tagSci-Fi & FantasyWorld on a String

World on a String


This story is part of a series that includes two other stories: Fight Test and Victims of the Revolution. The characters are not recurrent, and it can be enjoyed without the other stories.


Homeless. Jobless. Pregnant.

In this city, just another way of saying 'dead.'

Corporations ruled the day, moving unchecked across a landscape that grew more arid and less forgiving every day. There was no government anymore to keep their ambitions in check, and the CEOs with the greatest control were truly, truly powerful indeed.

Chuck, my husband, had been laid off for fairly mundane reasons. The company was about the future, and two weeks worth of sub par performances were more than enough to get you escorted off the premises. It didn't matter how many years before that you had worked hard and well. A dozen other mongrels were waiting to grovel for your job.

Unable to pay our rent or find work, Chuck made a last ditch desperate attempt to win over the landlord's heart and spare us from what was, now, certain doom. In response, the fat and piggish Daniel Welch had calmly told my husband that he would forget about past due rent if I would "bang" him. If I wouldn't, he would be calling the police and informing them that we had stolen from him.

"She'll enjoy it, mate," he'd sneered, "and you'll not have to end up on the streets. You know what happens to people on the streets?"

"Go to hell," my husband spat.

"Same thing that happens to dogs," Daniel continued as though he hadn't been interrupted. "Dogs," he repeated with emphasis. Everybody knew that, in this world, no creature was going to live long without protection.

"Go to fucking hell," my husband repeated, advancing. In an instant, Daniel Welch had his phone in his hand and was dialing the local company police.

"Wait!" I said, panicked. "Don't!" He smiled at me, a sick grin of victory. "Give us time to talk about it," I said, to my husband's visible shock. I hoped he realized it was a bluff.

"Sure," he shrugged. "Talk it out. You have 15 minutes before I call the cops."

Terrified, we let him walk us back to our apartment, and then snuck out with whatever we could take.

There are no shelters. There are no public services, or police that aren't owned by the companies. There are, however, a lot of gangs. I was three months pregnant with our first child, and it was a cold winter. We desperately snuck into a back window of a large building, which led us to the back area of an expensive restaurant. Before we could find a place to hide and think, however, we were caught.

"Security!" Shouted a well-dressed man with a silver name tag. Two massive goons grabbed us, and began hauling us towards the front door.

The one who had me had a chokehold on, and his rancid breath was warm against my cheek. "Maybe we keep you a while, eh?" He snarled. Pulling at his arm hopelessly, I kicked out and tried to scream, unaware of the show we were putting on for the wealthy elite who watched with amusement as we were pulled towards the exit.


The voice, a woman's, had a natural authority to it. Amazingly, they did stop. The hold on my throat loosened, and we were swung back in the direction of the restaurant floor.

A figure was approaching, blurry in my oxygen-deprived vision. But I didn't recognize the voice that had called out. I unclouded my vision, and found myself looking at an attractive, late-30's woman who, from her dress and jewelry, clearly had enough money to eat at or even own a place like this. Thick, curled auburn hair fell past her shoulders, as buoyant and shiny as a teen's. It seemed out of place on a woman who was obviously nearing 40. Her figure made me jealous; she seemed to treat its silky movements casually.

She looked at my husband's face, and then mine. Finally, her gaze dropped thoughtfully to my belly. The thug's grip had exposed it almost up to the breast, and the slight swell was there for all to see. I suddenly became reaware of my surroundings, and felt a horrid shame.

"You," she nodded at Chuck, "used to work for Microcorp. A quick moving young man, if I remember."

"Yes," he was breathing hard, still firmly in the big man's grip. "Project manager...in systems."

"I remember. Your work on my security update was...oh, decent, I suppose."

"Mrs. Carlisle?" Recognition spread across his face, as well as another emotion I couldn't read. Hope? Fear?

"I assume from all of this," she waved dismissively across the scene in front of her, "that you've been let go."

"Yes, ma'am." The guards were slowly, uncertainly, loosening their grip on us.

"And this is your wife?" She took a small step forward, becoming a little too close for my comfort. Her perfume was light, but it had astrange scent to it. Like a warm alcoholic buzz. She ran a finger across my forehead, brushing loose hair back up out of my eyes. I found it hard to look at her directly, humiliated. She, however, had no trouble keeping that almost-arrogant stare on me.

"Yes, ma'am, she is. We..." my husband began. At the same time, the well-dressed man who was clearly the manager began to complain about the scene.

"Please," he said nervously, "can we take this..."

"I may be able to find work for you." Her voice cut them both off.

"Really?" My husband said. "Oh, Mrs. Carlisle..."

"Not for you," she waved her hand. I suddenly realized she was still too near, still looking directly at my face. Her eyes locked on me, like a bird of prey. "For her."

"M...me?" I stammered, barely above a whisper.

My husband sounded skeptical, suddenly. "I don't think..."

"You," her eyes suddenly jumped to him, "have no offer. You are nothing to me until she accepts the offer. In fact," she shrugged and looked at the thug holding him, "somebody else should be dealing with you." The unspoken message was clear, and his eyes went wide as the guard dragged him back towards the back area.

"No!" He shouted. The guard struck him hard, enough to scare me. He stopped fighting, almost limp as they turned a corner out of view.

"You have a baby on the way." I felt her hand run across the under part of my small bump, drawing my attention back. When I squirmed, the grip on my throat tightened again.

"There'll be none of that, brute," she snarled at the bodyguard. He immediately let me go. I rubbed at my throat and coughed. Her expression softened, and she smiled at him. "You should go play with your friend."

The guard smiled back, and leaned in near me again. "Your husband can show a good time, same as you. I'd negotiate quickly." He strutted off. I looked to Mrs. Carlisle for help, but she gave no indication that she cared at all about my husband's situation.

"There, now," she held one hand to my cheek. This time I didn't pull back, but a rising fear was taking me. I worried that I might lose control of the panic and run. "No harm done. What is your name, girl?"

"Mary," I whispered.

"Mary. Adorable. I am going to tell you something honest, Mary, and I want you to listen to all of it before you say a word. Okay?"

"Okay." I still felt small, foolish, and even though most of the dinner conversations had resumed the embarrassment of it all was immobilizing.

"There are no jobs out there for your husband," she shrugged apologetically, "nor for you. You and I are both smart enough to know that, once you hit the streets, all there is left to do is die. But I..." she leaned in even closer, so that her face was inches from mine, "can give you a job to do. You won't like it..."

"I'll do..." She shushed me, with a stern finger against my lips. I felt chided, like a child. She left the finger there, making me even more uncomfortable.

"You won't like it at all. But it will keep you alive. It will keep your husband alive. It will save your baby. So..." her finger slipped down and her thumb replaced it, gently tracing the curve of my lips. Terror crept up my spine as she smiled and I began to fully realize the horror I was being locked into. "...how far will you go to save your family, Mary?"

I stood staring at her, shaking with fear. She laughed, and her thumb moved to my chin.

"You may answer."

I opened my mouth. No words came out. I could barely breathe, and my body was in shock as surely as if I had just opened my closet and found a dead body hanging where my coat should be. I tried again. Only breathy syllables slipped out. She chuckled again, and winked.

"I tell you what, Mary," her thumb slipped slowly back up to my lips, pressing gently between them so that I could feel it against my teeth. "I know this is difficult. It's scary, and it's not what you would want. I imagine it's nearly impossible to consent. But," she grinned, "if you are willing to do this job...to do what you must to save your family...all you have to do..." her thumb applied a slight amount of pressure, "...is suck."

I began crying in earnest, then, as I allowed her thumb into my mouth. I wanted to vomit, but instead sucked softly on the digit. Even more mortifying was the instinctual caresses my tongue gave the underside of it as my body naturally tried to explore this invader. I fought them, but too late. Mrs. Carlisle nodded her head as if giving me her approval, waited and allowed me to suckle at her thumb humiliatingly for several seconds, and then withdrew. She turned to a man who had been standing near her, but whom I hadn't noticed before. Her voice became strict and businesslike.

"Take her in the car, Jules. You know where. Have Anthony begin prepping her in the morning. She could use a night's rest." She turned to leave, and then paused. "Oh, and...once she signs the contracts, you can get the husband as well." I watched, drained almost to emotionlessness, as she walked confident and beautiful back to her table.

"You will come with me." Jules' tone was the same as it would have been for a small child, or a stupid dog. He was a small Italian-looking man, and he began walking towards the door.

"My husband..."

"The staff here are reasonable," he didn't turn around as he spoke, but kept walking. "So long as he cooperates, he will not be harmed."

"The contracts..." By now I was scampering to keep up with him, and we were outside moving towards a large limo.

"Are at the office. Its forty minutes from here, so do hurry, you whiny little thing."

"But couldn't she..."

He stopped, turning on me. "You are nothing, you stupid bitch. Learn to act that way." He struck me across the face, so hard I fell to the ground. I began crying again, as he rubbed his hand. "When the contracts are signed, you will belong to her, and only then will she see any need to help your husband. So shut the fuck up, and move faster."

I stood quickly, rubbing my cheek. He placed me in the passenger front side of the limo, and as we left the parking lot he paused to roll down the window.

The attendant leaned in, also a large man clearly chosen for security purposes. "Yeah, bub?"

"The man in the basement is with this lady, and she will shortly belong to a Mrs. Carlisle." His eyebrows went up, asking the large attendant to fill in the gaps.

"Got it, bub," he smiled. "No lost teeth unless he bites." He laughed and waved at me, as we began to pull away.

I signed the contracts without reading them, and before I knew it I was in a small apartment comprising a kitchen, living room, and bathroom. Two single beds were located in the living room, attached to the floor and wall so they couldn't be moved together. I fell into one of them, asleep before I'd fully settled, and didn't awake until morning.

When I did, Chuck was in the other bed, still sleeping.

I ran to him, throwing my arms around his silent form and crying anew. He woke up, and looked at me. One eye was swollen shut, and there was dried blood on his nose and cheek.

"I love you," he whispered. I noticed that one of his front teeth was missing.

"I love you, too," I sobbed. "I'm so, so sorry."

"It's not your fault," he moaned, then suddenly sat straight up. "What have you done?"

"What I had to do," I looked up at him for approval. "To keep us alive."

He watched me silently for a time, and then sighed. "You know what you've agreed to."

"I do. I'll get by. I love you."

He smiled at me. Then, after a moment, it faded. "No," he shook his head, "you don't know what you've agreed to at all."

The next few days were mostly grueling, as I was trained for my new 'job.' Simple tasks, like keeping her office clean and organized, were explored to the point of tedium. Mrs. Carlisle likes tennis, so I had lessons enough to make me an adequate but still-beatable opponent. I was taught about elaborate massage techniques, Mrs. Carlisle's favorite drinks and how to make them, and a thousand different expectations that I must never, ever forget. Kneel when she walked in the room. Rub her feet if she places them up. Never hesitate when she expects pleasure. That one made me shutter. What a vile person she seemed.

Then there was the "personality training." I was required to take strange pills they would not tell me about, and then I spent untold hours watching video footage of her (including hours of nude and even sexual clips), and smell her perfume. The same strange perfume from the restaurant, only somehow different. It clouded my thoughts. The drugs would make me feel strange, and relaxed, and the time seemed to go by quickly. It terrified me. I never told Chuck.

The first day, I cried constantly. The second day, less, and the third even less. By the fourth, I actually looked forward to the personality training. It was easy, there were no tests, and it didn't hurt my hands like the massage training.

In that, I first learned how to relax the muscles and knead the stress areas with my fingers. Then we worked on locating and working pressure points. But on the fifth day the test subject, a small Asian woman barely old enough to be out of high school and with a gymnast's body, dropped her towel as she came in and lay there, on her stomach, naked. I pulled back, fearful.

"Relax," the nameless trainer said. "This also is something you must learn. Begin the massage."

I hesitated.

"Begin," he repeated, irritated.

I worked the usual techniques, trying to ignore the small yet unavoidable change in setting. As I neared the end of the massage, I began to feel safe. No big deal. I could deal with a naked butt, I guess.

"Now for the next part," my trainer said. At the sound of his voice, the Asian girl adjusted her legs so they were slightly parted. I felt tense, trapped. I tried not to look. There had never been a next part.

"When you massage Mrs. Carlisle," emphasized her name, "she finds that it helps to relax her calves and gluts if you apply your tongue to them in a sweeping motion. It's an old technique from the East, and actually very effective. To do this right, you must extend your tongue fully and allow it to be completely limp. The effect is similar to a cat's lick. We have half and hour extra to practice, today. There is a glass of water on the stand if you should need it. Do you understand the assignment?"

"Yes," I said meekly, and moved to the girl's legs. Taking a deep breath, I leaned forward.

"Stop," he commanded. I looked up at him. "You must be prepared for the physical realities of your...position," he smiled. "Practice on the glutes, and the legs will be easy."

I stared at him, and swallowed.

"Do you have a question?" He cocked his head.

"No, sir." I shifted over so that I was standing over her nude butt. Just days ago this would have reduced me to a weeping mess, but now I was resigned. I wondered what this girl was thinking right now, and what exactly her job was.

Apparently, she was only impatient, because she reached one hand back and patted her butt. "Relax me," she commanded. I'd rather have hit her, just then, but I extended my tongue and leaned forward.

It was no big deal, really. It felt only like soft skin. Even running my tongue along her crack was no big thing. I was almost embarrassed at how easy it was. I could actually imagine how this could be relaxing if you were on the receiving end. The Asian girl moaned once, as I ran my drying tongue along the crack of her ass. Then time was up.

"Decent enough," the trainer said. "We'll practice more next time." Then he left.

The Asian girl sat up, with her legs hanging over the side of the bed. Her thighs pressed together over a dark brown patch of trimmed pubic hair, and I awkwardly looked around at everything else in the room besides her. She seemed totally relaxed in her nudity, swinging her legs playfully and looking at me with a strange cockiness.

"Hi," I smiled lamely, in a voice that said "I've just spent half an hour with my tongue on your butt." She didn't respond, but just smiled at me in a way that made me feel stupid. "I'm Mary," I offered.

"Okay," she shrugged, and didn't offer her name. She shifted her legs so they were open, and leaned back on her hands. I blushed and suddenly became very interested in the ceiling. What was wrong with this girl!

"What do you do here?" I asked, thinking I should just leave. The truth was that I was desperate to have some positive human contact in this place, maybe even a friend.

"I rate the massage work," she shrugged. "I don't think your rating will be very good."

"Why not?!" I was a little embarrassed to be scolded by this young girl, especially after a long session up close with her rear.

She smiled again, superiority on her face. "I'm just not impressed. And you know, if the review is bad, Mrs. Carlisle might just pick one of the others."

I blinked. "Others?"

She nodded, and swept her hair back behind her ear with one hand. "Only one is getting the job. The others..." she shrugged, honestly indifferent. Oh, god, I thought. No.

I had to appeal to her. I had to win this. "I can't lose...I'm pregnant. I need this job." I looked at her, pleading.

"Mary," her voice was that of a scolding teacher, "needs don't matter." She ran a hand through her hair, absently brushing it away from her face.

"I..." I looked down, scared. What could I do? She wasn't lying. She didn't care. It was hopeless.

"If you kneel down," she said casually. "Maybe you can change my mind."

I stared, suddenly hating and fearing her. It occurred to me that, looking downwards and lost in my own thoughts moments ago, it might have seemed that I was staring at her exposed crotch.

"Oh, hey, I wasn't..." I began.

She scooted forward, and winked. "You should."

"Please," I begged, panicked.

She just blinked back at me, not caring if I live or die. "Kneel down like a good girl," she sounded so relaxed, certain. What choice did I really have? This horrible job was the only hope my baby had. I knelt down heavily and sad between her legs, not looking up but knowing what I would see if I did.

"Give me your hand," she said. I did, and placed it against her slightly moist crotch. "Move your palm like this," she positioned it. "Good. Now hold it there." She began pushing against it, not hard at all, but enough that I had to tense my arm. Her hands held on to my wrist as she ground against my open hand.

"Look at me," she demanded, and I raised my eyes to her gloating face. I could see the strain of effort and the flush of arousal on her. "Keep your eyes on me." As I kept my eyes locked on hers I struggled not to cry, not to show her how this hurt. I failed miserably.

It didn't last long, but my arm grew tired and sore. She hummed a few times, grabbing and pushing hard against my palm, and was finally still. Her eyes never left mine, even as she sat breathing heavy and let go of my exhausted wrist.

"That was good," she said between breaths. "Real good for a quick one."

"So..." I finally allowed my gaze to drop. My hand was sticky, and I felt sick. "So you'll give me a good review?"

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