When Marla's Away

When Marla's Away 3

Marla told me before she left that she'd be calling to make sure things were going OK. She had said that her things had been known to get "out of hand" from time to time.

"And don't make me embarrass you into answering the call," she added. I shuddered a little at the memory of yet another demonstration of what she could do...

It was not long after we'd met, so we hadn't yet settled into anything like a routine. She hadn't yet "convinced" me that I no longer needed to work, though not for lack of trying.

I insisted that she didn’t need to come with me to the store, that I could pick up what I needed without any trouble. That was just force of habit; I obviously hadn’t really considered what kind of changes someone like Marla could bring into my life.

The phone rang three times. I wasn't interested in having a conversation while i was shopping so I ignored it.

It rang again, a little louder. I frowned -- I didn't remember changing the ring setting on the phone, but I shrugged it off. Maybe I had changed it and just didn’t remember

A few moments later I felt movement in my pocket. My phone rang again, but this time it was actually floating next to me! I grabbed it, looking around frantically and hoping no one had noticed. Apparently no one had, though the overhead cameras may have picked it up. The caller ID said, “Marla,” but without showing a phone number. I answered it.

“Hello?”

Well, hello! Took you long enough to answer your phone,” she said.

“Well, I didn’t know it was you,” I said. “What’s up?”

Nothing, I just wanted to talk to you without causing a scene,” she responded.

“What do you mean?” I said. “How would you cause a scene?”

I then yelped, as I felt a hand squeeze my butt. I looked around, catching a few odd glances, but I didn’t see whoever had palmed my butt. I did hear her cracking up over the phone, though -- and the unseen hand was still palming my butt.

I didn’t think it was so funny, but it was obvious that she wasn’t really so concerned about causing a scene, at least not the same way a conversation with a disembodied voice would.

But...

“How are you doing this?” I wanted to say more, but I figured that if people heard me say “you’re right next to me, but I only hear you over the phone” -- well, I just didn’t want to think about it.

I’m not gonna explain fully right now,” Marla said. “But as you can see, I can make phone calls without needing a phone, so you should probably make a habit of carrying a Bluetooth earpiece with you when you leave the house, so I can talk to you without scaring people.”

So I figured she’d be calling after the first day or two. So when I didn’t hear anything after a week, I figured whatever was going on at her location was too involved to allow for phone conversation. But considering that she doesn’t need sleep, it seemed odd that she hadn’t called me at night. Unless the sessions, or whatever they are, were going on 24/7?

I actually started to worry a little after a week had passed with no word, though I had no way of knowing how to get in touch with her. I’d just have to wait for her call.

three days ago...

My phone had been buzzing in my pocket, but I had ignored it the first few times it happened. After awhile I figured someone was being rather insistent in texting me, so I pulled out the phone and saw -- it was a text message from Marla, telling me to set up Skype for her call.

I wasn’t too keen on making Marla take matters into her own “hands” so I made quick work of powering up the laptop, going online, and connecting with Skype. As soon as I was connected, a video window opened up, showing a tiny floating pink tube top with a matching visor hovering over it.

Behind my laptop, out of range of the webcam, the curvy orange zentai suit walked into the room with its own matching visor, this one orange, floating above it. The suit was content to just stand there, not making any attempt to interact with me. But it had come into the room for some reason, though.

“Hi, hon!” Marla said.

“Hi, yourself,” I said with a smile. “How’s it going?”

“Well, it wasn’t exactly the buttoned-down business meeting I was expecting,” she said.

“So I noticed,” I said, leering pointedly at her top. “Not exactly business attire you’re wearing, there.”

“I didn’t mean it that way,” she said, making the floating halter jiggle with laughter. “Some former colleagues made their presence known, and that kind of disrupted things for awhile. That’s mostly why it took me so long to call and check up on you.”

The zentai suit began walking toward me, and I felt hands on my shoulders. I wasn’t sure whether to look that way or not, unsure of whether Marla could somehow detect things like this. But I was sure there was nothing there that I could see.

“So how are things going over there?” she asked. The unseen hands squeezed my shoulders gently but firmly. Not hurting me or anything, just... sending a message, which I read loud and clear.

“Things are going OK here, so far,” I said. Then I felt another sensation – two soft but rather large areas of pressure against my shoulders, as the hands began to knead. I was pretty sure the pressure was from the zentai suit pressing its chest against me.

“No craziness? I was worried about things getting crazy while I was gone.”

The hands squeezed just a tiny bit harder. “Nothing to worry about, if that’s what you mean,” I said. “Unless you worry about things like me having to lick whipped cream and syrup off a construct, that is.”

Real-ly?” she said, the surprise evident in her tone. “I wasn't sure you liked stuff like that, or I would have done it myself by now. I have to keep that in mind.” She punctuated that last bit with a chuckle. “And I see my orange zentai there behind you. It’s been keeping you entertained, I’m guessing.”

“Excellent choice of words,” I said. “They’ve been keeping me entertained and keeping me guessing, with an occasional bulge where there usually is none.”

This time she laughed outright, a musical sound that entranced me just as much as the sight of the bouncing tank top on my computer screen. “Sounds like my stuff is having fun, too.” She laughed a bit more, then added, “Anything else I should know about?”

I hesitated, wondering if I should mention the white shorts. The smaller build of their form in comparison to Marla’s more curvaceous constructs had already led me to believe the shorts weren’t hers. Now I had reason to wonder if they were connected to whoever or what-ever had tried to disrupt her meeting. If they were I probably wouldn’t even get the chance to say anything about them. But I had to say something...

“Remember when I told you why I don’t really like dropping my clothes off at the ‘wash & fold’ laundries?” My mind was racing, hoping that she would pick up what I was trying to say.

“You said that occasionally you get something mixed in with your stuff that isn’t yours.” She responded in measured tones, like she was trying to figure out why I had brought that up. Which meant, I hoped, that my gamble had worked.

“Uh-huh. I was just wondering, did that ever happen to you?”

“Did that ever--” she repeated, then stopped. But only for a second, before continuing, “No, I’ve never been given someone else’s clothing from the laundry.” I was thinking maybe when she stressed “from the laundry” that she caught on to what I was trying to tell her without actually saying it. But then she continued, “But that could be because I’ve never left any clothes at the laundry. I don’t... hmm...” she trailed off.

I heard something stirring behind me. But before I could turn to look, Marla spoke again. “Bryan, those shorts behind you,” she said evenly, “those are not mine.” I didn’t realize until then that the hands were no longer on my shoulders. I turned around to see the shorts hovering a few feet behind me, then turned back.

“That’s what I was trying to--” I started, before my wireless modem pulled itself out of the USB port, breaking the connection.

“Hey!” I said, turning around to face the shorts. “I was having a conversation, if you don’t--” I briefly saw a flash of orange to my right, before an orange “hand” covered my mouth. I grunted and squirmed against the hand covering my mouth, trying to pull away from it, when a white handkerchief floated up. I stopped squirming, and the zentai suit pulled its hand from my mouth.

“OK,” I said, “so what happens now?” I was pretty sure I was about to be taken to another location, along with whatever items were under the shorts’ control. After all, there’s no way Marla would stay put after seeing that her home had been invaded.

A pair of handcuffs floated toward me. The actual cuffs were covered with fabric padding, I noted, as they clamped themselves around my wrists. A large duffel bag floated into the room, stopping just a few feet away. Following behind it was the sweater that had been wrapped around the shorts the first time they made themselves known, along with quite a few items of Marla’s clothing, some of them individual items and some complete outfits. The duffel bag unzipped, allowing each of the items following it to lose their shape, fold themselves in midair, and stuff themselves into the bag. Some of my own clothing also joined Marla’s stuff in the duffel bag, along with a floating line of toiletries.

A much smaller duffel then floated into the room. The handkerchief floated over into it, along with a couple of decks of cards still in the box, and a few other odds and ends. My cell phone floated up from the table, the battery cover pulling itself off to reveal the SIM card. The SIM card pulled itself out of the phone, after which a hovering pair of scissors cut the SIM into pieces, leaving them on a table where Marla was sure to see them.

“What was that for? How’s Marla gonna--” I was cut off again. This time I couldn’t see the hand covering my mouth, as the handkerchief in the smaller bag leaped out and stuffed itself into my mouth, through the unseen hand over it, as another tied itself around my mouth, very effectively gagging me.

I don’t know what I was thinking. Whether the shorts were being operated by a former colleague of Marla’s or were in league with them, they wouldn’t need the phone to get in touch with her. And they wouldn’t be very likely to allow their opponent to contact their... their--

Hostage. I was a hostage! Lord have mercy what kind of mess was I mixed up in?! I mean, I know Marla had said she used to be more or less a spy, but she had left that life behind... hadn’t she? Or did that life decide it wasn’t finished with her yet?

And was it all really worth it?Sometime later I was sitting in a highly-customized recreational vehicle, with no windows behind the driver’s area. Well, no windows I could easily see out of, anyway; the windows behind the driver’s area were just two-inch-high slits near the top of the walls of the vehicle. Not that windows were needed; from the glimpses I got to see, there was no one behind the wheel. They could have made this thing a windowless tank, for all the difference it made.

I was briefly blindfolded before being floated out to the vehicle, so I had no idea what it looked like from the outside. Inside, though, it was like a long, narrow suite. I had no idea where the bags had been stashed, but it didn’t really look like there was much storage space inside; they must have been in an external storage area, like on charter buses.

I had also been “cuffed” by a couple of handkerchiefs tied together before leaving home, but as soon as the RV was underway the restraints untied themselves and fell onto a table.

I had no idea where we were going, but I did notice after awhile that the bus was doing plenty of twists and turns. I was sitting at a table, being entertained by my captors. At least, they probably viewed it as entertainment. They were apparently trying to be all about “business” at this point, because although there were all the trappings of a card game, there were no clothing or other items to denote any perceived location of the other three participants of this game. If not for the floating cards, I could have been all alone on this bus.

Watching floating cards with no clothing to indicate where anyone was, and no dialogue, wasn’t gonna hold my interest for that long, at least not when I was hungry.

“Any chance of me getting something to eat?” I asked.

A cabinet opened, and out floated a banana. I was kind of hoping for something cooked, or at least a sandwich, but I guess if I was being held as a hostage I had to accept whatever I was given.

Not like the first time they fed me…One evening before being captured I’d gone into the kitchen to start dinner, and saw that something was already under way. There was a pair of denim overalls with an empty long-sleeved t-shirt standing at the counter; invisible hands at the ends of the sleeves were breading some salmon. On the counter was an aluminum pan full of diced vegetables. A floating knife was making quick work of dicing an onion on the cutting board next to the pan.

Now, I really like salmon, and I also like dicing vegetables and either sautéing them or adding them to the pan with the salmon to cook in the oven -- but I also like deciding if that's what I'm going to do, not having it decided for me. I’m also a bit leery of eating food from any cook that doesn’t or can’t eat their own cooking. Well, other than Marla and her constructs.

“What’s this?” I said, as the knife and cutting board rose into the air and raked the onion into the pan.

The overalls didn’t appear to pay any attention to me, adding the breaded salmon to a second pan.

But a glossy black sleeveless bodysuit seated at the kitchen table mimed bringing food to an invisible mouth with its matching sheer gloves, then lpointed at me. When I entered the room, the gloves were playing with the outfit -- poking, squeezing, and rubbing in various places, at angles suggesting the hand-shapes inside them were not attached to the form inside the bodysuit. Or maybe the suit itself was maneuvering the gloves. One glove was busy

 

In time the RV stopped. The handkerchiefs floated up to me again, knotting themselves together. I sighed and held out my wrists, watching as each free end wrapped loosely around a wrist but tied a very tight knot. Circulation wasn't hindered but I wasn't getting free from these restraints without scissors or a knife, which in this environment would be able to overpower me, if I were even allowed to get my hands on one.

Not that it mattered; I wasn't about to try to escape captors I couldn't see.

My shoes broke contact with the floor and I floated through the open door of the RV, to find all the bags that been packed for me hovering and apparently waiting for me. They floated ahead of me as we approached the open door of a mansion. But before I was floated inside, my shoes untied themselves and pulled themselves off my feet, followed by my socks.

Then the door opened and… I saw why my socks and shoes were removed.

The floor in the room immediately inside the door was not a clear surface. All I could see was big jagged between them.  All the rocks were set into the floor. Before long I’d get to see that the floor inside every entryway was just the same. No one was getting out of -- or into -- this house on foot…

In walked a mustard-yellow tube jumpsuit, clinging tightly to an unseen figure. It looked somewhat similar to one I’d seen Marla… “using,” but it had been awhile. This might actually have been Marla’s outfit, since my captors did take some of Marla’s stuff before taking me.

I couldn’t help staring at the outfit’s curves in all the right places, and since up until now all I’d been presented with was animated clothing and other normally uncommunicative inanimate objects, I had no problem staring at the jumpsuit’s chest and flared hips, which reminded me of some model I’d seen online.

“Like what you see?” asked a feminine voice coming from the general direction of the jumpsuit.

These days jumpsuits don’t have much to do with jumping, but this one did. It spoke to me, and I jumped. I guess I felt self-conscious and guilty, seeing these clothes and other things as mobile objects and nothing more.

“Uh-um,” I stuttered, “Y-yes I do. A lot.”

The voice chuckled, as the outfit sauntered in my direction. “I figured as much. She must get a lot of mileage out of this outfit, and the body that matches these curves.”

“Th-the body?” I repeated. “What do you mean?”

“Surely she must give you something to look at besides the clothes when she chooses this outfit,” the voice said. And right there, and then, she appeared. Or rather, a construct that looked just like the model I saw on those social media sites, wearing this jumpsuit.

I knew it was a construct, not a flesh and blood woman, but I still found myself unable to make words for a few moments. FInally… “N-no, just the clothes…. She said that she… doesn’t have a native physical form, and that even though she could duplicate one, it would just a simulation, not her, I was interacting with.”

“Really?” the voice asked. The construct’s lips never moved. “I’m surprised. She never had any issue with making herself visible back in the day. Must be something new she’s trying.”

I was quickly getting the impression Marla’s associates didn’t know we were in a relationship, or at least that I wasn’t a “mark.” I didn’t want to end up any more of a bargaining chip than I already was, so I’d have to keep that tidbit to myself for now.

“I wanna tell you something,” the voice said, “but when you’re dealing with operatives like us, you can never really know who’s on which side. Even I don’t know just who’s in on this… ‘caper.’ “ Then the voice whispered very softly in my ear. “But you’re about to take another trip.”

The voice then began whistling as a wad of dark-colored fabric floated in from another room. I recognized the song -- “Feelin’ Alright.” The first few words are, “Seems I got to have a change of scene…”

The cloth opened out into a handkerchief, which wrapped itself tightly around my eyes.

“Really?” I said in protest.

“Sorry, babe,” the voice whispered in my ear. “Necessary evil. But we just might be seeing each other again very soon.” Lips pressed against mine and in seconds a tongue was pushing its way into my mouth. This mouth was assertive, and… let’s just say I asserted myself right back.

The voice sighed in my ear. “Or I might go with you. Who knows?”

Then… I felt something wrap around me from behind. It felt like at least three pairs of arms, followed by the sensation of a warm, soft body pressing against me from behind.

“Is that…?” I started, as softly as I could muster.

“Shhh…” was the whispered reply, as a single finger pressed against my lips. The finger wasn’t connected to any of the arms wrapped around me. Then… I felt my feet break contact with the floor. Considering what I had seen of the floor in that first room, I figured I was being taken out of the house, but other than that, I had no clues as to what was happening.  No engine or road noises, no walking movements, no wind noises or feeling of wind rushing past, no changes in temperature or smells to suggest we were outside… nothing. I didn’t have any idea how long this was going on. It was almost like being in a sensory deprivation tank, except for the feeling of the arms wrapped around my torso, the hands holding my arms at my side, and the very real feeling of breasts pressed against my back. Made me wonder why they hadn’t taken all my clothes, rather than just my shoes and socks.

The sensation of almost no sensation worried me at first, but eventually it lulled me to sleep. But things were very different when I woke up…