|The Secrets of Shackleton Grange|
|by Steve Spandex|
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|© Copyright 2016 - Steve Spandex - Used by permission|
|Storycodes: F+/f; F+/f+; captive; cell; bond; latex; bridle; harness; boots; ponygirl; reins; dressage; cart; race; force; cons/reluct; X||
|The Secrets of Shackleton Grange 3 Steve Spandex F+/f; F+/f+; captive; cell; bond; latex; bridle; harness; boots; ponygirl; reins; dressage; cart; race; force; cons/reluct; X|
|story continued from part two
After what seemed like several hours, during which Cathy had no option but to remain in immovable stasis, the sound of several sets of feet approaching slowly but surely built in volume, until they sounded as if they were just outside the door. The turning of the key in the lock, then the creaking of the ancient wood, was swiftly followed by the unmistakable tones of Dolores’ voice permeating through the layers of latex.
“Hello Cathy. Hope you got some sleep and are feeling nice and refreshed for the challenge this afternoon. You look so contented and relaxed in there, that it seems a shame to disturb you. However, I promised you a day at the races, and I wouldn’t want to disappoint you by excluding you from the proceedings.”
As she spoke, a pair of hands moved slowly across her breasts.
“You really are tightly encased in there still, aren’t you sweetie? It looks like this bed really is airtight.”
She addressed the other women.
“Feel how firm this latex has stayed girls. You wouldn’t get anything as tight and unforgiving as this with any other form of bondage.”
Almost immediately, three more pairs of hands began exploring the contours of Cathy’s latex enveloped body and limbs; massaging and kneading her flesh softly and tenderly.
Cathy was in a dilemma now. Part of her wanted to shy away from the intrusive fingers that seemed to be crawling like insects all over her. But on the other hand, the strange and not unpleasant sensations that she’d experienced the last time the hands had wended their way across her helpless form, made her curious as to the nature of this phenomenon, and keen to explore further. But the extreme compression of her hermetically sealed capsule meant that she could hardly move a muscle of course; either to repel or embrace this latest contact. And as before, Dolores called a halt to proceedings almost as soon as they’d begun.
“Okay girls, let’s get her out of the bed and ready for the main event of the weekend, which I know she’s looking forward to almost as much as we are.”
As if turned off by a switch, the hands ceased their rhythmic stroking. A few more seconds elapsed, before the rasping sound of the sealed zipper, just above her head, coincided with a sudden inrush of air, as the clinging latex sheets suddenly released their vice-like grip on every part of her body instantaneously. The unexpected nature of this semi-release, made Cathy gasp. Then, once the realisation that she was now able to wriggle and squirm with relative ease hit her, she began to fight against the still stringent ropes that had been redundant during her time in vacuum packed limbo, but now reminded her that her limbs were bound, and that she was still a long way short of her longed for freedom.
But these embryonic struggles were quickly stifled at birth, as Dolores’ three servants, colleagues or slaves - Cathy hadn’t yet worked out exactly what their status was, or indeed whether their presence here was voluntary or enforced – pulled the breathing tubes out from her nostrils, removed the now limp latex sheet from her head and began extracting her from the sheath.
As soon as she had been pulled from the unorthodox bedding, however, she was immediately set upon by the silent trio, and she found her already securely tied arms being inserted into another form of restraint; this latest affront to her liberty taking the form of a black leather single sleeve arm-binder, which was duly laced tightly so that her elbows almost touched, before being strapped around her shoulders to eradicate any chance of it slipping off. As this was taking place, Dolores simply stood back against the wall, never once taking her eyes off the proceedings. Only once the sleeve had been applied and its effectiveness checked, did she speak again.
“So Cathy, I hope you’re feeling energetic, because there’s quite a bit of physical exertion involved for you in this afternoon’s activity. But first I suppose we should let you have a refreshment break. After all, we must keep you fit and healthy for the challenges ahead.”
As if on cue, Cathy felt the buckle at the back of her neck loosen, and seconds later the ball that had been constantly embedded in her mouth since last night was being coaxed from behind her teeth. Cathy took several deep breaths and gingerly worked her stiff and extremely tender jaw muscles up and down. She was relieved to be liberated from the agony that this speech inhibitor inflicted, but was certain that this was only a temporary reprieve. However, her attempt to speak – in an effort to once again plead for her freedom – met with dismal failure, as her voice came out merely as a hoarse whisper. Until now, she hadn’t realised just how parched her throat had become. Mercifully, this particular anguish was soon to be remedied, as a bottle of mineral water was held to her lips, and she was allowed the luxury of drinking the cool, refreshing liquid at her own pace.
Having quenched her raging thirst, Cathy found a bowl of some indeterminate mashed up foodstuff being brought into close proximity to her mouth, before a spoonful of the unappetising concoction was offered to her lips. Cathy baulked at the idea of allowing even a morsel of this foul smelling delicacy to enter her mouth, but this resistance was immediately noticed and commented upon.
“Cathy, my dear, your refusal to eat when food is offered is most definitely not in your best interests. If you shun the cuisine presented to you now, then I’ll have to assume that you won’t be interested in any further refreshment for the next few days. And going on hunger strike will result in a lot of unnecessary suffering being inflicted on you. So eat up, there’s a good girl.”
With great reluctance, Cathy opened her mouth a mere fraction of an inch and allowed the woman holding the spoon to shovel some of the food in. It tasted like cold salty porridge and almost immediately she felt her stomach turn. Somehow or other, she forced herself to swallow the disgusting fare.
“There, isn’t that good? Much better for you than all that junk food that people eat nowadays. I’ll keep you on basic rations for a day or two, just to show my displeasure at you breaking into my home. But then, if you’re very good and don’t cause me any problems, maybe we’ll see about getting you something a bit more palatable to eat. ”
A second spoonful was tendered, and Cathy tried not to think about the vile flavour as she attempted to get through this hideous ordeal as quickly as she possibly could. Thankfully, after four mouthfuls, Dolores put a halt to the proceedings; seemingly now bored with watching Cathy’s pitiful efforts to get the almost inedible meal down her throat.
“That will do for now. We wouldn’t want you to get indigestion, seeing as how you’re going to be doing quite a bit of running around in a short while, would we?”
Cathy, who felt as if she was going to be sick any moment now, tried to take her mind off the rising nausea by concentrating on exactly what Dolores and her team had planned for her now. It obviously involved exercise, although the equine theme still didn’t make any sense to her. That is, until she looked down at the floor. For there, in a pile by the door, her eyes came to rest on an array of items that instantly enlightened her as to her captors’ intentions.
The horse tack - the leather and metal all polished to a shine - was instantly identifiable to Cathy, as she’d taken riding lessons as a child. But it was obvious straightaway, as the women began to get the bridle, harness and various other accessories ready for use, that these were not designed to fit the body of a real horse or pony, but had been crafted for a human being; or more precisely, the female form.
“Right girls, let’s get our little friend here tacked up and ready for action.”
Immediately, the three faithful assistants jumped at their Mistress’s beck and call. Whilst two of the hooded beauties held her still, the third placed the bridle around Cathy’s head.
“No, please, I can’t take any more of this!!”
Her pitiful plea, accompanied by vigorous shaking of her head in an effort to evade this latest restraint, did her no good. The strong leather straps – both vertical and horizontal - were eased around Cathy’s head from top to bottom and from back to front. But what caused her the most distress was the attached metal bit, which was forced as far back into her mouth as it would go. With this in place, all the leather straps were pulled so tightly that Cathy felt that her whole head was being compressed. Her cheeks, her temples, the bridge of her nose and her jaw all fell victim to the extreme pressure that the securing of this tortuous headstall created, with the final strap being tightly fastened around her throat. And with her jaw now firmly shut, the removal of the bit became impossible and she found that she had no alternative than to bite down on the unforgiving metal bar. There were reins attached to this implement of cranial torture also, but although these hung loosely at her breasts for the time being, Cathy knew instinctively that at some point a use would be found for them that she would no doubt find distasteful.
The young woman’s metamorphosis into a pony-girl, however, didn’t end with this headwear. For no sooner had the bridle been tested to ensure it wouldn’t slip or come loose, than the next piece of leather apparatus was being readied for her. This consisted of a harness, which fitted securely around her upper torso and shoulders, criss-crossed her breasts, and was then made fast around her waist. Metal rings of varying sizes hung from the straps at strategic locations; in readiness, Cathy solemnly guessed, for other attachments or bindings. Another strap, hanging from the front of the now secured leather ligature, quickly found its way between her legs and was pulled so tightly that Cathy involuntarily squealed at the sudden upward pressure into her crotch. Once her riggers had satisfied themselves that this had been stretched to its limits, it was securely buckled to the straps at her back.
With the leather latticework now woven around her, Dolores’ minions set to work on attiring their captive’s feet. But rather than the boots Cathy had arrived here in, a different pair were now set before her. Like those she favoured when she was on a house breaking assignment, these were of black leather and reached up to just below the knee. Unlike her own, however, the replacements had high heels; so high, in fact, that Cathy was sure that she would never be able to walk in them. But her opinions were of little interest to the Mistress and her three loyal attendants, and despite her attempted words of protest, she soon found her spandex clad legs being shod in the unfamiliar footwear. Not only were the heels of a height that she’d never encountered before, the boots also seemed to be one size too small; pinching her toes and compressing her feet painfully when she put her weight down on them. Just to add insult to injury, a set of legs-cuffs was produced; two sturdy bracelets with a connecting chain of about ten inches or so. And these were duly placed around her now booted ankles.
All this time, Dolores had been quietly watching the unfolding transformation; a smile of satisfaction etched smugly on her face. Now that the work was complete, however, she broke her silence.
“Well Cathy, my fine young filly, I’m guessing that you’re now beginning to get the picture as to what’s on the cards for you today. It will be interesting to see whether you turn out to be a thoroughbred or a carthorse, although with your sleek physique and slender legs, I’m guessing you’ll probably prove to be the former. Those boots may take a little while to get accustomed to, but I’m sure you’ll soon get the hang of them. I do hope so anyway, as if you fall, you could easily injure yourself... I’m sure that won’t happen though.”
She looked Cathy up and down for a brief period, before walking slowly around her captive. Idly, she grabbed Cathy’s ponytail and examined it for a few seconds.
“Hmm, not bad, but I think another couple of accessories would be in order.”
Cathy had no idea what this meant, but Dolores’ henchwomen clearly comprehended exactly what their leader was alluding to, as almost at once one of them passed her two plumes of long black hair. Fixing one to the strap that ran across the top of her skull, so that the artificial tresses cascaded down the back of her head, she then quickly set to work fixing the second to the strapping at the small of her back.
“There, that looks better. Whoever heard of a horse without a tail and a mane?”
Now satisfied that her prisoner’s appearance was acceptably horse-like, Dolores turned towards the door.
“Come on girls. Let’s lead our budding ‘Red Rum’ to the parade ring. I’m sure she’s dying to meet her fellow competitors.”
One of the underlings grabbed the reins and, without warning, Cathy found herself being coerced into action. Momentarily forgetting that the ankle chain would severely restrict the length of stride she was now capable of, she immediately faltered and almost fell before she’d even taken two steps. With her arms encased in the bondage-sleeve, she had no way of stopping her descent, and felt certain that she was about to crash headlong to the floor. But thankfully, one of the women seemed alert to the possibility of this type of accident, and averted the crisis by grabbing Cathy’s tumbling torso before she hit the ground. Being pulled back onto her feet without ceremony, the helpless prisoner found the reins once more being jerked forwards, and she had no option but to move in that direction, albeit with shorter, more carefully considered steps on this occasion.
Along endless corridors and down precariously steep stairways, the harnessed and hobbled young female was led, until finally, the procession reached a door that led outside. This wasn’t the grand entrance lobby at the front of the house, however, but a small back door that took them into the courtyard at the rear of the mansion; enclosed on three sides by the ‘U’ design formed by the wings of the building. The afternoon was bright and sunny, with a slight breeze rustling the young leaves on the trees which all but surrounded Shackleton Grange. Birds sang and bees buzzed in the warm air, but the ambience of a pleasant spring afternoon was lost on Cathy, as the party made their way towards the stable block, situated one hundred yards or so away from the main house.
At first, the paved nature of the courtyard made the going relatively easy, even though the extremely high heels and the ankle-cuffs made the journey something of a nightmare for Cathy, as every step had to be consciously thought about and executed with precision if she wanted to avoid stumbling again. As they approached the outbuildings, however, the smooth nature of the terrain gave way to an uneven tract of gravel, which made the task of staying upright even more hazardous. Luckily, her guards seemed aware of her limitations, and allowed her the time she needed to negotiate the difficult ground at her own pace, and kept in close attendance to ensure that she stayed upright.
As they neared the main entrance to the stables, the sound of activity and female voices grew louder, and it was no surprise to Cathy that, as they entered, the other women from this morning’s courtroom fiasco came into view. What did shock Cathy, though, was the nature of the goings-on that greeted her. The building consisted of several partitioned stalls on either side, and in each booth there stood one of the submissive women that had passed judgement on her. They were all still dressed in their tightly fitting cat-suits, with their feet now ensconced in high heeled leather boots. All were still bound to an inescapable degree, but unlike the last time she’d encountered them, when the method of bondage had differed between one captive and the next, now the style and quality of the restraints were of a more uniform nature. In fact, as she was led past each stall in turn, it occurred to Cathy that they were all rigged in exactly the same manner; with arm-binder, bridle and harness, their ankles in leg irons and with a bit for a gag. In other words, they were all rigged up in identical bondage to herself. Dolores must have noticed Cathy’s wide-eyed disbelief at the scene before her.
“What were you expecting to find here exactly? Shergar?”
As well as the harnessed and bridled beauties, another woman was also present in each stall; clearly the personal stable girl responsible for the welfare of her own pony. And it was impossible to miss the fact that each of these females carried a riding crop in her hand.
Clapping her hands with an air of authority, Dolores sought to silence the general buzz of activity.
“Okay ladies, if everyone’s ready we’ll get the meeting started. You’ll notice that Cathy has now joined us, and I’m sure that we’ll all have a lot of fun at this afternoon’s session. It’s time to take the hobble off your mare’s legs and lead her out into the parade ring.”
The stable girls began to remove the shackles from the legs of their charges, and one by one they filed out of the relatively dark recesses of the building into the daylight. Cathy watched, as the tight spandex, PVC, leather or latex suits glistened and shimmered as the sunlight caught each in turn. But her attention was quickly averted, as one of Dolores’ personal servants released her own ankle bracelets, whilst a second gave a quick tug on the reins to let her know that she needed to follow the procession back out into the open air. Dolores had already made her way outside, and was again giving out instructions.
“Okay, just walk your pony around the courtyard in a clockwise direction for now. Make sure she keeps her head up and doesn’t drag her feet.”
Bringing up the rear of this strange caravan, Cathy found that two of the women now backed off, leaving her in the sole charge of the redhead in the skin-tight, highly polished, black latex cat-suit. Ensuring that she walked at the same pace as her keeper, Cathy soon found that the pull on the reins remained at a bearable level, and she was beginning to think that this was an easy enough activity, when all of a sudden, after they’d completed their second circuit of the courtyard, Dolores gave her next command.
“Right ladies, get your pony to increase her gait to a trot now. Use your crops if necessary.”
Without warning, Cathy felt a sharp stinging pane searing through her left thigh. She squealed, but for several seconds failed to up her pace to the required speed. Another, even louder thwacking sound coincided with yet more pain coursing through her leg, and she realised that the other ponies had all now made significant ground on her. Despite the burning agony of the crop’s lashes, Cathy began to up the tempo to a jog, with her handler keeping pace beside her. Even so, the woman decided that another dose of the leather whip was in order; this time slightly higher, across her buttocks. Cathy yelped again and inadvertently changed course slightly. And this involuntary deviation from the stipulated path was the only incentive needed for a fourth blow being administered. Cathy found herself biting hard on the bit, in an effort to take her mind away from the torture that this series of whacks to her legs and posterior had inflicted. If her outfit had been of leather or rubber, she thought despondently, maybe the pain might not have been quite so intense. The relatively light-weight spandex, however, had been of little protection in this respect.
From across the paddock, Dolores’ voice boomed.
“Come on Cathy, you’re lagging behind. You know what happens to naughty young fillies that can’t stand the pace, don’t you?”
She waited a second or two, before answering her own question.
“They get locked up in the stables overnight without food or water.”
Cathy felt the tears flowing down her cheeks as she tried to make up the ground to the group of other women in front of her. Just as she thought that she’d achieved this goal, however, Dolores decided that it was again time for a change of tactics.
“Right, that’s good girls. Now let’s up the tempo again. Let’s see how good your pony is at a canter.”
Immediately, the line of pony-girls in front of her increased the rapidity of their stride, until they were all almost running, with their stable girls jogging alongside. Once again Cathy, who was feeling weak through lack of food and exhausted from having had no sleep last night, found herself being left behind. The inevitable slap of leather on spandex followed almost instantly. From somewhere inside her, she managed to summon up the reserves of energy needed to put on a spurt, which thankfully ensured that no further encouragement of this kind was forthcoming.
After what seemed like an eternity, but in reality only probably amounted to another two minutes or so, Dolores called the circling convoy of horses and their trainers to a halt.
“Right ladies, that’s enough for now. Let your pony rest for a few minutes. I must say that the standard overall was extremely high. The only exception being that old nag at the back. Looks like we’ll have to give you some extra training to get you into shape, doesn’t it Cathy?”
At the cessation of the enforced parade, Cathy, along with all the other ponies, found herself being led back into the stables where, once inside her own stall, she was left momentarily unattended. Feeling dizzy and nauseous, she dropped to her knees. Breathing hard, her heart beating rapidly and with the tears still streaming down her face, she found her focus blurring, and it was all she could do to stop herself collapsing onto the mat of straw bedding that littered the floor. Although she knew that it was futile, she found herself trying to slip her arms out of the bondage sleeve that held them in such close proximity to each other. As she did so, however, she sensed someone kneel down beside her. Even before she turned her head, the voice that whispered in her ear was instantly recognisable as that of Dolores.
“Not trying to break free are you? Do you really want me to have to discipline you in front of all the other ponies? Now be a good girl and behave yourself...or else!”
Cathy shuddered at the softly spoken yet chillingly unambiguous warning. Then, with slightly less malice, Dolores gave her one final piece of advice, before standing up and walking back out into the sunlight.
“If I were you, I’d use the next few minutes wisely, to get your breath back and conserve your energies for the next event.”
For a minute or two, Cathy kept her head down and tried to compose herself. What else could they possibly have in store for her? When would this whole nightmare come to an end? But her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of someone approaching. Looking up, she noticed Dolores’ silver-suited henchwoman standing over her. But what really caught her eye was the pair of boots that she was carrying, which looked vaguely familiar to her, although it took a second or two longer for the truth to register. Yes, these were indeed her own boots!
Lifting Cathy back to her feet, the woman grabbed the reins and looped these around a sturdy railing, so that her neck was tethered only inches away from the wooden pole. Cathy suddenly felt a hand grab her left leg and pull her foot up behind her, and seconds later the undersized boot began to slowly slide down her calf. The tight fit made this a laborious process, but after much pulling and wrenching, the stubborn boot finally released its grip and hit the floor with a dull thud. With her right foot soon succumbing to the same process, for a brief period Cathy stood with nothing but the moulded feet of her spandex cat-suit between her and the carpet of straw. But within a matter of seconds, each leg in turn was once more forcibly bent backwards, as she experienced the sensation of her own boots gliding over her foot and up her shin. After the pain of the alien, cramped foot apparel, the familiarity of her own boots comforted not only her aching toes and arches, but also served to calm her mind to a certain degree, as the threat of falling and injuring herself - during whatever task she was about to be set - now receded somewhat. And it was soon apparent that this was Dolores’ reason for the change of foot attire also.
The reins being released from their mooring post, Cathy found herself once more being led from her stall. At the main stable door, Dolores stood watching as her team of pony-girls made their way back into the open air. She caught Cathy’s eye.
“You didn’t really think that we were going to make you race in those heels, did you? No, they were just for the dressage event. If we’d let you all go cavorting around like that on the uneven terrain of the racecourse, we’d have lots of ponies with broken ankles by the time we’d finished.”
Cathy looked at the other girls as they were marshalled by their handlers out into the warm afternoon sun. She noticed that they too had relinquished their high heels, and were now also shod in sensible footwear.
For a minute of two, the harnessed and bridled beauties, with their artificial manes and tails dancing in the soft breeze, were left milling around in a small group by the stable door, under the watchful eyes of Dolores and two of her helpers, whilst the other stable girls momentarily disappeared. Cathy’s gaze strayed from the group, however, desperately hoping for a sign that some member of the general public – anyone from the outside world, in fact – was within range to observe what was happening and would choose to investigate. But the house was surrounded by trees and high walls, with no view possible from the road outside. She looked into the clear blue ether, hoping that a helicopter or light aircraft might just happen to be flying at low altitude over Shackleton Grange, and that the pilot might take note of the strange events taking place below and become suspicious. But the sky was devoid of Saturday afternoon aviators and their flying machines, and as had been the case since yesterday evening, luck seemed to have deserted her when it came to potential saviours appearing on the scene.
Her wistful thoughts of rescue were brought to an abrupt halt by a sound of what at first she thought was that of several bicycles being wheeled in her direction. Turning around, Cathy saw that each of the stable girls was pulling a strange two wheeled contraption in the direction of the cluster of pony-girls, the likes of which she had never encountered before. The wheels, about two feet in diameter, were set parallel to each other about four feet apart and connected by a raised metal axle, on which was positioned a small seat. Two shafts, approximately six feet in length, protruded forward at right angles from either side of the axle. As she watched, each of the ponies submissively allowed their equerry to secure these shafts to the waist area of the harness that they wore.
Seeing Cathy’s bewilderment, Dolores was quick to explain the nature of these strange modes of transport.
“These are harness racing carts, sometimes known as a ‘sulky’. They’re designed for racing real horses, but I find that human ponies are much more fun.”
As always, Dolores’ faithful entourage were on hand to begin the process of hitching Cathy’s bound and helpless frame to one of the lightweight carts. Threading the shafts through two of the stout metal rings that until now had hung redundantly from the waist area of Cathy’s harness, these were soon fixed in place, before being tested to ensure that the coupling would remain steadfastly secure. The short reins that hung from her bridle were also unfastened and removed, only to be replaced by similar but longer leashes.
“Okay, let’s see you walk a few paces.”
To discourage hesitancy, one of the woman stepped menacingly towards Cathy, riding crop in hand. Tentatively putting one foot in front of the other, she was surprised how easy it was to pull the lightweight sulky along behind her. After covering no more than ten yards, however, one of the women grabbed Cathy’s reins and led her back to her starting point. By now Dolores had sauntered off down the line of harnessed ponies, inspecting each as she went. Watching this, Cathy could see that none of the other bound females seemed in the least bit distressed or unhappy about the ordeal in which they were taking part. In fact, as she watched the stable girls attending to their trussed and tethered fillies, she could tell that they all seemed to be enjoying the attention that they were receiving. But of course, unlike herself, these women were here of their own volition, and would be going home after the weekend – indeed, they had come here knowing that they were going to be treated in this way. For Cathy, the knowledge that, for the foreseeable future, she had nothing more than day after day of unknown states of bondage, imprisonment and probably torture to look forward to, made the proceedings a lot less desirable.
Dolores had now reached the end of the line of bridled and bound beauties, and turned to address her captive audience.
“Right ladies, I know that you’re all chomping at the bit – if you’ll pardon the pun – to be off and running. As those of you have been here before will know, the circuit you’ll be taking is around half a mile in length and goes though the wooded area, fords the stream, circles the house and arrives back here at the start. As the track isn’t wide enough for overtaking, the race will be run as a time-trial. The pony with the fastest time will enjoy an evening of bondage pampering, with silk scarves and all kinds of toys and devices aimed at stimulating both mind and body. The nag who comes in with the slowest time, however, will be subject to...”
She paused for a second and stared directly at Cathy,
“...well, let’s just say, this unfortunate mare will be unlikely to see the light of day for the rest of the weekend.”
Cathy shuddered inwardly as she contemplated the punishment for not completing the trial in reasonable time, and from somewhere she summoned the will and determination to make certain that she wasn’t the one that would be facing these unspecified, yet clearly unenviable, consequences.
“Okay then, time for the jockeys to take their positions.”
At this command, Cathy suddenly felt the cart behind her dip downwards, and within seconds she could feel the increased weight that she would be expected to pull. Turning her head and looking over her right shoulder, she saw, now seated in the sulky’s saddle, Dolores’ silver suited, black haired lackey. She was only given a couple of seconds to gaze upon her driver, however, before an abrupt tug on the reins coincided with a sharp pain being inflicted on the left side of her mouth, as the metal bit jarred against her teeth and lips, forcing her to turn and face forwards once more.
“Right then, who wants to go first?...Cathy, how about showing the rest of the girls just how fast you can gallop?”
It was clear from Dolores’ tone, that this was an order not an option, and a second or two later, the snap of a cracking whip corresponded with a jab of excruciating pain burning Cathy’s already sore behind. With a stifled yelp of anguish, she lurched forward, only to find that, from a standing start, obtaining enough momentum to propel both trotting cart and driver was an extremely strenuous process. Another crack of the whip, however, was all the incentive she needed to summon up the necessary reserves of energy to ensure that the sulky began picking up speed.
With Dolores’ right-hand-woman navigating by the application of quick jolts on the reins, Cathy found herself being steered down a well worn dirt track towards a thickly wooded area, around one hundred yards away from their starting position.
Upon reaching the tree-line, the contrast between the bright sunshine and the relatively shadowy cover of the spinney was instantaneous, and it took Cathy’s eyes several seconds to become accustomed to the relative darkness of the sylvan environment. The track on which they travelled, up to this point relatively smooth and even, now became far less so, with tree roots and pot-holes of varying sizes making the journey much more of an obstacle course than before. Dappled sunlight penetrated through the new spring leaves and splashed an ever changing mosaic of colour onto the rides and glades through which they passed. Soft rustling sounds on the forest floor betrayed the presence of small woodland mammals; their afternoon foraging expeditions disrupted by the encroaching vehicle. And the startled chirruping calls of songbirds warned others of their kind to beware the unwelcome intruders into this, until recently, peaceful haven.
After another hundred yards or so, Cathy began to falter. Her energies fading fast from the effort of drawing the cart and its passenger ever onwards, coupled with the fear of falling on the treacherous terrain, caused her to decrease her gait from a canter to a trot, then to a fast walk. Her jockey, however, had other ideas, and with merciless use of the whip drove the reluctant pony-girl ever onwards. As they reached a clearing and the track bent away to the left, Cathy caught a glimpse, through the dense trees, of the perimeter wall; that same obstacle which she had scaled less than twenty four hours ago in order to access the premises.
The realisation dawned on her that just over that wall, only yards away from where she now worked in agony to entertain the bunch of sadists who had enslaved her, people totally oblivious to her plight could be going about their daily lives; people who would, if she could get some message out to them, come to her rescue and end this whole terrible ordeal. But she knew that screaming for help would do her no good, as undoubtedly the whip would almost immediately bite hard into the already tender soft tissue of her thighs and buttocks. But of more interest to her now – and more promising as a way out of this prison camp – was the sight of a small ivy-haloed archway, hewn out of the stone wall and filled by a heavy wooden gate.
The area leading to this potential gateway to freedom seemed overgrown, which suggested to Cathy that it had been unused for many years. She’d actually come across this entrance/exit from the other side when she’d been on one of her scouting missions, and had found it locked and immovable. But that was from the outside. What if it could be opened from within? She only glimpsed it through the dense trees for a brief moment, but knew that somehow or other she had to reach this potential way out. She briefly entertained the idea of deliberately overturning the sulky and then trying to make a bolt freedom. But the chances of her being able to tip the buggy and its occupant over in her bound state seemed virtually impossible. And the fact that, even if she could muster the strength to flip the cart over, she would still be harnessed to the shafts and unable to release herself, meant that the dream died before it had fully formed in her head. She did, however, vow to herself that she would make a beeline for this point of exit if she was given even half a chance.
The crack of leather on spandex snapped her prematurely out of escape planning mode and made her once more focus all her efforts on getting to the finish of this increasingly exhausting jaunt. As they reached a clearing, Cathy noticed that they were heading directly towards a stream. There seemed to be no bridge across this slow-running brook, nor further tracks branching off the one they were travelling. So what was to happen now? Cathy was assuming that she would be receiving an instruction to stop through means of a swift tug on the reins, but this was not forthcoming. Instead, a further lash across her tender derrière encouraged her to increase her pace.
Not daring to stop, lest such action incurred further punishment, and conscious that she had to make good time if she wasn’t to finish last in the trial, Cathy sped down the slight decline to the water’s edge at the nearest thing to a gallop that she could muster. Luckily the stream was only about six inches deep, but the resistance of the water slowed the cart down considerably upon entry. Fortunately, the momentum built up on descent of the bank, coupled with the narrowness of the meandering watercourse at this point, ensured that they made the far side without getting stuck midstream.
From there, the route took them up a slight incline, which Cathy, now fatigued beyond measure, found the most harrowing part of the whole race. Luckily, once the brow of the hill was reached, the going became relatively easier once more, and within seconds they had left the woods and were once more trotting out into the late afternoon sunshine. The rest of the journey, circumnavigating the main house, proved incident free, notwithstanding the fact that by the time they reached the other runners and riders at the finishing line, Cathy was on the point of collapse.
“Hmm, seven minutes, thirteen seconds. Not bad for a beginner. Maybe you were a racehorse in a former incarnation.”
This was Dolores’ only remark, as Cathy, still bound to the cart’s shafts, dropped to her knees. On the cusp of unconsciousness, she heard Dolores’ voice - seemingly distorted and far away – giving orders for the next contestants to take their places on the starting line. As her vision became ever more blurred, she felt her head slump towards the ground in what seemed like slow motion. Then there was only blackness.
Continued in Part 4...
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Story continued in Part 4
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