Penny shuffled the hoe around the tomato plant removing the weeds. It was early morning and there was just a hint of chill in the summer air, but she didnít seem to notice as she worked. She was dressed in a simple shift that hung halfway to her knees and a straw hat to protect her from the sun. Her bare feet were muddy, the grass had been damp with dew as she walked up to the garden and the soil kicked up by her hoeing had turned it to a layer of mud. She knew it was really too wet to do much, but she wanted to finish what she had started last night.
Penny stopped to flex her shoulders as she scanned the garden. She and her mother had taken over the farm after her father died. They wanted to keep the place going, but the cows were too much so they had turned to fruits and vegetables. Penny loved the gardens and spent more time then was needed on them.
Suddenly movement caught her eye. She straightened up and looked across the field. Her neighbor was waving franticly. Penny was an EMT on the local ambulance service and was frequently asked by her friends and neighbors for help. Her neighbor Sue was a single mother whose husband had run off with his secretary the year before. In an effort to improve her life, Sue had moved out of the city to this rural town. Now she was jumping up and down waving her arms.
Penny dropped the hoe and started running toward Sue. When Sue saw she had Pennyís attention, she stopped jumping and waving. She stood with her arms wrapped around her, slowly rocking from foot to foot--clearly in distress.
When Penny reached her, she dropped her arms to her side. "Itís Mickey, heís in the well!"
Breathless from running all Penny could gasp was, "Well?"
"Come on Iíll show you--please hurry."
The two skidded to a halt beside a dark hole in the earth; hidden from Sueís house by a falling down tool shed. The remains of a rotted wooden cover surrounded the hole.
"Oh my God," Penny whispered. "What happened?"
"I was hanging clothes and Mickey was running around. He ran behind the shed and I heard crash and then a yell. I ran back here and saw the hole." She sobbed, desperately holding onto her emotions. "I called him once and he answered ĎMommy,í but when I called again he didnít answer. I started for the house, but I saw you across the field."
"Please get me a flashlight and call 911."
Sue ran off to the house as Penny knelt beside the hole. It was about 18 inches in diameter and she had no way of knowing how deep it was. Mickey was a tall skinny six year old. A plan began to form and she wondered if she could fit inside the pipe. A bondage fan she had never considered being imprisoned in something like this pipe. It intrigued her and even turned her on a bit. Shaking her head to clear the thoughts she called down, but Mickey didnít answer. She leaned down and listened and though she could hear soft crying, but she couldnít figure out why he wasnít answering. A few minutes later Sue returned with a big flash light.
Penny carefully leaned across the hole so she could shine the light down into the well. Way down she thought she could just make out Mickeyís head and maybe his arms sticking up. Sue, peering over her shoulder, began to cry.
A few minutes later a pickup with red lights on the roof pulled up in the yard and a big burly man jumped out. He ran over to the two kneeling women.
"Whatís you got Penny?" He asked in a surprisingly soft, high voice.
Penny spoke without shifting her attention from the well. "Well Gunter I got a kid down a well and I ainít got any idea how to get him out right now."
"The rest of the guys are on the way. Iíll call George and see if he can send a backhoe."
"Iím not sure that a hoe will work. I think heís too deep for that."
Gunter sat back on his heels. "What you thinking?" Gunter had known Penny all her life and he had watched her grow into a smart confident woman. When Mike had started an ambulance service Penny had become one of the first EMTs and a very good one. Gunter was fire chief and he could over rule Penny, but out of respect, he let her run the show since she was the first EMS person on scene even though he was legally in charge.
"We need a fast way to reach him." Penny said, "I donít like the fact he isnít talking. We need to find out what is going on down there."
"How about a TV camera?"
"Yeah that would work, but where can we get one?"
"Jimmy Dunn just got one to inspect pipes on that new factory heís plumbing. Iíll call and get him over here."
Within ten minutes Sueís lawn was swarming with a small army of people. The small town police department had to call the state for reinforcements. The whole town had turned out to see the rescue. Penny and Gunter were getting desperate. They lowered the video camera 40 feet into the hole. It showed Mickey was not doing well and if something werenít done soon they would never get him out alive. Reluctantly Penny left the wellhead for the first time and took Gunter aside.
"There is only one way to get him out alive," Penny told him.
"Lower me down to him."
Gunter looked at her in astonishment. "You've got to be kidding."
"No! We have the pole truck with a winch on the end of the boom. You tie my feet together and lower me down the hole. Itís the only way we can save him. Itís been done before."
"Why canít we use the rescue harness?"
"Because Iíll get jammed in the hole, it has to be my ankles."
Gunter frowned for a minute. He didnít like the idea, but he couldnít think of any other way. It would take days to dig that deep and he knew Mickey wouldnít be alive by that time. Suddenly a distant rumble of thunder shook him from his thoughts. Glancing at the sky, he could see storm clouds gathering on the horizon. Now they had even less time.
"Ok." He said with a resigned sigh. This was the first time he could ever remember regretting that he was fire chief.
It took a few minutes to position the pole truck in the right spot and set the out riggers. Gunter pulled a climbing rope off the rescue truck. At Pennyís direction he cut a six-foot section off the end. Penny sat on the ground as he carefully lashed it around her ankles. Once it was secured to her satisfaction, he tied a loop in the end with a climbers figure eight knot. Penny realized as he worked that she had forgotten one important issue -- she was wearing only the sift with nothing under it. Once they turned her upside down it would end up around her neck. Gunter helped her stand up so he could work a rescue harness around her waist.
"Gunter... Iíve got nothing under this," she said as she plucked at the hem of her shift. "Iím sorry I just remembered."
"Shit. What are we going to do?"
"What we planed." Before she lost her nerve Penny reached down and pulled the garment over her head and tossed it onto the back bumper of the truck. There was a large, collective gasp as the rescuers and bystanders realized she was naked.
Gunter tried to work the webbed harness around her without touching her, but it wasnít working.
"Gunter! Just do it. Forget Iím naked!" It would have gotten in the way of the safety harness she reasoned to herself.
"Easy for you to forget." He countered with a chuckle.
Once the harness was in place, Gunter secured the rest of the rescue rope to it. This way if anything happened to the main rope, they would have manual way to try to pull her out he hoped.
Gunter helped Penny sit near the well as the pole truck driver lowered the cable on the end of the boom.
"How will we know when to pull you out?" He asked.
"Watch the video camera to see how Iím doing and it has a mike. When Iím ready Iíll tell you."
Slowly the cable picked her up. Gunter tied a short length of rope around her wrist. There wasnít room for a harness for Mickey. They both hoped she would be able to get the rope around him. Penny hung head down her fingers just inches above the ground as the boom swung her over the gapping well. She struggled to hold her fear in check. Slowly the boom swung her over the well. At Gunterís signal they began lowering her.
Penny watched as the dark whole swallowed her. She couldnít believe she was nude in front of 50 or 60 people hanging from a crane while being lowered into a hole. She giggled at the image of a naked, bound woman being lowered into a dark hole in the earth. Her shoulders fit easily into the well casement. When her breasts reached the pipe, she found her nipples brushed against the pipe. There was nothing she could about it as they became hard from the irritation. Next, her hips slid into the pipe. It was snug, but not uncomfortable. She would never regret being slim again.
Penny panicked for second as the light disappeared, blocked by her body. The rope was tight around her ankles and she found herself aroused by her predicament. She wished she could touch herself, but she couldnít move her arms more then the diameter of the pipe. A small cry below her brought her abruptly back to reality. She opened her eyes -- unaware she had closed them. The camera light winked at her as she brushed against the cable suspending it.
After what seemed an eternity she realized she was in reach of Mickey.
"Stop!" she called and she felt the vibration through her ankles stop.
Mickeyís shirt had been pushed up in front of his mouth gagging him. His eyes were open watching her. His arms were trapped above his head. It was very difficult, but she managed to work the rope around his chest twice. She hoped she could hold the end as they pulled him up. Mickey began to move his arms. Penny wondered what he was doing. She was about to ask him when suddenly she found her wrists tied together. She grinned down at him as she remembered how proud his mother had been when he joined the local Cub Scouts. 'Smart kid,' she thought.
"Up! Easy." She called.
Penny felt the vibration in her legs again as the winch operator began to pull them up. Whoever was working the camera was pulling up with them.
As they rose Mickeyís shirt worked itís way down and he said softly; "Thanks, I thought I was going to die."
"How are you?"
"Iím skinned up, but I think Iím ok."
"Weíll check you out when we get up."
Penny was amazed at how calm he was. Neither spoke as their upward journey continued. Suddenly Penny felt rain on her bare feet and then water began running down her legs. She decided it was a strange experience. She had never felt the rain upside down before.
Before long she could feel the wind as her legs cleared the pipe. Suddenly they were out! The boom swung them sideways. Arms grabbed Mickey and unwrapped the rope. Penny watched, upside down, as they laid him on a gurney and took him to ambulance. Then it was her turn. In mass all the on lookers, and rescuers followed Mickey to the ambulance. Penny found herself alone with Gunter as he unhooked her ankles from the cable.
"Can you free yourself? Iíve got to go help." He kept glancing in the direction of the ambulance.
"Iíll be ok. Go help." He jumped up and ran towards the ambulance.
It took a few minutes, but Penny managed to free her hands. The truck operator returned just in time to help her by un-lashing her ankles.
"That was the bravest thing Iíve ever seen anyone do," he complimented her as he undid the knots.
"Thank you, I had to do something." He just nodded and smiled.
When she was free he helped her to her feet and handed her the shift. She looked up just in time to see the lights of ambulance disappear down the road.
"Boy will I have a story to tell ZoŽ!" She told the rain as she walked home, her shift in hand.