She became aware.
She pulled in a breath, long and slow, taking the scent of the air deep into her lungs. Warm and slightly sweet, filled with oxygen. She expelled, and stretched the firm muscles of her limbs, her fingers and her toes, one at a time, testing their responses. Everything reported back correctly. She arched her back, enjoying the crisp feel of the hay.. she called it “hay” in her mind but she didn’t really know or care what it actually was.. the hay rustling against her pale naked skin. Another long breath. The curling green strands made up part of the scent, but there was more there as well, lingering in the background, changing between delights as the endless hours circled past.
She listened. The hay rustled against her body, through the brown curls of her hair, against the happy wet burn of her sex. There was the faint industrious buzz of the whatever-it-was which circulated the air, kept it warm and sweet and fresh. Beyond that were the whispers, as sweet as the air, and beyond them was the deeper throb, the deepest throb, something she more felt along the lengths of her bones than through her ears. It too altered its rhythm over time, around and around. She knew exactly where she was in the cycle, where she would be an hour and a day and year from now.
Hour. Day. Year.
Not that those words had any meaning anymore. There was no real time here.
Most of all, she felt, relished, the strip of metal wrapped smooth and seamless around her neck.
Her collar. Her bright shiny silver collar. (There was metal around her wrists and ankles as well, but those were just bits of idle decoration, which barely shined at all..) The collar was what mattered. It was part of her, she was part of it. At the front, centered exactly under her (sorta pointy) chin, was the Symbol, the triangular eye. She couldn’t see it, of course, but at the same time she could see it, all the time, with her eyes open or closed.
Speaking of which..
She opened her eyes. This always required a bit of an effort when first becoming aware, straining at some large lever or switch inside her brain until.. CLUNK. Her lids flipped up, locked neatly into place.
The lights, such as they were, followed the same cycle as all the rest, drifting languidly through the rainbow. All the colors were beautiful, but at the very back of her mind, she allowed herself to admit that she liked some better than others. Right now, as she had known before pulling the lever, everything was tinged ruby red, which was not her favorite. Blue was the best. During the Blue, she could just stare at the walls or floor for hours and hours...
The walls. She pushed some hay out of her face with the back of her hand, blew away a stray curl of hair and looked at the nearest silver-gray wall. Curving smoothly: floor became wall which became ceiling, the only breaks being the endless horizontal strip which produced the light, a sort of red high-water mark, and the evenly spaced vertical slits which produced the air. She squirmed a little closer, so the tip of her nose (again, a little pointy..) was just touching the wall’s slightly-padded surface. Where she touched, there was a faint glow. She stared. She had to look close, stare unblinkingly, cross-eyed, but there they were, the Patterns, spreading out from the contact point, spinning around and around, colliding, merging, eating and fucking with each other, again and again and again.
Sending out little barbed hooks that latched into her brain, pulled it thoroughly apart, pulled it helplessly along in their wake.
Pulled her deeper and ever deeper.
She watched the Patterns and she listened to the Throb.
Her body spasmed, and her sex burned hotter and wetter.
She went deeper and deeper.
And then.. there was another noise, a discordant irritating noise. She gritted her teeth and ignored it as long as she could, then sighed, tore her gaze away, tailing a cloud of hooks in her wake.
Not just a noise, but a feeling as well. She dutifully analyzed it, and finally realized it was her stomach growling. She sighed again, and squirmed around, being careful not hit her head against the low ceiling. Her target came into sight, mounted on another wall, the short wall: the feeding station. A curving plastic tube
which she took into her mouth and sucked at. Water, nicely chilled, flowed cheerfully down her throat, with again extra flavors just lurking in the background. Fruit.
What was fruit?
She had a misty vision of holding a sharp thing, shiny in an wrist/ankle kind of way, peeling, the victim a red and green thing outside, white inside.
It didn’t matter.
She finished her long slurp, then butted with her forehead at the appropriate panel. Click and rattle.. What exactly spilled out into the waiting tray below was something else that varied between uses. This time, a collection of smallish brown pellets. She nosed into the tray, took a couple into her mouth, rolled them around on her tongue, then bit down. They proved to be slightly chewy once their crunchy outer shell shattered between her teeth. Meat flavored, perhaps. She munched her way through the first bite and the rest, finished up with another drink of water.
She was going to go back to staring at the wall some more, but then a new thought surfaced, as they sometimes did. Things she had forgotten, had locked away, popped out of their little locked cupboards, just like.. yeah.
More the scent of a thought, leaking out of a cupboard door which had cracked itself open. She prowled around in the hay, picking idly at a last bit of food caught between her teeth. Something she could, should do. Someplace she should go..
But there was no place to go..
Then she looked down, and saw it, just poking out of the floor between her hands, and the thought emerged blinking into the light.
She back-crawled as far as she could, her toes pushing against the wall behind her. Again using her nose, she pushed the hay aside so the Nub was fully visible, surrounded by its little glowing red moat, the color slowly shifting now towards orange. She crouched low over it, her butt almost up to the ceiling, and she licked at it. A careful dab at first, a swipe, but then more vigorously, pushing into its depths, discovering the needed combination to get it to open up..
And finally it did, and she sucked up the Reward that gushed out, that zapped at the Symbol, down along her spine, so much better than food, it was real food and water all in one...
The Nub rose higher, and she shifted forward, slowly slithered the length of her body along it, relishing its feel between her fair-sized breasts, against her belly-button, until it was pushing
She gasped, and her eyes tried to roll up in their sockets. Some days she couldn’t stop them, and she Nubbed in blissful darkness, but today she was able to keep them down and deployed, and she extended a hand, slapped it against the wall, stared at the resulting patterns as she rubbed her sex back and forth, up and down, on the Nub.
As the Nub rose higher, relentless, impaling her.
Again and again.
Bend. Flex. Stretch.
Push and push and push.
Again and again.
The throb was a roar.
—i’m being exercised—
—i love it i need it more more more—
And a final thrust and another Reward, the jolt spearing along her, tearing off the top of her head, collapsing her in a sweaty trembling heap.
The Nub withdrew into the floor.
She lay there panting, until her heart slowed back to its normal rhythm, the sweat began to dry on her skin.
She was back on her hands and knees in an instant. Another door had opened. She crawled forward, to the other narrow wall, opposite the food-station. There was a slight depression in the floor, just enough for her body to fit into. It was ringed with a grill, like the..
thing that poked out of..
She brushed the thought away.
Both above and below there was a network of holes, and there was buzz and she was being sprayed with water, a gentle but thorough spray, tinted here and there with sweet-smelling suds.
Another vision, sitting in a metal tub, blowing soapsuds out of her hand..
She carefully shifted her body, making sure all parts of her got clean.
The soap went away, it was just water, rinsing her, and then the water became blasts of warm air, drying her, fluffing out her hair. It felt nice.
Another buzz. She was done. She started to turn back towards the pile of hay, but then..
She became aware.
While she had been getting washed.. something had changed, this time outside of her skull.
She smelled the air, rubbed her palms against the damp floor, looked around..
It was the light-strip. It had been getting brighter, more white, less orange-red.
When the lights came up.. that meant..
Her eyes were being allowed to adjust.
It was time.
She looked at the wall in front of her. The other short wall, the important wall. The Symbol was there, this time larger than her head, its edges glowing just enough to be seen. It grew brighter, and she crouched again, and grinned, wiggling her butt in anticipation.
It was time. Finally. Once again, it was time.
And it came, the Signal, tapping against her collar, against her Symbol.
The Symbol t u r n e d in its socket, turned in its socket deep inside her head, and she was connected to the Controller.
“The” Controller. She suspected, at the very back of her mind, that she was supposed to always think of him that way, but she had done this often enough now and could tell. It wasn’t always the same man. And.. heresy of heresies, some of them were better at it than others. Some of them..
Her heart gave a little thrill. Yes. There was one that was better than all the rest, the one she thought of as her true Controller, the one who understood and did it all right, not just grinding down and crudely jerking her body around like a puppet, but who rode her, guided her strength and her prowess. She even held a little imaginary picture of him, tall and refined, with a sweep of black hair, maybe, and glasses, and dark eyes..
And yes, it was him today. Her grin grew wider.
And the big Symbol flared, and the wall slid up, letting in real light. She blinked a little, and stalked proudly forth, her head held high, her Controller in her saddle, holding her reins.
Into the Arena. The floor-padding was deeper here, sinking beneath her hands and knees.
A circular space, with the ceiling lost overhead in a glaze of light. Somewhere up above, yes, was her Controller. She again pictured him, lounging in a... a throne, sipping from an elegant glass of wine..
—i used to like wine..—
holding his end of the collar leash, whatever that looked like.
And other people too. She somehow sensed that, there was an audience for this.
Back down at her level, around the edges of the space were the featureless doors behind which were the other..
There were others. Other Arenawenches. The thought was always oddly surprising. Because of course there were. What was the point of an Arena with only combatant?
She had a label. She was Arenawench 42.
—i had another label once.. rosamund? something like that..—
One of those doors was open, of course.
And crouched in front of it was..
A-42 grinned even wider still.
Along with Controllers, there was a difference between Enemies. Different shapes and sizes (within set perimeters, of course) and skin colors. Some of them.. some of them were dumb and weak. No challenge at all.
But today, ah, today it was A-23. The slender dark-skinned wench grinned back at her, and her Symbol glittered.
This was perfect.
This was life and existence and purpose.
The doors slid shut behind them.
Arenawench 42 sprang forth to battle. With her Controller riding her she would emerge triumphant.
She would wrestle the Enemy, overcome her stratagems, pin her down, and in the end she would