A Settlement Story
by Kirsten Graham

Part 1

Author's note: This is a Settlement story. My latest novel is “The Settlement 3: The Expedition”, which is available from a1adultebooks.com.

Book 1

In The Settlement, the men’s apartments were mostly single-storey block-built and arranged in rows – streets, really – though with a wide walkway between them, there being no vehicles to allow for. They had verandas to the front, and were built back-to-back, saving materials. There were about ten in each row and now, many years on from the community’s first establishment, still more since environmental cataclysm had destroyed the old world and left the few remaining people to found new civilizations, there were several rows in each of five separate locations at various points around the community’s large main campus.

George’s apartment was in the area known as Middle Rows, quite close to the main administration buildings and within a few hundred metres of the women’s dining area, kitchen and the original Women’s Quarters building. It was a good area, lived in by many of the more senior males in the community, and it was a good apartment, about ten metres by twenty, including sleeping area, bathroom, sitting area and all the necessary facilities, including, along the middle of the back wall, a galley-style kitchen. That evening, George had gone out to a meeting with The Settlement leadership, and so Elaine and Rachel, the two women that currently roomed with him, had the place to themselves. They were in the kitchen area, tidying away the dishes that had been used for their evening meal and which they had just washed. It would have been a simple domestic scene, such as might have been found anywhere in the early twenty-first century, if it had not been for the fact that the women – the one forty-something, tall, dark, with glasses, the other younger and shorter, curvy, with grey eyes and fair hair – were both securely restrained in bright, steel chains: leg-irons, collars and handcuffs pinioning their arms behind their backs, and that they were, apart from these chains, completely nude.

“Bugger!” cursed Rachel, as she almost dropped a plate – working with her hands chained naturally made her task much more difficult than it otherwise might have been. She rested it down and gave a frustrated tug at the metal cuffs that encircled her wrists. “I’ll never get used to this,” she went on, sadly.

Elaine stopped what she was doing, leant back against the counter and looked at Rachel. She had mixed feelings about the blonde girl: until he had found her on that damn expedition, Elaine had had George to herself. He was hers, she loved him! Now the man had moved this other girl in, and she had to share him. That was hard. But, at the same time, she sympathized with Rachel. It was also hard for a woman coming into the Settlement from outside, to accept its way of life. She had been through it herself only a couple of years earlier.

“You will, Rachel,” she said. “Give it time.”

“It’s been months now,” said the younger woman, pulling at the cuffs again. “If it wasn’t for these handcuffs it wouldn’t be so bad!” She smiled ironically, while Elaine just waited, impassive. The brunette, thought Rachel, looked just the opposite of how she herself felt: relaxed, at home, untroubled by her bonds, untroubled, indeed somehow revelling in her nudity. Rachel could not imagine ever feeling like Elaine looked.

The older woman twisted her own hands in their now completely accustomed restraints. The cuffs were about five centimetres high, solid stainless steel, but lined with leather and shaped to the exact contour of her wrists, making them perfectly comfortable to wear, if sometimes a little sweaty. Comfortable, but completely secure: too strong to break, too close-fitting to slip off, and the single link that joined them together was too short to allow them to pass a girl’s backside and so be brought to the front. No, the only way they would come off is if a man unlocked them, and according to the way of The Settlement, that would not happen unless he was there to supervise. And George was not there to supervise, so the women who shared his life no option but to remain handcuffed until he returned. And probably longer, thought the brunette, since it was already late, and the rules required them to have their hands chained at night, man or no man.

“If he wouldn’t leave the key there, it would be better,” said Rachel, gazing forlornly in the direction of the little hook where George was wont to hang his handcuff key. There it was, in full view of the two naked women, but it did them no good, for the tether chains padlocked to their collars did not allow them to reach it. In fact the two-metre long tether chains shackled the two women to the girl-rails, which were a system of conduits set into the ground. The tethers could slide along the conduits, giving the girls freedom to go wherever the rails were laid, but they would not come free, ensuring that areas prohibited to women – such as near George’s handcuff key hook – remained forever out of their reach.

“Try not to think like that,” said Elaine, understanding exactly how Rachel felt. “It will drive you mad.”

The key, hanging there, was of course a constant reminder of the girls’ bondage. But there was no possible way they could defeat their tethers and access it. What was more, whilst they could look forward to having their hands freed every now and then, this was not the case with their collars and tether chains, for the girl-rails ran everywhere in the community that it was considered appropriate for women to go, allowing them, so theory went, more than enough freedom to live happy and productive lives without ever needing their tethers removed. Thus, Elaine, Rachel and the four-hundred odd other females that were now part of The Settlement remained permanently and helplessly imprisoned on the girl-rail system.

Rachel gave up with plates and cups, giving another frustrated jerk at her wrist bonds and shrugging her shoulders agitatedly – it made her exposed breasts bounce attractively. “It’s so stupid!” she wailed. “Why do we have to be chained all the time!”

Elaine moved nearer to her. She could not, of course, give her a hug, but she could stand close enough to touch shoulders: “I used to think just the same, Rachel. You will get used to it.” Rachel had been only a few months in the community, brought in from outside, where she had lived a very different life. But now, of course, she had no option to leave. The community rules did not permit women to leave, and more significantly, their tether chains did not permit it either.

“But I don’t want to be used to it! There has to be some way to get away!”

“There isn’t, Rachel, you know there isn’t,” said Elaine. She was sure of what she said, for she had been through that phase herself. So had most of the girls; it was only natural, after all, to want to escape from permanent bondage. But the community believed in keeping its women safe, and that meant keeping them secure, and it had devoted considerable resources to achieving this. The girl-rails, and all the other security arrangements, had been expertly designed and superbly engineered and had evolved over many years to their present state; they had no weaknesses. No woman had ever escaped from The Settlement and it was quite certain that no woman ever would.

Rachel looked up at Elaine, her eyes blazing: “You just like it. You like being chained up. Well I don’t!”

For a moment, Elaine made no reply. She had said much the same to another girl, a few months after her own first confinement on the girl-rails. But that was years ago. In the intervening time, the system had worked its way into her psyche. Sure, it was frustrating, always being in bondage, sure it was sometimes depressing, knowing you would never again be free to go where you wanted. But there was more to it than that. It felt so safe, knowing that in a completely broken world, you could rely absolutely rely on the ever-present security of the girl-rails. So safe, and so feminine, to be so carefully looked after by the men of the community. And the chains, sure, they were inescapable, but they were not uncomfortable, not unless you struggled against them, anyhow. The girl-rails, once you were used to them, meant you could move quite freely around the campus, and the handcuffs and fetters, well, the community was set up for women who wore them, all the girls were in the same boat, and there were always others to help.

And of course, there was no escape, and there was in any case nowhere else to go. It was not like there was an old-style normal life out there to escape to. That world was gone. There was only this, or starvation in the wilderness beyond the boundary fences.

Eventually, Elaine spoke: “You know, Rachel, in the old world, long ago, I used to keep horses. You know what I mean?” Rachel nodded. She had seen pictures, though being much younger than Elaine, she had never seen any of the actual animals. They were all gone long before she was old enough to remember. The Settlement had had a few donkeys years ago, but now they had all died too.

“Intelligent, beautiful beasts,” Elaine continued. “Valuable. But you wouldn’t just leave them loose. You would always tether them. Otherwise they would get themselves killed. All sorts of dangers – traffic for instance. That’s how it is with us now. The community keeps us tethered. That way it knows, and we know, we’ll be safe. And you’re right, I do like it. It would be scary now, to be unlocked from the girl-rails.”

“And you like being nude too,” spat Rachel. “Like you were some sex slave.”

Elaine had been through that too. “You know that’s not true Rachel. We’ve never been made to do anything like that if we didn’t want.”

Quite the reverse. Getting laid was quite a problem for women now, as they outnumbered the men by a margin. More females seemed to have survived, and something had happened to fertility too, probably because of the environmental changes. Fewer babies were born, and what there were were mostly girls. As for their nudity: well, of course men liked their women naked, it stood to reason, and at first it had seemed difficult. Elaine remembered being ashamed of her body, feeling too fat to come out of the women’s quarters. But she felt different now. She understood that this was a community where everyone was beautiful, whether they were old, young, fat or thin, where there was never any need to be ashamed. Now she enjoyed being nude, enjoyed being looked at by men. The rules said it was a matter of respect, and maybe it was, but Elaine and most of the girls knew also the feminine power it gave them, being able to draw a man’s gaze with a little wiggle of a breast or a subtle movement of your cunt. But that was not something she could explain to the other girl. Rachel would have to learn that in time.

“Come on, Rachel,” she said after a while. “You can think what you like, but there is nothing we can do. Let’s finish this and get to bed.”

* * *

After leaving Elaine and Rachel – or Numbers 378 and 391, as he thought of them, women in the community being generally identified by their numbers, at least amongst the men – he had not gone directly to his meeting but had taken a wander down the main campus, as he did most evenings. He found his usual bench, and sat down, and relaxed, watching the world go by.

It was, as usual at this time, quite busy. The women’s dinner service was over, and nude, shackled girls were emerging from the dining hall and taking the opportunity of a few minutes in the cooler air of the evening, sitting and gossiping before making their way along the girl-rails to their quarters, where they would be caged for the night.

“Evening, George, Sir,” chorused two female voices, after a minute or so. They belonged to 418 and 440, two of the younger women of the community, who had navigated their way into the loop of girl-rails that ran past the bench. “Mind if we sit here for a minute?”

They stood their respectfully, legs spread as far as their fetters would allow, hips tilted forward, shoulders back and breasts thrust out, waiting for George’s answer. He looked them up and down for a minute, enjoying their nakedness, and their unembarrassed display of it. Their hands, of course, were tucked away behind them, securely locked in their cuffs. Women were not allowed to wander round outside with their hands free, under any circumstances.

Half inclined to tell them to be on their way, George merely gestured to the girls that they should sit, but was heartily glad when they did not attempt to engage him in conversation. Instead they resumed an animated discussion about some goings on or other at their work station, in the community’s grain mill.

He tried to ignore them, thinking instead about Number 391, Rachel. He knew she was quite miserable here in The Settlement, pining for her old life where she had been… well… free. And that thought made him think of his old life, long ago, before the end of the world. He had been a young, newly-married man then, planning a family, planning a future. Then, apocalypse. But even when the apocalypse had begun he had not imagined he would live as he did now, where whatever other responsibilities he had, he was also, like all the men, a jailer for hundreds of naked women.

Number 440, the girl nearest to George on the bench, let out a guffaw of laugher, and moved her hands around in her cuffs – not a struggle, merely a lively response to the tale her friend was telling her. He looked up, just as she looked across at him, conscious of her outburst. She smiled, her round face pretty above her steel collar with its padlock and chain. George could not help smiling back. Number 440, at least, was not miserable, he thought. But that was the thing about The Settlement: in general, despite the obvious constraints of their lifestyle, none of the women were miserable. On the contrary, it was just as founders had said, females thrived on the regime of order, respect and security. It seemed to suit something deep within them, at least once they were used to it.

George found himself looking at the two girls, who continued their own conversation, punctuating it with occasional rattles of their chains as they shifted position. These two, like many others now, had grown up in The Settlement, living as children in the area known as the Family Compound, and being brought through to the main campus and locked to the girl-rails when they reached the age of eighteen. They were too young to remember the world before the earthquakes, before the old civilization had died, and they had experienced no other way of living than here. They would never have seen an adult woman clothed, and they would have no concept of women living other than in chains. To them, and the many like them, that was just how human females lived.

The man’s eyes followed the metal bond that descended from 440’s collar, passing between her pretty breasts on its way. It lay in a small heap at her feet, its end, of course, lost in the girl-rail. Not for the first time, George wondered what it must be like, to have such a tether, to know it was locked on you, to know that whatever happened, it would always be there. He would not like it, and he could understand why 391 found it so hard. And, though he was a man, and free, and responsible for women’s security, it was not as if there was anything he could do about her tether, or for that matter her fetters, anyway. Men only had keys to women’s handcuffs. Their other bonds were never released, so the keys remained safely out of the way, stored in a safe in the Smithy, where it required special permission from the community leadership to get at them. Neither would the collars and chains be susceptible to any of the tools that were readily available to men: they were far too strong for that. So however much he might want to, a man could never simply release a woman from the girl-rails. He was as helpless as she was in that respect.

And of course, thought George, looking down the campus where the crowd of naked females was at last beginning to thin out, he did not want to. Why would he? Why would any man? Number 391 would get used to her new life, it was just a matter of time, and she would be happy. And like all women, was so beautiful, so sexy in chains, so wonderfully dependent on him for protection, and so conveniently prevented from doing anything silly, like wearing clothes or trying to get out into the wilderness beyond The Settlement.

* * *

Unless they were invited into George’s comfortable, king-sized divan, bed, for Elaine and Rachel, was a mattress in one of the sleeping cages with which George’s, like all the other men’s apartments, was equipped. There were three of them – one each and one spare, in case of female visitors – located at the end of the apartment, on the left of the front door as you came in. They were separated from each other by blockwork walls, though from the main apartment only by a screen of bars, with a barred door to give access. As well as the mattress and a small locker for what few personal possessions the girls had, the cages had a sink and a toilet, set against the back wall – in full view, through the cage bars, of the apartment; privacy, for women, not being regarded as significant in The Settlement, even for bathroom functions.

The cages were bedrooms, but they were also, of course, perfectly secure little prisons: the barred doors would lock shut when closed, and could only be opened again with a key to which women could never gain access. Even if they did somehow get hold of it, it would not help them, for there was no keyhole on the inside of the door, and reaching through the bars to get to the outside would be extremely difficult, even if ones hands were not handcuffed behind ones back.

However, even in the man’s absence, there was no realistic alternative for either woman but to lock herself in her cage for the night, or indeed for as long as George elected to leave her there once she had done so. All they could do was spend a brief moment taking the air at the front door before they finally retired. They stood, side by side, on the veranda, which was as far as they could get since there was a bolt on the girl-rail at the apartment entrance, preventing their neck-chains passing any further. As with the handcuffs and cages, this required a man to release it, and until he did the small layout of girl-rails within the apartment was essentially separate from that in the community outside.

They stood there for a few minutes, watching the first stars coming out, exchanging greetings with a female in one of the apartments opposite, who, similarly confined, was doing the same as them. Then, finally, they went inside, switched off the light (the only switch being well out of reach of girls locked in the cages) and departed each to her own cage – the two outer ones, the centre one of the three being spare - and slammed the doors shut, Elaine without much thought, Rachel with a shiver running down her spine as it did every time she enacted her own imprisonment in this way.

The blockwork walls, and the empty cage between the two women made each girl feel at last quite isolated and alone. In some ways this was good, for spending your life shackled to the girl-rail system and therefore, by definition, prevented from wandering anywhere off the beaten track, meant solitude was quite hard to come by. But there was solitude and there was isolation, and Rachel, in the inside cage, incarcerated with no hope of escape, chained, naked, and with no view of anything other than the dark apartment beyond her bars, felt a familiar quaking in her stomach as she considered her predicament. She sat on her bed, but sleep, as always, seemed so very far away. Struggling inwardly, she tried to hold it together, but soon felt a hot tear crawling down her cheek, then another.

She breathed hard, trying to stop crying, wishing she could wipe the tears away. She moved her arms, twisting her hands round, feeling the restraint of her cuffs. She could get a hand to her hip on either side, but no further. Her face, or anything around the front, was well out of reach. She gave a heave, a futile heave, causing the metal bonds to clink loudly, and sobbed, but it was, she knew, quite useless. She was a Settlement Girl now, with her own special set of Settlement handcuffs, and that meant her hands stayed safely behind her until a Settlement man decided otherwise. There was nothing physically she could do, and there was nothing legally she could do either, for she was subject to The Settlement’s laws in a world where there were no longer any other laws at all. She had no hope, no redress, nothing. This was her life now.

Two cages over, Elaine heard Rachel’s wail of sorrow, but quite unable to get to her, she just turned over and went back to sleep.

* * *

George left his bench and began to work his way up the campus again towards the administration buildings, where his meeting was to be held. The crowd was thinning now, but about half way there he caught up with two older women, senior members of the community, who were heading to the same meeting as he. “Evening 6, 32,” he said. Number 6 was the chief administrator, a petite, curvy redhead now nearing the end of her fifth decade, but still very attractive. 32, of a similar age, was a plump woman, fair haired, sexy, who was the chief of security – a somewhat controversial appointment, given that she was a woman and therefore subject to the security herself, but as time had demonstrated, a successful one.

They walked, as women sometimes did, with their tethers looped over their shoulders, holding them loosely in their cuffed hands, sliding them easily along in their conduit. At George’s arrival, they did not break stride, but they did each pull their hands up to the small of their backs, a gesture of respect for a man that allowed him a better view of a girl’s backside. Not feeling conversive, George simply took advantage of the opportunity, falling in behind the girls, enjoying the spectacle of quivering buttocks and the merry jangle of female chains. There was, the man noted, a practiced ease about the way these women moved. Both had been in The Settlement a very long time, years longer than George, and they had of course been chained to the girl-rails the whole time, so they were long used to their bondage. They walked with carefully, but unconsciously measured steps so as not to pull their fetter chains tight and possibly trip; their arms also moved about relaxedly, well within the limits set by their locked wrist bonds.

Not, George reflected, that the way these women moved was especially uncommon: most girls developed the habit, and most of them quite soon after joining the community. Even Number 378, who had been quite clumsy with her chains at first, had got it now. It was, as The Settlement’s founders had understood: women adapted quite naturally to living in chains.

They went inside, through the outer room where Number 6 usually worked during the day. The two women followed the girl-rail that ran around the edge of the room to a door on the far left corner, which led to the inner office, that of the community’s leader, Mitch.

“Ah George,” exclaimed the man in question, as he followed 32 through the door. “Now we can start.”

The office had a desk, a large mahogany one, salvage from the old world, with a comfortable chair behind it, and behind that, in the corner, a curtained-off alcove. However the meeting was taking place in the area in front of the desk, where chairs were set out in a widely spaced circle. George sat on the last vacant chair, while the women, after negotiating the appropriate one of a convenient grid of girl-rails, found vacant spaces between the chairs and knelt on the floor, making themselves as comfortable as they could and spreading their knees apart, ensuring the men present had a clear view of their feminine intimacies, as the community’s requirement for respect demanded.

“So,” said Mitch, “you all know why we’re here.” He looked around at the assembled company. Besides himself and George there were four other men; Dave, a dark-haired forty something, who was on the community’s engineering staff, Martin, the under-chain-smith, the man with the responsibility for designing, manufacturing and maintaining the bonds with which Settlement women were confined, and Sam, another tall man, handsome in a weather-beaten way, who was now effectively second-in-command to Mitch. Finally there was the shorter, fair-haired, grey eyed man of indeterminate age, Chris, who was leading the community’s attempts to rebuild some of the technology lost when the old world collapsed.

Of women there were Numbers 6 and 32, another older woman, blonde, Number 20, who was Dave’s co-worker in the engineering division, and Mitch’s own current assistants, Numbers 241 and 281, both twenty-something with long hair, the former blonde and the latter dark, who knelt beside him. Mitch always kept at least a couple of assistants from amongst The Settlement’s more youthful female population; their duties were many and varied, and there was always demand for the position whenever a vacancy arose.

The company was made up by two other younger women, Numbers 498 and 567, again a pairing of blonde and brunette, the latter a particularly striking girl with deep dark eyes and long, long eyelashes to complement her petite but curvaceous figure.

“Indeed,” said Sam. “I think we are at last ready to go.”

There was a general murmur of agreement. “Good,” went on the leader. “So, Number 20, Dave, all sorted from your end?”

It was the woman, whose given name was Anne, who replied. “Yes, Sir,” she said. “We’ve laid an extra ten thousand metres of girl-rail, and it’s all been triple checked. All sorted.” Anne was certain of this. She had wandered extensively over the new system, necessarily dragging her own tether with her as she went. Everything was well up to The Settlement’s exacting standards; there was no possible weakness. The new rails might extend far beyond the original boundaries of the community, down into the plains where they hoped to grow new crops, but that did not in any way lessen their security. There was no way any woman was going to be breaking free from them. No way at all.

“And the accommodation has been commissioned?”

George let the conversation flow over him. This project had been going on for months now, driven by the need for extra food for their growing community, and by the need to adapt their systems to the very real problem of shortage of men. Shortage of men was a social issue for the girls of course – though not so bad for the men there were, who got more choice of woman with whom to pass their time when they wished – but it also meant shortage of supervision. And that had meant a need for technological solutions, so as not to compromise security. That was what this was all about.

“And George?” The leader’s voice interrupted is thoughts. “The energy supply is working?”

“All set up and tested,” he answered. It was solar power – photovoltaic cells they had managed to salvage on one of their trips out to extract what they could that was useful from the wreckage of the old world. The cells would be impossible to make in their situation, but they had managed to find enough to last for many years. “All working. And the phone line too, all tested.”

It was years since any of them had used a phone, but now they had one so that they could communicate remotely with this new and more distant accommodation.

“So that just leaves the cuffs then. Are you ready for a demonstration?”

“Come on 498, 567,” said Martin, standing up. The two girls followed him, chains rattling, and stood in the middle of the circle, facing Mitch. George was behind them; he could see their naked backs, their shackled hands resting gently against their buttocks, as Settlement women’s hands did when they relaxed.

“Well the first thing to note,” said Martin, standing proprietorially next to the two young women, “is the collars and neck chains. Obviously these won’t be coming off, so no real need for change, but we did this anyway, just to be sure. Turn around 567, show the guys behind you.”

The dark girl spun, her tether following her round, moving sinuously against her bare flesh. George’s gaze followed it up to her collar, wondering what was different. Then it dawned on him. There was no padlock. The end of the chain was simply welded to the collar. Further, where the collar usually had a joint, and a keyhole, just next to the D ring where the tether chain attached, there was – nothing. It had, by some magic of the chain-smith’s art, been permanently closed. This girl was not just locked to the girl-rail system. She was actually part of it.

George took his eyes from the chaining arrangement and looked up at 567’s beautiful face. She smiled back at him happily. Why should she not, he thought, suddenly. Just because she had locks that could be undone, it did not mean they ever would have been. This approach saved on maintenance, and completely eliminated the possibility of locks failing or being picked. It was obvious really; the only surprise is that it all the community’s women had not had their neck bonds welded up ages ago. He looked at Anne next to him and Number 6, Jenny on the far side of Dave. They were staring at 567’s neck; he wondered what they were thinking. There was something, he thought, studying the two older women’s more traditional tethering arrangement, about a padlock at a girl’s throat. It was pretty, and it conveyed some interesting message about the possibility of being unlocked, and a man’s freedom to choose to unlock it, or not. Briefly, he thought of Number 391 again, and her difficulty in settling in to the community. What would she think of being welded to the girl-rails, instead of merely locked? Perhaps it would do her good, help her accept the inevitability of passing the rest of her life in chains.

“The leg irons are welded on, too,” said Martin, pointing to the girls’ feet. George dropped his gaze; 567 had beautiful legs, not too thin, but toned and shapely, and her feet were small and pretty. Small, but nowhere near small enough to fit through the now solid metal rings that encircled her ankles. You would have to be insane to imagine the girl ever getting free of her fetters.

Kneeling next to George, Anne shifted her position so that her cuffed hands could reach the metal locked around her own ankles: she felt at it, wondering, and spread her knees just a little wider in response to the subtle pricking she felt between her legs.

Carrying on with his demonstration, Martin reached behind 498’s hair, moving it aside to show George and the others on that side of the room the back of her collar. What they saw was, welded to the collar proper, a slightly raised area of metal with a small PV cell and a cover, neatly fastened down with the kind of small screw that required a rather specific Allen wrench to undo it. “This is the power source and the circuitry,” the chain smith explained. “George can tell you the details, but first let’s look at the cuffs. Hold them out, girls.”

567 remained facing where George sat, so he watched the other girl, 489, who stretched her arms straight, so as to hold her handcuffs away from her body. At first glance, they looked quite normal; just the simple device that most of the women wore whenever they were not being directly supervised by a man. It was only when you looked a bit closer that the difference was apparent. Instead of the usual single link of chain joining the D rings attached to the two cuffs, 498’s restraints had a much thicker piece of metal, a tube about two centimetres in diameter, fastened with a small but solid-looking hoop of metal at each end to the cuff D rings. It was to this little tube that the chain smith now pointed, first on 567, where Mitch and his naked young assistants could see, and afterwards on 498.

“This is the clever bit,” Martin said. “Watch.” Then he paused, looking over to Sam, who sat nearest the door: “Is the girl-rail bolt on?” This was The Settlement. He was not going to free these young women’s wrists at this hour, even for a demonstration and in this company, unless they were securely imprisoned in the room.

Taking his point, Sam stood up, went over to the appropriate lever and engaged the bolt mechanism, ensuring none of the women present could get out of the office until such time as a man unfastened it again. “OK,” he said.

At this point, Martin took from his pocket a small black box, rather like an old-world TV remote. He held it up, pressed some keys on it and then a big button at its edge. With a click, the tube between 498’s wrists separated into two parts, allowing her hands to come apart. The man then repeated the process, similarly freeing 567’s arms. George watched the brunette; she did what women usually did when they first had their hands freed – she brought them to the front, stretched her arms and then made to rub each wrist with the opposite hand. But of course unlike the usual case, 567’s wrists were not free of their cuffs – they were still encircled in the five centimetre high, padded steel band that formed the main structure of the bond. It was just that the link separating the two cuffs had come apart. George could see the two ends of the tube device dangling from the cuffs. One end, that on the girl’s right hand, had an obvious hook arrangement showing as it dangled.

Around the room, there were expressions of amazement. “Clever, isn’t it?” smiled Martin. “They can be freed for work without needing a man to be there. The system works remotely, and we’ve set up relaying so that we can do it even when we’re here and the girls are down in the area of the new accommodation.” He moved in between the two young women and grabbed the nearest forearm of each girl. “We left these cuffs locked for now,” the chain smith continued, “in case of future refinement, but they could of course be welded on just like the other bonds. And all they have to do is to plug the ends together again and they will re-lock. Simples.”

“Show me,” said Mitch, behind the girls from George.

Number 567 put her hands behind her, fumbled slightly and with a click she was reconfined. 498 made to do the same, but Martin kept hold of her forearm, stopping her. 567 pulled at her cuffs, demonstrating that they really were once more firmly fastened together, and moved them to her hip so that those on George’s side of the room could see for themselves.

“And you’re really sure it’s secure,” said Number 32, her first contribution to the discussion. “It won’t just fall apart.”

“Girls?” questioned the chain smith.

567 pulled again at her cuffs; the metal did not clink in the same way that normal handcuffs did when put under strain, but it certainly held. “They won’t fall apart, Ma’am.” The girl batted her pretty eyelashes. “We’ve tried ev…well, you know how it is...” 567 hesitated – discussing struggling against your bonds was not a comfortable subject with all these senior men around. It could be construed as disrespect. She continued: “I mean, we can’t get them apart ourselves. They are quite as strong as normal cuffs.”

Here Chris, who had designed all the electronics, chipped in: “the locks are basically normal handcuff locks, fitted in those tubes,” he said. “They spring shut. If the power fails then they will only come apart with my key, and they could still be locked up again just by pushing.

“And we’ve tested them with trucks,” added Martin. “Two trucks could not pull them apart. There’s no risk there.”

“But…” Number 32 continued, pursuing her brief as security officer.

“Wait,” said Chris. “You haven’t seen the clever part yet. Martin, undo 567 again.”

In an instant, the pretty brunette’s wrists were freed once more. She let her arms dangle at her sides.

“You’re wondering,” said Chris, “how we manage without supervision; how we help these girls avoid disrespect if there is no man watching them, how we make sure they are going to re-fasten their hands at the right time. Ra…567 ;” Chris had started using the girl’s name, which like Number 391’s, was Rachel. Using girls’ names was a habit that was spreading a little among the men these days. “Show us your tongue. 498, you do too.”

The two naked girls stuck out their tongues, revealing a neat piercing within each. It was not large, just a double-headed rivet passing through the muscle, flattened out so that it would not come off, at least not without a very great deal of pain and injury.

“There’s another one,” said Chris, looking at 567. “Excuse me,” he said, politely, and then he reached his fingers down to spread her pussy lips, revealing a similar metal piercing through her clitoris hood. He did the same for 498. Neither girl complained; neither girl made any attempt to touch herself around those parts, such things being forbidden. Under Settlement rules, pussies were there for men to touch, not for women.

Martin took over the explanation: “These piercings contain little pieces of electronics,” he said. “All Chris’s work. If they come near each other…” he paused. The implication was obvious. If a woman tried to put her tongue on or near another girl’s femininity. “Or in the case of the one down below, if the sensors on the handcuffs come near it, well…Well what, Rachel? You say.”

567 looked serious. “It hurts, Sir,” she said. “My collar gives me a shock. Gently for the first half minute, so I can wash myself for example, but if I carried on then, well, I’d faint after a couple of minutes.”

“But what’s to stop you touching your breasts?” asked Number 20. She had often wished she could touch her own breasts for longer than the few minutes she could get away with in the shower.

It was Chris that answered: “We did consider nipple piercings,” he said. “But we didn’t like the look. A girl’s breasts should be seen as nature intended. But the tongue and clit piercings communicate, and they can work out if the cuffs are somewhere near the breasts for too long, and fire up the pain mechanism.”

“Wow,” said Number 6, impressed. “So you can’t be disrespectful at all.”

“No,” said Rachel. “And also, if Martin presses the re-confine button it starts tingling too. It gives me three minutes to get my cuffs back together behind me before it becomes unbearable. “

“And it knows they are behind her back, not in front,” smiled Chris, who was proud of his inventions. “It can sense where it is relative to the clit piercing.”

“There is another button that makes her go back to her quarters, too,” added Martin.

“So this pain,” said Anne, who was fidgeting with excitement at all she had seen, “does it tingle between your legs?” At that precise moment Anne had a perfectly natural tingling between her legs, which was becoming difficult to ignore.

“Oh no,” said 567. “You can’t feel anything down there. It is just in my neck, under the collar.” The two women held each other’s gaze fractionally, understanding: the only way for a Settlement woman to gain any meaningful sensation ‘down there’ was to attract the services of a man. These electronics were not going to change that situation.

“And what if the power fails for that part?” said Number 32. “The pain part? I mean, if her cuffs were already separated and the battery died, what would encourage her to lock up again?”

“We’ve thought of that,” said Chris. “That’s why there is this large solar panel riveted to their collars. It’s unlikely to die. But if it does start to go down, as soon as the battery gets to 20%, the pain function trips in. They have to re-cuff themselves and go back to their accommodation to make it stop. Then you can’t open any of the locks again, at least not remotely, until it’s all recharged. It should be totally safe.”

“So let me get this straight,” said 32. “We can put girls in these bonds, and send them down to the new accommodation, and they can live there, be unlocked remotely, be kept respectful and be made to lock themselves up again, all without any men present? The cage doors work remotely as well?”

“That’s right,” said Martin. “Just as we need. They can even use the phone to call for help if they need it. So we can grow more food, and the shortage of men is not going to be a problem any more at all.”

At these last words 567 and 498 looked at each other, their silent glance conveying their thoughts with the utmost eloquence.

* * *

It was late by the time George got back to his apartment: after the meeting there had been chat, and then of course the women had had to be escorted back to their quarters, it being too late to allow females to walk home unsupervised, even though they were chained to the girl-rails.

In the dark of the apartment, locked in her cage, Elaine continued to snore peacefully, but Rachel’s fitful sleep was easily disturbed. She heard George come in, and saw him put on his little bedside light and then come over to peer at her through the bars of her night-time prison. She moved onto her back, propping herself on her cuffed wrists, and spread her thighs apart. George was a kind man, she knew, but he would still punish any disrespect from a woman: Rachel had had to get used to displaying herself to him, as was expected of any Settlement girl.

He looked at her, her naked curves, the chain draped between her breasts and across her stomach. The triangle of hair between her legs, and the intriguing little slit within it. Her tear stained face, with her grey eyes wide and bright in the darkness.

“Hello, 391,” he said. “You’re awake again. Would you like to come out?”

“Please, Sir.” It was almost a whimper. Bonds rattling, she stood and made her way over to the cage door while George unlocked it. When it opened, she fell into his arms, struggling to hold back the sobs. Somewhere deep inside her, there were buried questions about turning for comfort to the man who kept her a naked, chained prisoner, but what else was she to do? There was no one else. No one in the whole world. And at least when George touched her – his hand had already slid down to clasp her buttock – it gave her some sensation that took her mind off her never ending bondage. But she did not feel able to speak: she just nestled into George’s shoulder, hoping human, or at least male nature would take its course.

For his part, George felt just a little uneasy: seeing 391 there in his cage, helpless, naked, had awakened his lusts, as it always did. The girl’s short figure with its ample curves was, he found, hugely inspirational, and he could never get enough of touching her. But he knew, too, that she was unhappy, needing comfort, and he did not want to take advantage. But she was here, in his territory: she had returned here many times, rather than live in the Women’s Quarters, and she knew very well that, according to the rules of the community, when a woman crossed the threshold of a man’s apartment, she committed herself to absolute submission to the apartment’s owner in any and every respect, including, of course, sex, as and when he wanted.

So there really was no issue, was there? The man slid to his knees, allowing him to take Rachel’s left nipple between his lips, whilst his hand explored the moist softness between her legs. She shut her eyes, raising her face upwards. She pulled against her cuffs, for once enjoying the feeling of helpless restraint they gave her.

* * *

Number 498’s given name was Kirsty; she and the other Rachel, 567, shared a sleeping cage in the Women’s Quarters: as it happened theirs was one of a number of such little prisons bordering a wideish hallway, which had the advantage of allowing girls to chat even after lights out, when all the cages were locked: their voices easily carried across the space between the bars. Just now several of them were discussing the prospect of moving to the new accommodation, and the new electronic handcuffs and other equipment.

“If you ask me,” said Holly, a wide-hipped blonde, “they’ll get a lot of volunteers from girls who think they can use the freedom from supervision to try something. Escape, even.” The thought was always there, Holly thought, somewhere in a girl’s brain, that it might be possible to get free of the girl-rails, and any change such as this was bound to be explored from this perspective. It was only natural, even for women like her who had lived like this, and accepted it, for years and years.

“Well they’ll be disappointed,” said Kirsty, her electronic cuffs firmly linked together behind her for the night. The weeks of experiment had left her in no doubt that the new security was going to be just as effective as the traditional.

“What worries me,” said Number 440, who spent her nights imprisoned in the cage next door to Kirsty and Rachel, "is that any of us sent down there will have no contact with men for months on end. It will drive us all mad.”

At last they all settled down; 567, however, lay awake, though with her eyes closed. About the possibility of escape, or lack thereof, she was in agreement with her cage-mate: it was an oxymoron. Settlement women lived in bondage; they were not intended to get free, and they never would get free, that was all there was to it. Even thinking of it was a pointless waste of energy. But the issue that 440 had raised was more serious. Of course many – most, even – of the women went a long time between male attention these days, that was just the way it was. But in between times, there were discreet ways they could help each other, especially in the women’s quarters, where men did not much go. But that was when they were in their usual Settlement style bonds. The electronics were an entirely different prospect. They made the notion of helping another girl who needed, well, sex, completely out of the question. The electronics would police that far more effectively than a few men ever could.

* * *

Number 391 was happier in the morning. Partly it was just the daylight: things, somehow, always seemed better in the bright sunshine of morning. Partly is was that she woke up still in bed with George, he spooning her, her shackled hands resting loosely on his cock. And partly it was that, as soon as he was awake, he fucked her again, and then he unlocked her handcuffs and laid them aside while he got Elaine up, they all showered, and had breakfast. Pottering about the apartment, preparing food, clearing away, Rachel could more or less forget that she was in The Settlement: her tether chain and fetters and her nudity seeming relatively unimportant given the limited requirements and relaxed atmosphere of the early part of the day.

But then, inevitably, came the time when George would go out to his work, and that meant that the two girls had to be handcuffed once more. And since at this precise time neither female had formal employment that would require their arms to be free, that meant they would then stay handcuffed until evening when George returned again, many hours away. Not that this was unusual in any sense: hundreds of Settlement women stayed handcuffed for days and weeks continuously, and it was a clearly established principle in the community that females were meant to stay handcuffed: release was never a right, always a privilege, to be granted when there was a good reason and not on a whim – and always, of course, at a man’s discretion.

But this was no consolation to Number 391. Neither was the fact that George expected his female houseguests to attend to their own cuffs without being reminded. As far as he was concerned this was a gesture of trust, but Rachel hated it, just as she hated locking herself in her sleeping cage at nights: it was one thing, she thought, to be placed in bondage by a man, but quite another to be expected to the complicit in your own helpless confinement. But there was no alternative, so once she and Elaine had agreed that all the chores were properly done, she took up her wrist bonds and clicked them swiftly, if regretfully into place, pinioning her arms behind her.

“Coming out?” asked Elaine. There was no point in not, even if sometimes Rachel would rather just hide in the hope that it – everything in her life – would somehow go away. So the two naked women showed their wrist bonds to George for him to check –a brief glance was all he considered necessary to verify that all was in order – and then watched him unlock the bolt on the girl-rails, allowing them to drag their tethers out of the apartment and into the street.

As soon as they reached the end of the line of apartments, they found themselves in a line of girls all heading up towards the main campus. It was that time of the morning, when people were heading off about their day’s business. Here and there men strode past, occasionally smiling a greeting, but since all the women were, like 391 and 378, helplessly tethered, they had no choice but to follow each other in files along the girl-rail, at least until they got to the larger arterial routes where the rails split into a double line for each direction. It was slow, but there was no hurry: even the girls that had regular employment felt no particular rush to be there by a fixed hour; the community was not like that. And most women, like Elaine and Rachel, worked part-time, taking irregular shifts in the fields or doing domestic work, and in Elaine’s case helping George with his energy projects. But The Settlement did not require all its residents to work full-time to meet their needs, and everyone thus had many hours to do with as they wished.

What got to Rachel, as it had done every day since she had been brought to this place, was not so much that every single one of the dozens of females in sight was naked, shackled hand and foot and linked with a stout, steel chain to the girl-rails, but that they all seemed so relaxed and accepting of it all: they chatted and laughed, and accepted the limitations of their bondage in the same way as they accepted not being able to fly. Sometimes Rachel wanted to scream at them. Did they not want to rebel? Rise up and overcome the men that insisted they lived this way? But inwardly she knew that to do so would be useless. Worse than useless: they would just think she was mad.

“Come on,” said Elaine, when they were in the main square, free of most of the comings and goings. “Let’s go to 175’s and see who we meet.”

175’s was one of The Settlement’s cafes. There were many of these, but this one was the only one located in a women-only social area, where girls could say and do anything they wished, free from male interference, and without any suggestion of the sexual tension that might occur in the mixed venues. The cafe was named for its patroness, Number 175, a slight brunette with long, long hair, who had, after much persuasion, convinced the authorities that she could do all her preparation and cookery with her hands still fastened behind her, as was of course a requirement in women-only areas, there being by definition no male supervision that would allow female hands to be freed. Now, with the aid of specially designed equipment – low counters and stoves that she could reach, and a couple of wheeled trolleys to help deliver orders to the tables - she was enjoying considerable independence compared with her previous employment as a sous-chef in the main kitchens, and she was clearly serving a market – her food, all of which was served in bite-size chunks, to be eaten without the use of hands, as popular as it was tasty, and her tables were very often full, even at this time of the morning, when it was really just juice, herbal teas and a few pastries on offer.

Having no other plans, either for that day or for the rest of her life, Rachel nodded her assent to this idea, and the two women began to thread their way around the necessary girl-rails, occasionally having to pull their neck chains into a side branch to allow another girl to pass the other way. Finally they arrived, passing down a pathway enclosed in a decorative canopy of vines, and turning in at the gate, past the sign that said 175’s. Women Only. Handcuffs must be worn at all times.

Chance would be a fine thing, thought Rachel, this and every time she passed the sign.

Entering the gate, 378 and 391 came face to face with two young women they counted as friends, Number 514 Lydia and Number 610 Madeleine. The former was fairish in colouring, with long wavy hair and grey eyes, the latter a freckly, green-eyed, curly-redhead. Both were in their early twenties, having been in The Settlement as long as they could remember, and both were extremely petite. Their collars and neck-chains, though they were custom made to the correct diameter for the necks they confined, were of course a standard height and thickness, the same for all the women of the community, and seemed, Rachel thought, to somehow dwarf these girls’ slight frames, the bright metal holding them with utterly oppressive power. Not that, by their demeanour, they seemed in any way oppressed: they smiled happily, and looked radiantly beautiful with their shiny tethers depending between their exposed breasts and across their bare flesh.

“Hiya,” Elaine started, cheerfully, “Where…Mother earth, what’s that?” Elaine tugged at her handcuffs.

The two younger girls stepped apart, sideways: “Good, isn’t it?” They both grinned cheerfully.

Rachel looked, wondering what it was that Elaine had noticed. Everything seemed normal, whatever that meant: the two women were naked, and collared; their arms were invisible from the front, locked away, as usual, behind their bodies. Their feet were bare, their ankles encircled by their fetter rings and joined by their chain, just as always. Their tethers….oh, thought Rachel, suddenly feeling flushed. The two girls’ tethers hung to the side, Lydia’s to her left, Madeleine’s to her right, curving gently down to the girl-rail, reaching it at exactly the same point. But, where the two chains vanished through the slot in the conduit, they were joined together by a padlock. It was not one of the high security padlocks that dangled at women’s throats, locking their collars to their tethers, it was just one of the standard padlocks that were used for various temporary arrangements, and for which many of the men carried keys, and which could, if necessary, be cut off with bolt cutters. But it was still a padlock, and neither Lydia nor Madeleine, nor any other female in the community had any realistic chance of opening it. So, until a man elected to do so, the two young women would not only be fastened to the girl-rails, but also to each other. They would be able to get no more than four metres apart, and that only by lying on the ground with their tethers stretched tight.

Both girls seemed to find it rather amusing: “Dennis put it on,” laughed Madeleine. “It was the second time he’d invited Lydia back to his place, and both times she’d asked if I could come too. So he said we always went together, and locked us this way. We rather like it, don’t we, Lyd?”

Lydia’s grinned broadly. “He offered to remove it the next morning,” she anwered, “but we said to leave it there for now. We’re going to see how other men like us, as a duo.”

Rachel could only wonder, pulling slightly at her handcuffs. She did not like any of the locks she already had on her body. The thought of being further limited by another one, one that was in some way optional, was not something she could readily grasp. But she could certainly see that men would enjoy these to women as a pair – they were so neatly matched in figure and beautifully contrasting in colour.

“Anyway,” said Madeleine, changing the subject, “have you heard that they’ve opened up the new outpost for public viewing. There are girl-rails leading all the way there, and we can go and look. We were just heading.”

“Right,” answered Elaine. This was, of course, the project, or one of them, on which George had been working. She knew something of it. She looked at Rachel: “Shall we go?”

The new outpost – it did not really have a name yet – was actually beyond the original boundary fence of The Settlement. In the past, this had been thought of as an important barrier against intruders, but now, years after the old world had ended, it at last seemed as if there was no one else outside, and the intruder risk was considered minimal. Thus it had been deemed acceptable to extend beyond the old fence without creating a new one. So the outpost was essentially in the outside world – whatever that meant – and the girl-rails that allowed women to access it passed through a new gateway that had been created for the purpose.

This was not, of course, to say that there was no security in operation. The gate was kept locked closed, and the line of girl-rails leading out through it was secured by a double set of bolts, linked so that only one of them could be held open at once, and operated by a lever that was set sufficiently far from the rails to ensure that no female would ever be able to reach it. Thus, a man was needed to let women in and out, and he also carried out a chain-check on each girl who passed his station, completing this whilst she was held between the two bolts on the rails.

Today the man on duty was Andrew, a medium height, thirty something dark man, known for his quiet, unassuming manner. “Morning, Ladies,” he said, as Lydia, Madeleine, Rachel and Elaine came into view. “Off to see the new facilities?” If he admired the women’s naked flesh, he did so fairly discreetly, before he pulled the lever admitting all four girls to the short section of rail between the two bolts and proceeded to check their steel bonds.

Last in the line, Rachel watched while Andrew felt carefully around fetter rings, collars and cuffs, moving the girls’ hair aside to examine the back of their collars and having them pull and twist at their handcuffs to check the security of their fit. It was, by some standards, a very thorough check of the women’s bondage, but Andrew was firmly of the view that if women were to remain convinced that they were chained for their own safety, then they needed to know that their community took the security of their chains extremely seriously. So he spoke few words as he completed the checks one by one.

Of course there was also the issue that he found the whole process a massive turn on: he had to work hard to keep his concentration as he examined how the women’s naked bodies were so helplessly confined.

At last it was Rachel’s turn; she felt the man’s fingers lifting her hair aside and gently touching her neck as he assessed her collar, finishing off with a tug at the padlock that secured her neck chain – all completely pointless, the girl thought, for it was not as if there was going to be any weakness, which everyone knew.

“Fetters OK?” the man asked, crouching behind her, one hand on each of her ankle bonds.

“Sir,” she replied, non-committally, before feeling his hands move up to grip her wrists.

“Pull at your cuffs, please, Number 391,” he said, and of course she did, though not as hard as she sometimes did when alone in her cage at night.

Andrew, however, was satisfied. “Very good,” he said, standing up, and as he did so, running the tips of his fingers very gently along Rachel’s spine, from just below her collar to the small of her back. It sent a sensual shiver through her body, causing her to jump and pull once more on her wrist bonds. As the man moved away, she briefly made eye contact with him, before looking down, blinking away a tear.

“Now,” said the man, addressing all the girls, who were still, of course, imprisoned between the two locked bolts on the girl-rail, “this is a long route and most of it has a single line of rails. There are passing loops, where the rail doubles for a short stretch – you will find one just outside the gate. See?”

He pointed through the chain-link wire of the still locked gateway in front of them. They could make out where the rail branched to the side, no doubt in case girls were waiting to come in as others were going out.

Andrew continued. “There are little signals,” he said. “Red and green lights, worked of an electric circuit activated as you pass. Don’t move away from a loop unless you have a green light, or there might be someone coming towards you. Well, I say don’t, but actually you can’t, because there are automatic bolts to stop you, all linked in. They will only open one way at once, and you need to wait for girls coming the other way to come in through them before they will let you out. Anyway, you’ll see.”

They stood and watched while Andrew locked the gate closed behind them – it was a strange sensation, Elaine thought, to be locked out of The Settlement, and she looked down, drawing reassurance from her tether chain and the girl-rail. Yes, she was still attached. Still part of the community.

Despite what Andrew had said, there were no other girls in evidence, and a green light glowed on the little box attached to a wooden post close to the end of the first loop of rails. They clicked their tethers through the bolt adjacent to the signal and set off down a hill, and were soon round a corner, the gate through which they had just passed completely hidden behind the trees that lined either side of the path.

“Wow,” said Lydia, smiling at the adventure of it all, but in the main they walked on without speaking, the only sounds being the buzz of cicadas, the birdsong – much more of that now than a couple of years ago, as the population of birds had begun to recover – and the ubiquitous rattle of tether chains and fetters.

* * *

The new outpost site was a hive of activity. For one thing, there had been a steady stream of visitors looking it over, just as Lydia, Madeleine, Elaine and Rachel were intending to do. But the systems were not yet finally complete: George and Chris were still making adjustments, the latter travelling to and from his lab in the main campus several times for this purpose.

But that was not all: the purpose of the place was essentially agricultural, to extend The Settlement’s capacity for food growing, and that meant a whole vast area of fields had to be cleared and planted, and, girl-rails having been installed to provide access via a grid over the whole area, a female workforce had been recruited to start the process. Here and there little groups of girls were bolted into a small section of girl-rails and they worked away with hoes and rakes, while a man stood by, guarding a little pile of open handcuffs and ensuring that the women stayed respectful. This kind of supervision was, of course, just the kind of thing the new systems were meant to avoid, but until there were enough girls with the new electronic cuffs and piercings, this was how it had to be.

Other girls remained free of the extra-restriction of the girl rail bolts, though naturally they therefore remained securely handcuffed. Catriona, Number 46, was one such example. She was a medium height, forty-something woman, with big grey eyes, long brown hair and a shapely figure. She was a long-time member of the community, having been chained to its girl-rails for fifteen years, during which time she had done many jobs, but now she was bringing bags of seed from the main store, pulling a little trolley along the route to the outpost and then around the fields to where the various gangs would need it.

* * *

Rachel followed on at the rear of the party. At first she admired the view, the tall trees, and beneath them, at the sides of the path, the carpet of luscious grass, punctuated with colourful clumps of wild flowers. Here and there she saw one of the birds, some with bright plumage, flitting in amongst the trunks. Now and then, she looked ahead, her gaze falling on Elaine’s naked back, her hips swaying as she walked, her hands fastened neatly in their cuffs.

Noticing another bird flitting away at their approach, Rachel thought how nice it would be to follow it beneath the tree cover, her brain computing without attaching any value to the thought that she could not do so, would never do so, for the trees were too far from the girl-rail to which, like her friends, she remained helplessly attached. Suddenly she stopped walking, and gave a hard jerk on her wrist bonds, realizing with something approaching horror how much the idiom of The Settlement had already seeped into her brain, that she could even do this at all: walk out here with friends, female friends, and all four of them forced to be completely nude and have their flesh locked in rings of steel, removable only by a man, all four of them anchored to this ridiculous, but completely inescapable rail system, now with its little signals for their convenience. And all of them, even she herself, reacting as if it was all completely normal. Mother Earth, she thought to herself, has my mind been polluted at last?

* * *

George was working on some adjustments to the outpost’s main solar power supply, which was located in a block-built kiosk, situated some distance away from the accommodation. He had just finished a piece of re-wiring when he heard a female voice calling from some distance away: “Sir! George, Sir!”

Looking out, he saw an attractive brunette, Number 501, standing on the opposite side of a patch of rough grass. “Tea for you, Sir,” she called, once he came into view. “In the accommodation.”

Grateful for the interruption, the man strode across to the girl and fell in step beside her as she followed the girl rail back to the accommodation block.

“Why did you not lay a girl-rail to the kiosk, Sir,” ventured Louise, as they walked, “I could have fetched you. The tea might be cold now.”

The man looked down at her: she was pretty, he thought, with bright eyes and a slim figure. “No need,” he smiled. “Once it’s commissioned, nothing in there will require any user intervention.”

“Ah, I see,” said the girl, who though born to The Settlement’s ways, was not stupid. “You mean it has security implications. So women can’t go there.” She moved her hands around behind her. They were firmly locked in her handcuffs: there were not enough men present to supervise her, so since she was not fitted with any of the electronic piercings, she had to stay handcuffed.

George looked at her again, her fidgeting naturally drawing his gaze. There was nothing, he thought, quite like a naked young woman locked in chains. “It’s not just security,” he said. “We don’t want you electrocuting yourselves.”

“Of course, Sir.” The girl smiled, and then looked down at the girl-rail. Mother Earth, she thought, It's so frustrating, sometimes. She had studied electricity in her education, and would love to see the installations. What harm could it do? It might even help the community: she could get involved with maintenance. But she said nothing, for she was quite well aware that female curiosity regarding places beyond the range of the girl-rails was not encouraged, and might even be seen as disrespect for the men that looked after her, and provided all these facilities for her to enjoy in safety.

They arrived at the new accommodation block, which in common with Settlement architecture, was single storey, with small high windows, and built of concrete blocks. It was quite large, about twenty metres square, the roof being supported by internal pillars of block work, in addition to the walls. Inside, the block divided into two rooms, the outside being a general living area, with cooking facilities, a table with benches, some cushions for relaxing and some storage areas, and the rear, which was separated by a screen of steel bars and had bars on its windows, being a secure, communal sleeping area for women. The bathroom facilities – two showers, two basins and two toilets – were against the side wall of the sleeping area. The whole area was gridded with girl-rails, facilitating female access, and the barred screen had in it a barred door, as was the usual arrangement in women’s facilities in the community.

Of the noticeable differences from usual facilities, the first was the lock on the barred door. It had, as was common for women’s sleeping cages, a single lock in the centre of the door operating, via rodding hidden inside the steel door frame, three mortice bolts, top, centre and bottom. Also as was common, the lock was guarded at the rear by a stout steel plate, with no keyhole: even with the key, the door could be opened only from the outside, so no female imprisoned in the cage could ever be under the slightest illusion that she would be leaving it, unless and until those – those men – in charge of her security decided to release her. But on the front of this lock, welded to it just above the keyhole, was a metal box with two LED lights on it. A cable emerged from it, and was tied to the door framing, passing round as far as the hinge side of the door where it went down into the floor of the building. It was a remotely operated, electronic lock, which allowed the cage door to be opened at the press of a switch. Various switches operated it, one of them being in the kiosk in which George had just been working, and another back in the main campus, linked by a long run of cable passing through the forest – but none of them were anywhere near a girl-rail.

Right now, the green LED on the lock blinked, showing it was set at open. It would only lock when all the girls in the new electronic collars were inside the cage – a safeguard to ensure that none remained outside the cage at night, or at any other time when they were ordered to confine themselves. And of course if they did not all go in when ordered, the system would record this, and a man would be sent from the main campus to investigate.

The second noticeable difference from the usual Settlement arrangements was the telephone system. This was inside the cage, and provided a communication link back to the main administration. It had a wall mounted ear piece and microphone, more like an old-fashioned door entry system than a telephone, with an operating switch at a convenient height for a woman to operate whilst her hands were confined behind her.

* * *

Rachel could not resist any longer. She would not allow her mind to be polluted. She would speak out: “Do you not wish you could have a wander in those woods?” she said.

The four friends were resting on the grass at one of the passing places, waiting at a red light which indicated the section of girl-rails ahead was occupied by a female or females coming the other way. They lay there, propped on their elbows, hands shackled together behind them, their neck-chains snaking across their bare flesh.

Lydia looked at the other blonde girl as if she were a lunatic. “Why would they lay a girl-rail there?” she asked, after a minute.

“Remember she’s quite new to this life still,” intervened Elaine, wanting to avoid embarrassment. “We’re used to it.”

Madeleine’s curiosity, however, had been piqued: “You’re not seriously imagining actually being free of your neck chain, surely?” It was not a concept that the young redhead could easily grasp.

“I’ll never get used to it,” sighed Rachel, staring unhappily at her bright steel tether where it lay across her thighs. “I’ll never get used to the idea that someone has the right to lock me up like this, just because I’m a woman.” She sat up, her tether sliding between her breasts, and pulled her cuffs to the side, straining to look at them, pulling a disgusted face. “Why should I,” she continued, “why should any of us have to wear these stupid things, and not have a key to them? Be dependent on some man to take them off, if he chooses? And why -” at this point number 391 knelt up, twisted and grabbed her tether chain with a shackled hand – “why the fuck should we be locked to these stupid girl-rails the whole time!” The last few words were almost a wail.

Elaine looked down; the two younger women stared at Rachel uncomprehendingly. “But women need to be locked up,” said Lydia, at last. “Everyone knows that. It’s not safe for us to be left free. The girl-rails are cool, because they allow us to be locked up and yet still move around freely.” Lydia was a true believer, raised in The Settlement’s new orthodoxy and having found no reason to question it.

“And what would be the point in having handcuffs, if we had the key to unlock them?” contributed Madeleine, sitting up and twisting her own wrist bonds to her hip, as Rachel had done, but looking at them with more admiration than disgust. “We would just be able to take them off whenever we wanted.”

* * *

“I’m sorry Sir,” said Number 501, “the tea is cold. I’ll make some more.” The lithe brunette reached for the water boiling pan, undaunted by the fact that her hands remained pinioned behind her. She was quite used to managing: she was a Settlement girl.

“Here,” said George, coming up close to her. “Let me undo your cuffs. It will be quicker.”

She leaned back against the counter, her hands gripping its edge, looking up at him. He stood close, towering over her. Both sensed it: the man, big, powerful and free, and the girl, small, naked, shackled. Her lips, and her thighs, and her other lips, parted. “I wish you would fuck me instead, Sir,” she said. “Please?” She had not had any male attention – any sexual relief of any kind – for weeks now.

“I could do both,” said George, touching her arm, as if to turn her around and reach her manacles with his key.

“Why would you do that, Sir?” said the girl. The idea of a man wanting to enjoy her body other than with her hands firmly locked behind her back was not something she had ever experienced, and she would not, she felt, have the slightest idea what to do with her arms if George freed them at this point. So instead she hoisted herself onto the counter and spread her knees as wide as she could, kicking at her fetters while George stripped off his T-shirt, shorts and boxers. Then he grabbed her by her hips, his grip kneading her flesh somewhat, and eliciting a sigh of passion. She leaned forward, admitting him into her dark, wet feminine cavity, feeling weeks of frustration begin to dissipate as her internal muscles gripped on his manly equipment and drew him onward.

* * *

It is quite difficult to storm off when your ankles are helplessly linked by a forty-centimetre chain, but as soon as the girl heading back towards the main campus had passed and the light turned green, Rachel gave it a try, her bonds rattling violently as she almost tripped. Being last in the line of four girls, she reversed out of the loop of girl-rail in which they waited, passed by on the other line and headed down through the woods. Lydia, Madeleine and Elaine watched her, the former two in wonder and the last with great sympathy, but they let her get a good way ahead before they moved to follow. It was not, after all, as if Number 391 was going to get lost or come to any harm: she was too well restrained for that to be a possibility.

After a while the other three followed on, strolling leisurely down through the beautiful woodlands. Lydia and Madeleine soon resorted to the merry chatter that was a feature of their closeness: they were not deliberately excluding Elaine, but their behaviour nevertheless had some of that effect. But the older woman did not mind; she was happy with her thoughts. Walking along so far from any sign of civilization – except, of course, the girl-rail to which she was locked – reminded her of that other journey a little while ago back, when she had briefly left The Settlement. Not, of course, that she had been unchained on that trip – far from it - but she had done a lot of walking, and she remembered thinking then that the way to make progress was not to imagine for one second that there was any possible alternative to being naked and helplessly restrained in steel shackles. Of course there was no alternative, in the sense that neither she nor any Settlement girl had even the slightest hope of ever getting free of her bonds, but that was not what she meant. It was more about not imagining there was any other possible way for a girl to live. Which was just what Lydia and Madeleine, and all those other younger women, born and bred in this community, after the old world had ended, thought. Or rather didn’t think: they just took it all for granted.

Lagging a little further behind, Elaine had a good tug at her handcuffs, pulling them to the side and looking at them, as Rachel had done in her frustration a little earlier. Stupid things, Number 391 had called them, and Elaine could understand where she was coming from, but were they so stupid? As a piece of engineering, far from it: they were perfectly suited to their task of keeping a woman’s hands respectfully behind her back, regardless of anything she might do, but without causing her particular discomfort in the process. But as a concept, the cuffs and the other things: the fetters, the girl-rails, the sleeping cages, the constant nudity. Were they really so stupid? There were those wonderful, feminine, womanly feelings she had, living as she did now, and she knew other girls shared. And whilst it was true that the way women lived was entertaining and stimulating for the male of the species – even the sensitive, thoughtful men, like George, appreciated a nude and shackled female - there was no doubt it did also make it easier for them to care for the womenfolk, having them always under lock and key. Of course it did. And their world was peaceful, productive and safe.

Looking up, Elaine watched Madeleine and Lydia for a while. The two of them were giggling now, their heads close together, clearly embroiled in some salacious gossip or other. They walked along with measured steps, their fetters rattling but never pulling quite tight, their manacled hands resting easily against their bare buttocks. They looked as if they had not a care in the world.

The other thing, Elaine thought, was that notwithstanding the number – and the significant majority – of women there now were in the community, there were few dissident voices, and those were either new girls, like Rachel, still unused to the lifestyle, or others just experiencing a temporary and short episode of frustration with the obvious limitations of life on the girl-rails. Certainly at the regular community meetings – where women had the same rights to speak and vote as men – the discussions on female security, which were by no means uncommon, were about improving and tightening it, not reducing it or removing it. And whilst women were ever ready to help each other – which was absolutely essential, since they all spent so much of their life handcuffed –they were also quick to police each other’s bondage, and ensure the community’s rules were being fully observed.

But the system was meant to be democratic, so if there was the will amongst the women, they could presumably just change the system?

If they wanted to.

* * *

Number 501, whose given name was Louise, jiggled frustratedly: she was desperate to cum, but George would not quite let her, though he ensured she got plenty of stimulation, as indeed he did himself, enjoying the view of her breasts as she leaned back on the counter, trying to push herself harder onto his cock.

After a while he pulled out. “Oh Mother Earth! Sir!, Don’t stop!” Louise cried, heaving helplessly at her wrist chains.

“Don’t worry,” he smiled. “I haven’t finished.” He lifted her down and, placing a hand either side of her waist, pushed her around the girl-rail towards a pile of cushions.

As they went she tried to reach back to grab his still engorged equipment, but he held her out of range, eventually just grabbing her head and – reasonably gently – forcing her face down on the cushions. In a second or two he was back inside, watching her hands tugging this way and that at her cuffs as he plumbed her body.

* * *

Rachel stood still. Her eyes burned with frustrated anger, and she could feel tears on her cheeks. She wanted to go away, be alone, find somewhere she could spend some time doing what she knew must be possible for an intelligent, resourceful girl like her – getting out of these stupid chains. But there was only this one long girl-rail with occasional passing loops; nowhere where another woman might not come along at any stage. The blonde cursed herself for not heading back towards the main campus. But that would be no better. Wherever she went, it would be on a girl-rail, and sooner or later someone would find her there. She choked back a sob. The only thing to do was carry on. Perhaps this new area of accommodation would offer new possibilities.

* * *

George had finally relented and given Louise enough of the right feelings to make her climax, not just once but over and over again. Then he’d pulled out, rolled her on her back and entered her again, thrusting so slowly in and out while she kicked helplessly at her fetters. He was in no rush to finish off himself, he was just enjoying the sensations, his massive hard-on and the total powerlessness of the shackled girl beneath him.

After a little while of this, and noticing Number 501’s eyes wandering, he became aware of the other presence in the room. He paused in his thrusting (although he did not withdraw from her cunt) and turned to look.

“Hello, Sir,” said Number 46. She had finished her work and returned to the accommodation, ready to help fix an evening meal. She turned to face the couple, standing there politely, her legs spread as wide as the chain joining her ankles would allow.

“Hello, 46,” said George – he knew her of course, everyone did. Neither he nor she was particularly put out by the situation; The Settlement was not like the old world, where discovering someone, or being discovered, in the process of making love might have been an embarrassing event. On the contrary, this community regarded sex as an activity to be indulged in quite freely and completely unashamedly. Privacy was seldom an issue for the men, and it was something that the women’s conditions of living specifically excluded.

Not that Catriona was entirely unaffected by the goings on. She came forward and knelt near George, spreading her knees wide as she was long accustomed to do. Although she had been in The Settlement a long time – long enough to have long since ceased even to have dreams where she wasn’t nude and chained – she remembered a time, before the world ended, when an attractive woman like her could have a man whenever she wanted, and when she didn’t want, she had the alternative of pleasuring herself. More recently, she remembered a time when she was first in The Settlement, when there were more men and fewer women, and the women there were had not so often been younger and slimmer than she. But for years now it had been hard for Catriona and the others of her generation to attract what male attention there was, and (as the rules and their handcuffs completely prevented masturbation) sexual relief was increasingly hard to obtain. She tried not to think about it, of course – but that was never easy in a world where women were kept in naked bondage, and when confronted with scenes like the one that faced her now, it was impossible. No sooner had she knelt down than she knelt up again, feeling her nipples hardening and the sweat pricking under her collar. She tilted her hips so that her cunt – her desperately itchy cunt – was thrust towards George, and she pulled anxiously, but as ever, quite futilely, at her securely locked wrist bonds.

Louise, panting beneath George, could see what was going on, and she was an unselfish girl. Enjoying the glow of her own now complete relief, she shuffled on the man’s cock, trying to sit up, using her manacled hands as props: “Sir,” she gasped, “do 46, please.”

End of part 1

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