There was a coldness about the room. It came from the soft flicker of fluorescent lights recessed into the ceiling, from the dull white paint on the upper walls and the gray-blue paper decorating their lower half. My obscured reflection staring up through the floor's polished sheen offered nothing of the warm reassurance I craved. The clack of my heels against the wood floor echoed with the cold, hollowness of a cell. Most of all, the room was cold because of its vacancy, its loneliness.
My arrival was proceeded by the arrival of an equally cold message. Delivered via the company's intranet messaging system, it had filled the computer screen leaving no possibility it could be missed or ignored. My throat went dry, my eyes blinked and burned with the damming of trepidatious tears. Unable to clear away the message, I shut off the monitor and glanced guilty about the office. No one had noticed or gave any indication they had seen. I rose to my feet, standing on legs braced by trembling knees and forced myself to walk.
Brian Emmerson awaited me in the hallway. With a stoic face and dispassionate eyes he assessed me from head to toe. I imagined a checklist in his mind's eye and the silent ticking off of mark after mark against me. When his gaze crossed my own and eyes locked together, he gestured down the hallway to my left. I glanced to the right, briefly considering the prospect of fleeing out the exit. The warmth of daylight beckoned me, but Brian's eyes assured me of what I already knew; There was no escape.
At the end of the hallway was the room. Brian opened the door and I stepped inside with him close behind me. The door slammed closed and locked. I walked further into the room, feeling trapped. Brian followed me for a few more steps before stopping about a quarter of the way into the room. Though I chose to avoid looking at him, I doubt his gaze ever left me alone. When the wall would permit me no further distance, I stopped, reaching out and touching its cool surface.
In a quiet voice, Brian said, "I warned you."
"You did," I replied without turning around.
"I should say you've disappointed me, but you haven't," he said.
My lips flickered a wry smile for the wall. It was a compliment of sorts, the only sort Brian Emmerson was capable of giving. I could hate him for taking pleasure in the discomfort, pain, of others. He would forgive me, but such hate would be misplaced. Taking pleasure in doing one's job is the farthest thing from a crime and it would be dishonest to suggest he was responsible for my presence in the room. I had only myself to blame, to hate.
He said, "Your performance of late is unacceptable."
"I've been," I said, pausing in search of the appropriate word to express myself, "distracted."
"The time for excuses has passed," he said.
I turned to face him and said, "I know."
He asked, "Do you know what happens now?"
Biting my lip, I shrugged. Something about the tone of his voice, the flicker of light in his eyes, suggested he was amused with me. There were many reasons for the rising color in my cheeks, but none more tender than his amusement. I shifted my weight between my legs, taking deep breaths to calm the flush and fluster of embarrassed thoughts swirling in my head. His face remained a stone mask of detachment and yet, looking into his eyes, I could feel a warmth both comforting and humbling.
"The stool," he said and I asked, "Do you want me to sit on it?"
Brian shook his head. My gaze drifted from the wooden stool a few steps away on my left, to Brian. A faint upturn at the corners of lips reinforced my impression of his amusement. In general, in vagueness, I understood the purpose of my visit to the room and what would happen within its confines. Those who entered, chose to speak little, if at all, about the events transpiring behind the closed door, but much as they might wish to conceal the aftereffects, they were always plainly obvious. It was meant to be a deterrent for the rest. In truth it was much more, a punishment, an embarrassment, a shamefully public dressing down.
"The stool," he said, pausing in emphasis, "will hold your neatly folded clothing after you've disrobed."
"Oh," I said, my face burning with embarrassment.
"You may now disrobe down to your panties," he said.
I started to lift my sweater and paused, the words sinking in and uncertainty shuddering through me. "My panties?" I asked.
"You will keep them on for the moment, but nothing else," he said and snapped his fingers. "Now, everything else off."
Jumping at the sound of his fingers, I lifted my sweater up and over my head. With trembling fingers, I folded the garment and stepped closer to the stool, laying my sweater on its wooden seat. Balancing myself against the stool, I lifted a foot at a time and slipped off my sandals, leaving them to rest with my discarded sweater. I swallowed rising trepidation and forced my fingers to unfasten my jeans and slip them down my legs. Stepping out of them, I folded them quickly and placed them on the stool. Feeling naked and exposed, I glanced at Brian hoping I could keep my undergarments in place.
"Panties only," Brian said, sounding irritated at having to repeat himself.
I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and pivoted my back to Brian. He cleared his throat and said, "Facing me, Amber."
It had only been a silly impulse to hide myself from his view. There was in reality, no place to hide and nothing which could remain in hiding even if there were. Still, I looked at him over my shoulder, hoping to find softness. Instead, all I found was his impassive face, daunting eyes, and a will hardened against my own. I could fight, albeit with silence and inaction, but the consequences would be heavy and more than I could bear. Surrendering, I turned to face him fully and without blinking, I lifted my camisole off and laid it to rest on the stool. Brian looked on, unimpressed.
“Face the wall,” he said, turning his back to me, “hands behind your head.”
I waited a moment, watching him walk toward the back wall and the rack with the tools of his trade hanging from it. The collection of paddles, straps, and various other implements was intimidating to consider. Each implement alone would leave redness and soreness in its wake, together their effects were unimaginable. I turned to the wall and raised my hands in place before he selected his tool or tools. Anticipation shivered down my spine and the room grew colder, hardening my exposed nipples. My face blushed hotter.
Brian asked, “Have you been spanked before?”
I twisted to look back at him over my shoulder and said, “Not recently.”
“Then it must have worked,” he said.
Another brief smile found its way to my lips and I said, “I suppose it did.”
“I hope to have the same luck today,” he said turning his gaze back to the rack of tools, “What were you last spanked for?”
“Misbehaving,” I said, trying to ignore the memory threatening to flash before my eyes.
“I would think that much would go without saying, but I suppose in some cases the situation might be different,” he said, still studying the tools before him. “What was the nature of your misbehavior?”
“Is this really necessary?” I asked.
He glanced back at me, flashing a smile, and asked, “Spanking you or asking you questions?”
“The questions,” I said.
Brian laughed. He said, “It’s good you realize the spanking is necessary.”
“More like unavoidable,” I said feeling my face’s temperature climb even higher. “And the questions?”
“Are no different than the spanking,” he said. “I must learn a few things about your experiences in order that this experience be as memorable and effective as possible.”
“What if I refuse to answer?” I asked.
“Silence is its own answer, but it comes with consequences most would choose to avoid,” he said.
“Such as?” I asked.
“Would you like me to demonstrate?” he asked.
“I suppose not,” I said.
“Then tell me,” he said, looking at me through narrowed eyes, “what was the nature of your misbehavior when you were last spanked?”
“I spent a few too many hours on my cellphone and incurred a rather hefty bill for my parents,” I said.
“That was rather naughty of you, wasn’t it?” Brian said.
“You could say that,” I said, turning my gaze back to the wall.
“I believe I did,” he said. “How long ago was this?”
“Three years ago,” I said.
“And you were spanked?” Brian asked.
I said, “Yes.”
“Was it your mother or your father who spanked you?” he asked.
“My father,” I said.
The memory came flushing back. My mother sat at the kitchen table, teacup in her hands and a fresh lemon slice laying on a nearby napkin. She was looking at my father, ignoring my very existence. My father stood in front of me, the bill in his hands, shaking in front of my face while he demanded an explanation. The explanation I fumbled at him fell short of defining a reason to spare my bottom from being bared and spanked.
Brian asked, “Did he spank you on your bare bottom?”
I nodded and said, “Yes.”
“Was your bottom bared by you or by him?” Brian asked.
I said, “I did it.”
“So you were cooperative?” Brian asked.
“Yes,” I said.
“At the time,” Brian asked, “did you believe you deserved to have your bare bottom spanked?”
“Probably not,” I said.
Brian asked, “Probably?”
“It was a long time ago. I don’t really remember what my attitude was at the time,” I said.
Brian said, “Three years is not so long ago. You do remember getting the spanking don’t you?”
“Yes,” I said.
“But you don’t remember how you felt about it?” he asked.
“I would rather have avoided it,” I said.
Brian asked, “Are you certain?”
“What do you mean?” I asked, glancing back at him. “Of course I would rather not get my bottom spanked.”
“And yet you behaved in a manner making it unavoidable,” Brian said.
“I failed to consider the consequences until it was too late to avoid them,” I said.
Brian said, “I take it you are considering the consequences now.”
“I don’t even know what they are,” I said.
Brian laughed. He said, “I’m rather certain you have an idea of what you can expect.”
I turned back to the wall. It was true enough. The secrets of the room were well kept by those unfortunate enough to have crossed its threshold, but the after effects were common knowledge. Everyone who ever exited the room did so with the obvious evidence of having been spanked and spanked thoroughly. Reddened buttocks, thighs and faces were proof enough that inside the room they had been spanked. The bareness of their bottoms, although not solid proof, certainly suggested the spanking was given on the bare and the marks, evidenced it was more than a hand at work during the spanking. I had no idea the full extent of the punishment awaiting me, but I knew a spanking was a certainty from the instant the message ordering me to the room had appeared.
“Not beyond the obvious,” I said. “It is a well kept secret what happens within these walls.”
Brian said, “I expect it will remain that way. If the secrets of this room are divulged, you can expect to be returning here with the full compliment of your coworkers watching everything that happens.”
“Wouldn’t that take away the apprehension we all feel about this room?” I asked.
“You might think so, but should it come to that, you can surely expect I will be far more severe than I will be today,” he said.
“I won’t tempt my fate,” I said.
“I doubt you will do so intentionally, but we are here today and I did warn you before it came to this,” Brian said.
“I’m not perfect,” I said.
“No, but if you were, I wouldn’t be able to correct your flaws and that too would be less than perfect,” Brian said.
“Is that your way of saying you like being here with me?” I asked.
It was a dangerous question to ask. We were practically flirting and such behavior alone was dangerous, but to boldly accuse him of enjoying the power of his position to seek my companionship inside the room was a step farther, perhaps even too far. His shoes clacked on the floor, his footsteps drawing closer with every echoing contact. Their was a briskness about him, catching my breath in my throat and pulsing blood in my temple. I wished to take back my careless words and yet I ached to hear his truthful answer.
“Do you think I called you hear because I fancy you?” Brian asked.
“No,” I said, my voice a mere whisper against the wall.
Brian said,“Your work was three volumes under production yesterday and you were on track to be the same today. You came out twelve volumes under last week and eight the week before. Could that failure of yours possibly be the reason you are here?”
“I didn’t mean to say it wasn’t my own doing,” I said.
“You didn’t mean it?” Brian said, his hot breath puffing against the nape of my neck. “You speak without thinking, you work without thinking, you claim to have been distracted as your excuse for your pitiful performance of late and yet the only thing distracting you is you.”
“I’m sorry,” I said, my voice squeaking.
“Indeed you are,” he said. “Lower your panties and touch your toes.”
Compliance came easily. My fingers slipped inside the waistband and the silky material slid its way down my legs to rest above my knees. I stepped back from the wall and bent down, stretching my hands out toward my naked toes. It was awkward, embarrassing to know I was at his mercy, my body’s secrets exposed to his whims. My chest heaved with deep breaths sucked in to swallow the mounting tension and fear. The softness of leather, cold and stiff, brushed against my bulging buttocks.
“You will kneel at your workstation the remainder of the day,” Brian said.
The leather whisked through the cold room air and lashed against my taunt bottom cheeks. I yelped in response to the sting. My buttocks clenched together in defense against the onslaught, but he waited for the muscles to relax and the burn to build before lashing the leather down again. My entire body swayed with each impact, the sting shooting through my nerves, dripping tears from my eyes. The burning built upon itself until my legs quivered uncontrollably bent on cooling my bottom by any means possible.
Sobbing in a pool at his feet, I said, “Please, no more. No more, please. I’ll try harder, I’ll do better, I swear. Please, I swear.”
“Stand up,” Brian ordered and I stood.
Brian said, “Remove your panties and place them on the stool.”
I lacked the strength to argue or protest the final humiliation. Wiping tears from my eyes and cheeks, I bit my lower lip and dared a look at his stoic face. A twinge of compassion twinkled in his eyes, but there was nothing to suggest he would relent. My fingers found my panties around my knees and I tugged them down and off. Nursing my bottom, I walked to the stool and dropped the silky garment on top. I sniffled.
“I think it’s time for you to get back to work,” Brian said. “You will complete today’s work and make up all your shortages for the past three weeks before you go home.”
I nodded and said, “I understand.”
Facing my coworkers was not a pleasant thought. They would laugh and joke at my expense. Their eyes would wander, drinking in my naked exposure and the punishment so clearly evidenced by a red, glowing backside. It would be humiliating, more so because I had been on the other side so many times for so many others, and this was the first time I had suffered the fate. Overall the room was not quite as devastating as I had expected, but it was not a trip I wished to repeat anytime soon either. I walked out the door, Brian closely following me, and together we returned to the main office. I closed my eyes and pretended I was wearing clothes as I walked to my station, pushed the chair out of the way and knelt on the floor. There were snickers and smirks and whistles and whispered comments because that is the way of the punishment room.