what she could see.  Definitely not the type she’d expect from such a frankly nerdy name.

Muffled grunts were all that answered her as he continued testing the cuffs.  She shrugged.  “Or a Rudy, for that matter.”  His eyes narrowed.  She licked her lips.

“He looks a bit confused.”  Carol chuckled.  The man on the mattress squirmed, trying to look over his shoulder at her.  Carol was leaning near the door, watching with some amusement.  “I’ll bet he’s a Berg.”

“What about it?”  Lisa walked over to crouch near the mattress.  “You a Berg?”  She reached out to touch the collar of his uniform and he managed to pull away.  The sounds he was making were most likely curses, and he was openly glaring at her now.

“So, tell me, what did he pull you over for?”  Carol raised an eyebrow.

“I was doing five over.”  Lisa smirked.  “Couldn’t risk them running my ID and his trainer was going to do it ‘by the book’ instead of just telling me to slow down and go on my way.”

The man on the mattress started making cursing noises and pulling at the cuffs again.  “Hey, now.”  Carol’s voice was sharp.  She sat down on the mattress and grabbed his forearm.  “Knock it off, you’re already bleeding.”  She shook her head and looked up at Lisa.  “You’re going to need better restraints.”

“Wasn’t exactly planning on taking a prisoner.”  Lisa shrugged.  She reached forward to brush her fingers through the man’s dark blond hair.  He immediately pulled away and growled something from behind the gag.  “He was just a bit too pretty to pass up.”

“What happened to the other one?”  Carol examined the prisoner’s abraded wrist.  The prisoner managed to pull his arm away.

“Double tap.”  Lisa shrugged.  “Once I had this one in the trunk the old man had outlived his usefulness.”

More sounds came from the captive.  Carol reached up, grabbed his hair, and yanked his head back.  “I suggest you start considering how to preserve your own life.”

“So, which is it?  Berg, Rudy, or Bernie?”  Lisa leaned forward and yanked the gag out of his mouth.

“Fuck you.”  He spat the words at her.  “You murderous bitch, I —” He struggled, but with Carol holding him by the hair Lisa had no problem shoving the gage back into his mouth.

“He’s not very cooperative.”  Carol made a tsking sound.

“That can be changed.”  Lisa smiled.

#

Ash forced himself not to yank at the cuffs again.  Already his wrists burned from the abrasions.  There was no sign of the brunette woman’s passenger, and he had no idea where the red-haired woman had come from.  For that matter, he had no idea where he was or even how long he’d been in the trunk.  The passenger, a darker woman, had injected him with something after they’d pulled over.

Ryan was dead.  The bitch had put a gun to his partner’s head and ordered Ash into the trunk.  No sooner had he obeyed than….  He felt sick.  Ryan had kids, and a grandkid on the way.  He’d seen her face.  Ash’s blood ran cold.  None of the women had made any effort to stop him from seeing their faces.  Ryan had called in the license plate and location.  Procedure.  They’d have a starting point to track these bitches down.

He heard the door open, and would have turned if the redhead hadn’t still been holding his hair.  The brunette smiled at whoever had entered.  “Oh, those will do nicely.”  The newcomer tossed her something, and she caught it easily.  Ash’s eyes widened when he recognized it.  A gun.  Ryan’s gun.  The brunette placed the tip of it beneath his chin, then smiled.  “Sima is going to look at your wrists now.  Do not move.”

The other woman released his hair and stood up.  A moment later, someone else took her place.  The barrel of the gun dug into the underside of his chin, and he forced himself to remain still.  The cuff around his left wrist was unfastened, and something cool was rubbed onto the abrasions.  The stinging pain lessened.  Something was wrapped around his wrist, then the process was repeated.  The cuffs around his ankles were left in place.

“Get up and on your knees.”  The gun holding brunette said as whoever was behind him rose.  The gun was pulled back and the brunette stood.  When he did not immediately move to obey, she tilted the gun slightly before leveling it at his face again.  “I said get up and on your knees.”

Bringing his arms around in front of him revealed his wrists had been neatly bandaged.  With his ankles still cuffed together, maneuvering himself into a kneeling position on the old, broken mattress was more difficult than it should have been.  He glared up at her, and she smirked in response.  “Good boy,” the woman behind him said.

“Lose the shirt.”  The brunette nodded to him.  When he just shook his head and tried cursing at him again, her smile widened.  “Take a look to your right.”  Ash turned his head to see the darker woman.  She was holding a tazer.  His tazer.  “Now to your left.”  The red-haired woman held Ryan’s tazer.  Both were aimed at him.  The brunette smiled.  “I said lose the shirt.”

#

A few seconds passed before the young cop began unbuttoning the shirt of his uniform.  Sima watched Lisa’s face from the corner of her eye.  The woman was starring fixatedly at the captive.  Abducting the young man had been one thing.  Some fun before they moved on.  Killing his partner in cold blood had been something else entirely.  Carol would follow Lisa’s lead, which did not bode particularly well for their captive.  Hopefully, he wouldn’t do anything stupid enough to damage her chances of keeping him alive.

He set the shirt down next to him.  “Now the vest.”  Lisa kept the gun leveled at him even though Sima and Carol both held tazers.  He gave a frustrated shake of his head before undoing the velcro straps of the bullet proof vest.

Sima made a small sound of approval when Lisa made him remove the plain white t-shirt he’d worn beneath the vest.  The cop had the muscular build of an athlete, with well-defined muscles and broad shoulders.  He must have heard, because he sent a glare at her.  She didn’t bother to wait for Lisa’s instructions before walking toward him and picking up the restrains she’d brought with her.  “Hands behind your back.”

His eyes went to the items in her hands, and he began shaking his head again.  More muffled words came from behind the gag.  It sounded like he was trying to be threatening.  Sima shrugged and fired the tazer’s prongs.  They stuck into the skin of his shoulder, and she saw his eyes widen.  A smile came to her face as she triggered the device.  His entire body began thrashing as he screamed behind the gag.  She counted off five seconds, gave him a few moments to catch his breath, then triggered the device again.

Carol was laughing as Sima walked over, rolled him to his front, and began fastening the wide leather cuffs around his wrists.  He was still twitching beneath her.  The sensation was more than a little pleasant.  He started struggling again, and she held the tazer where he could see it, her finger hovering over the trigger.  He flinched, and went still.  There was open hatred in his eyes as she fastened the collar around his neck.  She gently squeezed the back of his neck when she was done.

Then she slid down and turned.  Swiftly she unlocked the cuffs around his ankles.  His boots were pulled off, and she felt him tense beneath her.  A smile came to her face when she found the ankle sheath and its folding knife.  She tossed both to Carol, who chuckled.  His socks had prevented his ankles from suffering the same abrasions as his wrists.  The thick leather cuffs were fastened, then she started pulling his ankles up to reattach them to his wrists.

The struggles renewed, and he knocked her off balance.  Carol fired her tazer, and Sima was treated to another round of him thrashing and screaming.  “You alright?”  Lisa asked.

“Fine.”  Sima shrugged.  “Don’t think he likes being trussed up.”  She waited until Carol had taken her finger off the trigger before returning to her task.  The foot and a half of chain between his ankles was secured to the couple inches of chain between his wrists.  The position would be uncomfortable, but the strain insufficient to cause him any sort of permanent harm.

#

He couldn’t help but feel some relief when the woman simply grabbed his discarded clothes and stood.  His position was uncomfortable, but rolling onto his side should eliminate some of that.  Ash winced when the prongs were removed from his shoulder and upper back.  First opportunity he had, he was going to shove the tazer down the bitch’s throat.  What the hell did they want from him?

“Dinner ready?’  The brunette raised an eyebrow.

“Should be.”  The darker woman started talking to the door.

The red-haired woman hit the light switch as she left, plunging him into total darkness when the door shut.  Immediately, he began pulling and thrashing, trying to free himself.  The restraints held him fast.  He scooted to the side of the mattress and brushed his head against it.  It took him several tries to rid himself of the gag.  Ash worked his jaw, feeling the soreness of where his mouth had been forced open for hours.

Several minutes of lying still and listening failed to net him any clues to his location.  Ash began taking stock.  He was hungry and thirsty, but not overwhelmingly so.  He could have been abducted more than a few hours.  Granted, his bladder was starting to feel a little uncomfortable, so it had probably been at least two or three hours.  They’d have missed checking in.  Someone would have gone looking and found Ryan…  He felt sick.  Ryan’s body, laying out on an empty stretch of highway.

Five miles over.  Ryan had only turned on the siren because he was training Ash.  They’d been planning to just let her go with a warning after Ryan had supervised Ash running her documents.  She stepped out of the car, batting her eyes, smiling.  Then he’d been on the ground and she was pointing his gun at Ryan.  He’d fucked up and she’d killed Ryan with his gun.  Ash made himself take a few deep breaths.  Tears were pricking the back of his eyes.  Ryan had teased him about the gun just that morning, asking if it was loaded with water or rubber bands.  He swallowed the lump that had risen in his throat and started trying to work his wrists out of the cuffs.

#

Magda looked down at the corpse laying in the ditch.  Whoever had killed Ryan had moved his car off the road.  If he hadn’t failed to respond, he could have lain there for weeks with none the wiser.  She frowned, and scanned the scene again.  “Any sign of a second body?”

“No ma’am.”  Stephan shook his head.  “No way they were out long enough for animals.  I’ve got people checking out in the brush.  Could be he was wounded, or tried to get away from whoever…”  He made a growling sound.  “It’s his first damn day on the job, for fuck’s sake.”  His laughter was bitter.  “Six hours ago, I was giving Ryan shit about being the only unit that had to be stocked with diapers and depends and…”

“One’s first day, the other’s last month.”  Magda sighed.  “Too much fucking temptation for fate to pass up, the twisted bitch.”  She looked back at the body now being loaded into the coroner’s wagon.  “Looked like two to the head, close range.”

“That’s not a shootout.  That’s an execution.”  Stephan took another look around.  “That doesn’t exactly bode well for the kid.”

“He’s a witness.”  Magda nodded.  “They’d have had to hunt him down or…”  She frowned.

“Magda?”

“Or take him with them.”  She looked around the scene again.  “Hostage?”

“Ransom?”  Stephan slowly nodded.  “Could be they know who his old man is, saw some dollar signs.”  He growled.  “Kid could even have been the target.”

“Or they could be afraid that we are onto an op, want info.”  Magda sighed.  “However you look at it, we need to be operating on the assumption the kid is alive.  Let’s hope it’s a ransom and he’s more valuable to them unharmed.”  She started walking back to her vehicle.  “I’m going to go see what Dray can find me on that plate.”

#

Sima opened the door and switched on the light.  The captive immediately jerked in surprise and began blinking in the sudden brightness.  He’d managed to remove the gag.  She kicked the door closed behind her before he could start yelling.  “No one can hear you.”  She shook her head at him.  “Except Lisa and Carol, and you don’t particularly want either coming down here.”

“Where am I?  He glared at her.  “And why am I —”

“Hogtied?”  She raised an eyebrow as she brought the tray over to him.  “What do I call you?”

“A ride out of here.”  He narrowed his eyes.

Despite herself, she smiled.  “That was terrible.”  She sat down cross legged a few feet from him.  “I’m sorry.”  When he frowned, she sighed.  “About your partner.  That was wrong.”  He looked away from her.  “What was his name?”

Several seconds passed before he answered.  “Ryan MacClemente.”  He was silent a couple more seconds, and then fury filled his voice.  “His daughter is due in a few weeks.  His first grandchild.  He was so excited, wouldn’t stop talking about it and now…”  He shook his head.  “He dug his daughters old crib mobile out of his attic and was going to take it to her after work today.”

She picked up the glass of water and moved over to him.  When he just glared again, she took a sip.  “It’s just water.”  When he continued glaring, she shrugged.  “You will find it more pleasant to drink than to be tazed and have it poured down your throat.”

He flinched, then let her give him the water.  “Lisa is the brunette.”  He said when she was done.  “You’re Sima.  The redhead is Carol.”

“Yes.”  She nodded.  “And your name?”  She chuckled.  “Lisa’s right.  You don’t look like a Bernie.  Rudy?”  When he didn’t answer, she reached for the tazer again.

“Ash.”  His voice was quiet.  “I go by Ash.”

Her hand reached out and patted his shoulder, squeezing it gently.  “Ash.”  She glanced at the tray.  “Are you hungry?”

“You murdered one officer and abducted another.”  He shook his head.  “You have to —”

“Ash.”  She smiled at him.  “Are you hungry?”

“They’ll be look —”

“Ash.”  She kept her voice firm and patient.  “Are you hungry?”

For several seconds, he just stared at her.  “No.”

“You aren’t being truthful with me, Ash.”  She shook her head.  “It’s been at least six hours since you’ve eaten, possibly longer.”

“Watching an innocent man be murdered doesn’t do much for the appetite.  You can’t think —”

“Ash.”  She narrowed her eyes.

“What?”  He glared.

“You may speak only to answer my questions.”  Her smile was patient.

“What the hell are you even —” He cut off as she removed an item from her pocket and dangled it in front of him.  His glare made her smile widen.  “Ash.”  She set the ball gag down on the tray.  “Are you hungry?”  When he didn’t respond, she picked up the item laying next to the tray.  The sight of the cattle prod made his eyes widen.  Not quite the punch of the tazer, but certainly close enough.  “Are you hungry, Ash?”

He looked away from her and took several deep breaths before growling a response.  “Yes.”

She patted his leg.  “Good boy.”  She leaned down and picked up the bowl from the tray.  Then she offered him a spoonful of the contents.

“You must be joking.”  Ash shook his head.

A disappointed sound came from her.  “You need to eat, Ash.”

“Fuck you, you psycho bitch, I’m not going to —”

His body jerked when she hit him with the prod.  He screamed, then made gasping sounds for several seconds after.  “Ash, if you are going to behave like an animal, you will be treated as one.”  She set the bowl down on the floor then stood and pointed to it.  “Eat.”

“I’m not going to —” He screamed as she applied the prod to his torso again.  His muscles tensed beautiful as the electricity coursed through them.  “You crazy —’ She aimed for his other side this time, and he thrashed in the restraints.

This time, when he stopped twitching, she pressed the tip of the prod to his side but didn’t trigger the shock.  “Ash.”  Her voice was no-nonsense.  “I told you to eat.”

Ash looked down at the prod, and made a pained sound before rolling toward the bowl.  It took him some effort to get to the bowl.  He looked down at it, his expression clearly reluctant.  She set the tip of the prod on the base of his skull and heard a pained and frustrated sound from him in response.  Slowly she increased the pressure, using the prod to push him toward the bowl.

Her finger never left the trigger and she kept the prod in contact with his skin while he ate.  He didn’t do as neat a job of it as she would have preferred, but he did finish the bowl.  Sima picked up a damp towel, and instructed him to sit up.  Once he did, she gently and carefully wiped his face.  “Good boy.”

“What do you want from me?”  He stared up at her.

“You are stubborn.”  She gave his ear a small twist, provoking a curse from him.  “You spoke again without permission.  This is your final warning, Ash.  Further incidents will result in punishment.”  She touched the prod to him, and he flinched away.  “I want you to be a good boy, Ash.  Will you be a good boy for me?”  She ran her fingers through his hair.

Ash yanked his head away, nearly losing his balance.  The chains on the leather cuffs made a tinkling sound.  Ash, however, made another frustrated growl.  She walked a circle around him, then laid her hand on his shoulder, caressing lightly.  Immediately he pulled away again.  She touched the tip of the prod to the sole of his foot and touched the button.  A scream tore from his throat and he fell onto the mattress as he tried to get away from the pain.

#

It took several moments before he could stop twitching.  His left shoulder was killing him, and he was beginning to worry he’d dislocated it.  “Will you be a good boy for me, Ash?”  The woman asked again.

When he glared, she lifted the prod again.  He felt himself cringe.  He just needed to keep in one piece until they found him.  “Yes.”

“Yes?”  She gave him an expectant look.

With luck, she’d give his fellow officers an excuse to riddle her with holes.  “Yes, I’ll be a good boy for you.”

“Good.”  She reached out and fucking petted him again, like he was some kind of dog.  “Roll over.”

“Fuck you.”  When he saw her start to lift the prod again, he started shaking his head.  “Don’t.”

“Roll over, Ash.”  Her voice was filled with disapproval.  It took him a couple tries to lever himself onto his belly.  She did something to the restraints, and with a clicking sound his ankles were no longer fastened to his wrists.  He stretched his legs out to their full length, feeling a few pins and needles as he did so.  His left calf felt like it wanted to cramp.  “Stand.”  He heard her say.

Getting to his feet with his ankles secured by a foot or so of chain and his hands secured behind his back was as difficult as it sounded.  His captor had to assist him.  Assist was a strong term, she pulled him to his feet almost effortlessly.  She took him through the door and into another across the hall.  The room proved to be a bathroom, with a large walk in shower.  Ash blinked.  A chain hung from the center of the shower’s ceiling.

His captor nudged him toward it.  He started shaking his head again, balking at whatever it was she had planned.  The tips of the prod touched his shoulder.  “Ash.”  When he didn’t respond, she said his name again.  “Ash.”

“What?”  He spat the word.

“Being obedient has rewards.”

“What the hell are —” The prod sent a another jolt through him, driving him to his knees.

“I was clear, Ash.”  She made a disappointed sound.  “You are not to speak without permission.”  She touched the prod to him again.  “Apologize.”

“Apolo —?”  He screamed from the next jolt.  “Fuck.”  She jolted him again, then caught him by the shoulder before he could fall.  “Stop, just…”  He screamed from another jolt.  “Please.”

The tip touched him again, but she didn’t touch the trigger.  “Good manners are welcome.  Apologize, Ash.”  The tip of the prod dug in a little.

Railing against her would just result in more shocks.  He was already going to have blisters and burns.  What the hell did they want from him? “I’m sorry.”

“For?”  She twisted the prod a little.

Forget the bullets.  He wanted to beat her to death with that thing.  “I am sorry I spoke without permission.”

“Good boy.”  The sadistic bitch petted him again.  “On your feet.”

He tried, but she ended up having to pull him to his feet again, as well as support him when he stepped over the lip and into the shower.  She was definitely a lot stronger than she looked.  He took a deep breath when she caught hold of the chain and padlocked it to the collar around his neck.  Then she bent, and unfastened the cuffs from around his ankles.  Then she stood again, and smiled.  He failed to find it comforting.

“I’m impressed.”  He looked to see Lisa standing in the doorway, her arms folded.  “I figured getting him fed and clean would be a two-person job.”

“He’s not clean yet.”  Sima shrugged.  She set the cuffs on the counter, then stepped back into the shower.

Ash recoiled when her hands went for his belt buckle.  The chain secured to his neck prevented him from being able to go far even within the shower’s confines.  “Keep your hands off me.”

“Ash.”  Sima let out an annoyed sigh.  “You broke the rules again.”  She stepped out of the shower and turned the handle.

Jets of freezing cold water hit him from multiple angles.  He attempted to dodge, but even choking himself on the chain did not provide enough play to escape the icy water.  He heard both women laugh.  Lisa turned to Sima.  “Want a beer?”

“Sounds good.”  Sima followed her out of the room, flipping the switch as she did to plunge him once more into total darkness.

#

“Reported stolen three hours ago.”  Magda looked up at the sound of Stephan’s voice.  “Owner was out fishing for the weekend, didn’t notice until he got back.”

Magda sighed.  “Either our perp is lucky, or he plans.  Either is a problem.”  She shook her head.  “I think I ruled out the kid being a target.  His dad hasn’t heard anything yet.”  She glanced at the door of the captain’s office.”  “And it’s too long shot a plan.  How’d they know the Ryan would take the kid for a ride along?”

“Chief broke the news to Ryan’s wife.”  Stephan sighed.  “She’s not taking it well.”

“I know.”  Magda sat back.  “Achterberg bought tickets for Ryan’s boy.  He’s getting on the plane now.”

“Nice of him.”

“He’s frantic about his son, but smart enough to know not to get in our way.”  Magda felt a lump in her throat.  One of their own was dead, and one of their cubs was missing.  “Arranging the flight gave him something productive to do, and…”  She shook her head.  “He’s a nice guy.  Just like his kid.  Dogs pick up anything?”

“Would have called you already if they did.  Nothing.”  Stephan shook his head.  “My guess is they thought it was a routine stop.  Nothing tripped Ryan’s instincts, so we’re looking for someone that passes for normal and ordinary.”

“Gets the drop on one, that’s enough to get the other to put their weapon down.  I can’t see Ryan or Ash being the type who’d take a shot with a partner in the line of fire.”

“Neither was a good enough shot to pull it off anyway.”  Stephan frowned.  “So why kill Ryan and take the kid?”

“Only room or need for one?”  Magda frowned.

“Might prefer the rookie to the veteran, less chance of the rookie knowing what to do.”  Stephan nodded.

“More chance of a rookie panicking or doing something out of bravado.  Plus, Ash is bigger and stronger than Ryan.  If all I wanted was a hostage, I’d have seen Ryan as the smaller risk.  And with a gun to the head of a guy younger than Ryan’s son?”  She shook her head.  “Ryan would have done whatever they wanted.  Smart move would have been to take both.  So, whoever it was just wanted Ash for some reason.”

“One of our rookies is in the hands of somebody that doesn’t mind killing cops.”  Stephan made a growling sound.

“We…”  She blinked as her email chimed, then scanned it quickly.  “Stolen care was found abandoned near where the other car was stolen.  Utah plates.”  Her eyes narrowed.  “Owner of that vehicle was found in his garage.  Beaten to death with his own golf clubs.”

“Fuck.”  Stephan kicked the side of the desk.

“I’ll call up the folks on that case.  See if you can find any other unsolveds that might be our perp.”

“On it.”

#

Turning the light on revealed that he was shivering.  His lips were blue, and his teeth were chattering.  Sima watched him for a moment, then turned off the water.  “Have you learned your lesson, Ash?”

He didn’t say anything.  Just stood there, shivering, dripping, and glaring.  It made a rather lovely picture.  She set all the keys but one on the counter, far from his reach.  She set the cattle prod, freshly charged, next to them.  “Turn around.”

It took him a couple seconds to obey.  She stepped in, and unfastened the restraints from around his wrists.  She noted with some pleasure that he had clearly realized the futility of attacking her.  She stepped back out of the chamber, out of his reach.  “Take off your belt, Ash.”

He opened his mouth, then apparently thought the better of speaking and went back to the sullen glare.  He was still shivering, his muscles tense from the cold.  Credit where it was due, Lisa did have taste.  “Are you cold, Ash?”  He rolled his eyes at her, and she smiled.  “Obedience has benefits, Ash.”  She spun the temperature control, and saw his eyes widen a little.  “Take off your belt, Ash.”

She could almost see the thoughts running through his head.  Freezing and restrained, possibly returned to the cold dark room that way?  And the question of how long it would take before she took the belt from him anyway.  He removed it.  “Toss it here.”  She caught it.  It was cold in her hand, but of sufficient quality that she doubted it had been damaged by the cold water.  She bent it in half, testing the leather.  Still nicely flexible, with just enough additional heft from the water that the blows would be particularly painful.  She gripped it in one hand, and gave it a test swing.  There was just a trace of fear in his eyes.  “You’re going to be a good boy for me, right, Ash?”

No response.  He looked away from her.  She could tell he wanted to speak, wanted to ask and curse.  Her last toy had taken weeks before he’d developed enough self-control to remain silent.  Ash was clearly of superior quality.  Hopefully, she could keep Lisa from breaking this one.  She set the belt down, then picked up the wrist cuffs again.  “Hold your arms out in front of you.”

That command he obeyed.  She secured his wrists, then fed a padlock through the center of the chain.  As soon as she started to lift his hands, he resisted, pulling the cuffs back down.  Sima shook her head, then stepped out of the shower and picked up the prod.  “No, don’t.”  He started shaking his head.

She aimed low, catching him across the thigh.  He yelped and tried dancing out of the way only to be caught by the chain around his neck.  He tried to catch the prod when she aimed again, but the collar also prevented him from bending low enough to do so.  She zapped him three more times before he stopped trying to dodge or catch the prod.  “Put your hands over your head, Ash.  Now.”

“Don’t…”

“Now.”  Her voice was sharp as she lifted the prod.

He raised his hands.  “Higher.”  He obeyed.  “Secure them to the chain with the padlock.”  He shook his head, but obeyed the command.  “Ash, you broke the rules.  You spoke without permission.  You pulled away from me.  You resisted my will.  Those are all things you are no longer allowed.  What do you have to say for yourself?”

“Why are you doing this to me?”

“You are questioning me.  That is also against the rules.”  She set the prod down, and picked up the belt.

“Don’t.”  He shook his head.

“Ash.  That is against the rules.”  She narrowed her eyes.  The belt elicited a yelp when it caught him in the side.  “Ash, I am going to give you ten lashes.  Dodge, speak again without permission, or otherwise break the rules, and I will start over.  Do you understand?”  When he didn’t respond, she arched an eyebrow.  “Ash, do you understand?”

“I fucking understand.”  He glared at her.

“Turn around.”  She smiled when he just stood there.  “Your back will hurt less, Ash, but if you want the lashes across your…”  Her smile widened when he turned around.

He bit back his yelp on the first lash, so she brought the second one down harder.  She counted to nine, then let the belt dangle at her side.  His body tensed as she walked closer.  As soon as her fingers touched the button on his pants, he pulled away.

Sima smiled and stepped back.  “One.”  She brought the belt across him again.

#

She stopped at nine again.  Ash shivered, though the pain and adrenalin had driven some of the chill from him.  He was almost nostalgic for the numbing cold.  Despite knowing the consequences, he pulled away again when she reached for his pants.  What the hell did they want?  He’d concluded that they were probably calling his father for a ransom, but this made no sense.  His father would have agreed to pay without hesitation.

He tried not to cry out as the blow from the belt burned across his back again.  She paused for several seconds between blows, letting the sting settle before adding to it.  Some of the chill returned when he realized he was likely not her first victim.

The eighth blow made him stumble.  “Fuck.”  His arms were able to hold him up, preventing the half-fall from strangling him.

She waited until he was securely back on his feet before unleashing a ninth blow.  Except she didn’t say nine.  She said, “one”

By the time she got to nine again, every inch of skin on his back felt aflame.  She walked around to reach for his pants again.  Ash told himself to pull away.  Then he stopped himself.  Resisting just got him hurt more, and eventually she’d get her way.  When he lost consciousness, if nothing else.  He forced himself to remain still as she stripped his remaining clothes from him.  The tenth blow was laid across his now bare ass, and he heard someone laugh when he yelped.

Carol stood at the door, her frankly admiring look making him wish he’d resisted the removal of his pants.  “He’s pretty.”

Sima picked up the cuffs, then secured his ankles again before stepping back out of the shower.  She spun the nozzle.  The water was cold at first, making him try to move out of the way.  It warmed quickly, driving the chill from his bones.  His eyes widened when he realized both women had stripped off their own clothes and were getting in the shower with him.  “What are you —”

Carol put a hand over his mouth and made a tsking sound.  “Now, I know Sima explained the rules about talking.”  She removed her hand, then nodded to Sima.  Then Carol grabbed at his groin and twisted.

Something was jammed into his mouth when he cried out.  Carol released him as Sima fastened the ball gag in place.  Then Sima patted his shoulder.  “There now, that’s better.”  She offered Carol a bottle of soap.

Carol poured some of it onto a cloth and handed it back.  She worked it into a lather before she began rubbing it over his chest.  Behind him, Sima apparently had a similar cloth and was washing his back.  He winced and tried to protest as her motions went over the welts, but the gag muffled his words effectively.  When he tried to pull away, Carol caught hold of his nipple and twisted.  “You’re breaking the rules.”

“Be a good boy, Ash.”  Sima’s voice was soft.

The only sound he made resembled a whimper.

#

Carol smiled as she ran the washcloth over the young man’s body.  Lisa had told her about Sima’s pets, but the last one had apparently died before Carol had rejoined her cousin.  She was starting to see the appeal.  And a police officer, no less, handsome and helpless.  She leaned forward and ran her tongue over his nipple.

A protest came from behind the gag as the young man started to move away before catching himself.  His whole body tensed as he forced himself to remain still. She moved her hand lower, running the cloth over his groin.  He shook his head, but Sima’s hand on the back of his shoulder made him go still again.  Odd, how quickly Sima had taken the fight out of him.  Lisa said he’d been like a cornered wildcat when she’d shot his partner, and the dents he’d left in the trunk of the car had given mute testimony to that fact.

Sima left her in the shower, and got something from the black bag she’d brought with her.  She went to the sink and turned on the warm water before filling some kind of rubber pouch.  A small giggle escaped Carol when she realized what exactly it was, then she looked up at the captive.  He was looking at Sima with a confused expression.  His eyes widened when Sima attached the hose and nozzle and he immediately began shaking his head and protesting behind the gag.

It did him little good.  When he tried to pull away from Sima, Carol simply grabbed hold of his manhood again.  To dodge Sima, he’d have to cause himself considerable pain if not damage.  The sounds behind the gag resembled curses again, culminating in what was clearly an expletive when Sima shoved the nozzle inside him.  “Ash.”

He continued making growling sounds, and Sima caught his hair.  “Ash.”  He went quiet again.  “You will hold this until I tell you to release.  Failure to do so will result in punishment.  I will apply the prod to the bottoms of your left foot for no less than ten seconds, then I will repeat the action with your right foot.  Do you understand me, Ash?”  He made a growling sound, and she yanked his head back.  “Do you understand me, Ash?”

A sound came from him, and he managed to nod his head.  Sima repeated the enema a second time before setting the bag aside and lathering him again.  Carol smiled as she assisted, then waited while Sima turned him this way and that a little to make sure all the soap was rinsed away.  Then Sima caught her eye, then jerked her head.

Reluctantly, Carol followed her out of the shower.  She dried off, then got dressed.  Sima turned off the water, then handed her another towel and they both stepped back into the shower to dry their victim.  As soon as they were finished, Carol stepped back out of the shower while Sima unfastened their captive’s hands from above his head and fastened them behind his back once more.  She left the collar fastened to the chain.

She nodded to it with a raised eyebrow, and Sima nodded to her before going back to the black bag she’d brought into the room with her.  She removed something, then stepped back into the shower again.  Carol watched as Sima fastened a belt of some kind around his waist.  When Sima took hold of his manhood, the captive immediately pulled away.  Sima made a disapproving noise, then reached up and caught his chin, forcing him to look at her.  “Ash.”  She stared at him, waiting until he met her eyes.  “That is five lashes.  Hold still, or I will make it ten.”  She waited a moment.  “Acknowledge that I have spoken, or I will make it twenty.”

After a moment, he nodded, and Sima released him.  She fastened the device over his penis, then locked it into place with straps around his upper thighs.  It did not look particularly comfortable, and it took Carol a moment to realize its purpose.  While wearing that, the young man would not be able to become erect, and would in fact suffer greatly were such to begin occurring.

Watching Sima deliver five solid blows across the young man’s buttocks was an oddly pleasing experience.  When she got the chance, she’d have to ask Sima if she could have a turn using the strap.  The red marks made his rear end even more tempting to grab.

#

Magda froze slightly as she stepped out of the car, and then closed the door behind her.  She followed Stephan to the abandoned car.  While he was walking around to the other side, she carefully opened the driver’s side door and sniffed, then narrowed her eyes.  Maybe this hadn’t been about Ash at all.

Someone had come into her territory, killed a member of her pack, and stolen one of her cubs.  She clenched her fists, then forced them to relax once more.

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