This story is entirely a work of fiction. It does NOT describe real events and the characters are fictional. Any resemblance to real events or persons is coincidence. The events and activities described in the story may NOT be legal, ethical or safe, and this site does NOT endorse or recommend their enactment.
Natalie kissed Keira. It was far from profound or dramatic, it was simply a light peck, as between close and comfortable friends. But it startled Keira nonetheless, and as she stammered and stared, taken aback by this sudden affection from her unreservedly reserved room-mate, Natalie struck like a viper. Natalie snatched the handcuffs from Keira’s loose fingers, clapped one around the dancer’s wrist, and in an instant had the other clicking over the bathroom’s towel-rail.
“Hey!” Keira half-laughed. “I thought you said you wanted me to show you what’s so enjoyable about bondage. I don’t think that’s going to work if you don’t try it yourself.”
Natalie smiled, shaking her head. “I think I figured it out what I like about it.”
Keira’s own mirth began to falter. She tugged on the towel-rail, shook her wrist in the cuffs’ grip. “What are you doing, Nat?”
Natalie scowled at her hated pet name, and wrapped her knuckles against a plastic bowl perched on the back of the toilet. With its wide base and full contents, it seemed the slightest nudge could send it tumbling. And shackled to the towel-rail, even the dancer couldn’t contort herself out of the way.
“What is this stuff?!” Keira demanded, peering over the brim of it as she scrambled to get away. She couldn’t go far, and with her wrist stuck in it at an awkward angle, she found herself sliding closer to the floor, ballet slippers unable to gain purchase on the tiles to keep herself upright.
“Taste it and find out,” said Natalie, throwing her room-mate a wink. “The key’s in there, so if you want to get out of here, better get stuck in.”
Keira reached for the bowl with her one free hand, trying to grip its edge with slender fingers. Unfortunately, from her angle, her probing attempts to lift the bowl simply caused it to shift and wobble. A spill was guaranteed, and it was heading straight for her.
“This is my competition leotard!” Keira cried. As she squirmed, smooth muscles rippled beneath the taut material of sparkling blue. “You’ll ruin it.”
“I won’t be doing anything,” Natalie said with a shrug. She gripped the door handle, prying it open. “I have a competition of my own to get to. What happens next is up to you.”
“Natalie,” Keira pleaded, “If this is about the spaghetti then I’m sor…” She sighed, understanding it was no use, and slackened against the wall as the cuffs pulled one arm high overhead. Eyeing Natalie in the doorway, Keira gave her a knowing smirk. “Well done, girl.”
“Have fun,” Natalie retorted, then left.
Swimming was uneventful for the club; an unusual state of affairs that had Natalie even more antsy as the team trooped into the locker-room from poolside. She fingered the strap of her red suit, tugging on its damp weight as it clung to her, and an almost humorous thought came to her. If she were on Star Trek, wearing red would be a bad thing. That was one thing she had learned from listening to her younger brother drone on over the years. At least now she saw no Klingons, but the nature of Anne’s club was that any second some sloppy, slimy fate could befall a member. But there were rules governing that chaos; Natalie knew them well, having studied the club handbook the second she had been allowed to join. And that handbook had given her the inspiration for her ultimate plan, which was just seconds away from unfurling in full. If she could just survive the next minute or so without something humiliating happening.
“Natalie!” called the Captain. Natalie’s heart began to pound. Did the girl in the gold swimcap somehow know what she had planned? Preposterous, of course, and yet Natalie jumped upright, feeling the sharp shake of guilt throughout her belly, along with that familiar fear she had learned to live with, that somehow other people knew exactly what was on her mind. Especially when what was on her mind was gooey.
“Yes, Captain?” asked Natalie, forcing a smile.
“You did good today, for your first formal practice,” the Captain reported, coming close and looking her newest recruit up and down. “A bit more work on your form and I think you’ll fit in very well.”
“Thank you, Captain,” Natalie replied, still holding herself tense. This wasn’t over yet.
“In fact, you did so well,” Anne said slowly, dragging it out, “That you’re not the slowest member of the team this week. Bet you’re glad to be escaping a cold shower, aren’t you?”
“Very,” said Natalie, sagging a little. The ritual of tossing the last place swimmer in the showers and turning them on cold, to buck them up the Captain said, was not something she had been looking forward to. So who was the unfortunate teammate this week?
“Eliza,” sang Anne, rounding on an athletic brunette who was already toweling off. Eliza’s jaw dropped, her long face shocked.
“But… no way!”
“I know, you’re normally one of my fastest,” Anne said with a shrug. “Guess you’re off your game today. In you go.”
Dropping her towel, and her head, Eliza complied. She padded across the tiles and into the shower room, took a deep breath, and turned on the tap. As one the rest of the team watched her grimace and squirm, moaning under the icy spray.
When the Captain was satisfied, she motioned for Eliza to come back, and gave the girl her towel. Eliza, meanwhile, gave Natalie a dark glare. Natalie wasn’t sure what to make of it, but she pushed that to the side for now. The Captain was speaking, and then it would be time for the plan to spring into action.
“Let’s see,” said Anne, who had perched a pair of glasses on her nose as she looked over a laminated sheet. “No birthdays, that’s too bad. No races coming up soon, nothing much going on at all really. I suppose that’s us for now, unless anybody has any other business?”
A pause. Then, finally, Natalie stuck her wet hand in the air.
Natalie took a breath, as though she were the one bracing herself against the cold. In a way, she was. “I challenge you for the captaincy.”
The team grew hushed. Anne stared over her spectacles. “What?”
“I challenge you for the captaincy,” Natalie repeated. “Right now.”
Anne let the sheet drop to the floor. “Are you mad?” she asked, removing her glasses and tossing the dark mane of her hair. “You just got here, you are barely a competent swimmer, and I–”
“Swimming is only a third of the requirements to become captain,” Natalie interjected. As the handbook says, ‘The race is to the swift, the bread to the wise, the battle to the strong’. I only have to beat you in two of three challenges to take your cap. The race? Maybe that’s not for me, but you never know. But the tests of wisdom, and of strength? I don’t see why I can’t have your number there.”
Anne set her jaw, stupefied at this sudden suggestion. Finally, with a reluctant sigh, she nodded her head. “You’re serious about this?”
“One hundred percent.”
The Captain pulled on her gold cap again. She snapped her fingers as she turned, heading back toward the pool. “Team, come.”
In a little student flat, in a little warm bathroom, Keira scraped and squirmed on the end of a pair of handcuffs. Her efforts to get free were going nowhere, she felt sweat slip down her face and soak through her costume, heating up from her hard and futile work. Not to mention the radiator that she was so close to. With a shake of her head, she regarded the bowl above her. Looks like there’s only one way out of this. At least it would be a private indignity.
Soon Natalie found herself standing poolside, on a block right next to her captain. Liv had agreed to be the overseer, in case the finish was close enough to require one. The rest of the team sat along the side, feet in the water, and Natalie caught sight of Scarlett’s still surprised expression. Her cousin must certainly not have expected that one day she might find the shy girl she brought to a session for fun would become her captain.
“Ready?” said Liv.
Natalie focused on the water, tried to envision the sprint ahead of her.
Anne bent forward, preparing to dive. Natalie mirrored her, as best she could, but she had not really raced before.
Anne was in the water and surging on before Natalie’s legs remembered to toss her forward. She splashed on her belly and floundered for a moment, confused, before finally kicking off and driving herself toward her opponent. It was too late, though, and in a minute the girls were pulling themselves back out of the pool, Anne’s nose high in the air as she walked off from an easy victory.
“There’s always round two,” said Natalie, as the team marched back to their lockers.
“Let me warn you, Nat,” said Anne, making her underling bristle. “If I’m still captain at the end of this, I will see to it you pay for your insubordination. As is my right, in that handbook you are so fond of. And if I beat you in all three rounds, as I’m sure I’ll manage, then you will face the worst punishment I can come up with, simply for wasting my time. But if you back off now, you can spare yourself a very bright red face.”
“What are the stakes?” asked Natalie, folding her arms across her sodden suit.
Anne smirked. “If you lose, I’ll have you slimed, stripped and send stark naked out into the courtyard where you’ll walk the plank into that stinking bog they call a koi pond. And if you lose all three, I’ll send your cousin in after you.”
“Wait, what?!” spluttered Scarlett.
“Suits me,” said Natalie. “And when I become captain, the first thing I’m going to do is show you how I respond to threats to my family.”
Anne shrugged. “So be it,” she said, and pointed to the showers. “Round two.”
The bowl finally flopped off her head and rolled across the floor. Keira recoiled, horrified, as cold dollops of goo spread over her head, through her hair, and ran down her face and chest. She shivered as it streaked down her bare shoulders, its cloying weight gripping her outfit tighter to her chest, little lumpy rivers slithering down the back of her neck and under her armpit. And the worst part was, in all that sticky slop she had pulled over herself, there was no sign of the key. It was going to be a long night.
The click of the front door, far too early to be Natalie, told her the long night was just getting started.
The second challenge, one of wits, was to take place in the shower room. Liv went around turning them all on to cold, and quickly skipped her way back to the rest of her teammates, who parked themselves on a bench, still in their suits, to watch Natalie and Anne brave the frigid waters to sit down and… play cards. Liv had left a pack of laminated playing cards sitting on the floor, and leaned in as much as she dared to deal a five card hand to each woman. Natalie spread hers before her, peering carefully at them, while Anne kept a tight hold on her bundle and barely peeked at the corners. Natalie tossed a card and called for one more, and Anne stuck to her guns. With the freezing water pounding down on their bare backs, they could barely make out one-anothers’ poker faces through the mist, but finally the Captain decided to call.
“Let’s see what you’ve got,” said Anne, pointedly. She laid her cards on the shower floor, revealing two pair and an eight. Natalie slowly set hers down, sucking in a breath as though sighing. She flipped the cards over, and showed… a full house.
“Hmph!” snorted Anne, shaking her soaked hair.
“Thank god,” Natalie heard coming from the team; Scarlett, she was sure, glad that she wasn’t facing the prospect of walking the plank over Natalie’s losing streak. The rest of the team were silent, unwilling to make much noise in support of either woman, knowing shortly one would be in charge of them all.
“Round three,” Anne said, strutting out of the showers. Her muscles tensed as she tried not to shiver. Natalie did not try at all, she stepped out and held arms taut against herself, shaking from the cold water.
“Strength,” Natalie said, gesturing to the floor. “The handbook suggests a wrestling match would fit the bill.”
“Quite right,” replied Anne. She rolled her shoulders and stretched her arms, as though warming up for a race. “Ladies,” she said, nodding to her team. Liv and Eliza dashed off to the store cupboard, dragging out the folded up lump of a paddling pool. It wasn’t long before a few buckets had been dragged out as well, and as Natalie was finally starting to feel almost warm, she was stepping barefoot into the chilly, wet sludge that had been poured three inches deep into the makeshift ring.
“We’ll need a referee,” suggested Liv.
“An impartial one,” Eliza added. Natalie noticed Scarlett’s hand, palm out, quietly sneaking back down to her hip. Too bad.
Anne still shivered a little as she stepped into the little pool. “Well, go find one,” she ordered, gesturing to the door. Together the team dashed off, out into the hallway in the public area of the leisure centre. Natalie and Anne were left alone, in silence.
The women stared at one another, each taking slow, steady breaths. Natalie felt the humidity from the nearby pool and the mist from the shut-off showers tickling her skin all over, but that was nothing compared to the sensation of Anne’s eyes boring into her.
At last, Anne spoke. “You’ve got guts.”
Natalie shrugged. “I’ve got confidence.”
Anne nodded, a thin smile on her lips. “You are so very different from that shy girl Scarlett brought to us. When you huddled with her in the tank I never thought I’d see you like this: getting revenge on people, thirsting for power. It’s beautiful to behold.”
“Will it still be beautiful when you’re looking up from under my heel?”
Anne laughed, light and airy, and with almost a little too much enthusiasm. “Oh Nat, every queen knows some day her crown will slip. The secret is…”
The door opened, bursting with the laughter of the entire team. Between them they half-nudged, half-dragged a well dressed young man with slicked back black hair, wearing a charcoal suit. He was nervously alternating between untying his tie and kicking off his shoes, and though clearly embarrassed to be in the ladies’ team locker-room, he was grinning from ear to ear. Apparently wandering the halls in their still damp swimsuits had made hooking a referee not all that difficult, even if he appeared dressed for business rather than sport.
Anne winked, and crouched in preparation for the contest. Natalie mirrored her, and in short order a red-faced and barefoot gentleman was standing between them. “So it’s a pin for a three count or a submission, is that clear?”
The girls nodded, and the referee stepped back. “Begin.”
Ding. Natalie glanced back to see Liv had banged the spoon against a dented locker door. She turned back just in time to see Anne’s armpit wrapping around her face, as the captain gripped her in a headlock and tried to pull her down into the slime.
It took all her strength to plant her feet and keep upright, but Natalie managed to hold out. She struggled and writhed in Anne’s grip, feeling around the other woman’s suit for any type of leverage. Natalie’s hands slid across Anne’s sinewy muscles, and gripped a wad of her posterior. With a grunt she lifted, watching the Captain’s feet lift out of the slime, kicking and skidding against the slick side of the pool. Natalie dropped to her knees, planting her opponent face first in the slime.
“Bleh!” Anne spluttered, spraying green goo from her lips. She drew her slippery legs close and spun out of Natalie’s grip, rounding on her and lunging with her body, trying to splat Natalie into the gunge below. It worked, and with a deft shifting of her weight Anne had Natalie on her back, feet skidding in the slime while her head and shoulders were ground into the gunge. Natalie tried to push back as hard as she could, but with the slime coating everything, including her, she had no traction at all. Anne grinned, holding her shoulders, and Natalie knew that she had no way out now.
“Count, you twit,” Anne barked at the referee. Waking himself up from his staring reverie, he leaned in close and began slapping his hand onto the side of the inflatable pool. “One… two…”
Natalie closed her eyes, trying for one last push.
Anne’s grip released, and Natalie let her arms fall back. She lay there, defeated, and kept her eyes closed as she felt Anne’s feet step around her, heard her whooping in joy at the victory. What happened next would be entirely up to the captain. All Natalie could do was wait, and be prepared to take it.
A hand took hers, and warm breath whispered in Natalie’s ear. “Nice try, but now you’re mine.”
Natalie opened her eyes to see the Captain standing up. The well-dressed man took her arm and raised it, while the team applauded and cheered. What were they cheering, exactly, Natalie wondered. Was it that their captain had held on to power, or was it that their new teammate was about to receive some special punishment for daring to defy their queen? In the next second, it was clear they were cheering the plight of the referee, who Anne unceremoniously shoved butt-first into the slop, right next to the prone Natalie. He leaped up, skidding and shuffling, trying to preserve his already sodden suit. That simply made things worse, and Natalie slid to the side to avoid his comical yet inevitable face-first pratfall.
The referee slowly picked himself up, pushing out of the green gunge. “Don’t suppose I could use your shower?” asked the gentleman, standing awkwardly before the guffawing girls, sludge dripping off his polyester.
“No!” said Anne, grabbing him by the collar. She pried open the door and shoved him out into the corridor, swiftly followed by his tie and shoes. Anne shut the door against his protests, and turned back to meet Natalie’s gaze.
“His awkward way home will be nothing compared to yours,” Anne said, beaming.
Natalie sat up, sighing. The entire room was fixated on her, every one of her teammates awaiting her fate. Even her cousin leaned forward, eager and anxious. This was it, the culmination of what Natalie had been working towards. She had thrown her all at the opportunity to gain power in the club, and had finally come up short. Now she would simply have to embrace the consequences that, in the back of her mind, she had always known were likely to come. Who knew how she’d live this experience down, but whatever Anne had planned, an experience is surely what it would be. Natalie held out her hands. “Come and get me.”
Anne’s hand gripped Natalie’s, and the girl felt herself hauled out of the slime by the muscles of her captain. She stepped carefully out of the pool and stood ringed by her teammates, and before Anne could command her to face her punishment, words came tumbling out of her mouth. “Double or nothing?”
The team fell silent. Natalie tried to keep her eyes focused on Anne, who looked her curiously up and down, a towel half-heartedly draped over her shoulder where she had been dabbing the worst of the slime from her face. “Pardon?” Anne asked.
“Double or nothing,” Natalie repeated. “I’m challenging you one more time, and if I win I become captain after all. But if you win, not only will I do any forfeit you can think of, as publicly as you like, but I will promise to never again challenge you and to be your… your servant, whenever we’re at the club, for as long as you want me here. The team either gets a new captain or a new helper. What do you say?”
Anne paused, thinking the prospect over. As the Captain’s eyes rolled over her some more, Natalie could almost see the smile twitching at the corner of her lips, and knew that the offer of a virtual slave to be dealt with however she wanted was a truly tempting proposition. And she knew exactly why. Could Anne resist the lure of such power?
“What would the final challenge be?” asked Anne.
“Democracy,” said Natalie. Immediately she saw Anne recoil at the thought, but it was out there now, and what would backing down show the team? “We ask the team to vote on which of us they wish to see as Captain.”
Anne folded her arms, frowning. “You think they’ll pick some brand new upstart over their long-serving captain? Maybe you’d have a better chance with something else, like boiling water in a chocolate tea pot.”
“Are you saying you’re not up for the challenge?” asked Natalie, springing the trap. Anne was smart, she knew, and Natalie could see the captain squirming in her suit as she tried to avoid the inevitable step.
“Fine,” Anne grunted. Too late to avoid the trap, the only hope was that it would fail to trigger. “All in favour of this untrained, undisciplined, ungrateful girl becoming your new captain, raise your hand.”
All but one hand shot into the air. Anne shut her eyes, sighing, as Natalie felt her own lungs almost burst with relief. She had to admit, somewhere inside she had been almost looking forward to seeing what Anne came up with for her forfeit, but at the same time the thought of becoming the team’s virtual slave was not so appealing. A moment of apprehension before the slime or whatever else came tumbling down was one thing, but could she face being at the bottom of the ladder every week, dealing with whatever trickled from the team above?
No need to find out now. Natalie beamed as Anne shook her head. “You’re smart, Natalie. You got me, this time, but don’t get overconfident. As you’ve shown yourself, the golden cap is a big target on your head. Someone always wants to knock you off your throne and into the sludge below.”
With that, Anne whipped off her swimcap and kneeled, holding it ceremoniously before Natalie. Natalie carefully picked it up and placed it on her head, startled by the burst of cheers from the rest of her team. Anne slipped her suit off at the shoulders, and Natalie mirrored her. Soon they were stepping out of their old skins and tugging on the new. For Anne, it was the red of a regular team member, a position she had not known in so long. For Natalie, it was the black of a blank slate. Strangely she was not so shy for the few seconds she stood there stark naked. She had already been willing to shed her dignity for this chance, and now instead of hanging her head she could stand proudly, knowing that this little locker-room was now hers to command.
The team watched this changing of the colours in silence. When Natalie finally adjusted her straps for the last time, they threw themselves at their new queen, hugging her and patting her on the back, congratulating her for rising so high, so fast. Through the throng Natalie saw Anne making her lonely way across the locker-room and parking her behind on the little stool in the club’s familiar tank. As the noise died down, Anne called out with a resigned remark.
“Might as well come and get me,” she said. But Natalie shook her head. That would be too easy.
“I know the handbook says an unseated captain is to be ritually flushed with the tank in order to seal her position among the commoners again, but since I’m in charge now, I thought you might appreciate making things a little more interesting.”
At that suggestion, a thin smile crept across Anne’s lips. “Oh?”
“Liv, the dice please,” commanded the Captain, holding out her hand. Soon a die was placed in her palm, and Natalie let it roll around as she approached Anne in her perspex box. “How would you like to gamble? We’ll do it by the book, just like the first time I came here. You get a five or a six, and you get to escape and nominate anyone else in the room to take your thoroughly deserved gunging. You roll a three or a four and you don’t escape but you can nominate someone to join you. And if you get a one or a two, you get changed into your ordinary clothes and prepare for a cold walk home.”
With a sly smile and a little chuckle, Anne nodded. “Might as well. Roll it.”
Natalie tossed the die across the floor. Its clatter was surprisingly loud in the damp locker-room, and when it came to rest, there was a gasp.
“Five,” Natalie said, shaking her head. She looked up at Anne, whose grin broadened. “You really are a karma Houdini.”
The former captain opened the door and strutted out of the tank. Preening like a peacock, she stepped back toward the team, opened her arms and draped one over Eliza and one over Liv. And with a wicked grin, she set her sights on Scarlett.
“Oh great,” muttered Scarlett, raising her hands to her face.
“I’m really sorry to have to do this to you, Scar,” said Anne, clearly enjoying every second of it. “But for going in the gunge tank, I’m going to have to pick… your cousin, Natalie.”
Natalie blinked. She saw Scarlett sag, relieved, and saw the rest of the team giggle. Anne kept beaming, obviously pleased with herself. This was what Natalie got for showing some semblance of mercy. Frowning at being outplayed even as captain, Natalie made her way to the tank and shut the door. Protest would be useless. She placed her bottom delicately on the stool, and looked out at the familiar faces all watching for her to undergo, alone, what had brought her this far to begin with. With a weary gesture, Natalie held out her hands to say she was ready. Anne frogmarched Scarlett over to the tank, planted her hand on the lever, and together they hauled it as the team cheered.
As with last time, Natalie was engulfed in sensation for a few seconds before she really knew what hit her. The slime splattered off her head and streaked the sides of the tank, filling her vision and storming down her skin. She could smell the tangy chemical scent of proper gunge, could feel the slippery viscosity slither over her shoulders and hear the gooey dollops splat against her swimsuit. And though she could not see them, she could feel all the happy faces watching her, thrilled to see her wind up hoist with her own messy petard, in the same place as before, when all she had tried to do was get even with everyone. There was one small difference: this time, the gunge was blue. Guess I got what I deserved, Natalie mused.
Natalie returned home some time later, hair still damp and skin still wet and slippery from all the soap and water she’d used to get the slime off her. It could have been worse, she figured, as had she not succeeded in becoming captain she would have wound up walking the plank into the stinking, filthy pond in the leisure centre’s courtyard. That was something she would now keep up her sleeve, now that she was captain, but for the time being, she had to check on her little experiment.
Natalie opened the bathroom door to find her roommate in another awkward predicament. Still sitting on the floor was Keira, but she had been joined by a puddle of goo that looked to be a combination of porridge and custard. It looked like that because it was; the plastic bowl that had been perched above Keira’s head had finally toppled over and drenched her in a sticky, lumpy half-gallon of gunge. Her head had caught the worst of it, leaving her locks plastered and stringy, and Keira’s lithe body beneath a taut leotard hadn’t fared much better. It was a beautiful, eye-catching outfit she wore when competing, and now it was streaked and smeared with sludge which only served to press it tighter to her frame.
The cuffed dancer looked up, still trapped against the towel-rail. “I hate you,” grumbled Keira.
“I got you,” Natalie said back, pulling the key from her pocket. She unlatched the dancer and swiftly stepped back, staying out of the way as Keira stood up and splashed her sickly yellow coating onto the floor. She just managed to miss the laptop that had curiously been added to the room’s furniture.
“Yeah, you got me,” Keira admitted. “And so did Michael and Robert. I take it that you were the one who said they both should come over and feel free to pop into the bathroom without knocking? Fifteen minutes after you disappeared they came bursting in with a camera. And you know what they did with the picture?” She nodded down to the laptop, sending a dollop of gunge landing on the shower curtain. “Uploaded it to Facebook and sat the screen in front of me so I could see all the likes and comments. Everyone I know has seen this now! You really stitched me up. Maybe I can convince my friends it was some avante garde thing I was trying. I don’t know if I can look at any of them again, though, the things they’ve been saying.”
Keira motioned to the bath, stepping carefully as she tried to avoid shedding too much slime. “Would you mind?”
Natalie reached behind the curtain and turned on the shower. She swiftly plucked up the laptop and closed it, putting it safely on a shelf, before helping her roommate step into the warm spray.
“It might take a few shampoos to get out,” Natalie said, eliciting a simple sigh from Keira. “But hey, this should help if you get bored in there,” she added, pressing a little silver rod into the dancer’s palm. As her leotard turned dark and shimmered in the bathroom’s light, Natalie could make out the heavy breathing of Keira as the young woman experienced a multitude of strange sensations. At least they did not seem altogether unpleasant.
“Thank you,” Keira said, sounding truly grateful. “I’m kind of used to being the centre of attention, on stage, but I never realised how different it would feel when the attention is over something like this.”
Natalie drew the curtain and left her to it, taking the laptop with her. She sat on the couch, scanning the multiple comments on Keira’s picture of public humiliation, and grinned. “It’s good to be the queen.”