Mike Stone stared out of the office window and onto the bright lights of the city down below. Behind him the party was in full flow. Demi was drunk and dancing on a table. She was dressed in a sexy black leather catwoman costume. The other traders, mainly balding middle-aged men, ogled her appreciatively. Mike watched their reflections in the glass.
He should be happy. He should be enjoying himself. Instead he felt strangely subdued. There was no reason to be. Here he was, fresh out of university and working for PJ Korgan, one of the most prestigious investment banks in the city. He was made. The world was his playground and soon he'd be able to fill it with all the expensive toys.
It was Kirk. It was always fucking Kirk.
Kirk, his elder brother. Kirk, the golden boy, apple of his parent's eyes. Kirk, with his straight A's and a first from Cambridge. Kirk, with his high ideals and grandiose plans. Kirk, who'd gone to Africa, determined to save the world.
"You look in mighty deep thought for such a frivolous occasion," Gordon Douglas said to him.
Gordon was one of the senior traders tasked with taking the young recruits under his wing.
"Just thinking," Mike said.
Gordon joined him at the window.
"My first year here I used to stare out of these windows down on the people scurrying below and wonder what I'd done to be blessed with such good fortune."
"It is a privilege to be working here," Mike said.
"But you have doubts," Gordon turned to him, his eyes twinkling. "Oh don't worry about it. We all have them. This is a big change."
"My parents were not exactly happy when they found out I was going to work here," Mike said.
Not exactly happy was a bit of an understatement.
"They're greedy fat pigs sucking the life out of the country," his father had spluttered in rage. "And you're going to become one of them."
"No?" Gordon said.
"They're proper card-carrying socialists," Mike said. "They wanted me to devote my life to some noble cause or other."
"At university it's easy to dream of how the world should be," Gordon said. "Out in the real world you have to accept how it actually is."
"My brother learnt that lesson out in Africa," Mike said. "He went out to dig wells in Sudan and a twelve year old boy soldier blew his head off with a Kalashnikov."
"Oh my," Gordon said. "I am sorry to hear that."
"I'm not making that mistake," Mike said.
Gordon looked down on the dots of headlights as they wound through the veins of the city like little glowing ants.
"Soon you'll realise, as I did, that you're not here through good fortune. You're here because you're better than them. You deserve to be up here and they down there. It's the natural order of things."
Gordon patted him on the shoulder and then moved off to rejoin the party.
"You misunderstand my intentions, Mr. Douglas," Mike murmured to himself.
He wasn't about to throw his life away in some grandiose but ultimately pointless endeavour like his brother, but neither was he aiming to get filthy rich just so he could blow it on hookers, fast cars and cocaine. Mike had a better plan.
He turned away from the window. The party was getting lively. A fat balding trader was cavorting with Demi, egged on by a cheering crowd and copious amounts of champagne. Mike waved his encouragement before heading past in the direction of the toilets.
To hear his parents talk you'd think this place was the province of the devil. It was just an office where people made large sums of money watching numbers on a computer screen. Those same screens were currently festooned in fake cobwebs and cut out pictures of pumpkins.
Money wasn't evil. It was just money.
Mike left the office and walked down the corridor. He opened the door and walked into the men's room.
This wasn't the bathroom.
Mike didn't know what it was. The room was the same size as the bathroom, but the cubicles and sinks were gone. There wasn't anything. Instead of tiles the walls, floor and ceiling were covered in some kind of burnished red-black padding. Concealed bulbs in the ceiling illuminated the room with a soft red glow.
What was this place? Mike thought. He could have sworn he'd walked into the toilet. Maybe he'd gone through the wrong-.
Where was the door?
Mike turned and saw another padded wall, same as the other three around him. There was no sign of anything that indicated a doorway.
That wasn't possible. There had to be a door of some kind. He'd walked through it to get here after all.
He felt along the walls for some kind of seam. The material covering the panels was warm and smooth to the touch. It looked and felt like some kind of rubber.
Mike couldn't find the edge of any kind of doorway. There were gaps between the panels, but nothing he could hook his fingers into and pull open. Perplexed, Mike backed into the centre of the room and put a hand on his head. What had happened?
Mike loosened his tie. It was uncomfortably hot in the small padded room and the temperature seemed to be rising. Beads of sweat were already forming on his forehead. There was an unpleasant tang in the air, like a mixture of sulphur and overheated rubber.
This was nonsensical.
Mike went back to the wall and tried to find the door.
"Hello," he called out. "I appear to have got locked in."
He heard the far off hum of some kind of machinery. There was an atonal, arrhythmic quality to the sound, discordant like metal blades scraping together.
"Anyone?" he shouted.
He banged his fists against the padded walls. They absorbed the impact without giving out the barest whisper of sound.
It was getting really warm. Mike shook off his jacket and undid the top button of his shirt. Perspiration ran down his neck in little rivulets.
"Let me out!" he yelled, banging his fists on the padded walls. They made no sound.
A face appeared in the centre of the panel in front of him. The surface was slightly reflective, so Mike first thought it was his own distorted reflection. Then the rubber surface started to stretch as a face pushed up against it. Mike backed away, not quite believing what his eyes were showing him.
The face continued to push forward, slowly emerging from the wall. Her — as it was a her and a beautiful her at that — eyes were closed and the perfectly sculpted lines of her face contained a strange mixture of cruelty and serenity. She was not alone. A similar head was emerging from the wall to Mike's left.
Mike backed into the corner. A nameless panic clutched his heart. There was a terrible beauty in those faces, like something only a god could bestow.
The walls swelled outwards as their chests emerged. Mike watched as twin globes topped with spiky black nipples pushed through the rubber surface. Had he not been so frightened Mike might have regarded them with an appreciative eye.
The gleaming surface of the walls continued to stretch. It covered their emerging bodies in a layer of red-black rubber as tight as a second skin. Or maybe it was their skin. A leg, perfect enough for the catwalks of Paris, stepped though the wall, the surface rippling behind it like oil. Mike noticed she was wearing a stylish stiletto-heeled shoe. He couldn't determine where the shoe ended and the flesh of her leg began.
The two women stepped fully into the room. They wore outfits that were little more than a complex tangle of studded belts. It was hard to determine where flesh ended and clothes began. Part of the substance of the wall remained with them. It covered them in a gleaming layer that resembled rubber or oil.
They were intensely alluring. The voluptuous curves of their bodies attracted his gaze with a magnetic pull. They scared him as well. There was an element of perfection in their form that took them far beyond the realms of the natural.
They were also not human.
Long horns sprouted from their temples and curved down behind their ears. Bat wings, shimmering like polluted pools, were folded behind them. Each had a long slender tail that curled down around their ankles and terminated in a wide, spade-like tip.
Demons? Surely that couldn't be possible.
Mike wondered if someone had spiked the punch with something a little stronger than alcohol.
The figures stood as motionless as statues for a moment, their faces tilted slightly upwards. Suddenly they opened their mouths and took in a deep breath. They turned to look at Mike and their full sensual lips twisted up into cruel little smiles. Their heavy-lidded eyes opened to reveal...
Their skin was the same glossy red-black colour as the panels on the walls, but their eyes were darker still. So dark they seemed more like an absence of space. Mike thought he saw far-off fires flickering in their depths.
"What do you want?" Mike asked.
Stupid question. He was obviously tripping out on some kind of hallucinogen. He was standing in the bathroom right now and looking ridiculous as he backed into a corner and gibbered at empty air.
The demon girls glanced at each other, smiled and then walked forwards, their hips swaying seductively. What should have been a fantasy was somehow corrupted. Their bodies looked like they belonged in a wet dream, but all of Mike's other senses were reacting as if he'd been plunged into a nightmare.
They were too perfect. Mike had fantasies, every man did, but his were the normal everyday fantasies of dates and sex with hot girls he'd seen on TV or on the pages of magazines. These beings possessed a level of beauty that transcended his imagination. There was an aura of pure unrestrained sexuality that surrounded them. No man would be able to quench their desires, Mike realised, and trying to do so would set his soul ablaze and burn him out until nothing remained but a cinder.
This was no hallucination.
"What do you want?" Mike asked again.
The lead demoness made a languid gesture with her hands. Mike was thrown back against the wall. His clothes were ripped from him. Black cords whipped out from the wall and around Mike's body. They tightened around him until his feet were lifted up off the ground. The two demonesses stared appreciatively at his naked body.
"I am Hynobia and this is Salamandra," the lead demoness said. Her voice was low and sultry. "We work here."
"Work here?" Mike questioned. What was happening?
"We initiate the new employees," Hynobia continued.
"PJ Korgan is an exclusive company," Salamandra added. "We make sure all its employees have the correct mindset."
Hynobia walked up to his helpless form. She ran an elegant hand down his side and then inside to brush against his cock.
"The initiation can be very pleasant..." she breathed warm air into his ear as her hand lightly stroked his penis. " ... or very painful." She reached down and gripped his balls so tightly his eyes watered in pain. "It all depends on you," she said. She kissed him lightly on the cheek. Her lips were hot enough to scald his flesh.
"It's time to mark the company's property," Salamandra said.
She drew a tool from her belt. The red-black rubber covering melted away to reveal a short bar of black metal topped with an elaborate design. She brought the tip to her mouth, pursed her lips and blew. The dark metal first turned red, then orange and then brightened to a molten yellow.
Mike's eyes widened as he recognised what it was. He squirmed against his bonds.
The demon girl continued to blow and sparks flew from the incandescent metal. She looked up at Mike and smiled.
"No. Please. No," Mike said.
"This may hurt a little," Hynobia said. Her hand slid up his neck and she brushed back the hair behind his ear. She twisted his head towards her, exposing his neck to the other, advancing, demon.
"No!" Mike said. "Please! Somebody help me!" he screamed at the top of his lungs.
The padded walls absorbed the sound completely. His cries faded away and were replaced by the demons' soft chuckles.
Oh God no, Mike thought. He felt the heat of the brand long before the searing metal touched his skin. He tried to brace himself, but it was nowhere near enough. The white-hotel metal pressed against his neck and Mike screamed in agony.
Oh God, it was like a burning star lodged in his neck. He couldn't get away. He couldn't move. He was held there as the metal seared him. He smelt his skin burning. He heard his flesh sizzling. There was no end to the pain.
Hynobia pressed her voluptuous figure against him and crushed her hot lips against his. Her breath, scorching hot, filled his lungs. The hard point of her nipples pressed against his chest. Mike continued to writhe in agony as the brand seared his neck. His pain aroused Hynobia. She kissed him more furiously and ground her pelvis against him.
Her attentions became a lifeboat, carrying Mike away from the searing agony in his neck. Her mouth was hot against his, burning with a lust no mortal agency could quench. Her desires dragged him helplessly along, like driftwood in a raging river.
Salamandra removed the brand and kissed the scar.