by Carter Fell
Summer lay heavy on the broad flat country, the atmosphere was sun-crushed and lifeless. Heat puddles collected on the straight tarmac road, the shimmering air causing the sun to flash off quartz fragments in the surface. A narrow turning off the road led between fields of lavender, where bees droned through the scented air, endlessly performing their mindless task. Beyond the lavender, in another field, another creature performed her equally mindless task.
Stella's jaw ached from the bit, her shoulders tingled as though there were red-hot imps dancing on them, and her feet felt like they had been boiled. Around and around the small circle she trotted, as she had trotted every day for the past three weeks. The routine was simple and unvarying; the woman would bring her naked from the pen, and then chain her wrists to one end of the pole, before fitting her with the harness. So far, the harness had served no purpose, but Stella knew that some day soon she would be pulling the small cart she had seen. Her hands would grasp the pole, set at the level of her waist. The other end of the pole was mounted in a swivel at the centre of the circle, and the woman would drive her for measured periods, sometimes walking, sometimes trotting.
On the edge of the circle, the woman loitered with a long whip in one hand, and a stopwatch in the other, watching Stella's exertions with an expression of sullen boredom on her face. She would run this one for another ten minutes, then she would put the other one on the pole. She checked her watch the next time Stella passed her: twenty-two seconds, less than four miles per hour.
"Slightly faster now." She raised the whip, and continued to look at her watch. The next lap was completed in eighteen seconds, and she stroked the girl’s back with the whip. "Come on now, good girl." The harness straps took most of the whip’s impact; Stella would not be marked by such a stroke, but she would know that she was under-achieving.
For Stella's remaining time on the pole, the woman kept her lapping at fifteen seconds, which was slightly better than the required trotting speed of five miles per hour. It would be easily possible to whip the girl up to twice that speed, but not for long, and endurance was the goal. Both girls were now covering ten miles per day, the woman's target was to have them able to trot for thirty minutes, then she would introduce them to pulling a load. Watching Stella trotting, she studied the girl's sweat-bathed body. Nature had made her big and strong, training on the pole was developing her legs and buttocks nicely. The woman thought that this one was just about perfect; once her shoulders had muscled up, she would do good work for a couple of years. The other one though, she had her doubts about.
Her stint on the pole finished, Stella was fastened by an ankle chain to a short post in the ground, her wrists pinioned behind her back. The sweat dried rapidly on her, but she could only writhe her body to relieve the itching, as she could only shake herself to chase flies away. It occurred to her that denying her the use of her hands was an unnecessary torture, perhaps it was intended to reinforce her self-image as a helpless beast. She watched as the woman brought the other girl from the pen, chained her to the pole, and then fitted her with a harness. The whip cracked, and the girl began her circuits.
Stella's eyelids drooped, and shapeless dreams drifted through her head. Being shapeless, the dreams had no point, they were just random images of people and places that she would never see again. Coarse hands grasped her breasts, waking her from her reverie with a start. The man had returned earlier than usual; usually he left in the early morning, and did not return until late in the evening. He was stood behind her, encircling her with his arms. He pulled her upright, and gently kissed her ears. But this was no lover, this was the man who took his casual pleasure with the girls' bodies, and who was having those bodies conditioned to pull his cart. Still squeezing Stella's breasts, the man looked over her shoulder at the other girl, who was struggling to keep up the required pace. The woman was becoming angrily impatient, and was lashing the unfortunate girl's unprotected buttocks as she passed.
Stella could feel the man's erection pressing into her back, she could only hope that he would not decide to have her out there in the field, like a beast. The woman came over to Stella and the man, trailing the whip behind her. She saw Stella's breasts in the man's hands, and there was a peculiar look on her face.
"I just can't get her up to speed, she'll never be any good." The woman was speaking to the man, but her eyes were fixed on Stella's nipples.
The man thought for a moment, and then prescribed the usual remedy. "Maybe she's not trying. You can flog her in the morning, do what you think is right." He moved his hands onto Stella's shoulders. "I'll put this one away, then I need to see you in the house."
The woman nodded, then moved slowly away to take the other girl off the pole. The man removed Stella's harness, unclipped her ankle chain from the post, and took her to the pen. He had never spoken to her, and he did not speak to her now, just took her into that low brick building, and locked her chain to a bed. Out in the field, the woman hobbled the other girl, and left her chained to the post that Stella had been secured to. What took place between the man and the woman was something that the girls could only guess at, but two hours later the woman left the house, and returned to the field. The heat of the day was fading fast, and the naked girl was shivering when the woman collected her from the post. Her lashed buttocks were ridged with welts, they created a turmoil in the woman that she could not begin to explain; but then, she did not have to explain anything to anyone.
Stella was very hungry; when the woman entered the pen with the other girl, she imagined that they would be eating soon. But after chaining the other girl to her bed, the woman spoke briefly to Stella. "Madam lazy-arse is being whipped in the morning. There will be no food tonight." And then she undressed, and got into her own bed, which was between Stella and the other girl. As the last of the daylight glowed red through the tiny window, each of the three women thought their own thoughts. Two of them were hungry, one of them dreaded the morning, one of them awaited the dawn with eager anticipation. One of them tried to picture her mother's face, and hoped that the door would not open before sunrise.
For most nights, the man would come to relieve his lust with one or the other of the girls. The woman would be always be snoring loudly in her bed when he arrived, but usually woke up; she would sit naked on the edge of her bed, light a cigarette, and watch the brief performance. What exactly the woman's interest was, Stella had not fathomed; it was hard to tell the woman's age, she could have been the man's wife or his sister, or possibly even his mother. Whatever their relationship, very rarely were any words exchanged between the man and the woman in the girls' presence, and Stella had heard none that gave any clue. She thought that the man was about forty, but possibly his beard aged him; if he was only in his early thirties, then the woman could be his mother. But no, surely a mother would never be so casually naked in her son's sight; Stella had to rule that out.
Tonight it was Stella's turn to have her legs pushed apart. As always, the man rubbed his penis against her vagina lips, wetting her with his pre-seminal fluid, then he raised her knees, and thrust into her. After a few strokes, he withdrew, and then had Stella on top of him, letting her do the work while he controlled the pace with a vice-like grip on her breasts. After ejaculating, he held the girl in position while his erection collapsed, then he pushed her aside and left the bed. The door closed behind him, and the woman came over, her cigarette glowing fiercely in the darkness. She felt the wetness between Stella's legs, and then returned to her own bed without speaking. Stella lay still until the man's semen had drained out of her, then moved over as far as she could to lie on a dry area of sheet. She waited for sleep to come; soon enough the sun would rise again, for another day of the pole and the harness, and the other girl's whipping.
Dawn broke, its grey light stealing across fields and streams, illuminating the morning mist with a ghostly glow. In furtive burrows, and under fallen trees, and in a myriad other places, life struggled to recreate itself; for always something was dying, and something was rotting away. The low tiled roof of the pen fitted the landscape perfectly; and its interior, where three animals slumbered in an atmosphere fetid with the odours of sweat, menstrual blood, and damp leather, seemed an entirely natural setting.
Stella's eyes blinked open; she peered cautiously around to see who else was awake. The woman appeared to be sound asleep, the other girl's eyes were wide open, staring at the ceiling. For a moment, Stella thought the girl was dead, but then she saw her blink. There was a minor temptation to whisper a few words, but if the woman should hear, then Stella too would be whipped on the bare back; instead she closed her eyes, and tried to get back to sleep. A few minutes later she heard the woman wake up with her ritual morning coughing, and then heard her light her first cigarette of the day. There were the usual scuffling and rustling sounds as the woman found her clothes and shoes, and then Stella heard her stamp over to the door. For just a second, there was a small song of joy in Stella's heart; she thought that the woman was going to leave the girls alone together. If only she could know the other girl's name, Stella thought that she would not be the loneliest person in the universe.
But the woman was only fetching a whip from the rack by the door. It was not the long driving whip that she used with the training pole, but a shorter instrument that was only used for punishments. As she passed Stella's bed, the woman raised the whip over her shoulder, and gave her a twisted smile. The other girl was taken from the room in chains, a look of frightened resignation on her face. Stella was left alone for a full hour, not knowing what was happening, in a fever of anxiety. Then the woman came for her, fitted her with a collar and shackles, and led her outside. The sun had burned off the mist, it was going to be another day of blazing heat. Stella was allowed to squat and relieve herself, then she was taken behind the pen.
Two steel poles had been set vertically in the ground, and the other girl had been tied between them, her arms outstretched. The poles had once been painted white, but rust had lifted the paint into scaly flakes. Stella stared at the poles as if they were the most interesting things in the world; she did not want to look at the old scars on the other girl's back, or the welts on her buttocks that the woman had caused the previous day. The woman positioned Stella so that she would have a good view of the flogging, and she spoke softly to her. "If you look away, I will skin you."
The other girl looked over her shoulder, seeing Stella there, she began to speak. "My name is -"
But then the whip gnawed hungrily at her back, as if feeding on her flesh, and she could no longer speak. She lowered her head, screwed her eyes shut, and clenched her teeth. The woman giggled, and swung the whip again. Stroke followed stroke, and inevitably the other girl lost her battle to remain silent; her head snapped back, her mouth opened, and the woman was rewarded for her efforts.
The air was filled with sounds that nobody should ever hear, agonized screams that assaulted the inner fortress where Stella had preserved the last of her morale. All through her own ordeal, she had remained stoic, had shown the man and the woman an impassive face, and had never let them see her cry. But now, as the skin on the other girl's back began to split, and to separate from the thin flesh below, the bitter tears welled up in Stella's eyes. The last flicker of hope in her had died, she knew she was among demons.
Copyright© 2006 by Carter Fell. All rights reserved.