One Way Trip

By Daphne

“Another local girl goes missing, authorities believe runaway or prostitution is likely involved,” Dawn Meadows read the article aloud. “Can you believe this crap?” she added in irritation. Putting the paper down loudly, she emphasized her point.

“I'm guessing by your demeanor that you have another theory?” replied Danny with subtle affection in his eyes.

“You're damn right I do! You know as well as I do that this girl didn't run away, or more ridiculous become a prostitute! Not by her own choice at any rate. I'd bet my new nail polish that he has something to do with it,” added an irate Dawn folding the newspaper in half and holding it up for Danny to see. Her extended index finger with finely manicured nail pointed at a black and white photo of a middle eastern sheik named Abir Saleh. The text that accompanied the photo explained his recent visit to New York City on business.

Danny looked at the picture, then back at Dawn's glaring green eyes, and while his look was affectionate, he couldn't help but role his eyes at his co-worker's tenacious conspiratorial implications. He had long sought the affections of Dawn Meadows in their time together at the Rose Tribune, never quite succeeding, but never giving up. He was prisoner to her long blonde hair, and voluminous green eyes. Her smile and laugh only further drove him off the cliff as if her long slender legs didn't do that enough. She always dressed in her favorite blue skirt suits, accompanied by sheer barely black pantyhose. This outfit always seemed to land Dawn in no end of trouble but she had little choice as the strict dress code of the Rose Tribune, and Mr. O'Neil, the editor, mandated it. Danny sympathised with the frustrations Dawn endured in the sweltering heat, frigid cold, and dangerous locales that her reporting seemed to take her, but he couldn't deny he was also secretly glad Dawn had to dress that way.

While he had grown to be infatuated with his lovely coworker, he was never too intoxicated by her long legged beauty to learn when she was hatching a theory that usually took her outside the bounds of traditional reporting. Dawn's strive for truth and justice demanded an eye on all sides, and investigating where we might not want to find the answer. This often caused rifts between herself, coworkers, and especially the editor, Mr. O'Neil. He was a giant of a man, whose temper all but forshadowed the heart attack that would some day claim him in one of his rages. He was often red in the face after Dawn scampered out of his office in her dainty heels, following one of their meetings. His shouting made everyone in the office cringe, and keep their heads down in their work when his door finally opened to expunge an equally shaken and amused Dawn before slamming the door, causing all the blinds to shake as in a strong wind.

Much of Mr. O'Neil's aggitation at the investigations of Dawn Meadows stemmed form the fact she often investigated people of high regard and ranking. The Rose Tribune being a highly ranked and regarded publication made Mr. O'Neil a very highly ranked and regarded man in the city. This of course left him very red faced when his top reporter went sniffing her little nose around the big buisness of New York City. Politics always came into play the higher up you went. Even though Dawn Meadows was born into the world rich and entitled, she never treated her job or the work that way. Truth and Justice guided her, and politics protected no one in her eyes. Mr. O'Neil would have fired her long ago for her irksome meddling, if it weren't for the fact that she always ended up being correct, and the stories that she blew the lid off of were in part why the Rose Tribune was regarded in the upper echelon of publications. The truth is, she was always closer to getting fired for having too many runs in her pantyhose, or getting caught padding around the office in her stocking feet. When she was invevitalby caught for lack of professionalism, she would always go red faced and wiggle her toes against the reinforced nylon and appologize that it would never happen again, while running back to desk to slip back into the punshing confinement of her heels.

“Well, what do you think?” asked Dawn for the third time, shaking Danny from his revelries about the history of Dawn Meadow's reputation at the Rose Tribune. “And don't roll your eyes about this,” she scolded.

“Dawn, it's just, you know how you get. I mean, seriously? You think that Abir Saleh is running around New York City kidnapping young women and flying them back to his exotic palace to live as slaves?”

“Thank you for agreeing with me!” exclaimed Dawn, slapping the folded newspaper on the desk and tapping the ends of her red polished nails on the photo of Abir Saleh. Smiling triumphantly, she leaned back in her chair, and kicked her feet up on her desk, hands folded behind her blonde head.

Noting that Dawn's feet were once again void of her heels (probably kicked off under her desk), a company dress code violation that could get her terminated, Danny sighed. Partially because of the sheer dark nylon that was pulled taught over her cute toes all the way up her impossibly long legs, disappearing under her deliciously fitting short blue skirt, but more from the fact that Dawn minterpreting him as agreeing with her.

“I didn't say that I agreed with you,” corrected Danny in patient tones, trying not to get caught looking at the desirable display of her legs on the desk, though honestly how was he supposed to not look? There they were, running the length of the desk! Just as quickly as they had popped up on the desk, she uncrossed them and the sheer barely black nylons with reinforced toes slipped over the edge and back beneath the desk like a pair of deadly vipers. Danny misinterpreted their retraction as him getting caught for admiring their slender sight, when it was the fortuitous note that Mr. O'Neil was storming across the office that scared Dawn's tempting little legs and their all too fragile nylons off the desk, and back into their heels where they belonged.

“I just think that it's a loose connection, and I'm not sure that I trust the sources that we've spoken to so far,” added Danny to try and counteract the frown that he saw claim Dawn's pretty face. “They were runaways and prostitutes themselves. Which is not to say that they can't be reliable, I'm just saying, well you know, that perhaps they aren't the most reliable sources for accusations this big,” added Danny gently trailing off.

“You know what? You're right, Danny!” exlaimed Dawn, clapping her hands together.

“I am? I mean, I didn't mean to call into question their character based on their profession; really? I'm right?”

“Yes you are! I'll admit I was upset at first, but I get it. Mr. O'Neil will never agree to let me pursue the story with the whores and the street walkers for witnesses.”

“Well I'm not sure we have to have to refer to them that way, but I'm glad that you see the point.”

“Which is why I'm going to catch him in the act personally!” exclaimed Dawn.

“Exactly! Wait, what? No, no that's not what I meant, Dawn!”

“Of course it is, Danny! You're brilliant... as usual. Thank you so much!” she added with a wink, while grabbing her stuff together and jumping up from her desk. As a wirlwind that only Dawn Meadows can be described when she's on the case, she swept from her office, leaving Danny awestruck at what just happened.

“Wait, does that mean that you're not going to dinner with me tonight?” he asked to the empty office save for himself, for Dawn was already halfway to the elevator, and her green jaguar that waited in the parking garage below.

“Taking who to dinner?” barked Mr. O'Neil as he appeared in the theshold of Dawn's office to find Danny sitting oddly by himself with a confused look on his face. “Where's Meadows off to in such a hurry? She nearly severed my big toe with those pointy shoes of hers! And I think I noticed a run in her stockings, did you see that? I think it was on the back of her knee. We have standards here at the Tribune. Female employees represent our good name, and if they want to continue working here, they will keep their hose in good repair, or find work at some other hack of a paper. Did you see the run, Danny?” barked O'Neil, but Danny wasn't listening. He was still trying to process what Dawn meant by catching Abir Saleh in the act. According to the article he was arriving at the airport in a little under an hour. That could only mean one thing.

As Danny was processing Dawn's sudden and mysterious plan, and Mr. O'Neil was contemplating whether or whether not she had a run in her nylons on the back of her knee (incidentally she did), Dawn Meadows was speeding down the highway in her forest green jaguar convertible with the top down. Along with the mansion her deceased parents left her, the green jag was what revealed Dawn as a girl of style and class. With sunglasses on and a long flag of blonde hair blowing behind her, she made her way quickly with determination toward the airport and her suspect, one Mr. Abir Saleh.

Admittedly, the idea had come to Dawn as an impulse as they often did, and she did not have any time to prepare for her investigation. Armed with her purse and the meager supplies that it consisted of: being a camera phone and an emergency pair of pantyhose, Dawn slammed the door of her Jaguar, and briskly walked through the giant concrete cave of the airport parking garage to the rhythmic clicking of her high heels. She has made a couple of impromptu calls on the way to some trusted contacts that would be able to get her information on the where/when/how Abir Saleh would be arriving. The scoop was that he would be taking a meeting at a reserved business suite in the airport. The details surrounding the meeting were hazy at best. Dawn's contacts were good at what they did, and their inability to gather up details even in the short amount of time provided left the intrepid reporter with the same nast feeling in her gut. Abir was up to no good. It would be up to her to crash the meeting and get the scoop on her own to prove whether or not she still had a nose for news.

The inside of the airport was bustling with comings and goings as it always was, supporting the business and pleasure of New York City. That initially made it easy for Dawn to make her way without the least bit of suspicion. It was only as she got nearer to the business area of the airport did the crowd begin to change. Dressed in her smart and sexy skirt suit didn't draw any unsual attention to herself other than the leering eyes of businessmen from various parts of the globe. The internally rolled her eyes, and pretended not to be disgusted by the ones that were not very good at sneaking a look. Soon enough she was in the area reserved for business suites reserved for private meetings. Private costs money and that thinned out and changed the crowd. It was soon evident that she was surrounded by an upper echelon of individuals, making fast and big business deals that influenced the world and economy in ways she might only imagine, without ever leaving the comforts of this wing of of the airport, then jumping back on their private jets to return to whatever part of the world they called home. 

Checking the notes that she made for herself on her cellphone in regards to the location of Abir Saleh's meeting, Dawn pretended to be doing nothing more conspicious than texting a girlfriend, while taking in her current location to orient herself in comparison to her directions. Before long, she navigated her way near Saleh's business suite carrying herself with as much confidence as the act required so that she looked like she belonged where she was. The act caused her to grow increasingly anxious, the closer that she got, and when she rounded a corner and found herself looking at the back of one of Abir's private security detail, her heart began to pound against her ribs in flight response. As fortune would have it, there was an alcove outside the suite with a set of male/female bathrooms. Survival's first reaction made her dash quickly into the alcove, and press tightly and quietly against the wall.

When several seconds passed without a guard coming running into the alcove to accost the suspicious acting young woman nosing around a private meeting, Dawn's heart yielded its hammering against her ribs, if only slightly. Worried that the guard might make a round on the vicinity for privacy check, Dawn slipped into the ladies room, cringing at first, then sighing as the door opened on silent hinges. After confirming that the large six stall bathroom was vacant, she returned to the door. Tucking her blond hair behind her ear, she pressed it to the door to keep a check on the occurences outside.

Soon afterwards she heard the low growl of threatening words in a male voice accompanied by the soft whimpers of a girl. Risking a peek, Dawn delicately pushed the door open a crack with the tip of her high heels and focused one green eye on the action outside. At first, just the sounds, then two people flashed into view and stopped outside the business suite. From her vantage point and sliver of view it was impossible to tell if she would recognize either person, but Dawn could tell by his unsavory character, that the man was nasty, and his rundown attire clashed heavily with the well tailored theme in this wing of the airport. The girl appeared to be there against her will by the body language that she was giving off. While she was pretty and dressed in a sexy manner, she clearly appeared very unhappy about her attire given the way that she tugged, and hugged at the various ways her outfit did not cover her body. She also gave off a very tired bedraggled aura in her protests.

After a brief moment, the door to the suite opened, permitted the mismatched pair an entrance. Fortune again showing Dawn favor, the door closed but not all the way, allowing the nosy reporter's green eye a sliver of view into the private meeting. While the distance and angle were not ideal, Dawn did not spit in the face of her luck, and was thankful for the occasion that the room's inhabitants paced across her line of sight. While she was not certain yet, her gut told her that one of the figures that she caught a glimpse of over an over again in his pacing, was Abir Saleh.

What soon followed was a heated argument coming from within the suite. The raised voices allowed Dawn to eavesdrop on what was being said, even at her distance.

“What is this!? What do you bring me? This is what you think I asked for? Have we not done business before? Do you not understand what I mean when I ask? Are you a fool? Do you think I'm a fool!? Why does he not answer? Why is he mumbling? “ The voice bellowed the questions in a thick accent, and the best Dawn could surmise from her perpective was that Abir was expressing deep dissatisfaction toward the thug character, then became even angrier when he could not undersand the mumbled excuses provided.

“What am I supposed to do with this? Is she on drugs? Is she high right now?” the sound of fingers snapped again and again. “Are those needle marks in her arms!? Am I supposed to entice my buyers with this? You, go, clean her up! I am sickened my this failure!” he barked. If not for his thick accent, the manner in which he ranted and ordered people around, Abir Saleh sounded like an alternate version of Mr. O'Neil.

After a few more unintelligble mumbles, the door to the suite swung wide open, and the thug and the girl came stumbling out, the thug visibly shaken, the girl slightly less so, only because she seemed so out of it. The reporter side of Dawn Meadows was so busy processing every incriminating thing that she just heard that she didn't notice until it was almost too late that the bedraggled pair was heading straight for her in the ladies room!

With a gasp, Dawn pulled the tip of her shoe out of the door, backing up a few steps. The click of her pointy heels on the bathroom tiles made her cringe with horror. Acting on the instinct of fear, she quickly slipped her shoes off one after another. Not able to think clearly, she tossed the heels into the trash can and hurried back toward the furthest bathroom stall. Closing the door, and turning the lock dial, she stepped up onto the toilet seat, balancing precariously on her slick stocking clad feet. Pressing her slender fingers to the walls of the stall, she did her best to maintain a quiet balance and make herself invisible.

She has only just locked the bathroom stall and just begun to step onto the slippery porcelain of the toilet that the entrance to the ladies room banged open with the frustrated mutterings of the thug and his charge. His quips were full of anger but were laced with fear; the fear that Abir Saleh had just infused him with over his supreme disappointment. The awkward click of the girl's heels stumbling over the bathroom tiles mixed with the thug's bravado complaints now that he wasn't in the presense of his decidedly terrifying employer. The sound of the sink soon followed, drowning out the thug's complaints to Dawn's ears as she struggled to maintain her balance in a short skirt suit, a crouched position. Her thin fingers shakily pressed against the stall walls, while silky nylon clad feet worked to find an uknown grip with a smooth porcelain toilet seat. The whole situation was difficult to keep up as indicated by the drips of sweat forming on her well plucked brow, and pursed red lips.

The unexpected surprise of someone else coming into the bathroom, thankfully did not startle Dawn so badly that she fell out of her humiliating position into a more humiliating one on the bathroom floor. It did startle her enough to keep her mind off how little longer she could keep her balance exertion in her decidely inappropriate outfit for spying.

“I told you, I'm getting her cleaned up, then you can decide for yourself if you want her or not,” growled the thug as he scrubbed roughly at the girl's arms with a damp papertowel. His back was toward the mystery visitor.

“Abir already made up his mind,” replied the voice of a man.

“Go tell him to wait a minute I will have her looking sweet as a,” began the thug.

“About both of you,” replied the other man, cutting off the thug. A click and a the muffled sound of a gunshot followed as it pierced the back of the thug's head. His lifeless body collapsed to its knees, slumping over to the side before it could ever finish its excuse. The girl stared at the thug's newly dead body on the ground. A flow of blood was beginning to pool around the awkward heels that she had been forced into wearing. In her drugged state she was slow to put together what was happening, how real it was, how permanent, how scary. As the blood began to flow around the base of her shoes, her body finally had the ability to feel the fear. By the time that she opened her mouth to scream, the mystery man had pulled the trigger again. This bullet found the center of her forehead as its target, and her drug filled body collapsed like a discarded doll. The man unscrewed the silencer with practiced ease, placing it in his jacket pocket, then replaced the gun to his shoulder holster.

The next thing Dawn had heard was the bang of the bathroom door as it shut. The bathroom was erily quiet save for the odd white noise of the continuous sound of the sink still running. After a few deep breaths for courage partly inspired by the fact that Dawn's muscles couldn't take her balancing act any longer, she stepped down from the toilet seat, and unlatched the the stall lock. As the door opened, she braced herself for what she had heard, and what she had already imagined she was about to see. Putting her hand to her mouth, she suppressed a horrified gasp as she took in the scene of the dead pair, gunned down with professional precision.

The reality of the scene filled Dawn with the terror, and it also is what gave her the strength to take control of the situation, and not lose sight of her pursuit of truth and justice. If she did not pull it together, these two will have died for nothing. Doing her best to best her nerves, Dawn pulled out her cell phone and scrolled through a selection of images she had stored under ongoing investigations. There she found the picture she was looking for. In an odd juxtaposition, she held her phone, displaying an image of a girl next to the body of the dead girl. There was no denying it, they were a match.

Backing up from the two dead bodies, Dawn switched on the camera in her phone, and making sure to catch not only the details of the victims but also their surroundings, she snapped a few shots. It had occurred to Dawn that while she overhead the admittance of Abir to his involvement in the crimes, that would not be enough to hold up against the snakes of lawyers and word against word. She was going to need some kind of proof that would stand against lawyers. She had half of what she needed already. The pictures depicting the murders in the airport bathroom were in her phone. Now all she needed to do was quickly snap some evidentuary photos of Abir Saleh, revealing him unquestioningly in the private business suite mere yards away from the bathroom scene of murder. Placing him at the scene with the time signatures on the photos within minutes of each other, paired with Dawn's testimony of the failed transaction would be enough to put Abir away for good. The final trick was getting those snapshots of him on the scene, before too much time had elapsed that would create a question as to whether he was there at the time of murder. Getting away safely was also a concern, but not one that Dawn could afford her mind unti she got the evidentuary photos.

Focusing on her plan, Dawn crept toward the bathroom door, and pulled it open a crack, peeking out. The coast appeared to be clear, so she gently pushed open the door as quietly as she could, and padded silently out into the alcove located outside the bathroom. As she took ginger steps on the tip toes of her reinforced nylons, she remembered that she was still barefoot and it suddenly came back to her that she had in her panic to hide, tossed her shoes in the garbage can. This remembrance turned out to be just enough of a minor distraction, that Dawn did not realize as she continued to creep along on her tiptoes that there was a guard standing in the hallway not able to be seen from her original line of sight via the bathroom doorway. As she rounded the corner, however, there he was, terrifyingly real, and close by. Whether it was her perfume, or the weather of her good fortune had finally moved on, the guard became suddenly aware that someone was standing behind him, and he turned with startled attention to see Dawn standing frozen in mid tiptoe, muscles tense from fear, and green eyes wide.

It had to be the guy who murdered the two people in the bathroom because he shook off his startled pause quickly, and moved at Dawn as only someone who knew what had just gone down in the bathroom would move. While his eyes still revealed his surprise at truly not knowing that someone else had been witness to the murders, his body moved with the determination that he was going to fix his sloppy work. The alcove was a dead end, leading only back into the bathrooms, and Dawn's only choices were male or female. Either way, the guard would follow her in and she would be trapped, much like she already felt. While her mind processed her limited options, he closed the last few feet between them and grabbed her roughly by the blue sleeve of her fitted suit jacket. His crushing grip brought her quickly back to reality, and not one she was glad to return to. Wincing at the sudden pain, she cringed and feebly attempted to twist her arm out of his iron grip.

“Come with me,” he ordered as if she had much of a choice. With a strong tug and shove, he marched her toward the same business suite the thug had his failed buisiness dealing with Abir. Before she had time to offer up so much as a protest, she found herself shoved into the room, and face to face with Abir Saleh. While this was the man, the room, and the time table she had hoped to attain for her evidentuary photos, it was the circumstances she found less than desirable. Abir gave her a cursory glance before waiting for the guard to speak.

“I found this little sneak hiding in the bathroom,” stated the guard grabbing her purse and rummaging through the contents. When Dawn offered a dejected response to his rude search, he cuffed the back of her head, causing her to wince and bite her lip shut. “Dawn Meadows... a some reporter type for... the Rose Tribune,” added the guard after evaluating the information on her id. This new information brought Abir's gaze back to Dawn after the initial dismissive glance. He raised an eyebrow, and stared at her deeply drinking in her beauty, making her cringe. When he smiled a crooked evil grin, she flinched.

“Bring her to the plane. We're done here,” was all that Abir said as he turned his back on a now trembling Dawn Meadows. With that, he exited through a rear door of the suite. Not offered a choice, the guard gave Dawn a shove indicating she was to follow Abir. When her terrified stocking feet refused to obey, the guard gnarled a fistful of her lush blonde hair and half dragged her. Stars exploded in front of her eyes as the pain exploded in her scalp. Clumsily she stumbled over her own feet as she attempted to keep from getting dragged by the no nonsense guard.

It was a short distance to the exit and airstrip where a private jet of Abir Saleh stood at the waiting. As she fumbled between stumbling and getting dragged by her hair toward the plane, Dawn's mind cried at how nobody could be seeing this! How could nobody notice a girl getting dragged by her hair toward a plane!? It was daylight, in New York City, in one of the busiest airports in the world, and she was being dragged by her long beautiful hair toward a plane, an unknown destination, and worst of all, an unknown fate. It seemed impossible. Yet there it was, happening to her.

As Dawn wasted precious moments pitying her absurd circumstances, she stumbled again as she found herself being dragged up the steps leading into the private jet. Still, Dawn's mind denied it. This can't be happening, she thought. Somebody has to be seeing this. Somebody is going to stop this. I can't just be wisked away on a plane and disappear! Foolishly not making any sensible use of her final moments, even an attempt at escape, the stairs of the plane raised up from the ground, and after a grunting series of hydrolics, closed with a loud clang of metal. After feeling the plane begin to move, Dawn finally found the courage to open her mouth in protest, when a slender needle poked her in neck, and a strange fluid surged into her bloodstream. The world became a fog, and direction became irrelevant. With that, Dawn Meadows passed out.

36 hours later...

The world came back in a slow blur at first, memories shaped themselves out of a dondescript mass, then all of a sudden Dawn Meadows jerked to sudden consciousness. She looked around, up, down, all around her, taking in her surroundings. They were strange, foreign, some type of lush palace. Everything started coming back to her, the airport, the investigation, the sudden needle in her neck, Abir Saleh! It was suddenly all too clear that she was in his palace, thousands of miles away from the Rose Tribune, and home.

“Ah, I see you're finally awake,” came a sinisterly joyful voice. Turning her head quickly, she noticed it was Abir Saleh, sitting upon a throne, dressed in traditional garb. “I will admit Miss Meadows, I had not expected this turn of events. My trip to your country did not include you on the return flight, but as fortune would have it, you meddled in affairs that were not your own. I must express my gratitude to your personal foolishness, as your fair beauty is exotic in my country. You will live out your remaining days in my palace. You will work until your back is sore and beyond making sure the palance sparkles everyday, you will eat with the dogs. When I require an escort, you will attend my social gatherings, and cling to my arm as a doll. And at night you will please me at my request.”

“You can't do this! That's madness! People know I'm missing! Everyone at the Rose Tribune know where I was going! They're probably looking for me right now!” screamed Dawn, every quivering thought in her head as Abir dictated her grim future.

“I thought you might say that so I took the liberty of having my people do a short investigation on the status of your disappearance. It turns out that your editor, a Mr. O'Neil issued your firing shortly after you left your office, probably right around the time you arrived at the airport to spy on me.”

“That's a lie!” screamed Dawn.

Ignoring her outburst, Abir continued. “It seems he suspected that you violated your company dresscode, something about a run in your stockings, making the paper look bad, and this was the last straw,” Abir paused allowing Dawn to inspect her nylons, and indeed find the criminal run behind her left knee. She pawed at it absent mindedly quietly cursing her foolishness. She had been in such a hurry that morning that she had put on the pair from the day before. Of course it had been a mistake. If only she had changed into a fresh pair! Such a foolish choice, a single run indirectly led to nobody missing her, because she no longer had a position at the Rose Tribune!

Seeing the defeat in her face, Abir continued. “I must say that I like this Mr. O'Neil's strict standards. As a result I will continue his standard here in your new life. Every day for the rest of your life you will wear stockings with no exception. You will wash them by your own hand, and hang them to dry. This will be done on your own time, after you are done with your daily cleaning of the palace, and before you please me at night.”

“I can't... I won't!” sobbed Dawn at the grim thought of the rest of her life.

“Very well. I thought you might react that way,” replied Abir. “Guard, take her outside and shoot her, then dump the body in the desert for the vultures. Dawn looked around and saw a guard approaching her, the same one that had shot the two people in the bathroom back in the airport so far away, and she suddenly realized the seriousness of her peril.

“No. Wait! ....please... ok... I'll cooperate,” replied Dawn, drooping her head, allowing long lockes of her blonde hair to fall in front of her defeated face.

“I'm very glad to hear you come to your senses. Now then, the guard will see you to my chambers, where you will dress for the evening.”

Dawn slowly rose, and let herself be guided out of the throneroom. Inside the lavish bedroom was a decorative bra and belly chain. Both were ostentatious in their use of gold and beads. As instructed Dawn changed until she was only wearing her nylons and the ornamental bra and belly chain. She lay on the bed waiting in terror. Shortly after Abir entered and watched as Dawn trembled on the bed awaiting her first night of horror. Fearing the death that awaited her otherwise, and knowing that she had no hope of rescue, Dawn dutifly pleased the sheik.

The days, weeks, and months passed with harsh existance. By day, Dawn wearing a maid uniform, was forced to scrub clean the entire palace until it sparkled. She worked mostly on her hands and knees seven days a week before the sun came up, and often until long after it set, scrubbing with a damp sponge, until every muscle in her body ached, every joint ablaze. She longed for her days spent as a respected reporter for a world reknown paper, The Rose Tribune. Now she was a maid working for no pay at all for the rest of her pathetic days.

Some nights, Abir would require Dawn to dress up and attend social functions with him. They were all the same. She was always on his arm, forbidden to say anything, dressed up in short cocktail dresses and her pantyhose. The men at these functions always marveled at the rarity of Dawn's long blonde hair, and her green eyes in this part of the world. They would often touch it, and caress her porcelain white skin, and even go so far as to trace their hands up and down her smooth stocking clad legs. All this Dawn was required to take in stride. She had to act grateful, kiss the hands of these men, or sometimes get down on her aching hands and knees and kiss their feet in respect.

All of this was required for Dawn to eat at night. However little and distgusting it was, Dawn was so desperate for it by the end of the long days. She was not allowed to join Abir at the table for meals, but rather had to take hers at the foot of his throne, where her foot was slopped into a bowl on the ground. On her hands and knees she was forced to lap it up like a dog. She was often too exhausted and starving from the day's trials to fight the humiliation. She lapped up the meager scraps given to her with feverish speed.

Her humiliation was not lessoned by her attire either. When not dressed as a maid or attending Abir's social functions in lavish cocktail dresses, Dawn only had the blue skirt suit that she had arrived in. After many months of wear and tear, and exposure to the sun, it had faded to a nasty brown and suffered many frays and tears.

The long months went by and as the palace sparkled more and more, Dawn found it a little more difficult for her wobbly arms and legs to support her on her hands and knees. Her now brown dress was frayed and torn so badly, nobody would have ever known it was an expensive tailored suit. The luster of Dawn's long blonde hair, and her green eyes had faded as well. Dawn had always been a slender girl, but the lack of nutrition and grueling labor left her body frightfully skinny so that she always seemed to have a slight tremble in her weakened state. It had been so long that Dawn barely remembered that she had once had a mansion and a fancy sports car, that she had been an intrepid reporter; albeit one that had made a fateful mistake.

One afternoon, as Dawn was dutifly was hanging her handwashed pantyhose on the line to dry, she found herself struggling as usual. The line was hung so high that she was always forced to stand on her tiptoes to reach, arching her calves, and accentuating her long slender legs. The strain was always painfully enduring, and the guards always leered at her as she worked. This day in particular, the weight of her life as a slave seemed too great. As the pantyhose flapped in the courtyard wind, she sank to her wobbling knees, and tried to hold up on her weight on her hands, all the while, her elbows quivered.

She had tried to hold on as long as she could, always hoping that she would be rescued, but deep down knowing that she would not. Had she not gotten that run in her stockings that day so long ago, she would not have been fired, and then somebody at the Rose Tribune would have looked for her after she did not return to work. All she needed to do was change into a fresh pair that morning. Much like the pairs flapping damply in the wind above her head. Now she wore them everyday. This was her fate for being such a foolish girl. The weight was too much to bear. Dawn's body gave out, and she collapsed. In the desert wind, the damp wrinkly pantyhose billowed like flags above her.

Weeks later all that remained of poor Dawn Meadows was a skeleton lying flat under a clothes line, where six dry pair of sheer barely black pantyhose billowed in the desert winds.

-The End

Illustrations by Raphaella

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