Friday, March 27, 2020

Escape Room Challenge

Disclaimer: The following story is a purely fictional account. Any relationship to any real person living or dead is coincidental. The narrative contains male-on-male sexual situations, restraint, and confinement. It is intended for mature readers who wish to view such material, and for whom it is legal to do so. The author in no way condones or promotes non-consensual acts in real life.

Copyright © 2020 by POW. For spam prevention, an animal name has been added to the author's e-mail address. Remove the animal name to get the actual address: POWauthor zebra at yahoo dot com. This story may be freely copied and distributed so long as it is copied in its entirety, unchanged, including the author credit information and disclaimer. Other POW stories are available at https://powauthor.blogspot.com. The author welcomes feedback.




Escape Room Challenge


Select Level

EASY   medium   difficult


You have been imprisoned in an underground chamber by an evil wizard.

You are naked.

There is a heavy leather hood on your head. It is secured in place by several locks such that you cannot remove it.

Your hands are cuffed in front of you. They are not attached in any other way, so you are free to move them around, lift them up, explore your surroundings. The cuffs merely ensure that wherever your hands move, they must move together.

You are wearing a metal chastity device. A ring encircles your cock and balls and a metal tube surrounds your soft dick, preventing it from stiffening. The device is equipped with an "anti-pull-out" mechanism: a thin rod running through the inside of the tube along the top, attached to a rubber noose that wraps around the head of your dick just behind the glans. You have tried to pull your dick backward out of its metal sleeve - a technique that you have used successfully with other devices - but have not been able to slip it free of this one.

Your left ankle is attached to a steel ring embedded in the concrete floor by what feels like far too much chain. It feels like far too much because there is enough to stretch from your toes to your waist and back down to the floor again, and yet you can't move your foot more than six inches away from the ring.

Your challenge: escape.

>


David is amusing himself by narrating his situation in his head as if he were living in one of those old text-only computer adventure games. He has no keyboard to type commands on, but he can imagine what the interaction would look like. None of the usual commands would be of much use to him in his current predicament.

> go north

You are chained to the floor.

> break chain

The chain is too strong to break.

> unlock chain

You have no key for the lock.

> look

No light reaches your hooded eyes.

> talk to serpent

There is no serpent here.

> xyzzy

Nothing happens.

> swear

You cuss a blue streak for half a minute. Afterward, you feel a little better but your situation remains unchanged.

Really the only halfway useful command would be "inventory", but he already knows what the response would be:

You have:
  • One hood (locked on your head)
  • One pair of handcuffs (locked on your wrists)
  • One chastity device (locked on your dick)
  • One chain (locked on your ankle)

Oh, right, there was also:

  • One blanket

He had forgotten to describe that during his narration. It was the one item in his possession that was not secured to his body, his one bit of comfort in this cool cell.

Of course, the most significant and relevant item in his inventory was the final one:

  • No keys

Damn.

He was really screwed.

-------------

Earlier...

The doorbell chimed gently to announce David's arrival. It was Friday night, a chilly January evening in a small town northwest of Charlotte, North Carolina. David stood shivering on the doorstep for a few moments, all the warmth from the car's heater fleeing from his body, until he heard footsteps approaching the door from the other side.

The door swung open to reveal a man in, perhaps, his mid-40s, flecks of grey just starting to show at his temples. He was moderately-sized, of average build and with unremarkable features. He moved with a lithe quickness. "Come on in," he said. "You must be David. I'm Whodini. Welcome."

He pronounced the name just like that of the famous escape artist from the last century. The only reason David knew that he spelled it "Who" rather than "Hou" was because that was the name he used on the hookup site where the two had first connected.

David shed his outer layers and followed Whodini through a hall into a cozy den where a warm fire was buzzing softly in a wood-burning stove. The heat was welcome after the journey outside, brief as it was, and he stood next to the stove letting its warmth permeate through his clothes and into his skin. Bliss.

"So," Whodini said, "like we discussed, you can start tonight if you want or wait until morning. The minimum amount of time it takes to escape from the room is about two hours, but that's a minimum. You should probably expect it to take somewhat longer. If you want as much bondage and captivity time as possible, we can head on down now. It's already 9:00, so if we start now it'll be about 9:30 by the time we get everything set up. You can spend the first few hours of your stay trying to sleep while chained up in your cell before you start working on how to get out. Or, if it's the escape challenge you're mainly interested in, we can wait till morning so you're rested and alert and can get to work right away."

As pleasant as it was to stand soaking up the stove's warmth, comfort was not David's reason for coming. "Let's start tonight."

Whodini nodded. "Tonight it is! Why don't you go make a bathroom stop while I get some equipment out?".

When David returned, Whodini issued further instructions. "I'd like you to strip, please. Everything off, all your clothes, any jewelry, watches, anything." David complied, removing shoes and socks, sweater and shirt, pants, underwear. The only piece of jewelry he wore was a chain around his neck. He handed that to Whodini, who carefully folded it into David's shirt and then placed the shirt into a box where all the rest of his clothing lay. It was good that the room was so warm. David made a point of appreciating the comfort while it lasted, because it would not last much longer.

"Put this on," Whodini said, handing him the chastity device. He demonstrated how to secure the little rubber noose and provided some lubricant to ease the sliding of the metal sheath. It took some maneuvering - as well as a distraction break at one point to give an unwanted swelling a chance to subside - but before too long David was able to work it into place. Whodini handed him a tiny lock, which he clicked into place without hesitation.

"Next up: the hood." It was large and heavy, made of thick leather. It had openings for the mouth and nose but there were no eyeholes at all, not even ones that could be covered or uncovered by additional flaps or straps. The weight settled in place around David's head, cutting off his sight. He could feel Whodini tightening the laces at the back, then securing more straps in place with tiny padlocks. A sense of isolation and helplessness immediately settled over him and the prospect of figuring out how to solve the escape challenge suddenly appeared much more daunting than it had up until this moment. With this hood obstructing his vision, David wouldn't even be able to safely navigate this room. One wrong step could end up with his naked skin pressed up against the searing heat of the stove. And he's supposed to figure out how to solve the escape room with this on?

Daunting indeed.

He stiffened his spine. This was what he had come for, after all. He could do this.

Whodini placed handcuffs on his wrists, double-locked them so they could not tighten further, then led him - slowly, cautiously - out of the room, through a hall and down a set of steps, coaching his blind progress all the way. "Two more... one more... OK, you're on level floor now. Turn to your left." David shuffled forward until his guide stopped him and he felt cold steel wrapping around his ankle and heard the click of a lock, muffled through the confining hood.

"I'm going to head back upstairs," Whodini said. "Now pay attention, because this is important: the door at the top of the steps will be locked, so once it closes, I can't get back in. You can open it from this side, but it can't be opened from the outside without a key. The key is in a time-release safe which will open Sunday night at 9PM, so that is your time limit - almost 48 hours from now. If you haven't gotten yourself out by then, I can come in and set you free."

David tugged on his bindings a bit, testing them for security. There was no give at all in the metal leg chain or the cuffs at his wrists. What the fuck have I gotten myself into? he wondered.

Whodini went on. "They say a human can last for three minutes without air, three days without water, and three weeks without food. There's nothing obstructing your air supply, so you're fine there. There is no food or water down here, so if you don't figure it out, you'll get somewhat uncomfortable but the discomfort won't kill you. If you need to piss or shit, there's a small hole in the floor within your reach. I'm sure you'll have no trouble finding it. I promise: there is nothing you need inside the hole. No keys, no maps, no explosives, nothing useful. The hole is only there to make your time here less unpleasant-smelling than it would otherwise be, got it?

"Now, of course, if there's a genuine emergency I could just smash the door with an axe, but I really don't want to go busting up my house like that. So for all practical purposes, you are here for 48 hours. Or until you get yourself out, whichever comes first."

He pushed a blanket into David's hands. "Here, you might want this. Don't lose it. Everything you need to escape is here within your reach. There will be no hints, no clues. Either you escape during the next two days, or you don't. You will need to use your own resources to figure out how to escape and make your way upstairs. Any questions?"

David had none.

"All right then. Good luck."

-------------

David truly has no idea what time it is nor how long he has been in here. At first he was too keyed up to try to sleep, excited at the prospect of living out this particular fantasy, of being locked up with no way out. He spent a few minutes testing his bonds, and they were all completely secure. The cuffs were tight enough to not allow him to slip his hands out, but not so tight as to restrict circulation or press against his nerves. The ankle chain was similarly secure, as was the chastity device. The hood he was able to slide around slightly, but not enough to do anything useful with. If he had cutting tools, he could probably have removed it, but with just fingernails it would take a long time to pick the leather apart.

After convincing himself that he was, indeed, securely restrained... and after a long, enjoyable-but-frustrating bout of groping his inaccessible genitals... he had decided to try to get some sleep. He wrapped himself in the blanket that Whodini had provided. The process was difficult and awkward with cuffed hands. The blanket was large enough to wrap around his body almost twice, but it was thin. David decided to put a double-thick layer beneath himself to provide some padding between his body and the hard concrete. He lay there for what felt like a long time. Horny thoughts kept racing through his head and he very much wanted to squeeze out a load, or even just get hard and bask in the sensation of captivity. But that was not possible and so he waited in horned-up frustration for sleep to take him.

Eventually, it had.

And then, some time later, he had awoken. And now, here he sits. Nothing has changed, and yet everything has changed.

For starters, he is no longer horny. The euphoric high that came on at the start of his imprisonment has given way to the mundane reality that eventually affects all imprisonment fantasies-turned-real:

Captivity is boring.

> wait

Time passes.

Nothing happens. David listens to the sound of his breathing and the gentle rush of blood in his ears. He moistens his mouth with saliva and swallows it down. He shifts position when he becomes uncomfortable. But nothing external happens at all, and he realizes that he time sense is completely shot.

> what time is it

You have no clock, nor could you see it if you had one.

He guesses that it has been a few hours at most. He probably didn't sleep the whole night through because the hard floor and thin blanket do not lend themselves to comfortable rest. But it might have been six hours, maybe. Or four, or two, or perhaps even thirty minutes. There is no way to know, not with this hood blocking all his vision and muffling any sounds. If there were any sounds. So far, the only noise he has noticed since Whodini left is the gentle hum of a piece of machinery somewhere turning on and off. Probably the home's furnace somewhere nearby, although not too near because the sound is quite faint.

Mostly what he notices is the cold. It is chilly in the basement. The blanket helps, but a thicker one would be nice. David decides to emerge from it and stand in an attempt to move around a bit. Maybe movement will get his blood flowing and warm him up a bit. It sort of works, although with his left leg effectively pinned to the floor his mobility is very limited. After a time, he sits back down and wraps himself back up in the blanket. The brief spurt of exercise has indeed left him feeling a bit warmer, at least in his core if not all they way out to his fingers and toes, and getting the blood moving has awakened his brain as well.

With the rush of energy, and with all the fun and horniness drained from the situation, he decides it is time to start working in earnest on escape.

He decides to take stock of his restraints once more. He had inspected them once already before nodding off, but that was to note their strength and irresistibility. Now it is time to start probing for their weaknesses.

First the leg chain. By carefully tracing the links, he learns that three locks secure him to the ring in the floor. One is a key-operated lock that fastens one end of the chain to the ring. A second key lock is at the other end of the chain where it wraps around his ankle. The third lock is a combination lock. It is attached near each end of the chain, effectively shortening it to just a few links. The whole chain is probably longer than he is tall, but that extra lock restricts him to a tiny radius around the ring.

The locks are all firm; the chain's links are solid. He wonders if there are extra tools, or hints, or... or something... elsewhere in the room where he can't reach them. Yet. Getting that combination lock off would be an essential step, letting him reach a bit farther. (Of course, getting the key to the ankle lock would be even better.) But there is no way to open the combination lock without being able to see the dial. He'll have to get the hood off first, unless he gets astoundingly lucky.

On a whim, he spins the dial randomly, right then left then right. He tugs the shackle - nothing. He does it again with the same result. This is going to go nowhere - he is going to need his eyes. Well, the combination would be even more useful, but being able to see the dial would be a start.

He turns his attention to the hood. It is padlocked with small locks in three places: one behind his neck, one at the center back of his head, and one on top. Bolt cutters would make short work of them... if he had bolt cutters.

> take bolt cutters

There are no bolt cutters here.

>: find bolt cutters

There are no bolt cutters here.

> accio bolt cutters

Sorry, I don't know what "accio" means.

All David has are his bare hands, cuffed together, and so even the tiny, flimsy locks are enough to ensure he stays hooded.

He runs his hands over the surface of the hood. There are no loose edges to pry at. All the laces and closures are secured under flaps, which are in turn secured by straps that are held in place by the locks. Nothing is going to move until those locks come off.

He briefly considers the handcuffs. Like the various padlocks, they are going to require a key to open, and he has no key. Since they don't hinder his movements too much, he decides to focus on the hood. Being able to see would really help.

But how to get the hood off?

Perhaps there is something nearby. He hasn't really explored his surroundings yet. He emerges from the blanket and feels goosebumps rise on his skin as the cool air washes over his body. He sets the blanket in one spot and works counter-clockwise from it, feeling along the floor for anything that might help - ideally, a key or several. Though he stretches himself out from the ring to as far as he can reach in every direction, the only thing he encounters is the hole Whodini had told him about Aside from that, there is nothing. David might as well be at the origin point of an infinite concrete plain, tracing out a circle for a geometry textbook. ("A man is chained by the ankle to point on a concrete floor. He is 1.8 meters tall and can reach 50 cm over his head. If the ankle chain is 12 cm long, how much surface area does he need to search for the key that will set him free? Bonus: if he searches at an average rate of 30 cm2 per second, how long will it take him to search the entire area?" He chuckles to himself at the thought of having a retort to all those kids who sneer to their math teachers that they will never ever have need for this knowledge after they grow up. Don't be so cocky. You just might...)

There is no way to measure the time reliably, but the answer to the bonus question feels like "somewhere between ten and fifteen minutes". Alas, he does not find a key during his search.

Time to go vertical. He stands and reaches up over his head. Almost immediately he feels his hand brush against something hanging down. He grasps it. It is cylindrical in shape, fits easily into David's hand, and feels to be made of plastic. It is affixed to a cord that dangles from, presumably, the ceiling, though that is high enough to be out of reach. He pulls and the object descends a bit. The cord does not break or come loose, but instead stretches downward. This is disorienting and at first he imagines the cord to be some sort of strange rubber band or bungee cord, but then he realizes it is much more prosaic than that. The cord is on a spring-loaded coil, much like the power cord of a vacuum cleaner. He pulls until the object is resting on the floor, then experimentally gives the cord a tug while still holding loosely to the cylindrical object. The cord retracts upward until he tugs it to a halt.

Clear enough. Whatever this thing is, it is clearly important. Whodini wants to ensure that his captive has access to this object and can't accidentally toss or kick it out of reach. If David ever loses track of it, he just has to stand up and trace the cord from its source directly over the floor ring to the end where he will find the... whatever it is.

It occurs to him that the object bears a remarkable resemblance to a dildo. An image pops into his head, of him inserting the object into his ass and having all the locks magically pop open at once. The thought makes him giggle.

No, that is probably not the path that will lead to freedom, though the prospect of having something in his ass is not unappealing. His dick stirs a little in its prison, but no: bad idea. He inspects the object as best he can with his fingers, and discovers that part of it can unfold from the rest and flip over, forming a handle on one side. Further experimentation reveals that the handle can turn, making a soft grinding noise as it does. He spins the handle around a few times, but can detect no change in the object. He spins the handle the other way just in case, but that has no effect either. He flips the handle back over and it slides readily back into its groove, restoring the object's surface to its original smooth state.

He searches for other hidden features but after a few minutes concludes that the object harbors no other secrets. One thing is certain: it is not hiding any keys.

He sets the object down and once more wraps yourself in the blanket. Two hours, Whodini had said? Two hours to solve all the challenges of the escape room? David hasn't even solved one yet! Even not counting the time he spent sleeping, it has been at least 45 minutes, probably more like an hour, since he began trying to escape in earnest. And he is no closer to having a clue than when he was first left alone down here to hump the floor in happy, horny bliss!

Pause. Breathe.

There is a way out. You will find it. You just have to be methodical about it. Think!

The search of the floor was thorough, but he realizes he stopped searching three-dimensional space the moment he found the cylinder. That is the logical place to resume.

Marking his starting place with the blanket once more, David make an exhaustive search of every bit of space he can reach. This is now a three-dimensional geometry problem: every bit of surface area that he already covered plus all the air space over every bit of floor. The circle that his groping, outstretched fingers traced on the floor becomes a dome cupped over his head. A rough dome, not a perfect hemisphere because he can't hold himself out in an idealized geometrically straight line at every floor angle. There is much more space to search and it is much harder to be sure that he hasn't missed anything. He probably repeats a lot of territory, but by the time he gets near the end he just doesn't care.

Nothing. He finds absolutely nothing. There is nothing there to be found.

He still has no idea how long this has taken him and starts to wonder if maybe he will hear the sounds of Whodini at the top of the stairs, coming down to tell him how abysmally he has failed. But no - he hasn't once used the toilet hole, so there's no possible way he could have been chained here longer than a few hours. He sits back down, once more tucking the blanket all around his body. For the moment, he is warm from moving around, but he knows the heat will be rapidly sucked out of his body once he sits still for a few minutes.

Disheartened, he repeats his investigation of his restraints once more. How the fuck is he supposed to be able to break free? This is impossible! Ankle chain key locks... firm. Those won't be opening without a key. Combination lock... he tries a few more times, random blind spins of the dial, to no avail. He jiggles and wiggles it and sort-of-almost feels some catch in the movement of the dial as it spins. He investigates this for a while, but if there is some clue to be found in the slight irregularity of the dial's motion, it is beyond his power to figure out how to make use if it.

Handcuffs... as firmly in place as ever. His wrists have started to grow somewhat sore from the metal chafing against them. David has never worn cuffs for a long continuous stretch like this. They are tender, not yet painful, but he figures they are going to bear marks for the next few days. Good thing it's winter, the season of sweaters and long sleeves.

It's the hood, the goddamn hood. That's what he needs to focus on. Being able to see would make a huge difference. He turns his attention once more to the complicated layout of straps and panels. Starting at his chin, he explores every inch of the surface, feeling for any sort of irregularity. He even reaches a finger in through the mouth hole to see if he can feel anything on the inside. There is nothing there, but it gives him an idea. He slips his fingers under the straps that hold the hood in place and works way all the way around each of them, feeling in every hidden crevice he can reach.

Jackpot. The key is in the collar. At the back, right under the lock. It is taped to the inside of the strap. David's finger feels an ordinary bump at first but he immediately knows this is it, this is right. This is too perfect a solution not to be right. The key to releasing the hood is built right into the hood itself, mere millimeters from the lock it opens. It was there waiting to be found, impossible to accidentally lose or deliberately throw away in his early, still-horned-up-bring-it-on-mutha-fucka phase. He had it with him the whole time, even before the challenge began when he was still upstairs standing next to the warm wood stove. He could have taken the hood off in under a minute if he had known, and yet it took him hours to find it.

This Whodini guy is good.

David works the key loose from the tape, being careful not to drop it. Sure enough, it fits each of the hood's three locks. He works each them free, undoes the straps, opens the flaps, loosens the now-accessible laces, lifts the hood off his head and emerges, blinking, to see...

... nothing.

> look

It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

For a moment he thinks something has gone wrong with his eyes. He blinks them again and again but light stubbornly refuses to appear.

The euphoric sense of accomplishment begins to fade, then evaporates swiftly. No light? But... he really isn't any better off than he was with the hood on. He's still fixed to the floor by a tiny nub of chain, his hands are still cuffed, and he still can't see a thing.

A light switch. There must be a light switch in reach. He sets up his search pattern again, methodically reaching his arms out in all directions, stretching even farther than during the previous search. Maybe it's just out of reach... but which direction?

It takes a long while, but eventually he comes to the conclusion that he really already knew all along. There is no light switch.

He is moving to sit back down, reflexively brushing the dangling cord out of his way, when he has a Homer Simpson "d'oh" moment and suddenly remembers the cylindrical object at the end. He drops to the floor and once more wraps up. The object feels no different than it did before, but nevertheless he flips open the handle and spins it. A tiny, dim glow emerges from the end of the cylinder.

It surprises him so much that he stops turning and the light immediately goes out. He tries again, turning faster this time. Light emerges once more, even brighter. He spins it as fast as he comfortably can and the light glows brightly enough to actually see by.

He laughs. The object is a flashlight! A hand-crank-powered camping flashlight. He has access to light, and it is wonderful, SO wonderful to be able to see... but it requires both hands to make it work, because the moment he stops cranking, the light goes out. Usually these things are equipped with a battery so that a person can crank for a few minutes and then have light for a while after stopping. This one has had its battery removed, it seems.

This opens up a whole new world. He uses his newfound power to re-examine his surroundings, by sight this time instead of feel. There is not much to see. The floor and walls are bare and nearly completely empty. Even the ceiling contains only a hole through which the flashlight's cord disappears. Off in the distance to one side, far out of reach, is the staircase that leads to freedom. On another side, equally far out of reach, is some sort of crate or box. Looking closer, he sees it is a small refrigerator, the kind sized for a college dorm room. This is the source of the occasional mechanical hum he had been hearing, it seems.

But he can't reach it, not even close. Perfunctorily, he tries wrapping the blanket into a rope-like shape and using it to snag the small fridge, hoping to pull it closer. No success. Both hands are needed to toss the blanket, since they are connected together, and both hands are needed to work the light, so he has to shine the light to aim, memorize the layout as best he can, and then make the throw in blackness. It quickly becomes clear that this is not going to accomplish anything.

After the fifth try, he sits down and thinks. The fridge is out of reach. Even if he could snag the blanket on it, it probably wouldn't be strong enough to let him pull the fridge closer. If the mountain won't come to Muhammad, as the saying goes... David will need to go to the fridge. That means the ankle chain has to be his next target. It would easily be long enough if he could just remove the combination lock. Which is now visible, or at least can be made visible.

It's time to focus on the combination lock.

David wraps himself in the blanket again and use the light to examine the lock. It is a standard Master lock with a dial running from 0 to 39. 40 x 40 x 40... 64,000 possible combinations. He sighs - there is no way he's going to stumble across the right one by chance.

He spins the dial a few times half-heartedly, but of course the lock does not open. As when throwing the blanket toward the fridge, every step he takes is actually a multi-step process: first he cranks the flashlight to see what he's about to do, then he does it in the fraction of a second between when he stops cranking the handle and when inertia drags it to a stop and the light fades to black, then cranks the handle again to check the result. It is slow going and David soon recognizes - though really he knew it all along - that random guessing is not going to get him anywhere.

He inspects the lock, thinking that perhaps the combination has been printed on the back, but it is not there. He looks around - perhaps it is on the wall? Or the floor? He shines the flashlight everywhere, but there is no handy trio of numbers conveniently written anywhere.

However, something on the blanket catches his eye. Writing? It's not a combination, but it is something, something hard to make out with the blanket wrapped around his body. He shrugs out of it and lays it out as flat as he can on the floor (another multi-step process with cuffed hands in pitch blackness), then turns the light back on.

The blanket is printed with instructions on how to pick a Master lock. Not as convenient as having the actual combination handed to him, but it's a start!

He studies the instructions, which are fuzzy and hard to read due to the surface they are printed on. The print is large, which helps, and the text fills the entire space. He learns that there are not actually 64,000 possible combinations. Instead, there are only 2,560... something about parity and how if the last number of the combination is divisible by four, then so must the first number be, and the middle number will be divisible by two but not by four, and how there are similar patterns for the odd numbers, etc. etc. etc. It is a bit of information overload - a dizzying treatise on mathematical theory that applies to any lock when all he really wants is to know how to open this particular one.

At last he finds a point in the instructions that tells him how to apply gentle pressure to the shackle while turning the dial to identify the last number of the combination. This is a helpful tip because it can be done in the dark and his hands are tired from cranking so long continuously while reading. It turns out that his lock's last number, as best he can determine, is 3, which means the first number is 3, or 3 + 4, or 3 + 4 + 4, or 3 + 4 + 4 + 4, on up to 39. Ten possibilities. And the second number is any of those numbers plus or minus 2, except that it can't be 1 or 5 because those are too close to 3. So eight possibilities for that. And reading more of the instructions would teach him how to rule out more numbers but that would be more complicated than he feels like thinking about just now. Besides, he's down to eighty choices and that's small enough to brute-force his way through.

It takes a while, but he's got a plan now and is feeling energized. He wraps himself up in the blanket once again and starts trying numbers. Crank the flashlight... set first number... crank again to check... adjust... crank again... set second number... crank... check... the process rapidly grows tedious but he bulls his way through, still energized that this is going to work.

It's not long before he starts losing track of how many combinations he tries. Some probably get tried more than once because any time he can't remember whether he already did a particular set of numbers, he does it again on the theory that it is better to be overly thorough than to risk missing the one correct combination and reach the end and have to start all over again.

The answer is 19-33-3. That is the combination to the lock. He almost doesn't believe it when the shackle pops free after so many failed attempts, but there, right there in his hand, is the evidence. It's silly to do because the evidence in his hands is overwhelmingly convincing, but he still wants to see it, to verify with his eyes, and so he cranks the flashlight and yes: the lock is open.

Not quite free yet, but another step closer to it.

David slips the shackle out of the two loops of chain and now has the full run of the room. He is still fixed to the ring in the floor, but he can take actual steps now - what freedom! He grins triumphantly as he walks over to the little fridge, cranking the flashlight all the way, and opens it up.

There is nothing in the main compartment, so he opens the flimsy inner door to the small freezer compartment and sees that it is almost entirely occupied by a large chunk of ice, nearly the same size and shape as the space it occupies, just a bit smaller. He sets the flashlight down and, working by feel, removes the block of ice and sets it on the floor. Turning the light on once more, he inspects the ice.

There is a key inside, exactly in the center of the block, almost concealed by the starry shatter patterns but glintingly visible.

Well, the next step is fairly clear, at least. There's no puzzle to solve here, no need for brainpower. He just needs to wait for the ice to melt. The only decision he has to make, really, is whether to try to hurry the process along. For the moment, he decides to let physics do the job on its own - release is feeling very close. Now that the finish line is presumably in sight, he feels no particular need to rush to it. He's still got room in his bladder; he's hungry but not uncomfortably so. There's time. Some of the eroticism of the situation begins to come back and he starts to feel horny again.

So he plays around with the long chain, wrapping it around himself and pretending to be restrained even more restrictively than he had been before. He even - daringly - uses the combination lock to fix the handcuffs' connecting chain to the floor ring, being very, VERY careful to first ensure that he can close and open the lock repeatedly in that position, that it is not some sort of trick, one-time-only combination. He also ensures by doing a few dry runs that his cuffed hands have enough freedom to spin the flashlight's crank and work the combination dial while down at floor level. Undoability assured, he wallows for a while in bondage-pig heaven, grinding his frustrated caged cock into the floor. He even puts the hood back on for a while without locking it, enjoying the closeness and pressure against his face.

After perhaps an hour of this, he releases as many of his bonds as he can and goes to inspect the ice block. Somewhat depressingly, it appears unchanged. There is a small puddle of meltwater around it, but it is very small. Two hours, Whodini had said? Two hours is the minimum time it would take someone to escape? At this rate, it would take three or four times that long just to melt the ice!

Time to speed the process along. His bladder is starting to feel fuller now, and he would really prefer not to have to use the floor hole if it can be avoided, not with freedom so tantalizingly close. Gingerly, he places his hands on the block of ice. It is, of course, cold. Unfortunately, so is David. If body heat is going to help melt the ice, he's going to need more of it.

So he gets up and does some exercises, running in place, hopping from side to side, doing modified jumping jacks where the cuffed hands go up vertically in front since they can't separate to go up each side. After about ten minutes, he feels much warmer, and so without giving himself time to think about it, because he knows his courage would fail him if he did, he sits down on the ice. Raging cold stabs into his ass all over, but he can take it. He stays seated for as long as he can stand it, which is perhaps two or three minutes, then stands again and repeats the cycle, now with a damp and chilled ass. He packs it between his thighs a few times, but that is very tough to sustain.

His efforts help. The ice melts faster. It still takes a long time, but eventually the block is thin enough that he can throw it down onto the concrete floor and hope that it will shatter. The first two attempts merely chip it, but on the third whack it breaks into two unequal-sized pieces. The key is still trapped inside the larger of the two, but where it was in the center before, now it is fairly near to an edge. He concentrates his warming efforts on that edge, holding it to his skin for as long as he can stand and abrading it against the floor when he needs a break.

Finally, the tip of the key pokes free. Fortunately, it is the wide end. He grabs hold of it, rubbing the ice, breathing on it, applying as much heat as he can to the key, rocking it back and forth until at last it slips free.

> take key

Taken.

Working by feel in the pitch blackness, he reaches down to his ankle, fumbles the key into the lock, and prays that it turns.

> open lock

You insert the silver key into the lock and turn it, hoping...

It does.

The chain slips free of David's ankle and he realizes there is nothing - NOTHING! - keeping him in this room any more. Bladder now uncomfortably full, he cranks the flashlight on for what will be the last time, memorizes the route to the foot of the steps, walks unencumbered across to them, and begins to climb. Reaching the top, he pushes the door open.

> exit dungeon

Having broken the last of the evil wizard's enchantments, you apply all your weight and strength to the massive stone portal and it slowly swings open. You step through into...

The door opens easily enough. Light - real light - dazzles his eyes and a sound like a doorbell chimes loudly, startling him. He steps out and the door swings shut behind him. Whodini is nowhere to be seen. David takes a few shuffling steps toward where he thinks the room with the wood stove should be, but he is not entirely sure which direction is which since he was hooded when he last came this way and has never seen this hallway before. Not to mention that it's awfully hard to see anything in this glare.

"Ah, you made it," a voice says from behind. He turns and sees Whodini. "Congratulations. Come on, this way." He leads David in the opposite direction from the one he had been tentatively going. They pass through the home's kitchen on their way back to the fireplace room. There is daylight coming in through the window and the kitchen clock says that it is 11:38. Presumably it is Saturday - he couldn't have gone through two nights and a day without peeing, could he?

"Need to use the bathroom?" Whodini asks, as though reading his mind. "Right through there, then come meet me in the den."

David sits and pees, gratefully letting the stream flow as relief suffuses through his body. When finished, he wipes as best he can - it will be a relief to get this chastity device off! Not to mention the handcuffs.

The den, when he enters, is suffused with blissful warmth. Whodini has either kept the fire going overnight or stoked it back up this morning. David stands by the stove and let the heat soak in. "Ahhh... that feels SO good."

"I bet," says Whodini. "So what did you think?"

David describes his experience, retelling how he solved each of the steps to win his freedom. He doesn't intend for the tiny note of smug satisfaction to creep into his voice, but here in the comfortable room, with the ordeal behind him, it is easy to downplay those few times when he had worried he was out of his depth. At one point, finally warmed up, he leaves the side of the stove and sits in a chair nearby to continue his tale. Knowing how it ends, with eyes once more adapted to bright daylight instead of dungeon darkness, it is fun to relive the story of his escape.

"One thing I don't get, though," he says. "Even if someone knew where to find the key to the hood locks, and even if they already knew the combination to the lock, how could they melt that block of ice in two hours? I mean, without freezing themselves in the process."

"Ah," says Whodini. "Use the fridge."

"What?" David splutters, confused. "But..."

"Refrigerators don't actually manufacture cold, you know," Whodini says. "Nothing can do that. All they do is move heat around. They pull heat from the inside of the cabinet and transfer it to the outside. So what you do is put the block of ice on the coils in back of the fridge and leave the door open. The fridge will try to cool the cabinet, in effect concentrating heat from the rest of the room into the coils, where it will transfer very readily to the ice. It takes a little under two hours to melt - I've timed it."

David nods with understanding. Of course. It's consistent with problem of the hood - the solution to the puzzle is contained within the puzzle itself. And like the blanket, the fridge serves two functions. Whodini really put a lot of thought into designing this challenge!

David's reverie is interrupted by Whodini's voice. "Now... I can't help but notice you haven't completely freed yourself."

"Ah, yeah, it'll be good to get these off." David holds his hands out helpfully toward him so that he can unlock them.

Whodini does not move, though. "Well, the cuffs, yes, but there's also the matter of the chastity device."

"Right," David agrees. "That too." Still Whodini makes no move. Neither says a word for a time that quickly grows uncomfortable.

David breaks the silence. "So, the challenge is over, right?" Maybe he needs to spell it out. "Would you mind unlocking me, please?"

"I'm afraid it's not as simple as that," Whodini says.

The room is as warm as ever, but some of the warmth nevertheless begins to drain from David's face. "What do you mean?"

"Well, the key to the chastity cage is still down in the basement. As is one of the keys to the handcuffs. I'm afraid you didn't find them while you were there. If you had, you would have been able to unlock yourself. Did you use the flashlight to look inside the hood at any point?"

David has to admit that no, he hadn't thought to do that.

"If you had," Whodini says, "you would have seen the numbers 19-33-3 printed on the inside forehead of the hood. You would also have seen the words 'bottom of fridge door' and 'underside of stair railing'. The combination to the lock, the location of the handcuff key, and the location of the key to the chastity cage were all, literally, right in front of your eyes for hours."

David sits back. After a moment, he realizes his mouth is hanging open and he closes it with a click of teeth. Damn. This guy is REALLY devious! The implications of this revelation slowly sink in. That's how it's done in two hours: you get the hood off, then look inside it for the shortcut solution that leads straight to the exit. No monkeying about with picking locks or hunting for hidden clues or tools. No leftover locks on wrists and cocks. Almost all of the two-hour timespan is spent waiting for the fridge to melt the ice.

"Very clever," David admits. "But that's OK, I'll just go back downstairs now and get the keys I missed." He stands and starts to move toward the door but Whodini holds up his hand.

"Again, it's not quite that simple. Remember that electronic lock I told you about? The one that prevents the door from being opened from the outside? And do you remember how, when you opened the door on your way upstairs it made a doorbell-chime sound? That chime was to alert me that you had emerged, but it also added three days to the lock timer."

David is not quite following. Or rather, he is following just fine, but he does not want to believe the implications. Any sense of accomplishment at having defeated the room is rapidly washing out of his body.

"That door can't be opened until Wednesday night."

David begins to fume. "You mean I have to stay locked in both of these for four more days? I can't do that! I have to go back to work on Monday! And i definitely did NOT agree to have my dick stay locked after the challenge ends!"

"Well, I'm sorry about that," Whodini says. "But it's really your own doing. You should have been more diligent in your search." David sputters, but Whodini keeps talking. "But all is not lost. I have a proposal for you."

David sits back down, suddenly acutely aware now of his nakedness. His... is captor the right word for this situation?... is fully clothed. Somehow his nudity felt normal and unremarkable when this was a consensual erotic escape scene. Now it's becoming a bit less consensual, and David's nakedness merely emphasizes that one of the two men in the room holds more power than the other.

"What sort of proposal?" he says.

"Well, I don't have another key to the chastity device, so I can't get you out of that. But really, the only chastity devices that are truly escape-proof are belts and gadgets that are secured by piercings. You could slip out of this one, I'm sure, if you get your dick soft and small enough, lube it up good, and really work at it. But wouldn't it be more interesting to keep it on? No, hear me out!" - for he sees David is about to interrupt.

"On Wednesday, when the door unlocks, I can go down and reset the room. Next weekend, you can return and try another escape challenge. And I promise that you will not leave the house locked in chastity afterward."

David ponders. Next Saturday is his mother's birthday dinner. If he were to miss it, she would never, ever let him hear the end of it. "Could we make it the weekend after that?"

"Ah, I'm afraid not. I'm out of town then. But I could do the following weekend?"

David ponders. Three weeks with his dick locked in a tiny metal cage is a ridiculously long time. There's no way he could make... he couldn't...

Well, actually, now that he thinks about it, it's actually a fairly hot idea. He's never gone that long between orgasms before, not since he first was able to have them. It might actually be fun to try. And like Whodini said, David could always take it off - with some effort - if it got too annoying to wear.

Having this sprung on him by surprise was a bit off-putting, but the more he thinks about it, the more he leans toward doing it. It's actually a pretty enjoyable fantasy to live out. He realizes it comes down to where you draw the borders of the scene. He had been thinking the scene ended when he escaped from the room, and it was kind of jarring to be informed otherwise. But really, he was only objecting because it seemed like he had no choice outside the fantasy. Inside the fantasy, on the other hand, it's kind of hot to have choices taken away. All he needs to do is re-draw the boundaries of the fantasy scene, extending the definition of what's inside and what's not.

"OK," he says. "Yes. Three weeks from now. I'll be back. I look forward to beating your room again!"

"Glad to hear it," Whodini says, with a tiny crinkle of a smile. "Now as for the handcuffs, I do have an extra key to those. I'll be happy to let you use it, for a small fee."

"A fee," David says. This choice of word is not promising, but he covers his discomfort - he hopes - with a flat, bland voice. "What sort of fee?"

"You don't have to if you don't want to. You probably have a set of cuffs of your own at home and handcuff keys are mostly interchangeable. I'm sure yours would fit these just fine. You could drive yourself home and set yourself free there. I'll just ask you to please bring this set back when you come for your next visit."

Actually, David doesn't own any cuffs, so that's not really an option. No reason to let Whodini know that, though.

"Well, OK, but what fee do you have in mind?"

"I would like you to masturbate for me," Whodini says.

David laughs, a single snort of air. "I'd like that too!" he says, cupping his metal-cased genitals.

"Oh, you don't need the cage removed to jerk off. It'll be tough and it'll take a while, but I'm sure you could work up enough stimulation to get yourself to orgasm."

He bends forward and picks up an empty shot glass from the coffee table in front of him. "When you shoot, catch everything in this glass. Then drink it down. All of it. Run your tongue around the inside of the glass until you've gotten every last bit and swallowed it. If you do that for me, I'll let you use my handcuff key."

David pretends to mull it over, but it is all for show. Once again, Whodini has presented a hot scenario tinged with coercion. If the two of them had set up this ending ahead of time, David would have been totally onboard with it. The fact that Whodini is bringing it on by surprise is disconcerting. It feels like he's changing the already-agreed-upon parameters of the scene. But what he's asking... offering?... is not that terrible. It's not terrible at all, in fact. David ponders: is this something he would be willing to do if he hadn't been arm-twisted into it? When he considers it that way, the answer is obvious. So... why not?

But first, another show of token resistance. "Hypothetically speaking," he begins. "If I wanted to go the way of breaking through the basement door, what would that involve?"

"About seven hundred dollars," Whodini promptly responds.

"Seven hundred?!?"

"Yeah. I'm sure you noticed, that is not a garden-variety door. That thing is secure. It would take a fairly substantial effort to break through it, and then I would of course expect you to cover the cost of having it replaced. It's not the sort of door that you can pick up for thirty bucks at Home Depot and install yourself. I'd have to order the replacement and have it installed, and the thing is heavy enough that it takes two guys to lift it. Parts and labor come to about $700."

"Wow," David says. "That's a pretty convincing argument in favor of plan B."

Whodini sits, saying nothing. The silence stretches. David has never been very comfortable with extended pauses in conversations, and this is no exception.

"I think... yeah, plan B it is." Not that that was ever in doubt.

"I'm glad to hear it," Whodini says, settling back to enjoy the show.

David stands up once again and brings his cuffed hands down to his crotch. He can feel his balls just fine, but the metal casing blocks all access to his dick. The only hole in it is at the tip, but that gap is much too small to fit even one finger inside. He is going to have to do the best he can without direct access. He begins groping and squeezing.

At first it is uncomfortable having Whodini - still fully clothed - watching him. His dick refuses to cooperate. With a bit of effort, though, he is able to switch his mindset, bringing himself back to the underground cell he had just spent the last twelve-ish hours trying to escape from. He is no longer David, 21st-century thirty-two-year-old American male; he is a nameless prisoner, captured, chained...

You are a nameless prisoner, captured, chained up in an evil wizard's dungeon awaiting the torture that your captor so skillfully knows how to apply. What will it be this time? The rack? Hot irons? Head-down immersion in a tub of water? Or... forced to pleasure yourself for your tormentor's obscene amusement...

That works. His dick begins to rouse, though the cage constrains it on all sides. David pumps and grinds, squeezing his balls with his left hand while using his right to wiggle the entire package back and forth in the hope that some tiny fraction of the motion will translate into sensation on his unreachable cockhead. Slowly, by tiny infinitesimal increments, he begins to work his way toward a climax. It helps that he had been so horny a couple of times downstairs because he has a bit of a head start toward the finish line, but it still takes a long, long time and his hands grow sore and tired. He has to take a couple of breaks along the way.

At last, perhaps twenty minutes after he started, David can feel himself getting close. It is almost too late when he remembers that he has to aim the output. He lets go of his crotch, picks up the shot glass, and tries to hold it in place with his left hand while flogging his trapped dick with his right, trying desperately to not lose all the momentum he had built up.

Another long minute later and he can feel the point of no return upon him. Still flapping his exhausted hand, he feels the orgasm building and building until at last it spills over. Warm milky jets squirt into the shot glass that he holds beneath the tip of his down-pointed cock. All while it lasts, David is desperate to grab his dick skin-to-skin, to get it out of the cage and let it grow to its full size and rub it until the climax arrives for real... but that can't happen. And then the moment is past and the sensation is fading and as the pulses die away, he realizes that even though he just came, it would not be accurate to describe the experience he just had as an orgasm. Juice came out, yes, and there were some pleasant sensations, but he remains deeply unsatisfied, as if it hadn't happened at all. If he could get his dick out right now and actually get it hard, he is sure he could coax a second, real load out in minutes.

But that is not an option. His dick is going to remain locked and soft for the next three weeks. He has to just suck it up and deal with the frustrating non-orgasm. He looks into the shot glass. For all the lack of satisfaction that its production provided, it's still a decent-sized load. And of course, having climaxed, even poorly, has left him in a state where he's not particularly eager to put the result into his mouth. This always happens. And yet it is necessary - Whodini was very clear on that. David lifts the shot glass and brings it near his lips.

Just get it over with. He tosses the contents into his mouth and swallows quickly. The initial contact of semen and tongue proves to be the hardest part. The next step - licking the inside of the glass clean - turns out to be much easier and he actually sort of gets back into the "prisoner-forced-to do-horrible-things" mindset. He licks several times, swallowing in between, and finally presents the clean, saliva-slicked glass to Whodini.

"A very enjoyable show. You have certainly earned the use of this key," Whodini responds. He fishes a key out of his pocket and hands it over. David twists his hands around and in short order has unlocked both cuffs. As expected, his wrists are covered in red marks and indentations where the metal bit in... but he can separate his hands for the first time in half a day! Amazing how quick and effortless release is once you have the right tool.

The men chat idly over trivialities for a few minutes. David makes an awkward, tentative offer to assist Whodini with an orgasm of his own - he finds that the unsatisfying non-orgasm has taken none of the edge off his horniness - but Whodini politely, firmly declines. In fact, while Whodini remains unfailingly polite and shows no sign at all of wanting to rush David to the door, David nevertheless gets the sense that he has overstayed his welcome, and so he finds the box containing his clothing and dresses himself. They arrange a time for David's next escape room challenge: three weeks from now, Friday night.

"Oh," Whodini says to him at the door. "Try to make sure to get some soap and water into that tube when you shower, yeah? You want to keep that area as clean as possible."

David acknowledges the advice, then departs.



Select Level

easy   MEDIUM   difficult



You have been imprisoned in an underground chamber by an evil wizard.

You are naked.

There is a heavy leather hood on your head. It is secured in place by several locks such that you cannot remove it.

Your hands are cuffed in front of you. They are not attached in any other way, so you are free to move them around.

You are wearing a metal chastity device, the same one you have been wearing for the last three weeks.

Your left ankle is attached to a steel ring embedded in the concrete floor by a chain. The chain is about as long as you are tall, allowing you enough freedom to move in a limited area around the ring you are secured to.

Your challenge: escape.

>

It's the same basement, with pretty much the same restraints. The tone started out the same, too - hot imprisonment fantasy.

For the first minute. After that, Whodini said something that made the hotness wear off quickly. Fortunately, over the next few hours David was able to work his way back up to enjoying the experience with plenty of bondage-pig wallowing.

But now... some two days in... he's just enduring. The fun has given way to relentless, mind-numbing tedium.

His eyes ache for light, even just a glimmer. Being locked in the pitch blackness of the hood is disorienting in the extreme, but he knows that even if he could get the hood off, it wouldn't help because there would be no light in the windowless basement. And this time, there is no handy flashlight overhead.

He has explored his cell - all the parts he can reach, that is - several times and knows by heart what items it contains.

> inventory

You have:
  • One hood (locked on your head)
  • One pair of handcuffs (locked on your wrists)
  • One chastity device (locked on your dick)
  • One chain (locked on your ankle)
  • One blanket
  • One loaf of crusty, dry whole-grain bread, approximately half-eaten
  • One large hunk of cheese, type unknown, also approximately half-eaten
  • Five apples
  • Three apple cores
  • One gallon jug full of water
  • One gallon jug, about 1/4 full of water
  • One dozen nitrile gloves
  • One bucket with lid
  • One small locked metal box

He has many more supplies than were available to him during his first visit. He even mostly knows where to find them all, which surprises him. Sometimes he gets turned around and loses track of which direction is which, but quite often he can reach out a pair of groping arms in the direction he thinks is correct and be rewarded by the contact of his fingers on the object he was aiming for.

It is amazing what sort of environments the body and mind can adapt to, and how well they can do it.

There is nothing else within his reach. Just the hole in the floor which he has pissed into several times and then flushed with a bit of his water supply to keep the smell down. He does not seem to be in danger of running out of water before winning his freedom, but you never know. The first jug is now mostly empty, which means is close to using up half his supply. There may come a point where he will wish he had not been so profligate with what he had.

He has had no human contact since Whodini left him here, which was probably about two days ago. At most he will spend seven days imprisoned here, after which time the electronic door lock at the top of the stairs will open and Whodini will come set him free.

Of course, he will almost certainly exact a price for performing that service. David got a sense of how the man operates during his first visit and is on sharp alert for tricks this time around. That is why he has explored his cell so thoroughly, several times over. Aside from the items listed, there is nothing else within his reach in the cell.

There is, however, one more item in the cell that he knows of, but it's currently not within his reach. It is literally the key to his freedom. And there's nothing David can do to gain access to it. Yet. All he can do is wait.

-------------

Earlier...

The doorbell once again chimed gently to announce David's Friday night arrival. February had come, the day's light lingering just a bit longer into the evenings but with temperatures still frosty. The wood stove inside was twinkling with a warm, cheery glow.

"How's the chastity been going?" Whodini asked once David had shrugged out of his coat. "Still got it on, or did you decide enough was enough and pry it off?"

"Still there!" David replied, keyed up at the prospect of starting his second escape room challenge. "I thought about taking it off a couple of times, but each time I talked myself out of it. The first was two nights in, when I woke up at midnight with a hard-on trying to come into being. I would have ripped it off right then if I could have, but of course the only way to get it off is when things are soft and small inside, and this was not soft or small! Eventually I fell back to sleep and by the time morning came I figured I could stand it. Then every time it happened after that, I figured I've made 5, 8, 12 days already, it'd be a shame to give up now. So... here I am, still locked up."

"Good for you. I'm glad to hear it. So much of chastity... well, any bondage, really... is the right mindset. The line between hurts-so-bad and hurts-so-good is a fuzzy, blurry one, and often you can move yourself from one side to the other just by wanting to."

"Yeah," David agreed.

"Any orgasms in the meantime?"

David shook his head. "Again: thought about it, but decided not to. That one three weeks ago was just so unsatisfying. I figured I'd rather save it up and have a good, solid real one than another one like that."

Whodini nodded in agreement. "Yeah, orgasms in chastity are insidious that way. They remind me of meringue topping or whipped cream. It looks like vanilla ice cream, and so you dive in with your spoon expecting a mouthful of sweet, rich, creamy deliciousness, but what you get is much more bland. A mouthful of nothing. It's not that meringue is awful, but it's certainly not ice cream, and so your body can't help but be disappointed by its thwarted expectations."

There was a brief pause, and then Whodini folded his hands in front of his chest. "So. Again I will ask: do you want to begin tonight, or wait until tomorrow?"

"Tonight. Please," David immediately replied.

"I thought as much. Now, this second challenge will take somewhat longer than the first. Where that one could be solved in two hours, this one will take a minimum of two days. It may go as long as seven days. Are you prepared to spend seven days in the cell? You have no commitments during that time, no one who will be calling your phone wondering why you are not answering and calling the police to report a missing person?"

David assured him that he had taken off from work and told most of his friends he was going out of town. There was one friend who knew where he actually was, but that friend knew to expect not to hear from David until next Friday night. Possibly sooner, but there was no need for alarm until Saturday morning.

"Very good. I would hate to have to explain to Billy - that's our local police chief - why your car is in my driveway if someone has reported you missing. I've had to do that twice so far with young men who neglected to take the precautions I told them to take. The first time I had to actually break down the door. Billy was all set to drag me away when he first laid eyes on what was down there. Even then it took about an hour of explanation from my guest protesting that this really was all voluntary before Billy believed him. Then Billy made the poor fellow call the sister who had reported him missing and explain it all to her. Very embarrassing... seems she didn't know about this aspect of his life. Oh, and of course I had to charge him for the cost of the replacement door. Most unfortunate."

"The second time Billy was much less surprised. He pounded on the door and called downstairs to see if anyone was there. It was difficult for him and my guest to converse, but eventually Billy heard enough to convince him that this was just the same thing as before. And I was spared any further damage to my home."

"If he were to come back for a third visit, I suspect he would simply enjoy a cup of coffee with me while reassuring himself that this was just more same-old-same-old and then he would be on his way, telling your distraught whoever-it-is that you're fine and you'll be back in a day or so. But I really hate to put his patience to the test, so you are absolutely sure no one will be alarmed at your absence? Yes? All right then. I believe you. Same routine, then. Bathroom trip, then come back here and take everything off."

David did so, and on went the hood and the cuffs. He stood, blood singing eagerly in his ears, waiting to be led downstairs and be shackled in place.

"One last thing before we go," Whodini said. He put a small capsule and a glass of water into David's cuffed hands. "Swallow that, please."

"Uh... no. I don't think so," David blurted. "Not when I don't know what it is."

"I'm not going to tell you that just yet..." Whodini said.

"Then I'm not going to swallow it," David shot back.

"... but I will tell you what it is not. It is not a drug of any kind, legal or illegal. It is not anything that will harm you or alter your thinking in any way. It is inert and perfectly safe to swallow. It will not interfere with your digestive system. I have swallowed a capsule just like it, as has every other young man who has embarked on this second challenge, and all of us suffered no ill effects."

David mulled that over, exploring the object with his fingers. It felt like plastic, a hard blob of it. "And if I don't?"

"Then the challenge ends here, before it begins."

"So I have to swallow this if I want to do the escape room. But you won't tell me what's in it."

"Not yet."

"But you will tell me at some point."

"Yes. Once you are secured downstairs."

"So the capsule thing is part of the challenge?"

"It is a prerequisite. You can't start the challenge unless you swallow it."

Another thought occurred to David. "If I don't... if I give up on the challenge... how do I get the hood and cuffs and the cage off? I suppose you have some impossible price in mind?"

Whodini chuckled. "It's nice to see you developing a healthy sense of suspicion! But as they say, ask me no questions, I'll tell you no lies. I decline to answer that question. You may choose to proceed or not, as you wish, based on the information you have."

David's sense of suspicion was now running at redline levels. "This won't hurt me, you said?"

"That's right."

"And it won't affect my mind?"

"Not a bit."

"And you'll tell me what it is once I'm locked up downstairs?"

"Yes."

God, this was a bad, bad idea... and yet, before he could change his mind, he tossed the pill thing into his mouth and chased it down with a gulp of water. The object was large, but he got it down on the first try.

"Show me," Whodini said. David opened his mouth. He felt Whodini's fingers examining his cheeks and beneath his tongue, looking for a cached pill.

"All right," he said, satisfied. "Follow me."

Once more, David was led downstairs and chained to the ring in the floor. The blanket was handed to him and Whodini stepped away.

"All right, the challenge has begun. Everything you'll need to free yourself from these restraints and make your way upstairs is here in this room. I promised I would tell you what you swallowed. It was a tiny key wrapped inside a plastic case. You will find, somewhere within your reach, a small box. The key opens that box. Over the next few days, the key will work its way through your digestive system and out the other side. I have provided a bucket for you so that you can catch the result and search through it for the plastic case."

"Wait, WHAT?" David shouted. "You think I'm gonna dig through my shit?"

"Well, it's either that or wait the full week. I've left some disposable gloves for you to make the task less unpleasant. I have also left you food and water, quantities that should be sufficient for that whole time. If you want to spend the whole week here in chains, by all means aim your crap down the hole in the floor. But if you want any chance of escaping sooner... well... your path forward is clear. Good luck."

"NO! I changed my... aw, fuck." He didn't bother finishing the sentence because he knew it was far, far, far too late for his change of mind to make any difference. He heard the sound of ascending footsteps and then the firm finality of the door at the top of the staircase clicking shut softly.

--------------

And so here he sits. Time passes in a disconnected way. He has no way of marking the passing of the hours, or the days, and so he doesn't even try. He exercises when he feels the urge to move; he sits wrapped in the blanket when he doesn't; he sleeps when he can, though the sleep is always fitful and uncomfortable on the hard floor.

It's horrible, and yet it is exactly what he hoped it would be.

Having overcome the first escape room challenge (well, overcome with an asterisk since he had failed to get the handcuffs or the dick cage off), his reaction over the next three weeks had been mostly one of regret that he had not spent more time in confinement while he had the chance. A little over twelve hours or so it had taken him, when he could have had two days of imprisonment - it was as if he had wasted three-quarters of his chance! He found himself looking more and more forward to the next session, when two days would be the minimum duration of his stay. The thought had gotten him hard (well, as hard as he could get) every time.

> wait

Time passes.

After grumping about the prospect of finding the key once it emerges from his ass for a while, he has once more managed to work himself around to thinking positively about his situation. Intrepid hero captured; forced into durance vile... It helps. So far, he has managed to hold off on any movement of his bowels. His plan is to wait for what he guesses to be about two days, then try. Better to dig through one large mass one time than several smaller lumps several times. He only has twelve of those gloves, which is even more incentive to not go groping through the foul stuff any more often than necessary. He spends his time alternately savoring the bondage and hardening up inside his cage, then growing frustrated with his inability to do anything about that non-erection and cooling back down.

> wait

Time passes.

> shake box

You shake the box. You can hear small bits of metal jangling around inside.

He has tried to open the small box without waiting for the key. The thing is practically seamless, though. There is a tiny slot where the key will go, but there are no hinges or seams or other weak spots that he could try to exploit. As best he can tell without seeing it, the box has a recessed lid that fits nearly perfectly between the four sides. Putting the key into the slot and turning it will probably retract some internal bars so that the lid can slide out, but there's no way to work his fingers into the tiny crack and apply any leverage to it. He's just going to have to wait for the key to emerge.

He has eaten about half the bread, half of the cheese, and almost half of the eight apples that Whodini had provided. He has been trying to ration the food for a stay of four days, basing what he eats on when his stomach feels hungry. It's not an accurate way to measure time's passage, but it's the best he can think of. The bread is chewy and requires a lot of water to accompany it; the cheese is nourishing but bland; only the apples are actually enjoyable to eat, and so he has been saving them as special treats. It's an arbitrary determination because in the lightless, changeless dungeon there is little to distinguish one moment from any other moment.

In theory, with half his food gone, he should be at the two-day point. Assuming he gets the key whenever he next feels the urge to void his bowel, then he could - if all goes well - be on his way upstairs right after that. But that seems unlikely. More likely is that there will be an additional challenge after that, so he would be wise to prepare for another day to work that one out.

> wait

Time passes.

A moment comes when David becomes aware of a sensation of fullness in his gut. He is sitting, fiddling idly with his handcuffs and the leg chain, staring vacantly at the back of his eyelids, when the feeling of pressure begins to mount. Ah. It's time.

He empties his bladder first down the hole. He has stopped flushing - the water may become too precious to just pour away. The smell is not pleasant, but then, his body doesn't smell all that great either at this point. And the smell is about to get much worse.

He takes the lid off the bucket and positions his ass over it. Fecal matter lands wetly with a nauseating plop on the bottom. Damn, there is no mindset in which this works for him. David is just not wired to be turned on by shit, no matter how much he might try to be. The smell rises up from the bucket and suffuses the air around him.

He pushes out as much as he can, then gets one of the gloves and puts it on his right hand. He wipes his ass with it, hesitates a moment, and then plunges in. With his left hand he grips his right wrist, trying to eliminate any chance of accidental contact since both hands must go in together. He really should put gloves on both hands, but there are two reasons not to: one is to conserve the gloves in case he really needs a clean one later, and the other is that he's not sure how he would get the gloves off if both hands are dirty. Better to keep one hand clean.

Groping blindly into the bucket, he knows what he will find and how it will feel, but he forces himself to do it anyway. These kinds of gloves are amazing in the way they transfer sensation straight through. He could submerge his gloved hand in a pail of water and it would remain completely dry, but it would feel as wet as if it were actually in direct contact with the water. The same principle applies here as he rummages through blobs of shit, squeezing the warm pulp between his fingers, searching for the hard lump that represents the first step toward freedom. This is by far the worst he has endured. Objectively, it's not all that terrible - he has gloves! He's not actually touching anything icky! And yet his brain is convinced he is, and it's disgusting, and the smell is terrible, and he is definitely ready for freedom at this point. As much as he craved the confinement of imprisonment while he was outside, now he craves release even more.

The key is not there.

It must still be working its way through. David strips off the glove and tosses it into the bucket, then clamps the lid down on the bucket. Covering the source of the stench won't get rid of any of the odor already in the room, but it will prevent more from polluting his air. He will have to wait until next time and do the whole process again.

He sits back and wraps himself in the blanket. Bleak thoughts churn in his head. What if it got hung up somewhere, caught in a fold of intestine? What if the plastic case breaks and the sharp metal key gets out? What if it punctures right through my gut and I bleed to death or get some horrible infection that makes my abdomen bloat up with toxic sludge? His hand still felt filthy. Even though he knew it had been safely protected inside the glove, it still felt like it had been smeared in shit. What if the glove tore? I can't see to be sure, and if I touch it with my other hand I'll just spread it around.

He had been planning on treating himself to an apple after enduring the search for the key, but he is just not in the mood any more.

> sleep

You try to sleep, but your rest is fitful and interrupted.

> wait

Time passes.

> wait some more

Time passes.

> jerk off

That is not possible at this time.

> shit

That item is in your inventory.

> fucking shit goddam turd-sucking cocktard

You cuss a blue streak for half a minute. Afterward, you feel no better and your situation remains unchanged.

Another day.. ish... later, and David is ready to try again. Once more he held off as long as he could stand it, wanting to give that key every possible chance to work its way forward and be included in the coming dump. His bread is down to a third of a loaf; almost half the cheese is still left. He needs to pace himself better - the cheese is tough to eat on its own and really needs the bread to make it palatable. He has eaten one more of the apples, but any sense of special ceremony was absent from the event. His appetite seems to be reduced, possibly from inactivity, possibly from depression, possibly from the lingering smell surrounding him that he never fully can get used to.

He drains his bladder down the hole. He slips a glove onto his hand. He takes a deep breath, postponing the inevitable stench, and unlids the bucket. He sits. He shits. He stays there a while, utterly uneager to declare this stage done and move onto the next stage. There might be one more bit that could come out with a little more pushing. But the time comes when he can fool himself no longer and he must begin the search.

Again he grips his right wrist with his left hand and delves in. The first blob he encounters is cold to the touch, which at least clues him in that he doesn't need to search there. He gropes until he finds a warm blob and starts squeezing. Nothing. He locates another and does the same.

Success.

David almost doesn't believe it at first, but there is the evidence between his thumb and forefinger: one solid capsule, unharmed by its passage from one end of David's body through to the other.

He lets out a little chuckle, more of an explosive blast of breath than a laugh. It worked. It actually worked.

Trying to keep from letting his giddiness drive him to carelessness, he pours some of his water over the capsule and into the bucket, rubbing and washing it as best he can. Then he puts the capsule down on the floor, strips off the soiled glove, and drops it in the bucket. Putting on a clean glove, he repeats the washing process and decides that's as clean as it's going to get. He discards the new glove, lids the bucket and pushes it aside. Now... how to open the capsule?

It doesn't want to twist apart, and it doesn't break in his hands. What eventually gets the job done is to set it on the floor and step on it. With a satisfying crack, it splits apart under his heel. He reaches down and fumbles until he feels the tiny metal speck with his fingers.

> take key

Taken.

Heart hammering in his chest, he gropes around until he finds the small box, then fumbles some more trying to locate the slot and line the key up with it. He actually drops the key at one point, which fills him with terror at the prospect that it might have bounced into the drain hole. But no, he quickly finds it between his knees. Just to be safe, he moves to a point far from the hole and resumes work.

At last he lines the key up correctly and it slides in. He turns it. The lid doesn't want to come out, but he tips the box onto its side and then a little further to get gravity working with him. A little shake of the box and the lid slides into his hand. He quickly tips the box back upright to prevent any of its contents from falling out.

David dips his fingers into the box and feels what can only be more keys. There are three small ones and one large one. He pulls the large one out first and tries it in the padlock at his ankle. It fits and turns easily. The lock clicks open. He removes the chain from around his ankle and rubs the spot where it had been chafing. He grins - there is nothing stopping him from leaving this basement right now. Of course, he would still be wearing the hood, the handcuffs, and the cock cage, and Whodini's "fee" for removing each of those items would no doubt be costly.

He dips into the box again and draws out one of the smaller keys. This one has a cylindrical shaft - feels like a handcuff key. He twists his wrists around and fits the key into the hole of the left one. It, too, turns easily and he eases the cuff open. He repeats the operation on his right wrist and drops the cuffs to the floor. He stretches his arms luxuriantly out to the sides, deliriously happy to be able to do that again.

Two more to go. The next key comes out and David tries it on the padlock at the back of his neck. It almost fits, but he can't quite get it in. That might be due to the awkward position behind his head but it could also be the wrong key for this lock. He tries a few times before giving up and trying it on the chastity cage instead. After a few false starts there, the key slides in and turns. The lock pops open. He removes the lock and begins the process of easing the tube off his dick. He hasn't been able to wash for something like half a week and so it sticks to his skin, pulling at the tender tissue in a most unerotic way. He twists and turns the tube, trying to gently break the bond and before long successfully slides it off. A new aroma wafts up from his crotch, almost as unpleasant as the bucket. Almost.

Just a little bit more to go now. The tiny noose comes off from behind the glans; the ring comes off from the base of his cock and balls, and his junk is free for the first time in over three weeks. He pauses a moment to squeeze his uncaged dick. It swells a bit in his hand, which feels really, really nice...

> choke chicken

Do you really think that's a good idea right now???

> fine

Fine.

...but he doesn't pump it to full hardness just yet. He's on a mission, and there will be plenty of time for jerking off later.

David plucks the fourth key out of the box and maneuvers it into the lock. Unable to suppress the grin of triumph building on his face, he twists the key in the lock.

> open lock

Nothing happens.

The key refuses to turn.

He tries again, then tries turning it the other way.

> open lock

Nothing happens.

He tries a third time, a fourth, a fifth. He pulls it out of the lock and re-inserts it. He jiggles it, finesses it, pulls it a fraction of a smidge out, pushes a fraction of a smidge further in. Nothing has any effect. The key refuses to turn.

> open lock godfuckingdammit

Nothing happens.

He tries it in the lock at the back of his head with the same result. Then the one on top. None of the locks open.

DAMMIT! He was SO FUCKING CLOSE!

He keeps trying for a few more minutes before his hands grow tired of being up at head level and he drops them into his lap for a break.

What the hell is wrong? Why won't the key turn?

His mind starts racing. Is this just an accident? Or could it possibly be another one of Whodini's mind games? The more he thinks about it, the more likely it is that this is another trick. His fatal flaw the first time was haste - he was so sure he had found the answer that he blew right past some clues that, in hindsight, really weren't all that hidden. He could have seen them if he hadn't been in such a rush to get out.

Well. He will not make that mistake twice.

The hood is still firmly fixed in place, but his hands and feet are completely free. Carefully, methodically, he wraps everything he needs in the blanket and sets it next to the hook in the floor. Then he stretches the chain out as far as it will go in a randomly-chosen direction, groping his way forward so as not to bump his head into a wall. He knows there is one wall within reach because when he was exploring with the chain still fixed to his ankle, there was a wall he was able to touch. Now he swivels around the pivot point at the same distance he was then, and sure enough, he finds the wall he had been looking for. He lays the chain out flat pointing at the wall. It ends about eighteen inches away from the wall, so if he keeps his left hand on the wall and walks forward, he should eventually come back to his starting point, which he will identify by kicking the chain with his feet.

Fortunately, he roughly remembers the layout of the room from his last visit when he had light available to him. The shape is a nice, simple rectangle with only a few complications on the perimeter. The light is gone now, as is the mini-fridge, and he has no idea what he might encounter, so he proceeds cautiously. He resolves to make a lap around the room. The only confusing part is the point where the staircase rises up from the floor, but he is able to grope his way past and continue on to where the wall once again proceeds in a straight line. He encounters a few interesting possibilities along the way, but he makes a note of which of the four walls they are located at and moves along. This is strictly a reconnaissance mission.

He successfully arrives back at his starting point after negotiating four right-angle turns. It takes about fifteen minutes at his snail-like pace and he has brought nothing back to his base camp, but he regards that as achievement enough. He sits down to rest in the blanket once more.

On his next pass, he spends more time searching for items large or small. He encounters several, some that he had encountered on his first lap and some that he had missed.

> explore room

You find:
  • One packet of playing cards in a cardboard box
  • One plastic object about the size and shape of a harmonica, but which has no holes and makes no sound
  • One plastic spoon
  • One folded piece of paper
  • One combination padlock, locked
  • One spring-arm mousetrap, unbaited, not set

Two of those items are noteworthy. The first is the folded piece of paper. That had been located taped to one of the walls, up above head level. He only found it by chance because the movement of his passage nearby caused it to make a tiny, brief flapping sound. This attracted his attention and he would not leave that spot until he had tracked down the source of the sound and pulled it free of the wall. Then he made sure on his next pass to inspect all the wall surfaces - prior to that, he had been focusing on the floor. He had found nothing further, but he was very, very interested in seeing what might be on that piece of paper.

The other noteworthy item is the mousetrap. The implicit message there is loud and clear. "I could have left this armed for you to step on, you know. Just sayin'." David is pretty sure... he thinks... that Whodini would not have left anything down here that could truly, seriously injure him, and that this veiled threat is just one more way to fuck with his head. But he really can't be 100% sure of that, and so he takes extra care during his subsequent searches.

Eventually he grows tired and hungry. He eats, pees, and sleeps.

> wait

Time passes.

In the "morning" he tries the key in the lock again. Who knows, maybe he had been doing it wrong before and this search thing is just a wild goose chase? But no, while the key fits into the lock just fine, apparently the teeth are not the right shape to align the tumblers correctly and it refuses to turn. He grows angry for a moment and comes close to trying to force the thing to turn. But he knows that this will most likely result in the key snapping off in the lock, which not only wouldn't open that lock, but would guarantee he wouldn't be trying that key in either of the other two locks again. He also wouldn't be trying any other keys he might find in the now-jammed lock.

Is he overthinking this? Was it just a mistake? Maybe Whodini had meant to put the right key in the box, but had goofed. He probably had several sets of locks like this one. Maybe the keys had gotten mixed up. It was possible... and yet the guy seems so methodical with his preparations. He's the sort who would try each key in its lock first. Which means that the frustration David is now feeling is all part of his plan.

And yet, he had said that everything David needed was here in this room. So......

David makes another lap of the room, this time working the opposite direction, counter-clockwise, keeping his right hand to the guiding wall. He finds nothing new lying loose, but he does notice something near the staircase, a little indentation in the wall near the staircase. It turns out to be the handle of a flimsy door that, when opened, provides access to the crawlspace under the stairs. David inspects the area, and there is plenty there, but none of it seems helpful. There are cans of paint, brushes, trays, and a few rollers. Tubs of (presumably) spackle, various-sized squeeze tubes. Two screwdrivers lie on top of one of the cans. He uses the screwdrivers to pry the lid off the can, dips his finger inside, and encounters nothing but paint inside, about a third of a can's worth. He is almost tempted to see if there is a key lying at the bottom of the can, but decides that if that's the way to get free, he'd rather just wait out the week.

Then he remembers the gloves and the much-less-pleasant excavation task he already did, twice. Compared with that, what's a little paint? He returns to his base, dons a glove, then comes back to inspect the inside of the paint can.

Nothing. Just paint. Presumably "edgecomb gray" or "ceiling white" or some other leftover from whenever this house was built. He could try the other cans, but there seems little point. He puts the lid back on, inspects the rest of the crawl space, and finds nothing of interest.

He makes one more pass around the room, this time leaving the relative security of the wall and venturing into open space. This is unnerving, even frightening. He knows that he can get back to base at any point by just walking until he reaches a wall and following the wall until he reaches the chain. But somehow it is terrifying to be cut adrift. He feels as though he is on an endless open plain, a wingless, eyeless black fly exposed on a flat white rock under a glaring searchlight, attracting the attention of hungry predators from every side. His sense of direction gets all screwed up and he finds himself bumping into the waste bucket, tripping over the chain in a place he didn't expect it to be, grazing up against walls in unexpected places. He decides to call it quits for a while, get some food, maybe take a nap.

> wait

Time passes.

When he is ready to resume, he tries the key again. Still it refuses to turn in any of the locks, and now he is starting to get despondent. He wavers constantly between being convinced that Whodini screwed up and gave him the wrong key by accident, and being equally certain that the mismatched key is a ploy, a red herring distracting him from the real answer. He can't stop turning the problem over and over in his mind, uncertain whether he's done all he can do.

Meanwhile, his food and water stockpile isn't growing any larger, and the air in the basement isn't getting any fresher. He is down to a fist-sized lump of bread, about the same amount of cheese, and two apples. The last jug of water is half-full. He can probably last another day before he runs out, and then a day or two beyond that feeling increasing levels of hunger and thirst. But how many days has it been? He can only guess, which provides a distraction every once in a while from obsessing about the key, but which is ultimately just as fruitless to spend brainpower on. And yet he has nothing else to think about.

David resists the urge to empty his bowels when it next comes, but after a few hours of discomfort gives in and opens the bucket. Thankfully, he can close it up again without having to scoop through the foul mess at the bottom this time. It is this thought that gives him his resolve as to what to do. He will do one more search of the basement, and then he will put on one more of the gloves, open up every single can of paint in the crawlspace, and check each one for a key. If there is no key to be found, then he will conclude that he has done everything possible to open the hood and that it cannot be opened with the equipment he has. And then he will stop fretting about could-have-beens and enjoy the rest of his captivity. When his food and water runs out, he will wait until he gets hungry and then go upstairs. Or perhaps the week will have passed by then and Whodini will return for him.

The cans, when he searches them, contain nothing but paint.

He eats the last of the bread and apples in celebration. Some of the cheese as well, but that just doesn't appeal and he can't bring himself to finish it. He downs most of the water, leaving just a trickle. It's nice to be off the endless worry treadmill - there is nothing else he can do to try to solve the problem of the hood... although his brain keeps trying to get him back on the treadmill. Maybe there is still something he could try that he hasn't thought of yet?

No. It is time to move on.

He tries to jerk off and finds that he's just not in the mood. The prison fantasy is such a hot one when he's not imprisoned. He constantly thinks about what it would be like to be in exactly the situation he is in now. And yet, now that he is in it, all he wants to do is get out. That could be because it's not really imprisonment any more - he can leave any time he wants. The only thing holding him here is his own willpower, the supply of which is rapidly running out. It's been days, though he doesn't know how many, and all he feels now is boredom.

He tries re-locking the ankle chain, the handcuffs, and the chastity cage on himself to see if that turns him on. It does, a bit, but it's not the same knowing he has the keys right there and can set himself free at any time. There's a thrill that comes from being locked involuntarily, inescapably, that can't be simulated.

He waits a bit longer, but there is just no point. He unlocks everything he can unlock, bids a mental farewell to the cell, gives himself one last opportunity to change his mind, and knows that he won't. There's no point staying here, not if he can leave at any time. He's done all he cares to do. It's time to go.

> exit dungeon

You climb the stairs, open the door, and walk out.

David expects to hear the sound of the doorbell chime as soon as he opens the door, but nothing happens. He stands there waiting for a minute or so, holding the door open with his body so it won't swing shut. "Hello?" he calls. He waits a while longer but hears no response.

Well, this time he was better prepared. He takes the mousetrap that he had carefully thought to carry up the steps with him and places it at the foot of the door frame. Slowly, cautiously, he lets the door close until it presses up against the wooden base of the mousetrap. It closes no further.

Ha. Take that, Whodini!

"Hello?" David calls again. He gropes his way down the hall toward where he thinks the bathroom might be. A shower would be nice, but even just washing his hands would be welcome. He keeps one hand to the wall, pretty sure that it's the second door on the left, after the pantry. He moves slowly, careful not to stub his toe on some unseen hazard.

Behind him, the door that he had propped open clicks shut.

He spins, nearly losing his balance. He covers the ground back to the basement door much more quickly than during the outgoing trip and returns to discover that his ears had not deceived him. The basement door is now closed. And - he finds - locked.

"It was a worthy effort," Whodini's voice says next to him. "Some might be tempted to call that cheating, but I believe you're entitled to use every tool available to you. You should receive bonus points for creativity, in fact."

"It didn't help," David says. "You cheated back by undoing it."

"That's a valid point of view," Whodini says. "But it's my game, so cheating is, by definition, what I decide it is. Why don't we go discuss it in the den? Much more comfortable than here in the hall. Or... would you rather shower first?"

"I'd rather get the hood off, then shower!"

"Of course. Well then, let's head for the den. I'll just set a blanket between your rather pungent body and the chair first, if you don't mind. Follow me."

There is no fire this time. The room is warmer than the basement, certainly, but the blast of soothing, cheery warmth that David had been hoping for is absent. Once seated, he wraps bits of the blanket around himself, tucking in the corners.

"So I'm pretty sure now that the little key problem was no accident," David says.

"Very astute," Whodini says. "Tell me what you tried?"

David lists all the ways he had attempted to open the locks, the painstaking searches in the darkness that covered every square inch of the basement floor and walls, even the dips into the various cans of paint, none of which had turned up any key at all, let alone one that fit the lock.

"Nothing," he concludes. "I couldn't find the key anywhere."

"Not surprising," Whodini says. "There was no key to be found."

"What?" David exclaims. "So... there never was any way to get the hood off? I never had a chance of succeeding?"

"Not true. I told you that all the tools you needed were available to you. You found what you needed, in fact. You just didn't recognize it."

David sighs. Out-thought again... "OK. What was it?"

"The screwdrivers. The ones on top of the paint cans."

"Huh? How am I supposed to open a lock with a screwdriver?"

"Not one screwdriver," Whodini explains. "Two. Those locks are small and flimsy. They're strong enough to stand up to finger pressure, but if you put both screwdriver shafts through the lock and pry the handles, the lock will just pop apart. Takes ten seconds, maybe twenty or thirty since you're working behind and on top of your head."

Damn. "But... I should have just destroyed the locks, then? That doesn't seem right."

"Dear boy, you knew that the difficulty level of this challenge was greater than the first. The only way I can make the challenges satisfying is by doing things you don't expect. During your first visit here, I threw an unexpected dirty trick at you. That should have warned you that I like to play dirty tricks. You knew - or should have known - to be on your guard not only for similar dirty tricks, but also other, different dirty tricks. Which you were, as evidenced by the way that you suspected that I gave you the wrong key on purpose, and the way you wedged the mousetrap into the door. If there were ever to be a third challenge after this, you should expect the difficulty level to be even greater."

He continues. "You could have gotten the hood off any way you wanted and I would have accepted the outcome as valid. You could have found a different way to break the locks, you could have picked the leather apart with your fingers or the padlock key or the rough edges of the handcuffs, you could have thought of something I haven't imagined yet. But. You chose instead to come upstairs with the hood still on. True, you tried to leave yourself an 'undo' path, which was clever, but I believe that some decisions are final. For certain decisions, you can dither as much as you want leading up to the decision, but once you decide, once you act, you must live with the irrevocable consequences of your choice."

David sits, digesting that. Whodini lets the silence grow. David feels less uncomfortable with the man's silences than he had at first. It helps that he doesn't have to worry about making or not making eye contact, holding or avoiding the other man's gaze. Eventually he speaks. "So..." he says. "Now what? What do I have to do to get the hood off?"

"The same as before," Whodini responds. "Jerk off for me. But, just as the difficulty of the challenge has increased, the fee for using my spare key has also increased. This time, I want you to fill up the shot glass." David feels the glass being pressed into his hand. "You don't have to drink it this time. You just have to fill it. When I judge that it is sufficiently full, I'll give you the key. Oh, and since I know you must be wondering, it's about 4:00 in the morning on Wednesday. You've still got plenty of time."

It turns out to be a good thing that David had not jerked off downstairs. And the task is much easier with no cage confining his dick. The first round takes little time at all and produces ample fluid. The second round, twenty minutes later, takes a bit more effort and there is less to show for it. "Three or four more like that should do it," Whodini says. "I'll just set this coaster on top so it doesn't dry out as much while you're reloading. Careful not to knock it over."

He takes a shower, necessarily only washing from the neck down. He eats some food that Whodini provides. He works himself up to a third orgasm. Then a long nap on the sofa - it might be 8 or 9 in the morning in the world outside the hood, but inside it can be whatever time David wants it to be, and he feels like sleeping.

When he gets up, he has a satisfyingly thick erection and he gropes for the shot glass to squirt another blast into it. He finds himself actually getting off on his situation.

You are being held captive by an evil wizard. The sinister enchanter has used a fiendish incantation to remove your eyes. He gloats that he will return them to you, but only after you complete the humiliating task his deviant mind has dreamed up for you...

"You really get off on this, huh?" David asks at one point.

"Well, honestly, it's not what you're doing so much as the fact that you are doing it because I want you to. I like the control aspect. That applies to the escape room as well. The reason I do it is because I enjoy hearing about what my guests try, the steps they take to try to defeat the obstacles I laid in their path. And, being completely honest, it's why I like the second challenge better than the first. During the first you learn that I play dirty tricks, and so you expect them in the second, and that means you are hyper-vigilant, excessively on the lookout for traps. Which means I don't even have to lay many - your own mind comes up with all sorts of possibilities that I don't have to think of myself. It's beautiful, really. You're so busy imagining what traps I might have thought of that you take on the job of being your own torturer. Like searching the paint cans for a key, for instance, which had not occurred to me and which no previous guest thought to try. Your mind made that up all by itself. By trying to anticipate a dirty trick I might have played, you ended up playing one on yourself. Which I very much enjoy. If you'll pardon my saying so."

"No... it's fine..." David is a bit non-plussed to hear such a bald description of how he was manipulated into being his own worst enemy. And yet, there really wasn't anything he could have done differently, and it was what he signed up for so... yeah. It's fine. Mindset, as always, gotta have the right mindset.

He makes sure to drink plenty of water. Good hydration helps boost semen volume. Still, building up a fifth orgasm takes time, after four in fairly quick succession he's losing interest. He reminds himself that count doesn't matter; only volume does. So he lingers during the buildup, letting the juices accumulate, and after a long while spurts a fifth load into the shot glass. He is very careful to keep the glass on the table, holding it absolutely steady so as not to spill anything. Of course, this makes aiming his dick into the glass tough, especially as he pounds away at it with his other hand.

"Nearly there," announces Whodini. "One more should do it."

David waits again with nothing to do but stare at the blackness in front of him. All thoughts of horniness are basically gone from his mind. Five times in one day is his previous record. He might be able to manage a sixth, but it is so much more appealing to just... doze... off.

When he wakes, Whodini feeds him again and he downs still more water. Much of the fluid he has been ingesting seems to be coming straight out through his bladder, but he hopes that some of it is having the desired effect of pooling in his prostate. He waits a while longer, then decides it is time to try round six.

Round six takes a lot of buildup. He imagines himself to be downstairs again, chained as he was the first time only this time for keeps. The chain keeps his left foot within touching distance of the floor; the cuffs hold his hands together as a single unit; the chastity cage (well... or so he imagines...) holds his dick imprisoned inside. There is no light; the only sound comes from the rush of blood in his ears. The world upstairs has disappeared, magicked away into the void. Only the tiny cell of the dungeon remains. He is trapped in this dark, silent world for all eternity...

There it comes. It's over quickly and his dick is so sore from the abuse he has inflicted on it that he suspects it will be days before he feels any desire to touch it again.

"That'll do," Whodini says. He presses a key into David's overheated, trembling hand. David fits the key into the lock at the back of his neck. It turns smoothly, a perfect fit. The other two locks come off as easily, and then he undoes the straps and the laces and emerges, at last, into the first light he has seen for almost a solid week.

It's too much. He closes them and finds that the pinkish-yellowish-brown brightness of the backs of his eyelids is enough light to deal with for the moment. He will have to work his way up to more.

He learns that it is now Thursday morning, coming up on 10:00. The sun is shining brightly on a clear, cloudless February day, though Whodini has closed the blinds to help with David's adjustment. David is gradually able to ease his eyes open for longer and longer at a time.

"Oh, crap," David says. "I'm just now realizing I meant to bring that piece of paper up with me and forgot. I don't suppose you'll tell me what was written on it? Or is there a fee for that, too?" He grins as he says it to show that it's no big deal, though he truly does want to know.

"Heh. That information you can have for free. There is writing on the paper, but all it says is 'This page intentionally left blank.' It was only there to mess with you."

Fifteen minutes later, David has dressed himself and has recovered enough to dare to venture outside.

"So," he says. "You mentioned a third escape challenge...?"

"Ah. Not quite. What I said was 'If there were to be a third challenge'. Alas..."

"Dang. 'Cause I'd be up for it if there were."

"You do seem very... enthusiastic on this topic."

"Could I maybe come back and repeat one of the first two?"

"I'm sorry, no. You might enjoy the experience, but I would not. The pleasure for me comes in the process of discovery as my guests solve the puzzles I set for them. You already know all the answers and so I would find such a repeat... tedious."

David is disappointed, but he understands. He has, after all, paid nothing for either of these experiences. Well, nothing financial. Just a half-dozen loads of semen and a big chunk of self-esteem. Which, it seems, is all the payment Whodini is looking for.

He thanks his host for the experience, gets in his car, and heads for home.



Select Level

easy   medium   DIFFICULT



You have been imprisoned in an underground chamber by an evil wizard.

You are naked.

There is a heavy leather hood on your head. It is secured in place by several locks such that you cannot remove it.

Your hands are cuffed in front of you. They are not attached in any other way, so you are free to move them around.

You are wearing a metal chastity device that keeps your dick soft and contained.

Your left ankle is attached to a steel ring embedded in the concrete floor by a chain. The chain is fairly long, allowing you move about the entire space in which you find yourself, though it drags heavily and noisily behind you everywhere you go. You find yourself moving less than you otherwise would because of the inconvenience.

Your challenge: escape.

>

-------------

Earlier...

In March, David couldn't stand to stay away any more and reached out to Whodini on the app they had first connected on. There was no response.

He tried again about two weeks later. This time a response came back: "I'm very sorry, but I cannot help you. As I told you already, I am not interested in bringing guests in for repeat experiences. Please be content with the experiences you have had."

He hung on through the spring as the days steadily grew warmer and the world outside became bright and pleasant and full of life. But all the while, a part of him remained locked in a cool, dark underground cell, hooded and cuffed and chained at the ankle. The pull was overwhelming sometimes. He took to locking himself up at home, but found it unsatisfying because it was only make-believe. There was no challenge. He knew he could set himself free at any time. Even freezing a key in ice made no difference. Sooner or later, the ice would melt, and he had solved nothing, overcome nothing.

The craving was constantly there, a craving for the sort of situation that Whodini had put him in: seemingly-inescapable bondage that turns out to be escapable after all, but only if he can figure out the solution to the puzzles. He met up with a few other men with unsatisfying results. One was looking for a slave, not a prisoner; one wanted equal time as captive, putting David in the role of captor, which did not work well; two others were just looking for quick sex. One was a no-show. No one came close to giving David the whole-body, whole-mind immersive experience that Whodini did.

Over and over he berated himself for not savoring the two challenges to their fullest when he was in the middle of them. Both times in Whodini's basement, he could have stayed much longer, and yet both times he left early. He told himself it was the rush to beat the challenge, or the boredom that stemmed from having done everything he could do, but really it came down to this: he had the power to leave, and so he did. Once he could set himself free, he could not sustain the willpower to remain in captivity.

When chained, all he wants is freedom. When free, all he wants is the chain.

The irony was not lost on him. No matter which side of the cell door he is on, he wants to be on the other side.

In May, he reached out to Whodini a third time, then a fourth, then a fifth. There was no response.

Toward the end of the month, when the trees were in full leaf and the taste of the air started to hint of the summer humidity to come, he grew desperate enough to stop by Whodini's home on a Friday afternoon with the late-spring sun high in the sky.

The bell rang and after a moment, Whodini opened the door. "David," he said, but made no move to usher David in.

"Please... I'm sorry, I know I shouldn't be here but... I... I just... please?" All the words that David had planned to say evaporated right of out his head. Having no words to say, he stopped saying anything.

Whodini stared at him for a long moment. Finally, he said "wait here" and closed the door.

David shifted his weight from foot to foot in impatience. This was a mistake. He should go. But Whodini told him to wait? But no, he should not be here. But...?

Whodini returned, holding a backpack. "Listen to me very carefully, David. I hinted very strongly to you that I had no third challenge prepared. And yet, here you are. No, don't go. Stay and hear me out, then decide whether you want to leave."

He went on. "You were right to persist, because it happens I do have something in mind. Note that I never said outright there was no third challenge. I merely implied it. That's because I reserve this for only the most determined of the guests who visit me, those who crave this experience so much that they are willing to press the bounds of courtesy in their pursuit for it. Guests like you."

He gave David a long stare. David was pinned under his gaze, unable to turn away, his heart pounding in his chest. I knew it!!!

"It sets a bad precedent, I know. Like the three-year-old child who knows that if he pesters Mommy enough she will cave in and give him a popsicle. Mommy is setting herself up for a lifetime of having the kid run the show. Fortunately, this situation is different." Whodini looked as though he was about to elaborate, hesitated, then his face changed and he continued in a different vein.

"I warn you," he said, "this third challenge is the most difficult of all. The most difficult by far. I will give you no other information about it, other than to say that you can survive it. Nothing about the challenge will harm you, though of course I can't predict whether you might pop an artery in your brain or suffer a heart attack during the experience. That is beyond my control, of course."

Still looking David straight in the eye, he declared: "Decision time, David. You can either accept this third challenge or you can walk away. If you accept the challenge, it starts right now, right this moment. If you walk away, I ask you to please never contact me again. I will answer no questions. Do you understand?"

David nodded, unable to speak.

"I strongly urge you to walk away. You know from your previous stays here that I am untrustworthy. While the things I say are always truthful, I omit and I mislead and I twist meanings. You know you can't trust me. You know that accepting this challenge would be foolish. Nevertheless, the choice is yours. So. Choose."

After weeks of pursuit, you have cornered the wizard at last. But the wily enchanter has one last trick up his sleeve. The wizard hands you two pills, one red, the other blue, completely mixing fantasy genres in a way that makes no surface sense but is deeply, fundamentally, the perfect metaphor for the situation you find yourself in.

"Choose," he says.

You select one of the pills and pop it into your mouth.

-------------

David is on a highway heading west toward the Blue Ridge Mountains. He has been instructed to drive to Asheville. He is to stop there, open the backpack, and follow the instructions that he will find inside.

He pulls into a McDonald's parking lot, buys dinner and takes a bathroom break, and then looks in the backpack while he eats. Inside the backpack he finds the hood, the three locks to secure it, the handcuffs, the chastity cage, the leg chain, and two padlocks. All the equipment he wore on his previous two challenges. There are no keys to any of the locks. He checks all the pouches of the backpack, even the tiniest ones, to be sure.

There is a piece of paper with instructions on it. It reads:

"From Asheville, take 26 north. Cross into Tennessee. After passing through the town of Erwin, turn right on state road 395 heading east back toward North Carolina. At the state line, where the road crosses the Appalachian Trail, there is a small pulloff site to access the trail. Park your car there. Lock your phone in the car. Take your keys, any other personal items except your phone, the backpack and all its contents, including these instructions, and follow the trail for about a quarter of a mile south toward Georgia. Watch for a pair of yellow flags tied to a bush. When you see the flags..."

Following the instructions, he walks, blood singing in his ears, down the trail. He encounters a pair of hikers, nods to them and receives nods in return. Each is carrying a backpack similar to his, although he is absolutely certain their packs do not contain what his does. He walks further. There: two yellow flags, small, more like ribbons. He takes the ribbons, as instructed, and tucks them into his pocket. Off the trail, then through the brush, down a path that barely qualifies for the name, a mere suggestion of a path. The trees form a loose canopy overhead, allowing enough light to the forest floor that bushes and other undergrowth grow in abundance. Another quarter of a mile, perhaps a third. The going is slow because of all the tangled branches to push through.

His journey has taken him about three and a half hours from Charlotte to this point. The sun is dropping toward the western horizon and he is on the eastern side of the ridge, meaning it has already set for him, though the sky still light. He needs to find his destination soon or else face the prospect of hunting for it in the dark.

Then he spots it: three rocks piled deliberately atop one another. The marker he has been looking for. He kicks the rock pile apart, as instructed, then searches for the door he knows is nearby. There: concealed behind a cascade of creeper vines. He pulls the door open, stretching the creepers along to follow. No light spills out from the other side and precious little leaks in from the encroaching dusk out here.

No matter. There is no question that this is is the right spot.

God, this is absolutely the stupidest thing I have ever done. David has been berating himself like this ever since leaving Charlotte with Whodini's backpack in the passenger seat of his car. He had very nearly changed his mind several times. He can face the humiliation of returning the backpack to Whodini, which would be embarrassing but he he could live with that. What he can't face, and what has kept driving him forward, is the knowledge that if he lets this opportunity slip through his fingers, he will regret it every single day for the rest of his life.

What he doesn't know is whether accepting the opportunity will invoke the same reaction.

The other factor pushing him forward is the knowledge that none of this was irreversible. Yet. Or so he thought. He could be mistaken, though, because he realizes now that with night closing in, the time for backing out might have already passed without him realizing it. Even if he turns around this instant, it will be dark by the time he can get back to the main trail. If he can get back to the main trail. He has no light source with him and doubts very much that he would be able to retrace his steps up that faint trace of a path in the dark. Which means spending the night here. Either on this side of the door in the hill... or the other.

He empties his bladder against a tree across the clearing from the door, and then slowly, not quite believing he is actually doing it, he begins stripping out of his clothes, piling everything, including his neck chain, in the backpack. When he is down to nothing but skin, he reads through the end of the instructions one last time, then sets them in the backpack too. Then he pulls out the hood and sets it in place over his head, first carefully inspecting the entire thing once more for concealed keys or other secrets. He finds nothing.

I can't believe I'm actually doing this.

It's not permanent until the locks click, right? He can still bail out. He takes one last look at the deepening gloom around him and then covers his eyes with leather. He carefully pulls tight all the lacings and straps, making sure to get a comfortable fit. He feels for the three locks and slides each into its place, but does not click them shut yet.

His cock is sticking straight out into the air.

Damn! Should have taken care of that first!

Should he stroke himself off? He considers it. One last orgasm before the cage goes on. But he knows that if he does that, he will completely lose his resolve and be stuck out on a hillside until morning. He has no choice but to wait it out and will it to go down. The cooling evening air on his bare skin helps to settle him down, but still, every time he begins trying to fit the cage into place his dick springs right back to attention again. It takes a long while to get it confined. When it's finally secure, he puts the lock in place but leaves it open like the others.

He puts on the ankle chain next, settling it into place around his ankle, loosely attached with an open padlock.

Then there is nothing more to procrastinate about. Now, truly, is decision time. If he is going to back out, it has to be now.

Oh God. This can't be happening.

He clicks the ankle lock shut. Then before he can lose his nerve it's one, two, three locks on the hood. He feels like a spectator to his own body's actions, as though he is not in control of what he is doing at all but is instead watching someone else manipulate his body for him. Then the one on the chastity cage. Finally he puts the cuffs on his wrists and ratchets them shut, not too tight. He feels around for the little metal pin that Whodini provided so he can double-lock the cuffs. It's not a key; it won't unlock the cuffs, but it will prevent them from over-tightening. Click, click. He drops the pin into the backpack and zips the pack shut.

There is no turning back now. Trying to fumble his way to back to the Appalachian Trail at night, naked, hooded, cuffed, and lugging a ten-foot chain? Impossible. The only path now leads forward.

Feeling his way, he sets the backpack down just inside the door, then closes it behind him. It seals with a firm thunk. David doesn't even try to open it again.

He takes a few shuffling steps deeper into the hill. Reaching to the side, he feels for the inner door that he knows will be there. It is made of bars, like a prison cell. He pulls its free end toward himself, then moves out of the way so that it can swing completely shut. The inner door slips into its frame smoothly and emits a soft clank as it locks shut.

One last step... turning to face the interior of the room, the barred door at his back, David shuffles straight forward until he reaches the far wall. It is not very far away, about a dozen slow, careful steps. His outstretched hands feel the wall first and then he reaches down to find a steel ring cemented into the concrete floor at the base of the wall. He feeds the chain through his fingers until he finds the loose end. Taking his last lock, he secures the chain to the metal ring.

Click

It is done.

Relief, oddly, washes over him. He has just done what is possibly the stupidest thing he has ever done in his life. He has bound himself up and locked himself underground on the instructions of a man who could easily leave him here to rot. He has told no one where he was going; he has not the slightest idea how to begin searching for the clues he will need to escape. So why would he be feeling relief?

The answer, as he thinks about it, is clear: all choices have been taken from him. Or rather, he has voluntarily given up all his choices. The stress and tension he had been feeling all the way during the drive, all during the hike, all throughout his preparations, were due to him having to decide what to do and having no idea what the right choice was.

Well, now he has chosen. It might have been the wrong choice - it might have been a spectacularly bad choice, in fact - but the choice has been made and he has no choice left. All he can do is live with the consequences of his decision. Some decisions are like that. Non-undoable.

He explores his surroundings a bit. The first thing he stumbles across is a pile of blankets on the floor. He realizes that he is absolutely exhausted from the journey, not so much from the physical exertion but from the mental and emotional toll. He decides that he will have plenty of time to explore further and that exploration will go better with a fresh mind. He climbs down into the pile and arranges the soft, warm comfort around his body.

As he is falling asleep, he wishes he hadn't clicked the lock on the chastity cage shut quite so soon. Surely that could have waited 15 minutes more?

Ah well - too late now.

He sleeps.

> sleep

You sleep a deep, dreamless, restorative slumber.

When he wakes, it feels like he has slept the night through, though of course the word "morning" has no meaning in this context. No matter. He feels like it is morning; therefore it is morning. He gets up to explore.

He finds that his underground cell is about the size of a typical bedroom, something like eleven or twelve feet from the door to the back wall, and slightly less than that in width. Standing at the back wall near the ring that his ankle is chained to, facing toward the door, the layout is: blanket pile immediately to his left. Forward of that, toward the door, is open space. On the right side of the door is a treadmill, and in back of that, immediately to his right, is a set of shelves with a variety of edible items on them, a very small table, and a chair. The right side of his cell extends further back into the hill by about two feet. In that extra space is a sink / toilet combination and a shower. Cold water only, it seems.

The floor and walls are concrete. He cannot reach the ceiling but can tell by the way sound echoes that it is not far overhead.

One the one hand, he is pleased to have the luxury items that Whodini has provided. A functioning toilet out in the woods is completely unexpected, but very welcome. And a chair to sit in is just icing on the cake. On the other hand, the fact that these luxuries have been provided suggests that he might be here long enough to need them.

This has triggered a bit of introspection. How long does he expect he will be here? The first challenge lasted for about eighteen hours, though it could have gone as long as two days; the second could have run for up to a week. This third one... maybe a month? Possibly two? Unless he can figure out the clues sooner, of course.

He will have some explaining to do when he gets back. Whenever that might be.

The food gives a possible clue. It is all non-perishable stuff - boxes of cereal, packets of cured meat, dried fruits and vegetables, all arranged in boxes on the shelves. There is no way to tell what they contain without looking at them, but he opens a few packets and samples the contents. Judging by the weight and texture and shape of the packets, it seems they are well-organized, so once he identifies what is in a particular packet, he can be confident that other packets from the same box will be at least similar. All the packets are resealable, too, which is handy. Water he can get from the sink. He has one plastic cup, one metal spoon, one plate, one bowl. There is liquid soap in the "bathroom" area. He estimates that there is enough food for perhaps one month. So that's good news - either he gets himself free by then, or Whodini comes and releases him to endure the gentle humiliation for missing some supposedly-obvious clue that he will no doubt deliver.

Or you slowly starve to death.

He banishes the thought. Air doesn't seem to be an issue, though he cannot tell how it is being replenished. Perhaps once he gets the hood off he will figure that out.

For now, his main motivation is: find those clues. He eats some cereal first and a packet of what might be dried peaches, washing the meal down with two cups of water. He uses the toilet. Wiping himself is awkward with cuffed hands, but it's not impossible, and at least paper was provided. Then he sets to work.

> search cell

You find nothing more than what you found during your first pass.

> search cell again

You find nothing more than what you found during your first pass.

> search cell with fine-tooth comb

You have no comb.

> search cell very very carefully

You find nothing more than what you found during your first pass.

By the time he feels sleepy again, he is also feeling frustrated. He knows to be thinking outside the box. Destroying restraints instead of opening them "properly" is probably going to be necessary. There are no keys - not that he expected anything so obvious - but there are also no hard objects he can bang locks with, no tools of any kind. The only metal he has that's not attached to him is his flimsy spoon, and he won't be prying anything apart with that. Well, there's also the inner door and the treadmill, but he can't take either of those apart.

He decides to arrange the blanket pile for better warmth and comfort. There are five blankets available to him. He folds the two thickest, heaviest ones in half and lays them out as flat as he can make them. Then he bundles the thinnest into a workable pillow, and finally he wraps the two remaining ones over himself. He sleeps again, determined to try again "tomorrow".


Tomorrow's search goes no better. He does succeed in getting the chastity device off. It's a painful process - that rubber ring behind the tip does not want to slip free. But with the help of some soap and cold water from the shower he is able to wiggle a finger in and press it forward. Then his untethered cock can slide backward out of the tube and then there's enough space to work his balls out of the containing ring. He rinses the soap off, dries himself, and decides he has earned an orgasm for his efforts.

He takes his time, lying in his blanket nest, luxuriating in hot bondage and captivity fantasies. The chain around his ankle clanks constantly as he moves, to the point where the jangling sound was driving him nuts as he was searching the cell. Now he deliberately shifts his left leg as he jerks off to make that very same sound. The cuffs on his wrists jingle with a higher, lighter tone, too, and the snug confinement of the hood holds his head in a pliant yet firm embrace. He tugs, then pauses, then tugs some more, holding himself at the edge for as long as he can stand it. Then, finally, he allows himself to erupt all over his belly, the hot molten blobs landing on his cool skin. As the aftershocks course through his groin, he rubs the result in to help it dry faster, then drifts slowly off to sleep.


The next "day" he finds something. After a breakfast of cereal and fruit - again - it occurs to him that he can use the chair to explore higher than he can reach on his own. Standing on the chair - carefully, because his balance is none too steady with his eyes covered by leather - he is able to reach just high enough to brush his fingers against the ceiling. He methodically covers the entire cell, stretching up over and over just in case there is something hidden there.

He finds it at the door. It is a small metal box, much like the one from the second challenge. It is taped to one of the bars above the inner cell door, and he can barely reach it. The ankle chain is shorter than the room, so he cannot bring his left ankle all the way to the door. He can, however, stand with his left leg back and lean his body forward. But then, reaching up high has meant pulling the chair over so that he can stand on it with his right leg while his left one is stretched back by the taut chain. It is far from a comfortable or stable arrangement, although the tension in the chain does actually help him keep his balance a bit by giving him both a sense of direction and something to pull against if he needs to shift his body weight to keep from falling. His hands are able to reach the bars, which also helps him balance, and it is there, on one of the bars that he finds the box.

The familiar rush of impending success floods through him as it has every time he has made progress in one of these challenges. He works the box free from its mooring and carefully climbs back down to ground level. He gropes his way back to his blanket nest and begins to examine the box. It does not open, of course, as he knew it wouldn't. Shaking it, he can tell there are objects inside. Probably keys, judging by the size and sound. But the box is metal and has no hinges. He can just barely make out a thin seam in the top of the box. As with the other similar box from the second challenge, the lid fits into a recessed space, snug against the four walls with nowhere near enough room for him to work a tool in to try to pry it apart. Unlike the other box, though, this one has no keyhole.

He tries to fit his spoon into the seam, just in case, but it is much too thick to fit. He experiments with it, flipping it over and around. He can hear parts moving and metal bits jangling about inside, and sometimes one side or the other of the lid seems to come just a bit loose. But then when he flips the box back over, the loose side locks right up again. The closest he comes to opening it is when he holds the box with one corner of the lid down and jiggles it a bit. Then that corner, where the two bottommost sides meet, comes nearly free. But the upper two sides remain fixed.

His clue comes when he realizes it doesn't matter which corner is down: the box behaves the same way. He can see in his mind's eye what is happening: the lid is held in place by sliding pins on all four sides. Moving the box around causes the pins to slide back and forth under the influence of gravity. When gravity pulls the pins on the lower side of the box down, it moves them toward the sides of the box, away from the lid, and then that side of the lid is free to open. But on the opposite side of the box, the same force of gravity is also pulling those pins down, only their "down" is toward the lid, which locks those sides of the lid in place.

He tries to open one side of the box, wedge it so that the pins can't slide back in to re-lock it, then open the other sides. It doesn't work. Wedging the lid enough to prevent the pins on one side from moving also wedges all the other pins and prevents them from moving either.

He needs to be in zero gravity. The only way to open this box is on a spaceship.

> take spaceship

You are joking, of course.

He sets the box down, eats, washes - quickly in the cold water - and then tries again. He makes no further progress. He knows what needs to happen, but physics prevents him from doing it. No matter how he flips the box around, at least two sides remain locked.

He sleeps, groping idly at his cock as he lies in the blanket pile but not taking it any further than that.

When he wakes, he eats again, then walks a bit on the treadmill to burn off some frustration. Walking with an ankle chain is very uncomfortable. It chafes against his skin and so he can only keep up the walking for a short time, barely enough to work up a feeling of warmth, let alone a sweat. He climbs down and returns his attention to the box, which stubbornly refuses to open. He tries smashing it against the floor a few times, but the box is made of steel and remains undamaged.

However, the rattling of the pins as he slams the box around reminds him that there is more than one way to apply force to those hidden, internal pins. Gravity is one way, but shaking the box is another. If he can wiggle it just the right way, perhaps he can free up more of the pins at the same time? He experiments a bit and thinks once or twice that he might be on to something, but it is never enough. Anything that moves one pin in the desired direction also moves the pin on the opposite side in the same direction, which negates any progress he might make. What he needs is a way to move the pins in opposite directions.

They all need to move outward, away from the lid. All at the same time.

And in a flash, David has the answer.

He sets the box lid down on a flat portion of blanket.

He spins it.

Friction almost immediately brings it to a stop, but just a quarter- or half-turn was all he needed. He knows beyond doubt that this is the right approach. When he lifts the box, he can tell it is lighter. Centrifugal force has done what gravity could not, pushing each of the pins outward, away from the center of the box, leaving the lid unsecured so that when he lifts the box up the lid remains lying on the blanket.

Sure enough, his fingers confirm what he knew they would find. Crowing with exultation, he examines the three keys he finds there. The handcuff key stands out immediately, and so he unlocks his wrists. The next key doesn't fit the hood locks or the ankle padlock, which is vaguely upsetting but there is still one more key to try. The third key fits the hood locks and he opens each of them, unable to contain a smile. He unstraps the hood and pulls it off his face.

Somewhat to his surprise, the room is not completely dark. There is a faint glow from a bulb recessed in the center of the ceiling. Somehow he had failed to find that during his blindfolded exploration - what else might he have missed?

The rest of the room is as he expected it. Evidently he has gotten pretty good at learning his way around unfamiliar spaces blindfolded and handcuffed.

Over the next few hours, he discovers a few things about his cell that were not apparent until he could get the hood off. For one thing, he can now read the labels on the food packets and make choices about what to eat, since the distinction between regular and teriyaki beef jerky is not apparent from just the feel of the package. For another, he learns that the treadmill is the source of power for the light. Unlike the camp flashlight from his first challenge, here the power source is hooked up to a battery. He can charge the battery by walking or running on the treadmill and then have light later whenever he wants it. There is a switch on the treadmill that controls whether the light is on or off.

It's such a small thing, but with a large impact on his life. He has the power to make his room dark when he wants to sleep, or light when he wants to see. Anywhere else, he would take this ability for granted without even thinking about it. Here, in this space where he has so little control over anything else, a simple light switch is an absolute luxury.

The light doesn't stay bright for long, but it never goes completely out either unless he shuts it off. While he walks on the treadmill, charging the battery, the light is adequately bright. It stays that way for a few minutes after he steps off, but then it slowly begins to fade. After ten minutes the light is noticeably dimmer, and by the time half an hour has passed, it has dimmed to a point that is roughly comparable to a night light. It's enough to see by, but far from bright.

Perhaps if he could spend more time on the treadmill, he could charge the battery better, but walking on the treadmill remains difficult. It is near the far end of his chain's range, so he can't simply pick up the chain and hold it to relieve the chafing on his ankle while he walks. Nor is it practical to stoop over and lift the chain up while bending at the waist. So his ankle remains sore and he can never quite generate enough energy to make his room bright, but it's certainly better than pitch blackness.

It turns out that the second key, the one that he couldn't find a use for, fits the lock of the chastity device. But those keys are all that the box contained. There is no key for the ankle padlock, nor for the cell door.

He turns out the light and sleeps again.


Further progress does not come. He needs to remove the chain from his ankle, and he needs to open both the inner and outer cell doors. Armed with his new power of vision, he repeats his search of the cell, but turns up no new keys. (The old ones he stores in their box, which he occasionally pulls out to amuse himself with, opening and re-locking it at will. To think it had him stumped for so long...) There are no instructions printed on blankets or written on walls or concealed in food packages. He devotes hours to inspecting the lock of the inner door. The door is well made, probably repurposed from an actual prison, and it resists all his attempts to find its weakness. He has no tools, so dismantling it is impractical. The only way it's going to open is by someone inserting the correct key into the slot on the far side and turning it. So either he needs to find that key or...

Well. The "...or" doesn't bear thinking about just yet. Even so, the giddiness of having found the answer to the hood and the cuffs has started to wear off. Sure, it's nice to be able to see and move his arms wherever he pleases. But it would be even nicer to be able to step outside that door again. He is not quite at the point where he is ready to give up trying... but how much of that is because there is no one here to "give up" to? No one to whom he can throw in the towel?

He sleeps once more.


This time David is awakened by noise and light, brighter light than any he had seen for days. He squints at the doorway.

The door is open.

Whodini is there!

"David! I regret waking you, but I figured you would rather not sleep through this."

"Absolutely!" David croaks. His voice is rusty from sleep and disuse, but no matter. He is not sure: is this the end of the third challenge? Has he lost? Maybe that would be good - it would be nice to get outside again... but he knows well enough that liberty would come at a cost. Freedom isn't free, as the cliche goes. But he knows not to get his hopes up. Release might not even be an option yet.

Best to let Whodini speak first. David blinks as he tries to adapt his eyes to the brightness. Whodini is just a black silhouette in the doorway. David slowly emerges from his blanket nest and starts dragging his chain over toward the door.

"So nice to see you here!" Whodini says. I wasn't sure you would follow through, you know. I thought the chances were pretty good, but there's no way to be sure."

"Yeah," David says. He has worked his way over to the door. His eyes are starting to get used to the light. The warmth pouring in from the late May day outside catches him completely by surprise - he had forgotten that air could feel warm on his skin. He crowds close to the bars - except for his trailing left leg - trying to capture as much of the spring heat as he can. "Yeah, I did it. God, what a rush."

"And did you put on the hood as well? The cuffs, the cage?"

"Yeah, I did all that. Locked all of them on along with this." He shakes his ankle and rattles the chain attached to it. "And I got them all off, too! I found the key box and was able to... well, actually I got the dick cage off first by sliding out of it. But I got the box open - that's a very clever trick, by the way! - and I used the keys to take off the hood and the cuffs. But that's as far as I've gotten."

"Ah, I see. Well, you have plenty of time."

David is not sure whether to be relieved or disappointed. He had sort of been hoping for the challenge to be over when he first saw the open door. But on the other hand, he is not quite ready to quit. Not just yet.

Of course, a time will come when he will want out if he hasn't solved the puzzle by then. Perhaps this is something he should ask about explicitly.

"So... uh... how much time do you mean?"

"I would think that is up to you, not me."

"Well, yes, but... the other two escape challenges had fixed end points. If I didn't get myself out by the end of the challenge, you'd let me out. I'd lose the challenge, but I'd be free to go."

"Yes, true. I did mention that this one would be the most difficult of all, remember? So you should expect it to take longer than either of the others. And actually, the uncertainty is part of the challenge, so I'll say no more on that topic. What I really came here to do is check on your food. How is your supply doing? Is there anything you need more of? Anything you don't care for that I should not restock on my next visit?"

David takes inventory. He has gone through quite a bit of the cereal, somewhat less of the meat and fruit, and almost none of the dried vegetables. "You really should eat those too, you know," Whodini chides. "I'll tell you what, I'll see if I can find some that are styled like potato chips. They make those now, you know: turnips and carrots and rutabagas and exotic Asian tubers and such, sliced and salted or flavored with garlic and oregano. Perhaps those would appeal to you better. I know all the salt does not make for an optimal diet, but it's the best way to preserve foods in the absence of refrigeration. So make sure you drink plenty of water too. The well and the septic system should be able to handle anything you can throw their way, as long as you don't do something foolish like leave the shower running or cram an entire roll of toilet paper down the drain at once."

David hands over all the empty packages he has accumulated. Whodini tucks them into his pack, then walks outside and starts closing the outer door. "It looks like you've got enough for at least several more days. I'll be back before you run out. I'll also bring some fresh blankets next time I come. We can swap out the ones you have for laundering. Till next time!"

With that, he is gone. The door closes and David is left in absolute blackness.

He gropes his way to the switch on the treadmill and flips it on. The resulting light is a weak, pathetic imitation of the brilliance he hadn't even realized he had been missing.


He tries to sustain his motivation and optimism over the next few days, but it becomes increasingly difficult. Searching and re-searching and re-re-searching the cell turns up no new clues, no keys, no tools, nothing he can use. He tries prying the lock at his ankle open, but his best efforts are laughably inadequate. Human bones and muscles and fingernails are no match for steel. The same goes for the door. Brute force is not going to solve his problem.

More time passes. He eats, sleeps, uses the toilet, walks on the treadmill, jerks off, washes. The shower is terribly uncomfortable because of the cold water, so he uses it very sparingly. It's not like he can offend anyone but himself by his odor. The treadmill, at least, starts to get easier. Perhaps the skin of his ankle under the chain is toughening up. He is able to walk for longer and longer times, which earns him a bit more light, which does help cheer him a bit.

He tries to think of solutions for his two remaining problems: the lock that secures his ankle to the wall, and the lock that prevents the inner door from opening. The ankle lock, or the chain itself, might yield to sufficient force, if he could find a way to apply it. As for the door, the only idea he can think is to - somehow - obtain a key, either by finding one hidden here with him, or by convincing Whodini to provide it.

And so he waits. The boredom he remembers from his second challenge rears up once more. The only thing keeping him here is the fact that he can't leave. If that door were to open right this instant, he would walk through it without a backward glance.

And yet... how long after that would it be until he was kicking himself for his shortsightedness and wishing he was back inside?

> wait

Time passes.


Whodini visits again some number of days later. It is impossible for David to judge how many. It could be two, or four, or seven. He has no idea how often he eats, how long he sleeps, and so he is completely disconnected from the passage of time outside.

Whodini brings food, including fresh fruit: grapes and apples. Also vitamins. "Make sure you take one with every third meal or so," he says. "Vitamin D is especially important since you're not getting any sunlight". He also brings two clean blankets and takes two of the originals away along with several now-empty plastic food wrappers. David eats the fresh food right away, both because it is a welcome change from the preserved stuff and because he has no idea how long it will last before it goes bad.

The next few "days" send David's mood plunging to depths he hadn't known he was capable of. All his brain does is churn over and over through the same ground he has covered before. He mulls over possible plans in his mind constantly and realizes that every one of them needs something he doesn't have - a tool, a key, a telephone. He is bored and yet buzzing. He wants to be taking action to get himself free, and yet can think of no action he could be taking. The result is restless unease.

He wonders if anyone has missed him yet, if anyone has tried looking for him.

He spends a lot of time staring into the dimness, daydreaming.

The one small bright spot is that his ankle is definitely getting used to the chain. He barely notices it any more. He is able to walk and even run for a limited time on the treadmill without nearly as much chafing and soreness. The jangling sound it makes as he moves barely registers in his ears any more.

Eventually, one "night" that feels like at least six "days" after Whodini's visit, he concedes defeat. If there is an answer here somewhere, he is forced to admit that he is incapable of finding it. He resolves to give up the challenge when Whodini next comes by.


Several more "days" pass before the door opens. Either his time sense is way off or Whodini has left him alone for a very long time, or possibly both. David happens to be standing by the steel-barred inner door and it startles him greatly when the outer door opens and dazzling daylight comes flooding in. Whodini, for his part, seems to not be surprised at all by David's presence so close at hand. "Ah, hello!" he chirps brightly. He hands David some food packets. "Here, I brought you some supplies."

"Thanks," David says, blinking. "But I don't need them. I give up. I can't do this. I'm done."

"I see," says Whodini. "What does that mean, exactly?"

"Huh? It means just that. It means I can't do this. I can't solve the escape challenge. I lose. You win. Let me out. Please. I know you'll probably charge some sort of 'fee' for doing it, and that's fine. I'll pay it. Just let me out."

"But I can't. I don't have a key to the inner door."

"Well, then tell me where it's hidden and I'll go get it! I've looked and looked, but I can't find..."

"No, you won't find one in the cell either. There is no key."

The hairs on the back of David's neck start to rise. So does the pitch and volume of his voice. "No, no, there has to be a key. You built this place, didn't you?"

"I did. Took a few years, working a bit at a time, carrying materials in and out by hand the whole time. But I don't have a key to the inner door. I used to, while construction was still going on. But once this place was finished, once all my test runs were done, I sliced the key apart with a pair of bolt cutters. Then I threw both halves away into separate trash receptacles three weeks apart. I can't open the inner door."

This is not what David had expected to hear. He can hear how high-pitched his voice has become but doesn't seem to be able to bring it back down to its usual register. "What about the ankle chain? Is there a key for those locks?"

"No. Like the door key, those keys have also been destroyed."

"But... but how am I going to get out?"

"Well, I don't know that, do I? It's your job to figure that out! That's the challenge. That's where you have to apply yourself to think of a way."

"But it's impossible! There IS no way!"

"Well, with that attitude, you're right. Your prophecy will become a self-fulfilling one. You are welcome to 'give up', as you say, but if you do then you are guaranteed to never succeed. No, if you want to get yourself to the other side of these bars, you'll have to make it happen. Once you do that, you'll have your freedom the next time I unlock the outer door. Or who knows, maybe you'll succeed in getting that door open on your own, too. The point is: this is your challenge. This is what you signed up for. This is what you wanted."

David is frantic, banging his hands painfully against the inner bars. "No! No, no, please, you have to let me out! I can't stand it in here any more! I have to... you have to... PLEASE! HELP! SOMEBODY! HELP ME!"

As the volume of David's voice rises, Whodini steps backward, outside, and slowly closes the outer door. He utters words that David cannot hear over the sound of his own shouting. David watches helplessly as the expanse of light and warmth shrinks to a slot, then a sliver, then a crack, and then vanishes altogether, plunging him into dimness and muffling any sound that might leak out. Shouting and wailing, David tries to will himself through the bars, but of course he cannot. Giving in to terror and despair, he sinks slowly to the floor while sobs rack his body.


Whodini's next return is only hours later. Awareness of the cold concrete floor and steel bars against his skin had eventually penetrated David's despair, causing him to rouse himself enough to return to his blanket nest and fall asleep. When the sunlight pours in again, it does not wake him, but Whodini's voice calling his name does.

"David! David!"

David wakes and for a brief moment is convinced that it was all a bad dream. Whodini has come to open the gate and set him free after all, and had merely been messing with his mind again. But the first words out of his mouth once he sees that David is awake dispel that illusion.

"You're awake? Good. Pay attention. We can either talk calmly, or you can start shouting again. But I'm warning you, if you start shouting, I'm closing this door and heading home and we can try again tomorrow. Do you think you can stay calm this time?"

David is spent. All the fight has drained out of him. "Yeah. I'm calm." He rises up from the blankets and drags his chain over to the door.

"It's time for some tough love, I think," Whodini says when David arrives. "I want to make a few things clear to you. These are things I suspect you already know, but for some reason have decided to keep hidden from yourself. Or so it seems, I don't actually know what you are thinking. But your actions are consistent with my hypothesis, so I'm going to go with it. So first point: who locked you in here?"

David stares down at the foot of the bars and their unfamiliar sun-shadows on the concrete floor. His answer is a mumble. "I did."

"That's right. You did that all by yourself, without first taking the precaution of making sure you had a way back out again. Even after all the warnings I gave you, that's what you went and did. Second point: why did you do it?"

"Well... for the escape challenge. To see if I can get out."

"Hold on to that idea; we'll come back to it. But I don't believe that's all. I think there's more to it."

David is not sure what else to say.

"Let me see if I can guide your thinking," Whodini says after half a minute of waiting. "How did you feel after you had finished the first challenge?"

"Happy to get out, I guess," David responds. He feels like there is more he should say, but no more words come to mind, and so his voice trails off. Whodini merely waits as if David had not yet finished speaking. When it is clear David is not going to continue, he tries a different tack.

"And your thoughts regarding the start of the second challenge? During the three weeks you spent locked in chastity waiting for the second challenge to begin?"

"Um. Well, the chastity was frustrating, but also kind of fun. The first week I was constantly horny, but after that I got used to it."

"And your thoughts about the challenge itself? Were you looking forward to it?"

"Oh, heck yeah! I wanted it to start yesterday, for sure."

"Mmm hmm. And then, once it had begun, what were you thinking?"

"Truth? I was pretty grossed out by the whole swallow-the-pill part," David says. "Digging through shit, even if it's my own, is not something I want to do again."

"But the confinement itself," Whodini presses. "Were you not turned on by the state of being locked up? Chained? Hooded? Were you not aroused by your predicament? Though at first you were not able to do anything about that arousal due to the chastity cage still being locked in place, nevertheless, would you not describe the experience as erotic?"

"But not like this! Sure, it's hot when it's make-believe, but..."

"David," Whodini interrupts. "Please. To be blunt, you are lying. Do not lie to yourself. Lie to me all you want, that's fine. But do not lie to yourself. What you said just now was not true. If it were true, then you would have been content after your second experience with me to remember the event. To simulate it with other acquaintances or on your own. But you tried that and it wasn't good enough, was it? You found simulations inadequate, a poor substitute for the real thing. You needn't look so surprised, you know. I haven't been spying on you. I just know your mindset well, better perhaps than you know it yourself. And whether you have admitted it to yourself yet or not, you crave the real thing. No substitute will do."

"Yes," David whispers. Of course what Houdini is saying is true. He has always known it.

"I'd like you to say that again, please," says Whodini. "Out loud. So we both can hear it."

"Yes," David says, a bit louder.

"Yes, what?"

"Yes SIR!"

Whodini laughs. "No, that's not what I meant! You don't ever have to call me 'sir'. That's not the sort of relationship we have. No, I meant, I want to hear you say, in your own words, what your yes means."

"Oh. It means that I agree with what you said."

"Which was...?"

David is confused now and starts to stammer. "That part... about... the substitute and the... how I want... but not if..."

Whodini shushes him with a finger to his lips through the bars that separate them. "Enough. I pushed too hard. Another time, perhaps. Now, the third point, which circles back to your answer to the first point: this is still, in fact, an escape challenge. It always has been. It is not imprisonment. It is not abduction. You are still tasked with figuring out how to escape from this room."

"But I can't," David says. "I need tools, or a key, or a way to call for help. Only you can provide those things. Will you?"

"Hmm. Possibly," Whodini responds. He pauses. A hint of a smile - just a hint, but it's the first in days - cracks David's face. They say the next words together: "For a small fee."

"Exactly," says Whodini, chuckling lightly. "But we're not at that point yet. Now, I must go in order to get back to my car before dark. I'll return another time. Until then, I suggest you get started on your escape."

David snorts. "With what? I have nothing!"

"Not true. You have one resource in abundance."

"Oh? What is that?"

"Time. You have as much time as you can use. Think: with the passage of time, a simple trickle of water can wear away solid stone. Steel rusts into powder."

David's jaw gapes open. "I'm supposed to wait geologic ages for the bars to erode away? You're kidding. I'll be dead of old age a thousand times over by then."

"If you waited for natural processes to do their work, yes. But you have your own volition. You can assist those processes. Just think about it. See you next time."

"Wait, don't go!" David pleads, but Whodini shakes his head, steps out, raises a hand in farewell, and closes the door.

As always, the dim glow of the overhead lamp seems pathetically feeble in comparison with the vanished daylight. David doesn't feel like sleeping any more. He walks and runs on the treadmill for a bit to both burn off some energy and brighten his surroundings. The effort keeps his mind blank for the duration of his exercise, which turns out to be helpful because it allows his subconscious mind to work on the problem. By the time he is done, without consciously thinking about it at all, he has formed a plan.

When he is tired of the treadmill, he sits on the floor on the edge of a blanket and takes hold of one of the links in his ankle chain. He chooses the third link from the lock - far enough from the tether point to be able to move easily, but close enough that when he breaks through it, the remaining portion around his ankle will be short enough that he won't step on it. He begins rubbing the end of the link over and over against the concrete floor.

He pushes hard at first, but soon tires out his arm and fingers. That's not the way to do it, he tells himself while he eats and rests his muscles. Slow and steady. The next time he goes at it, he uses less pressure and able to sustain the effort longer, probably two hours. By the end of his second stint, there doesn't seem to be any significant change. At best he can say that the section he has been rubbing looks a bit shinier than the rest of the metal.

It's progress enough. This is only the beginning.


The next time Whodini visits, he brings not only supplies but also an empty gallon-sized plastic jug, the sort that milk and water are sold in. "I thought today would be a good day to follow up on your request for a tool. Here's what I will offer: I will bring you any one tool of your choice. For a price, of course."

Based on past experience, David has a pretty good idea of what the price will involve, but he still can't stop his eyes from widening as Whodini begins pushing the gallon jug through the bars. It takes some squeezing and bending, but eventually it is on David's side of the door.

"You want me to produce a gallon of cumshots?" he asks, disbelieving.

"More than that," Whodini says. "Note there is no lid. I want you to produce a gallon's worth of dried semen. Filling it up wet would go far too quickly."

David holds the jug in his hand, wondering how long it will take him to fill it. He has no idea how to estimate. Months seems too short. Years? Decades?

"And you will bring me any tool I ask for once it's full?" David says.

"Any one hand tool. A power tool would do you no good, of course."

David suspects a file would be the most use to him, but figures he will have plenty of time before he needs to make a final decision.


After that visit, David starts scratching tally marks into the concrete wall. He counts this visit as the fourth - the third was sort of two visits but since they were only a few hours apart he counts them as one. He can't track the passage of individual days this way, but he can track the number of visits, which seem to come roughly once a week. Whodini is deliberately vague about how often he comes, and David suspects his captor is keeping the schedule uneven to further throw off any sense David may have of the passage of time. Four days might pass between visits, or nine, or somewhere in between. David has most likely been imprisoned for three weeks. Maybe a month.

The chain link that he has been rubbing on the floor is smooth and shiny in the spot where he has been polishing it. It does not seem visibly weaker or thinner yet. But he has plenty of time.


After the fifth visit, David pulls out the hood and puts it on. He locks all three locks in place. He slips the cuffs around his wrists and puts the cage around his cock, which hasn't felt much like getting hard lately anyway. It could use a break - he has been working it pretty fiercely in an effort to fill the jug, which nevertheless has only a pitifully thin dry film on its bottom. Mechanically, necessarily using both hands together, he rubs the chain link over and over against the floor, eroding it away one atom at a time.

He keeps the bondage equipment on for a while before using the keys to remove them. Afterward, he finds his cock has the stamina for one more contribution to the jug.


At the sixth visit, Whodini brings a battery-powered electric razor. He uses it to shave David's face and head, which had both been becoming shaggy and scruffy. He takes the razor with him when he goes but says that he will bring it back every so often as needed.

The hood fits much better once his hair and beard are short again.


When Whodini visits for the eighth time, David knows what he intends to say.

"I have to tell you... you were right. As much as I want out right now, you're right: in a few days, I will want to come right back in. This... here... this is where I need to be." He swallows hard as he says it. Thinking the thought to himself these last several days... weeks... his whole life, really... had been one thing; actually saying it out loud to his captor is a different level of commitment. "I've known for a while, I think. I just didn't want to know that I knew."

Whodini nods gravely. "I accept that."

"I am still working on getting out, though," David continues. "I very much want to escape. I want to beat the room."

"Of course. That is only natural. I expected no different."

"But I was wondering if I could ask you for something. Not a tool or a phone. I was just wondering... would you hold the keys to the smaller locks for me? The hood and the handcuffs and the cock cage?"

Whodini's face is impassive. "Possibly," he says. "Tell me what you have in mind."

"I like wearing the bondage gear. But I know I can take them off again any time I want, and so it's no good. It becomes an exercise in willpower - how long can I keep myself locked in? Knowing that I will eventually break down and let myself out, which makes the whole thing pointless. What I want is to be locked in with no choice at all. But not forever... just for a little while. What I want to do is lock the gear on, then throw the keys out of reach between the two doors. When you come visit, whenever that might be, would you give me the keys back?"

Whodini nods slowly. "Yes... yes, I can do that for you."

David knows how the word game works now. "Not good enough. I know you can do it. What I want to hear you say is that you will do it. For no additional 'fee'. The way I want this to work is: you come visit and give me the keys when you arrive. I set myself free of the hood and cuffs and chastity. You leave. Some time later, if I feel like putting the gear back on, I do, and I toss the keys out of reach. Willpower is no longer a factor: I can't take the gear off until you return, and I have no idea when that will be. I'm not required to put the gear on, and there's no penalty if I don't wear it. Basically what I'm asking from you is: every time you come here and find a set of keys between the doors, will you give me those keys?"

"Yes," Whodini says without hesitation. "I accept that arrangement. Every time I find keys between the doors, I will make them available to you. May I suggest one amendment to your proposal? There are many more of those puzzle boxes available from the supplier I use. Most are solvable without needing to see them. Would it be all right with you if every once in a while I were to return the keys to you inside one of those puzzle boxes?"

David only has to think for a short time. The extra element of uncertainty is perfect. Getting the rush of solving a short-term challenge every now and then will be exactly the mood-booster he will need to keep his stamina up for the ongoing long-term challenge. "Yes. Yeah, that would be just fine."

Whodini beams. "I'm delighted. And I'm very proud of you, David. As we've spoken about in the past, so much of bondage is having the right mindset. I'm very pleased that you have decided to fully step up to the challenge you have set yourself."


The first of the new puzzle boxes arrives with the twelfth visit. David is sitting, as he does much of the time, idly rubbing the chain link against the floor. The link is starting to show signs of wear now, but he doesn't push himself. The solution to this escape challenge is time and patience, not brute force. He uses the treadmill when he feels like getting some exercise, but with the hood on there is no need for the light, and so he leaves it switched off. Hopefully when he can see again, the battery will have stored up a nice, fat charge.

He hears the door open. He and Whodini exchange a few words, some laundry items, fresh food and used wrappers. Then he is gone and David is left to work out how to open the box. It takes a while, but David has nothing but time. There are several bits that slide around in complicated ways and have to be arranged just so to get at the box's contents. Most tricky of all, one of the early movements has to be later undone in order to make a subsequent movement possible.

The rush he feels when he gets the box open and the keys come jangling out into his hand is most satisfying indeed. He sets himself free from his bonds, turns the light on - oh, such brilliance! - and goes and enjoys a shower. The cool water does not bother him the way it once did. He has, in fact, almost forgotten what taking a shower any other way was like.

Clean and dry, he treats himself to a meal where he can choose the menu, finishing it off with grapes and apples. Fresh fruit is a treat he has come to look forward to whenever Whodini visits. He jerks off into the jug, not bothering to pay attention to how much material has accumulated in it. It will fill when it fills, no sooner, no later. He luxuriates in his freedom for a long while - hours, days? Measuring time exactly has ceased to matter much to him.


Whodini's twenty-first visit arrives with a surprise - the air flowing in through the open door is cool rather than warm. David is baffled by this at first before remembering that in the outside world there are seasons. Warm times and cold times. The warm time has passed and the cold time must be arriving. He notes this with a "C" next to the carved tally marks on the wall.

No puzzle box this time. The keys are delivered straight into his hand. That's OK. The puzzle boxes are welcome challenges when they come, but he is equally content with setting himself free immediately. He removes the gear and stows the fresh supplies. After a time, Whodini departs.

For now, he is delighted with his (limited) freedom, but he knows that at some point, he will start to miss the dark confining embrace of the hood, the feel of the shackles on his wrists, the implacable erection-preventing clutch of the tube around his dick. At some point, he will put the gear on but not click the locks shut, relishing the sensation for a bit before taking it all off again. He will get a rush from it, temporarily. But he knows that a point will come when that rush won't be enough. When the rush he craves is the rush of taking an irreversible action. A time will come when he locks all three devices on his body, gropes his blind way over to the barred door, works up his nerve for a while and then, with a flick of his joined wrists, tosses the keys across the space to the far side where he cannot reach them.

Then he will be trapped. Irreversibly, inescapably trapped. He will remain trapped until Whodini comes and either sets him free once more or makes him solve a puzzle to earn his freedom.

The chain link he has been working on is noticeably thinner now. The jug is perhaps a fifth of the way full. It is looking like he will escape from the ankle chain before he gets the tool he has been promised to start working on the door. He has decided that the hinges are the place to attack once he gets his file. They seem to be the weakest point. It will take a while, of course, but David has learned patience. He will saw away at that hinge for however long it takes. Filing steel is something he will not require vision for, so it will not matter if he is hooded or not. Being handcuffed will make the task more awkward, but that's just part of the challenge. One day, he will break through.

But before then, he will be free of the ankle restraint. Most likely. The link he has been diligently wearing away will be thin enough that he can break it with mere finger strength and slip the neighboring link through. He wonders if he will miss the sensation of lugging several pounds of chain behind him everywhere he goes. It is not unthinkable that, once he has been free of it for a while, he will ask Whodini to bring a padlock, one that he has a key for, and use it to attach himself to the chain again. Reversibly this time, adding the key into the pile that Whodini reliably provides for him each time he visits.

All in all, David is quite content with his circumstances. It was just a matter of adjusting his mindset, as it always had been. Inside the fantasy, it's kind of hot to have choices taken away. All he needed to do was re-draw the boundaries of the fantasy scene, extending the definition of what's inside and what's not. Those boundaries have now been extended pretty much as far as they can go.

He eats, drinks, showers, snuggles down into his blanket nest.

Tomorrow - whatever that word means - is another day.


You have been imprisoned in an underground chamber by an evil wizard.

You are naked.

There is a heavy leather hood on your head. It is secured in place by several locks such that you cannot remove it.

Your hands are cuffed in front of you. They are not attached in any other way, so you are free to move them around. The cuffs merely ensure that wherever your hands move as they work on the tedious, mindless task that the wizard has set before you, they must move together.

You are wearing a metal chastity device. A ring encircles your cock and balls and a metal tube surrounds your soft dick, preventing it from stiffening. The device is equipped with an "anti-pull-out" mechanism that you could defeat if you really tried. But you don't try. You find that a period of enforced chastity makes you hornier so that on the occasions when your dick is free, you are able to make several contributions toward the second tedious, mindless task the wizard has assigned you.

Your left ankle is attached to a steel ring embedded in the concrete floor. You are working on this. Bit by bit, tediously, mindlessly, one infinitesimal shard of steel at a time. One day, you will win your freedom.

You try not to think too much about what will come after that.

Because really, there is no place on earth you would rather be.