The Flesh Cartel #4: Consequences
In episode four of The Flesh Cartel, Mat and Dougie Carmichael begin their training with their new master, Nikolai, where they both learn the meaning of servitude . . . and of consequences for their choices.
For Mat, destined to be trained but not broken—to always fight but never win—life with Nikolai is suffering stacked on suffering. Nikolai pushes him to the edge but not over; he must never lose the hatred in his eyes. Dougie, on the other hand, is fated to love and crave service. For that, Nikolai must teach him the pleasures of a pampered sex slave, but training a straight man to revel in his gay captor’s touch is no easy feat.
As if the challenges Mat and Dougie face aren’t difficult enough, one last complication remains: before either brother can submit fully to Nikolai, they must first give up their strongest, most powerful loyalty: their dedication to each other.
Caution: The following details may be considered spoilerish.
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Dougie scrunched his eyes shut as Nikolai came all over his face. It was horrible, desperate misery, followed by small relief when his new “master,” oh he-who-loved-the-sound-of-his-own-voice, cleaned Dougie with a towel from the bathroom, which he then put in a hamper and not in Dougie’s mouth.
Dougie didn’t move. Didn’t dare. Just stayed kneeling at the foot of that chair, watching Nikolai come and go, silently waiting for whatever abuse was next. Nikolai had said the training could be done painlessly if he cooperated, but Dougie had a hard time believing the man, and a harder time accepting that the pathetic excuse for a blowjob he’d given was even remotely close to meeting Nikolai’s standards.
It was the punishment he was afraid of. That was why he cared so much about the piss-poor blowjob. Why he was so angry at himself now. Not out of any genuine need to please Nikolai. He didn’t want to give good blowjobs—he just didn’t want to suffer the consequences of giving bad ones.
We’ll practice every day, Nikolai had said. To comfort him? Threaten? Dougie didn’t know. Didn’t know what was intent, what was perception, what was paranoia. He was all messed up. He wished Mat were here. To talk to, if nothing else.
Who the fuck was he kidding. He could never tell Mat any of this. It was too humiliating and shameful to ever share, even with the one person who was going through the same thing. Mat wouldn’t have begged Nikolai to tell him how to avoid pain. Not even for pretend.
And what if it’s not pretend? What if you’re just a coward?
A coward, yes. Afraid of pain, afraid of punishment. That’s why he was so eager to do as he was told. To satisfy this strange, inscrutable man. Cowardice. Much more palatable than the possibility that Madame’s brutes had broken something in him already, something fundamental and critical and irreparable, something that might make Nikolai’s mock-kindness inspire . . . what? Loyalty in him? Obedience?
No. None of that. He was just fucking terrified. But he’d be okay. He was still him. And he damn well meant to stay that way, whatever it took.
“On your feet now, little pet. It’s time to show you your new home.”
Please don’t be a dog cage.
He was standing before he’d finished that thought. Afraid. Just afraid. Besides, maybe wherever Nikolai was taking him, Mat would be there.
How long would he keep thinking that and winding up disappointed before he finally gave up?
Never. I can’t ever give up on Mat, or I’ve already lost.
If that happened, he might as well start talking in third person and crawling on all fours permanently. Cut off his own balls. God, if someone had asked him a month ago how best to debase him, he’d probably have said, “Call me short.” Look how creative he was now.
He followed Nikolai down a hallway, through a sitting room. The house was beautiful, looked comfortably lived in for all its impeccable neatness. No time to study it, though; Nikolai moved quickly, never looking back, as if one hundred percent confident that Dougie was following behind. Obeying. Good dog. Heel.
It made Dougie sick.
Or maybe that was just how hungry and thirsty he still was.
Nikolai unlocked a door and led him down a long flight of stairs. Into the basement—how fitting. It still felt like a house, though—not that cold, industrial sterility of Madame’s facility, like a hospital or a prison or some sick mix of both. Hardwood floors. Richly colored, tastefully painted walls. Artwork, even. No blood. No screaming.
Locks on all the doors, though. Nikolai opened one for him and led him into . . . a bedroom suite? There was a double bed made up immaculately. A dresser. A little table and two chairs. Tastefully appointed. Nice, actually. Like a fancy hotel.
Well, except for the straps on the bed. And the dog kennel in one corner. And the total absence of windows. Okay, a fancy hotel for weird perverts.
No sign of Mat.
“Normally,” Nikolai said, and the sound of his voice startled Dougie into falling to his knees, “I would take this first meal with my pet. But normally, my attentions aren’t stretched so thin as they are with you and your brother. And I’ve left your brother unattended for long enough, I’d say. So I’d like you to wait here for now. Someone will be by with food and drink for you. In the meanwhile, please”—a sweeping gesture that encompassed the large bedroom, the two closed doors Dougie assumed were to a closet and bathroom—“this is your space. Everything in here is for your use. For you to groom yourself to the highest standard in service to your master. For you to stay fit and clean and healthy. Feel free to explore it. To use what calls to you.”
Food. Toilet. Sink, hopefully toothbrush. Bed. That was all Dougie wanted at this point. Maybe a book. God, he’d give his left leg to be sitting around bored out of his mind and trying to read academic articles now.
Nikolai turned and left before Dougie could ask any questions. But that was okay—he’d interpreted Nikolai well enough. Get clean. Brush your teeth. Shave. Look your best for me. Anticipate your master’s desires.
Not that he gave a fuck about his “master’s” desires. But it’d feel good to scrape this scruff off his face—he couldn’t grow a beard in evenly anyway—and he had no intention of giving Nikolai any excuse to punish him. Especially since Nikolai wasn’t asking anything outrageous of him right now.
He found what he needed to shave and brush his teeth in the bathroom, and did both after gulping down what felt like half a gallon of water straight from the tap. There was a shower tub, too, but even if he hadn’t just had a bath, he probably wouldn’t have used it. He just couldn’t stomach the thought that maybe, somewhere, Nikolai might be watching. He might have to walk around naked 24/7, but that didn’t mean he was going to jump at the chance to let the man watch him soap himself up. Which was possibly the most pointless distinction he’d ever made in his life, but here, it was all he had.
By the time he was finished with what he could stomach to do in the bathroom, a covered tray was waiting for him in the main room.
On the floor.
Dougie was stooping to pick it up with the intention of carrying it over to the table when he realized . . . What if it was on the floor for a reason? His stomach churned. He was so fucking hungry. He didn’t have the time or inclination to agonize over this.
Anticipate your master’s desires. If I were a sick fuck on a power trip, would I want my victim to eat at a table like a normal human being?
So why provide a table at all? some naive, dignified part of him replied.
It’s a test. It’s all a test. This whole fucking room. He’s watching from somewhere. Waiting to see what I’ll do. I’m a rat in an electrified maze.
He sat on the floor in front of the tray. Cast a gaze around the room, searching out the camera so he’d have somewhere concrete to look at and try to say telepathically, See, asshole? I’m a good dog. Eating on the floor just like you hoped.
But there were no cameras that he could see, and he was fucking starving, and his telepathic message seemed like something that would earn him the ominous “consequences.”
Whatever was on the tray smelled amazing. And maybe he hadn’t seen any cameras, but he was sure they were there, somewhere, and he planned to behave accordingly. He turned his attention back to the tray. Stared at it like the puzzle it surely was. Innocuous. Plastic cafeteria tray with an opaque plastic lid.
He pulled the lid off. Revealed two cereal bowls and nothing else. One held what was almost certainly milk. The other a thin soup—mostly broth, with some very small bits of vegetables and chicken, and saltines crumbled at the top. No more than a cup’s worth in either bowl.
No spoon. There was a nice linen napkin, though.
No spoon. Was he supposed to pick the bowls up and drink from them?
Of course not. You’re a dog. His “pet.” You eat on the floor like any other pet would. With your mouth.
“No.” Dougie shook his head, tore his eyes from the soup, the milk, tantalizing as they both were. “No.”
Yes. And by the way, you’re talking to yourself.
Well, hardly any surprise to be going crazy under circumstances like these. He wished he knew what Nikolai wanted of him. Wished he’d been given clear instructions to follow. Bad enough he had a master; it hardly seemed fair that he’d be punished because he’d failed to anticipate the desires of a man he’d just met. The thought made him queasy, panicky; he was breathing too fast, heart pounding painfully against his ribs. This was fucking ridiculous—he was having a panic attack over how to eat soup.
Fuck it. He wasn’t taking any chances, and he wasn’t going to let his pride get in the way of the first meal he’d had in days—or more like a week, actually, if all that patchy hair he’d shaved off his face was anything to go by. Or the pain in his gut, clenching and churning as if digesting itself. He hunched over his lap, but no, that clearly wouldn’t work. Scooched back instead, eased himself first onto his hands and knees and then down onto his belly. Propped on his elbows, nearly prostrate. Hadn’t Nikolai used that word? Well, fine, here he fucking was. Are you enjoying this, you sick fuck?
He craned his neck like Madame had taught him, right over the bowl of broth. Closed his eyes, inhaled deep. God, it smelled like heaven. His mouth watered so hard he almost drooled. Hesitantly, he lowered his face until he was hovering right over the bowl, fragrant steam rising up over his nose and cheeks and forehead and chin. Poked his tongue out, let it sink into the broth. Moaned at that first taste, salty and savory and oh-so-good. Pursed his lips and slurped it up.
It wasn’t easy going. He remembered from some far off bit of trivia that cats and dogs had tongues made for lapping up liquids this way. Not so much human beings. But he managed it. Out of sheer force of will and desperation and outright hunger, he managed it. Slurped it all up, licked the bowl clean in his hunger, then set in on the milk. By the time it was gone, he was full enough to be sleepy and just a little uncomfortable.
And he was still alone. Still alone in this strange room, with that command of explore hanging over his head, knowing that whatever he found, it would be another test, crueler and more humiliating than the last. His horrible and newly creative imagination gave him all sorts of ideas about what kind of things he might be expected to do to himself voluntarily. What if he found a plug to put in himself? A gag? A blindfold? A battery with alligator clamps, like the one he’d almost used on Mat?
A noose to hang himself.
A key to unlock his door.
Unlikely as it was, what if he found Mat?
He could just go to sleep, but even that was a test in this room. Bed or kennel? If anticipating his master’s desires meant debasing himself, his answer was obvious. The kennel had a cushion, at least, and it was relatively man-sized if you curled up in the fetal position. Definitely bigger than the one they’d shoved Mat in the night they’d been snatched.
He could use the bed but strap himself in as a compromise, but then he risked the chance of waking up with someone in bed beside him.
Or on top of me.
The kennel, then. He’d sleep in the kennel. At least then he could sleep soundly knowing nobody could join him in it. They’d have to wake him up and pull him out before they raped him.
What if they lock me in?
Alone. He’d be alone.
He hated that the possibility no longer filled him with relief.
In the end, thoroughly humiliated and so terrified he wanted to die, he crawled underneath the table, hoping that at least the scrape of chairs would warn him of anyone’s approach. He put his back to the wall, pulled his knees to his chest, and closed his eyes.
Sleep, damn you, he commanded himself, and surprisingly, he did.
Heart clenching . . .
[I] highly recommend this series.
I devour each episode the moment I get my hot little hands on it, and can’t wait until the next one. Kudos to Haimowitz and Belleau for being so damn good at their craft!
[T]he elements of suspense and thrill are again well mastered . . . [R]emarkable.