Samantha was not happy. She was working the closing shift at the bakery in the local supermarket, and as usual, she could tell she wasn't getting out on time. At the rate she was going, it would probably be about midnight before she finished. Currently, it was about ten-thirty, and she was just starting to clean the big wooden table in the center of the prep area. It was dirtier than usual today, and she grumbled under her breath, scraping off hardened icing, fudge, and the sticky syrup from the cherries.
Once that was done, she crossed to the sink, filling up a bowl with scalding water so she could wipe down the last evidence of the day's work from the table.
"Why the hell can't this table be metal like the rest of them? Because that would be too easy," she growled, scrubbing at the table. "
Moving around to another side, she glanced up at the sales floor. An elderly woman and a younger man were walking around the produce section. Sam frowned. Kind of late for someone that old to be grocery shopping, she thought. She shrugged and kept cleaning the table.
As she finished, she went to turn back to the sink and dump the water. The clock on the wall read quarter to eleven, fifteen minutes to the store's close. Sam sighed and grabbed the broom, starting to sweep up.
"Excuse me," said a voice behind her. She turned toward the counter and saw the elderly woman and younger man.
"Hi, how can I help you?" she said automatically.
"I'd like to order a cake," the woman said.
"Sure, let me grab an order form and a pen." Sam kept the annoyance out of her tone.
She took the order as quickly as possible. All throughout, the woman kept calling her different terms of endearment, names such as "my sweetie", "darling", and "my honey". Finally, Sam just couldn't take it anymore.
"Look, ma'am," she said, "I don't know you, and I don't appreciate being called all those names by a complete stranger."
Affronted, the old woman let out a huff. "Well then, I suppose I'll just cancel that order." She stalked away, the younger man in tow.
Sam resisted the urge to slam her head against the glass doors of the display case a few thousand times, and went back to sweeping, fully expecting the store's closing manager to come by and inform her of a customer complaint against her.
Fortunately, that didn't happen. Pete, the police officer pulling the detail, made his last round of the store, looking in on her like he usually did.
"You're gonna beat me out of here tonight," Sam said, sighing.
"I always beat you out of here," he answered, teasing her.
"Nah, I beat you last week." She grinned.
"That's true. Well be careful," he said, "I'll see you next Friday."
"I'll be here," Sam called. "As usual."
He gave her one last smile and walked back up to Customer Service, where the front-end managers were counting the money before locking up and leaving.
It was another hour before Sam finished for the night, wheeling the mop back to the supply closet for floor care. The overnight stock crew wasn't working tonight, so the large grocery store was completely empty. It creeped her out big-time, and she hurried out of the emergency exit.
The parking lot was dark and empty, her car the only one there. She walked quickly towards it, her keys gripped in her hand.
Sudden movement startled her, and a hand clamped over her mouth, the other viciously grabbing her arm. There was a sharp sting in her neck, and a second later, her vision blurred and darkened as her legs gave out.
When she awoke, she was laying on a hard surface, looking up at a bright fluorescent light. It reminded her of the ones in the bakery where she worked.
Then, she realized her arms and legs were tied. She quickly lifted her head, and realized she was bound to the big wooden table in the bakery she'd just left.
"Ah, my sweetie is awake," a horribly familiar voice said, startling her even more. Sam turned her head and saw the old woman, along with the young man, standing in the corner.
"What do you want?" she asked, her voice shaking.
"To teach you to be more respectful to your customers," the woman replied, drawing closer. She reached out, her wrinkled hands gripping the hem of Sam's shirt and rolling it up to the top of her ribs.
"The cameras will see you," Sam warned.
"Oh, I'm not worried about that," the woman answered. "David here is quite the genius at manipulating technology; he's turned every single one of them off."
David, meanwhile, tugged down Sam's black jeans, exposing more of her lower belly, though not enough to reveal anything else.
"What a nice, soft belly you have," the woman said. "A little fuller than I'd thought, but then again, you do work in a bakery. And it flattens out marvelously when you're stretched out like this...oh, except for this little bit. How cute." She reached out and caressed the little hill of Sam's lower belly.
Her hands were like ice, and Sam's skin flinched away from the contact.
"Now, none of that, darling." She gave Sam's stomach a pat and walked away to the sink, looking at the buckets where all the utensils, freshly washed thanks to Sam, were waiting to be used.
"The oven is ready, Martha," David called from the other corner, reading the temperature of the old pizza oven used to bake the artisan bread.
"Go ahead and put the steel in, dear," the woman answered, not looking at him. She poked around the utensils a bit. "Ah, this will do nicely."
Sam froze when she realized Martha had picked up the small paring knife with the green handle. It was used to cut fruit, and was easily the sharpest knife in the bakery.
Martha approached, knife in hand, and Sam started trembling. The tip of the knife was placed just under Sam's sternum. "Now then," Martha said, lightly dragging the tip of the blade down Sam's belly, stopping just before her navel, "Let's get on with the lesson."
She continued with the knife, tracing a small circle around Sam's belly button, then moving down to her lower abdomen. "This is simply adorable." Martha drew the blade's tip horizontally across Sam's stomach, just at the bottom of the little pouch. The stroke was gentle, almost tender, but Sam knew that with the slightest amount of pressure and a flick of the old woman's wrist, blood could be flowing freely.
A low whimper of fear rose from the bound girl's throat as her trembling intensified, and Martha grinned at the sound, bringing the knife back up and resting the tip on the cup of Sam's innie navel.
"The next time a customer calls you a pet name, what are you going to do?"
Sam pulled in her belly slightly, enough to get it away from the blade. "Nothing," she answered fearfully. "I'm not going to do anything."
"Well, look at that," Martha said. "My sweetie has tricks. I'm afraid that won't help you much here, though." With that, she lowered the knife again into Sam's quivering belly button, lightly pressing the tip into the sensitive flesh at the base. "Next question."
Sam sucked in her belly even more, until she felt the prick of the blade disappear, though the tip was still hidden. She was nearing the limit of how far down she could go.
"Here, Martha," David said, and Sam saw him pass a thin metal rod to the old woman, the tip glowing red with heat.
Martha put the knife aside, bringing the burning tip just above Sam's vulnerable navel before she had to chance to relax her belly. Another whimper sounded from the girl, and the evil smile widened. "Almost done, dearie. Now, when it's late at night, and a customer such as myself wants to place an order, are you going to give them any attitude?"
Sam wasn't aware she'd given Martha any attitude. She opened her mouth to respond, but instead was forced to pull in her belly to its absolute limit as the tip of the rod descended, hovering just above the base of her navel. A cold sweat sprang up across her body, even inside her belly button where it pooled, sizzling and evaporating immediately after coming in contact with the burning rod.
"I asked a question," Martha said sternly, as if she were lecturing an errant child, rather than threatening a tied up hostage.
"N-no ma'am," Sam said. "No attit-t-tude." Her voice was shaking with fear and the effort of holding her belly as deeply sucked in as it was.
Martha waited a moment. Then, without removing the rod, she turned to David. "Run down to the Wine Department, dear, and get that last thing I'll be needing."
David nodded and walked off.
Martha finally removed the rod, walking over to the sink and running cold water over the burning tip. Turning back to Sam, she noticed that the girl hadn't relaxed her stomach.
"You can let your belly out, my sweetie," she said. "In fact, once David gets back, I doubt you'll be using your little trick at all."
Sam slowly let her stomach return to normal. Martha was watching her, and her gaze went from Sam's belly, to the small paring knife, and back. "Then again," she said, picking up the knife, "perhaps we'll see it one more time."
Bringing the knife to the girl's belly button once more, she pressed the tip into the inner wall facing her lower stomach, angling the blade up slightly.
Sam sucked in her belly once more when she felt the sharp tip prick her navel. She let out a yelp though, stopping when she realized that the angle of the blade served to make the tip dig in deeper when she pulled in her stomach. Martha let out a cold laugh, tugging slightly with the tip of the knife. Tears gathered in Sam's eyes, though her flesh hadn't been pierced. She tried not to mentally add "yet" to that last thought.
"Let's see you use your little trick now," Martha said, letting the knife linger for a long moment. "Ah, and here's David."
David passed something else to Martha, who took the knife away once again. Sam raised her head, and almost fainted when she realized the 'last thing' was a hand-held corkscrew. The quivering in her belly intensified.
"Please," she pleaded, "I've learned my lesson. Let me go."
"One last question," Martha said, putting the tip of the corkscrew to the base of Sam's navel. "Are you going to tell anyone what happened here tonight?"
"No!" Sam answered quickly. "Nobody!"
Martha gave the tool a twist, pulling at the sensitive inside of the defenseless belly button before Sam could suck her stomach in again. "None of your bratty young coworkers, either."
Another twist. The outside of Sam's innie was starting to turn with the tool, and a tear leaked out of the bound girl's eye as she whimpered.
"And not any of those police officers that are here every evening, and you so shamelessly flirt with them."
Martha waited, then gave a small tug on the corkscrew while it was still twisted into Sam's navel. She nodded approvingly at the gasp of pain that resulted. "Good. I think you've learned your lesson now."
With that, she slowly turned the corkscrew in the opposite direction, releasing Sam's belly button more with each twist. Soon it was just the sharp tip pricking at the base of her navel. She didn't dare suck in her belly again though, in case the old woman suddenly decided to continue the torture.
It appeared Martha was done, however, and the tip left Sam's belly button. She set the corkscrew aside, instructing David to bring it back to the Wine Department.
"And now, my honey, we must go our separate ways." She put her freezing hands once more on Sam's stomach, stroking and gently dragging her sharp nails up and down, tracing her belly button and dipping in, tugging with a fingernail in the same manner as she had with the knife. "Such a lovely, soft belly," she said. "And this cute little pouch here...." She drew a single nail horizontally across the girl's midriff. "Mind your manners, girl, or you'll see me again."
David returned, and Martha dug in her purse, coming up with a small syringe that she passed to him. Sam felt another sharp sting in her neck, and her vision blurred and darkened once again.
She came to sitting in her car, the keys in the ignition and the radio playing. Starting the vehicle, she burned rubber leaving the parking lot, seriously contemplating getting out of the customer service industry.