(Not sure where to go with this one either...)

Scruffy young biker, mid-20's, just walks into "The Checkpoint" (or "The Check"), an old blue-collar bar - and learns a biker-wannabe just slipped on the bathroom floor and went down wrong, bending his throttle hand real good. The injured guy's woman is pretty disgusted with him.

Biker, basically a good guy, mocks the wannabe but winks at him. When others aren't around, biker says the trash-talk is customary, him being a wannabe, and biker actually sympathizes. Plenty of snatch in the sea, etc. Too bad the ambulance was called, and actually got there before he could save face.

Off he goes.

His woman, pissed off, is still there. Okay looking, but not a knockout. A few years older than the biker.

She's clearly more comfortable with "his people" that her date was.

A little while later they look each other over...

She doesn't want to take a cab home. Had enough of that bar forever. Will he do the honors?

A ride, he thinks, well sure. Assuming that he's about to get laid too - and yet something about the idea doesn't sit right.

Heading into the western 'burbs, he figures it out. Really didn't like the way she dissed her own date. The men's room floor was pretty much always slippery. Everybody had skidded around, or worse, depending on how fucked up they were. The biker wrestles with what's bothering him about this chick. Getting some - well, sure - but there's just something cold about her that sorta pisses him off. Maybe he'll just put it to her rough, give her the biker fix she was after, and whistle as he rides off -

She pounds his right shoulder and points. Like she's pissed off about something. All of her road directions have been that way, kinda rude, and she hasn't really held on tight. Too stiff.

The turnoff shows him old gates, at least twelve feet high. One is open - plenty of room to ride through.

Big fuckin' mansion. Long-ass lawn. Hmmmm...

Almost before the bike stops rolling, she starts yelling. Carping at him for riding too wild.

What is she talkin' about, he thinks, I tried to keep it easy on her. "That was wild? You shoulda held on better. Whose place is this?"

"My place," she snaps. "And maybe if you washed your hair sometime, women would want to hold on tighter. Whipping around in my face - it was like rolling around in an ashtray."

He stares at her. What a stupid-ass dig. And she stands taller, almost regal, shaking her hair - Yeah, she really does come from money. He sees that now. But what a total bitch.

Shit. No poontang here. Not worth the work. Fuck off, he thinks, and turns real courteous. "Look, I'm sorry you... uh -"

"White trash," she hisses. Turning away, and stomping inside.

He stares, and finally laughs. Some tail almost isn't worth the price, he thinks, nodding, starting up the bike, shifting into gear.

Why no limo for her highness, he wonders. Or no taxi - maybe somebody spying on her. Coming home on the back of a bike, nuthin' sneaky about that. There was no accounting for how damn dumb some people were, bucks or no bucks.

He feels like roaring off - blow her cover, heh, get the last 'word' in - but stops himself. That seems like sinking to her level. He takes it at an easy putt instead. Being that icy and tight-assed, even with all that money, is sorta sad. Maybe in a few years she'd relax and be more fun.

Damn, this is a long driveway. He takes a gentle curve and wonders just how big the front yard is, end-to-end -

A light goes on.

Small window, fancy shed, maybe fifty yards to his right. Looks like somebody else is up at one in the morning -

The light goes off.

Blinking it. Three times.

He slows down, out of curiosity. That light definitely hadn't been lit when he pulled in.

Three more blinks, which stay on longer.

Something in his memory is nibbling at him.

Three shorter flashes, then nothing -

"Oh, right. Mutherfuck," he sighs.

What a trip. He still remembers. Would never admit it, but he was a cub scout for two years. That's morse code.

Three short blinks. Long flash, two, and three. Another set of blinks. Yup... That's S-O-S.

He turns, taking a thin paved path toward a building. Like a little stone house. Maybe ten yards from the door he kills the engine and pops the stand. Sits for a few seconds, listening. Quiet pings from the pistons below him, crickets off somewhere. The biker digs for a little LED flashlight in his jacket somewhere... A-ha.

Seeing nothing dangerous, he walks on up to the door. It's not locked.

Garden stuff, maybe bigass sprinkler control boxes -

And a hinged metal plate in the floor. An iron bar sits across it, slid through loose brackets.


Unsure about what he wants to do, he remembers the SOS. If he had been the one flashing that - trapped? - he'd sure want some guy to take a little more of a look. So he walks over, slides the bar away as quietly as he can, pulls up on the plate. Grunting. Fuckin' heavy.

Stairs -

"Help," he hears. Whispered real loud, but sincere.

My imagination is having a field day with this, the biker thinks.

"I'm here. Oh, fuck, please, help me."

That does it. He clomps downstairs.

Concrete hallway. Huh. One door's open, halfway down, and that's where the only light comes from.

"Help," the voice whispers. Weird sound, in the empty hall.

The biker is suddenly aware of how much noise his wallet-chain makes, with every step.

A thin guy appears from the room. Grabbing the open door, sliding down.

Biker hurries over.

Dude's naked, except for leather. Not the good kind. Collar, some weird harness and belt, sheepskin-lined cuffs around each wrist. Tats everywhere - some biker shit. One of his people, then. Some weird tats too. Maybe a month's worth of beard on his face. He stinks bad.

"Fucker got c-cocky," the dude sighs. "Won't make that mistake again."

"What fucker?"

"Invisible. Back here any second. We gotta book RIGHT NOW."

Invisible? "Easy, bro. Slow down. Like, something's there but you can't see it?"

"Hurry," he begs. "You got no idea... Aw, fuck. We're gonna make it, oh yeah, fuck yeah, not another hand on me -"

The biker helps the ex-prisoner stand upright. "You patched?"

"Indy. You?"

"Yeah. Here. Where you from?"

"I don't remember."

Biker pauses. "Huh?"

"My memory goes out. Ten minutes, and then I can't remember again. When I get too stressed -"

"You're kidding."

"No, no. Got hit with a fuckin' billyclub in the joint once. Ever since. I sit for awhile, enough comes back. We gotta move!"

"Okay. Uh, back to the Check. This bar, it's safe. the owner's good people -"

"The Check. Dammit, I'm not gonna remember shit yet. Check, Check, Check."

"It's okay. Gonna be okay now." The guy seems cool, a real dude, just fuckin' rattled from a bad time. "I'm Tugger. From Wheeling. Wheeling Tugger."

"Tugger, Tugger, Tugger, Tugger," the stinky guy mutters. "Ow. Shit. I can't walk. My feet are killing me."

The biker props him up against the wall. "One sec." Looking around, he runs to the open doorway -

And stops dead.

An oil lamp, maybe a big candle, throws enough light for him to see a nightmare dungeon. Fully equipped torture chamber. Paddles on the walls, whips, chains and cuffs sex shit. A big bed - looking wet, in some odd way - surrounded with weird heaps of 'shreds', latex blobs - rubbers?!? Damn, yeah. Some of 'em are, and the rest must be gloves.

Somebody's been workin' that guy over for a long time.

Go, his brain says. Don't stare. Get away from this room, drag the other guy out and get away from here.

He turns - remembers why he went away from the ex-prisoner - and starts pulling his own boot off.


"I can't," the guy whines.

"You have to." Biker shoves the boot in the other guy's direction again.

"Shit." But he puts it on. A fair amount of groaning - and giggling. Then, the other boot... The stinky dude isn't exactly a little shit. What son of a bitch could take him down?

"Moving my shit, I think."

"What?" Biker helps him start walking toward the stairs.

"It hid my stuff. Jingled my truck keys, one night. So I'd see 'em. And I wasn't even driving my truck when it - well, the fucker found my house. Do you get it? Moved me out, I guess. Are you gettin' how serious this bastard is?"

"Uh -"

"Hide my shit, make it look like I skipped town. Keep me here..." He squints at the biker again. "What'd you say your name is?"

"Tugger. You, uh, remember anything? Where this place is, who -"

"No. Dammit."

"How about where we're going next? You repeated it to yourself a couple times."

"No! I keep thinkin' how bad it'll be, if we get caught -" He stomps. "Mutherfuck. That throbs. Alright."

"I'm Wheeling Tugger," biker says, "and we're goin' to the Checkpoint. Evans Road -"

"At Eleventh," the stinky guy interrupts. "I've been there. Alright. You're Tugger. I gotta... remember that." He hisses as he takes the first step up the stairs, then another.

Creaking metal. A door, opening somewhere behind them.

Their heads whip around. "It's back," the guy whines, looking around wildly. "Shit! Run, run -"

"Yeah. My bike's just outside the door. Go left," the biker says, pushing the other guy - who's squealing with fear, so the biker gets his head close to the ex-prisoner's right ear. "To the Check, Evans Road, with Wheeling Tugger, and it's gonna be o-"

The stinky dude pushed himself off the biker, swinging an arm. Just enough force to throw the biker off-balance... and the biker slips down a step or two. Turning, so he doesn't fall down the stairs...

He bumps his head on the wall.

"Out out out out!," the dude's wailing.

Biker is dizzy. He steadies himself, shaking his head. "Go. Go! Left, to my bike." Dammit.

"C'mon!" the stinky guy says.

We're okay, the biker thinks. Far enough away from the dungeon. Hidden, well-built...

The "shreds" he saw finally register. Those were feathers. Lots of 'em.

This poor slob was tickled. Hard. For weeks?

Invisible. Moving the guy's shit, hiding that too.

All too insane. Probably the dude's so whacked out that he remembered it all wrong. A voluntary bondage scene went bad, or somebody's making like it's gonna fuck with him. But not for real. Too weird. Paddles, cock toys, gloves -

Another metal noise. That was a door - shutting.

"Run!" the ex-prisoner screams. It echoes. He seems to have made it to the top of the stairs, or damn near. "But where? Dammit -"

"Checkpoint," the biker shouts back. "Evans Road. Hang on, I'm almost -"

A hand taps him on his right shoulder.

"Right. Checkpoint," the stinky guy said. From further away, now.

Not eager to do it, the biker still looks over his shoulder, then turns. Nobody there. Of course.

But the hand takes hold of his collarbone. Then, in no time, other hands clamp down on his other shoulder, around his upper arms - and now his wrists too. The worst part, the fuckin' icing on the cake, is that there are fingers crawling under his jacket and they've just about reached his ribs.

They're strong, he thinks. Immediately he knows, and it's not that he wants to believe it but he's already sure, that it's "game over." He's the loser.

Everything seems to be in slow motion. He's remembering a good ten years ago, when he was about fourteen - no, then it had to be twelve years ago - and his sister's friends got creative with some gaffer's tape. It was an exhausting afternoon. There's no way in hell he can survive that again... not a whole night's worth. And a month? Shit.

Fingers are pressing against his t-shirt, bearing down. In no time they'll find what they came for. Absolutely fuckin' ridiculous, to be put through this - and to be short-circuited by a little tickling. He's turning, slowly, wanting more than anyting to get up the stairs, out and on his bike. The exit. Freedom.

But the hands, which he still can't fuckin' see at all, got a solid lock on his arms.

Far away, a motorcycle is starting up...

Snorts, then pissed-off laughter, pours out of his mouth.

His hands are pulled behind his back - and reefed up.

"Ow!" the biker hisses. "Fucker!" That was pulled off way too easily. Lots of practice.

The bike revs and shifts. Now it's going further and further away -

Pushing up on his wrists, pulling him by the arms, all these invisible hands march him right back downstairs.

Metal slams - above and behind him. The hatch. He pictures the big iron bar keeping it down. I'm staying here until... well, fuck, now that's a puzzler. It's like he stepped into a dream. Nothing feels real, not completely, and shit like this just doesn't happen, dammit.

Something pokes his lip. A cigarette.

Well, hey. What could be more likely right then - and immediately he's thinking "condemned man - last smoke." No less cosmically weird than anything else that's happened to him in the past ten minutes.

A disposable lighter he's never seen before flicks a time or two in front of him, and catches. He leans forward. Maybe, probably, the last smoke he'll get for a long fuckin' time.

Will the naked guy make it to the Checkpoint? Stunned, the biker is glad the other dude at least has boots on. Whether he makes it there or gets popped first, it doesn't seem too likely that he'll remember Tugger's name. And it fuckin' figures, if the biker's usual luck holds, that the stinky guy won't have the slightest idea where the mansion is.

Buck up, he tells himself. You're on your own.

There wasn't anywhere else to go, but he fought like a wildcat as they fairly dragged him inside the fuckin' dungeon.

. . .

"Nah huh huh hah heee-eeeee!" he barked, squirming for all he was worth.

The damn straps were making sure he'd get the absolute shit tickled out of him today. Again.

Fingers, palms, sliding, digging in. Another full day of hell.

He shrieked with laughter until a bandanna pulled tight between his teeth.

- - - 0 - -

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