"Over there, Mr Salt. Climb on to the table," she ordered, "And lie still."
Clive hadn't caught her name when she'd introduced herself at the door. The introductions had been unfathomably terse and had done nothing to soothe his nerves. He was new to this lark and had hoped he might be put at ease. Her name had sounded eastern European and was suitably laden with consonants. Clive had offered a handshake which had been flatly dismissed. Money can buy you many things, he mused, but not necessarily good manners.
So here he was, lying face down on a padded table, in a bright white air-conditioned room, at the mercy of a twenty-something woman on whom he'd never previously clapped eyes. And he'd paid forty quid for the dubious privilege.
In the stillness and quietness of the room his senses were exaggerated. The ticking of the wall clock sounded like a crashing cymbal, the sound of her footsteps on the slate tiled floor like a stormtrooper. Soon it would be begin, and the anticipation of the forthcoming pain was agony of another magnitude.
And then it happened. Strike one. His body rippled in abject torture as her hand made contact with his back and then withdrew. "Is the pain too much for you, Mr Salt? We can stop at any moment of your choosing".
"No. No. It's fine," he spluttered, burying his forehead into the table while fighting the urge to bring his knees up to his chest and adopt the foetal position. "Really, carry on."
"If you're sure," she stated with the cold, matter-of-fact tone of a woman who knows the limits of her power over a supplicant client. Clive's mind was racing. He couldn't think of a decision in his life he had regretted more than the one he had made ten minutes ago. Yet, lying bollock naked on a table in the presence of a woman he didn't know, he felt a compulsive urge to remain and suffer in silence.
Respite arrived four minutes and 21 seconds later. He'd counted every second as his survival instinct kicked in. The brutal, visceral pain of her every hand movement had turned the seconds into minutes and the minutes into hours. But now, as his skin responded to the prickly electric sensation of relief, he wondered if the pain had been actually been pleasurable. Could he possibly take any more of this? He was about to discover his limits.
"Turn over please, Mr Salt," she shrilled. "Your back is done. Shall I do your sack or crack next?"