General Disclaimers: While it features no ‘on-screen’ sexual activity or explicit adult situations, this hypnofetish story does contain examples of fictional characters doing illegal, immoral and/or impossible things to other fictional characters. If you are under the age of consent in your community, are disturbed by such concepts, or want graphic sex in your pornography, then for goshsakes stop reading now!

Permission granted to re-post for free to any electronic medium, as long as no one's being charged to view it, and this disclaimer and e-mail address ( are not removed. It would also be nice if you told me you were posting it.

Copyright Voyer, 2000.

Specific Disclaimers: Set in the same universe at ‘Shades of Night Are Falling’, ‘Cut Off’, et al, and you should really read them first.

Dedicated to Grant Naylor, who did it all first.

She woke up, but she didn’t open her eyes.

As she did almost every time she woke up, she just sorta lay there for a long moment, lazily lapping up the feelings as they washed over her. She knew... kinda... that it had all been different once. Once, a long long while back there had been icky bad feelings all mixed up with the good ones. But that was all gone now. Now there was a big friendly candy-red button right in the center of her head, and there was something written on it in shiny gold letters, and someone was pushing it very very hard. It was a Happy Button. Maybe that was even what the letters on the button said, but she couldn’t read them. Act-ually, she wasn’t real sure what a ‘button’ was.

‘Course, it didn’t matter.

She opened her eyes, blinked a little and tested the air of the room. The Man had already gotten up and gone away somewhere; there was an empty space in her head that he would have otherwise filled. She sighed just a little. The button was always being pushed, but when he was in the room, when he touched her, he filled that space and the button was pressed extra-special hard.

She crawled out of her bed and stretched, long and slow, arching her back, feeling every last muscle gradually unkink and unknot. It felt good to stretch.

But then, most everything felt good.

She spent a few minutes stetching and limbering up. Then she went into the bathroom, to her and Simon’s special corner, pulled down her bottompiece, squatted, and did her morning business. As always, the bottompiece itched a little as she slid it back into position, but she could bear it. Act-ually, she didn’t hafta bear it at all. It was a good sort of itch, because he had put it there. It was his itch, not hers at all.

Out of the bathroom. Out into the hall, down the hall. Her first stop every morning was the Funny Room at the end of the hall, just before the stairs. That was what she called it; the Man and the others probably called it something else. You never knew what you were going to find and see in the Funny Room, except ‘course it was always ladies. No guys. The guys...

But that was all icky, and she just smiled and stopped thinking about it. No more bad thoughts.

She stuck her tongue in the corner of her mouth and swiped at the appropriate door dohicky with intense concentration. Direct hit! Swish... Smiling again, she poked her head through the opening the doors left behind. No one in the Box, or the Stream. Sorta too bad. She liked watching the colors of the Stream. There was a lady sitting on the Chair in the corner, all the sparkly things going off over and around and working their way down inside. She was very pretty, like all the ladies. Well, most of them. Sometimes the ladies were pretty and ugly all at once, like ol’ Freaky Lady... This one was all-the-way pretty, with long brown hair that was sorta smeared all over and sticky. Being in the Chair did that to the ladies. The long-brown lady saw her as well, and immediately started making those same ol’ noises that ladies on the Chair always did. No fun there. She turned away. There was only one other lady in the Funny Room today...

The scene clicked into place. Her heart did a little flip-flop, and the Button pushed itself a little harder for just a sec. It was a woman like her! A playmate! She sorta danced her way across the padded floor to be beside the woman, who was crouched down and staring at something in the corner. She joined her and spoke.


“Hi!” The woman didn’t flinch, didn’t look at her, but kept staring, her cracked blue eyes very intent.

“Watcha doin’?”

“Mouse.” Not rude or nothin’, just concentrating.

“Ahhh...” She looked in the corner. There was a mouse hole there all right, and yes, there was a mouse in the back of it somewhere, and it all just sorta pulled at a gal’s eyes... pulled... she crouched and stared and stared and stared. No mouse. She didn’t get bored (she never ever got bored) , but after a while she pulled herself free of the hole, since it wasn’t her job to catch mice. She looked at her new friend and a thought came whispering to her from somewhere.

“What’s yer name?”

This finally broke the other woman’s concentration, and she peeked out from behind her strands of spiky black hair before answering, sorta puzzled.

“Don’t have a name.”

“Everyone has a name. Your name is... um...” She thought hard for a moment. “Bitsy. Your name is Bitsy.” As she said this, she did something to Bitsy’s head. She wasn’t real sure what, cuz it just sorta happened all on its own. She peeled something off from her own Happy Button, and jammed it down real tight in the very same place in Bitsy’s head. Bitsy squealed with joy and hopped up and down.

“Bitsy! Bitsy! My name is Bitsy!” Finally she calmed down, panting a little. A look of curiosity crossed her cute round face. “What’s your name?”

Tabby thought. Except for the Man, and Simon, and when she was thinking up one for a new playmate, she had sorta a blind spot about names, even her own. It came to her, finally.


“Hi, Tabby!”

“Hi, Bitsy! Look, I gotta do some stuff, but I’ll be back real soon. I promise.”

“OK!” Bitsy smiled contentedly and turned back to staring at the hole. She wiggled her raised butt in a sorta slow dance, and started crooning to herself... “Bitsy, Bitsy, my name is Bitsy...” Satisfied, Tabby gave Bitsy’s Button one last little push, then checked out the screaming lady in the Chair again, just to see if she was doing anything new and different.


She left the Funny Room and the doors closed behind her and she went downstairs. She briefly remembered having a little trouble with the stairs at some distant point in the past, but now she could just go tearing down them.

The next stop was the Food Room. Like the Funny Room, it had some other fancy name, but she didn’t bother trying to remember it. As always, Food Lady was there, working with the Food. Tabby’s mouth started watering. Food. Food Lady looked up from the whatever and smiled.

“Good morning, Tabby!”

“Good morning, Food Lady!”

It was sorta weird, but when she wasn’t talking to the Man, or one of her playmates, her words didn’t seem to come out so clearly. She wasn’t real sure if what she said was what the Food Lady heard. Still, everyone seemed to understand her OK, and no one ever got upset that she couldn’t remember their ‘real’ name.

“I suppose you want some breakfast.” Not mean or anything, still smiling.

“Yes, please!” She wiggled her own butt and bobbed a little.

“OK, then. Go sit down and I’ll bring it to you.”

Tabby scurried over to her special corner (her other special corner...) and got up in position. It was sorta awkward, and she would rather just put the bowl on the floor alongside Simon’s and stick her face in it, but the Man insisted, like he did with having her (almost) always wearing the toppiece and the bottompiece. Sometimes, he was just so...


The Button and all of the other things stuffed in her head wouldn’t let Tabby quite form the word in relation to the Man, but only slip around the edges of it. He... really didn’t need to.. to...

She shrugged and cheerfully tossed the thought aside.

Food Lady handed her the wide plastic bowl. Lovely smells wafted up out of it.

“Thank you, Food Lady!”

Food Lady smiled again, gave Tabby’s hair a brief stroke (...just a bit of a press on the ol’ Button...) and turned back to her other work, her bronze collar gleaming in the morning light. Tabby liked her own leather collar just fine, it felt so good resting snugly against her skin, but she had to say that it wasn’t nearly as pretty.

Tabby ate. Some of the Food was crunchy bits, some of it was squishy, some soft and cubish. It was all wonderful, and she polished it off in no time flat, finishing with the usual long drink from the bottle which was always there. DE-licious. She shot a wicked, guilty little glance around, with all of her eyes. No Man. Not real close anyway. Before he could come in and catch her, she licked the bowl clean and took it back to Food Lady in her teeth.

“Thank you, Tabby. Now then, would you please take Lorelei her food?”

Oh, yeah. Lorelei.

Tabby sighed deeply and rolled her eyes.

“Yes, Food Lady.”

Tabby took the Food, carrying the leather-padded handle of the bucket in her mouth.

Tabby was never exactly sure what to think about Lorelei (AKA Golden Lady, or Bird Lady, or Freaky Lady, depending on both Tabby and Lorelei’s mood). She had the Man’s cracks in her eyes, just like Tabby and all the Ladies in the house, but... sometimes, Tabby would glance at her, sorta quick-like out of the corner of her own eyes, and it would... sorta... seem like the cracks weren’t actually there, or didn’t really go that deep, like they were just a mask or somethin’.

But she was pretty sure that the Man saw this too, and he didn’t seem too worried. And Lorelei always did everything he ever told her to, even some things that were really, really icky.

But then, Lorelei was super-weird inside, too, and liked doing icky things.

Lorelei had her own room way off in a lonely part of the house, and she was allowed to decorate it however she wanted. Tabby didn’t want a room, her comfy bed and her special corners were plenty, but if she did have a room, she would have put up great big pictures of the Man on all the walls and floor and ceiling, so many that there would be no spaces between them. In a way, that was where she lived already; a lot of the things in her head, along with the Button, were pictures of him, smiling down at her, pressing the Button and making her feel good all the time. She would occasionally realize this fact, then it would get away from her again, like people’s names.

Tabby entered the room; like most of the rooms on this floor, Lorelei’s didn’t have a door, just an opening in the wall.

Lorelei put all kinds of strange things on her walls, none of them pictures of him. Some were pictures of people, both ladies and guys, whom Tabby had never seen anywhere in the house, but still seemed a little familiar. Lots of times Lorelei had neatly slashed them apart with her long sharp fingers-which-weren’t-fingers and assembled strange new faces out of the pieces, eyes stuck above new noses, under different bits of hair. Most of the other things on the walls were the big collections of glittery and shiny things, small and round and set in neat rows. They were sorta pretty, when they were all up covering the walls, but Lorelei just fussed over them all the time, always takin’ ‘em down and puttin’ ‘em back up and sorting them, and NoTalk Lady or one of her new Helper Ladies was always bringing Lorelei more of them packed in paper-covered boxes from somewhere beyond the house’s front door. All in all, Tabby thought the boxes and the paper were a lot funner than the stuff inside. She could bat around a piece of crumpled paper for just hours.

In the very center of Lorelei’s room was a twisty set of metal bars reaching almost all the way to the ceiling. When she wasn’t sorting her shiny things or doing her chores, Lorelei was often swinging from the bars, whipping around and around, jumping from bar to bar and bending her body in ways that seemed they should really, really hurt.

This morning, though, Lorelei was doing chores like Tabby. Along one wall she had a box sitting on a brown table. The table was made out of the room’s disassembled door and some heavy gray scratchy blocks. (Another idea of Lorelei’s...) One side of the box flashed colors all the time. In front of the box was gathered together a bunch of small knobs, and Lorelei was crouched there on a large wooden box (like Tabby, she never used chairs), poking away at those knobs with her not-fingers, and talking to herself. Tabby thought this was sorta weird and stuck-up, but then Lorelei did have a very nice voice.

“Yes, that will be acceptable. Mr. Black will see you then. Good day to you.” She did something boring and complicated with the knobs, took something out of her ear and snapped her head to look at Tabby. She could turn her head a long ways around. She smiled.

“Greetings, Tabby. You are welcome here.”

I better be, after I brought you your Food...

Tabby thought this, but only sorta in the back of her mind, hidden behind some of the pictures of the Man. Lorelei had a way of hearing and seeing stuff that most folks didn’t, and she also had ways of being real nasty if she wanted to, again without ever actually doing anything that the Man didn’t tell her to do...

Tabby carefully set the bucket down on the floor before speaking.

“Yes, Lorelei.” She twitched her nose and wiped at it with the back of her hand, trying to clear the smell of the stuff out of her head. It wasn’t bad, exactly, but it sure was strong.


Those big words came up from somewhere, once in a great while, like a rat suddenly popping out of its hole. Yeah, a slinky, sneering old Rat. Not a mouse. The voice that said them was always sorta shifty and mean, a lot like Lorelei when she wanted to be. No. Even worse. The voice usually just made nasty comments about other people in the house, and the things that they did and liked.

Not the Man of course. The voice was deathly afraid of the Man. It did sometimes start making nasty comment about Tabby, though, things that Tabby didn’t entirely understand. When that would happen, she would just go find the Man, and he would push the Button, and the rat-voice would go away. Not forever, but the times between its coming out of its hole had been getting longer and longer.

Then Lorelei was standing beside her, picking up the bucket. In addition to being smart, Lorelei was fast. She was there and she took the bucket and she was perched up on one of the topmost bars, the bucket hanging from a little hook. She ate fast but neat, snip snip snip with all ten of her not-fingers. The wet red strips rapidly disappeared. She stared at Tabby, her purple eyes cracked and shining in a way that Tabby didn’t like but were also sort of pulling, like the mouse hole in the Funny Room...

There was a noise, and Tabby gave a start, breaking gazes with Lorelei. A buzzing ringing sound. Lorelei casually swung over and snatched something up off the door. Another ring. She stuck the whatever back in her ear and spoke.

“You have reached the Black residence. How may I help you?”

Tabby stared up at her, wide-eyed. The bird lady seemed to be listening and responding to invisible voices.

“Greetings, Mr. Vorelli.... Yes... Sixteen of them, as was agreed... The usual place will be acceptable?... I will inform Mr. Black. Good day.” She looked down at Tabby and smiled again. “I truly love telephones. Such a great equalizer.”

Tabby stared at her blankly. The smile grew wider, and Lorelei turned back to her breakfast. Tabby sighed, plopped her butt down, and waited until she had finished. Then she hauled the empty bucket back to the Food Lady.

Next on the agenda was her morning patrol of the house. Things were always trying to sneak in and cause trouble for everybody, especially the Man. The icky stuff around the outside walls caught most of them, but not all, and it was her super-important job to pick off anything that got by the first line of defense.

At first, she had sorta had trouble grasping the fact that there were people or things or something out there somewhere who actually wanted to hurt the Man. Why not just try and snuff out the sun, or just chop off your own nose instead? It made as much sense. But the Man had understood, like he always did, and he put a extra-special picture in her head, right near the button. This let her understand the problem, and she had quickly gotten real good at dealing with it. Nowadays, it had reached the point that she could smell trouble from three or four rooms away. Most of the time, she could deal with what she found, but once or twice she’d had to scurry off and get Lorelei. She really hated doing that.

She followed her usual patrol route, around the big sorta-loop of hallways that made up the ground floor of the house. Apart from the Food Room and the Sunny Room, and Lorelei’s room, most of the rooms down here were Dark and unused, filled with Walls and Traps and paths that led nowhere. The really interesting stuff all happened either upstairs, or way down in the basement. You couldn’t even get to the basement from this floor; you had to go back upstairs.

There was trouble.

She became aware of it in a flash, the usual certainty coming to her. Something was nearby.

A Rat. Another one had gotten into the house, found its way somehow through the mazes. They seemed to be getting smarter lately.

But not nearly smart enough. Oh, no. She slowed her movements to a stop, slowly shifting her body, her eyes down near the floor and watching a certain doorway. For a time, nothing. Then the Rat came snooping cautiously out into the hallway, oily and scuttling along close to the ground on all of its icky nasty little Rat-legs. It hadn’t seen her.

She was up on her own long powerful legs, the only time she got up like this (except for her times in the Exercise Room back upstairs), running and snarling, her claws out. The thing saw her now, too late, gave a squeak of enraged fear, and turned to run itself, moving with great speed, all of its legs spinning.

But not nearly fast enough, oh no. It went skittering down the hall and slid around the corner into another of the Dark Rooms, its claws scraping for purchase, as she closed in on it.

A fatal mistake, and she smiled. She knew all of the Paths and all of the Traps in every single room, had perfect maps of them in her head along with the pictures. The Rats never did, and this one was no exception. Blundering into the room, it ran headlong into a Wall and bounced off, staggering off to one side. She jumped Walls, slipped around the Traps and landed near the thing, her feet light on the wooden floorboards between the endless swirls of dust. The Rat was cornered between two of the Walls. As they always did in the end, it turned on her, leaping, its own fangs and claws extended, its little red eyes all sick and mad and runny.

Tabby expertly batted the Rat out of the air, and caught its neck in a neat stranglehold, keeping its claws and slashing teeth away from her skin.


The thing quivered angrily and went limp, oozing its icky goo all over her hands. More of it splattered across her body. She made a little sound of triumphant disgust and dropped the corpse. It made a sick wet noise when it hit the wooden floor.

She crouched over it and waited. One of the Helper Ladies soon appeared, carrying the cleanup stuff. She picked her way across the room towards them, much more slowly than Tabby or the Rat. Finally she was there, and Tabby puffed herself up as she spoke.

“There. A Rat. I killed it. Me.”

The Helper Lady (this was the red-haired one) indicated she was pleased, and stroked Tabby’s head.

Satisfied, Tabby left her to it, and went on.

The rest of the patrol was uneventful, for which she was grateful. The Rat-goo was starting to really stink. She went back upstairs, back to the Funny Room. The lady in the Chair was all quiet and smiley now, and the sparkles were all down spinning inside her head. Bitsy was still crouched in front of the hole, if anything more quivering and intent than ever.

“Hey, Bitsy!”

Bitsy turned and smiled.

“Hey, Tabby!” She sniffed. “Eww! Barfo! What’s that all over you?”

“Yeah, yeah, I know. Gross, isn’t it? I was just gonna take a bath and wash it off. You wanna come with me?”

“I gotta catch that mouse.”

“You wanna come with me.” Tabby spoke with just a bit of sternness. Bitsy blinked.

“Oh. That’s right! I wanna come with you! We’re gonna take a bath!!”

They happily scampered out of the room together, and went to the stairs which led straight down into the basement.

As it happened, the way went past a certain door, tall and wooden and tightly closed. Strange twisty shapes were carved into the panels. As they passed it, Bitsy suddenly stopped dead and stared at it. She crouched lower. Finally she spoke in a whisper, her eyes very wide.

“What’s in there?”

Tabby didn’t answer but grimly nudged her back into motion. They went on down the hall. Once they were safely at the top of the stairs, Bitsy again stopped and asked:

“Tabby? What’s in that room?”

“God.” Tabby spoke tersely, glancing over her shoulder.

“Ohh...” Bitsy looked herself, then gave a theatrical little shudder.

Tabby knew that Bitsy didn’t really understand, and she didn’t bother trying to explain to her. You only understood if you ever went through that door, and some folks didn't understand even then...

Tabby stopped thinking about it, and they went downstairs. They had to go slowly, because Bitsy wasn’t used to stairs like Tabby was.

The basement was cool and dark, with lots of tunnels winding every which way. Some were fancy, others looked sorta like they’d been chewed out by giant Rats. The Man stored stuff down there, both alive and not-alive things, whole rooms of them. There were also things that had been down there before even the Man, and she avoided them.

Well, most of them... Those that she could avoid. Some of them, sometimes...

She again shook off the thought and led Bitsy to the Bath Room, which was just down the hall from the bottom of the stairs. It was even dimmer than the hallway, sorta blue-green and sorta shaped like a circle. The water was warm at one end, and cool at the other, and it was fun to splash back and forth between them, soaking and lathering up with the special soap that NoTalk Lady and her Helper Ladies made for everyone to use. (That was super-stinky and messy; Tabby always went out in the Garden on those days...)

Especially on those days when she had killed a Rat.

Bitsy looked around and smiled.


“Yeah.” Tabby gave a wicked grin and butted Bitsy with her head. Her playmate gave a startled squawk and tumbled into the water with a loud splash. Tabby waded in with smug dignity.

“I’ll get you for that!” Bitsy grinned and splashed her.

“Go ahead and try!”

They giggled and splashed around for quite a while, ducking beneath the surface and popping back up behind one another and pushing each other under.

Then it all began to gradually change, like it always did, with all of Tabby’s playmates. They stopped laughing. It got very still and quiet. The world came into focus. Bitsy spent more and more time down under the water, playing and splashing less and less, but just floating limply as Tabby coolly and emotionlessly held her under, pushing down on the other woman's head with a grip of iron, only letting her pop up for an occasional second to take a quick gasping breath, her eyes rolled far up inside their sockets. There were powerful mingled whispers filling the air and down under the water, and Tabby knew that Bitsy’s entire existence had narrowed now to a single sharp point of light, and a voice, the voice of the Man, installing nested loops of instructions, installing needs and cravings, installing life and death.

She held her best friend in the whole world under the cool still water, and stared unblinkingly at the slow mesmerizing ripples of light on the rough stone walls.

It got very dark.

Then Bitsy came back to life, or at least her tongue did. It started licking Tabby’s fingers, licking off the last of the Rat's ichor and swallowing every little bit of it. Licking up onto her palms and arms.

Licking her all over...

It was black, and her own Rat came out of its crypt and danced...

They were in a bright room, rubbing each other carefully dry with big fluffy towels. It was fresh and clean and bright water trickled nearby, between the leafy green plants.

They were almost finished and Tabby sighed. She spoke sadly.

“It’s time for you to go, Bitsy.”

Bitsy stopped rubbing and stared.

“Go?! But I wanna stay here with you, Tabby!”

“I know. It sucks. But you’ll be OK.”

“But where am I goin’?”

“Back to where you were before you were here. Remember that?”

Bitsy cocked her head and frowned, wrinkling her nose. A last drop of water dripped from it.

“Only sorta. It was no fun. You weren’t there. He wasn’t there.”

“Well, it will be better from now on. I promise. You go back there, and when the time is just exactly right, you let Bitsy out to play. You’ll have lots of fun.”

Bitsy smiled radiantly, showing her super-sharp teeth.

“But the mice won’t have any fun, will they?”

Tabby smiled back and wiped Bitsy’s nose.

“No. Those ol’ mice’ll never know what hit them.”

Bitsy dropped her towel and stood up, and she was gone. Some boring ol’ lady had taken her place, and was looking around stupidly, like a cow or something. As she always did, NoTalk Lady appeared from somewhere and led her away. Tabby sighed again, carried the damp towels to the blue hamper-thingy in her teeth, and went out to do her afternoon patrol. Hopefully before long she’d get another playmate. Until then, she’d just have to make do with Simon.

It wasn’t the same. He didn’t even talk...

Tabby patrolled.

No Rats, but something was wrong this day. Tabby could feel it as she made her way down the hall again. Something thick and icky hung in the air, like a rain cloud. (Despite the fun she always had in the Pool... to start with, at least... she really hated rain anymore. If she was ever caught outside in the Garden during a rainstorm, she would be streaking back to the house in a second...)

She went on, then came to the Sunny Room, which still had a door. As Bitsy had before her, she jerked to a halt and looked at it. No strange carvings on this one, but still... The feelings coming from the room beyond were very odd, all mixed up, black and white all at once.

The door stood open a crack. Tabby cautiously butted it open and stuck her head through. The first thing that she saw was Lorelei coiled on top of the cabinet in the corner, staring at something fixedly. She glossed over that in a flash, because she realized with a start that the Man was there, back from wherever, sitting at the little table by the window, filling the room, filling the hole in her head. She hadn’t even heard him return. She smiled and went dancing across the polished floor to him.

She was halfway there before she realized what was wrong, where the intertwined badstuff had been coming from. It was the woman who was sitting across the table from the Man.

There were of course always ladies (and some guys) constantly coming and going from the house, but like Bitsy and the lady in the Chair and whatever, they all had buttons in their heads, or blindfolds, or something, making them all dim and flickery and safe.

This woman... this Woman... didn’t have any buttons in her head at all. Her head was all smooth and sharp and shiny and poisonous and full of black pits with nasty secrets lurking at the bottom, like some of the things down in the basement; whole swarms of Rats. Tabby felt a growl forming in the back of her throat and she hunched down, glaring and bristling, her entire skin on fire, her long sharp nails clawing at the floor.

But there was something more. The things crawling around inside the Woman’s head were bad enough, but Tabby had a rare flash of vivid memory. She known this Woman someplace... someplace before, someplace besides the house, and she had hated her even then. The growl came.

The Woman was holding a cup in one hand, sipping from it. She became aware of Tabby and smiled. She opened her mouth and one of the Rats came squirming out, pushing aside her red lips.

“My goodness. Hello there, Amelia. How well you are looking.”

Tabby growled louder. That name... hearing that stupid ugly useless icky name was like having masses of red-hot needles stuck in all over her brain. And having it said by that voice, of all voices...

“Tabby. Behave yourself. Greta is our guest.” The Man spoke sharply, “Now come here and be quiet, or I’ll have to send you outside.” Even as he said these things, there was a note of forgiveness and understanding behind his words.

Tabby slunk to his side, still glaring at the hateful figure, in her mind ripping out green eyes and lying forked tongues and stomping on them. A corner of her mind realized that the Woman was what Lorelei had been staring at.

For once, she would enjoy watching Lorelei do something icky. The Woman spoke, not to Tabby but the Man:

“I must say, you’ve done won-”

Then the Man touched Tabby, stroked her orange hair with his long fingers and she felt better. So much better. She always forgot just how good his touch was. The Button went down with a rich yummy click, and the Woman and her voice faded away into the background in a single quick whoosh. Not entirely gone, no, but far enough. Tabby gave a happy little sigh and rested her chin on the Man’s thigh, enjoying the soft feel of the fabric of his dark trousers against her skin. She mostly closed her eyes and stared at the black forest of her lashes. The Man and the Woman went on talking to each other, a sorta buzzing drone going back and forth, like the beehives of the Garden Ladies out in back of the house. The Man kept fondling her hair, slowly and absently. Click. Click. Click. She started to float away on the waves of pleasure.


Pinpricks. She twitched, still floating free.

The Bad Woman’s Rat had come back to her again, scurrying sneakily somewhere behind her right ear, between the Traps and Walls. But the Man was right there, and she felt too good now to get more than sorta annoyed.

Amelia. Listen to me. I can undo it, you know. Everything that this naughty little man has done to you. And I will, if you just finally admit that... well... the Rat smiled, showing row after row of silvery needles. ...that I’m better than you. That I always have been, and always will be. Always.

Drop dead.

It wasn’t Tabby who said this, but her own familiar Rat, suddenly welling up from its usual dark place deep down inside. For once, Tabby agreed with it all the way, egged it on.

A laugh.

Dearest Amelia. I already did that once. As you of all people should know.


Another laugh.

He’s going to lose, you know. Lose horribly. And then, I’ll have you anyway. Or if not me... Well, why dwell needlessly on unpleasantness? This is your last chance, you little fool.

Tabby and ‘her’ Rat combined forces, and leaped, clawing, biting, reaching for a stranglehold. They missed, but the intruder was pushed away.

So be it... No laughing now.

And it was gone.

Tabby’s Rat went scuttling back into hiding, lurking and watching.

The Man and the Bad Woman finally finished talking and drinking and eating, and she left. He went out with her, beyond the front door. Tabby and Lorelei waited in the Sunny Room, not talking or looking at each other. He came back. NoTalk Lady immediately appeared and began taking things off of the table. She seemed to take longer than usual to do this, lingering in the room. Tabby crawled to him, looked up at him, worried that maybe the Bad Woman had done something to him. Lorelei still watched from her cabinet, unblinking. He stood for a long time in the center of the room, looking at nothing, his gaze far away. He jingled something in his pocket. Finally, he came back to them, looked down at Tabby and smiled, seeing her expression. He fed her a piece of crumbling sweet Food off of the table.

“Don’t worry, ladies. Everything’s fine. She didn’t do anything to me. And I’m proud of you Tabby. You did exactly the right thing just now. Let’s go, shall we?”

They all left the room together, NoTalk Lady bringing up the rear, carrying the tray.

Tabby of course had no choice but to accept what he was saying, but the Rat, down in its hole, began to worry...

He came trundling into the plush office, absently tossing his coat onto the sofa.

“Hey there.”

He turned at the voice and frowned sourly, the sagging jowls of his face dropping even lower.

“What the hell are you doing here? I didn’t call you.”

She uncurled from the wide leather chair which she had been occupying and came slinking over to him.

“I wanted to see you, baby. Is that so awful?”

He scowled.

“Just beat it, Wanda. I’m not in the damn mood tonight.”

“Aw... what’s wrong? Don’t you want to play?” She traced the outlines of his shoulders with her lacquered red fingertips. He pushed her away.

“Black is what is wrong. That bastard is... he’s going down. I’ve had it with him.”

“Black.” She became very still.

“Yeah.” He stalked to the large desk, and picked up the phone. “I’m callin’ in the boys. This ends tonight.”


Something in her tone hit him, and he paused in his dialing, looking over at her.

The busty black-haired woman smiled, showing her sharp teeth. She started with speech, but she ended with a hiss, a scream, a howl.

“It ends tonight. You little moussse!”

Then she was on him, and he managed to scream himself, but only once. By the time his bodyguards burst into the room, it was already far too late...

To be continued?

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