The Secrets of Shackleton Grange 2

by Steve Spandex

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© Copyright 2016 - Steve Spandex - Used by permission

Storycodes: F+/f; captive; cell; bond; gag; rope; latex; catsuit; straitjacket; hood; trial; jury; punish; vacbed; force; encased; stuck; cons/nc; X

(story continues from )

Chapter 2: Kangaroo Court

To say that Cathy’s mind was in a state of turbulence would have been an understatement. With her future a complete unknown, the stricken woman spent a sleepless night on the hard, uncomfortable floor of her cell, with little to take her mind off the grave situation she found herself in.

In all her years of breaking and entering, she had had a few close shaves. Once or twice, the owner of the property that she had been targeting had almost caught her in the act. Once she had even been chased by an irate, shotgun wielding elderly gentleman, whose valuables she had just managed to liberate. But each time, her feline like agility and speed had been sufficient to get her out of a fix. Even when, on two occasions, the police had arrived whilst she was still at the ‘scene of the crime’, she’d still managed to slip away and avoid capture. This time, however, there was no getting away. Although she knew that being arrested would probably result in her being given a custodial sentence – especially if the numerous other offences she’d committed could be linked to her and taken into consideration – she began to wonder whether this might actually be a more preferable outcome than the one looming large before her now.

Cathy’s extended stay in solitary confinement dragged on and on, until it seemed to her that it must be well into Saturday morning by now. She was just beginning to think that maybe she’d been forgotten about, when the sound of approaching heels reached her leather encased ears.

The key turning in the lock and the jarring sound of the reluctantly opening door were followed by the sensation of several pairs of hands working to free the ropes on her legs, after which she found herself being hoisted up into a standing position. But if Cathy thought these actions were the precursor to the removal of either the hood or the straitjacket, she was to be bitterly disappointed. In fact, her bonds were about to increase again. For a second or two, a clinking sound that could only be made by links of a metal chain brushing against each other reached her ears, before she felt something being attached to the collar region of her hood. Suddenly, without warning, her neck was yanked violently, and she had no alternative but to move forward. After having spent so long tightly bound, her legs had developed the intense tingling sensation of pins and needles, which only seemed to intensify as the circulation began to return. And this lack of feeling in her limbs was the catalyst that caused her to stumble and almost fall, as she was urged impatiently to keep up with the brisk pace set by her unseen captors.

The journey along the subterranean passage was made in silence, and soon the escorts and their prisoner were climbing the steep stone steps back up to ground level. The fact that no one had spoken to her, led Cathy to the assumption that Dolores was not amongst the party that had come to retrieve her from her place of incarceration, and this was soon confirmed when a clamour of voices became apparent from somewhere ahead of them, one of which she recognised as her host. A moment or two later, their progress came to a brief halt and the sound of an opening door coincided with the volume levels suddenly rising. But then, as she was encouraged to march forwards again, these voices abruptly ceased; indicating to Cathy that it was probably her entrance that had instigated this sudden lull in proceedings. Although she was blind, Cathy sensed that there were a lot of people present now, and that all had their eyes fixed firmly upon her.

After a few seconds, this uneasy silence was broken, as Dolores’ voice boomed out, addressing her congregation.

“Right ladies, this court is now in session. Those of you able to sit, please do so.”

As these words echoed around the room, Cathy felt the pressure around her temples begin to ease and the strap around her neck loosen, before the soft leather began to ride up over her face. As her eyesight returned, she squinted into the unfamiliar glare of the light, desperately trying to take in her surroundings, but finding herself temporarily blinded after so long in pitch blackness. When her vision finally returned to some semblance of normality, she was able to ascertain that she was in an oak-panelled room with a high ceiling, from which hung two large crystal chandeliers. Directly in front of her, sitting behind an old, ornately carved oak table, was Dolores. Her attire was similar in cut and design to that worn the previous evening, only now the cat-suit was black and had been polished to such an extent that it glistened in the bright morning light that streamed in through the windows directly behind her. Immediately to Cathy’s left and right, two of the women who had fetched her from her night-time quarters stood in close attendance, and when Cathy half turned - to see if there was any avenue of escape open to her - she encountered the third woman directly at her back. Just as on her previous meeting with them, their heads were immersed in the same restrictive hoods.

None of this really surprised Cathy too much, but what drew her attention now was the scene on the left hand side of the room. For here was assembled a group of women, all bound in different ways that made use of a huge variety of techniques and materials. In fact, as Cathy looked up and down the line of trussed up females, she realised that none bar the pair at the far end of the line seemed to be bound in the same manner. Some were sitting on upright chairs – indeed some were actually bound to these stout items of furniture. Others were lying prone on the floor due to the nature of their bonds. Another of the helpless young females was forced to stand; her arms having been bound behind her back, then suspended in the air by means of a taut rope attached to the ceiling. With her arms stretched to their limits and her high-heeled boots barely able to touch the floor, she had no option but to remain bent forwards at all times.

A quick calculation told Cathy that there were twelve bound and helpless women in this line-up. All were gagged in some way, with many having their eyesight inhibited either by hood or blindfold. Those whose eyes were still in working order seemed to gaze around the room in wide eyed impotence.

Directly behind each of these unfortunate enslaved creatures, stood a second woman. This group, however, were unbound, although many still wore hoods or masks that hid their faces, save for the eyes, nose and mouth. These women, Cathy quickly deduced, were the ones responsible for the unenviable condition of the bound group. Some carried whips or riding crops in their hands, whilst others had handcuffs or ball-gags hanging from the leather belts that seemed obligatory alongside the skin-tight cat-suit that each wore. All twelve of this group glared menacingly at Cathy, who shivered uncontrollably as a direct consequence of their cold, steely scrutiny.

After a minute or so of silence, Dolores stood up and turned to address the assembled company.

“Ladies of the jury, we are here today to try the defendant standing before you, who goes by the name of Cathy.”

She paced around to the front of the table and began slowly walking along the line of women, and it was clear straightaway that it was the bound section of her audience that her words were being directed towards.

“The case is a simple one, and should take only a few seconds of contemplation before each of you comes to a correct and just verdict.”

She reached the end of the line, turned around and stared directly at Cathy, who up to now had been listening in stunned silence.

“The charge is this. That on the night of Friday 20th May 2016, at around the hour of ten in the evening, the aforementioned Cathy did unlawfully enter the premises of Shackleton Grange, with the intention to obtain and remove items of value from the said property.”

She turned once more to the ‘twelve good women and true’ and paced back down the line once more, her high heels echoing on the polished wooden flooring.

“Now ladies of the jury, the question that you are being asked to adjudicate on is this: Is the defendant who stands before you now, guilty or not guilty of this crime? Bear in mind when you make your decision however, that the accused was caught red-handed in one of the bedrooms of this house, having entered through an unsecured first floor window. Also please take into account that she had upon her person at this time, a rucksack containing the items that you are about to be shown.”

She beckoned towards one of the women at Cathy’s side, who duly retrieved the rucksack and handed it to Dolores. Opening the zipper, the Mistress - who seemed to have assumed the role of both prosecutor and judge - tipped the contents out onto the floor. Cathy watched with rising dismay as her hacksaw blades, screwdrivers, pliers, wire-cutters, penknives and other building-entering paraphernalia noisily spread themselves out in front of the jury. When the ringing echo from this commotion died away, Dolores continued.

“So ladies, the evidence before you is plain to see. Now I shall ask you each in turn to give your verdict. Is Cathy guilty of breaking into this house illegally? I realise that you’re all – how shall I put it? – slightly impaired in your capacity to articulate your thoughts at the moment. But a simple yes or no, or even just a nod or shake of the head, will suffice.”

She turned to the girl on the far left hand side of the line.

“You can start us off Megan. Is she guilty?”

Megan, who had been lashed securely to her chair with numerous plastic cable-ties, and whose mouth and lower head were plastered in a sea of grey duct tape, made a muffled, inconclusive sound from behind her gag. The fact that she simultaneously nodded her head vigorously, however, left no one in any doubt that this was a vote in favour of Cathy’s guilt.

As she watched in horror at the evolving situation in front of her, Cathy began to move uneasily from foot to foot, as if getting ready to flee as soon as the opportunity presented itself. The three guards, however, obviously sensed her plans and moved in closer. The helpless woman felt a hand being placed on either shoulder, and another pressed into her back between her shoulder blades, leaving her in no doubt that she wouldn’t get very far at all if she contemplated making a dash for freedom. Dolores, however, was oblivious to this activity.

“Good, that’s one guilty vote. Now we’ll move onto...well, whoever this is behind that hood. What’s your verdict Number Two?”

The unidentifiable ‘Number Two’, whose head was encased in an all-covering, sight restricting black latex hood, lay prone on the floor. Her whole body was enclosed in a tightly fitting black darlex sleep-sack, with several strictly secured leather straps placed strategically along the length of her body, from ankle to chest. At first, she didn’t respond; seemingly unaware that it was she that Dolores was addressing her question towards. A slight nudge in the back from the boot of her latex clad rigger, however, spurred her into action. The voice that emanated from behind the hood was muffled and faint, but there could be no doubt as to the two syllable word she uttered: “Guilty”.

Dolores turned briefly to face Cathy and flashed her that cold smile.

“That’s two votes against you already Cathy. Not looking good, is it?”

Cathy’s emotions now got the better of her. Not only was her trepidation in regard to their intentions - once they’d all passed their verdicts - causing her to tremble violently, but coupled with this was a rising sense of anger at the injustice of this ‘kangaroo court’. The women of the jury were all bound and helpless, and were hardly going to go against the verdict that Mistress Dolores sought. The consequences of doing so – of going against what was expected of them – had probably already been spelt out before her arrival in the makeshift courtroom. So this whole trial was obviously just for show; a complete travesty of justice, in fact.

Screaming into her gag, Cathy tried to enlighten the court as to her objections to the proceedings, the main thrust of which boiled down to her opinion that a trial like this was weighted against her - as well as being illegal - and that they had no right to hold her here against her will. And - much as she hated the thought of being arrested - if they thought she’d broken the law, then why didn’t they simply hand her over to the police and let them handle the matter?

These were the basic themes that she tried to get across to this all female gathering, although she doubted whether much of her diatribe had actually been understood. But whether through incomprehension or indifference, her outburst went unheeded. Instead, Dolores sauntered slowly over to where she stood. As she approached, Cathy’s desire for flight increased to a point where it was almost uncontrollable. But being hemmed in on three sides by the vigilant attendants, she knew that an escape attempt was doomed to failure. Leaning in close to Cathy’s fear-etched face, the Mistress whispered menacingly.

“If you continue to interrupt these proceedings with your groundless objections, then I will have no alternative but to hold you in contempt of court, have you removed from the room, and continue to try you in absentia. And believe me, that will make things even worse for you than they already are. Do I make myself clear?”

As she uttered these words, the woman at her back tugged sharply on her hair, whilst the two on either side gripped her shoulders painfully. Cathy shuddered, but managed to control the rising urge to scream.

“Good, now perhaps we can continue.”

Strolling back to the centre of the room, Dolores turned her attention to the third woman in the line.

“Alison, please now give your verdict: guilty or not guilty?”

Like all of the women here, Alison was dressed in a figure-hugging outfit. Like her neighbour, she too lay on the floor, although the nature of her bondage was quite different. With wrists and ankles bound with ropes, she had then been subjected to a severe hog-tie, with her hands almost touching her feet and her elbows bound in close proximity to one another. Any urge she might have had to tamper with the knots that kept her in such a hideous looking posture, had been negated by the application of layers of grey duct tape around her hands, thus removing the use of her fingers. From her position face down on the floor, the woman lifted her head and simply pronounced the word “guilty” through the cleave gag that had been inserted between her teeth.


And so it went on. The chair-tied, tights-encased blonde with the inflatable gag; the handcuffed and blindfolded brunette; the strappado – bound woman with the leather hood; the ball-bound girl curled up on the floor with her head touching her knees and her feet in close proximity to her rear; the leather single-sleeved female with the muzzle gag and posture collar; the taped and completely mummified young lady; the chained and chair-tied creature with her head swathed in multi-layered cling-film. All gave their verdicts, and all were of one mind: Guilty as charged.

With ten votes cast, and with the overall verdict in no doubt, Dolores turned to the final two women in the line. In her severely distressed and agitated state, Cathy had until now not noticed the similarity between the last two members of the jury. But now, as Dolores began addressing them collectively rather than individually, she noticed that they were actually identical twins. Not only that, but both wore exactly the same attire; black spandex cat-suits almost indistinguishable from her own.

“And finally we come to our two newcomers, Jasmine and Jade. I do hope you’re enjoying your first visit to Shackleton Grange. Firstly Jasmine, how do you find the defendant, guilty or not guilty?”

As well as the similarity of her looks and clothing, Jasmine was also bound in similar fashion to her sister; each having been lashed to the chair with copious amounts of rope. Their hands remained invisible behind their backs, but as each shifted in their seat, the soft clink of metal gave away the fact that they both wore handcuffs. Both had circuit after clinging circuit of duct tape wound unmercilessly around the lower part of their faces and heads, and when they spoke, it was evident that this unbroken grey mass was a deterrent to the removal of some kind of gagging material that filled their mouths. Notwithstanding the muffling effect that this engendered, the answers given by both were unequivocal. Not unexpectedly, they were in complete accord with their fellow jurors.


With a smug smile on her face, as if she had known all along that the outcome was a foregone conclusion, Dolores turned and walked to her seat behind the oak table. Sitting down, she gazed for several seconds at Cathy, as if contemplating the most appropriate action to take, before delivering her summing up speech.

“Well now Cathy, as you’ve heard, the verdict is unanimous. You have been found, by a jury of your peers, to be guilty of the charge for which you were being tried; namely that you entered this house unlawfully with the intention of stealing from me and my guests. It therefore now befalls me to pass sentence on you.”

She paused, as much for dramatic effect it seemed, as anything else.

“Cathy, offences of this sort are viewed in this courtroom as being of a most severe nature, and are punishable by a penalty to match the gravity of the crime. I therefore sentence you to a custodial sentence of not less than three months.”

Cathy wailed into her gag and tried to break free from the clutches of the three women who held her in check, but to no avail. Dolores ignored this latest outburst and continued.

“During this period of incarceration, you will be held in restraint at all times, twenty four hours a day. There is no provision for parole, nor any possibility of time off for good behaviour. However, any attempt to escape, or in any way disobey orders or try to hinder the application of any of the various forms of bondage that you are going to be subjected to, will be viewed in a very dim light, and further time will be added to your sentence accordingly.”

She addressed the three guards.

“Take her away girls. You know what to do.”

Cathy found herself being turned around to face the door that led out of the room to...where? Back to the cellar, perhaps? The thought of being once more entombed in some dingy underground cell, or left hooded and sightless in some sort of solitary confinement for the foreseeable future, sent Cathy into hysterics. Digging her heels in, she resisted all attempts to drag and haul her out of the room, whilst simultaneously straining to break free from the tightly restrictive straitjacket. The room they were in at the moment was light and airy, and despite the fact that not one of the women present had been even remotely sympathetic to her plight, the notion of being in some well lit room with other human beings around, seemed to be infinitely preferable to spending the next three months in some lonely inescapable dungeon. Unfortunately, her circumstances were such that there was no way in the world that her quest to stay put could succeed, and within seconds she was being hauled bodily towards the exit.

From somewhere behind her, Dolores’ voice sounded once again.

“Oh dear Cathy, you didn’t listen to a word I said, did you? So just to make sure you understand the terms and conditions under which you‘re being held, I’ll spell things out for you again. Any disobedience or attempts to escape are subject to additional time being added to your stay here. And this pathetic show of insolence has just put an extra week onto your sentence. So that’s three months and one week that you’ll now be spending here as my guest. Now perhaps you’ll see the error of your ways and realise that compliance with the rules and regulations is in your best interests.”


Contrary to what Cathy was expecting, the trio of hooded women hustled and cajoled their unwilling captive, not in the direction of the underground cells, but instead dragged and harried her towards the grand staircase that she’d seen last night. Their journey upwards didn’t stop at the first floor, however, as Cathy found herself being coaxed up a further, less ornate stairway that took them upwards another two floors. After traipsing along another long and poorly illuminated passageway, the procession finally halted outside one of the numerous identical closed doors. One of Cathy’s guards - the fountain of red hair that sprayed from the apex of her hood contrasting starkly with her shiny black all-covering attire – produced a bunch of keys, searched for a few seconds for the one she needed, then inserted this into the lock.

The opening of the door revealed a small, windowless box room swathed in darkness. And the flicking of the switch to turn on the unshaded light bulb, made the view within no less enticing. The room – no more than twelve feet square - was devoid of furniture or adornment of any kind, save for what appeared to be a sheet of black rubber stretched across a sturdy metal frame -approximately seven feet long by five wide - attached to which was what looked like a small vacuum cleaner. Bundling their hesitant detainee into the room, everything suddenly went black for Cathy, as without warning the now familiar leather hood was swiftly pulled down over her head, causing a scream of shock and dismay to force its way past the ball-gag that had by now filled her oral cavity for more than twelve hours. With the leather tightened to form a second skin across her face, Cathy felt the strap around her throat pull taut, before a faint clicking sound that she couldn’t immediately identify reached her now encased ears. The hood, she was soon to discover, was only to be a temporary measure, however, and the reason for its utilisation was soon to become apparent.

As if to offset the application of this one item of restraint, to her great surprise, the fearful and trembling young prisoner suddenly felt the straps of the straitjacket begin to loosen, and within seconds she was able to uncross her arms and wriggle out of the loop that had held them across her chest all night. The strap that had been digging deeply into her crotch also slackened, as did the buckles on her back, and within no more than a minute, the leather jacket was being pulled away from her body and her arms extricated from the sleeves. Automatically, Cathy’s hands reached up to her neck, in an effort to remove the vision depriving cover from her head. Her fingers, though, instantly encountered the small padlock that had been applied to prohibit the removal of the hood. Seconds later, the ability to remove the headgear became irrelevant, however, as she found her arms being grabbed and twisted behind her back.

The application of the cord around her wrists was both swift and effective, and left her in no doubt that getting her hands free from the painfully tight rope was not a feasible option. Her heart pounding with trepidation, Cathy felt more ropes being added around her ankles and knees. But then, to her surprise, she heard a clicking sound, as the padlock at her throat was released, and moments later, the soft but clinging leather casing loosened and she found the hood lifting up over her mouth, nose and eyes, before being completely removed. She had been in the hood for no more than a few minutes, and it was clear now that this had only been applied to keep her out of mischief whilst the straightjacket was being exchanged for the more conventional rope bondage.

Cathy shook her head, as her hair fell across her face. Without the use of her hands she found it difficult to remove the tangled strands from her eyes, but one of the women obliged by pulling the unkempt mane back and tying it into a ponytail. As this was being seen to, the sound of approaching heels in the corridor outside pre-empted the appearance of Dolores in the open doorway.

“Ah, I see my girls have nearly finished getting you ready for bed. I know how hard that cellar floor must have been for you last night, and I’m guessing that you probably didn’t get a wink of sleep, what with the excitement of yesterday evening still so vivid in your memory. So now I’m going to give you the chance to relax for a few hours.”

As she was speaking, one of the other women – the one in the bright pink figure-hugging latex cat-suit and matching hood - was releasing the zipper at one end of the expanse of stretched latex, and Cathy realised for the first time that there was another sheet beneath the uppermost layer. Or in other words, this contrivance took the form of a sheath or envelope. And it was obvious at once exactly what it was that these women intended to enclose within this restrictive sachet.

As her feet were eased between the clinging layers of rubber, Cathy once more begged and pleaded for this whole nightmare to be brought to an end. Through her gag, she heard herself whimpering about how she didn’t mind in the slightest whether Dolores called the police and had her charged with breaking and entering, burglary or whatever other crime she might have been guilty of. But this appeal for clemency merely caused Dolores to laugh harshly. And even her servants, whose mouths were gagged and clearly unable to register joy, mirth, or even a smile, betrayed, by the glint in their eyes, that they too found this an amusing concept.

“What, call the cops and tell them that we caught you breaking in last night, but somehow forgot to inform them until now, after more than twelve hours have elapsed? I don’t think so, do you Cathy? No, it’s far too late for that now. And besides, who needs the law of the land to intervene, when the ‘Grand Court of Shackleton Grange’ has already tried you and passed sentence?”

By now, the three attendants had forced Cathy’s unwilling body into the figure hugging sheath. As her head was being immersed under the upper sheet, she made one final effort to halt the process of complete encasement, but found that, with three pairs of hands holding her down, she was powerless to derail them in their endeavours. Ensuring that she was positioned correctly, one of the women placed the latex cover over Cathy’s face and swiftly aligned two previously unnoticed short rubber tubes, which protruded from the otherwise unbroken shiny black sheeting, over her nose. Cathy now heard the opening being zipped shut above her, sealing her inside, whilst simultaneously the two tubes were pushed vigorously into her nostrils. Dolores’ voice, now slightly muffled, once more filled the air.

“Make sure those tubes are sealed around the edges girls. We wouldn’t want any air getting in would we? That would spoil the whole effect.”

No sooner had the Mistress of the House finished speaking, than a roaring sound filled the space around Cathy’s bound and helpless frame, and she felt the latex around her body and legs begin to constrict. It didn’t take her long to work out that the air was now being sucked out from between the rubber folds in which she lay. Second after second, the sensation of the rubber that enveloped her shrinking and tightening, corresponded with her attempts to struggle becoming less and less effective, until she felt as if she was being crushed alive. Finally the drone of the suction pump ceased. Tentatively, Cathy tried to move her legs, but found that even shifting a fraction of an inch in any direction was now almost impossible. Nor did her attempts to roll her body over to either the left or the right fare any better. The latex that now adhered like a second skin to her face, contracted around her jaw and made the ball-gag behind her teeth even more uncomfortable than it had been previously. With all but the slightest of motions being curtailed, Cathy felt as if she had become immersed in a sea of treacle or a pot of glue, or maybe a giant spider’s web. It was akin, she thought grimly, to being in a state of suspended animation.

“Okay girls, let’s make sure she’s nice and snug in there.”

Suddenly, Cathy felt several pairs of hands gliding over her face, her breasts, her lower abdomen and her legs. Each of the hands seemed to be smoothing down the now drum-like latex package; stroking and fondling with gentle motions, as they sought to locate any air pockets left within the hermetically sealed enclosure.

Or was there actually another agenda?

For as the fingers made their way ever so placidly over her body, Cathy suddenly realised that a strange sensation was coming over her. She squealed and moaned, but these were not cries born of pain or suffering, but had their genesis in the utter surprise that hit her, as these calm, caressing hands triggered what could only be described as the first stirrings of sexual arousal; causing her to sense a warm wet patch begin to manifest on the tight spandex of her crotch area. Cathy’s mind was in a state of turmoil, and her senses even more so. What the hell was happening here? Were they doing this deliberately to tease and tantalise her? Or was it merely a by-product of their desire to ensure that every last bubble of air was smoothed out? This question would have to remain unanswered for the time being, however, as this momentary trip into a parallel universe of pleasure proved to be short-lived.

“That’s enough for now girls. We wouldn’t want her to get too excited by all this attention we’ve been lavishing on her, would we?”

The hands were suddenly removed from her body.

“Hmm, not bad, but I think there’s still a bit too much air in there. Let’s make things a bit tighter for her, shall we girls?”

Seconds later, the whirring of the suction device once again reverberated through the stretch fabric that surrounded her. Almost at once, Cathy felt the already ultra-tight rubber contract still further, and her state of immobility reached a point where she felt as if her very bones would be crushed if this went on much longer. Mercifully, however, this second stint of air removal lasted only ten seconds or so and abruptly came to a halt with the cessation of the machine’s droning noise. In the ensuing silence, Cathy found that her exploratory attempts to move any part of her anatomy, by even the most miniscule fraction of an inch, now met with complete failure. Fortunately, the tubes running from her nose allowed her to take air into her lungs, although the flipside of this was that the very effort of breathing caused pain in her chest, such was the compacted nature of her newly acquired bondage. The pressure on her face too, was almost unbearable, with no way to release the tension on her eye lids, nose, mouth, temples and cheeks.

“Right Cathy, try to get some sleep now. This afternoon we’ve got an equestrian event planned, which I’m sure you’ll enjoy taking part in. As a matter of fact, I think you’ll probably be the star attraction.”

And with this, Cathy heard a shuffling of heels, as the four women exited the room. The inevitable closing and locking of the door quickly followed.


Now left to her own devices, Cathy struggled forlornly for a minute or two, but with no great expectation of success. Her whole being felt crushed within the air-tight packaging, and any attempted movement seemed to compound the ultra-stringent nature of her incarceration. Reluctantly, she gave up; the events of the morning still spinning wildly in her head. They couldn’t really keep her here all that time, could they? But deep down, something told her that the threat to keep her trussed up here for – what would it be? – fourteen weeks or so, was deadly serious. How many days did that add up to? Fourteen times seven – she did a quick mental calculation – equated to ninety eight days and nights. And the worst thing about it was that she’d been here less than twenty four hours so far... and that had been far too long for her liking! Multiplying this one hundredfold was something that she didn’t even want to contemplate.

And it might not even end there, she realised gloomily. The enthusiastic way in which Dolores had added an extra week to her sentence suggested that, unless she behaved like the complete model prisoner, then further days or weeks would be added at every opportunity. And the recognition of this possibility caused the vacuum packed female to wish she’d never even heard of Shackleton Grange, let alone decided to rob the place.

But self-pity was never going to be the answer. Trying to put the serious nature of her plight to the back of her mind, Cathy gave herself a stern talking to. She had to remain positive, she tried to convince herself. Okay, so they were going to keep her tied up for the majority of the time, but there had to be times – she hoped – when she was let out of her secure bonds for a while, even if only for a few seconds. And it would be at times like this that she would have to be alert, assess the situation in an instant, and take whatever opportunity to escape presented itself. These moments would come she managed to convince herself. After all, they’d already moved her once from the cellar to this upstairs room, and it seemed she was going to be moved again this afternoon.

And this train of thought brought her around to pondering on the cryptic remark Dolores had left her with this morning. What exactly did she mean by an ‘equestrian event’? Surely they weren’t going to expect her to ride a horse whilst tied up, were they? In the course of doing her homework on the best way of breaking into the house over the past few weeks, Cathy had noticed the stable block, although never had there been any sign of horses. So the nature of this event would have to remain a mystery just for now. All would no doubt be revealed this afternoon, although Cathy couldn’t stifle a shiver of apprehension at the unknown nature of exactly what might be in store for her.


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