First Day Jitters
Questions during Lunch
An Unexpected Request
The Wish Come True
Off To Work
On the Job
Error In Judgment
Gangís All Here
"I am the instructor for this class. You will address me as Miss Cathy. Learn what I teach you, and you will be able to leave this place." For emphasis she tapped the pointer on the floor.
"Nice touch, but be sure you look around the room. Try to make eye contact with everyone." Robert sat on the couch while Cathy rehearsed her first class, only two days away. "Remember, when you come in theyíll all be watching you. Youíll be an unknown quantity; they donít know what to expect. Donít rush, slow and deliberate till you get to your spot at the head of the class. Make sure they wait for you. Donít look down, and donít look away from them. Keep telling yourself that youíre in charge. You can do whatever you want, so by definition you canít make a mistake."
Cathy shook her head, unsure she could remember it all. "Iím really nervous. Do you think I can do this, Robert? It isnít as easy as I thought it would be." She twirled the pointer stick, working off excess energy.
"You will do fine. You know your outline?" She nodded. "Then you go in there, tell them who you are, and start talking. Speak with authority and confidence. You know your subject, show it." He leaned forward. "Think back to when you were one of the students, the first class you were in."
She remembered that first day too well. "I was scared. Iíd been yanked out of a normal life and thrown into an environment where everything was upside down. The only thing I was sure of was Iíd get in trouble if I made a mistake. The teacher for that very first class, Miss Sarah was her name, she sure got my attention."
Cathy Kincaid and her husband Robert were temporarily serving on the staff of the school at the invitation of the Director. Robert was filling in as a warden while Cathy prepared to be an instructor. After a week of orientation and training on school policy she was ready to start. Robert was helping her with her presentation.
"See?" he told her. "She made an impression. You have to do the same. Grab and hold on to their attention. Then teach them what they need to know. Youíve been there; they want to hear how you made it out."
That was an understatement. Cathy knew all too well the hardships those women were facing. She had experienced it firsthand, twice.
"And what about you? Ready to be the big, mean prison guard?" She had seen him in his new uniform for the first time earlier that evening.
"Trainee wardens can only be brutal three days a week. I figured Iíd practice on you the rest of the time." He leered at her.
Cathy didnít take his remark seriously. She knew Robert had never been mean or abusive. He was strict, and he had not hesitated to send her to the school when she had tried to run away, but he was fair and basically a gentle man. That and his self-assurance and determination were the qualities that made him so attractive. He listened to her, asked her opinion, even encouraged her to speak up but once he decided the matter ended. No effort on her part could persuade him to change his mind. She expected no less from him. That was their agreement; her life to be placed in his hands, his duty to provide for her. She willingly gave him her unconditional obedience, and in return he drew the boundaries that made her feel safe, loved and secure.
Despite Robertís protests to the contrary she often suspected she got the better of the deal. Her worries didnít extend past a concern she might disappoint him in some way or inadvertently disobey him. He had the burden of planning both their futures while trying to allow for the unexpected, and at the same time struggling to balance her sometimes conflicting moods while never losing his cool, and on top of all that he supervised her every single day. How he did it she didnít begin to comprehend. About the results she had no complaints. She was devoted to him and would never give up what she had.
"Will I see you over there in the secure area?" That was the section of the school set aside for the students, the term they used for the unwilling attendees usually kidnapped and brought in on orders from their masters, husbands, and boyfriends. Cathy had been forcibly enrolled after being seized in an underground hotel garage the night she had ran away. She had subsequently discovered that once in the school the only way to leave was to complete the training. That included demonstrating an attitude acceptable to both the staff and the man who was responsible for her. She had earned her way out; now she had the job of teaching others how to accomplish the same thing.
"Yes, thereís no regulation about staff mixing. You are subject to all the same policies and regulations as the students while there, donít forget that. You arenít allowed to use my name, or address any other warden you might know by name either. If you break a rule or get in trouble over there I canít help you."
Cathy nodded in agreement. "We covered that in the orientation yesterday. I have to be escorted everywhere, same lack of dress code, but between assignments I can wait in the break room. I canít be released from the secure area without your permission either. Either you or someone you designate has to bring me back to this side." At least she wouldnít have to stay there at night. Curling up in a nice big warm bed with Robert next to her was far better than sleeping on the floor of a cell.
"Most of the time weíll have the same hours. Iíll make arrangements if thereís a schedule problem. If I run late youíll have to wait for me." Robert was concerned about that particular situation, since the warden manpower shortage often required some overtime.
He continued. "We donít have to spend all our time inside the complex. The weatherís cooling off, so we can go outside once in a while. One of the other wardens goes for a walk in the desert every morning. If we get a free weekend we can go to Las Vegas or Phoenix, or even Los Angeles if you like." The school was isolated, hidden somewhere in the barren wasteland of the Mojave Desert. It had originally been a mine site, then a secret underground military installation, and later sold to a privately held consortium when it was declared surplus at the end of the Cold War. The few existing records of its existence had been systematically removed from public sources through the power and influence of the individuals who comprised the holding syndicate.
"Las Vegas? Could we go see a show? Can I play one of those poker machines? You can get in a round of golf while I get a tan by the pool!"
"Slow down." He held up his hands to rein in her excitement. "Weíll have to check schedules. Besides, I didnít bring my clubs. And if you think Iím going to let you lounge around in a bikini by yourself, think again."
She liked the way he was so protective but he could overdo it. "Oh, Robert! You know I wouldnít give anyone else the time of day."
He looked thoughtful, staring up at ceiling. "I can be reasonable. Weíll compromise. You can go to the pool by yourself, but you have to wear this bikini," he put a hand on the box sitting on the couch next to him, "instead of that tiny thing you got last year."
Cathy shook her head, giving up on the pool. She knew what was in the box. It wasnít a swimsuit, and it certainly wasnít appropriate for poolside. It would turn plenty of heads though, if she did wear it out to a hotel pool. "You win. No tan, Iíll go shopping instead."
Robert frowned, "I think I was set up. Anyway, it looks like we can go in a few weeks. Once I find out the dates Iíll get us reservations." She watched as he opened the box. "You need to try this on to make sure it fits."
"Yes, sir." Cathy knew she didnít need to try it on. Up until a few weeks ago she had been wearing it every day. It had been her only item of clothing, day and night, during her last incarceration as a student. It would fit.
Robert stood up, facing Cathy. "You know the routine. Strip, stand with your legs spread, hands behind your back." While she quickly undressed he went to the closet by the front door. She didnít have to watch him to know what he was after.
A moment later the handcuffs closed around her wrists, locking her hands behind her back. They were his handcuffs, one of the two pairs he carried on his belt as part of his wardenís uniform. She could see the open box on the couch in front of her, knowing in moments she would wear its contents as well. He looked back at her as he pulled open the cardboard flaps and took out the belt.
She did know the routine. The chastity belt was a familiar companion by now. Each time she was forced to wear it her emotions ran the full spectrum, from erotic excitement to fearful anxiety. Robert had never asked if she would be willing to put it on; instead he had exercised his right as her master and simply ordered it. Given a choice she had no idea if she would agree, but when it was demanded of her she found she could not muster a protest.
He took the key from a chain around his neck and opened the lock on the front of the waistband. The one time she had held that key in her hand was the end of her first stay, when she had handed it Robert. In fact she didnít even know if there was a second key, though she assumed that he had another one somewhere. Turning toward her he stood close, lifting up her chin so he could stare into her eyes as he slipped the waistband around her waist.
The familiar weight of the belt worked its magic on Cathy. When he reached between her legs, pulling up the cover over her sex and locking the shield to the waistband, she wanted to throw herself on Robert and beg him to take her. In a sense he did take her; he took possession of her body in a most intimate way.
Robert wrapped one arm around her waist, grabbing the chain between her cuffs, and pulled her close. With his other hand he took hold of her hair and pulled her head back, leaning in till he was no more than an inch away from her face. "Never forget," he whispered as his eyes locked on hers, "never forget you are mine and mine alone." Then he kissed her, hard and demanding, taking what was his due.
Cathy didnít think about the strip of metal between her legs, or the handcuffs locked on her wrists. Her world narrowed to his few words and the way they sunk into the depths of her mind. She belonged to him. It was no more a matter of choice than eating or breathing. If he chose to impose control over her body it would be with her enthusiastic cooperation, no matter what hardship it might cause.
Letting go of her Robert backed up and surveyed his handiwork. Cathy, mindful of what he expected, stood straight and proud during his inspection. "Any pinching? Too tight on the sides? Walk around a bit and see if itís okay."
"Yes sir," she answered. Her body was accustomed to the much too personal grasp of the belt by now. She walked in a circle around the front room, stopping to bend down a few times. "No problems, master. At least no problems with the fit."
He tilted his head to one side. "And what would be the other problem?"
Cathy stopped and turned to face him. "As if you didnít know. The problem is how do I come up with some way to convince you to take this thing off, without asking?"
Robert scratched his chin, apparently lost in thought. "Why donít you demonstrate some of your ideas? Maybe between the two of us we can come up with an answer."
Giggling like a little girl she ran into his arms. "I have some ideas, but it may take all night."
"Is it true youíre an instructor? In the secure area?"
Cathy could hear the intense curiosity behind the apparently innocuous question. Across the table Kelli Heller, her dining companion for lunch, took a sip of her soft drink while she waited to hear the answer.
"Thatís right. Iím new though, as is Robert, my master and now warden. He and the Director decided that my experience would be of value to the students here." Cathy was using the common euphemistic terms. The school might be run like a prison, the students little more than inmates, but there were differences. As Cathy had found out the purpose was to educate, not punish.
"Iíve never been to that part of the school. My master Mathew is a warden too. I help by working as the dietician. Iím to blame when the menu here in the cafeteria isnít particularly tasty." Kelli nodded toward the kitchen. "I have a little office back there. I help plan the diet for the women on the other side too. I know they have it pretty rough so I try to put a little variety in the daily meals."
Cathy thought back to her own involuntary visits as a student. The first time she had earned her admission with a temper tantrum carried too far; the second was at the request of her husband Robert. The meal times had been precious, a few moments of relaxation when life might approach something normal. On reflection the food had been what she would call buffet quality; not bad but not outstanding. She said as much to Kelli.
"Thatís the Directorís policy. I canít get too fancy. You were a student here?" She stared at Cathy, eyes wide. "Were you... I mean, was it by choice?"
Cathy laughed. "By choice? Yes, but not mine. I did something stupid, something Iím ashamed of now. Robert did not approve. I was taken in the middle of the night and brought here. It didnít happen right away but I learned to appreciate what was important to me, what I really wanted out of life, and what I needed from Robert." Unconsciously she ran a hand along the steel collar that encircled her throat. "We were married soon after I left here. Iíve belonged to him since then."
Copying Cathyís gesture Kelli touched the collar around her own neck. "I still canít believe Iím here, in a place like this." She lowered her voice. "I always thought there was something wrong with me. Believing in harmony and obedience over independence and freedom, being submissive partners to men instead of competing with them, I was sure I was the only woman in the world who still felt that way.
"Now Iím in a world where itís not only admired but demanded. Iíd do anything for Matt, but I never told anyone but him. Now everyone around me takes it as a given, and anything less is unacceptable. And itís not just me! All the women here share my values. I donít have to be afraid someone will laugh at me or call me weak."
Cathy put her hand over Kelliís. "That wonít happen. Youíre among friends. Being devoted to that special man in your life is no sin here. Itís respected. Submission is a virtue, not a fault." Cathy had been through her own struggle to find her identity in a world that told her something she couldnít reconcile to her own feelings. She sympathized with Kelliís relief at finding a peer group.
"I tell myself that, but sometimes I worry. I want to be perfect for Matt, but I get these thoughts inside my head. I get angry, resentful. I want to rebel, tell him off, yell at him, call him names and go off by myself. Then it wears off and I feel terrible. What if I actually do that some day? Would he put me," she hesitated for a moment, "in the school as a student?"
Cathy frowned, trying to think of a good answer. "Iíll be honest with you Kelli. I donít know what he would do. Iíd like to say it would never happen, but Iím sitting here now because it happened to me. I lost my temper and spent a long time in here regretting it. Dominant men can be unpredictable when you push them too far.
"Iím not perfect. I get mad at Robert too. Some of his requests, demands really, can drive me crazy. But I look at it in a larger perspective. I made promises to him, and to myself. Heís never given me reason to mistrust him or doubt his judgment. Not in the long term at least. The first night here I had a different opinion.
"No matter what happens I have to keep to my side of our agreement or I couldnít face what I would become. About all I can tell you is to learn to rein in your bad moods. Tell him about it when you calm down. He might not even know if something he does upsets you."
"What Iím scared of, what keeps me awake at night," Kelli continued, "is if he did decide to put me over there, could I measure up? I know so little about what happens on the other side. Matt wonít talk about it except in very general terms."
Cathy held up a hand to interrupt. "I canít tell you anything either. You know itís forbidden. No one whoís been there is permitted to reveal what happens. And for good reason, though I canít explain why." She saw the warning signs. Kelli was comparing herself to the women around her, and as usual she paid attention only to their best side and dutifully balanced it against her own perceived failings.
"I understand Cathy, and Iím not asking you to disclose anything inappropriate. You know what it takes to make it through the program; would I be able to endure it too? Thatís what I want to know. Could I become the woman Matt would expect? Would he... Do you think he would look for someone else instead?"
Sheís scared to death heíll dump her for someone else, Cathy realized, and leave her trapped as a prisoner, forever trying her best to measure up to his impossible standards to win her release. Theoretically it could happen but she was sure the men who ran the place would never permit a situation like that. Considering the background checks and the interview process she doubted Kelliís master would ever have made warden if he were that selfish.
As far as Cathy knew the only case that even approached abandonment had been her friend Paula. Her husband Mike had been kidnapped by a guerrilla band in Bolivia while Paula was at the school. She had remained as student until he had been freed. Paula had been kept at the school far longer than anyone else but in the time Cathy had known her she had not once complained.
"Do you really want an answer, Kelli? There is a way for you to prove to yourself that your fears are groundless. It doesnít matter what I tell you, or what anyone else says either. You have to know. Am I right?" It might have been better to ask Robert before she did this, but Cathy sensed the moment was critical and couldnít wait. Kelli needed help.
It was a long moment before she answered, and even then she didnít look Cathy in the eye. "Yes, youíre right. And yes, I want an answer. Not want, need. What can I do?"
Cathy took a deep breath and began. "Tonight, when Matt comes home..."
Kelli was ready when Matt came in the door. His favorite dinner was on the table and she had on the way too short black club dress he liked. From the way his eyes narrowed as soon as he took in the trap she had laid out it was obvious he knew something was up.
"Whatís the occasion? Did I forget an anniversary?" His eyes went back and forth, looking at the candlelit dinner table and back to Kelli. The dress made sure she got more attention than the food.
She reached up and put her arms around his neck, standing on tip toe to kiss him. "Nothing like that! I thought it would be nice to dress up a little for dinner tonight."
His arms went around her waist and held her close. "Not that I mind, but is there something else?"
She smiled and snuggled against him. "After dinner, thereís something Iíd like to talk about. Is that okay?"
Matt laughed and let her go. "I thought so. Yes, itís okay. And if you thought youíd butter me up first, well, itís working. Is that brisket I smell? With potatoes? Who am I selling my soul to?"
Kelli took his hands and pulled him toward the dinner table. "Corned beef, and I even found a jar of that awful mustard you like. And all it will cost you is a little time tonight to sit and listen."
"Itís a bargain. I ought to change first." He still had on his black wardenís uniform.
"Matt? Could you wait, till later?" Seeing him in that uniform did things to Kelli. Not only did it make him look handsome but it reinforced her image of him as an authority figure, the man she trusted and obeyed.
The dinner went as planned. Sensing that she wanted to bring up something important later Matt didnít press her for details but stuck to small talk between mouthfuls of brisket and buttered potatoes covered in sour cream. Kelli felt a few pangs of guilt at fixing such a dietary disaster full of fat and carbohydrates but decided the ends would justify the high cholesterol means. She mentioned that she had lunch with Cathy earlier.
"I met her briefly a week ago," Matt added. "Iíve been going through some of the procedures with her husband Robert this last week. Heís going to be a warden and sheís supposed to start teaching soon. She was waiting for Robert when we came out of the secure area at the end of the shift."
After dinner she cleared the table while Matt went into the living room. Kelli joined him on the sofa. "Matt? Can we talk now?"
He stretched out an arm behind her on the couch and leaned back. "Okay, whatís on your mind?" His eyes strayed down to the hem of her dress high above her knees.
It was no secret what was on his mind. She had overdone it with the clothes but too late now. Her intention had been to get his interest and be receptive to her request, but not to distract him. "I want to ask you about the secure area, where you work."
That got his attention. Before she could continue he held up his hands. "Hold it, Kelli. You know I canít talk about anything to do with that area. I warned you up front there would be conditions for being here..."
"No Matt, you misunderstood," Kelli interrupted. "I havenít forgotten the conditions." She put a hand on the ring of steel around her neck. "They are hard to ignore. Iím not asking you to reveal any secrets. What I want to ask about, is if I can...umm, if you would let me..." Her voice trailed off as her nerve failed. Too embarrassed to continue she stopped, staring at her hands in her lap.
His hand lifted up her chin and turned her head to face him. Between the penetrating gaze from his blue eyes and the quiet "tell me" she couldnít hold back.
"I...I want you to put me in the school." Once she started she couldnít stop. "I can do it Matt, I know I can. Let me prove to you. I can be everything you ever wanted..."
"Shush, now listen to me." She stopped. Matt took her hands in his. "You donít have to prove anything. You are exactly what I want, just as you are. Kelli, you have no idea what you are asking. To be a student in this place, itís...well, itís not something you should wish for." His frown told her he didnít like the idea at all.
"Maybe I donít know what itís like over there, but this is important to me. I have to do this, Matt, for myself." Kelli was glad he held her hands, otherwise theyíd be trembling. "Please think about it, donít just say no. Iím not as fragile as you think. As long as I know you will be here waiting for me Iíll have the strength to endure anything this place can throw at me."
Her request caught Matt by surprise. To his knowledge no woman currently in the secure area had arrived there voluntarily. Considering the living conditions they had to endure it had never occurred to him they would view it as a vacation. Now his own precious Kelli had put him on the spot, pleading with him to subject her to the same harsh treatment. His instinctive response was to forbid it but the intensity of her request gave him pause. He couldnít ignore the underlying reason behind her plea.
The discussion went on for hours. Time and again he tried to dissuade her with hints of the miserable conditions but she never wavered. In the end Matt agreed not to reject her request before giving it some serious consideration.
The knock on the door surprised Kelli. Curled up on the couch reading a book she sent a questioning look at Matt to see if he was expecting anyone. The clock on the wall of their apartment read 10:15pm. Matt turned to look at the clock too.
"Stay where you are, Iíll get it." Matt stood up and walked to the door. Kelli put her book down. He seemed to hesitate before opening the door, almost as if he knew who it was and didnít want to answer. When he did open the door she could see two men, both dressed in warden uniforms. Was Matt being called in? This was supposed to be a day off.
He stood aside and invited them in. Neither said a word. Instead Matt turned to her, an oddly sad expression on his face. "Stand up Kelli."
What was going on? She got up off the couch. "Is something wrong? What is it, Matt?"
He took hold of her arm and roughly pushed her toward the wall. "Listen to me carefully. This is very important. I want you to put your hands on the wall, shoulder level." Confused, she did as he ordered. "Good. Now Kelli, I have to ask you not to say a word. No talking, not a sound. Nod if you understand."
Hands against the wall she turned to the side and studied his face. Something had him worried, almost scared judging by how well she knew him. She nodded her head in agreement.
"These wardens have come for you. Iím going to grant your request. From this moment on Kelli, your status is changed from resident staff to student. You must, and I canít stress this enough, you must do whatever these wardens tell you."
A chill ran down her back. This was the moment she dreaded, and the moment she wanted. Now she would know if she really had the inner strength to be owned. She started to ask Matt if she should pack any clothes but he put a finger to her lips as soon as she opened her mouth.
"No! Not one word. No questions. You will be told everything you need to know, when you need to know it. Itís already begun; no turning back now. They are going to take you to the secure area. From now on you are subject to their rules. Remember that. I wonít be there to help or comfort you.
"This is the last time weíll be together for a while. If you show good progress you may earn a visit some time in the future." He kissed her cheek. "Iím counting on you to do your best."
He turned away. "Gentlemen?" she heard him say, a simple dismissal as he handed her over. Her eyes were watering. She didnít want to leave him.
One of the wardens put his hand squarely on her back, pinning her to the wall. "Donít move," he ordered in a clipped command tone. He took hold of her right wrist and bent her arm behind her back. The other warden came up behind her.
There was a clicking sound of a ratchet, at the same time she felt something cool and metallic close around her right wrist, behind her back. The second guard pulled her left hand back and she heard the clicking followed by another bracelet closing on her left wrist. Oh my god, Iím being handcuffed, Kelli thought. She tried to pull her wrists apart but couldnít. Her only prior experience with handcuffs was seeing them on television.
"Hold still," the first warden told her again. Kelli let her hands drop to her back. Out of the corner of her eye she saw the second man kneel down next to her. The familiar ratchet sound reached her ears again as he fastened cuffs around her ankles. Kelli bit her lower lip, trying not to cry. She wasnít violent or dangerous, why were they doing this to her? She was a small woman; either one of the wardens was easily twice her size. Did they seriously consider her a threat?
And where would she go if she did manage to escape from their custody? When she and Matt had first arrived, and he had put the collar on her, he explained that she would not be permitted to leave without his consent, even though she wasnít a student. He even showed her the exits, and the guards. They didnít have to put her in chains and treat her like a criminal. She knew it was impossible to leave.
"For safety reasons we have to search you." The second man began to pat her down.
This is ridiculous, Kelli told herself, all I have on are cutoffs and a tank top. Where am I going to hide anything? It didnít take them long to determine there were no concealed weapons or whatever other contraband they were after.
The hand on her back finally released her so she could lean back from the wall. She turned her head to see Matt standing in a corner, out of the way of the wardens. The forlorn expression on his face was the last thing she saw before the blindfold went over her eyes.
Every morning Kelli strolled along this corridor to her tiny cubbyhole in the cafeteria. And every evening she came back the same way. Occasionally she might stop and say hello to a friend or casual acquaintance. It wasnít a long walk.
Tonight was different. Blindfolded, hands locked behind her back, legs shackled together, and escorted by wardens holding her arms Kelli prayed no one would see her. The blindfold was the one part she already knew about. For security reasons students while in the staff section were not allowed to see their surroundings. It made no difference that she already knew the layout and where the exits were. For the guests at the school there were no deviations from the regulations.
The chain between her ankles rattled constantly as she tried to keep up with the wardens. They were practically dragging her through the hallway. She was grateful for the carpet, since they hadnít even allowed her to put on shoes.
"Please slow down! I canít..." that was as far as she got before Kelli found herself on the floor, face down. One of the men took hold of the handcuffs to keep her on the floor while the other one grabbed her hair and pulled her head back. She started to say something in protest but it was cut off when a gag was shoved in her mouth. She could feel the straps holding it in place being tightened behind her head.
"You were told to stay quiet." The wardens pulled her to her feet.
In vain she tried to push out the gag with her tongue. It wouldnít budge. Her protests hadnít accomplished anything as they resumed hustling her along the hallway. When they finally stopped it took all she had to keep from shaking in reaction. She heard a door open in front of her. One of her guards shoved her forward. She jumped when the door slammed behind her.
"This one doesnít follow orders. Leave the cuffs on." That was one of the two original wardens. She couldnít see but he must be talking to someone else.
She heard a desk drawer open. "Here, use these." That was a new voice, another man.
Snip. Kelli felt one side of her tank top fall off her shoulder. Scissors, they were cutting off her clothes. She tried to twist around, to make them stop. One of the guards put an end to her struggles by grabbing her hair and forcing her face against the wall. "You were told to stand still. Do it."
In frustration she balled her hands into fists and strained against the handcuffs. It was a futile gesture since her wrists remained chained together. The guards ignored her small show of defiance and continued to remove her clothing. She knew there was nothing she could do to stop them. Tears ran under the blindfold and streamed down her face.
Her underwear was the last to go. She could feel the remains piled at her feet. The bare concrete floor felt cold. "Thatís it." Someone grabbed the collar that was still around her throat. Matt had put it there and only he could remove it. She hoped they wouldnít cut it off. "That stays." Whoever had hold of her collar let it go.
The men worked in almost total silence, giving Kelli few cues as to what would happen next. She was unprepared when the hand on her back came off, and two of the men grabbed each of her arms. They forced her backward into the center of the room. "Feet apart, as far as you can." Terrified and confused she spread her legs, pulling the chain linking her ankles taut. She didnít want to think about what that meant.
When she felt something around her waist, some kind of heavy belt, it was the last thing she expected. Powerless and unable to resist she had resigned herself to some kind of sexual assault or humiliation. Instead they seemed to be dressing her. Something came up between her legs and pressed tightly against her sex. What were they doing? She heard a metallic click. Whatever she had on, it fit close against her skin.
"Sheís ready." Another cryptic comment she didnít understand. Ready for what? She thought to herself, what did they do to me? The blindfold came off. In the harsh glare of the overhead lights she found herself in an empty room, concrete floors and walls, with nothing more than a table on one side. At opposite sides were two doors, both closed. Her clothes, now cut to ribbons, were piled in a heap against the wall.
Looking down she finally found out what she was wearing. There was a wide padded metal belt around her waist, snugly fitted in place above her hips. Between her legs she could see a curved, triangular metal plate that covered her groin. There was a narrow slot cut in the lower section. It could only be one thing, though she couldnít believe such a thing might exist in the modern world. She had a chastity belt on.
The same warden behind her took off her gag. "You do not have permission to speak." He dangled it in front of her face. "You wonít get another warning."
Without another word he took hold of her arm and pulled her toward one of the doors. Where are they taking me now? Next to the door she noticed a sign on the wall:
Beyond this point, females are required to:
1) OBEY ALL ORDERS FROM WARDENS
It shouldnít have been a surprise but the realization that she was now in the student area still shocked Kelli. She was no longer the outside observer. The regulations posted on the sign applied to her.
When he opened the door it was immediately obvious she wasnít in the staff area any more. The carpets were gone, along with the bright paint scheme. Instead she saw an emp y service corridor. There were no signs on the walls, no indication of her present location or which way they were going. Her escort made a turn to the right. She was forced to follow.
The hallways were a maze of unmarked doors and turns. The walls were an unending featureless gray, with no markings of any kind. Kelli had no idea where she was or where the warden was taking her. She dared not ask; one experience with a gag was enough for her to learn her lesson. The gag and blindfold were gone now but she was still chained hand and foot. There was little she could do to stop her escort from depriving her of sight or speech if he wished. Not once had they passed anyone.
Within moments they stopped at a security gate blocking the hallway, the first of several. Constructed of heavy steel bars with a hinged gate in the center they were formidable barriers. Her guard had the keys to open the gates; on her own Kelli would have been easily trapped if she somehow managed to break free and tried to run.
The monotony finally changed when her warden stopped in front of one of the unmarked solid steel doors that lined the passage immediately after the last security gate. The doors were painted in a darker shade of grey, all alike. How could he tell one from another? There werenít even any numbers. From a ring on his belt he selected a large key that unlocked the door and opened it. Behind the door was another of the ubiquitous barred gates. He used another one of his keys to open it. Not once did he let go of her arm.
He pushed her through the entrance first, and held her just beyond so he could close both the door and gate behind them. Kelli wondered to herself if even real prisons had such overwhelming security. They had gone through at least four of those gates so far.
The corridor she found herself in was markedly different from the others. One wall appeared to have several sets of bars. When she was brought closer she could see they were cells, each containing women dressed like Kelli, nude except for chastity belts and neck collars. As they passed she saw the women kneeling silently, all in identical positions. There were hastily cast aside meal containers to one side, containers she recognized from working in the cafeteria. She was shocked to realize they must have been eating on the floor.
The last cell contained a single woman. Like the others she knelt in a precise manner. Kelliís guard stopped in front of the bars. He studied the woman inside for a long moment before he unlocked the door.
"Inside," he ordered, pushing Kelli into the cage. "Stand with your back to the door." She did as he instructed, halting just inside the cell. She heard the door close and lock behind her but thought it safer not to turn around and look. "Back up." Slowly she took a step backwards, stopping as her fingers brushed against the steel bars. He grabbed the connecting chain of her handcuffs through the bars with one hand and did something to the cuff around her left wrist. A moment later it opened, releasing her hand. "Turn around."
He didnít let go of the handcuffs. Kelli turned and faced him, separated only by the cell door. He locked the cuff around her wrist again, this time with her hands in front. She watched as he did something to the cuff before he let go. Without another word he turned and walked away. She gripped the bars with her bound hands, watching him leave. He didnít look back.
"You shouldnít do that." The whisper came from behind her.
Kelli turned around. The chain between her ankles rattled on the floor. "Iím sorry?"
"You shouldnít touch the bars. Youíre much too close to the door too. Come over here next to me." The woman remained kneeling. Kelli could barely hear her. She walked to the rear of the tiny room. Outside she heard the gate open and close in the corridor.
At that point her companion relaxed and sat down on the floor, leaning against the wall. "Have a seat. My name is Diane, and Iíve been volunteered to help you understand whatís happening." She stretched out her legs on the floor. "Try to keep your voice down. We arenít supposed to be loud."
Kelli sat down next to Diane. She put her arms around her legs and balanced her chin on her knees. Idly she ran a finger along the handcuff on one wrist. The belt dug into her thighs; she had to spread her legs slightly to relieve the pressure. She began crying as she rocked back and forth. It wasnít supposed to be like this.
Diane put a hand on her arm. "Go ahead and cry. They must have been rough on you. The wardens donít leave the cuffs on unless you didnít cooperate. Rule one in here: never ever cross the men. Youíll never win a shouting match, and you make no points for defiance. Welcome to the world of male dominance in its most extreme form."
Kelli raised her head and looked at her companion. "Why all this? Why the chains, taking away our clothes, locking us in jail cells. And whatís the reason for this thing between my legs?"
Diane laughed. "The chastity belt? The proper term to use is control belt. You can guess the reason itís called that. Why all this? Because they can, I suppose. I canít answer your question, but I can tell you from personal experience that it has an effect over time. The environment changes the way you think and act. You start out resenting them, the wardens; you think you canít even make it through the first day. There are too many rules to learn. Youíre afraid of everyone and sure youíll never get out of here."
Diane nudged her arm. "By the way, if you think the way out is by escaping, then you never will get out of here. No one has ever made it and you can see why. The longer youíre here the more youíll understand itís useless to even try. All you wind up with is more time to regret the attempt in the first place.
"Anyway, I was sure Iíd never survive. The wardens are on you in a second if you make a mistake. The classes are almost as bad. You pay attention or else."
Kelli put her chin on her knees again. Idly she examined the shackles on her ankles. "Whatís the or else part? Have you ever been in trouble?"
"Enough trouble to land me here in the first place. Iím sorry Kelli, but otherwise I canít answer your question. Yes Iíve had to find out the or else part, but I donít have permission to tell you about it. One of the rules here, and itís strictly enforced, is that discouragements are never discussed. Thatís the term used, discouraging improper behavior. You have a very small taste of what it can be." Diane pointed to the handcuffs.
"All I did was ask them to slow down. I wasnít being disobedient."
"Ouch, you spoke without permission? You got off easy. Look, we arenít supposed to talk about things like that, so letís drop it, okay?" Diane looked around anxiously.
Kelli frowned. "Is someone listening? Are these cells bugged?"
Diane shrugged. "No one knows. There may be cameras or a microphone, or both. Iíve never seen one, and as far as I know no one else has either. My own opinion? Itís safer to assume they are always watching.
"Okay, listen, Iíve been told to explain how it works here. Why donít you sit back and Iíll go through the lecture? I have to do this, and it may answer some questions." Diane stood up.
Kelli looked up at her. "I guess Iím the captive audience."
"We all are. So, what is this place? Itís a school, despite appearances. You have to go to classes every day. Attendance is mandatory, and you will learn what you are taught. The material is worth your attention, but Iíll get to that later.
"Why are you here? The man in your life decided it would be in your best interests to spend some quality time in scholarly pursuits. In other words he put you in here, and heís the only one who can get you out. Is it legal? Not in the least. Is it fair? That depends on your definition of the word. Is there anything you can do about it? No."
That much Kelli already knew, although she could see how a new arrival who never heard of the place would need to know. She doubted any other woman had ever volunteered, so she decided not to mention it.
"The rules are both complex and simple. Do as you are told sums it up. I donít know your views on obedience, as it relates to men and women, but in here there are no shades of gray. The men are in charge, they are always in charge, and you donít forget it. Right or wrong you submit to their authority. The only laws are the rules imposed on us. You have no rights at all. If you do well you might be granted a few privileges. Donít take them for granted.
"It sounds bad, but there are some good points. The wardens are authoritarian and impersonal, but they arenít cruel or mean. They arenít out to get you, or trick you into getting in trouble. They wonít beat you up or assault you." Diane tapped her chastity belt. "Only a few wardens have access to the keys to these things." Kelli hoped Matt had been given her key. "Maybe we canít get them off, but they canít either. Youíll find they keep us at armís length, for understandable reasons. Think of the temptation those poor men have to suffer while they are around us." Dianeís smile and wink told Kelli not to take that last line too seriously.
She had never thought about what Matt had to face each day. Large numbers of women, completely dependent on him for their survival, desperate to please him in the hope of winning some small favor. And he had the power to command them to do his bidding. Yet every night he came home to her. Would she see Matt, and what would she do if they did meet? That was easy to answer... whatever he ordered.
"There are no clothes permitted at any time. No possessions at all, in fact. The control belt is all we get to wear, along with the collar. The belt represents control over our bodies, and the collar symbolizes ownership, the way our masters own our hearts and minds. As you might have noticed the collar is locked on. You cannot free yourself from being his possession."
Kelli lifted her manacled hands to touch the band under her chin. She had never looked at it that way. Matt had explained that it was a requirement for all females at the school, staff and student. She hadnít thought much about it, especially since every woman she met had one on. Now it was her one reminder of Matt. What was he doing at this moment? Was he asleep? She already missed him.
Diane walked over to the bars that confined them to the cell. She stopped about an armís length away. "Remember how I whispered to you? This is as close as we are permitted, unless under orders. Donít ever touch the bars on your own. Itís forbidden."
There was an obvious question Kelli had to ask. "How do you know that door is locked? We might be able to walk out of here right now."
Diane shook her head. "Locked or not it makes no difference. You have to change your thinking, Kelli. I canít walk out because Iíve been told not to do that. If I test the door then I have disobeyed. My place is in this cell until someone comes to get me. Those bars," she gestured behind her, "are decoration. If they were to vanish Iíd still be right here tomorrow, and the next day. Thatís what you have to learn."
She looked at Diane with newfound respect. Her last comment reminded Kelli that submission wasnít an abstract quality to be debated. Would she ever be able to look at the bars that kept her captive and think only of her love and devotion to Matt?
"Thatís about it. We eat when fed, sleep when allowed, and we make the best of the situation. Oh yeah, one other thing. Those handcuffs and leg irons you have on? Get used to them. Anytime youíre being escorted from place to place itís likely youíll get some jewelry to wear. We all do."
"Jewelry?" Kelli grimaced as she held up her cuffed wrists.
"Sure, didnít you know? The men must think it makes us look attractive. Why else would they make us wear those things so often?"
Matt turned off the television. The automated tracking system was impressive in the way it kept track of Kelliís location and displayed the nearest camera view for him. One of the guys in the surveillance center had called when she was registered in the computer and available for him to monitor. From now on he could see where she was any time day or night.
He had been unprepared for Kelliís request. It was so unexpected he hadnít been sure how to respond. The school served a worthwhile purpose, one in which he was proud to participate. When he had accepted the offer to be a warden the possibility of Kelli being one of the students had never occurred to him. Matt was the type who tried to anticipate situations and prepare a carefully thought out response if and when it was needed. He had not planned on her sitting in one of those cells, shackled hand and foot.
When she asked to be transferred he had no idea how to handle it. His first inclination had been to refuse out of hand. She had done nothing to justify being subjected to the unforgiving discipline inflicted on the women who were brought to the school under duress. But he gave her the opportunity to present her side before deciding, something he had promised her as part of their living arrangement.
She had been persuasive, presenting her reasons in clear terms he couldnít easily dismiss. She had answers for all the questions and credible responses to his objections. The more Matt heard the less he was willing to say no. In the end he had told her he would consider it and give her an answer in a few days.
By the end of the next day he still didnít want to do it but had to admit his reasons were mostly selfish ones. Matt knew what awaited her on the other side, conditions unlike anything she had ever experienced before. How she would react he couldnít predict, and that was the single biggest objection he could muster. The problem was her reason for going was precisely to find out if she could handle it. Was it right for him to deprive her of a chance to prove to her own satisfaction that she could become the woman she idealized?
As much as he would miss her he had to do what he felt best served her well-being. Reluctantly he had called the Directorís office and made inquiries. No, he was told, she couldnít volunteer on her own but that was a technicality. Since he was employed as a warden if he asked she would be enrolled immediately and without question. Knowing he might have cause to regret the moment later on he filed the request for the next evening.
Matt thought about telling her what he had done but decided against it. It wouldnít be fair to her if she got any special treatment. Like everyone else she would be taken at an unexpected moment, by force if necessary, without any warning. It was part of the process, the psychological effect of suddenly losing control of her life to the unknown.
He knew from working as a warden that he would be kept informed of her progress constantly. His access to reports would be unrestricted, and he could see her through the camera system when she was in class or the dorm area. What he couldnít do is ask for changes in her program or obtain any type of special treatment for her. Nor would he see her in the normal course of his work. The central office would coordinate his activity to ensure they didnít meet.
When the knock on the door came, he almost didnít answer it. Watching the wardens as they efficiently restrained her was almost more than he could bear. He had done the same thing countless times as part of his job, but never had he imagined Kelli would be the one being put in chains and taken away. She didnít resist but he could tell from her expression she was afraid. He wanted to take her in his arms and tell her everything was going to be all right, but he couldnít. It was not going to be all right, not for some time to come.
Sitting alone on the couch he stared at the dark screen on their TV set. Next to him on the seat cushion was the book she had been reading, still in the same place where she had put it down after hearing that fateful knock. He picked it up and read the back cover. A romantic mystery-adventure, her favorite genre, one where the tall dark stranger who wins the heroineís heart turns out to be a sophisticated rogue driven to crime by the evil older brother. Making sure her bookmark didnít fall out he placed it on the end table. It would be ready for her when she came back. No matter how long it takes, Matt promised.
Cathy and Robert stopped in front of the entrance that separated staff and secure sections. She took the opportunity to look up at him, so handsome in his dashing wardenís uniform. As usual he kept one hand on her back while with the other he pushed the buzzer and waited for the outer door to open. He used his own key to unlock the security gate inside the entrance. She went in first while he held the door for her. She waited just inside the entrance while he closed the gate behind them. Regulations, she told herself, on this side of the door thereís only one right way, and I have to get it right every time.
The moment she crossed the threshold her status was no different from the students. Robert and all the other wardens expected as a matter of course her full and unquestioning obedience, even though she was on the staff. As a teacher there were few privileges and no exemptions. She stood silently facing straight ahead. From this point on she did nothing without his express orders. When he finished with the doors he pointed toward her locker as he took her arm.
This was the primary passage for teachers and wardens going back and forth between the two sections. Cathy could buzz for someone to let her in, or Robert could open the door for her. Leaving wasnít nearly as easy. He or someone he listed as a delegate had to escort her out. She could neither walk out on her own nor ask to be returned to the staff area. He led Cathy to her locker so she could change.
"Strip," came the familiar command she knew she would hear. Without hesitation she unzipped her dress and stepped out of it. The dress and her shoes, the only clothes she brought, went into the locker. Robert closed the locker door. "Hands behind your back."
"Yes, sir." Cathy turned away from him and reached behind her back, presenting her wrists to him. The click of the handcuffs confirmed she was now in his custody. She would be escorted to her classroom under the same conditions as her students. Only the fact that the wardens knew her separated Cathy from becoming a full-time resident. She felt the pressure to conform every bit as much as the women she was assigned to teach.
"Weíre a little early. How about a cup of coffee in the lounge?" Robert asked as he led her to the entrance to the warren of corridors that made up the bulk of the school. She knew how the wardens were able to navigate by using a small earpiece that whispered directions to them. She didnít have one; none of the teachers did. Like all the other women she had to depend on him to lead her from place to place.
There was a lounge area shared by wardens on break and the teachers who were between assignments. Robert took Cathy to an empty table, unlocked one of her wrists and sat down. Meanwhile she went to the coffee machine and poured two cups, sugar in his, cream in hers. She put them on a tray and brought them back to the table. When she sat down she carefully placed her hands in her lap. The open handcuff lay close to her unfettered wrist.
He took a small taste of his coffee and asked, "Ready for the big day? Nervous? Remember your schedule?" He nodded toward her cup, giving silent permission for her to drink. She used her free hand to pick it up and sipped at the hot brew.
"The first class Iím going to talk about equality. You know, submission is not inferiority any more than domination implies superiority. After that Iím supposed to assist in a presentation practice session. After a break I think Iíve been designated to help evaluate a writing assignment. I hate grading papers."
Robert smiled. "Someone has to do it. You have the insight to know what to look for. Youíll have to tell me about your equality lecture later on, especially the some are more equal than others part."
Cathy recognized the famous line from George Orwellís Animal Farm. "Why am I not surprised to hear a dominant personality quoting Orwell? I bet itís required reading. Did you sympathize with Big Brother in 1984 too?"
"The book gave a distorted view. Whatís wrong with a paternalistic leader gently guiding his charges through life? Naturally he has to be strict at times..."
"...but itís for her own good." Cathy completed his sentence. From the smirk on his face she could tell Robert was teasing her. "Not that I object to the principle, sir, but the means to reach the end do make a difference." There were some disturbing parallels between the way the school operated and the society Orwell described, but she was convinced the crucial difference was in the motives of the men who ran the place. As Robert often pointed out, there were no deceptive claims to some abstract high purpose. The schoolís express reason for existence was to produce submissive women who would properly serve their masters. If in the process she happened to discover untapped feelings within herself so much the better.
The lounge room door opened and another man came in. Like Robert he wore the uniform of a warden. Cathy recognized him, Mathew Lasky, Kelliís master. He went straight to the coffee machine, poured a cup, and headed for their table.
"Hi Bob. Nice to see you again, Cathy."
"Hello, sir." Cathy put her hands in her lap again, and lowered her eyes.
"Sit down and join us." Robert pulled out a chair. "Howís the weather upstairs?" He turned to Cathy. "Matt takes a walk in the desert before work."
"Itís nice out this time of year. It rained late last night so the air is cool and fresh today." Matt sipped at the hot coffee. "Yuck, I need some more sugar. Is this coffee or mud and battery acid?"
Cathy spoke up, "Please sir, may I get it for you?" At Robert's nod she stood up and went to the coffee counter.
"How about it Cathy, no roses but would you like to go smell the sagebrush? We can go up during your break." Robert called out to her as she went to get Mattís sugar.
She turned to answer him first. "Could we, sir? Maybe just a short walk?" He knew she missed the outdoors. She picked up two packets of sweetener and brought them back to the table.
"If it isnít busy weíll take off an hour or so. What do you think, Matt, are we shorthanded today?" Robert hadnít seen his full schedule yet.
"I donít see a problem, go ahead. I can cover for you. Besides, I owe you two a favor. Iíd like to thank Cathy for spending time with Kelli this last week."
Cathy answered softly, "I hope I didnít interfere, sir."
"Not at all! I knew something was troubling her. I could see it but she was reluctant to talk. You broke the impasse. She followed your advice and came to me."
"Iím glad to hear that, sir. Does anyone need a refill?" She checked both their cups.
"None for me," Robert answered. He leaned to one side, a hand covering his ear. "Iím being paged, time to get to work. Do you want to go now, Cathy?"
Before she could answer Matt interrupted. "I have a few minutes, Bob. The roomís still in use; sheíd have to wait. Want me to escort her?" He took a sip from his cup.
"Iíd appreciate it. You have her class?" Matt nodded. "Okay, youíll go with him, Cathy. Iíll see you when you are on break."
"Yes sir," Cathy answered. Though she wanted to stay with Robert it wasnít much fun waiting for a room to clear. Mostly it involved standing in the hallway and doing nothing. Robert reached over and removed the dangling handcuffs from her other wrist. He folded them up and stuck them in a holder in the back of his belt. She waved to Robert as he left.
"I hope it all works out for the best, for you and Kelli, sir." She turned back to Matt. On this side she wasnít allowed to use his name. It was one more rule she had to follow. All wardens had one name, sir. If she forgot sheíd have to answer for it.
"I hope so. I didnít want to do it but she is presently enrolled as a student. I couldnít argue with her reasons."
Cathy was surprised. It had been only two days ago she had suggested Kelli talk to him about the possibility. "You have to understand, sir, we need to prove ourselves just as you men do. Sometimes you go into the military to test yourselves. Some of us, well, one of us at least needed to learn she could measure up too. Was there a problem, since she was a volunteer?"
Matt shook his head. "That part turned out to be quite easy. She couldnít put herself in here. But thereís no policy on the reasons for being enrolled. All it took was a call from me and she went in right away."
She hadnít thought about that possibility, but it made sense. As her master Matt had the authority to commit Kelli at any time. Cathy knew from past experience Robert could do the same.
"Itís about time to go. Are you ready?" He pushed back from the table.
"Yes sir. May I clean up first?" When he nodded approval she picked up the empty cups and took them to the trash bin. Matt stood up when she came back. "Iím ready now, sir." She saw him reach for something behind his back.
"Hands behind your back." She was already turning around, anticipating the mandatory order. The handcuffs went around her wrists. Cathy noticed he preferred a looser fit than Robert. Not so loose she could slip out of them but she could tell the difference. "Whatís your topic for today?" he asked as he took hold of her arm.
"Equality, sir." She reflected on how odd it was that being virtually naked and in handcuffs, controlled by a strange man she barely knew, seemed so normal and commonplace.
"Sounds interesting. I imagine itís difficult to separate power structure from the more abstract concepts of parity in the value of our roles in life." He opened the security gate for the break room. In the corridor he turned her to the right. "We go this way."
"Yes, sir. I teach that equality comes in the value of how we relate to each other, as dominant or submissive. Both have comparable worth, for one canít be complete without the other." She went on to detail some other points.
"This is your class," Matt stopped as they approached a door. "Your students are being led in now. Weíll wait till theyíre ready."
Cathy stood in front of the door, rehearsing her entrance one last time. Her pointer would be in a bracket just inside the entrance. She had to remember to pick it up first, as soon as Matt left. Hopefully he wouldnít forget to take off the handcuffs.
Robert listened to the voice whispering in his ear, giving directions on where he needed to go. Every warden had a separate channel to the central control room that coordinated all movements in the secure area. If necessary he could talk back with the wireless mike on his belt but that was only to be used if the women couldnít see it. Much of their security, especially the communications and surveillance, depended on hidden technology. He rarely needed to use the microphone since a subtle nod or shake of the head to a question in his earpiece was enough to let the control room know his answer.
The effort required to fill a wardenís position was more than he expected, but he couldnít complain. While he had no interest in any woman other than Cathy he did enjoy the power trip that came with the job. Literally every female he saw was eager to please him by demonstrating how well, willing or not, she could obey his slightest command. To an unrepentant control freak, a character trait he freely admitted, it was heaven. Seeing the environment and its effect on the students he supervised gave him a newfound appreciation for what Cathy had endured.
Even though surrounded by constant temptation his only real interest was in the influence he exerted over one single individual. Nothing but the control he wielded over Cathy truly satisfied him. Power she gave him without question or reservation. He could delve deep into her thoughts and emotions, probing her mind and bringing out her best while dominating every aspect of her life. The only limits between them were the ones he imposed on himself.
This was not the case with the students he managed. In most respects they were off limits, someone elseís private property. His job was to be part of the ambiance, reinforcing the doctrine of obedience to male authority. Privately he thought some of the policies were excessive but there was no argument the overall effect worked, and worked well. Cathyís first visit had produced changes he never would have believed possible.
Her constant exposure to the discipline in the secure area showed up when they were at home. He had never intended to be a micro-manager but the last few weeks she seemed to be drawing him into the role. If he was present she wouldnít leave a room without asking his permission. When they were together she stood patiently in front of a door until he opened it for her. One radical change, she no longer asked permission to get dressed in the morning. That was because she didnít put on clothes unless he ordered it. Her need for modesty seemed to be satisfied with the scanty cover of nothing more than a chastity belt.
The voice in his ear informed him a group needed to be escorted to class. Cathyís class as it turned out; he recognized the room number. He and another guard would gather up the women and see to it they arrived at the classroom on time. Matt would deliver Cathy from the staff entrance when they had the students in place. He looked up to where he knew the hidden camera was watching in the ceiling and nodded to indicate he heard.
When he arrived in the dorm hallway the other warden, a man named Joe, was finishing up the collection of meal cartons. He stood back while one of the women pushed the trash cart between cells. Mindful of procedures from his training sessions Robert checked to make sure her ankles were chained together. Joe was one of the senior wardens with quite a few years of experience. He didnít make mistakes like that. They were on the last cell in the row.
Robert nodded to Joe as he approached but didnít say anything. Minimal conversation and no pleasantries or greetings were part of the protocol to project a cold and impersonal attitude. When he passed each cell door he turned his head to check positions. At one he stopped and scrutinized the occupants carefully. There was no particular reason behind it other than to let them know he paid attention. And maybe a little guilty pleasure too, he told himself. As long as he or any other wardens were nearby they would kneel in the proper manner. The only exception was lights out, when they were allowed to sleep.
If pressed he might admit that the sight of nude women kneeling before him was a pleasant picture, one he didnít tire seeing day after day. Nor did it bother him when he placed them in chains. He rationalized it away as nothing more than indulging his dark side but he thoroughly enjoyed the way he controlled them and the degree of obedience and deference he received in turn.
The woman pushing the trash cart didnít turn around as he walked up behind her. He saw her tense but her head never wavered from the eyes front position that came with the assignment. The control room informed him that Joe would take her and the cart into an adjoining assembly area where the morning trash collection detail would take charge of her. Joe was waiting for the other side of the door to be cleared. When he opened it no one should be visible from the dormitory area.
He looked back, mentally adding up the occupants of the cells. Thirteen total, all to be moved to the classroom. Policy was to try to keep the ratio at no more than six students per warden during a move but he and Joe should be able to manage one extra. He stepped back so he could survey all the cell doors, keeping watch as Joe opened the security gate and the regular door.
None of the women tried to sneak forward and peek out. He would have been surprised if one did show her face. The discouragement, a euphemistic term, for willfully breaking position was unpleasant, usually consisting of being tied down in the same position for hours at a time, for a first offense. They might not be aware of the penalty but they did know he wouldnít hesitate to punish any infraction.
Joe returned carrying a canvas bag in one hand. Inside were the handcuffs and the lead chain they would use to keep the group together and easily managed. One at a time he and Joe took each woman out of her cell and attached her to the gang chain. When they finished all thirteen were lined up facing the wall, hands cuffed behind their back and linked together. Joe held one end of the chain while Robert went down the line, double-checking each woman. As he passed each one he turned her to face the door. When he reached the other end he picked up the trailing end of the chain along with the bag before nodding to Joe.
While Joe unlocked the door to direct them out of the dorm Robert took a moment to enjoy the sight of so many women, chained together, passively standing in line waiting to be led off to some unknown place. How did they do it? If he were in their place heíd be in a murderous rage by now. Acquiescence would be the last thing on his mind. He couldnít read minds but he didnít see any sign of resentment or a sullen, uncooperative attitude. How could they submit to him, and all the other wardens, in such a docile way? Granted the environment wasnít designed to encourage any other response, but it still amazed him how quickly the female mind adapted to circumstances he would find intolerable.
Joe halted the front of the line when they were all in the main hall. Robert locked the security gate to the dorm area and closed the door. A door was never left open and unattended. He signaled Joe to continue. As usual the trip was uneventful, punctuated by a few stops and starts as they passed through security gates. When they reached their destination Joe freed the women one at a time at the front of the line and passed them into the classroom.
Robert stood by the open door while Joe put the cuffs and lead chain back in the carrying bag. When the far door opened and Cathy came in he paused just long enough for her to flash him a smile before he closed the door. Unless she called for help or surveillance reported a problem she was on her own.
The control room came back online and told him another group needed to be taken to the showers. This was a larger group, twenty in all, and would take four wardens. He looked at Joe, shrugged, and they both headed back to the dorm area. All in a dayís work, Robert told himself.
Shower escort wasnít his favorite duty. Managing a large group wasnít any trouble but as a warden he had to personally inspect each woman after she finished bathing. The inspection was primarily to check the belt and collar for any sign of tampering, or signs of chafing or bruising on skin. They might be attractive but he much preferred the same routine in private with Cathy.
The control room kept him busy moving groups or individuals from place to place. He did appreciate it when they directed him to Cathyís classroom so he could escort her to her second work assignment. They were able to spare a few minutes in the break room before she had to start.
"So how did the lecture go?" he asked her as they found a table. Time was short so he left her hands behind her back.
She scooted around, trying to find a comfortable spot on the chair. "I think it went okay. No one went berserk. Everyone paid attention so I didnít have to call for any disciplinary action. Even the questions afterward were well thought out. You know, sir, I think I got the point across to some of them. When I see those faces light up with comprehension, well, it makes all the difference. I feel like Iíve accomplished something special."
From her animated excitement he could see how much she benefited from being an instructor. When the Director had first called him and suggested she might take a teaching position he had been unsure if it was in her best interests. But Robert also knew he was overly protective of Cathy and tended to err on the side of caution when contemplating any changes for her. The Director had been persuasive, even offering him a position as warden so he could oversee her progress. Finally he had accepted a compromise where she would attend the school a second time, but in a contrived situation where she mentored another student. Cathy had proved herself capable of effectively communicating with and motivating other women. Faced with overwhelming evidence Robert conceded the Director was right and allowed her to join the staff. He did take up the wardenís job offer for his own peace of mind.
He studied her as she went on about the class time. She leaned forward to emphasize some point, but all he noticed was the curve of her breasts. He couldnít imagine a day without her. When she leaned back she unconsciously held her chin up so he could see the collar clearly. It was his collar, his mark of ownership that told the world she belonged only to him.
When Cathy paused to catch her breath he interrupted. "Still want to go for a walk later? We can bring along sandwiches and something to drink." In his ear the control room reminded him he should take her to the practice area. "Itís time for you to go." He stood up.
"Yes, sir." Cathy waited until he took her arm before she stood up. "If itís convenient for you, sir, Iíd like to go for a walk later." Standing by his side she turned her head and smiled up at him. Not once had she used his name. How did she remember all those rules? He knew she had been reprimanded for using someoneís name during her first orientation meeting, but not once since then had she repeated the same mistake. He was tempted to put his arm around her and steal a quick hug but he had his own standards to follow. No display of affection even if she was staff, even if he was her master.
It was a little after noon by the time Cathy and Robert walked out the aboveground entrance. The sun felt warm but a cool breeze kept the temperature comfortable. In time the desert would be scorched by the summer sun again, too hot for a daytime walk.
"It sure looks different in daylight," Cathy said as she looked back over her shoulder at the deceptively undersized building. "I donít remember it being so small."
"As I recall you were rather distracted at the time," Robert answered, squeezing her hand. His other hand held onto the strap of a small knapsack slung over his shoulder. "Itís the desert. At night you donít notice how big and empty it is. Besides, the buildingís not supposed to stand out if you see it from the air."
The paint job was sandy colored beige, which blended into the rocky backdrop. Even the paved road was done in a brownish color instead of the more common blacktop. When they reached the end of the driveway Cathy looked in both directions, trying to remember which way she had come that first night.
"The highway is in that direction," Robert pointed to their right. Unlike most desert roads which ran in a straight line across the valley floor the road they stood on had several gradual curves. "The curves are to make it hard to see from an aircraft. No straight lines in high contrast black." He turned in the opposite direction, heading for a nearby outcropping of rocks from the mountains behind them. "Over this way, thereís a table in the shade where we can sit and eat. I donít want you out in the sun too long or youíll get burnt."
Hand in hand they walked in the middle of the road toward a small pavilion with a covered table. There was little danger of being hit by traffic as access to the private road was strictly controlled. Cathy took the opportunity to examine the surrounding scenery, or what there was of it. She knew they were in the Mojave Desert, one of the driest parts of North America. It showed in the scant vegetation. Sagebrush, mesquite, and the occasional barrel cactus mixed in with a few scattered varieties of other desert plants didnít add much color to the sand and gravel that made up the desert floor. One brave lizard made a dash across the road in front of them, the only wildlife she saw.
"Not exactly the most scenic of views," Robert said, breaking the silence. "But it does have a charm of its own, I suppose, once you get used to the wide open spaces."
"Sorry sir, but itís so empty. I canít understand anyone wanting to make a home out here. It is a nice change of pace from being underground though. I miss windows and natural sunlight." Cathy still wore her collar and chastity belt since she would be returning to the secure area. Robert had allowed her to put on her dress and shoes for the trip. Since she wasnít a student she didnít have to wear restraints.
When they reached the table Robert slipped the knapsack off his shoulder and placed it on the table. "Iím not quite sure what we have for lunch. I got some sandwiches from the cafeteria but didnít look to see what was inside." He sat down as Cathy opened the bag and laid out their supplies.
There were two bottles of water. She placed one in front of Robert. Unwrapping the first sandwich she sniffed at it. "Egg salad," she said.
"Thatís yours," Robert pointed out. She knew he didnít like eggs so she put it down on her side of the table.
"This oneís ham and cheese, sir." She handed it to him before she sat down.
He loosened the cap on her bottle of water before opening his own. "There should be a couple of cookies for dessert." He took a bite out of his sandwich. "Mmmm, something about eating outside makes food taste better. And being entertained by a lovely young lady makes it all the better."
"Thank you, sir. For the outing and your company."
Robert put down his sandwich and reached across the picnic table to touch her hand. "Hey, I know you miss being able to go outside. Once the job is done here weíll go back home. Okay? This isnít a permanent move."
"I know, master." Cathy put her other hand over his. "I miss the grass and trees but I can live with it. I know Iím doing something worthwhile. By the way, did I mention Kelli was in my class this morning?"
"I brought her in, if you remember. How did she do? She looked scared to death, understandable given itís her first day." Robert took a drink out of his water bottle while waiting for her to answer.
"She didnít ask any questions but she did pay attention for the whole lecture. Iím glad of that; I didnít want to turn her in. She was slow to get in line with the others but I knew she was doing her best to copy what she saw, so I didnít get on her about it. As long as she shows improvement, isnít disruptive and doesnít repeat mistakes I have some discretion. I remember I did the same thing, watching everyone else to get an idea of what to do. I think if she keeps up sheíll do well."
"She was slow to follow orders this morning but she did obey, though I imagine it was reluctant. I could see she was very self-conscious at having her clothes taken away."
Cathy shook her head. "What do you expect? I can tell you itís quite a shock when you have to bare all to anyone who walks by. I think, in the beginning at least, that was the single worst part of being put in the school. It really hit home, how I had absolutely no control over anything."
"And now?" Robert raised an eyebrow, his distinctive sign of curiosity. "What do you think about going back each morning?"
Cathy shrugged. "Doesnít bother me now, mostly because we all have to do it. I was really self-conscious about how I looked the very first time, but now, being part of the group, and knowing every one of us has to do the same thing, I can accept it. I guess you can get used to just about anything if you donít have an alternative. I can see thatís why the teachers can never be exempt. No one can complain about the lack of clothing being unfair if even the teachers have to follow the same rules."
Robert drained his bottle and tossed the empty in the knapsack. "No trash barrel, we have to bring it all back."
"Yes, sir." Cathy gathered up the sandwich wrappers and put them in the sack. She toyed with her half empty bottle, reluctant to end her time alone with Robert. "Master? I really donít mind being here. I didnít think Iíd do a good job, but this morning? I believe I got through to some of them. I felt like I really accomplished something. Does that make sense?"
He reached across the table and took the water bottle out of her hands. He put it away before he took hold of both her hands in his. "Yes it does. I have confidence in you Cathy. I knew you could reach them and share your experiences. If I didnít believe youíd succeed you wouldnít be here." Robert stood up and drew her up next to him. His arms went around her, holding her close.
She looked up at him, studying his face. "Really? You mean that, Robert?" She could tell he was sincere from the look on his face, but she wanted to hear it anyway. She reached up and put her arms around his neck.
"Yes, really. By the way, if you were a student, do you know how much trouble youíd be in right now?" The smile on his face told her he was up to something.
Using his name, being outside, wearing clothes, she knew the list of infractions would go on and on. "No idea, sir. What would you do about it?" She snuggled closer to him. That should be all the provocation he needs to do whatever he intended in the first place, she told herself.
The results were about what she expected. Robert grabbed her wrists, pulled her arms down to her side and spun her around, pushing her face down on the table. His action was sudden and might appear violent but he was careful to make sure she wasnít hurt. Pulling her hands behind her back he locked her wrists in the handcuffs he carried on his wardenís belt. "First of all Iíd make sure you werenít trying to escape." He leaned down and whispered in her ear. "But you know what happens if you try to run away."
Grabbing her shoulders he pulled her up to a standing position. "Thatís better." He brushed her hair to one side and began kissing the back of her neck. "Yíknow, you have me at considerable disadvantage," he whispered in her ear. "The more helpless you are, the more I canít keep my hands off you. What is this irresistible power you have over us poor dominant men?"
Cathy stood very still, hardly breathing, knowing she didnít have to answer his question. She closed her eyes, enjoying the sensations from his soft kisses and the quiet words. But when he suddenly grabbed her waist, twisted her around and sat her down on the edge of the table her eyes flew open.
"Not a word," he admonished her, putting a finger to her lips. Eyes wide she watched as he forced her legs apart and pulled up her dress. When he reached for the key around his neck she knew exactly what he intended. "We wonít be having the cookies for dessert after all." Try as she might she couldnít hold back a giggle while he opened the belt around her waist.
"Robert? Would it be okay if I did some work on the computer tonight? I have an idea for a lecture and Iíd like to make some notes." They were on their way back to the apartment. He was holding her hand as they walked.
"I donít see why not. Whatís your idea?" He encouraged her to write as much as possible. She showed promising talent.
He spotted her hesitation when she didnít answer immediately. "Or would you rather wait till you filled in the blanks first?" That gave her an out to put him off till later.
"Do you mind? Iím still not sure exactly what I want to say, or even what questions to ask." He could hear the relief in her voice. One of her mannerisms was to pause when she didnít have a good answer to one of his direct questions. It was her way of communicating her desire to think about it first. She found it difficult to tell him no or be evasive. He understood the reasons why and used the pause to give her permission to hold off on responding. If he didnít say anything then she knew she was obliged to answer as best she could. It was a delicate verbal dance but it worked for them.
When they got home he ordered her to sit down and start typing while he fixed dinner. She offered a half-hearted protest which he cut off immediately. "Donít argue. Ideas can slip away if not captured in the written word," he told her, pointing to the keyboard. Robert wanted her to get her ideas on the screen as soon as possible.
While he cooked he watched her at the computer. At first her fingers pecked away, a few words at a time. Then the pace picked up until she was typing away furiously. Just as he suspected, something had been rolling around in the back of her head all day long. Now the ideas were pouring out her fingertips.
Dinner was ready before she was. He leaned back against the sink, folded his arms and watched her back. About five minutes later the typing slowed and then came to a stop. She took her hands off the keyboard and turned around.
"Oh! Is dinner ready? Iím so sorry, you should have said something."
"Thatís alright. The foodís still warm. You had to finish; thatís more important." He took down two plates from the cupboard and put them on the table. "Did you come up with something good?"
"Yes! Or I think I did. May I come into the kitchen?" Robert glanced at her. He had never told her to ask permission to enter or leave a room; it was something she started to do on her own. He was still ambivalent about letting her continue.
"Come join me at the table." He dished out dinner onto their plates, a salad on the side followed by macaroni and cheese with chopped ham bits. It was a modest meal, and they could always eat in the cafeteria, but he liked the conversation over supper. "Want to tell me about it now?"
"Yes, and thank you master for letting me wait." She stabbed a cherry tomato from her salad bowl. "After our walk today I got to thinking about Cathy five years ago versus Cathy today. Iíve changed so much. How did you ever tolerate me?" She bit into the tomato.
Robert had to laugh at her question. "Cathy, think about what happened. I didnít tolerate you, not the part that was temperamental and self-centered. Thatís what earned you a ticket here the first time. The rest of you I fell in love with; it wasnít a question of tolerance."
She nodded, agreeing with him. "Sending me here was the best thing you ever did for me. Iím not exaggerating Robert. I couldnít stand the old me now. Thatís what I was thinking about. Why is it I feel so much better about myself today? And this is the question that I want to develop: Am I really happier with myself now or have I been brainwashed into believing the new me is better?"
"Brainwashed? Isnít that a little strong?"
"And the philosophy behind this school isnít? Itís not a yes or no question though. I can truthfully tell you Iíve never been more content with my life than right now. I canít even imagine living any other way than as your property. If you were to ask me what I would change to improve it, I wouldnít be able to give you an answer. Youíd have to tell me, because you seem to understand what I need better than I do.
"I know what youíve done to me. I know what living here has done to me. I can clearly see the progression thatís taken me from pampered and spoiled plaything to a woman who is so devoted to her man she would make any sacrifice for him. But has that same progression programmed my brain in some insidious manner to where Iíve convinced myself that becoming permanently dependent on you is the only way I can be happy?"
"You knew my intentions from the beginning." Even as he spoke Robert could hear the defensive tone he was taking.
Cathy nodded in agreement. "Of course I did. You made it clear you were the breadwinner and I should learn to rely on you. I made a conscious decision to stay with you on your conditions. And I made that choice before you sent me here. Thatís what clouds the question. Thing is, I may be the one doing the brainwashing, not you and this place. I deliberately buy into the message that itís a good thing to be submissive. Iíve talked myself into the situation I find myself in now."
Robert leaned back in his chair, unsure how to respond. Her original question now was so convoluted he was having a hard time keeping track of where she was going. "You may be twisting words in describing your own perspective. Did you talk yourself into it, or did you work to achieve a goal you set for yourself? Maybe you saw what you wanted and went after it?"
She smiled. "That sounds more like you. Itís what Iíd like to believe. Is it brainwashing if you do it to yourself? I thought about all that, but then another question came to mind.
"What about you, Robert? Are the tables turned here? Am I the one changing you into the ideal man for me? Are you being brainwashed into being my master and owner? I recognize some of the ways you get inside my head and do things to me; in some subtle way do I perform the same magic on you? Thatís as far as Iíve gotten on my notes."
Her concept of the dominant shaped by the submissive was a surprise to Robert. His first reaction was to laugh it off, but she did have a point that was difficult to ignore. He had changed too, changes that in hindsight were triggered by her behavior. He ruled by dictatorial fiat; she influenced by soft words spoken late at night. Who was to say which had more effect? He stared at Cathy, wondering if he should be the one questioning his role in the relationship.
"Iím convinced you can read my mind, so yes you do get inside me too." He didnít object. She needed a deep and pervasive understanding of how he was wired inside his head. He tried to help her understand the way he saw the world as much as he could. Conversations like the one they were engaged in over the dinner table now were ideal. "You do bring about changes in me, but I feel itís more a process of opening doors to whatís already there.
"Itís something of a coincidence you brought this up tonight. Are you aware youíve been practicing some of your magic on me the last couple of weeks? I bet you didnít even realize it."
Her shocked reaction convinced Robert she had no idea what he was talking about. "Me? What am I doing? Youíre perfect, donít you dare change into a rabbit on me!"
He laughed. "Nothing like that, Iíll stay a wolf for now. Iíve spotted two differences since we arrived. First, you seem to have adopted an indifferent attitude toward wearing clothes. And second, youíve been steering me toward more control over your actions when we are together. The way you ask for permission to stand up or sit down, or enter and leave a room, youíve come up with those requirements on your own."
Cathy put a hand over her mouth. "Iím so sorry, master. I wonít do it again. I didnít think. You should have corrected me sooner..."
"No, no, no." Robert held up a hand to stop her. "You havenít done anything wrong. I told you, I noticed. I chose to let you continue. It looks like another door is opening, because I think I like it."
She looked relieved. "It must be the place. When I go to the other side, it does something to me. I canít help it, Robert. Thereís so much pressure to be perfect, it makes me want to prove to you I can do it. I want to hear you order me around, to know you are firmly in charge. I can do it, master. Tell me what to do, anything."
He took hold of her hands. "For starters come back to earth." Robert knew he had to be careful what he said next. A simple reassurance that she had already proven herself wouldnít make an impression. She needed more.
"Yes sir." She wouldnít look him in the eye. It was time for something more direct than words.
"Stand up," he ordered, changing to a crisp, assertive tone of voice. Cathy could have set a world record in the time it took her to get out of her chair. "In front of me, now, right here." He pointed to a spot on the kitchen floor. She was there in a flash.
"Head up, and straighten your back. Hands at your side. Eyes front, no talking." Robert stood up and walked around her. Her stare didnít waver. Behind her back he smiled. He had her undivided attention now.
"Strip." He backed up to give her room. The dress came off in less than a second. "Put it on my chair." She dropped it where he had been sitting. As usual she had nothing on underneath, except for the chastity belt.
If she missed the rigid protocol imposed on the women still incarcerated in the school then he could accommodate her. Leaving her standing in the kitchen he went to the closet by the front door. Inside was the equipment belt he wore when in uniform. He opened the carrier on the back of the belt.
When he turned around he caught her furtive sideways glance in his direction. She hadnít moved from the spot in the kitchen but she could see what he was doing. Back in the kitchen he stopped behind her. He paused to admire the fall of her hair across her bare shoulders. Heíd never seen her wear her hair short. These days he wouldnít allow her to change, but when theyíd first met the way she had gone against the fashionable short pageboy hair-do of the day and kept her hair long and straight had caught his attention.
"Hands behind your back." She knew it was coming, judging from the way her hands suddenly appeared in front of him, precisely positioned. He took his time locking on the handcuffs, carefully checking the fit and tightness on each wrist. When he took hold of her upper arm he felt a tremble. Yes, he told himself, it was exactly what she needed.
The center of the living room was only a few feet away in their small apartment, but he kept the pace as slow as he could. On the way he grabbed a large cushion from the couch and threw it down. He turned her to face the sofa and put a hand on her shoulder. "Kneel before your master. Present yourself for my approval."
Without any hesitation she dropped to her knees. As he sat down she maneuvered into the position she had practiced time and again at the school. Robert sat down in front of her and folded his arms, staring at his most prized of all possessions as she tried her best to please his eye. Mindful of his own obligations he carefully examined the angle of her legs, the width her knees must be spread, head high but eyes focused at a spot in front of her. Tonight she was definitely on her best behavior because he found no fault.
"This is why you are a teacher instead of a student. How many women are over there tonight, wishing they could be like you? You set the standard they aspire to, Cathy. You define the perfection they so eagerly want to copy."
She showed no external reaction to his words. Robert would have been taken aback if she had. Presenting herself required she remain motionless while he examined her at his leisure. But he was sure he saw the briefest of smiles cross her face before she got it under control.
"Now we can continue our discussion. You may speak but you are not permitted to change the subject. You are not released from your position." He enjoyed it when she exhibited herself to him. He knew she liked it too. The long hours of enforced practice as a student in front of a mirror now paid off. She knew his words werenít empty praise; she had earned them.
"Yes sir." She didnít look directly at him when she answered. Part of the training she had received stressed development of the concentration to keep her eyes focused on one spot, no matter the distraction.
"The way you phrased your question is laden with semantic tricks. You choose words like brainwashing, something with a dark, evil, malevolent history. I wonít deny I try to steer your mind in certain directions; you do your best to influence me in return. But neither is necessarily a Bad Thing."
He didnít want her staring at the floor. "You have permission to move your head. I would prefer you look at me when we talk."
Immediately she raised her eyes. "Yes sir."
"We arenít working at cross-purposes. You and I are growing closer; itís only natural for us to try to accommodate each other in the process. You are telling me in a subtle way you want me to expand the ways I dominate you. I listened and decided it was a good idea."
Cathy shook her head. "I donít disagree with you but I have to ask if thereís more to it. Maybe Iím asking more from you not to fulfill some desire on my part, but because I feel the pressure to do it from the schoolís influence."
Robert scratched his chin. He wasnít a believer in complex and convoluted explanations when there was a simple alternative. "Granted that could be a possibility, but itís just as easy to explain by assuming you want something and youíre asking me for it in the way you are most comfortable. If itís brainwashing then you would do it in spite of what you want. Is that true?"
Cathy frowned, "Iím not sure, sir. Can I trust my feelings? Iím not sure what to think. I can say I believe Iím happy with my life. Most of the time at least. There are some moments when the restrictions get to me but on balance the good outweighs the bad.
"There was a time that kneeling before you like this, naked and bound, would have seemed like something out of a nightmare. Now? I love it! Is there something wrong with me, Robert? Being in the school, the regulations, the discipline, I thrive on it. Why?"
Robert stood up, towering over her. He began walking around her as she knelt in position on the floor. She started to turn her head to follow him but he pointed to the couch. "Eyes front, you do not have permission to speak. Mind your position." He stopped as she shifted her body slightly. Her head lowered as she stared at a spot on the floor.
Standing behind her he ran his eyes down her back to where her hands were shackled, just above the waistband of her chastity belt. On impulse he crouched down and ran a hand down her back. He felt her tense as he touched her. He leaned forward as he took hold of the chain between her wrists.
"Why?" he whispered in her ear. "Because itís what you crave, Cathy, as much as me. You are special, someone who can let go and give me what I most desire. You know it too. You trust me with your life. Not in some abstract way either, but in ways we can both see everyday. Thereís nothing wrong with you Cathy, and you arenít brainwashed into believing some fantasy." He jerked on the cuffs holding her wrists. "These are real. The collar around your neck is real. The punishment for being disobedient or failing to please is real too. But none of those scare you, do they? You arenít afraid, because deep in your heart you know you belong here."
Robert stood up and went back to his place on the couch. He leaned forward and lifted up her chin. "You look for complex explanations when there are simple answers. You and I are partners; we work for each other in our own ways. I am the dominant partner, I take you where I think we should go, but I count on you to help me read the map and find our direction. There is no brainwashing Cathy. You bring out the parts of me you want to see, and I do the same for you."
He leaned back, stretching out his arms on the sofa back. "Of course, some parts are easier on me." He smiled as he looked her over again. "Iíd hate to have to kneel like that, and that belt would drive me crazy. I do so enjoy seeing you like this though."
He crossed his arms as he studied the woman in front of him. "Spread your knees, wider," he ordered on a whim. She immediately complied. The gleam of the belt as it ran between her legs was clearly visible. "Straighten your back, keep your head high." She straightened, looking directly at him, almost defiant.
"Right now, right this second, look at your reaction. Is it anger, resentment...or is it pride? Pride in being a woman who can please her man, pride in how perfectly you obey my every command, pride in showing me you can be everything I could ask for, while still being true to yourself?" He locked eyes with her, holding her to him.
"Iím not going to let you answer, because it isnít necessary."
Kelli wasnít having a good day. So maybe she had let her attention wander for a minute or two, it didnít justify what they had done to her.
The green light came on. She hit the button under her right palm immediately and held it until the light went out. The button had a stiff spring under it. Her hands were getting tired. She wasnít sure how much longer she could keep going.
Some of the lectures were fascinating, full of concepts she had never thought about before. Others, like the one today, were so boring she couldnít make herself listen. Who cared about the proper way to fold masterís socks or pour him a cold drink? The teacher was obsessed with a level of detail Kelli found ridiculous. If Matt was thirsty he got something out of the refrigerator. It didnít require an exhaustive ritual to put ice in a cup and fill it with something he liked.
The red light came on this time. Grasping the edge of the chair with her fingertips she pressed down with her left hand. The light stayed on longer this time. If there was a pattern to the lights, or the duration, she hadnít figured it out yet. When were they going to give her a break?
The instructor, Miss Sarah was her name, had droned on an on in her irritating monotone about keeping the house clean and how important it was to do the best possible because it reflected on their masters. Kelli kept their apartment reasonably clean, and even ironed his shirts when she had the time and wasnít too tired. She didnít need anyone lecturing her on domestic chores.
It was the red light again. She pushed the button, but had to release it as the light went out immediately. A chime sounded the announcement of a rest period. Grateful for a respite from the lights she relaxed her hands and closed her eyes. She was safe until the chime sounded again.
How had that woman known she wasnít listening? Out of the blue Miss Sarah had walked over to stand in front of her and demanded the answer to some stupid question. Kelli had tried to bluff but it didnít work. The teacher called for a warden and expelled her for failing to pay attention. There were no warnings or second chances in this school. She remembered how the entire class had stared at her in silence as the warden handcuffed her and took her away. No doubt everyone else listened intently to the correct way to stack pans in the cupboard after she left. Meanwhile she had to be the object lesson.
The first indication she might be in real trouble came the moment the classroom door closed. She caught a glimpse of another warden behind the door before she was down on the floor and a blindfold was around her eyes. They worked fast, before she had time to react and try to struggle. In seconds she had a blindfold and gag, plus chains on her ankles. When they hauled her back to her feet she discovered the leg irons had a short reach, no more than five or six inches.
They carried her as much as marched her down the hall, one of the men on each side of her, holding onto her arms. More than once she lost her footing but they didnít stop. If she tripped they held her up and kept going. Kelli tried to plead with them to slow down but the gag garbled her words into incomprehensible sounds.
Twice they stopped and she was able to get her feet underneath her. From the sound they were going through security gates. Each time they started off again at an impossible pace. The third stop was different; after she went through some kind of entrance the floor started moving, down.
Where the elevator went Kelli had no idea. The downward direction told her she wasnít going to be seeing sunlight. Neither of her escorts had uttered a single word. When the elevator stopped and the door opened they hustled her out but allowed her to stay on her feet. Progress was slow but she didnít have far to go.
They went through more doors. She heard the distinctive lock and key sound. At some point her guards were replaced by a single warden. This one held her arm painfully. She would have a bruise from his grip.
When the blindfold came off she found herself in a small featureless room. It contained one large sturdy chair bolted to the floor, with a panel in front of it. The chair faced away from the single door. Kelli noticed there was no door knob or handle on the inside. She looked up at the guard.
"When I take your cuffs off you are going to sit in that chair. You arenít going to give me any trouble. Do we understand each other?"
Kelli nodded. He hadnít removed the gag. It was obvious she was in trouble and something was going to happen. She had no intention of making it worse. When he took off the cuffs she rubbed her wrists but didnít move.
"Sit down. Back against the chair."
The chair was like none she had ever seen. It was made from thick wooden beams. Straps were fastened to it everywhere. She knew what was going to happen next.
He started with her hands and arms, then her waist, her legs, and finally her head. By the time he finished Kelli was an integral part of the chair. About all she could manage on her own was to blink her eyes and move her hands. Under each hand was a wide flat button. Directly in front of her was a panel with two large lights on it, one red and one green.
The next step scared her. He began putting dabs of some kind of greasy paste on her skin. On top of the paste he put small metal discs with wires connected to them. He used white surgical tape to keep the discs tight against her body. The wires ran to a point behind the chair.
He stood in front of her, behind the light panel. "The principle is very simple. You have trouble paying attention. I am not interested in the reasons why. This is not acceptable under any circumstance. I regret subjecting you to this but it is necessary to discourage improper behavior.
"There are two lights. The red corresponds to the button under your left hand, the green to the one under your right. When the light comes on you will hold down the corresponding button until the light goes out. You will not press either button at any other time. If you fail to follow the instructions correctly you will be given an incentive not to make the mistake again. You would do well to pay attention this time."
Kelli didnít like the sound of the last line. What did he mean, incentive? This was some kind of game better suited to a three year old child.
"Iím going to remove the gag now. Feel free to yell and shout. Thereís no one to hear you. The exercise will begin immediately." He reached down and removed the gag.
"Please sir, I didnít mean any harm. Iím sorry I wasnít listening to the instructor. It wonít ever happen again." Her pleading fell on deaf ears as he ignored her. He walked away. She wasnít able to turn her head to see him. The sound of the door slamming shut told her he had left.
Her first thought was to try to get out of the chair. She twisted and turned but all her effort accomplished was to demonstrate how well the chair was constructed.
The red light came on first. She pressed on the button and waited for the light to go out. When it did she let go of the button. What kind of punishment was this?
The lights blinked on and off in a random sequence. One time both came on. It wasnít difficult to keep track of them. This was real boredom; even the home economics class wasnít as bad.
Sometimes there would be long pauses when the lights stayed off. Then there were times they came in rapid succession, but not so fast that she couldnít keep up. To pass the time she thought about Matt. Did he know she was here? She hoped not.
So far her experience as a student wasnít at all what she had expected. Somehow she had pictured it as a big sorority with a stern but understanding dean reminding them to follow the rules. Instead she was in a supermax prison living in the most degrading circumstance imaginable. Rules, regulations and more rules, thatís all she heard.
The time between the lights seemed to be getting longer. Kelli was bored and tired. How long was this to go on? Did she have to stay the rest of the day?
"Hello? Can anyone hear me?" The warden had given her permission to speak. "Can I have some water?" She was getting thirsty. The gag had left a bad taste in her mouth. She listened for an answer, or even better for the door to open. Nothing happened except a light blinked on.
Her hands were getting tired. The buttons were stiff and took some effort to push down. Her eyes hurt from staring at the panel. There was another long interval before a green light came on. When it went out she closed her eyes to rest them for a few seconds.
The sharp jab in her leg felt like sheíd been stabbed. Her eyes flew open. The red light was on. Quickly she hit the button. It stayed on for several seconds before going out.
Now she understood the purpose of those little metal discs. They were contacts. The "incentive" was an electric shock to some part of her body. They were on her arms and legs, all over. No wonder he had warned her to pay attention. Would it be worse the next time?
Unnerved by the jolt she stared at the lights, determined not to miss one again. Her leg still ached. It had been right over her calf muscle.
The lights went on and on. Her world narrowed to red and green. Like a robot she pushed buttons on command. Her eyes felt like they were full of industrial grit. Hour after hour she grimly forced her eyes to stay open, too afraid of what would happen if she missed another one to risk more than a fast blink.
A chime sounded, or was it her imagination? The door opened and a woman came in. She was shackled hand and foot, and a leather hood covered her entire head except slits for her eyes. In her hand was a small cup of water with a straw in it. Kelli greedily sucked it dry when the woman held the straw to her mouth. The water was tepid but still tasted better than sheíd ever had.
"Is it over?" she asked the woman. It had been an ordeal but she had made it. Next time sheíd remember to pay attention even if was a lecture on garbage can liners.
Instead of an answer the woman took the empty cup away. Maybe she was going for a refill. Kelli took the opportunity to close her eyes. It felt wonderful.
The sound of the door closing interrupted her. The same chime sounded again. The green light came on immediately afterward. Quickly Kelli hit the button. Her rest period was over.
"How much of this can she take?" Matt asked the supervisor. The monitor showed Kelli in her chair. Underneath were various readouts.
"It looks bad but we keep a careful watch on her vitals." Joe Rossi, the shift supervisor for the section, pointed to a graph. "This one shows her respiration, thatís her blood pressure, skin conductivity, this oneís reaction time and over here is her heartbeat. Right now sheís tired and finding it hard to concentrate. See how the reaction time slows down, jumps up, then slows down again? You see the same pattern when you start to fall asleep, suddenly wake up, and then nod off again." He checked a schedule. "Weíre going to let her sleep in a few minutes."
The room Kelli occupied had no windows but there were hidden cameras at all angles. Matt studied the one that showed her head on, from a vantage point behind the light panel. "How long has she been in there?" he asked.
"Less than a day, but to her it seems like two, or more. We keep her on a twelve hour cycle, sleep for four, awake for eight. By now sheís lost all track of time." Joe held down a button and watched as the monitor cycled through all the cameras. "Physically sheís not suffering all that much. The strain is mental from the lack of visual or aural stimulation and the combination of boredom, endless repetition, disorientation and inactivity."
Kelli might not be in any real danger or distress but it still hurt Matt to see her in the chair, frantically push a button every time a light came on. "I donít suppose I could talk to her?" He knew the answer already.
"Sorry, Matt. If her infraction had been a serious one then yes, Iíd have you go in there and tell her how disappointed you are." Joe held up a hand as Matt started to protest. "I know you arenít really mad at her. Sheís only here for inattention in class, and itís her first time, so weíll keep her for a while longer and thatís it. If thereís a next time then youíll have to be involved."
Matt knew the policy and didnít argue. When he agreed to enroll Kelli he knew something like this might happen. Maybe if heíd been more conscientious about changing some of her bad habits she wouldnít be in there now. Like Kelli he was a newcomer to the lifestyle of gender-based domination and submission. They both made mistakes but tried to learn from them. Right now she was paying the price for his lapse in not doing something about her lack of concentration. Matt knew it was his role to be the one to insist on strict discipline. He had been too lax with her.
"I appreciate you taking time out for me, Joe." The control room was whispering in his ear that they needed a classroom group moved back to the dorm area. "Listen, watch out for her, okay? I know I canít interfere or help her out, but sheís my whole life. You know how it is?"
Joe slapped him on the back as they went to the exit. "Relax Matt, and donít worry. Sheís doing fine. Iíll let you know when sheís released back to general."
In the elevator Matt ran through the pictures of Kelli over and over in his head. He was grateful he hadnít been assigned to warden duty in the Dungeon, as they called the punishment section. It was one of the toughest jobs in the school. Only the most experienced men were asked to work in there, and they were rotated frequently.
Would she have been so eager to become a student if he had told her everything? That was the critical factor in his decision to enroll her. He knew what awaited her, but was bound by his oath as warden not to reveal operational details. The school had to operate in secrecy, even from the women on the staff side, in order to be effective. All they saw, intentionally, were the featureless grey walls. They had no idea of the extensive command, communications and surveillance infrastructure behind it. Virtually every square inch of the secured area was accessible by camera, and all group areas like classrooms and sleeping areas were wired for sound. No need for microphones in the hallways, Matt knew, because the women werenít allowed to talk there.
The elevator door opened. Matt unlocked the gate and stepped out into the corridor. As he expected there were no students being escorted past. The control room made sure they never saw any exit being used. The voice in his ear directed him to the left, where the classrooms were located.
The drawback of central coordination was the fact that they made sure he never escorted a group that included Kelli. He could be a few feet away, on the other side of a door or wall, and she would never know it. Fortunately, since he was her owner he could request her location at any time, and even watch her by camera. In their apartment he linked into the surveillance net and watched her all night long.
He had to take the next door on the left, according to the disembodied voice in his ear. Without that voice heíd be lost. The staff section had clearly marked doors and signs at every intersection. The layout on this side was deliberately confusing; there was no regular grid pattern, no door numbers and not a single sign anywhere. To keep it that way there was an inspection team that routinely went through and looked for any marks on the floor or walls that could be used for a reference. He had participated in a sweep the week before.
One door away he paused to compose himself. Bring up the uncompromising expression, he told himself, they expect it. His own confidence might be shaken by seeing Kelli but he had a duty to the women he was about to oversee. They knew exactly what a warden was like; he was obliged to maintain the image.
When the lights came up Kelli was wide awake. Like the others in the cell she got up immediately and began folding the bedding. They had to be ready when the cart came by. No one appeared in the corridor outside so she joined the rest of the women as they lounged against the back wall.
She was still stiff and sore from her punishment a few days ago. There were marks on her wrists and ankles, but none of her companions remarked on it. She knew why; it wasnít allowed. They must have known sheíd been taken away yet not one of them even hinted at what had happened. She wasnít about to break the rule either. A return trip to that chair from someoneís nightmare was right at the bottom of her list of places to visit. No matter what the subject she hung on every word in class now.
Kelli was still confused about her own reaction to what had happened. By rights she should be angry at the way she had been treated. Instead what she felt was more akin to relief. The only was to describe her lapse was laziness; she couldnít avoid it or rationalize it away. Everything in the school, from the regulations to the classes to the sometimes overzealous enforcement of those rules, it all had to serve some purpose. She was sure of that, even if she couldnít understand the reasons. That might be the answer, let them do their job, the men who ran the school, let them teach her what she needed to know in the manner they wanted instead of trying to analyze it all.
Her practiced ear caught the sound of the corridor gate opening. Along with the others she lined up to present herself to the approaching warden. Out of the corner of her eye she looked down to make sure her knees lined up with the woman on her right. She was responsible for her own bearing, but they all shared equal liability if any one of them was out of position. One of the recurring themes in the lessons was that they all cooperate and help each other meet the high standards demanded of them.
Kelli recognized the warden that stopped in front of their cell. It was Robert Kincaid, Cathyís husband and master. They had met once briefly in the cafeteria after she and Cathy had eaten lunch together. She felt his eyes examining her carefully.
"Kelli will collect the bedding. Stand up and approach the door." The tone of his voice gave no indication he recognized her.
Warily she stood up and walked toward the cell bars. Mindful of the usual boundary in approaching the cell bars she stopped at armís length. He hadnít been specific as to where she should stand.
"Turn around and take a step back toward me." She complied, waiting for his next order. Instead he knelt down and reached through the bars to fasten leg chains on her ankles. "Now face me," he told her.
Kelli turned to look at Robert. She glanced up at his face once before quickly dropping her gaze. It only took one look to convince her there would be no special consideration from him. Turning around gave her the opportunity to stand facing him with her feet apart, lifting the chain off the floor. She had almost forgotten that particular requirement. When standing still all students must keep their legs apart to the limits of their restraints.
She watched as he unlocked the door with the set of keys on his belt. So much for her theory that the cell doors werenít actually locked shut.
"Step out into the hall." He stood to one side to let her pass. "Go to the far wall and wait. Do not turn around." Kelli heard the door shut behind her. There was no cart in the hallway. She had never been assigned this chore before and wasnít familiar with the procedures.
Just as he took hold of her arm a commotion broke out at the far end of the dorm section. "What the...?" He started to ask. It sounded like an argument, or a fight. Kelli couldnít believe anyone would be so foolish as to fight right in front of a warden. She risked looking up at him, unsure what she should do.
"Címon," he told her as he pulled on her arm. She trailed behind as he headed toward the cell where the noise came from. Inside two women were in the middle of a fight, while the other two knelt in one corner, obviously terrified at being unwilling participants. Kelli saw Robert reach behind his back and take out a set of handcuffs. She thought he would use them to subdue the women inside but instead he fastened one cuff on her wrist and pushed her back to the adjoining cell, where he locked the other cuff to the bars. "Stay here and keep out of the way."
This cell had three women, all kneeling in a perfectly straight line. They had to be scared as well, Kelli realized. She held onto the bar with her shackled hand.
"Enough!" Robert yelled. "Stop this right now! I want quiet!" Kelli couldnít see but it must have worked since the yelling ended abruptly. "You!" She saw him pointing, "Diane, stand up and come to the door, now! Donít look at her, do as I say."
Diane? Was it the same Diane who had been assigned to her for orientation? Kelli couldnít believe she would do something like this.
Robertís belt had two carriers in the back. She saw him reach back and take out his other pair of cuffs. She knew from Mattís uniform that all wardens carried two pairs. Now she could see why.
She still couldnít see if it was the Diane she knew. "Stop! Turn around, put your hands behind your back, take a step backwards." That was a familiar routine Kelli had gone through herself many times. She heard him fasten one cuff on a wrist. The surprise came when he pulled Dianeís hand through the bars. He reached in and brought out her other hand and locked her wrists together, immobilizing her against the cell bars.
At that moment the hall door behind Kelli flew open and four wardens came in at the run. When he saw the reinforcements Robert unlocked the cell door. As the men passed they looked at Kelli but didnít stop. Her heart leapt when she recognized Matt at the end of the line. There was a moment of surprise on his face as he followed the rest of the team.
It didnít take them long to clear the room. Kelli watched as they took out all four women in handcuffs and leg shackles. Every one of them was blindfolded. The last one, escorted by Matt, did look like Diane. Kelli hoped they would go easy on the bystanders. She had no such sympathy for the other two. The wardens would find a suitably severe punishment for both of them.
Robert shut the cell door and returned his extra set of cuffs to his belt. "Do you know anything about this incident?" He asked Kelli the moment the corridor was clear.
"No sir. I am acquainted with the female you restrained but I do not know the others."
He pointed to the floor in front of her. "Stance." Looking down she realized she had forgotten the chain between her ankles. Quickly she corrected to the proper position.
"Donít forget next time." His warning sounded pro forma, as if he wasnít paying attention.
"Yes sir." She had to be more attentive to details, no matter what was happening.
He was still staring at the far exit. Robert must be getting an update from the control room. Kelli knew about the earplug radios since Matt had one. He had warned her never to mention them under any circumstances. She waited patiently.
He went to a point halfway down the hall and stopped. "Everyone here, listen to me. There has been an incident. None of you will discuss it or mention it to anyone else. You will not talk about it among yourselves either. The students involved will be discouraged from exhibiting such poor behavior in the future. Unless you wish to join them you will forget what happened here."
He walked back to Kelli. "Your cart is ready." He released the cuff fastened to the bars but didnít free her wrist. At the same time he examined the occupants behind Kelli. None of them had moved a muscle.
He used the cuff as a lead chain, dragging Kelli after him as he went to the same door the crash team had used. He never let go of her while he retrieved an empty bedding cart waiting in the outside hall. Not until the door and security gate were closed did he take off the handcuffs.
"You know the routine. Start at the far end, collect the bedding. Do not turn around. If you see anything that doesnít belong stop and tell me immediately." He gestured for her to proceed. Kelli took hold of the cart and began pushing.
At the cell where the fight had taken place she had to fold up the bedding herself. Robert watched her work but stayed out in the hall, where he could keep an eye on the rest.
It was nice to be doing something, even if it was simple housekeeping chores. The leg cuffs had a shortened connecting chain which made it more difficult to walk. She had to take short, halting steps to make any progress. At least she didnít have to kneel on the hard floor, waiting for the morning collection to finish.
Mindful of sore knees she tried to work as fast as possible. The entire time Robert stayed behind her. Twice he stopped her so he could inspect blankets. She had to fold them again when he was satisfied there was nothing hidden inside. Kelli had no idea what he was looking for. None of them had any possessions at all. She couldnít imagine how anyone could smuggle anything larger than a speck of dust into the cells.
What had driven Diane to lose her temper? She must have known what would happen. Kelliís own infraction had been minor and they had put her in that horrid chair for days. Fighting was a serious offense. The consequences were ones Kelli hoped she would never have to face. Mindful of Robertís warning she was careful to keep her feet apart while she piled the bedding on the cart. Details, she told herself, donít forget the details.
When Kelli came out the classroom she was surprised to see Matt standing behind the warden at the door. He immediately took hold of her arm and led her away from the group, out of the way of the exiting students. She started to say hello but caught herself just in time. Unless there was some pressing need she should not initiate a conversation with any of the men.
"Face the wall, hands behind your back." She obeyed without hesitation. The handcuffs went on immediately. The cuffs were snug but not too tight; he didnít make an exception for her. She could feel his fingers as he carefully checked the fit. A thrill went through Kelli as she caught her breath. This was the first time Matt had been the one to restrain her. She was finally under his direct control, helpless, hands bound, required to obey his every order. And he might have the key to her chastity belt.
He offered no explanation as to why he was there or where he was taking her. She knew better than to ask. Unless he directed a question at her she had to remain silent. He was still a warden; she had rules to follow. She had to bite her lip to keep from talking. There were so many things she wanted to tell him.
He took her through the corridor in the opposite direction from the rest of her classmates, finally stopping in a small room with only a table and a chair. On the wall there was a dress on a hanger. Below on the floor was a pair of tennis shoes and thick white athletic socks. She recognized them; they had come from her closet. Was she being released? It didnít seem like enough time had passed.
He stopped her in front of her clothes. Standing behind her he released her hands as he ordered, "Get dressed and put on those shoes. When you are finished face the wall."
"Yes sir." That was all she could get away with. Maybe he would let her talk later.
Matt stepped back and sat on the table, watching her as she slipped on the dress. When she knelt down to put on her shoes she caught a glimpse of his best impersonal warden expression. She got the message. Whatever was about to happen they were both still operating under standard procedures. After putting on her shoes she stood up and turned to the wall, arms loose at her sides.
She heard Matt open a drawer in the table. "Face me," came his next command. When she turned around he had a heavy leather belt in his hand. In the center was a large metal ring. He reached forward and wrapped the belt around her waist. The buckle appeared to lock as he pushed in a button on the top. She could see a slot in the top for a small key. The belt was a tight fit, encircling her waist where it narrowed above her hips so it wouldnít slip down. She could feel the weight of the ring in the back.
When he reached behind his back she knew what was coming. Her wrists were cuffed behind her back again, but this time the connecting chain was threaded through the belt ring. Her hands were pinned to the small of her back.
"Kneel on the chair." He held onto her as she knelt on the chair he pulled out. Reaching into the open drawer again he came out with a set of leg chains. She felt them go around her ankles. At least she had some padding with the socks on.
"Stand up." Matt held onto her arm as it was awkward to stand with her legs chained. Matt looked at her oddly when she automatically spread her legs to the limit of the restraints. Her training had become a reflex and Kelli didnít realize what she had done until she saw Mattís expression of surprise. Looking down momentarily she noticed these were full length shackles, which allowed her to walk with almost a normal stride.
He finished with a blindfold, pulling the retaining straps tight behind her head. She heard him drop something else back into the drawer. "I donít think a gag will be necessary."
Kelli was grateful for his small kindness. Of all the restraints that had been used on her in the past few weeks the gag scared her the most. The blindfold made her nervous too, but given a choice she would take losing her sight over having that awful thing stuffed in her mouth. She still had no idea what Matt was doing.
"Because youíve shown progress you have earned a reward for your efforts. You have permission to accompany me on my morning walk. Remember Kelli, you are not being released. You will continue to follow all rules and remain mindful at all times of your status as a student. For now you still do not have permission to speak. Do not answer any questions addressed to you until I allow it. Nod if you understand."
Slowly she nodded. She would have a few moments alone with Matt. It had been so long. She didnít realize how much she missed him. A trip outside! That explained the blindfold and dress. He had to take her through the staff section to get to an outside exit.
Holding onto her upper arm he guided her out the door. She couldnít see where they were going but she knew when the hard floor changed to carpet they were in the staff area. Sounds were muted and didnít carry. Once Matt stopped and turned her to the wall while a group went by. From the voices it was a mix of men and women, but no one she recognized. They would know she was a student and ignore her.
The second time they stopped Kelli knew who it was as soon as she heard their voices. Matt spoke first, "Hi Bob, Cathy." Matt held onto her arm but didnít make her face the wall. She automatically spread her legs to take up the slack in her ankle chains. It felt awkward to stand with her feet so far apart but no one had asked her opinion. It was a rule she was beginning to intensely dislike.
"Good morning, sir." That was Cathy.
"Hello Matt, Kelli. Heading off for the morning constitutional?" The deep masculine voice was definitely Cathyís master, Robert.
"Thatís right. Kelli is going to come along today. Youíll excuse her for not saying hello." She understood what that meant. On the rare occasion a student was in the staff section she wasnít to speak to anyone unless absolutely necessary.
"Of course. Well, we wonít keep you then. Good to see you again Kelli." That was Robert. Much as she would have liked to return the courtesy Kelli knew the slightest mistake and her reward could vanish.
Matt led her to one of the elevators. When they started going up Kelli knew the outside exit wasnít far away. At the top he had to stop at the counter while the guard checked Kelliís status. Matt removed her blindfold so the guard could see her face. This was the last layer of security before the desert so clearances were double-checked for any female.
The guard brought up her picture on a terminal. She was surprised when it was followed by Mattís picture. Finally he made a phone call to verify her pass. "Everythingís in order. Itís a little windy today, Matt, but the tempís comfortable. Youíll be alone this morning. There is a truck due in three hours. Youíre clear on procedures with her?"
"Yeah. Weíll be going for a short walk. Iím sure weíll be back before then. Thanks, Randy." Kelli watched Matt write down the time on a clipboard while the guard typed something on the computer keyboard. Matt had warned her about the intense security at the school, including the small detail that she would not be allowed to leave on her own. At the time she hadnít thought much about it but now she could see he had not been exaggerating. The guard buzzed the last door. When Matt pushed it open she saw blue skies and sagebrush.
The moment the door closed behind them Matt turned her to face him. "Iíve missed you so much, Kelli." He held her face in his hands while he kissed her. She struggled in vain against the handcuffs, trying to wrap her arms around him.
He noticed her attempt to free her hands. "Iím sorry but I canít take the cuffs off. Thatís one of the conditions. I have to enforce all the usual student/warden policies, even out here. Iím serious, Kelli, if you misbehave I have to take you right back. Okay?"
It wasnít an ideal situation but she would take whatever was offered. She nodded in agreement.
"Alright, you have permission to talk. Please be careful, I donít want to cut our time short." His look of sincere concern made Kelli pause. No one else was watching or listening to them, nothing to stop him from ignoring policy. Nothing except his own sense of duty, she realized. She would be cautious.
"Thank you sir. I will remember my place." It would be difficult to forget, with her hands locked behind her back. "I miss you too." She looked around. "Which way do we go?"
Matt laughed, "In a hurry to get somewhere?" He rubbed her back with one hand while he pointed with the other. "Weíll stay on the road, in that direction. I canít imagine it will happen but if you see someone tell me immediately."
They started to walk along the road. He kept the pace slow, often pausing to point something out. She didnít really share his fascination with desert scenery but that didnít matter today. She just wanted to be with him and listen to his voice. Her body made it clear she wanted more from him. Silently she cursed the rules that kept them apart, and the shield locked between her legs that so frustrated her desire. It might control access but it did nothing to quell the growing arousal she felt in Mattís presence.
"Is the school what you expected? Any regrets in asking to be enrolled?"
She looked up at him as they walked side by side. Normally as a warden he would hold onto her upper arm, but Matt chose to maintain contact with a hand high on her back. "No sir, it wasnít anything like I had pictured. Donít laugh but I had this image of a college sorority house where weíd go to seminars and generally have a good time, but under the watchful eye of the occasional kindly and compassionate warden."
He smiled but didnít laugh out loud. She could tell he found her description amusing. "And when you found out it didnít quite work that way?"
"An hour after they came for me I was ready to go home. I was scared to death, I couldnít stop crying, I wanted you to come get me and make it all better. It was a nightmare and I couldnít wake up." She thought back to that first night and how Diane had tried to help her. Where was Diane now? Kelli hadnít seen her after the fighting incident.
Matt stopped and faced her, hands on her shoulders. "Do you still feel that way?" He stared at her intently.
"No sir, I donít." That was an honest answer. "Once I had time to figure out the rules and adapt it wasnít nearly as bad. Iím learning so much, about myself and how Iím not alone in my beliefs about what a woman should be. The classes are wonderful. Well, most of the time." One class had been boring, and she had gotten in trouble because of it. She had to tell Matt what happened.
"Sir? Thereís something I have to tell you." He probably knew all about it, but she felt compelled to explain regardless.
He took her over to the covered picnic table at the side of the road. "Letís sit down for a moment before you start."
"Yes sir," she said, grateful for a momentís delay. He had to know even if she was ashamed to explain how she had failed him. They sat down.
"It happened in one of the classes. The lecture was boring, but thatís no excuse. I didnít pay attention and was caught at it." She hung her head, unable to look him in the eye. "I was punished for my mistake, sir. I knew better but I did it anyway. The teacher stopped her talk and called the wardens. They took me away, in front of everyone. They kept me for, I donít know how long, three days maybe." Kelli was on the verge of tears.
Matt put an arm around her shoulder. He knew it had actually been half that long. "Did you learn from the experience? Have you done the same thing again?"
She jerked her head up and turned to him. "Yes sir, I learned my lesson! I wonít ever do that again. I was careless and acted in an unacceptable manner. I promise sir, from now on Iíll pay attention in class."
"Then I think we can consider the incident closed. You neednít bring it up again."
"Yes sir." The sky hadnít fallen after all. The relief she felt was genuine. He wasnít angry or disappointed. She leaned into him; his arm across her shoulders felt so good. There still remained one more nagging question she was compelled to ask.
"Sir? Before I went to the school, was I lazy?"
"Lazy? No, I wouldnít go that far. There were times I think you could have been more focused." That was as diplomatic an answer as he could find.
"Thank you sir, but I think you are holding back. You let me get away with too much." She hesitated, wondering if she was going too far. "Iím sorry. I didnít mean to be critical."
"Thatís okay, speak up. Youíre right too; in hindsight I know I was too lenient. I blame myself for what happened, Kelli. You deserve more from me. My promise to you is that Iíll make sure it doesnít happen again." Matt stared off in the distance, unwilling to look her in the eye.
Kelli stared up at him, confused by what he had confessed. "No sir, with all due respect my behavior is ultimately my own responsibility. Iíve learned I canít get away with that kind of attitude anymore. I didnít much care for the methods but the lesson was one I needed to be taught. The instructors showed me that I should take pride in what I can accomplish, but only if I earn it.
"Sir, I want you to be my owner and give me the opportunity to show you what I can do. I will earn your admiration and make you proud to be my master. You asked if I had any regrets. No, I donít, not now. "
Matt had no doubts she meant every word. She might not realize it but she was pressing every button in his head. He wanted all she was offering, and more. The woman sitting next to him was a world away from the Kelli who had asked to be sent to the school. There was a confidence in the way she spoke that had been absent in the old version.
He stood up and helped her rise. "We have to start back." He took her arm and pointed her back to the entrance.
"Yes sir." He paused but there were no pleas to extend her time, no subtle tricks to entice him to keep her outside. Out of the corner of his eye he watched her. No sign of distress, no holding back. She knew the school would be her destination yet she calmly walked toward her own return to incarceration.
Back inside the above ground building Matt blindfolded Kelli before taking her into the elevator. When he ordered her to silence she offered no resistance, merely nodding to show she understood.
It had been a long day, three class sessions by herself plus another two as assistant. Cathy was ready for a long hot bath, a good meal and a soft bed afterward. Much as she enjoyed being a teacher there were days she was not at her peak, and this was one of them. She hoped Robert would be in an accommodating mood.
Tomorrow would be infinitely better than today. They were finally going to Las Vegas for a nice weekend get away. They had reservations for a dinner in the hotelís gourmet room, and afterwards they were going to one of the magic shows. All she had to do was get through the rest of the day. But first someone had to take her from the break room to the staff section. Some times the rules really irritated her. She had to get back to the apartment and pack for the trip.
The door to the break room opened and Matt came in. She had been waiting for Robert to show up and take her home. All her assignments for the day were done but she wasnít allowed to leave until he took her to the staff section. Normally she wouldnít mind but today her feet hurt, her hair needed washing, she was hungry, and she just wanted to get away and relax before getting ready for the trip. She sat up and put her hands in her lap when she noticed Matt making a beeline toward her table.
"Cathy? Robert asked me to escort you out today. A warden had a family emergency in Phoenix so heís going to cover for two more hours. He doesnít want you to wait."
That explained why he hadnít showed up. Robert had mentioned several times the shortage of wardens meant he might have to work overtime. It appeared his prediction had come to pass. "Thank you, sir. I appreciate youíre taking time out for me." She stood up, eager to get out of the student area. Robert must have listed Matt as a delegate when he wasnít available. He was good about planning ahead, for which she gave silent thanks. No telling how long sheíd have to wait if he hadnít planned ahead.
The moment Matt reached behind his back she turned away from him and held out her hands. He took his time putting on the handcuffs, which bothered Cathy. She was in a hurry and wanted out. This was another of those rules that, at least to her, served no purpose other than to annoy.
"Okay, letís go. Iím sure you want to get out of here." Matt took hold of her arm and led her to the door. Two hours, thatíll give me enough time for a bath and a short nap before Robert gets home. We can eat out tonight, she silently planned as they walked down the hallway toward the exit. She was too tired to cook; heíd understand.
Matt didnít seem to be in any hurry as he took his time. Cathy had to bite her tongue as she nearly asked him to walk faster. Self-control and prudence won out over impatience at the last minute. No telling what would happen if she had demanded he hurry up.
When he finally halted in front of the last security gate she was sure he was deliberately fumbling with his keys just to make her wait. After three tries he got the right one and opened the door to the locker room. At last, she could get dressed and head back to the apartment. And get to that hot bath without waiting for someone else.
Matt headed right to her locker and opened the door. Inside she could see her clothes, the blouse and skirt and her sandals. As soon as he released her hands she would be on her way. The tub was only minutes away.
But something was wrong. Matt left her standing in front of the locker, her hands still cuffed behind her. He held onto her arm but was turned away, his free hand cupped over his ear. She realized someone must be talking to him, at length too, as she saw him nod occasionally.
This is ridiculous, she thought. All he has to do is let me go and I can get dressed. It isnít fair that he makes me wait like this. He could be a little more considerate. She moved her bound wrists slightly and looked to the side, hoping to catch his attention. But he didnít notice, engrossed in his private conversation.
Enough is enough, Iíve got a life too. The concrete floor was becoming harder under her bare feet by the second. "Matt? Could you unlock the handcuffs so I can get dressed? Iím really in a hurry." She frowned as she spoke; he shouldnít need a reminder she was waiting on him.
Matt straightened up and looked at Cathy. Good, he remembered me, now I can get out of here. She started to turn to one side as she held out her hands.
The crash of the sheet metal locker door as he slammed it shut with the palm of his hand made Cathy jump. "No," he said in a low voice as he pushed Cathy up against the wall of lockers. "No, Iím not going to unlock the cuffs. No you arenít going to get dressed." He pulled out a blindfold from a pouch on his belt and covered her eyes. "And no, you arenít in a hurry. Not any more."
"Matt, youíre hurting me! Whatís wrong? Why wonít..." The rest of her protest was cut off as the gag went into her open mouth.
"Whatís wrong? What did you just say to me? You forget where you are. I wouldnít tolerate a student speaking like that, and I wonít let it pass for you either. Remember your words Cathy." He pulled her away from the lockers and dragged her back in the direction they had come in. "Youíre going to have plenty of time to regret it."
The day had been long and tiresome for Kelli. After classes she and her companions had been ordered to clean one of the dormitory areas. It was sweep the floors first, then on hands and knees with a scrub brush and pail of water, and finally dusting the cell bars. The wardens conducted a thorough inspection afterwards while they stood in line in the hallway. One of the wardens found a spot of dust on the bars of a cell so they had to start all over again. By the time they had finished she was sore and exhausted.
It took two tries before the rooms passed. When the warden took off the white glove and announced the results were "satisfactory" she was too tired to resent his perfunctory attitude. It was small consolation when one of the guards announced they were through for the day and put them in the same rooms they had just cleaned.
As soon as the warden walked away from the cell door Kelli stood up. She knew it was wrong but she also knew that particular warden was predictable and never came back to make sure she kept position. She couldnít take kneeling on the floor for another minute. If anyone else had been in the cell with her she never would have thought to break the rules but since she was alone she figured sheíd get away with it. She headed to the back wall to sit down
She never expected him to come back, so naturally he did just that. The moment she turned around there he was, silently watching her at the door. Kelli froze in a panic. The glare from his narrowed eyes told her that he wasnít going to be understanding.
In a flash she was back on the floor, in position. She didnít dare look up but she could tell he was still there. Kelli knew she was in serious trouble. Worst of all she had no excuse.
Her fears were proven correct when two more wardens arrived moments later. As soon as the door was open they rushed in and had her down on the floor, hands locked behind her back. By the time they dragged her to her feet the blindfold was in place, as well as shackles on her ankles. She knew what it meant, and where they were taking her.
For at least the tenth time Cathy cursed her big mouth. If she had waited one more minute sheíd be home soaking in the bathtub right now, thinking about what to wear when they went out tomorrow night in Las Vegas. One more minute and she wouldnít be sitting in the dark on a cold hard concrete floor with her hands and feet immobilized. She didnít know what it was called but the cruel metal contraption fastened on her body must have come from a medieval dungeon judging by the primitive look.
The device that imprisoned her body was simple but highly effective. It started with a ring around her neck, above her collar. Two rigid steel straps went down from the front and terminated in loops that held her ankles wide apart. A bottom bar was fastened between the ankle loops, forming a sturdy triangle. About halfway down on each steel strap was another loop that held a wrist. To ensure she didnít wander around the room a short, heavy chain ran from one ankle shackle to a ring embedded in the floor. She could just reach the back wall to lean on, but that was about all. She couldnít stand, turn on her side, or reach anything with her hands.
She stared at her fingers. One last time she strained forward with her head, trying to get one hand close enough to try to pull out the gag that covered her mouth. And again she came up inches short. Makes sense, she told herself, they measured this thing just right.
A shadow crossed the small square of light coming from the observation slit in the roomís one door. Cathy looked up, hoping it would be Robert come to take her home. She knew if someone was out there the chances it would be him were slim. More likely one of the guards was going to make her life just a little more miserable.
When the door swung open the bright light from the corridor hit Cathy full in the face. Blinking she tried to cover her eyes with a hand, but was reminded all too quickly by the steel around her wrist that wasnít going to happen. She had to turn her head to the side until her eyes adjusted.
Her initial fear that they had come for her gave way to relief when they brought in someone else instead. The wardens worked efficiently, forcing her new companion into a matching restraint. Cathyís dazzled eyes still couldnít make out who it was but the muffled sounds confirmed it was another woman, and she also had a gag.
Cathy watched but made no sound as the wardens quickly locked their new victim into the body irons. The woman made a token effort to resist but against three strong men she didnít have a chance. As soon as they finished two of the men filed out the door and disappeared from Cathyís sight. The last man was one Cathy recognized. Joe was his name, one of the senior wardens. He stood in the doorway, surveying the two women before him.
"Iíll make this short. Neither of you should be here. You know the rules, and you know the consequences if you choose to ignore them. No excuses and no leniency. I suggest you adjust your attitude starting right now. If you do your situation might improve. Remember this, no matter how bad it is it can always get worse. Think it over." With that he turned and went out the open door. It clanged shut behind him.
A grunt from her roommate drew Cathyís attention. The new arrival was attempting the same maneuver she had just tried, straining to reach the gag with a hand. And meeting with equal success as Cathy watched. In the dim light she finally recognized the other woman, Kelli. The same Kelli she had encouraged to become a student.
Kelli spent a few moments testing her bonds before giving up. The gag wasnít going to come out either. The triangle of steel held her body in a rigid sitting position and there wasnít anything she could do about it. Resigned to paying for her own stupidity she turned her head to study her cellmate.
With a start she recognized the other woman. Itís Cathy, how did she wind up here? When she cocked her head to one side, silently questioning what had happened, Cathy just shrugged and looked away. She doesnít want to talk about it. And maybe I donít really want to tell my story either. Kelli had no excuse and no one else to blame. Worst of all she couldnít explain why she had done it.
Unable to speak or move neither woman could do more than sit and wait. There was no clock to measure time but the aches and pains from being restrained grew by the minute. Behind the gag Kelli wanted to scream out to the wardens to release her but she knew it would be useless to try. They would come back in their own time, regardless of her pleas.
Leaning back and lifting her legs she jerked against the chain anchoring her to the floor. It was solid and unyielding, symbolic of the men who ran the place. She could be obedient and follow their orders, or she could be defiant and ignore them. But either way the result was the same. Kelli ran a finger along the cuff that held her left wrist. Itís not a game. They get their way whether I like it or not. She closed her eyes and leaned her head against the wall behind her, contemplating just what it meant to be submissive.
Cathyís worries were less philosophical. Whatís Robert going to think when he finds out? She couldnít bear the thought of facing him, much less trying to explain what she had done. Twice she had gone through the ordeal of this school. Now she was a teacher, supposedly setting an example for the students. She had thrown it all away by opening her mouth. And to top it off she had ruined their trip.
She pushed against the gag with her tongue. If only sheíd been wearing it while waiting for Matt to release her. What? Youíre going to walk around all day with a gag on? Cathy shook her head; that was no solution. Robert was good at keeping her in check. When she was with him it was so easy; on her own she couldnít seem to muster enough self control to keep in line.
He was right; she was pushing him to be more controlling. It wasnít just to please him. Oh no, the real reason is because Iím too lazy, she admitted to herself, too lazy to pay attention and watch my mouth. Iíd rather let him keep me in line.
Time dragged on as the two waited in silence. When their cell door finally opened the break from boredom was welcomed by both of them regardless of what it meant.
There were three wardens in the hallway. One, Joe, came in and stood over the two women looking down at them. "Itís been decided," he told them, "that you will be remanded to disciplinary training. You," he pointed to Kelli. "You willfully disobeyed when you broke position. Your behavior was inexcusable.
"And you," he turned to Cathy, "words fail me. You of all people should know better than to tell a warden what to do. Do you think you are in charge here? You are supposed to be a role model, someone who sets the standard for the rest to follow. Some example.
"Both of your masters should be ashamed of you two. I thought about calling them in to talk to you but Iím not going to do that. Neither of them deserves the embarrassment youíve brought on them. Iím not going to make it worse. No, what Iím going to do is see to it you learn to behave before they get you back." He motioned for the other two guards to come in. "Since you canít be trusted on your own you will now be supervised non-stop, every minute of the day."
Robert sat with Matt at a table in the cafeteria. Both had just finished a long shift at the same time and had decided to share dinner before heading home. The meal had started with casual small talk but gradually turned to the subject both of them really wanted to discuss.
"I should never have allowed her in there," Matt began. "She wasnít ready. If Iíd done a better job as her master she wouldnít be having so much trouble now. I didnít give her enough structure..."
Robert held up a hand to interrupt. "Donít beat yourself up so much, Matt. You did what you thought was best at the time. Hindsight wonít let you change the past. Think about it; did you really cheat her of your time and attention? Did you ignore attempts on her part to tell you what she needed?"
Matt frowned, going back over the relatively short time he and Kelli had been together. "Noo, I donít think so. Iím new at this Bob, but I know better than to assume Iím always right. I listen to what she says. I even try to pick up on subtle clues, but Iím not always sure what to look for. When she asked to be a student it hit me like a sack of bricks falling from the sky."
Robert leaned back and took a sip of his beer. "So why did you let her do it?"
Matt shook his head. "At first I fully intended to say no and stick to it. But she was persuasive. It took all night and part the next day before I got it.
"Kelli told me she wanted to prove to herself she could measure up, that she was a real submissive and a little training would bring her true self out. I didnít buy it for a minute. She doesnít need any training to be submissive; I saw that as soon as we met."
"And the real reason was?" Robert asked.
"Competition. On the outside she didnít have any, as far as I was concerned. She knows Iím the dominant type. I want a certain type of woman, a type increasingly rare these days and difficult to find. Kelli is that type, and she knows it. Iím not going to wander. Her submission to me is her security." Matt paused to take a bite from his plate.
"But in here circumstances changed the equation." Robert picked up on Mattís explanation. "Instead of standing out from the crowd sheís just one more among the many."
"Exactly. What she really wants to prove is that sheís still someone special to me. Many of the women she met here in the staff area, including your Cathy, went through the school. In Kelliís mind she thinks they have some special skill earned from the experience, so she has to go through the same thing." Matt frowned. "Problem is I donít know if sheís right or not. No question the school changes them, and for my own peace of mind I hope for the better."
Robert nodded in agreement. "So you enrolled her despite the misgivings. For what itís worth Matt, Iíd do the same thing given similar circumstances."
"Thanks Bob. Youíve been at this a lot longer than me. I value your opinion. Uhhh, by the way, no hard feelings about the incident with Cathy? You saw the tape? Wasnít anything I could do. The control room kept talking in my ear."
"Donít sweat it Matt, you did right. Cathy can be impatient at times. When Iím not there she loses her temper even though she knows better. A few days of remedial discipline might encourage her to be patient next time. Did I ever tell you about the time she ran away? It earned her the first trip to the school..."
The group was composed of four women. Cathy looked down at the wide steel cuffs locked on her wrists, with a bar between them. She stretched out her fingers but couldnít bring her fingertips together. Another set of cuffs secured her ankles. Again, a steel bar between her ankles forced her to stand with her legs apart. A connecting chain ran from the middle of the bar on her wrists to the middle of the ankle bar. She couldnít raise her hands above her waist while standing. She had been first in line to receive her restraints; the guards were now finishing with the last woman of the group.
There was more to come. Another guard brought out a length of heavy chain and padlocked one end to the middle of her ankle bar. He then proceeded down the line until all four women were linked together.
The warden in charge, Cathy knew his name was Joe, began. "In case you havenít figured it out by now, all of you have managed to make it right to the top of our special attention list. You are here because you pulled some kind of dumb stunt. Maybe you thought youíd get away with it, maybe you didnít care. Whatever the reason, it wonít work here." He folded his arms and sat down on the edge of the desk, facing them. The other wardens left.
"The four of you are now collectively responsible for each other. Whatís that mean? Real simple, anyone gets it wrong, you all get it wrong. I donít care whose fault it is, you will all be punished if any one of you disobeys. I suggest the four of you become good friends real fast, because you are going to be spending a lot of time in each otherís company. Those chains stay on as long as you are here."
Cathy turned to look at her new companions in misery. Kelli was next to her, looking scared. With good reason, Cathy told herself. Even I donít know whatís going to happen to us. On the other side of Kelli was a woman Cathy didnít know. At the other end she recognized Diane, who had been in one of her classes.
"Look at me when Iím talking to you!" Joe slammed his hand down on the desk. "I can see why you are all here. Okay, this is how it works. The rules are simple: do as you are told. Do it immediately, get it right, and donít forget. To make sure you pay attention you will be personally supervised 24 hours a day. Let me introduce you to the first shift."
Joe went to the doorway and gestured to someone out of sight. When he came back he was escorting a woman dressed to the usual standards, collar, belt, and hands cuffed behind her back. In itself that was no surprise to Cathy, but when she recognized who it was she almost blurted out the name. Only the frown from Joe stopped her.
She stood in front of the group and began speaking with a nod of permission from Joe. "Hello ladies, my name is Paula and I will be your supervisor."
Cathy, Kelli and the other two women knelt in a line, facing Paula as she sat at the supervisorís desk in their cell. Paula had gone down the line, correcting all of them over and over until she was satisfied. Then she had gone back to the desk to read through their records.
"Diane and Cindy?" Those were the two on the other side of Kelli. Cathy knew better than to look at them. Paula might be an old friend but she wasnít showing any favoritism in a situation like this. "You were fighting. Is that correct?"
"Yes, Miss Paula." Both answered, Diane first. Paula had established a hierarchy, starting at Dianeís end of the chain.
"Kelli, you failed to observe position?" Paula looked at her over the top of a sheet of paper.
"Yes, Miss Paula." Kelliís answer was so quiet even Cathy could barely hear her.
"I canít hear you. Did you not stand up and turn your back to a warden while you were supposed to be kneeling in respectful attention?"
This time Kelli spoke up, "Yes, Miss Paula."
"And you, Cathy. You spoke out of turn in a disrespectful manner to a warden?"
"Yes, Miss Paula." Cathy saw the steely glare in Paulaís eyes as she answered. There was no hint of compassion or sympathy.
Paula arranged the papers in the folder neatly before closing it. "When I ask a question I expect an answer, not mumbling." She pressed a button on the desk. "All of you stay where you are."
A moment later a warden appeared at the cell door. Paula asked for permission to approach the door, and then whispered something to him. He nodded and left. Paula came back to her desk and knelt next to it, facing the door.
When the warden returned he was carrying a bag. Another guard stood by the door as he opened it and came inside. Cathy being the nearest he started on her, shoving a gag into her mouth before covering her head with a tight fitting hood. She could hear him do the same with the rest of the group before leaving.
"If you wonít answer me then you wonít answer anyone," Paula lectured them. "Perhaps a little quiet time to meditate will encourage you to speak up next time. You will all remain in position until I tell you otherwise." Cathy heard her pull out the desk chair and sit down.
The hood was hot and the gag uncomfortable. Being forced to kneel while in the chains didnít make it any easier. And Paula was watching them. Cathy knew it because there was a steady stream of reminders. "Straighten up", "Donít slouch", and "Keep those knees apart" came every few minutes. Paula never mentioned anyone by name, so Cathy had to respond to every one, unsure if it was directed at her or someone else.
Cathy had forgotten the circumstances under which she had first met Paula. They had both been students then, but Paula had been in the school for more than a year, waiting for her master Mike to be released by his kidnappers at a mine in South America. During all that time she had been steadfast in her belief he would come back for her, no matter how long she had to wait. Many a time while talking she had made it clear to Cathy she believed in absolute obedience to the man she called master, no matter what the circumstances. She never knowingly broke her promise to him, and didnít tolerate it in any other submissive woman. Putting her in charge of the four of them was far worse than any warden. Undoubtedly the wardens knew it too.
Cathy heard the desk chair slide back, followed by Paulaís footsteps as she walked back and forth in front of the four of them. "You all have one last chance to make good. Iíve been tasked to see to it the four of you straighten up and behave. Those of you who know me," she stood in front of Cathy, "also know I take assignments seriously. We will start from the beginning. Anyone falls behind, weíll start over again and again till you get the message.
"And get this straight too. Thereís no way out of where you are except to do better. No one is going to come and rescue you. None of you are going to see your masters until weíre finished here. You canít quit and walk away."
Cathy missed Robert already. She had no idea how long it would be before she would see him again. Even if she did everything right from now on she still had to count on the rest of the group to do just as well.
Paula started again. "Letís begin with something simple, which appears to be all you can comprehend. Speak only when spoken to, and answer in a clear voice. Keep mumbling and you can kneel there all day with those hoods on. Do what you are told, right away. When a warden is here you ignore me and pay attention to whatever he says, even if he contradicts me you do what he tells you. Pay attention, and donít think for one minute you can get away with anything."
Cathy heard the door being unlocked. She could barely make out Paula talking to someone. Soon after she heard the wardenís boots on the concrete as he approached the group. She couldnít tell what was happening at first, but when he reached her and took off the hood she was able to see the rest of the women had their heads uncovered too. He removed her gag, putting it into a bag he carried. He stood up and went back to Paula, kneeling by the desk. "Showers in five minutes," he told her as he passed by the desk on the way to the door. From the corner of her eye Cathy could see another warden in the open doorway.
A shower! Cathy was dirty and sweaty from wearing the stifling hood. A chance to take a shower would be heaven. Maybe theyíd even take off the chains for a few minutes.
As soon as the warden left and closed the cell door Paula stood up. "Alright, you heard him. You are going to get a chance to clean up. I want you to stand up one at a time, Diane first, and line up to be escorted."
They were all stiff and sore from kneeling so long. The additional encumbrance of the chains didnít make it any easier but Cathy and the others managed to get up off the floor and line up. The chain between hands and feet forced them all to stand with their hands at waist height.
Paula wasnít impressed. "I said line up. Diane, face the door, the rest of you line up behind her. Space yourselves out, take up the slack in the chain between each of you. Back straight, head up, look straight ahead. Keep your arms down, hands open. If you canít get it right by the time the warden comes back you wonít get a shower today."
Cathy backed up until the chain linking her to Kelli was off the floor. She tried to do everything Paula was yelling at them but it seemed nothing could satisfy her. Either they werenít in a straight line, or someone was standing improperly. Cathy received a jab in her back when Paula went behind them to check alignment. "Keep your eyes front," Paula warned her, "or you all get hoods again. Want to sleep in them tonight?"
When the warden came back they were lined up to Paulaís satisfaction. The four of them were marched out into the corridor and lead to another room with a tile floor. Paula stayed behind.
The warden placed them in the middle of the room and told them to remain there. Cathy knew something wasnít right because there were no plumbing fixtures on the walls, though there was a drain in the center of the room. How were they supposed to take showers?
That question was answered by the first blast of cold water from behind her. Another warden had a hose in his hand and was spraying them down. When they all reflexively turned away from the stream he stopped and shouted at them. "Back in line! Now!"
When he finally stopped they were all soaking wet. The door opened and Paula came in, escorted by another warden. In her arms were rolled up towels. "Each of you take one as I go by. You may dry off." Being last in line Cathy took the final towel. She wasnít surprised to see that Paula wore handcuffs. She would be the last to insist on any special treatment.
"I canít do this anymore," Kelli sobbed as she pulled at the chains, trying to free her hands. "Itís too much."
The four of them were sitting against the wall in their cell. They had been given a short rest by the warden currently supervising them. He had gone out into the corridor to talk to someone, giving them a rare moment alone.
Cathy grabbed her wrists. "Listen to me! You canít give up, Kelli. Think, why are you here?"
"I broke a rule. They came for me..."
"No!" Cathy shook Kelliís hands. "Why are you in here, as a student? Why did you ask to be put in here?" From the corner of her eye Cathy saw Diane and Cindy look at each other in surprise at Kelliís secret.
"I...to prove I could do it. But Cathy, I canít! I just want to go home and be with Matt."
"You can do it, and you will! You wanted to see if you have what it takes? This is the moment, Kelli. Right now, right this minute you succeed or fail."
Kelli turned away, unwilling to look Cathy directly in the eye. "Then Iím a failure." She jerked her hands away from Cathy and held them up, yanking on the cuffs imprisoning her. "No more. I wonít wear these chains and this chastity belt any longer. Iím finished with all this. All I want is to go back to what I was before they brought me here."
Cathy grabbed the bar between Kelliís wrists and yanked on it hard. "And how do you plan to get these off? You think you can waltz over there, knock on the door, and ask to go home? It wonít happen. Donít you get it? They arenít going to let you out. About all youíd accomplish is getting the rest of us in trouble. Is that what you want?"
"No, I donít want any of you to take the blame. Iíll ask for Matt. Heíll get me out of here."
Angry, Cathy grabbed the collar around Kelliís neck. "And are you going to give up on this too? When you ask Matt to take off the chains, will you include the collar around your neck? How about the one around your heart? Do you want to be free of him too?"
Kelliís eyes went wide. She didnít answer immediately.
"How about it?" Cathy pressed on. "What do you tell Matt? Close your eyes, imagine heís standing in front of you right now. Explain to him how you didnít really mean it when you said youíd do anything for him. Tell him how much you want to submit to him, but only if itís fun and easy."
Kelli pulled loose from Cathyís grip and drew back. "Itís not like that at all. He knows I meant everything I said."
"Iím sure he does, but do you?" Cathy held up her own hands, bound by the chains that held them all. "All of us, we have something in common, something special. We picked a certain type of man, a man we can trust with our lives, a man who takes charge, a man who takes it seriously when we promise him our obedience." She tapped the front of the belt, where it covered her sex. "We give him our bodies, we give him our heart and soul. And we know he is the type of man who will take what we offer and use it, all of it, for whatever purposes he deems best for us.
"Do I enjoy being stripped, locked in steel and thrown into a cell? Do I think its fun to have someone jump all over me if I break some silly rule? No, but I do it anyway. I have to believe that some how, some way Robert thinks itís important I do this. Iíd give anything to get out of here, but I trust him even if I canít understand why this is happening to me. I owe him my allegiance, to put my faith in his judgment even when Iím tired and miserable."
All three women were staring at Cathy. "Iím no different than any of you," she went on. "We can all make it through this. Kelli, you wanted to prove to yourself you can match any woman in here. I know you can do it. Reach into yourself, look for that hidden resolve. Show Matt, show yourself, you have what it takes."
Kelli leaned down to wipe the tears from her face. "I guess I can go a little longer."
Cathy put her hands on top of Kelliís. Diane and Cindy joined in. "Weíll all go a little longer," Diane said.
"Kelli! Over here!" Cathy waved from the cafeteria table.
Kelli carried her lunch tray over to the table where Cathy and Paula were sitting. "I didnít want to intrude..."
"Nonsense, sit down. Paula, Kelli is the dietician for our little enclave. Ask her why you canít get jello with fruit cocktail in it." Cathy nodded toward Paula. "She likes that awful yellow stuff."
"I can work it in, Miss Paula, if you really like it..." Kelli began.
Paula held up a hand. "Itís just Paula out here. Keep a secret? I hate assignments like that. Sorry if I was rough on you, but you know how it is. Masterís orders, I didnít have a choice."
"And it was just our luck to draw the one graduate of our dear alma mater whoís probably the most fanatical about obedience." Cathy shook her head. "I was so happy to see you, but then I realized what it meant with you picked to supervise us."
"Now Cathy, you know where I stand..." Paula frowned.
"I know, I know," Cathy interrupted. "No criticism. I think Kelli and I learned to appreciate your view of submission. Not that Iím eager to repeat the experience."
"Second that," Kelli added. "So howís the trip to Vegas? Is it on again?"
"Weíre leaving tomorrow. Robert has it all planned out. Weíre going to see Hoover Dam in the afternoon, and later dinner in the gourmet room followed by one of the magic shows. Maybe I can get him to let me play the poker machines afterward."
"What, no lounging around the pool to get a nice tan?" Paula asked.
"I asked, but he wonít take this thing off." She put her hands on the belt around her waist, underneath her skirt. "No way I can hide it under a swimsuit."
Paula nodded. "I know how it is. Mike wonít take mine off either. At least heíll be back sometime next week. Heís in western China, of all places. Some godforsaken desert called the Takla Makan, doing a geologic survey for a possible mine site. He says itís worse than Death Valley in the summer, thatís why he wouldnít let me come with."
Kelli had a curious look on her face. "Both of you, you have to wear those, uh, those chastity belts all the time?"
"Most of the time, yes," Cathy explained. "Men, once these get these things on you they are very reluctant to take them off. Youíd think they were some kind of control freaks."
"Perish the thought," Paula added with a smile.
Cathy eyed Kelli, noticing she seemed nervous. Unlike the other times they had lunch together this particular day she was wearing a dress instead of her usual jeans. "Kelli? You too?"
She nodded, too embarrassed to answer.
"Hey, itís not so bad. You get used to it after a while." Cathy reassured her. "All it takes is a little practice. No better place than here to get used to, uhh, being covered."
"Covered? Is that what you call it?" Paula laughed. "Kelli? Donít be so self-conscious. You arenít alone. And those times it gets to be a real hassle? Think about what it will be like when he takes it off." Cathy and Paula giggled. Kelli turned red.
"Cathyís wrong about one thing though," Paula continued, "you donít get used to it. Itís like a constant low level turn on. Funny thing, itís more of a distraction out here in public, wearing a belt under clothes, than it is on the other side when itís about all we get to wear."
"I know," Kelli said. "Matt surprised me this morning. He wanted me to come with him on his walk in the desert. Then he takes a cardboard box out of the closet and there it is, the same belt Iíd been wearing on the other side. He said it makes me look sexy so he wanted me to wear it again. You know how it is; I couldnít say no. I figured weíd go for the walk and then heíd take it off afterward. No such luck; he kissed me goodbye and went to work, leaving me standing in the middle of the living room with no way to get it off. I almost decided to stay home and not go to work today."
"Uh oh," Cathy cautioned her. "Sounds like itís going to be a permanent part of your wardrobe from now on."
"Permanent?!" Kelli asked, panic showing in her expression. "You mean he wonít ever take it off?"
Paula answered first. "Donít worry about that. Heíll let you out from time to time. Naturally itíll be on his terms. Besides, you can always ask him for the key."
Cathy shook her head. "Yeah, right. Better have a good reason if you do ask. And be prepared to do a little begging too. Making us wear these belts is a real power trip for guys."
"I guess I can live with it. I can tell Matt likes it." Kelli thought for a moment. She didnít want to ask Matt for a key. "As long as itís just around here. I wouldnít want to wear it when we go to the city."
Cathy and Paula looked at each other, silently debating who would break the news. A slight shake of Paulaís head told Cathy she was the unlucky winner. "It doesnít work that way, Kelli. Think about what you just said. And remember what you learned these last several weeks."
Kelli puzzled over Cathyís words. "What do you mean? I certainly learned to live with wearing a belt, if thatís what youíre referring to. But Iíd be too embarrassed to wear this thing in public. What if someone saw it? Matt will understand."
Cathy sighed as she shook her head. "No and no. You miss the point. Itís not up to you to set conditions. Sure, you can tell him you donít want to wear it in public, but you better have a good reason why. A good reason, not a lame excuse. Trust me, he will not be very sympathetic or understanding." She nodded toward Paula. "Both of us wear belts in public, quite frequently. Yes it can be a hassle, but it has to be done. Robert wants it that way so I do my best. Truth is I get a kick out of it now. Like Paula says, it really is a constant turn on, especially when in a crowd. No one knows the intimate way Robert owns me."
"We were talking about a three day weekend in Los Angeles next week, shopping and maybe the beach." Kelli frowned. "You think Matt might make me wear the belt while weíre there?"
"Probably not at the beach," Cathy answered.
"And Iíd be very surprised if he leaves it on overnight," Paula added with a wink.
Cathy could tell there was still an unanswered question. "Címon Kelli, what is it thatís really bothering you? Go ahead and ask."
Kelli hesitated, stalling for time by taking a drink from her glass. "Uhh, I know this sounds silly, but do either of you think they make you wear a belt because they suspect you may be cheating on them? Could Matt be doing this because he doesnít trust me?"
Cathy had joked about the same subject with Robert but never considered it a real possibility. She couldnít imagine having some kind of clandestine affair with another man. Glancing across the table she could see Paula was just as surprised at the question.
"No Kelli, I donít think so, and hereís why. Think of what you just went through. Thereís no way you would have volunteered if you had something going on the side.
"Iím not going to ask if youíre seeing someone else because I know the answer. We all have something in common. Once we find the right man, the one who really is our master, he gets our unconditional loyalty. We swear allegiance to him and no other. Unless Matt is the insanely jealous type, and I find that hard to believe, he knows youíd never betray him."
Paula picked up on Cathyís answer. "I can vouch for what sheís telling you, Kelli. Mike didnít give me a choice either. Same as you, he put it on and didnít take it off. Iíve had mine on since the day he left for China, and it wonít come off until after he gets back. But I know he didnít do it because heís worried I might be sleeping around. He did it for a very simple reason, to let me know heís controlling me even if he canít be here. You have to admit itís difficult to forget heís in charge when you have that little reminder pressing against you all day long."
"But still, what if someone sees the belt. Did it ever happen to you? What did you say?" Kelli knew she couldnít refuse Matt, but she was scared of being caught out.
"What you do," Cathy told her, "is you look that person right in the eye, tell her yes it is a chastity belt, no you donít have the key, and yes you wear it for the man you love even if he is a sexist domineering pig." All three women burst out laughing.
"Her? What if itís a man?" Kelli looked back and forth between her two table companions. Equals now, she realized, united by a common purpose in life. She had been impressed by the confidence Cathy showed when she spoke; now she understood where it came from.
"Men wonít say anything. And if a guy did say something, it probably would be how lucky that sexist pig is with the key. Look Kelli, donít worry about it. You donít have to answer to anyone but Matt. You know youíre doing the right thing, for the two of you. It doesnít make any difference what someone else thinks or says." Cathy paused for a moment before continuing. "You just put yourself through what anyone would agree is a most unpleasant experience, and you did it for Matt as much as for yourself. When you tell him youíll do anything for him, he has no doubt you mean it."
"One other point," Paula added, "if someone criticizes you for being the kind of women we are, ask yourself whatís behind it. Envy, that you can do what she canít? Or jealousy, because youíre right where you want to be, with the man you love, and she canít find the same?"
"Envy me?" The idea had never occurred to Kelli. "Why would anyone be envious of me?"
"Because you have a great guy in your life, and the two of you grow closer every day? Who wouldnít want the same?" Paula pointed her fork at Kelli. "Donít underestimate what you bring to the relationship. Youíve learned how to fit your own life with Mattís, not to compete with him but blend in your strengths with his. You, me, Cathy, all of the women here have made choices that a big part of society doesnít care for. Why would anyone envy you? For the courage you show to not listen to those who would turn you away from what you believe in."
"A heavy conversation for lunch. Sorry to break it up but I have a class to teach." Cathy stood up and picked up her tray. "And some packing when Robert and I get done tonight. Iíll see you two when we get back."
"Bye, have a good trip. Hope you hit one of those big jackpots." Kelli waved as Cathy left.
"Have fun," Paula added before turning back to Kelli. "How about you? Now that youíve been through the school, are you ready for what comes next?"
"Next? I donít know what you mean." She had no idea what Paula was talking about. Matt hadnít told her there would be more.
Paula leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms. "Isnít it obvious? You made it out. Youíve joined an exclusive club. With the membership comes a certain obligation. When are you going back, to be a teacher?"