First Day Jitters
"I am the instructor for this class. You will address me as Miss Cathy. Learn what I teach you, and you will be able to leave this place.” For emphasis she tapped the pointer on the floor.
“Nice touch, but be sure you look around the room. Try to make eye contact with everyone.” Robert sat on the couch while Cathy rehearsed her first class, only two days away. “Remember, when you come in they’ll all be watching you. You’ll be an unknown quantity; they don’t know what to expect. Don’t rush; slow, confident and deliberate till you get to your spot at the head of the class. Make sure they wait for you. Don’t look down, and don’t look away from them. Keep telling yourself that you’re in charge. You can do whatever you want, so by definition you can’t make a mistake.”
Cathy shook her head, unsure she could remember it all. “I’m really nervous. Do you think I can do this, Robert? It isn’t as easy as I thought it would be.” She twirled the pointer stick, working off excess energy.
“You’ll do fine. You know your outline?” She nodded. “Then you go in there, tell them who you are, and start talking. Speak with authority and confidence. You know your subject, show it.” He leaned forward. “Think back to when you were one of the guests, the first class you were in.”
She remembered that first day too well. “I was scared. I’d been yanked out of a normal life and thrown into an environment where everything was upside down. The only thing I was sure of was that I’d get in trouble if I made a mistake. The instructor for that very first class, Sarah was her name, she sure got my attention.”
Cathy Kincaid and her husband Robert were temporarily serving on the staff of the Center at the invitation of the Director. Robert was filling in as a Warden while Cathy prepared to be an instructor. After a week of orientation and training on Center policy she was ready to start. Robert was helping her with her presentation.
“See?” he told her. “She made an impression. You have to do the same. Grab and hold on to their attention. Then teach them what they need to know. You’ve been there; they want to hear how you made it out.”
That was an understatement. Cathy knew all too well the hardships those women were facing. She had experienced it firsthand, twice.
“And what about you? Ready to be the big, mean prison guard?” She had seen him in his new uniform for the first time earlier that evening.
“Trainee Wardens can only be brutal three days a week. I figured I’d practice on you the rest of the time.” He leered at her.
Cathy didn’t take his remark seriously. She knew Robert had never been cruel or abusive. He was strict, and he had not hesitated when he sent her to the Center after she had tried to run away, but he was fair and basically a gentle man. That and his self-assurance and determination were the qualities that made him so attractive. He listened to her, asked her opinion, even encouraged her to speak up but once he decided the matter ended. No effort on her part could persuade him to change his mind. She expected no less from him. That was their agreement; her life to be placed in his hands, his duty to provide for her. She willingly gave him her unconditional obedience, and in return he drew the boundaries that made her feel safe, loved and secure.
Despite Robert’s protests to the contrary she often suspected she got the better of the deal. Her worries didn’t extend past a concern she might disappoint him in some way or inadvertently disobey him. He had the burden of planning both their futures while trying to allow for the unexpected, and at the same time struggling to balance her sometimes conflicting moods while never losing his cool, and on top of all that he supervised her every single day. How he did it she didn’t begin to understand. About the results she had no complaints. She was devoted to him and would never give up what she had.
“Will I see you over there in the secure area?” That was the section of the Center set aside for the guests, the term they used for the unwilling attendees usually kidnapped and brought in on orders from their masters, husbands, and boyfriends. Cathy had been forcibly enrolled after being seized in an underground hotel garage the night she had run away. She had subsequently discovered that once in the Center the only way to leave was to complete the training. That included demonstrating an attitude acceptable to both the staff and the man who was responsible for her. She had earned her way out; now she had the job of teaching others how to accomplish the same thing.
“Yes, there’s no regulation about staff mixing. You are subject to all the same policies and regulations as the guests while there, don’t forget that. You aren’t allowed to use my name, or address any other Warden you might know by name either. If you break a rule or get in trouble over there I can’t help you.”
Cathy nodded in agreement. “We covered that in the orientation yesterday. I have to be escorted everywhere, same lack of dress code, but between assignments I can wait in the break room. I can’t be released from the secure area without your permission either. Either you or someone you designate has to bring me back to this side.” At least she wouldn’t have to stay there at night. Curling up in a nice big warm bed with Robert next to her was far better than sleeping on the floor of a cell.
“Most of the time we’ll have the same hours. I’ll make arrangements if there’s a schedule problem. If I run late you’ll have to wait for me.” Robert was concerned about that particular situation, since the Warden manpower shortage often required some overtime.
He continued. “We don’t have to spend all our time inside the complex. The weather’s cooling off, so we can go outside once in a while. One of the other Wardens goes for a walk in the desert every morning. If we get a free weekend we can go to Las Vegas or Phoenix, or even Los Angeles if you like.” The Center was isolated, hidden somewhere in the barren wasteland of the Mojave Desert. It had originally been a mine site, then a secret underground military installation, and later sold to a privately held consortium when it was declared surplus at the end of the Cold War. The few existing records of its existence had been systematically removed from public sources through the power and influence of the individuals who comprised the holding syndicate.
“Las Vegas? Could we go see a show? Can I play one of those poker machines? You can get in a round of golf while I get a tan by the pool!”
“Slow down.” He held up his hands to rein in her excitement. “We’ll have to check schedules. Besides, I didn’t bring my clubs. And if you think I’m going to let you lounge around in a bikini by yourself, think again.”
She liked the way he was so protective but he could overdo it. “Oh, Robert! You know I wouldn’t give anyone else the time of day.”
He looked thoughtful, staring up at the ceiling. “I can be reasonable. We’ll compromise. You can go to the pool by yourself, but you have to wear this bikini,” he put a hand on the box sitting on the couch next to him, “instead of that tiny thing you got last year.”
Cathy shook her head, giving up on the pool. She knew what was in the box. It wasn’t a swimsuit, and it certainly wasn’t appropriate for poolside. It would turn plenty of heads though, if she did wear it out to a hotel pool. “You win. No tan, I’ll go shopping instead.”
Robert frowned, “I think I was set up. Anyway, it looks like we can go in a few weeks. Once I find out the dates I’ll get us reservations.” She watched as he opened the box. “You need to try this on to make sure it fits.”
“Yes, sir.” Cathy knew she didn’t need to try it on. Up until a few weeks ago she had been wearing it every day. It had been her only item of clothing, day and night, during her last incarceration as a guest. It would fit.
Robert stood up, facing Cathy. “You know the routine. Strip, stand with your legs spread, hands behind your back.” While she quickly undressed he went to the closet by the front door. She didn’t have to watch him to know what he was after.
A moment later the handcuffs closed around her wrists, locking her hands behind her back. They were his handcuffs, one of the two pairs he carried on his belt as part of his Warden’s uniform. She could see the open box on the couch in front of her, knowing in moments she would wear its contents as well. He looked back at her as he pulled open the cardboard flaps and took out the belt.
She did know the routine. The chastity belt was a familiar companion by now. Each time she was forced to wear it her emotions ran the full spectrum, from erotic excitement to fearful anxiety. Robert had never asked if she would be willing to put it on; instead he had exercised his right as her master and simply ordered it. If given a choice she had no idea if she would agree, but when it was demanded of her she found she could not muster a protest.
He took the key from a chain around his neck and opened the lock on the front of the waistband. The one time she had held that key in her hand was the end of her first stay, when she had handed it to Robert. In fact she didn’t even know if there was a second key, though she assumed that he had another one somewhere. Turning toward her he stood close, lifting up her chin so he could stare into her eyes as he slipped the waistband around her waist.
The familiar weight of the belt worked its magic on Cathy. When he reached between her legs, pulling up the cover over her sex and locking the shield to the waistband, she wanted to throw herself on Robert and beg him to take her. In a sense he did take her; he took possession of her body in a most intimate way.
Robert wrapped one arm around her waist, grabbing the chain between her cuffs, and pulled her close. With his other hand he took hold of her hair and pulled her head back, leaning in till he was no more than an inch away from her face. “Never forget,” he whispered as his eyes locked on hers, “never forget you are mine and mine alone.” Then he kissed her, hard and demanding, taking what was his due.
Cathy didn’t think about the strip of metal between her legs, or the handcuffs locked on her wrists. Her world narrowed to his few words and the way they sunk into the depths of her mind. She belonged to him. It was no more a matter of choice than eating or breathing. If he chose to impose control over her body it would be with her enthusiastic cooperation, no matter what hardship it might cause.
Letting go of her Robert backed up and surveyed his handiwork. Cathy, mindful of what he expected, stood straight and proud during his inspection. “Any pinching? Too tight on the sides? Walk around a bit and see if it’s okay.”
“Yes sir,” she answered. Her body was accustomed to the much too intimate grasp of the belt by now. She walked in a circle around the front room, stopping to bend down a few times. “No problems, sir. At least no problems with the fit.”
He tilted his head to one side. “And what would be the other problem?”
Cathy stopped and turned to face him. “As if you didn’t know. The problem is how do I come up with some way to convince you to take this thing off, without asking?”
Robert scratched his chin, apparently lost in thought. “Why don’t you demonstrate some of your ideas? Maybe between the two of us we can come up with an answer.”
Giggling like a little girl she ran into his arms. “I have some ideas, but it may take all night.”
Questions during Lunch
“Is it true you’re an instructor? In the secure area?”
Cathy could hear the intense curiosity behind the apparently innocuous question. Across the table Kelli Heller, her dining companion for lunch, took a sip from her glass while she waited to hear the answer.
“That’s right. I’m new though, as is Robert, my master and now Warden. He and the Director decided that my experience would be of value to the guests here.” Cathy was using the common euphemistic terms. The Center might be run like a prison, the guests little more than inmates, but there were differences. As Cathy had found out the purpose was to educate, not punish.
“I’ve never been to that part of the Center. My master Mathew is a Warden too. I help by working as the dietician. I’m to blame when the menu here in the cafeteria isn’t particularly tasty.” Kelli nodded toward the kitchen. “I have a little office back there. I help plan the diet for the women on the other side too. I know they have it pretty rough so I try to put a little variety in the daily meals.”
Cathy thought back to her own involuntary visits as a guest. The first time she had earned her admission with a temper tantrum carried too far; the second was at the request of her husband Robert. The meal times had been precious, a few moments of relaxation when life might approach something normal. On reflection the food had been what she would call buffet quality; not bad but not outstanding. She said as much to Kelli.
“That’s the Director’s policy. I can’t get too fancy. You were a guest here?” She stared at Cathy, eyes wide. “Were you… I mean, was it by choice?”
Cathy laughed. “By choice? Yes, but not mine. I did something stupid, something I’m ashamed of now. Robert did not approve. I was taken in the middle of the night and brought here. It didn’t happen right away but I learned to appreciate what was important to me, what I really wanted out of life, and what I needed from Robert.” Unconsciously she ran a hand along the steel collar that encircled her throat. “We were married soon after I left here. I’ve belonged to him since then.”
Copying Cathy’s gesture, Kelli touched the collar around her own neck. “I still can’t believe I’m here, in a place like this.” She lowered her voice. “I always thought there was something wrong with me. Believing in harmony and obedience over independence and freedom, being submissive partners to men instead of competing with them, I was sure I was the only woman in the world who still felt that way.
“Now I’m in a world where it’s not only admired but expected. I’d do anything for Matt, but I never told anyone but him. Now everyone around me takes it as a given, and anything less is unacceptable. And it’s not just me! All the women here share my values. I don’t have to be afraid someone will laugh at me or call me weak.”
Cathy put her hand over Kelli’s. “That won’t happen. You’re among friends. Being devoted to that special man in your life is no sin here. It’s respected. Submission is a virtue, not a fault.” Cathy had been through her own struggle to find her identity in a world that told her something she couldn’t reconcile to her own feelings. She sympathized with Kelli’s relief at finding a peer group.
“I tell myself that, but sometimes I worry. I want to be perfect for Matt, but I get these thoughts inside my head. I get angry, resentful. I want to rebel, tell him off, yell at him, call him names and go off by myself. Then it wears off and I feel terrible. What if I actually do that someday? Would he put me,” she hesitated for a moment, “in the secure area?”
Cathy frowned, trying to think of a good answer. “I’ll be honest with you, Kelli. I don’t know what he would do. I’d like to say it would never happen, but I’m sitting here now because it happened to me. I lost my temper and spent a long time in here regretting it. Dominant men can be unpredictable when you push them too far.
“I’m not perfect. I get mad at Robert too. Some of his requests, demands really, can drive me crazy. But I look at it in a larger perspective. I made promises to him, and to myself. He’s never given me reason to mistrust him or doubt his judgment. Not in the long term at least. The first night here I had a different opinion.
“No matter what happens I have to keep to my side of our agreement or I couldn’t face what I would become. About all I can tell you is to learn to rein in your bad moods. Tell him about it when you calm down. He might not even know if something he does upsets you.”
“What I’m scared of, what keeps me awake at night,” Kelli continued, “is if he did decide to put me over there, could I measure up? I know so little about what happens on the other side. Matt won’t talk about it except in very general terms.”
Cathy held up a hand to interrupt. “I can’t tell you anything either. You know it’s forbidden. No one who’s been there is permitted to reveal what happens. And for good reason, though I can’t explain why.” She saw the warning signs. Kelli was comparing herself to the women around her, and as usual she paid attention only to their best side and dutifully balanced it against her own perceived failings.
“I understand Cathy, and I’m not asking you to disclose anything inappropriate. You know what it takes to make it through the program; would I be able to endure it too? That’s what I want to know. Could I become the woman Matt would expect? Would he… Do you think he would look for someone else instead?”
She’s scared to death he’ll dump her for someone else, Cathy realized, and leave her trapped as a prisoner, forever trying her best to measure up to his impossible standards to win her release. Theoretically it could happen but she was sure the men who ran the place would never permit a situation like that. Considering the background checks and the interview process she doubted Kelli’s master would ever have made Warden if he were that petty.
As far as Cathy knew the only case that even approached abandonment had been her friend Paula. Her husband Mike had been kidnapped by a guerrilla band in Bolivia while Paula was at the Center. She had remained in the secure area until he had been freed. Paula had been kept at the Center far longer than anyone else but in the time Cathy had known her she had not once complained.
“Do you really want an answer, Kelli? There is a way for you to prove to yourself that your fears are groundless. It doesn’t matter what I tell you, or what anyone else says either. You have to know. Am I right?” It might have been better to ask Robert before she did this, but Cathy sensed the moment was critical and couldn’t wait. Kelli needed help.
It was a long moment before she answered, and even then she didn’t look Cathy in the eye. “Yes, you’re right. And yes, I want an answer. Not want, need. What can I do?”
Cathy took a deep breath and began. “Tonight, when Matt comes home…”
An Unexpected Request
Kelli was ready when Matt came in the door. His favorite dinner was on the table and she had on the way too short black club dress he liked. From the way his eyes narrowed as soon as he took in the trap she had laid out it was obvious he knew something was up.
“What’s the occasion? Did I forget an anniversary?” His eyes went back and forth, looking at the candlelit dinner table and back to Kelli. The dress made sure she got more attention than the food.
She reached up and put her arms around his neck, standing on tiptoe to kiss him. “Nothing like that! I thought it would be nice to dress up a little for dinner tonight.”
His arms went around her waist and held her close. “Not that I mind, but is there something else?”
She smiled and snuggled against him. “After dinner, there’s something I’d like to talk about. Is that okay?”
Matt laughed and let her go. “I thought so. Yes, it’s okay. And if you thought you’d butter me up first, well, it’s working. Is that brisket I smell? With potatoes? Who am I selling my soul to?”
Kelli took his hands and pulled him toward the dinner table. “Corned beef, and I even found a jar of that awful mustard you like. And all it will cost you is a little time tonight to sit and listen.”
“It’s a bargain. I ought to change first.” He still had on his black Warden’s uniform.
“Matt? Could you wait, till after dinner?” Seeing him in that uniform did things to Kelli. Not only did it make him look handsome but it reinforced her image of him as an authority figure, the man she trusted and obeyed.
The dinner went as planned. Sensing that she wanted to bring up something important later Matt didn’t press her for details but stuck to small talk between mouthfuls of brisket and buttered potatoes covered in sour cream. Kelli felt a few pangs of guilt at fixing such a dietary disaster full of fat and carbohydrates but decided the ends would justify the high cholesterol means. She mentioned that she had lunch with Cathy earlier.
“I met her briefly a week ago,” Matt added. “I’ve been going through some of the procedures with her husband Robert this last week. He’s going to be a Warden and she’s supposed to start teaching soon. She was waiting for Robert when we came out of the secure area at the end of the shift.”
After dinner she cleared the table while Matt went into the living room. Kelli joined him on the sofa. “Matt? Can we talk now?”
He stretched out an arm behind her on the couch and leaned back. “Okay, what’s on your mind?” His eyes strayed down to the hem of her dress high above her knees.
It was no secret what was on his mind. She had overdone it with the clothes but it was too late now. Her intention had been to get his interest and be receptive to her request, but not to distract him. “I want to ask you about the secure area, where you work.”
That got his attention. Before she could continue he held up his hands. “Hold it, Kelli. You know I can’t talk about anything to do with that area. I warned you up front there would be conditions for being here…”
“No Matt, you misunderstood,” Kelli interrupted. “I haven’t forgotten the conditions.” She put a hand on the ring of steel around her neck. “They are hard to ignore. I’m not asking you to reveal any secrets. What I want to ask about, is if I can…umm, if you would let me…” Her voice trailed off as her nerve failed. Too embarrassed to continue she stopped, staring at her hands in her lap.
His hand lifted up her chin and turned her head to face him. Between the penetrating gaze from his blue eyes and the quiet “tell me” she couldn’t hold back.
“I…I want you to put me in the secure area.” Once she started she couldn’t stop. “I can do it Matt, I know I can. Let me prove to you. I can be everything you ever wanted…”
“Shush, now listen to me.” She stopped. Matt took her hands in his. “You don’t have to prove anything. You are exactly what I want, just as you are. Kelli, you have no idea what you are asking. To be a guest in this place, it’s…well, it’s not something you should wish for.” His frown told her he didn’t like the idea at all.
“Maybe I don’t know what it’s like over there, but this is important to me. I have to do this, Matt, for myself.” Kelli was glad he held her hands, otherwise they’d be trembling. “Please think about it, don’t just say no. I’m not as fragile as you think. As long as I know you will be here waiting for me I’ll have the strength to endure anything this place can throw at me.”
Her request caught Matt by surprise. To his knowledge no woman currently in the secure area had arrived there voluntarily. Considering the living conditions they had to endure it had never occurred to him they would view it as a vacation. Now his own precious Kelli had put him on the spot, pleading with him to subject her to the same harsh treatment. His instinctive response was to forbid it but the intensity of her request gave him pause. He couldn’t ignore the underlying reason behind her plea.
The discussion went on for hours. Time and again he tried to dissuade her with hints of the miserable conditions but she never wavered. In the end Matt agreed not to reject her request before giving it some serious consideration.
The Wish Come True
The knock on the door surprised Kelli. Curled up on the couch while reading a book she sent a questioning look at Matt to see if he was expecting anyone. The clock on the wall of their apartment read 10:15pm. Matt turned to look at the clock too.
“Stay where you are, I’ll get it.” Matt stood up and walked to the door. Kelli put her book down. He seemed to hesitate before opening the door, almost as if he knew who it was and didn’t want to answer. When he did open the door she could see two men, both dressed in Warden uniforms. Was Matt being called in? This was supposed to be a day off.
He stood aside and invited them in. Neither said a word. Instead Matt turned to her, an oddly sad expression on his face. “Stand up, Kelli.”
What was going on? She got up off the couch. “Is something wrong? What is it, Matt?”
He took hold of her arm and roughly pushed her toward the wall. “Listen to me carefully. This is very important. I want you to put your hands on the wall, shoulder level.” Confused, she did as he ordered. “Good. Now Kelli, I have to ask you not to say a word. No talking, not a sound. Nod if you understand.”
Hands against the wall she turned to the side and studied his face. Something had him worried, almost scared judging by how well she knew him. She nodded her head in agreement.
“These Wardens have come for you. I’m going to grant your request. From this moment on, Kelli, your status is changed from resident staff to guest. You must, and I can’t stress this enough, you must do whatever these Wardens tell you.”
A chill ran down her back. This was the moment she dreaded, and the moment she wanted. Now she would know if she really had the inner strength to be owned. She started to ask Matt if she should pack any clothes but he put a finger to her lips as soon as she opened her mouth.
“No! Not one word. No questions. You will be told everything you need to know, when you need to know it. It’s already begun; no turning back now. They are going to take you to the secure area. From now on you are subject to their rules. Remember that. I won’t be there to help or comfort you.
“This is the last time we’ll be together for a while. If you show good progress you may earn a visit some time in the future.” He kissed her cheek. “I’m counting on you to do your best.”
He turned away. “Gentlemen?” she heard him say, a simple dismissal as he handed her over. Her eyes were watering. She didn’t want to leave him.
One of the Wardens put his hand squarely on her back, pinning her to the wall. “Don’t move,” he ordered in a clipped command tone. He took hold of her right wrist and bent her arm behind her back. The other Warden came up behind her.
There was a clicking sound of a ratchet, at the same time she felt something cool and metallic close around her right wrist, behind her back. The second guard pulled her left hand back and she heard the clicking followed by another bracelet closing on her left wrist. Oh my god, I’m being handcuffed, Kelli thought. She tried to pull her wrists apart but couldn’t. Her only prior experience with handcuffs was seeing them on television.
“Hold still,” the first Warden told her again. Kelli let her hands drop to her back. Out of the corner of her eye she saw the second man kneel down next to her. The familiar ratchet sound reached her ears again as he fastened cuffs around her ankles. Kelli bit her lower lip, trying not to cry. She wasn’t violent or dangerous, why were they doing this to her? She was a small woman; either one of the Wardens was easily twice her size. Did they seriously consider her a threat?
And where would she go if she did manage to escape from their custody? When she and Matt had first arrived, and he had put the collar on her, he explained that she would not be permitted to leave without his consent, even though she wasn’t a guest. He even showed her the exits, and the guards. They didn’t have to put her in chains and treat her like a criminal. She knew it was impossible to leave.
“For safety reasons we have to search you.” The second man began to pat her down.
This is ridiculous, Kelli told herself, all I have on are cutoffs and a tank top. Where am I going to hide anything? It didn’t take them long to determine there were no concealed weapons or whatever other contraband they were after.
The hand on her back finally released her so she could lean back from the wall. She turned her head to see Matt standing in a corner, out of the way of the Wardens. The forlorn expression on his face was the last thing she saw before the blindfold went over her eyes.
Every morning Kelli strolled along this corridor to her tiny cubbyhole in the cafeteria. And every evening she came back the same way. Occasionally she might stop and say hello to a friend or casual acquaintance. It wasn’t a long walk.
Tonight was different. Blindfolded, hands locked behind her back, legs shackled together, and escorted by Wardens holding her arms, Kelli prayed no one would see her. The blindfold was the one part she already knew about. For security reasons guests while in the staff section were not allowed to see their surroundings. It made no difference that she already knew the layout and where the exits were. For the guests at the Center there were no deviations from the regulations.
The chain between her ankles rattled constantly as she tried to keep up with the Wardens. They were practically dragging her through the hallway. She was grateful for the carpet, since they hadn’t even allowed her to put on shoes.
“Please slow down! I can’t…” that was as far as she got before Kelli found herself on the floor, face down. One of the men took hold of the handcuffs to keep her on the floor while the other one grabbed her hair and pulled her head back. She started to say something in protest but it was cut off when a gag was shoved in her mouth. She could feel the straps holding it in place being tightened behind her head.
“You were told to stay quiet.” The Wardens pulled her to her feet.
In vain she tried to push out the gag with her tongue. It wouldn’t budge. Her protests hadn’t accomplished anything as they resumed hustling her along the hallway. When they finally stopped it took all she had to keep from shaking in reaction. She heard a door open in front of her. One of her guards shoved her forward. She jumped when the door slammed behind her.
“This one doesn’t follow orders. Leave the cuffs on.” That was one of the two original Wardens. She couldn’t see but he must be talking to someone else.
She heard a desk drawer open. “Here, use these.” That was a new voice, another man.
Snip. Kelli felt one side of her tank top fall off her shoulder. Scissors, they were cutting off her clothes. She tried to twist around, to make them stop. One of the guards put an end to her struggles by grabbing her hair and forcing her face against the wall. “You were told to stand still. Do it.”
In frustration she balled her hands into fists and strained against the handcuffs. It was a futile gesture since her wrists remained chained together. The guards ignored her small show of defiance and continued to remove her clothing. She knew there was nothing she could do to stop them. Tears ran under the blindfold and streamed down her face.
Her underwear was the last to go. She could feel the remains piled at her feet. The bare concrete floor felt cold. “That’s it.” Someone grabbed the collar that was still around her throat. Matt had put it there and only he could remove it. She hoped they wouldn’t cut it off. “That stays.” Whoever had taken hold of her collar let it go.
The men worked in almost total silence, giving Kelli few cues as to what would happen next. She was unprepared when the hand on her back came off, and two of the men grabbed each of her arms. They forced her backward into the center of the room. “Feet apart, as far as you can.” Terrified and confused she spread her legs, pulling the chain linking her ankles taut. She didn’t want to think about what that meant.
When she felt something around her waist, some kind of heavy belt, it was the last thing she expected. Powerless and unable to resist she had resigned herself to some kind of sexual assault or humiliation. Instead they seemed to be dressing her. Something came up between her legs and pressed tightly against her sex. What were they doing? She heard a metallic click. Whatever she had on, it fit close against her skin.
“She’s ready.” Another cryptic comment she didn’t understand. Ready for what? She thought to herself, what did they do to me? The blindfold came off. In the harsh glare of the overhead lights she found herself in an empty room, concrete floors and walls, with nothing more than a table on one side. At opposite sides were two doors, both closed. Her clothes, now cut to ribbons, were piled in a heap against the wall.
Looking down she finally found out what she was wearing. There was a wide padded metal belt around her waist, snugly fitted in place above her hips. Between her legs she could see a curved, triangular metal plate that covered her groin. There was a narrow slot cut in the lower section. It could only be one thing, though she couldn’t believe such a thing might exist in the modern world. She had a chastity belt on.
The same Warden behind her took off her gag. “You do not have permission to speak.” He dangled it in front of her face. “You won’t get another warning.”
Without another word he took hold of her arm and pulled her toward one of the doors. Where are they taking me now? Next to the door she noticed a sign on the wall:
S E C U R E D A R E A
Beyond this point, females are required to:
1) OBEY ALL ORDERS FROM WARDENS
2) REMOVE ALL CLOTHING AND JEWELRY
3) WEAR IDENTIFYING COLLAR
4) BE ESCORTED BY A WARDEN OUTSIDE A ROOM
5) WEAR A CONTROL BELT
6) WEAR RESTRAINTS WHILE BEING ESCORTED BETWEEN ROOMS
It shouldn’t have been a surprise but the realization that she was now in the guest area still shocked Kelli. She was no longer the outside observer. The regulations posted on the sign applied to her.
When he opened the door it was immediately obvious she wasn’t in the staff area any more. The carpets were gone, along with the bright paint scheme. Instead she saw an empty service corridor. There were no signs on the walls, no indication of her present location or which way they were going. Her escort made a turn to the right. She was forced to follow.
The hallways were a maze of unmarked doors and turns. The walls were an unending featureless gray, with no markings of any kind. Kelli had no idea where she was or where the Warden was taking her. She dared not ask; one experience with a gag was enough for her to learn her lesson. The gag and blindfold were gone now but she was still chained hand and foot. There was little she could do to stop her escort from depriving her of sight or speech if he wished. Not once had they passed anyone.
Within moments they stopped at a security gate blocking the hallway, the first of several. Constructed of heavy steel bars with a hinged gate in the center they were formidable barriers. Her guard had the keys to open the gates; on her own Kelli would have been easily trapped if she somehow managed to break free and tried to run.
The monotony finally changed when her Warden stopped in front of one of the unmarked solid steel doors that lined the passage immediately after the last security gate. The doors were painted in a darker shade of grey, all alike. How could he tell one from another? There weren’t even any numbers. From a ring on his belt he selected a large key that unlocked the door and opened it. Behind the door was another of the ubiquitous barred gates. He selected one of his keys to open it. Not once did he let go of her arm.
He pushed her through the entrance first, and held her just beyond so he could close both the door and gate behind them. Kelli wondered to herself if even real prisons had such overwhelming security. They had gone through at least four of those gates so far.
The corridor she found herself in was markedly different from the others. One wall appeared to have several sets of bars. When she was brought closer she could see they were cells, each containing women dressed like Kelli, nude except for chastity belts and neck collars. As they passed she saw the women kneeling silently, all in identical positions. There were hastily cast aside meal containers to one side, containers she recognized from working in the cafeteria. She was shocked to realize they must have been eating on the floor.
The last cell contained a single woman. Like the others she knelt in a precise manner. Kelli’s guard stopped in front of the bars. He studied the woman inside for a long moment before he unlocked the door.
“Inside,” he ordered, pushing Kelli into the cage. “Stand with your back to the door.” She did as he instructed, halting just inside the cell. She heard the door close and lock behind her but thought it safer not to turn around and look. “Back up.” Slowly she took a step backwards, stopping as her fingers brushed against the steel bars. He grabbed the connecting chain of her handcuffs through the bars with one hand and did something to the cuff around her left wrist. A moment later it opened, releasing her hand. “Turn around.”
He didn’t let go of the handcuffs. Kelli turned and faced him, separated only by the cell door. He locked the cuff around her wrist again, this time with her hands in front. She watched as he did something to the cuff before he let go. Without another word he turned and walked away. She gripped the bars with her bound hands, watching him leave. He didn’t look back.
“You shouldn’t do that.” The whisper came from behind her.
Kelli turned around. The chain between her ankles rattled on the floor. “I’m sorry?”
“You shouldn’t touch the bars. You’re much too close to the door too. Come over here next to me.” The woman remained kneeling. Kelli could barely hear her. She walked to the rear of the tiny room. Outside she heard the gate open and close in the corridor.
At that point her companion relaxed and sat down on the floor, leaning against the wall. “Have a seat. My name is Diane, and I’ve been volunteered to help you understand what’s happening.” She stretched out her legs on the floor. “Try to keep your voice down. We aren’t supposed to be loud.”
Kelli sat down next to Diane. She put her arms around her legs and balanced her chin on her knees. Idly she ran a finger along the handcuff on one wrist. The belt dug into her thighs; she had to spread her legs slightly to relieve the pressure. She began crying as she rocked back and forth. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
Diane put a hand on her arm. “Go ahead and cry. They must have been rough on you. The Wardens don’t leave the cuffs on unless you didn’t cooperate. Rule one in here: never ever cross the men. You’ll never win a shouting match, and you make no points for defiance. Welcome to the world of male dominance in its most extreme form.”
Kelli raised her head and looked at her companion. “Why all this? Why the chains, taking away our clothes, locking us in jail cells. And what’s the reason for this thing between my legs?”
Diane laughed. “The chastity belt? The proper term to use is control belt. You can guess the reason it’s called that. Why all this? Because they can, I suppose. I can’t answer your question, but I can tell you from personal experience that it has an effect over time. The environment changes the way you think and act. You start out resenting them, the Wardens; you think you can’t even make it through the first day. There are too many rules to learn. You’re afraid of everyone and sure you’ll never get out of here.”
Diane nudged her arm. “By the way, if you think the way out is by escaping, then you will never get out of here. No one has ever made it and you can see why. The longer you’re here the more you’ll understand it’s useless to even try. All you wind up with is more time to regret the attempt in the first place.
“Anyway, I was sure I’d never survive. The Wardens are on you in a second if you make a mistake. The classes are almost as bad. You pay attention or else.”
Kelli put her chin on her knees again. Idly she examined the shackles on her ankles. “What’s the or else part? Have you ever been in trouble?”
“Enough trouble to land me here in the first place. I’m sorry Kelli, but otherwise I can’t answer your question. Yes I’ve had to find out the or else part, but I don’t have permission to tell you about it. One of the rules here, and it’s strictly enforced, is that discouragements are never discussed. That’s the term used, discouraging improper behavior. You have a very small taste of what it can be.” Diane pointed to the handcuffs.
“All I did was ask them to slow down. I wasn’t being disobedient.”
“Ouch, you spoke without permission? You got off easy. Look, we aren’t supposed to talk about things like that, so let’s drop it, okay?” Diane looked around anxiously.
Kelli frowned. “Is someone listening? Are these cells bugged?”
Diane shrugged. “No one knows. There may be cameras or a microphone, or both. I’ve never seen one, and as far as I know no one else has either. My own opinion? It’s safer to assume they’re always watching.
“Okay, listen, I’ve been told to explain how it works here. Why don’t you sit back and I’ll go through the lecture? I have to do this, and it may answer some questions.” Diane stood up.
Kelli looked up at her. “I guess I’m the captive audience.”
“We all are. So, what is this place? It’s sort of a school, despite appearances. You have to go to classes every day. Attendance is mandatory, and you will learn what you are taught. The material is worth your attention, but I’ll get to that later.
“Why are you here? The man in your life decided it would be in your best interests to spend some quality time in scholarly pursuits. In other words he put you in here, and he’s the only one who can get you out. Is it legal? Not in the least. Is it fair? That depends on your definition of the word. Is there anything you can do about it? No.”
That much Kelli already knew, although she could see how a new arrival who never heard of the place would need to know. She doubted any other woman had ever volunteered, so she decided not to mention it.
“The rules are both complex and simple. Do as you are told sums it up. I don’t know your views on obedience, as it relates to men and women, but in here there are no shades of gray. The men are in charge, they are always in charge, and you don’t ever forget it. Right or wrong you submit to their authority. The only laws are the rules imposed on us. You have no rights at all. If you do well you might be granted a few privileges. Don’t take them for granted.
“It sounds bad, but there are some good points. The Wardens are authoritarian and impersonal, but they aren’t cruel or mean. They aren’t out to get you, or trick you into getting in trouble. They won’t beat you up or assault you.” Diane tapped her chastity belt. “Only a few Wardens have access to the keys to these things.” Kelli hoped Matt had been given her key. “Maybe we can’t get them off, but they can’t either. You’ll find they keep us at arm’s length, for understandable reasons. Think of the temptation those poor men have to suffer while they are around us.” Diane’s smile and wink told Kelli not to take that last line too seriously.
She had never thought about what Matt had to face each day. Large numbers of women, completely dependent on him for their survival, desperate to please him in the hope of winning some small favor. And he had the power to command them to do his bidding. Yet every night he came home to her. Would she see Matt, and what would she do if they did meet? That was easy to answer…whatever he ordered.
“There are no clothes permitted at any time. No possessions at all, in fact. The control belt is all we get to wear, along with the collar. The belt represents control over our bodies, and the collar symbolizes ownership, the way our masters own our hearts and minds. As you might have noticed the collar is locked on. You cannot free yourself from being his possession.”
Kelli lifted her manacled hands to touch the band under her chin. She had never looked at it that way. Matt had explained that it was a requirement for all females at the Center, staff and guests. She hadn’t thought much about it, especially since every woman she met had one on. Now it was her one reminder of Matt. What was he doing at this moment? Was he asleep? She already missed him.
Diane walked over to the bars that confined them to the cell. She stopped about an arm’s length away. “Remember how I whispered to you? This is as close as we are permitted, unless under orders. Don’t ever touch the bars on your own. It’s forbidden.”
There was an obvious question Kelli had to ask. “How do you know that door is locked? We might be able to walk out of here right now.”
Diane shook her head. “Locked or not it makes no difference. You have to change your thinking, Kelli. I can’t walk out because I’ve been told not to do that. If I test the door then I have disobeyed. My place is in this cell until someone comes to get me. Those bars,” she gestured behind her, “are decoration. If they were to vanish I’d still be right here tomorrow, and the next day. That’s what you have to learn.”
She looked at Diane with newfound respect. Her last comment reminded Kelli that submission wasn’t an abstract quality to be debated. Would she ever be able to look at the bars that kept her captive and think only of her love and devotion to Matt?
“That’s about it. We eat when fed, sleep when allowed, and we make the best of the situation. Oh yeah, one other thing. Those handcuffs and leg irons you have on? Get used to them. Anytime you’re being escorted from place to place it’s likely you’ll get some jewelry to wear. We all do.”
“Jewelry?” Kelli grimaced as she held up her cuffed wrists.
“Sure, didn’t you know? The men must think it makes us look attractive. Why else would they make us wear those things so often?”
Matt turned off the television. The automated tracking system was impressive in the way it kept track of Kelli’s location and displayed the nearest camera view for him. One of the guys in the surveillance center had called when she was registered in the computer and available for him to monitor. From now on he could see where she was any time day or night.
He had been unprepared for Kelli’s request. It was so unexpected he hadn’t been sure how to respond. The Center served a worthwhile purpose, one in which he was proud to participate. When he had accepted the offer to be a Warden the possibility of Kelli being one of the guests had never occurred to him. Matt was the type who tried to anticipate situations and prepare a carefully thought out response if and when it was needed. He had not planned on her sitting in one of those cells, shackled hand and foot.
When she asked to be transferred he had no idea how to handle it. His first inclination had been to refuse out of hand. She had done nothing to justify being subjected to the unforgiving discipline inflicted on the women who were brought to the Center under duress. But he gave her the opportunity to present her side before deciding, something he had promised her as part of their living arrangement.
She had been persuasive, presenting her reasons in clear terms he couldn’t easily dismiss. She had answers for all the questions and credible responses to his objections. The more Matt heard the less he was willing to say no. In the end he had told her he would consider it and give her an answer in a few days.
By the end of the next day he still didn’t want to do it but had to admit his reasons were mostly selfish ones. Matt knew what awaited her on the other side, conditions unlike anything she had ever experienced before. How she would react he couldn’t predict, and that was the single biggest objection he could muster. The problem was her reason for going was precisely to find out if she could handle it. Was it right for him to deprive her of a chance to prove to her own satisfaction that she could become the woman she idealized?
As much as he would miss her he had to do what he felt best served her well-being. Reluctantly he had called the Director’s office and made inquiries. No, he was told, she couldn’t volunteer on her own but that was a technicality. Since he was employed as a Warden if he asked she would be enrolled immediately and without question. Knowing he might have cause to regret the moment later on he filed the request for the next evening.
Matt thought about telling her what he had done but decided against it. It wouldn’t be fair to her if she got any special treatment. Like everyone else she would be taken at an unexpected moment, by force if necessary, without any warning. It was part of the process, the psychological effect of suddenly losing control of her life to the unknown.
He knew from working as a Warden that he would be kept informed of her progress constantly. His access to reports would be unrestricted, and he could see her through the camera system when she was in class or the dorm area. What he couldn’t do is ask for changes in her program or obtain any type of special treatment for her. Nor would he see her in the normal course of his work. The central office would coordinate his activity to ensure they didn’t meet.
When the knock on the door came, he almost didn’t answer it. Watching the Wardens as they efficiently restrained her was almost more than he could bear. He had done the same thing countless times as part of his job, but never had he imagined Kelli would be the one being put in chains and taken away. She didn’t resist but he could tell from her expression she was afraid. He wanted to take her in his arms and tell her everything was going to be alright, but he couldn’t. It was not going to be alright, not for some time to come.
Sitting alone on the couch he stared at the dark screen on their TV set. Next to him on the seat cushion was the book she had been reading, still in the same place where she had put it down after hearing that fateful knock. He picked it up and read the back cover. A romantic mystery-adventure, her favorite genre, one where the tall dark stranger who wins the heroine’s heart turns out to be a sophisticated rogue driven to crime by the evil older brother. Making sure her bookmark didn’t fall out he placed it on the end table. It would be ready for her when she came back. No matter how long it takes, Matt promised.
Off To Work
Cathy and Robert stopped in front of the entrance that separated staff and secure sections. She took the opportunity to look up at him, so handsome in his intimidating Warden’s uniform. As usual he kept one hand on her back while with the other he pushed the buzzer and waited for the outer door to open. He used his own key to unlock the security gate inside the entrance. She went in first while he held the door for her. She waited just inside the entrance while he closed the gate behind them. Regulations, she told herself, on this side of the door there’s only one right way, and I have to get it right every time.
The moment she crossed the threshold her status was no different from the guests. Robert and all the other Wardens expected as a matter of course her full and unquestioning obedience, even though she was on the staff. As an instructor there were few privileges and no exemptions. She stood silently facing straight ahead. From this point on she did nothing without his express orders. When he finished with the doors he pointed toward her locker as he took her arm.
This was the primary passage for teachers and Wardens going back and forth between the two sections. Cathy could buzz for someone to let her in, or Robert could open the door for her. Leaving wasn’t nearly as easy. He or someone he listed as a delegate had to escort her out. She could neither walk out on her own nor ask to be returned to the staff area. He led Cathy to her locker so she could change.
“Strip,” came the familiar command she knew she would hear. Without hesitation she unzipped her dress and stepped out of it. The dress and her shoes, the only clothes she brought, went into the locker. Robert closed the locker door. “Hands behind your back.”
“Yes, sir.” Cathy turned away from him and reached behind her back, presenting her wrists to him. The click of the handcuffs confirmed she was now in his custody. She would be escorted to her classroom under the same conditions as her guests. Only the fact that the Wardens knew her separated Cathy from becoming a full-time resident. She felt the pressure to conform every bit as much as the women she was assigned to teach.
“We’re a little early. How about a cup of coffee in the lounge?” Robert asked as he led her to the entrance to the warren of corridors that made up the bulk of the Center. She knew how the Wardens were able to navigate by using a small earpiece that whispered directions to them. She didn’t have one; none of the instructors did. Like all the other women she had to depend on him to lead her from place to place.
There was a lounge area shared by Wardens on break and the teachers who were between assignments. Robert took Cathy to an empty table, unlocked one of her wrists and sat down. Meanwhile she went to the coffee machine and poured two cups, sugar in his, cream in hers. She put them on a tray and brought them back to the table. When she sat down she carefully placed her hands in her lap. The open handcuff lay close to her unfettered wrist.
He took a small taste of his coffee and asked, “Ready for the big day? Nervous? Remember your schedule?” He nodded toward her cup, giving silent permission for her to drink. She used her free hand to pick it up and sipped at the hot brew.
“The first class I’m going to talk about equality. You know, submission is not inferiority any more than domination implies superiority. After that I’m supposed to assist in a presentation practice session. Then on the other side of a break I think I’ve been designated to help evaluate a writing assignment. I hate grading papers.”
Robert smiled. “Someone has to do it. You have the insight to know what to look for. You’ll have to tell me about your equality lecture later on, especially the some are more equal than others part.”
Cathy recognized the famous line from George Orwell’s Animal Farm. “Why am I not surprised to hear a dominant personality quoting Orwell? I bet it’s required reading. Did you sympathize with Big Brother in 1984 too?”
“The book gave a distorted view. What’s wrong with a paternalistic leader gently guiding his charges through life? Naturally he has to be strict at times…”
“…but it’s for her own good.” Cathy completed his sentence. From the smirk on his face she could tell Robert was teasing her. “Not that I object to the principle, sir, but the means to reach the end do make a difference.” There were some disturbing parallels between the way the Center operated and the society Orwell described, but she was convinced the crucial difference was in the motives of the men who ran the place. As Robert often pointed out, there were no deceptive claims to some abstract high purpose. The Center’s express reason for existence was to produce submissive women who would properly serve their masters. If in the process she happened to discover untapped feelings within herself so much the better.
The lounge room door opened and another man came in. Like Robert he wore the uniform of a Warden. Cathy recognized him, Mathew Lasky, Kelli’s master. He went straight to the coffee machine, poured a cup, and headed for their table.
“Hi Bob. Nice to see you again, Cathy.”
“Hello, sir.” Cathy put her hands in her lap again, and lowered her eyes.
“Sit down and join us.” Robert pulled out a chair. “How’s the weather upstairs?” He turned to Cathy. “Matt takes a walk in the desert before work.”
“It’s nice out this time of year. It rained late last night so the air is cool and fresh today.” Matt sipped at the hot coffee. “Yuck, I need some more sugar. Is this coffee or mud and battery acid?”
Cathy spoke up, “Please sir, may I get it for you?” At Robert's nod she stood up and went to the coffee counter.
“How about it, Cathy, no roses but would you like to go smell the sagebrush? We can go up during your break.” Robert called out to her as she went to get Matt’s sugar.
She turned to answer him first. “Could we, sir? Maybe just a short walk?” He knew she missed the outdoors. She picked up two packets of sweetener and brought them back to the table.
“If it isn’t busy we’ll take off an hour or so. What do you think, Matt, are we shorthanded today?” Robert hadn’t seen his full schedule yet.
“I don’t see a problem, go ahead. I can cover for you. Besides, I owe you two a favor. I’d like to thank Cathy for spending time with Kelli this last week.”
Cathy answered softly, “I hope I didn’t interfere, sir.”
“Not at all! I knew something was troubling her. I could see it but she was reluctant to talk. You broke the impasse. She followed your advice and came to me.”
“I’m glad to hear that, sir. Does anyone need a refill?” She checked both their cups.
“None for me,” Robert answered. He leaned to one side, a hand covering his ear. “I’m being paged, time to get to work. Do you want to go now, Cathy?”
Before she could answer Matt interrupted. “I have a few minutes, Bob. The room’s still in use; she’d have to wait. Want me to escort her?” He took a sip from his cup.
“I’d appreciate it. You have her class?” Matt nodded. “Okay, you’ll go with him, Cathy. I’ll see you when you are on break.”
“Yes sir,” Cathy answered. Though she wanted to stay with Robert it wasn’t much fun waiting for a room to clear. Mostly it involved standing in the hallway and doing nothing. Robert reached over and removed the dangling handcuffs from her other wrist. He folded them up and stuck them in a holder in the back of his belt. She waved to Robert as he left.
“I hope it all works out for the best, for you and Kelli, sir.” She turned back to Matt. On this side she wasn’t allowed to use his name. It was one more rule she had to follow. All Wardens had one name, sir. If she forgot she’d have to answer for it.
“I’m optimistic. I still don’t like the idea but she is presently enrolled as a guest. I couldn’t argue with her reasons.”
Cathy was surprised. It had been only two days ago she had suggested Kelli talk to him about the possibility. “You have to understand, sir, we need to prove ourselves just as you men do. Sometimes you go into the military to test yourselves. Some of us, well, one of us at least needed to learn she could measure up too. Was there a problem, since she was a volunteer?”
Matt shook his head. “That part turned out to be quite easy. She couldn’t put herself in here. But there’s no policy on the reasons for being enrolled. All it took was a call from me and she went in right away.”
She hadn’t thought about that possibility, but it made sense. As her master Matt had the authority to commit Kelli at any time. Cathy knew from past experience Robert could do the same.
“It’s about time to go. Are you ready?” He pushed back from the table.
“Yes sir. May I clean up first?” When he nodded approval she picked up the empty cups and took them to the trash bin. Matt stood up when she came back. “I’m ready now, sir.” She saw him reach for something behind his back.
“Hands behind your back.” She was already turning around, anticipating the mandatory order. The handcuffs went around her wrists. Cathy noticed he preferred a looser fit than Robert. Not so loose she could slip out of them but she could tell the difference. “What’s your topic for today?” he asked as he took hold of her arm.
“Equality, sir.” She reflected on how odd it was that being virtually naked and in handcuffs, controlled by a strange man she barely knew, seemed so normal and commonplace.
“Sounds interesting. I imagine it’s difficult to separate power structure from the more abstract concepts of parity in the value of our roles in life.” He opened the security gate for the break room. In the corridor he turned her to the right. “We go this way.”
“Yes, sir. I stress that equality comes in the value of how we relate to each other, as dominant or submissive. Both have comparable worth, for one can’t be complete without the other.” She went on to detail some other points.
“This is your class,” Matt stopped as they approached a door. “Your guests are being led in now. We’ll wait till they’re ready.”
Cathy stood in front of the door, rehearsing her entrance one last time. Her pointer would be in a bracket just inside the entrance. She had to remember to pick it up first, as soon as Matt left. Hopefully he wouldn’t forget to take off the handcuffs.