This was originally supposed to be in the middle of Alice, but I've decided to pass it as a story in it's own right. — In this story Paul is 'recruited' by Ropeville to help them out.
A bell woke me, I reached out to turn off the alarm only to find... nothing, the clock I was aiming for wasn't there, and instead there was a wooden bedside cabinet with a drawer and a telephone on top of it. I raised myself up and realised I was in a strange room, a hotel room (?) The bell rang again; it was coming from the door.
"Come in?" I said realising that I'd need to get up and open the thing when it seemed to open on its own. A young girl, about nine years old, entered, she was wearing a French-maid's outfit — you know black top and skirt with several petticoats underneath, showing a mass of frills, a frilly apron and she was holding a tray in her arms, but as I looked closer I could see that the tray was fixed to her arms, she couldn't put it down as she was permanently holding it. She approached my bed and then went down on one knee, presenting the tray at the right height for me to eat from it.
"What is your name?" I asked her, but then saw she had a gag in her mouth, looking again I could see earplugs were also present so that she couldn't hear anything I said. A tag on her chest said 'Please Press'. I followed the instructions and my television turned itself on.
"Welcome to the Ropeville Hotel, Guests section. Your host Monsieur Pierre Mouton and his staff are pleased to greet you!" The screen showed a smiling man (Pierre Mouton?) surrounded by a group of young people between the ages of eight and sixteen. The screen then showed a girl dressed like the young girl currently kneeling in front of me, "Our waitresses will be pleased to serve you with a variety of foods from our kitchens, please refer to the room-service menu which you will find in the cabinet beside your bed; in there you will also find a communication device. It resembles a remote control. To continue this presentation use the video control panel section on the controller." The picture on the screen froze I realised that this was the interactive part of the presentation and so I looked into the cabinet and found the device, it seemed daunting but no doubt a six year old could work it — But there is never one around when you want one!
I pressed the play button and the action continued. The girl on the screen started to do a turn in place, "This is how our waitress are dressed, they are not talkative and are unable to hear anything, the only way they can tell if you are happy with their service is by the buttons on your remote control." Now a copy of the controller in my hand was shown on the screen two keys were high-lighted. "If you are happy with your waitress's service then press the star key, (*) this will reward her as soon as she returns to the kitchen; this is to prevent accidents while holding your food. However should there be any cause for complaints with your service, the coffee not hot enough, the orange juice being warm, or your hot meal only being warm then this is adequate cause and you can press the gate key (#). This will do two things; one will administer a punishment shock to your waitress and also inform myself." Pierre appeared again and bowed to the screen. I paused the action and then picked up the orange juice, it was deliciously cold. I then tried the coffee which — after the orange juice — seemed almost too hot. I could see the girl watching me fearfully I smiled at her and nodded, she relaxed and I pressed the star button.
I then restarted the video again. "The waitresses are, unfortunately, not allowed to cater to all your servicing needs as they are only here for a short term. We do have some outlets for those who wish to expand their interests, please press 057 on your remote to be passed to our public service department." I picked up a piece of toast and buttered it, eating it as the girl waited.
I drained the orange juice, feeling the coolness of it as it flowed down my throat, then ate another piece of toast. The coffee was just right as I sipped at it again... and then it struck me. WHY THE HELL WAS I HERE?
I picked up the remote and studied it again, there was an i button on it, I pressed it. The video paused and a window opened on the television. "You're through to information Sir, what is your problem?" The young woman asked. I looked around for a microphone when she spoke again. "If you just talk normally I'll hear you sir." She said.
"Where am I, and how did I get here?" I asked her.
"You are at the Ropeville hotel sir; I assume you arrived with the last set of inbound passengers." She said - which didn't help me at all.
"I don't recall making any such plans. Is there someone I can see?" I said, a slight touch of annoyance edging my voice.
"If you would please relax sir, it's sometimes disorientation to awake after the processing... Oh, ah yes sir. My apologies I didn't realise Sir, I'll have Doctor Elizabeth with you in a few minutes. Please forgive me Mr. Purple." She said and looked rather frightened as she said this.
I took a deep breath, and then for some reason I was calmer than I had been for some weeks, I sat back, "I'm sorry as well, I'm just slightly put out and you're doing your job. Thank you." I said to her she looked relieved and closed the screen.
Just as I finished the last slice of toast and the last sip of coffee the bell rang again. "Come in." I said in a normal voice and the door opened. I replaced the cup and gestured to the girl before me; she rose to her feet and turned. Pausing slightly as the shock of seeing Elizabeth in the doorway registered, she bobbed a curtsy to Elizabeth and then manoeuvred around her.
"Good morning Paul, and how are you feeling now?" Elizabeth asked me.
"How long?" I countered.
"I'm sorry Paul? What do you mean?" She asked me but there was no surprise on her face.
"Elizabeth I know you too well, now tell me how long have I been away from my house?" I ordered her.
She sat down unconcerned. "You forget Paul, I cannot be controlled by you, and in fact around here I'm the only person you'll fail to control." She paused for a moment before adding, "Apart from the waitresses of course." And she smiled.
I nodded, I knew it was a waste of time but I had to try. "So are you going to tell me?" I asked her quietly.
"What was the last thing you consciously remember?" She asked me.
It was the word consciously that I didn't like but I thought back, "Well I'd left Alice downstairs with Pauline, she actually pleased me with the way she responded. I did some paperwork and I had a quick word with Sharon."
I don't understand what you're saying Sharon, I haven't altered... well I know I was rough with Billie-Jo..." I said.
"Rough? You laid into her as if she was a dummy. You lost control! Why?" Sharon said.
I shook my head, "You're kidding! I had to show Alice that I can't be buggered about." I said... I think I might have raised my voice slightly.
"Paul she's scared already, just allow her to relax slightly and she'll be fine." Sharon tried to placate me, but I just didn't see it at the time.
"Really Sharon, tell me how many years experience do you have under your belt, I was training slaves when you were still in college." I said. A muted cough sounded from the doorway.
"Master Paul, Mistress Sharon. Please forgive my forwardness but I need to speak to Master Paul urgently." Pauline said her face showing concern.
"Yes very well, but then you'll help Doctor Sharon to pack; she'll be leaving after dinner!" I said glaring at Sharon.
"Very well master." Pauline said and led me to my bedroom.
"I don't have time to fuck you Pauline." I said blinking slightly at my coarse words.
"I think you need to relax master! I have to convince you of something." She said but there was something in her tone that I began to wonder about.
"And what is that Pauline?" I asked her a dark feeling starting to settle on my shoulders.
"Well I think..." She began and then there was a stabbing pain in my leg, I pushed out with my hand and struck her, or rather she moved just as my hand reached her. "This is for your own good Master." She said but the stance was Elizabeth and she was the last thing I saw as darkness took me.
"Why that ungrateful little..." I began to say but Elizabeth just sat there watching me. "Why did she do that?" I asked.
"We have been through this before Paul. You know how sometimes the work can pile up in your mind and overwhelm you... well it did! You were reverting back to your former person, the one to whom the job was everything and you were the one to do it. No matter who or what tried to stand in your way. The way you were before Sandra." Elizabeth said the name as if she understood.
Sandra had been the one who had caused me to question my work, her master had decided that he didn't want her but still wanted to make money out of her. He even showed his appreciation of my training to send me a videotape of her death, her screams haunted me... sometimes they still do. Until this day I don't know if they've ever found his body, I don't think the lions would tell anyone about the special food they received one night.
"But I changed, I swore I would never..." I started to say.
.... There is more of this story ...