Shopping for Ebony
“Come along ladies, see how we can make you look a new woman!”
The shoppers were looking with mild interest at the cosmetic stand in the department store, one of many on the shop floor. The two assistants were wearing grey dresses with capped sleeves and a thin black belt around their waists, and knee length black leather boots, while red scarves were tied around their necks.
“So what sort of style are we talking about here?”
The two women looked at the tall, good looking dark skinned woman standing in front of the counter. She must have been at least six foot tall, and had the body of a model, the black sheath dress fitting her like a glove. The sides were sparkled, and the material ruffed, while she was also wearing a pair of over the knee black suede boots with a three inch heel and a black leather jacket.
“Take a seat madame,” the first woman said, “and tell us your name.”
“Janice,” she said as she sat down, crossing her legs as the second woman looked at her. “So what do you call this range?”
“Well, it’s called Captivate,” the first woman said. Janice could see the gold name badge with “Yvette” on it, and the second woman had one with “Abigail” written on. “It’s a striking new blend, designed to make every man turn and look at you.”
“Sounds as if it is right up my street,” Janice said with a smile, “so what can you show me?”
Yvette looked at the customer, her dress barely holding in her chest, and smiled as she said “We cater for those who like the bold, vibrant look. What do you think, Abigail – Sky Blue?”
“Oh I think that shade will work really well,” Abigail said as she picked up a small disk, and opened it before using a makeup brush to put some eye shadow on. “Close your eyes, Janice, and let’s see what we can do for you.”
As Janice sat with her eyes closed, Abigail carefully brushed the light blue powder over her eyes, covering a little of the gold powder already in place. Once she had finished, she held a mirror to Janice’s face and said “There – tell me what you think.”
“Well, it is different,” Janice said as she looked at herself, “What about the lip gloss?”
“Allow me,” Yvette said as she painted gloss of the same colour over her dark lips, using some tissue to clear any smudges away and despotising them in a clear bin beside her. “There – I think you will agree it looks stunning!”
Janice looked in the mirror, smacking her lips together, and then nodded. “Yeah, it does work for me,” she said with a smile, “I might take some. How much?”
It took a few moments for the transaction to be completed, before Janice said “Thank you” and walked away, not noticing Yvette as she made a call. As she made her way to the exit, however, she started to feel strange, and blinked a few times, her eyes going slightly out of focus.
“Whtssgngnnn,” she heard herself say, shocked to discover that her vocal cords appeared to be frozen, her lips unable to form words. Somehow, she walked out of the store, but it felt as if she was not in control of her own body any more – as if something else had taken over.
She was dimly aware of hands taking her arms, and a man saying “This way, miss,” as she was walked towards a black transit van. She tried to break away, but she could not, as the side of the van opened and she was pushed in, a man inside taking her arms behind her back and securing them with a zip tie while another forced her ankles together.
“Welcome to a new life,” she heard him say, her eyes opening wide as he pressed a length of tape over her mouth, and the van moved off....
“Well, I offer you my congratulations, Dean – it would appear that your formula does indeed work.”
The two men watched as Janice was walked past them, struggling in the leather armbinder that now held her arms behind her back as she was led to her new master.
“So tell me again how you discovered this method?”
The young man said “Well, I was fooling around with contact anaesthetics when I discovered this drug that worked on the sensitive skin areas at the eyelids and lips. It’s based on a combination of a local anaesthetic and a drug in the same class as Rohypnol, but formulated to work through skin absorption.”
“And no trace is left?”
“Apparently not – but the first trial in London seems to have worked. Where else are you testing it?”
“Across the country...”
“Madame? Excuse me Madame – may we have a word?”
Leona stopped and looked at the cosmetics agent, the second one looking at her from behind the desk.
“I wonder if you can spare a moment,” the agent said as she looked at the tall, thin woman, her dark skin shining with the makeup she was wearing. She was wearing a grey dress with multicoloured striped sleeves that were pushed up her forearms, light grey tights and black long suede boots. A large gold necklace was around her neck, and large silver drop earrings hung from her lobes.
“We’re launching this new set of makeup, called Captivate, and I think it will look wonderful on you. If you have time, perhaps we can demonstrate?”
Leona looked at her watch, and then said “Why not?” Taking a seat, she smiled as the agent selected a light pink eye shadow.
“I think this will really bring your eyes out,” she said as she brushed the powder on, making sure it was well blended with her existing makeup as she did so, while the second woman picked up a matching bottle of lip gloss and handed it to the agent.
As Leona looked at herself in the mirror, she did like the look the new colour gave her. “What’s the lip gloss like,” she said as she looked at the agent.
“Allow me,” she said quietly as she painted the make-up onto her lips, the gloss sparkling slightly in the store light as she did so. Handing Leona a tissue, she watched as the young woman admired herself in the mirror, before saying “I think you look a new person.”
“So do I,” Leona said as she looked up, “do you mind if I show my boyfriend before I purchase any?”
“OF course,” the agent said as Leona stood up, “we look forward to seeing you again.” The two women smiled at her as she walked off, before the second woman nodded to a man who followed Leona out.
The young woman walked to her car, opening the driver’s side and then getting behind the wheel. As she went to put the key in the ignition, however, she started to blink and shake her head as her vision started to swim.
“Whshshong,” she mumbled, shocked to discover she seemed to have lost the power of speech. She was aware of the car door opening, and a man saying “Come with me,” as she was helped out of the car and walked across the tarmac.
“Where are we going,” Leona tried to say, but no words escaped her lips – she had lost the power of speech, as she was dimly aware of the rear doors of a van opening, and her being helped in, before something hard was tightened around her wrists, a rasping sound reaching her ears as it did so.
Looking in front of her, she saw the man doing something to her ankles and legs, before something sticky was placed over her mouth. “Let’s go,” she heard someone say before her world was plunged into darkness.
“We have another acquisition – in Birmingham this time,” the young man heard the gang leader say. “So how did you find out this combination worked?”
“Funny story – it started when my boss – sorry, my former boss called me into her office at the labs...”
Monica Dunbar was not a happy woman, as she sat behind her desk, tapping her finger on the wood. Eventually, the door opened and a young man, wearing a white lab coat over a t-shirt and slacks, came in.
“Sit down,” Monica said as he approached her desk, “do you have any idea why I have called you in today?”
“No,” the young man said as he looked at Monica. She had skin as dark as coffee, with short dark hair, and was wearing a black leather jacket over a silver lame wrap dress, dark stockings and black shoes.
“Your latest research project,” Monica said as she looked in a file, “the reports I have received indicate some questionable ingredients have been included in the formulation.”
“Questionable? I can assure you, Miss Dunbar, the plans and formulation was approved prior to the start of development work...”
“I can see that,” Monica said with a sigh as she picked up the lipstick, “but what about the side effect that has been reported?”
“I have had no reports of side effects reported to me – if I had, I would have progressed them and completed the necessary paperwork.”
Monica looked at him, as he noticed the light green eye shadow that highlighted her eyes. “May I ask where you found that shade of eye shadow,” he said finally.
“In your locker, along with this lipstick,” Monica said quietly. “It is rather flattering, but that is not the point. The point is...”
“The point is, Monica, that you are going to do whatever I tell you to do now, aren’t you?”
“I...” Monica blinked several times, before saying “Please repeat that.”
“I said,” the young man said as he stood up, “you are going to do exactly what I tell you. That’s right, isn’t it?”
Monica slowly nodded as he handed her a mirror. “Try the lipstick, see how it looks on you...”
Slowly, Monica opened the stick and applied it to her lips, smacking them together and looking at her reflection.
“It looks good, doesn’t it?”
“Yes, yes it do...” Monica turned and looked at him, as she suddenly became aware of a numbing in her mouth and throat.
“Now,” he said as he helped Monica to stand up, “Come with me.”
Monica wanted to run, to call for help, but it was impossible, as she found herself walking with the man out of the office, down the corridor and out of the building into the darkened car park. Moving to his car, he popped open the boot and took out a roll of duct tape, tearing her end loose as he crossed Monica’s wrists behind her back and taped then tightly together.
He then taped her arms to her side, before making her is tin the boot, Monica watching helpless as he taped her ankles and legs. He then covered her mouth in strips of the tape, before laying her on the side and closing the boot.
“There she goes now,” he said as Monica was walked past him, wearing a leather bustier and over the knee black leather boots, a chain attached to her collar being pulled as she walked past with her upper body held in a rope karada.
“Very nice – I think we can come to a mutually acceptable arrangement.” The mobile phone interrupted the conversation, as he said “Yes?
“Well done – bring her in.”
“Indeed – just brought down from Glasgow...”
“Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god...”
Collette was walking through the store, frantically looking round in her black leather shift dress, the collar exposing her black smooth neck as the hemline caressed her legs above her knees. She was also wearing a pair of killer heels, in black patent leather, as she finally spotted the Captivate display.
“May I help you,” the dark haired assistant said as she looked at Collette.
“You can be a life saver,” she said as she held her silver clutch bag in her hand, “I forgot my make up, and I have this incredibly hot date in an hour. Get this right, and I’ll place a large order.”
“Then sit down,” the assistant said as Collette took a seat on the high leather stool, and looked at the girl. She assessed the lady, and then said “I think Devil Red will suit you, and get the eye of the young man.” She took a lipstick and drew a short line on the back of Collette’s hand, before saying “How does that look?”
“Perfect,” Collette said as she looked at her hand. “It feels cold though.”
“It’s a special ingredient that heightens the colour,” the assistant said as she applied the lipstick to Collette, expertly going over her light brown lips. “There now,” she said as she handed the ebony coloured girl a mirror, “What do you think?”
“Very nice,” Collette said as she smacked her lips together. “What else do you have?”
“Well, by contrast, may I suggest the Sky Blue eye shadow to bring out those blue eyes,” she said as she dabbed the powder onto Collette, and then used a little blusher to lighten her cheeks. Looking in the mirror, Collette said “That is fantastic – if I place an order now, can I collect tomorrow.”
“Of course,” the assistant said as she looked at Collette. “If you wish, you can order the entire range for £300.”
Collette looked at her, blinked for a moment, and then said “Perfect – charge it.” As the transaction progressed, a tall woman with dark hair stood a little way off, watching intensely.
“Thank you again,” Collette said as she walked off, the other woman following as she made her way towards Buchanan Street and the date. As she walked out, however, she began to feel faint, and sat on a bench.
“Are you all right,” she heard a deep female voice say, and as she looked up Collette tried to speak, only for the words to refuse to come out.
“It’s all right,” the woman said as she looked at Collette, “I think you’re having a CVA. I’ve called for an ambulance.”
As if on cue an ambulance appeared, stopping nearby as two paramedics got out. “Sslffnn,” Collette mumbled as they helped her to lie on a trolley, wrapping a blanket round her and strapping her in place, before wheeling her to the waiting vehicle and lifting her in. The woman got in after them, securing the gurney in place as they sped off.
“Now,” the woman said as she looked at Collette, “We need to keep you nice and quiet.” She offered no resistance as the white medical tape was pressed down over her mouth, and then over her eyes, as they went along the road...
Several months later
“And here is the payment for the latest batch.”
“Very generous – did I hear you’ve decided to corner a new market?”
“Indeed – we can only use cosmetic counters so often, so we decided to try a more direct approach?”
“What like...” He made a motion as if pressing a door bell, smiling as the leader nodded...
“Mrs Clarke? I’m from the Captivate home visit team – you requested a visit?”
Harper looked at the two women standing in the doorway, dressed in smart grey jackets and skirts, with knee length black fabric boots. One was, like her, dark skinned with black hair pulled back in a ponytail, while the other lighter skinned woman has short blonde hair.
“Of course,” she said as she opened the door and allowed them to come in.
“Thank you,” the darker skinned woman said, “my name is Erika, and my colleague is Lillian.”
“Pleased to meet you,” Harper said quietly. She was in her late forties, with frizzed brown-black hair, and was wearing a black waistcoat over a short sleeved white blouse, dark jeans and a pair of wedge sandals.
“Zara,” she said as she looked up the stairs, “the cosmetics consultants are here.”
“Coming,” a young female voice said, and as Erika and Lillian watched a young woman, obviously Harper’s daughter by her skin tone and look, came down the stairs. She had long dark hair cut to frame her face, and was wearing a blue denim blouse with a large silver Maltese cross hanging round her neck, black leather shorts and open toed sandals.
“Well,” Erika said with a smile, “Shall we go and sit down somewhere....”
“There – what do you think Zara?”
The young woman looked at herself in the mirror, and nodded as she saw the way the turquoise eye shadow highlighted her eyes, the matching lip gloss adding a certain something to the effect – what it was she was not sure, but it added something.
“What do you think, Mum,” she said as she looked at Harper, who was sitting in a leather armchair, Lillian applying a deep red eye shadow to match the lipstick she had already tried.
“My, you are on fire,” Harper said with a smile, “that young man of yours is going to get a big surprise when he comes to collect you for the dance tonight?”
“Oh yeah,” Zara said as she put her hand to her hair and brushed it back, “Thanks a lot, Erika – you’re a real wizard.”
“It is our pleasure,” Erika said with a smile as she looked at Lillian. “What about you Harper, will your husband be entranced?”
“Oh that feckless idiot is long gone from our lives, my dear,” Harper said with a smile, “so I’m mature, free and single. Now, how much did you say the cosmetics cost?”
“Allow me to get you a brochure,” Lillian said as she stood up. Harper tried to get up to follow her, but suddenly she started to feel dizzy, and sat back down again.
“Mum, are you all right?”
“I... I think so, Zara, I jst flt a lttlfnneframnt...”
Harper looked at her daughter, as she vision seemed to blur for a minute and then clear again. “What’s wrong with my mfr,” Zara said, startled to find her own speech becoming less clear as she felt faint.
“Do not worry,” Erika said as she reached into the cosmetics bag and took out two lengths of rope, handing one to Lillian as she walked behind Erika, taking her arms behind her back and crossing her wrists before she started to tie them together, “the effects will wear off, but by then we will be finished.”
“Whtthhfudn,” Harper mumbled as Lillian bound her wrist behind her back, and then produced a long length of rope, passing it around her arms below her chest and pulling them tightly into her sides.
She watched, unable to stop Erika as she wrapped the rope above and below her daughter’s chest, pulling her arms tightly into her side as her breasts were forced out. “Such a nice necklace,” Erika said as she unfastened the cross and removed it from Zara’s neck, placing it in the bag before she took yet more rope, crossed the young girl’s ankles and tied them together.
As Harper watched her own legs being secured, the white rope contrasting with the dark denim, she looked at Lillian and said “Whhh?”
“Because we have a new job for you – both of you,” Lillian said before she took a black bandana from the bag, rolled it into a band and tied a knot in it, before forcing the knot into the older woman’s mouth, taking the band around her head and securing the ends together at the base of her neck. She watched as Zara was gagged with a red bandana, before Erika took out a mobile phone and dialled a number.
“George? Two to collect – and send a clean-up team.”
Zara and Harper looked at each other, wondering who George was, as Lillian turned on the television and an advert appeared.
“Captivate – the look that locks you into a new life. Call for an assessment now...”