Bondage / BDSM

Children At Play

THIS STORY CONTAINS RAUNCHY S&M AND SEX IF YOU DON"T LIKE THIS SHIT, THEN DON'T READ IT!
CHAPTER 1

She was uncomfortable, stretched out in an odd position, flat on her back with her arms and legs flung out. She was stiff and in sone pain at her wrists and ankles. She could not move. Her mouth was filled with wet cloth-like terry cloth and the lower part of her face was covered with something stiff that hurt and pulled at her skin.

More struggle, quicker, more anxious now, more coming awake but nothing gave or changed. She was helpless, a condition caused by, a nervous craning and twisting of her head and eyes showed her the reasons; rope, a gag, adhesive tape. She was tied up. Beneath the sheet someone had thrown over her, she could see that she was bound to the four posts of the bed, entirely, tightly, a prisoner.

This, of course, was not acceptable: it simply couldn’t be. She was still in her bedroom; she hadn’t been kidnapped or moved. Beyond the tightness of rope, some stiffness, and a mild headache, she seemed well. She hadn’t been harmed or raped (or so she felt). Moreover, young Bobby was asleep in a chair beside the bed.

His young face was all innocent, blond hair, pink on the cheeks, full lips, a fine looking boy. Under the conditions, her helplessness; his freedom-sober, reliable Bobby seemed a too young sentry.

ALL TOTALLY IMPOSSIBLE.

The only thing out of role and place was Nola, the incredible prisoner. At once her shock and surprise turned to fully awakened indignation. It was as if she were victim of some practical joke aimed at her alone, and she resented, rapidly hating it.

Getting Bobby to untie her was obvious, but with that inherent adult feeling of superiority over children she struggled for herself first. Although the ropes were tight and her position unfavourable, she arched and wrenched, jumped and pulled at her bonds. Athletic and young, even she was impressed by her strength and the and co-ordination of her movements. The bed itself creaked and complained at the assault.

Some lessons teach quickly.

Though it worked and cracked, the bed did not yield. Though the

rope slacked in her favour, the slack came out of the turns on her ankles and wrists and these turns tightened like wire. Though she tugged and twisted, she could breathe only through her nose and soon became winded and weak. A minute, a minute and a half, and she fell back. The hunter, the captor, whoever he was, had won for the moment. Still indignant for being more convinced, she stopped spending her strength and lay still. Now she would take help.

The noise, of course, woke Bobby; he stood up by her side in detailed somewhat sleepy confusion and alarm.

“Um, I, ee.” Demandingly.

Bobby reacted quickly. His hands flew to hers but only to tighten

the knots. He flung back the sheet-she was still in her shortie, she saw-and he checked the ropes on her ankles.

This done, his face relaxed, changed. She saw it.

He suddenly realized…

“Cindy!” No longer his sober self but shouting, agitated, he ran

from the room toward his sister’s.

Helpless, still breathing hard, she waited and listened.

“What is it? Stop it, now!” Then, after an interval, there was

faster, lower conversation. “Don’t you remember?”

Then they came bounding back into the bedroom. Bright and now energetically awake, Cindy jumped right up on the bed and peered down at Nola’s helplessness.

“We got her,” she yelled. Jumping down from the bed, she did a circle dance with her brother.

“We got her, we got her…We got the baby sitter!”

She and Bobby hugged each other in rare, delicious agreement. “And they won’t be back for ten days.”

The girl on the bed was not stupid; the visible and physical fact was fact, she was a prisoner of children.

Everything told her mind that it was wrong. She raised and turned her head and carefully explored her ropes. She tested them again and again, first hope then disappointment. Straining, her fingers reached for unreachable knots. At length, unconvinced yet impotent, she gave up again. From discovery, shock, indignity, and astonishment, her mood grew angry.

Lying there, she rethought the classic thoughts of the vengeful, disobeyed adult. “WAIT’LL I GET MY HANDS ON THEM.”

However satisfying this might be, however, the thought of how long made her pause. “Somebody may stop by,” but in the three days she had been there, it hadn’t happened yet. Reliance on others usually taken for granted, was abruptly torn. There were no neighbours close. The house was placed for privacy, and privacy was severely respected. Even if she were to work her gag off, she could scream and no-one would hear her. Except, of course, the children. Everything came back to the children.

As she lay there, she could hear them in the kitchen, two rooms and a hallway distant. After their dance of glee, they had fled as if in need to talk secrets and all sorts of delicious mischief. They were giggling. The mood was exuberant, naughty and a lot of fun, and it didn’t promise to subside.

“Ummm.” It was Nola’s first sound of complaint, discomfort, exasperation. This might go on for some time.

Shifting her body to find relief that barely existed she thought about making them let her go.

She tried. She turned her cheek down on the pillow and closed her eyes. It wasn’t hard to imagine what others would say.

“But, Nola, for godsakes, how? Your bigger than they are, your stronger, your smarter. How could you let them do a thing like this to you?”

“It was after I went to sleep.” Nola felt guilty at once. Anyhow, the children or Bobby alone-I guess it had to be Bobby-came into the room with something, drugs or something, in a rag. I had a bad . That must’ve been when he was making me breathe it. Afterwards, they tied me up.”

“But, why.”

“I don’t know.”

“Then find out, “she answered herself.

“They can’t keep you gagged forever. You’ve got to eat and drink –

even they know that. They’ll get curious, they will want to know what you think. And when they do ungag you, don’t yell or scream or lose your temper. Use some of you teacher training. Talk to them; be interested in all this. There’re only two of them, they know you, they like you. Sooner or later they’ll get bored silly and let you go.”

“This logic was hard to refute. It was practical.”

“That’s right…” she answered herself again. “And they can’t keep

me tied up forever. I’ve got to go to the bathroom and get some exercise and blood circulation. That will be my excuse for getting up, and when I do…”

Now it was more bearable. Well the, work it out, she told herself.

They were children in an adult world. They could not cope alone.

Periodically, one or the other of the pair came in to inspect her and make sure she was not freeing herself, then leave again. They were up and down the hall, in and out of their rooms, back and forth outside and inside. The liquor of freedom was in the air and until it burned down, she could only lie quietly and wait.

Finally, after about two agonizing hours, Bobby now fully dressed, came into the room, and after checking her securely again, picked up the phone by her bed and dialled. He waited, and then conversation.

CHAPTER 2

“Good morning…Mrs. Howard. This is Bobby. Is John there? May I talk to him, please? …what, ma’am?” Bobby paused and then said with enthusiasm, “ great!” Bobby paused. “And Nola is taking us swimming in the river this afternoon, again. You should see her swim…Yes, Ma’am, we will…OK, Thank You.” There was silence.

After a moment more.

“John,” he said cautiously. “Yeah, is your mother right there? OK.”

And again his face changed, this time to very , almost possessed.

“Mission going OK so far…Yeah, no kidding! Yeah, I told you. We have her…Yeah. No, I’m looking at her right now just like we planned. Right. Now listen, John, can you do what you said about this morning. Yeah, you call the other kids and meet us here as soon as you can get over, right?…Cool man…OK.” And he hung up.

For a few seconds, Bobby stared off into space over Nola’s head. Eventually, he dropped his glance to her, and she understood that there was a lot more to this than she had imagined.

CHAPTER 3

About midmorning, they heard the sound of someone whistling through his teeth-shrill, powerful, outdoors, some distance away. Cindy, who was working on a dress for her doll, looked up.

“It’s John.”

“It’s them!” Bobby hurried to the door and out onto the steps.

Being thirteen and being Bobby he was noisy in his exit jumping from stair to stair. Then, putting his fingers between his teeth, he whistled back.

There came a shout. The sound rose and fell. There were words in it which couldn’t be understood but Bobby knew them by heart. He returned their secret code words SECRET SIX, and there was a quick reply – whistles, shouts, slowly coming closer.

Bobby jumped the last step, Cindy down the steps behind him. Then he stopped, a look of caution, of responsibility on his face. He was proud of what he had done, possessive, nervous; it wouldn’t do if at this last minute his captive escaped and descended on SECRET SIX like an avenging goddess of some kind.

“Aren’t you going to meet them?”

“You go on, I’ll stay here.” But he whistled once more for assurance.

Torn between the desire to run and tell everything first, and a new feeling of duty to her brother, Cindy hesitated. Then she turned back. “OK, I’ll wait too.”

Bobby was a little startled. Being a girl, being only ten, being the Darling, Cindy could get to Bobby about as often as she wished, and she wished often. She cried and accused him, she tattled, she tempted and set female snares, she rushed out and told all the good news first. Bobby was used to this and used to the that followed if he so much as tried to defend himself against her. The fabled law of fang and claw, brother and sister, he lived by it inflexibly.

“Why?” Bobby was surprised by this offer of peace.

“I dunno” – she shrugged it away quite lightly – “I just will,

that’s all.”

Touched, Bobby smiled as they went and settled down, Cindy on the bottom step – near the coming action and Bobby hanging on the railing, one foot swinging impatiently.

“Do what you want,” he said. He took his truces where he found them and enjoyed them while they lasted and he trusted his sister about the way he would a snake.

At last, the other four kids appeared from the shadow of the woods.

John Randall, the biggest – he was sixteen – led the way. Behind him came Paul Savage, thirteen, and following him, his daintily stepping sister, Dianne. Last was Bobby’s and Cindy’s cousin, Barbara, who had spent the night with Dianne. She was fourteen.

Something about their steady collective approach seemed to relieve Bobby. When they reached the edge of the garden he ran to meet them.

“Did’ja really do it?”

“Yeah! Really!” Then they were all slapping backs and laughing, except for Dianne who at seventeen plus stood apart. “Nola is there right now. Wait’ll you see it!”

“Was it hard?” Paul said.

“It was cool,” Bobby said. “Just like TV. I swear it must have

taken me an hour just to get in from the door to the bed.” They all came along now, Bobby waving his hands and talking. Cindy jumping ahead. “She kept turning over and waking up and yawning and stuff like that. I was scared she was going to turn on a light or get out of bed and step on me or something like that…”

“Did you keep the cholorform in the bag like I told you?” Dianne asked.

“Yeah, but you could smell it all over the place. And I kept thinking, boy, if this doesn’t work, we’re really going to get it.”

“Did it?”

“Well, when I finally got there, see, I stood up and took the cloth out of the bag, and I sort of just held it up in the air near her nose. And I had to hold my own breath. Then she reached up and pushed my hand away.”

“Really?” Paul’s eyes spread wide with imagined participation.

“Yeah, and when she touched me, I jammed it down over her mouth –

” Bobby paused, amazed at his own courage.

“What’d she do then?” John asked excitedly.

“Well, I guess she made a noise and really grabbed my arm and I

sort of jumped on her. She kept pushing the rag away and I kept getting it back, and then she sort of gave up and quit shoving at me.”

“You were on top of her? John asked. Boy, he wished it were him.

“Sort of, like wrestling. She’s strong for a girl.”

“So then what?”

“Well, anyhow, I held it over her face a little longer and then put it in the bag again. I was scared she might wake up. Then after that, I got the rope and tied her hands and feet. The rest was easy.”

“Weren’t you scared?” Paul was still deeply excited.

“Yeah, man. If she sneezed when I was creeping up on her, I’d have

run right across the river.

“But you haven’t seen her yet,” Cindy said. “Come on.” She ran up the steps and opened the door. “Come on!”

Bobby, captor of the baby-sitter, hero of SECRET SIX, followed proudly. There was a barely perceptible hesitation in the other four. It was if they dare not see what they were going to see, but then, John led the way behind Bobby.

John, Paul, Dianne and Barbara had been carrying bathing suits rolled up in towels which they now discarded in the living room, their feet moving forward, their caution holding them back.

Cindy urged them on. “Well, come on. Are you scared or something?

Bobby and me ain’t.”

She, of course, led the way. Bobby followed then John, Paul, Dianne in that order, Barbara trailing. They entered the bedroom and came to the foot of the bed. Silence followed.

The fact that until today none of them had ever seen an adult made helpless – bound and gagged, brought down beneath adult level, was a fundamental experience that affected each differently. They had done the unbelievable thing, they had captured a grown-up.

The babysitter was theirs, for a least ten days. It was like a , a wish, and indolent fantasy come all too suddenly true. Now that they had done it, now it was fun, the adventure had begun and now they were really in for it. What now?

The trance was broken; the non-believable sight was believed. They moved a foot, an arm – and they stirred from their frozen positions. They looked, they moved around the bed; they breathed again.

“Y’see?” Bobby said.

“Maybe the ropes are too tight.” Cindy said.

Barbara sighed. “If they were looser, she could get away.”

“She has pretty feet.” Paul said.

“You always say that and something else, too.” Cindy giggled.

John Randall, who alone had not moved from the foot of the bed,

said, “I guess we better have a meeting about this.”

“You watch her,” Bobby said to Cindy.

“I don’t want to. She isn’t doing anything.”

“It’s OK,” John said, looking from one to another.

“We can all come to the meeting, we can hear her if she starts

getting away.” They left in single file, Bobby leading.

CHAPTER 4

In the living room, John slumped on the coffee table, legs apart, elbows on knees. Paul sat cross-legged on the rug. Dianne sat in a chair. Cindy and Barbara lay face down on the carpet. Bobby stood by the door.

“OK, let’s get going,” Dianne said, taking charge. “We got a lot to talk about.” She produced a piece of paper and a pen.

“We have to stand watch over her. Take turns,” John said. “If she ever gets loose…”

Dianne added, “Cindy and Bobby at night. Us during the day.” The others nodded approval and Dianne wrote it down.

“OK, and another thing,” Bobby said, “We can’t keep her tied in one place all the time. How’re we going to move her around?”

“Why move her?” Cindy said.

“She has to get circulation going sometime, and exercise, and she

has to go to the bathroom, like us.”

There was general giggling.

“Yeah, but she’s strong,” Bobby said. “You should have seen her

this morning. I thought she was going to tear the bed apart.”

“Really?”

“We’d better all be there when we move her,” John added thoughtfully. There’s six of us, we can do it.”

“Then what about feeding her?” Cindy said.

“Yeah, that’s something too.”

“I think we ought to put her on bread and water once a day,” Paul

said, “you know like in the old prisons.”

“Why?” Cindy asked. “She’s not fat.” – Giggles.

“To make her weaker. Bobby says she’s strong so make her weak.

Besides, we can do anything we can do anything we want with a prisoner.”

Paul added, his eyes gleaming, his hands twitching.

“What happens if we take off the gag and she starts doing a lot of yelling?’

“We’ve still got the chloroform. We can tell her if she screams, we’ll put her to sleep and not feed her at all.”

“No one can hear her way down here anyway,” Dianne said cooly. “And we’ll all be here when we take off the gag. All six of us.”

“Another thing,” Dianne spoke while she wrote. “Bobby and Cindy are supposed to have a babysitter. We got to keep the house and yard neat. We all have to chip in and keep things up. We have to,” she added to the silence with which she was heard.

“Your right, of course,” John said. “What else?”

“Phone call,” Dianne said, “and food, charged at the store and delivered, like before.” Just as if nothing was wrong.

“Then why are we doing all this?” Cindy’s smile stopped.

“So you can do what you want, see movies on TV that you’re not

allowed to see. You want to try some scotch, to smoke.”

“OK.” They had general agreement.

“What are the rules so far,” John snorted.

Dianne handed him the paper. Written on it in a neat hand.

1. WATCH HER

2. ALL BE THERE – MOVE HER

3. ALL – GAG OUT

4. BE NEAT, CLEAN UP

5. WATCH TELEPHONE CALLS

6. EAT – SHOP

“Yeah, what about the telephone?” John passed the note to Paul.

Bobby leaned over his shoulder to read with him.

“Tell everyone she’s taking a bath or she’s down at the beach with the others, or she took Cindy shopping. Things like that.

They all more or less agreed. Barbara, however, seemed distant.

“OK, lets clean up then see if she needs anything.”

“Cool,” Paul said. “That’s neat.”

CHAPTER 5

Nola had guessed in advance who the others were. They were stuck down in the country with on one else to play with thus the wide age range – ten to almost eighteen. John, big and strong, mannerly and thoughtful to the younger ones. He was hardly one of the children and yet not an adult. Paul, on the other hand was a mess. Small, skinny, thin lips. Squirmy. In girlish reaction, Nola was a bit revolted yet full of pity. Paul twitched, spoke very slowly. His eyes darted about, a creature obviously in torment, trying to move between the world and the one within, visible only to him. Dianne was thin, oldest of the six, physically barely developed, small breasts and hips, tall and skinny. She was neat, quiet, withdrawn, undemonstrative and chilly. Her hair was severely pulled back, spotlessly clean and smelled nicely of soap. She stood apart with only the occasional use of authority over the other kids – an authority they seemed to grant her willingly for some reason although she was unattractive. Barbara, however, was the opposite. Pretty, large breasts and clearly defined hips, long blond hair, very attractive for her young age. These things Nola had observed when they were all together on Sunday, the picnic at the beach. Nola had the authority that day. How different now.

Nola realized now her capture had all been filed as a plan, her indignity assured except for chance and error. The chloroform hidden away, rope in the closet in the dark. Even Cindy primed to silence in spite of her nature.

How unreal their innocent splashing, their carefully taken instructions, their casual obedience.

What a bad job she had done in her analysis, how easily was she made the fool. They were organized; they could plan, they could keep secrets; they could execute and it appeared that they could keep their composure once a commitment had been made. With a neat short plot they had erased her advantages and made her just a girl again.

Having heard the meeting which they took no trouble to keep secret, Nola knew her captivity was not intended to be short. The moment of release then retribution that she felt to lie only a short while ahead was not here or even near.

With that conclusion she began to hurt. Her flesh and her muscles and tendons and body began to hurt very much. Something like her first panic almost returned.

“No,” Nola said to herself, “I’ll be calm. I won’t hurt myself. I won’t scare them again. I’ll be careful.”

“Help me,” she said to no one, to everyone…

CHAPTER 6

SECRET SIX’S second visit to their captive offered subtle possibilities. They entered the room together – very closely together – and moved to the bed in silence. It could be guessed from their manner and the sound of rapid shallow breathing that the wardens were more nervous than the prisoner.

The law had been broken, of course, and they had broken it. Since Nola’s capture had been accomplished before, however, off stage, remote from them – all except Bobby might conveniently regard the crime as not their’s. But their meeting, their decision to go on, their confrontation of the girl right now, things must obviously change. Now they began to break the law hour by hour, deliberately, forewarned of all the possible and unpleasant consequences. They became entirely responsible and answerable for their own actions. The door to innocence, or pretend, had closed behind them. From now on they were bad and wrong and to be punished. This so clearly impressed them that they looked down at their prisoner but took care to avoid her eyes.

Nola felt their tenseness and had the crazy impulse to laugh – if she could have laughed – at the whole improbable scene. The captors and their possible dangerous captive, each afraid of the other and yet each locked in with each other. There was a hysterical edge to her thought.

Finding after several moments that Nola remained helpless, however, they gradually relaxed. Alright here they were, out in the open, breaking the law between children and adults. They ignored the and nothing happened.

“Well, what’re we going to do?” John’s voice was a little tight and dry, as if he were having difficulty speaking.

“We don’t have to do anything if – ”

“I thought we were going to ask her if she wanted to go the bathroom!” Cindy giggled at the idea.

“If she wants to go,” Dianne said. Then she said it directly to Nola, “Do you?”

“Ummm”

“Do you want to go to the bathroom?” Dianne said with painful clarity. “We can take you.”

Nola looked up at her and closed her eyes. The situation was more desperately impossible than she had foreseen. Going to the bathroom with six youngsters in tow. First, she thought she’d never go again rather than this. On the other hand – caution slowed her the matter would have to be faced sometime if they held to their plans, and anything was better than simply being to lie there forever.

The other thought skipped through her mind, of course. She hardly dared to think it lest the kids somehow read her mind. This might be a chance to break free.

“She wants to go,” Paul said. Squirming from foot to foot, he now seemed to be enjoying himself.

“OK, now, like we talked about it,” John said. “Are you ready?”

“Yeah” – Bobby had some more rope in his hand – “but remember,

she’s strong for a girl if you let her even a little bit loose.”

“I won’t.” John retorted. “Let’s do it.”

“Well, OK, I’ll tie her hand first.”

With one piece of new rope he had brought, Bobby tied her right wrist just above where it was already tied. Then he took the free end and squatted beside the bed. “Now we’ll run it through here.

Nola watched them a little apprehensively. She could not see all they were doing, and she was afraid it might hurt.

Bobby straightened up. “OK, now, when I untie her hand up here, you all hold her arm and move it down there and, Paul, pull on your end.”

“All right,” Dianne sighed. “Just do it, will you?”

“OK, that’s it.” Bobby jumped up from the head of the bed. “Move her – hurry up.” He went around to help Paul.

The plan, at last, became clear to Nola and to everyone. At no time was she to be free. When Bobby released her wrist from the headboard it was already tied by a longer rope to the lower part of the frame; all they had to do was to move her one defenceless arm down more or less by her side while Paul took up the slack. She was helpless at each instant of the operation.

“There, see?” It did work.

“Yeah…”

They all straightened up.

Nola now lay, legs still apart, one arm tied down by her side and

the other up to the headboard. It didn’t really hurt, at least no more than before, but it was frustrating and disappointing. At no time could she have doe so much as free that one hand, even for a minute.

Paul gave her one of his squirmy little smiles and looked around for approval.

“Let’s do the rest of it.”

With the same care they brought her other hand down by her side and

tied it too. Her shoulders, stiff and sore from the hours of unnatural position throbbed. Here at last was circulation, movement.

“Now she has to sit up.”

“What if she won’t?” Cindy said. “How’re you going to make her do

it?”

“She’s the one who wants to go to the bathroom. If she doesn’t we can always put her back the other way.”

“Yeah,” Bobby said. “Sit up.” It was the first thing like a command that they had given her, and he did so with hesitation in his voice.

For the same reason Nola held back, just slightly. The lessons were painfully few yet she seemed to have so much trouble learning them. Nola must realize that even though they were kids, beneath her, they were absolutely in command. There was no alternative with dignity. She would obey, or she would be returned to a less pleasant position, and this would be repeated until she submitted. She sighed and then being a swimmer in good condition, managed to do the sit up demanded.

Bobby passed the rope around her body. “Now we tie her arms to her sides.”

This was done. After that, her left wrist was released and tied up behind her back with a rope up over her right shoulder, crossing her body between her breasts, hooked under her elbow and returned to her wrist. It was like twisting her arm and holding it there.

They were so cautious, everything took so much time and so well done that Nola began to grow irritated. All right, she was doing what they wanted; she couldn’t get away – she knew it, they knew it – why so much fuss? When they got ready to move her legs together, she impatiently did it for them, or nearly did before she fell over backwards.

Cindy laughed but Bobby, remembering her struggle this morning, quickly hobbled her ankles before she could kick out at someone. He seemed almost fearful when he released the rest of the rope that held her to the bed.

“What about her other hand?”

“She needs one free, stupid. Besides, she can’t do much with the elbow tied like that.”

“Can she get up now?” Barbara’s first comment.

“Yeah, I guess so.” They had to swing her feet over the side of the

bed and help her sit up again.

“How are you going to get her to go just where you want her to?”

“Well – ” Bobby hadn’t thought of that.

“I know. Put a rope around her neck,” Paul said. As he did when

speaking most of the time, he sort of ducked his head like struggling to say a difficult word.

“Yeah! that way, if she doesn’t follow, we can choke her and pull her down.”

“Sit up!” Bobby ordered. He didn’t hesitate this time. Nor did she.

Nola actually leaned towards him.

“Here – ” Bobby looped his last long length of rope around her neck with ends trailing in front and in back. “One of us goes in front and one of us behind and if she doesn’t behave, each one pulls.”

This was frightening. Nola looked from one child to the other. The shoulder of her shortie nightgown was no longer on her shoulder, and she felt a little bare.

“Choke her?” Barbara said. Cindy giggled.

“Don’t worry. Not unless we have to.”

“I’ll lead,” Paul said quickly.

“No, you won’t,” Dianne said. “Let Bobby and John do it, and you

follow.”

“He likes that better,” Cindy giggled as Paul blushed.

All right, she would go. More than anything else she wanted to get

this over quickly.

“OK, stand up.”

She tried and found out she couldn’t do it without the fear of

falling forward. “Ull mmm” she said.

They looked at her blankly. All her sounds seemed the same.

“Help me,” Dianne translated, a smirk on her face.

Obediently, John and Dianne took her bare arms and helped her to

stand. Briefly, she sensed that they were stronger than she would have guessed. Then Bobby gave a timid tug of the rope around her neck. It worked as he had said and she turned and followed him, the rest coming behind.

The trip down the hall seemed almost too long. Nola was hobbled just above the ankles and the loops were too tight. When she stood up and put her weight on her legs, they swelled and the ropes cut in. Moreover, he had hobbled her too closely so she advanced only by short little slides, no more than ten inches a move. Finally her feet finished each step nearly in line so that it was like walking a tight rope. She was afraid of falling and kept her right hand out to steady herself against the wall as they went.

When the slow procession reached the bathroom at last, Dianne told the rest, “You can’t see,” and let Nola slide in ahead while Dianne stood inside against the wall near the door, her gaze primly averted.

CHAPTER 7

“Well, we have to feed her sometime,” John said.

“How’ll we get the gag back in her mouth if she doesn’t want us

to?” Cindy said. “She might bite.”

“First of all what if she starts yelling, you mean?”

“That’s easy,” Paul gave a twisted shrug. “Let John have a pillow, and if she does, he wraps it over her face.”

“She’d smother,” Bobby said.

“Just for a little while, while we open the chloroform and then we

put her to sleep. Then she’s easy to gag.”

“Somebody better stand guard and watch the road in case anyone drives in when she isn’t gagged.”

“You want to do that, Cindy?”

“No, I want to watch.”

“I’ll stay out,” Barbara stated. She did not want to see it.

“No, we might need you.”

“I’m only out her, besides it’s Paul’s turn. If he wants to

chloroform her, let him try it. Bobby’s already done it.”

“Finish your sandwich, Paul. Hurry up. “Dianne was already straightening up – “It’s getting late.”

“Yeah, and I want to go swimming after my hour.” Cindy licked her fingers slowly…

The kids approached Nola more familiarly now.

She was back in her room but sitting in a chair to which they tied

her over an hour ago. Half the rope would have done the job but the more they used the safer they felt.

This was apparent in the way they lounged around while Dianne explained about the pillow over the face and the chloroform and the look-out to watch the road. “Now, will you be quiet if we take your gag out?”

Nola nodded. Her jaws ached from being spread.

Since the boys never offered to touch Nola unless they had work to

do, Dianne removed the adhesive tape. As usual Bobby had used a lot and it took a long time, strip by strip, each one protested by Nola. When they were finally gone, balled up and discarded with the paper trash for burning, Dianne reached into the woman’s mouth and pulled out the damp terry-cloth wad. Nola swallowed immediately and painfully, and extended her tongue to touch her dry lips.

“Can I have a glass of water?”

At the sound of her voice, John and Paul stiffened slightly. This clearly was the beginning of danger.

“I won’t scream,” Nola said carefully, seeing their agitation.

DON’T LOSE YOUR HEAD WHEN THEY UNGAG YOU. TALK TO THEM. BE CALM.

Nola had planned some strategy.

“I’ll get some,” Cindy fled.

“Turn on the TV, loud,” John called after her. He was still quite

nervous.

“I won’t scream,” Nola repeated in a low steady voice. When no one said anything she added, “You can put down the pillow and bottle. I know. I won’t make any trouble.”

Dianne, also tense, seemed to relax. “Alright, then. I’ll get you something.”

“What?”

Dianne turned and left the room. “Cereal,” she said over her shoulder.

“I want more than that!”

“That’s all you are going to get,” Paul instantly picked up the bottle again; the cloth was visible inside and his fingers were on the lid. “You’re on a prisoner’s diet.”

“You – ” Nola stopped herself and sighed. “That’s not going to make me any weaker, Paul, just hungrier.”

“Well, you’re still on it,” he shut his lips tightly.

There was silence.

“The more you do to me, the more you’ll get punished, you know.”

Nola finally said. She could not bring herself to say more, to grant them additional powers. “What do you suppose they’ll do to you for this?”

The boys acknowledged her shot. Paul became embarrassed, knowing full well what he could expect and looked down at the rug. Dianne was not to old for the strap either, Paul knew. Behind Nola, John remained silent. Bobby and Cindy knew some things too. Barbara, like John, was silent.

“Why don’t you have another meeting and talk about it? You know what’s going to happen to each of you – decide what’s best. If you keep on going you’ll be in even worse trouble. If you let me go now, I’ll -” Nola was still ticked off – “I’ll think about it. We’ll all take a swim and talk about it.”

The boys silence became concrete and cold. Paul knew the strap well.

“Isn’t that better than what your going to get this way?”

Nothing.

After a bit, Dianne came back with cereal on a tray and, being

Dianne, a napkin. “What were you talking about?” She set the things on the vanity.

Paul’s relief at seeing his sister was pathetic. He writhed in gratitude. “She wants us to let her go. She says she might not tell on us.”

Dianne snorted in a lady-like way. “Can we move her over here?”

“But what’s going to happen to all of you after this?”

“We don’t want to talk. Come on.” Getting over on the opposite side of the chair from John, Dianne helped him slide Nola up to the small vanity.

Nola sighed again and shook her head.

“Here’s the water.”

Dianne took it slowly from Cindy and held it to Nola’s lips.

“Aren’t you going to untie at least one hand.” The caution, the

insistence on detail, the silence, the refusal to be sensible or communicate with her brought Nola close to losing her patience. “I can’t run away on one hand.”

“It’s too much trouble.”

“But, I want to feed myself.”

“I know, but it’s too much trouble. It takes too much time, and

every one wants to go swimming.” Dianne said. “Do you want this or not?”

Nola looked at her – she felt crushed – and nodded. It was metallic well water, however, it was cool and healing and smooth. The sheer comfort to her throat erased part of her irritation, and when Dianne asked if she wanted the cereal, she simply nodded again and submitted to being fed.

Afterwards, Nola felt the tension in the room begin to rise again.

The boys positively radiated it. Paul picked up the bottle again, excited.

“Wait a minute!”

They waited.

“You don’t have to gag me again. Nobody’s coming, I won’t make any

noise if they do – ” She looked mostly at Dianne.

Instead of diminishing the tenseness, however, she only seemed to increase it. Even Dianne looked warily across at John, who reached over and fingered the pillow.

“But it hurts,” Nola looked from one to the other now. “I can’t move my tongue or swallow. Can’t you think of something else without that rag? I’ve had it in my mouth all day. Even last night.”

They appeared unyielding and yet to force her quiet yet.

“Can’t you tie something around my mouth or just use adhesive tape

if you have to?”

“You can talk through a gag like that,” Paul retorted.

“And you can lick the tape off,” Cindy squealed.

Nola hung her head and breathed deeply. They were probably right at

that. “Alright, but you’re not ready to go swimming yet. Can’t you at least leave me alone for a few minutes?”

She raised her head and tried to look over her shoulder. “Please,

I’m begging.” She hated to say that, to increase their power while

degrading her further. But –

“OK, for a few minutes.”

They all left the room to change into their swimsuits, and, when

they came back they meant pure business.

“Thank you,” she said, bitterly and opened her mouth for them.

After that nothing – just tape and numbness and immobility and

silence.

With a whoop of relief, SECRET SIX banged out of the house and down the path towards the river, leaving Dianne to watch the prisoner first. Nola tried to make sounds to get her attention several times, but, it was no use; being ignored by her only made Nola’s ears and cheeks burn with anger and . And she was ignored.

Dianne curled up on the bed behind Nola and began to read. Nola had heard of the book not long ago – it seemed to adult for Dianne – a men’s book about mythology and ancient times which were often sexy and sometimes gruesome if what she had heard was only half right. Dianne read with absorption: Nola could see her by looking in the vanity mirror and then backwards over her own shoulders.

The girl’s face was pale and stern and distant. If Nola had been able to speak to her, she would not have been sure of getting an answer at all.

CHAPTER 8

It was evening but still light. John Randall had helped with the dishes and separated the trash, then descended his veranda steps and stood looking between sky and earth.

The Randall house was next upriver form Nola’s, the dividing line being the creek. The evening was pleasant enough. The wind was still, the river reflecting twilight was blue and clean and its surface only slightly rippled. By contrast, the creek was sunk in shadow to the left: in another twenty minutes it would merge with the dark stand of pine on Nola’s property. Lightning bugs were out, frogs disputed, a faint smell of dust came from the cooling ground, all pleasant enough. But to John, not so. In many ways, it even appeared as the confines of a prison, not so much one of place as on of process, a system from which he could not escape or even imagine escape. He was growing up. Plans were laid. Two years and then , another four and get a job, and then what? John wanted freedom now. By nature, by size, weight, strength, intelligence and desire, he was ready. He was ready for girls and love and his spirit was bent under the weight of years that separated him from these things. When you wanted it you couldn’t have it and when you got it you were too old and boring like everyone else. It quenched ambition – growing up simply took too long. Nothing that was offered was worth a good goddamm. The world was trying to kill him. Well, the hell with them all. He would play the game, but…

He was alert now, wholly engaged, mentally charged, and ever impatient. If he had been vague for several days, it was only because he was suddenly dazzled. Without expecting to or intending to, he had stumbled into life; though he dare tell no one, he all at once felt himself to be living. He went to the dock and slipped into his rowboat. There, not twenty years away, lay his new life. Go up the clay bank, through the woods by the path, across the field and you’d be at the house. It wouldn’t take forty-five minutes and he would see Nola again and be back. Unfortunately, of course, they had all agreed to do nothing unusual to attract attention, and normally he never went over there at night. He sat savouring a new feeling of miserable bliss.

Actually, when it comes to sheer exposure of flesh, John Randall had seen much more of Nola at swimming then he ever had today. Her bikini bathing suit worn unconsciously in their presence, left only a little to the imagination and while John admired her more than he hoped was noticeable, still it was somewhat abstract admiration.

Nola was fun and friendly and a good swimmer. She was almost like one of them but it frosted him that she took it for granted that all kids were dumb and all they ever thought of was staying in line and having fun – good and well-behaved – was a put down.

Her stupid, cheerful bossiness, that coercion he could forgive in someone much older, but in her, it aggravated.

How different today.

John had been scared and embarrassed this morning.

Nola was tied and gagged pretty well. They had her but he felt that

something terrific was going to happen now. The afternoon had been great, the greatest experience he had ever had. He did not know exactly what it was; it was just something about the way she acted.

When it was his turn to watch her and Dianne had left to keep an eye on the kids at the beach, he went into the bedroom and Nola was looking at him as if something different was going to happen. Something about the smooth back of her neck, the curve of her shoulders, the way she sat there, barelegged and sort of innocent, charmed him. The day had been filled with emotions – nervousness, embarrassment, daring, excitement, foreboding and perhaps some covetousness – but yet he entered the room feeling a sense of danger and disbelief. It was impossible not to think of the trouble of keeping the game going, the chances of being caught, the things that would happen when it was over, quite truly, gave him sobering thoughts. It was only after some time he really studied the girl before him.

Silent, subdued of body if not of spirit, sweetly patient, or so he thought, enduring just enough pain and discomfort to keep her alert, she became to him a kind of girl he had never seen or suspected to exist. It occurred to him that he had never seen a real woman in all his life.

Girls were a pain in the ass. They urged you on then ran away and stood giggling. They came in fantasies in the night. You needed girls but they did not need you. That was the pain.

But Nola was different. She was now. Though it was imposed and enforced, she exuded a feminine quality of submission. The tension between them changed as his guard hour wore along, changed between the woman and him. Before it had been Nola tied up by kids and now suddenly before him a woman brought to her proper, humble place by her MASTER. She was given her role and he was playing his, a stunning conception.

This was living. But it was only him who was going to get it good when all of this was over and finished.

CHAPTER 9

Things were harder for Paul.

Everything was harder for Paul.

He knew he laughed too loud and too soon. He cried too easily. He could not fight yet he couldn’t hold his temper a bit. His missed stupid questions at because he thought too much. The world was more menacing to him than to others. Yet Paul also saw terrible terrors in familiar shadows, and felt things that were not warranted, ore grief, more beauty. His sensitivity went beyond the useful to the useless. Now that he was thirteen Paul knew others did not understand him and never would. He was a stranger in the world. Paul had to control an uncontrollable self.

Dianne, for example, could come home from a day like today with Nola and help at home obediently. To look at her an outsider would conclude that it has been merely another boring day.

Paul, however, was still flushed and trembling with thoughts of hours just past. The transgression of the children against an adult, the possibilities of the Nola game to come, the inescapable punishment, before which he writhed in anticipation, were burned vividly on his mind. He sniffed and twitched and stared into space, he heard no words when spoken to and was finally sent to his room by his parents, where he sat in furious confusion and rage at the world.

He was dreaming. Restless dreams. About the stories that Dianne had told him about – Nola, cute in her nightie, tied and gagged, so helpless, games he could play with her given the chance. He screamed more in delight than in fright.

“It’s all right, mother.” Dianne was first down the hall. “Paul’s just having another nightmare. I’ll take care of it. Don’t get up.” Entering his room and switching on the light, she saw his thin, bone rigid face.

“Dianne, I..I..” he said confused.

Dianne actually smiled, but from relief, amusement, or contempt, it

was impossible to say. She looked down on her younger brother with compassion.

Throwing back the sheet, she saw that Paul’s pyjamas were soaked, his hair limp with sweat and his eyes wide, staring. She shook him gently. “Wake up now. Sit up a minute.” Going to the bathroom she returned with some water and a towel to dry him with.

She removed his pyjamas top and patted him dry. “Turn over.” she ordered, then lowered the bottoms and continued to dry him.

Some time afterward, when he had quieted down a little, she turned out the light and stroked his chest and stomach. She removed her pyjamas, climbed into the bed beside him, and began to tell him about the scary book she was reading and he listened closely to every horrible word.

CHAPTER 10

Having fed Nola, the kids had gagged her again, engineered her to bed, spread-eagled and tied her there. She was embarrassed and angry – had been all day – but at the same time she was strangely relieved. After the morning’s shocks of discovery, the hours of discomfort sitting in the chair, the ordeal of being watched and guarded all the time, she was almost pleased to be lying down, quiet and – for the instant alone. The same position that had seemed intolerable before now seemed bearable.

That’s not true, Nola said. People who are tied up don’t just lie around in comfort. Soon enough, the muscles round her underarms and in her hips would begin to ache. She would hurt. “I can’t stand it,” she groaned. But its going to happen anyway. The anticipation alone was enough to throw her into unreasonable hysteria, make her exert every ounce of her energy in one more desperate struggle to be free. Young Bobby was improving as a jailer, however: he had used the longest rope and her wrists were tied with hitches in the middle and the ends were out of sight behind the headboard. There was nothing to tempt her or raise her hopes. And she could not even sleep.

The ache in her body that she had foreseen had set in now. She was extended tightly, permanently and immovably, and now the muscles protested.

CHAPTER 11

The kids arrived earlier the next morning. Awake and squirming for hours, Nola heard them yelling their way through the woods, up the steps through the kitchen – Anxiously, she watched them fan into the room. She was frantic to be allowed some movement, any movement, and she knew that she would not be allowed so much as a twitch if she frightened them. She lay very still and docile.

At once, it was apparent that since she was taken captive her jailers, at least, had lost their nervousness. This downgraded her further and it was discouraging.

“Shall we do it the way we did yesterday?” John said.

“Yeah.” Bobby was still a little sleepy. “Only this time I’m going

to put two turns of rope around her neck when she walks.”

“Why?”

“Oh” – there was malice in his tone – “it’d hurt more.”

“Let me hold the rope behind her today.” Paul’s eyes darted with

energy from Bobby to John.

“He likes to be behind girls.” Cindy gave a very shy and knowing smile.

“I do not!”

“Do so.”

“Let him.” Dianne said.

“Get the rope.”

Far more quickly than yesterday, they had Nola on her feet, elbows

tied to her sides, one hand tied up behind and almost between her shoulder blades, her ankles hobbled. They were rougher, quicker, surer – they seemed to have no further fear that she might somehow escape or overpower them – and Nola made no resistance except that when she finally sat up and before she stood up, she bent forward and eased her hurting back a moment. This, they allowed her, and like any prisoner, she supposed, she did not prolong her pleasure. She stood up stiffly; she moved as they wished; and she co-operated fully. What had been humiliating yesterday was simply more expedient – less painful today. Moreover it avoided the futile defeat a one-handed struggle would bring against six determined youngsters.

Nola began to realize how people could be broken. You’d do anything to please.

They shuffled her to the bathroom where Dianne stood guard. Then they put her in the chair and gave her the same breakfast of cereal and juice except that they let her feed herself. Awkwardly, one hand was free from the elbow down. She had to bend and strain and more or less slurp. Quite naturally, she dribbled and Dianne was there to wipe her, like a baby.

Afterward – and she pleaded for this – the children even allowed her to remain ungagged, though her free hand was once again bound up with the other behind her back. …

“Why are you doing it, Dianne?”

“Hmmm?” Dianne had settled down on Nola’s bed with her lewd book on the Spanish Inquisition.

When Nola spoke, she looked up cooly.

“Me. Why are you keeping me tied up?”

“It’s only a game -” Dianne spoke off handedly.

It stabbed Nola. They did not know how much they were hurting her;

even she did not entirely know. It was only just beginning to pile up.

Last night had been a nightmare.

“It’s only a game,” Dianne said, “and besides, we aren’t hurting you.”

“You are too,” Nola said definitely.

“I haven’t heard any crying and moaning and groaning.”

“How could I?”

“It isn’t hard.”

“How do you know?”

“The same way.”

“They’ve tied me up. Worse than you. We’ve all taken turns.”

“You? The six of you? All of you?”

“Um.” Dianne was nonchalant. “It’s a game we used to play. One time they tied my hands to a tree limb and tickled my feet and put red ants on my legs. I cried and they all laughed. I was there for a long time. That really hurt.”

“And that’s a game?”

“Um.” Dianne shrugged again.

“Where did you ever get the idea to so something like that?”

“I don’t know. You see it on TV or in the comics.” She looked down at her book. “Do you know what people used to do with red hot pokers. Do you read very much in ?”

“Yes.” She tried to stretch her muscles. She was tied tight and it hurt. Still, at least she didn’t have a gag in her mouth.

“Not that, though.”

“Oh.” Dianne seemed disappointed. “Anyhow, playing Prisoner can be

fun when it’s not your turn.”

You used to do stuff like that when you were young yourself.

“No, I didn’t.” It startled her.

“Hmmm.” Dianne barely made the sound at all, but she looked at the

captive closely.

Nola felt the scrutiny. She met Dianne’s eyes. Perhaps Dianne didn’t believe her, or perhaps she did and thought it odd. Whatever, there was a degree of contempt in her look and Nola lowered her head.

In fact, Dianne’s question had started up a memory. Nola had been raised in an apartment building. What she remembered now was an uncomfortable relationship with the other kids. Specifically she remembered the whispering and sniggering of kids in the parking lot at night. A low murmur that dropped and turned to hostility if she approached.

“Hey, Nola, what d’ya do for fun?”

“I know what I’d like to do with her – ”

Laughter –

She was anxious for the warmth of the group that laughed and talked so intimately, but at the same time this repelled her. She always turned away and would hear the resumption of secrets and giggles over her shoulder.

They wanted her. She felt that boys and girls alike wanted her to do something or they wanted to do something to her and afterward she would be one of them. Nola didn’t know what the suspected initiation was – in her imagination any number of wild things – but she knew it would be in a place somewhere far from help, that it would be in a crowd and hands on her body and-and-and she knew that even if she herself to begin, she would cry and get frightened of it and wind up much worse than before. Nola would not be dirtied and the barriers stood.

“I don’t know what the other kids did.” she said to Dianne. “I never played that way.”

Dianne smiled a faintly contemptuous smile.

“You’re going to play that way now!”

CHAPTER 12

At lunch they had been talking about her but Nola could not hear much of it. Afterward when John came to take his turn at guard he brought with him a certain tension. It was so real that although she was still ungagged, Nola said nothing at first.

John came over and needlessly checked her ropes then sat down out of her vision and it was quiet except that the room still held that tension.

After a while Nola turned her head and saw from the corner of her eye that John was knotting one of the unused pieces of rope.

“What’re you doing?”

“Nothing.”

“Are you sure?”

“Sure.” He looked up, mildly surprised. “What do you think I was doing?”

Nola frowned and faced forward again, more nervous now. The tension just wouldn’t go away. When John said or did nothing, however, she said, “John, why’re you doing this to me?”

“I don’t know.” He was quiet then, “We thought it’d be fun, I guess.”

“Is it fun, hurting people?”

There was no answer but the tension tightened still more.

Nola sighed. Yesterday the kids had not noticed or cared that she

hurt. Now she was telling them. It seemed to make no difference. What she could not understand was why – all right, so they were going to go on with it – but why. She couldn’t raise even a hint of guilt or sympathy or fear of punishment from any of them.

I just can’t get through. They don’t care. What she wanted was relief. Maybe she was embarrassing them. Taking a deep breath, she contritely said, “I’m sorry, John.”

John seemed somewhat relieved.

The tension seemed to drop. “Aw, that’s OK,” he said, “there’s

nothing to be sorry about.” When Nola remained silent he said, “Is it too tight?”

There!

Sympathy!

Nola was astonished. She almost held her breath so that she

wouldn’t frighten the discovery away. Something had happened, the tension was definitely lowering. By accident she had touched something and the situation was better. Then she suddenly saw a pattern. It seemed incredible for these sub and -aged children and yet the truth was that the kiddies had fallen in love with her and determined to play an erotic game with her. The fact that she was under dressed fitted with that thought. I don’t believe it, she said to herself. But she did. The feeling she was getting from John, the one she could not understand was in fact the same one she got from older men who thought they had a chance to make her. How carefully she avoided them and here it was again. And she was in no position to avoid it.

Now what, Nola thought, a little wildly. If she continued to complain, aloof, it would spoil their game, she supposed. But turn her loose. No. People and animals in packs were socially merciless. What was more likely, if she continued, they’d turn angry and vengeful. They’d punish her. These kids would make her play their game. But they couldn’t, she said to herself. Oh, yes they could – and would.

On the other hand, No. This was a direction in which her mind moved only with reluctance. The path of thought was dark and impeded by a lifetime of avoidance.

On the other hand, Nola still said, if I changed myself. Somehow, if I was a little bit more like what they want me to be, what would happen then? Maybe when one of the youngsters, in a fondness then returned, would become sorry for her and let her go. After all, Nola thought, what have I got to lose.

Still – she held back the shadow self that she called sexy Nola, who bleached real Nola’s short hair, darkened her eyebrows and lashes, chose padded bras, shortened her skirts, walked in a certain way for certain people. Sexy Nola, who invited closer investigation. Now, however, sexy Nola, usually forcibly submerged, might be just what was needed.

If SECRET SIX liked Nola the way she was now, if John had a thing on about her, what in the world would they think of sexy Nola. She made up her mind to try. The only problem was that after a lifetime of suppression, sexy Nola wasn’t the easiest thing to just turn on. Oh, well. Her only question to herself, Can I?

“Is it too tight?”

Nola made several experimental, anguished, twisting movements and permitted herself the smallest sound of someone in pain. She felt rather amateurish about it, but it was a beginning. “Yes,” she said, and said it very meekly.

John dropped the rope he was fiddling with and sat up indecisively.

Perhaps he was even timid.

“Come feel for yourself. Please, John.”

He got up and came over behind her. “What is it? Your hands?”

She bent away from him physically – as if in fear? pain? and yet

looked up at him through her eyelashes.

“Mostly.” she said.

“Couldn’t you loosen up just a bit or untie one hand and let me

move it around and get some circulation? You’re really going to hurt me badly if you keep this up.”

John could see that this was true.

“Hmmm-” he considered and savoured a bit.

“Think of something, please? I couldn’t get away if I wanted.”

“OK.” He released her wrists.

“Oh! Oh-h-h-” The sound she made was sincere enough.

There had been rope on her wrists almost without relief for

over thirty-six hours. She allowed her hands to fall by her sides. Blood seemed to rocket straight out to the ends of her fingers and pulse there. She flexed gently and brought her hands up to her lap where she could see them. They were red splotched with little white freckles in the palms and blue veins on top, and there were wide indents in the wrists where the cord had been.

Sexy Nola closed her eyes and bit her lower lip and furrowed her forehead. She was not an actress and could not cry on demand.

“Umnm-” she tried to stroke her sore hands but one would not quite reach the other.

“What is it?”

“It burns.”

“Is it better, though?”

“Yes,” she bit her lip. Bravely this time.

Impulsively, even daringly, John reached down and took one of her

free hands in his and began massaging the inside of her wrist.

“Ow!”

“Does it hurt?”

“No.” In fact, it did. What her hands really needed was just to be

let alone, but she did not say it. “That’s nice, but be gentler.

Please?” She looked up at him briefly and then lowered her eyes again. She made an effort to relax. That was going to be the nicest, softest, most maidenly hand that any boy ever stroked, even if it killed her. It worked, and after a while, he took her other hand and chafed some colour back into it. Such a game could not go on forever, however.

At length he stood back. “What about your legs?”

Sexy Nola looked up at him demurely, and he coloured a bit. Inside she was in turmoil. Giving a teenage boy freedom to touch her was too dangerous.

“Oh, I see. Only my ankles.”

That morning, Bobby had tied her upper legs together above the

knees and then tied each foot out to its own chair leg – and the chair legs were square and sharp. John changed this, eyes discreetly on his work which went slowly. He untied each ankle and left them loose in front of her. Afterward he slightly eased the rope about her bare knees.

During all of this, Nola had the opportunity to examine her captor more closely. He was strongly built and he was a clean boy with none of the acrid smells she associated with men on the make.

No, stop it, Nola said to herself. John is nearly a man. He’s bigger than I am, stronger and he can do a lot of things to me that I can’t stop – now. Anyway why stop it, sexy Nola said.

Sexy Nola allowed herself to be handled with grace and opportunism.

She flexed her toes and rubbed her feet, sole on top, kept her knees apart as much as the loosened rope would allow to give him a glimpse of smooth inner thigh and docilely pressed her heels together when he retied her ankles and tightened the ropes above her knees – and sighed with gratefulness when he was done. John seemed to have a streak of kindness in him, he was the only one who had helped her and she felt she was making progress in gaining her freedom.

“Thank you, John,” sexy Nola flashed him another shy look beneath eyelashes.

“You can stay that way while I’m here,” he said.

“Stay her and talk to me.”

“Well…what about?”

“Anything,” sexy Nola said. “Just don’t leave me alone.”

“Do you go steady?” John was still sympathetic.

“No, not really.”

She twisted back and forth several times in a way that

emphasized her breasts.

“Why?”

“I don’t know. I guess I don’t want to.”

“On dates do they try to kiss you?”

Nola looked up quickly and caught him blushing. She waited for his answer with interest. Nola dropped her eyes looking down at her useless hands lying beside her bare legs. She actually felt her femaleness in relation to John’s maleness. It had taken sexy Nola only a short time to prove suspicion right. The youngsters – this one at least – most definitely did regard her as having a sex and from old habit she stiffened slightly.

Enough of the come-on.

“Some of them do,” she said with what of a shrug she could manage.

“Do you let them?”

“No!”

“Really? Never? We do.”

“Oh, you know,” she said shortly, “what I mean is sometimes nice

boys. Some of them are so – It’s like wrestling or something.”

“Wrestling?” John was curious and interested.

“Just…grabbing and pawing.”

“Girls don’t like that,” she said.

“Can I kiss you?”

“No, John, I don’t want to.”

“Why?”

“It’s silly. It doesn’t mean anything that way.”

“Yes, it does.”

“How can it?”

“Well – I like you-”

“Ah.” There were a great many directions in which Nola did not want

to see this little conversation develop, and in self- defence she fell silent.

“You still don’t want to.”

“Well, it’s no fun for me,” she was curt – “like this.”

“You couldn’t stop me.”

“That makes it worse.”

John eased to his feet and stood beside her and very much over her.

Nola turned and looked the other way but said nothing. It was suddenly very quiet. She expected any second for him to put the moves on her, grab her hair, pull at her nightie – it could be anything – and she decided not to struggle. He was right, she couldn’t stope him anyhow.

Instead, however, she felt him take her wrist and pull it around behind the back of the chair.

“Give me your other hand.”

“Oh, John, no. Please.”

“Give it to me.”

“I don’t want to. Please!”

“Alright, then, don’t give it to me.”

He wrenched her arm up between her shoulders.

“Ouch! Ow! I will, I will. But don’t make it so tight. Your’re

doing it worse than it was.”

“You deserve it.”

“Please stop. You can kiss me if you want to. I don’t mind.”

He began tightening the rope holding her arms taut. When she spoke

he hesitated only a second and went on with his work. Afterward and silently, he retied her ankles to the square legs of the chair, cinching up on them vengefully.

“Ouch,” Nola said. Damm, I pushed him away and made him mad. He’s just like a man. They try to kiss you then want to run their hand up under your dress with that terrible look in their eyes. You might let them if a kiss would let go of them. It was, she had found out; a place to begin, with the other hand coming around under your breast and fumbling with buttons and all the rest. Men had just one use for women but she wanted so much more.

She watched John stand up, obviously satisfied with his work. He hurt me, he is hurting me, that’ll teach me, she thought. He wouldn’t kiss me now if I begged him. He’ll make me learn my lesson well, hours of it. And I can’t do anything about it.

Things were now much worse than before.

He was silent now. He stood looking her over – she did not raise her head but she could feel it – on an almost inch by inch basis. So much for sexy Nola’s activities. I could never be a sexy person anyhow, Nola thought. I just don’t like what happens when everybody gets going like that.

CHAPTER 13

Cindy relieved him so he could take a swim…

John reviewed the afternoon with a degree of satisfaction. It was

a good as yesterday. Again he had felt the new thrill of the girl’s submissiveness but today he used that mastery. He had discovered that he could tie and untie her himself. It changed a lot. He understood wheat he learned. For favours he could give a lot. For favours he could give she had to consent to be handled. For things he wanted she would not give he could withhold favours. He knew now that the favour to be traded was the giving or taking away pain. It hurt – was a very interesting bonus. The most clear kind of power. He knew something terribly fundamental and important.

Tomorrow he might leave Nola gagged. He preferred her muffled sounds and eye movements to her words. Tomorrow he would bargain more shrewdly. She would have to beg more; if she wished to be ungagged, she would also have to be kissed. And other things. Interesting things came to mind.

John’s sex education had been liberal and vivid. He knew the theory of sexual intercourse – fucking – a word which actually embarrassed him but use by other boys. And one he did it the …He jumped into the stream…

Afterward, pleasantly winded from a furious swim, he waded up the beach and stood towelling off near Bobby and Cindy. “Aren’t you going in?”

“We’ve been.”

“Where’s Dianne?”

“Guarding.”

They all stretched out on the beach to wait for Paul and Barbara.

CHAPTER 14

Barbara followed Paul to the woods. When they were about halfway she called softly to Paul. He stopped and turned, shaking, as if he expected to be hit.

“Sit here and talk for a minute.”

“What do you want to talk about?”

“The game – prisoner.”

Paul groaned;; he did not want to talk about it.

“Could you play with me – without the others. Dianne said I could

ask.”

She smiled coyly at him.

“Why?” Paul was in turmoil.

“It would be fun. You could do private things. I wouldn’t tell.”

Paul was frightened, did not understand. Barbara did not even like

him yet…she was asking him to capture her and play prisoner. Like they all did.

“Dianne said you’re the best at it, the scariest and have the best ideas.”

“If you want,” he stuttered. “I’ll..I’ll tell you when.”

CHAPTER 15

“We have to go pretty soon…”

“Yeah. We’ll have to move her again.”

“That’s easy.” Bobby stretched out on his back and looked up at the sky. “She can’t get away.”

“Yeah.” Paul twitched unconsciously.

John sat down and was quiet.

After a while, Bobby sighed. “This is boring.”

“What?”

“This. Her. All of it,” he sat up impatiently.

“I think it’s neat,” Paul twitched again. “How many kids you know

have ever done something like it?’

“What’s the point, though? Move her here, move her there, feed her, and do the same thing over again the next day.”

“I think it’s fun.”

Paul leaned over and began to draw idly in the sand with his

finger. “But what’d be tough would be if we could do all the things you do to real prisoners.” He looked at Barbara.

“Like what?” John said.

“Aw-w-w, like we used to pretend. You know. Only really. Take off

all her clothes – and spank her bare ass, and whip her and stuff like that.” He let his voice trail off nervously and looked again at Barbara, hoping the others did not notice.

“We can’t do that,” Bobby said.

“I don’t know why not. Really.”

“Yes, you do. We’re in enough trouble as it is.”

“What do you want to do with her. Turn her loose? Then you’d really

find out what trouble was.”

“Anyhow, how would you do it?” John said carefully.

“Easy.”

“How?”

“Scissors.” For all its pinched and twisted features, Paul’s small face took on a look of angelic radiance. He was imagining things.

“What?” Bobby said.

“Scissors. Dianne has it all figured out.” Paul began one of his

rapid-paced, squirming explanations. The expression faded to one of intensity. “We take her to the basement, tie her spread out, right? Dianne just cuts the things over her shoulder and along the side and…and…it falls off.” His pupils seemed to grow tiny and bright.

“Aw, she wears underpants, too. I’ve seen ’em.”

“It’s the same thing. Two sides or just pull them down.”

“Yeah, maybe.” John admired.

“Then what? What’d Dianne say?”

“Nothing. But we could think of the rest.”

Bobby, looking a John, was silent.

“But after that,” Paul was encouraged by the silence, “we could do

all other kinds of cool stuff to her…He stopped. They had all played together for several years. They knew what he meant.

“No, you couldn’t,” Bobby said. “It’d make everything twice as bad as it already is.”

“Why not?” All of his odd imagination seemed open to Paul at the moment. He saw things the others could not.

“Shut up!” Bobby said.

“John?” Paul appealed for help.

John avoided his glance. If no suggestion or solution appeared, you

simply looked gravely at the ground. Someone else would come up with the proper ideas.

In this case it was Paul – how often it seemed to be Paul – who, for being younger and possibly less embarrassed by what he was saying had put into words exactly what John vaguely wanted but dared not face alone. Moreover, the suggestion came complete with a plan. Dianne would do it. John and Paul would help if necessary. Cindy and Barbara would stay out of the way. Bobby would finally agree. There was a peculiar air of fate about the whole thing, as if from the first day they saw Nola, they were going to capture her, as if from that moment on they had been moving towards this further heightening of the adventure. They had played similar games with each other. Choice, if it had existed, had simply slipped away.

“We’ll have to make some new rules,” he said finally.

“When?”

“About what?” Bobby was negative.

“After Dianne takes off her clothes.”

“What kind of rules?” Paul went into a trembling spasm.

“Wait a minute…”

“Well, we still have to watch her – stand guard.”

“Sure…”

“But we ought to be able to say what we want, and everybody should

help. You know, like if you want her gagged when its your turn, OK. If you don’t, OK. If you want her tied to a table, or a chair, OK, and if you want her in bed or anything else, OK. What the person guarding wants, we all agree to. And we help. If you want the door closed, OK.”

“The door?”

“The cellar, if we’re taking her there.”

“Why close the door?”

“Just if you want to,” John shrugged.

“No!” Bobby jumped to his feet.

“No, what?”

“You’re not going to get Cindy and me into any more trouble.”

“It’s the same for everybody.”

“No, it isn’t. Its my parent’s house – ” He waved his hands in

exasperation. “You’re not going to take off anybody’s clothes.”

“Dianne is.”

“No, she isn’t either.!”

“Who’s going to stop it, then?” When he got to his feet, John’s size and weight advantage were unarguable.

“Let me alone now!”

“I haven’t touched you.”

“Well, are you going to help us then?”

“No! Don’t make me.” He was sobbing now.

The four sat on their heels and watched him cry himself out. It

took a while.

“What are you going to do? Give all this up?” Paul said.

“Nope,” John said, “we’ll just have to make him a prisoner too.”

Bobby looked up. Both their faces were flushed and it was apparent that they were ready to pounce. Bobby was no fool for his age. To him, they could do it, even to Cindy, and a lot of bad things could happen. Memory of Paul’s cruel streak alone made him more afraid of SECRET SIX than any adult. Besides, he was already in for it anyway.

“Make up your mind. Hurry up.”

Bobby sighed, still sniffling a little.

“OK, get a rope, Paul, I’ll watch him.”

“No, wait a minute…”

“What?”

“Girls shouldn’t be undressed with boys.”

“You’re just scared. Are you in or not? Cindy and Dianne did it.”

“OK, OK, I’ll do it. I’ll help you.”

Paul dropped back on his heels, a little disappointed.

“No telling lies and letting her go by yourself some night?”

“No.”

“Because if you do, when everything’s blown over, we’re really

going to get you.”

“Yeah, OK,” Bobby said dispiritedly. Something of the sort had been going on through his mind. “But I’m still scared.”

Paul gave a yell of triumph and leaped to his feet.

“Man, this is really neat.”

“Yeah, alright,” John smiled and rose too. “We can talk to Dianne

about it on the way home tonight.”

Bobby – humiliated – followed. He thought Barbara would stick up for him. On one hand, he had promised to do what he must do to survive – be loyal to the kids, while on the other, the same pledge had committed him to see and accept the stripping and of someone from the adult world, a female to which he owed some loyalty. In submitting to loyalty to SECRET SIX to escape pain and punishment he had equally submitted Nola to their whims.

CHAPTER 16

Nola’s third night in captivity began about four-thirty in the afternoon when Paul, Dianne and John were ready to go home. Then, with their endless caution – each of her limbs was always tied to something or other – they fed her, got her to bed spread- eagled, and bound her tightly. Afterward began the impossible hours. During her time as a prisoner, Nola had passed far beyond shock or injured dignity. She accepted the fact that there would be no early escape or release now.

She was the it of a children’s game that had not run its course and might well become worse. The matter was simply how to endure. Yesterday, last night, she had been seized with spasms of irrational, physical terror in which her arms and legs wrenched at rope which her mind knew would not give. It produced needless pain, tightened loops which would remain tight until they were untied hours later and as she recognized this, she still could not stop her body’s movements. Tonight she resisted these struggles. Biting down on the rag between her teeth, she willed herself to lie quietly. She was close to tears but could not cry with the gag in her mouth. I can’t, I just can’t go on…

CHAPTER 17

No more than Bobby did Cindy dare to turn Nola loose. She couldn’t move her alone. Still, she might remove the gag and talk to her and that’s all she wanted right now. It was a dangerous thing; it was daring – for a ten year old.

With resolution, even with a smile, Cindy went to the bedroom.

At the quiet click of the overhead light, Nola blinked her eyes and

turned them towards Cindy, who in turn assured herself that it was safe, that the prisoner was still imprisoned, then walked to the side of the bed and with sudden courage, sat down on its edge, her hands in her lap.

There was a brief moment in which child and girl, captor and captive, met with eyes.

“Are you awake?”

Nod – yes.

“Do you want to talk?”

Nola did nothing for a moment. She could not shrug, but after a bit she tossed her head as if to say, I don’t care.

The gesture seemed weary and Cindy suddenly felt sorry for her.

“Will you make a lot of noise if I take off your gag?”

Tired nod – no.

Cindy reached up to the back of her own head and, taking a

curl of her short hair, twined it around her finger sensuously. She smiled, “Will you let me put it back when we’re through?”

Yes-Yes. A nod, a nod.

Cindy hesitated just another moment, feeling both frightened and

daring, righteous and naughty. Then she leaned down over Nola. “OK, turn your head a little…” Putting her small fingers on Nola’s cheek, she managed to get her nails under the adhesive tape and pull. It pulled Nola’s skin but she persisted, and slowly, slowly, the adhesive came away.

“Ummm- ” Nola opened her mouth and a least partially disgorged the scrap of folded terry cloth she was to accept each time they gagged her.

It looked disgusting to Cindy – it was like some obscene unknown-to-children bodily function and yet she daintily reached down and pulled it out and laid it aside on the night table.

Nola licked her lips.

“Are you OK?”

“No. I’m stiff. I hurt all over.” Nola tried to move but could not.

“Just untie me.”

“I’m sorry – ” and Cindy truly was.

They looked at each other a minute.

“Well, I’m hungry.” Since the children had never cared about this,

Nola said it in a bored voice.

“Thirsty.”

“A peanut-butter sandwich and a coke?”

Nola sighed.

“OK?”

“OK!”

Cindy rose and went to the door. There she turned primly and said,

“Would you like jelly with the peanut butter?”

“Fine. Anything.”

In the kitchen, Cindy fulfilled her promise, and neatly. Cindy was,

for the moment, keeper of the prisoner. It was a demanding role. Returning to the room with a tray, she made room for the tray on the night-table.

Nola drank greedily and then ate a little more slowly, Cindy administering to her as if she were a child. When they were done, Cindy returned the tray to the kitchen and ran back to the room. It was fun.

“Does it really hurt that much, being tied up all the time?” Cindy sat down gently on the edge of the bed.

“Yes.”

“I thought so.”

Cindy frowned as if confirmed in some primate suspicion of her own.

“It does me too,” she said, “or it did.”

“You?”

“When we used to play that way. I didn’t do it much, but once in a while they let me go with them.”

“Where?”

“In the woods, down in the old cabin, wherever they wanted to play Prisoner.”

“They did it to you too?”

“Yeah,” Cindy answered, “But everybody took turns, except Barbara.

She hasn’t done it yet – it was part of the game.” Cindy was flattered that Nola suddenly looked more interested.

“What was the game, really?”

“I really don’t know, the boys liked it best, I didn’t.”

“You captured prisoners?” Nola asked.

“Yeah.” Cindy twirled a ringlet of hair in her finger again. She

would have put in it her mouth if it had been longer. She stared off into space. “After a while it got boring.”

“Then that’s not what your playing now?” Nola was coaxing.

“Um mnnn!” Cindy was emphatic. She shook her head and continued to

look off somewhere. “I guess this is SECRET SIX. Paul invented it; it’s more fun. We’re a bunch of terrorists living in the woods. We kill people and stuff.”

“Oh…”

Cindy smiled down. It did seen to her that Nola more or less

understood. “And we kidnap hostages and take prisoners and them and stuff. It’s kind of fun.”

“Fun!”

“Well” – Cindy was a little apologetic – “when it isn’t your turn to be caught. Even then, it isn’t too bad most of the time. Paul’s the really mean one though. When he’s jailer, watch out.”

“How?”

“Oh…he’s always thinking up new things to do. Once he tied me up so tight, he even tied my toes together. In just my underpants – she blushed heavily. Then he tickled me.”

“But where were the rest of them?”

“There. It was just my turn.”

“Didn’t they do anything?”

“Yeah. They laughed. And Dianne tickled my feet. After a while, when I was crying they let me go. It was my turn.”

“Oh.”

For a moment neither of them spoke. Pursuing her own thoughts, Cindy didn’t notice at first. When she did, she resumed where, to her, they had left off. “Paul likes girl’s bums,” she blushed again and giggled. “He’s the best at torturing. Mostly they let him. Except when it’s his turn, the Dianne does it. It’s fun.”

“Real or pretend?” Nola said levelly.

She really did understand, Cindy decided. That was just the way

SECRET SIX talked about it. “Both,” she said brightly.

“Well, they better not me!”

“No,” Cindy conceded. “I guess not. It’s too bad though.”

“What’s too bad?” Nola seemed like she was going to get mad slowly

the way grown-ups do.

Cindy sought to placate her. “I dunno. It’s just kind of fun having you her to play with us, too.”

“I’m-not-playing.”

“Well, you are, sort of.”

“I’m not at all. What I want to know is when you’re going to let me

go again. This hurts.”

“Well, they won’t do it until after tomorrow anyhow, I guess.”

“Why tomorrow?” Nola seemed to have calmed down again. At any rate

she was sweeter.

“They’re going to take off you nightie and spank you. Your underpants too.”

“What?” Nola suddenly lifted her head from the pillow and stared straight at the little girl. You could almost hear the individual letters coming out of her mouth.

“W-h-a-t. What?”

“It’s just like the ‘nitiation,” Cindy jumped back a little.

“We’ve all done it,” she said. “It isn’t all that bad anyhow. Well

it’s bad when it’s you and everybody’s laughing and all, but when its someone else, its . Boys look silly with their things …”

“Where did you hear this?” Nola didn’t raise her voice, but she suddenly had that adult sound of now-you’re-going-to-get- it.

Cindy got up off the bed and backed away to safety. “We had a meeting…”

“Well, that’s the end. Boys don’t undress girls!” Nola looked up at her wrists in turn and jerked on her ropes angrily. “You get Bobby in here right now, and I mean now, or I’ll start screaming.”

“But you’re not supposed to be ungagged,” Cindy paled, her heart thumping. She was thinking trouble, trouble, trouble.

“I said now!”

Cindy sighed unhappily. This was unexpected, uncontrollable. The

other kids would get her for it.

“Bobby! bob-bee-e-e!” Cindy shouted. “Bobby, get up!”

Then Nola screamed. It was not a completely abandoned shriek – she had little practice at screaming – but it was loud enough for openers.

Badly scared now, Cindy ran out of the room for Bobby, followed by another scream this time a little higher. In the hall she almost knocked him down.

White, rumpled, wide-eyed and only half seeing and under- standing, he more or less danced back and forth from one foot to the other, trying to get by her.

“What is it?”

“Hurry-y up!” Cindy cried.

“Is she loose?” Bobby pulled back sharply, ready to run.

“No, No! She want’s to talk to you. Come on!” Cindy finally got him

moving, and together they stumbled into Nola’s room.

She was still wrenching at her cords, and shaking the whole bed.

“Bobby, let me go right now. I mean it. Untie me.”

Caught by the terrible tone of adult anger and command and yet unable to obey – quite – Bobby froze.

“You’re all going to get it with the strap. I said untie me!”

“The bottle, the bottle!” Cindy was quick thinking in her terror.

Instead, Bobby turned on her and began yelling too. “You ungagged her.

You did it. Now we’re going to get it. We all are!”

“Give her the bottle of stuff.” Cindy screamed in despair.

Then Nola screamed again. This time it was right on; it was

abandoned and shrill and animal and prolonged.

It moved Bobby to action.

He ran over, pulled the pillow from beneath Nola’s head, and threw

it down across her face and held it there. “The bottle’s on the dresser.”

Cindy turned around twice before she saw it. Behind her was a struggle she didn’t want to see. The bed was tossing. On it, Bobby rode a pillow like a raft, his face lip-bitten and determined.

“Bring it here,” he yelled.

From beneath the pillow came muffled sounds of desperation.

“Now hold the pillow. You can’t be afraid now! Hold it!”

Cindy did, but badly and weakly. Nola was able to turn her head underneath it and shout – it was now muffled in a kind of terror of her own.

“Stop it. Stop it! You’re going to smother me. I can’t-stop it!”

It was all ugly to Cindy.

With shaking hands her brother finally got the bottle open and

pulled out the reeking rag. “Keep holding her. I don’t care what she says.”

He bent over and pushed the rag under the pillow where the noise was coming from and threw himself down beside Cindy to hold it there. After a while, the nightmare subsided and Nola went limp. Afterward, still shaking badly, Bobby threw the pillow off and let her get some air. She was still breathing; in a while, the breathing became more or less regular. Even so, he sat by the bed and waited a long time before replacing the gag securely.

By the door, ready to run if things got worse, Cindy said, “Is she alright?”

“You still there?” Bobby seemed to have forgotten her. “Yeah.” He turned around still pale. The pink spots on his cheeks were scarlet. “She’s out.”

Cindy came back cautiously. “Look, she hurt herself.”

She was right. Nola’s wrenching at her ropes had slipped them down

to her wrists, leaving bare, scraped, red places on her arms and flaked, roughened skin. Bobby pulled down the wrinkled sheet and saw that she had actually scraped down to blood on one ankle, but nothing looked . He sighed.

“She’s OK enough,” and he went outside on the back steps and sat down.

After a short interval of not knowing what to do, Cindy, still frightened and now remorseful – went out and sat down beside him without speaking. She waited for the police or the sheriff to come and get them for all that screaming. She also thought about the next time it was her turn to be with Paul and John. They would probably make her do it without her underpants for this.

When none came, she surrendered to the need to sleep and went off to hide under the covers.

CHAPTER 18

Nola awoke with sudden fear. The gag and tape – she couldn’t breathe; she was being suffocated again. Jerking her eyes open wide in fear, she raised her head and then, of course, remembered. There was the room; there was the ceiling; there was – she turned her head – Bobby, sleeping exhausted. This was another day, the third like this.

Closing her eyes again, she took in long slow breaths of air. She had a headache – oxygen was the answer – because Bobby had her to breathe too much chloroform last night. Her wrists and ankles hurt where she had scraped them raw in her struggles with him. She was stiff and muscle-sore all over, and later on, they were going to take off her nightie, somehow, and spank her. It all leapt back to mind.

Each day – in her helplessness – began with the weight of the previous days, each day a step down a ladder whose bottom she could not see. She felt sorrow, and loneliness. If she could just be free.

If someone would only just find me. Help me. Help me please.

But no one was going to find her, no one was going to help her. She

could only help herself. But How?

Nola said, OK, I’m part of a game that probably began a long time ago with dolls and toy soldiers. As they got older, the toys faded, they moved to more freedom, but the game went on. They moved into the doll’s rolls; they became the dolls. And it was unsupervised and completely outside the adult world. And the game moved on. They became terrorists in their game. And then that got boring; they hadn’t played much recently – hadn’t Cindy said – until now? – and then Nola came along.

And then I came along, Nola said. This attracted her thought pattern. And then I came along. It was all so bitterly clear. I am the next level of the game. Now, the children could, now they would – what? Who knows? And the only thing to prevent it was silly Nola, who had come on to the scene in a blue summer dress and not much else; who had exposed herself in a bikini. How easily the children’s impatient imaginings and the opportunity had come together. Now they could really play their game.

If they could. If they dared.

And they dared.

But what were the next levels of the game?

Something chilly and dark passed just behind Nola’s immediate attention and waited in the out-of-reach part of her mind.

She thought.

OK, I am their new toy. I walk, I talk, when they let me. They can

move my arms and legs. They can even dress and undress me if they want.

But how do they play with dolls?

And what if one were suddenly the doll. At the thought, Cindy’s face grew huge in doll Nola’s imagination. Cindy’s clear, curious, simple eyes became evil.

And Paul with his toy soldiers in the dungeon, tied up. Paul was working out his boy aggressions. Tomorrow the toys would be ready to be captured again – little harm. Real soldiers, real people, of course, are only punished once. Once. In Nola’s mind, Paul suddenly became even more a horrible little boy.

And in the woods, in the unused cabin, gathering place of SECRET SIX, hadn’t Cindy said they took prisoners and hostages and tortured them for secrets? Erotic play, discovery, a sorting out of values. The next day, the next raid, the prisoners would be back intact, surly and unwilling to tell, ready for again. But if the prisoners, if the prisoner were real?

The logical step was obvious. At this level of the game, six kids just before age or crossing through their teens, were going to Nola. But Nola fought to dismiss this. She wasn’t a toy, they were not free to do as they wished and the world of spankings, punishment, and authority remained. It only troubled her that they might think about it. She was also troubled as to why they should think about it.

The rope, the adhesive tape, and all the hurt. Were they acting out life as they wanted it to be. Given everything of their life – love, fun, warmth, money – why would these kids choose the darkest parts for their most interesting games? Were they naturally bad. If they were, who then wasn’t? was she?

Maybe they don’t like what they see of what I think is a pretty world. Maybe war and crime and trash – even appeals to them.

I think these kids are oddball and different and dirty but are they all that different from the rest? What did you think of them when you came here? You thought that they were pretty and fun. What did you think of the way they obeyed and had fun when you took them swimming? You were all over yourself with love. What these kids are doing to you is the rest of their playtime.

Nola shook her head silently. Again, the logical step invited and again she refused to take it. All kids aren’t this way. We weren’t.

Weren’t we?

Nola stopped. Something summoned to her mind the image of the parking lot snickerers of her own early teens. She saw them clearly again, heard them clearly again. Their faces moved back and forth interchangeably with those of SECRET SIX.

No! They didn’t do anything like this, though.

No?

Well, maybe, Nola granted. What would they really have done? What would any person do given entire power and another person? What – in particular – would inexperienced children do? Who knows what people think when, when they’re children and we haven’t broken them yet…?

Then it hit her hard, like a hard blow to the stomach. Nola no longer doubted that the children would strip her naked. She had teased them with exposure in her short blue skirt, in her bikini – what did Cindy say about Paul – likes to look at girl’s bums.

Well, she had exposed a lot of that part of her anatomy to him.

Small wonder he wanted to see the hidden part. Besides, they had already done it with each other. Even Dianne and John? And what they were going to do wasn’t that difficult. The kids were getting more confident and it would hardly be fatal. She was almost undressed now. She knew they could see her panties when she was spread-eagled like they tied her.

I’ve been naked before, Nola said, but as she said it, she continued uneasy, squeamish.

On the swimming team, in dormitory life, with doctors and – by accident, of course – with the family, she had certainly been seen without clothes on. These occasions, however, had been brief and not particulary pleasant. She remained private, avoiding exposure and usually averting her eyes from the exposure of others. What about the bikini, then, Nola? Was she trying to turn the boys on. Well, she certainly accomplished that. Naturally, she worried that she was a prude. Perhaps only timid and hesitant. Certainly maidenly, shyness, the almost wordless , that inhibited her.

Rationalizing, she told herself that it was only a matter of time, place, and values. Indeed, she had many girlish dreams on the subject. Today’s indecency, however, and what disgusted her, made her feel crawly, was that there was dirt and malice in it, sneakiness and furtive smirking and giggling. She was being hauled into a world of fooling around, of lewd pawings. The object was torment and she was afraid she would show them how well it was succeeding.

But what else had Cindy said; and she felt her flesh crawling; and spank you. Nola wanted to cry. They were going to add erotic pain to her . At least erotic to them, pain to her. She was their toy; they were free to do as they wished; and the adult controlled , there to keep children in check, was reversed and that dreaded check was available for children to use on her. She had never been spanked. She felt the tears.

CHAPTER 19

Gingerly, very gingerly, she exhumed the outlines of a plan she had invented earlier and had been too nice to effect.

The children came late, shifted her from bed to walking and took her to the bathroom; nonetheless, she went docilely enough and performed as usual.

While Nola was washing one-handed, she dropped her wash cloth on the floor and being tied, couldn’t seem to bend over properly to pick it up. Dianne went in, bent to get it, and Nola grabbed her. Strong fingers dug into Dianne’s neat hair and seized a handful at the roots. Though only Nola’s right hand was free and then only from the elbow down, all her strength was concentrated there, and it was clear to her and to Dianne that she was never going to let go. The hair strained at the roots with the force of the grip. Nola threw out her hip and cracked Dianne’s head against the side of the sink. Dianne yelled – surprise, sudden pain and anger – but, it was still cool Dianne – not quite panic. Her own hands shot above her head and engaged Nola. Then she was hipped against the sink again, and her eyes momentarily lost clear focus.

The others came banging into the bathroom, wide-eyed, and there was instant battle. Nola seemed determined to never, never let go, and even hobbled, resisted their tries at getting her fingers loose. Dianne hurt and she continually made just exactly that noise as she tried to get up from her knees where Nola had her . In the tumble of bodies, nothing was clear except the central issue of Nola-must-let-go-or-Dianne-will-be-hurt – versus Nola-must-hold-on-and-hurt-Dianne. They swayed and twisted; Paul was pushed across the edge of the bath tub and fell in it; Cindy and Barbara fled; Bobby got his hands tangled up with Dianne’s and Nola’s.

John doubled his fist and hit Nola on the face. His blow aimed at the chin went and struck her just in front of the ear, but it was delivered with such sincerity that she, in turn, lost focus, and her hand in response released Dianne and tried to reach up to the hurt. Paul, who had recovered, hit her as hard as he could in the stomach. There was no one to catch her. Hobbled, she could not step back and fell against the wall and slid down.

Dianne was sitting crying on the floor, her head in her hands, face out of sight. Nola, still bound, lay twisted beside the toilet. John ripped the tape from her mouth. She mustn’t cry or she might suffocate behind her gag. Finally, everything subsided.

Dianne, still crying, got slowly up and stumbled blindly from the bathroom, down the hall, into the living room, and threw herself on the couch, still cradling her face in her hands. For some time she remained there, her tears gradually slowing, her control returning. In the bathroom, Nola lay in a fettered S on the floor; her cheek white. Paul had followed Dianne and stood over her, helpless, shaking. Cindy and Barbara stood timidly behind him while John and Bobby watched over the prisoner. More minutes passed.

CHAPTER 20

When Nola’s eyes cleared again, John and Bobby dragged her feet first, face down, to a space where they could get at her. Rolling her over, they took the free hand and tied it back to the other behind her. She said things like “Don’t-” and “Please-” and “It hurts-” which only meant to them that she was OK now. Afterward, they regagged her and doubled the tape over her mouth. The rebellion was over for a time. They would punish her now.

Nola reluctantly went over her escape plan. Because the children were not getting more careless with her but only more expert, she could expect only less and less possible freedom. She had already let an opportunity slip by because things had not been enough, and because she was too squeamish. Because, because, because. But she finally had to. It had begun as a simple if desperate proposition. Given a moment with partial movement, she would grab one of the children and hold on until the rest of them let her go. But with the chloroform and by weight of numbers they could easily defeat this, she shifted to a variation. With the momentary free hand she would hurt one of the children. This would cause adult investigation which would lead to her rescue and release.

She could easily have conned Cindy last night but she had not wanted to hurt that child – who would? Her sense of nicety would not permit it. There was no sense in trying to catch Bobby; he stayed out of reach. That left John, Paul, Barbara and Dianne. She would send her message to the outside world via a black eye, a split scalp or a swollen nose.

Since John was too strong, and Paul was, too – well, if she failed, he might – and Barbara was much like Cindy, she centred on Dianne. Mornings offered Nola’s greatest moments of freedom; she was on her feet, at least the lower part of one arm was free; the space in the bathroom was confined enough to make attack possible; and who else was there. Only proper and sometimes helpful Dianne. The thin girl was the most responsible of the group; if she failed to go home, or went home badly banged up, inquiry was sure to follow; she was sure she could get Dianne. And now that they were going to strip her and physically abuse her, , although not in her make-up, was the answer.

Once she had sunk her fingers into Dianne’s hair she knew she had enough determination never to let go. When it came to hurting Dianne enough, however, she held back as she had been afraid that she would. Mentally she gave the command and momentarily the advantage was hers. A real smash of the hips banging Dianne’s head and face against the wash basin would have been the end of the game: if not, the next smash would have. Even as she moved, however, she somehow hoped a little bit would do. She thumped Dianne a good one, of course, but it was delivered with a mercy not returned. Dianne was not made of so tender a stuff as Nola thought; and then the moment of opportunity had passed, and the struggle was in progress.

Nola never saw John’s blow coming except as a blur in the corner of her eye, then bright green and white flashes, and then Paul hit her and she was going down. She had underrated them all.

She fell, dazed, and struck the floor unprotected. She vaguely heard crying and voices, dimly felt things being done to her. There was a dizzy fog. She was gratefully numbed. She would have like to remain so, but pain and consciousness relentlessly returned.

She opened her eyes and found herself still on the bathroom floor, both hands tied again and her feet no longer just hobbled, but bound tightly together, ankle to ankle. Her mouth was again stuffed with lumpy damp cloth, and her lips heavily covered with tape. Little dazzling shock waves of hurt – injured wrist, thudding head – went through her consciousness. Above her, on the other side of this flickering return to waking, John and Bobby stared down at her. They were white-faced and breathing hard, too. She turned her face down to the floor and made a sound of heartbreak.

She hadn’t had it in her.

Soon, she would be naked and beaten by children.

CHAPTER 21

The pain at he point where Dianne’s head had struck the sink lessened and left in its place only a headache and slight swelling. When this became apparent to her, she was reassured and calm again. Drying her eyes, she got up, went to the kitchen, and put some ice in a towel, wet it, and put it to her forehead. Her movements were assured and positive. The rest of them followed and stood milling around watching her anxiously.

The faces of the other kids seemed younger and less certain than before. Paul was trembling. Bobby was deeply shook. Cindy and Barbara were silent and submissive, and even John on whom she depended, was quiet; they were waiting for her to speak.

This suddenly occurred to Dianne. The first thing she said – she knew it – would be jumped upon, acted upon, regardless of what it was. It would seem a command, and it would be carried out. The group, disturbed and without direction for the last few minutes, had became her’s to direct entirely. She felt full authority pass into her hands.

Still standing, still silent, Dianne felt a slow, exquisitely sweet sense of freedom engulf her. She took the used cloth from her head, dumped it out in the sink, wrung it out, and hung it to dry.

“What’re we going to do now?”

“Take her downstairs,” Dianne said, “Undress her and Paul gets to be torturer first!”

The unfinished recreation room to be was at the bottom of one flight of stairs. Exposed overhead joists had been converted into imagined ship’s beams with ringbolts and hooks intended for nets. Barn siding made walls and deck. It was semi-comfortable chaos, a place of piled lumber, camping and boating gear, heavy wooden chairs, a picnic table, two barbecues, and old iron framed bed with wooden slats, and other miscellaneous junk.

Cindy had never liked that room. The smell of wood and tar and cement did nothing for her at all. With feminine disdain she never went in. There was too much dead there – unused furniture, dust, and a kind of wet feeling – and it reminded her of the deep pit of the well when it was open for some reason. Nonetheless, when Dianne spoke, Cindy immediately understood; it was a little bit like a chamber. The game was going to get interesting again. They were going to spank a naked adult prisoner – like they pretended.

If they had been cautious about handling Nola at first, then more confident, now they were and vengeful. She had startled them, attacked them even – they almost understood what she had intended – and she had frightened them, the most unforgivable thing of all.

Half lifting, half dragging her, they got Nola into the hallway and pulled her to her feet. Although she offered – could offer – no resistance, she held herself stiffly and, glancing over her shoulder, made clear enough sounds of pain. They were not inclined to listen, however, even Cindy. Ever since she had ungagged Nola only to have her start screaming, she had distrusted her. The scuffle this morning, the fact that Nola had hurt Dianne, only deepened this. When the others began to carry Nola downstairs, she’d wished that she was big enough to help.

“Watch it now – You still got her?” John and Dianne carried her by the upper arms. one to each side.

“Yeah. Watch it, Paul! Yeah, we’re OK.” Breathing hard and moving awkwardly, Bobby and Paul backed down the stairs, their hands locked beneath her knees.

“Not so fast – ”

“I can’t hold on – ”

“Just don’t let her go here.”

“There’s not enough room for me to turn.”

“Get out of the way, Cindy!”

Bumping and staggering, they slowly descended the stairs to the basement, where they put Nola down on the last step while Bobby opened the door of the room and turned on the bare bulb over the work bench.

“OK, let’s go.”

Moving more easily with level footing, they carried her into the

shop and put her down, hard, on the concrete floor. Time-out!

“What are we going to do now?” Although he was outwardly calm, Paul appeared nearly spastic with restrained excitement. His eyes darted back and forth with guilty, squirming pleasure.

They considered.

It was stuffy in the basement. John pulled the tail of his T- shirt

up and wiped his eyes. Bobby looked uncomfortable. They all watched Dianne.

Tilting her head back and looking at the exposed joists and the heavy ship’s ringbolts in the finished beams, Dianne said, “Let’s hang her up.”

“Yah, that’s neat!” Paul did a jump for joy.

Nola struggled to sit up, making noise through her nose.

“By her arms,” Dianne said. “That hurts enough.”

“Boy!”

The complicated manoeuvre meant another fight, however. They had to move her again – under the heavy iron rings – and knowing what was coming, Nola kicked out and sent the two smaller kids falling.

Eventually it took even Cindy to help move her the required eight to ten feet.

They hadn’t thought about the next part.

“What now?”

“I know!” – Paul’s moment had come. It was clear.

“Leave her hands behind her like they are and pull them up!”

“It’ll work,” Dianne said slowly.

This was something that SECRET SIX had not tried upon itself. It

would be interesting.

Nola’s wrists and elbows, still tied together, were released from her body. John ran a rope up to the ring bolt and down again. He pulled and wrenched her arms up backward forcing her body. Convinced that she must stand or have her shoulders twisted around and out of their sockets, Nola allowed herself to be brought to her feet.

“More,” Paul squealed. He knew what he wanted now.

John pulled some more. It was no effort at all. To avoid pain, her

heels cleared the cement, and she went up on tiptoe: the tendons behind her knees were sharply outlined, and the muscles in her calves stood out. Her breasts hung, and her head, hidden by tousled hair pitched forward. John tied the rope off to a supporting column and took another breather.

In the minutes of wrestling, Nola’s body had lost all its novelty for Bobby and Cindy and much of its excitement for the others. Up to this instant, the morning had proved the prisoner to be a burden, a danger, an opponent, a spur to guilt and anxiety, but never the object of erotic attention. Now, however, forced, twisted, bound, and motionless except for a slight shifting of weight to somehow ease the agony; her nightie up at the back exposing her underpants, she became to them – again – altogether astonishing.

Dianne had brought a small pair of sewing scissors in her pocket, and while the others stood around her victim, she used them carefully.

Folding back the cotton lace of the shoulder straps of Nola’s summer nightgown, she cut almost on the seams concealed there, right and left. Nola could not see what Dianne was doing, but she felt the metal go carefully along, the dull edge of the scissors against her skin. Having then bared Nola’s shoulders, she went on with it.

Beginning at the hip, Dianne cut up the side seam to the armhole on the right side. When she felt the gown being removed from her body, Nola closed her eyes and felt the tears she had so much wanted not to show them. In another minute, the side seams of her bikini pants had been cut, and she was as awkwardly, gracelessly, naked and exposed as it was possible to be. Of course, there were giggles – she could hear each one separately – and she thought, it finally did happen. After all. Every woman has thought the same under some circumstance. Now they would begin to do things to her.

She opened her eyes, still teary wet, and raised her head. The children were motionless – Cindy half bent, two small hands covering her mouth to stifle laughter, bright eyes half peeking through her fingers;

Barbara staring, hand over her mouth; Bobby, solemn; Dianne still holding the scissors; John unable to raise his head for some reason. She could not see Paul. Of course, he would be behind her, where else. She was most exposed there in her present position. She tried to clench her buttocks to deny him some of the intimate view but Paul just trembled as he stared.

Outside the shock of seeing and feeling herself naked, there was yet no real harm. Her’s was hardly the kind of beauty that would drive them to madness anyhow. Sexy Nola would say that Paul was looking at her best feature. Then John raised his head at last, and she saw his eyes. She was, of course, acutely demoralized and self-conscious. She felt every part of her sticking out her, rounding in there. Naked Nola was somehow less Nola than before. Clothing was privacy and protection. The children knew it too. Nakedness heightened the captor-captive relationship as it was probably meant to.

A still dead atmosphere steadily filled the room and made her skin moist and uncomfortable. A fly buzzed. Her hair tickled her damp forehead, and she shook it around as best she could.

Helplessness: torment.

“We did it.” Paul could not believe it. “We really did.”

He idly watched the fly crawl up the back of Nola’s thigh and

thought of black flies, mosquitoes, spiders, ants and other creepy crawly things and a tied up prisoner.

Cindy looked at him and understood. Indeed, she felt that everybody did. It was the game for real. The game played so many times in imagination and now had come true. What Paul had said went for them all and there was a sense of complicity and commitment in the basement. They all knew that in ‘the game’ there were other things that could be done. It was suddenly a little scary – at least, Cindy thought so – and she didn’t reply or say anything.

“Well, what did you expect? That we couldn’t or something?” John bluffed a casualness that Cindy saw was false.

Paul appeared nervous and not nervous, looking and not looking at Nola’s white, smooth, rounded buttocks.

Dianne alone acted. Standing n front of the captive, she reached out beneath the bent body and took the older woman’s bare breast in her fingers and with deliberate coolness squeezed and twisted it as hard and as far as she could.

It is possible to feel someone else being hurt, and Cindy experienced it now. Nola’s flesh was soft and grotesquely distorted and the hand was hard and thin and white-knuckled. Moreover Cindy heard it; the prisoner exploded in futile writhing and noises while Dianne kept at it over a minute. Eventually Dianne released the breast, took Nola’s head up by the hair and slapped her across the face two hard times. Then the obscene moment was over.

Dianne did not say one word.

Nola’s knees bent and for a moment she seemed in danger of tearing

her own shoulders with her own weight. She made sounds of being hurt, then the greater pain took charge,and she stood on toes, legs stiffened once again.

It unnerved Cindy, the whole thing did. It imposed complicated thoughts and emotions and responsibilities she had no wish to have. She felt her face becoming hot as it did when she was about to go into a total-despair crying time. It was all bad. And Nola was bad to have caused it all, and Dianne was right. With something akin to sudden hot abandon, Cindy slapped Nola on the thigh.

Dianne said quickly, “Paul can take first guard.” Then she patted Cindy. “You were good. You helped. You can help me with her next when it’s my turn.” She took her by the hand and let her from the basement room, the others following.

“Is that when we spank her?” Cindy looked up at Dianne with wide innocent eyes.

“Yes, Cindy, we’ll give her a good one.”

“Yeah,” Cindy smirked, remembering one of her spankings.

CHAPTER 22

Paul was petrified, everything tingled. He felt that he had some kind of haze over his eyes; there was a knot in his throat. After pretending disinterest for a few minutes, Paul went over and closed the door. Then he came back and walked around Nola. It had all come true. His heart was very loud; he could hear it from within his own head.

When they first talked about taking Nola’s clothes off, he had pictured her like the girl in the book Dianne was reading. She was tall, slender, terrified, bound to a stake. Reality, of course, had been quite different.

For one thing Nola had hair down between her legs and this surprised him. He imagined a woman’s genitalia from air-brushed pictures he had managed to see – something small, rounded, utterly smooth and some how magically attractive, else why could they not show it? Cindy didn’t have any and he wasn’t sure about Dianne; he only looked at her bum. Would Barbara? In this sense she had let him down. For another thing, his idea of anatomy was not so vague that he didn’t realize that he’d seen better and more rounded figures – clothed, remote, of course – many times. He expected better than his sister or little Cindy.

However, Nola was here and helpless, naked and that made up for a lot and her bum was really nice, the way it stuck out.

Paul had a knife, an ordinary kind, but today it was hot as a poker and weighed a ton in his barely thirteen year old hand. He took it out and opened the big blade. Only when he had done so did he allow himself to look up. She wasn’t looking at him as he had expected, but looking at the blade, following the movements of his small hands with attention.

Paul turned the knife this way and that, made as if to feel the edge, which was dull enough. He moved the knife from side to side and again watched her eyes follow. It was like holding a switch over a dog and not beating him – yet! – but it was far, far better. An , a delightful sense of going-to-be-bad filled him. He whipped the blade past her at arms length – it was perhaps as close to him as to her – but she stiffened.

Only that?

Probably, Nola wasn’t afraid that he’d kill her; maybe not even afraid that he would hurt her very much – this he wished her to feel. Paul was obviously in command in one way, but as an adult, she was obviously and still in command in another. She better not be or else. It hurt Paul. Cross him, belittle him in any of his crazy whims and you had a very angry boy.

Well, she’d better believe me, Paul said to himself. He reached out and slapped her thrusting naked buttock. Her skin felt fiery to his touch and he let his hand linger on her flesh for a moment, then, he slapped her again, as hard as he could. She grunted and tried to move her buttocks out of his way. He liked the way she wiggled.

Leaning forward, he put the flat of the blade on her throat and pressed the dull side into her gently and safely. She wouldn’t know, of course; she couldn’t see under her own chin. She shook her head, no, no, angrily, and in doing so, cut herself. There was after all, a sharp side too. It was no more than a prick, but she felt it, and it slowed her down. Paul almost withdrew, but when he saw that she was merely scratched, he left the knife on her neck and continued to press – less gently. There was the tiniest, whitest little blond hairs on her skin – you wouldn’t even see them unless you bent close and tested her neck with a blade – and Paul was fascinated. The point of the knife made a little shadowy indent that was white at the tip and flushed all around. He did it again and she stopped moving at all. Now she knows, now she knows, he thought. Then he began to trace the long tendon of her throat up and down, a little harder each time, until she had to withdraw. This continued until she had her head practically flat on her far shoulder.

Delighted, Paul held her there with the point of steel just under her ear. They had invented a new game; he could make her move her head anywhere he wanted. And she resisted. It was exciting and dangerous. If she became too angry or tired and thrashed her head around again, and he did not get the knife back in time, she really would be hurt. But still he pressed the blade there another second and another and pressed harder. Then, finally, he relented, only to walk around her – stopping to spank her buttocks again – and began the game over from the other side again.

During all this Paul was painfully aware of her naked breasts. He thought that somehow there was something sacred about a woman’s breasts – it was one of the reasons he wanted her night gown off – but he wasn’t going to touch either of them – not yet – he’d explore them carefully later.

When he had tired of his present game, he let the knife trickle down between her breasts to her navel and her pale white belly where he pressed in just hard enough to make her wince and squirm. Then a new game began. This way, that way, harder.

When he finally straightened up, it seemed like he had been holding his breath forever. He let it out slowly. It was better than he dared think, and his turn at guarding wasn’t half over. He looked at Nola – the victim – and he smiled.

He went behind her again and the raw exposure made is heart pump faster and his breath came in gasps. The next time he would have her legs wide apart like when she was spread on the bed upstairs. He knew that he would be able to see much more. He could only see her underpants then, but now…

Much more slowly now, with much less fear, he began to test her body with his knife, staring at her feet and working up her calves, then her thighs. He found that, by keeping the blade flat and pressing in on the point, he could leave a faint white line on her skin. He could make designs even if that lasted but a moment. Paul trembled as he worked on his victim.

When Paul straightened up a second time, he found that he had been lost in his dreams for nearly an hour. Nola’s body was crossed and marked with a number of now pink lines that were slowly becoming more vivid. After that, they would fade; a least, he guessed that they would. He found, however, that he really didn’t care. There would be no beating for this tonight and the remoteness of punishment plus the number of possibilities formed something like an inescapable corridor down which he must go, each step leading to the next. He had to do what he was doing!

Taking his knife again, Paul re-opened his game, returning to her belly, pressing in as if daring himself to break the skin and draw blood. Now, that ought to hurt. He put the point of the knife on her breast and ran it luxuriously down to the nipple. Hers were larger than his, bigger even than Dianne’s, and they had little bumps in the pink part and he had a long time to go yet, and so he toyed with his knife point round her nipples. Tears were dropping on the floor and she made gasping sounds behind the gag. The next time he wouldn’t have her gagged so she could cry out loud. He would like that.

CHAPTER 23

Later that night, after they had taken Nola down and put her on the bed; they had all looked at Paul after seeing the marks, but said nothing. Paul sat in his own room. But tomorrow -such was the contract between parents and child – he would not only be released again, but pitched out, free to run and play and torture a grown girl. This whole adventure was for Paul like a string of erotic days all in a row.

The thrust of Paul’s thought was entirely sexual. Compared to other thirteen-year-old’s, Paul was very nearly jaded. At five he had peeked at his naked older sister; at eight, he had found his father’s magazines; at ten, him imagination had already taken him far beyond what the world could ever offer. At twelve, he understood that he was closed in and that his best dreams would never come true because of people.

Paul loathed adults.

Yes, they held you down; yes, they dominated; yes, they kept you

away from the fun; but Paul had a deeper complaint. Yes, they were more stupid by far.

Adults were unseeing, insensitive, slow and dull-witted. How could they be human at all? Paul was not related. He held, like the blade of his knife, an absolute division between them and himself and the division would never be mended. He could see where they could not; he was cheered when they wept; he was clear when they were unclear. The only hitch to this was that they dominated. They ran the world.

Paul’s feeling was less one of hatred than pure separation. He did not grant their existence any more than after waking he granted the existence of his strange dreams. He did not grant the existence of his parents although he had to grant their power. He did not grant the existence of -mates – except some of the girls. Paul was – given other times and circumstances – capable of an Inquisition, a witch trial. He would punish and hurt cheerfully, simply because the victims offended the world he would create. A world of Pauls – to his mind – a perfect world.

To that extent, when he thought of Nola, he thought only of her skin and of his knife prodding her. In his night imagination, he heard a scream, but it was them screaming, not anyone in particular at all. It was great.

Only Dianne escaped his fervour; first, because she understood him and told him things; second, because she was bigger and older; third, because she allowed him glimpses of nakedness – bending over to pick up something or dropping the towel just before getting into the shower knowing he was peeking; and last, because she was his sister. Within this unsentimental list of priorities, her chief value remained that of story teller, exciter.

Dianne was widely – though not well – read. She devoured book club novels. She was always off to the library every time the family car went to town. She was a fund of scattered, not to well- considered, knowledge. Those things she shared with Paul, however, had a certain direction.

For him she reserved her tales of nazi atrocities, the Salem witch trials, the fate of early Christian martyrs, or human sacrifices of primitive peoples, and when she did so, her cool grey eyes became large and intense. Paul ate it up. He saw, he saw it all as she talked. He saw the iron cages, the rattling chains, the whips. He heard the shrieks, the screams of captive agony from the pillory, the rack. The irons grew red in the fire. Paul nearly fainted at the force of his tutored imaginings. This wasn’t a make- believe story; this wasn’t the comics or TV – they were all tame and boring – this was what happened to real people. Real naked girl prisoners.

It was too much for a small boy, and yet from the time he could think, Dianne had treated him to such fare. He never put his fingers in his ears. He listened. Their natures coincided at this point and the games as they were able to influence them, were their games. It must be admitted that though the others might change the plot here and there, they played. They liked it.

Thus, when Paul considered tomorrow and the prisoner they called Nola, he considered it from a most special point of view. He lay in the darkness of his room turning over all the possibilities. Actually you ought to have a candle and an ice pick as well as the knife to do any good.

(To be continued in Nola10A.txt) A Comment from the Author:

The comments and suggestions posted by readers are what keep the authors going. The same is true for me. I’ve got a general direction I want to go with NOLA series from here, but that’s all. The door’s wide open for specific scenes and characters. I’d love for all you “Anons” out there to contribute your suggestions. If nobody does, the NOLA series will probably go on anyway but the more suggestions I get the better the product, I hope.

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