THE CONTRACT - PT 1

Dominique sat at the small circular table in the hotel suite. She 
was dressed as one of the staff housekeepers--a simple blouse and 
skirt with a short apron tied around her waist. Her raven hair was 
pulled back into a tight ponytail. She lazily turned a page of the 
magazine in which she had no interest. She glanced over at the tiny 
console that lay in the open briefcase on the bed, and quietly tapped 
one manicured fingernail upon the tabletop.


"No contract is worth this much boredom," she thought, but almost 
immediately struck the notion from her mind. It WAS worth it. 
Dominique's employer was paying her an obscene amount of money for 
this snatch. She knew she was worth it. An impeccable record.

Her reverie was broken as a small colored light suddenly flashed on 
the console. Dominique smiled. The girl was in the adjoining suite, 
and had just opened the shower stall door, breaking a tiny electric 
circuit Dominique had placed there.

Dominique stood and smoothed her skirt. The girl was in for a 
surprise.

*****

"I'll just be a couple of minutes, Tess," Erin Weyland called over 
her shoulder, heading for the bathroom. The limo had dropped Erin 
and her tutor off at the hotel, and now that the burly security man 
was stationed outside the room, Erin felt as if she could relax a bit 
before the formal dinner tonight.

Tess Langdon sat in the overstuffed chair in the outer room.

"If we're late tonight, your father will kill us both," she 
called. "Don't dawdle!"

"Geez, Tess," Erin said with a smile, closing the door behind her.

Tess shook her head ruefully, and poked through the small stack of 
magazines and menus on the coffeetable.

*****

Erin quickly slid her shorts and t-shirt off, then paused for a 
moment to regard herself in the bathroom mirror. She smiled, turning 
a bit from side to side, admiring her teenaged body. It was a body 
that had only just begun to blossom.

"Not bad," she thought. "Not the same dumpy girl I was when dad was 
just a junior senator."

She wiggled out of her undergarments and slid the shower door open. 
She stepped daintily inside and closed the door. As she turned the 
knobs on the shower, she suddenly remembered the shampoo on the sink 
counter. She opened the shower door and, suddenly, with a sharp 
hiss, pale yellow gas suddenly jetted from the shower head, catching 
Erin in the face. The gas had an odd, candy-like fragrance, and its 
effect was to make her feel warm and irresistably sleepy! The gas 
continued to pour from the shower head, but the shower door was open, 
thinning the cloud that would have been inescapable only a moment 
before. Weakened and with conscious failing her, Erin managed to 
stumble out of the shower and onto the bathroom floor. The gas 
hissed unabated.

*****

THE CONTRACT - PT 2

Tess looked up at the sound of the door to the adjoining suite opening. In the doorway stood a tall, strikingly lovely woman in a housekeeper's uniform. She was pushing a large laundry cart, and a flash of surprise crossed her flawless features as she saw Tess.

"Hello," she said, her composure returned.

"Housekeeping."

"Oh," Tess said, rising. "Well, we'll be out of here in a little bit."

"I just need to straighten," the woman said with a smile, leaving her cart and approaching Tess. Her hands had slipped inside the pockets of her apron.

"I see..."

But Tess didn't see. Something occured to her. Housekeeping personnel never entered a room this way. They always entered from the hall. A sense of vague alarm began to rise in her. The mysterious intruder produced a rag and a small cannister from her apron.

"Just some dusting," she said, spraying the rag liberally.

Tess decided to go with her instincts. She turned to move to the door and the security man who stood outside.

"That's fine, then," she said, reaching for the doorknob. "I just have to attend to something..."

Suddenly, the wet rag was clamped over Tess's mouth and nose. The powerful odor was hard to mistake. Chloroform.

"Not before you've had a little nap, dear," the woman's voice purred in Tess's ear.

Tess tried not to breathe, but fear had already made her breathing rapid and unsteady. She had gotten a lungful of the drugged vapors. Everything was being seen as if through a haze.

"Thaaat's right," the woman cooed, her slender fingers unyielding as they held the rag firmly over Tess's face. "Breathe it deeply...have a nice, long sleep."

Tess continued to weakly try to pull the woman's hand away, but she knew it was a lost cause.

"You weren't supposed to be here," the woman confided quietly, as the fumes did their work. "But when you wake up, tell the Senator that my employer will be in touch with him."

Tess was barely conscious now. Her struggles slowed, and her eyes began a slow roll back into her head as her eyelids drooped...drooped...and then...nothing.

Dominique let the woman slide to the carpeted floor, and smiled sweetly at her.

"Sleep sweet, dearie," she said happily.

Now she turned her attention back to the closed bathroom door. She could barely hear the sound of the hissing gas, but it made her smile. All too easy. She retrieved her laundry cart, then slipped a small air mask over her mouth and nose. She opened the door, peered in through the fog of knockout gas, and was astonished for the second time that day. The girl had actually managed to escape the shower stall.

*****

THE CONTRACT - PT 3

Erin laid on the tiled floor, moaning softly and trying to clear her head. The gas, still hissing from the showerhead, hung in thick layers in the air, but she had managed to find a bit of untainted oxygen near the floor. Erin raised her head weakly, and saw a pair of high-heeled shoes in the doorway.

"H..help..me.." she managed.

She felt an arm go about her slim waist, and a hand on her arm. Someone was helping her up. Thank god. The stranger continued to raise her. Erin lifted her head, and looked into a beautiful woman's face. A face that was wearing a small, clear air mask. The face smiled at Erin. Oh, no...

"Clever, clever girl," the woman said softly.

Panic boosted Erin's strength for an instant, and she attempted to struggle past the woman, but the intruder was too quick...too strong...and the gas continued to weaken the girl. The woman held Erin fast.

"Now, now," she said with a bit of a chuckle. "You haven't finished your shower, sweetie."

The woman's powerful hand was holding the back of Erin's neck, immobilizing her head. She pressed her back toward the still-hissing knockout gas of the showerhead!

"N..no..." Erin moaned, trying to turn her head away.

"Oh, don't worry, dear," the woman said. "You won't be all cleaned up with nowhere to go. I'm going to take you on a nice, long trip afterwards."

They were almost at the shower stall now.

"But I'm afraid that right now..." the woman said. "The only place you're going..." She reached over and deftly directed the showerhead toward the two of them. The sleeping gas washed over Erin's face, filling her senses. "...is to Lullaby Land."

Erin was far too sleepy to resist the gas any longer. The candy-sweet fumes were the only thing left to breathe. She sighed softly as a velvet curtain descended over her.

*****

Dominique felt the girl go limp in her arms. Just to be safe, she let the gas continue to flow into her victim's face for several seconds afterwards.

Finally satisfied the girl was asleep, she turned the shower off, lifted Erin's lithe body into the waiting laundry cart, and covered her with towels and sheets. She wheeled her prize into the adjoining suite, then carefully watched until the hallway security man strolled to the far corner of the hall, several doors down. She quietly let herself out of the suite, and rolled the cart in the oppoosite direction, toward the service elevator. She smiled to herself.

The contract was, indeed, worth it. And so was she.