Chapter 1: Waking Up

Pandora’s Box is a public secret. The kind of thing that everybody knows about, but nobody seems to know the truth about. It’s a nightclub, a lovers’ playground, designed to entice young and old alike, and named after the ancient story of Pandora. In the story she closed her box after releasing all of the monsters and fears of the world, with only hope inside. The club advertised itself with the tagline “Hope for a better relationship.”

    The truth, however, was a strange and twisted thing. Nobody ever saw the club’s employees during the day, and the club had taken a year, and a dozen private contractors, to build. Far longer than it should have given the interior design. The cost of the club, and the amazingly low rates on rooms, all managed to arouse suspicions. That was why I had come to the club: to answer my own questions.

# # #

I woke up in a small room. The lights were dim, but they made it clear that I was not at home or in a hotel room. This room looked more like it belonged to a patient from a mental institution. The walls seemed to have padding on them, and there was nothing to hold, or catch, my attention, aside from the sterile scent of cleaner. Even the door was very plain.

As I turned to stand up, I felt a sharp pain in my head.     “Okay, I must have had too much booze last night,” I muttered to myself. Then a thought occurred to me. Is this really a hangover, I wondered? I heard a soft sliding sound, and looked around. A quiet click followed as my feet touched the floor. Soft carpeting, so the click wasn’t that. Facing towards the door, I made a mental map of the room.

The room was beyond spartan. There was a bedpan below the bed I had been on, but no other facilities of any kind. Luckily, I thought, I had no need to relieve myself. The room itself was probably around two and a half meters deep, from the door, and just a little bit wider. Maybe as much as three meters wide. I decided to stand up.

I almost instantly regretted it as my head started to spin. I wanted to pace off the length of the room, but this hangover had the better of me. I staggered towards the rear wall, and supported myself against it. I heard  the same sliding sound again, followed by another click. The lights got brighter. Then the door opened.

The door made a sort of “whoosh” sound, a bit like the automatic doors at a supermarket, though more pronounced due to a combination of my headache and the lack of any other noises. As I turned to face it, I saw two well-built men in black jumpers with white trim. They had a patch on their left shoulder, too, shaped like a shield with something inside of it.

“Who are you? Where am I? Why am I here?”

A pretty woman came in, between the two men who now stood on each side of the door. She had long black hair and was wearing a rich red dress with white trim at the end of her short sleeves. She smiled softly as she looked at me. “Don’t bother asking them. They’re here for my protection, miss, and they have been ordered not to speak to you.”

“Fine then,” I said, my left eye twitching a bit. “Who are you?” As I asked the question, I attempted to strike a defiant pose, hands on my hips. This must have failed as soon as I realized, due to my hands touching bare fur, that I was not fully dressed. I looked down my body, and my eyes must have gone wide. My underwear was all I had on.

“You have been chosen,” the woman said firmly, with a hint of a smile on her face. “You will receive the best education to nurture and develop your talents, skills and interests. It is a wonderful opportunity for you to serve the greater good.”

The greater good, I asked myself. Did I care about it? I had been kidnapped, hadn’t I? And this woman didn’t seem to be offering me an opportunity, but trying to sell me on the value of a choice that she’d taken away from me. “Fine, then. What’s the catch?”

“There is no catch. All I expect from you is to give your education all you have,” she said, smiling in a way that made my stomach twist a bit. “We will make sure you succeed at whatever you set your mind to learning, through all means at our disposal. Don’t worry, though. You will love your new place in life.”

The woman smiled a toothy smile that reminded me of a shark or a wolf, though she was a normal human. “We will make certain you do.”

My stomach seemed to twist and fall inside of me. “What do you mean ‘my new place in life?’ Where are my clothes?”

“Hm? Those rags? We took them for my protection,” she said, planting her right hand firmly on her hip. “It allowed us to be sure you weren’t a spy with any nasty surprises. Plus, it gives me a very nice view of you.”

The smile the spread across her face made my heart skip a beat. I wasn’t really interested in women. I mean, I hadn’t thought much about my own sexuality beyond what I enjoyed. My boyfriend had been plenty enjoyable. In response my sudden discomfort, I raised my arms and crossed them in front of my breasts.

I managed to find my voice again, too. “I don’t seem to have much choice in this opportunity of yours. I’d like to opt out of it miss,” I nodded to her slightly.

“Oh, you can call me Miss Pandora,” she said with a playful smile. “However, the choice has been made. I’ve decided for you that you will accept my offer, and my decisions are not to be questioned. Hannah.”

One of the guards stepped in front of Pandora, and reached for a gun that was holstered under his left arm. “Now then,” Pandora said. “You will follow me. I don’t want to tranquilize you, but conscious or not, you will follow me.”

I swallowed suddenly as I recognized that I really didn’t have a choice. There were two men with tranquilizer guns ordered to subdue me if I resisted. We were in a very small room. There was no way I could defy her. . . right now.

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