Alice tried to remember who had given her the key. And when I say tried to remember, I don’t mean in the casual “Oh I’m sorry I think I may have left it in my pocket when I dropped my jacket off at the dry cleaners, well we’ll just see if it comes back won’t we,” way that I sometimes use when I’m feeling particularly mean. Oh no, this was serious, full on brain racking, checking records, plundering the depths of her hard drive. E-mail inboxes, photos, everything to try to figure out who had given it her and, more importantly what poor sod had his cock and balls still locked away whilst she and, ultimately me, rooted through her home-office.
“Well look, if we at least knew how long you’ve had it that might help?” I say.
“Well it’s been a while, I mean if it had been in the last few months I’d have remembered.”
“Don’t you use something to keep track of them, like a colour code or something?” I ask.
“Not really. I mean, hey, we can’t all be OCD about these things, some boys like the lackadaisical approach.”
“No, they like the idea of the lackadaisical approach. Nobody wants to actually have to go to A&E and have a pneumatic claw half a millimeter from their most sensitive parts,” I say.
“Look, I’m sure it’s fine, I mean most probably either they’ve already found a way out, or else they’d be messaging me daily with pleas for mercy and promises of all sorts of … recompense.”
I sigh, nod, and rub my eyes for a moment.
“Can I have a look at it?” I ask.
She rummages in her jeans pocket and produces a small and tarnished piece of steel. I take it from her, and peer closely at it. The I grab my handbag and pull out my pocket magnifier to have a closer look.
“It’s an older model,” I say, “going from the design, we’re talking at least five years, maybe more.”
“What? How can you tell that?”
“The teeth are only on one side. Most modern designs use teeth on both edges, it’s a security feature designed to stop locks being bumped.”
“Yes, it’s like a Newton’s cradle, a sharp shock splits the two parts of the pins allowing you to rotate the chamber and release the lock. Became all the range for burglaries a few years ago and they responded with a few different measures.”
“But loads of keys still look like that.”
“Yes, but not from this manufacturer, look,” I say. I hold the key up, my fingernail underlining the logo.
“OK, but that still doesn’t prove– they could just have used an old lock.”
I shake my head. “No, the surface of the teeth are still rough from where it’s been machined. Normally keys and locks mate and wear each other smooth, but this one’s been used only a handful of times. Nope, I’d say the chap who used this put it more or less straight on best part of half a decade ago and– what?”
She’s watching me with a mixed look of glee and horror. I hold out the key to her.
“That’s some serious Sherlock shit you just came out with,” she says, holding back laughter.
I wave her away but can’t deny the flush of pride that surges through me.
“Hey,” I say, “I take my job seriously you know.”
I can feel something momentous tickling at the edge of my awareness. Alice starts to say something.
“Shut up!” I snap, holding up a finger. It’s a hard sell, pulling the Domme voice on a fellow Mistress, but it does the trick, giving me the silence I need to let the idea come. What did she say?
I scramble to my feet, kicking over piles of paper as I make my way to her computer and start furiously googling.
“Does this face ring any bells?” I say, clicking an image so that it fills the screen. Alice leans in close, squinting.
“I… yeah, that does look a familiar face. Yes, hang on it’s all coming back to me now, yes, all very cloak and dagger that one.”
“You do know who she is?” I ask. Alice shakes her head. “It’s, it’s her!” I say pointing wildly at the screen.
“Lamia; devil-woman; the evil seductress and hope-stealer of the faithful!”
I click back to the full-page of results and click another that shows the happy couple.
“Oh, is he that one that you–”
“So… so you think she might have…?”
“Yes,” I say.
“Oh… no wonder he always looks so… intense.”
We take a moment to zone out at the sight of his gorgeousness. Drip by drip an awareness of just what’s going on hits me.
“Alice,” I say, “could I possibly borrow that key?”
“I, I guess so. Why? What are you planning?”
She hands over the little sliver of steel. I run my fingers over it, imagining the feel of it in the lock. Suddenly the hours spent daydreaming up my master plan don’t feel like a waste at all.
“Oh, nothing too much,” I say, “I’m just going to arrange a jailbreak.”