Author's note: I am writing science-fiction stories with a bondage slant. If you want to read BDSM sex and torture scenes linked by a little bit of story line, then I am not the author for you. In particular, this story starts slowly. Be patient. By the end every female in the story will be in restraints.
The Planet Ericpotsdam, Prelude: A Visit to Potsdam Village on Earth
These are the stories of the planet Ericpotsdam, of the fascinating cultures that developed there, and about some of the people who lived in those cultures.
This prelude to the stories concerns the village which supplied most of the people who first colonized the planet. Who was Eric Potsdam? What was unusual about the village that he founded? How were the women treated there? What was special about the Foundation Day parade held each year on the anniversary of the founding?
* * *
We got an email from my wife's college roommate Kristine last year. She was moving with her new husband Mick Smith to Potsdam Village, Iowa. My wife Jane and I weren't too sure how we should react to this.
I looked up the village website. The official slogans are "Life in 1900 as It Should Have Been", and "The Town Where People are Important". Apparently the place functions - or it is supposed to function - without all of the modern automation of our present-day life. But one of the widely-read tabloid databases has called it "The City of the Bondage Phreaks", which doesn't sound much like life as it was lived then. Just what has Kristine gotten mixed up in, anyway?
Jane asked Kristine if we could visit. She replied: sure, but we should wait until she got settled in. That seemed to me to be a good idea in any case, so we decided to wait a year. Kristine's honeymoon with the place would be over by then, and we could rescue her if she needed rescuing. I scheduled our visit for the weekend of June 16-18, to be there during the village's annual Founders Day big weekend event.
Approaching the town gave me the feeling that my car had become a time machine. The end of the ordinary highway-travel electronic control system is several kilometers outside Potsdam Village. My car stopped automatically and switched off its air-cushion fans on a patch of genuine hard asphalt pavement in front of a large painted warning sign proclaiming "Manual Vehicle Control Start. Speed Limit 50. Drive Carefully." There was no matching display on the dashboard of the car. So I took my steering wheel out of the trunk and clipped it to the dashboard. I hadn't done that in several years. The dashboard display soon signaled "battery power only", so there were no vehicle-power induction coils past that point. The car hadn't used battery power for a journey of more than a few hundred meters, on wheels instead of air cushion, in the last several years either. Fortunately the instrument display showed that the battery was still in good enough condition to run several dozen kilometers without recharging.
The hard pavement was well-maintained and smooth. There wasn't as much jouncing as I would have expected while running on wheels. I suppose that hard pavement is needed in Potsdam Village because all of the vehicles run on wheels. If they covered their roads with crabgrass, like a normal interstate made for air-cushion vehicles, then the roads would probably soon be full of ruts.
"Speed Limit 50" felt very slow after the 300-kph cruising speed on the automated interstate. However, there were three good reasons for it. The first was my own inexperience in controlling my car manually. The second was the other traffic on the approach road. Would you believe horse-drawn wagons? A modern high-speed car could not have blended in. And the third reason was the amount of time that I spent just looking around and not paying attention to the road. I nearly put my car in the roadside ditch several times.
There were farmers out working in their fields instead of supervising automatic machinery from control towers or helicopters. The farm machinery was either horse-drawn, or tractor-drawn with farmers actually riding on the tractors. There weren't any control towers, just farmhouses and outbuildings that all seemed to be assembled from wood and brick and not molded from modern synthetics. There were more children than I would have expected. And there were hints of something that would not have been normal in 1900. One of the farmhouse yards had a set of neck-and-wrist stocks mounted on a pole, low enough that a prisoner would be confined kneeling. And at another house, several children seemed to be playing a game that involved tying up the girls.
Eventually we reached the actual village of Potsdam Village. Unlike a modern city, there are no tall apartment buildings. There must be over a dozen paved streets north-south and a dozen more east-west, dividing the town into blocks. Most of the residences are individual buildings, one or two stories tall. The heart of downtown includes an actual physical shopping district, where people can go to buy things in person instead of using the Internet.
I think that there is supposed to be a way to get spoken instructions from our car's guidance system to find a place that is off the automated roads. However, I have never used it. I tried asking the car's electronic brain about switching that mode on, but the car was having difficulties in navigating. With all of the satellites that we have up there these days, it must be hard to separate the navigation-satellite signals from all of the others and find a location just from satellite signals alone. The car's brain was probably confused by the lack of local inputs.
I didn't think that we could contact Kristine. I knew that Potsdam Village is one of the few places on Earth where people don't routinely carry personal communicators. I finally just ordered "Windows down", and I stopped and looked for somebody local who might know how to find Kristine's house. There was plenty of pedestrian traffic. Somebody certainly would come along who would be able to help me.
I hadn't been stopped for more than a few moments before a woman walked up to the car and said "Sir, you look out of place here. Can I help you?" Despite the offer of help, the tone of voice wasn't very friendly.
She appeared to be filthy rich. She was wearing a light tan sleeveless dress that came down to mid-thigh. The fabric was woven from thick yarns and thin yarns, randomly blended together, and some of the yarns had nubby lumps. That kind of non-uniformity would be impossible to achieve on a conventional high speed mass-production loom. I couldn't identify the fiber; it didn't seem to be polyester, or synthelene, or anything else ordinary. The fabric would probably be quite expensive. She was also wearing heavy gold-colored jewelry, an engraved collar at her neck and cuffs on her wrists, both about 4 centimeters wide, also likely quite expensive. She addressed me as "sir", which would not be expected from a filthy-rich woman, but there was something in her attitude that reminded me of a policeman saying "Sir, please step out of the car."
I said "I'm trying to find a friend's house. Kristine and Mick Smith, 411 Maple Street. There don't seem to be any street signs."
She replied "No sir, there aren't. We don't want to be a tourist trap. So we memorize our own street grid, and we post no signs that would only help strangers. You can't stay here and just watch the people; we aren't on exhibit.
"I suppose that if you have a name and address, you may be legit, so I will tell you: this is Washington Street. The north-south streets are named after 19th-century presidents of the USA, so 411 Maple street will be between Madison and Monroe. You drive on down Washington for" - she paused and counted on her fingers - "five blocks, and turn right. The store on that corner has a maple tree planted alongside of the building, which will help you find Maple Street if you know what a maple looks like. The first cross street will be Adams, then Jefferson, then Madison, and 411 will be at about the middle of the next block on the right."
I said "Thank you" and drove slowly onward. I ordered the car to keep the windows down. The weather was very pleasant, and I didn't have to worry about hurricane-force winds that would blow in the windows at full highway speeds.
Most of the vehicle traffic in the town was either horse-drawn, or pulled by small tractors. Some of the tractors seemed to be powered by steam engines. There were also a few self-propelled vehicles; I couldn't tell what kind of power they had, but they were too quiet for internal combustion, if the historical movies that I have seen are accurate. Perhaps they were battery-electric using old-fashioned batteries, or perhaps the villagers were doing a little cheating about powering their vehicles with vintage-1900 technology. Jane asked our car's computer about "silent engines", and the reply mentioned the Stirling engine as another possibility.
There were even more pedestrians than there were vehicles. People in Potsdam Village apparently walk a lot. I drove extra-slowly, so that I could rubberneck and look the people over. Many of the women were really worth looking at. The lifestyle in Potsdam Village apparently requires enough physical labor that the women stay in shape.
Most of the women's garments were reasonably conservative by the standards that I am used to. But we were visiting on a warm summer day, and I am certain that most of their clothing would not have been considered decent back in 1900. Fabric made from the nubbly thick-and-thin yarns was relatively common, and it could be either woven or knitted. Apparently the yarns and the fabrics are made in the town. I still couldn't tell what kind of fiber was used.
Many of the women wore metal collars apparently made from stainless steel, some with gold trim. Most of the collars were made from round stock, but I also noticed some flat ones, and one or two of those were more than five centimeters wide.
Quite a few of the women also wore metal cuffs on wrists and/or ankles. Some of those cuffs were chained together in different ways. I couldn't study exactly how they were chained; I was too busy keeping my car on the road.
I came closest to losing control just before the turn onto Maple Street. On the sidewalk, a man was taking two girls for a walk on leashes. The women wore collars, and high-heeled shoes, and nothing else. These women kept their hands at their sides, making no attempts to cover their nudity. On the street, another man was riding a small cart and being pulled by two women who were trotting (That's the only word for it) side-by-side, in step with each other. These women wore sheaths that held their forearms hand-to-elbow across their backs, and sports bras, and belts with dangling triangles of fabric in front that just covered the women's crotches, and sturdy shoes, and leather harness straps that attached them to the cart that they were pulling. For once, I could recognize a fiber; the arm sheaths and the sports bras were made from synthelene. The women had been working hard enough to become sweat-soaked. Synthelene has the same index of refraction as water, so undyed wet synthelene is completely transparent. The arm sheaths and the sports bras were almost invisible.
Our car seemed to be the only ground-effects vehicle in the town. The people were equally interested in looking back at us. Some of the looks were just curious, but others seemed to be disapproving. I suppose that the disapproving looks came from people who thought I was a tourist who had come to observe their strange behavior. Nobody gave a second glance at the nude women on the sidewalk or the nearly-nude women trotting in the street. The only person who was impressed enough to gasp at the nudity was my wife Jane, sitting by my side. Apparently underdressed women are part of the normal background of life in Potsdam Village.
I was less interested in rubbernecking at the men of the village. My wife mentioned later that they were also in good shape physically, and that their usual dress was knit shirts and blue jeans, outfits which would attract no attention on any ordinary street corner today. Blue jeans have been around since well before 1900. That style of pants has been remarkably persistent over the centuries.
Jane computer-searched for "maple tree" and activated the car's visual-recognition system. When we reached the appropriate corner, the windshield heads-up display marked the tree, and I turned the car right. I quickly noticed that houses in Potsdam village don't have numbers marked. However, after three-and-a-half blocks, a nice two-story white wood-frame house came into view on the right side of the street with a flag draped over the front porch railing. The flag was white, lettered "411 Maple". Kristine was standing on the porch and waving hello. I later learned that she had made the flag for the occasion of our visit, by writing on an old pillowcase.
Kristine pointed to a patch of gravel in front of the house and shouted "Park it there. Don't use your fans; you would create a horrible dust cloud." It took me about three tries to wiggle in properly using nothing but the wheels. Old-time drivers must have worked hard to develop their car-maneuvering skills. I had always left that kind of thing to the car's computer.
Kristine is medium-tall and has black hair, blue eyes, and a nice body. She wore a sleeveless grey minidress. I think that she is extremely attractive, but then except for the clothing that description would fit my wife Jane also. Jane was dressed much more in current style, in pale blue which matches her eyes, with tight knit pants reaching just past her knees and a sleeveless bare-midriff blouse held tight to her torso by elastic just below the breasts.
Kristine and Jane hugged hello on the front porch, as you might expect of old college roommates. When they backed away from each other, Jane stared at the collar on Kristine's neck long enough for Kristine to notice. The collar was a polished round stainless steel rod, about 10 millimeters in diameter, fitting almost snugly around the base of Kristine's neck. There was no obvious hinge or other way to get it off.
Kristine responded by staring back at Jane's left hand and saying "Ooo. Oh. Eeek. Panic. Oh my goodness, you are ringed!" And of course Jane was wearing her engagement and wedding set on the usual finger.
Jane asked "Uhnm, uh how long have you been wearing that collar?" I could tell that she really wanted to ask "How would you get it off?", but that seemed to be a rude question. She nervously brought her hands together and slid her rings down as far as her fingernail, then back again. She seemed to need reassurance that she could take them off if she wanted to.
Kristine gripped her collar in her hands on either side of her neck. She tugged, and the collar split into two halves. She said "Magnetic clips. Some people prefer a collar that is physically locked on. Mine stays on because Mick likes to have it there. I noticed that you didn't quite remove your rings all the way from your finger. I presume that they stay on because Robert likes to have them there also." She pushed the two halves back together without ever quite removing the collar from her neck. She never did say how long she had been wearing it.
Kristine walked over to the door from the front porch into the house and said "Honey?"
Looking over her shoulder, I saw a dark-haired man wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans and sitting on a couch. He nodded. She led us in and introduced the man as Mick, her husband. When he stood up I noted that he was a bit shorter than I am, but very solidly built. I wouldn't want to try a wrestling match against him.
Kristine suggested lunch. Jane and I were certainly hungry enough. Kristine went over to an interior doorway, looked back at her husband, waited for him to nod, and went through that doorway into the kitchen. A few minutes later she poked her head through, said "Honey?" and waited for another nod before coming through with a tray full of sandwich fixings. I began to realize that she was a closely confined prisoner of her husband even though there were no locks or chains on her. She needed his permission before going through any doors.
We became better acquainted over lunch. Mick was a full-range metalsmith, casting and forging things from gold, brass, iron, and other metals. He said that he had made everything "from earrings to Franklin stoves". Larger forgings can require a great deal of work with an old-fashioned hammer, which is how he developed his sensational arm muscles. Kristine was a designer and engraver; she made the patterns for Mick's more decorative castings, and she decorated some plainer pieces with flowers or other pretty details. The resulting handmade tableware, jewelry, and pictures had high price tags outside Potsdam Village.
Kristine's sleeveless grey minidress was made from the fabric that had caught my eye when I saw other women in Potsdam Village wearing it. I asked her what the heck it was. She was surprised at my puzzlement, and answered "Linen. It's a natural fiber, made from a plant called flax. We grow the flax and do the complete conversion to clothing right here in the village. My neighbor Lucy Jacobs spins linen thread, which is as strong as most synthetics."
Kristine and Mick both worked at home, in shops in the yard behind the living quarters of their property. After lunch, Mick told Kristine "To your workshop". This order apparently let her pass through several of the invisible doors that confined her. She invited us to watch her decorate some small medallions with personal monograms, and we carried our after-lunch Cokes out to her workshop. Mick went out to join a couple of apprentices who were working on a batch of cast aluminum cooking pans in his own shop.
Kristine's medallions were about the size of a coin but oval, gold-colored, with slots near both ends. I asked what they were for, and she answered "Doublet rings. It's a nifty type of jewelry that I invented and that we make. Two finger rings are made with T-pins sticking up. You put the pins through the slots on one of these medallions, twist the rings 90 degrees so they line up with your fingers and the medallion can't slip off, and wear them usually on ring finger and pinky. I have more room to do a prettier engraving on the connector medallion than I would have on a single-finger ring."
Before she got started, a buzzer began to sound: bzt bzt bzt buzz buzz buzz bzt bzt bzt. She said "Oh dear. That is the Morse code for 'Mayday', coming from Susan Nicholson. She is one of our across-the-back-fence neighbors. I'll have to find out what is wrong."
Jane asked "Can we come along?"
Kristine looked at me. I realized that she was automatically asking me for permission, since I was a man and therefore in charge. I seized the moment and said "Yes, come along, Jane dear", and I followed Kristine to a gate in her back fence. Jane stuck her tongue out at me when Kristine was looking in the other direction, but she did come along.
The 'Morse code Mayday' must have unlocked the back gate for Kristine, because she did not need her husband's permission to lead us through it. We found ourselves in a garden with long rows of low green plants. There was a small shed in the center. A metal pole poked up out of the roof of that shed. A long horizontal metal crossbar at the top of the pole reached across the entire garden at a height of about two meters, forming a T with the metal pole. A leather case hung from one end of the crossbar, which was near the gate as we entered.
Kristine looked up at the sky in the west, said "Oh-oh!", reached into the leather case, and pulled a small bag out. Then she went toward the central shed, carefully avoiding stepping on any of the low green plants. Jane and I followed, equally carefully.
Susan Nicholson came toward us from the shed. Like so many of the women in Potsdam Village Susan had a nice well-displayed figure. She had brown eyes, dark hair, and tan skin, but also Caucasian features; either she was a sun worshiper, or she had ancestors from someplace like Pakistan. There was no hint of tan lines, but she would have tanned evenly in any case owing to her lack of clothing. The only cloth on her body was a tan triangle dangling from a string around her hips and covering her crotch in front. She also wore metal wrist cuffs linked in front by about 25 centimeters of chain, ankle cuffs with a half-meter chain, and a flat black metal collar with gold trim.
She kept a firm grip on the front of her collar with both hands. The back of her collar was connected to the crossbar of the T pole by a taut 2-meter chain. By pulling on that chain as she came toward us, Susan made the crossbar begin to spin around, pivoting on its support pole. The chain was attached to a connecting link which began to slide along the crossbar. At the same time, the leather case on the other end of the crossbar pivoted away from her location and stayed out of her reach. I began to suspect that the leather case might contain some keys.
I realized then what an ingenious arrangement had been used to confine Susan. The crossbar and her collar-attaching chain were long enough to allow her to reach any part of the garden and kneel down to tend to the plants. There was no risk of a chain dragging through the plants and damaging them. The other end of the crossbar acted as a counterweight to keep the pivot in balance.
There was more than just keys in the leather case. Kristine pulled a chain from the small bag that she had taken from that case. She wrapped it and locked it around Susan's waist and Susan's wrist connecting chain, thereby pinning that connecting chain to Susan's midriff. Only then did she unlock Susan's collar from the T-bar chain.
Jane looked up at the grey clouds spreading rapidly in the western sky and told Kristine "I second your oh-oh." I looked up and noticed a flash of lightning. We all hurried back to Kristine's shop as fast as Susan's hobble would let us move.
As the rain began to pour down onto the roof of the workshop, Jane and I settled onto an old couch at one end of the room and sipped our Cokes. Kristine pulled up a bar stool that she probably used at her workbench when she was doing engraving. Susan knelt down on a cushion on the floor in front of us. She slid her wrist-link chain under her waist chain until one hand was pinned to her belly; then she had enough reach distance with her other hand to accept a Coke from Kristine and drink it.
I had a zillion questions that I wanted to ask both of the local women, but I was afraid that I would sound like a slobbering sex fiend in front of my wife if I wasn't careful. Fortunately Jane was equally curious. Because she was a woman, she was able to ask many of the same questions with no risk of slobbering. I just stared at the wall and listened to the women talk, with only quick glances at them. I would have been in trouble with Jane if I had openly looked at the women, because I couldn't have helped staring at Susan's very attractive naked pair.
Jane started a conversational exchange with Susan by asking "Were you born and brought up here?"
"Oh, no, I was born in a small town not too far from Louisville, Kentucky. It is so completely horse country that my parents enrolled me in riding lessons when I was only five years old."
"And your husband?"
"He is also from small-town Kentucky. I met him in a stable. He is a farrier; he shoes horses and tends to their hooves."
"I gather that he does not work at home, like you or Mick or Kristine."
"Oh no, of course not. He goes to the horses; they usually don't come to him. He has a wagon with his tools that he drives from farm to farm and stable to stable."
"Leaving you behind, chained in the garden."
Susan nodded. "Or wherever. There is a twelve-meter length of chain anchored in a central point of our house. He puts me on that when it is time for cooking and cleaning."
"So you have to stay on your own property full-time, 24/7?"
"Most of the time. Sometimes he lets Mick or Kristine take me shopping, and sometimes he takes me shopping, or visiting friends, or whatever. In those cases I'm either chained, like now, or leashed, or both. He always knows where I am, or at least who I am with."
"Uhmn." I could tell that Jane was wondering how anyone could enjoy a lifestyle that involved being closely chained 24/7. She asked "How long have you been here, and what brought you?"
"We found out about Potsdam Village from an old article in Lifestyles magazine. I was browsing through some stuff on my reader pad, stuff that I had never gotten around to reading before. I'm sure your pad is like mine used to be, recording more stuff every day than either of us could ever keep up with reading. One nice thing about this town is that we don't use reader pads. We don't drown in mostly-worthless input."
"I gather you liked what you saw."
"We checked it out, and found that this is the land of our dreams. My husband Robby Lee always fantasized about living in the nineteenth century, when horses were working animals and not toys or pets and where his work would be really important. Ever since I was a little girl I dreamed about being tied up or chained up and protected by a big strong man. Now we both have what we want. I am happier here than ever before, anywhere else."
"That attitude seems to be infectious. Kristine does seem to be happy. I can't remember her ever wanting to be tied up when we roomed together in college, but I have noticed that now she won't go through a door without her husband's permission."
Jane then shifted her attention to Kristine and asked, "Do you suppose Mick will be putting you on a chain someday? Or installing locks on all the doors of your house?"
Kristine grinned and stared at nothing for a moment. I could tell that she was imagining life locked up for real. But then she continued "It would hardly be practical. I am the safety person for a couple of my neighbors. I have to be able to help them when things go wrong. If I had needed to wait for Mick to unlock the back gate, we would all have been soaked before we could get back in this shop." Another roll of thunder punctuated this comment.
Jane asked "How many neighbors are you the safety person for?"
"Just two. Susan, of course. And Lucy Jacobs, in 413 Maple. Her husband keeps her naked in chains in a large cage in their basement. She rarely gets to see or talk to anybody but him. Her only open communication with the outside world is the buzzer that can call me for help. I have the keys needed to release her. Besides that, I am registered with the cops and the fire department as her safety person. If her husband is hurt or killed, or if the neighborhood is burning down, they will come to me to help in dealing with the problem. But otherwise I get to see her only about twice a year."
Jane winced. I am sure that she would not like being isolated from the world like that. Then she asked "You have more neighbors than that, don't you?"
"Sure. There's Marilyn Dickinson, across the other end of the back fence from Susan. Marilyn has six children of her own, and she babysits for half the neighborhood, and I think that she is pregnant again. And Betty Ernzberger, in 409 Maple. Her husband owns the lumber mill, and he is the official boss there. But everybody knows that she really runs that place."
"So you have examples of total dependence, and high independence, and two more neighbors who aren't at the extremes. You are in what amounts to a virtual captivity yourself. How did that happen?"
"It was after a visit to Susan and Robby Lee. I saw how Mick was looking at Susan and her chains, and I yelled at him when we got home for drooling at another woman. He yelled back, and we had an argument, and for the rest of that evening I kept interrupting the book he was reading by asking for permission to go through doors."
Kristine continued, "I was using my most sarcastic tone of voice and trying to annoy him. But that night as we were going to bed he gave me a really great kiss. He told me how special I had made him feel by always asking, and then he made love to me with more enthusiasm than he had since our honeymoon. I realized that I had a way to turn him on, and keep him turned on, with me as the object. That turned me on, even more strongly, to him, so I kept on doing it. Now it feels unnatural to go through a door anywhere without asking him first."
"Even in public places?"
"Even in public places. We generally walk hand in hand when we are together, and have done that since our first date. He can signal permission just by leading me through a doorway. Besides that, Mick's birthday was six weeks ago. I didn't know what I could give him. so I asked for suggestions. He told me 'Another rule would be nice,' and I agreed. Since that birthday, three quick squeezes on my hand before he lets go locks me in place. I am not allowed to move from where I am standing. One long steady squeeze on my hand is my release signal, but I still cannot go through doors unless he tells me I can, and which doors I can go through. So now he can control me better in public places without being conspicuous about it."
"And you enjoy this?"
"Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. Three days ago he used a triple squeeze to lock me in place in the aisle of the biggest store in town, and he left me there while he went in to the hardware department to buy some custom-order tools and some screws and rivets for a special project. Without the new rule, I would have followed him around and been bored out of my mind. With it, I stood there and slowly got turned on, thinking about the effect my standing there would have on him. And it worked. I could tell by the expression on his face when he came back to release me. The effects lasted until well past bedtime that night. And have you noticed the effects on your husband, just by hearing about it?"
All three women turned to look at me. My smile must have given my thoughts away. I stared back at Jane and said "At least you can't blame me for drooling over some other woman." That must have been the right thing to say. Instead of getting mad, Jane got flustered.
After that the local women started asking Jane and me about our lives. Jane is an interior designer and ergonomics expert. I am a hyperspace warp gate engineer.
* * *
Later, during supper with Kristine and Mick, Jane and I were able to learn more of the background of Potsdam Village. It was the first supper that I could remember in ages that didn't have a sound system or a 3D-vision projector or some other electronic gadget providing a background of entertainment.
Eric Potsdam was a visionary and an outstanding speaker and writer. His version of Utopia was based on a vision of Earth in about the year 1900, which he saw as an era of craftsmanship when human beings counted for something and computers weren't running everything yet. People entertained themselves back then and did not depend on canned or broadcast shows.
Eric founded a village of like-minded people which grew to a population of about 20,000. The villagers farmed, and fed themselves for the most part. They made their own wool and linen garments, and built their own houses from wood and stone, so the essentials were taken care of without drawing on the resources of the outside world. Their hand-crafted products gave them a significant income. These products included metalware made by people like Mick and Kristine, which were considered to be valuable collectors' items because of their minor imperfections. No two pieces were absolutely identical.
Eric edited the Encyclopedia of Useful and Valuable Skills, a set of reference manuals for the technologies that were allowed in the village that he founded. Nothing involving computers was included. Internal-combustion engines were banned, because vintage-1900 engines were noisy and caused pollution. Power in the village comes from steam engines, or Stirling engines, or draft animals like horses and oxen.
The format of the Encyclopedia itself is books on paper. In the rest of the world, some people still collect "real books" on paper instead of the usual files on book readers. These collectors prefer books that are bound in artist-quality covers. Books made that way are one of the products sold by Potsdam Village people to outsiders, so it isn't very surprising that the books used in the village have equally high-quality bindings.
This includes the Encyclopedia, of course. Mick had the volumes on metalworking, alloys, etc. bound very skillfully in tooled leather on a shelf in his dining room. His books show more wear than I would expect to see on a collector's item. He obviously uses them as active references.
Kristine's dress was an example of another item that could be sold to outsiders for a high price, since that dress was made from "homespun" linen fabric, done by hand at every step from picking the flax to weaving the cloth. With all that labor input, it was expensive, but Potsdam Village residents could afford it when they wanted to wear one of those dresses themselves. They bought little from the outside world, mostly things they couldn't produce themselves, such as metal ingots, so outsiders' money accumulated in the Potsdamers' bank accounts. They could afford expensive clothing.
Many of these residents were attracted to Potsdam Village by Eric Potsdam's concepts of craftsmanship and self-reliance. More were attracted by his concepts of the proper relationship between men and women. For Eric Potsdam was also a bondage enthusiast who believed that God had created women to be the helpmates of men and therefore subordinate to men. Since this was in the United States, the slave women in the village were slaves strictly on a voluntary basis.
Eric eventually had four women in his household: one wife, one whom he called his esdigie, and two much younger ordinary slaves. The esdigie outranked any ordinary voluntary slaves. Eric's esdigie wore a collar that was plated with 24-karat gold. She was proud to be the servant of such a wonderful leader. She also wore gold-plated steel cuffs on both wrists and ankles. She was often seen with about 30 centimeters of chain linking her wrists, and half a meter linking her ankles. She served as an example to the other slaves in the town. They began asking their owners for similar treatment. It became routine to see several chained women during a shopping trip in downtown Potsdam Village.
Of course the next generation was also affected. Eric Potsdam's daughter established a tradition when her boyfriend asked her to wear his chain collar and go steady. She said yes, but she insisted that her father be given a key to the collar padlock. After that, the teen-age boys in Potsdam Village were expected to get their girlfriends' fathers' permission to start steady dating. The fathers got keys, which they returned to the boyfriends at the altar if and when the steady dating led to marriage.
Eric had died several decades ago. The current head of the village was Moses Potsdam, Eric's son. He continued the lifestyle.
Kristine had recommended that Jane and I should visit in mid-June to see the village's annual three-day-weekend event. June 17 was the anniversary of the town charter. Each year on the Friday nearest to that date, the population celebrated Foundation Day with an appropriate parade, speeches, and a picnic at the school grounds. On Foundation Day, every female was expected to be in restraints, even the little girls and the vanilla women who were there for the craftsmanship and the rugged independence from a computerized world. The restraint did not have to be rigorous, but each girl and woman had to be confined somehow.
Jane and I had arrived for our visit on the Thursday before the annual celebration. Mick told me that I needed to choose a set of handcuffs for Jane to wear the next day. He spread a selection out on a low table in front of the living room couch, where Jane and I were sitting. The possibilities included toy plastic with a 15-centimeter chain, and three or four others, progressively more confining. Jane looked at the cuffs, and then at me. I had to make up my mind very quickly about how hard to push her.
I asked "What will Kristine be wearing?"
Mick showed me a lightweight pair with oval steel cuffs made from stainless rod about 6 millimeters in diameter, and a 20-centimeter stainless-steel chain. This pair had no spring locking mechanisms; instead each cuff was secured by tightening a Torx-head screw. Mick said "A pair like this one, except hers will have a shorter chain."
I looked at Jane, and asked "Are you willing to match Kristine tomorrow?"
She hesitated, but then nodded, said "When in Rome . . " and held out her wrists.
I keep a miniature tool kit in a wallet on my belt at all times, as much to identify myself as an engineer as to have tools handy. That kit includes a folding set of Torx wrenches. It took me only a few moments to secure Jane's wrists in Mike's cuffs. The cuffs were sized for a close fit on slim feminine wrists. Jane looked good.
I said "Let's just leave them on for the rest of the evening. You can get used to wearing them before you have to do it in public tomorrow."
She said "Yes, Master." She tried to make it sound satirical, in order to show that I really wasn't her master after all. But she couldn't keep a certain amount of real submission out of her tone of voice. We had been married for five years, and I was still learning things about her personality.
The chains stayed on her wrists overnight. Fortunately her pale-blue bare-midriff blouse had buttoning shoulder straps, so I didn't have to undo the chains when she got undressed. She crawled under the covers nude.
I stripped and crawled in alongside her, hoping that she was in the mood for some fun. She was. Soon I was on her, and in her, and her chained arms were wrapped around my body. She pulled the chain tight across my back and said "I've got you now", and she was right. I couldn't pull out.
I replied "But I've got you now too", and I thrust in harder. Several orgasms later, we fell asleep in each other's arms. We were, of course, still in each other's arms the next morning.
* * *
Next morning Jane untangled herself from me, grabbed some clothes, dashed into the en-suite bathroom, and locked the door. She was apparently afraid that I would insist on helping her take her shower. A bit less than an hour later she came back out already fully dressed, wearing a sleeveless dark-blue button-strap dress that she could get on while wearing cuffs. Apparently she never even thought about the possibility of asking me to release her from the cuffs for her shower and the rest of her morning preparations.
We saw Kristine's Founders Day costume at breakfast. She wore a full-cut bikini-style top with denim short shorts and strappy sandals. Mick left her hands free for eating breakfast. He put oval steel cuffs on her wrists with a linking chain only about 10 centimeters long when we left to watch the parade.
The Founders Day Parade was a remarkable event. You must have been to parades celebrating something or other, someplace. Imagine a really good parade where every single female, marching or watching, is confined somehow. The toddlers wore body harnesses and leashes held by their parents. The little girls wore collars with leashes. I noticed one family with three daughters, perhaps six, nine, and fourteen years old; the girls were collared and leashed together in a coffle with the youngest one in the middle. Their mother also wore a collar and leash, with the leash connected to her husband's belt. All four females were dressed in T-shirts and short shorts.
Several other coffles consisted of teen-age girls. The girls in the middle of these groups were apparently trying to attract the eyes of teen-age boys by having their wrists secured behind their backs in various ways. The girls on the ends of the groups usually had their hands free, an arrangement which would allow them to help their friends eat food, use the restrooms, or fend off undesirable boys.
Some girls wore chain collars and leashes, with the leashes held by teen-age boys, so it was apparent even to a total outsider like me as to who was going steady with whom. Girls leashed in this manner could have any type of further confinement, or none at all, just like the adult women.
The adult women were rigged according to the taste of the men in their lives. I saw several types of handcuffs in flimsy plastic, and also in sturdy leather and steel, with the cuffs linked rigidly or connected by lengths of chain; cuffed in front or in back, and also cuffs chained to waists, forearm tubes that confined wrists to elbows, contraptions that Kristine identified as "fiddles" or "portable stocks", and singlegloves. Some of the women had their hands free, but they tended to have relatively short chains linking their ankle cuffs.
The parade units could also catch a guy's eye very easily.
The event included a beauty pageant with multiple winners: Miss Junior Potsdam, Miss Teen Potsdam, Miss Potsdam, Mrs. Potsdam, and Potsdam Senior Queen. Each winner rode enthroned in the center of a horse-drawn parade float, wearing a bikini, and each one had her arms in a single glove behind her back.
Each beauty queen was surrounded by her court, made up of the other contestants for that title. They wore bikinis too. The floats had sturdy rails at about elbow-height around the sides, about forty centimeters inboard of the edges. The members of each beauty court stood facing outward, leaning back against these rails. Their arms went behind the rails; then each contestant's hands were brought forward and chained across her tummy. As the Miss Potsdam float went by, I thought about reaching out and running my hands across the long row of undefended breasts that were presented to the onlookers by this arrangement. Nobody else was doing that, so I figured that it must not be allowed. Besides, Jane would have been angry with me.
The village has three high schools, and therefore three high-school bands. The girls in those bands were coffled together in marching rows. There was usually a boy at each end of a row to provide control; the boys had the chains clipped to their belts. The coffle chains were connected to collars on the girls, of course.
The Grand Marshal rode on the last float of the parade, wearing top hat and an outfit that is called a tuxedo, I think. A woman was seated next to him on his right. She wore a fancy white dress that covered most of her body. She probably could have worn that dress back in 1900 without any comments about indecency or exposure. I can't describe the dress any better than that. Only a clothing historian would have the vocabulary to talk about that kind of thing.
There was also another woman kneeling on the last float on the Grand Marshal's left side. I recognized her; she was the woman who had given me directions to Mick and Kristine's house. She was still wearing her golden collar and cuffs that I remembered from our first meeting, with another linen sleeveless mid-thigh-length dress. Kristine turned to Jane and me and said "That is Moses Potsdam, the current head of the village, with his wife and his esdigie." In response to our inquiring looks, she added " I told you about Eric Potsdam's esdigie during supper last night. Today Moses Potsdam has one, and so do some of the other men in the Village. An esdigie is like an official mistress, kinda, sorta, and also kind of like a personal slave girl. A man here in the Village can have as many girlfriends as he can persuade to accept him, but only one of them can be an esdigie."
I had no doubt that the esdigie's golden collar and cuffs could be used to confine her, although there were no obvious securing loops attached. But it appeared that the collar and cuffs were also badges of rank. I did not think that any other women in Potsdam Village would wear cuffs and collar that were equally wide and equally golden.
The parade ended at the village fairgrounds, an open-air facility with a grandstand that must be large enough to hold most of the village's population. The massed bands of all three high schools played the national anthem, and then Moses Potsdam gave a speech, mainly about his future plans for the village. It seems that a nearby university was responsible for terraforming a brand-new planet, and this planet was almost ready to accept colonists. The paperwork had been filed to get permission for the whole village to emigrate there. Moses Potsdam had picked out some lands near a small sea that he called the New Caspian and along a river that he called the New Volga. These lands were well away from the warp gates that gave access to the planet from Earth. The village's way of life would be undisturbed and safe there.
Moses Potsdam also spoke about rugged individualism and pioneering. All of the people on the Earth, he said, constitute just one intelligence because of the complex electronic linkages that tie them all together. The exception is the people of Potsdam Village, who don't carry personal communicators, who read books on paper instead of electronic book readers, and who entertain themselves instead of depending on plays and music via electronic media. According to Moses Potsdam, the resulting feelings of individualism and initiative qualify the people of his village to take on the challenges of a new planet. His people won't depend on datalinks to tell them what to do.
After the speech, we toured the food booths that were set up along the fairgrounds midway, and we ate. We didn't eat fancy, but we sure ate good. I had never before eaten a hamburger made from meat that was still part of a cow less than a day earlier.
We met Lucy Jacobs, Kristine's neighbor, during lunch. She was a tall cute redhead, somewhat flat-chested though. Founder's Day is one of the very few occasions all year when she is allowed out of her basement cage.
She was wearing a skirt, or maybe it was a half-apron, entirely made of chain mail. The mesh was very fine in front just below the waist, so that her most important bits were covered. The chainmail reached around to the sides, and down to her knees, but with much more space between separate chains of links. Most of this chainwork was easy to see through. Her bottom was entirely bare, and that was a good thing for her; she could sit down without sitting on chain links. The only places where the chainwork reached around to her back were at her waist, and also at her knees, which were held close together so that she couldn't run.
She wasn't wearing anything above the waist. Her hands were cuffed closely to the handle of a parasol, so closely that her husband had to feed her lunch one bite at a time. She kept that parasol between her body and the sun at all times. I realized that that would be important for a woman who spent about 360 days a year locked in a basement cage. Several unprotected hours in the sun would have given her a nasty burn.
I can't remember her saying anything, although she wasn't gagged. I guess that she is naturally shy, and that she gets little practice at being a social person due to her lifestyle.
The afternoon of Founder's Day was devoted to the Tri-High competitions. The three local high schools fielded the teams. I wasn't surprised by the sports: baseball, soccer, track and field, tennis, and maybe a few that I can't remember right now. But there was also a marching band competition, and a science fair, and a debating contest, and an art show with categories for painting, and sculpture, and animation, and bondage ropework. Several blue ribbons were given out for each art category. If I remember correctly, the ribbons for ropework included Prettiest Bondage, and Most Helpless with Least Rope, and Most Nearly Unable to Move at All.
I never asked how the over-all points totals were calculated. I don't know if a blue ribbon art work was worth more, or less, than winning the hundred-yard dash at track and field. The kids took the whole thing very seriously. The West High School kids cheered long and loud when it was announced that they were the over-all winners this year.
* * *
Jane and I spent the night after Founder's Day with Jane still in her wrist chains. I didn't let her put her arms around me this time. Instead I borrowed a padlock and attached the cuff connector chain to a handy metal loop in the headboard of the bed. Jane grinned up at me when I did this and said "When in Rome . . . " The next morning she didn't object when I padlocked her wrists close together behind her back and gave her a shower. I wondered if I would be able to persuade her to play these kinds of games after we went home.
The following morning Jane wanted to go shopping with Kristine, to learn what shopping would be like in a real store instead of a virtual one. Kristine asked Mick, who gave permission. Jane followed Kristine's example and asked me, so I gave permission also.
The two women took Susan Nicholson along. She wore the same triangle of cloth, wrist and ankle shackles, and waist chain that she had worn during our chat in Kristine's workshop. She added multi-strap flat-heel sandals, practical walking shoes that also kept her feet on display. Neither Jane nor Kristine wore any sort of restraints. Their blouse-and-shorts outfits would not have been out of place in public in any ordinary community.
I didn't want to go shopping, so I stayed with Mick and watched him at work. He forged about five kilograms of stainless steel into a cuff that would exactly fit the ankle of the girl it was made for. It should not be painful to wear that cuff despite the weight, because of the exact fit. If that were her only restraint, she would still be able to move into any position she pleased. But with her legs so badly out of balance, she wouldn't be able to run.
That night - our last night in Potsdam Village - Jane and I tried sex with no restraints once again. After the previous two nights with her in chains, it felt a bit flat.
The following morning we breakfasted on pancakes and sausages, cooked by Kristine and served when Mick gave her permission to come through the kitchen door. Jane and Kristine hugged good-bye in the living area of the house. Kristine stayed inside - no permission needed for that - and waved through the window as I wiggled the air car back onto the street and began the journey back to a normal life. "Speed limit 50" felt much faster than it had coming into town.
The car battery indicator showed less than 10% charge remaining when we reached the large patch of asphalt at the border of the Potsdam Village district. I parked, unclipped the steering wheel from the dashboard, and stowed the wheel away in the trunk again. The car sat for a few minutes, picking up power from the induction coils. I told the guidance system to take Jane and me home. When the car's computer decided that we had enough in the batteries for a safe emergency stop in case of highway-coil power failure, the fans began to spin and the air cushion began to inflate. Soon we were zipping down the highway at 300 kph once again.
I turned to Jane and grinned. She knows that one of my favorite places for sex is in a car at freeway speeds. Jane turned to me, grinned back, and handed me a small box, gift-wrapped. She said just "Present for you."
I opened the box and found a small key, designed to operate a modern electronic/mechanical lock.
Jane took a stainless steel bangle out of her pocketbook and locked it onto her left wrist. That bangle obviously fit too tight for her to slip it off without the key. It had been highly polished and then engraved with a floral pattern and personalized with her name. I later learned that Jane bought the bangle during her shopping trip in the village, and Kristine had done the personalizing engraving.
The bangle did not restrain her in any way. Still, it tapped into great depths of erotic feeling in both of us. Passion in a car with a bangle-locked woman was much better than passion in a bed with a vanilla woman, which I had had the previous night. I am sure that Jane would agree.
She has worn that bangle locked on her wrist ever since. If I tell her "All doorways are sealed", she follows Kristine's example and asks for permission before going through any of them.
Potsdam Village does not need any hyperspace warp-gate engineers. They will need civil engineers on their new planet to build houses and roads and stuff. I wonder: how long would it take me to qualify?
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