Rebar was nervous enough about this little experiment before she arrived in Hathian and that was when she thought she was in for a little seaside writing holiday.
Now, as she walks the cracked streets, seeing the dive bars, the urban decay, familiar, forgotten feelings begin to surface. She's lived easily, nearly a decade now. Her time in Dead End seemingly fading like the memory of a bad dream. Those memories made two bestselling novels, fictional erotic tales disguising the autobiography underneath, her first two Stripper Candyland novels.
Unfortunately the following standalones didn't carry that urgency and were critical and commercial failures, and two manuscripts for the final part of the Stripper Candyland series have already been rejected. That's why her publisher decided she needed a reminder. That's why she's here.
She carries no luggage; her publisher already arranged for all of her clothing to be removed from her apartment so that she only needed to travel with the clothes on her back. Similarly, she has no phone. Distraction, they said. No cash on her either. Everything she'd need, they would provide. So all she's carried with her since she boarded the bus that bought her here was a map from the middle of Hathian to her apartment.
She has no key so she has to press the button for the doorbell upon her arrival. One of those internet connected systems that contains a speaker and a camera. "Welcome to your new abode, Ms Kubo," a voice tells her, digitally altered to be devoid of gender, accent or humanity. "Kindly remove your clothing and place it into the mailslot."
"You must be joking," Rebar gasped.
"No Miss Kubo, I am not," the voice told her. "You can do as instructed or you will be considered in breach of your contract which will be terminated immediately and you will be left to make your own way home."
Nervously looking around herself, Rebar pleads for mercy. "Please! I'm in the middle of the street!"
No mercy is offered. Simply a countdown from 10. Glancing around herself once more, Rebar hurriedly does as instructed and slips off her dress, before stuffing it into the mailslot, certain that another apartment door is going to open any moment. The door does not open. Indeed, for several minutes, nothing else happens. Finally, she can bear it no longer and reaches for the mail slot to try and reclaim her dress. At last, her handler speaks again.
"Were you told to keep your underwear, Miss Kubo?"
Her breathing shallow, cold in her chest, Rebar's head swings about. Somehow she's yet to be caught. How long can her luck hold out?
"Bear in mind Miss Kubo, your dress is now irretrievable but the same conditions apply as before."
She has no choice. Shaking as she reaches behind herself, she unhooks her bra and slides it into the mailbox followed, more slowly, more hesitantly, by her panties.
"Arms by your sides Miss Kubo," she's instructed, and she stands as she's told, completely exposed now.
How long does she stand? She can't know. Seconds stretch out to eternity. It might be a minute or an hour. But finally the locks click and the door opens, allowing her to dash into the apartment beyond.
Straight into the view of the cameras fixed around the place. It's a spacious apartment, furnished with a kitchen, cooker and fridge. Bathroom with a luxurious bath and shower, both in view of another camera, as is the bed. But there is no sofa. No dining table. Nowhere at all for her sit, except on a bare wooden chair at a bare wooden desk on which there is a laptop and more cameras fixed into place. No wardrobe or chest of draws.
At her arrival, the computer screen lights up. Obediently, she approaches. "Welcome Miss Kubo," the same emotionless voice greets her. "While you are here, you will write. Once a day, you will be sent out into the city for a specific purpose, be it to buy groceries or visit one of Hathian's fine establishments. You will be set daily tasks, and daily writing targets. Your performance in these determines whether you will be released from this apartment in your own clothes, or some of ours. Now, in the bottom drawer of the desk, you will find your first assignment."
Slowly, hesitantly, her heart pounding in her chest, Rebar reaches down and slides open the draw. The dildo inside is enormous.
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