|The Secrets of Shackleton Grange|
|by Steve Spandex|
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|© Copyright 2016 - Steve Spandex - Used by permission|
|Storycodes: F+/ff; captives; dungeon; spandex; catsuit; bond; hood; punish; chairtie; game; outdoors; shackles; cuffs; chain; gag; dog; hunt; marsh; bog; stuck; sink; cons/nc; X||
|The Secrets of Shackleton Grange 10: The Hunt Steve Spandex F+/ff; captives; dungeon; spandex; catsuit; bond; hood; punish; chairtie; game; outdoors; shackles; cuffs; chain; gag; dog; hunt; marsh; bog; stuck; sink; cons/nc; X|
|story continued from part nine
Chapter 10: The Hunt
Bethany’s return to consciousness coincided with a ripping sound that seemed to have its origins very close at hand. Opening her eyes seemed to make no difference to the overall blackness that pervaded her vision and, not yet fully awake, forgetting the circumstances under which she’d fallen asleep, she panicked momentarily before the memory of where she was suddenly kicked in. The warm body of Cathy pressed hard against her torso, abdomen and legs, and any small movement that she inadvertently made, told her that the stringent crotch rope was still in situ and, judging by the ever so slight but also very real first awakenings of arousal that this engendered, ready to work its magic once more.
But this spell was quickly broken by the recommencement of the tearing sound, which Bethany now recognised as that of the tape cocoon, which had kept the bound pair in such an intimate embrace for the duration of their rest period, being ripped asunder. And soon, the results of this removal of the tape - which seemed to only reluctantly relinquish its grip on their spandex-clad bodies - became evident, as a current of cooler air began to circulate around Bethany’s body, corresponding with a slackening of the tight caress that held the imprisoned duo in check.
A muffled sound from her co-captive informed Bethany that she was also awake, and with this discarding of their shared sheath came a bolt of lightning that started between Bethany’s legs and spread rapidly through her being, as Cathy tried and failed to pull free of her remaining bonds. This strange but enjoyable sensation lasted no more than one jerk of their intertwined crotch ropes, however, as almost as soon as the tape had been removed, Bethany felt the pleasure-inducing rope loosen dramatically; leaving her frustrated at this sudden end to what she was hoping would be another mind-blowing orgasm.
With the crotch ropes removed and the two prisoners no longer in any way conjoined, Bethany rolled onto her back and tested her remaining rope bondage. There was still no leeway in the coils around her wrists, which had kept tight and secure for the duration of the night, and her legs, likewise, failed to make any headway when she tentatively pulled at the ligatures that held them in check. For a few seconds she was left to stretch out on the floor, experimenting with this newly acquired semi-freedom. But then, a pair of hands grabbed her shoulders and held her still, whilst another’s fingers began to unpluck the lacing on the claustrophobic hood.
Bethany’s journey from pitch blackness to bright light was instantaneous and blinding, although once her vision had adjusted to the new conditions, the dim, unshaded light bulb that hung from the cell roof proved not to be particularly bright in its illuminating qualities, and looking around she found the corners of the room in a state of semi-twilight. As Bethany watched, Cathy’s hood was also being unlaced and slipped from her head; her lank hair suddenly cascading out in chaotic tangles around her shoulders.
Bethany scrutinised her fellow captive’s face, hoping to make her mind up, once and for all, whether Cathy was a player in some kinky game, or really being held here against her will. And, unless she was an extremely convincing actress, the latter now seemed to be the far likelier truth of the matter. For Bethany could now witness at close quarters the fear and despair etched in the red rimmed, dark brown eyes that were smeared and circled with the tear stains. She could decipher no element of hope in those deep pools of loneliness, but instead encountered an air of resignation as to her fate, brought about by days on end of interminable captivity. And if her analysis of the situation was correct, then it now seemed that this was a fate which she would also be forced to share.
For Cathy, things weren’t quite so clear; the jury still being out on whether Bethany was working for Dolores as a sort of spy, or if she too was now in the same boat as herself. The fact that she seemed to enjoy their shared and enforced escapade during the night suggested that Bethany was in the employ of Dolores. But, there again, hadn’t she also found herself revelling in the wave of good vibes that had coursed between the two of them? So logically, if Cathy could use this as a kind of safety valve and escape into a land of sexual fantasy for a while in order to in some way alleviate the horrors of an uncertain future, then surely Bethany might have had the same idea. Would she get the chance to talk to Bethany today? Or would they be kept gagged whilst in each other’s presence?
Maybe they would even be separated and never see each other again. This thought made Cathy shiver slightly, as she realised that having another girl in the same situation as herself had been a great comfort to her – not that she would wish this nightmare on anyone else - and the notion of once more being bound and shut up on her own didn’t bear thinking about. For not only was there a degree of reassurance in her plight being shared with another, but she also figured that two minds were better than one when it came to finding a way out of this whole mess.
But to plot their campaign, they needed to be able to communicate, and mouths filled with tights or other bundles of cavity filling material, which were then held in place with circuit after circuit of duct tape, made formulating any strategy or making decisive plans as difficult as if the other communicant happened to be speaking a foreign language. Perhaps – she hardly dared to allow the thought access to her brain – there might come a time when Dolores’ servants got careless and left the pair of them both ungagged and unguarded at the same time. Then the time for plotting their escape could really begin to take shape.
But that time was clearly not going to be now. Having hauled their captives to their feet, the black suited figure grabbed Bethany’s upper left arm and began to guide her towards the door in short hopping motions. But if Cathy initially thought that she and Bethany were to be bidding each other farewell, it soon became apparent that she too was going on this same journey as her bound companion. With the pink latex-clad woman at her elbow, she found herself being bounced on her still stringently bound feet out of the room and into the dimly lit main area of the cellar. With the silver cat-suited figure leading the way and opening doors as she went, the tied twosome found themselves ascending, in awkward leaps, the steep stairs back up to ground level.
The sunlight that streamed through the windows of Shackleton Grange made Cathy hungry for a taste of the outside world, and only served to intensify her desire for freedom. But with Dolores’ mute but ever attentive employees watching over her like hawks, plus the fact that she was still bound hand and foot, ensured that these thoughts remained nothing but pipe dreams. Across the entrance hall the duo were shepherded, each jumping in time with the demands of her guard, and each gasping hard into their gags, in an effort to catch their breath due to the strenuous effort involved. Their travels lasted only a few minutes, however, and terminated in the kitchen. Cathy eyed the chest freezer warily as they were ushered into the room, but she took some comfort from the fact that the lid was sealed shut, and that she and Bethany were being directed towards the table and not this torture chamber, which still had her shivering with the memory of her incarceration in its icy interior.
Being placed on solid wooden upright chairs directly opposite each other at the kitchen table, the three servants soon immobilised the pair by binding them with strict efficiency to these sedentary mooring posts, before stripping the tape from their mouths and pulling out their gags. Any thoughts of communicating with each other that either of the two prisoners might have considered, however, were nipped in the bud, as the second that Bethany opened her mouth to utter her first unhindered syllable, a hand was placed to her lips, and the scowl on the silver-suited figure’s face informed her that talking was frowned upon... and probably subject to punishment of some description.
Breakfast of bread and water was swiftly served to the two inmates with almost military precision, with the pre-prepared victuals being offered up to the lips of the captives and more or less forced between their teeth. The water was a blessing after so long without liquid refreshment, and soothed Cathy’s parched throat. The bread, although not particularly appetising, would at least help to keep her energy levels up, which she knew would be vital should an escape opportunity present itself.
Just as the force-feeding process was coming to its conclusion, the sound of high heels – faint at first, but getting ever closer – reached Cathy’s ears. It didn’t take a genius to work out that the staccato tapping was produced by Dolores’ footwear, and this was confirmed seconds later as she appeared in the open doorway; dressed in figure-hugging black leather that highlighted her hour-glass figure and long slender legs.
“Good morning ladies. I trust you enjoyed each other’s company last night. Makes a welcome change from solitary confinement, don’t you agree Cathy?”
Cathy knew better than to rise to the bait by now, and merely nodded. Bethany, however, was more vocal.
“Look Mistress, I’m not sure exactly what’s going on here, but my train leaves at ten o’clock, and if I miss that there’s a two hour wait before the next one. So, much as I enjoyed last night, I need to be on my way shortly. Could you get your girls to untie me now please?”
Dolores walked slowly towards the table and sighed deeply.
“Oh dear Bethany, you really haven’t grasped the reality of what’s going on here, have you? You see, Cathy here really is my prisoner, and she’s going nowhere for several months. And now, as your curiosity got the better of you last night, you’ve become embroiled in this whole affair too.”
She knelt down beside the chair on which Bethany was bound and looked her in the eye.
“Which means, my darling, that you know far too much for me to just let you go. So, to sum the situation up, you’re going to have to stay here for the same length of time as Cathy.”
She patted Bethany gently on the cheek, then stood up to her full height again and paced across the room.
“In fact, I’m going to place you under exactly the same rules and conditions as Cathy.”
Bethany tugged as hard as she could at the ropes that lashed her to the chair, but found instantly that there was no way that she could ever hope to break free. Although she could see no reason to disbelieve Dolores now, her mind still couldn’t quite take in the fact that this was all for real.
“Come on! This joke’s gone on too long and it’s not funny anymore. I demand that you release me immediately!”
From the other side of the table, Cathy listened to the ongoing and increasingly heated exchange with growing dismay. Not only did her one chance of getting a message to the outside world seem to have slipped away, but it appeared that Bethany hadn’t yet worked out the solution to the simple equation, namely that dissent equals punishment. She desperately wanted to warn her new acquaintance that she was getting ever deeper into something that it would be impossible to get out of. But she knew that getting involved would be to her detriment, so reluctantly decided to keep silent. Dolores, although her voice remained calm, was clearly getting annoyed by Bethany’s insolence.
“So, you come into my house as a guest, poke your nose into affairs that don’t concern you, and then start making demands of me. Well that is a clear breach of the terms of your sentence and as such is punishable howsoever I see fit. As I said a moment ago, your sentence is running concurrently with Cathy’s, so you were already looking at a six month stretch, at the very least. And this outburst has just added another month to not only your sentence, but Cathy’s as well.”
Cathy looked at the forlorn Bethany, and saw her bottom lip begin to tremble and tears well up in her eyes, as the gravity of the situation began to hit home. But if she was hoping that her fellow prisoner had learnt her lesson from her previous outburst, she was to be disappointed.
“Let me go at once! You can’t keep me tied up here for months on end! There are people who know that I’m here and will come looking for me if I don’t return home. Then you’ll be in so much trouble. You’ll never get away with this you bitch!”
Bethany seemed to be building up a head of steam, but her stream of invective was soon curtailed by the insertion of a pair of rolled up tights, which were thrust into her still protesting mouth by the pink cat-suited figure, followed moments later by the addition of several orbits of duct tape around her face and lower head. Even so, for a full two minutes or more after the tape had been pressed down onto her flesh, her tirade continued unabated, until the need to take air in through her nostrils, plus the futility of the situation, quelled the now severely stymied demands and name-calling. Dolores stood quietly to one side as this outpouring of abuse ran its course, before delivering her response.
“Well firstly Bethany my dear, this talk of the cavalry coming to your aid seems to contradict what you told me yesterday when you first arrived, namely that you were too embarrassed to tell anyone where you were going. And secondly, insults and uncomplimentary comments like those are another contravention of the rules, and have added yet another month to your time here. That makes eight months by my reckoning. It looks like the pair of you will be spending next Christmas here! Won’t that be fun?”
Dolores came over to Bethany and cupped her tape covered chin in her hand. She gazed into her captive’s fear-filled eyes for a few seconds, before releasing her grip and walking back across the room to gaze out of the window into the bright spring sunshine. Then she turned back towards the table and her two seated house guests.
“And speaking of fun, we had a little game lined up for Cathy this morning, which is designed to give her some exercise and a bit of fresh air after being cooped up indoors all day yesterday. However, now you’ve decided to join us too Bethany, we’d love to invite you to participate as well. After all, we wouldn’t want you to feel left out, would we?”
Her next remark was addressed to her three trusted servants.
“Okay girls, you know what’s required. Let’s get Cathy and Bethany ready for ‘The Hunt’.”
‘The Hunt’? What did that mean?
Cathy pondered this question as she was gagged in identical fashion to Bethany. Then both she and her comrade-in-bondage were released from the ropes that held them to the chairs. A change of wrist and leg fetters was also required, it seemed, as the ropes that had held their limbs in check were swiftly and efficiently swapped for handcuffs and ankle shackles of shining steel, which snapped shut around the narrowest part of their limbs prior to the removal of the cords, thus giving neither captive the incentive to attempt what would have anyway been a foolhardy and ultimately futile escape bid.
Being pulled to her feet, Cathy found the ankle fetters less restrictive than the tight ropes had been; the chain connecting the manacles measuring around twelve inches in length, which would allow her to walk, but with caution in case she tried to take too big a stride. The handcuffs, by contrast, allowed no such leeway, and seemed to be of the kind where the bracelets were attached by a rigid bar rather than the short chain which she was by now more accustomed to. And the final flourish was the addition of headwear. Although of the same shiny black leather, these were not the sensory depriving hoods that the pair had worn for the duration of the night, however, but cranial coverings which not only boasted openings for the nostrils, but also had peepholes through which the wearer would be able to view her surroundings, and thus potentially be aware in advance of any horrors that were about to befall her. Essentially these were very similar to the hoods the three servants wore, with their hair sprouting in ponytails from the tops of their heads. Once pulled down to the neck, the collar strap was fastened with a small padlock to ensure it remained in place.
Finally, two pairs of flat shoes were produced.
“Here you are Bethany, I think you mislaid these after the class last night. Well never let it be said that I steal someone else’s property.”
Dolores passed the shoes to her silver attired slave, who dutifully slipped Bethany’s feet into the flat-soled footwear.
“And Cathy, just so that you don’t feel left out, here are a pair of similar shoes for you. After all, I couldn’t let you run around outside with only a thin layer of spandex to protect those soft, tender feet of yours, could I?”
The pink suited figure took the borrowed footwear from Dolores’ outstretched hand and began to insert Cathy’s feet. Immediately, Cathy knew that these well used shoes were one size too big for her, and that they would slip off if she was forced to walk for any distance in them. Dolores seemed to realise this too.
“Sorry they’re not exactly the right size, but they were the nearest we had. They used to belong to Electra here” - she motioned towards the woman who was at that moment involved in the shoeing process - “but since she’s come to live here, she wears boots all the time, so has no need for these old things.”
Electra? It was the first time that any of the three automatons had been humanised with the use of her name, and Cathy stored this information away, thinking that it might come in handy at a later date. For even though her attempts at building bridges with the trio had resulted in much grief being heaped upon her yesterday, she still clung to the notion that these three potentially held the key to getting out of this place.
But that would have to wait for now, as Dolores was once more asserting her authority.
“Right ladies, let’s get outside shall we? It’s such a lovely day out there, it would be such a shame to waste it stuck here indoors.”
Dolores lead the way, followed by Bethany and her accompanying guard, then Cathy, similarly under constant scrutiny. The black-clad female brought up the rear. Out of the kitchen into the U shaped courtyard the strange procession made its way. As Dolores had said, it was indeed a gloriously warm spring day, but Cathy had no thought of the wonders of the season. Her entire concentration was set on finding some opportunity to escape. The memory of the last time she’d tried such a daring stunt -at the ‘Equestrian Event’ just three days ago - was still vivid in her mind, and she vowed to herself that if the opportunity should arise, this time she wouldn’t get caught; although how exactly this daring feat was to be accomplished she had no idea at present.
But as she was pondering on this dilemma and the nature of what was to come, she caught a glimpse of movement out of the corner of her eye. Turning her head towards the wall of the building from which this visual distraction seemed to emanate, her hopes of salvation suddenly rose and she began vocalising as loudly as she could in the direction of a figure walking towards their cortege.
It couldn’t be, could it?
But sure enough, there, walking across the flagstones was a uniformed woman police officer. And she had a dog with her; a German shepherd that was snarling loudly with teeth bared, whilst straining hard on its leash. Surely Dolores and her retinue would flee now, knowing that the game was up. But, to Cathy’s surprise and dismay, Dolores merely smiled and shouted a friendly greeting to the newcomer.
And it was only then that Cathy realised that first impressions can be deceptive, and that she should have paid more attention to the figure, who was by now within a few yards of the now stationary group of six. Cathy’s mind, it seemed, had grasped hold of the first image it had encountered - the police uniform - then allowed her mind the freedom to conjure up details that she so desperately needed to be genuine, in order to believe that help was at hand.
Stark reality, however, was a rather different matter. Okay, so the woman standing only a few feet away from her was dressed in police uniform... well sort of. But how many real WPCs strutted around in knee length boots of shiny leather with six inch heels? Which police force was it that allowed their female officers to wear tight black skirts that barely covered their butts, with sheer, shiny black tights showing off their shapely legs? Which constabulary would condone the wearing of tight fitting, almost see-through blouses with the buttons undone nearly to the waist, in the process revealing a great deal of cleavage?
And what about her hair, which cascaded wildly in long blonde waves around her shoulders? Surely any real policewoman would be required to wear this tied back or in a bun. Okay, so there was a badge on her breast pocket and a police cap on her head, plus a night stick and a pair of handcuffs hanging from her broad leather belt to add to the authenticity of her outfit. But that was about all she had in common with the good old British bobby-on-the-beat. In fact, as Cathy scrutinised her outfit more closely, she realised that even the badge and headgear were more in line with the American cop attire that she’d seen on television, rather than British police standards.
Cathy’s hopes, which had risen sky high only seconds earlier, now plummeted to new depths, as she comprehended that, far from signalling her liberation, this pseudo-cop was all part of the plans that Dolores had hatched for Bethany and herself. And the sharp fangs of the ferocious mutt that this fake WPC was barely managing to keep under control, told her that whatever was in the pipeline for her now, it didn’t seem very likely that it was going to be something that she would look back on later with a great deal of fondness.
Dolores exchanged a few words with the bogus cop, which Cathy failed to catch due to the constant barking of the vicious dog. After no more than thirty seconds or so, however, Dolores turned back to the stalled convoy behind her and addressed her prisoners.
“Cathy. Bethany. I’d like to introduce you to a dear friend of mine who goes by the name of WPC Penelope Peril. And this...”
She beckoned towards the snarling, baying canine,
“...is Fang. And he hasn’t been fed yet this morning, so he’s a bit grumpy, as you can probably tell.”
She looked from Cathy to Bethany, then back again, before breaking into a smile as she noticed their fear-filled eyes and trembling frames.
“Initially we were just going to give Cathy a run out in the sunshine with Fang this morning, but your unexpected presence, Bethany, has made things a little bit more interesting. You see, what we’re going to do is give the pair of you exactly what you want: your freedom.”
She paused for a second or two, to let his seemingly compassionate gesture sink in, before delivering her bombshell.
“In fact, we’ll give you a head start of five minutes before we let Fang off the leash.”
Bethany gasped in horror and looked across at Cathy with wide, horror-filled eyes, as if she was seeking some sort of solace that she’d misheard Dolores’ last utterance. The look on Cathy’s face, however, gave her no cause for optimism that this was the case.
“So, what we’re planning to do is play a game called ‘Fugitives from Justice’. The pretext is that you two are convicts who have somehow escaped from a high security prison, and are now on the run. We, the forces of Law and Order, will be hot on your trail in order to return you to your cells and ensure that the ordinary men, women and children of Suffolk can sleep safely in their beds, knowing that two hardened criminals have been taken off the streets.”
Dolores smiled that evil smile of hers, as she warmed to the little drama that she was describing.
“Now here are a few pieces of advice for you both. Firstly, my servants will be monitoring the approaches to the main gate of the house, to ensure that you can’t escape or draw attention to yourselves there. Secondly, I’d split up if I were you, as Fang here can only chase one of you at a time. And lastly, there are a few booby traps laid out for you in the woods. Stumble into one of those and the game is over. If either one of you manages to remain undetected for more than fifteen minutes – which is unlikely – then you’ll win the right to a night of luxury bondage pampering. If we catch you within that time, however, then you’ll be sent directly back to solitary confinement for the rest of the day. Is everything clear to you both?”
Without waiting for any kind of response, she turned to her underlings.
“Okay girls, let them loose.”
‘Loose’ was not really an apt word to describe the condition of the two reluctant players in this terrifying game, as neither Bethany nor Cathy was relieved of her manacles. Instead their handlers simply released the grip that they had maintained on their prisoners’ shoulders during the course of Dolores’ oration. For a second or two, both appeared rooted to the spot, unsure of whether or not to flee, and if so to where. Dolores, however, seemed keen for them to make tracks.
“Come on ladies, get into the spirit of the game. This is going to be both beneficial and fun. Beneficial insofar as it’ll be a great workout for you both, as your opportunities for exercise will be few and far between from now on. And fun... well I’m certainly going to enjoy watching you trying to evade Fang’s desire for blood.”
Dolores’ harsh laughter - which Cathy likened to that of some evil witch - momentarily rent the air, before she became serious again.
“Well don’t just stand there like fools. The clock’s ticking. Only four and a half minutes now before we’ll be on your trail.”
Cathy and Bethany looked for a split second at each other, before beginning their awkward flight. But where were they heading? The front of the house would be out of bounds, if Dolores was to be believed, so where else could they go? Instinctively Cathy headed for the section of the wooded area that she’d become familiar with the other day. She had no great plans once she reached the tree line, but knew that at least she would be out of sight once she entered the dense thicket. And it seemed, from the footfalls and sound of laboured breathing directly behind her, that Bethany had decided to follow her lead.
The chains that conjoined the shackles around their ankles was of a length that made running difficult but not impossible. The initial problem for both women was getting accustomed to just how long a stride the perpetually jangling links would allow. Trying to move too fast would result in a heavy fall, and with no hands to cushion your descent, landing flat on your face was always a danger. Too short a step, however, would mean that the distance put between prey and pursuers in the time allowed would be restricted. Added to this, the fact that the shoes that Cathy was forced to wear kept slipping off her heels, made the journey to the sanctuary of the copse a haltingly frustrating process.
But once there, decisions had to be made. And the first thing to do was to make Bethany realise that splitting up was the best policy, as at the moment she seemed to be tagging along in Cathy’s slipstream. Making herself understood through a cloth gag, layers of tape and a leather mask was a trial, but augmenting her vocal instructions by eye gestures and thrusting out her handcuffed arms from behind her and pointing in the direction that she thought Bethany should take, seemed to get the message across. Cathy waited for maybe five seconds as she watched her fellow prisoner move off down a well-trodden track, then headed in the opposite direction. She was, she realised, going in entirely the opposite direction to that taken the other day. What lay down this route she wasn’t certain, but within seconds she had located the stream that she’d encountered during her pony-girl phase, and instantly hit on an idea. From somewhere in the back of her mind, she dredged up the knowledge that dogs couldn’t follow a scent over water. Whether this was true or not, she wasn’t entirely certain, but it was worth a try.
Wading into the knee deep current, Cathy pushed her way downstream for around fifty yards, then clambered with great difficulty up a muddy bank on the far side of this babbling watercourse. Here the ground sloped downwards into a slight hollow, where the trees were sparser than in the surrounding wildwood. If she could make it across this natural indentation and up to the ridge on the far side, where the trees grew once more in tightly compacted abundance, then she might be able to out-fox the baying hound, which could still be heard in the distance. As she moved down the gently descending hill, she realised that the area was marshy and slippery under foot. And it seemed the closer she came to the lowest point of this natural bowl, that the mud was getting deeper, until with each step she was sinking up to her ankle in slimy ooze. Maybe coming this way wasn’t such a good idea after all.
But it was too late to turn back now; she’d made her decision and she had to stick with it. She took another step forward and she gasped, as the ill-fitting shoe on her left foot slid off and disappeared into the mire. Without her hands to retrieve it, Cathy knew that trying to dig it out with her toes would be too time consuming, so she left it where it lay. And two or three steps later, the right shoe did a similar vanishing act. Cathy now had no choice but to continue shoeless.
Was it her imagination, or were the dog’s yelps and howls getting closer? She shuddered with fear at what this evil looking beast would do to her if it got its teeth into her flesh - covered only in a thin layer of spandex - and this gave her the impetus required to up her pace to the maximum that the chain would allow. She was approaching the lowest point in the landscape now, and consoled herself that, as she began to ascend again, the ground would become drier and the going easier.
The events that transpired in the next second or two, occurred so fast that it left Cathy powerless to counteract her descent into a situation which – despite her need for silence and stealth - found her squealing with fright into her gag. Extracting each shackled foot from the two or three inch depression that each step created had been bad enough. But suddenly finding that her leading foot had encountered a patch of even more unsound terrain, in which her leg now sunk in as far as the knee, made Cathy struggle violently to pull it out again. Unfortunately, with her ankles chained together, the quickness of this sudden movement caused her to stumble forward, and within no more than a second her other foot, too, had plunged deeply into the bog. But what was worse, was the fact that attempting to lift either foot out now failed to produce the desired outcome. In fact, each upward straining motion only seemed it produce a sucking sound from within the bowels of the earth, which corresponded with a slight but perceptible further downward slippage into the quagmire.
Panic stricken, Cathy looked around her. If her hands had been free, she could probably have reached out and grabbed the branches of one of the stunted trees that seemed to cluster around this low-lying swampland. But with this luxury denied her, there was nothing to grasp hold of in order to lever herself out of the unstable ground, and she found herself lunging blindly forward in an effort to reach terra firma. But this was to prove her downfall... quite literally. For instead of hauling herself out of the volatile sodden loam which soaked through the tight spandex of her garment in an instant, she found her body tumbling forwards, and before she could even think of taking action to steady herself, she had fallen face down into the morass.
Getting herself upright again was an arduous process, but from somewhere Cathy found the strength to lift her torso from the sludge and straighten up to her full height. But this minor triumph was soon forgotten as she gazed down and noticed that her knees had now disappeared from sight, and that the clinging mud was now half way up her thighs. Trying to extricate her legs was no longer an option, as she found the action of lifting one foot high enough to take a further step beyond her means. And from the squelching sounds that every movement seemed to produce, it was clear that the sinking process was an ongoing one.
Dilemma piled upon ever worsening dilemma. Should she struggle in an attempt to get out of the bog? Or remain motionless, in the hope that she would stop sinking? Should she call for help, knowing that a vicious dog and several equally ferocious women would be the only ones to hear her cries? What would happen to her if she continued to sink? Would Dolores even bother rescuing her, or simply leave her to her fate?
Despite the fact that the quagmire was pulling her further down with every attempt she made, Cathy found herself still desperately trying to raise her now almost invisible legs. An involuntary wail of anguish found release from behind her wall of gags, as the knowledge that she was still being sucked under at an alarming rate of knots registered in her brain. Within seconds she was submerged to her hips, and knew that soon her manacled arms would also succumb to the inevitable and become trapped in the unforgiving sludge. And once that happened, she realised, the chances of pulling herself out would recede to nil. She gazed down at her ever sinking self, trying to remain calm and still, yet unable to stop herself fighting every time she felt herself slip further into the immobilising mire.
She was submerged to waist level now, and keeping her hands clear of the thick slime that seemed to close in and constrict all around her was becoming ever more difficult. Pushing on the surface with her fingers had no effect in her efforts to arrest her rapid decline, and seconds later she looked down in horror as she felt the watery morass seep through her tight spandex outfit just beneath her breasts. If someone didn’t come along soon, she was doomed. As the cold unforgiving mud begun to play around her nipples, she screamed as loudly as she could into the wilderness. But a decrease in the volume of the dog’s bark in recent minutes, seemed to suggest that her pursuers had gone after Bethany, not her.
Cathy watched in impotence as the hungry bog reached her armpits. She gazed upwards at the surrounding terrain, but all she could see was a sea of stinking mud stretched out at chin level before her, with the stunted shrubs and other marsh-loving species of flora at the horizons of her vision. What were the alternatives on offer to her now? To drown in this secluded swamp, with her body never to be recovered? Or to be mauled and severely injured – if not killed - by some out-of-control ravenous hellhound? And even if she survived either or both of these scenarios, what did she have to look forward to, except a life of captivity and 24/7 bondage?
But even taking into account her bleak future at Shackleton Grange, Cathy’s will to survive was still strong. However much suffering Dolores put her through, it had to be better than passing away in some not-so-shallow muddy grave. And besides, she had vowed to herself that she would escape Dolores’ clutches and once again join the rest of humanity in the outside world. And that thought spurred her on to her next bout of vocal action.
Cathy howled as loudly as her layered gags would allow, and seconds after her desperate outburst, the snarling sounds of the hound seemed to get that little bit closer. Was there still time for her to be discovered and hauled out of this slurry? Or would the hunting party simply turn up to find a swirling mass of churning, bubbling mud in the place where she had recently fought so valiantly for life?
It was a race against the clock, with time most definitely running out for Cathy.
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