Author's note: This is a Settlement story based on an original idea by Annabelle. Emma, Settlement Girl Number 299, featured extensively in my third long novel, “The Settlement 3: The Expedition”, which is available from a1adultebooks.com. During that story, she was even unlocked from the girl-rails for a few days, a most unusual occurrence. This little cameo follows up on what happened to her when she returned to the community.
From his deck chair on the veranda of “The Pit”, Andrew could see her coming from quite a long way off. He watched her: he might have crossed the grassy square in front of him, but, she, like all of The Settlement’s women, was securely tethered to the girl-rails that ran only along the beaten-earth pathway around the edge. So, the man, who was about thirty-five, medium height and build and relatively new to the community, had plenty of time to observe the girl before, eventually, she stood respectfully before him.
“He... hello, 299,” he stammered, struggling to maintain eye contact, knowing he must sound nervous. He could feel his pulse racing. You would think, he mused to himself, I would have learned to cope by now. But no: the presence of beautiful women, who addressed him deferentially as “sir”, were helplessly chained and completely naked, was still a really big thing. Feeling his pants tightening, he glanced down from the girl’s face. He could not help it. Her gloriously tall, curvy body was something else. The chain that held her to the girl-rail system ran from its padlock at her shiny steel collar, down between her breasts and past the fascinating dark triangle between her thighs, before disappearing through the narrow slot in the top of the steel conduit that formed the rails. Inside, it was attached to a little steel ball, that would slide freely along, but would not come out of the slot: Number 299, like all The Settlement’s women, was free to move around the rail system as she wished, but she could never, ever get free of it.
“You’ve... cut your hair, 299,” Andrew stammered some more, looking once more into the girl’s grey eyes. 299 sounded so odd, he thought, but that was how it was in The Settlement: women had numbers. Their names were not generally used by men.
She smiled. How, he thought, could she stand their, so confident? Nude and in chains? “Do you like it, Sir?” she smiled, tossing her head from side to side. Until last week, her deep brown locks had flowed over her shoulders. Now they were cut in a neat bob: it was a dramatic change, but one that suited her, bringing out the shape of her cheekbones. “It’s more convenient,” she added. She gazed into Andrew’s eyes, and adjusted her position, causing the forty centimetre leg irons that joined her ankles to rattle slightly. The man’s discomposure had not, of course, escaped her notice; she enjoyed the sense of power it gave her. Men were so simple to control, sometimes.
“Uh, oh, yes,” he said at last. “It’s lovely.”
“Thanks! Well, I suppose I’d better go in.”
‘In’ meant into ‘The Pit’, which was The Settlement’s principal laundry and clothes repairing centre. It was a workplace where some girls had permanent employment, but it also relied to a great extent on casual labour, with all the women being expected to do a shift or two there every now and then.
Number 299, whose given name was Emma, had not contributed lately, and needed do so before one of the senior women questioned her about it. So here she was. But it was no real hardship: the work was mundane, but it was all female, so an excuse for a good gossip, and it was chance for an extra afternoon out of handcuffs. Or almost out of them.
“Come through,” said Andrew. “What size are you?”
“Thank you, Sir. A three, please.” The girl clicked her neck chain through the non-return bolt on the girl-rails, imprisoning herself in The Pit complex until such time as Andrew might choose to unlock the bolt and release her.
The size to which the man was referring was that of work manacles that Emma would have to wear to join the girls down below. These were stout steel wrist rings, joined by thirty centimetres of chain, and unlike the handcuffs that she wore most of the rest of the time, they fastened in front of her body rather than behind. They would give her much more freedom to work, without compromising security so much as having no hand restraints at all. But, whilst every girl had her own made to measure handcuffs, there was not nearly so much need for work manacles, so these were shared, with a system of sizing having evolved, so that any female could be assured of a good fit. Emma was a three, rings of this size locking snugly around her wrists, just above the heel of her hand, not pinching, but not sliding about or rubbing uncomfortably, and not offering even the remotest chance of being slipped off.
Andrew stepped over to the rack, just inside the door, on which the work manacles were kept. There were rows of hooks – just coat pegs really – some with work manacles dangling from them, and others, where girls were already in the complex below, having pairs of normal women’s handcuffs in place of the work manacles. Girls leaving, of course, would have their work manacles removed and their normal cuffs replaced before being allowed out. The man stood, looking uneasily at the array before him: something else he had not really got used to: this was a world where steel bonds for the secure imprisonment of women – naked women – were absolutely commonplace, and where the men, himself included, were all, to some extent, jailors.
“Something the matter, Sir?” said Number 299, waiting patiently, though of course completely familiar with what was going on. She had seen it before in men new to the community. She found it amusing, if a little hard to understand. She herself had grown to maturity here, too young to remember the world before the environmental cataclysm had transformed it. When she had turned eighteen, some eight years ago, she had come through from the community’s Family Compound, been stripped naked and chained to the girl-rails, where, apart from a brief and not entirely happy excursion on community business, she had stayed ever since, and where she confidently expected to stay for the rest of her life. She knew that some outsiders thought that living nude and in bondage was weird: perhaps it was, but it was the only life she had ever experienced.
“No, sorry,” said Andrew, pulling himself together. He picked up some manacles and checked them, making sure that locks, chain and leather padding were all in good condition. “Here.” He stood behind Emma, who was almost of a height with him, and suddenly became all the more conscious of her: her presence, her femininity, her nakedness. She had, he thought, a gloriously beautiful back – smooth, supple, tanned. It was hard not to touch it. Resting the manacles over his shoulder, he grabbed the key that hung around his neck on a braid, and, fumbling slightly, managed to insert it into the keyholes of the young woman’s handcuffs. They yielded easily to the key. She turned, rubbing her wrists. Her other chains – her collar, tether and fetters – remained fastened. Andrew did not have a key for these; none of the men carried them, for there was no need. These bonds were never unlocked.
Smiling, the girl reached up and took the work manacles from Andrew’s shoulder, and swiftly fitted them in place about her own wrists, clicking them closed. They did not need a key to lock. Andrew watched her, boggling at the matter-of-factness of her action, how she showed not the slightest hesitation in bringing about her own confinement. He almost forgot to check them – he was always supposed to do this, in case a girl had asked for a size too big, hoping to slip her hands from the rings. But a glance was all it took to show that for Number 299 this was not the case.
“Thank you, Sir,” she said, looking more serious. “I’ll go in now.” Suddenly she felt a pricking between her legs. Andrew was nice, she thought. And so insecure. She found herself wondering what it might be like to spend time with him, maybe go to his apartment. It would be nice to have some proper male attention again: there were too few men to go round now.
* * *
“The Pit” was exactly that – a pit. It was about thirty metres by ten, divided into three equal squares, and it was about three metres below ground level. It was lit only from above, via large skylights in the single storey structure that covered it. For women, there was only one way in and out, and that was by means of a lift at one end. This was electrically operated, using The Settlement’s hydropower, and had its own girl-rails with automatic bolts that remained closed until the floor of the lift rails mated up with their counterparts either above or below. Once a girl left the lift in the bottom of The Pit, the car was moved up to the top, out of the way, leaving the women below no possibility of returning to ground level until the man above sent the lift down again. There were access ladders for men, but these were useless for the girls, for they were not near girl-rails, and in any case it is more or less impossible to climb a ladder with your feet chained together.
“Hi, girls,” said Emma, as the lift departed behind her, marooning her below. She was in the washing area, and the atmosphere was steamy and sweaty: immediately the moisture pricked at 299’s flesh, particularly under her collar and cuffs. Four other girls laboured there, stirring the hot coppers with long sticks, and stoking the fires below them with wood that was periodically tipped down from above. Another pile beneath a chute from above contained clothing – men’s clothing, for women in the community were never permitted to wear anything apart from their chains.
“Sort that, will you,” said Number 178, Ailsa, a slight brunette who was currently in charge. It was necessary to separate out the dark and light colours, and identify anything that needed mending. Emma dug in: it was, in fact, work she could easily have done with her handcuffs in place, and indeed in some ways she might have found this easier, for she was well used to managing with her arms chained behind her, whereas the relatively unfamiliar work manacles rattled a lot and the chain got in the way of the clothes. She leafed through piles of shorts, boxers, T-shirts, the occasional sweater and pair of socks, as well as copious quantities of towels and bedding.
It never occurred to her to put any of the clothes on: she knew that some women, in the old world, had worn clothing, and on her brief excursion she had even seen it done, but it was not something she had ever desired. Besides, she had fetters joining her ankles and a chain joining her wrists, so it would have been impossible to do anything other than wrap a sheet or something around her. Though even that might have lead to a humiliating punishment: the rules required Settlement women to be respectful, and that meant being nude. Covering your body was, in this community, an insult to femininity and the height of rudeness.
Eventually, Emma had the pile sorted – lights, darks, towels, bedding, and another quite large stack of ripped garments for the seamstresses. Dripping with sweat, her once neat hair now plastered wildly over her face, she stood up. “I’ll take these through,” she said to Ailsa, picking up the latter and proceeding towards one of the partitions. The other chained brunette merely smiled through the steam and nodded.
* * *
Less than five metres away, Andrew stood, observing the proceedings. He was in the gallery, which again was exactly what the name implied, a gallery that ran all the way around the pit, at ground level, three metres above where the women laboured. It was narrow and dark, and shielded from the pit by a screen of gauze, so it afforded the perfect vantage point for Andrew, or any male supervisor, to both watch and listen to the workers in the pit. But the workers themselves could not possibly tell if anyone was there: perhaps they did not even know the gallery existed – none of them had ever been in it, for it had no girl-rails, and its doors were round the sides of the building where there were no girl-rails either.
For the moment, Andrew just looked, his eyes drawn uncontrollably to the naked, sweating flesh of the girls chained below. As well as 299, who worked with her back to him, her beautifully rounded arse for once freely visible, without her cuffed hands obscuring it, there was 178, and a blonde, 481, both attractive girls, and two further brunettes, 87, a tall, fleshy girl, and 63, a shorter, slim young woman. All working away, doing their bit for The Settlement, and all, of course, helpless prisoners of the girl-rails.
And what was he doing for the community? Just watching them. Making sure they did not contravene any of the rules was his brief, but this seemed completely academic. The women were not tampering with their bonds, not trying to get free, not trying to dress themselves in the clothes or having disrespectful conversations. They were not acting like prisoners at all: they got on with their tasks, chatting to each other, exchanging titbits about Women’s Quarters issues or about men, their conversations punctuated by laughter. If they considered their chains at all, it was merely to lift them carefully out of the way of the work; there was no indication whatsoever that they might be thinking of escaping from their bondage or anything like that. They were just living their lives, building their community.
Of all the strange things he had encountered since joining this community, the women’s casual acceptance, support, even, of the conditions in which they lived, was what most got to Andrew. He could not begin to imagine what it might be like to live as they did, permanently attached to the girl-rails. And yet, it was so sexy. He looked back at 299. He knew her name, he had overheard other girls use it in a way that he, as a man, was not supposed to. But name or number, he knew he wanted her. As he watched her bending over, pulling clothes off the pile, he could feel his erection again. Perhaps one day he would find courage to ask her to go with him.
* * *
Unaware of the man’s presence above, Emma followed the girl-rail through the next area of The Pit, where more girls were at work drying and pressing clothes, to the one at the far end, where the repairs were done. It looked basically the same as the washing area, but was much drier and cooler. “Hi, girls!” she exclaimed, entering. “More work I’m afraid!”
A group of eight women – eight nude, chained women – were seated on chairs arranged in a horseshoe shape around a big pile of mending. Each of them had a sewing kit, and worked away, grabbing an item from the pile, patching and stitching as necessary before folding it on a smaller pile next to her chair, from where, every so often, it was collected and taken back to the wash.
“Oh, hey, Emma,” said an older woman, Number 246. She stood up. “Here, take my chair for a bit, I need a break. I’ll take the finished stuff away.” Emma stood back: she had to, there being only one girl-rail that ran around the front of chairs. Then, as soon as 246 had dragged her tether clear, she slipped hers in, dumped her new load of garments onto the pile and sat down in 246’s place. She found herself between two other women her own age: on her left 445, Zuzana, a tall, large-breasted blonde, and on her right, 390, Katie, a petite girl, also blonde. Emma rummaged in the sewing box, locating all the bits and pieces, and grabbed the nearest garment, a frayed pair of shorts. She set to work, deftly handling her wrist chain so that it did not obstruct what she was trying to do.
“Bugger!” came the exclamation from Katie, next door. “Fuck, arse, bugger.”
Emma looked up: “what’s the matter?”
“I dropped my bloody needle again.” The girl sighed. “Does it not ever occur to you that this would be a whole lot easier without these damn things!” She jerked her manacles tight, causing their chain to rattle harshly, and then twisted her wrists this way and that in front of her face, as if looking for a weakness in their construction.
The thought had, of course, occurred to Emma, but only as a passing fantasy: “You’ll get used to it, Katie. Many things would be easier without chains, but the system isn’t going to change. Just take it slower.”
Picking up the dropped needle, Katie bent to her work once more, doing her best to find a rhythm that worked around her restraints. She was quite new to the community, not born to bondage as Emma and many of the other girls were, but she knew Emma was right. The system was not going to change, the community was too successful for that. Women would always have chains of one sort or another, and these work manacles were less restrictive than most. She watched her hands as she worked, her eyes following the glint of the sun from above on the bright metal cuffs. Though often frustrating, they were, Katie thought, very beautiful in their way. Neither were they in the least uncomfortable on her wrists; indeed they gave her a comforting feeling of reassurance and security, something dependable in a broken world. Tinged with something exciting, sexy, feminine: though not so exciting as having her hands cuffed behind her, as was more usually the case.
Drawing up the thread as she sewed, Katie’s wrist chain pulled tight again, clinking, asserting its presence. However beautiful, reassuring or sexy, the work manacles, like all her other bonds, were still chains. There was no escaping them, no way of defeating them. She just had to get used to them, as Emma had suggested.
* * *
Up above, Andrew now watched the sewing circle. He noted Katie’s stretching of her wrist chain, but was not concerned. That was not really tampering, and even if it was, it hardly mattered. It was not as if she was ever going to free herself from her bonds, whatever she did.
* * *
“Can you imagine,” said Zuzana, holding her next repair job on her knee, “what it might be like to wear something like this?” It was a pair of jeans, battered and faded, a relic of a former world really, but the sort of thing it was hard to make now, and so was lovingly conserved for the use of the community’s men.
Emma looked at the garment, and even reached across to brush her hand on it. It felt very rough, she thought. “I bet it would be really uncomfortable,” she said. But indeed, she really had no concept of what it might be like to wear clothes, apart, perhaps from the loose dresses the female children wore in the Family Compound.
“It’s not,” said Katie, ear-wigging from the other side. “I used to have jeans like those, in the old days. Here, let me look.”
In the gallery, Andrew watched more closely. Was this going to turn into an episode of disrespect? He’d been briefed to keep a special eye out for girls who had come in from the outside, like Number 390. Girls who had some knowledge of alternative lifestyles.
“Oh, wow,” said Emma, as the jeans brushed across her thighs. They’re Andrew’s.” Settlement men’s garments were all labeled for convenience in returning them after washing or repairing.
Upstairs, Andrew listened with redoubled interest.
“Andrew?” quizzed Zuzanna.
“Yes, the doorman upstairs when I came down.”
“Oh, of course! He is always so nervous. He doesn’t seem used to women.”
Not naked, chained ones, anyway, thought Andrew.
“He seems nice to me,” said Katie, in the meantime feeling at the jeans, remembering. “He does what’s necessary, checking our cuffs and so on, but doesn’t lord it over us like some of the men.”
“Well I wish he’d ask me out,” said Emma. “I fancy him.”
All of the women heard the noise, seemingly from above, but were unable to indentify its source.
* * *
The end of the shift in The Pit was always vaguely stressful for Andrew. It was that all the girls came up one after the other, and each then had to have her work manacles unlocked and her handcuffs put back on and checked before he could spring open the girl-rail bolt and let them all out of the building. So not only did he have to stand in close proximity to naked women, holding their handcuffs for them until they had confined their wrists behind them with no possible hope of getting them free again until another man unlocked them, but he had to do this while the other girls, either waiting for their cuffs or waiting for the bolt to be unlocked, stood and watched. Not that the girls seemed to bother; it was to them just perfectly routine Settlement security, repeated every day. They just stood and talked, and enjoyed the man’s brief touches as he saw to them each in turn. That day, Number 299 was last up in the lift; she waited patiently while the line of other girls was re-cuffed, watching Andrew as he moved. Yes, she did wish he would ask her out. He was a gentleman, and his diffidence was both touching and somehow a challenge: a girl could enjoy inspiring him to a more confident, manly approach. Bring him out of himself.
“Thank you, Sir,” she said, as she locked her wrist restraints into position, confining her arms in their proper place, behind her back. It was the usual response, of course: Settlement women were encouraged to be respectfully grateful for their chains, which were designed to keep them safe in a dangerous world, as well as for the effort the men of the community went to to ensure that female security was maintained to the highest possible standard.
“My pleasure,” replied Andrew politely, and despite his continuing wonder at all the community’s arrangements, and all the girls’ seemingly unquestioning acceptance of them, it was a pleasure, locking women in handcuffs. More than a pleasure, it was a massive rush of power. He stood by the bolt, holding it open for the girls to go out, which they did, one by one, mostly giving a cheery ‘good-night’ as they passed. But just after the penultimate girl passed, he let go of the handle, causing the bolt to spring back and continue to imprison Emma in the Pit’s hallway. She looked at the man, with her big brown eyes. She was curious, but not concerned. Women like her, grown to maturity in The Settlement, were not generally concerned by locked girl-rail bolts. Locked girl-rail bolts were a common feature of life.
“Before you go, 299…” his voice was quiet, and slightly trembly.
“Sir?” She smiled, reassuring him. She stood with her legs as wide as her ankle chain would allow, and twisted her cuffed hands this way and that, an action she intended to remind him of her helplessly cuffed state – which it did, not that a reminder was really necessary.
“I wondered if you would like to have dinner with me sometime? Tonight even? At the Terrace Café?”
* * *
“I’m not sure I can answer that, Sir.” She brushed her finger ends up and down the tether chain, about which Andrew had just, inevitably, asked. “It’s just part of me, I guess.”
Unlike most of The Settlement’s women, Emma’s neck chain had in fact once been unlocked, but the experience that had led to had not been one she would ever care to repeat, and she had been happier than she could ever imagine when at last she had returned home and been reconfined to the girl-rails.
He looked at her again, drinking her in across the table: her dark eyes now highlighted with delicate make-up, her steel collar polished to a mirror shine, the padlocked tether falling between her breasts. “Would you like to come back to my place?” he blurted out.
“Yes, please, Sir.”
She replaced her cuffs while he, kneeling down, fumbled with the padlock that held her tether chain to a ring close to the table: a necessary security precaution for girls whose male escorts wished them to have their hands free to eat. At last the lock came away, and he looked up, finding her facing him, her neat, dark muff level with his eyes. After a few seconds he looked further up. “Come on,” he said.
Feeling a new surge of confidence, he grabbed her neck chain about a metre from her collar and pulled it along: “Here, let me,” he said, and she was content to do just that. So he led her, sliding the chain along the twisting route of girl-rails, back to his apartment. He felt a new rush of manly desire, so much so that in his hurry to get back, he caused her to trip over her fetters: “Sorry, Sir,” she laughed, “You’re going a bit f…” But his passionate kiss cut off the sentence.
* * *
Later, unable to sleep, she stared out from one of Andrew’s girl-cages. There were three of them, as in all the men’s apartments, and she was in the left hand one, furthest from the apartment door. The was just enough moonlight for her to see: the man, exhausted by their pleasure, lay flat on his back on the bed, breathing gently. Idly, Emma tugged at her handcuffs – which had remained locked since leaving the restaurant – and looked down at her own body, imagining once again his lips at her breasts, his touch and then his powerful probing at her cunt. She could still feel the inner tingling, and wished for a minute she could revisit the pleasure with her fingers, though of course her shackles completely prevented this. So she pressed herself against the bars, as if trying to get nearer the man, feeling the cold metal against her breasts and stomach.
Of course there was no way out: the cage was locked fast. But that was the way Emma liked it. Andrew would open the door as and when he chose, and when he did, he would find her ready and waiting for his touch.
Copyright© 2012 by Kirsten Graham. All rights reserved.