Your Master Requires Your Obedience

by Jack Peacock

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© Copyright 2021 - Jack Peacock - Used by permission

Storycodes: M+/f+; fpov; bond; prison; chastity; straps; collar; cuffs; training; slave; cons; reluct; XX

Continues from

Part 2

Preparation

Lenora stared at the wall. Life in the secure section, it all came back to her the moment she crossed over from the living area. No clothes, plenty of chains, and that dreadful chastity belt. She was proud of her collar; that was about all she could put in the positive column. Then there was the ubiquitous “wall time”, loved by Wardens but one of her least desired activities. That’s where she was now, staring at the wall outside her soon to be classroom. Steve’s hand on her back held her in place. He might be her master but this was the secure area. He had to act in his role as Warden, showing no favoritism.

“Your class is arriving now. Once they’re settled, I’ll take you in. Remember your instructions.” She’d watched videos of Paula in action, and the Head of Research had stopped by to go over some of the changes for the FastTrack program. Steve had helped too, letting her rehearse at home.

She’d never heard of the FastTrack program. That wasn’t unusual at the Center. If she needed to know she’d be told. It was Steve’s job as her master to select what she should read, watch on TV, or access on the Internet. Lenora never tried to stray beyond his boundaries; she earned his trust by respecting the limits he set for her.

“Yes, sir,” Lenora replied. She had to be extra careful never to use his name on the secure side. He wouldn’t hesitate to punish her for such a serious mistake, and rightly so.

He unlocked the handcuffs and steered her toward the door. “You’ll need this.” Steve handed her a thin wooden stick, stained and polished to a high gloss, with a rubber tip at the end. “This is your symbol of authority, as their instructor. Use it for emphasis, when it’s needed. Don’t forget, you are forbidden to strike them so don’t get carried away. Any real trouble, hit the call button. We’ll do the rest.”

Left unsaid was the fact there’d be surveillance cameras present. Paula had been recorded; it was obvious Lenora would receive the same treatment. Hidden cameras didn’t bother her, as long as she couldn’t see them. They were easy to ignore. It helped knowing if she didn’t deliver her best Steve would be there watching, ready to hold her to account.

“They’re waiting for you. Deep breath, hold, exhale. Go in there with confidence, grab their attention in the first five seconds and you’ll be in charge for the entire class. They want to learn, even if they don’t always show it. You’re the role model, you made it through. Be consistent and speak with the voice of experience. Above all don’t let them argue with you; it’s a way to challenge your authority. Lay down the law, your way is the only way, no discussion.” Steve opened the door.

Hall of Mirrors

The classroom was a long, narrow hall, with mirrors lining one wall. In front of the mirrors was a wide, blue stripe on the floor, forbidden territory to all of them. The four women were standing close to each other, unsure what they were supposed to do. Lenora strode over to where they were huddled together, in the center of the hall.

“Line up on this red line, now! Whatever you do, do NOT step into the blue area.” She tapped the floor with her stick, pointing to the line painted on the concrete floor. They had to move slowly. No one had warned Lenora about their leg shackles, or that the connecting chain was so short. She wore the standard issue leg irons selected by the Center. Lenora thought hers were limited, but she easily had twice the stride of anyone in the group in front of her. She could literally run, or at least walk, circles around them.

“Now, extend your left arm, that’s how far apart I want you to stand.” Once they were done, she walked over to be in the center of the line, facing them. “Lower your arms. Spread your legs, as far apart as possible, like this.” She pulled her ankle chain tight. “I want to see those chains off the floor!”

How can they walk in those things? She couldn’t imagine being trapped in riveted shackles, with no way to get them off. She was going to need some adjustments to her class plan to account for their restricted movement. “Good, next, hands behind your head, like this.” Lenora lowered her stick to the floor so she could demonstrate the proper way to display themselves: hands behind her head, fingers interlaced, elbows up and wide apart.

Mindful that she kept her own ankle chain at full extension, and her arms in position, she walked up and down the line. She had some criticism for each of them. “Your toes are over the line, move back,” followed by “I told you, fingers on the back of your head, not your neck,” then “elbows up, wide apart,” and finally, when she reached Trina she had to pause, unable to find anything wrong. At a loss she had to settle with “keep your chin up, show off that collar,” the standby Paula always used.

Lenora backed up so she could face them all. “This is the position we must present to greet the Wardens when they return at the end of this class. It will also be used when you arrive for class, once you have permission to get ready. For us it is the one right way; mistakes are failures, failures to obey, failures to please. There will be none of that in my class.”

So far so good. She definitely had their attention, plus they were responding well. Steve was right, but he was an expert at this sort of thing. “My name is Lenora. I came to the Center by way of what I believed was my own free will. I was wrong. My future master had me brought here, without the slightest idea on my part he was responsible. He was in control then; he remains so to this day.”

While she talked, she kept a close eye on all of them, looking for signs of inattention. She wasn’t going to tolerate unacceptable behavior, not while she had something to say about it. “Not so long ago I was standing where you are now. I wasn’t too happy about it either, but I didn’t let attitude get in the way. You are all here for one purpose, to learn. To learn how to behave, how to please dominant men, and most of all to fulfill your own dreams.”

Lenora still didn’t fully comprehend the changes in her life. Steve and the Center had brought them on, in ways she couldn’t stop. Steve had forced his way into her mind, her very soul. She couldn’t even conceive of a life without him there to guide her. If she could pass that state of mind on to even one of these women, she could hold her head high in the knowledge she’d accomplished something.

It was a lofty goal, one that had to start with small steps. “I’m sure you noticed the mirrors? No, don’t look over your shoulder. Keep your eyes on me while I’m talking. Don’t move, don’t lower your arms.”

Lenora reached down to pick up her stick. She slapped it against her open palm a few times, a subtle reminder to the group of who was in charge. “The next step is to see yourselves in the mirrors. Like everything else at the Center there is one right way for you to turn around. Pay close attention because you need to remember it no matter where you are or what you’re doing.”

Using her stick she pointed to her left foot. “Now watch carefully. Always pivot on your right foot. To start, bring your left foot in,” she stood with her feet together, “and then begin your turn. Spin on your right foot, and always clockwise.” Lenora slowly spun around so her back was to the group. “Finally, spread your legs again. Move your left foot first, and then the right if you run out of space.” She shifted around to illustrate her explanation. “And again,” she turned once more to face the group again.

“I know, why such a clumsy routine? The short answer, because that’s the way it is. Long answer, I have no idea why it has to be that way. We don’t need an explanation, so there won’t be one.”

Lenora walked over to where Trina was standing, at one end of the line. “One at a time I want to see you turn to face the mirrors.” She pointed to Trina. “We’ll start with you.”

Reassigned

“I’m sure I’m making a connection to the group, Sir. Most of them anyway; I can’t seem to get through to Maria. She’s going through the motions, but there’s no enthusiasm. The rest though, I’m positive they’re listening to me.” After a week as an instructor all of Lenora’s doubts about her ability to run the class had vanished.

“But other than Maria, you’re sure you have reached the others?” The Director asked. Lenora had been taken directly to a meeting room in the secure area after her class had ended. She stood facing him across a table, hands still bound behind her back. Next to her a Warden held onto one arm.

“No doubts at all, Sir. They are picking up on the lessons quickly. It’s obvious to anyone their self-confidence is on the increase.”

The Director nodded in agreement. “I’ve reviewed the cameras. We’re all impressed by the progress you’ve made. That’s why we’re going to reassign you.”

“Reassign, sir?” Lenora was apprehensive when she heard the Director’s words. Steve hadn’t mentioned anything about changes before her last class.

“We want you to be a mentor, a role model for the group. We’re going to embed you as one of them. You’ll live with them, sleep with them in the dorm, and attend the same classes. We want them to think of you as the fifth member of the group. We’ll find someone to take over your duties as an instructor.”

This was not good news at all. There’d be no nights off back at home with Steve, and that was just for starters. If she had to be one of them, that meant…

“I apologize for this, but to fit in you will be required to wear the ankle shackles too. They will be permanent, riveted on, no locks. The chain linkage will be the same length. We can’t allow you any special privileges.”

The Director handed a slip of paper to the Warden. “Here’s the work order for the machinist. Take her to the tool room for her fitting; he’s waiting. After that, turn her over to her owner at the secure area exit.”

“Lenora? Your master is aware of this change and approved it. I know you’ll continue to do your best.”

On the Beach

Lenora poked at her plate, lost in thought. Across the table, Steve could see she was preoccupied. He dropped his fork on his plate, noisily.

She looked up. “I’m sorry, sir. Did you say something?” Steve did allow her to use his name at home, in private, but the influence of the secure area was so compelling Lenora felt it would be disrespectful.

“How high is up?” It was an old joke, but from his tone he was serious.

“I, I don’t know, sir. The question doesn’t make any sense. I don’t understand.”

“That’s right, and I don’t understand what’s bothering you unless you start explaining.” He pointed his fork at her. “Is it about those leg shackles?”

She couldn’t hold back. Tears began streaming down her cheeks. “Why me, sir? Why do I have to be the one that has to fit in with their group, to be their mentor? And why do I have to be the one to wear these dam…” She caught herself just in time, “these darned chains?” Steve didn’t tolerate swearing. He had a very nasty punishment gag if she forgot.

Then he was next to her, an arm around her shoulders. She didn’t notice when he gently removed her dinner plate. “Close your eyes. Listen to me. Think of that long, deserted beach. You’re standing on the sand. I’m close behind, arms around you, holding you tight. There is nothing but you, me, and the sounds of the waves around us. Put everything else out of your mind.”

Steve could feel the tension draining out of her shoulders. “I’m okay now, sir.”

“We’ll stay on that beach a while longer.” She snuggled close to him.

“Yes, sir. Umm, sir? Can I wear that new swimsuit, the one we got for the trip to Catalina?”

“Swimsuit? I don’t recall giving you permission to wear a swimsuit, or anything else. It would only get in the way.”

Lenora giggled. “My mistake, sir.”

Steve kissed her and stroked her hair. “Now why don’t you tell me what's bothering you? Was it being sent back to the secure area? Being forced to strip, the belt?”

She looked up. “Oh no, sir, none of that. If you think it’s best, that’s where I have to be.” She still had the chastity belt on. She wasn’t sure if it was an oversight on his part when they left the secure area, or if it was intentional. Whichever it was, she would never challenge his authority by asking about it.

“Then what? I want you to tell me.”

That was a direct order. Lenora couldn’t hold back. “This afternoon, sir, the Director asked to see me in the secure area, after a class. He said I was to be transferred to the FastTrack group, starting tomorrow morning. I assumed you must know about it, so I didn’t think much about it. Then he explained that I’d have to wear the same leg shackles so I could integrate with the others.”

Lenora twisted in her chair so she could bring her legs out from under the table. The chain rattled as it dragged across the tile floor. “Sir, he said they were permanent.” She began to cry again. “I have to wear these things the rest of my life. There’s no lock, no way you can release me. I had my heart set on the trip to Catalina. Now we’ll never have a chance to walk on the beach at sunset.

“I tried so hard to be extra good, sir. I didn’t want anything to spoil our trip. You’ve always been patient with me. I know I have to be punished if I disappoint you, but until now you’ve always explained what I did, and how I can do better next time. What did I do that made you discipline me this way? If you don’t want me, sir, please, just put me in a cell in the secure area and forget about me. I’ll be okay.”

What was it Big Mike had told him? It was something about grabbing hold of a tiger by the tail when Mike took on his Paula. Right now, Steve felt like there was a tail in each of his hands and a pair of hungry Bengals on the other end. Lenora’s tendency toward guilt trips had run wild, right off a cliff.

“Hey! Look at me.” He had to regain control of the situation immediately. She turned to him, streaks still running down her face. “Listen to me. First of all, when the Director said permanent, all he meant were rivets, not a lifetime sentence.” He reached down to grab one of her ankles. “I can have these removed whenever I want. I’m not going to leave you chained up the rest of your life.”

He could see depression fading away in her face. “Really, sir? It won’t be a lifetime?”

“Before I answer, think about this. If I asked you to wear those shackles, to please me, would you then accept it?” He reached behind her back, running a hand up and down her spine.

Lenora bit her lip, the weight of that decision bearing down on her. It meant a lifetime without beaches, without going to the movies or to dinner; it meant stares from the public if she were ever caught out, and all but hiding to avoid it. It meant never wearing jeans again, though she was getting used to that idea already. How could he ask it of her? But disobedience to his will?

That opened a vast chasm of chaos, an alternative too frightening to contemplate. Where would she be without his direction, his hand guiding her on the path she must follow? The insecurity, the revulsion of that thought made her turn into him and sob. Her only response came out weakly, in this case motivated by the cliché about being between the rock and a hard place. Hard choices, ones he should make for her, but in this instance, she could only pick the hard place of accepting his wishes, rather than the crushing rock of rejection.

“Yes, sir,” she replied softly, into his clothes. “I would submit to whatever you choose for me.”

“Those shackles are not going to be for a lifetime, not even close.” He took hold of her chin. “As soon as you’re finished with the project, we are taking that trip. We will drive to Los Angeles, we will get on the boat, we will stay at a nice place in Avalon and explore Catalina for an entire week. That includes a walk on the beach, in your new swimsuit. You will wear it, that’s an order. What you won’t be wearing are those shackles. Am I clear?” He had to shift to his stern, commanding voice to get her attention. It was working.

“Yes, sir,” once again she whispered, head down.

“Oh no, not like that. You know better. Face me and answer the way you’ve been taught.”

She sat up straight, hands in her lap. “Yes, sir, I understand,” she replied in a clear voice, looking him in the eye.

“That’s better. Tomorrow morning you get one more ride in your chariot.” He pointed at the restraint chair, parked in the front room. “You will remain in the secure area as a member of the FastTrack group. If asked why you are there you will tell them you are not permitted to discuss it. When the program ends, we are on our way to California. Do you have any questions?” She thrived on detailed instructions. His speech should get her focused back on her assignment.

He couldn’t put a name to it, but she had this peculiar expression, the one that showed up after he gave her some small chore. It was a sure sign of her obsessive need to pour all her energy into that task, no matter how trivial. “No questions, sir.” For the moment Steve could let go of those tiger tails.

“We’re not done yet. Lift up your dress. Higher, that’s good.’ Steve reached for the keyring on his duty belt. “This is going to get in the way tonight, so we better do something about it.” He inserted the key in her chastity belt and turned it in the lock. The belt came apart, the front dropping down, the waistband separating in his hands. He pulled it away from her waist and tossed it onto the front room couch.

“My dress, sir? May I lower it?”

“No, it’ll get in the way too. Take it off; toss it over there on the couch.”

“Yes, sir, right away.” His old Lenora was back.

A New Instructor

Trina stood in line in the hall of mirrors classroom with the rest of the group. She stared at her reflection, looking for any imperfection that needed to be corrected. I have to get this right, she told herself. Any moment now the instructor would enter, with a Warden. Frowning, she raised one elbow slightly, concerned they might not line up properly. The Warden would look them over before leaving, and they didn’t miss those small details. She was determined he would find no fault with her. Once more she studied herself in the mirror with a critical eye.

When did pleasing the Wardens become so important? Trina thought back to the day she arrived at the Center. The pressure to conform, to obey, had started immediately. She had complied, with some reluctance at first, but it was obvious to her there was nothing to be gained in pushing back against the Wardens and their rules. There was no single defining moment when her attitude changed from fatalistic acceptance to zealous eagerness. Yet here she was, anxious that she might not earn the approval of a man she didn’t even know, simply because she failed to satisfy him with an overtly sexual display.

Trina heard the key before the door swung open. Lenora came in first, followed by a Warden she had rarely seen before. Something wasn’t right, but she couldn’t recognize the difference at first. When the Warden led Lenora over to the group, instead of behind them, Trina was sure this wasn’t normal. That’s when she saw the riveted shackles on Lenora’s ankles, identical to her own. Something had changed, and not for the better. Their instructor had been demoted to one more member of the group.

No sooner had the Warden removed Lenora’s handcuffs than he ordered in the crisp, commanding tone, “Assume your display position.” Trina saw her arms quickly rise up, hands behind her head, elbows out and precisely aligned. Perfection in a flash; Trina envied Lenora’s skill.

The Warden walked around in front of them, standing deep inside the forbidden blue stripe on the floor. “All of you will remain in position, in silence. Any violation, I don’t care who or why, and everyone will be punished. As of right now, Lenora will join your group. She is forbidden to discuss the events that led to this decision, so don’t ask her for details. Your new instructor will arrive in a few moments.”

The Warden slowly walked back and forth in front of the line, stopping to study each of them in turn. When he reached Trina she was frozen in place, terrified he’d begin lecturing her on all her mistakes before inflicting some terrible punishment on everyone. Somehow she passed his inspection when he moved on to Lenora.

A moment later the door opened again. This time she did recognize the Warden as the one who watched over them while they slept. With him was the woman who had delivered their orientation lecture; Cathy was her name. In the mirror she watched them go to the center of the room. The first Warden closed the door when he left.

“To start today I want each of you to turn around and face me. This will be one at a time starting at position one.” That was the other end of the line from Trina.

She watched the reflection in the mirror as he went down the line. When the Warden reached her Trina was ready. At his gesture she carefully turned, following the routine they had practiced for several weeks. In her mind it had been perfect but the expression on his face was one of dissatisfaction, not approval. Trina had the presence of mind not to show her reaction but his disapproval felt like a physical blow. She didn’t even notice Lenora receiving the same look.

The Warden slowly walked back to Cathy. “This is not acceptable. Make sure the next time I’m here I’ll see something better than a careless attitude and poor execution. Is that clear?”

Before Cathy could answer he turned to face the group. “Cathy will be your new instructor. Pay attention and do exactly as she tells you.” With those parting words he headed for the door.

“Okay,” Cathy began, “we know what has to be done.” She began tapping the side of her leg with her stick. “You heard what he said. No matter how long it takes we’re going to practice those turns until it’s done the right way, their way.”

Conversation

Lenora collapsed on her bunk, exhausted after an extended session in the classroom on her first day with the FastTrack group. Stand, turn, kneel, stand, turn again; it went on and on. Normally she’d have no problem. After all it wasn’t anything she hadn’t done before. Except this time nothing went right.

She held up her feet. Not even heel to toe, she thought. No wonder she kept making mistakes. She’d start the correct move, only to stumble when that short connecting chain pulled taut, grabbing her ankles. She rubbed her calf muscles, trying to work out the soreness.

 “It gets better with practice, the walking,” that was from Trina, sitting on her bed facing Lenora. “Not really, but it doesn’t get any worse. Is that something to look forward to?”

Lenora laughed. “I suppose so.” She jerked on the chain between her ankles. “I think I’m going to have to start over, to get used to these things.” She dared not complain about how difficult it was to move around with the shackles on. Chances were good someone was listening, and it was forbidden to criticize any restrictions imposed by the Wardens.

That thought made her conscious of where she was, and the ever-present cameras. Lenora sat up straight, feet together, head up, with her hands carefully folded the correct way in her lap. She was not going to jeopardize that trip to Catalina because a Warden caught her sitting improperly.

Trina immediately looked to the cell block door. “Are the Wardens coming? Is something about to happen?”

Lenora shook her head. “I don’t know. You’ll hear them when I do. You mean this, the way I sit?” She’d drawn a crowd. Two more of the group, Joan and Yoshi, were listening in on the conversation. Maria sat on her bunk, back to the wall, legs drawn up, her feet balanced on the edge of the bed.

“We had a lesson about sitting yesterday. Umm, you know about it.” That had been Lenora’s last day as instructor. “I thought it only applied when the Wardens were around,” Joan added.

Lenora tried to be patient. The point behind that lesson had not reached them, at least not yet. “Okay, let me ask you, would you rob a bank when security guards are there?”

Trina shook her head. “Of course not. I don’t rob banks. They’d catch me anyway.”

“Yes, they would. And if there were no guards, no police nearby, you were sure you’d get away with it, would you rob the bank then?”

Trina gave her a strange look. “No, like I said, I don’t rob banks. It’s wrong.”

“Is it acceptable to sit the way we are taught when a Warden is watching, but okay to be disobedient when they aren’t?” Lenora hoped she’d see the analogy of right and wrong.

“That’s not the same…” Trina trailed off in mid-sentence. Slowly she sat up straight, folded her hands in her lap and looked at Lenora. “Can you help me? I don’t remember all of it.”

Fairness

“There, you have it now. Close your eyes to get a feel for it. With a little more practice, you’ll be ready in an instant. Just remember, keep those elbows tucked in.” Lenora leaned forward, using her hands to push in Trina’s arms.

“What about me?” Joan asked. When Lenora looked up she found both Joan and Yoshi were joining in on her impromptu training session.

Lenora stood up to get a better look. “Okay, you’re close but you need to move your feet forward. Straight line down from knee to ankle is what you are after.” Joan shifted. “Yes, that’s it.”

“What can I do?” Yoshi pleaded. “I’m too short to reach the floor!” Her legs were dangling down from the bed.

“Don’t panic,” Lenora reassured her. “You have to make some adjustments. You can either stay as you are, or scoot forward to the edge and straighten out your legs until you touch the floor. Whatever is comfortable. The Wardens are not unreasonable; they’ll treat you fairly.”

“Fairly?” Maria snorted in derision. She was not participating. “You think it’s fair they strip us, lock us up in a prison cell,” she held up her feet, shaking the chain linking her shackles, “and treat us like animals? Play your games but count me out.”

Lenora had to count to ten lest she say something she’d regret later. “Being fair, when it comes to those in authority over us, is not something I am concerned about. I am here to serve and hopefully please my master first, and to obey those men placed in charge of us second.

“Is there a double standard? Of course there is. It has to be that way. There’s one standard for us, our rules. There’s another one for the Wardens, and all the men here, as well. My master told me about it. A moral code, their own internal one, but just as important to them as our external version.”

Maria stared at Lenora, caught off guard by the ferocity of her response.

“Our standard, our rules, they have to come from without. It’s our nature; we must have an ordered, structured life imposed by others. The men who control us, they aren’t sadistic psychos. In my time here I’ve had the privilege of meeting some of them. No, not in here, on the other side of the Center, the living area. You might not see it, but they act in what they believe to be our best interests. You choose to see only the worst,” Lenora pointed at Maria.

“I see the same as you, but I accept all of it as what we must be prepared to endure, to prove to our masters, future or current, that we are worth the effort they invest in us. I have no reason to doubt their motives in bringing us here. They ask much, but they give far more. You are missing so much, Maria, by fighting them. I hope the day will come when you find real happiness instead of conflict.”

Lenora went back to her bed to sit down and cool off. None of the women made a sound. Across from her Trina sat, in position, but with her mouth open in surprise. “You’d do well to keep your mouth shut too, unless you have permission to speak,” Lenora advised her. Trina couldn’t help herself when she burst out laughing.

“Maybe I need one of those burqas, or at least one of those Middle East style veils,” Trina added, pretending to pull a hood over her head. “Ever speculate on what it’s like, wearing something like that all day long? I’ve seen pictures, but that’s all. It would sure be handy on those bad hair days.”

Even Maria laughed at Trina’s joke. “Yeah, that would work, until you get home and Master orders you to take off the veil. Then you’re busted.” Lenora shook her head. She didn’t like conversations where the topic turned to ways to sneak around obligations.

“I would wear a veil, and the other clothes that go with it, if my master gave permission.” Yoshi was normally the quiet one of the group. It was rare for her to speak up. “I think it shows respect toward men. When we lived in Okinawa my father took us on vacation to visit the new Disneyland that opened in Hong Kong. I saw several of the Muslim women from western China there. I think most were on the liberal side, since they wore bright colors, blue, yellow, though they were completely covered except for face and hands. There were a few who stayed with the traditional black, and a small number that wore a veil and gloves. I wasn’t that old but I found it fascinating. My father had to warn me about being impolite by staring.”

“Dressing like that wouldn’t be my first choice,” Lenora explained, “though if my master wanted it I wouldn’t hesitate. Fortunately he seems content to settle for dresses, and he lets me pick them out, so nothing hideous.”

“He dictates what clothes you can wear?” Lenora was surprised to hear Maria joining in, even to the point of sitting on the edge of her bed in the proper form.

“Of course he does,” Lenora answered. “He controls every aspect of my life. That’s what I want. I may not like some of his rules, but I still get a thrill when I keep to them, especially when I see that glint of approval in his eyes. One of those rules is that I will only wear a dress, sleeveless, and not too short either. Sure, I’d like a little more variety but that’s what I have to live with. Why only dresses? I asked him once. He told me I don’t need to know the reason why. Sound familiar?”

Trina stared at Lenora, eyes wide open. “Just like that? A few words from him and your whole life is rearranged?”

Lenora nodded, “yes, that’s all it takes. That’s the power he has over me. I can’t tell you if I gave him that power, or he simply took it. It just happened. I can’t go back though”

Explanations

Jerry Halprin sat across from the Center’s Head of Research, listening to his description of the FastTrack program. He wasn’t exactly sure why he’d been singled out for a briefing on the experimental program, other than he was peripherally involved as one of the Wardens in charge of the test group.

“Why are you here?” the scientist was explaining. “It has to do with Katerina, Trina, in the group you supervise. Those levels I described? We believe she’s at the top of the list, a level five. Now this is only a measure of genetic predisposition, nature rather than nurture as we say. Given that, and an encouraging environment like the Center we’re seeing her natural talents start to bloom. Therein lies an unexpected problem.”

Jerry was well aware of Trina. Even though as a Warden he was supposed to be distant, dispassionate, she had caught his attention. He was finding it increasingly difficult to be impartial. She wasn’t making it any easier in her obvious willingness to please him.

“A problem?” Jerry asked. “Trina? She would be the last one I’d expect for any negative reports from other Wardens. I’ve yet to see any hint of bad behavior on her part.”

“Oh no, not that kind of problem,” the Head sighed, a wry smile on his face. “If only it were that easy. No, this was a failure on our part. That level five I mentioned? When we started, we thought we had it identified, as to characteristics. It’s an old story in empirical studies, mistaking cause for effect. We were positive it led to a sort of extreme loyalty. We called it the “fanatic” gene sequence. We were half right; except we’re now sure it’s only a side effect.”

Jerry was still lost. The Research Head must be leading up to something, but Jerry had no clue how he fit into the team’s conclusions.

“You recall how we asked you to put her in the cage if and when she volunteered? That first night we put the probability she’d be the one at eighty percent, after you laid out the conditions for the group. That we got right. What we got wrong is the trigger.”

The conversation was heading straight down the rabbit hole for Jerry. “The trigger?”

“We wanted to see if she’d show any reluctance when you put her in the cage. As you know she didn’t hesitate, and she sat quietly while you all but ignored her afterwards. We were still within the parameters of our little experiment. It was more of a confirmation, really. We didn’t expect what happened next.”

Jerry thought back to that night. He’d followed the plan as it was handed to him at the start of the shift. He had been surprised when Trina volunteered, as the plan predicted. It was a bit strange, though he hadn’t given it much thought afterwards.

“Okay, I’m sure I kept to your instructions. We’d all been given an earful at the shift meeting about how important the FastTrack program is. What did I miss?”

“Nothing, it wasn’t you. Once we spotted the changes in Trina we had to work back using surveillance recordings. Best we can tell, it was the moment you let her out. Remember, you started it by letting her stretch her legs.”

Jerry nodded. “Sure, those cages are uncomfortable, on purpose. They need a little relief every so often to avoid muscle cramps.” He went over that night in his mind, looking for anything that was unusual. “Oh, the part about running my hand down her leg. As I recall, it was supposed to be a flinch test, to see if there was an unguarded moment in her reaction. I did expect something, but she never moved.”

The scientist shook his head; an apologetic expression crossed his face. “We think that was the trigger, when you touched her. That’s the point where our research found the start of the deviation from predicted behavior. In simple terms, we now believe that gene sequence leaves her predisposed to fixate on one man, you in this case. Once that happens, she’ll do anything for you, and I mean quite literally anything within her abilities. Did you notice how she seemed to suddenly become Miss Perfect when you’re around? She is desperate to please you, looking for the smallest hint about what you might like.”

Jerry leaned back in his chair, unsure what to do if everything the research Head was telling him was true. “Assuming you’re right, how do I turn off this trigger?”

“That’s the real reason you’re here. See, based on case histories with other known level fives,” he paused, hesitating. “Um, you can’t turn it off. The research team has a duty of care for the women in the test group, including Trina. We admit we’re the root cause of this,” again a pause, “situation. We can’t remove you from her group; it would be traumatic now. At the very least we have to warn you to be extremely careful about what you say or do around her. She’s hyper-sensitive to any hint of criticism, real or imagined. One careless word from you can send her into a tailspin of depression.”

“I’ve never had to deal with something like this before,” Jerry began. “Sure, as Wardens we’re exposed to women who are attracted to us, but nothing like what you describe. Basically, you’re telling me I own this woman, body and soul, whether I want it or not.”

That was a question by itself, Jerry thought. Trina was a tempting prize; he wasn’t so sure the idea of owning her was out of the question. Technically, according to the rules she was supposed to be off limits since he was a Warden, but this was a special case. “Suppose I do take her on. How soon can this take place? What about FastTrack?”

The Research Head looked relieved when Jerry hadn’t outright rejected the idea of owning Trina. “She can be discharged to your custody immediately. We’ll transfer her registration to you. As for the program, there’s really nothing more we can hope to accomplish with her. Any further training is at your discretion.”

Jerry’s first impulse was to say yes, but the research team had already proved itself wrong once. It would be best if he reached his own conclusions about her first, before making what would be an irrevocable decision. “For now I want her to stay in the program. And I want full, unlimited authority and access to her, starting today. That includes her history and any other information you have on her. If what you tell me is true, and I see it for myself, then we’ll talk about her future.”

The Announcement

Trina looked at her reflection in the mirror. One elbow was still too low, and she had to get those shoulders back further. Lenora knelt next to her. She makes it look so easy, Trina thought. Practice and the determination to please her master, that’s her secret. There’s no reason I can’t get to the same place.

She didn’t even know his name. It didn’t matter. One day he’d be standing in front of her instead of the mirror. This is what I want him to see, Trina told herself, raising that elbow so it was properly lined up. In her mind there was no question he would be her master, however long it might take.

Cathy, their new instructor, was pacing back and forth behind them. Why she had replaced Lenora was still a mystery. The prevalent rumor hinted Lenora had lost her temper with a Warden and was being punished. The more she talked with Lenora the more she doubted the credibility of that particularly vicious bit of gossip.

“Keep your head up, don’t be distracted.” Cathy was standing behind Trina. “You need to pay very close attention to your lessons from now on. Before class started, I was given permission to pass on some news about you.” Trina tensed. A Warden must have turned in a complaint about her. The only question now was how severe the punishment would be.

“Trina, your behavior to date is being personally reviewed by those specifically tasked to evaluate your progress. I don’t know what they are investigating, or how long it will last. In my experience a negative report will set you back by months, maybe even result in a transfer out of the program. But if it’s positive…” she stopped. “If it’s positive you should prepare yourself for the possibility you will soon have a new master. If that’s the case he might be watching you at any time, day or night. Keep that in mind.”

It took all of Trina’s willpower to hold her position. She had to believe this was good news. Cathy was right. Her future master might be watching her on one of the cameras at this very moment. The real question was the identity of her owner. She had to believe it was him, the Warden without a name. She’d seen his expression when he touched her leg. He wanted her, all of her, control over her body and her mind. She’d never forget that moment, when the entire universe shrank to the two of them.

In the mirror she saw the rest of the group staring at her. It was strictly forbidden to speak while in display position. She couldn’t respond to Cathy’s news without permission first. Or did it go further? Did she need his permission too? The news left her unsure and confused over who exactly was in immediate control.

“I’ve also been told to pass on to you some instructions while you’re under review. For the moment you are still part of this group and will act as if nothing has changed. If there is a change in your status you’ll be notified in due course.” Cathy was still standing behind her, as if she were expecting Trina to break her position.

On the other side of the two-way mirror Jerry sat in the darkened alcove, studying Trina’s reaction to the news. None of them were aware he was so close by. The existence of the tiny room behind the two-way mirrors was restricted to Wardens only. Not even Cathy and the other instructors were aware of it.

There were cameras, and they didn’t require sitting quietly in the dark for the entire classroom session. Jerry preferred the up close and personal point of view, with Trina facing him. Other than the mirror only the wide blue stripe on the classroom side separated them. Some distance and the bright overhead lights ensured the two-way mirror worked properly, concealing his presence.

Today marked one week since the conversation with the research Head. Jerry had set a one week deadline to decide on his course of action, and his time was up. Fish or cut bait, the old cliché about deadlines, he reminded himself. He knew as much about Trina as the Center did, plus he’d had a week to study her either behind the mirror or on camera. He’d listened to every word of her unguarded conversations, especially those with Lenora. His due diligence was at an end; time to choose his, no, their future.

The similarities between Trina and Lenora were obvious once the research Head had informed him they were both at what he’d referred to as level fives. A frank conversation with Lenora’s owner had been an eye-opener as to how much work was involved. High maintenance, that was the phrase Steve had used.

One word from him could send Trina into wild mood swings, good or bad. As Steve had explained, it wasn’t all bad, because she also reacted immediately to the slightest order. It didn’t take too much effort to bring those mood swings under control, as long as he knew what to do.

Unquestioning obedience, Steve had also warned him about that particular trait. She would take anything that sounded like a command in the most literal, and sometimes unpredictable, sense. What bothered him most was the necessity of holding her to nearly unattainable standards of perfection. It was critical she had to earn his approval, not just the first but every time no matter how trivial a rule or command might be.

Behind the mirror he could see that particular facet of her personality in action. Trina was kneeling in front of the mirror on her side, knees wide, and hands behind her head, elbows out. She was constantly making tiny adjustments, almost too subtle to notice. Lack of guidance, Jerry thought. I show her what I want, and then there’d be no more uncertainty.

Jerry now understood how it would really be grabbing the tiger by the tail. There would be no letting go, not for a single moment. If he went ahead both he and Trina would have to face major changes in their lives.

The Last Day

Finished for the day, the group sat on their beds in the dorm cell. The only topic of conversation was the news about Trina.

“You have no idea who he is? No hints?” Joan asked. “Do you think it’s one of the Wardens?”

Trina shrugged. “I really don’t know. It’s all speculation anyway. Like Cathy said, it’s a general review, so I could be in for some real trouble if they don’t approve of my progress. And what if it’s a total stranger, someone I’ve never met?” She stopped, lost in thought. “There was someone. I hoped….”

Her reply was cut short when the outside cell door swung open. Lenora was already in her sitting position. Trina joined her, as did the rest of the group. That was the way it was supposed to be; when a Warden entered, he deserved everyone’s undivided attention.

Lenora recognized the Warden. Steve worked with him but they weren’t close friends. Jerry something, she couldn’t remember his full name. He often supervised the group after lights out, sitting at the table on the other side of the bars.

Lenora didn’t miss the way Trina tensed when she saw him. That had to be significant. Was he the one Trina wanted to be her new owner? If she’d set her sights on a Warden it wouldn’t be easy.

“Trina, stand up and approach the gate.” Lenora watched her jump up and rush to him. Not exactly on the run, Lenora observed, none of us can manage much more than a crawl. It was too early for lights out; there must be something else going on.

When she finally reached the cell gate, he unlocked it to let her out. On the other side he immediately grabbed her arm and dragged her against the wall. “Stay there, face the wall and don’t move,” he ordered in a gruff voice.

While he was locking the cell door Lenora saw Trina turn her head to look at his back. No, no, don’t do that! She wanted to scream out the warning but all Lenora could do was sit and watch the impending train wreck, sure that disaster was about to strike.

And it did. The Warden suddenly turned around, catching Trina in the act. Stupid girl, Lenora thought. There are cameras everywhere. Surveillance was sure to see her and notify the Warden through his earpiece. That’s how they have eyes in the back of their heads. Trina had been caught disobeying, without any reason or excuse. She deserves everything that’s coming to her. Lenora turned her eyes away in disapproval. She had no tolerance for such a blatant act of willful disobedience, even if they had become friends.

How It Is

The head cage closed with a loud click from the lock under her chin. Trina could see the other four cages, dangling from the ceiling. The orientation room was empty except for her and the Warden.

Stupid, stupid, stupid, Trina kept repeating to herself. I know better, why did I have to turn my head? The ache to see him, to be near him was so strong it pushed out her common sense.

He went to the other side of the bars, picked up the chair next to the table and brought it back to where Trina was standing. He sat down, arms crossed, studying her. “Why?” he asked. “Why the sudden change? You’ve never been disobedient like this before. What’s going on?”

How could she explain? He was a Warden, out of bounds, off limits. Even worse, she now had a new master. Anything she said to him would be a betrayal of the rules which had become so important in her life. “Sir? I cannot answer you without permission from my master.” Maybe that would work.

He stood up, curled two fingers under her collar and jerked it forward. He slowly read off the digits of her registration number while entering them in his phone. “It says here your registered owner is one Jerry Halprin. If I were to call him now, would he confirm what you just told me?”

Who was Jerry Halprin? Trina had never heard that name mentioned, and it wasn’t anyone she knew in Los Angeles. Trina couldn’t continue digging herself into a deeper and deeper hole. “No, sir. That is, I don’t know. I’ve never met him. I don’t know anyone by that name.”

“Does that bother you, belonging to a stranger? Maybe you expected the Center to hand you a catalog; you can thumb through it and pick your master? Trade him in if someone else looks better?”

“No, sir.” He was acting ridiculous, or maybe sarcastic. Trina was all too aware she was not qualified to select the man who would own her. The mysterious “those in authority” were responsible for that task. For whatever reason they’d picked this Jerry Halprin.

“No, it doesn’t work that way. You did give the correct response, in case you were curious. You do require your master’s permission to answer a question like that. Even though you didn’t have explicit instructions to that effect, you understood it was the right answer. And just to confirm the news, you have been claimed by your new master. The Center is no longer responsible for you.”

Trina had come up with it as an excuse, but when she thought about what she’d said, he was right. It might have been unintentional, or maybe her subconscious at work, but she was accountable to her master first, not a Warden.

“You are wrong about not meeting Mr. Halprin. He’s not a stranger. In fact, he knows you quite well. That’s why you’re wearing that head cage now. You see, your master, not the Center, is punishing you for your disobedience. You are going to stand there for as long as he deems it necessary for you to learn your lesson.”

That hurt, even though Trina knew she deserved it. The other part, about not being a stranger, she didn’t understand what he meant. “Sir? If I may, I wasn’t trying to deceive you. I truly don’t know this Mr. Halprin.”

He put his hands on her shoulders, holding her in place. “Yes, you do,” he told her. “My name is Gerald Halprin, Jerry for short. From this moment on, you belong to me.”

The First Dinner

“No, that’s not right. Knees do not touch. I want to see those shoulders pulled back. Your hands should be at an exact right angle. The tips of your little fingers should overlap.” Jerry paced back and forth. “Knee to ankle, I want to see a straight line with those legs.”

This was Trina’s first night at home with her new owner. Dinner was on the table, but she couldn’t touch it until he was satisfied with the way she sat in the dining room chair. Everything had to be done his way or she wouldn’t eat tonight.

“That’s much better. Now, lift up that chin. I want to see my collar around your lovely throat.” Trina liked the sound of that. It was an eerie feeling, knowing she was owned. Legal or not it didn’t make a difference. She belonged to him with all her heart and nothing would get in the way.

While one of her Wardens he’d seen her in all her glory. She expected he might give her some skimpy dress, if she was lucky enough to be permitted clothes. Instead, he ordered her, in his non-nonsense, statement of fact way, that from now on she was to “dress in a modest manner.” Rather than the too-short club dress, she now wore a long flowing skirt that nearly reached to her ankles. Her top revealed nothing below the ring around her neck. The long sleeves of the blouse ended at her wrists. If he took her out it might as well be to church; she was certainly dressed for it.

“Perfect. That’s what I want to see from now on.” Jerry sat down at the table, facing her. “Okay, let’s eat.”

Perfect. That one word made her feel so proud she could barely contain her joy. Trina stole a glance across the table at the man sitting there. Anything, she promised herself, whatever he wants from me. Obedience and perfection, he deserves all I can give.

She picked up her fork and started in on the vegetables. A new life had started, one with untold obligations but ironically no responsibilities. The obligations she welcomed; the responsibilities she gladly left behind.

New Changes

The sun was low on the horizon. Lenora closed her eyes and leaned back in Steve’s arms. The waves were getting louder; the tide must be coming in. Santa Catalina Island was idyllic; only twenty-six miles from Los Angeles but a world away.

“You haven’t had a chance to try out that new swimsuit yet. There’s still time before the sun sets.”

Lenora shook her head. “I’ll pass, Steve, if it’s okay with you. You remember my friend Katerina, Trina? From the secure area? Turns out she studied to be a marine biologist. She described in gory detail how the Great Whites prowl around all the Channel Islands this time of year, looking to make a snack out of an unwary sea lion. If it’s all the same to you, sir, I’d rather not be dinner for a shark.”

“Then we can watch the sunset before going back to the hotel. How’s that sound?”

“I’d like that, sir.” She was silent for a moment. “Steve? There’s something bothering me. Can we talk about it?”

Steve had a premonition he was about to grab that tiger’s tail again. He’d seen little signs there was still something going on since she had been sent back to the secure area, but he couldn’t figure out why she seemed to be moody. “Go ahead. You know you can always bring your problems to me. That’s my job; tell me and I’ll work out what’s best for you.” He sounded more confident than he felt.

“You’re very good to me, Steve. Maybe too good, or I should say lenient. It bothers me when I do something wrong and all I get from you are a few words of correction. Sir, I need more than a short reprimand from you. More rules, sir, and stronger punishment if I violate even one of them. If I misbehave don’t hesitate to send me to the secure area. I don’t break easily. Keep me there for weeks if I need it, not a day or two. It eats away at me, sir; I need you to force me to be everything you desire.”

There it was, Steve thought. Another massive guilt complex with only one solution. This was not something he could ignore or solve by talking. He had to act, immediately and decisively. Anything less and he risked losing her.

“You’re right. I’ve been neglecting you. Starting now that’s going to change. The first new rule, I’m not going to allow you to use my first name, at all, when we get back to the Center. We have to respect those around us, so it’s still allowed while we’re on vacation, but only in public. Once we’re home, every time I hear it you wear a gag for 24 hours.”

“Yes, sir, I…” she began.

“I’m not finished. Starting tonight, and every night afterwards, at a time I choose you will strip and present yourself to me. You’ve practiced the procedure many times. You even taught the class. I expect it to be perfect every single time. First time I’m not satisfied, you wear the chastity belt for two weeks. The second time, it will be two weeks in the secure area. The third time you disappoint me, you will be sent to the secure area indefinitely, with the leg shackles, and a sign attached to your collar informing everyone why you are there.” He felt her flinch when she heard the last part.

“There will be more instructions when we get home. Don’t expect any more mercy on my part. You deserve my apology for my being easy on you. That won’t happen again.” Left unsaid was the need for time so he could work out tougher rules for her.

It was harsh, approaching outright cruelty. “You will obey me, to the letter and spirit. I won’t stand for anything less than your very best, every time, and you can be assured I will be watching. We will have the discipline you deserve from now on. If you fail, know with certainty you will now be punished for it. Am I clear? Any questions?”

Lenora leaned back in his strong arms. “No, sir.”

16.01.2022

The End

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