The Innocent’s Progress & Other Stories – excerpts


The Innocent’s Progress

 The moment Ricar entered room eight, his client, a plump young woman waiting next to the bed, blurted out, “You’re going to rape me!”
So much for nuance, Ricar thought. “Calm yourself, my child,” he said, slipping back into the Patron role as he caressed her cheek. She was positively quivering; he could tell she had been anticipating this for a long time, rehearsing it in her mind, perhaps even sending letters about it to the domestic magazines. Was this a gift for her coming out party? A fling before her wedding?
“Stop fidgeting, girl,” he said, putting a little more steel in his tone.
She did her best, her hands fairly still, but her feet kept shuffling.
Settling on the room’s single chair with a proprietary manner, he
asked, “Why is it necessary for you to report to me?”
She launched into a rambling speech appropriate to the scenario,
the kind he had heard many times before, about how the other (imaginary)
members of the household tormented her and blamed her for breaking the
good dishes.
He felt the temptation to just go through the motions, learned
through hundreds if not thousands of other assignations–say the words,
make the moves. The client would probably not even notice if his
performance was mechanical. No matter. For this moment, in this room,
he was the Patron, and she was the Innocent, and he would do his best to
live up to her expectations, and his.
Ricar held up one hand. “Enough.” She stopped. “It is clear you
think your position entitles you to special treatment. It does not, and it is
my duty to impress this upon you.”
Her eyes grew wide as he stood and moved the chair before her.
He put the cushion over the back and reached out for her, but she eagerly
threw herself into position.
There were several points on the specially modified chair where
clients’ hands could be tied, regardless of their height or arm length. He
put four full loops of thick, soft rope around each of her wrists, then
walked around behind her and raised the skirt of the Innocent’s dress,
exposing her white bloomers. The Rake or Brute would be quick and
rough, but the Patron took his time as he tugged her underthings down,
revealing a pale, white, rounded backside. Professionally, he noted a mole
on her right thigh, something to be avoided later.
The rod and the cane were exactly as they should be, hanging on
nails by the door. The assignation card said that this woman had little
experience, so he chose the rod, which could be used lightly. It was an
excellent instrument, cut from fresh birch twigs and handcrafted by the
prop department that morning. He swung it a few times in full view of the
client, building tension as it whooshed through the air.
“I do this for your own good, child,” he said, walking around to
stand to the left of her raised buttocks.

The Pretty Horsebreaker

 “What brings you to my court, pale stranger?” She had practiced
making her voice sound like the speech of the dancing girls imported for
the Grand Exhibition.
Captain Braen stopped kissing her instep. “I bring greetings to
Your Majesty from a great Empire far to the north of your lands. Your
beauty and grace are renowned throughout the world, and everything I
have heard is true.”
She smiled at the flattery. “You must be uncomfortable in your
strange foreign clothing,” she said. “Allow my consorts to relieve you.”
Two heavily veiled players emerged from behind the curtains and
gracefully slid to either side of Captain Braen. They delicately undressed
the man, turning the mundane action into a sensual pleasure as the silks
brushed his increasingly exposed body. Dark, kohl-lined eyes glanced
flirtatiously at him over translucent veils.
When he was naked before her, she rose sinuously from the couch,
and playfully brushed the horsehair whip against his broad shoulders, still
brawny despite his age. He shuddered in pleasure.
“Make our guest from far away feel welcome, my consorts,” she
said, continuing to tease him with the whip.

Delicate Work

 Tangwen stepped into the closet and shut the door behind her. An
electric lamp flickered into life, illuminating a misshapen metal skeleton
built out of various bits and pieces pilfered from around the Honeycomb.
It was built on, and incorporated, an old wooden upright chair, but it was
also part of the cluster of steam and water pipes that ran up the wall.
This was only the second time that Tangwen had even tried using
the Gentleman; the first time had been a kind of dare from Betrys, years
ago. Olwyn’s crew had made some improvements since then, though in a
haphazard, improvisational way. It had a head now, for one thing: a metal
kettle with crooked eyes made from washers, and a painted-on moustache
and smiling mouth. A tattered bowler hat sat on top of the teapot.
She turned the spigot on the steam line on the wall. The pipe hissed
and the gear assembly creaked into motion. Its right arm swung up, click-
click-click, and the mechanical hand snapped shut on the brim of its
bowler. It lifted the hat and swung it down, click-click-click. A wax
cylinder inside the mechanical man’s chest whirred and a tinny voice said,
“Hel. Lo. My. Dar. Ling. You. Look. Love. Ly.” It was a girl’s voice
played back slow to sound like a man’s. “I. Missed. You. So. Much.”
“Oh, you sweet talker, you.” Tangwen turned the spigot to the next
mark. The gearbox creaked and clanked, and a wooden dowel, polished
smooth and heavily shellacked, cranked up until it pointed out of the
thing’s torso. Tangwen took the oil can, squirted into her own hand
generously and rubbed the shaft until it was properly lubricated. “That feel
good, ‘ey?” she joked to the mechanical man.

The Slave

    Last night, alone in her bedroom, Gwendolyn had jammed a chair
under the door handle for privacy, then taken off her night dress and stood,
nude, in the middle of the room, in the shaft of moonlight through her
small window. Earlier, she had poached a spare leash and collar from her
father’s kennel and fashioned a crude replica of the Slave’s manacles, tying
her wrists together. Her blood pounding in her ears, she took the same
pose, weight on her left leg, right knee bent slightly, back straight, her
breasts thrust out, right hand before her sex, left hand resting on her
bedpost, her head turned away. She imagined the scene, the heat of the
desert sun on her bare, chained flesh, the sound of men describing her fair
body in some crude language, the keen humiliation as she was displayed
to the dark-skinned men in robes and turbans.

The Impurity

    “Sleep well?” The voice was feminine, but deep and husky.
Emerald eyes flashed at him like a leopardess’s.
He pulled the covers close up to his chin. Presumably this was
some demimondaine Hyde had brought back. Had she seen him transform?
“Miss, I’ll have to ask you to–”
The figure, a dark-haired woman in a chemise, bloomers, and
scarlet corset, stretched forward onto all fours and crawled up the bed,
through the shaft of light.
“Dear Lord…. Mary?” No one else would have made the
connection between his maid and this harlot, but he had studied his own
reflections enough to see the subtle commonalities between the two faces.
She was not beautiful, at least not by any conventional standard, but she
was fascinating. Mary’s face was sweet and apple-cheeked, while this
woman’s face was all angles, deep shadows under her cheekbones. Even
her eyes and hair had changed colors.
“Not exactly.” Her mouth was open, teeth and tongue just visible,
as if she were about to bite into something delicious.
“He didn’t…. You aren’t….”
“He did, and I am.”

The Spirit of the Future

 The lights dimmed almost completely, leaving only a world of
vague shapes. The magic lanterns projected stars and planets on the
ceiling, giving the impression of being outdoors on a clear night. Dafydd
noticed that there was new light, something shining at the top of the
staircase. A shapely woman glowed in the darkness, dressed in little more
than scraps of white silk and fine silver jewelry.
A ripple of gasps and whispers ran through the room, bafflement at
this spectacle.
She descended the staircase with graceful steps, white silk
fluttering behind her like a bridal train. On the main floor, she surveyed
them with eyes dark in her luminescent face. She spoke, her voice rich and
lilting. “I come to you from far away. Those who can embrace me will
learn a great secret. Those who can kiss me will know the future.”
A man dressed as a Prince stood and eagerly approached the Spirit,
who smiled back with serene indifference. She offered him her hand,
which he reached for, as if inviting her to dance. The instant his finger
touched her skin, something sparked, creating a small flash of light that
left a purple dot dancing in Dafydd’s eyes. The Prince jerked back,
clutching his hand, astonished.All Excerpts © Peter Tupper
 Posted by at 14:32

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>