Alfred shifted from one foot to another, unable to find a comfortable position in which to stand as he waited impatiently for the Tube on a platform in the London Underground. In one ear he wore an innocuous-looking earpiece, designed to look like the bud of an earphone for a music player, but there was no music. Instead, all he could hear was ringing silence, but he strained hard to listen to it just in case the voice wanted to give him further instructions.
"Catch the next train and ride it until I tell you to get off. I will be on it as well. I am always watching, so remember; no funny business."
The voice clipped off with a crackle. Alfred nodded to indicate he understood. Verbal communications were one way only, his stalker and tormentor orchestrating his every move as a disembodied voice in his ear, but if he was being told the truth that man was somewhere in the vicinity and could see him nod. He shifted from his right foot to his left and back again, wincing every time he felt the hard foreign object, which he had lubricated and inserted into himself in the station's public toilet, shift around in his ass.
The train arrived, and he waited for a carriage to empty out before stepping into it. It was the middle of the day at an off-peak hour, so he had the carriage all himself at the very back of the train. He kept standing in spite of the many available seats, not quite trusting himself to sit down without a whole lot of discomfort. He clung tight to a hand strap as the train lurched forwards with a low electrical hum.
"Don't try to look for me," the voice said sharply into his ear.
Alfred stopped craning his neck to look into the other carriages and obediently lowered his eyes to his shoes. He was terrified of retribution.
The train went past a couple of stops before a boozy middle-aged man, smelling of stale sweat and cigarettes, clambered into his carriage. He tried to avoid meeting the man's gaze, but the voice had other plans for him.
"Talk to him."
Alfred was scared to do so, but he was even more afraid of disobeying the voice.
"Uh, nice weather we're having," he began lamely.
The man ignored him in favour of a tatty discarded Metro he had picked up from a seat. He licked a grubby finger and quickly flipped through the pages to get to the comics' section.
"Sit next to him," the voice instructed.
Alfred felt sick. But he did as he was told on stiff trembling legs, lowering himself into a seat beside the man. He tried again.
"Hey, so what's in the news?"
The man turned to sweep him with a look of undisguised contempt.
"Fuck off, you faggot."
Alfred felt as if he had been slapped. The train squealed to another halt and, thankfully, the man got up and left, spitting as he disembarked.
The voice was giggling in his ear. "Better luck next time, sweetness."
Fuck you! Alfred thought furiously, his cheeks flaming with shame. He sat in a contorted fashion to keep from putting too much weight on that wretched thing pressing against his prostate.
"Oh, here's another one. Try not to fail me this time." The earpiece crackled and went dead.
Alfred felt his heart racing. Another man had stepped into the train. He was tall and professional-looking in a sharp business suit, and had very fair features with white blond hair and light-coloured eyes. He held a book and briefcase in one hand and looked quite kindly for a man of his build.
The businessman sat across from Alfred, dropping his briefcase down by his feet, and propped open his book with one hand, the other resting casually in a pocket of his suit jacket.
Slowly, as the train began to move again, Alfred stood up and hobbled over to sit beside the businessman. He winced slightly as he lowered himself gingerly onto the cushioned seat.
"Are you alright, my boy?" the man asked, concerned.
"Yeah! Yeah, I'm good!" Alfred thought he sounded a little hysterical.
He looked up at the businessman. This close to him, Alfred saw that the man had the most vivid pair of violet eyes and a kind effortless smile. Yet there was something about him that felt a little off.
"My name is Ivan, Ivan Braginski. And you are?"
Alfred blinked down at the large pale hand being offered to him, the one not buried in his pocket. He took it, grasping it tight as they shook.
"Alfred, Alfred Jones. Er, just a student. From New York."
"Ah! And what brings you here to London, Alfred?"
Alfred was just settling into familiar territory, that of making new friends, when he felt something judder up his spine which caused him to convulse. He blanched.
"Are you certain you are all right?" the man asked again.
"Yes!" Alfred gasped.
The jolt had settled to a low-level thrum against his prostate. It sounded quite loud in his ears, and he was paranoid that the man could hear it too. The thought of the man here – Ivan Braginski – catching on to his deep, dark, shameful secret made him sick with terror.
"I-I'm fine! Just a little, y'know…"
"Ah, I understand. London can be a little too much."
The thrumming was not easing. On the contrary, it seemed to have increased in speed. As the train turned in a curve on the rails, he was jolted into a new position and he felt it there, forcing from his lips a sharp, involuntary moan.
"You don't look too well. Perhaps you should go home and rest."
Alfred felt as if he was floating deep underwater, and the man – Ivan Braginski – was speaking to him from far, far away.
"Yeah," he heard himself say, although he was not entirely sure what he was agreeing to. "Yeah, I'm just on my way back, back to the hotel. I'll be f-fine. I think."
The train was slowing to another stop. The buzzing in his ass was mercifully tapering off.
"Yes, you do that. Take care of yourself. You have done very well, my sweet."
And just as the train eased into the platform, the man – Ivan Braginski – pressed the vibrator's switch into his cold sweaty palm and kissed him lightly on the cheek.
He got up and left, and was long gone by the time Alfred had recovered enough of himself to realise what had happened.