The Line

By: Sarah Wolf

Date: 20th Jul 2021

The sounds of industrial music emanate from a stairway in the middle of an alleyway. On either side two men stand, smoking cigarettes and not looking anywhere but over the shoulder of the other. The men come alive when the sound of footsteps echo through the alley and increase in volume. The person responsible comes around the corner in an outfit that does not match the scenery. Brown cords, matching slip on loafers and a white shirt with a burnt orange cardigan. The curls in the man’s hair are loose and relaxed, either by nature or treatment. He smoothly produces a silver card with the letters SNCTM on the front of it. The man on the left takes it and pulls up his sleeve. On his massive forearm is a small card reader which the man presses the card against. After a moment the card is rejected, and the man is given back his card. The man then pulls out a gold card with the same lettering and asks them in a mousie voice to try this one instead. This of course is approved and the two men allow him entrance. The two men both light new cigarettes and mouth disparities toward the man, and return to their sentry duties. The man emerges from the bottom of the staircase into a club that seems to be built into an old sewer. The lights, the music, the people, all look like a better version of the first Blade movie, but without the ridiculous outfits. Granted there are some outfits here, but ridiculous isnít how they would be described. He walks carefully through the crowd, which is made up of women of all kinds, pulling men of all kinds around by all kinds of contraptions and/or body parts. The man doesnít stop to take a drink, nor to say hello to anyone. Instead he walks without deviation to a cage in the rear of the room. A small, salt and pepper haired Asian woman sits behind a set of bars and lords over several buttons. The man slides his silver card under the window and waits a beat before he realizes the Asian woman knows him, and slides the gold one instead, pulling back the silver. He takes a look around and sees the regular faces, all positioned in their personal booths above the stage. And then he sees her. Bald, eyes cutting through the darkness. Her face covered by shadow even with the randomness of the search lights around her. He looks for a prolonged period and as he takes her in he can feel something in him swirl. Fear and want, mostly. He turns to the Asian woman beaming with excitement.

”How much for the new one?” He asks, looking back and forth between the individual in question and the Asian lady.

”You canít handle her. Pick someone else.” The lady doesnít even look up. She is dismissive. Not because she wants to be, but because for this one, itís a part of it.

”I can afford all of them, you too.” “I didnít say afford. I said “handle.” ”I want her.” “If you insist. But sheís will reject.” The Asian woman places a thin cigar between her teeth, and flips a switch which activates a light above the mans head just outside the window, illuminating him in the otherwise dark club. The other available dominatrixes(dominatrixi?)immediately turn their attention to the man, and wait for the light before them on their desk to activate. But only the one in front of the new one does so. Two lights in fact, one green and one red. The new one looks at the man, and calmly hits the red button. The crowd letís out an “aww” of pure sympathy, but the man isnít pleased, and he curses the crowd, and the “CUNT” who rejected him by saying so loudly in her direction. The Asian woman flips a switch again and the lights before the new one are again illuminated and this time she punches the green button, and takes off down the stairs. Two men dressed exactly as the sentries posted outside the door, walk up to the man who is now being cheered by the crowd, and escort him to an elevator. The speakers on board play a muzak version of Ďno way outí for the 6 seconds theyíre in. As the doors open, and a long hallway is half illuminated before them, the two men push the lucky winner out of the cart, and the doors close right after. He walks down the hall, adjusting himself in the groin as he gets further and further excited the closer he gets. The door at the end of the hall opens and for a second we get a view of the person heís here to see. They move fluidly, almost as if made of water, or something much darker. As he enters the room, a hand crashes against the back of his neck, and he is both forced to his knees, and dragged at the same time. The pain coursing through his head and back from the tightness of the grip on his neck is exquisite, but painful enough to make his eyes water. When he opens them, he finds both of his wrists are cuffed and chained to a large eyehook in the ceiling. He also finds that this room is full of eyehooks. Multiple on every surface. The Mistress is standing before a very large chest, and is pulling out random items. Some medical. Some sexual. All of them pleasing to his eyes. The mistress moves toward him, holding a clipboard with a single piece of paper. She places a pen in his hand, and holds the clipboard still.

DF
” Sign. “

Fred
” Is this a release? You donít have to worry about me suing. I a- “

DF
SIGN. “

His hand is gripping the pen oddly, but his signature is close enough. The mistress holds the clipboard up to a camera in the corner, and after a beat, the light to the camera turns off, and the mistress throws the clipboard to the corner and begins to pull out far more serious devices and pieces. Fred smiles, knowing that itís nothing to worry about. After all, heís a regular here. Heís practically built the renovations to this place singlehandedly.

Fred
” Not to toot my own horn, but Iím sort of a big deal around here. If you play your cards right, you could be my regular girl. “

DF
” Girl. “

Fred
” Iím sorry, woman? Or did you want me to call you mistress? I donít really do that. “

DF
” I know. Itís because you detest powerful women. “

Fred
” Thatís not true. Why would I be here? “

DF
” Because you are weak. Youíve always been weak. Uninteresting. Even the women that liked you couldnít get past it. See, it isnít just powerful women. Itís all women, really. Because to you all women are powerful. Powerful enough to see who you are and toss you to the side for it. Itís why you come here. You can use the one thing that matters about you, money, to make women who otherwise would not see you as human, touch you. To pay attention to you. In your mind, you tell yourself that you truly have control. That you are far more powerful than them. “

Fred
” wow. BDSM and therapy at the same time. How lucky am I. “

DF
” Not very. You were lucky once. Thatís run out now though. Now, you are unfortunate. “

Fred
” I thi- “

DF
SHUT THE FUCK UP OR I WILL STAPLE YOUR MOUTH SHUT.

Fred
” Please. Theyíd never let you do that. I practically pay these peoples salary. “

DF
” …I did warn you. “

The mistress turns and grabs his head, a staple gun in her hand, she presses it against his lips and with a cachunk, she fires a staple, and with another cachunk, another staple. She repeats this process as Fredís screams of agony become murmurs of almost silent misery. Blood running down his mouth, she grabs his face in her hands, and looks into his eyes.

DF
” You take things for granted. Most do. They wake up, and expect their day to go well. Theyíll have coffee. Theyíll go to work. And life will be joyous. But that isnít the case for some people, fred. Some people die on the way to work, have a heart attack instead of coffee, and nothing is ever joyous again. You will survive this, Fred. You will leave here in one piece and you will have had your perspective altered, or should I say, properly realigned. But understand something, you are not the customer here, Fred. I AM.

Fred
” mmnphmmph “

DF
Stop it. Stop playing the victim. Iím going to help you. Show you how freeing pain can be. Because once I felt it, really felt it, nothing was ever the same. Nothing will ever be the same for you. Ordinary everyday existence isnít a concern. How youíre going to pay your bills, or what happens if you run out of gas. Once someone has stood over you, and held their life in your hands, you find the truth. You find out what matters. Itís nothing, Fred. Nothing at all. And thatís what I am going to teach you. And him.”

Doll walks over to the printer and pulls out a piece of paper that has Jason Ryanís face on it. She holds it out, and shows it to Fred, who looks like heís going to puke from the anticipation.

DF
Jason, like yourself has found himself in a world he does not belong. In a spot he has not earned. But as with you, and so with him, that is where I come in. I have been tasked with testng him. Seeing if he is half of what he will need to be, in order to be of use for whatís to come. And you fred, you are not the customer. You are the stand in. Youíre the fucking practice.”

The staple gun sounds off again as Dollface presses the piece of paper with Jasonís face on it against Fredís face and hits it with the staple gun five or six times in a row. Blood soaks into the paper, a little at first but increasing by the second.

DF
”It seems I hit something important. Just when we were getting started. I guess Iíll have to tend to that.”

Doll walks over to the chest, and pulls out a small screwdriver with a metal plate soldered onto the end of it. She then picks up a handheld blowtorch and begins to heat the metal until it is almost white hot. She tears the top of the paper away where the blood is coming from, and pushes the plate against the bleeding wound. Fred screams so loud his lips tear through the staples, and his head drops as he passes out from the pain of one or the other, or both.

DF
”I would like to let you rest, but the fact of the matter is that I am running out of time. Jason is going to be waiting for me. He wants to cement his place, find a seat at the table, so to speak. I wonder what made him want to join this…gathering of ours. Was it one bad day? Year? Is he one of those people who believe madness is a line you cross after you are forced to acknowledge it? I hope not. Those people are so wrong. We are all capable of madness, fred. We are ll built with the ability to look at the world around us and want to tear it down with our bare hands. Some of us, fred, wish to do so with our company, or our car by not letting some cunt cut us off, and then there are some of us who see the truth of the world and decided once and for all they will not PLAY THIS FUCKING GAME ANYMORE. Secret is out, Fred. there are no lines. Borders are imaginary. Countries are interconnected and there is no difference between the land that makes them up but the ones we create. Madness is the same way. It isnít a direction or a fucking location, FRED. IT IS A FUCKING CALLING and Iíve answered. Now itís time to find out if Jason will, but not by me ringing his celly phone..BUT BY ME RINGING HIS FUCKING NECK. NOW WAKE UP YOU CUNT!

Dollface pulls a small epi-pen style needed from her boot and jabs it in Fredís chest. The man rears back and lets out a gasp as his eyes shoot open. It is obviously adrenaline coursing through him, and Doll is very pleased to see it. The blood drips to the floor and flies to the walls, and his hands turn into claws as his entire body spasms in horror.

DF
”…Sorry Fred. I am the customer. And I want my money’s worth.”

Fred
” Please.. I made a mistake.”

DF
” we all make them, Fred. Some are gigantic, like yours, here, tonight. Some are so small and insignificant. But the outcomes of both of those are not always of equal measure. Some huge mistakes are left without consequence. People have murdered others and had less happen to them than people who simply chose to love the wrong person or live in the wrong part of the world. But yet the world spins on. Except for some of us, it now spins differently. The world I lived in prior was one that a person could be in, become successful, simply by doing the right thing. But now I see the world for what it is. Itís a blindfold, itís an excuse, itís ambiguous morality, and itís a farce at best and a nightmare at worst. Iíll prove this to you tonight, Fred. By taking your little gold membership privilege and cutting the weight of it in flesh from your fucking back. And then Iíll take solace in the fact you will be better off. Because what does not kill you makes you stronger. I am the Ďwhat,í Fred. But only if youíre a good boy.”

”If there was ever a line, Fred. I was not one who crossed it. I was born straddling it. Left to die on it , really. I told myself Iíd be good. Solid. Strong. Upstanding. You know how that turned out donít you? Of course you do. Look at you. Youíre in your tiny head, wondering what it is you could have done differently to avoid this. Maybe you should have listened? Maybe you should have accepted your rejection and moved on? Maybe this, maybe that. Jason, there is no way to avoid things like this. You either find them or they find you. Iím sorry, I called you Jason. I get…confused sometimes. But thankfully, this gives me clarity. Not a lot, but enough. I tell you, Fred. Had there been a line, had I crossed it, I can tell you…Iíd never go back. Because there is nothing to fucking go back to. Now hold still. Iíve got some lessons you need to learn.” As Dollface grabs Fredís ear and clips a jumper cable to it, Fred passes out once more, and Doll cackles, standing up and knocking on the door. The doors lock releases, and the camera comes back on. Doll looks up and tilts her head.

DF
”Send me some water. This is going to take awhile.”