The boys from Belteguese

Author: David Shaw

I was getting ready to quit for the day when Dan Baldwin phoned and asked me to stop by his office. Dan’s the feature editors on the ‘Record’ and writing features articles are the kind of job that a cadet reporter loves to get. So, I went to see him.

“Hi, Judith. Sit down. Are you still eager find a good story all to yourself?”

Dan’s a nice old guy, well into his thirties, but I’m sure he moves the chair in his office before I go in there to get the best possible view of my legs. Not that I mind. Firstly because I quite like Dan; secondly, because he sometimes does me favors; and finally, because I became leer-proof after my first week in the newspaper business.

“Sure. Have you got something interesting?”

He shrugged: “I’ve got something that I’m about 99 per cent sure is a waste of time. But there’s still that one percent of possibility in it. I can’t spend money following it up, there’s too many more important things to do. But I thought I’d mention it to you and see if you wanted to check it out in your own time.”

“OK, what’s the story?”

“It’s not really a story, just an odd situation. There’s a place up in the mountains called Lake Constitution. I had an email a couple of days ago from a guy called Scott Schneider who runs the local store up there. He says a mansion at the lake has been taken over by some kind of religious studies group. They keep themselves very much to themselves, right down to high security fences and guard dogs in the woods.

“In fact the place they have is called ‘Hyde’s Island’ and the mansion is a miniature castle built by a gangster back in the thirties. Jake ‘Toe Cutter’ Hyde that was, from New Jersey. He was in retirement then but it seemed he wasn’t retired enough to suit some people. Anyway, that’s ancient history now. What’s sparked my interest is the possibility that this religious group at Lake Constitution might be another sect in the making. They certainly seem to have something to hide.”

I wasn’t sure what to say, so I scratched the back of my calf. That was enough to keep Dan quiet and contemplative as I tried hard to think of an intelligent comment and as he tried hard not to let his eyes roam too obviously over the same area as my fingers.

“What’s Scott’s interest in this, Dan? These people aren’t bothering him, are they?”

He shrugged: “Oh, I guess he’s hoping we’ll run with the story the way he’s giving it to us, play up the mystery angle and maybe get a few more tourists visiting the Lake out of curiosity. But I want some hard facts before I publish anything.”

“Do we really want to know about a bunch of religious maniacs anyway?” I asked.

“Judith, sect stories are a journalistic minefield. Most of the time they’re as boring as hell and then you suddenly find yourself with a Waco on your hands and everybody wanting to know how come the local press completely missed out on what was brewing up in their own back yard. I’d certainly like to know a little more about these people on Hyde’s Island but I can’t afford the time or the budget to send anybody up there on what information I’ve got right now.”

“So?”

“So, if you should develop a desire to spend a day or so sightseeing around the Lake, and you should happen to find out something which would develop into a real story, maybe you can get to write it. But right now, the paper won’t give you a dollar or a minute of company time to dig any deeper. It’s up to you whether you bother to take a look.”

“OK,” I stood up. “Perhaps I can go out there this weekend.”

I noticed that Dan was fiddling with his marriage ring, as if hoping it would suddenly disappear — for a weekend, anyway.

“If you want to, Judith, that’s fine, but this has nothing to do with the paper yet, so don’t go getting us involved. No fronting up to the local law waving your press card around, and definitely no contact with this religious studies group on the basis that you’re representing the ‘Record’ in any way. You drift in, you drift in, and coax the information out of the locals the easy way.”

“And what’s the easy way?”

“In your case, finding the local bar and then sitting on the highest stool in your shortest skirt. Then just let your legs do the talking while you listen to the local guys and see if you can pump them: or vice versa, if you’re in the mood.”

“Dan, that’s a very sexist remark.” I leaned far enough over his desk to let him catch a glimpse of my tightly packed bustier. “But since I’m a pretty sexy lady I won’t complain.”

Dan gulped, looked away and flicked his hand at me: “On your way, gal. Go and dangle your lures up at the Lake. And listen, make sure you keep your cell phone handy and call me if anything at all happens. Anything, anytime at all.” Dan twisted his lips in self depreciation, as though the idea I might ever need him was only a joke. “It’s just that I always get nervous whenever any of our people get within any distance at all of these religious types. You never know when they’re liable to turn violent.”

“You mean like Pope Urban’s speech which began the First Crusade to the Holy Land?”

He smiled and ran his hair through his close cropped hair. He has a nice smile sometimes, our Mr Baldwin, even for smart assed history grads.

“Let’s just say I’d be happier if you took one of your boyfriends with you.”

I looked back around the door: “Do you want me to take all of them? I could save you a seat at the back of the bus, if you’d like.”

He shook his head, grinning again: “I’m not a team player, I guess.”

“Not even if I wear my cheerleader’s outfit?”

“One day, Judith, it’s a remark like that which is going to get you into serious trouble.”

I grinned and left Dan stewing nicely. If only I’d known how good a prophet he was I’d have been hiding underneath his desk, screaming.

The Saturday morning started as roughly as my car. The old Civic coughed out black smoke when it finally started, then settled for an interesting shade of gray emissions to match the weather. Rain leaked down from clouds pressing against each other for room in the dim sky. My head ached, I hadn’t had enough sleep and for two pins or a pair of strong arms I’d have stayed in bed. Since nobody was around to offer either pins or a pinfall, I settled for a flask of black coffee and Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ on the CD player as I left the city behind.

Most times I like the mountains, especially when I can get to see them. This time they were all above the clouds. It was more like instrument flying than driving: regular bursts of raindrops splattering across the windscreen, shiny wet tarmac continually disappearing around hairpin bends and dripping tree branches clawing at the mist patches sliding down the steep slopes. I wondered if I could get a egg-and-bacon burger somewhere in lieu of breakfast.

By the time the ‘WELCOME TO LAKE CONSTITUTION’ sign sidled up out of the damp vapor I definitely had a grumbling stomach to match my discontented mind — this was all a waste of my time and my money. A row of mock log-cabin type frontages appeared, most with verandahs and all of them heavy on well trimmed lawns. Holiday homes, resort homes, retirement homes, and many of them providing homes for garden gnomes with fishing rods. About as peaceful and dull a community as you could find this side of the pearly gates.

Scott Schneider matched his community. He was probably the most unstressed man I’d met in months. Mid forties, square-shouldered, trim waistline, neat mustache, casual clothes, faded tattoos on his arms and pleasant manners. He came across to me as the sort of guy other guys would call for good advice if their wife had just left them or they had a chevvy engine they wanted to rebuild. His own wife matched him in quiet good looks and self confidence. Dark haired, wide around the hips, a smile of welcome as genuine as Scott’s, introduced as Diane. One of the first things I found out about Diane was that she cooked an excellent burger. I felt a lot better about things by the time they both sat down with me. Scott poured out the coffee and I got out my notebook.

“OK, Scott, maybe you could set the scene by telling me something about these religious studies people?”

He reached over to a stand which had some tourist maps on it. It also carried a lot of postcards with mottos like: “Old fishermen never die — they just smell that way” and “Old golfers never die — they just lose their balls”. Lake Constitution was that kind of a community.

Scott opened the map and turned it around to show it to me. He rested a finger on the village and then moved it around the edge of the lake, to where a blob of land stood almost clear of the shore, connected to it only by a thin strip of land.

“This is what we call Hyde’s Island. It’s about a mile and a half north east from here. It’s not really a island as you can see. There’s this tongue of land to it across the lake. A private road runs over it to the island, with a high security fence which has been put across the tongue at the narrowest point, where it’s about two hundred yards wide.”

“A high security fence?” I asked. “How secure?”

“Very secure. Ten feet high, bent over at the top, and covered with razor wire,” Scott replied. “It stretches from one side of the peninsular to the other, right down to the shorelines, and the only break in it is the gate where the road goes through it. The gate is permanently locked and with a sign on it saying the whole area is the private property of the Priscillian Religious Studies Group.”

“Spell that, please,” I requested and Scott took a piece of folded paper from his shirt pocket.

“It’s on there.”

“What’s this?”

“As soon as that sign went up, a month ago, I typed ‘Priscillian’ into an internet search engine. This is what I got back.”

I felt a bit chagrined. At one time it was the reporter who had the facilities to do the research which impressed the reportees. Now everybody knows everything. So I read the printout myself:

‘Priscillian:-

Born 340 AD, died Spain 385, Trier, Belgica, Gaul [now in Germany].   
Early Christian bishop who was the first heretic to receive capital punishment. A rigorous ascetic, he founded Priscillianism, an unorthodox doctrine that persisted into the 6th century. Priscillian taught that angels and human souls emanated from the Godhead, that bodies were created by the devil, and that human souls were joined to bodies as a punishment for sins. He was executed in 384 AD by the Roman Emperor Magnus Maximus on grounds of sorcery. Thereafter Priscillianism as an organized cult disappeared.’

I put the paper down and sipped on my coffee. “So we’re talking about somebody setting up a center to study a set of religious beliefs last heard of over fourteen hundred years ago. That’s a hell of a long time to wait for a comeback — or even a second coming.”

“Maybe somebody left them some money over the centuries at compound interest,” Diane remarked. “That island and the house on it are worth millions and I’ve heard said that it was a cash down sale, no haggling.”

I felt I was having difficulty in touching bottom on this one. “So how much contact do you have with these Priscillians — you and the other locals?”

“None at all,” Scott said. “They don’t shop here, they don’t drink here, they don’t visit here and they don’t even hire anybody around the Lake as cleaners or gardeners. All we see is an occasional vehicle going out or coming back from the island sometimes. But where they’re from and who they are, we don’t know.”

“Scott, could I go and take a look at this island without making myself too noticeable?”

“Sure. Just follow the road around the lake until you see the Hyde island turnoff — it’s sign posted. There are pine trees on both sides of the road right up to the island. You can walk through them as far as the fence line. Then you won’t be going any further, I guarantee that.”

“Yes … ” I kept on looking at the map. “Just suppose I got hold of a boat and landed on the island itself? As anybody else done that recently?”

“Nobody has landed on the actual island from the lake since about 1933, when Toe-Cutter Hyde turned it into a small scale Alcatraz. The walls all around the shoreline are twenty feet high and topped with broken glass. He was a man with a lot of enemies. Most of them nicknamed ‘Lurch’.”

“Mmmm … OK, but what about the piece of land on the other side of the fence? Between the fence and the house. Is there anything to stop me from going ashore there?”

“Only the pack of very shy and sensitive Rottweilers that run loose in that area.”

I was stunned: “You’re joking!”

“Nope — and neither are those dogs.”

“What the hell is it with these Priscillians? Are they expecting the FBI to come around with tanks?”

“That’s what I was trying to explain to your newspaper, Judith. There’s something heavy going down around here but we can’t get a handle on it. Maybe you can.”

Well, it was a pious hope but I couldn’t see any chance of it happening. If the locals couldn’t find out anything about the Priscillians I couldn’t see any way I could turn up something fresh in one day. Certainly not as a mere cadet reporter under orders not to make any fuss.

Then, as I was driving along the road around the lake, I had an idea. I’d never yet heard of any company doing any kind of major work without leaving some kind of advertisement on it — a company name and contact number at least. If I walked the length of the fence I might be able to get a lead on the construction company that had put it up. It wouldn’t be much but at least it would be something to take back to Dan.

I found the turnoff easily enough, drove on a little further and parked the Honda away from the road, carefully checking the ground first to make sure I wasn’t going to get bogged down. Then I put on a old windbreaker and slung a pair of mini-binoculars around my neck, trying to look like a member of the Audobon Society. As a matter of fact I am a wild life observer in my spare time. I often use the glasses on the beach for hunk-spotting and butt-rating. Then I put my Nikon Coolpix in my pocket and the ace reporter was ready for anything. Or so she thought.

I walked back to the turnoff and followed the road through the pines, fifty yards over on the left from the tarmac. It was still a gray day, still overcast, with droplets of water ready to fall off the branches and bushes at the slightest disturbance. There were plenty of fallen branches as well, so I had to keep zig-zagging to get past the obstacles. Whenever possible I favored my left side, until I saw the surface of the lake and knew I was out onto the peninsula. Then I swung left again until I was against the water’s edge. The peninsula curved over towards the side I was on and Hyde’s Island was clearly visible about a quarter of a mile away. I looked at it through the binoculars.

Scott was quite right in his description. The whole island covered about ten acres and as far as I could see it had a wall right around that would have done credit to Berlin at the height of the cold war. Behind the wall were the upper windows and steep roofs of a mock Gothic monstrosity adorned with turrets and domes. Most incredible of all, the whole place was a weird pink color. Xanadu meets Rosebud — Citizen Kane would have loved it. Personally, I thought it looked like a Disney World version of Herman Goering’s hunting lodge.

How the hell had Hyde gotten permission to build such a monstrosity? I guessed that a few county officials had been offered a choice between picking up some easy dollars in bribes or getting on the wrong side of a man called the Toe-Cutter. It’s amazing how influential some nicknames can be. Well, if all else failed maybe the US government could be persuaded to bomb the place flat on aesthetic grounds — it didn’t seem as if the Priscillians were committing any other offences against the public weal.

I started walking again, following the side of the lake as closely as I could, knowing the fence couldn’t be far away. I certainly wasn’t likely to miss it, not from Scott’s description. Nor did I, the silver strands showed up well before I got to the clearing which had been cut across the peninsula with the fence in the middle of it. About five yards of forest had been cut back on each side of the row of concrete based steel posts. In between the posts were panels of steel mesh with strands of razor wire woven through them like grapevines growing on a trellis. The whole thing looked strong enough to stop a herd of charging elephants and vicious enough to keep out a crowd of rioting South American soccer fans.

Being conscientious, I started my inspection at the shoreline, surprised to find that the fence extended well out into the lake waters. No expense spared here on security. What the hell, maybe it was a recovery clinic for Hollywood stars. Even the paparazzi would have a tough time getting in here. Already I was sure my bright idea had turned out to be a dumb one. The people who’d organized this place wouldn’t have left any useful phone numbers lying around. But here I was, so at least I’d go through the motions.

I walked alongside the edge of the cleared area, following the fence towards the road. And then I walked straight into a miracle.

The thing was, I had to keep looking down at where I was putting my feet because of the old branches and puddles that I was stepping around. And just before I put my foot down on a patch of bare mud I noticed there were footprints already in it — and the first one was only an inch or so away from the fence. Just as if somebody had walked through a gate which wasn’t there!

Well, you know how it is — whenever you need an Indian tracker pronto you can never find a Tonto. So I did the best I could myself in trying to make sense out of it all. Some things I could make a rough guess about. The foot prints had been left by somebody wearing trainers, apparently brand new ones. The feet inside them seemed about the same size as mine. The prints were slowly dissolving back into the mud, but they surely hadn’t been there very long to be still visible. They must have been made the day before at the latest, or so I figured. And, most interestingly, the first set of prints were no deeper in the mud than the following ones. No indication at all of an impact landing.

An impact landing! I looked up at the top of the fence and laughed at myself. A kangeroo on steroids couldn’t have leapt over that obstacle. So there couldn’t possibly be any matching footprints on the other side of the fence, could there?

Well, of course there couldn’t be, but I had a look anyway, standing as close to the fence as I could with each of my feet astride the footprint. The mud patch extended back underneath the fence, a tiny trickle of water as wide as a fingernail running underneath the mesh, and within stepping distance, another footprint right up against the fence!

A joke! It had to be a practical joke by somebody with the strangest sense of humor in all the world!

I was so absorbed in trying to make sense of this that I never even saw what was happening, not until I heard a threatening growl from somewhere around my knees. I looked up and on the other side of the fence a set of pure white teeth snapped together in a bite big enough to have taken my hand off in one go. The black eyes above the killing machine jaws were as merciless as a shark’s. The Rottweiler was sixty pounds of bristling aggression, desperate to haul me down as prey for the rest of the pack bursting out from under the trees. I shrieked and fled for my life, fence or no fence.

It’s strange how things come together though, because that was also the same moment that I’m proudest of in my life. Although I was terrified I kept my wits enough to thoroughly trample over the trainer prints before I turned and ran into the trees. If somebody came along to investigate the barking dogs at least they wouldn’t see anything but my footprints. And with any luck at all the pack of Rottweilers now jumping up and down by the fence would mess up the prints on the other side as well. I didn’t know if those things mattered, but I suddenly thought they might.

I also kept enough of my senses to know that I must try to follow the footprints as far as I could. One look at all the pine needles on the forest floor and I was downhearted. It didn’t seem like much of a chance.

Yet I was wrong. Whoever had been wearing the trainers, they seemed to walk this way a lot. Enough to make a faint path anyway, and, thank God, one which travelled in a dead straight line. Because of those two pieces of good luck I was able to keep moving in the right direction. Not very quickly, but staying — literally — on the right track. Until I saw a mound of earth dead ahead, well overgrown with bushes and clumps of grass.

About ten yards long and three wide, obviously man made, though many years ago and long abandoned. Then it crossed my mind that perhaps it was a pre-electric ice house, dug out as a store for lake ice during the summer. That was why the earth was piled on top of it like a wartime bunker, to provide the maximum of insulation, here in the shade of the deep forest. So could somebody have an interest in coming here nowadays?

It seemed not, for I could find no sign of an entrance, not when I walked around it. But a casual look wasn’t enough for me, not with the memory of those footprints tormenting my curiosity. And when I started probing the ground around the mound with my pen, I soon found that at one end there were a layer of planks covered over with leaf mould and fallen needles. I had to dig at the planks with my fingers, ruining my nails doing it, but I eventually managed to lift three out, making a big enough gap to drop into. It was like going into a tunnel and I cursed because I’d have to go back to my car to get a torch. But then I found a big upright neon-tube torch, apparently brand new. It was standing at the corner of the entrance and it proved beyond doubt that somebody came here regularly. I switched it on and crawled inside to explore.

The first thing I found was that there was room enough to stand up in. The walls and ceilings were made of planks, still in reasonably good condition. They seemed to be anyway, and I sure hoped they were, because I didn’t want to get buried in a collapsed dugout. Then I moved around with the torch and found old plastic crates turned upside down for seats, a couple of stained mattresses and a rickety old fold up table covered in stacks of magazines. Porno magazines, very well thumbed magazines, and when I opened the pages I found out that the mattresses weren’t the only things in the ice house which had had bodily fluids spilt on them.

It seemed that what I’d found was a kind of clubhouse for adolescent boys, and all of them obviously obsessed by the usual obsession of adolescent boys — sex. Another plastic crate had piles of cutout pictures in it of assorted fucking and there was another table at the end of the room, a whole lot of crumpled tissues dropped around it onto the dirt floor. Scattered across the top of the table were sheets of newspaper sprinkled with specks of soil freshly fallen from between the overhead planking. I held the torch over the table and my eye was caught by a small article which had been highlighted with slashed textra marks around it. The article was brief and concise, about a very, very famous Hollywood actress and country singer who’d had to cease work suddenly because of high stress levels. Which sounded familiar enough because I’d handled exactly the same news release at the ‘Record’ only three or four days ago. And when I checked the date on the paper I was right, it was only three days old.

I couldn’t understand the way the evidence was pointing. This particular lady’s main attribute was the biggest set of tits in Hollywood but the mere mention of her name in a newspaper didn’t seem enough to motivate a circle jerk.

I shuffled the newspaper pages around and suddenly found a picture underneath them, a very high quality color A3 printout secured to the table top with pieces of ducting tape. And in the center of the photo was the very same actress that the newspaper article was written about. The last time I had seen her she’d been hosting a top music award show on TV in a low cut dress: Robin Williams had described the view it provided the drooling males of America as the grandest canyon of them all. The audience had applauded madly and the singer — let’s call her Ms X — had coyly pretended she hadn’t realized she was displaying more tit flesh than a queue at mammography clinic.

That time she’d been perfectly in control of the situation. This time she wasn’t. This time she was lying on her back on top of a padded bench, her hands behind her head, each wrist held down. And if the expression of horrified surprise on her face was make believe then she had far more acting ability in her than she’d ever shown in any of her movies.

And I’d been thinking about papperazzi! This shot alone would stiffen every prick in the country, if only somebody was game enough to publish it. It couldn’t be real though; it had to be a masterpiece of digital fakery. A product of the same mindset which had set up those footprints at the fence to make it look as if somebody had walked through the mesh and razor wire where there was no opening.

I kept on saying that to myself as I looked at the photograph. The detail was so fine I could see faint wrinkle lines around Ms X’s eyes which made her look a lot older than she did on the movies or on a TV screen. Probably covered by makeup whenever she appeared in front of a camera.

Then I realized the implication of what I was thinking: nobody making up a fake face on a graphics program would bother to invent a detail like that. Which meant … it was real? For God’s sake, could this really have happened? But how could a gang of young boys have gotten these pictures? Unless they had taken them themselves? Which was impossible, they’d never get past her security protection: not unless they could walk through walls and fences …

My mind seized up like a locked computer program, going through the futile routine of looking at the article again and again even though I knew exactly what it said.

Then, slowly, almost reluctantly, I went back to the picture and picked up on the details. It had come off a top quality printer, I was sure, so the original shot had probably been taken with a digital camera. The hands holding down Ms X’s wrists were certainly male, though the fingers appeared remarkably long and tapering. The padded bench top the actress was being pinned down on looked like a massage table. A detail which seemed confirmed by Ms X’s dress and appearance. She was wearing some kind of an exercise suit, a light red colored track suit with darker red stripes patterned vertically into it and a belt tied with a knot around the waist. A full length zip secured it from neck to crotch, although the zip was pulled down far enough to reveal a hint of Ms X’s huge teats. The hood on top of the suit was also pulled back to reveal a damp mass of wet hair and lines of sweat trickling down the sides of her shocked face. Which at least explained the lack of makeup over those wrinkle lines.

At a guess, I’d have said that the exercise suit was rubberized and Ms X had been working and sweating away in it, fighting the daily battle to keep her superb figure when she’d been rudely interrupted. Well, if it wasn’t a rude interruption yet I was certain it soon became one. Held down and heaving like a stranded whale as she was, it was highly unlikely any bunch of guys lucky enough to have a tight grip on one of the most wanted bodies in the world would pass up the chance to fulfill the ultimate wet dream.

Oh, but hell, that was what it was, surely? A horny dream. Just a piece of wishful dreaming by some young guys playing computer games with a hard core porn picture and a movie star’s facial image?

My brain cells were short circuiting every which way but my eyes were still working and no way could I not have lifted the sheets of newspaper from the table top and looked underneath them.

There were three rows of the same kind of color printouts, all taped to the table top. Each of them featured X’s face and, increasingly, her figure. Judging by the number of hands on her there were four guys around the table grabbing at whatever they could, plus whoever was using the camera. Somebody with shaking hands, anyway, because some of the pics were blurred. But that was no surprise, because what had been going on in front of the lens was every high school boy’s wet dream come true.

Especially like a dream in that things didn’t seem to happen sometimes the way they should in real life. But those aberrations were later on in the sequence. At first, what I saw is what I’d expected. The long fingers pulling down the zip on the front of the exercise suit, then easing the thin rubber covering away from the white cups of a sports bra with thumb width adjustment buckles on each wide strap, like a parachute harness — and apparently built to the same strength specifications. And no wonder, because these cups started out where DD size finished: I’m a big girl myself and proud of it but as far as this woman’s bosom was concerned God had shown a total lack of artistic restraint.

The impression from the photos was that the boys themselves couldn’t believe that the cups were for real. Their fingers stroked the massive cones, heads bent low over them for closer looks. And then I began to get an even clearer understanding of the singer’s totally dumbfounded expression. It wasn’t only the assault, it was the appearance of the boys. They all looked different, yet somehow very much the same.

Light skinned, dark skinned, three Caucasians, one Hispanic, an African. But the faces were all triangular shaped, with hooded eyes and high cheekbones. Not peculiarities enough to stand out in a crowd, not if each boy was alone, but together they told an unmistakable story of a shared parent — a father, it must have been, because they all seemed about the same age.

I pinched the palm of my hand and looked around the scummy interior of the ice store to get back in touch with reality. At least I could explain the gang’s obvious relationship easily enough. These boys must be Priscillians and Dan Baldwin’s suspicions about it being a sect were probably right. And all these religious sects seemed to center around the male founder’s divine right to bed as many of the female members as he wanted to. It looked like this sect must have been around for at least fifteen years and that whoever started it was a man with a lot of sexual drive. Overdrive was probably a better word, judging by the size of his family, and it seemed to be an inherited trait.

And then, suddenly, from one shot to the next, the exercise suit disappeared. In one picture it was there, unzipped all the way, but still on Ms X, her arms and legs inside it, the belt knotted around her waist, ends hanging free. In the next shot the suit had gone and all that was left on her body was a tiny pair of blue panties and the sports bra — and the belt that was still tied around her waist.

I couldn’t understand it. With that belt left in place it would have been twice as difficult to peel the exercise suit off Ms X’s body. Taking the belt off first would have been the logical way to start stripping her. So if they did take the belt off, why would the guys bother to put it back on again? And would they knot it again with exactly the same kind of knot?

Then I noticed that her exercise shoes are still on her feet as well. Yet dragging the close fitting suit down over them must have been almost impossible. They’d taken her shoes off and then put them back on again? Just to see how they looked on an otherwise naked movie star? No way!

Again and again I looked at the two shots, comparing them. Then I noticed the large bead of sweat close to Ms X’s right eye in the last shot with the suit on. In the first shot without the suit that same bead of sweat was still there, in almost exactly the same place. And Ms X’s mouth is gaping open in astonishment. So is mine. Because in the next shot a forefinger reaches down and touches the top of the left bra cup — in the next shot another finger from a different hand rests on the other cup — in the third shot the bra has also disappeared and the two finger tips are gently rubbing the singer’s bared nipples!

When I saw this I almost dropped the torch. Compared to what I was looking at here those Rottweilers back at the fence suddenly seemed like playful puppies. For either I don’t know Jack or else this is heavy, heavy duty shit, and no wonder Ms X is being treated for stress, never mind what else has happened to her. Just looking at the shots I’ve seen so far has put me on the edge of a nervous breakdown of my own. I ran my fingers over the camera in my pocket and knew I would have to use it to photograph these photographs. Without that proof to keep looking at I’d be doubting my own sanity as soon as I’d left this crazy place.

On the next row of shots groups of faces came together again, meetings of brothers — half brothers. Not only are some of the facial expressions shared, there even seems to be a kind of empathy between them as they handle the massive bared udders, squeezing each one so the nipples are held high for waiting mouths to eagerly suckle. One of the boys has a length of elastic which he keeps snapping against the swollen nipples whenever he gets a clear shot: it’s a hell of a way to treat a pair of tits insured for a million bucks apiece. For a crazy second I imagined the scene at Lloyd’s of London when the underwriters read the insurance claim on this incident. I’m even giggling at the thought but I stop it when I think I hear something moving outside the ice store.

I waited and I waited, but I didn’t hear anything else except my pounding heart, and finally I looked at the shots again. They’re as unreal as ever. These dudes aren’t worried about being caught, they’re cool, they’re so cool they smile at each other like they’re smoking behind the gymn at school instead of mauling a major film star. How can that be? If these pictures are for real then this woman must have had security guards nearby, and if they come storming in these young delinquents will be hamburger meat.

But it’s Ms X’s biggest assets which are the fast food item here and she’s not getting any help from anybody. None of the boys seem at all sympathetic to her. It’s that kind of shared mindset again that I sense between them: they’re in the groove, they’re doing exactly what they want to do and nobody else matters at all. Instead of being frightened of being discovered they seem to be doing everything they can to make their victim yell out at the top of her voice!

It’s power I’m seeing here, and the power of a pack of young males over one trapped woman is only the least part of it. Either I’m mad enough to be institutionalized or these guys seem able to make things disappear — and re-appear too, maybe, because there sure wasn’t any hole left in that fence where the footprints had crossed it. Not one big enough for a Rottweiler to get through, anyway.

I shook my head as if I’d been punched, trapped in a contradiction between plain sense and plain sight. Things couldn’t be the way they looked, so these photos must be faked. And this whole setup must be some kind of strange joke staged for anybody who comes snooping around the Priscillians. But if it’s a joke, how did this group of religious nuts arrange that report about Ms X in the paper? I know that’s not a fake because the Record itself ran it — for Christ’s sake, it was me that took it off the wire!

I can’t find a way through the mental maze my logic is hopelessly lost inside. I don’t know whether I’ve stumbled into something a quantum jump beyond incredible or whether maybe somebody is watching me on a surveillance camera and laughing fit to bust. And then I realized my arms were crossed in front of my body and I was gently rubbing my own nipples. I also realized I was more turned on by the pictures on the table than just about anything I’d ever seen in my life.

Maybe it was because I was inwardly convinced now that it really was Ms X I was looking at on the shots. How often you get to see a movie star being set up for a real live gangbang? And every girl wonders about how she’d feel if she was in that kind of a situation: suppose it was me on that bench, suppose it was me that was held down and stripped off, suppose it was me who was having her tits played with and sucked on, being made hot and ready for the first of her impatient lovers?

Yes, for me that was a turn on too, but what was absolutely grabbing me was a fantasy I’d had ever since I reached puberty. A fantasy about the Greek myths and about how Gods like Zeus had come down among mortals to pleasure himself with their woman. What must it have felt like for a beautiful Greek girl to suddenly find herself being a fuck toy for a bunch of pleasure seeking immortals visiting from Mount Olympus? To be the slave of demi-gods with divine powers who could punish or pleasure beyond limit at a whim?

Yes, it was a dream because there are no gods in real life. Some good looking guys sure, a few I’d even gone down on my knees for, but none I’d ever felt like worshipping. Perhaps I hadn’t found the right sect myself to join, or the right leader. But maybe that was changing, because either I was a total moron or here was a gang of teenage boys with genuine supernatural powers.

OK, maybe it was a crazy thought but I had enough evidence on those shots to make the idea seem plausible, and how much more evidence does anybody need to justify a sexual fantasy? True or faked, I wanted time to study all the photos for every detail in them. Even if they were digital trickery they were still an incredible discovery. If they were true … if they were true then fate had handed me a chance that would never come again in a thousand lifetimes. Overnight I could become the most famous journalist in history!

But this wasn’t a place I should be lingering in. It seemed like I’d been here for hours already, and what if somebody had come to check on those noisy dogs, or saw my car near the road? Yes, it was time to be out of here. I needed time to think and plan. After I’d done what I needed to do.

The first chores were the easy ones. Taking flash photos of the inside of the ice house, then checking if there was any other photos anything like the ones on the table. If there were, I couldn’t find them, everything else was strictly commercial type porn. Then I picked up a few of the crumpled tissues off the floor. If these guys were anywhere as near as strange as I suspected their DNA should be real interesting. The thought did cross my mind that I’d collected sperm samples before, but this was the first time I’d ever carried them home in my pocket. Maybe I should tell that to Dan and watch him start panting.

The hard part was trying to photograph the shots of Ms X with my camera. As good as it was, and even with the flash and the macro lens setting, when I looked through the display screen I knew that what I was getting was well below the quality of the originals. So that left me staring down at the table with a multiple choice question. Take none of the below? Take one of the below? Take all of the below?

Take none of them and nobody back at the Record would believe what I was telling them. The second hand shots out of my own camera would never carry the conviction that one of the originals photos would.

Take one of them and my story would be more convincing, but then the owners of the pictures would know beyond doubt that somebody had been here. Somebody who had been here and seen all the pictures. Somebody who’d also picked up the tissues with the traces of cum from their own cocks which linked them straight into a rape case guaranteed to send the media totally apeshit if word about it leaked out.

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