La Cioccolata
Over the Side
by Gillian B

IN ONE OF the ladies' restrooms aboard the immense new luxury cruise liner Silicon Star, a woman was changing her clothes. She had taken the precaution of placing an Out of Order sign on the door to ensure she was not disturbed.

     The woman had removed the long blue dress she had been wearing to reveal the skin-tight black latex catsuit hidden underneath. The highlights on the shiny rubber outlined the ample curves of her body. She was not very tall and had the type of figure euphemistically described by clothing manufacturers as "fuller". Not to make too fine a point of it, she was short and fat.

     The legs of the catsuit were tucked into black leather knee length boots, snug enough to show the curve of her calf.

     Over the catsuit went a black leather corset. It had a zipped side gusset for speed and, once fastened, flattened her tummy while lifting her already ample bust into a quite spectacular bosom. She fiddled a little with the corset to get it to rest comfortably on her hips and checked that the lacing at the back was even and firm. Unlike most corsets, this one had a several strategically placed D-rings to carry tools and other handy items.

     The woman turned her attention to her face. First, she removed her spectacles and tucked them away in the small black rucksack on the floor at her feet. Carefully, she fitted tinted contact lenses, transforming the periwinkle blue of her eyes to a deep green. A curly chocolate-brown wig covered her own short, prematurely grey hair. Next she applied removing cream round her eyes and followed it with black grease paint. A black leather eye mask helped keep the wig secure and, in conjunction with the black make-up, made her face completely unreadable. Lastly, she applied blood-red lipstick. She examined the whole effect critically in a mirror and nodded to herself in satisfaction.

     She checked to make sure everything, including the dress, was safely away in her rucksack then she completed her costume with thin black leather gloves over the catsuit and coming just above her elbows.

     The woman walked to the door and stood in silence listening. Carefully, she opened the door and reached past it with a small mirror in her gloved hand. There was no-one in sight, so she crept out and closed the door behind her. The restroom opened out directly onto one of the promenade decks. It was a little after 2am, so there was no-one to notice a black-clad figure slip across the deck as silently as a cat and hide in the shadow of a lifeboat.

     Despite the warmth of her latex catsuit, the woman shivered slightly in the chill of the night air. She drew a length of black rope from her bag, looped it round the ship's rail and checked that the free ends were even in length. She snapped the doubled ends of rope through a karabiner hanging from a D-ring on her corset, took the ropes round behind her leather-clad waist and snapped them through the karabiner again. She climbed over the rail, leaning out and planting the rubber soles of her boots firmly against the ship's side. Expertly, and as silently as a shadow, she abseiled down, counting rows of portholes as she went.

     After a few minutes, the woman reached the level she was aiming for and paused, breathing heavily with the effort of her descent. She double-checked her position, first counting down the rows of portholes then counting lifeboats high above her head to check that she was in the right position along the length of the ship. She glanced down at the water rushing past below her at 30 knots and felt suddenly very isolated.

     The woman removed her rucksack and attached it to two of the D-rings at the side of her corset. She checked that the rope was belayed securely at her waist then carefully walked her feet up the ship's plating until she was hanging head down, with her feet gripping the rope above her. She now had both hands free and the rucksack hanging within reach.

     She extracted a glazier's compass from the bag. The rubber sucker formed the centre of the circle she intended to cut while the diamond scriber on the arm attached to it described a complete circle silently carving a hairline crack in the glass. The compass was carefully returned to the rucksack.

     After taking a few deep breaths to steady her nerves, the woman armed herself with a large rubber mallet and a small gun.

     She struck the porthole dead-centre with the mallet and a near-perfect circle of glass crashed to the deck within the cabin beyond.

IN HER luxuriously-appointed stateroom, Miss Veronica MacPherson-Strutt was having trouble sleeping. She had dozed fitfully since returning from the ballroom. Possibly it had been unwise to dance for several hours with the dashing young ships' officers, immediately after consuming a rich, heavy meal at the Captain's table. She was fairly sure that her father had used some sleight of hand, probably involving currency, to ensure that she won the ballot to dine with Captain Smith.

     Captain Smith had been a terrible disappointment. Veronica had imagined a grizzled old sea dog with a white beard and a twinkle to his eye. Someone, in fact, who would respond to the charms of a woman barely out of her teens. Someone who was also glittering with her late mother's diamond jewellery.

     Captain Smith turned out to be a rather plain woman of middle years with a startling habit of seasoning the occasional sentence with some very salty naval expressions. Veronica had tried out her own brand of knowing wit, but it turned out that Captain Smith had heard all possible references to the Captain Smith who commanded the Titanic and she didn't think any of them were remotely funny. Unable to sparkle in the way she felt she should, Veronica had paid rather too much attention to the succession of fine wines that had appeared at the table.

     Veronica just wanted to sleep and forget the evening but felt oddly disturbed. She kept thinking there was someone outside her door and had twice gone to investigate, only to see a deserted corridor stretching for hundreds of metres in either direction. She was just settling into a light doze when there was a terrific bang and a crash. She sat bolt upright in bed, wide awake.

     The cabin was strangely chilly. Surely the porthole was securely shut? Without bothering to find anything to cover her nakedness Veronica climbed out of bed and walked to the curtained porthole, carefully avoiding the broken glass she could see glinting on the floor. She flung the curtains back only to be confronted by a masked woman apparently hanging upside down outside the broken glass and pointing a gun at her. Veronica opened her mouth to scream. There was a dull phut sound.

OUTSIDE the porthole, the woman waited for a reaction. Suddenly the startled face of a young lady with dishevelled blonde hair appeared at the hole punched through the glass. The woman levelled her gun and pulled the trigger. The gun was a pepper spray loaded with a particularly fast-acting narcotic in the form of a very fine powder.

     The blonde sneezed as the powder went into her nose then took a deep breath to sneeze again. As she inhaled the powder, her eyes rolled back and her knees buckled.

     The woman outside put the mallet and gun back in her bag and drew out a small plant sprayer. It was already filled with water and pumped up. She reached through the broken porthole and sprayed it around to dissolve any remaining powder harmlessly. Next she reached through the porthole and undid the catch, swinging the frame inwards. Now she had as much room as possible, she dropped her bag through into the cabin and inserted her arms through the opening. It took a great deal of wriggling and pushing with her hands but the ample bosom and then the broad hips came through and the woman was able to drop to the floor, panting with her exertion.

     As soon as she had recovered her breath, the woman unhitched the abseil loop from round her waist. She pulled steadily on one strand of rope until the free end went up to the ship's rail and the rope fell clear. She gathered up the rope into a heap on the floor then closed the ruined porthole and the steel cover on the inside.

     The drug was quick to act but not long-lasting, so the next job was to secure the unconscious blonde on the floor. The masked woman rummaged through her bag and extracted a long white silk scarf neatly folded inside a sealed plastic bag to prevent accumulation of any traces of forensic interest. She found the centre of the scarf and positioned it at the back of Miss MacPherson-Strutt's neck. She brought the ends forward and crossed them over so they both passed between her teeth. She crossed them again behind the blonde's neck and brought them to the front again. This time she laid the silk over her victim's mouth instead of through it and again took the ends round behind her neck where she knotted it off tightly.

     Veronica MacPherson-Strutt's eyelids were beginning to flicker. Her assailant hurried to make her secure. The robber looked around for inspiration and her eyes alighted on the elegant chrome-plated steel chair at the dressing table. She reached into her rucksack and drew out a plastic bag of cut lengths of rope, all new, clean and untraceable.

     The first job was making the victim helpless. The masked woman rolled Veronica onto her stomach and crossed her wrists behind her back. Several tight turns of rope round the wrists vertically and horizontally locked the arms together and brought their owner to her senses with a jolt. She squealed ineffectively behind the gag as she realised she was naked and helpless and being bound and gagged by a menacing woman in a bizarre black costume. Veronica was taller than her captor but much lighter and not nearly as strong. Her struggles achieved nothing as her ankles were crossed and bound and then her knees were tied.

     The small but powerful masked woman lifted Veronica bodily and dumped her on the chair at the dressing table. She hitched the middle of a long length of rope to the tube which formed the top of the chair-back. The ends came forward over Veronica's shoulders, crossed between her breasts, looped round the sides of the chair, crossed across her bare stomach, looped around the sides of the chair again then to her indignation were threaded between her legs and taken to the back corners of the chair seat so they cut into the tops of her thighs.

     More ropes were wound round Veronica's body and the back of the chair, squashing her breasts against her ribs. Another long length held her thighs down to the chair seat. She was so tightly tied that almost nothing would move.

     The masked woman applied her final piece of rope. It connected Veronica's wrists and ankles, pulling her hands down towards the floor and her ankles back under the chair seat. She tried to yell through her gag in protest.

     The masked woman started a thorough search of the cabin while Veronica studied her own bound form in the dressing table mirror.

     The first discovery was Veronica's secret stash of chocolates in her bedside cabinet. The robber stretched herself out luxuriously on the bed with a box of mouthwatering Belgian chocolates. Lovingly, she selected one and popped it in her mouth. She studied the diagram on the inside of the box lid intently and picked another chocolate.

     Veronica stopped struggling in her ropes and watched over her shoulder in disbelief as her captor steadily and contentedly worked her way through the entire box. Her passion for chocolate satisfied, at least for the moment, the search was resumed.

     With a small cry of triumph, the black clad woman found the jewellery she was searching for. Veronica had not bothered to put it back in the small safe built into the cabin. Instead, although she had put it back in its cases, she had hidden it in her underwear drawer for the night. Within seconds, four empty jewellery cases were left lying on the bed.

     The masked woman beamed radiantly at her victim who snarled back helplessly.

     It was time to make good her getaway. The transformation back into her everyday self should not be observed, so Veronica found her indignity added to by being blindfolded with another immaculately clean silk scarf.

     In high spirits, the delighted robber made use of Veronica's private bathroom. The disguise and the corset disappeared into the rucksack. The black eye make up was wiped away swiftly and the used wipes packed away for removal. Lastly, the long blue rather shapeless dress reappeared, worn by a small, plump, harmless looking woman in big spectacles.

     The woman hesitated, then returned to the stock of chocolates. She had emptied one box but there were still a few left in another. She popped one into her mouth and savoured it. After another two chocolates, she forced herself by sheer willpower to leave the rest.

     The woman hesitated again at the cabin door and returned to the bed. Carefully, she positioned her calling card on one of the empty jewel cases. It depicted the silhouette of a woman with a Rubensesque figure. The trademark of that most elusive of jewel thieves — La Cioccolata.

The Chronicles of La Cioccolata
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© Gillian B 2000