BDSM Library - Lost At Sea

Lost At Sea

Provided By: BDSM Library

Synopsis: When two young, western people are shipwrecked and forced to survive on a remote island, the question arises soon what they are willing to do in order to survive among the primitive inhabitants of that bizarre place. Women are treated as ponyslaves, ponygirls and beasts of burden here, and so Scarlett and Chris have to redefine their relationship the hard way. A gradual decline soon begins.

Lost At Sea - Prologue

Her name was Linda Reuters, but she resembled Scarlett Johansson just enough for her friends and colleagues to often call her 'Scarlett' instead of her real name. They thought it was funny and she pretended she despised it, but that was all smoke and mirrors: Secretly she had always found the cheesy nickname much more interesting than her real name. And so, from a certain point she had just stopped correcting people. She was, after all, a practical thinking woman. “You know”, Scarlett told one of her friends once over a glass of wine, “when people have to compare you to a character from that ‘Avengers’-movie, I guess it’s better being compared to the sexy domina than being compared to, let’s say, the big green guy or the blue one with the wings on his ears.”

However, to really envision what Linda looked like it's important to understand one thing: Although she did undeniably resemble the aforementioned movie star, in truth it would have been more precise to describe her as a "parallel-universe-version" of a Scarlett Johansson who had, in this world, never been in a single film. Linda was sexy, her body was well-toned and her witty, ironic smile did possess the capability to strike a man right in the heart – but she was still a working girl in the creative department of a communications agency, not one of Hollywood’s highest grossing actors. She had had never been seen on an Oscar party and had neither make-up-experts nor the special effects department or an expensive wardrobe at her command.

But what Linda ‘Scarlett’ Reuters did have at her disposal was a creative mind and the right dose of quirky craziness for a career in her profession. She was good at designing campaigns and she got along well with customers. Those were the reasons because of which her boss invited Scarlett to his yacht when, with her important contribution, a three-million-dollar deal with a major indonesian bank had been sealed.

“I hate shit like this”, she told the same girlfriend that she had also explained to her views on the ‘Avengers’ some months before. “I’m good at what I do, but I’m not good at these high-society-tours. I like my job but don’t like my boss, I don’t like yachts. And as hard as I think about it, I think I never got up in the morning and said to myself ‘wow, I’d love to be in the pacific right now. On a yacht. With Mr. Dakin.’ It just never happened.”

“Are you afraid he might try to use this perfect opportunity to impress you and get you into his bed?”, her friend asked amused.

“A little”, Scarlett admitted. “You know, he has a big ego. Big egos are the easiest hurt. If he tries to get into my panties I’ll have to disappoint him. I may not manage to stay diplomatic. If that happens then I’ll be soon looking for another job.”

“Let’s hope then that his ego is the only big thing on him while the two of you have a private moment”, Scarletts friend remarked, patting her on the shoulder. “And that his ego doesn’t bounce or throb while he presents it.” They both laughed so hard they nearly spilled their wine.

It was the last evening they ever spent together.



While major storm system 'Huntai' - already being called "storm of the decade" by meteorologists - keeps on causing enormous damages in the southern pacific region, it becomes clear that the storm might also have caused at least one major maritime disaster and claimed more than fifty victims in a single tragic event: During last nights' especially heavy turbulences harbor authorities seem to have lost contact to american motor yacht "Dawn Happiness". Owner Marshall Dakin, Head of the renowned public affairs agency Dakin, Meadhe & Bright, has not re-established contact to the mainland yet. "He was warned to not leave harbor with the storm incoming, but he would not listen", says an officer of the regional coast guard who does want to stay anonymous. "He insisted that his crew was experienced and his ship was sea-worthy and he bribed several men who wanted to force him to stay in the harbor. Mr. Dakin was determined to give his guests a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and that may be just what the stupid rich man achieved."



Scarlett had only been unconscious once in her life so far, and that had been when they had taken her appendix out in a clean, western hospital. She’d been out then for maybe an hour or two and had woken up with a dry throat, a weak headache and a slight pain at the side of her abdomen. Essentially thatbrush with mortality had been a walk in the park.

What she experienced this time was different – a surreal kind of unconsciousness, punctuated by dreams and memories that blended together in her trapped mind, turned into a nightmarish black landscape in which she was lost for what seemed like a lifetime. The ripping noises of breaking wood and metal were ringing in her ears, the sound of shattering glass and the screams of Marshall Dakin and his guests punctuated everything. The cold was unbelievable… that feeling of being swallowed by that unbelievable cold as she plunged into the black water, as the waves washed over her and threw her around like a toy. That essential, breathtaking <i<fear</i> she had felt when she had realized she was going to die! That anger towards everything - her stupid boss, the storm, the sea, the universe!

The taste of salt was strong in Scarletts mouth. Her throat and guts were burning with thirst. Her body and skin felt raw as if she had been flayed alive, her head did not just ache but felt like it was about to explode, every heartbeat kicking against the insides of her temples. Each single intake of breath hurt her ribs and shoulders. Essentially it was this amount of agony that proved she was still alive and forced her to slowly fight her way back out of unconsciousness. But a part of her would have liked to just drift further into the darkness and forget everything, and never return.

Still, at some point Scarlett opened her eyes, blinking, and moaned. When no one reacted she tried to move and managed, after a while, to get into a sitting position. She coughed and nearly puked, but her stomach was utterly empty. She tried to curse and found her voice was so hoarse it was barely audible. She felt weak like a baby.

“Oh fuck… oh fuckfuckfuck… holy Jesus fuck… uuuggghmmyhead.....”

Sitting and mumbling curses under her breath she sat for some time, head in her hands. The place she had awoken at was very bright and only very slowly she found the self-control to take her palms off her eyes.

“That must be a joke”, she coughed with bitter irony. “I’m in a fucking Tom Hanks movie.”

The spot was sandy, the deepest point between a couple of high dunes. Some bushes grew here and spend a little shadow, and that shadow was where Scarlett had been lying as she had regained consciousness. And obviously she had not been alone all the time: There was a small, burned-out fireplace not more than two meters away. There were some empty cans nearby on the sandy ground, some pieces of tarnished leather and an old swim vest on a small heap. There was an old blanket and something like a very small tent that had been constructed from the remains of a liferaft. The place looked like the very sad attempt of someone to build a small home with the few items attainable for the feat.

What was most important was that whoever lived here had collected fresh water: Scarlett found it in the old cans that had once contained beans and sweet corn and she drank most of it within a few minutes. She had a nearly orgasmic feeling while filling her belly with it and didn’t care that, as she had heard in certain movies, too much water at once might give her a bellyache. She just drank and drank, burped and drank, until she felt more alive again.

Afterwards she took some time to check the state she was in. It seemed better that Scarlett had expected: Her body had some scratches and she had a light sunburn and broken nails, but nothing that wouldn’t heal. Her hair and skin were encrusted with salt and sand, but right now she didn’t care. She smelled sweaty and a bit like fish and algae, but that was no wonder. Drugged by the fresh energy the water had given her she even giggled now, traumatized but happy to be a survivor. The giggles sounded a little crazy in her own ears, but she could not manage to keep them inside.

“You just drank all water I had collected for the rest of the week”, a calm male voice said from behind her. “But I don’t blame you. Frankly I’m just happy you are alive.”

Scarlett whirled around as fast as her state allowed. The man was maybe a bit older than her, but it was hard to say: He wore faded clothes that had been exposed to the sun probably for years, he was deeply tanned and had a beard that made him look like a sexy – if slightly starved – hermit. His eyes were blue and he looked to Scarlett in no way threatening but more like a man who had been lost. Which had to be pretty literally what had indeed happened to him, if you put one and one together.

She made a face and tried to relax a little, giving up the defensive position she had jumped into when he had surprised her. He had had, after all, already more than enough chances to rape or kill or eat her while she had been unconscious.

“Whew”, Scarlett coughed and rolled her eyes. “You know, for a moment I was pretty close to peeing all that precious water out again. Don’t do this ever again, okay?”


His name was Chris. He had been a young, successful engineer in his old life. His new, slightly less successful life had begun when his plane had crashed into the ocean in 2010.

“It was supposed to be a holiday with friends, you know?” He talked like a man who had not done it in a long time, a little insecure and somewhat confused to hear his own voice. “We wanted to have fun. Instead the plane got… lost I guess. There was a storm and there were turbulences and the next thing I remember is we hit something and the plane just broke apart. Me and some other passengers swam and swam until we had solid ground under our feet again. That’s how I got here.”

He had rekindled the fire and was frying a comically small fish he had put on a stick. When it seemed to be done he offered it to Scarlett. She thought she would say ‘no thank you’ and was surprised about how fast she instead plucked the fish from the stick and began eating it. She had not realized how starved she actually was.

“I read about the flight. I remember how shocked everyone was when the plane just disappeared. Why has no one ever found you?”, Scarlett asked Chris while still licking her greasy fingertips. “I mean I get it, we are in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. But this isn’t Lost, right? There should be a satellite that could spot us. There should have been search crews and all that, people trying to find you and the other guys.”

He shrugged. He seemed sad and a bit frustrated, but all in all it was a mild-mannered gesture. “I don’t know. I was angry for a long time, hateful really. I nearly lost my mind. But since then I’ve just… learned to accept it I guess. I simply have no explanation why no one ever found me and there was no one to scream at, no one to be angry towards.

So since it felt like a waste of time I decided eventually to stop being angry. Instead I concentrated on surviving. I taught myself how to fish and how to collect water, I build the small camp. I collect flotsam at the beach – which is where I found you. At first I thought you were something like a doll and then when I saw you were a real human I feared you might be… well a corpse.” He bit his lower lip and shuddered. “But when I realized you were still breathing I brought you here.”

Scarlett smiled. “You saved my life – I think I would have died without ever regaining consciousness if you had not helped me. Thank you, Chris. I mean it. In the shittiest week of my life meeting you is by far the best thing that could possibly have happened to me.”

That made him smile too. He was, Scarlett decided, a pretty sweet and sexy guy – for a traumatized eremite at least.

“Wait”, she said hesitantly as the thought crossed her mind. “You are an eremite.”

Chris looked confused, but nodded slowly. “I guess you can call it that.”

“But why are you an eremite? You said others had been stranded here with you. What happened to those people?”

“That’s a long story”, Chris sighed. “But I have not turned to cannibalism, if that’s what you are thinking.”

“I would never have thought of that”, Scarlett lied.

“Well, fair enough. The others could still be alive for all I know, I am just not sure if they are. We got separated, you know? They headed off because they had decided to try their luck further inland. I decided to stay here.”

“I don’t get it.” Scarlett shook her head. “Those people left you and you stayed here, alone. Why did you do that?”

Chris hesitated, and then nodded. He rose and offered Scarlett a hand. He did not seem happy, but obviously he had made up his mind about something that was important to him. When she took his hand he pulled her to her feet and began leading her towards one of the larger dunes.

“I did not want to show it to you yet. I would have waited a day or two, you know? But maybe it’s better that I clear things up for you as soon as possible. So let’s climb up there and I will show you what’s up with the beach and the dunes and the inland.”

Climbing the dune was hard work for Scarlett in her weakened state, but now that Chris had gotten her curious there was no way she wanted to wait any longer. Under a quickly darkening evening sky she made her way up to the very top, legs and knees shaking from the strain. Once she was finally at the upmost point of the dune she needed a minute to catch her breath, cool wind blowing through her hair and against her sweaty skin. Only then could she straighten herself and finally take a look around.

What Scarlett saw was a shock: The dunes around her and beneath her position were pretty large and pretty numerous, a bleak yellow-brown labyrinth or sand and salt. Behind them spread a kilometer-long, broad beach, rocky and rough, with lots of debris strewn across: Driftwood and garbage were scattered for mile after mile. Here and there Scarlett could also see what seemed to be the remains of old liferafts, bleached by the sun.

“Ships get lost, planes crash, stuff gets washed ashore and I try to salvage what I can use”, Chris said sadly. “It’s like a pretty dark, surrealistic lottery. Sometimes I find good stuff, sometimes not. This time… it was good stuff.” His face turned deep read and his voice became a bit squeaky. “Well you know what I mean… it was good to find you.”

Scarlett hid her smile as good as she could. Then she turned around and looked away from the beach, in the other direction. The difference was breathtaking: The dunes did go on there for maybe half a mile before the land got darker and greener. There was more vegetation on that side, soon the first trees appeared. Half obscured behind their trunks Scarlett could make out a small, blue lake.

And it did not end there: Wherever she had been washed ashore, this was by far not a small island. In the distance behind the first lines of trees and the lake this place seemed to go on and on. There was more woodland, there were some higher hills with a river running between them.

“Wow”, she said amazed. “Chris, I don’t get it. Living here at the beach must be so fucking tough… why didn’t you move down there? You said it’s hard to collect sweet water and you said it’s hard to find food here, but down there in the woods must be more than enough to eat!”

“Going there is not an option”, he stated. His usually friendly face was grim now, his eyes shone with a certain bitterness. “I would love to leave the beach and the dunes, but I can’t. We are not the only people who live here, you see? There are natives down there in the inland, and they are alien and dangerous and perverted.”

“Listen, I’m no anthropologist, but people in different cultures are… different.” Scarlett shrugged and tried to sound as rational as possible. “You make it sound as if the natives here were demons or something. Can’t we just talk to those guys and figure things out? What makes you think they are so bad anyways?”

Chris did not answer directly. Instead he gave her the old pair of binoculars that had been dangling from his belt all the time. He pointed to the lake and gestured for Scarlett to look through the binoculars, then took a step back and just watched her.

She needed a moment to adjust the binoculars in front of her eyes. They were a bit scratched but still worked pretty well: Suddenly the trees and the fruits hanging from their branches seemed close enough to reach them with an outstretched hand. The small lake was very well visible too. And there, to the left…

… to the left Scarlett could see several men, olive-skinned and well-shaped, clothed in nothing more than leather and hide. They looked neither truly asian nor african but definitely not european either. They had killed what looked like a small kind of boar and were skinning and butchering the creature there, right by the water. It was a weird scene, kind of romantic in a way, if you were an avid discovery-channel-viewer.

What shocked Scarlett was not the look of those ‘natives’, nor was it the fact they had killed an animal. But close to the men stood two other humans, both completely naked and strictly restrained: Their hands and arms had been forced into and tied in a nearly impossible back praying-position, their feet hobbled, their torsos harnessed with rope and leather strips. They were leashed and secured against one of the larger trees, standing there with glassy eyes, watching the hunters emotionless. But even if these two tied humans – which were obviously young females – had wanted to show emotions it would have been hard for them to do so: They were thoroughly gagged with wooden mouthpieces that resembled bitgags and had their heads half hooded with thick caps that obscured most of their faces.

“Okay”, Scarlett mumbled. She ran her fingers through the matted mess of her hair and closed her eyes for a moment, admitting defeat. “You convinced me. These assholes are alien and dangerous, and they are very fucking clearly perverts.”


They were at the camp again, the sky overhead completely dark and littered with stars. Scarlett felt cold – and not just because temperatures had dropped remarkably here between the dunes as soon as the sun had been gone: She was shocked by what she had seen and shocked by the understanding that had begun dawning on her since then.

Chris had collected some more driftwood and had set up a new, small campfire. They both sat very close to it, shoulder against shoulder, while he continued with his story. He mostly stared into the flames as he talked.

“Well, so when we finally got to our senses again we were seven survivors – Hendrick and Swantje were a couple from the Netherlands, then there were Zoe and Kevin, Daniel, Thomas and me. When we realized there wouldn’t be a rescue too soon we began exploring the place. We did what we thought was the rational thing: Look for food and shelter, find out if we could collect fruit or vegetables or hunt animals. The first days it went well and we slowly got over the shock of the plane crash. We thought we’d been lucky. We figured we might get through this okay until we would eventually be found by a search party.”

Scarlett didn’t have to say it, but she felt there needed to be a filler, just to show Chris that she was listening: “But you were not found. And you did not get through this too well either.”

His gaze flickered when he looked up at her. Because he was talking about his memories he seemed to also partially live through them again. It was – his face showed that much – not a pleasant experience.

“No. No, we did not. After two weeks there were still no helicopters or other planes or ships. Nothing. So we grew restless. Thomas and I started not only traveling to the brink of the Forest, we started going in there. And that’s where we met the Natives.

At first they just watched us and we tried to communicate with them. They didn’t seem to speak english. And they did not seem too interested to communicate with us anyways. They left us mostly alone, but they kept watching us from a certain distance. Then, next time we went to the woods, Zoe went with us, and that was when things got really ugly.”

Chris’ hands were shaking now – shaking so hard in fact that Scarlett, who was sitting next to him by the fire, put a hand on his shoulder and tried to console him. He seemed thankful, swallowed the lump that had been in his throat and even smiled at her.

“You know, I didn’t know if I was sane anymore before I found you. It’s weird to talk about things and know that another person is listening. I’m sorry for you that you stranded here, but at the same time I’m really fucking happy for myself that you did.”

“I understand the notion and I’ll just take it as a compliment”, Scarlett said, a good mix of irony and warmth in her voice. Chris was a good guy with a good heart and she already liked him a lot. “Now go on, okay? I want to know what happened to the others.”

Chris was very pale now. “Like I said, everything went to shit the day Zoe accompanied us. The natives freaked out when they saw her. They began shouting at us, they got aggressive and threatening. They threw a fucking spear that scraped my leg but could easily have impaled me as well. We didn’t understand why, so we retreated back to the dunes. The Natives didn’t follow us there, but… they threatened us now every time we got too close to the forest. Collecting fresh water got dangerous, collecting fruits or hunting became impossible. Thomas went there one day without telling me and never came back. Days later, when I sneaked to the lake desperately looking for traces of what had happened to him, all I found was his bloody shirt.”

“I’m really sorry Chris.”

“Yeah, me too”, he mumbled. Biting his lower lip he shook his head. When Scarlett put her arm around his shoulders he nodded thankfully.

“Okay, the story is nearly finished. Some days later we saw the Natives’ females. The guys were feeding them with leaves they plucked from some of the bushes – there’s a special kind of plant, the one with those thick, juicy leaves. They can be ingested by humans I guess, because I have since then often see the Natives feed the women with them. However, point is: We watched while they fed the females and gagged them again, and we saw how they used them as beasts of burden like people elsewhere uses mules or donkeys. Essentially we saw what I showed you today, and now we could easily figure out why the Natives had reacted so aggressively when they saw Zoe.”

“I guess Zoe and Swantje weren’t trussed up enough for their taste”, Scarlett said with a good amount of acid in her tone. “Maybe there was also not enough of the booty to see, with the clothing and all. Isn’t an untied woman with a clothed torso an atrocity?”

“It’s not just that.” Chris shrugged and looked her in the eyes. “It’s not a question of….. fashion sense, you know? This goes way deeper.These guys don’t see women as humans – they see them literally as beasts of burden. I have never seen one without restraints and I only see them taking the gags from their mouths when they are allowed to drink and eat, always just for a short while. It’s not just the bondage that’s so gruesome, it’s the whole …. worldview in which a talking, acting, free woman is an absurdity. The Natives saw Zoe and Swantje smile and talk and interact with us and saw that as an offense to… everything. Their Gods maybe. I don’t know.”

“With Thomas gone you were still six people.”

“Yes, and six is too much to live here between the dunes. We couldn’t get enough sweet water, we couldn’t catch enough fish, we couldn’t collect food in the inland anymore. We began to starve and we began to fight amongst each other. We began to freak out. Then finally Swantje had an idea.”

“What was her plan?”

Chris smiled a bitter smile. “’Do as the Romans do’”, he said, citing the woman Scarlett had never met. “She said we could try to win the Natives trust. All that needed to be done was that we tie her up. She proposed we tie her and Zoe and show the Natives that we are obeying their rules. Then maybe we would be allowed to collect water and fruit again.”

Scarlett thought about it: The plan made sense, and for a modern, western woman with a practical mind it wasn’t that bad a plan either. You knew you were not cattle and you knew it was all just fake. You did what had to be done because losing a little of your pride was better than dying of malnutrition. You could shrug it off later and tell yourself that you just had done what needed to be done, just like you did when you flirted with a cop to evade a parking ticket or swallowed your pride to get along with your chauvinist asshole of a boss.

“I might have done the same”, she mumbled softly.

“Don’t say that.” Chris frowned. “I understand why you say it, but don’t. No woman should have to do something like that. And also it was a bad plan and did not work as intended.”

“Why not? What went wrong?

He looked at Scarlett and softly shook his head. “I don’t know for sure. At first it seemed to work: They collected some belts and straps and similar stuff from the old liferafts and put some effort into creating harnesses that would work like the harnesses the… cattle has to wear. It was a chore, but they got it right and made it look realistic and really strict.

It was hard for Swantje especially, but she believed we did the right thing. When she was all trussed up we felt like shit, but she insisted we went on with the plan. So Hendrick took her down to the forest and they even managed to collect food and water. When they returned we were all so relieved! We could fill our bellies for the first time in weeks, we were all so euphoric. Zoe volunteered for the next expedition.

But for Daniel that wasn’t enough: He said no one would come to our rescue and he wanted to explore the inland. He said all Zoe and Swantje needed to do was ‘play cattle’ for a day or two. Then he and Hendrick could take the girls with them and move without being attacked. He suspected that this wasn’t even a real island but a part of the coast, and that it might be possible for us to find a way back to civilization if we just got past these crazy madmen that forced us to stay between the dunes.”

Scarlett smiled and ran her fingers through her hair. She had never met that Daniel, but she could understand why he had thought like that. She had also never met Zoe or Swantje, but judging from how Chris described them she could imagine what had gone on in their heads: Staying on the beach was a bad option, letting a man truss you up like a mule wasn’t really a better one, but what could you do? Just like she had reflected already before, sometimes women just played along with the shit men came up with – because that’s what you did when you were an adult and a confident girl, and when you knew that you had to make compromises to get through life. What was the bigger loss on control after all, being forced to slowly starve between those damn dunes or allowing a guy to put you in bondage for a day or two? Maybe, after some weeks in this shithole and with the first signs of malnutrition and group hysteria showing, the question wasn’t so easy to answer anymore.

“Daniel talked them into doing it, right?”

“He talked Zoe into doing it. Swantje agreed to let Hendrick be her ‘Guardian’. Kevin wanted to accompany them too, but since he didn’t have a girl to show to the natives we figured it would be too dangerous. He stayed with me.”

“And you?”, Scarlett asked curiously. “If you had had a woman to truss up, would you have gone with them?”

He was a shocked: His body tensed, every muscle beneath his skin turning into a stone. “No… well, no, no fucking way”, he mumbled his voice shaking a little. “I don’t do something like that to a woman. I wanted us to try and sneak through the woods at night. Or we could have tied two or three of the old liferafts together to create a larger vessel, than we could have traveled along the coastline. But the others had already made up their minds and I couldn’t talk them out of it again. They headed off to the forest. The plan was to do a test run and then return to the beach.”

“But they never came back.”

“Yes, you guessed it. They never came back.”

Chris pressed his palms against his eyes, shook his head, inhaled deeply, exhaled again. Finally he looked at Scarlett with eyes that told a lot about loss, doubt and desperation. “We never found out what happened to them. Kevin and I stayed here, but even for two people it’s very tough to survive in this place. After about two months he lost it. He screamed and cursed that we should have enslaved the girls when we had the chance, that we never should have allowed Hendrick and Daniel to take the cattle away... that's what he said, seriously. He was just angry that we had not 'taken' the girls because they would have been our ticket out of this wasteland. He was so bitter and so angry... that I did not know what to say to him anymore. He went literally insane, you know?

Finally he took one of the liferafts. But there are currents out in the bay, currents we didn’t know about. I could see how the raft was pulled too far out into the ocean, away from the land. I was alone from then on. I could survive alone, barely. That’s what I did, until yesterday.

Until I found you.”

They sat in silence for nearly half an hour. Scarlett didn’t know what to say and Chris had talked more than in all four years before and obviously had enough of it for now. But she still held her arm around his brawny shoulders, consoling him. At one point she leaned a little against him and kissed his cheek.

He was surprised. “What was that for?”

“For not being all too eager about turning women into cattle”, she said with a thin smile. “And for sharing your story with me.”

“You are welcome. But you should sleep now, Scarlett. You look very tired.”

“I’m sure I look like shit, not just ‘tired’ – but thanks for the euphemism.”

She took one of the old blankets and wrapped herself in it, yawning. Without saying more she closed her eyes and fell to sleep in less than half a minute. Her dreams were filled with cold and howling winds, the screams of the drowning and the voiceless, contorted shapes of the ‘cattle’ she had seen. But there were also the face and voice of Chris that consoled her, and there was a feeling of zeal and dedication: Scarlett intended to survive, no matter what. She did not plan to give up so easily and was adamant to not abandon hope but cling to it and spit in fate’s ugly face as soon as she got the opportunity. Thus was the fire that gave her, even in her dreams, some protection against the cold.

When she woke up the next morning she had, to her own surprise, made up her mind already. She didn’t talk to Chris about it though – instead she stayed with him over the course of the next days, and watched him and hoped that, against all odds, he and she would find a way to survive together on that small piece of land between the forest and the sea.

But in case that all her wishes and good prayers would not have the desired effect she also decided to not act like a fool but like a realist, preparing for a worst-case-scenario in a way that Chris’ conscience might not allow him to prepare for. So she also began collecting straps and belts from the old liferafts that had been washed ashore, just like Zoe and Swantje must have done some years ago. Scarlett hid them under one of the bushes for the time being, hoping and praying they would never be used on her own wrists and arms. But if it would be necessary, she told herself, then at least she herself had chosen what bonds were to restrain her own body.


For Chris, the two weeks that followed were a period of hope and desperation at the same time.

The hope – and deep gratitude – which he felt stemmed from the fact that he was not alone anymore: After nearly going insane from loneliness he now had another human being to share his thoughts with. And not just any human being but, as Chris thought, the best person that fate could have sent him! Scarlett was in a rugged state and still fighting against the shock, but she was without question attractive and sweet. Even more important than her looks though was her character: She had a certain kind of humor, a sort of warm and friendly sarcasm that worked as a perfect counterbalance to Chris’ own brooding nature. Being with her was like finally having found the antidote for the maddening poison that had coursed through his veins and brain in the past years.

In the mornings they would get up together and would leave the camp to explore the surrounding dunes. Chris would show Scarlett the best places for spearfishing, the few bushes where an edible sort of sour berries could be found and the best ways to collect precious sweet water. Around noon, when the heat became unbearable, they would retreat to the camp and rest in the sparse shadow and in the afternoon they would return to the beach to look for clams and collect driftwood for their campfire. In the evening they sat there, stared into the flames and exchanged stories. The mood was so weirdly intimate at these occasions that Chris had to touch Scarlett’s bare shoulder, his fingertips reluctantly making contact to her skin, in order to prove to himself she really existed.

Scarlett looked surprised when he did it the first time, but then she smiled. She knew his reasons without him having to explain them. “I’m really here Chris. I’m not going to go ‘poof’.”

He smiled too and nodded when she said that, but an hour later – or, at latest, on the following day – he would begin to doubt himself again. Scarlett felt that he needed the reconsolidation and accepted it: She touched him more often now. Her hand would brushing over his shoulder, one of her elbows would go against his forearm for a moment or her knee would bump against his as they sat close to one another. She smiled when she initiated those small contacts and sometimes winked at Chris as if they were accomplices.

Sometimes at night they lay so close to one another in the sand that he could feel her warmth and smell her salty skin and hear her breathing so vividly that his heart would not stop hammering in his chest. He could not sleep for hours and did not want to masturbate even though he knew the act would give him some peace, for a little while. But he couldn’t bring himself to do it. He just lay still and enjoyed the knowledge that Scarlett was right at his side and that as soon as the sun went up he could spend another day with her.

The desperation had, as well as the hope and gratitude, directly to do with Scarlett’s arrival: It began to set in when Chris realized, after only three days, that nothing had really changed. You could not survive here in between the dunes with two people, not even if one of them was a small woman who needed neither a lot of food nor a lot of water.

It wasn’t that Scarlett didn’t prove to be a promising spear fisher; it was that there were always only few fish in the shallow water. It wasn’t that she was too dumb to find berries, but that too few of those berries grew here. There were also too few clams to be found. Even collecting sweet water was a chore and took a lot of time, and at the end of a day it was usually barely enough for one person.

There were, to put it simply, just not enough natural resources for two people. Chris and Scarlett woke up each day with dry throats and a nagging hunger in their empty stomachs. Even if that day turned out to be one of the good days – which meant they caught one or two bigger fishes than usual or found an extra clam – chances were the next day would not again be a good one. Hunger was a constant companion and slowly led to the sort of exhaustion that Chris still remembered from the first time he had been living between the dunes together with others. You didn’t starve quickly, but you began to dwindle slowly. Each day you had a little less energy to get up, each day it all seemed to make a little less sense.

Because he did not want to give up and because he did not see an alternative Chris did everything to hide the fact from Scarlett that things would not work out in the long term. Alas she was an intelligent woman and pretty grounded in reality: After a few days he did not know anymore who protected whom from the truth really.

Scarlett pretended everything was okay just as he did; she stayed calm and relaxed, coped well with the thirst and the hunger. When he tried to give her more of the food, downsizing his own rations, she just smiled, shook her head and insisted they both ate the exact same portion. When he tried to make her drink more of the water she told him she wasn’t thirsty anymore and he could have the rest.

He respected her even more for that, but it didn’t solve any of their problems: Scarlett looked a little tired and her eyes grew rounder and wider while she lost weight and her ribs started showing. Just as Chris did, she as well got a little weaker from day to day.

Still, the slowly beginning process of starvation didn’t stop Scarlett from exploring their surroundings with great interest: Chris saw her often down on the beach when they weren’t together, where she rummaged through the debris and flotsam with never ending curiosity. Sometimes, when he had been so concentrated on a task that he had forgotten everything around him, he later realized she had wandered off and climbed one of the dunes. She then stood there very still, looking through the binoculars, either surveying the beach and the sea or looking in the direction of the inland. In those moments she reminded him of a general studying all strategic options, surveying the troops, searching for a plan to win an seemingly un-winnable battle.

Day by day the desperation smothered the hope a little more. Dark thoughts crept into his head and nightmares haunted him whenever he fell to sleep, Zoes and Swantjes images burning against the dark background of his eyelids. Their wide eyes, their restrained bodies, the way they had allowed the men to lead them into the forest made him angry in his dreams. He screamed and cursed but was left alone despite all his rage. There was no way to win, he was playing a losing game.

He awoke with Scarlett lying close to him, cuddled against him from behind. The young woman had wrapped his arms around him and kissed the side of his head. Her voice was warm and soothing, just a whisper: “You had another nightmare. What did you dream?”

“It does not matter.”

“Sure it does. You are scared, but what are you scared about? Dying?”

“No, I just…” He hesitated and swallowed what he had wanted to say first. “I don’t think this is working. I’m scared about what you want me to do.”

Scarlett ran her fingers through his hair and kissed the side of his face again. He had an erection now, hard and solid like stone, but was much too confused to make anything of it. And it was not so much a sexual situation anyways than a tender one.

“So you already know what I want you to do”, Scarlett laughed softly under her breath. “We are already like a couple, having so much stuff we ought to talk about but rather leave unspoken.”

Chris felt a little mocked now – but even worse, felt that she did not completely understand him after all, that he had been expecting too much empathy from her all this time. And how could he have explained to Scarlett that the problem was not simply how the Natives treated their females? For most men, no matter how sane and well controlled, it is nearly impossible to explain to women all the dark things that lurk in the hidden rooms and cellars of their minds. There were some places you did not talk about and kept locked, preferably forever. How could he have expected her to really understand him? His frustration grew with the realization and he stood up, bringing a meter of distance between them.

“I guess that I know it, yes. But I don’t want to.”

“I don’t want it either. I don’t want to be treated like a mule, I am not into tie-up-games and I’m definitely not into being led around naked. But it’s not what I want that counts, is it? It’s what we do not want. And we do not want to die here, do we?”

Chris shrugged. “Maybe not. But you don’t understand what you are asking me to do. You do not understand the danger that you are getting yourself into. I have watched the natives much longer than you, I have been studying them for years. If things go wrong…”

“Things have already gone wrong, Chris! We are on a fucking island in the middle of nowhere with no help inbound and we are slowly starving to death!” Now Scarlett was nearly screaming, her voice was shrill from anger. “For Heaven’s sake, in the good old days all a girl had to do was date a guy and make a joke about handcuffs . Now here I am with a man so honest and good that he rather would kill himself before trying out bondage. What’s wrong with people?”

They just stared at each other for a moment and then started laughing. It was the sort of laughter you reserved for special occasions. When they had it out of their systems they both were a bit more relaxed again.

“I don’t want to be in this situation”, Scarlett said a lot more gently. “But you look like you can barely stand anymore. And I feel like shit too. We need to eat. So tomorrow you will tie me up and we will go down to the forest. Either we get killed or we get to fill our bellies. It’s the only chance we have.”

“The plan didn’t work out for Zoe and Swantje.”

“Maybe not. But you don’t know what happened to your friends or if they made a mistake that we can easily avoid. I just want to get some food and water for us. After that we’ll see how things develop. Trust me Chris – tied up or not tied up, I can be pretty convincing.”

He smiled and hugged her. He could muster the strength for it because his erection had by now receded. “Oh I know you can. Believe me, if I was a native you’d already have me on your side.”


In the morning, Scarlett left their camp to retrieve the items she told Chris she had collected over the course of the past fourteen days. The place where she’d hidden them could not be too far away: He only had waited for a few minutes when she already returned. Now the young woman carried several padded straps and nylon belts, all more or less entangled with one another. Some had buckles on them and others had not, some were still in good shape and others not so much. It was obvious she had collected all of them from the different remains of seats and lifejackets and life rafts.

“You’ve been busy”, Chris said with a frown. “I suspected you were up to something, but I didn’t realize how dedicated you were.”

“It was just a thought at first, the general idea that we might have to use them if nothing else works. I hoped it wouldn’t be necessary and I prayed that we’d find a way to survive here in the wasteland, but… well, I’m not stupid. I saw it in your face that you had doubts yourself, you just didn’t want to tell me. So because you didn’t allow yourself to plan for the worst-case-scenario I figured it would be my job.”

Scarlett grinned and brushed a curl of reddish-brown hair from her forehead. She looked beautiful to Chris, breathtaking even. The facts that she had only managed to wash herself with sea water for two weeks and that the beach wasn’t exactly a beauty farm did not matter – the energy she radiated, her zeal and charisma made up for it. Besides, he thought without being able to stop his inner voice, the tan she’s gotten during those two weeks does actually look very damn good on her. She is one of those women who look sexy, no matter if they had a chance to put on makeup or not. I just wish she would not…

“Whats up?” Now Scarlett frowned. “You looked at me a little funny there.”

“Nothing’s up. Well, yes okay, something is: I still don’t want to do this.”

“We won’t survive more than some more days. I can see that your hands are shaking.”

“My hands are shaking because I am nervous. I said I don’t want to do this to you.”

“Your hands are shaking, just as mine, because we suffer from malnutrition. We need more water, we need more to eat and other things to eat than half of a small fish and three berries a day. There’s simply not much time left. We need to act before we get too weak to do anything.”

Scarlett handed him the straps and belts. “Okay, I think this is enough to tie me up for good. The large belt could go around my waist. When you buckle it you can kind of clip my hands back there with this one, then you can use those others to build the kind of harness we saw on the other women. What do you think?”

She looked at him unflinching, eyes wide open and a faint smile on her lips. She was nervous and half-sick, but at the same time showed so much courage that it broke his heart. So he decided to quit whining and show her the respect she deserved for her decision: He nodded and smiled and began to sort through the straps and belts in his hands.

“It could work, you are right. But if it hurts you’ll immediately tell me.”

“I promise” Scarlett said and obviously was lying.

“Okay then. Turn around and let me see what I can do.”

She did turn around and put her arms to her back. Then she hesitated and took her shirt off.

“You don’t need to do that, it’s just a test run…” Her bare back looked beautiful (and the scratches she had suffered during the shipwrecking were completely healed by now) and Chris found that his voice sounded pretty coarse. He tried to clear his throat but did not really succeed.

“Listen, I know you have seen my tits already. First of all I have not wearing a bra for the past two weeks because I don’t own one anymore. Second of all when I wash myself you always turn away or walk off, you are definitely not a peeping tom, but that doesn’t change the fact that you must have seen them while I was unconscious. Because that Ramones-shirt I woke up in wasn’t mine. I wore a fucking evening gown when I fell into the sea during that storm.”

“Yeah… the sea had torn it to shreds when I found you”, Chris mumbled. Then Scarlett turned around to him and he felt the blood rush to his head. Her breasts were small, firm, perky and… he forced himself to look away with all his willpower.

“They are just a pair of plain ol’ titties, so don’t get all agitated. Just get used to the fact that they exist and will not be covered for a while. I’m sorry that I have to do something so cruel to you.”

“Very funny.”

“Just let’s get this over with. You don’t have to massage the damn things. In fact it would be cool if you touched them… not. Just work around them.”

“You are beginning to sound like my ex-girlfriend”, Chris said dryly.

She smiled and patted his shoulder, then turned around again. She placed her slender arms on her back, hands together and fingers folded, and waited.

“Okay then”, he muttered. “Let’s see…” He needed a moment to design a plan, then carefully looped one of the straps around her wrists. As he tightened it, huge goose bumps appeared all over Scarlett’s forearms, every of the few hairs on her skin standing up.

“You’re afraid too”, Chris muttered. “You’re pretty good at hiding it, but you’re scared shitless.”

“Sure I am, how could I not be?” She shrugged, curled her fingers a little as he tightened the strap a bit more. “That doesn’t mean we can avoid this.”

He nodded too, even though she couldn’t see it from behind. He grabbed the rest of the straps and slipped them over her head and around her shoulders and body where they dangled loosely for now. Scarlett’s skin felt very hot and the goose bumps seemed to cover her whole body now.

“I need to turn this chaos into something like a harness. Give me a moment.”

“If you push the broad belt just under my breasts you can…”

“I’ve watched the Natives for years and I’ve seen them pretty often with their cattle at their side. I got this.”

Maybe that had come out a little too stern, Chris thought. Scarlett swallowed whatever she had wanted to say, nodded again and gave him time to design a plan for her bondage. The silence between them was uncomfortable and awkward while he adjusted the straps, knotted them together here and there, slowly formed the required harness. He loosely placed a softer strap around her elbows, worked it down, looped and loosely cinched it between her forearms as well. He improvised a kind of collar that would hold the setup in place around her neck and she gulped a little nervously as he applied this one.

There was no way to explain to Scarlett how often he had already done it in his thoughts, how often he had looked at the tied females that belonged to the Natives and studied their restraints. At least there was no way to tell her about it and sound sane at the same time.

Scarlett looked down at herself and watched him working, her eyebrows raised a bit. She seemed to realize the same thing that he had just been thinking about: How much thought he had actually already put into this and how remarkably quickly he was able to work now. The harness took shape within a few concentrated minutes and he began to knot together all parts of the setup with a single ‘Master Strap’ on Scarlett’s back that would allow controlling its overall tightness.

“You are doing this pretty well for a guy who doesn’t want to do it”, she mumbled.

“I just said that I don’t want to do it! I never said I had never put any thoughts into how I would do it. Scarlett, I have spent years suffering in this no-mans-land, I thought I might die here before I ever get a chance to leave.” Chris knew he sounded bitter, but he couldn’t really help himself. “You think I have never had my dark moments in all those years, cursing myself for being such a fucking… gentleman and staying here when the others left?”

He expected Scarlett to become either angry or worried, but she sounded more relaxed now, her voice softer again. “No, you are right. It must have been hell. No one can blame you for thinking about it.”

Somehow her sympathy just made his bad conscience worse. It was a slight overreaction, but since the straps were all in place now he grabbed her naked shoulder to support her and pulled the ‘Master Strap’ a little firmer than necessary. The belts and straps began slipping in place as they tightened the broad one beneath Scarlett’s breasts pushing against their bases, the crisscrossing ones around her torso whirring as the knots tightened and the straps sank a little into her skin. Her body was compressed now, just as Chris had planned it, and her ribcage was essentially corseted by the tightness. The straps he had looped around her elbows and forearms tightened as well, cut into her skin and began forcing her elbows and arms closer together.

Scarlett tried for a second or two to stay silent, then a shocked protest escaped her lips.

“What…! Wouh, wait, waitwait…!” Under the tanned skin of her arms Chris could see her muscles beginning to strain, ready to fight against the bondage, so he stopped pulling the master strap for now.

“If it’s too much I can take it off again. It’s really your decision.”

“Yes! I mean no, wait… isn’t this enough? It definitely feels tight enough, I swear!” She stared a little shocked at the sand in front of her bare feet, then turned her head to Chris with a red face and the discomfort in her eyes.

He pitied her and felt bad for hurting her, but he also realized that there was only one truthful answer to give: “It’s by far not tight enough. They are no idiots and they would never tie a female like this. They would see the difference in a second. We do not even have to try it this way.” Chris shook his head. “But like I said, I don’t want to do this to you! I can get you out of that shit right now and we keep looking for a better plan.”

He could see, as his words sank in, how she struggled with herself. It was an amazing sight how she was able to summon the courage or badass-attitude or whatever it was that kept her going, but even before she opened her mouth he knew what she was going to say.

“No, just go on. Don’t break my arms, okay? But you say you wont get me killed or maimed, right. You promise you got this?”

He nodded and then kissed her. It was a very quick, very light kiss. Just a brush on her cheek really. He thought she might freak out, but instead she just blinked and stared at him.

“I’m sorry, I had to do it. I know it’s possible the worst moment to kiss a woman for the first time, but…”

She leaned forward, even though the straps and belts cut a little deeper into her skin, and kissed him back, right on the lips. She tasted of warm flesh and wetness and salt and took his breath away.

“It’s either the worst or the best moment, whatever. Now go on. Please. Do it in a way that will be convincing to them. Do what you have to do.”

And that was exactly what he did.


Scarlett closed her eyes when Chris began adjusting the straps further, tightening here and there, carefully and very deliberately tugging and connecting, cinching and knotting the harness that felt already so tight and cruel to her. She opened her eyes again very quickly when she realized how much clearer the small signals of discomfort, that her body sent to her brain, felt while her eyes were closed. Having them open was better because it meant she could stare at the sand, the beach and the rolling waves in the distance. That way she could let the view distract her at least a little.

But the scenery could never distract her enough from what was going on: While her heart beat like crazy and she still tasted the kiss on her lips that she had stolen from Chris, her arms were now pulled closer and closer together, until her elbows nearly touched behind her back. Carefully, the shy man added a pair of straps that ran from her shoulders down, crossed between her breasts and then connected to the thicker belt that held the harness around Scarlett’s belly. Other broad belts now dug deep into the skin of her forearms and shoulders, pinning her arms directly against her bare back, while the rest of the corset compressed her ribcage further and made breathing a little harder still, increasing her discomfort even more. Her arms were useless now, her hands dangling in the strict bonds and her fingers unable to reach the buckles at all. The collar that Chris had placed around her throat gave her claustrophobic feelings.

“I’m kind of… scared that I might strangle myself”, she mumbled while testing the degree of what he had done to her. “I can’t relax my arms in this, or those fucking belts… aaaouch especially the one you put around my elbows… would pull themselves even tighter.”

Chris nodded, his face a little pale now, his lips very thin. After her remarks he checked on Scarlett’s bondage, pulled and fingered some of the knots, but did not loosen her bonds in any way.

“It’s part of the setup”, he said. “I said I had never seen one of the Natives’ slaves with free arms or hands, and that is true. But I also have never seen one who had lost her arms or had suffered visible damage to her extremities. And this sort of bondage is the reason.”

“Well, that’s jolly good to know!”, Scarlett spat out sarcastically.

“No, you don’t get it.” Chris smiled, although he looked still tortured, and tried to explain: “Your arms are tied like this because you are not supposed to rest them as long as you are standing. There’s pull on your shoulders and elbows, right? Use the muscles in your upper arms to get some relief as long as you can. When that’s not possible anymore change the position a little, buckle your elbows a bit, rest your hands firmly against your ass. Then, when that gets too uncomfortable, put more tension into your forearms, let them do the work for a while. And finally, if you have done all that and can’t take it anymore,  just let your arms hang for some time. The straps will tighten and bite into your skin, but the collar can’t completely choke you, it will just put some increased pressure on your throat.”

“Just… some increased pressure? You make it sound nearly harmless”, Scarlett complained. It wasn’t that she really wanted Chris to take the bondage off – she was still certain that they had no other chance of survival then reach the lake, as soon as possible. They had to get access to healthy food and fresh water or they would soon die! But all this was too uncomfortable, too awkward and too confusing. The thought that some women were forced to exist like this – without hope of getting out of the situation ever again – was gruesome and unbelievably cruel.

“Well, I know it’s a torture. But I’m trying to say that it’s designed this way to prevent that your arms just get limp and die. It’s a kind of a workout.”

“If we ever get back to civilization: I wouldn’t propose this to ‘Woman’s Health’ if I was you.”

“There goes my best shot at becoming rich and famous.”

The joke helped a little, but only until Chris shuddered while laughing under his breath, blinked insecure and nearly lost his balance. He steadied himself in the last second again, but Scarlett could see that he just stared at nothing for a moment, like a man seeing nothing but sparks in front of his eyes.

“’m fine”, he mumbled weakly with lips that did not completely obey his orders. “’M jus’ tired.”

She had tried to support him, but her arms were so useless that it felt like having none at all. Angry she tugged at the restraints and shook her head against the collar. “You are not fine. How little did you drink this morning?”

“I wanted to save some of the water for later”, Chris said guilty. “I thought you might need it, if something doesn’t go according to your plan.”

“You are an idiot and will get yourself killed! I told you that you and I get the same amount, I don’t want more than that. Drink the rest now or I’ll be standing on a foreign beach, tied up like a fucking piece of cattle and with a dead guy lying next to me!”

“It’s just a mouthful anyways”, Chris said frustrated. Anger gleamed in his eyes, driving his weakness away. “I just can’t stand it anymore… can’t stand this beach anymore, the burning sun, the sand, the salt… I can’t stand the wind anymore or the cries of the seagulls or this burning thirst. I can’t stand being hungry and thirsty anymore, every fucking day of my life. I just…” He pressed his hands against his temples and looked like a man literally fighting against a breakdown.

She pushed against him, her face against his cheek, her body against his side. She didn’t care that she was naked.

“Listen, I can’t do this without you. In fact I can’t do anything without you, Chris. You must get this done. You must be tough enough for both of us or we won’t get through this. If you freak out now or if you shy back from making the tough decisions then we're in real trouble.”

It seemed to take him a bit of effort, but he got himself under control again. He half hugged her with one arm, still a bit awkward but not as shy anymore as he had been before. Scarlett felt mostly weird about it because she knew that she smelled like a woman who had not had a proper shower in half a month and had been bathing in seawater and sleeping in sand day after day. She felt kind of filthy and realized that, despite how silly that was, she was dreaming of a real bathroom, shampoo and conditioner, a hairbrush, shower gel and a full, fresh bottle of antiperspirant.

“I’ll be tough enough”, Chris said a little breathless. He straightened himself and added: “You want me to make the tough decisions, I know. I’ll not flinch when it comes to that. I promise.”

As if to prove that he had meant what he just said he took the last set of straps that had not yet been put to use: The improvised head-harness that Scarlett had prepared from some shorter and thinner belts. A black rubber-wedge from a stranded lifeboat was laced into its center and would serve as a mouthpiece and gag for the wearer.

“Do you think it will work?”

“It will work fine. You are a clever girl with a lot of practical talents and you did this pretty well.” He smiled, but there was still something haunted in his glance.

“So how do you… aaagh….”

Chris already pressed the mouthpiece against her lips, and Scarlett opened her mouth automatically to help him try to adjust it. But the rubber tasted salty and bitter at the same time, a revolting combination that caused her to begin drooling instantly. She tried to turn her head away, just that Chris held her by the front of her harness – his hand just above her breasts but not touching them – and slipped the laces of the head-harness over her face and cheeks.

“Ghuugh… ‘at’ ak’s… ‘oggigle…”

“I can imagine how horrible it must taste, but you need to wear it nonetheless.” Chris sighed and looked at Scarlett while he smoothed the straps that ran across her face left and right of her nose and joined on her forehead. He knotted the head-harness to the collar and under Scarlett’s chin, then led the last small strap behind her back to secure it there.

“’uckin’ ‘ing… ake’s eeh… oouhl…” Scarlett coughed and had to fight the urge to freak and out try to shake the gag off. Her arms were twitching in the bonds, useless against the leather and nylon that held them, and her fingers instinctively reached for the buckles or her restraints without really getting anywhere.

“I can see it makes you drool. Don’t worry, I don’t care about that.” Chris smiled and kissed Scarlett’s forehead. “I’ll pull the harness tight now. Are you ready?”

She wanted so much to say No that she nearly screamed it. Had this gone too far already? Was this plan too crazy to ever work, or too simple to ever work, or too surreal to ever work? She didn’t know anymore, but she knew that her legs were shaking and her stomach growling, and how thirsty she was. She did not want to die, not here, not just because she had been too proud to grab a chance that was in front of her. She did not want to give up!

And so she nodded and said: “’Ogh ‘on…”, and a second later Chris pulled the gag tied, causing the wedge to push deeper into her mouth and between her teeth, the straps digging into the skin of her face, her collar being pulled up a little and turning more rigid. She coughed and felt more saliva drip down her chin and, for a short moment, fought the gag and bondage frantically – but then Chris hugged her and held her, and whispered into her ear: “Only an hour or two. After an hour or two we return here, and we’ll have enough to eat for days. It’s going to be fine.”

It was not, of course. But that came later.


Chris marched towards the tree line, leading Scarlett by a leash which he had attached to her collar. He had a bad feeling in his guts and was of course worried about the young woman, but did not allow himself turning around to check on her: He suspected a Native on lookout might be able to spot them already, and one such Native might get suspicious if he saw that Chris showed too much sympathy for his ‘cattle’. Their plan was already risky enough without alarming the Natives even further, and so Chris, who did not want to get pierced by arrows or spears, just kept looking straight ahead, no matter how much he pitied the panting, grunting woman who followed him across the wasteland.

And it was out of the question that there were good reasons to pity Scarlett: The cruel bondage that constricted her poor arms and elbows, her shoulders and essentially - in the form of the strict harness - her whole torso. It made walking hard enough for her already that way. But Chris had further mimicked the restraints of the Natives’ prisoners by hobbling Scarlett’s ankles with an additional strap. Now her freedom of movement was reduced even more. She had a harder time keeping up with his slow pace than she would have had anyways, and from time to time she stumbled in the sand and produced gagged, tortured noises while she fought to regain her balance with the annoying hobble-strap between her naked feet.

Chris also knew that Scarlett’s arm-bondage brought her to a physical limit: She sometimes made an elongated whining noise behind him, a wailing sound of tortured defiance. Whenever he heard that special noise Chris instinctively understood that the strain on her arms had gotten too much for Scarlett and that she was fighting to get them into a position that would again be bearable for the next few minutes. The longer they walked the more often she had to adjust. The pain in her arms had to be torturous by now.

Also adding to Scarlett’s plight, Chris had put the old backpack – the one that he had once found among the flotsam and since then used for collecting things – on the girl. The backpack was yet only filled with some empty bottles and cans that might later be handy for collecting water at the lake, but even though it didn’t have much weight it was definitely not making things more comfortable for Scarlett. Chris would have felt much better had he been allowed to carry the backpack himself, but doing so would be even more risky than a simple, affectionate look back at the poor woman: If he carried the backpack himself then the Natives would instantly know that they were being fooled. The consequences of their anger could be very dire for Chris and Scarlett. Thus, it didn’t matter how bad he felt about it: Playing their roles as convincing as possible was, at least at the moment, a lot more important than Scarlett’s comfort and emancipation.

They left the dunes behind them and reached a patch of land where there appeared the first higher bushes and green plants. The forest was close now – and for the first time Chris permitted himself to turn his head and look back at the girl he was leading around like a trapped beast.

What he saw shocked him more than he had expected and nearly made him cry out loud: Scarlett was literally bathed in sweat, so much that the belts, straps and ropes that restrained her appeared to be soaking wet. She had drooled a lot, droplets of sweat and foam from her mouth mixing on her chin. Her tongue slid out from beneath the mouthpiece in a weirdly animalistic attempt to wipe some of the saliva and sweat away, but was just a bit too short as to offer the poor woman any real relief. She was, in short, foaming and steaming like a horse after an exhausting day of training. She also looked like she had been crying - from pain or anger or both - during their trip across the wasteland.

His determination to not show any affection for Scarlett was blown away by the pityful sight that she presented: Chris couldnt help but approach her. As he did, he smelled the metallic, salty odor of her exhaustion. Scarlett blinked some of the tears and sweat away and obviously tried to be a trooper when she saw the way he looked at her: She straightened her back a little and made an attempt to look less beaten than she actually was.

“Let me see your arms”, Chris said under his breath. His bad conscience made him feel like the world’s biggest asshole for what he had done to this poor woman. Even though he was still scared about getting killed he had to fight down the impulse to just take Scarlett, free her and show any watchers hidden in the forest both middlefingers.

“Turn around and let me see your arms”, he repeated when Scarlett hesitated. Maybe she was thinking what he had thought before: That the showing of sympathy might get him killed very fast. “Come on, don’t worry", he insisted. "They’ll think I’m just checking on your bondage. Making sure that you can’t free yourself and that it’s still all in place. Use the time I buy you to catch your breath. It's the least I can do.”

She nodded, thankful and humiliated at the same time. She turned around for him so that Chris could check on her bondage, and to his relief the setup seemed to work as intended: The bonds had not seriously damaged Scarlett’s arms. Sure, the belts and straps bit deep into her skin, and also her muscles twitched and shuddered from the constant strain and discomfort, but no real harm had been done so far. “I can’t loosen those bonds”, he mumbled softly so that she would be able to hear him, but hopefully no one else would realze he was talking to her. “I know it’s tight, but it has to stay like this for some more time.”

“Ghuugh….!” Scarlett snorted and produced a protesting noise. “Hggh…ghhuuugh…ngaagh…!”

“I know it must be exhausting, but I can’t offer you any relief! The Natives’ females are, if you want me to be honest, tied a lot stricter than you. If I treat you any, ehm, nicer then I may as well beg these guys to kill me right here and right now.”

He didn’t know if the sound that Scarlett produced now was something like the gagged, exhausted version of a cynical laugh, but he thought that it might very well be. And that was good because he needed her to keep her humor. As long as they could see the comical side of all this weird bullshit there was a chance that they got through their surreal adventure without going insane.

“You’ll be fine, I promise. Look over there! We are already close to the forest. Only ten more minutes and we will have reached the lake.”

He could see in her eyes how nervous she was. This was, after all, the moment of truth: Would they be spotted? Would they be attacked? Or would the natives let them collect what they needed? However crazy this plan was, if it worked it would save both their lives. In Scarlett’s glance there was the same tension that Chris felt too, and again he felt closer to her than he had ever felt to a human being in his life.

Instinctively and without caring what the Natives would think he used his hand to wipe some of the sweat and drool off her face. Since he couldn’t hug or kiss Scarlett, Chris did the best other thing he could think of to show her his support: He stroked her cheek, just for a second, and then patted her shoulder like a horseman would pat his favorite mares’ side. It wasn’t exactly a normal gesture, but Chris hoped the message was clear.

“Let’s go.” Chris tugged the leash and turned around, and behind him Scarlett moaned and coughed and got moving again.

(SCARLETT’S viewpoint)

The heat… oh the fucking heat and how the sun burnt on Scarlett’s skin, how it made her arms heavy and her head throb! The way those straps bit into her arms, how they pressed into her flesh and tortured her! It had only taken her about fifty meters of walking in the restraints to realize how cruel they really were, how they forced the victim to waddle instead of walking, how clumsy it made her feel not being able to use her arms as counterweights to her movements.

The sun was relentless, the straps chafed her skin, the gag… she hated the gag so much! It tasted bad and made her drool like a cow, it made breathing harder too. The smell of her foaming drool and her sweat was like a cloud that surrounded her and she hated it too, essentially because it made her feel like a piece of cattle for real. She had never before experienced droplets of sweat falling off her nipples, but now it happened every few seconds!

Scarletts arms were in constant pain, like in a workout that didn’t end. There was no way to put them in any comfortable position; every few minutes she just had to choose another sort of discomfort. The angry, exhausted, frustrated grunts that came out of her gagged mouth were maybe the worst: She had never been gagged before and hated the way she sounded now, so reduced and dumbed-down. It was degrading through and through and filled her so much with contempt that she bit even harder on the rubber wedge between her teeth, spiteful and angry, leaving small teeth marks in the durable substance.

And Chris did not talk to her and did not turn while he kept leading her across the wasteland –while the backpack that he had secured on her back got heavier by the minute! From a certain point on all that Scarlett did was concentrate on her feet and on not losing her balance. She did not know how much time passed while she stumbled onward like that, cursing herself for designing a plan that was so stupid and demeaning and painful.

Finally Chris stopped and she could stand there and pant, moan, groan, cough. He turned to look at her and she saw the pity on his face. But that didn’t help her at all, because it just showed how defeated she had to look for him to make such a grimace. When he approached her – when he told her she should turn and let him check on her bonds, and that she should use the time to catch her breath – she hoped against hope that he would pity her enough to loosen those motherfucking fucking bonds, if only a little.

But he did not do that, of course – he just checked them and did not move a finger to change anything of the setup even though he had to see how painful it was for her! One part of her was proud of him, because he did manage to be as tough as she had explicitly asked him to be. Still… when he told her that he could not grant her even an inch of additional freedom she could not hold back the bitter laughter that came out as a snort.

“Ghuugh….!” (Sure, this meant). “Hggh…ghhuuugh…ngaagh…!”( You say you can’t, but what you mean is that you just won’t, even though you fucking well could!)

Then he pointed at the forest and, following his finger with her eyes, she realized how close they already were. Chris was right – only five to ten more minutes and they would reach the shadows of the first trees. She just had not realized it because she had been too occupied with her own condition.

And then, when they reached the forest? Scarlett needed water and food more than she had ever before in her life. She knew there was no turning back now. But she was also so scared. What if the Natives attacked? What if something else went wrong?

Suddenly Chris touched her face and began wiping some of the snot and tears away. It was humiliating, but she still enjoyed the reconsolidation of his touch. Only when he patted her shoulder as if she was a damn horse there was a new sting to her pride.

But before she had more time to think about it, Chris had already turned around and was walking towards the forest again, and all she could do was follow. Scarlett stumbled after him as good as she could, watching him from behind and hoping that they would survive this day and that, when the sun set, they would be back at their camp, laughing about the crazy stunt they had pulled to get fresh food on their non-existent plates.


Stepping into the shadow of the first trees was like falling under a spell for Chris. He had, after all, spent years in the wasteland and had nearly forgotten how it felt to be anywhere else. And so, the hint of moisture in the ground beneath his feet was so exotic, the weak odors of the soil and vegetation were vitalizing. Large flowers of all colors grew here, some of them sending shiny puffs of glittering pollen into the air as Chris and Scarlett passed them. All these impressions as well as the chirping of birds in the distance were so novel and refreshing that Chris felt not like a man who had wandered approximately two miles from a beach to the brink of a forest, but like a man who had just crossed a galaxy to set his feet on a new planet.

“Oh my God, even if I die today, maybe this was worth it”, he mumbled. Here beneath the trees the air was more humid, the smells grew more intense with each step. Monkeys screamed at them from the branches of a nearby tree, butterflies sprayed colors in the rays of sunlight that still found a way through the thickening foliage. One of the beautiful, multi-colored insects sat on Scarlett’s sweat-soaked shoulder like a colorful brooch.

She did not appreciate it at all, of course – she was so exhausted that she looked like she would break down any moment. And Chris, despite the upcoming euphoria, felt like a goner as well.

“It’s not far. Come on, it’s right there, I can see it through the branches already…”

Like a dying man in a fever dream he stumbled forward. He did not care about the Natives anymore, his stomach was a burning hole, consuming the last remnant of his life energy, tearing at the remains of his self-control. Had an arrow hit him now, Chris would probably not even have realized it any more.

With a shaking hand he brushed the last branches to the side and stepped to the brink of the water. He fell to his knees and drank for a minute, greedily gulping down as much as he could take. Only then did he realize that Scarlett was next to him, also on her knees and swinging weakly forwards and backwards, staring at him in humiliated despair.

“Shit, I’m sorry”, he whispered. For a moment he hesitated, looked around to see if anyone was watching them, but could make out nobody. So he took the gag out of her mouth with trembling hands and let it just dangle at her chin. Then he grabbed Scarlett, one hand at the back of her harness and the collar and another hand at her shoulder, and helped her to bow forward so that she could drink as well. The sounds she produced were rough and wild and she swallowed the water even more greedy than Chris had. When he felt that she needed to stop he pulled her back from the water’s surface despite all her efforts to keep quaffing. When he had her away from the brink of the water she just rolled to her side, catching her breath and staring up at the canopy. Then she produced a loud belching noise of the sort you’d never expect from such a small, pretty girl. That, thought Chris, was pretty funny. And then her eyelids began to flutter.

“Scarlett…? Are you okay…?”

She did not answer anymore – instead she went all limp. At least she was still breathing, but Scarlett seemed to have lost consciousness from the exhaustion. Chris decided to grant her some time for the rest she needed so direly. “As long as you’re still breathing it can’t be that bad, tough girl”, he said smiling.

And that was the moment when she started to snore. He had to laugh, albeit under his breath. Instinctively he raised his hand and reached for her face. He was just about to brush a strand of her wet hair from her smooth forehead and maybe even kiss her again, but in that moment  he noticed that something had moved at the very brink of his field of vision. The smile froze on his lips and very slowly, like a man who’s blood had frozen in his veins, he turned his head to the left.

Chris saw two men, not more than sixty feet away from him, who were watching him through the brushwood. Both were Natives and both were muscular and dark-skinned. Both had trophies on their belts, some of which seemed to be the claws and teeth of animals, some of which appeared to be shrunken heads. Both of the men were holding weapons, one of them a spear and the other bow and arrow.

The one with the spear was older and only watching Chris with a neutral face, but the other man was not content with his role as a spectator: The tip of his arrow was already pointing at Chris and this Native was ready to shoot the projectile any second. There was something like disgust in his grimace. His glance going from Scarlett to Chris’ hand – which was still hovering next to the girls’ face – and then to Chris himself. His lips parted and he produced a barely audible, annoyed snort.

Chris returned the man’s glance with what he hoped was a tough facial expression. Was this the moment of his death? Well, if that was what it was going to be like then he didn’t want to give that bastard any sort of satisfaction. He didn’t intend to die crying like a baby.

But if he still had a say here then he would prefer to not die at all. What would become of Scarlett if he got killed, would she spend the rest of her life as these guys ‘cattle’? That wasn’t a fate he wanted for the young woman, not if he could prevent it.

Time froze. Very slowly Chris reached for Scarlett’s gag, without ever taking his eyes off the Natives, and put the gag back between her teeth. He fastened the straps as tightly as possible. The corners of the young woman’s mouth were drawn back my the large rubber wedge and the laces pressed into her face again, just were there had already been visible imprints on her skin. Scarlett moaned, getting harnessed again and crueler than before, but did not wake up.

Chris clenched his teeth and waited. The men still watched him with the same kind of intensity – but was the younger one holding his weapon a little more relaxed now? Was the older one smiling, even if it was barely visible? Seconds felt like minutes, each heartbeat felt like a precious gift.

The older Native said something that Chris couldn’t really hear and would not have understood anyways. The younger Native nodded and lowered the bow. Both men took a step backwards and were gone in an instant, disappeared into the forest.

Chris held his breath for another moment and then allowed himself to breathe again. He looked down at Scarlett and felt strong and empowered in a weird way and finally again in control of his own fate. She had made this possible, through her sacrifice! She had given him the opportunity to be here. Only with her help Chris had stared into the eye of the tiger and – at least for now – not been harmed.

He was still alive. The plan had, at least so far, worked! He decided to eat some of the fruit – actually eat a lot of the fruit, eat until he would burst! – while Scarlett was still unconscious. It seemed to be already around noon and they had no time to lose if they wanted back at the beach before sundown.

On the inside, Chris was cheering, dancing and giving a motherfucking parade for himself and the girl he loved. On the outside he played it cool. There was no time to lose.


When Scarlett awoke, at first she was just like an empty shell that had not yet been refilled with memories or feelings: She lay on the soft ground, half hidden by the high ferns and bushes, and felt the dull ache in her body without being angry or worried about it, just accepting the signals her brain received in a detached, stoic way.

The pain was not too bad after all, it was just there and she could accept it for now. Her exhaustion as well was not as bad as it had been before. She felt a bit thirsty and very hungry, but she did not feel as if she was dying anymore.

Still, something was weird. It was not the gag in her mouth or the bonds that constricted her arms and body, because now she began to remember why those where there and how she had gotten into this situation. She wanted to be free again, of course she did! But at least she knew for what reason she had allowed herself to be tied up and she knew that she would be released soon enough. She was in the forest and had not yet been killed, so it seemed their plan had worked.

But where was Chris?

She decided that she had been lying around useless for long enough. So Scarlett struggled to get up with her hobbled ankles, rolled to the side and then brought herself into a kneeling position. Here she was, dirty as a monkey, with leaves in her hair and sticking to her skin, mud on her cheek and a lot of small insect bites that had not been there before she had fallen asleep. But at least there was no sun burning down on her: The forest was calm and the air had cooled down to a pleasant temperature. Compared to the beach this was paradise, if only the ‘protection’ of her restraints would not be necessary.

The sun! Scarlett stared up to the canopy, her eyes widening. Where was the sun? When they had arrived the sun had been high above them, bathing the forest in bright light that got dyed green as it fell through the canopy. Now it was a lot darker, colors were harder to make out. Was this already twilight? For how long had she been out of the game?

Just when she was beginning to panic in earnest she heard something at her side. She turned her head and there was Chris. That was a mighty relief, because for a moment she had suspected that things had gone wrong after all and that, somehow, he had been forced to leave her alone here at the lake.

But there he stood, looking a tad better than before, less crazy and definitely less close to death. He even smiled as he approached her.

“Finally”, he whispered into Scarlett’s ear meanwhile he helped her to her feet. She still felt a bit dizzy from the hunger, but the water alone had given her some new strength. “You’ve been asleep for hours! I’m glad that you’re awake now. Come over here and let me give you something to eat.”

She would have hugged him back, so glad he was still alive and seemed so much better than before, but with her arms strapped to her back Scarlett had to content herself with little – all she could do was groan in agreement and relief and nod slightly. She followed him as good as she could, with stiff legs and aching feet. Nearby he had set up a small camp between the bushes and not too far from the brink of the water, with lots of fruit and even some small fishes from the lake nearby. Three or four of those fishes he had put on a stick and fried above a small campfire. They smelled especially delicious.

“Here, kneel down and try to make yourself a bit more… comfortable.” He made a face and frowned when he remembered that there wasn’t a lot of comfort to be had for Scarlett in her condition. “I’ll take the gag out, but don’t talk loudly, okay? Because I doubt we are alone… I’ve seen the Natives just a short time ago, and, they were pretty close to us.”

When he took the gag from her mouth she couldn’t hold back a pained moan, cramped as her jaw muscles felt. “Thanks”, she coughed and whispered and then ate the first banana he offered her so fast that she nearly bit his fingers.

Had she thought before that she was dirty as a monkey? Well, now she was also being fed like a favorite mule. But the fresh fruit was delicious and she ate the second and third one just as fast as the first.

“Wait a second, give me… give me a break”, Scarlett pleaded with a tired smile, a bit breathless, when she had eaten the third banana out of Chris’ hand and he immediately offered her what looked like half of an especially large orange. “I could eat until I burst, but… shouldn’t we take as much as we can carry and then get going? It’s getting dark already!”

He hesitated. He looked at her pretty sternly, and then he shook his head.

“No, I don’t think we would make it back to the beach. Frankly I think we better stay here for the night.”

Scarlett stared at him, taken aghast completely.

“What the fuck”, she whispered, fighting hard against the urge to start screaming at the top of her lungs. “Stay for the night, are you fucking crazy? I can’t stay like this for a whole night!” She moved her arms as good as she could and was shocked by how heavy and limp they felt on her back.

Chris reacted fast and most likely without thinking: He pulled her leash, tightening her ‘collar’ and forcing her to lean closer towards him. Scarlett cursed under her breath and glared angry at him when she was choked for that short moment.

“Hey! Don’t do that ever again!”, she whispered with a voice sharp as a firestone.

“I’m sorry, okay? I didn’t want to hurt you. But I said you should not talk so loud! Their cattle does not talk at all, ever! If these guys are still out there and notice that I’m having a conversation with a beast…” He did not have to finish the sentence. Scarlett nodded, albeit still pissed off, and did her best to whisper as faintly as possible.

“Listen, I’m doing my best to stay cool. But why are we still here? I thought the plan was to grab food and water and return to the beach before sundown, to get me out of this fucking harness!”

“It was, but you were unconscious. I could not carry you plus the backpack filled with water and food. All I could do was set up camp and hope that you regain consciousness at some point.”

“You said I was asleep, now suddenly it’s ‘unconscious’! Did you even try to wake me up?”

“Of course I did! But there was no way to wake you up, at least I found none. And then I thought, since they did not attack me with you at my side, that we could as well stay here for the night anyways. We can eat and drink more, the air is better and we might sleep good enough. Tomorrow we will be rested and ready to return to the beach.”

Scarlett felt frustration welling up inside her, like a knot in her stomach that would not go away from however many water and fruits. “Listen, you don’t know how this feels… I’m naked and I am tied up, my arms and hands feel really bad. I can’t possibly stay like this for a whole night! So if you think that you may get a chance to rest here that’s fine, but for me it’s not going to be a good night at all…”

Chris hesitated, then he smirked. It was kind of a sweet smirk, even ironic, but what he said next did not reassure Scarlett at all.

“Listen, I know it must feel horrible. But I got to break it to you: You have already been like this for about ten hours and your arms are still fine! I mean okay, I can imagine they don’t feel really good, but what I mean is that they are still healthy. I checked on them regularly Scarlett, they are not really damaged or anything. The harness does just what it was designed to do.”

“Chris, I don’t care if it works just fine, I want out of it!”

“I know” He nodded and she could see his bad conscience, but again he did what she had asked him to do when they had still been on the beach: He made a tough decision. “But in the darkness one of us cold step on a snake and get killed. There may also be predators in this forest. And even if we meet no dangerous animals, we can still simply break a foot or a leg or get impaled on a splintered branch. I have not seen a hospital on this island yet. Have you?”

She thought about all he had just said and studied his face thoroughly. He looked as worried as she was, and Scarlett still thought he was being honest.

“But I… how am I supposed to sleep, Chris?” She knew her voice was a little pleading by now, but she could not really help it.

“I will make things as comfortable as I can for you”, he said with a faint smile. “I have a plan.” He looked like he wanted to kiss her again but then instead just patted her head. It felt awkward: Surely this was the more secure alternative, in case they were being watched – but it also felt demeaning and patronizing in the worst possible way.. “Look, I already prepared this.”

One of the cans they had brought with them stood close to the fire. Scarlett could see a green liquid inside. A spicy, not directly unpleasant smell got into her nose when Chris picked the can up and showed it to her.

“Do you remember those thick green leaves, the ones the Natives feed their cattle?”

“Their females you mean, Chris.”

“Sure, but it’s not that big a difference, right? However, I don’t know what exactly these plants are, but I have seen the Natives using them a hundred times. They do two different things with them: They feed their females with them and also they boil them and use the syrup as a kind of balm. For example they massage it onto their catt… I mean onto the females’ arms.”

“I’m not sure if I’m supposed to laugh or start screaming”, Scarlett said sarcastically. “That’s your plan? Smear green goo on my arms, as if I wasn’t already looking enough like a cave-woman?”

Chris smiled. “Just try it out. Trust me a bit and turn around.”

So Scarlett did turn around. For a moment nothing happened, but then she felt Chris’ hands on her arms. He smeared the green balm onto her skin, at first carefully and then with more effort, effectively massaging it into her aching flesh all the way from her shoulders over her upper arms and elbows and down to her wrists and hands. The effect was surprising: The massage itself felt good, Scarlett’s skin was being cooled and her muscles mostly stopped aching. The pain and discomfort that the bondage caused her did not matter that much anymore.

“Okay”, she said a little milder. “This is… pretty amazing.”

“Thought so”, Chris grinned. “I tested it on my hurting feet an hour ago and the effect is pretty astonishing, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, but still…”

“Do you think you can spend the night in the bonds now? Your arms don’t hurt that much anymore, do they?”

“No, they don't”, Scarlett admitted. “They feel kind of limp, but I can still feel them. On the other hand I can’t feel too much, if that makes sense. The pain is mostly gone. So...." She hesitated. "I can give it a try, but seriously, I want the use of my arms back as soon as possible…. You understand that, don’t you?”

“Sure I do.”

“And… do I have to be gagged for the night?”

“Yes, I think so. I’m sorry, I would like to do this just like the Natives do – play our roles as good as possible. But before I gag you again you can eat and drink more, get back some of your strength.”

“Sounds good”, Scarlett sighed. “The fishes smell delicious.”

But Chris offered her one of the thick green leaves instead.

“Are you kidding me? Doesn’t the ‘cattle’ get any fish or meat?”

“Frankly no, cattle doesnt”, Chris said with his cheeks turning a bright red again. “But would you… try this one? I think it fits the act, and I swear they don’t taste bad at all.”

Scarlett opened her mouth and begrudged took the leaf in her mouth. She carefully bit it, just to find that it tasted pretty much like the balm had already smelled: The juice that mixed with her saliva had a spicy and refreshing taste and a note of sweetness that made it in fact pretty delicious. She kept chewing and nodded, a little surprised and a little more friendly.

“Okay, it’s edible. And I’m still starving, so give me another one.”

Chris did not give her only one - instead he folded three or four of the leaves into a bundle and carefully put it into Scarlett’s mouth. Getting fed like this didn’t help to make things feel less surreal: Scarlett laughed under her breath while she chewed the leaves like that, some of the green juice dripping down her chin.

But odd as the situation was, once her stomach was filled with some more leaves she felt a little more relaxed, also a bit more refreshed and less worried. Her skin tingled in a pleasant way.

Chris helped her drink from the lake again and once again checked the bonds while the forest around them went all dark. The small campfire illuminated only the surrounding bushes and trunks of the trees, turning the campsite into a small island of light in the midst of impenetrable darkness.

“Okay”, Scarlett nodded while Chris placed her on the soft ground with one of the blankets beneath her and some ferns as an improvised pillow. “This is going to be a dreadful night and I hate you for it… but maybe you were right about not walking home so late. It’s dark like in a gorilla’s’ ass out there…”

“You know”, smiled Chris, you have a wonderful way of expressing yourself. Very ladylike.”

They both giggled and felt relieved for another moment – until, just a second later, a noise rang through the forest, originating from only a few meters away in the darkness. It sounded very distinctly like someone stepping on a birch.

Scarlett stared at Chris, her heart beating faster and harder again. She could see his fear too: The thought that, within a second, disaster might strike from the cover of darkness. If the people who lived in these woods wanted to see Chris dead, there was nothing to stop them. An arrow or a spear, hell even a big stone thrown against his head would be more than enough.

“Give me the harness”, Scarlett whispered under her breath. She opened her mouth fast and wide as Chris fumbled with the gag. “And strap it as tight as you cunngh…gnnnnh!” He had already pushed the rubber wedge between her teeth and fastened the straps with flying fingers. He nervously licked his lips as he made sure the devious thing was well set around her head and face. Then he looked around, anxious to make sure that any Natives watching them would see what he had done.

For the rest of the evening Chris did not talk to Scarlett anymore. Neither did she try to communicate with him: She just lay there on the blanket, humid air touching her naked body, and felt insecure, degraded, but at least sated for the first time in weeks. Her thoughts going round and round in her head she was sure that she would not get a lot of sleep tonight. But to her own astonishment, all while she contemplated on how the pain in her arms had dwindled and how she felt calmer and stronger since she had eaten, she already fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.


Chris could not sleep and could not help himself but think about what he had done. Why had he done it to begin with? He did not know that, but he knew he had lied to Scarlett. Now, he felt like an asshole.

Not everything that he had told her had been a lie, of course: She had indeed been very fast asleep, nearly unconscious in a way, if you wanted to put it like that. And yes, the sky had begun to darken earlier then Chris had expected. Maybe he could have woken Scarlett up if he really had tried, maybe it would have sufficed to shake the girl hard or pinch her or talk some louder words. He was not sure anymore because he had not really made an effort.

Of course there was no way to explain that to Scarlett without causing a freakout. But it was all so damn complicated! How was Chris supposed to explain to her how he had stared at the girl and how he had found that he was so confused and that she was, in a way, beautiful how she lay there between the ferns. How was he supposed to explain how he had stared at her like a infatuated fool, just lost in his thoughts of how he wanted to protect her and how he needed her, without sounding like an idiot?

And he was not a careless man either: Chris thought back to how he had contemplated if he could make her position more comfortable for her, how he had checked on her arms and had found that they were still okay – so he had decided to leave them in their bonds exactly as they were, for the time being.

Did Scarlett really think that he did not care about her comfort or well-being? He had wanted to wake her up in the afternoon, but she had just slept so soundly and looked so peacefully, even with her lips quivering around the gag. So he had decided to just give her some more time. He had collected more water and more fruits. But meanwhile his bad conscience had grown. Part of him had insisted that he was taking a risk for weird reasons. That part of him had insisted that they would have to make camp at the lake if he waited much longer, and that Scarlett would have to spend the night in bondage. And that rational, sane part of him had of course won the battle. Chris had approached Scarlett to finally wake her up, and surely that's what he would have done.

But then, one of the Natives had returned.

It was the older of the two Natives who Chris had seen already before, the one with the spear. He was by himself this time, standing only a few meters away when Chris turned around. While Chris felt the blood in his veins turn to ice the other man had not shown any emotions at all: He had only stared at Chris, then had lowered his glance to Scarlett. Chris did not know if he only imagined it or if it was true, if it could be true, but the man had, he thought, had something like respect in his glance. He had pursed his lips only slighty and then said something under his breath, in his own guttural language.

“She’s… she’s mine.” Chris had not known where that had come from, but it seemed an appropriate thing to say. The man had looked at him, a bit astonished, and answered briefly in his own language again.

Chris had sounded nervous the first time, his voice had been a little insecure. Now he shook his head, anger and a certain kind of frustration welling up from deep inside. He had been surprised by the sound of his own voice.

“I said she is mine”, he had repeated, pushing his claim. And the man seemed to believe him this time, because he nodded again with what Chris suspected (but could not be sure) was more respect. Then the Native had turned around and walked away, but not without gesturing for Chris to follow him. And Chris - still not without fear of suddenly being hit by an arrow or a spear - had summoned all his courage and followed him.

That decision had turned out to be a good one, because the Native had shown to Chris something he would never have found by himself. Something he would never have hoped to find. The Native had watched him as he studied his discovery and had, without doubt, seen how agitated and anxious Chris had become. This message that someone – most likely Daniel or Hendrick – had carved into the tree was remarkable. Chris felt as if the blood in his head had been replaced with sparkling water.

The Native had given him something before he left. Well, not given to him since he seemed not interested in coming too close to Chris. He had left the item for him, hanging from the branch of a nearby bush. Then he had left Chris alone, and Chris had been tortured by his bad conscience, by conflicting thoughts about right or wrong, by the notion that he was, after all, still going insane.

He wanted to help Scarlett and he wanted to get her out of the bondage as soon as possible. He wanted to do the right thing and be a good man.

He also did not want to go back to the beach without answers, not if there as a chance to find them soon and so close nearby.

One day, the hardly decipherable letters had said. Only one day and there might be the answers he was looking for. Only one day, but if they returned to the beach now the Natives might see that as a sign of weakness, might never again accept him as a visitor to their lands.

The realization of how long he had lived the life of an already-dead man came to bear with all its weight on Chris now. The taste of the fruit, the smells of the forest… the feeling to be free once again, after having been a prisoner for so long, was wonderful and terrifying at the same time. Did he really want to take the risk of returning to the beach, possibly without a chance to ever leave that damned wasteland again?

In the end he had made up his mind, still with a bad conscience but also with a certain determination. He would do what needed to be done, because it was better that way for Scarlett and him. What would be achieved if they just returned to the beach with enough food for a day or two or three days at max?

He had known that Scarlett would not like his decision. So he had decided that he would need to break it to her slowly, bit by bit. And even then there was a good chance that she might lose trust in him and freak out. So what could he do to prevent that?

This was the moment when he had thought about using the leaves for the first time. His knowledge of their capabilities was sparse, but... there was a chance that they would make it easier for him to convince the young woman.

It had scared him that he was ready to go to such lengths and trick Scarlett in such a way, but finally he had given up to argue with himself. It needed to be done. Scarlett had told him she needed him to be the guy who does what’s necessary.

And Chris did not plan to disappoint her. So he had only waited and counted the minutes while the sky had continued to darken. He had used the time to collect some of the leaves and he had prepared the balm.

All in all, things had worked out fairly well. Here he was, lying in the dark with Scarlett close to him. She was already asleep, that much he was sure of. And tomorrow they would both get up early and he would try to explain to her what needed to be their next step.

She would understand it, Chris was sure about that. She was a rational woman and she knew she could trust him. All would be well.


To her surprise Scarlett had not only slept like a stone all night, she also felt pretty rested when she finally woke up in the morning. How was that even possible?

She had, after all, been forced to spend the night in tight, uncomfortable bondage: With her body caught in the cruel harness and her arms strapped to her back. She had been forced to sleep collared and hobbled and with the gag in her mouth, and all this should have turned the night into a ridiculous kind of torture for any woman.

But instead, even though Scarlett still was in discomfort and still wished to get out of her predicament as soon as possible, she had to admit to herself that it wasn’t all that bad.

Sure, her arms were throbbing a bit and felt stiff, but that was it. The collar had abraded her skin a little yesterday but didn’t feel too painful today. And Scarlett’s jaw was aching from the gag, but that ache was a minor one. The drool which constantly came from the corners of her mouth and dripped down her chin – as soon as she didn’t concentrate in swallowing every few seconds – was worse than all the rest combined.

Chris was in a good mood as well, having rekindled the fire already and frying another fish when Scarlett struggled into a sitting position. He came over and helped her to her feet with a smile. Scarlett found that he too had more energy, his eyes gleaming with newfound strength as he checked on her arms.

“Let’s make sure that you haven’t taken any damage”, he said with the same care he had permanently demonstrated since they had been forced into this weird kind of symbiosis as ‘Owner’ and ‘cattle’. Carefully, knot by knot he tested the bonds. He took his time to make sure everything was in order and then, to Scarlett’s surprise, tightened the belt that had been looped around her elbows a little further!

She was baffled when she felt the harness constrain her arms just this little more, especially since Chris didn’t really seem to realize what he had done. He had acted like a man on autopilot and now just continued checking the rest of her restraints with the same kind of friendly attention. Scarlett didn’t know what to say, even if she had not been gagged… she was so baffled that she didn’t even protest.

Chris seemed to be able to read Scarlett’s mind… at least partially. “I’ll take the gag out of your mouth in a moment”, he mumbled, so that no one except Scarlett would be able to hear him, while he let his hands run over her forearms and then tightened another one of the straps, this one running around her wrists. Again it didn’t seem to occur to him what he was doing. “You can eat and drink, but if you need to talk please whisper. And afterwards let’s… let’s get going.” He had hesitated there for a moment and she wondered why, but when he took the rubber wedge from her lips she forgot about it instantly because the pain in her cramped jaw served as a perfect distraction.

“Ouhgod… ouch… this is no fucking life for a human…” Scarlett coughed under her breath, talking in the lowest voice possible. Her voice was hoarse and slurred. “Shit, my jaw is killing me… I’ll be very fucking glad to finally be able to scratch myself again, especially since you just tightened the straps around my elbows and wrists. What the hell were you thinking?”

Chris was shocked, shaking his head with a baffled face. “Oh wow, shit. I didn’t… I mean I wasn’t thinking. I’m so sorry! I could just see your arms had adjusted a bit and that they had more leeway now, and it just looked kind of… unaesthetic. Well it looked like it could be tightened a bit further and I did it without thinking.”

“Maybe it could be tightened further, but it didn’t have to tighten it any fucking further”, Scarlett pointed out sarcastically. “You are aware that having ones arms tied like this is very uncomfortable, are you? And that I’m not a piece of art?”

“Yes”, Chris said abashed. “Sorry, this will not happen again.”

“Well, I don’t intend to stay in this outfit much longer anyways.” Scarlett smiled at him, trying to show him that she wasn’t seriously angry. “I don’t need breakfast now. I want to eat with my own hands, once we are at the beach again. Let’s get going.”

He shook his head, smiling at her with admiration. “No, come on. I know you are tough, but you don’t have to prove anything. Eat and drink, we still got time for that.”

“No, I just don’t want to be naked anymore. And don’t you mind my… you know…”

“Your what?” He didn’t understand.

“My smell! I’ve been like this for nearly 24 hours now, I’d do everything for a shower and a deodorant.”

He laughed, softly, and then touched Scarlett’s matted hair with one hand. He petted her again and, with real affection in his eyes, took a piece of cloth, put in in the water of the lake and used it to clean Scarlett’s face and cheek.

“It isn’t your fault that you aren’t exactly… clean. But you are also beautiful, and nothing will change that. You are a little sweaty, true, but it’s not that bad.”

Scarlett closed her eyes while she felt the cool cloth on her face, enjoyed his touch and at the same time wondered how much more surreal things could get anymore.

“Why are you smiling like that, Scarlett?”

“I’m smiling because it’s a weird situation.”

“It definitely is.” He cleaned her neck and throat now, wiping the sweat from her skin where the improvised collar had irritated it. He continued with her collarbone and shoulders, touching her very tenderly and carefully, so close to her that she could feel his breath on her cheek and the side of her neck. Scarlett’s nipples became a little swollen even before she felt the cool cloth touching them. Her crotch was warm now, definitely warmer than it was supposed to be. Her body was covered in goosebumps.

She quickly opened her eyes.

“I want to get back to the beach, as soon as possible.”

“You are right.” Chris stopped with what he had been doing, seemingly a little disappointed, obviously very aroused. He gulped, his face extremely red. “You are right”, he repeated. “Let’s hurry. But still, please eat just a bit. It’s like an all-you-can-eat buffet, and everything that’s already in our stomachs we don’t have to carry.”

He offered Scarlett more of the leaves – a whole lot more in fact, one folded bundle after another – and Scarlett ate them all. She found they tasted at least as good as they had yesterday, she wanted another bundle of those spicy, juicy plants as soon as she had swallowed one. The taste was just … unique. That freshness went through all her body; filled her with new energy.

“I would like… one of the fruits too.” She didn’t even know why she had said that. Was it intuition? If so, what was her intuition trying to tell her? For reasons that she did not understand, she wanted more of the leaves and at the same times wanted them not.

“Sure… here you go.” Smiling he fed her a mango. He also gave Scarlett more water to drink. “How do you feel?”

“Much better. Stronger I guess.” That was very true – she felt new strength and was almost literarily filled with energy.

“Good. Let’s get going then.” Chris put the gag back in Scarlett’s mouth with some routine. As he did that, Scarlett noticed something else: How he checked on the head harness and the gag, but not only checked to see if it wasn’t too uncomfortable… how he in fact seemed to make sure every strap was in place and tight enough, how he fastened them with the kind of determination that people usually reserved for an important task.

Something about him was weird. She didn’t know what it was and she wasn’t too worried because…

Wait a moment, why was she not too worried? Fact was that she didn’t know for sure. Something felt off, something about Chris and his demeanor was weird, but Scarlett was not too worried. She didn’t feel good in this position, in fact she felt exactly as degraded and humiliated as the situation implied. But still… she asked herself, slightly confused, if she should not worry much more than she did at the moment.

Something was weird, yes, but and she just couldn’t put a finger on what it was. If you changed, would you notice that you had changed, or would the person that you had become assume that they had always been like this? Was it possible for a person to lose perspective on how they were supposed to be, when they were already different…?

She had zoned out for a moment, but Chris brought Scarlett back to the real world when he touched her again: He smeared more of the balm on her arms, massaging them as thoroughly as he had before. It wasn’t entirely unwelcome, but still…

“Nghough…”, she tried to tell him that it wasn’t necessary, that all she really wanted was get back to the beach and finally get rid of the bonds. The noise that came out of her gagged mouth didn’t sound like it of course, and since those leaves always seemed to stimulate her salivation there also came more drool when she tried to speak, but she still hoped he would somehow understand what she meant.

“Let me just finish here”, he mumbled, keeping to rub the spicy lotion into her flesh. The straps felt less tight as the balm sank into Scarlett’s sin, the pain subsided further. “I still had some of the stuff, so why not use it.”

She didn’t know why she disliked it. But in a way, despite the stuff helping her, she didn’t appreciate it at all. Not one bit.


Chris was anxious: His heart was beating as fast as an overworked blacksmith, his palms were sweaty and he had a lump in his throat that would not go away, no matter how often he tried to swallow it.

Why had he touched Scarlett like that, why had he cleaned her? He suspected he had already fallen in love with her the moment they first exchanged words. Since they had met he had wanted to console the girl, to care for her and help her – but he still wished he had had the willpower to keep his distance, especially at this very morning! What he had done – and her reaction to his touch, which had not been too negative after all – just made things more complicated. What did it help being in love when you had to be an asshole in order to make the right decision? His conflicting emotions gave him a major headache and for a moment he was close to just screaming his frustration into the forest like a madman.

But he stayed calm of course, washed the rest of the balm off his hands and then put the backpack on Scarlett. She moaned in surprise when he began to lace it to her harness. Obviously she realized how heavy it was with all the food and water inside. Her eyes rolled around to Chris, her lips quivered around the gag, she protested as loud as possible so that he had to jerk the leash and call her to order.

“Shhh, calm down!” In a way he was thankful that he had to do this and that he got an opportunity to vent at least a minor fraction of the frustration that had built up inside him. “Don’t! Don’t try to fight, you need to carry this alone because that’s what cattle does. Just try to keep your balance and follow me and it’s going to be fine.”

She grunted and made a displeased noise, but did not protest loudly anymore. However, she still communicated her discomfort through heavy breathing and the occasional moan. Chris ignored this as good as he could and finished lacing the backpack. Heavy as it might be, he was positive that Scarlett would be able to carry it for hours, even if it would be hard for her. All she would have to do was to walk slightly bent forward like the Natives’ females did when they were being used as beasts of burden.

Chris grabbed the leash and began leading her away from the lake. He chose the direction he was convinced would be the right one, ignoring his bad conscience. He brushed branches aside and studied his surroundings thoroughly as he walked with Scarlett panting and groaning behind him.

To his regret it took her a remarkably short time to realize something was wrong: Only two or three minutes after they had started walking she tried to say something to him, and when he turned around to her he saw the confusion in her glance. There was also a certain kind of mistrust. He had expected this, but it still hurt him a lot.

“It’s fine, just… just come with me.”

She tried to say something again and he had to grip the leash a little firmer, as a warning, to make her stop trying to talk.

“Listen Scarlett”, he said under his breath, “you need to follow me. I… I need to show you something that is very important.”

She stared at him for another moment. She relaxed, albeit only a little, and nodded slightly. But the wariness did not leave her eyes.

So he led her on for another two minutes, further into the forest and further away from their way back to the beach, slightly uphill to the other side of the lake. The big tree was still where it had been yesterday, of course… even though part of Chris had hoped that he would not find it again, that he would maybe have to understand it had only been a figment of his imagination.

“Look at this, Scarlett. Look at it and tell me it’s not… important!” Chris felt the same excitement he had experienced yesterday. “Do you know what this means?”

The tree was old and withered and had to be at least a hundred years old. But its impressive size and age had not stopped someone from taking a knife and carving letters into its bark. Those letters were not new anymore, but obviously they had been carved into the wood more or less recently – not more than only a few years ago.

C H R + TH O M

can not return t beach

when read this follow path to the abandoned city

hills up one day march

way out fredm

Scarlett stared at the message, blinking. It could not have taken her more than a few seconds to decipher it, but she kept staring at it like a deer would stare into the headlights of an oncoming car.

“Do you understand what this means?”, Chris repeated his question. He could not help it, he knew he sounded a bit too euphoric now. Maybe it was his bad conscience and the fact that he could see what Scarlett thought and how it scared her. “I thought they had… abandoned us. Or that they had been killed. But they left this message and hoped I would find it. They left us directions that we could follow!”

Scarlett shook her head, slowly but determined. She tried to say something, mumbling into the gag. In contrast to Chris she didn’t appear excited at all.

He placed his hands on her naked shoulders and the straps running around them and looked into her eyes. “I am sorry that I haven’t told you this yesterday already, but I didn’t want you to freak out. But now that you can read it yourself, don’t you see that we need to find out where they are? The message says there is a way out, Scarlett. ‘fredm’ means freedom, that much is sure. So, if we return to the beach now we might not get a second chance to find that way out.”

Scarlett blinked again, mumbled into the gag some more… it was as if she was yet too shocked for a freakout. Chris went on as quick as he could. “I have seen the Natives yesterday, I have never been so close to one of them before. I just know that they are still trying to make up their minds about me. They are not sure if they ought to kill me or not. But if we return to the beach they may see it was a new sign of weakness or some kind of retreat, and they might never give me a second chance, Scarlett.” So what you and I have to do is…”

Scarlett shook her head again – and more than that, staring into Chris’ face she now began also moving her arms, the muscles showing beneath her skin as she began to struggle with the straps and laces that held her. She moaned loudly – a protesting and pitiful sound – and her nostrils flared. The veins at her neck and temples became all swollen and throbbing while she tore at the restraints and screamed and protested with incomprehensible sounds, stamped her feet and even pulled against the leash in Chris’ hand. In a way, he thought, she behaved like a defiant child, lost in a fit of rage she couldn’t control. He still pitied her, but also found her reaction immature and annoying.

“Come on, don’t… don’t do that to yourself Scarlett…” This was worse than Chris had expected, in fact the worst kind of reaction possible. She was so scared, so hysteric, and he could see that all she wanted to do was run away. Only the fact that here feet were hobbled held her hear with him, but still she tore at her harness and restraints like a panicking animal.

He jerked the leash, like he had done before. Again he could see the anger in her eyes: That glance that told him she was going to kill him if he ever treated her like this again.

But in a way this annoyed him even more – who did she think he was, and did she think he had made his decision easily? Did she have any idea what it felt like, having to treat a woman like this?

In a way the anger helped him, because it allowed Chris to overcome his bad conscience for the moment: he jerked the leash again, choking her for a few moments. Scarlett stumbled a step towards him, coughing and protesting as loud as she could, and he just pulled the leash a third time. She was very close to him by now.

She was shaking, naturally fighting for breath and feeling hot like a woman in a fever. She stared at him in shock and anger, but held herself back with all willpower left. Through the rough treatment he just had administered, Chris had managed to force her out of her hysteria. He did not intend to allow her slipping back into it.

“You listen to me now”, he declared sternly, still holding the leash very taut and venting some more of his anger. “You were the one who wanted me to do this! You made me promise that I would play the role the best I can and that I would not flinch if I had to make a hard decision. And that is fucking exactly what I am doing now!”

Scarlett was still trembling, her wide eyes filling with tears. She tried to object, but the whiny sound that came from her gagged mouth could have meant anything or nothing at all, Chris didn’t care.

“Shut up!” He saw that two of the Natives – the man who had shown him the tree yesterday and yet another Native which Chris had not seen before – were watching them from maybe 150 feet away. They were standing behind Scarlett, observing what was going on. For a second Chris felt fear and was worried what these men would think, seeing him argue with what was an animal from their point of view. But his anger was not only stronger thn his bad conscience, it also overcame his fears. He was just sick of being scared all the time.

“I’m just so fucking sick of being scared all the fucking time!”, he told Scarlett. “I cannot return to the beach like this, because we achieved nothing! These fruits wont last for more than a week, and neither will the water. And then we’ll be starving again and nothing will have changed!”

He saw how shocked she was by the outburst. He pitied her, but he still went on to make himself as clear as possible. “If we return to the beach, then this chance might be gone and we might be stuck in hell for the rest of our lives. And I don’t know how long I can take it anymore, I don’t know if I could take it another week now that I’ve been here where live is so much better. Can you smell the plants? Do you feel the cool air, here beneath the trees?

So if there is a chance that we might find a way out or find my friends and learn what they have learned, then I think we should take that chance. I think we have to take it, because if we don’t… well, if we don’t then we really deserve to live in that fucking wasteland. That’s why I am making the tough decision now, because you gave me that job. So what we are going to do is we are going to march towards the hills and see if there is really an abandoned city. It’s only a day from here for God’s sake, only one more day of discomfort for you, you spoiled asshole!”

Scarlett was crying, her arms still spasming in the bonds, uselessly straining against them. She had achieved nothing. She was agitated and still trembling, even though the air was hot and humid.

The Natives were still watching them, but Chris did not give a shit anymore: He hugged Scarlett and pulled the small woman against him and comforted her best as he could. She allowed it, after a moment of hesitation, and sobbed against his shoulder.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t want to call you an asshole. Listen, it’s going to be okay”, he whispered into her ear. “I’ll have to be strict, but I can help you. We have more of the balm. And we’ll rest often, so you can recover from time to time. All I want is find that abandoned city. I promise you that we will not go any further than that. I’m really sorry that we had to have this fight.”

She sobbed louder, but when she looked up at him there was still the same impressing toughness in her eyes that he had admired from the first moment. The moment of weakness was over. Scarlett had herself under control again.

He did not know exactly what she was thinking, but she seemed to have made up her mind, and somehow she managed to accept what she needed to endure now.

And the Natives? When Chris looked up he saw they had, again, disappeared. But they had not gone without leaving something: It was small and brown and hanging from the branches of the bush next to which they had been standing. Chris went to retrieve the item and brought it back to Scarlett with a smirk. He showed it to her with something like pride, but could see that she definitely did not share this feeling when she saw what it was.

The Natives had left a leather cap, much like the ones that Chris and Scarlett had seen the Natives’ cattle wearing. Chris had always suspected that these caps were used mostly as an additional measure of control, keeping the women half blindfolded. Essentially he suspected that the caps – which were pretty close to being full-blown hoods – would have the same effect that blinders would have on a horse.

Now that he studied the cap he found his assumptions to be mostly correct: The cap could be used to blindfold the wearer, completely or partially. There were some laces to secure it strictly to the head, hiding the wearers’ hair beneath. Also a part of the hood could be pulled further down, knotted to the head harness or under the chin. If you wanted to, you could cover your cattle’s ears with thick leather pads and render the victim not only blind or half-blind, but also as good as deaf.

Scarlett didn’t have the energy for loud protest anymore, but she looked scared again.

“Come on. Whatever this means, we should not reject the… present.” She wanted to back away, but Chris didn’t allow it. He firmly held her by the short leash and put the cap on the girls head, pulled it down until her eyes were looking through the eyeholes. Now she was not able to see any more what was happening left or right of her. Chris spared her the ear pads, also because he wanted her to be able to understand his commands if he should have any during their journey. He secured the cap strictly to Scarletts’ head like it was supposed to be secured, also at the back of her head and under her chin.

She blinked insecurely. She did not start crying again, but she looked disgusted. The effect the mask had was definitely weird, that much Chris had to admit: Now that Scarlett’s hair was covered and her face was not just obscured by the gag but also by this hood she was essentially just a drooling mouth and a pair of large, round eyes that stared at him. The dehumanizing effect was amazing.

In a way the mask made things easier for him because it helped him to see her a little more neutral, as if she wasn’t the woman he had met at the beach.. He felt a weird form of gratefulness towards the Natives as he knotted the last lace.

“I think we should get going, Scarlett. Listen, I know it’s not easy, but… thank you for coming with me. I think we are doing the right thing.”


“Thank you for coming with me”, Chris had said. Scarlett had swallowed a bitter laugh. She did not want to follow him anymore, would have done everything to make him turn around and bring her back to the beach! Every few moments her arms strained against the cruel bondage, her hands wriggled in the belts and straps that held them, her sweaty fingers searched for one of the knots or buckles. She could reach none of them! Every time Chris pulled the leash, the harness and collar around her neck tightened and the arm-bondage that was connected to the setup got pulled stricter around her body. What else could she do, trussed up like that, other than stumbling after him through the bush?

And how could Scarlett have shown Chris that she wanted out of the bondage any more clearly than at the lake, when she protested against his idea of searching for that ‘city’? But in his eyes she had already seen how determined he was even before he had given her the speech. The speech itself had said finally everything that needed to be said about his fears, his doubts and frustration.

Scarlett had known that Chris had been in a bad place for a long time, but she had not had a clue about the extent of his desperation, the degree to which despair had taken root in his heart. Now that he had found words for it she was scared of him and angry about her own stupidity at the same time. How could she not have seen how much frustrated rage was welling up inside the heart of this kind man?

Somehow she had become the focus point of that rage, even though Chris would deny this fact: To him they were both still playing roles and he had made a tough, necessary decision. In truth though, Scarlett could easily see that their relationship had lost all its former balance.

You think you are being rational, but you are not!, she wanted to scream. You are convinced you have to do this, but the truth is that a part of you enjoys it! Don’t you realize that there’s something growing inside you, something that wants to take over? It shows itself in all the small touches and all the small glances. It’s in the way you made sure my bondage was tight enough this morning instead of making sure it was comfortable enough. It shows in the way you didn’t flinch anymore when you choked me with the collar, it’s in the way you didn’t even hesitate to put that motherfucking cap on my head! Stop it now and let me talk to you, you goddamn idiot, or you might not even notice that something is happening to us that never was supposed to happen!

All this she wanted him to understand. But with the rubber bit wedged so deep into her mouth and the hood enclosed around a good part of her head and most of her face it was hard enough to breathe. With the weight of the backpack she moved like a real beast of burden and definitely also felt like one, sweating, grunting and drooling as Chris pulled her onwards. It was infuriating: She even had a hard time showing him that she needed to pee, and when he finally understood he just allowed her to squat next to a tree and do her business there. After that they soon continued marching, Scarlett staring at the ground straight ahead through the eyeholes of that disgusting mask. She wondered if it was new or if other women had worn it before, who they had been and for how long they had been forced to exist like this.

Tied up or not tied up, Scarlett had once told Chris, I can be pretty convincing. That had been, as it turned out now, utter bullshit. She had been so self-confident, so arrogant … and had in no way understood what it meant being restrained like this or what this level of control really did to the victim. Now that she was submitted to the same treatment the Natives’ females were submitted to, she didn’t feel convincing at all anymore.

They made the first stop around noon, even though Scarlett had hoped that Chris would give her some rest much earlier. On a small clearing between towering flowers and large ferns he sat down and ate some of the fruits, later took the gag out of her mouth but did not remove the hood. He offered Scarlett water and then some of the leaves.

“Please”, she whispered, using the opportunity to communicate with him, “I can’t go on like this, I’m going to just drop to the ground and die. Chris, listen to me, please, I don’t think this is a good idea and I really think… I really think that we should return.” When she saw his glance harden she quickly went on: “I understood everything you said about how scared an frustrated you are, and I know we need to find a way to leave this place, but there are other options that we could…”

He shook his head, placed a hand on her cheek, and brought his face very close to hers. The touch consoled her in a way she could not explain. Even though she was angry and scared she still felt a little better. The contact and tenderness were frustrating and encouraging at the same time.

“Scarlett, I know you feel weak, but in fact you are doing remarkably well. The food has even made you stronger. I can see it. So trust in yourself, eat and drink. Get some rest, half an hour maybe. After that we’ll get going again. We can talk in the evening, but let’s not waste time now.”

He fed her with leaves, more than enough to fill her belly and regenerate some of her strength. It was still weird, the way they affected her. As she gulped down some more of the rubbery, juicy plants she began to suspect something, but did not ask Chris directly about it. Instead she decided to test him.

“Can I… can I have one of the oranges?”

He hesitated, but only for the fraction of a second. It was hard to tell what he really knew or suspected about the leaves, but even the small nuances in his reaction told Scarlett the he knew something. “Better stay with the leaves”, he said smoothly. “I think they do you pretty good. Like I said, you look stronger. And you seem to like them. Or don’t you?”

“No, I like them, sure. I just would also like some fruit…”

But Chris already put another packet of folded leaves into her mouth. Scarlett had no other option than chew and swallow.

“You’ve eaten enough for now, but I’ll spare you an orange for dinner”, Chris said with a faint smile. He seemed to feel better. His anger was either gone or buried inside him again. When he put the gag back in her mouth Scarlett didn’t fight or resist, because it just didn’t seem to make a lot of sense. When he rubbed the balm onto her sore arms, shoulders and neck she caught herself moaning with pleasure for a moment and was shocked about it. Had she sunken so far that a massage on her tied arms was already a treat?

“I can only imagine how good it must feel”, Chris said with what sounded like honest empathy. “I’m still so sorry about all this… but my words won’t mean much to you I figure. Just… don’t judge me too harshly Scarlett. I try to be one of the good guys.”

What was she supposed to say to that? That she thought he was lieing to himself in the sickest way? For the moment she decided to let him continue with the massage and just accept that it felt good, that the balm drew the pain out of her flesh and indeed made the bondage a lot more bearable. But still, while she enjoyed his touch with her eyes closed, she began to ask herself if she was still the same, or if something about her was changing as well.

Within a few more minutes they were on the road again. Just that the road wasn’t really a road and not even a path. It was more a barely visible aisle leading through the brush-wood, suggesting that there might have once been a path, a long time ago. Since it led also uphill most of the time it was more than just strenuous for Scarlett to walk after Chris. The correct term would have been back-breaking torture. She was literally bathed in fresh sweat after two or three miles, engulfed in a cloud of her own odor and that of the balm. The mixture was exotic and spicy and with the blackest kind of sarcasm she concluded that she finally had a deodorant again, albeit her new personal fragrance might have a name like Musk, Leather, Spearmint or something like that. It’s not for everyone, she thought with a dark-humored smirk in spite of the gag, but it reflects my personality and my individual animalistic side perfectly.

The good thing was that her arms didn’t hurt that much and even her feet got used quickly to walking on the insecure ground. The bad thing was that after some more hours of carrying the supplies and fighting for each step she was so exhausted that she could hardly think anymore. It was like being hypnotized, just a lot more arduous than sitting on a couch and watching a pendulum: The mind got more or less wiped clean, only the next step counted, the rhythm of walking and moaning, walking and groaning, walking and drooling, walking and carrying the burden was what consumed her completely. Scarlett zoned out and later realized that she hadn’t even cared that much when Chris had helped her to pee another time. It should have been humiliating, but didn’t matter a lot to her anymore. When they continued their journey after she had emptied her bladder, she quickly slipped back into ‘the zone’. She could not or did not want to snap out of it for the next hours. It was better experiencing this horrible journey with a certain detachment.

If this was the way the Natives’ females experienced their lives then there wouldn’t be a rebellion any time soon. No one who was kept and treated and exhausted like this would have the energy for resistance, and none of the women would be able to find the zeal for a coup or organized insurgence.

The day was, curiously enough, over before Scarlett even knew it: The air had already cooled down a bit and the sun was sinking when they found what looked like the remains of ancient buildings, overgrown by vegetation. For Chris it was a big thing. For Scarlett, in her momentary condition, it didn’t mean much. She just followed him as fast as she could when he stepped out with renewed energy, praying that he would soon allow her to rest.

“This was a settlement once, or maybe a temple complex. And it must have been pretty huge…!” He said more, but Scarlett could not concentrate on his words anymore. When he tied her leash to one of the larger stones she just slumped against it and tried to catch her breath. Within minutes she was asleep and only woke up when someone prodded her. The sky had further darkened by now, telling her that her nap had to have been longer than just a few minutes.

The person who had prodded her awake was Chris again. He helped Scarlett up and lead her only a little further into the ancient city. The stone walls that surrounded them looked very old, the ancient buildings had indeed turned into ruins. But the one ahead of them still possessed a roof. The whole house was built more or less like a sturdy stone-cube with a door and a few small windows along its sides. Chris brought Scarlett inside and she could see that in the middle of the brick-built floor there was a small, shallow artificial pond, still with clear water in it.

“It seems like a good place to spend the night”, Chris said to Scarlett as he freed her from the backpack and put their blankets on the floor. “I could not find a clue yet, but that doesn’t have to mean anything. This settlement was pretty large and I didn’t want to leave you alone for too long. I can continue looking for my friends’ message in the morning.”

He lit a small fire, its smoke escaping well enough through gaps in the roof. He ungagged her again, but left the gag, as always, dangling just against her chin.

“I know it’s been a long day. And I know we had an ugly fight”, he said with a worried face. “And I understand how hard this must be for you. Are you… can you forgive me?”

Scarlett licked her dry lips and waited until he had given her some water. She looked at him as honest as possible, trying to get through with careful words. But she felt silly with the hood on her head, peeking at him through the eyeholes.

“Chris, I don’t think that your motives… listen I understand how alone you’ve been and that the beach must have been hell for you. But this here is really hard for me, you know? Maybe it’s a bit harder than you can understand. I wanted us to get food from the forest, but I have been like this for nearly two days now… and I can’t stand it anymore! Please, please get me out of this bondage, if it’s only for five minutes. Just five minutes to use my arms and hands, please. Just give me five fucking minutes to clean myself!”

He thought about it for a moment and then sighed. “Turn around”, he said. And when she did with a fast beating heart she really believed for a moment that he would free her.

But he only checked on her bonds and afterwards took the balm out of the backpack.

“No, please no, not the balm. Please… stop that, get me out of this shit fucking bondage!”, she screamed, freaking out now in a way she had not thought was possible before.

Chris immediately put a hand over her mouth and pulled her against his body from behind. She fought him for maybe half a minute, arms flapping uselessly around in the bondage, before she calmed down.

“I just want to help you”, Chris said thoroughly despaired, a bit clueless and a little annoyed. “The balm helps you, doesn’t it? I don’t know why it works, but it’s why the natives use it on the cattle. It makes it possible for their cattle to survive in the bondage…”

“They are not cattle!”, hissed Scarlett as he took his hand off her mouth again. “Listen to yourself! You call them cattle without even… without even realizing what you are doing. They are females, they are human women, not cattle!”

He shrugged and Scarlett could, for a moment, see that he felt awkward too. But there was a strange sort of distance between the both of them now, one she did not see herself able to bridge. It was as she had thought before: that Chris was lying to himself, not admitting something was happening to him.

“The Natives treat them like cattle”, he said with a frown. “That’s what I meant. And you know that I didn’t use the word with a bad intention. I did not want to imply anything.”

Scarlett nodded – because she really believed him. Everything was bad and getting worse and the worst thing was that she still did not think Chris was evil or had bad intentions. He was just confused and very lonely, and he did not realize in what fundamental ways he was losing control.

When he had finished massaging her arms he carefully fed her with more of the leaves. At first she wanted to protest, but then Scarlett ate what he gave her because her hunger was immense and she still enjoyed the taste of the strange food. In a way she zoned out again while she was chewing. When she asked him the question that had hovering in the back of her head for long now, she asked with a slightly slurred voice.

“Do you… do you know anything about this stuff? I mean do you know if it is somehow… special?”

Chris hesitated. His hand, holding another five or six folded leaves, stopped right in front of Scarletts lips. “Why are you asking that question?”

“You told me you have been watching the Natives for years. You’ve often seen them feed the females with this stuff… and have seen them massaging their arms with the balm.”

“Yeah, that’s why I thought you could try the stuff too. I assumed it that the Natives might approve of us if they saw that you ate the same plants they feed their cattle – I mean their females”, he quickly corrected himself.

Scarlett could feel the fresh energy the food gave her already and could also feel the dull pain in her arms recede a little further. But there was more, there were things going on that were hard to describe. Impossible to describe actually, she thought. I am scared, but I should be more(!) scared. I am mad at him, but I also kind of understand him. I hate the bondage, but… at the same time I should freak out so much more … or should I not? Shouldn’t I think about… running away? Killing him? Shouldn’t I be screaming all the damn time instead for just that short freakout? Is my reaction t this situation… appropriate?

Somehow all the lines that had been sharply defined in the past were blurred now. Scareltt did not know if the leaves were the reason for that, but her suspicions were still growing.

“You offered them to me”, she said curiously. “You gave them to me when we arrived at the lake. Did you know what they would do to me…?”

He didn’t flinch and didn’t give away what he had or had not known. He shrugged. “What do you suspect they are doing to you?”

“Take the pain away… make me more healthy. We've already found that out. But also I feel strange. Zoning out sometimes, feeling a little… different. My memory is strange too, I swear to God I’m not sure what the complete name of my high school was anymore…”

He didn’t comment on that. “So… are you already full?”, he asked her in a way that did not reveal if he was innocent or if he was not. And Scarlett decided that she would not hear the truth from him anyways, at least not today.

So she just shook her head. She felt like one of the Damned who had been offered a way out and was too stubborn to turn around. The Gates of Hell were right in front of her and she, stubbornly, would keep marching towards them.

“No, I’m still pretty hungry”, she said with a tired smile. She opened her mouth and allowed him to put more of the leaves on her tongue. She chewed, enjoyed the taste of the juice in her mouth, she swallowed. She asked for some more. She kept eating until her tongue and teeth were green and the juice had made her chin as well green and sticky and she could not have taken a single leaf anymore.


He fed her with great care and affection, or at least it felt like that to Scarlett. It was demeaning, but at the same time defined a new kind of relationship that was growing between them. When she was finally sated she was energized and tired at the same time, as if the nutrients and whatever else was in the leaves were already going to the task of strengthening her limbs, repairing the damage the journey had caused and improving her stamina. In a way all that Scarlett wanted was lean back and let that happen and get a night of good sleep.

Still couldn’t refrain herself from asking: “What’s going to happen tomorrow, Chris?”

“Well, I’m going to keep looking for clues. Just for an hour or so.”

“And if you don’t find any clues?”

He hesitated. He didn’t feel comfortable talking about it, but he wasn’t the insecure man anymore that she had encountered on the beach, so after a moment of contemplation he told her straight up: “I don’t know yet. I will have to think about it. Maybe, if I don’t find anything in the first hour, then we should return to the beach. But maybe I’ll decide that it’s worth it to keep searching for another hour or so. I’m not sure.”

“And you… you are going to make the decision for both of us?”

He nodded, smiling a sad, strong, affectionate smile. “Yes, and I’m sorry that I have to do that. But that’s the way things are at the moment, isn’t it? You are a bit… weird, Scarlett. I don’t mean to offend you, but I don’t feel like I can trust you making good decisions at the moment. Your perspective seems so... narrow right now. I can not only take your wishes or your comfort into account… that would be dangerous for us. It could kill every chance we have of getting away from here.””

Scarlett shuddered. He was right and not right at the same time. What was going on here was wrong, every fiber of her restrained, hurting body and every fiber of her being told her that. But for him it all made sense. And she simply didn’t know anymore where exactly all the blurred lines would have been before, when they had still been sharply defined.

Chris took the gag from her chin and put it against her lips and she ungrudgingly opened her mouth. It was starting to become an automatism. When he had fastened all the straps he also hooded her, this time completely blindfolding her, essentially only leaving her nose and gagged mouth uncovered by the soft leather. He helped Scarlett to lie down on one of the blankets and she only needed to relax for her moment before she sank into a deep sleep again. Her dreams were weirdly bland: In them she marched through the forest for hours marched and marched and marched, while birds chirped around her and monkeys screamed in the crowns of the trees.

Just that, this time, she did not really sleep until morning. Instead Scarlett awoke when it was still too cool and the song of the night birds was still coming from outside the old ruin. She wasn’t sure for how long she had been asleep exactly. But she did not think it could have been more than an hour at maximum: There was only a small puddle of drool beneath her cheek and her hobbled feet didn’t feel too stiff yet.

Someone touched her shoulder: A warm, strong hand was stroking her sticky skin. As Scarlett tensed she heard Chris say: “I’ve woken you up. I’m sorry about that. I know you need to rest.”

She tried to ask him what was going on, but his hand had already wandered from her shoulder to her neck, stroking her skin there, right above her collar. Chris was close to her, most likely kneeling or sitting right next. In her blindness she imagined she could feel his eyes wandering across her naked body. The thought caused her to shudder: How she lay here, defenseless and naked, and how he probably watched her and took all the details in. Her lips quivered and she produced an insecure sound… she didn’t know for sure what he wanted or why he touched her, but goosebumps covered her flesh now and she was more scared than ever before since all this had begun.

“I’m not going to hurt you”, Chris whispered. He sounded like he had a lump in his throat. His hand left her neck and touched her cheek, then his warm breath brushed against Scarlett’s face and a second later he kissed her: First his lips touched her forehead, then her blindfolded eyes, finally he kissed her mouth, even though the gag prevented it from being more than a symbolic gesture. Anyways, the fact that she was hooded, blindfolded and gagged didn’t seem to bother him at all since he did not attempt to change any of that.

And Scarlett, despite her fear, moaned softly when he kissed her because there had not been a lot of care, tenderness or human contact in the past days of her life. She pressed her face against Chris, pushed against his neck like a pony might push its snout against its owners’ body, to show that she enjoyed the contact. She was only slightly surprised when Chris kissed her head again and at the same time touched her left breast with his other warm hand, stroking her and gently pinching her nipple.

Her physical reaction was so massive that it outright shocked Scarlett: The nipple itself became hard in only a moment, every hair on her body stood up and a very special kind of warmth exploded in her crotch. This was another form of hunger, a deep and dark-feeling lust that she had never felt this way before. This did not go well together with everything her intellect told her about this situation: The gap between what her body wanted and what her mind said was so wide that it was nearly as if two entities were trapped in one female body.

Don’t let him do this! Don’t let him do this, because it will only make things worse! He must not do it, not like this, not with you in this state, or you will never get him to see you like he saw you back at the beach! Stop him, don’t let him do this to you, not in the bondage and not with the hood and the gag. What kind of love is this supposed to be??

Meanwhile Chris was kissing her, stroking her, enjoying her scent and taste. “I’m so sorry about all this”, he said with the voice of a man who was seeking absolution. Scarlett realized it was true: Giving him what he desired would be a big mistake, would be outright wrong. Granting him absolution would mean to give him carte blanche for the future, and that was a very dangerous thing to do.

But his touch felt so good and his body against hers made Scarlett’s arousal grow so fast! He was already lying on top of her, pressing his crotch against hers. He was erected and hard, longing to enter her.

Scarletts lips quivered around the gag and she only managed to produce a half-hearted whine. She also weakly shook her head, but immediately stopped shaking it and instead produced a soft scream when he touched her pussy, fingers stroking her lips, thumb carefully pushing a bit into her warm flesh and already finding the hot, small button of her clitoris. She could only protest meekly as he began to massage it. Her useless arms flapped a little in the bonds, but only for moments. She spread her legs a bit further for him, sending him the ultimate signal that what he was doing was good and appreciated. She wanted him to make love to her, there was nothing else she wanted, no matter if she was tied up or gagged or blindfolded. She needed him so much!

“I will be careful”, he whispered under his breath. “I will look out for you, I promise”, he added and she made a mewing sound and shivered under his touch.

What he did then was unexpected: Instead of entering her he pulled back and helped her to turn around. Scarlett protested and shook her head, but it didn’t seem to bother to Chris: He obviously wanted to have her from behind. While she struggled weakly against the restraints he already had her kneeling in front of him. When she protested louder and made an attempt to get away from him he grabbed the collar from behind, seemingly more driven by instinct than by evil instinct, and forced her to stay in position.

“It’s fine, I just… I just don’t want you to hurt your arms”, he whispered. And maybe, just maybe that was what he really believed. However, Scarlett’s further protests were in vain: Chris had felt with his fingers how moist she was and he was now affected by a fairly specialized kind fever. He pushed her back into position as she bucked, with her head on the floor, her ass raised and held by his hands at her waist. His knee got between her thighs from behind her, forced Scarlett to spread further and a moment later he was beginning to push himself into her.

And it felt so good! She was crying hot tears and shaking her head, drool dripping from her chin. She felt raped, and what was this if it wasn’t rape in its true form? She had thought that she wanted him to make love to her and instead now she was getting fucked, was getting mounted. Didn’t he realize what he was doing to her?

At the same time a lustful, raw moan escaped her throat and she ground against him, letting go of another piece of her dignity in the process.

There isn’t that much left of it anyways. I’m cattle, maybe, in his eyes. Or I’m a slave. Whatever happens, no one will be able to take this away from me. I want this, I need this, and I think I deserve it so much after what I have been through!

Another part of Scarlett told her that yes, if she allowed him to do this then she indeed deserved what it entailed. As Chris grabbed her harness from behind and pulled her into a semi-upright position in the process she screamed into the gag, but at the same time realized how much her endurance had improved during the past days: The bonds, even though cutting deep into her flesh, didn’t hurt her the same way they would have hurt her before. Even that her collar half strangled her didn’t really bother Scarlett anymore: The muscles in her neck were stronger now, the blood pumped through her veins with more firm pressure than before. It was all bearable; it was all uncomfortable but not a torture anymore. She shuddered and sobbed, moaned and allowed Chris to pull her even closer against him while he was fucking her faster now, with harder thrusts and less empathy. He was grunting and moaning, kissing her shoulder and her arms, lost in his own insanity while she was enjoying hers.

She came suddenly, nearly peeing herself as the crisp orgasm hit her like a broken twig. She roared into the gag and –rearing up against the bondage – for a moment completely strangled herself. She didn’t care if she lived or died, throwing herself against the pull of the harness and straps. Only a moment later Chris came as well, hurting her a little with his final thrust, then letting her slump to the floor and coming to rest half behind and half on top of Scarlett.

Afterwards they were both panting like mare and horseman after a long ride, slumped against each other. Scarlett wanted to touch him and was frustrated again by how little she could achieve with her useless, restrained arms. So she simply pressed her face against his body, like she had before.

“I had a suspicion about the leaves”, he admitted to her surprise, as he hugged and patted and stroked her. “I wasn’t sure, but I had seen how healthy the females are, despite their hard life. And when we reached the lake I just figured… well I just figured it might offer you to eat some of the stuff as well. You know, that it might help you to cope with the restraints.”

“Uugh...” She was too tired to produce more than this weak moan.

“I know it is unfair”, Chris said. “But you can’t see yourself, Scarlett. You have become stronger during the past days. You cope so well with the bondage… are you aware that long-term bondage of this kind would be just impossible without the leaves? Whatever they do to you exactly, they make it possible for us to keep you like this and they make it bearable for you to be kept. No serious damage to your arms of your body, it’s like a miracle. So I figure that this is the best that could happen to you and me, essentially. I don’t know what we would be doing if I didn’t have this stuff to feed you with.”

She didn’t know what to say. She didn’t know if she still wanted to say anything. She was so frustrated, so degraded, exhausted and disappointed. Thinking about how all this had come to pass and why she was here, lost at sea and lost in the woods and caught in this nightmare with the warmth of her own orgasmic afterglow still pulsing inside her, she fell asleep again.


They didn’t talk much the next morning, not even when Chris took the gag from her mouth and made her eat some packages of leaves for breakfast. She chewed and swallowed, chewed and swallowed.

“If I didn’t want these anymore”, she asked him at one point.


“Would you accept it?”

“You don’t have to eat them anymore once we are out of here.”

“But as long as we are here – would you accept it if I wanted to eat other things?”

He sighed and brushed through her hair. He smiled as if she was a child asking silly questions.

“The leaves are easy to transport and even if they were not, these bushes grow everywhere. It’s just the best choice to feed them to you, because it’s healthy food, nutrient-rich and good for you, available at every bend of the path.”

“But if I didn’t want…”

“No.” His eyes were gleaming a little now, he seemed to be slightly annoyed. “I don’t know why you are forcing me to say this, Scarlett. But you’ll have to eat them for the time being. Maybe if you stop making me feel like an asshole you can also have an orange.”

“Well, maybe I’m not the one making you feel like an asshole”, she snapped. “Maybe that’s you.”

Breakfast was over at that point: He gagged her again, pulling the straps cruelly tight and not caring that she complained. Of course not, Scarlett’s inner voice said sarcastically as the hood was pulled over her head again. He knows you are filled with leaves to the very top. Jesus Christ, you have never recovered so fast from exhaustion, you have never before healed minor injuries so quickly and you can stand a treatment that no person could take for more than a few hours under normal circumstances. For him it’s the perfect deal: He knows he’s not really harming you, he can tell himself he’s just being stern, playing his role. That was already bad enough, but Inner Scarlett didn’t hesitate to add another hint: And since he raped you yesterday and you essentially showed him that you liked it and it was all okay for you, now you will have him feel more reconfirmed than ever before.

This time Chris took Scarlett with her as he went to search for another message from his friends. So she followed him on the leash wherever he went and for the first time, in spite of her vision being narrowed by the hood, got an impression of the size of the place. It was in fact pretty impressive: The city had been largeonce  and was still big today, even with many of the smaller buildings overgrown by vegetation or fallen so much into disrepair that only their fundaments were left.Many bBrightly colored flowers - even very large versions of the beautiful violet ones that Scarlett had also seen at the lake and in the forest during their journey - where growing everywhere. Glittering clouds of pollen hovered above them and around them, filling the air everywhere with a dreamlike shine.

The streets had been paved with round stones; the larger buildings had the size of palaces and were supported by formidable pillars that had been carved from a nearly white kind of granite.

The conrast between the stone monuments and the plants that had taken over the place was quite sad: For once, the bushes with Scerlett's new favorite food where everywhere.

And whoever had built this place, it had not been one of the Natives’ culture: To her astonishment Scarlett saw many carvings and ornaments on walls that were not yet overgrown, which showed scenes from the cities’ past. Those scenes showed bare-breasted queens or priestesses on high thrones, dancing women with animal masks and young girls holding the hands of young men in what looked essentially like a society that was civilized enough to grant both genders their freedom and rights. It was weird seeing these carvings and being led past them on a leash, arms strapped tightly on her back, drool dripping from her chin.

Scarlett’s interest in the ruins and their history diminished with time, but Chris just kept leading her around, from overgrown yard to overgrown yard, from one of the old streets to the next one, from ruin to ruin. They passed what might have been fountains a long time ago, they climbed over century-old statues that had fallen to the ground and broken apart, the blind stone heads of Queens and Leaders, Mistresses and Animal Gods staring at them as they passed by. Monkeys screamed and fled as they came near them, birds fluttered away from some of those columns that still stood.

Scarlett followed Chris, drooling and sometimes moaning or grunting when she couldn’t keep up with his pace or when the strap between her hobbled ankles got caught and had to be tugged free again. In these moments he helped her with a smile and a sort of dedication that she found quite sweet, even though her general mood was not that good. They exchanged short glances in those moments, and in these glances Scarlett thought she noticed a weird new sort of complicity between them. The angry exchange they had had in the morning seemed to be forgotten.

Maybe that was the case because they both had other things to worry about: More than once Scarlett thought she heard something that wasn’t the sound of an animal moving – something that sounded more like a human. Two or three times she was sure that Chris had seen things she had not, most possibly because he wasn’t collared or half-blindfolded: His head would quickly dart to the left or the right and he would look worried for a moment, his eyes narrow and the muscles in his neck taught like ropes.

“Hrgnh…?”, she asked under her breath, her own heart beating a bit faster. But she knew what he would say even before he spoke.

“They are here”, he murmured. “I saw two of them on the roof over there… and at least one other Native just disappeared into those bushes as I turned my head. And the screams we heard a minute ago were no monkey screams either, more likely some sort of code…these guys have already surrounded us.”

Was Chris worried about the danger they had gotten themselves into? Maybe that was still the fact, but he definitely seemed less worried than before to Scarlett. She gave a surprised yelp as he suddenly pulled her leash, causing her to stumble against him. She wasn’t even that angry anymore when he checked on her harness and adjusted it here and there, seemingly trying to prove to any dangerous Natives watching them what a tough guy he was. It was a miracle that her arms still accepted the bondage, again a little crueler than it had been before, when he was done.

“Only one other direction to go”, he whispered into Scarlett’s ear. “Keep playing the act, keep your calm, trust me… and I swear to God, if we don’t find a message or a sign on that side of the ruins we’ll get back to the beach.”

Scarlett’s hope was limited though: She had believed Chris for a long time and trusted him so much, but she began to understand more and more how a real beast of burden had to feel: Humans talked to it and made promises, used a soothing tone, stroked and petted the animal… but in the end they just did these things so that it would fulfill its purpose. Keep following orders, keep walking, keep working. Scarlett wasn’t sure if Chris realized that the tone in which he talked to her had become pretty similar to the tone a human would use when talking to his sumpter horse.

This last part of the old city, that they hadn’t yet been too, somehow seemed even more overgrown than the rest: Plants had climbed every wall and rooted in every crack which the ancient stonework had offered them, to the effect that Chris and Scarlett now made their way through an exotic green labyrinth. Only in a few places there were still some spaces through which the old masonry and the outdated carvings of Queens and Goddesses were still visible.

Trotting after Chris, Scarlett allowed herself to hope at least for a few blissful minutes that they wouldn’t find anything and that he would inevitably give up and turn around. Part of her tired mind dreamt of being back at the beach, bathing in the warm sea, washing sweat, dust and pollen off her skin. She would never complain again about the hot air and the relentless sun and she would happily cope with all the austerity of a life in what Chris had called ‘the Wasteland’.

But then Chris stopped and audibly rejoiced… a sound that should have been a good sign but now only filled Scarlett with unease. As she raised her head she first couldn’t see anything, because sweat instantly dripped into her eyes from her forehead. She moaned and blinked it away and finally saw the stairs. The sight was impressive and scary at the same time.

Right in front of them, at the brink of the old city, began the highlands: Sharp hills, overgrown with vegetation, ascended further and further into the mists. A flight of wide stairs had been carved into the flank of the hill right in front of Chris and Scarlett. That path was leading far upwards in serpentines, sometimes disappearing behind trees or bushes, then reappearing again. Sometimes, for a while, the stairs seemed to transform into a horizontal path before they emerged once more, ascending further upwards. Where those stairs finally would lead to was impossible to make out: The top of the small mountain was hidden in mists.

At the foot of the stairs had been erected what could only be described as totem poles: Several polished trunks of trees had been adorned with artful ornaments and painted in red, green and blue colors. Wooden faces stared at Scarlett. Wooden animals spread their wings and bared their fangs. Whoever had created them had put an impressive amount of creativity into the monuments. And whatever was going on here had obviously been going on for generations: Some of the poles were so old that wind and weather would soon knock over the rotten wood. Others had been placed here only a short time ago.

But what really caught Scarlett’s – and, as she could see, also Chris’ – attention were not the poles themselves but the items that the totem poles had been furnished with: Pieces of leather that seemed to have served their wearers as waistcloths were hanging next to bracelets, amulets and necklaces. Also there were some adorned belts, several primitive combs, two or three small sandals that would fit well on a woman’s feet and other similar items. Seeing those poles and the things that had been left here like offerings to unknown gods reinforced the impression that this place had a deep meaning to the Natives.

An item with too much color – too much in comparison to all the other items that had been made of mostly wood, leather and copper – hung from the newest of the poles: It took Scarlett a moment to recognize a pink Swatch chronometer. Next to the Swatch she saw a flip-flop with neon green and white flower pattern, moving gently in the breeze. Both items had been added to the collection of as if it was the most natural thing in the world. Seeing them there made her shudder.

“The watch belonged to Zoe”, Chris said with a dry throat. “The flip-flop was Swantje’s. I remember she wore the silly thing when we were washed ashore. She kept it like a talisman because it reminded her of her life back in civilization.”

Knowing this was already bad enough. But what really filled Scarlett with unspeakable dread was what she saw when she looked to the left: On a flattened rock, right next to the first few of the stairs, someone had placed several items that did not look like former possessions of any female victims. Instead, Scarlett recognized a set of leather straps that looked a lot like those that the Natives’ females were forced to wear as bondage. A thick collar and a corset-like vest had been included. There was a pair of pouches for the hands and there was a strap that could be used to hobble its wearer. There as even the headgear with the cruel, u-shaped bit-gag that the ‘cattle’ was forced to live with. Only one thing was lacking.

The hood. There was no hood, because – as Scarlett understood with cold, insane logic – they already had given Chris the hood, and he had already used it on Scarlett.

“Do you think they left this for us?” Chris was baffled, but he just didn’t seem insecure or disgusted anymore. That part of him had somehow disappeared. Curious, he took the heavy harness from the rock and studied how the primitive buckles and breeches worked. It took him a moment to realize that Scarlett didn’t answer him.

When he turned he saw that Scarlett had gotten a pretty good head start: Even though her feet were hobbled she was still moving impressively fast, arms weirdly bouncing in the bondage on her back. It took Chris a moment before he fully understood that she was fleeing, screaming at the top of her lungs, hurrying to get away from him. Only a few meters more and she would reach a mazelike set of overgrown alleys in which she might actually have a chance to shake him off and hide from him.

She was not even trying to cast a glance back at him anymore.


Now that Chris had coped with the surprise of Scarlett actually running away from him (he didn’t fully understand why she did, but he was sure that it had to be either a misunderstanding or an irrational hysteric freakout) he also managed to get his legs moving and follow her as fast as he was able.

“What the… Scarlett, wait! What the fuck are you doing?”

He was already at full speed, darting down this alley and then shooting around the next bend, just seeing her disappear behind another decrepit wall. How could she be so damn fast with her feet hobbled like that? Chris called her name again but she didn’t even hesitate, she just kept running as if she was not being hunted by her caretaker but by all the demons of hell.

But despite all her efforts, since he was a strong man and she was direly handicapped he gained ground on Scarlett quickly. There was just no chance for her to shake him off in her current state: After the next bend he was only a few meters behind the heavily panting woman. Some seconds later he was already so close that he nearly could touch her shoulder. Scarlett realized that too: Hearing him right behind her she mobilized her last reserves and ran even faster, shaking her head and shrieking like a madwoman. Her panic was so overwhelming that her left foot got caught by a vine she had overlooked. She stumbled and fell to the ground, hectically got to her knees kept shuffling forwards in a desperate effort to keep going.

But he was already at her side now and grabbed her leash.

“Scarlett, I don’t know why…”

She screamed with a mixture of anger and fear and threw herself against him, trying to push him away.


“Calm down already! What the hell is wrong with you?”

She didn’t even try to communicate with him in a sane way, instead just kept screaming into her gag.


Had Chris not known better he would have thought she was screaming for help. That was of course an insane notion, since he was already standing right in front of her. Who else could she trying to alert in this godforsaken place? Finally he managed to get firm hold of her leash, but she tackled him with her shoulder and tried to throw him to the ground.

She was strong! And her eyes rolled like the eyes of a madwoman, like the eyes of a panicking mare. Chris had to push her against a nearby wall, grab the leash with all possible severity and pull it harshly. When the collar began to choke her, instead of coming to her senses all she did was buck more ferocious and struggle harder.

“Scarlett, calm the fuck down now!” He pulled the leash so tight that her face turned deep red and then began to change into purple. He had an erection, he didn’t know why. It only hardened some more when she finally, wheezing and groaning, sank half against him, shuddered, fought for air… stopped fighting him. He kept her in his grip, tried to soothe her with the right kind of voices he mumbled into her ear and permitted her to breathe little more freely again.

She was still babbling senselessly into the gag and she was still shaking her arms in the bonds, straining against the straps that ran around her torso. He felt very sorry for her, even though he didn’t understand what the hell was going on.

“Is it because of the stuff we found at the bottom of those stairs?”

She nodded and kept gargling into the gag until he touched her cheek and the straps of her improvised head harness and reminded her that he could not understand a word.

“Listen, I found it pretty freaky too. But there was no reason to run away from me! You could have gotten both of us killed, especially with the Natives watching us.”

But she didn’t even show the faintest sign of fear when he mentioned them. Chris just didn’t understand what was going on, or why she looked at him like this.

What he did understand was that her nipples were erect and she did all she could to prevent them from rubbing against him, essentially leaning backwards even though the bondage had to be all the more uncomfortable in this position. When she saw that he glanced at them she made a face with her lips quivering around the improvised gag. And when he reached out and touched her tender skin where it was the most sensitive, she twitched and nearly shrieked again in shock, even though he could clearly tell that she was sexually aroused.

He wanted her again, right here and now. His penis was rock-hard, hot and throbbing. This was like a violent fever he couldn’t explain, something that had been building up during the past two days and was no longer under control by now.

Or did he still barely have some control over it? Just as Chris was reaching for the spot between Scarlett’s thighs where he expected her to be warm and moist, he froze at the last possible moment. Was something wrong with him, and also with her? But what could that be and how could anything here on the island affect him? Was he losing his mind?

“I’m not going to do this… not here and not this way. I don’t want them to watch us. And I don’t want… I’m trying to be a good guy”, he explained to a trembling Scarlett, who looked relieved and tortured at the same time. Wiping his face with one hand Chris got up and pulled her leash so that she was forced to get back on her feet too. “I don’t know what made you freak out, but don’t do it again, please. I have to look out for you. I can’t let you do something that dangerous again.”

Leading her back to the stairs wasn’t an easy task: She was shuddering and shaking and from time to time succumbed to her panic again. In those moments she stopped and tried to pull backwards, shaking her head. She was still trying to talk to him, even though he couldn’t understand a word. That he tried to calm her down, that he hugged her again and told her all would be fine and everything would be all right, all these attempts to comfort her worked partially at best.

Finally they were back at the bottom of the stairs, where the totem poles stood and where the heavy gear had been left by the natives. Scarlett trembled worse than ever and had tears in her eyes. In a way, in spite of wanting to show patience, Chris was slightly annoyed by her attitude and the way she made things so much harder for him.

“I’m not sure why they left the harness and the rest of the equipment”, he explained to the trembling, babbling mare. “But you and I know what needs to be done, don’t we?”

She shook her head again. She protested, enraged and shocked. It was all so irritating and irksome, having her complain all the time. Just a little bit impatient he pulled the leash again, calling her to order. She stuttered and mumbled for a few moments longer but then gave up as her oxygen reserve dwindled.

“We don’t have time for this”, he explained to Scarlett, talking as slowly as possible. “Maybe you are right, maybe the leaves are changing you not only in the one way but in more than one. You appear so… I don’t know how to call it, so slow to me, you know? I have to watch you constantly, and it’s getting worse all the time. Maybe once we don’t need to give you the leaves anymore you’ll get better again, but for now… watching you is like watching an animal.Don’t be offended, but that’s what if feels like.”

Her eyes filled with more tears. She tried to protest again, but now she just sounded whiny anymore. Chris kissed her cheek and stroked her head and she calmed down a little and pressed her face against his body.

“Now, whatever you think is the problem here, just believe me that I know what I am doing. Trust in me, no matter how confused you become.” He looked into her eyes and she, blinking some of the tears away, returned his gaze insecurely. “They left the gear”, Chris said slowly, pronouncing every single word very carefully. “That means something. And we are finding our answers at the top of those stairs, nowhere else. So turn around and kneel down and let me do what just needs to be done.”

She looked like a woman who couldn’t believe what was happening, what she was doing or what was being done to her. She obeyed him for the moment, but he could sense that even though she knelt down she still was also fighting a battle with herself. Chris, having learned that he couldn’t trust Scarlett anymore, first tied her leash to the large rock so that under no circumstances she would be able to run away again. Then he positioned himself right behind her and kept one knee on her shoulder, making sure she wouldn’t be able to get up anymore. Moaning and struggling she protested and tried to rear up but she couldn’t muster enough strength for any kind of serious resistance anymore.

Chris took the heavy harness and studied it: The setup was a little different from the improvised one that Scarlett and Chris had improvised at the beach and it was a lot heavier and seemed to be designed to keep the cattle’s arms forced into a back prayer, but after Scarlett had gotten used to the lighter arm-bondage during the past two days and after she had eaten the leaves and enjoyed the effects of the balm already, Chris was positive that she would be able to cope with this stricter kind of control as well. If she complained again then he could always cook more balm to help her.

“Try to see the bright side”, he told Scarlett as he began to sort the straps, belts and laces and saw her shudder with each clicking noise the buckles and breeches produced, “you wanted out of that bondage didn’t you? And that’s exactly what’s going to happen now.”

Maybe that was a bit mean, but he also thought it was a bit funny. And he knew that Scarlett had always had a taste for dark humor, and he was kind of proud that he finally seemed to develop a sense for it as well.


Scarlett knew it! She had known it since the very second when she had recognized the items which the Natives had left for them on the flat rock. In that moment, when she had anticipated what Chris would want to do, panic had taken her heart into a cold, relentless grip. Because, clearly, the gear was meant for her! And Chris was no longer in the condition to understand that putting it to use was plain wrong. With that in mind she had done the only thing that still seemed to make sense: She had tried to run away, no matter what the consequences would be.

Of course it had been futile: He was much faster and stronger than her and he had caught her in no time. Of course he didn’t listen to her pleas to take the gag out of her mouth, instead talked soothing nonsense and dragged her back to the bottom of the stairs no matter how much she tried to get through to him. He talked to her no longer like someone would talk to another human, he talked like she, when she had still been a teenage girl, had talked to her favorite pony! The fact that all he had to do was take that fucking gag out of her mouth so that he could listen to what she had to say didn’t even seem to occur to him anymore!

As he forced her to kneel and began preparing the new, heavier harness behind her back, all she could so was stare ahead with a baffled, bewildered look on her face. Scarlett understood, with what was left of her own logical thinking, that somehow her new diet of leaves, leaves and more leaves affected her, increased her physical limits, strengthened her libido, made it harder to think coherently. There was something in those plants that forced the change on her. What else could be the explanation for the way she felt increasingly horny even though she was disgusted and scared and so desperate?

But what was changing Chris?

Now that Scarlett knelt here, desperately trying to collect some clear thoughts, trembling with fear and still feeling that degrading warmth in her crotch, she realized that this had happened before! There was a reason why the two men together with Zoe and Swantje had never returned to the beach. It had happened to them, and now it was happening to Chris and Scarlett as well. They had thought themselves to be so civilized, so refrlected, so clever! And instead they had walked straight into a trap...

She had to tell Chris! She had to warn him! When he loosened the straps around her wrists and forearms she began flailing, fighting to stop him from tying her up again. Her sweaty hands flapped around wildly, her half-numb fingers tried to reach the knots and breeches that were still holding her under relative control. This was the best chance she had gotten in days and she had, she just had to make something out of it!

But her relative freedom lasted only for seconds: Chris had little trouble grabbing her arms, forcing them right into the new set of straps and laces that was already waiting for them.

"Come on, stop being so damn childish... don't do that, just hold still. Be a good one and don't make this hard for me Scarlett."

He removed one part of the harness after another, only to replace each with the heavier, stricter version the natives had provided. Scarlett screamed into her gag like a madwoman when she felt how easy it was for him to belt her elbows and wrists, how the new collar felt even heavier and more cruel around her throat than the old one, how the harness took shape piece by piece as Chris led leather belts around her body and shoulders. Soon she was corseted in a way that rendered about any form of resistance impossible. A broad crotch-strap was belted and secured especially tight. When the soft leather parted her lips and gently slipped between them Scarlett shuddered violently from the explosion of moist heat that it caused in her genital. Her clitoris was more sensitive than it had ever been before!

“I know you aren’t exactly thrilled about it, but it’s just necessary”, Chris explained with a firm voice while he worked on Scarlett, pushed her back to her knees every time she tried to raise. He ignored all her pleads for mercy. When he began to force her arms into a back prayer position and she screamed in shrill protest he just pushed her down harder. “Now don’t be so damn fussy, I can see that your arms are just fine. I know it’s an unusual position, but that’s what the harness is designed for. Come on, buck it up and don’t… be so damn … whiny…”

Since she fought him with all that was left of her strength it took him a few more seconds until Scarlett’s folded arms had been forced into the desired position. Her hands between her shoulder blades and her elbows pointing down made her feel so weird, so cruelly altered that she roared like a tortured animal. But what really completed the horror of all this was something else: Scarlett could feel and knew with every fiber of her being that he was right, that her arms were in good shape and could take the strain from the bondage easily. She had never been so fit before, so lean and flexible. As long as she would be getting her regular application of the balm her arms would get used to this with no problem, just as they had gotten used to the other form of bondage that had felt so impossibly cruel at the beginning. And that, even though from a naive viewpoint it would sound like good news, was in truth the reason for the hellish fate that seemed to await her now.

Chris pulled the leather pouches over her hands, making her fingers useless, and knotted them together. Then he reached for the gag and unlaced it.

This is my last chance, Scarlett thought, her anxious mind racing desperately. My last chance to talk to him, to make this insanity stop. I need to pull myself together, I need to be quick… use the few precious words that I can get out wisely, talk reason into him, make sure he understands that we are about to create our own hell! Maybe I can remind him of the people we used to be and the life we used to have. This must not be the end!

As Chris took the rubber wedge from her drool-smeared lips she blurted out:

“Chris, do’n…g hhuugh!!”

He had been much too fast, had grabbed her chin relentlessly and pushed the new gag between her teeth within a second. The U-shaped bit was pretty large and thick and reached far into her mouth. The wood was coated with leather and tasted just as bitter as the rubber wedge had. The device pushed Scarlett’s tongue down and immobilized it mostly, making comprehensible speech impossible. She gagged for a few seconds, her eyes watering, while Chris held her in his tight grip and tightened the head harness. He connected it with the headgear, the hood and blinders that she was already wearing. The straps found the impressions that the improvised headgear had made on Scarlett’s cheeks and forehead before.

She screamed in protest, but then he tightened the gear some more and she realized how useless it all was, how muffled her wailing sounded and how she had failed. The hopelessness of her situation made her wail like a caught animal.

More straps went into place, the last laces were knotted. Her ankles were hobbled with a new strap, a pair of heavy leather shoes that felt more like boots were put on her feet. Chris worked fast and dedicated and finally stroked her back, kissed her cheek, leashed her again.

“You are going to be fine”, he told Scarlett. “You are going to get used to it and you are going to cope with it as long as it’s necessary. Remember, I will look after you until it's safe to free you again.”

The shocking thing wasn’t even that he said something as stupid as that, the shocking thing was that, on a certain level, it made her feel better! He tugged the leash lightly and she got up with her legs trembling, her nostrils flaring when she realized how tightly the crotch-strap was pressed against her pussy, how intense the sensations that it produced were. But she didn’t protest anymore because she was quite sure that Chris wouldn’t care anyways. And indeed, even though the little that was still visible of her face was smeared with sweat, snot and tears there was no bad conscience in his eyes anymore. He was smiling while he began leading her towards the stairs.

Walking in the new harness, with the heavy shoes on her feet and her arms tied into that new, worse position was very hard. But the hardest thing, Scarlett thought while she began to climb the side of the hill behind Chris, was the constant stimulation from the crotch-strap. This weird sort of hornyness which had established itself over the course of the past days seemed to be a part of her now. The exhaustion, discomfort and despair did not diminish it in any way. With stiff nipples and warm moisture soaking the crotch-strap she stumbled after Chris, fighting for sanity and clinging to those parts of herself that were still left.

Oh God, I hope he does it again with me when he sets up camp she thought longingly, realized only a moment later how wrong that was and groaned loudly in protest against her own increasing dementia. But the throbbing heat that filled her swollen clit remained and did not allow her to ignore it for the rest of her burdensome journey.


Birds chirped, insects buzzed, the jungle was bright and colorful. Behind Chris, Scarlett groaned and wheezed as she tried to keep up with his pace. It seemed to be hard for the girl, since she still had to get used to the stricter bondage and the heavy ‘hooves’ she was forced to wear now.

Looking back at her for a moment, Chris found that she looked quite inhuman with her body compressed by the straps and belts, gagged and masked, sweat and drool dripping from her chin – but she was nonetheless so sexy that it was hard to keep a cool head about it. He could not forget how they had both enjoyed sex last night, how she had convulsed and twitched beneath him as he mounted and fucked her. He wanted to do it again as soon as possible, wanted to kiss and smell and taste her and make her twitch and moan like that again. Being with her was like being with an exotic, wild animal or a force of nature that only he had the power to control.

His heart was light and his mood was exceptional, realizing that he had lived up to Scarlett’s expectations and more than that so far, that he had proven he could be the go-getter he had always aspired to be.

They were alive and well-fed after all, and that was a lot more than they could have hoped for only a week ago. They had had to make sacrifices, sure - but those sacrifices had paid off remarkably, providing them with a golden opportunity to explore the forest, the city and now the final secret, the one that would be waiting for them atop this steel hill.

And the best thing: Chris had felt bad about what he was forced to do, had doubted if this was the right way and if he was following a good course. But the bad conscience and negative feelings that he had before were gone now. It was a miracle for him to feel like this, after self-doubts had been his constant companions for all his adult life!

Such a massive weight had been taken off his heart and shoulders that he imagined he only would have to jump high enough and he would glide through the air, freed from gravity’s grip like the glittering pollen that filled the air around them whenever a light breeze went through the vegetation.

But until I finally learn how to fly, he thought with an ironic grin, I guess we have to get atop this hill the conventional way. And that means we need to pause soon, or else Scarlett is not going to make it, leaves or not.

It was true: They had found the stairs around noon and had started to follow them on early afternoon, after he had finally managed to catch and ‘tame’ Scarlett. While he had been lost in his thoughts they had been wandering for approximately two hours. By now the sun was already beginning to sink towards the horizon again, its bright shine taking on a reddish tint. Chris looked back and estimated that they had brought a third of the distance to the top behind them at best. Sure, they could look down at a large part of the overgrown city by now, but the largest part of the hill was still above them, hidden behind the foliage and the same thick mist that they had also seen from below.

“Better to prepare camp”, he told himself and then realized that Scarlett had heard it too. She wasn’t exactly thrilled about it and flared her nostrils, trying to shake her head in spite of the heavy collar.

“Don’t be like that”, Chris told her with a smile and stroked her a bit. She was slick with sweat again, trembling in her bonds. “Did you seriously think we could reach the top before it gets dark? You can barely stand anymore and I can hear the growling of your stomach - you need water and food and rest. We can continue our journey tomorrow.”

She didn’t cause a fuss, just moaned a bit and kept following him on the leash without further complaints as he looked for a good place to set up the camp. Finally he found one, close beside the path, on a tiny clearing between trees and large blooming flowers. He let Scarlett do her business behind one of the bushes and cleaned her, prepared a small fire , collected water from a nearby creek and brought it to her. He was almost reluctant to take the gag out of her mouth, but she seemed to have understood what the deal was here and that breaking it wouldn’t do her much good, so she drank greedily without even trying to talk.

He fed her with leaves and watched her munch them with a look on her face that was hard to read (due to the hood and blinders) but seemed a bit doubtful. Just, what did it matter? Doubtful or not, Scarlett was hungry and devastated, and she needed the food direly. She ate what he fed her, green juice running down her chin, and she turned around with the faintest hesitation when he too the balm from the backpack she had carried and offered her to apply it to her arms.

The back prayer position had been cruel to them and the straps had sunk deep into her flesh, but circulation was still good and she obviously could still feel and move them, as much as the restraints allowed. The first thing Chris did was make sure that the harness was still in place – which it was – and that she had not managed to loosen her bondage – which she hadn’t. The second thing was that he pulled the pouches from her hands and checked on her fingers, found them red and a bit swollen but in good shape apart from that and – to her audible dismay – quickly rendered them useless again with the pouches.

“Can I…” Her speech sounded yet more slurred, her voice was coarse and tired. There wasn’t much hope left in it. “Ppplease... can... I... without the pou…pou…” She could not really pronounce it anymore and didn’t sound as if she even realized how defeated she sounded by now. Her voice trailed away, her wide eyes stared in wonder at her surroundings.

“They stay on”, Chris said softly. He rubbed the balm into her flesh with rigorous determination, her skin absorbing the substance in no time. "Why would you want them off anyways... just to entertain the fantasy that you might find a way to free yourself? That's silly, and you know it. The bondage is much too strict and much too secure for that." He kissed Scarlett's head. “And don’t talk again, please.” Then he kissed her forehead, next came the small bit of skin of her cheek that was not covered. Finally he kissed the girl’s trembling lips while she stared at him in wonder. She returned the kiss not without pleasure, but nibbled a little hesitant on his lower lip, as if she was already forgetting how kissing was supposed to be done. When he put the U-shaped bit back in her mouth he saw the same look of despair on her face as before on such occasions, but just so for a second.

He was tired and energized at the same time. Before he knew it he was dipping a piece of cloth into the creek and using the water to carefully clean Scarlett’s skin wherever she was not covered in and restrained by the harness and bondage. Shuddering she leaned against him while he tended to her. She closed her eyes, relaxing so much that she half fell asleep, and only when he touched her nipples and began kissing her breasts did she open them again. She looked at him with wide round eyes and he could see that the look of despair was still there, just diluted by her confusion and her arousal. Her cheeks were strawberry-red and her pussy, Chris found as he slipped a finger under the crotch-strap, was moist, her clitoris swollen in a pleasant way. Scarlett flinched, as he touched it, and then rubbed against his hand.

He found that the process of his transformation was not yet ended, that he was still continuing to change. With a new level of insight, with clarity he had not thought to be possible even half a day ago, Chris realized: Scarlett would never want to live like this, she’d rather be dead. If she was here and could still talk she’d beg me to kill her instead of forcing her to live like this. But I’m erasing her old self anyways, so what does it matter? She is gone already. Was he turning into a sociopath? With a grade of honesty he could not have suffered before he concluded that this might be the case, but that it could only help them in their endeavor: His weak former self would never have been able to muster the strength to do what needed to be done.

He turned his female around and spread her legs, and when she pushed her ass against him accompanied by a whining noise he penetrated her from behind, pushed deep into the warm, sticky wetness. The last time he had still tried to do a kind of foreplay with her and to stroke her, please her, show her he cared. By now he was quite sure that she wouldn’t be able to value his efforts anyways, and so he was more than just content to concentrate on his own pleasure, grabbing her at the waist and using her with hard, deep thrusts. She gasped and wheezed beneath him and did her best to move in his rhythm, working hard to get the best out of being used. Her muscles twitched beneath the shining skin, the whole female taut as a bow. For Chris, it was no longer a confusing thought to remember how he had met Scarlett at the beach, the memory even increased his enjoyment.

The female didn’t orgasm this time, but he could sense she had been very close. When he came and pumped into her and she realized that her time was up, she produced a drawn-out moan with all the frustration and disappointment in it that such a sweet, dumbed-down creature could possibly feel. He laughed, catching his breath, sank to the ground next to her and patted her encouragingly. “It’s fine, you may be luckier next time. Don’t be angry, just look forward to your next opportunity.”

Chris wasn’t sure if she understood him, but she definitely had understood what the good-mooded tone meant in which he had spoken to her. She cuddled against him and together they feel asleep soon afterwards.

He only awoke once this night, and only for seconds: Drowsy, he thought for a moment that he had been awakened by the female’s sobbing. Or had that been a dream? Now that he was awake she was very still in his arms and breathed quietly. Within seconds he fell asleep again and this time slept without further disturbances until next morning.


This had to be what people meant when they talked about hyper-reality: Scarlett felt raw as if she was an exposed nerve, with even the faintest breath of air causing shivers to run down her naked spine. When a bug landed on her collarbone she thought that she could feel each of its small legs individually on her skin. When it started again the hypersensitivity of her senses made the buzzing sound seem as loud as that of a helicopter. The beating of her strong heart was so present in all of her veins now. Her own scent (mint and musk, spice and sweat, leather and feverish hot skin) was so thick in her nostrils that it made her dehumanization even more real, serving as a perpetual reminder for what was being done to her.

Her pussy was driving her crazy, so hot and moist, so ready, and impossible to reach or touch with her arms caught in the back-prayer position they had been secured in.

The cruel bondage, the corset and harness, the strangling force of the leather and restraints against her skin and muscles created a weird rhythm while she moved, a pulsating pain and discomfort that were weirdly easy to accept. Somehow, they were becoming a part of her default state of being, nothing special or unnatural or disgusting anymore but something that she needed to accept and cope with, something that began to define her.

Define me… no, definitely not, this is torture, this is hell, I want out of this, this is not easy to accept… She managed to pull herself together for a moment and concluded that the stream of her consciousness was more and more turning into a torrential river. In the past she had been able to control her stream of consciousness to a certain point – like human beings usually could. She had been able to walk back and forth an time and choose freely what thoughts she wanted to dwell on, what memories she wanted to examine further. But now, gradually she was losing the ability to reflect how time passed, lost the ability to understand how time worked.

Everything seems to be happening in the Now… but I can’t allow the torrent to just overpower me. I need to fight it…. Concentrate…how long have we been marching…? I feel so tired, so exhausted… need water, something to drink… I’m so hungry and so thirsty… oh God please make me break down. I don’t want this endurance… please oh God please I don’t want to be so strong…

Suddenly a sharp pain hit her left ass cheek and Scarlett screamed in surprise. But the noise that came from her gagged mouth really turned out as a comical mix between a yelp and a moo. Instinctively she jumped forward and picked up a faster pace again, the pain still burning on her skin.

“Come on”, Chris said behind her. The thin branch in his hand produced a whistling sound as he swung it again, but this time he didn’t hit her. “Faster girl, you are slowing down again.”

Don’t remember… since when does he have a… why can he… did I allow...??

This had to be what people were talking about when they mentioned ‘hyper-reality’, all nerves feeling so open and raw, and even the faintest breeze causing shivers on her hot, sensitive skin. They ran down her naked spine and covered Scarlett in goose bumps, and the bugs and insects that buzzed through the air around her sounded like helicopters. Her heart was pounding so hard and powerful in her chest and that weird strength filled her with so much energy despite her exhaustion, and her stink (musk and mint, spicy sweat and leather and skin) was so intense in her nose that she groaned in humiliation, again reminded of how degraded she was as Chris’ ‘cattle'.

She hated her nipples for being so sensitive, hated her stupid cunt for being so wet and warm and longing and she was filled with an even darker hate directed towards a world that didn’t allow her to use her arms. Frustrated she strained them against the bonds for a moment, drool dripping down her chin. But of course she stayed harnessed and restrained as helpless as before, the belts and straps encasing her with such a cruel, painful force that was more and more becoming normal for her.

No… this is not normal, it’s sick torture… can’t give up, must not give up. Must never accept this as normal. I need to pull myself together… must remember that being kept like this isn’t how I’m supposed to exist!

It was very hard, she realized, to think in terms of past, present and future. There only seemed to be a Now anymore, and she was losing herself in it. Everything else was blurred and she was not even sure if she was still sane, exhausted and suffering as she was. I wish I would just drop to the ground… just pass out, why can’t I pass out, I don’t want this, I can’t go on, can’t go on, oh God please don’t force me to…

Suddenly a stinging pain hit her right ass cheek and she yelped surprised, half stumbled and half jumped forward and picked up a faster pace, her eyes rolling wild in their sockets, foam bubbling from the corners of her mouth.

“Come on girl, you need to keep a faster pace, or we’ll never get to the top before it gets dark. And we don’t want to spend yet another night in the jungle, do we?”

She was so confused. He just hit me… he has a cane…. Why didn’t he tell me he was going to use…

This had to be the state of mind that people were talking about when they mentioned hyper-reality! All colors were so bright, all noises were so intense, and she felt like an exposed nerve, so sensitive and naked…

…shivers running down her spine… her strong heart beating…

…her own scent of musk and mint and leather and spice…

…the pain and exhaustion and her stupid, brainless pussy, so hot and slick…

…but this wasn’t her, it was not what defined her…

…this was not… what defined her…

…ouch! since when did he have that cane???...


Having to drag the female after him had slowly started to annoy Chris – and, to be honest, had also caused a throbbing pain in his left shoulder and elbow that he didn’t want to risk turning into a chronic problem. The logical conclusion had been to break a thin and flexible branch from one of the nearby trees and to let Scarlett walk in front of him. That way Chris could hold the leash and let the female pull him along while she trudged forwards with the supplies on her back. Her assistance made the ascent a lot more pleasant for him, and whenever she slowed down all he had to do was plant a well-aimed blow on one of her butt cheeks or the back of her thighs. The sting of the branch would immediately remind her that she needed to march with a faster pace again.

At first he had had a bad conscience for treating her like this. But quickly his feelings of guilt had disappeared, because he was pretty sure that the balm would help to heal all those deep red wedges on her ass and thighs pretty fast, maybe even over the course of next night (he had hit her carefully at first but a little harder after that, when he had realized how miserably slow she dragged herself along, howlazy she truly was without the additional motivation, and now her rear honestly looked pretty sore) and anyways, the female somehow never freaked out, never really complained about her treatment: She just kept following the path, wheezing and panting, sweating and drooling. Her nipples, he realized, stayed erected. Her crotch was so moist that the proof for her constant arousal slowly began to cover the inner sides of her thighs. Sure, she yelped or groaned when another stroke hit her increasingly bruised flesh, but she always sounded more surprised than truly rebellious. So all in all, Chris was positive that he didn’t cause her any real, serious pain.

From time to time she looked at him, eyes rolling, staring at him so confused. Whenever she did that he felt pity for her and touched her, petted her, told her that she was doing well and they were getting closer to the top. She seemed to like hearing those things and would continue to ascend a little calmer again, a little reassured. Only once or twice he thought he still heard her sob or saw her arms twitch in the bonds.

For most of the time he just concentrated on the journey and the progress they made: Whenever there was an opening in the line of trees and bushes to his left, Chris could see how far they had already ascended. The old ruins lay far beneath them, half hidden in the mists and looking more and more dream-like. Behind the forest, he could only vaguely discern the yellow-brown wasteland where their journey had begun. The sea was just a faint shimmer, close to the horizon.

It was again getting close to evening time, but there was still enough light to cover some more ground, and so Chris kept driving the female forward. The path took one final turn and then only led some more steps upwards before it reached a large clearing. Scarlett stopped there, panting and wheezing, staring at something with wide eyes and shaking legs. Chris quickly closed the gap between them, more than just curious to see what awaited them.

As far as he was standing at the females’ side he could see that they had reached a plateau, overgrown with thick vegetation, but with a wide clearing in its middle. A small pond gurgled at one side. In a loose circle the clearing was surrounded – and its boundaries where marked – by giant, overgrown obelisks. It looked like the builders of the city had brought them up here: Their stone was of the same color and quality as many of the old palaces and buildings at the foot of the hill. And the carvings in these obelisks looked like they had been done by artists who had clearly used the same style as work as those at the foot of the hill.

There was only one major difference to note: The carvings in these obelisks up here did not show Queens, Goddesses and Priestesses anymore, and they did not depict the same equality between the sexes that had been reflected everywhere in the ruins downhill: In these carvings, all females were kept in chains or bonds, their arms on their backs and ankles hobbled, their faces hooded and their mouths either covered or at least altered by what looked like animal masks, bridles and gags. They were driven forward by males with whips, and in some of the depictions where rushed out of town, in some were used sexually in their helpless state or forced to work on the fields, dragging plows and carts like beasts of burden. There was, Chris detected with awestruck wonder, even a series of pictures that showed how a horde of chained and bridled women where forced by whip to drag massive obelisks up a steep hill – most likely the very obelisks which he was studying right now.

Behind him, Scarlett shuddered, groaned, stared wide-eyed at what she saw. There was no telling anymore how much of it she actually could grasp and for a short, dark moment Chris felt very alone, wishing he could still have a conversation with her like they used to have then back on the beach. But those times were gone.

Meanwhile he had wandered from one of the large stone testimonies of past times to the other with his mouth half agape. He was now standing about thirty feet from the point where he had stepped into the clearing. Suddenly the feeling of being watched was back with a vengeance, stronger than ever before. Where those real eyes that looked at him from the shadows beyond the clearing, or just figments of his fantasy? Did he really hear footsteps behind him? As he turned around, trying to look into all directions more or less at once, Chris saw that figures were indeed moving in the twilight around him. Muscular men, clad in leather and rough linen, were entering the clearing from all sides, which automatically put him and Scarlett in the middle of a loose circle. The Natives looked grim, but he thought that in some of their faces he also saw a hint of curiosity. Without surprise he recognized the older man among them, the one who had shown him the message carved into a tree, down at the lake.

All of them held weapons, but none of these weapons were yet aimed directly at Chris. And anyways, during the past days he had changed in more than just one way: Even though he knew he still was in mortal danger he didn’t feel the same kind of fear anymore.

One of the Natives suddenly caught his attention: This man reminded him of someone. Chris hesitated, furrowed his brow and then finally, as the Native half smiled, was sure that he recognized him. The realization hit him like a hammer.

“So you’re still alive”, he said to Hendrik. His voice was shaking a little. “You look… quite different from last time.”

This was definitely true. Hendrik– who had been a pale, blonde man with overweight and an impressive belly – had lost most of his fat and gained a lot of muscle in exchange. His skin was deeply tanned now and his hair was dyed dark and much shorter. Several tattoos in the style of the Natives adorned Hendrik’s broad chest and he wore the same primitive clothing the other men did. A knife with a long obsidian blade was tied to his belt and made him appear all the more feral.

“You look different too.” Ironically he sounded just like Chris had sounded to Scarlett only weeks ago: Like a man who had not talked in his mother language for years and was not used to it anymore. “I did not really believe it when they told me that another man was wandering from the beach towards the inland.”

“They?” Chris raised his eyebrows and gestured towards the Natives. “So you have learned their language?”

“Daniel and I had to learn it when we got in contact with them. We needed allies to survive here, and they know everything about this land.”

“So you are not their prisoner? Can you move freely?”

“Yes, sure I can. They have accepted me as a member of the tribe. I have the same privileges and the same duties as any other of these men.”

Chris shook his head. “So even though you could have returned… you left me at the beach and never came back. You never sent me a message. You never tried to get me out of there.”

“You don’t understand, Chris. After we met the Natives we had to make some tough decisions, and we were sure you wouldn’t understand. You had always been so considerate and so thoughtful, and you reacted so bad to Zoe’s and Swantje’s plan… we thought you’d be safer at the beach.”

“Fuck you, Hendrik! I was alone for fuck’s sake. I didn’t have a female to show these guys how tough I was. You left me there to go insane or fucking die!”

Hendrik hesitated, still that weird half-smile on his lips. Something about his behavior seemed off to Chris, and suddenly he realized what it was: When he had recognized Hendrik, the man had already been standing pretty close to Scarlett, who eyed him nervously but didn’t seem to really understand what was going on anymore. Now, during their brief conversation, Hendrik had wandered further toward the harnessed female. He attempted to do it as casually as possible, but why then did all the Natives watch him and Chris so intently? And did the men have their hands closer to their weapons now that Hendrik reached for Scarlett’s loose leash?

Instinctively Chris understood that the conversation between them was just meaningless banter – that Hendrik was merely trying to distract him long enough to get Scarlett under his control! He shot forward and crossed the distance between them with a few quick steps, reaching for the leash himself now.

“Scarlett, come here!”

Hendrik half turned in his direction and hit him with a fierce uppercut that literally sent Chris flying through the air with a force that made him fear his skull might have been shattered by the blow.

But it had not, or, if Chris was indeed seriously hurt, at least he did not yet feel the effects: With a grade of dexterity that surprised him he was already on his feet again, adrenaline pumping through his veins, just as Hendrik rushed at him with his fists raised. His opponent was taller and heavier than him, but anger welled up inside Chris, drowning his fear. Instincts took over and instead of evading the other man he met him half way at full speed. They clashed into each other and then rolled across the ground, exchanging blows without remorse.

It was an unequal fight: Hendrik was definitely stronger than Chris, but he also moved slower and soon breathed heavily, due to his weight and thick muscles. And Chris had never before felt so healthy and good in his life. He realized that, even if he had not eaten the leaves, something was definitely affecting his physique. Twice he evaded Hendrik’s attacks with relative ease, ignoring his bleeding eyebrow and nose, hitting the attacker with quick, catlike punches. Then, as his opponent leaped at him again, Chris managed to kick him in the side of his knee, causing him to lose balance. Hendrik fell with an angry scream and roared again as Chris threw himself on him and began forcing him into a chokehold. For about a minute both men wrestled each other bitterly, but finally Chris had gotten his enemy into a position with his own arm slung around his throat. Hendrik coughed and wheezed, his face turning purple.

“Let… go of me”, the larger man spat out with the last air that was still in his lungs. To Chris’ amazement he was grinning like a madman despite the fact that he was as good as dead. “If you want… answers… you need to… let me live…”

Hendrik couldn’t say more, but Chris had already understood. He realized that Hendrik had attacked him, but had not used the knife that had been in his belt all the time. Also, the Natives still watched them, still waited and still hadn’t touched Scarlett, who was staring wide-eyed at Chris through her mask and hood. The fact that no one of the spectators had interfered, Chris assumed, had to mean that this fight, however brutal it might have been, had also had a strong ritualistic component.

He released Hendrik from the chokehold and stood up. The first thing he did then was grab Scarlett’s leash and pull her towards him. She muttered something but completely failed to produce something intelligible. He was pretty sure that even without the gag what she thought she had to say wouldn’t be a lot more comprehensible.

“What the hell is going on, Hendrik? What happened to Daniel? What happened to Zoe and Swantje, and what the fuck happened to you? Can I finally get some damn answers?”

“Absolutely.” Hendrik got up too, a lot more shaky then Chris, and nodded. His grin had been replaced by a solemn look. “You just passed the last test, Chris. Follow us to the camp, it’s close by. There you can eat and drink and get some rest. You can also meet Zoe and Swantje. And you will get all the answers you want.”

Chris studied Hendrik’s face thoroughly, but he did not see deception in it, just honest respect. “Good. I’ll follow you then.”

“But you might not like all the answers you get, Chrissy-Boy.”

“Don’t call me that. And I don’t care if I like the answers. I just want to understand.”

“Very well, everything will be explained. This isn’t fucking Lost after all.”


After his arrival on the island, Chris had only spent a few weeks with the others before the group was separated. But he still vividly remembered how Swantje had impressed him: The Dutch woman – blonde, blue-eyed, rascally, and smaller but a lot fitter than the men – had been a true survivor and a very courageous person. The term ‘failure’ just didn’t seem to be part of her vocabulary. Back in civilization Swantje had already been Co-Manager of a soccer team despite being only 26 years old. Here on the island she managed the group of survivors instead of those soccer players. She was the one who devised plans and assigned tasks. Within the first weeks, as it began to sink in that there maybe would not be a rescue, she had proven to be a lot tougher than her fiancée Hendrik, who couldn’t really hide how much of a strain their situation was for him. She had never faltered, never showed doubts or fear.

One evening, as Hendrik and the others had already been asleep, Chris had found Swantje at the beach where she searched another washed-ashore life raft for whatever materials or items would help them to survive a bit longer. Sitting on the brim of the small raft, her naked, tanned legs had appeared even longer than they did usually. Chris had lusted for her, but knew that she belonged to Hendrik.

“You should sleep”, she had told him as he approached her, and the total sobriety of her statement made him smile.

“You know”, he had said in a mocking tone, “you are, just sometimes, kind of a bossy girl.”

“If you are a man and make decisions for others, then people will call you a born leader. But if you don’t have a penis and you do the same they will miraculously decide that you are a bossy girl instead”, Swantje had said with her typical dutch accent.

“You know that I was joking, right?” Chris had been a little ashamed. He did not consider himself sexist and didn’t like the thought much that Swantje would think of him that way.

But then she had smiled and he realized she had just fooled him with her dry humor. They both giggled now, and looked at each other in the eyes, some sort of understanding dawning between them. “You know”, Chris had said, “you don’t always have to be so tough, Swantje. We appreciate that you are holding things together, but you are sometimes being too hard on yourself.”

“If we are not hard on ourselves then we might be too soft for surviving..” She had shaken her head, her face stern again, and had run her fingers over the weird kind of harness that she had been working on – until Chris had interrupted her, a few moments ago. Back then, he had had no idea what she was trying to put together. “You know Chris, you are a nice guy. No, not just that. You are more than a nice, guy, you are… a good guy.” She had to clear her throat before she could continue. “But just being a good guy doesn’t even help you much in the civilized world. And here, in this place, it doesn’t help you at all. Here it’s all about surviving, and the sun and the sand and those Natives don’t give a shit if you are good.”

Chris had still been a different man then, and intimidated by Swantje’s attitude he had just smiled, quite insecure, and shrugged weakly. “I don’t know much, but I know that you are going to survive, Swantje. You never give up, do you?”

“No, I don’t. I really believe that quitters are losers, and that’s why I will never quit. You are right, I will survive. There is just no other option.” She had been adamantine about it, her gaze that of a woman who would rather fight alone against a whole island full of tigers instead of admitting defeat, and Chris had never been as awestruck by any woman as he had been by her, in that moment at the beach.

“And now go and get some sleep” she had said with a thin smile. “I am the Boss, remember? I have to look after you.”

Three years had passed since then. Today, while dusk turned into darkness around them, Chris followed Hendrik and the Natives as they left the clearing with the stone obelisks. Not far to the east from there, on the opposite flank of the hill, the men had set up a small camp. Fires burned between the trees there, meat was being grilled and bowls with fermented juice where being handed round. Everyone treated him with respect, even though the many glances he received showed how very curious the Natives were about him. He tied Scarlett’s leash to a nearby tree and decided to always keep an eye on her, but it seemed like no one planned to try and take her away from him anymore.

The female moaned in fear when he walked away from her, and he could see the relief in her eyes when she realized he did plan to stay in the vicinity. He told himself that he needed to water and feed her later, but for now he wanted the answers he had been promised. And Scarlett was close enough to listen to Hendrik’s explanation as well, which seemed only fair.

“We are about twenty men here, who all gathered to see you. But the village is much larger, more than a small town actually. It’s not far from here, only half a day’s march to the east”, Hendrik said as they sat down. Some of the Natives sat with Chris and him, others spread to the other fireplaces. Conversations set in between many of the small groups and soon the atmosphere was relaxed enough for Chris to not feel threatened at all anymore. It was nearly funny how normal these men, whom he had feared so much, appeared on closer inspection.

Chris tried a chip of fried meat. It tasted great and he took another one. The fermented juice though was something he would need to get used to. “If they have accepted you as a member of their tribe, and if you can come and leave in the village as you please – did you get a chance to explore the rest of this place? Is it truly an island, or is there a connection to the continent?”

Hendrik sighed. “Well, if it is an island then it’s damn large. When we left you, Daniel and I brought Zoe and Swantje to the lake first. The girls didn’t enjoy being in the bondage of course, but it had been Swantje’s idea and she was tough enough to pull through. Zoe, I think, was already done for after a day. She looked like shit, she cried and got into one or two hysteric fits. But we simply couldn’t release her without the Natives becoming aggressive. Swantje just kind of… well, she couldn’t talk with the gag in her mouth, but she just needed to glance at Zoe and to kind of transport her energy to remind Zoe of how dangerous the situation was. That always reminded Zoe that she had to pull herself together, but it definitely wasn’t easy for her. We were soon very glad that we also had the leaves.”

Chris was not surprised. “These really work wonders. Did you see the Natives feed them to their cattle?” Behind him, Scarlett shuddered and moaned, but kept listening.

“We did”, Hendrik nodded. “And I decided that I wanted to persuade the Natives that we respected them – like you will be prone to do when someone can kill you at any given time. I wanted to use any given means.”

Chris nodded.

“So I offered some of the leaves to Swantje. She didn’t complain, in fact she seemed to like the stuff. From then on, because the leaves are easy to find everywhere, we fed the girls mostly with that stuff. And it worked well – makes them stronger and makes the bondage easier to bear for them, doesn’t it?”

“Absolutely.” Chris pointed a thumb at Scarlett. “She’s been in her harness for two days now and she’s still fine.” Another moan from Scarlett, who listened to them with wide, half-dumb eyes.

“She can wear the bondage for another year and stay just like that”, Hendrik said with a smile. “Sure, it never gets really comfortable for them, but they can bear it easily as long as they are on their ‘special diet’. The effect on their bodies is like a fucking miracle. The downside is…”

“… that they don’t exactly become geniuses”, Chris finished the sentence. His curiosity was overwhelming now. “Hendrik, I don’t want to rush you. But… where are the others today?”

“Well, Daniel is fine, but he’s commanding a group of warriors at the village and couldn’t leave to greet you. We are in the middle of a war, but I’ll explain that later. Zoe is somewhere at the village too I think. She’s in a workforce, but I don’t see her often anymore, and in the harnesses they anyways all look the same anyways.” He shrugged. “And Swantje is here at the camp. She’s my fiancée after all, so I still take her with me whenever I can, even though I could as well let her stay at the kennels in the settlement.”

“She’s here? Can I… can I see her?”

“Sure, if you want to. We can take your female to her. She could get some rest there and get accustomed to being with the others.”

At the side of the actual camp there was a small enclosure, and as Chris approached it he caught the typical scent that Scarlett had on her as well: The smell of leather and sweat, female juices and spice was heavy in the air. It was as if, after they had been fed with the leaves for some days, the minty smell of the leaves became part of the natural scent of each female. The result was an arousing mixture of scents. Its intensity seemed to scare Scarlett, who whimpered and moaned behind him in utter despair.

There were half a dozen females here, and they all had been harnessed and tied so strictly that their toned bodies looked grotesquely transformed by the bondage. Even though none of their outfits looked exactly the same – all had of course been handmade – they all caught the cattle’s arms in the same cruel back praying position and rendered their hands useless with leather pouches similar to the ones Chris had tied around Scarlett’s hands and fingers. Every woman wore the same kind of heavy leather shoes that so much resembled hooves. Each of them was hooded and bridled, each was collared.

Several of the cattle were on the ground and sleeping, but the one that Hendrik silently pointed at was still awake. With a simple gesture he commanded the female to come to him, and as she trotted towards him Chris could see how fit she was and how her toned body worked under the straps and belts that restrained it. Her bondage was so tight that Scarlett would not (yet) be able to bear it, her collar was set extremely tight, the crotch-strap had slid deep between her cuntlips. From the look of it she was bald, but because she was wearing the traditional hood that every female was forced to wear it was hard to say if all her hair had been shaved off or if it had just been trimmed very short. Small scars, welts and bruises covered her ass and thighs. This creature looked deeply inhuman, stripped of all dignity and essentially degraded and destroyed to a point of no return.

The tired eyes that stared at Chris through the eyeholes in her hood were bright blue.

“Good to see you Swantje”, he said calmly, with a little smile. For so long he had wondered where she was and if she was still alive, and now the answer was so darkly simple. “I’ve been thinking a lot about you.”

The female produced a choking noise, her eyes flickering surprised. Did she recognize him? Chris couldn’t be sure, but the creature’s arms strained against the bonds just for a moment, some greenish drool dripped from her gagged lips, a thread falling on the naked skin of her breasts. A loud groan escaped her throat and Hendrik had to use his crop to plant a well-aimed blow against the side of her left tit, where immediately a fresh red welt appeared. The loud smacking noise hinted at how painful that punishment must have been, but the cattle just shuddered, moaned and then, reminded of her place, managed to keep its temper again.

“I’m not sure how much she still knows”, Hendrik said and stroked the female’s shoulder. Between her thighs, Chris saw the same wetness that had been constantly debasing Scarlett for the past days. “But she has never stopped being a little more defiant than the others. It must just be in her blood. And I’m pretty sure that she remembers you, one way or the other.”

Chris found that Swantje was, in more than one way, an image of what Scarlett might become in the future: She had obviously learned to live with the bondage, had adapted to her harshly reduced freedom, had only remnants of her former willpower still telling her that she ought to resist and fight. The way she looked at him was not entirely human any more – it was more as if a hybrid between woman and animal was looking at him through these tired blue eyes, frustrated and horny, dehumanized, helpless and forever lost in herself.

And she reeked of the leaves, their smell surrounding her like a cloud. It was not completely unpleasant, but it told a story about what a big deposit of the substance from those plants had to be in her system now. And how often had she been treated with the balm during the past years?

He raised his hand to touch her, hesitated and then finally did place a hand on the female’s cheek when Hendrik showed him with a gesture and a smile that it was okay.

“You said that in order to survive you would do anything”, he whispered to her. “You told me that quitters are losers. I bet that you’d love to quit by now, if you were still able to make that decision.”

She didn’t even try to speak, but her lips quivered around the bit and she made a sound that was so tortured, so tired and drained of all power that his pity for her grew further. This creature had been broken a long time ago and did not even possess the capability anymore to grasp how total its defeat was.

“The leaves keep her going”, Hendrik said and then brought the stumbling Swantje to one of the poles the Natives had hammered into the earth. “No matter what you throw at the cattle, as long as you got the leaves and the balm they’ll find a way to cope. They sometimes complain, but what options do they have? And we know their endurance is as good as unlimited, so we don’t get fooled if one of them gets all whiney.”

He tied Swantje’s leash to the pole and invited Chris to tie Scarlett’s to the same one. Chris did that, and now the two females were standing right next to each other, both staring at the men with confused tears in their eyes and their legs shaking. When Swantje knelt on the ground to get into a more comfortable position Scarlett did that too. It was, found Chris, kind of sweet how she followed the other females’ example.

“Swantje was still more or less herself when we reached at the old ruined city”, Hendrik told Chris. “She still thought that exploring the island with us as owners and Zoe and her as cattle was the only option, but even though we all knew that we were just playing roles to fool the Natives she started to become a bit paranoid over time. She said that she felt weird, somehow. Zoe said the same, and Zoe freaked out at some point and didn’t want to eat the leaves anymore. By then, we had already scouted the city and had found all the old carvings, the idols and picture stories about the people who once lived there.

“So you wanted to go on”, Chris concluded. He knew well how curiosity could burn in the heart of a man. And he also remembered how he had begun to enjoy his empowerment and the grade of control he had over Scarlett. “Turning back just wasn’t an option anymore.”

“Exactly. And we couldn’t let Zoe become all hysteric. She was dangerous to all of us, freaking out and complaining, crying and screaming and whatnot. Swantje was angry and worried too, but she didn’t really protest when we force-fed Zoe the leaves. We had to, in order to finally get her to calm the fuck down. We would just force her to drink a tea we cooked from them, push some more of the plants behind her bridle and force her to suck the juice. We would do everything to get the plants into her stomach.”

“So you already suspected how they affected the girls.”

“Sure we did.” Hendrik shrugged and smiled, looking over to the small enclosure with the cattle. “I suspected a lot, and I knew that if we wanted to keep going we needed the girls to consume as much of the stuff as necessary. Zoe calmed down eventually, when the effect kicked in big time. She was much easier to handle, and I think it was also good for her – an act of mercy so to say, you know? We couldn’t release her, but the leaves made things easier for her too, and that seemed to be the right thing to do.

Then, as we reached the base of the hill, we decided we should find out what’s up there. We left some personal belongings…”

“… which we found.”

“… yeah, and you too should have left something that belonged to your girl, Scarlett. It is tradition to leave something there, and the fact that you forgot it nearly made some of the younger guys shoot some arrows into you. The Natives are pretty conservative.” He winked at Chris. “But whatever, all’s well now. So where was I? Ah yes, we went uphill and met the Natives. We were put through some tests, and the days that followed were pretty hard. But I could sometimes talk to Swantje in the nights, whispering with her, when there was no one watching or listening. I would just loosen her gag and we would exchange thoughts for a while. She still wanted to go on. She ate the leaves, she told me to use as much of the balm as possible. She told me that she did not plan to give up, that befriending these guys was our best chance to explore the rest of this land.

Zoe was already gone at that time: She couldn’t talk anymore even when she was ungagged. Just babbling nonsense, constantly horny, crying and at the same time humping Daniel’s leg. It was funny in a bizarre way.”

Chris laughed. He had witnessed personally what the leaves did to a girl. So he could well imagine how scary the change had to have been for all involved.

“So we absolved all the tests. I had to fast for some time and then had to wrestle a guy who nearly killed me – but we’re friends today, so I guess it is okay. And the girls were forced to take part in a race against other females. It was a tough time. After a few days we were exhausted, but we had proven that we could be a worthwhile addition to the strength of the tribe.” Hendrik sounded at least a little proud as he told Chris that part of the story. “Swantje had contributed a lot to that. No matter how degrading it got, she wanted us to gain the freedom to continue our exploration, you know? She always told me: ‘We can’t give up now, or they will kill you. So you pass their tests, you get accepted. Then, when you can move freely among these Natives, you take Zoe and me away from here and we journey on, until we are out of their reach. You free us from these fucking harnesses and everything will be all right again. This is just a thing we have to get through.”

Chris looked back at the enclosure. The females could not hear them from over there, especially not with the hoods tightly over their heads, covering their ears as well. But they still watched the two men from where they had been leashed to the pole.

“But you never journeyed on. You stayed with the Natives.”

“We had our reasons”, Hendrik said dryly. You saw the ruins down there. Did you also see the carvings and statues?”

“Sure I did. The place was once ruled by Queens and Priestesses.”

“It was a matriarchic society”, Hendrik nodded. “But that was before a sort of apocalypse happened. No one here remembers what exactly happened, but the people here say that some generations ago there was a civil war. My theory is that it had to do with the flowers. You saw the big ones, and the clouds of pollen that come out of them? The Natives don’t really get it, but it’s pretty clear that inhaling the pollen changes us over time. We get stronger, but also kind of… dominant. I don’t know about you, but since I entered the forest I could think more clearly, I could make tough decisions without remorse, I could do what had to be done without hesitation. No more doubt, no more insecurity. I started to like that feeling.”

Chris was baffled that he had not thought of the flowers’ pollen as one reason for the change he had gone through. Now that he thought about it the whole thing made at least as much sense as anything else in this place. Hendrik’s theory explained a lot about what had happened to him and what he had seen in the old city and up here on the obelisks.

Meanwhile, Hendrik continued explaining. “What I think is that the ancient matriarchic society started getting problems when a natural balance was destroyed. It probably happened because these guys cut too deep into the forest and burned large parts of the woods to create more farmland, but that’s just my theory. However, I bet you one thing: When these flowers started growing closer to the city, the men’s attitude towards their queens changed. That’s when the unrest started. Then there was war and finally the old order was overthrown.”

“Okay”, Chris mused, “that’s fair enough. Thanks for the history lesson. But still, why didn’t you leave this place with Swantje and Zoe after you had become members of the tribe?”

“Because that war – the one that broke out some generations ago – isn’t over yet.” Hendrik sighed. This tribe here, they call themselves the Shadow Men. They control this part of the forest and all the land you journeyed through, all the way from to the sea. But the Shadow Men have enemies in the east and north. There are other villages and towns, and the tribes that control those would kill me if I traveled there, especially because the Shadow Men have accepted me as one of their own.”

Chris laughed loud and bitter. “So you won the Natives trust just to find out that it still didn’t allow you to leave this fucking place?”

“Exactly.” Hendrik nodded. “We had found a way to survive, but apart from that we still had not achieved much. Daniel and I had several discussions about what to do, and finally we decided that we could stay for awhile with the Shadow men and maybe help them to extend their reach further. I figured that if they conquer other tribes then with each conquered region we would gain access to another part of this land. I still don’t know if this is an island, but even if it is, Chris: If the Shadow Men win, we can explore the place and find a way out of here. Maybe even build a boat? But I can only ask that from the tribe once the war is over.”

“So you’ve been fighting with them, aiding them in their war for the past three years?”

“Sure, and it’s going well. We have conquered a tribe to the north that still followed the old way, we have enslaved a lot of their women and now we are stronger than ever before – because the workforce is growing. Once you got them harnessed and fed with the leaves you can easily subdue them. They can work on the fields day after day without pause, it’s extremely effective. Our warriors are well fed, strong and wealthy, and we are slowly gaining the upper hand.”

Chris was fascinated and weirdly thrilled by the thought that Hendrik had not only become part of the Shadow Men, but that he had turned himself into one of their officers. Still, looking back at Swantje, he had to ask: “Did she agree with you? Did she give you carte blanche to stay here and keep her like this?”

“Not really.” Hendrik did not seem ashamed, but at least he coveyed through a stern nod that it had not been an easy decision. “I hid our decision from her, at least for some time. When she kept urging me to travel on I had to explain why we couldn’t leave. She didn’t take well to it, as you can imagine. She tried so hard to persuade me to leave, she said the pollen made us men as mad as the leaves affected the girls. But she had been on the diet for long and she wasn’t very articulative anymore. And anyways, I couldn’t free her: I had already made up my mind. It was the last time we talked. I figured she’d have it easier to cope with her role if I treated her in a persistent way.”

Chris looked back at the shape of kneeling Swantje again: The female was still trying to keep looking in their direction, obviously understanding on some level that this was a special evening and a reunion of some kind, but by now she way swaying back and forth, close to just falling asleep from exhaustion against her will. “Persistent… yes, it looks like her treatment has been very persistent over the past three years.”

“I take care of her as good as I can. She gets as many leaves as she wants to eat and I treat her with the balm as often as possible. One day, if we manage to win this war and the situation is better, she could be her old self again. It’s possible. But that time isn’t here yet.”

Chris did not know what to say. He was, like Hendrik, positive that the leaves and the balm helped the females to cope with their treatment. Still, he thought, the perspective to exist like cattle for such a long time had to be annoying for them, even direful in many ways. And even though Chris had changed in many ways during the past days he still remembered his own self, and now that Hendrik looked at him and so many thoughts went through his head he asked himself if this was the right course of action, if what they discussed was indeed the logical thing to do.

It seemed so. But was that the truth, or were they fooling themselves?

“She would hate me if I kept her like this”, he said calmly. “I know that she would hate me forever, hate me for all her life, for doing something like that to her.”

“Well, but isn’t it like, the right thing to do? If you just decide that you want to be liked by her, isn’t that egoistic? She can’t survive here, not if you set her free.” Hendrik put a hand on Chris’ shoulder. “And if they hate us later, so be it. At least they get a chance to hate us instead of being just plain dead.” Hendrik was silent for a moment before he added: “We need your help, Chris. We decided to leave you at the beach before because we were sure you’d not be able to accept this life. We were assholes and you have proven us wrong. I apologize to you. But if you join the Shadow Men now, you and Daniel and I could really get things done.”

Chris didn’t say anything. He had been affected, as he knew now, by the pollen. And with the new, relentless kind of insight that had been given to him, he finally admitted to himself how wrong things had gone: How hidden greed and lust, self-betrayal and a very distinct kind of cowardice had brought Hendrik – and also Chris himself – to do something unspeakable to the women who had put their trust in them. Every good man would know what to do, would use the newfound clarity to turn around and try to redeem him. Because, as he realized, it was never too late. You could always make a difference.

And a good guy would do that. A good guy would find a way.

But he just let go and accepted his newfound freedom and accepted that they - both him and the girl he had known as Scarlett - had been forever lost at sea.

"I'll stay for a while. Until it's safe to move on and free her. It's the best thing to do, not as a final solution but for the time being."

The lie came across his lips with so much ease that it tasted nearly like truth.

Lost At Sea – Epilogue

The time of the Long War was not, as many would later remember, one of abundance.

Many sacrifices had to be made and compromises had to be found. Great warriors emerged and perished and treason threatened the men who wanted to be leaders and warlords of the Shadow Men. Losses were mourned, alliances forged and hostilities rooted deep in many hearts.

In the end, a new alliance between the Shadow Men and those from the Lake of the Old Serpent prevailed. One last, united war band journeyed deep into the heartlands of the enemy and fought one last, bloody battle. The hard-earned victory was followed by weeks of hunting, slaughtering and plundering. The Long War had lasted as long as the lifetime of the young warriors, and so it was no wonder that many could not believe that it was now finally over. There had, for them, never been anything else than war.

But over it was now, and the time that followed would later be called the Age of Great Towns. It would, as all would agree, be remembered as a time of abundance indeed.

The Age of Great Towns would last for more than one hundred years, unknown to and undiscovered by the technocratic outside world that did not yet have the capabilities to see through the unusual weather phenomenons and magnetic disturbances that hid the world in which the Shadow Men now ruled.

When the men returned from the war and came back to the town in the hills, they brought with them a great many fresh females, many of which had been so recently harnessed that they still fought against their bonds, screaming, crying and wailing. The former high priestesses of the newly-conquered people knew especially well what fate awaited them and did everything to throw up the leaves that were force-fed to them. It would take at least a couple of weeks until they would finally succumb to exhaustion, despair and the miraculous effect of the plants.

One of the victorious warriors was a man with weird blue eyes many scars whom the other simply called Steadfast. He had proven his worth as a sharp shooter with the bow and as a natural leader many times during recent years and was a well-known man, wealthy  through all the booty and slaves which he had collected in recent years. As he returned to the village, he did not join the festivities at once, but instead turned his back on the others and wandered for half an hour, until he reached one of the large stables that had been built in the outskirts, where the large fields were situated.

The guards let him pass without hesitation, nodding respectful. Steadfast entered the stables freely and looked for the one female that he was longing to see. He passed many of the tied, moaning creatures and found her in one of the smaller boxes where she was all by herself: The female had been worked hard during the past years and looked sturdier and more muscular than he remembered her, the straps and laces biting deep into her flesh in order to constrain her properly. Her arms were still tightly packed on her back, covered by laces and leather. Her skin was covered in bruises and welts, but he did not take notice of those too much. There were, after all, many fresh leaves in the females’ trough. He had learned in the past years of war and turmoil that this was all that really counted. They did not need anything else to persevere.

Her eyes were very tired, her face, half hidden behind the traditional harness and hood, was empty. But then the female recognized him, shuddered and mewed. She stumbled to her feet, her mouth worked in a weird attempt to form words in spite of the obligatory bridle gag she was wearing. He approached her, calmed her down, and kissed her cheek. She shuddered and pressed herself against him. For a moment the gesture was innocent, and then he felt that she was beginning to rub her crotch against the side of his leg.

“It’s fine, Scarlett.” The language that he used now was not the language of the Shadow Men. He saw her eyes lighten up a little as he used it, and he saw understanding dawn in her face. A little drool dripped down her lower lip as she tried to talk and he had to jerk her leash so that she would stop babbling nonsense. “Shh, don’t do that. Don’t try that, it will just get us into trouble.”

Would it really? He didn’t believe that anymore, but seeing her and talking to her evoked many memories. He had been Steadfast for a long time, and now he felt at least a little bit like Chris again. Affectionate he stroked the females’ shoulders, checking out of sheer habit that her harness and bonds were all strict enough. They definitely were.

She calmed down a little, for the moment not trying again to hump him. There was an animalistic dullness in her eyes, but at least a spark had awakened and reminded him of whom Scarlett had once been. That spark flickered and danced around in the very back of her eyes, accusing and affronting him in a way he couldn’t fully explain. She was still in there and he knew it. He cock grew hard with the knowledge.

“I know you’ve been alone for a long time. When did I last visit you… was it before the long rain started? I don’t know anymore, and for that I’m sorry. There was just so much to organize, so much to do…” To make her stop looking at him like this he touched her breast, lightly stroked her nipple until it hardened and she moaned into the gag helplessly. “Do you even understand how time passes, or is a year to you just like a day or a week? I wish I knew, really.”

She moaned again, this time in a weird kind of protest, sounding almost human again. But he pinched that nipple and turned her around, pushing her against the stable wall. She reacted instinctively, bowing down a bit, resting the upper part of her body against the railing and spreading her legs.

“Ogh…ghouuggh….!” There was humiliation in that sound as much as lust and aversion. He was astonished that she still sounded so much lie Scarlett had. In a way he was glad that she did.

“But I have never forgotten you. I know that in the first year it was tough, that you had to be punished often. But now they tell me you are doing well, working hard. I’m proud of you… I hope you understand me. I hope at least a part of you knows what I’m trying to tell you.”

He unlaced his pants and loosened Scarletts’ cunt-strap. Her reaction was to repeat the same, weirdly human noise. Shuddering she pressed against him, and his cock easily slid into her wet, hot pussy from behind. Fucking her was like fucking a harnessed force of nature, due to her muscular statue and her extreme stamina. Since he was her owner and had only left her at the community stables to be used as a beast of burden for the benefit of the tribe, no one else had fucked her. She had, it seemed, missed the vaginal stimulation a lot.

He held on to the back of her harness, thrusting deep into her, his own well-toned body above hers. He listened carefully to her grunting and panting, adjusting his rhythm to her needs as much as possible, and she came fast, spasming and rocking beneath him after less than three minutes, straining against the bonds as if she thought she might be able to break them. After she had cum he kept using her, now only satisfying his own needs and preferences, thrusting even harder than before, pushing her down relentless. She gargled into the gag as if he was strangling her (which he was only half-heartedly at best), twitched in despair as her orgasm was prolonged, intensified by the way he took her. She rocked so hard beneath him, groaned with so much defenseless degradation in her voice, that he felt as if he was breaking a new slave in instead of using the first female he had ever made his possession.

Finally, after he had cum himself and slowly, satisfied pulled out of her, they both slumped to the floor, steaming from the exhaustion. She smelled wonderful spicy from the leaves, like they all did. “I met a woman who remembered me of you”, he said with a smile, stroking her hooded head. “She was a Soothsayer, a powerful woman. We caught her last week, just as she was trying to take her own life. We stormed the last temples, you know? There wasn’t much resistance left.

Well, she was very rebellious. She still is, in fact. When she looks at me I feel her strength, and how dedicated she is. And I’m sure she thinks that dedication will be the key to her survival. And it will. Just not the way… well, you know what I mean, don’t you?”

He could not see if she indeed did understand him. When he re-applied the cunt-strap she flinched and sobbed a little, but most of them did that, even after years.

“I talk too much, I know. It’s silly, talking to you like this. The others would laugh if they saw or heard it.” He smiled, very aware of the irony. She slowly rolled to her side, not just exhausted from her daily burdens now, but also from being used by him. Hay and loam stuck to her skin and he resolved to remind the cattle herders to scrub her thoroughly tomorrow morning.

“I have to get back to the others. There is a big feast today, an epic celebration. We have won, Scarlett. That’s why I visited you today. After eight years we have finally won the war.” He was so proud, and at the same time so regretful that, most likely, she didn’t understand a word.

“I promised to find a way how we could escape from here. Do you remember?”

To his utter astonishment she nodded, shakily, as much as was possible with her collar.

“And I intend to keep that promise. It’s just that we can’t leave just yet. I’m too well-known, kind of a war hero. We will have to play our roles just a bit longer. Wait until the dust settles. And until then there is so much to organize, so much to do, you know? We need a new form of administration to control such a large territory. We will have to make new treaties with our friends, who live at the Lake of the Old Serpent. We need to distribute the new slaves amongst the warriors, in a way that satisfies everyone. It’s going to take some time, a few months at least, or maybe a year.”

She just stared at him. Stared at him, kneeling in that corner of her box, looking up towards her Master. Just stared and did nothing else.

“What I’m saying is that you have to hang on a little more. Just a little more. You are doing well and I can see you are healthy. And everything else… we can correct it all, we can make it good again. I promise. And until then I know you are safe here. I’ll tell them to treat you fair and always feed you well.”

She still just stared, and he smiled and nodded at her and made the promise to himself to visit her more often, if he found the time.

Then he locked the box and said goodbye to the guards and left, the stables quickly left far behind him. He walked towards the town again, longing to see his friends, to drink and celebrate. Scarlett was forgotten after no more than ten minutes.

Not just by him. Also – and more thoroughly – by herself.


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