The titles had stopped rolling and the music faded. The lights came up in the studio and the camera tracked in to the well-dressed young woman sat in a black chair. She was looking at some sheets of papers on her lap but she turned her attention to the camera. "Good evening, my name is Joanie Tarenton and I am here with another edition of Behind The Headlines, where we examine the stories behind the news."
The camera angle changed and so did the woman's attention. A large picture came up on the screen behind the presenter. A picture of a smiling little girl. Blond, large blue eyes. Cute, as pre-teen year old girls often are. "Tonight on Behind The Headlines we have a special edition. It is however one that may disturb. We have put this out later to avoid young people seeing it and would recommend people with a nervous disposition should turn off now.
"We are going to look at a case that once shocked the nation but one everyone forgot about. Three years ago, little Samantha Lee was in the headlines for a time. She was just turned nine at the time. The small girl had been kidnapped and though ransom demands were made they were ignored, after a long and careful search by the authorities lasting three months the girl was finally found. Samantha was reunited with her mother and father, to everyone's relief." The picture dissolved into an old news report, but Joanie's voice continued. "Let's remind ourselves of the story, because here is a little girl who was briefly famous, but who has been forgotten. Yet she still suffers in a unique way."
The news report that ran was from a few years before. There was a news reader talking about the kidnap, how a little girl had been snatched from the family home, then shots of the large mansion where Samantha and her parents had lived, experts talking about how a search would happen and the risks of ignoring the ransom demands, a shot of cops searching a broken down building, then a short segment of a cop triumphantly explaining how successful they had been in finding the girl alive and finally a clip of a press-conference.
What was remarkable though was the girl who turned up at the press conference, in front of banks of cameras and reporters, was just as the police had found her. The girl was brought into the press conference with her face hidden behind a mask with short chains at her wrists and ankles. The mask was a plain, curved piece of a grey metal with large round eye holes and a small hole at her mouth. There was no sign of her nose or her ears, but while there were two bands round the child's head the back was free so her blond hair stuck out. It had however been cut short, but rather neatly.
The girl wore the same colour metal cuffs at her wrists and ankles and a short length of chain was between the pairs of cuffs. She walked slowly but unhurriedly and didn't appear too distressed. She took her place between her pleased mother and father. Samantha's mother gave her daughter her a hug and the child's eyes, visible through the eyeholes, at least looked happy. She waved to everyone as much as her wrist chains allowed.
The reaction from the assembled media was obvious, but the girl did not look troubled as she sat before the lights and the inevitable barrage of questions.
"It wasn't for show that Samantha was brought out like this," Joanie's voice over continued. "You may recall that she had been masked and chained by the kidnappers," explained the presenter, "but the steel-like material she was locked into defied the best efforts of the police, metallurgists and locksmiths to release her." The clip of the press conference froze with a sharp and poignant still of the masked girl, lifting her hand to her smooth, plain grey face to show her cuffs and the chains she wore. "Samantha Lee was still a prisoner. Freed after a gun battle with the kidnappers that saw all five of the criminals - three men and two women - shot and killed, Samantha could finally be back with her family after a little over three months away. But she was still trapped in the unknown metal, whatever it was."
There was a clip of a scientist explaining to the press conference that while they did not know the composition of the metal that had been locked round Samantha's head and at her wrists and ankles, they were confident that they would find the answer soon and free the girl. He did however look a little flustered.
"That," said Joanie, addressing the camera again, "was three long years ago. Samantha Lee disappeared from the news headlines within a matter of days. The press and media lost interest in her story, and no one saw the girl's face again." Joanie Tarenton paused. "And no one has seen it since. Tonight, we have brought Samantha to the studio for her first public appearance since that press conference. You may be shocked at what you see and hear but the Lee family consented to her being interviewed by ourselves, and so we present her to you tonight." Joanie stood up and looked towards one side of the set.
A girl - a little taller than the figure seen in the clips - stepped into view. It was the same girl that had been seen before, because she was still masked and still wore the short chains. The girl, who had worn a blue simple smock-type dress for the press, was wearing a similar type dress but in a red and blue abstract pattern. She was obviously a little older because she had two small bumps where her breasts were showing under the dress.
Samantha Lee made her way slowly, her ankle chain restricting her speed and her chained hands in front of her, to the seat facing Joanie and sat down. She made no effort to look at the camera.
"Samantha," said Joanie as she sat back down. "Welcome to our studio and thank you for agreeing to be interviewed. Tell me, how are you feeling?"
"I'm fine thank you," Samantha's voice was muffled behind the mask, but a radio microphone had been attached to her and subtitles for those who could not distinguish quite what she was saying ran along the bottom of the screen. "Apart from the obvious," she said.
"Indeed." Joanie considered her next question carefully. "I know, as I have been briefed, that there are certain aspects or procedures that have been used on you, but because of national security you cannot tell us a lot about the efforts made to remove your mask and chains. But what can you tell us about how you felt about the efforts to remove them?"
"It's not been easy. I have been taken to all sorts of places... some in other countries. Throughout it all my mother and father have been great, but it can get lonely in here. I am a normal girl. I'm 12 now, and I enjoy the kind of things everyone of my age does. I watch my favourite soaps on TV, I have friends I see who understand about my condition. It doesn't help that I am chained and I can't go very fast, of course. And I can't play any sports or run. But I am healthy and I get by. As for the efforts to get me out of these things... I have spent a lot of the last three years being examined and studied, some of which was secret, as engineers and experts try to find out what the metal is. It has, as you can see, been impossible so far to find out what it is and how the lock works. The metal has a few scratches on it, but that's all." The girl indicated her mask at one side, and the camera zoomed in to show a close up of several marks on the metal.
"I presume that efforts to set you free are continuing?"
Samantha was quiet for a moment. "They say they can't think of anything else that they can do that won't hurt me. A laser, if it went through the metal, would kill me. So they can't try that." The girl's voice seemed to crack slightly. "It needs... they need a breakthrough. But they are trying to make a metal like it - the stuff would be good for tanks, probably - and will let me know when they know more."
"So until then, you are masked and chained."
"Yes," said the girl quietly. "Permanently, I guess."
"On that matter could you tell us what life is like in your mask?"
"Difficult in some ways, but not in others. Feeding is awkward... I have to be fed through a tube inserted into my mask and my diet is mostly liquids with vitamin supplements. I can't always hear well with my ears covered and I can't blow my nose, but the kidnapper made room for my nose to drain to here." Samantha indicated a small hole under her chin, where the mask curved under to almost reach her neck. "I suppose they thought of that, so that was kind of them. In a way. I also have to think about the sort of clothes I can wear. You see, they have to be put on around me because the chains stop me wearing normal clothes. No pants, unless they have snap fittings so it can be closed round me. My tops too have shoulder fastenings. My bra... I have to have a bra that fastens at the shoulders." The girl gave a shrug. "Sort of means I miss out on some fashions but people make me nice things to wear. Funny thing is, I want a pair of boots but with my ankle chains I can't get them on."
A camera showed Samantha's ankles and the cuff and chain. She was wearing ordinary shoes with small, block heels.
"Samantha, you don't go to school, do you?"
"I have a home tutor. Several in fact. They come and teach me maths and English and other things."
"And your favourite subject is?"
"History. After all this I like to know about slaves. I know what they went through in shackles."
Joanie nodded. "Do you feel angry your kidnappers were killed by the police? After all, they knew the secret of the metal and the locks I presume."
"No. They were bad people. They used to..." the girl paused and seemed distressed. "After they masked me and chained me they would beat me. I was put in this frame, sort of spread out as far as my chains would allow, and they whipped me. Front and back."
"You don't have to tell us."
"No, it's okay. They punished me they said because no one had paid the ransom. They also had this thing - they said it was a gag - that they put through my mask mouth hole and made it expand in my mouth. Sort of pumped it up until I cried but I couldn't speak. I was gagged for long periods and starved, because I couldn't eat. Or they put their, uh, urine down a tube into my mouth to make me drink it." The girl seemed to be fighting down her tears. "I was strapped down, on my back and fed liquids endlessly, and then they beat my belly, when it was swollen. That hurt a lot."
"That must have been horrible. I know this is upsetting for you to recall, Samantha, but did they do anything else to you?"
"Did they do that sex thing? Yes. I had to bend over and was fastened down. Then both the men and the women used me and put things in me." The girl hesitated. "I'm not sure I should be saying this."
"No, it's okay. Go on."
"They put things in... In both my holes. Down there and at the back."
"That was terrible," sympathised Joanie. "You must have been terrified."
"I was, but they did more. They whipped me and made me do things to please them. I had to make them cum, they said. That was what they called it. All I could use was my hands, but sometimes they taped up my fingers to make it hard for me. If I didn't do it properly they would lower me upside down into a bath of water so I thought I would drown. They made me dance in my chains so they were entertained, and I had to clean the place up where they kept me. I spent hours scrubbing the floor and if they didn't think I did a good job they would gag me and beat me. They even would tie a blindfold round my head so I couldn't see who was doing what. Or what was coming."
"You must have been glad when it was finally over."
"Yes, I was. But they made sure I understood what was happening. They made me watch myself. These kidnappers made videos of me, doing things. I had to watch them... I was tied to a chair in front of a big TV and I had to watch videos of myself being whipped or hung over the water in the tub, or they would squirt their semen over my face mask and try and get in my eyeholes. They liked that game a lot."
"But now it's over."
The girl squirmed a little in her seat. "Yes, but the videos... they put them on the internet, for others to see. I know they are out there, and I know people are looking at me being punished and used." The girl brought her hand up to her masked face, as if trying to dab her eyes. "They hurt me and laughed at me but said they were going to make money from the videos. They said it didn't matter about the ransom money because people liked to see little sluts - that was what they called me - being punished." Samantha appeared to be crying. "They said they would make millions from me."
Joanie nodded. "Yet you don't have to see them."
The girl hesitated before answering. "I've seen some of them. People post them to me on things like facebook and myspace... I see myself being punished."
"That's awful!" Joanie looked sad. "You poor thing. But Samantha, perhaps it would be better if you didn't have those social media available to you."
The girl considered for a moment, and then she said. "But... in a way I don't mind."
"Because for a short while I was, you know, famous. People talked about me. People cared. Even the kidnappers. For all they did to me they wanted to keep me alive and well."
"I'm not sure I understand," said the presenter, looking mystified.
Samantha sighed behind her mask. "A psychologist told me it's something they call a syndrome, that even if you are mistreated you feel you are wanted, that you are special. Even if you are locked up you know they are thinking of you. I knew they wanted me, more than anyone else did. More than anyone else had ever done. They made me work and they tortured me but they needed me."
"I see. So you don't bear them any ill-will?"
"Not entirely. Sometimes I wish I was out of these chains and things, that the mask could come off... I know I can never kiss anyone. But everyone has to look after me now. And no one sees how I feel about things." The girl inclined her head. "See, I'm smiling now and you can't see it. So I thought I'd learn to play poker... no one can see what I think of the cards I get. I don't show any reaction, see?"
"That's... well, remarkable."
"I have to put up with the chains and the mask, I know that. Maybe someone will find a way to release me, but if they don't... I have to get on with life." Samantha considered something for a moment and then went on. "People also like girls and young women in chains and masks. It's always been like that, through history. Now it's no different. Today though there are people who've copied me, because they like to be hidden but have people excited by them. I get messages from women who want to be masked and chained all the time, because they then will know people will notice them and take care of them."
"Even if they can't move much?"
"Especially then, because they need people to care fro them. People have to wait when I walk slowly, or help me do things like getting dressed." Samantha looked at the camera for the first time and her blue eyes seemed to sparkle behind the mask. "I know out there will be women and girls watching me who think they can do it too, that they can be like me. Maybe they will get in touch with my web site. I want everyone who is masked and chained like me to be part of a society. Like we support each other and care."
Joanie looked at her notes. "We have a web address here and we will show it at the end of the programme. But how will you feel if they find a way to get your mask off?"
"Pleased in one way but... In another way I'd be sad. But then, when it's off, perhaps I can be masked again another time."
"You would willingly be masked and chained again?"
"Yes," said Samantha. "Yes I would, if people liked me because of it." Another pause. "If they wanted me, I would."
The interview played out with some small talk about hobbies and various hopes for the future, and the lights dipped in the studio. The closing credits of Behind The News rolled over the silhouette of two females - a younger masked female and a woman facing her - talking, the dull gleam of light on the mask and chains of the girl.
The web address appeared, inviting women who wanted to be masked and chained to get in touch. The Samantha Society it was called.
A hundred miles away from the studio, a slim middle-aged woman got up from her seat in a darkened room to turn the television off. She smiled grimly to herself: the woman knew more about it all than anyone would know. She had been alone since her husband (and her friends) died in a police shoot out three years before, but she alone knew where his notes and papers were kept safe. Secret notes, about a strange new metal he had discovered and a way to lock them without anyone knowing how to release it. And among the papers was a special device her husband had said was an electronic key.
Laura Sanders brushed her red hair from her face and nodded. Perhaps there was a way to get revenge for her loss, she thought. And perhaps this was the time to put her slowly-developed plans into motion.
And she wouldn't fail, she thought as she reached for her pussy and looked at the photo on the wall above the TV set,a picture of a little girl strapped to a bench with a tube in her mask hole and a thick, gooey liquid running down the clear pipe. A girl with a swollen belly with red whip marks across it and a thin masked woman with red hair leaning across to pinch the child's small, hard nipples.
The end (for now?)
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