The Irukandji jellyfish is a very small but very dangerous creature. It inhabits the waters off the coast of Australia, and its sting can be deadly. At the very least, it causes horrible pain for its victims that can last for weeks.
The middle managers at Globe-Corp called Jessica Alban ‘The Jellyfish,’ but never to her face! Not if they wanted to be spared some of her silly pranks. While only twenty-eight, Jessica was already a junior VP in the New Acquisitions division of the company, and with good cause. She was a certifiable genius, and also a certifiable nut job. While possessing a high IQ, she had an incredibly low EQ—Emotional Quotient. She was intellectually an adult and emotionally a child. Like the Irukandji, she was tiny, but deadly. Barely four and a half feet tall and just under a hundred pounds, at a distance, someone could easily mistake her for a child, but she was all woman and a mischievous imp of trouble!
Graduating college at fifteen, she immediately got an internship at GC and hired a driver; she never even bothered to get a driver’s license. Thus began her meteoritic rise. And yet, despite the ‘dead bodies’ lying at her feet, her hands always remained clean. Jessica was downright Machiavellian in her actions; she caused all manner of trouble at work by usually manipulating others. That was one of the reasons she was still employed with the company. The second was her boss, Kelly O’Brian, president of the division.
Kelly had been with the company since its inception. She was dedicated, personable, and an upstanding person—overall. Sure, she’d played office politics and had to claw her way to the top a bit. But, for the most part, she’d always been a square shooter. Now she was entering middle age gracefully, and she was looking around for someone to one day take her place. She was getting to that stage in life when family was becoming more important than work, and thus finding the right successor was critical. That was why Jessica still had a job with GC. Kelly had told Jessica she saw potential in her; she saw in her a younger version of herself. She’d even told Jessica how she’d made her fair share of trouble when she was Jessica’s age, but that she’d eventually matured.
The two of them were now flying to the Czech Republic to look over a prospective acquisition. They were, of course, flying first class, and Kelly said that it was the perfect opportunity to test Jessica to see if she was worthy of heading the division.
“Goodness, Jessica, the way you type into that thing, someone would think you were writing a novel. How do you type so fast?” Kelly said.
“Oh, it’s a gift,” she replied, grinning.
* * *
If only Kelly knew the contents of Jessica’s digital notebook. It was a veritable laundry list of naughty acts, a how-to on causing trouble. This day she was making notes about Kelly’s oldest daughter Emily, who was now eighteen and about to start college. Jessica hadn’t gotten into much trouble or had much fun in college—she’d been very young—but she at least knew some of the things college kids did. So, she made some notes about things to suggest to Emily. Nothing illegal or truly improper, but stuff that would get her into trouble if word of her shenanigans got out.
“Well, finish up your notes and get ready to land,” Kelly said. “The company has arranged for a car to drive us to the town. Do you have the file?”
Jessica put her iPad away and pulled out the thick file. “Got it right here. The area looks perfect for the resort. I think it could be a major moneymaker for the company.”
They reviewed the overview of the proposed bed and breakfast, and then stowed everything for landing. Once in Prague, they were picked up by the driver, and headed out into the picturesque countryside. Kelly clearly reveled in it, but Jessica saw none of it; she was too engrossed with more plans and plots.
Finally, they reached the quaint village and began walking around. It was a beautiful place, a peaceful town sort of lost in time, and nestled at the base of Mount Blaník. Moving along the narrow cobblestone streets, Jessica saw Kelly smiling from ear to ear.
“Would you look at this place, Jessica? My God, it’s absolutely lovely. Oh, the resort will fit in perfectly here, a nice boost to the local economy, and yet totally in keeping with their culture and social structure.”
Jessica sneered, but was careful to do it behind Kelly’s back. “Oh, yes, you’re so right.”
“Do you know the ancient legend about this place? It’s said an army of Czech knights, led by St. Wenceslas, sleeps in the mountain. The knights will wake and help the people when they’re in danger.”
“Really? That’d make a great selling point for the condo—for the inn.”
Jessica had to be careful. She didn’t want Kelly knowing about her idea for the resort. No, better to wait and spring it on her at the board meeting. When the board ate it up, Kelly would have no choice but to implement it. That would boost Jessica’s standing with the company, and diminish Kelly’s. Jessica didn’t care if the town was hurt by it. So long as her career was advanced, that was all she cared about.
By the time the shadows were growing long (even Jessica’s was tall), they’d looked over all the potential sites, and were getting tired. Between the walking and jetlag, they were both more than ready to head to the little inn where they had reservations. Stopping in the town square, they scanned the area.
Kelly rubbed her eye with the back of her hand. “Boy, Jessica, what a marathon. I’m beat. Come on, let’s call it a day.”
Jessica snapped a few pictures of the square, and of Kelly being fatigued. Yes, these would prove useful—later. “Sure, Kelly, just let me move to the other side of the square and get a few more shots.”
She did so, and a moment later the world ended. There was a rumble, a boom, and a flash.
* * *
It took most of the evening and even into the early morning to sort things out. A gas main under the square had ruptured. When the gas ignited, the ensuing fireball nearly engulfed the entire square. Fortunately, there were only two victims: an American woman and a Russian girl. The next morning, at the hospital, the staff tended to the two. Kelly, who spoke fluent Czech, awoke near noon, and asked about Jessica.
“There was no other woman found at the scene, ma’am,” the doctor said.
Kelly gasped. “Are you sure? She was right next to me!”
Between the burns to her left arm and face, her bumps and bruises, a firm knock on the head, and her fatigue, she’d forgotten the details of the final minutes before the blast. The doctor explained about the other victim and said he would ask the police about Jessica. Perhaps she was still in the square, buried in the rubble.
* * *
Meanwhile, in the next ward, Dr. Bronski reviewed the file for Anya, the Russian girl, even as Nurse Klinski changed the bandages across her stomach. The blast had mangled her long ebony hair, so they cut it into a short bob. Her face had been caked in dirt, so they washed it.
He held a clipboard that had her medical file and singed student ID. “Anya, that’s all we know about her. Well, she’s very lucky, her clothes bore the brunt of the fire’s damage.”
“Yes, Doctor, it looks to be only a first-degree burn. Any word on her family?”
“I haven’t had time to check. I’ll file a report with the police, as soon as we’re done.”
“Oh, I think she’s waking up.”
* * *
Jessica felt as if she’d been hit by a train. Slowly, she lifted her head from the pillow, opened her eyes, and tried to focus on her surroundings. It took a moment for her to take stock of herself. She felt pain across her abdomen and below it. Then she saw the doctor and nurse standing over her.
“What the hell is going on here?”
“That’s not Russian,” the nurse said.
“She speaks English,” the doctor said. “Ah, maybe her family was moving to America. I don’t know Russian, and my English is terrible. What about you?”
“I know a few words, but that’s all.”
“All right, I’ll try. Ah, Anya, I doctor. You in hospital. Burned in… ah, gas boom. Where parents?”
Jessica sat up and tried to rub her stomach, and winced in pain. “Ow! Who’s Anya? I’m Jessica, Jessica Alban. American. Do you understand?”
“What’s this ‘Jekica Albany’ she’s talking about?” Klinski said.
“I don’t… wait, Albany, I know, that’s a city in New York. That must be where she and her parents are going. It all right, Anya, I call police. We find momma and poppa. You rest.”
“Why do you keep calling me that? I’m not Anya, you morons! Where are my clothes? I’m getting out—ouch,” she yelped, again feeling pain.
* * *
It took a bit of doing, and a shot of sedative, but they finally got her to settle down. After that, Bronski went to his office and called the authorities. Between his report and Kelly’s inquiries, the police and firefighters made a thorough search of the square. However, the blast was so massive, it had truly incinerated the square. No remains of any kind were found. That evening, Kelly wept at the thought of Jessica’s death, and Anya Holstein—the real one—and her parents boarded a plane for America. She was kind of sorry about losing her old student ID in that village they’d visited, but her parents told her not to worry, she’d have a new one soon enough.
* * *
Two days later things were better and worse. Kelly was feeling stronger and was about to be discharged from the hospital. She was going to go back to Prague to stay for a while, before flying home. She just couldn’t bring herself to stay at the inn where she and Jessica had reservations. Starting to pack, she sifted through her things and Jessica’s few items. Among them was her iPad. Picking it up, Kelly just sort of let her fingers play across its surface, slightly burned and pitted from the blast.
Did it still even work?
Then she remembered something: the Russian girl the doctor had mentioned. How was she doing? Kelly headed out the door and down the hall, and was soon approaching the next ward. As she didn’t know the girl’s name, she stopped at the nurses’ station to ask. While the nurse checked, Kelly again fiddled with Jessica’s iPad; what pictures had she taken before it happened? The blast had locked it in Open Access mode, no password was needed, and Kelly was able to pull up the photo album.
“Well, hello, a picture of me, and not a very complimentary one either. Hmmm, and what’s this, a journal?”
She started reading, and her jaw dropped. Holy cow! That… that little bi…
The nurse, Nurse Klinski, interrupted her line of thought. “Ah, here’s her file. Right this way, Mrs. O’Brian.”
Kelly blinked, came back to reality, and fell in behind the nurse, as she headed down the hall. As they approached the room, it was clear the occupant was fast asleep. Well, it wasn’t important for Kelly to speak to the girl, she just wanted to see how she was—
Holy cow! Kelly slammed on the brakes and almost pitched forward. It’s Jessica, she’s alive. Reaching out, she grabbed the nurse by the elbow and pulled her back up the hallway.
Within the hour, Kelly had met with the doctor and the nurse, and given them the full rundown on the situation. She had an idea for what to do with Jessica. Nurse Klinski was in total agreement, but the doctor was hesitant. His Hippocratic Oath was tugging at his conscience.
“Doctor, you’ve read her journal, you know the antics she’s committed,” Kelly told him. “And, consider her plans for the village. Now, my hope is to create a lovely inn that will blend nicely into your community. As for Jessica, the resort she’ll propose will mean the end of this place, everything paved over and essentially ruined. This goes way beyond some clowning around. I mean, come on, talk about ‘do no harm.’”
“Mrs. O’Brian makes a good point, Hugo. Look at it this way: Miss Alban’s soul is in need of healing, and Kelly’s suggestion might just be the ‘medicine’ the young lady needs.”
Hugo paced about his office, clearly torn as to what to do. He turned to Kelly. “Well, what about the home, do you think they’ll go along with this?”
Kelly nodded. “Yes, I called and spoke to Misha and Viktor. My company has been supporting them for years, for which they’re very grateful, and I explained what Jessica has done and what she was planning to do. Not only would her resort ruin the town, she was going to push the board to stop funding the home.”
“Oh, my!” Nurse Klinski squeaked. “Doctor, think of all those girls with no one to care for them, no one to help them live up to their full potential.”
“Remember also the legend of your mountain, Doctor. If Jessica were to sway the board to do as she wants, you will need that army of Czech knights, and St. Wenceslas, to protect you. Well, think of us as agents of St. Wenceslas.”
“Hmmm, I always did want to be a knight. Yes, you’re right,” Hugo said, nodding. “All right, we’ll do it.”
* * *
Jessica was beginning to think she was dead and in hell, as things just kept going badly for her. No matter how loudly she yelled at these medical morons, she couldn’t convince them that she wasn’t Anya. Searching her room, she eventually learned that her clothes had been burned in the blast. She was actually glad, for once, that she had to wear a padded bra; it had protected her chest (as minimal as it was, developmentally) from the fire. None of her personal items were there, and trying to use the phone was pointless; she didn’t have the number of the inn where she thought Kelly would be, and the local operator didn’t speak English, so placing a long distance call to America was out.
No, her only hope was somehow contacting the American Embassy. Then, long about noon on the third day, ‘Dr. Moron’ and ‘Nurse Dimwit’ again paid her a visit. The doctor had spoken to the Russian Embassy. Anya had no other living relatives, and the authorities had no interest in her. So, sending her to a Czech Girls’ Home was a perfectly viable option. She just sighed and sat on the bed, barely following his pidgin English.
“Anya, you go to girls’ home now, they care for you, understand? People often come, may help you go university, get job, maybe even go to America.”
Jessica’s eyes popped open in shock. It took a bit of deducting, but there was one clue: ‘university.’ They were sending her to some sort of youth shelter! Jumping to her feet, she snatched up her chart. It was in Czech, so she couldn’t read most of it, but there were certain things lined up in boxes that made a sort of sense. Her name was listed as Anya Holstein, that much she already knew, and her age as eighteen.
Holy cow, they think I’m a teen just out of high school! She opened her mouth to again complain, but then froze. Wait a minute; a girls’ home will be easy to escape from.
A plan began to form in her mind. Step one: escape, two: haul ass to the inn where she and Kelly were staying. If Kelly wasn’t there, get to Prague. Wait another minute; she didn’t know where it was! She should have paid attention on the drive to this Podunk town. She revised her plan: get a map, then escape, and then, if necessary, get to Prague by… walking, taxi, train? That would depend on what she learned about the area. Then, once in Prague, she’d get to the embassy and get home!
She looked up at the doctor and smiled, and gave him the old ‘bat the eyes innocently’ routine. “Yes, Doctor Moron.”
Jessica almost burst out laughing when he smiled back, took her chart, and patted her on the head. What an idiot!
“Nurse, would you handle the discharge paperwork on her?” he said.
She nodded. “Of course, sir.”
He began writing on the chart. “Oh, and be sure she gets the nutrient supplement. Jessica might be quite the devilish ‘child,’ as Mrs. O’Brian said, but she’s still our patient. The poor thing is so thin; I can’t imagine how bad her diet has been.”
“Well, the home has its own garden with lots of good fresh food. They’ll get her plump and healthy in no time,” Nurse Klinski replied.
“True. Oh, and I’ll make note of her language troubles. The director of the home, Viktor, and his assistant, Misha, speak English, so they can teach her our language,” he said, and handed her the chart. “Bye, Anya, you be good girl.”
Kissing her on the cheek, he left, and the nurse got out the clothes the home had sent over. Jessica rolled her eyes. Yeah, it was a cute outfit: short little dress, white cotton panties, and socks and sneakers. Nurse Klinski took Jessica by the hand and pulled her up to stand next to the bed.
“Come on, let’s get you checked over and dressed,” she said with a smile, as she started to remove Jessica’s hospital gown.
She slapped the nurse’s hand. “Paws off, bitch! I can dress myself.”
* * *
Ivana Klinski was a very kind and caring person; that’s why she became a nurse. She was not prone to angry outbursts, and she didn’t speak English. But she had learned a few words recently from some tourists. She knew that word, that it had two meanings—one was a female dog, but the other was not. She didn’t appreciate a willful young lady using it in that context and striking her! So, without another word, she acted.
Sitting on the bed, she pulled Jessica over her lap. Holding her tight with her left arm, she raised her right hand high, and brought it down hard and fast.
Smack! A large red handprint appeared on Jessica’s right cheek. A moment later, a matching one was added to the left. After that, Ivana set up quite the rapid pattern of spanks.
* * *
Jessica was shocked. Never in her life had she been treated so. By the age of six, she’d had her dad wrapped around her little finger, and never been disciplined in any way, even a timeout. This not only hurt, it was also humiliating. Not only was she over this idiot’s lap being spanked like a child, but her feet barely touched the floor, her hands were nowhere near it, and the door was open! Anyone passing in the hall got a great view of her nearly bare behind quickly getting red.
“Unhand me, you mental pygmy,” she shouted. “I am not a child, and I will not be treated this way—ouch!”
“You are a very naughty and willful child, and that will change, starting now,” Ivana scolded, not letting up for a moment.
Between their mutual shouts and the sounds of the spanking, it wasn’t long before quite a few of the staff came to see what was going on. They all snickered and moved on, and Ivana kept spanking. Jessica struggled to get free, but her small stature made that impossible. Her attempt at blocking led to Ivana pinning her hands behind her back. Finally, Jessica decided to exercise the better part of valor.
“Okay, okay, I be good,” she said, parroting the broken English she’d heard them use.
Ivana gave her a few final hard smacks, and then stopped, but did not release her. Jessica grew concerned. What is the bitch up to? She strained her neck to see, and saw the nurse stretching to reach the table. She got a rectal thermometer, lubricated it, parted Jessica’s red cheeks, and slid it home.
“Whoa,” Jessica gasped, her eyes popping wide. “What the hell? Get that out of me!” she demanded, and started squirming.
“Be still,” Ivana ordered, and gave her another hard spank.
“Ouch! Okay, okay, just hurry.”
Jessica’s face turned bright red; now she had four red cheeks. The humiliations just kept piling up. She made up her mind: When she got back to the States, she would see to it that this woman was fired. As the minutes ticked by, she could also see the nurse prepare a shot. Finally, close to five minutes later, she withdrew the thermometer. Jessica heaved a sigh of relief, and then jumped slightly as she felt something cold dab across her right cheek.
“What the—? Nooo, my arm, give me the shot in my arm! Not in the as—ouch!” she started to ask, then gasped and her jaw dropped as she felt the needle jab. “Why, you bitch, you’ll pay for that.”
Now she’d done it. It was clear the nurse had had enough. Pulling Jessica to her feet, she marched her into the bathroom, Jessica rubbing her stinging seat the whole way.
“I don’t know much English, but I know that word, and you, little lady, must learn to not call people that,” she scolded.
Jessica was confused for a moment, but then, as Ivana soaped up a washcloth, the light bulb came on.
“Oh, crap! No way, no, you’re not—glub.”
She was cut off as Ivana stuffed the cloth into her wide open mouth. Jessica reached for it, but Ivana easily pinned her hands. She then seated herself on the closed toilet seat, sat Jessica on her lap, and clamped her legs around hers. Jessica wasn’t going anywhere. She tried to spit the cloth out, but Ivana’s hands were much bigger than hers; she held Jessica’s wrists with one and the cloth in place with the other.
“Now, you keep that in your mouth, little lady, or else,” she ordered.
Jessica still didn’t understand a word, but the intent was clear, and she meekly nodded. Ivana then deftly spun Jessica around in her lap, bent her over her left thigh, and re-clamped her legs. Jessica gasped, even as her hospital gown slid down and off her body. She was now buck-naked and helpless!
Smack! Ivana again spanked her. Jessica screamed into the soggy cloth, kicking her tiny feet in protest. On and on it went, until finally, Jessica broke. Between the pain, the humiliation and embarrassment, and the mouth-washing, she lost it and started sobbing. At this point, it now seemed the nurse was satisfied. She released Jessica and allowed her to spit out the cloth and rinse, and then led her by the ear and still naked back to the bed.
“Get dressed,” she said, pointing at the clothes.
Again, Jessica understood, and she quickly put them on. Catching sight of herself in the mirror, she was taken aback. She truly looked about twelve or so; all she needed was a pink ribbon in her hair to complete the ensemble. As far as she was concerned, the sooner she got out of this hellhole, the better!
A throat-clearing at the door caught her attention and she turned, and gasped.
“Holy shi—cow! Who the hel—heck are you?”
A giant filled the doorway, at least that’s how it seemed to Jessica. The woman looked to be about eight feet tall to Jessica, and her rippling muscles suggested that she bench pressed Chevys for a living!