Chapter 26

Yelena winced as she read the note. She seemed to do that every time, but then the notes were always that distressing.

The more she thought about it, the more worried she became. This could wreck everything, she fretted. And oddly, I don't think they're creating the threat intentionally. They don't know enough about Marya's current mental state to throw this idea against it. This is pure chance.

It was a detailed note. She committed it to memory before she threw it away, then returned to her room.

Marya threw herself at her, as usual. "I missed you, Hélène!" Long, passionate kiss.

At last Yelena was able to break the kiss, keeping her forehead pressed against Marya's. In her most cheerful voice, she said, "Hélène dear, we're going to do a stage play together!"

Marya gasped, and pulled Yelena against her for a tight squeeze. "I would love that. What's it about?"

"Well, I'll tell you about it, and then we'll need to do some rehearsing."

*   *   *   *   *

It happened so unexpectedly that Rachel nearly missed seeing the opportunity being presented. She could never have forgiven herself if she'd blown the chance. Who knows, she thought later, when another would have come up.

It was the third day in the new window room. Anya seemed more and more withdrawn, more distant. Rachel was seriously worried. Through the first five runs outside, Anya had been taking longer and longer. Rachel was wondering if Anya might take a trip farther down the hill, to a point invisible behind the trees, and just lie down in the snow to sleep forever.

On the far side of the room, across from Rachel, two of the women suddenly started shouting at each other. Last night, these two girls had lost fights and been forced to spend the night in that sitting-upright lovemaking position, spending the first part simulating passionate sex for the guards and then spending the entire rest of the night still tied up with each other. There was no way to tell how much sleep they had gotten, but no doubt their tempers were frayed, and the fight was likely a continuation of some irritation that had started last night.

Before the guards could move, the women had progressed from yelling to throwing themselves against each other, fighting with shoulders and elbows. The guards then, whose first instinct had been to stop them, stood back with arms folded and watched instead, grinning.

You are being so stupid! was the thought Rachel broadcast at the two girls telepathically. You know the guards are going to make you "make friends" tonight! You'll spend tonight the same way you spent last night!

Around the room, the other women were shouting, either encouragement or pleas to stand down, Rachel judged. Presumably a mixture.

And then Rachel suddenly realized what the noise and the guards' attention to the fighters meant. Ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod! ran like lightning through her mind. Do it, do it now, Rachel! You might only have one minute while the guards are totally occupied with the fight! Nobody's watching you, nobody can hear you!

Rachel shuffled towards Anya, who was standing about ten feet away, not showing any more interest in the fight than she had in anything else. Rachel was prepared to change course instantly if any guard's attention strayed her way, but that looked unlikely.

Oh, no! she wailed. Now what were those words?? I know what I want to say, and now it's gone right out of my head! Near panic, Rachel cast her mind back to Alina's room, tried to visualize Alina sitting in front of her, teaching her. What were those words??

Got it! Got it!

Rachel moved directly in front of Anya, and willed Anya to look up. Anya did, and her eyes suddenly grew as round as saucers.

Rachel looked straight at those eyes. Time seemed to stop, though Rachel remained conscious she had very little. There was plenty of clamor in the room to prevent anyone overhearing. Slowly, distinctly, putting all of her feeling into the words, she said just loud enough, "Anya, ya tebya lyublyu. Ya tebya lyublyu. I... love... you."

She'd said it right, for the first time! The word "lyublyu" seemed to flow out of her mouth as if she herself had invented it.

I know, thought Rachel, that a lot of languages have different wordings for I Love You, with different shades of meaning. Considering the context in which Alina had taught her to say these words, Rachel felt sure this particular I Love You was meant romantically.

That's fine, thought Rachel. That's what I want Anya to hear.

The effect on Anya was electric -- in a specialized sense, the sense of electrical paddles used in a medical emergency to jolt a stalled heart back to life.

Anya's eyes got bigger still, with a tear forming at the corner of each, and completely locked with Rachel's. In a very soft voice, she said, "I lahvv yu, Retchell."

Rachel hadn't realized what she was about to do next until she did it. We need a signal, she had suddenly thought. For when we can't speak. She looked back towards the fight, and judged she still had at least a few more seconds of safety. She gestured with her chin towards her hand, down at her waist. Anya looked down. Rachel curled her pinky finger in and held it with her thumb, her other three fingers held out straight. She said again, "I... love... you," and wriggled her index finger, then middle finger, then ring finger, in time with the words, so Anya would know each finger stood for one of the words, the three little words.

Anya, her face glowing, nodded once, and then suddenly turned and shuffled away, not looking at Rachel.

She stopped about ten feet away, and turned sideways to Rachel, still not looking at her. Not smiling. But somehow Rachel, with her side view of Anya's face, could still see the glow, as bright as the sun.

And in front of Anya's thigh, Rachel could see Anya's left hand, the one nearer Rachel. Anya was holding down her pinky with her thumb, the other three fingers held out straight.

She understands! thought Rachel. She understands everything! She understands I've been ordered to keep away from her. That everything I've done to hurt her has been because they made me do it. And she understands that none of that is ended, that I still have to ignore her, to pretend she is nothing to me. That I can't be seen talking to her or even standing with her.

And she understands we can both say I Love You without words, any time we want.

I want so much to hold her! Rachel thought. But that would be too dangerous even if our hands were free. But sometime that could happen too. It might be years from now. But we just need to wait for it. There's plenty of time.

The guards had separated the fighting women at last, probably concerned that no work was getting done. Igor and Matt, between the two of them, managed to get the two of them subdued and sitting on the floor. Their hands had been unlocked from their waists and relocked behind their backs, and each had a leash clipped to her collar whose other end was wrapped around her hobble chain, making her sit bent over.

Boris signaled to the next girl in the rotation, who nodded and went outside.

Shit! thought Rachel. Now we've got a rotation of six instead of eight!

Rachel realized she didn't really care. She wanted to get outside and run naked in the snow! She had too much energy to stand around in here. She wanted the cold, she wanted the shivering, she wanted to feel alive! To keep feeling as alive as she did right this minute.

*   *   *   *   *

The rest of the day seemed to go quickly. The hardest part of it was to avoid looking at Anya. Rachel decided she had to be satisfied with the fact they had declared their love for each other, and with knowing that each would know how the other felt no matter what happened between them. If they make me hit her during Play Time again, thought Rachel, I know she'll understand. She knows how impossible it is to stand up against the pressure they bring against you. But we feel what we feel about each other.

It started snowing again late in the afternoon, and it was noticeably colder on Rachel's last two trips outside. She sighed with relief when, after the last girl in the rotation returned, Boris gave the signal to the first girl not to bother starting another round. The work day was over. Or so it seemed.

All the women stood around, looking exhausted, waiting for Igor to start chaining them together. Igor and Matt first released the two girls who'd been fighting, to whom Rachel knew she would feel eternally grateful. Surprisingly, the guards removed their hobble chains and, after unlocking their hands from behind their back, left them unfettered.

Then Boris started speaking to them at some length, pointing outside and making other gestures Rachel couldn't quite figure out. Rachel was not at all surprised to see the two women give tiny shakes of their heads and emit groans, though they didn't venture any greater resistance than that.

One of them gave a heavy sigh, walked to the inner door and opened it, the other trailing behind her, both of them with their heads down and shoulders slumped. They squeezed into the little phone booth area together, and hesitating momentarily but clearly knowing she couldn't put it off more than a few seconds, the first one pushed the outer door open and they both went out into the snow.

Moving over a few feet to be directly in front of the window, and already shivering intensely as snowflakes began falling on their heads and shoulders, they faced each other, wrapped their arms around each other and began kissing.

I knew it, thought Rachel, I told you guys this would happen! But I thought it would wait until tonight.

Matt went into the phone booth and rattled the handle of the outer door, apparently to make sure it was locked. He stepped back out quickly -- the temperature in there was intermediate between the comfort inside and the freezing air outside, but Matt clearly didn't care for it, dressed as lightly as he was. Rachel glared at him. Try it naked, idiot, she thought at him.

Outside, easily visible through the window, the two "lovers" continued kissing, running their hands up and down each other's back, each glancing inside very briefly from time to time. Boris, each time, would make a "keep going" gesture. Each time he did, they resumed kissing and caressing with a little more ardor than before.

It looked obvious to Rachel that no time limit was involved. The rule was simply that the door would not be unlocked until they put on a show sufficiently intense and erotic to satisfy the guards.

As strongly conscious as Rachel was of the need to keep from looking at Anya, her eyes strayed in that direction at one point -- and then she was faced with the new problem of keeping a straight face, and not bursting out laughing. She closed her eyes and put a picture of Mandy being tortured firmly in front of her mind's eye, and that squashed all danger of laughter.

Anya, Rachel had observed, was standing watching the performance of the girls outside, as was everyone else. At her hip, Anya was holding her left hand with her pinky and thumb curled inward, three fingers held out straight downwards along her thigh, the "I lahvv yu, Retchell" symbol. She was scratching her thigh lightly with those three fingers; to anyone but Rachel, she would appear to be absently taking care of an itch on her leg. But what made Rachel want to laugh was something else: Anya was looking at the pair outside, and slowly shaking her head.

And Rachel read the communication, and was positive, no doubts at all, that she understood it. The hand signal indicated that Anya was talking to Rachel; the shake of the head as she watched the show was saying, "I want us to make love like that, Retchell, but please let's not do it out there."

Outside, the two punished women each had a crust of snow whitening the top of her head and her shoulders. They were still kissing, holding each other tighter, closer, their breasts and stomachs pressed together, rubbing each other more briskly yet trying to still make it look sensual. When that proved insufficient, one lifted her thigh and pressed forward with it, nudging it between the other's legs and rubbing the top of it against the other's crotch. The other followed suit, both rubbing against the other's sex now, still maintaining the kiss. Gradually they sank to a kneeling position, still with thighs against crotches, grinding their mounds together in a circular motion, each dropping a hand to the other's buttocks, pulling to make the frontal contact more firm. Meanwhile each opened her mouth wider and made it clear tongues were being used. Moaning and sighing was clearly audible through the glass.

Finally they dropped down to lay full length in the snow, still embracing, still kissing, like lovers now completely lost in the abandon of passion, all parts of their bodies, their arms, hips, legs, in constant motion, rolling back and forth, cries of feigned passion muffled by the joining of their mouths.

Boris finally laughed and applauded, joined by the other two guards. Igor did the honors of unlocking the door, and the two women scrambled inside, exhausted and, despite their intense physical activity, shivering.

The other women started to crowd towards them, but Boris ordered them back, leaving the two of them still holding and rubbing each other, not for erotic display now but just for warmth.

*   *   *   *   *

Not surprisingly, the two of them, after being raped by three men each, had their newly restored cooperative spirit challenged by being required to fight each other with fists during Play Time.

Rachel felt fairly sure it would be their last fight ever.

*   *   *   *   *

Yelena, returning from receiving her latest instructions, learning the schedule of "guests" for tomorrow and taking another aphrodisiac pill, entered the room to see Marya grinning at her, her hands held behind her back. "While you were gone I found the neatest thing in the drawer, Hélène!" She brought forth, from behind her back, a soft two-ended dildo.

Yelena hadn't introduced it, because its use hadn't been required, and she had been avoiding making their sexual play any more kinky than it had to be. But she could tell by Marya's eyes that she was eager to make use of it.

Yelena smiled, making her face look as excited as Marya's. Yelena was having a harder time contacting Bad Mother lately, not quite trusting her now that Marya's psychological state seemed so fluid and very likely unstable -- Yelena simply couldn't make herself leave Bad Mother alone with Marya -- and thought it was ironic that of the two of them, now it was Yelena herself having to fake the smiles and excitement, not Marya.

Though with the drug, she still didn't have to fake the passion.

Yelena put her arms around Marya and gave her an I'm-back-darling kiss. "How do you want to use it?"

Marya giggled and put out her hand to lead Yelena over to the bed. At Marya's direction, they sat upright facing each other. Marya waved her closer, until their crotches were nearly touching, and had Yelena put her right leg over Marya's left. Then she set the dildo down between then, pointing into each of their crotches. "Just let it slide in. And then lean back, onto your back."

The dildo slid frictionlessly into both of them as they closed with each other, Yelena's lubrication pharmaceutically induced, Marya's natural and plentiful. As Yelena started leaning back, Marya took both of Yelena's hands in hers.

As they lay, two interlocking scissors, Marya pulled on Yelena's hands, grunting with the effort, bringing their crotches together hard, then easing up. Yelena immediately got the idea, and began likewise pulling in synchrony with Marya. The sensation, each of them acting as a male lover and each experiencing it as a woman, was both incredibly intimate and amazingly intense. Yelena lost all sense of time, and it seemed both forever and not nearly long enough before they both climaxed with shuddering cries and full body-length convulsions.

Afterward, once the throes of orgasm finally released them, Yelena, ever conscious of being observed, and seeing Marya's heel right in front of her face, kissed it. At her other end she felt Marya's kiss on her own heel, and then Marya opened her mouth wider, seeming to take in Yelena's entire heel, and began sucking on it.

After a few minutes, Marya let go, apparently as exhausted as Yelena felt. Without a word, it seemed they agreed to take a short nap before spending the evening rehearsing for their "stage play," and lay there, still joined and doubly penetrated, in companionable silence.

I'm not sure I would even have thought of doing it quite like that, Yelena told herself. But obviously Marya had spun that position in her mind the minute she found that dildo. She's getting, thought Yelena, pretty imaginative about our lovemaking.

*   *   *   *   *

Rachel awoke from a light sleep, not sure what had roused her. Around her, all the women in their cells, and the dogs, seemed to be asleep.

Then Rachel heard, faintly, a familiar liquid rubbing sound. She stifled a smile. I wonder if she is doing it awake, she thought, or sleepsturbating. At least she isn't saying my name. If she's asleep, something is telling her to be careful about that.

It was such a welcome sound to hear, after being absent for most of a week.

It ended with the familiar succession of several very rapid breaths, followed by a tiny squeak.

Sleep well, Anya, Rachel projected in thought to the adjacent cell. Ya tebya lyublyu.

*   *   *   *   *

The doctor, working late, rubbed his eyes. He was satisfied with the final test of the process. His latest test subject was a longtime inmate, a strong, muscular girl, as they all were once they'd been here long enough. That muscle strength provided a very nice test, and it was clear that everything had worked perfectly.

I will send a message to the president in the morning that everything is ready. And tell Sergeant Tupolev to dispose of the test subject. She'd been here in the facility long enough, years of borrowed time for a condemned prisoner. Always more pretty, younger girls to take her place.

Time to apply the process to Miss Preston, as soon as the president gives the word.

The doctor turned his thoughts to his newest project, the snake experiment. He would observe the restrictions the general had put in place about using the Simonina girl. But I still think, the doctor decided, I might be able to time it so that I can run the experiment while the president is still here, if he confirms he is going to use the American girl. Even so, he may be too busy to watch, but I'll let him have film of it.

The doctor began diagraming camera angles. Front view, obviously; rear; both sides; close-up of face; definitely one on the floor looking up at her crotch, to watch what the snakes did there. All of this depending on whether he could track down enough cameras. He would take advantage, once more, of having a corporal who had spent a year working with a film editor to learn the art, before volunteering to serve his country. The corporal would put together a marvelous movie for the president.

Aside from positioning the cameras, Torture Room C was ready already. The doctor had ordered the crew, in time before they started cleanup, to leave the sand in place. The jets overhead dispensing sleepy gas would also remain, so that the snakes could be subdued after the girl was dead.

The doctor began working out a verbal protocol -- what to tell Miss Simonina at the start of the experiment. Not nearly as much graphic detail as he'd had Madame Gerova give to her daughter, he decided. In that case, he recalled, we needed to let Marya know exactly what would happen, what the tubes in her nether regions were for, and what the snakes would eventually do, all of that information up front, to terrify her with what could happen, so that she would use the mechanism provided to prevent it actually happening. In Miss Simonina's case, there was nothing she could do to prevent the outcome. Her terror level from the mere presence of the snakes, what they were doing to her, and a very vivid imagination inspired by her phobia, would surely be sufficient.

I just need, he decided, to tell her about the snakes, then reveal them, give her some time to think about them -- an hour, say -- then drop them in front of her.

With any luck, he thought, she might faint briefly before the snakes even dropped, and be conscious thereafter.

The doctor already knew Anya Simonina was an excellent screamer.

He made himself a note to order a hundred additional snakes. We'll also need a second box, he realized.

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