This is an excerpt from Snakes and Ladders. Book is currently in development with Affirm Press. Follow Angela J Williams on Facebook for more excerpts and news on publication.
The man on the table barely moved as I gripped the piercing needle firm between my latex-clad fingers, breathed in, out, and then drove it through the pinch of his skin I held between my fingers. The gloom of the dungeon was offset by a standing lamp I’d directed over my right shoulder to spotlight my work area. There was no blood as the needle went in, perfectly aligned with the row of needles already stretching up the man’s chest. The blood came later, after we pulled them out again. With each pinch and plunge the man tensed a little, toes curled against the vinyl top of the bench, fingers clenched into knots below the thick buckled leather cuffs that bound him to the slab. Another Mistress circled us with a camera, shooting close-up images of flesh and hands. No faces. No long shots. I’d almost finished crafting the left side of his body and then we’d swap. The client had wanted it this way and we were happy to oblige.
Salon Kittys was a professional house of bondage and discipline in Sydney’s inner-city suburb of Surry Hills. Despite the missing apostrophe, Kittys had earned a reputation over twenty years of being the place in Sydney (maybe even Australia) to play with kink. By 2008, I’d been a mistress at Kittys for four years, playing power games under another AKA, Mistress Sonja. Men – and the odd woman – have paid me to do horrible things to them and loved every second of it. I didn’t mind too much either. I got off on being a bitch, liked playing with power. Training at Kittys has been one of the biggest ladders in my game, given me one of the biggest boosts. What, you cry, being a hooker with a whip is a good thing? Yes, unequivocally. It gave me the boost in confidence and self-esteem I needed to break out of poverty and addiction and reimagine myself as something beyond Marino, 263504. It gave me a way to understand the problems with power I saw the first go round in prison.
Earlier, in the waiting room, the client had been cool and calm describing what he wanted from the session. Heavy torture and blood play. Humiliation. Some sensory deprivation, photographic evidence. And two Mistresses, definitely two Mistresses. He was stunned, as they always were, by the contrast between myself – tall with burning red hair, my generous bosom bursting out of a corset – and my colleague, petite and tiny, even in her towering eight-inch stilettos, laced tightly into leather from her neck to her groin. Business was slow on this balmy summer weekday afternoon and the client’s request would be a couple of hours of entertainment to fill the dead time till the after-work clients started to trickle in. We were more than happy to collaborate on this project and the pay would be a boost for what we expected to be a pretty slow shift.
He’s getting what he paid for, I thought, as the last of my needles slide home. I ran one gloved finger down the flesh xylophone I had created and laughed with my associate as our client writhed and moaned around his gag. The blindfold turned towards me, away from me, and I knew that he was trying to see past the padded leather.
‘Well, Mistress,’ I declared, ‘I think the time has come to swap! Poor little slavey-poo here has been missing your hands on him and you know how much I just love to watch you work with the needles.’
‘Well thank you, Mistress,’ she countered, playing the game for all it was worth, ‘After watching how gentle you were with the little slut I can’t wait to get in there and really hurt him!’
We both laughed as the client whimpered again.
All three of us knew that if the ping pong ball clenched in his right hand dropped, then the game stopped. All three of us also knew that the chance of this client dropping the ball was slim. This was the game we played as professional Dominatrixes, we played at being the dirtiest of dirty perverts, at having the power. We played by pushing our clients just a little bit further than they thought they could go.
Four years playing the role of Mistress Sonja at Salon Kittys had given me a feel for this game. The first year was mostly training, tagging along with other Mistresses to learn the torture techniques, the safest way of doing them, the best way to seduce, cloud and befuddle a client. The Mistress I shared this job with, Mistress M, had been doing this for almost twenty years and was my mentor for most of my time in the house. She knew how to play the game and taught me well. Mistress M and I specialised in a unique version of good cop/bad cop, this was part of what made us such great buddies and so dangerous in the dungeons. On first meeting M I might have seen her as a snake in this silly game, but she held the dominatrix ladder tight and firm as I navigated its slippery rungs in my stiletto boots and too-tight corset. She was the flip side of the Mulawa social worker; nasty on the outside and soft as cream on the inside.
While M prepared her own kidney bowl of wrapped surgical needles and sealed alcohol swabs I tidied the mess from my play and made sure the client was intact. The camera was forgotten for the moment, sitting by itself off to one side. I fed him cool water through a straw, checked the pressure of the restraints, whispered that he was a very brave boy. He turned blindfolded eyes towards me and his stretched white lips moved against the ball in his mouth. I knew what he was trying to say. What he was asking for. Gloveless for half a moment, I ran my fingers down his cheek, rewarding his persistence with the rarest of things in this dungeon, an instant of skin-to-skin contact. Our moment was interrupted as the Mistress moved to the other side of his head, snapping a second pair of gloves on over her first.
‘Camera please, Mistress,’ she demanded imperiously, a picture of dominance and control.
‘Of course, Mistress,’ I scurried for the camera, leaving slavey-poo to his world of pain.
My hands shook on several shots, making sexy blurred action images. She hurt him more than I did. The client loved it, the Mistress loved it and the camera loved it. The suit, briefcase and phone piled in the corner of the dungeon told me this man was powerful. His submission to this tiny woman told me the opposite.