The Planet Ericpotsdam: Tales of the Transfer
I write science-fiction stories with a bondage slant. If you want to read BDSM sex and torture scenes linked by a little bit of story line, then I am not the author for you. In particular, this story starts slowly, and it has sections which are more concerned with plot than with chained women. Be patient. By the end there will be thousands of women in the story securely in restraints.
You may wish to read Village Visit before you read this story, in order to better understand the culture and people of Potsdam Village. Several characters from that story will re-appear in this one.
Chapter 4. The Group that Left on Friday
After the departures on Thursday, only about five thousand people still remained in Potsdam Village, people who had delayed their departures for a variety of reasons. The biggest single group were the animal farmers. The Mackenzie family can serve as examples for all of the people who left on Friday. Joanne Mackenzie will tell this part of the tale.
= = = = =
Joanne Mackenzie's First-Person Story, Part One
My name is Joanne Mackenzie. I am the next-to-youngest of the five children in the Mackenzie family. I was nineteen years old at the time of the transfer. I had graduated from high school the previous June.
I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life at that point. My boyfriend had broken up with me just after I graduated, and I wasn't over him yet. In fact I was so depressed that I couldn't work up any enthusiasm for college, so I didn't apply. But to make my parents happy, I did register for two extension courses from USM. I was taking English and World History, courses which would count toward the requirements for most majors at most schools.
I spent most of my time at the Potsdam Village Ponygirl Club. The best way I had found to deal with my depression was to pound it into the trails during long ponygirl hikes. Most of my friends were ponygirls, and I enjoyed chatting with them. I thought that I would be marching with a group of these friends when our village transferred to our new planet. But I was wrong about that. My parents wanted me to stay with the family instead so I could help with the family move.
Our family wouldn't be moving until the second day of the transfer, because we had to bring our cattle herd with us. All of the animal farmers moved on the second day, not only the cattle farmers like us but also the people with pigs, and sheep, and goats, and llamas, and donkeys, and I think that a few animal farmers had some really exotic species. I have to admit that moving the herds last made sense, for reasons that should be obvious. I would bet that the crabgrass on the hoverways we took was especially well-fertilized and especially luxuriant during the following spring. Moving the chickens and ducks last also made sense, so that fewer people had to march downwind of carts and wagons full of smelly bird cages.
Early on the morning of the first moving day, I went down to the ponygirl club to say good-by to my friends. Most of them didn't reply. I felt rejected, even though the rational part of my mind knew why they hadn't answered me. Many Potsdam Village ponygirls are not allowed to respond to people other than their drivers while they wear bits with gag pins in their mouths, or restraints on their hands or wrists, or their peripheral vision is blinded by their ponygirl harnesses. Some of my friends were confined in all three ways. The ones in blinders probably didn't even know I was there.
Then I had to trudge back home to help in cleaning out the big barn. My little sister Julia had already started on that project. Her first reaction when I showed up was "Where the hell have you been?" But it did not take her very long to notice how rotten I was feeling.
She picked an unexpected way to cheer me up. She said "I know that your friends have been able to start their ponygirl journeys first. But I'd bet you could be a ponygirl longest, if you want to be. You have never done a ponygirl overnighter, have you? Here's your chance. Our old ponygirl stall is available. You could change to Ginger this evening instead of waiting until tomorrow morning. You could stay Ginger until we arrive on our new farm. Building a new ponygirl stall after we arrive will not be a high priority. Lord only knows when you will get another chance this good." Of course Ginger is the name I chose for myself as a ponygirl.
That sounded like a great idea. The barn had to be completely cleaned out first, though, so I set to work with enthusiasm. Many of the tools normally kept in the barn had already been transferred to CBQ 4960 over the previous weeks, but the shovels, pitchforks, and other stuff we used every day still needed to be loaded. Besides that, Julia was raising Angora rabbits. They had to be tended, and their cages and supplies had to be loaded on a cart reserved for that purpose.
Dad came through the barn late that afternoon and pronounced the job complete. Julia told me "I think it's time for you to change outfits", and I had to agree. So I took my working clothes, my blue jeans and t-shirt, off. I replaced them with the simple sleeveless, strapless, mid-thigh-length tunic that I wore as Ginger. That tunic is a lighter shade than the mahogany red-black of my hair, but the color tones match well. I wore the tunic with no underwear at all.
Julia then fitted me with my pony gear, which is all made from black leather. My hands were buckled into wrap gloves that held my fingers around pins about three centimeters in diameter; this is more comfortable than clenched fists, but it is just as effective at keeping me from using my hands to do anything. A broad harness belt went around my waist, with wrist straps in back that pinned my hands just above my butt cheeks on either side. A chest harness strap supported my boobs, with side loops that secured my upper arms to my body on either side. My halter buckled around my neck and my chin. Julia snapped a leash onto a ring at the front of my halter, said "Come, Ginger", and led me into the ponygirl stall. I stayed barefoot and bare-mouthed. I would have to wait until the next morning to add boots, bridle, and bit.
Ponygirls do not get many amenities. The stall has solid wooden walls up to about a meter and a quarter from the barn floor, and wooden bars the rest of the way up to the ceiling. The floor was wooden. My toilet was a hole in this floor in the left rear. A generous pile of straw in the right rear would serve as my bed.
A ponygirl waterbag was hanging on the stall bars in the left front corner. That type of bag has a mouthpiece at the bottom. A ponygirl can bite down to secure it in her mouth, push a small ball that acts as a valve away with her tongue, and the water will flow as freely as desired.
Once I was in, Julia closed the door of my stall and engaged the latch. She held a padlock up so I could see it past the stall bars, slipped it into the latch mechanism with a loud rattle, and closed it with a distinct click. I was triple-locked in, with my hands in wrap gloves, and the latch on the outside of the stall door with me on the inside, and the latch padlocked while I had no key. The thought of being so well secured made me grin.
But then I began to get hungry. I caught a smell of steak dinner, cooked on an outdoor charcoal grill. Julia disappeared for a while. When she came back, she had a plate of food. She had cut up pieces of carrots, and celery, and lettuce, and she had added several flavors of nuts to make a meal that would be appropriate for a ponygirl. She unlatched a small hatch in the left front wall of my stall and passed the plate through, putting it on a shelf just inside the hatchway that could hold a food plate at a comfortable height for a ponygirl like me to stand and eat it.
I ate that plateful alone. Afterwards, though, every member of my family came out to see me. They all said things like "Nice Ginger. Good Ginger. Nighty-night, Ginger." Most of them had special treats to hand-feed their good ponygirl. Ordinary horses are likely to be given pieces of apple or something similar under these circumstances, and that is what my brothers and sisters gave me. My Mom and Dad used pieces of steak instead.
Then Julia came into my stall and spread two ponygirl blankets on my straw bed. She fastened another ponygirl blanket around my shoulders. I suppose that a real horse might be entitled to a horse blanket or two after a day of hard work. Julia kissed me good-night and locked the stall securely once again. There wasn't much left for me to do except curl up on my straw and go to sleep.
- - - - -
Next morning Julia passed a plateful of cut-up waffle pieces through the hatch onto my food shelf, with just enough butter and syrup to taste good. When she came into the stall, she hand-fed me pieces of breakfast sausage, and then she set to work washing traces of breakfast off of my face, and completing my ponygirl kit, and combing my hair to clean out bits of straw.
-- She put thick absorbent socks on my feet, and then added my ponygirl hiking boots. Those boots are calf-height and have low heels for practical comfort. I was about to hike for 70 kilometers. I couldn't wear the toe boots I used for dressage events, the ones with real horseshoe soles and no heels.
-- She hobbled me, with leather cuffs and a leather strap. I didn't understand why she did that at first.
-- She attached the bit, blinders, and bridle rigging to my halter. The bit that she used passes between my teeth, and it has a pin that sticks into my mouth and holds my tongue down. When everything is rigged, a pull on the bridle straps pushes the tongue pin down hard and really gets my attention.
-- She backed me up to the wall and tied my shoulders to the stall bars with rope. Once again I did not understand why she did that.
-- She tied my bridle straps tight to the stall bars. I couldn't move my head without torturing my tongue. I began to wonder if she was planning something nasty.
And I was right about the 'nasty'. She pulled a nose ring out of her pocket and showed it to me. It was a pretty golden color. I knew the design, because I had seen pictures of those rings in a catalog. The catalog warned that once they are in, they are permanent. Julia smiled and said "If you don't want people to know about your septum piercing, you shouldn't leave a receipted bill in plain sight on your desk." And then she slipped the ring through my nasal septum and closed it. The 'snap' when it closed was the most horrible sound that I have ever heard.
Goddamn! I had gotten the septum piercing because I thought that my old boyfriend would like me better with it. I knew that he liked seeing piercings on other girls. He had broken up with me four months before, and now he was still able to hurt me. I was more willing to forgive my own kid sister. I didn't think that she had realized how badly she had humiliated me. She probably thought that she was just pulling an ordinary practical joke.
Julia took a three-meter leather strap, found its middle, and tied it in a larks head knot onto my nose ring. She untied the hobble and the ropes and reins that had held me helpless while she put that nose ring in. She used the strap on the ring to lead me out to the cart that I would be pulling, a cart full of short-term camping supplies for our overnight stops during our journey. She harnessed me to that cart and tied the nose-ring strap quite casually to a fence post. Then she left me there while she harnessed the equine horses that she would be driving and used them to assemble the rest of her wagon string. I had a chance to look around.
I was just a bit happier when I saw the contraption that my two brothers had rigged onto their new wives, who are identical-twin sisters. I guess that 'double strait jacket' would be about the best name for it. The girls were tied together as if for a three-legged race, with Jennifer's right leg strapped to Jessica's left leg. Jennifer's left arm was strapped to her side and back, similar to how both of my arms were held. Her right arm was strapped equally securely around her sister's waist. Jessica's arms were free, unlike most arms of people in strait jackets, but her head was enclosed in a sensory-deprivation hood. She couldn't see, and the only words that she could hear and understand reached her via a voice tube from Jennifer's mouth. They marched past me while I stood by my fence post, with Jennifer calling the tempo: "Center, out, center, out, center, out . . . " I wasn't the only Mackenzie girl who was restrained in a new way.
Traveling in close restraints would be especially new for Jennifer and Jessica, since they had not been born and brought up in Potsdam Village. I wondered if they would feel humiliated, but I concluded that they probably wouldn't. They had been adapting well to the Village lifestyle.
My mom was also restrained, but in an old familiar way. She wore ankle shackles linked by about 40 centimeters of chain, with a bare-midriff top and a mid-thigh-length skirt. After four pregnancies, she still looks good in that outfit. I hope that I still look that good after I have had several babies.
Our household was being moved in three strings of baggage carts behind teams of horses. Mom drove one of them, with no real hindrance from her ankle shackles. She had handled teams of horses while shackled many times before. Jennifer and Jessica had just enough freedom between them to drive the second string. Julia drove the third string, wearing no restraints; she needed the extra freedom to tend to her Angora rabbits, and to me, during rest stops.
The rest of the family was on horseback, helping our farm hands to herd our cattle. My father, and my brothers Pedro and Pierre, and my big sister Jillian all participated.
And me? Julia tied my larks-head nose ring strap to the back of the last cart in her string. I have heard it said that in an Alaskan sled dog team, if you aren't the lead dog then the view never changes. That goes double for ponygirls wearing blinders that block their peripheral vision. I stared at the back of the cart in front of me, and at the crabgrass which rolled back under my feet, and just kept walking until the first break.
Julia came back to me at that break, and at each of the later breaks also. She unhitched me from the cart I was pulling, and stuck the tube from a squirt bottle full of exercise drink in my mouth, and let me suck all that I wanted past my gag. I was able to turn, sit down on the back of the cart I was following, and rest my legs. But she never untied my nose ring from the cart I was following. I had to stay between that cart and the one that I was pulling for the entire trip.
I tried my best to zone out, switch my brain off, and keep walking. Whenever I started thinking I began to wonder what would become of me with a ring permanently in my nose. Would anybody ever think of me as a real person again, instead of just as a ponygirl who might not always be in harness? I might be facing some real problems for the rest of my life, if I couldn't arrange to have that damn ring cut off.
Late in the afternoon the march took another break, and at the end of that break I faced a real immediate problem: I needed to take a shit. Julia had already hitched me back to the cart I was pulling. I had stood with my legs spread several times before to pee, which wasn't very conspicuous, so I didn't mind it. The stream was hidden between my legs anyway, and I was standing on ground covered with crabgrass. The need to pee was the reason for not wearing underwear with a ponygirl tunic. But I didn't want to squat down in harness and leading rein and let everyone who happened to wander by see what I needed to do.
Could I keep it in until we reached our overnight rest stop? Would Julia let me use an outhouse then? I had my doubts. I wiggled my butt a bit, trying to settle everything down. My stomach grumbled. I made an audible fart. And a male voice from less than three meters away said "Do you have to poop?" This guy had snuck up on me. That wasn't hard to do, since the ponygirl blinders took away my peripheral vision.
I nodded. I figured that he just might be polite and go away and not stare at me while I pooped. Even if he didn't, a nod wouldn't cost me anything. But he wasn't about to leave me. He turned toward the front of our string of carts and shouted "Julia! Here! Now! Urgent!" And then he began digging into the camping supplies on the small cart I was pulling. By the time Julia came back again, he had found two of my horse blankets and begun to unfold them.
Julia asked "What's the matter, Paul?"
Paul was angry, and he showed it. He said "Your big sister is depending on you to take care of her, and you are letting her down. Right now she needs to poop, and she would like a little privacy. You have kept her trapped here instead of releasing her and letting her use an outhouse tent. If nobody does anything, she's going to be horribly embarrassed. This break is almost over, so there isn't time for an outhouse now. So right now, stand by the cart she is pulling, and hold on to the end of this blanket." He had tied the other end of that blanket high on the back of the cart that I was following.
I turned my head and looked at them. Paul turned out to be a skinny guy, rather tall, with brown messy hair and a large pointy nose. His ears stuck out instead of folding close by his head like most people's. He appeared to be about the same age as Julia. With that appearance I could see that he might have come in for more than his share of teasing by other kids his age.
I wish I had a picture of the expression on Julia's face at that moment. She was embarrassed, and confused, and shocked, and amazed, all at the same moment. I didn't understand the shock and amazement, but I appreciated the embarrassment. I thought that she deserved a bit of discomfort for putting a nose ring on me. I was glad she was getting yelled at, even though the reason for the yelling wasn't the thing that bothered me most.
Paul hustled around to the other side of my cart with another blanket and tied one corner high on the cart I was following. He ordered Julia to "Stretch that blanket back and block the view from that side." He stretched the other blanket back on his side and told me gently "Okay, Joanne. Here is your chance." Then he faced away from me and stood firm.
I had a large cart in front, a small cart in back, and blankets on either side. Nobody could see me. I squatted.
Paul heard me move when I stood up again. He demanded "Do you have any toilet paper handy on this cart?" When Julia admitted that we did, he ordered "Get some. Wipe her. Block everybody else's view with your own body." Then his tone of voice changed, and he said "Joanne, you will probably be cleaner and more comfortable if you bend over and let her clean you." Julia followed his orders, and I followed his suggestion. He stood in his place, facing away, keeping the blanket on his side up and never ever looking around at me.
Afterwards Paul folded up the horse blankets and stowed them back on my cart. We were soon underway again. I still couldn't see anything except the cart in front and the crabgrass under my feet, but I had the feeling that he kept hovering near by me. Perhaps I heard his footsteps, although they couldn't have been very loud.
That rest stop was the last one before our overnight encampment at the Randall farm. The rest of my family brought the cattle in, unhitched me from my cart, set up the tents that had been on that cart, and began to cook supper.
Our family camping spot had several hitching rails which were used for our equine horses. The cattle were put in a nearby pen, separated from other herds by single strands of electrified barbed wire. As a ponygirl I was more than an animal, but still not quite human, so I got a spot by myself. I was hitched to one of the marker posts that indicated the boundaries between our family spot, the neighbor family's spot, and the route across the farm field that allowed us all access. Each of those posts had a white flag tied on top.
Paul had disappeared as we arrived. About an hour later he came wandering oh-so-very-casually down the access route, trying to convince everyone that I wasn't the focus of his interest, and failing dismally. His timing was bad, or at least he must have thought so, because Julia brought me a plate of food at that moment. She grinned and said "Paul, could you please do me a favor? Hold this plate for a moment." She gave the plate to him while she undid my bit and bridle.
She had him trapped then. She said "I need to go back and, uh, help with the cooking. I can't stay and feed Joanne. She'll have to kneel way down and eat off of the ground if she doesn't get help. Could you feed her, please?" She turned and left before Paul could do anything with my plate of food.
Paul's ears turned bright red. He stood just beyond the reach allowed by my nose-ring rein. He never said anything. He picked up a piece of carrot, stretched his arm out toward me, and let me take it in my mouth without ever touching me or letting me touch him. He fed me my entire supper that way.
That night Julia tucked me into my horse blankets and left me tied to my post. The earth under my body was reasonably soft, and I was tired after my day of walking. I was soon fast asleep.
Unfortunately a collection of horse blankets is not as nice as a genuine sleeping bag. I began to wake up cold in the middle of the night with one leg bare and the blankets in a tangle. My hands were still restrained. I couldn't untangle myself. Before I woke up completely, a pair of sympathetic hands began rearranging the blankets and re-tucking me. As I went back to sleep, Paul's voice said "There", very quietly.
I seemed to have picked up a guardian angel. But that guardian angel was so frightened of me that he could not talk to me or touch me while I was awake. Just what was he thinking about, anyway?
Chapter 5: Saturday
The Mackenzie Family
Jennifer and Jessica Gustavson Mackenzie
Jennifer and Jessica spent Friday night with their husbands, sisters-in-law Jillian and Julia, and their parents in a family-group tent at Randall Farm The next morning they were put back in their double strait jacket, with Jessica on the left this time.
Jessica had had a boring journey on the previous day when she was on the right with her head in a sensory-deprivation hood. Jennifer had run out of things to say to maintain a conversation with a twin sister who could not respond as she always had in the past. Finally Jennifer had just given occasional orders on how to drive the cart string they were handling. Jessica realized that their positions could always be swapped back, and she did not want to face another equally boring day. She decided to show her twin sister how this sort of thing should be done. Jessica became a regular chatterbox, describing the overpasses, and the occasional cars on the other side of the hoverway, and the farm animals in the neighboring fields, and anything else that she happened to notice.
The cart string that the twins were guiding happened to be one of the very first horse-drawn ones in the second day's parade as it arrived at the USM campus. Here is some of what Jessica said:
"Gentle pull on the right-hand reins now. We are going up an exit ramp. Ease off, we're on the ramp, the lead horses are steering us nicely. We're at the top, sharp left turn, OK that's enough, let the horses go straight.
. . .
"We've crossed over the overpass bridge, and we are going through the nice residential neighborhood. Some of your college professors must have had homes along here, set back away from the traffic along this road. I know that several of mine did. The place we are passing now is Professor Smith's old home, now divided into apartments for several teaching assistants and junior professors. It's looking a bit run down.
. . .
"The campus fencing just began on our left. It's two rows of chain link, both about four meters high, with razor wire on top, around the South Campus area. None of it was there when we were in school. Somebody said that it goes around the entire campus now. The Potsdamers who left on Thursday are camped on South Campus. The place is full of tents, luggage carts, and picketed horses. I think I recognize Sammy Brown and Barb Jones. We met them at the Christmas party in Potsdam Village just after we were collared. They are waving hello at us.
You must remember the campus commercial strip on the other side of the street . We're passing my old favorite place, O'Callahan's Irish Pub. Yours was farther along, where you met Pedro in the parking lot.
. . .
"We're coming to a gate. It's still closed. F'r gosh sakes, we're going right past it. I wonder where we will be turning in?
. . .
"Here's the next gate. This one is open. A couple of guys in South High School green-and-white baseball caps are waving us through. Pull gently on the left rein. That will just tell the horses they have the right idea, they are following another wagon in without much guidance from us.
"South Campus and the Potsdamer camp are to our left, but there is a guy in a North High red-and-white cap who is signaling us to go right. Pull on the right rein, firmly. The horses are a bit confused. They probably have equine friends who left on Thursday and who are in the camp on South Campus, off the other way. Okay, ease off on the reins, we're aimed down a campus pathway.
. . .
"Left turn here, more guys in school caps are guiding us, we're heading for the Ecology Department building. I think we are going into one of the big Quonset huts out front. Gentle right rein, the big door of the right-hand hut is open.
"Whoa, we're inside, and the parade has stopped. That rumble you hear is the big door being shut behind us.
"Wiggle your jaw and swallow to make your ears pop. The PA system which you probably couldn't understand just warned that the air pressure is dropping. We are apparently going right through to CBQ 4960.
"The big door in front of us is opening. Yup, we're through! The sun is suddenly higher in the heavens. It isn't late afternoon on this side, more likely mid-morning. The sun looks just about the same as the sun on Earth.
"There's a big sign, handwritten on cardboard I think. It says 'You are on Washington Street Extension'. It seems strange to be coming into our husbands' home town - a new version of it, anyway - and we wouldn't know where we are if there were no signs to tell us.
. . .
"Nothing near us right now except grass on both sides, about a meter high. Nice and green, for the horses and cattle it probably looks delicious. We're coming up to Inner Radial Road, it's also marked with a large sign. Turn us left.
"Now turn us right. We're going through the gate in our own new fence. Julia got here before us, and she opened the gate. Just a little bit further now. Okay, Whoa! I do believe that we have arrived."
- - - - -
Pedro joined Jennifer and Jessica about fifteen minutes later. He helped them climb down from their cart, released them from the double strait jacket that had held them together like a three-legged-race team, and ordered "Let's get to work. We have to set up all of the tents now."
Jessica asked "How's the herd?"
"They're fine. The leaders got one whiff of the little stream that goes through our new fields, and they ran in exactly where we wanted them to go. They are thirsty after a day on the road."
Jennifer commented "Where are the buildings? I've heard your father complaining about the cost of our new house and barn. I thought that at least one of them was supposed to be waiting for us here."
Pedro replied "They are right over there" He pointed to some generous piles of rammed-earth bricks, wooden boards, plywood panels, and bales of roofing shingles. "I think that the phrase you need to understand is 'Some assembly required' ".
Joanne Mackenzie's First-Person Story, Part Two
I never saw any part of the campus at the Earth-side University of Southern Minnesota. I was still wearing ponygirl blinders, hitched close behind a cart that occupied all of my forward view. I wasn't even certain that we had reached the campus until the lighting changed from late afternoon sun to indoors as we entered a large Quonset hut used for transfers. Then the door behind us closed, the pressure dropped, and the door in front of us opened into morning light on CBQ 4960.
The journey on the 4960 side wasn't very long. In less than 45 minutes the ground under my feet changed from gravel road to lawn grass as we arrived at our new homestead. Our carts were soon parked.
Julia came over to me just a few minutes later. She said "We have to set up the big tents that we will all be living in until our houses and barns can get built. We need your help for that." She untied my nose ring reins from the cart that I had been following for the previous two days. Then she grabbed the larks-head knot on the nose ring itself and actually slipped one finger through the ring. I wondered what further humiliation she had planned for me.
And then she gave me the most pleasant surprise that I can ever remember. She pulled a really tiny screwdriver out of her coin purse and stuck it into an equally tiny hole on the bottom of my nose ring. I had never seen that hole, because it was on the side of the ring away from my eyes. She twisted the screwdriver for a few spins, then tugged on the nose ring, and it opened so that she could take it out of my nasal septum.
She told me to turn around. I was too dumbfounded to respond. She grabbed my shoulders, turned me, and then began releasing my wrists and removing my waist belt, unlocking padlocks and undoing strap buckles behind my back. She was too busy with that to notice the expression on my face, which was in any case half-hidden behind my bit, gag pin, and bridle.
Finally she turned me around again, removed the bit and gag pin from my mouth, took another look at me, and asked "What's wrong, Joanne?"
I explained "There are two kinds of nose rings in the catalog we had at home. One kind is temporary, and it is put on and taken off using a miniature Darby key. That is the kind we have at the ponygirl club. The other kind is permanent. It is put on with a 'click' and it never comes off. The one you put on me went on with a 'click'. It logically follows that I am still wearing a nose ring." I reached up and touched my nose, where the ring had been for the previous two days and nights.
It was Julia's turn to be dumbfounded. She said "I guess I bought from a different catalog. You mean you thought that your little sister was enough of a bastard to lock a permanent ring on you?"
I answered "I didn't want to believe that. But I had the fucking evidence right in front of my God-damned nose!" My stored-up anger over the situation had begun to spill out, even though the cause of that anger had been removed.
Julia began to laugh. I began to cry. Julia choked off her laughter and said "I guess it isn't funny for you." She spread her arms apart and said "Gee, I'm sorry. Let me give you a hug." I stepped forward into her embrace and cried some more. I hugged her back as best I could; I was still wearing my chest strap, to support my boobs, and the attached biceps straps had been loosened but not removed. We spent several minutes with our arms around each other, becoming sisters again.
When I was able to quit crying, we both went to work unloading the small camping-overnight tent and the camping supplies from the cart I had pulled. As we set up the camp stove, Julia commented "I wonder what Shy Paul Morris will think of you when you are completely out of your ponygirl rig. Did that nose ring weave a magic spell on him? If it did, then you may want me to put it back if you like him as much as he seemed to like you."
"Shy Paul Morris? The guy who was there when I needed to poop, and then he fed me supper? He sure didn't act very shy when he was scolding you for not letting me poop in private."
"Shy Paul Morris. That's what all the girls in our high-school class call him. All three words seem to be a part of his name. That's how he has always behaved. That's how he still behaved for his own sake, last night. I had to trap him into feeding you dinner. But he was absolutely ferocious for your sake. You may have a new boyfriend, whether or not you want him."
I thought about her description, and commented "He looks kind of dworky, but looks aren't everything. I'll have to get to know him better."
President Lee and Professor Charles Burlington
Maxine Lee, the President of the University of Southern Minnesota, was feeling rather annoyed. To the best of her knowledge, there had been no official approval for transferring the people of Potsdam Village to Planet CBQ 4960. But on Saturday evening when she walked down toward South Campus to check on the transit camp there, she found that a steady stream of people and animals was already moving through the warp gate. Perhaps Professor Burlington, the head of the Department of Ecology, had obtained approval and had failed to notify her, which he certainly should have done. Or perhaps he had authorized the transfers without waiting for approval. If that were true, it could get the university into trouble with the government.
The situation required her immediate attention. She decided to handle it in person instead of using electronic media. She marched into the Ecology Department building and headed for Professor Burlington's office.
His personal assistant Tina Carlsen was at work in his outer office. Tina's stainless-and-gold esdigie collar seemed to glow in the sunlight pouring in the window. Dr. Lee had never liked seeing Tina, or any other young woman, wearing a symbol of servitude around her neck. Tina said "Hello, Dr. Lee. Go right on in. He thought you might drop by." With a scowl on her face, she accepted this invitation.
The professor looked up from his desk and said "Hello, Maxine." As a head of department, he could get away with using her first name.
Maxine Lee answered "Hello, Charles. What the heck is going on with all of those people transferring through? And -- and -- what the heck is that awful smell?"
"Pig urine. I soaked a washcloth with it at left it out on that dish, on that table over there. I thought you might drop in and ask about moving all those farm animals on through. Now you know what this entire campus would smell like if we tried to keep those animals here, on campus on Earth. Excuse me a second." The professor moved over to the table in his office and put a lid on the dish.
"Oh. Yuck. I suppose nobody would want the campus smelling like that. Do you have authorization?"
"Of course. The USM Department of Ecology has a government contract to prepare Planet CBQ 4960 for colonization. For decades we have been transferring all sorts of living creatures to the planet to build its ecology. There have never been any arguments about this before."
"I also saw quite a few people going across. Are you claiming that they are all approved as terraforming staff? Do any of them have appropriate technical qualifications?"
"Many of them do indeed have degrees in agriculture, or animal husbandry, or biology, or other related topics. The ones with no degrees all have real-world experience in operating actual farms."
"I suppose that it could be argued that that is OK, then. But you are sending many more people through than I would think necessary to take care of those animals."
"Neither of us is really the best judge of that. The people who are actually herding and taking care of the animals know their job requirements better than either of us. I suppose, though, that I should put out an order for all non-essential people to return to Earth as soon as the animals are established in their fields on 4960."
"That sounds like a good idea. Send me a copy. I may need to show it to any state or federal regulatory people, or any self-appointed legal beagles, who show up and ask what we are doing."
Cyrus and Janet Mackenzie, and their family, at their new homestead
Pierre came from tending to the cattle herd and joined the rest of the family for lunch, or supper, or whatever the meal should be called when it happened late in the morning local sun time and in the evening by Mackenzie family biological-clock time. Folk music was playing in the background. The music did not sound like it was coming from the sort of hand-crank record player that would have been appropriate for vintage-1900 technology.
Pierre asked "Is that a left-over University station that has more technology than is allowed in the village?"
His father Cyrus answered "It's a new village station. I'm glad that Moses Potsdam decided to include AM radio technology in the latest volume of the Encyclopedia of Useful and Valuable Skills. He wants to be able to talk to everyone and spread news across a planet as quickly as he did when we were all living in one smallish village. In case there is an emergency, he wants ships at sea and people in isolated camps to be able to call for help."
Cyrus continued "Our radios use vacuum tubes, like most early-twentieth-century electronics, but not completely. I don't know where he found it, but Moses obtained information on making transistors that don't need to be made from hyperpure materials, and circuits designed to use those transistors. Only AM broadcasting is included. FM broadcasting, television, and anything else invented after TV still isn't allowed. Radio will have some entertainment value, but people should still prefer live plays and live music groups like Potsdam Village had on Earth. The sound quality of real live shows will be much better."
Pierre commented "And with nothing fancier than needle-in-groove recording technology, AM entertainment radio will be a market for live performers too. For best broadcast quality, they will have to perform in front of the microphones during the broadcasts, not in a recording studio months or years earlier. Have you heard the West High School choir performing live? They are good."
At that moment the music stopped, and an announcer said "We interrupt our regular programming now to bring you a special message from Professor Charles Burlington."
The professor used his student-lecturing voice to say "I had a brief meeting just a short while ago with Maxine Lee, President of the university. She reminded me that I cannot grant official approval to emigrate through the warp gates from Earth to CBQ 4960 for the citizens of Potsdam Village, or for the residents of the USM campus, or for anybody else for that matter. I can approve only transfers of plants and animals, pursuant to my department's contract to manage the creation and upgrading of a land-based ecology there. And of course I can approve temporary stays on 4960 of caretakers for these plants and animals. I must base those approvals on the qualifications of the caretakers, either academic or practical.
"Therefore I must ask all Potsdam Villagers, and anybody else who has helped to guide the village's herds and flocks through the warp gates, to return immediately to Earth unless you are essential to taking care of these animals on CBQ 4960. Owners of herds, flocks, and other groups of animals will be expected to certify if asked that everybody who stays is indeed essential.
"I hope that this situation will change soon, but it hasn't changed yet. President Lee was right to remind me of this. The University could be in a doubtful legal situation if this order is not carried out.
Janet Mackenzie turned to her husband and exclaimed "I'm not going to let you send any of our family back to face the plague on Earth. We stand a chance of being safe here. I don't care how many people Dr. Burlington thinks are essential. We're all staying!"
Cyrus replied "Read between the lines of the professor's order. He's doing it to keep President Lee off his back, and she's leaning on him to keep Secretary Roe of the Federal Department of Xenoenvironmental Development off her own back. I will certify that every member of my family is essential for tending to our cattle herd, if anybody asks. Except for Julia, I suppose." He turned and smiled at his youngest daughter.
Julia looked up from her plate of food with a shocked expression. She said "Hey! Who will I stay with, on Earth? And who is going to tend to my Angora rabbits?"
Her father kept on smiling. He asked "Your Angora rabbits?"
"Hell yes they are my Angora rabbits! Who else would they belong to?"
"So you would be perfectly willing to certify that you are essential to taking care of those rabbits. I wouldn't call them a flock or a herd. I suppose that they are an 'other group of animals'." Her father was still smiling.
Julia caught on. "You mean that I can certify that I am essential to those rabbits - those animals - for myself?"
"Exactly, young lady. I'll have to certify everybody else, if anybody asks, but you can handle it for yourself. You are taking one more step toward adult responsibilities. Welcome to being a grown-up."
Julia sighed, and she deliberately shifted her body language. She suddenly seemed to be carrying all the cares of the world on her little shoulders. She said "Gee, thanks," in a weary tone of voice. But then she grinned to herself.
At the Small Personnel Gate between Earth and CBQ 4960
In apparent response to Professor Burlington's order about non-essential people, a small number of Potsdamers did go back from CBQ 4960 to Earth. They used Gate Number Two, which was as tall and wide as an ordinary indoor single door. (Gate Number One had measured only 20 by 30 centimeters. It had been built by robots from the Bussard-ramjet interstellar spacecraft that had first touched down on the planet, and it had only been used twice. It handled some reconnaissance probes that checked out conditions on the planet, and then it transferred the robots and the supplies that created Gate Number Two). The large primary gates continued to transfer additional wagons, and additional cowboys and shepherds, and additional horses and cattle and sheep, from Earth to 4960.
Most of the people who went back were young men. Many of them wore baseball caps with white side panels and colored front and back panels, with the colors indicating which of the Potsdam Village high schools they were attending or had graduated from. Many of these young men pulled hand carts which were nearly empty, and which were almost too wide to fit through Gate Number Two. A really close inspection would have disclosed that most of these young men carried whips or tasers. A few of them carried guns. More guns were packed in boxes on some of the hand carts. The young men pitched camp together on the South Campus. But nobody noticed these suspicious details.
There were a few exceptions to this general description of the ones who returned. A messenger from Professor Burlington had delivered orders to the Mackenzie family shortly after the general order about returning had been broadcast. As a result, despite the objections of Janet Mackenzie, her twin sons and their wives did return to Earth also.
Primary Lecture Hall of the Department of Ecology Building, University of Southern Minnesota
Speech by Tina Carlsen,
Good evening, to the studio audience here in the hall and also to all those who have tuned in on the University intranet. I gather from looking at the crowd here and at the computer displays that just about everybody on the campus is watching this talk, one way or another. That isn't too surprising, I suppose. The topic for tonight is emigration to the planet CBQ 4960 as a means of avoiding the Tsalichi plague. That plague is a menace which has now spread out of New England and Florida and which is relentlessly approaching us here in Minnesota. I may not be the world's greatest public speaker, but I am certainly speaking on the world's hottest topic right now.
My name is Tina Carlsen. I graduated from this university just a few years ago. If you have taken any courses or been otherwise involved in the Ecology Department, you probably know me as the executive assistant to the Department Chairman, Professor Charles Burlington. He has assigned me to give this talk, rather than doing it himself, because I have two qualifications which he does not. I was born and brought up in Potsdam Village, and I am a woman.
My talk is primarily addressed to the women in the audience. You are probably wondering what you will be getting into if you decide to emigrate and live in the new Potsdam Village on planet CBQ 4960 . And your first concern is probably the way that women in Potsdam Village are treated.
To help you understand us, I will begin with some things that I learned in elementary school, or maybe even younger. These are guiding principles of the philosophy of Eric Potsdam, who founded his namesake village almost a century ago. Some of these points should be obvious to anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear. However, they can get obscured by people who wish to re-write the Declaration of Independence to say 'All persons are created equal'.
Women are not just men with different reproductive plumbing. We have our own needs, and our own emotions, and our own attitudes toward life. As a general rule, and on average, we tend to seek the protection and guidance of strong men. We give them our loyalty, and obedience, and love, in exchange for that protection and guidance.
As a general rule, and on average, men tend to seek the other side of the equation. They want to protect us, and guide us, and love us, in exchange for our loyalty and obedience.
These general rules and average behaviors fall in the middle of broad bell-shaped curves for both men and women. There is a great deal of overlap in these curves. On the tails of these curves there are women who insist on being in charge, and men who don't.
In centuries past, women were kept trapped at the submissive-behavior end of the attitude scale, and proper men had always to try to be dominant. Then beginning in the late 20th century and for a while afterwards, one of the prevailing political philosophies insisted that there was only one legitimate curve on the attitude scale, and everybody from both sexes was expected to match their attitudes to those of the radical feminists. Both of these approaches to life are wrong. Women and men will be happiest when they are allowed to be themselves.
Many women - and for that matter, some men also - do actually prefer to be submissive. I know of women on the submissive tail of the feminine attitude curve who actually prefer to live their lives chained away in cages, rarely talking to anybody except their men.
At the other extreme for the village, I also know the woman who is the real manager of the village's lumber mill, even though her husband is supposed to be in charge there. She is a real expert in the art of what we call 'topping from the bottom'. She acts as his secretary and personal assistant, and she knows how to make it seem that she is following his orders. But every employee of the mill knows whom they have to please in order to keep their jobs and get raises.
I also know women who go beyond what we have in the village, who give orders in their own right and expect them to be followed. Our university president here falls in that category, as far as her working life is concerned. I don't know about her personal life. Was her husband one of those wimpy men who live their lives constantly saying 'yes, dear' to anything that their women want? People like that are not attracted to Potsdam Village. If any of them do come for whatever reason, they leave soon afterwards of their own accord. Our lifestyles just aren't compatible.
That's enough sweeping generalities. We have three practical examples here in the lecture hall to show you some of the things that can happen in Potsdam Village. All of these examples are former students here. Here's the first one: Pedro Mackenzie, come on out!
Pedro is carrying his wife Jennifer over his shoulder because she is practically immobilized. She is wearing Irish-8 cuffs on her ankles. Can we have a close up? As you can see, those cuffs clamp her feet securely together. She can't walk or run at all. She's got another smaller pair on her wrists behind her back. I can assure you based on experience that those two smallish pieces of metal make Jennifer just about totally helpless.
Please sit down, Pedro. I would suggest that the best place for Jennifer right now is on your lap. Thank you.
Okay, people, take a good look at Jennifer's dress. It's sleeveless, with a mid-thigh hemline, broad front-buttoning straps and a zipper that goes all the way down the front. With her hands pinned behind her back, she can't even touch the fastenings of that dress. With her ankles pinned together, she can't run away. It might appear at first that Pedro could easily humiliate her whenever he wishes by stripping that dress off. Before you reach that conclusion, take another look at her eyes.
Let's have some more close-ups here. Look at her expression. Her eyes tell him that she loves him and trusts him absolutely. He could never betray her when she looks at him like that. Look at the way he looks at her in return. His eyes pledge to her total care and protection, and she knows that her trust is well-placed. Perhaps ordinary vanilla lovers can exchange similar gazes. But let me tell you something else I know well: those gazes are always most intense when the woman is physically helpless.
That's enough of Pedro and Jennifer for the moment. Pierre and Jessica, come on out!
You can see that Jessica 's ankles aren't directly restrained. But she still can't wander too far, because there is a leash attached to her collar, and Pierre is holding the handle. Like her twin sister Jennifer, her hands are confined behind her back. But the way they are confined is quite different. Pierre, please have your woman spin around slowly. Cameraman, another close-up please.
As you can see, there is nothing that the camera can detect that links Jessica's hands behind her back. No cuffs, no chains, no ropes, no stocks, nothing. Yet her palms stay together, and her fingers stay interlaced. Why? Because Pierre has ordered her to keep them there. For Jessica, that order holds her hands useless behind her back just as securely as Jennifer's hands are held by Irish-8 cuffs. She can't reach around and unclip her leash from her collar, even though leash and collar are just clipped together, not locked.
The place on this stage that we have set up for Pierre and Jessica includes a chair for him, a low hassock for her, and a small table with a bowl of potato chips. Pierre, please install your woman kneeling on the hassock and take your seat. Thank you. Are you going to feed her? I see that you are, one potato chip at a time.
The moral of the story so far? We have two twin men, married to two identical twin women, and yet the women are not being treated identically. That goes to show that the relationship between a man and a woman in Potsdam Village is an individual thing. No two couples will have exactly the same relationship, even when the men and the women in the two couples are pairs of twins.
Now we come to the third example that I mentioned earlier, an example of a rather different type of relationship: mine. I not only work with My Professor, I also live with him. I wear this esdigie collar that he locked around my neck, and I do not have a key. But at least for the moment, he isn't locking me up in any other way. I expect that he will put me back in close restraints from time to time after things settle down, but not right now.
Instead he has ordered me to give this talk tonight. In the recent past he has ordered me to inspect the work that the terraforming crews and construction crews are doing on CBQ 4960. When I follow those orders, my review messages can make or break the career of an ecology major. My esdigie collar is a symbol of authority, not subservience.
And yet in the end, I am his completely, heart and mind and body and soul. I hope that I will spend the rest of my life with him.
Are the three relationships in front of you typical? I am not certain that there is any such thing as a typical Potsdam Village relationship between a man and a woman. So far we haven't even mentioned that the village has an active ponygirl club and an active Gorean society. Their members aren't typical either; most village residents aren't members of either of them. But in Potsdam Village, the activities of these groups are not hidden away. An ordinary shopping trip in Potsdam Village could easily include encounters with ponygirls being exercised on the streets, and also with Gorean-style slaves in camisks and siriks.
However, we aren't open to everything. There are some types of relationships that are not allowed.
One extreme, when the guy is so wimpy that he refuses to take charge, hasn't been a problem for us while our village has been on Earth. Guys like that aren't attracted to our village. Occasionally they come, usually with gals who want a bit of firmness from their men. What usually happens in those cases is that the wimpy guy leaves the village, while the gal finds the firmness that she needs with some other village man.
The best example of the opposite extreme was probably the relationship between Mack and Mattie Benson. They came to Potsdam Village together about twenty years ago.
Mack was a sadist. The most erotic sex act, as far as he was concerned, was to strip Mattie naked, hang her by the wrists from the ceiling, tie her ankles far apart to anchor points in the floor, and then whip her until he was ready for intercourse.
Mattie was a masochist. She probably enjoyed the way that Mack treated her before they came to the village. But Mack believed that living in the village gave him the right to do whatever he wished to poor Mattie. He got nastier and nastier. After only a few weeks in the village he was whipping her until the bruises on her back began to bleed. Then he would have intercourse with her while the blood from her wounds ran down her legs and dripped off of her toes.
That story came to light on the next Foundation Day, the village's big annual holiday. Everybody is expected to parade their women in bondage and in public on that day, even women who are never tied or chained on any other day of the year. All kinds of bondage are worn, from toy handcuffs to total confinement. Some other women noticed how badly Mattie was hurting from the way that she moved. The Iowa State Police were called in. A policewoman took one look at Mattie's back and immediately arrested Mack for assault and battery. Then she interviewed Mattie. Soon charges of rape were added to the case against Mack.
Mack's defense lawyer worked very hard on the jury selection. Eventually he had a jury composed of ten men and two women, all of them from Potsdam Village. He was much more casual about the trial itself. His case was anchored on the assertion that all of the sadomasochistic behavior, including the bloody whippings, was consensual. He figured that the two Potsdam women, being properly submissive Potsdam women, would go along with whatever the men decided. The ten men, being Potsdam men, would understand.
He got the last part right. The men, and also the women, understood perfectly. After the closing arguments the jury was out for less than half an hour, barely long enough to pass all of the 'guilty' verdict forms around the room for everybody to sign. That trial happened when I was in second grade. I can still remember hearing the grown-ups around me talking about it. To the best of my knowledge, Mack Benson is still in the Iowa State Penitentiary.
There have been other cases since, where men in Potsdam Village were forced to give up their women for failure to give those women proper love and emotional support. None of the others have been as extreme as the case of Mack and Mattie Benson.
So: a woman who emigrates with us to live in the new Potsdam Village will not automatically become a slave with no rights. The men of Potsdam Village will protect her, even from her man if he abuses her.
The men of Potsdam Village also protect their children. We also had a case back before I was born when a guy joined the Potsdam Ponygirl Society because he was a sadistic pedophile. He thought that he could whip a team of thirteen-year-old girls as much as he wanted while they were pulling his cart, and then force them into his bed. It's said that Eric Potsdam himself pronounced judgment on that guy when the villagers realized his true character. The guy died from a bullet wound to the back of his skull; the point of impact was surrounded by powder burns because the gun was fired at a very close range. A coroner's jury of villager men gave a verdict of "death by hunting accident due to person or persons unknown". That only happened once. No pedophile has since tried to do anything improper with any of the children of Potsdam Village.
That's enough, for the moment, about your topics of first concern. You know also that the technologies used in Potsdam Village are more limited than those used in other places. Why do we live like that? How do we organize it?
Have you ever spent several hours learning how to do something that you knew perfectly well how to do just a little while earlier? A new computer, or perhaps just a new computer program, has been installed since you last did the same job. It doesn't work the same way as the old one did. Now you need to learn what to tell the computer and what to do all over again.
Have you ever known how you wanted a job to be done, but it couldn't be done that way? A computer somewhere insisted on doing the job the way it wanted to. You probably gave up in the end and did it the computer's way, because that took less effort than winning an argument with a computer.
Have you ever done something that would be very embarrassing if anybody found out, and you were happy that nobody knew, and then a computer analyzed some video and spread the word to the immediate universe via the internet?
Have you ever lost a job that you really enjoyed doing because a computer knew how to do it better than any human being could?
Computers sometimes pretend that their humans are running things and doing important jobs. How did it make you feel when you realized that the work you were doing was totally unimportant, because the computer that was supposed to be helping you could actually do the job better without your interference?
Have you ever taken great pride in learning to do something difficult, only to realize that computers had been doing the same thing for decades without strain?
If you are an older person, have you ever looked at the world around you and felt vaguely uncomfortable? We are all most at home when we live in the world we were born into. Computers, and the onrush of technology, are changing this world so quickly that people who are past 50 can no longer live in their own birth worlds. I haven't reached age 30 yet, and I can already feel the world changing around me. I am happy that I have the village, where technology changes only very slowly, to serve as an anchor for my sense of self.
Eric Potsdam looked back to the world of about 1900, when computers hadn't been invented yet and people still counted for something. The village that he founded does have a vintage-1900 look about it, since it is made of brick and lumber, not aluminum panels and plastic. It's powered by horses and steam engines, not solar panels feeding induction lines. But the complete picture is more complicated than that.
Eric Potsdam saw that some areas of technology needed to be much more advanced than vintage-1900. He began a research project to gather the needed technical knowledge together and edit it into a reference book. The team that he put together has continued the work under his son Moses Potsdam. Today the resulting Encyclopedia of Useful and Valuable Skills is twenty-two volumes long. The most advanced parts are probably the sections on synthetic organic chemistry and biochemistry. Those sections teach us how to make medicines that should allow all of the residents of Potsdam Village to have long and happy lives.
So given all these facts, who might want to emigrate?
This speech is aimed at women who can give appropriate answers to four questions, and also at the men in their lives.
The first question: Do you have a pioneering spirit? Would you want to establish a new home on a new planet? Planet CBQ 4960 is becoming a very pretty place, well suited for you to build your new home on.
The second question: Have you found a partner in your life, a man that you can love and trust? If so, then I presume that you are either already married to this man, or you expect to marry him sometime soon, or that the two of you have agreed on some other form of long-term partnership. Ideally your man is here on campus. Perhaps he is somewhere else but can come here almost immediately.
The third question: Are you to any degree a natural follower? Some people aren't and they insist on leading. Women who feel that way will have difficulty in adapting to the Potsdamer way of life. It would be better if you were willing to let a man guide your life, once you have found the right man for yourself.
The fourth question: does the prospect of staying on Earth and catching the Tsalichi plague frighten you more than the prospect of wearing some of the cuffs and chains that you have seen on this stage, cuffs and chains that you may have seen also in the village encampment on the South Campus? Remember that the keys to whatever cuffs and chains you may wear will be held by a guy who loves you. You will get no love from plague virus.
The perfect person to hear this speech is a woman who can answer 'yes' to all four questions. But just one 'yes' answer may make you decide to join the people of Potsdam Village and move your home to a new planet. You are the person who has to make that value judgement.
There are two things you should do if you want to come with us.
The first of these is to register. We already have people behind the desks of the campus dormitories with the necessary paperwork. The registration process is a demonstration of the kinds of technologies that we use in order to get things done without computers. The forms are written on carbon paper, and our people will be ready to loan you agate-tip styluses that will enable you to make five carbons when you write in your name, your partner's name, and your campus address. You will have to press hard with the stylus to make all of the carbons come out clearly. Yes, we know, using a computer would be easier. We think that avoiding any need for computers makes the extra effort worthwhile.
The second thing that you should do is pack. We'll be going the instant we have approval to go, and we hope to have that approval very soon. If you are living off-campus, you should move within the perimeter of the quarantine fencing before the advance of the plague makes it necessary to close the gates and quarantine the campus. Hopefully you will have boyfriends or other friends in dormitories who can accommodate you for a short while. If you don't, then check with the Department of Housing on campus. Some students have gone home to be with their families due to the threat of the plague, so rooms should be available.
Don't worry about accommodations after you reach CBQ 4960. The village will have a housing program waiting for you. As a matter of fact, that housing program will be receiving some of the carbon copies of your registration forms in order to help its staff organize things.
I think that covers everything that is really important. So register as soon as you can, at the desk of any dormitory or in the student center, and then pack and stand by. Be sure to label your suitcases, since they may get separated from you during the move. I will hope to see many of you and work with you on our new planet.
Thank you for listening. Good-night.
End of part 3
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