A Settlement Story
by Kirsten Graham

Part 3

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

Book 2

Number 391 rested against the thick tree trunk, in what had become her accustomed place to sit during the afternoons. She had to admit that, under the circumstances, the decision to accept the placement down here at the new outpost – and the electronic bonds that went with it – had, despite her misgivings, been the right one. Things had seemed much better in the three weeks she had been here.

For one thing, the surroundings, were, Rachel had to admit, idyllic. The forest enclosed the cultivated area thickly on three sides, broken only by the path which led back to The Settlement proper. The accommodation block was set a few metres from this line of trees, with, spreading out in front of it, the fields they tended, bordered at the far side by a little brook, one of those that flowed down from the mountains above the main campus. Beyond it, the ground sloped gently away in a more open aspect, a barren plain eventually fading into hazy mountains miles and miles away. Of course the girls could not go that way: this side of the brook was gridded with girl-rails right up to and into the edges of the forest, but none of the rails crossed the water, so the ten women that shared this assignment were constrained to remain on the nearer side.

The group of women involved was another reason that things seemed better than before. Firstly, just that it was a group solely of women: there being no men around changed the dynamic totally, they were all girls together now. But perhaps more because of the particular individuals involved, who seemed to have hit it off pretty well, with none of the petty jealousies that sometimes occurred (though there being no men around might have helped this, too).

The group consisted of the other Rachel, Number 567, Kirsty, 498, and Johanne and Sinead, the leader’s former assistants. These had been joined by a tall, slim brunette called Beatriz, Number 313, the fairer and more curvy Number 360, Ruth, the petite, blonde Number 522 Courtney and another tall brunette, 524, Katherine. 391 herself, and the somewhat surprising addition of Number 610, the red-haired Madeleine, now once again separated from her friend Lydia, made up the ten. They were all roughly of an age – the eldest, Johanne and herself, being twenty-five, or thereabouts, and the youngest just nineteen, and they all enjoyed the same sort of gossip and giggles. 567 was officially the leader, and they were to obey her orders, but the girl had so far been pretty low-key about her authority, and they had discussed everything that went on – which was mainly their menus and the work programme – together, arriving at decisions jointly.

The work programme was another good thing. They were tilling fields, opening new areas for growing food, and doing basic manual tasks like digging ditches to bring stream water into the growing areas. It was physical, satisfying labour, and you could at the end of each shift, see tangible progress and imagine you were doing good for yourself and your community, ensuring future food supplies. And of course you could, thanks to the system of electronics, work for many hours with your hands unchained.

The electronic bonds seemed to be working exactly as planned. The phone line allowed 567 to report back to the main administration every night, but apart from that they had not needed to use it. The automatic systems had done what they were intended to do, and the girls had thus been left alone. Their cage would lock up at night – once they were all inside and once they all had their hands fastened behind them – and it would unlock in the morning. Their handcuffs, or at least the little electronic device that joined the cuffs together, would then unlock, freeing their arms so that they could shower, breakfast and work unimpeded. After work they were supposed to refasten their hands, which would then remain locked up until the next morning, but whilst this had to be done before nightfall, there was no specific measure to make it happen at any given time, and Rachel had soon found that she could do her work, and then wander off into the woods and enjoy some peace and quiet, without needing to reconfine her arms at all until she headed back to the accommodation as evening came on.

The other girls had all, so far as Rachel knew, followed procedure to the letter, and linked their cuffs together as soon as their work was done: it was, after all, what came naturally to most Settlement girls anyway. Rachel had been nervous that they would question her in not doing the same, so she had generally kept out of the way, by herself, but over the last few days a couple of the others had seen her and nothing had been said, and she had also seen others, particularly Katherine and Johanne, with their hands still free well after their day’s digging was over.

But the ability to keep out of the way was another thing that was good about this new venture. In the main campus, it was generally crowded, and there were men around as well, who could go where a girl could not, and could easily come upon you unawares. So back there, solitude, or any extended peace and quiet, was practically unknown. But this outpost was easily big enough – and thoughtfully provided with enough long branches of girl-rails – to allow all its ten residents space to be alone, and not only Rachel but all the women were blissfully aware of this. They seemed to have come to a tacit agreement that once their work was finished, and in the period from then until their evening meal, they would all be left to their own devices, and many of them had found their own particular branch of girl-rails to use for this purpose. And since there were no men around, once on their chosen branch, they could be reasonably sure that the only way they would be disturbed would be by someone approaching along the same girl-rail, and approaching with some noise at that, for Settlement women’s fetters were not designed to permit silent movement.

Notwithstanding her more cheerful mood, Rachel was still committed to the idea of escaping from her imprisonment in The Settlement, and she had, naturally, used the opportunities she had had of being alone with her hands unchained to thoroughly explore her bondage, in a way that had never really been possible before. Using the stream as a mirror, she had felt all around her collar, exploring the closeness of its fit, as well as its new and unusual accoutrements, including the solar panel over its battery box, and she had also had a good look at her wrist cuffs, which of course remained fastened about her arms all the time now, even when her hands were free. She had tried sliding them off, tried bashing them with stones or agricultural tools – not too hard, in case she made a scratch as was found out – though of course this had achieved nothing. She had even tried locking her cuffs in front of her body instead of at her back. This had not worked either: the sensors in them knew where they were relative to the piercing in her female intimacies, and simply would not engage the lock unless her hands were where they were supposed to be, behind her body. In fact nothing had worked: the wrist cuffs, and of course her collar and fetters, had remained implacably fastened about the girl’s flesh, and after a few days of repeated, futile exploration, and utterly devoid of any ideas of anything else she might do to them, she had at last left the restraints alone.

Not that she had, at that stage, given up the idea of getting free. On the contrary, she had turned her attention to her tether, and the girl-rails to which it was attached. Of course a careful investigation of the neck chain had revealed no weakness, and whilst a couple of afternoons spent, on and off, peering down the slot in the girl-rail, feeling down it with small twigs and generally jiggling the end of the chain up and down had taught her some more of how the system was constructed, it had done nothing to suggest that the end of the tether was ever going to come away from the girl-rail.

Finally, and with the aid of the trenching tool that she used for her work on the irrigation ditches, Number 391 had begun a reasonably extensive excavation of the girl-rail itself, near where it ran by the biggest of the trees on the stream bank. After some days, she had exposed a length of girl-rail almost three metres long, so that she could even pass her hand right underneath it – and she could see plainly, at either end of her digging, two of the massive concrete blocks to which the rail was anchored. But there was no way she was going to break it or uproot it: it was more than equal to its task of confining a few – or even a few hundred – naked women.

Finally, on one sunny afternoon about a week ago, Rachel had stood, looking down at her handiwork, at the dull steel of the girl-rail, and something deep inside her had accepted the inevitable. There really was no escape. She was chained to the girl-rails, and she was going to stay chained to the girl-rails. She was not going to get free. Not today, not tomorrow, and not ever.

She might have expected wails and tears of frustration, but it was not like that. It was, somehow, more a relief. Holding her tether in both hands, she looked up at the old elm tree. “I’m like you,” she said, pulling at her chain. “I’m a living thing, but I’m rooted to the ground!” And she’d wondered if the old tree ever felt resentful that it could not move around freely.

And, since then, she’d felt a certain one-ness with the tree, and had come here regularly in the afternoons, sat in its shade, played with the end of her tether, sliding and jiggling the little steel ball inside the conduit, and watching the stream, and gazing with increasing interest at the bird life that seemed prevalent on the far bank, where it was at least certain not to be disturbed by any Settlement women.

* * *

Unlike Rachel, and various other women recruited to The Settlement from outside its boundaries, Madeleine did not go through life regarding herself as a prisoner. This was not to say, of course, that she was not always conscious of the restrictions to which she was subject: you could not live in chains and sleep every night in a cage without being aware that you were being restrained and controlled. But being imprisoned was not a concept that had any meaning unless it was matched with the concept of not being imprisoned, and the community had learned over the years to educate its younger females to make sure that they had no basis on which to make such a comparison. They had no experience and no memories of any society other than The Settlement, and the talk of the more recent arrivals was so subsumed in the idiom of the community that it usually just sounded like a silly fantasy – which to all intents and purposes, of course, it was.

Thus, to Madeleine, being shackled and tethered was not about being a prisoner, it was part of her identity as a woman. Which made the feelings she was beginning to experience very hard to understand indeed. After all, she reasoned, she liked being a woman. She would not want not to be a woman. She loved that sense of femininity that resided in that special place between her legs and radiated out to her whole being. She loved being small, and soft, and vulnerable. She loved that men wanted to see her – her face and her body - that she could provoke their desire, make them want her, and at the same time she loved that they, and all the community saw her and all her femininity as precious and delicate and to be protected. She loved all these things, so naturally she loved her chains. Didn’t she? Loved how they felt against her flesh, loved how they were fastened on her, loved how the girl-rails ruled her movements, loved how it felt when her hands were locked at her back. She had even loved it before, when Dennis had padlocked her and Lydia together. It had seemed such fun.

But somehow, these last weeks, something was different. It was not coming down here to the outpost, because she had volunteered for this assignment because of what she was already feeling. Nor was it the usual sort of frustration, the frustration all girls felt from time to time, when there was something you couldn’t quite manage to do properly with cuffed hands, or you wished for once you could take that short cut instead of having to queue behind other girls to going around by the girl-rails. No, this ran deeper. Madeleine could not articulate it, but it was something to do with thinking there might, after all, be a way to live as a woman but without being quite so controlled, so limited by physical restraints.

Such were the young redhead’s thoughts that afternoon, as she finally summoned up the courage to pass along “Rachel’s” branch of girl-rail, seeking a conversation with the girl who made no secret of the fact that she had come in from outside the community, and really wanted to go back outside again some day.

Rachel, naturally, heard her coming, and watched her final approach down the last few yards of conduit.

“Hi Rache,” said Madeleine. “So this is where you go in the afternoons. Can I join you for a bit?”

“Sure,” said 391, not really sure at all, but not wanting to be rude. She gestured to the vacant spot next to her: the tree trunk was wide enough for two backs to lean on.

“What?” she asked, conscious that Madeleine was now staring at her with a confused expression.

“But…your hands are still free,” said the redhead, stating the obvious. Hers, of course, were not. It had never crossed her mind not to rechain them straight after work.

“You should try it,” said the blonde, as Madeleine sat down. “It’s very civilized.” By way of a demonstration, the blonde girl brushed her hair back behind her ears and wiped some beads of sweat away from between her breasts. “Don’t worry,” she went on. “I’m not going to escape, am I? I’m still tethered.” She grabbed her neck chain where it draped across her thigh and pulled it until it drew tight against the girl-rail.

“It’s just we’re supposed to be handcuffed, when we’re not working,” said Madeleine. “I mean…” she did not seem to be able to find the words. “Women need to be handcuffed,” she said, eventually.

“Do we though?” said Rachel. “I know that’s what you’ve always been told, but what if it isn’t true? Anyway here you can try it for a bit, if you want, as I’ve found out.”

* * *

Back in the main community, Alan sat on his porch, his feet up on another chair, alternately reading and watching the world go by. His apartment was not on a busy main route, but nevertheless, there was still considerable traffic to and fro, much of it composed of naked women making their way along the girl-rail to one purpose or another. The man acknowledged the girls’ polite smiles at him, and he enjoyed watching their unclothed, shackled bodies as they hobbled past.

Just occasionally, he leaned to look around the door, to where Number 197 was busy inside the apartment. She had her hands free from her cuffs, and was busy tidying out cupboards.

After a little while, a party of three hove into view coming down the street: one man and two females. The man was Dave, the females Numbers 40 and 93, his pledged women. Number 40 was in her thirties, pretty, blonde and slightly plump. Number 93 was about the same age, a little thinner and dark. The women were, naturally, chained, but they were not handcuffed: Dave preferred to restrain their arms in wrist rings anchored to steel belts, and the women, being pledged to him, had no say in the matter.

As the three drew nearer, Alan could see that today 40's and 93’s usual bondage was complemented with gags. These were a standard Settlement design, composed of a plastic coated steel tube that fitted in the mouth, holding it open with the tongue down. Light but strong steel chains, covered in plastic for comfort, reached from the edges of this tube around a girl’s head, and were fastened together at the back using a padlock. The gags were comfortable enough to be worn for extended periods, completely prevented talking, but still allowed their female wearers to (carefully) drink liquids, absorb liquid food such as yogurt, and if necessary to have other things inserted into their mouths. And of course they could not be removed unless you had the key to the padlock, so girls could still have their hands freed, or be in the company of other females, and yet remain helplessly gagged.

“Hi,” said Dave, as they approached.

“Hi,” answered Alan, looking at the women, whose eyes blazed above their gags. “I see you decided to put an end to chatter.”

“Oh, the gags,” smiled Dave, sitting on the chair, “yes, well, they were arguing. I thought a couple of days like that would help them learn.”

Gags were commonly used as a disciplinary measure, the community having discovered at an early stage that removing a woman’s ability to talk was a far more serious imposition on her than any other form of bondage they could devise. Though of course in the case of pledged women, it was entirely up to their man what bondage they wore and some girls in this category were kept gagged routinely. Like all pledged women, they had to appear once a month at a committee to prove they were still in good health and not being abused, but they could answer the committee’s questions with nods and shakes of the head, and provided they bore no visible scars, and indicated no serious complaint when directly asked, there was nothing to prevent them being gagged 24/7 if their men so desired.

Alan looked the two females up and down once more, and then gestured to the door of his apartment: “Go in, girls,” he said. “197 is inside.” He noted that Dave made no move either to remove their gags or to free their hands as they went – but that was entirely his business.

“How’s 197 doing?” asked the darker man. He had known the redhead a long time, had helped her through her time of trouble a bit back, and regarded her as a family friend.

“She’s settling in alright,” laughed Alan. “She’s tidying my cupboards, so I’ll never find anything now.” The two men listed for a minute, hearing Carine’s greetings and the muffled “nnnghh” sounds that were all 40 and 93 could say in response.

“No more escape attempts then?”

“Ha, well, none I’ve seen,” said Alan. “I’ve been giving her a lot of time with her cuffs off, as well. It’s good for her to realize that she’s still securely held, even with her hands free, and it makes her learn a bit of self-discipline, if she’s not always manacled.”

“Quite,” replied Dave, waving in response to the cheery greeting of a couple of girls making their way slowly up the street.

“Do you want to go in and see her? She’s yours if you do. Send the others out. 197!” he yelled around the door. “See to Dave as he wants!”

It had been a while since Dave had been intimate with Carine, and in the meantime he had not sought her favours, and when he had seen her she had not shown any signs of interest in resuming that side of their relationship. But he had always found her attractive, and this was an enticing offer: while she was in Alan’s apartment, of course, she had no choice in the matter. If Alan told her to have sex with Dave, then have sex with Dave she would. Men made the rules in their own apartments.

Dave stood up and went in, and almost immediately burst out laughing: instead of two silenced women, he found three, for Carine had found her own gag and, in a gesture of solidarity with Emily and Claire, had locked it into her mouth. Her lips formed a wordless ‘O’ around the tube, her grey eyes wide above it. “Nnngh!” she said to Dave.

“Outside, please, ladies,” the man said to his own women, speaking politely but firmly. “197, kindly put your handcuffs back on and let me check you.” In the past, before The Settlement, Dave had never been into bondage or domination of any kind, but now, like the other men, he was totally comfortable commanding chained and naked women.

Carine did not delay in refastening her wrists, and then stood with her back to Dave, allowing him to check that she had applied the cuffs properly, and also that her gag was truly locked about her face: it was. The small but strong padlock that joined its chains nestled under her hair. Letting the long red locks fall, Dave brushed his hands across the girl’s shoulders and down her back. “Your back is beautiful, Carine,” he said, using her name, whether she liked it or not. He held her waist. There was definitely something about a gagged woman, he thought. She was not a partner anymore. She was just a female body, ready to be used for pleasure. He felt his cock straining at his trousers.

Behind her gag, Carine drooled slightly. But the tube felt familiar in her mouth: in times past she had worn it more or less constantly. She had grown to hate it once, because it was associated with an abusive man, but he was gone and now she could feel the feelings she had known when it had first been applied. Her voice could not express them, but her body did: her legs trembled, her nipples hardened, her cunt began to juice uncontrollably. She felt the grip of the chains on her body and knew entirely what it was to be a woman: to be soft, helpless, exposed female flesh, ready to provoke, receive and finally assuage a man’s lust.

Entirely submissive, the girl allowed Dave to lead her round the girl-rail to the bed. She hauled herself onto it and spread her knees, waiting.

* * *

The one thing that was guaranteed to get the farming outpost girls hot and bothered in their discussions was the subject of sex. It had been over a week since the last visit from a man, and for Sinead and Johanne in particular, who had been used, in their last job, to Mitch’s attentions at least daily, the celibacy had been particularly hard to take. Of course they had explored the limitations of their electronic bonds in this respect – on themselves and on each other – but they had discovered that as far as keeping them respectful of girl-parts, the new system appeared to be foolproof. Exploring your pussy, you could feel nice for about thirty seconds before the pain in your collar grew too distracting, and then if you left off you still could not do the same again for a good couple of hours without the pain starting at the level it left off. You could touch your breasts a little longer, while the electronics worked out what you were doing and the pain kicked in – and in any case, feeling your breasts was never going to assuage your lust anyway: it could only make it worse.

Horny women are of course resourceful women, and the girls had not been slow to experiment with alternative ideas, of which the favourite was to find a nice, smooth stick that was long enough to manoeuvre between your legs from behind, but they had discovered that the electronics were equal to this challenge, too. The pattern of wrist movements near the clit piercing was still enough to trigger the alarms.

So, whilst you could make yourself more horny (if that were possible), there was nothing whatsoever you could do to reduce the feeling of desire. As was right and proper by the community rules, only a man could do that.

The other girls in the group were by no means immune, and in their after dinner discussions they considered the issue.

“Please, Rachel,” said Ruth, can’t you use the phone and ask for a visit. We’re desperate. The pretty fair-haired girl looked down sadly at the inaccessible triangle of fur between her widely–spread thighs, while, with much clinking of bonds, the others murmured assent.

“I do know how you feel,” said 567. “I feel the same. But the idea is to manage without men and that’s what we have to do. They will come in another week and re-supply us. Until then, just stop thinking about sex the whole time.”

“Which would be easier if we didn’t have to be nude,” contributed 391, making the others stare at her.

“That’s not helpful, Rache,” said 567 eventually. “You know that women have to be nude. The law requires it.”

* * *

Elaine was old enough to remember the time before the world ended. She had not, however, had a husband and a home: she had spent the last years of the old civilization working for the government in a secret facility dedicated to finding new forms of energy, and had been (apart from occasional brief interludes) entirely celibate. But of course she had dreamed: she remembered dreaming of how she would have a nice house and a family and an office job in a city somewhere.

But that, of course, was not to be. Instead there had been storms and earthquakes, destruction and despair, before she had finally been found, brought to The Settlement, and introduced to her new life here, safe, well fed, clean, cared for, subject to clearly defined rules and regulations, stripped naked and padlocked to the girl-rails.

So she would never have an office job - but now Rachel had gone down to the new farm, she could at least enjoy the fact that she and George once again lived as a couple - sort of. She felt that the apartment was somehow theirs, she had the keeping of it, and most nights she slept in bed with George the whole night, albeit with her arms locked behind her back. But he released her for breakfast, and they ate together at the table, and chatted about domestic things: his work, the goings on of the community: the weather. And he would go to work, leaving her handcuffed, but free to go out or not as she pleased, and she would make sure to be home before him and do what she could (whilst still handcuffed) to start preparing their evening meal. And when he came home he would often have a special greeting for her, before he unlocked her wrists for the evening. Only when he went out again later did she have to be caged, and that was not very often, and he usually let her out again (and fucked her brains out) when he got home, anyhow.

So, apart from the fact that she passed her days in naked bondage, it was perhaps a life very much like the one Elaine had imagined all those years ago.

* * *

It took Carine, Emily, and Claire several minutes to communicate by various “Nnnnghs” and restricted gestures that they wanted to go out, but eventually Alan and Dave got the message and let them go, gags and all, watching them hobble off down the street towards the main campus.

“I can see why you choose to keep them in belts,” said Alan, as the girls departed. Emily and Claire both had ample and admirable backsides, which were fully revealed to view: Carine’s was no less pleasantly shaped, but was obscured by her cuffed hands.

“Yes,” answered Dave. “They are a bit more restrictive, but it’s OK with two of them. But I just love the padlock at the front, the way it dangles there above their muff.”

Alan looked at the other man a minute: “Do you ever,” he said, “get bored of naked women in chains? Wish you could dress them up, for example?”

Dave looked back, and then both men laughed.

* * *

If Claire and Emily appeared little more than resigned to their day of silence, Carine found she was rather enjoying hers. The sense of being nothing but a helpless lump of female flesh lingered, stimulating enough in itself, but also bringing back memories of her early days as a pledged woman, before things had gone badly wrong with Zach, her now deceased man. From the very first, he’d kept her gagged routinely, allowing her only a few minutes of freedom to speak each day, and only in his company or at community meetings. He had certainly never allowed her to go out alone without it, which had meant, of course, that her capacity to share anything with female friends was severely limited. But it had, at first, felt like a token of honour, to be kept as she had, like she was a dangerous, sexual beast that needed to be totally controlled. She had always enjoyed that feeling, and now she was experiencing it again.

* * *

“Oh, wow!” said Number 391, “you’ve finally done it!”

Number 610 had come, as had become her habit, to sit with Rachel by the old tree, but this time she had finally taken the plunge and left her wrist bonds undone after her work was over. The young redhead stood there, smiling, her arms dangling at her sides, just occasionally twitching.

“So how does it feel?” Rachel went on.

“Ha!” giggled Madeleine. “Strange. Like I don’t know what to do with my hands.”

“Do you feel like a security risk?” quizzed the blonde.

“Er, no,” answered the other girl, grabbing her tether chain where it rubbed against her waist. “No, of course not. I’ve no way to undo my neck chain, have I?”

“No,” agreed Rachel. “You haven’t. Well, come and sit down.”

Just then however, both girls experienced the beginning of a tingling sensation in their necks, beneath their collars. It was the sensation, which would soon become uncomfortably, and then painfully strong, that they should re-chain their hands and report back to the accommodation.

There was, as they both knew, no resisting it. As in many other ways, The Settlement’s systems controlled them totally.

“Trees and sky,” cursed Madeleine, as she clicked the lock that joined her wrist wrings together. “What timing.”

“Cheer up,” said Rachel, already helplessly cuffed. “It might be a man visiting.”

In fact, it was two men, and one woman. George and Chris had decided it was time to carry out a check on the electronic systems at the farming outpost, and Elaine, hearing of the plan, had asked to be allowed to accompany them, so that she could catch up with Rachel.

When they arrived, after what for the men had been a leisurely stroll and what for Elaine, with her securely locked fetters, had been a frantic dash, the woman wondered if coming had in fact been such a good idea after all, for they were greeted by the ten farming women, all with their hands properly handcuffed behind their backs, all waiting respectfully, smiling, happy to see the men – any men, Elaine rightly guessed – and all obviously completely horny. Of course Elaine had expected that at some point in the day George would be paying attention to Rachel, and she had sort of got used to sharing him with the blonde girl whom she regarded, mostly, as a friend. But now it occurred to her that there were a further nine females here who would also want male attention, and George, as well as Chris, would be expecting, and expected, to offer it.

She knew that George loved her, and it was not as if he was ever slow to fulfil her sexual needs, but she still could not help being jealous. George was hers, and she hated to think of him, or worse, have to watch him, fucking other women.

For his part, George was very happy to see the welcoming party of naked farming women standing there ready, conveniently chained and all in a highly receptive mood. What was not to like about it? But was also well aware of Elaine’s feelings, and whilst he sympathized, and indeed to some extent felt honoured by her jealousy for him, he also knew that she could well do with being taught a lesson about relationships in The Settlement, and in particular about his absolute right to have any woman he wanted, regardless of his relationship with any other. And since she was not pledged to him, it was not as if this did not also apply to Elaine, at least in theory. There was nothing to stop her accepting the attentions of any man who offered them to her.

However, there was work to be done, and as far as George and Chris were concerned work came before sex, so leaving Elaine and the resident women to their own devices for a bit, they set off to make their rounds, checking installations such as the kiosk which were situated well out of the reach of women shackled to the girl-rails.

Of course, work before sex was a laudable concept, and one that was much easier to follow if, like the men of the community, one knew that sex with a choice of attractive, respectful and desperately keen partners was always going to be available, as and when desired. For the women, who had no guarantee whatsoever of male attention at any time, and yet no other legal, or in the case of the electronically bound farming girls, even illegal way to get sexual relief without a man, it was a bit different, and a lot of highly agitated to-ing and fro-ing and rattling of women’s chains went on as Chris and George wandered about beyond the range of the girl rails, ticking off their check-lists.

Elaine soon found Rachel; the two women greeted each other rather uneasily at first, finding words difficult to come by. But then Rachel suggested Elaine accompany her for a walk, and they soon left all the others behind, finding their way along the stream bank to Rachel’s tree.

“This is as far as we can go,” said the blonde, when they arrived at the end of the girl-rail.

“Of course,” answered the brunette, looking around, at the grassy bank, the tree, the brook and the woodland on the opposite bank. “It’s lovely,” she said. “Idyllic.”

Rachel grinned: “there are worse places to be imprisoned, I’m sure.”

Elaine looked at her unclothed friend, noting her tether, welded to her collar, falling to the girl-rail: the ever-present, utterly inescapable, bond. “Still finding it hard?” she asked.

Rachel looked down: “I’d escape if I could,” she said. “Of course I would. But I understand that I can’t, and that I probably never will.” She looked up again, and the older woman saw a prick of tears in Rachel’s eyes. “The security is too strong for me,” the blonde went on, and then, after a pause: “but at least here I get my hands free every day, for several hours.” She clinked her wrist bonds: her hands, of course, were not free now, Chris and George having elected to leave all the girls’ arms locked behind their backs for the duration of their inspection.

Elaine found her eyes drawn to her friend’s muff – a neat, feminine triangle. A thing of fascination, she knew, throughout the community. A thing that, perhaps above all, the security systems were designed to protect. She thought of her own, how much she thought of it, how much it meant to George, how little she ever got to touch it. “Does it work, the electronics?” she asked. “I mean, can you not, you know…?” She did not use words but her gaze was enough to convey her meaning.

“Mother earth, yes,” said Rachel, “of course they work. No way any of us can touch those places.” There was a pause, and Rachel knelt down, Settlement-style, her knees apart. Her tether folded itself sensuously across her thigh. She looked up at Elaine, who still stood: “But you could,” she said, quietly. “And I could touch you.”

* * *

Back in the accommodation block, George tried to remember if he had fucked Number 241 before: certainly not recently, when she had been Mitch’s errand-girl, for the leader’s staff were generally regarded as off-limits to other men for the duration of their appointment. However, she was certainly an enthusiastic partner, her shackled body writhing agitatedly beneath him and her moans and gasps echoing around the room: perhaps the regular attention she had received from Mitch over the last few months had made her all the more susceptible to over a week with none.

The same turned out to be true of Sinead, Number 289, when George, carefully pacing himself, at last pulled out of the blonde. The brunette had been kneeling nearby, waiting, watching, and was, conveniently but unsurprisingly, soaking wet and ready for the man’s attention, her nipples rock-hard with anticipation. She sat on the bed mat in front of George, spreading her knees, pulling her ankles up as her fetters required her to do to get her thighs wide apart. But George gestured to her to roll over onto her front, grabbing her hips as she did so. It was quite an uncomfortable position, for as the girl’s hands remained locked behind her, she had no way to support her upper body, and her face just squashed against the mattress. But she was past caring about that, she just wanted a man inside her. She got him, that feeling of utterly helpless giving as his warm spear filled her. He thrust gently – he was already highly stimulated himself, but there was much more fucking to do yet – and he admired the smoothness of the young woman’s back. A beautiful thing, a female back, as well as a convenient place to keep female hands locked out of harm’s way. Temporarily moving a hand from Sinead’s hip, George parted her long hair so he could see the shiny steel of her collar at the back of her neck. A beautiful thing, a female collar, too, thought the man, wondering how he had ever managed to live in the old world, where women did not have locked steel collars, and equally locked steel tethers keeping them where you needed them.

* * *

Mitch looked on with wonder at the engineering office, and all the workers within it. It was a newish building, up at the Irrigation Works, on the high ground up from the main campus, and it was the main workplace of the now quite substantial engineering team that Number 20 and Dave had assembled to manage the infrastructure that grew and grew with The Settlement. There were in fact about twenty staff, many of whom sat at desks in the large open-plan area, doing various drawings or calculations.

“Wow,” said the leader to Dave. “Quite a team you have here, isn’t it?”

“We’re doing well, yes,” said the other man. “Passing on the skills to the youngsters.”

Looking around, Mitch could see that most of the workers were of the younger generation.

“Lots of girls, too,” he said, noting that about three quarters of those in the room were female.

“Of course,” said Dave. It was perhaps just a matter of the balance of the sexes in the community generally these days, but most of the engineering apprentices, and indeed the graduated juniors were women. Being female in The Settlement had its constraints, but no one doubted that women were, intellectually, the equals of (or superior to!) men, and there was certainly no bar to girls undertaking work with high levels of responsibility, provided only that they could do so without compromising the security of their bondage.

“I’ll get someone to show you round the site,” said Dave. “523, have you a minute?”

“Coming, Sir,” said a girl at a nearby desk. Her tether rattled as she stood up. She picked up the set of handcuffs, which lay open on the desk in front of her, but she did not put them on, she just held them loosely in her hand while she negotiated the girl-rails over to where the men stood. “How can I help, Sir?” she said, when she stood in front of them. She looked up, smiling, her wide-set, blue eyes framed by luxuriously thick light-brown hair that cascaded around her shoulders. She was petite, but with a perfect hour-glass figure. Mitch took a moment to admire her body.

“523 is our newest graduate,” said Dave. “She’s been working on the design for the waste water treatment. Can you show Mitch around the site up here, please, 523?”

“Of course, Sir,” she said, and immediately she locked her handcuffs back into place, first closing the ring around her left wrist, and then reaching behind her and snapping the other one into place. “If you could do the bolts, please, Sir,” she said to Mitch. One of the facilities for women in the design office was a double bolt on the girl-rail: an individual female could be allowed out of the building, opening and closing only one of the bolts at once, so that any other girls working inside would remain securely confined within the office.

Mitch worked the mechanism, and then followed the girl through the door and up the path.

“We’ll start at the top, Sir,” she said, smiling, “or at least as far up as the girl-rails go. This way.”

He let her go, noting in passing both her beauty – her back was no less enticing than her front – and the easy way she moved, hands resting on her backside, her strides carefully, but unconsciously measured to the length of the chain that joined her ankles, her tether sliding easily in its conduit. He thought again of Abby. This world, and the way its females lived, was very much of her making, he knew. But she had also known another way of living, and knowing what it had been to have the responsibility of being free had been some of what made her so revel in her chains. Mitch smiled to himself: not just in chains, but in totally complete submission. Nudity, handcuffs, fetters, collar and neck chain, locked cages. And then, when they’d thought of the idea, the girl-rails, with their heavy steel conduits, massive anchorages and ingenious system of bolts to control passage along them. Bondage so total and complete that any woman subjected to it would, after a very short time feel that even the vaguest notion of ever defeating it or getting free was simply insane.

But now Abby was gone, and they’d grown a generation of young girls like this 523, who seemed to take their multiple-layered, high-security bondage entirely for granted. Did they even really know that they were chained?

“This is as far as I can go, Sir,” said 523, as they reached the end of the girl-rail. “We can see the upper workings from here, mostly, but you can obviously go up there if you want.”

“It must be inconvenient, sometimes,” commented Mitch, looking at the naked girl, who grinned back, prettily.

“I can only go where there are girl-rails, Sir, obviously. The boys are able to help with the rest.” There was not a trace of resentment. She just stood there politely, waiting, helpless.

“But does it not sometimes annoy you, to have to rely on the boys? Do you not sometimes wish you could not be chained to the girl-rails?”

“I like being chained to the girl-rails, Sir. It makes me feel very safe and cared for. And they go everywhere I really need them to. Besides, I can never be free, can I? No girl can. And we all understand that.”

Mitch just looked for a moment. What the girl said certainly was true: thanks to Abby, and all that had come after her, the community had worked out how to keep its women. The system was ingrained now, and even as leader he would not be able to change it, even if he wanted to. But of course, he did not want to. It was one thing to check how women felt about their bondage, but quite another to think of releasing them from it. And one only had to look at 523 to know she belonged naked and in chains.

“The thing is,” said Mitch, “I am needing a new assistant or two, since 241 and 289 went to the farming outpost. “I wondered if you might be interested in applying?”

“You can interview me now, Sir, if you want,” said 523, grinning mischievously. “There is some soft grass just over here.”

* * *

Sex-starved for ten days, Rachel had to concentrate very hard not to scream as Elaine ate her pussy. As it was she lay back, hands awkwardly twisted to the side so that her handcuffs did not dig into her back, knees up and wide, fetter chain pulled tight and constantly rattling as her legs kicked and jerked in her ecstasy. Orgasms came, wave on wave, in response to the brunette’s surprisingly expert licking. At last she could hold back no longer and gave a long, loud “Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhh!”

“Shush! Silly!” exclaimed Number 378, sitting up, her tether rattling. “You’ll get us caught.” The brunette’s heart pounded, in part with arousal, but mostly with adrenaline at the thought of being discovered in this highly illicit activity. There was no way, if Chris or George happened along, that this could be passed off as an innocent brush of flesh on flesh. This was full-blown, highly disrespectful, indeed completely wanton interference with parts of Rachel that as far as the law was concerned were entirely out-of-bounds to women.

“Sorry,” smiled the blonde, easing her position, luxuriating in the feelings that washed over her flesh. Then, “Thank you, that was lovely. Mmm!”

“Look at you,” said Elaine, her eyes moving over the petite blonde’s toned body, naked except for the neat steel rings about her neck and limbs and the steel chains attached to them.

“What?” Rachel smiled.

“You look so beautiful and natural, lying there. All womanly. What was that?”

Elaine turned round, looking across the stream, which flowed past as it always did, with a gentle gurgling.

“What was what?” said Rachel, struggling to a kneeling position.

“I could have sworn I heard something, and saw a movement out of the corner of my eye. On the other bank. Come on.”

“Take care,” said Number 391, following Elaine’s lead and rising to her feet.

Standing side by side, the women looked across the water. “Hello?” called Rachel, tentatively. “Is anyone there?”

* * *

It was, thought Jenny, a surprising interview: she had hoped, and, given that everyone understood the role of a leader’s assistant, expected, that Mitch would just take her. But he did not. He lay down beside her on the grass and began, oh so gently, to caress her body, from her hair to her toes, here and there, not leaving out her breasts and intimate feminine regions, but not giving those places any special attention either.

“You are very beautiful, 523,” Mitch said, after a while.

“Thank you, Sir,” replied the girl, her flesh by now all goosebumps. She pulled a little at her cuffs, which the man had made no move to unlock, and spread her thighs a little wider, trying to encourage his thoughts downwards,

“Tell me,” the leader went on, still stroking, “do you ever think of the future? How your life will be?”

This was not really a question to which Jenny had given much consideration: why should she? A Settlement girl’s life was lived very much in the present. She tried to think of an answer, distracted, for the moment, by the man’s strong fingers addressing (but not quite parting) her nether lips.

“Ah….I….ah….don’t know what you mean, Sir,” she managed to reply. “I will be …oohh….here, in this community. What else is there? I’d like to have children, of course, if I can.”

“Of course,” replied Mitch. The younger generation were all raised with the understanding that if they could manage to conceive, their community needed their offspring. “That’s good,” the leader continued, still stroking. “But is there not more: an intelligent young woman like you? Do you not want to learn about the world? Maybe even travel beyond the community here?”

This was, to the girl, an astonishing question. A Settlement girl’s reality certainly did not include the idea of ever leaving the community. She pulled again at her cuffs, wondering what to say. “I…er…” she stumbled. “I can’t leave, Sir. Women are not permitted to leave.”

“Doesn’t stop you wanting to,” the leader went on – his hand was now on Jenny’s breast again, gently massaging the soft flesh. “Boys like to go exploring. Why not girls?”

“Ah,” gasped the naked girl, responding to the man’s touching. What was this? An interrogation, to be sure. “Boys don’t have to be chained, Sir. Girls do….ahhh…oh…”

“Well of course, yes,” said the leader, now brushing his fingers against Jenny’s tether, where it lay on her stomach – but also against the bare flesh beneath the metal links. “Yes, we do keep you chained. But perhaps you think that an intelligent young woman like you will be able to get out of her chains, when she really wants. Maybe even get dressed, like a boy?”

“Why would I want to do that Sir?” Jenny was genuinely appalled. Then she relaxed: “I don’t know any girls that think that, Sir. We all know we can’t get out of our chains. They wouldn’t be much use if we could, would they, Sir?”

This answer brought its own reward, in that Mitch’s strong hand now enveloped Jenny’s muff completely and gave a firm, pleasing pressure, which, after the initial shock, she eagerly returned, raising her hips to meet the man’s hand. He did nothing, just letting her push herself against him, and meanwhile looking up and down her body. He thought again of Abby, and what she would have thought of him. Secure in his love, particularly after they had come to this place, she had never objected to him enjoying other women, particularly younger ones: she had regarded it as his right, and indeed his duty to educate such girls in the ways of their new mode of living, and she had encouraged such girls to offer themselves to him.

He looked at Jenny’s face, her eyes bright, her lips moist and parted, her breath panting. Her bright steel collar neatly framing her face. Now, of course, Abby was gone, but there was a seemingly unending supply of younger girls for him to carry on educating, and all of them conveniently naked and imprisoned on the Settlement’s girl-rails. Leaving his hand where it was, Mitch allowed his ring finger to probe inside Jenny’s hole. She wriggled, and pulled again at her handcuffs.

“Please, Sir?” she pleaded.

“All in good time.” He removed his hands entirely, leaving her lying there, helplessly frustrated. “So, you’re interested in being my assistant?”

“Yes, Sir.” Jenny pulled herself up onto her elbows. “It would be interesting, Sir.”

“You have to do what I say.”

“Of course, Sir. Anything. Please fuck me, Sir. I’m begging you!”

* * *

If there was anything untoward on the other side of the stream, it was not apparent. The leaves and long grasses swayed somewhat, but that was probably just the breeze; there were sounds of birdsong and an occasional flutter, but that was all. Nothing human. Except a vague feeling which both Elaine and Rachel experienced, but neither could really quantify.

“Hello?” called Rachel again, with again, no answer.

Elaine looked down at the flowing stream before them. It was not deep. It would be easy enough to wade across and explore, and in times past she would not have hesitated to do so: from curiosity, as much as from a sense of adventure. Now, however, the stream might as well have been an ocean: the brunette could not cross it, for her tether held her firmly on The Settlement side of the water, completely precluding more detailed investigation of the further bank.

“Come on, Rache,” she said. “Let’s wander up and down a bit. We might get a better view.”

Fetters rattling (despite their efforts to be as quiet as possible) the women wandered, dragging their neck chains first to the very end of the girl-rail, where it was bolted to the last of its massive concrete anchor blocks, and then back the other way to where the girl-rail started to curve away from the stream, back towards the community’s cultivated fields. But there was nothing different to see – just the other side of the stream, with its dense vegetation and occasional bird life.

“Fire and water,” the naked brunette cursed, giving a frustrated tug at the cuffs, which continued to pinion her wrists behind her back. “Damn our chains. What is a girl to do?”

The naked blonde gave her friend a wan look: “A girl,” she said, “is supposed to stay tethered to the girl-rails, just as her community intends. You’re the one who claims to understand all that, not me.”

“Ha!” laughed Elaine. “Touché. I asked for that. OK, we’ll be good girls and keep our chains on for now, but there must be something more we can do to investigate. Can we not get a long stick or something, and have a poke about across the stream?”

Rachel pondered the notion of trying to manipulate what would have to be a pretty substantial branch if it was going to reach far enough to part the undergrowth beyond the little brook. She may have grown used to negotiating many of life’s little chores with her hands secured behind her, she was pretty sure that what Elaine proposed was not something that those who had designed the women’s security arrangements had intended to be possible. “Maybe I could try when I have my hands free,” she said. “For now best just tell George. And in any case, I need to do something for you don’t I? Return the favour you just did for me?”

“It’s OK,” said Elaine. “The moment’s passed. And I’m not sure there is anything to tell, is there?” said Elaine. “We haven’t actually seen anything, after all.”

* * *

By early afternoon, Claire, Emily and Carine were getting quite hungry. Whilst a female locked in a Settlement tube gag could be fed, her options for feeding herself, at least while her hands remained shackled, were essentially zero, for she could neither lap up liquids nor grasp pieces of ‘handcuff food’ with her teeth. She was thus entirely dependent on someone else for sustenance – either a man to unlock her gag, or someone with free hands to spoon yogurt down her tube.

“Nnngh ngh ngh ngh nggh ngghs ngghh?” mumbled Carine to Number 53, Joanna, with whom they had hooked up in a quiet corner of the Women’s Quarters. But Joanna had had her hands freed that morning, before her early shift at the bakery, and now she was off duty they were once again locked behind her back, where they would stay until the next day, so in this matter she could offer nothing except a sympathetic ear, and sound advice: “You’ll have to go back and find Dave or Alan,” she said. “I’ll come with you.”

The four nude females were no sooner past the doorman with his chain checks than they met Number 523 coming the other way, a big smile on her face. She was, of course, handcuffed too – she was outside, unsupervised – and she wasted no time in telling them that she had been appointed the leader’s assistant, and was on the way to get her stuff from her sleeping cage and move it into the alternative accommodation in the admin building. The fact that she got no coherent response at all from the three gagged girls, and only a brief “congratulations” from Joanna did not seem to dampen her enthusiasm.

Alan’s apartment was nearest to the Women’s Quarters, so they went there first, threading their tethers around the network of girl-rails leading to the relevant street. But when they got there, the men were nowhere to be found.

“Nnnnnnnnnnnhah!” cursed Emily, who was particularly fed up of her enforced incoherence and hunger. She twisted her head, bit into the steel tube between her teeth and rattled her hands in the cuffs of her waist belt, all, of course, to no avail whatsoever.

Carine, however, had noticed something, lying on the kitchen counter: “Nnnghh tnght?” she attempted, meaning ‘what’s that?’

Four steel tethers and four sets of fetters jangled as the women made their way over to look. That was quite obviously a key – not a handcuff key, and not a cage or padlock key either, but a small key of the type that opened the locks on the women’s gags. Just lying there. Easily within a woman’s reach.

“Oh mother earth!” cried Joanna, realizing what it was. “How careless. Throw it away, quickly!” The established procedure in The Settlement, should a woman ever come across a key or any other item that might help her remove or lessen the restraint of any of her bonds, was to throw it as far beyond the reach of the girl-rail system as possible, and then report the incident to the nearest man.

Joanna’s access to the key was however blocked– there was only one girl-rail leading past that counter, and she was last in the line of women shackled to it. In seconds, Carine had managed to grab the key in her cuffed hand, and Emily had knelt at her feet, allowing the redhead to fumble with the key in the lock of the gag: “Aaah! Thanks, Carine,” cried Number 40 as the tube was released from her mouth.

“Are you crazy?” interjected Joanna, pulling agitatedly at her wrist bonds. “What if you’re caught? Can you imagine what would happen?”

She was right, of course. The community rules were absolutely clear that female bondage could only be removed by a man, or at a man’s direct order and under his supervision. Of course this was a largely superfluous rule, since the occasions on which a female found it possible to remove her own or another girl’s bonds were essentially nil, but still, the rule existed, and it was clear that any woman breaking it would be subject to severe punishment. Total security for its females was, after all, the founding principle of the entire community.

Emily, however, was having none of it. Several hours in a gag were quite enough for her: “Well keep watch then, silly. It’s not as if we are escaping from our chains. We just need a snack, and then the gags go back.” She took the key in her hand, and struggled to get Carine’s gag unlocked – it was harder to do this in a wrist belt than it had been for the redhead in her handcuffs.

“Count me out of it!” said Joanna, making for the door. “I was never here.”

* * *

Rachel found herself glad to see George, even though he was enthusiastically fucking Ruth when she got to the accommodation block. But Number 391 did not react as she had that other time, some weeks ago. Instead she just knelt patiently by, watching, rather enjoying the sexy spectacle, until Ruth had had her fill and George, his cock still proud, was ready to greet his favourite blonde.

* * *

“Buggeration. Sorry, Carine, I just can’t do it!” That was the problem with a waist belt – well, the problem if you were the one locked into it, anyway – you could not use both hands together. And even with Claire helping, it was no good. They could not get the key in the lock of Carine’s gag. Their belt cuffs just did not permit that kind of dexterity.

“Nnngh!” grunted Carine, frustratedly, but she stood up, and taking the key, soon had Claire free of her mouth restraint. But all the girls’ hands remained shackled, and the key would do nothing about that. They tried once more, but it did nothing except waste time. So it was just like the old days – Carine gagged, the other girls not.

They set about trying to find some food they could eat with their wrists still chained.

* * *

One thing that Mitch’s dead wife, Abby, had clearly understood, and which had translated itself subtly but irrefutably into Settlement culture, was the operation of female solidarity. Abby had known well that girls experiencing the obvious constraints of a life in bondage would stick together and help each other as much as they could – and that was what made it possible for women to live so much of their lives with their hands chained, and all of their lives tethered to girl-rails. But she had also understood that in the end, any woman, understanding that she herself was subject strict security regulations, enforced with expertly designed bondage, would not be content to see another girl succeed in somehow defeating that bondage. She would, in the end, always report such infringements to the authorities – which meant, of course, to men. It was this that preyed on Joanna’s psyche as she made off down the street between the lines of men’s apartments. It was not really even conscious for her. She had lived in this community, a naked, shackled prisoner, for ten years. She had learned to be happy here, despite everything. She had learned to accept her bondage. She had begun to believe that this was the way, the only way, for women to live. The more she thought of Carine and Emily’s action, the more it felt not just like something that could get them, and her, into trouble, but something that was deeply insulting to her and to all women, a denial of their basic feminine need and duty to live naked and helplessly locked into whatever bonds men elected to provide for their security.

So when she met Alan and Dave coming the other way down the street, she did not hesitate a single instant before blurting out to him what was happening in Alan’s apartment.

Dave was insulted too: he stood, staring at the three naked females, cowering on the floor before him, their heads down, their knees spread pitifully wide apart in a gesture of submission. He glanced first to Emily, then to Claire, then to the still-gagged Carine. Joanna stood by to the side, fidgeting anxiously with her handcuffs. But it was the dark, wavy-haired, slightly curvy Claire that mostly drew the man’s attention.

Claire and Dave had arrived at The Settlement together, some years ago now. Before then, in the ruins of the old world, she had been his grad student in the engineering school in a nearby town, and then his girlfriend. She had been his trusted partner, he remembered, even though she had been somewhat younger and dependent on his supervision in her work. And since coming to The Settlement, she had become his trusted partner again, adapting, just as he had, to this new society where mutual respect meant that men took responsibility for safety and security, and women lived nude and chained, but free to be women.

Or at least he thought she had adapted. Of course, she was a spirited woman, always ready with an opinion, but nothing she had said or done in recent years had suggested that she did not fully accept her lot as a prisoner of the girl-rails, or the right of men to keep her and all the other girls that way. And over the years she’d had her hands shackled for long periods at once, and been gagged many times before, and though she may not have liked it, she had certainly never openly rebelled that he could remember.

Dave looked at Emily and Carine in turn. They were, he knew, a bit different. Both had made at least some attempt, in the past, to escape from their Settlement bondage, and whilst mostly they lived in contentment, he would be by no means surprised if they did so again. Of course, that applied to lots of women here, and it was why female security had to be so robust: so that all females understood that whatever they tried, however long they waited, they could never escape from the community which cared for them or defeat the restraints with which it chose to honour them.

The question was, of course, what to do now? Dave would have preferred just to deal with this: after all, Claire and Emily were his pledged women, to be disciplined as he saw fit at any time. But there was more to it than that: removing a bond was a serious offence, not just against Dave but against all The Settlement. And Number 53, Joanna, had witnessed it. So it would not stay secret: nothing ever did in the women’s quarters. And there was Carine: she was a counsellor, meant to advise women experiencing difficulties with community life. She could hardly carry on doing that after being caught helping a girl to get free of a gag that a man had required her to wear. And then again, Alan was hardly innocent, either. He had left the gag key stupidly within reach of the girl-rails. He had obviously failed in his duty of care for Settlement women.

No, this could not be kept quiet. There would have to be an inquiry.

* * *

The farming outpost girls passed a merry evening after their interactions with Chris and George, and they slept well, waking only when their cage clicked open and their wrists fell apart from their overnight confinement. Their breakfast was also merry, and they set off to their work in good spirits. There was nothing like a few orgasms to calm a girl down.

Even Number 391 Rachel set out to her area of the fields with a light heart. She felt sated and fulfilled from yesterday’s sex, George having saved enough of his manly energy to keep her coming for minutes on end, notwithstanding the treatment she had received from Elaine before he ever got to her. The sun was shining, there was a gentle, cooling breeze, she had her farming work to do and she wanted to do it, for the good of the whole community. The fact that she was, as always, nude, fettered and tethered to the girl-rails, for once, did not even enter into her thoughts.

She worked steadily for some hours, until the sun was approaching its highest, when a jangle of women’s bonds heralded the arrival of Madeleine. “Hi, Rache,” smiled the redhead. “Are you done? Can I come with you down to the stream again?”

The blonde looked the other girl up and down, noting that her arms disappeared behind her back. “You’ve re-chained your wrists, haven’t you?” she asked.

Madeleine looked slightly sheepish, and pulled her shackled hands to her hip, showing Rachel her fastened cuffs. “I really don’t feel right with them dangling loose,” she said. “It feels unfeminine, somehow, unless I’m working.”

“I do know what you mean,” responded Rachel, and she found that the statement was true. It was part of the idiom of The Settlement, and it wormed its way gradually into the female psyche: women’s hands were meant to be locked away, behind women’s backs, or some other safe place, anyway. That was the proper way for a woman to be, whenever she was not under close male supervision.

Without thinking any further about it, Rachel clicked her electronic wrist bonds together, confining her own arms in the appropriate, feminine way. “Come on,” she said.

End of part 3

Copyright© 2013 by Kirsten Graham. All rights reserved.