Linda turned slowly as her mother, scissors in hand, cut off the bottom of her red tank top, leaving her midriff bare and exposed. "Thanks a lot, squirt," she said to her little brother Bobby, who as an integral part of the coming scene, had suggested the modification to his big sister's wardrobe. Now in addition to her bare arms, about which she was very self-conscious considering the nature of this scene, her ribs too would be exposed. She also wore a pair of short denim cutoffs and sandals. She tried not to think too much about what the following scene was about, although Bobby was certainly going to enjoy his part in it. They were in the museum, the plot being a boy and his older sister touring it.
"Are you both ready?" asked Eric Marcel, the director.
"Yeah," said Bobby enthusiastically, a Polaroid camera hanging from his neck.
"I guess," said Linda, who looked at her little brother, understanding perfectly well why he was so enthusiastic.
The next couple of hours were spent filming Linda and Bobby wandering around and looking at the museum exhibits, things like suits of armor, swords, pottery, and other relics from past ages. The lights made hot work, and Linda was almost glad that her little brother had suggested shortening her tank top. Almost, but not quite. The little brat was a little too creative to suit her, and she understood all too well his motives, which were not to make her more comfortable. Quite the contrary.
Every movie has a few scenes that people remember best, and the next one was certain to be one of those. Linda looked at her little brother, who she knew was looking forward to it as much as she dreaded it. They stood before a closed door with a sign saying "Private!"
"Lights! Camera! Action!"
"What's in there, Linda?" asked Bobby.
"Stay out of there, it's private." Predictably not listening, he turned the knob and opened it. "Bobby!" But before she could stop him, he walked through it and down a flight of stairs. "Bobby, come back here!" She sighed in exasperation, and followed him. At the bottom was a large room with relics that were being restored, actually real ones from her father's museum. What better source for props? Only two among them caught the eye: An ornate stone sarcophagus, and a large wooden X that Linda noticed nervously had two pair of leather straps attached near the bottom and top.
"Wow!" said Bobby, pointing to the X. "What's that thing?" Bobby thought this was a stupid line. What eleven-year-old kid didn't know what it was?
Linda walked up to it, and in a hushed tone said , "I think they used to torture people on it."
She placed her back against it and stretched her arms out and over her head. "Somebody was tied to it like this, then tortured."
"Bitchin." Then, acting like he came up with a thought, said, "Hey, Linda, let's try it out."
"Forget it," she said, lowering her arms. "I'm not going to be hung on that thing."
"C'mon, Linda. I'll take your picture. It'll be cool."
Like most pretty girls, Linda loved having her picture taken. She turned around and looked at the X, rubbing her hand up and down one of the posts. "Well, why not? Promise you'll let me go?"
"I promise," Bobby said truthfully. He really did intend to let her go, but he hadn't specified when. Spotting a wooden box to stand on, he dragged it over to the X.
"You sure you won't leave me here."
"I won't leave you here," he said mischievously in a way meant to clue in the movie audience, but would have warned off any girl with an IQ over ten.
"Okay." She lifted one bare arm and placed a wrist next to the leather strap, which Bobby, standing on the box, buckled securely. He dragged the box over to the other side, while Linda lifted her other arm for him to fasten. She was nervously aware of her bare underarms. This really was a stupid movie, she thought. No girl in her right mind would let her little brother do this to her. Well, actually, she had to admit, she had let Aunt Vivian tie her up once because Bobby was ignoring her. That had resulted in her getting a good tickling too. She looked down at her feet and moved them next to the leather straps, letting Bobby buckle her ankles in place. Once he had her securely strapped to the X, he backed away and took a picture of his spread-eagled sister. The straps had been placed strategically to have her very tightly stretched out.
"Cut!" said Eric. You're doing great so far. He walked over to Linda. "Come over here Bobby. Now we're going to shoot a scene where you ad lib, just do the scene the way you want."
Great, thought Linda. The little brat would have a field day with this. She looked down at her little brother, and saw that he seemed hesitant. "Hey, Bobby."
"It's okay. Give me everything you've got, and a little extra.
He said, "Okay, Linda. You're the coolest."
"I know." The little creep was hard to figure sometimes. He could be a total nuisance, but when he had a good opportunity to really torment her, like when she was tied to an X while wearing a short tank top, he developed a conscience.
Eric knew just how to loosen up actors. "Give her a tickle right now, Bobby, just for a warm-up."
Bobby hesitated, then reached for Linda's bare midriff. She winced as his fingers approached, then giggled and reflexively pulled at the leather straps, as he gingerly wiggled his fingers across her bare skin. After a second, he stopped and giggled himself. The situation was so humorous, that Linda laughed again. Here she was starring in a movie, stretched out and strapped to a wooden X, while her little brother was going to tickle her.
"Ready, Bobby?" asked Marcel.
"Just take your time and have fun with this. Don't feel any need to rush. We have plenty of film."
Just great, she thought.
Bobby stood back and took her picture again as the movie cameras began rolling.
"Okay, squirt. Let me go now."
"Wait, something's happening to me." Bobby stiffened and hunched one shoulder, then the other. A mischievous look crossed his face. "I'm feel myself being taken over."
"Let me go now, or else."
"Yes, there is a strange presence in this room. I-I-I can't fight it." He held arms out in front of him, his fingers like claws. "I'm being taken over."
"By what, you little Doric?"
"The tickle monster!" Slowly, he advanced to his spread-eagled sister.
Linda's eyes grew wide in alarm. "No you don't. Bobby? Now, don't you dare. Bobby!" She wasn't really acting at this point. The cameras were moving in on her as they tracked Bobby's approach. His arms were stiff, something he must have learned watching old Frankenstein movies, Linda thought.
"The tickle monster senses a victim," said Bobby.
She felt panicked, as only a scantily-clad bound girl can feel as someone who just announced he was going to tickle her approached. His clawlike fingers were only a foot away from her bare midriff now. "Bobby!" She sucked in her midriff to give herself an extra fraction of a second before he made contact. "Hahahaha...stop it...hahaha!" she shouted as he touched her sides and gently pinched her.
He stopped and pulled back. "Oh, yes. The tickle monster has you at his mercy. He is going to just tickle you to death, yes he is."
"No," she pleaded. "Ahhhhhhhhahahah," she screeched, as his fingers probed her sides again. "HahaheeeBobbyhahahaStopit." She gasped and held her breath as he stuck his finger in her navel, then laughed as he dragged it sideways across her belly, walking around to the back of the X as he did.
From behind her, "The Tickle Monster loves Linda, yes he does."
"Goddammit," she said, and tried to work her wrists loose from the straps. Bobby came around the other side of the X and stood at her side, watching her try to work free. She was looking up at the restraints and twisting her wrists, in a hopeless attempt to free herself. Bobby, the Tickle Monster, looked from the strap around her wrist, down her stretched bare arm, and at her bare exposed underarm. The positioning of her arms was such that her underarms were smooth hollows. He reached out and touched her there, causing her to stiffen and hold her breath again.
"Now, now. The Tickle Monster will punish any attempts to escape."
She stopped trying. "Bobby, please let me go," she said tightly.
"Okay, Tickle Monster, please let me go."
"Not yet. The Tickle Monster wants to play a little game first." His fingertip was still touching her bare underarm, and he moved it in a circle, bringing it to rest again. She closed her mouth and eyes tightly, trying not to laugh, but she let out a muffled giggle despite herself.
"Tickle Monster wants to play Simon Says."
"Okay. Untie me and we'll play."
"Simon says, 'Pull down your arms.'"
"I can't you little freak. You tied me to this thing."
"Simon's going to punish you then." Bobby began pinching her sides unmercifully.
"Bobbeeeeehaaaaa," she wailed, and arched her back and twisted and tugged at the restraints.
But Bobby kept tickling, and then the screaming Linda felt his fingers slowly work their way up her sides underneath her tank top. She saw the outlines of his small hands under the red fabric. The screaming and laughing grew louder as he moved farther upward. Soon his fingers appeared at her sides beneath her underarms, still moving higher. Her eyes were wide open in horror as she saw his fingers approach and begin stroking her bare underarms. "Bobbbeeeeeeee," she screamed. "NohahhahaaaaStopittt."
She writhed and twisted like a belly dancer trying to break free of the leather restraints, but there was no escape. Bobby's hands traveled downward again, down her warm flanks, where he lightly pinched the bare skin of her sides right above the waistline of her cutoffs. "Stophahaha...you little...(gasp)...monster." Then Bobby danced his fingers in circles around her bare tummy, and that was when they heard the sound of stone sliding on stone.
Bobby stopped tickling his poor sister, and his eyes widened in horror as he saw the top of the sarcophagus sliding. He backed away fearfully, while Linda tried to look behind her to see what had him so terrified. But she couldn't see, strapped to the X as she was.
When he saw the hand reach up out of the sarcogaphus, Bobby turned to run, but Linda shouted, "Unstrap me from this thing, Bobby." Remembering his sister, he hurriedly jumped up on the wooden box and unstrapped one of her restraints. "Run, Bobby." With her free hand, Linda reached over and unbuckled her other wrist, then her ankles, running after him, and up the stairs. The cameras zoomed in on Aunt Vivian sitting up from the stone coffin, a wicked smile on her face. Makeup had been applied to make her appear very old.
Linda may have thought Bobby had tickled her good, but she hadn't felt anything yet.
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