Chapter 2: At the Ranch
Marty walked to the door of the apartment and took out his cellphone. "Watch 'em, Mary. I'm going to call the client." He stepped outside and closed the door.
Alice struggled against the plastic handcuffs pinning her wrists behind her back. She kicked against the pair on her ankles, rolled onto her side and complained, "These cuffs are too tight. Take them off."
Mary picked up the riding crop recently used on her and moved next to Alice. "Shut up." She hit Alice's hip with the crop and smiled at Alice's shriek of anger.
"Hey, this is fun!" She hit Alice again, harder, and got a scream of pain. Mary turned to Jackie, who was lying face down on the floor next to Alice. "You got any complaints?"
Jackie shook her head. The plastic handcuffs were painfully tight on her wrists and ankles too, but she didn't think complaining would help.
"Smart girl." Mary twirled the crop.
A few minutes later Marty returned. "I talked to the client. His lawyer will meet us here."
"What happens then, Marty?"
"That depends on what Alice and Jackie decide to do. If they want to take their chances with the law we'll call the cops. But the lawyer will explain all the options."
Alice spoke up. "If you let us go I can make it worth your while."
Marty laughed. "My client is one of the richest men in the state. Anything you can offer me would be peanuts compared to what he pays. Your luck has run out, Alice. You made a big mistake when you blackmailed his daughter into becoming one of your rent-a-slaves."
"But I didn't know she was only seventeen! Her ID said she was twenty one!"
"That makes it OK? Trying selling that story to a jury. You're fucked, Alice."
There was a long wait, the silence broken only by occasional moans from Jackie or Alice. Finally there was a knock on the apartment door. Marty looked at the video monitor. "That's the lawyer. Let him in."
Mary opened the door and the lawyer entered. "Glad to see you, Mr. Carbo," Marty said, shaking his hand.
Carbo nodded. He was casually dressed, in khaki trousers and a blue golf shirt, but he had the commanding presence of a man used to being obeyed. Carbo examined Alice and Jackie for a moment and then glanced around the apartment. He pointed to the kitchen table. "Put them in the chairs over there, Marty."
Marty picked up Alice and carried her to a chair. Carbo seated himself at the table and waited until Marty had deposited Jackie in a chair next to Alice before he spoke.
"You two are scum. My advice was to have you arrested and charged with sexual exploitation of a minor. That's a serious felony in this state, with a maximum penalty of fifteen years in prison. And there wouldn't be any plea bargains; you would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. My client, Ashley's father, has a lot of clout in political circles. He's a close friend of the Prosecuting Attorney for this county."
Alice gasped and Jackie started to cry. Carbo waited for the tension to build before he spoke again.
"However, my client doesn't want Ashley to go through the ordeal of a trial. She's had enough trauma already. Also, her psychiatrist thinks she could work out some of her fear and rage if she could revenge herself directly on you two. So if you agree to cooperate and help with Ashley's therapy we won't press any charges."
Alice was appalled. "So that's our choice? Go to prison or let ourselves be tortured by a crazy girl?"
"It wouldn't be torture. I won't say you won't have some discomfort, but Ashley would be supervised so you wouldn't have any permanent damage. You recall how you rented Ashley to that dirty old man who used her as a ponygirl? That's what she wants to do to you."
Alice mentally explored the alternatives. They were bleak. "How long would this go on?"
"Just a year or two at most. And Ashley might not be at the ranch all the time, especially if she recovers enough to go back to school. You wouldn't have to be a ponygirl while she's gone, and if her recovery was permanent you'd be released at once."
"What else would we have to do? Fuck cowboys?"
Carbo gave her an icy stare. "I wouldn't know about that. But I do know it's no longer a working ranch. My client uses it just as a hunting preserve, so there aren't any cowboys; and anyway, you wouldn't be forced to have sex."
Alice snorted. She didn't have any illusions about how much 'choice' she'd have. Alice had an extensive acquaintance with most forms of sexual deviance, but she'd never done any ponyplay, at either end of the reins. How bad would it be? She remembered how Ashley had been rented out as a ponygirl for almost two weeks, and although she had been very subdued when she returned she was undamaged except for some whipmarks. Becoming a ponygirl was an unpleasant prospect, but it wasn't like they had a lot of options. "What do you think, Jackie?"
"Take the ranch deal! You don't know what it's like in prison."
Alice capitulated. "OK, Mr. Carbo, you've got yourself a team of ponygirls."
"Very well, but if it wasn't the best thing for Ashley I'd have nothing to do with this and insist you go to prison." Carbo took some papers out of his alligator-skin briefcase. "I've got some contracts here that I obtained from a Hollywood colleague. We'll structure this as a movie job, with you two as the actors. That provides a plausible reason for whatever happens; it's just a movie. It also means you won't have any grounds for a lawsuit. And you'll also have to sign a confession. Untie them, Marty."
Marty cut the handcuffs off of Alice and Jackie, and while they were massaging life back into their numb hands Carbo explained some details. "It's important to my client that there be no publicity, so these contracts include a non-disclosure agreement. To make it look like a normal movie deal there's a nominal salary, paid when you leave the ranch. I think you're getting off too easy, but that's what my client wants. But keep this in mind: the statute of limitations for this offense runs for ten years, and if you violate your contract the deal is off and you'll be arrested and tried. So forget about selling your story to a supermarket tabloid."
Carbo slid the papers across the table and handed pens to Alice and Jackie. "Initial every page at the bottom and sign at the X on the last page. I'll notarize everything later. I'll also take care of your bills and anything else that comes up while you're at the ranch. To avoid publicity we don't want you reported as missing."
Jackie asked, "What about our jobs?"
"The documents include a letter of resignation. You didn't think you'd get to keep your jobs, did you? So you could go back into the sex-slave business?"
Alice and Jackie read the confessions and were dismayed when they found out how much was known about their sex business. They both stared at the documents for some time, realizing there was no going back once they signed. But there was no real alternative.
Carbo put the signed papers into his briefcase and stood up to leave. "Take them to the ranch tonight, Marty. I'll call and let them know you're on the way."
"Right, Mr. Carbo. Hands behind your back, Alice." Alice groaned but complied, and Marty fastened plastic handcuffs around her wrists. "Now you, Jackie." In a moment Jackie was also secured.
Marty had located Alice's stash of bondage equipment, and now he produced a large red ball gag. "Open up, Jackie." Jackie did as she was told and Marty rewarded her by not pulling the strap too tight when he buckled it behind her head. Next was a padded leather blindfold, and Jackie was ready for the trip.
"I've got something special for you, Alice." He held up a black leather discipline hood with a built-in penis gag. "Open up."
"No! You're not going to put that on me!" She clamped her mouth shut.
"You don't seem to get it, Alice. You're the bondee now. Got your crop, Mary?"
"Yes!" Mary pulled open Alice's suit coat and blouse and slashed her across her breasts. Alice screamed. Before she could close her mouth Marty jammed the gag in and pulled the hood over her head.
"Park the van in front of the door, Mary." He tossed her the key and started to lace up the hood. Alice struggled, but the hood was laced tight before Mary returned.
"Van's out front, Marty. Side door's open."
"Good." Marty put Jackie over his shoulder and carried her outside and put her on the floor of the van. He returned for Alice, who squirmed and kicked until he swatted her a few times.
Marty dumped Alice in the van. "You ride back here, kid. Make sure they don't stop breathing."
"OK, Marty. Where is this ranch, anyway?"
"It's down in the southeast corner of Oregon, almost 500 miles from here, so it's gonna take us most of the night to get there."
Mary glanced at the trussed-up bodies on the floor of the van. "It'll be a longer trip for them than for us."
"That bother you?"
Mary rubbed the welts on her bottom. "Nope, not a bit."
* * *
It was a very, very long trip for Jackie and Alice. Most of the journey was on Interstates, first on I-90 and then on I-82 and I-84, and after a while the dull hum of the van as it sped along let them drift into an uneasy sleep in spite of the pain in their bound wrists and ankles. They stirred when the van left I-84 for a secondary road and woke up when the van turned off the secondary road and rattled over a cattle guard. About ten minutes later it stopped and the side door slid open.
Marty helped Mary out of the van. She stretched and looked around in the gray pre-dawn light. The van was parked next to a large barn. "Wow, Marty, are we finally here?"
"Yup. Everything OK?"
"Yeah, except both of them peed in their panties."
Marty laughed, "Well, we could hardly let 'em use the gas station toilet."
A tall man in his forties came out of the barn. He was wearing boots, faded jeans, a blue work shirt, and a black cowboy hat. He had the weathered face and muscular body of a man who worked outside a lot. He walked over to Marty and the men exchanged a handshake. "Howdy, Marty. It's been a while."
"Sure has." Marty nodded towards Mary. "This is my assistant, Mary. Mary, this is Dusty. He's the foreman here."
"Howdy, Mary. I used to be the foreman; I'm more like a caretaker nowadays." Dusty pointed at the bound women. "Let's get the culprits inside the barn."
"OK, but be careful. They're wet."
Dusty laughed and picked up Jackie, easily holding her face-up. The side of the barn facing the van had a large double door and a smaller single door to the left, centered in a lean-to addition to the main structure. Dusty opened this door and carried Jackie into the barn. Marty picked up Alice and followed him. Inside the barn was a row of horse stalls and a tack room to the left and the main part of the barn to the right. The helpless women were dumped onto the straw-covered floors of adjacent horse stalls and the men went back outside.
Marty yawned. Dusty asked, "You want to sack out here a while?"
"Can't. Have to get back to Seattle. Mr. Carbo wants me to shut down Alice's sex business." Mary and Marty got back into the van and he started the engine. "So long, Dusty."
"See you." Dusty watched the van pull away. He stood quietly for a few minutes, listening to the chirping birds and enjoying the crisp May morning. Then he walked back towards the ranch house. He didn't expect Ashley to be awake for a couple of hours yet, and nothing would start without her. He shook his head. He'd known Ashley since she was a little girl, and he had seen many strange escapades, but this was something new.
Dusty was surprised to see Ashley leave the house as he approached. She was wearing designer jeans, a tooled-leather belt with an ornate silver buckle, and an embroidered, pale yellow western shirt. In her cowboy boots she was almost six feet tall, and slender, with the type of thinness that usually indicates an eating disorder. Her pretty face had prominent cheekbones, and her short black hair contrasted with her sky-blue eyes. She was wearing a white cowboy hat on the back of her head and had a riding crop tucked in her belt.
"Morning, Ashley. You're up early."
"Yeah, I don't want to waste the day. They're here?"
"Yup, in the barn."
"Lead me to them."
Alice hurt all over, except for her hands, which were numb. She moaned and tried without success to relieve the pressure on her jaw from the penis gag blocking her mouth. She struggled weakly against her restraints, then froze as a boot rolled her over onto her back.
Ashley chortled, "She doesn't look so dominate now, does she, Dusty? This cruel bitch won't like it so much when she's on the wrong end of the whip."
"I heard about what she did, Ashley, and I won't say she don't have it coming, but remember what your father and Mr. Carbo said about torture."
"OK, OK, I won't heat up the branding iron just yet." Ashley sniffed. "She smells bad. Let's get her clothes off." Dusty cut the plastic handcuffs off Alice's ankles. Ashley removed Alice's stockings and dress shoes and replaced them with white cotton socks and cheap canvas trainers. She used scissors to cut all of Alice's clothes into scraps. When her captive was naked Ashley unlaced the hood and took it off. "Hello, Alice! We're going to have some fun! I will, anyway."
Alice struggled to make her aching jaw move. "Please, can I have some water?"
"In a while. I want to get you harnessed first."
"Oh, please! My mouth is so dry."
"Get used to it, bitch. It didn't bother you when I was suffering. Keep whining, it makes me feel better."
Ashley reached into a large cardboard carton and removed two pieces of round steel. They were almost an inch in diameter and formed into a semicircle. Each had a hole in one end and a short prong on the other end. "This is your permanent collar, Alice. When the prongs are hammered into the holes they lock and won't come out. It'll have to be cut off, if you ever leave here."
Ashley lifted Alice's head and slipped one of the semicircles behind her neck. She let Alice's head drop with a thud and mated the other semicircle of steel to its twin. Dusty put a small anvil under the steel at the back of Alice's neck and lifted a sledge hammer, but before he could strike Ashley stopped him. "Hold it! I almost forgot the rings." She put two oval steel rings around the collar. "OK, hit it."
Alice squeaked and closed her eyes as Dusty hammered the ring closed around her neck. Ashley ordered, "On your knees, bitch." Alice struggled ineffectually until Dusty grabbed her upper arm and helped her kneel. The loose collar dropped to the base of her neck.
A heavy steel chain, about five feet long, was bolted to the back wall of the stall, about waist-high. Ashley padlocked its free end to one of the rings on Alice's collar. "Stand up!" she ordered, and Alice struggled to her feet. Dusty cut off the plastic handcuffs and Alice's arms dropped limply to her sides.
Ashley dug into her carton and picked out an arm binder that looked like a stiff, narrow leather sack. "Hold her arms behind her back, Dusty. Put her hands near her elbows."
Dusty moved behind Alice and held her while Ashley pulled the binder over her folded arms. It closed around Alice's biceps, just above her bent elbows. A flap closed over the top, and two small padlocks were inserted through eyes in steel rods sewn into the seams. This locked everything tight and secure.
Alice's arms were still numb from being tied behind her back during the long trip in the van. She couldn't resist Dusty's grasp, and when she finally recovered enough to struggle against her new bondage she found her arms were immobile and her hands were useless, completely encased in the stiff leather of the binder. It was though her arms had been cut off just below her shoulders.
Ashley noticed Alice's struggles. She sneered, "Effective, ain't it? And it doesn't interfere with circulation, so you can wear it for a long, long time. Now you're the one who's helpless, bitch."
Alice was only too aware of that. She was beginning to wish she had chosen prison.
The next item Ashley removed from the carton was a tangle of leather straps. After some fumbling she sorted everything out. First was a wide fitted belt that went around Alice's waist and the top of her hips. This was fastened in front by four parallel straps, and Ashley pulled them tight, getting a groan from Alice. Attached to the top of the belt in front was a single strap that formed the base of a 'Y', which divided just below Alice's ribs. Each arm of the Y was looped around a large steel ring, and Ashley adjusted the length of the strap so the rings were centered over Alice's nipples. Alice had small breasts, which protruded about halfway through the rings.
Ashley scoffed, "What are you, a 32A? No wonder you treated us normal women so bad. You're jealous!" Alice flushed with anger (she was actually a 34B), but decided she wasn't in any position to make a comment.
Each breast ring had three other straps attached to it; one connected to the other ring, and the others went over the shoulder or around the chest. Ashley turned Alice around so she could buckle the shoulder and chest straps to the top of a wide strap that rose from the back of the waist belt. She tightened all of the straps, getting another series of groans from Alice. A narrow strap riveted to the main vertical back strap buckled around Alice's encased forearms, locking them to her back.
A thin chain descended from the front of the waist belt. Ashley reached between Alice's legs and pulled the chain to the back, making sure it was centered in Alice's slit and ass crack. She threaded the end through a ring on the back of the belt and pulled up hard. Alice squealed and went up on her toes, but Ashley kept the pressure on and fastened the chain in place with a metal clip. "This chain is stainless steel, Alice. You can piss through it and it won't be hurt. Not like a leather strap, which would have to come off." Alice understood the implication, and her spirit sank a bit more. Prison was looking even more like the better choice.
Ashley took one more item out of the carton and held it in front of Alice's face. "Here's the latest in bits, guaranteed real effective for taming bad little ponies. Let me show you how it works." The main part of the bit was a black plastic cylinder, an inch in diameter and three-quarters of an inch long. Plastic ovals half an inch wide and a quarter inch thick extended for about two inches from each end of the cylinder, terminating in a ferrule attached to a steel ring covered with leather straps. A steel rod went through the centers of both ovals, and short steel arms were attached at right angles to the ends of the rod. Reins were clipped to the ends of the arms.
"This cylinder goes in your mouth and these ovals fit between your teeth. Watch what happens when I pull on the reins." Ashley rotated the rod and thick spikes erupted from the top and bottom of the cylinder. Their points were blunted, but sure to be painful. "I tried this on myself, and it really hurts. But of course I won't be wearing it." Ashley held the cylinder up to Alice's mouth. "Open up!".
Alice hesitated, and Ashley hit her with the crop, across the front of her thighs. Alice gasped at the pain, then screamed when Ashley hit her again. Alice quickly decided she was in no position to resist and opened her mouth. Ashley hit her one more time just for fun and then jammed the bit between Alice's teeth and fastened the straps. One strap went under Alice's chin, another around the back of her neck, and the remaining straps formed an inverted V which joined at the bridge of Alice's nose. A single strap then went over the top of her head and connected to the neck strap. Of course, Ashley pulled all of the straps tight before she buckled them.
Dusty attached a water bag to the back of the harness. He routed a small plastic tube over Alice's left shoulder, clipped it the bit strap, and put the end in her mouth. Alice found she could just close her lips around the tube, and she sucked up some water.
"You're too easy on her, Dusty," Ashley complained.
"Look at it this way, Ashley. You won't have any fun if she faints."
"Yeah, I guess you're right."
The back wall of the stall had a large eyebolt set about six feet above the floor, and Ashley tied Alice's reins to it, pulling until she was standing on her toes. "OK, Dusty, let's go harness the other pony." They left Alice's stall. Alice wished she was in prison.
Jackie moaned with fright when she heard Ashley and Dusty walk into her stall. She had listened to everything that had transpired while Alice was being harnessed, including the screams. Jackie didn't like pain, especially her own.
Jackie was very cooperative as Dusty and Ashley quickly stripped her and installed her in a duplicate of Alice's harness. Ashley took Jackie's reins and led her out of the stall. "You get the cart, Dusty. I'll get the other pony."
Ashley led Jackie into Alice's stall, unlocked the chain attached to Alice's collar, and untied the reins from the eyebolt. Alice moaned with relief as she was able to put her feet flat on the floor, then screamed around her bit when Ashley yanked on the reins and the spikes dug into her tongue and the roof of her mouth.
Ashley towed Jackie and Alice out into the main part of the barn, where Dusty was standing by the cart. He had made it from steel tubing and old bicycle parts. It had two large rear wheels supporting a wide bench seat, with a smaller wheel in front, mounted on a bicycle front fork. A short shaft was attached where the handlebars used to be, pointing forward. Another bar was fastened to the end of this shaft, forming a T-shape. This bar had two pairs of short chains ending in snap hooks welded to it, and Dusty used these chains to harness Alice and Jackie to the cart, connecting the hooks to D-rings on their waist belts, just above their hips.
Ashley protested, "Don't put them like that, Dusty. I want Alice on my right."
There was a buggy whip stowed in a holder next to the cart seat. Ashley picked it up and snapped it. "My forehand is better than my backhand."
"OK, if you say so." Dusty unclipped the ponies and refastened them with Alice on the right.
Ashley stepped back to look at her team. "Not exactly a matched pair, are they?" Alice was about 5' 7" and slender, with light-brown hair. Jackie was three inches shorter and forty pounds heavier, with dark-brown hair. Ashley prodded Jackie's bottom with the end of her crop. "What a lard butt. Exercise will sure do her good. See, Jackie? I'm doing you a favor."
Dusty commented, "They don't look much like the ponygirls I saw on the Web. Where's the hoof-boots? Where's the horsetail stuck up their ass? You don't even have any plumes on their heads."
"Yeah, I'm not into any of that fetish shit. This is strictly for revenge, especially on Alice. She was the mastermind, Jackie was just her stooge."
"But it's still a lot of stuff; the cart, the harnesses, all the other crap. You could have done something simpler."
"Maybe, but being a ponygirl was the worst of all the things that happened to me. The regular customers weren't nearly as bad. I didn't really like being spanked, but at least I got some sex with it. Being a ponygirl was just hours and hours of pain and boredom. That was the worst part; it went on and on and on, with that dirty old man treating me like an animal. I want Alice and Jackie to know what it felt like. Besides, Daddy won't let me torture them."
Ashley climbed onto the cart. "One other thing, Dusty. I know you're a randy old goat, but I'd like you to stay away from Alice. Sexual frustration is part of her punishment. You can fuck Jackie all you want."
Dusty massaged Jackie's 36D breasts, chuckling as he felt her nipples harden. "Fine with me. I've always been a tit man."
"Hey, I forgot the bells. Why don't you put them on, tit man?" Ashley handed him four small bells.
Dusty continued to massage Jackie's erect nipples and then clipped a bell to each. She whimpered as the clamp jaws tightened.
Dusty turned to Alice and fondled her breasts. She tried to ignore him, then snorted with frustration as her nipples hardened in response to his strokes. She gnawed on her bit as Dusty clipped the bells on, determined to avoid showing any response to the pain. She had resolved not to give these sadists the satisfaction.
Ashley had the reins in her left hand and the buggy whip in her right. "Open the door, Dusty. It's time for the road test." Ashley yelled, "Forward! Walk!" Alice and Jackie leaned into their traces and the cart rolled out of the barn. The yard around the barn was level and paved with asphalt and they had no trouble pulling the cart. Was it going to be this easy? Jackie hoped so.
Ashley used the reins to guide them onto the paved access road that led to the highway. This road ran through land covered with sagebrush, with a few scattered clumps of pine trees. It was mostly flat, although mountains were visible on the horizon. The air was cool, with the sun still low in the sky to the northeast.
Ashley shouted, "Trot!", emphasizing the command with a stroke of the whip on each pony's hip. They responded by increasing their pace to a slow jog, accompanied by the jingle of the bells clipped to their nipples.
After they had gone maybe a quarter mile both ponies were panting and the pace had slowed almost to a walk. Ashley used her whip and the speed picked up, but it quickly slacked off in spite of frequent applications of the whip. After another half mile she realized the ponies were about to collapse.
Ashley said, "Whoa!" and Alice and Jackie stopped immediately. Ashley let them rest a few minutes and then turned them around. They walked back to the barn and she guided them to a patch of bare dirt around the corner from the doors. "This is your potty, ponies. Pee here. Alice and Jackie hesitated, uncertain. "What are you waiting for, a bidet? Spread your legs and piss!" Ashley emphasized her comment with her whip, and Alice and Jackie peed through their crotch chains. They did not enjoy the experience.
When her ponies stopped dripping Ashley drove them inside the barn. She got down from the cart and walked around in front of Alice and Jackie. "You two are pathetic. I've never seen anybody so out of shape. What did you do when you weren't whipping your slaves, sit around on your fat butts watching television? Well, I've got a cure. In fact, two cures." She unclipped Alice and Jackie from the cart and led them over to the barn wall. She tied Jackie's reins an eyebolt and took Alice into the tack room.
The tack room was empty except for a treadmill. Ashley swatted Alice with her crop. "Get up there. You need a lot of training, and I'm not going to waste my time when I have this goody to do it for me." There was a chain hanging from the ceiling over the center of the treadmill, and Ashley ran it through a harness ring between Alice's shoulder blades and padlocked it to her crotch chain. "The clip that holds the chain to your belt only keeps it from loosening, so try not to slip. Otherwise...well, I'm sure you get the picture."
There were two rings set in the wall a couple of feet apart and above the front of the treadmill. Ashley pulled Alice forward until all the slack was out of the chain and tied one rein to each ring. "That'll hold you in place and make sure you keep up the pace. Just one more thingy." Ashley clipped a small plastic box to the harness between Alice's breasts. "That's a heart-rate monitor. The treadmill is programmed so you have to put out the maximum effort just short of killing yourself." She flipped a switch and the treadmill started to move. Alice was taken by surprise and grunted with pain as the tightening reins drove the spikes into her mouth. "Have fun, Alice. See you in a few hours."
Ashley untied Jackie's reins from the eyebolt and led her into the back corner of the barn. She swatted Jackie's thigh with her crop. "Do you have any muscle in there, or is it all flab? Whichever, this walker will build you up."
The walker was a horizontal steel pipe about twenty feet long. The middle of the pipe was attached to a vertical steel post by a U-bolt that let the pipe rotate freely. It was held about three feet off the floor by a diagonal brace that rotated around the base of the vertical post. There were a couple of metal boxes attached to the horizontal pipe, including one mounted on the bottom a few feet from the end. It had a long leather strap dangling from it. "Quite a machine, ain't it? Dusty built it, using a lot of scrap parts. I got the plans and the program that controls it from some Internet weirdo."
Two short chains were welded near one end of the pipe, and Alice clipped them to Jackie's belt, using the same D-rings that harnessed her to the cart. The chains were short, so Jackie's back was held close to the pipe. Ashley pulled the reins behind Jackie's head and loosely attached them to a shoulder-high bracket extending above the pipe.
The opposite end of the pipe was tied to a wooden sled; two 4x4 runners with a plywood platform on top. Ashley shoved two sandbags off a big stack and dragged them onto the plywood. "I'll start you out easy, Jackie. I don't want you to strain anything." She moved to the metal box mounted near the vertical post and activated a laptop computer. A whirring sound came from the box with the strap.
"This is very simple, Jackie. All you have to do is walk in a circle, dragging the sandbags. The computer will tell you when to walk and when you can rest. It'll also keep you motivated. Like this." Alice pressed a key, and the box with the strap responded with a click. The strap, which was mounted to a short horizontal arm on the bottom of the box, spun around at high speed and impacted Jackie's bottom with a loud 'crack'. Jackie squealed and jumped.
Alice pressed another key and moved away from the walker. A computer-generated voice said, "Walk." Jackie was too distracted by the pain to move immediately. The voice said, "Three...Two...One." This was followed by another 'click' and another blow. She yelped and started walking.
There were two distinct welts on Jackie's bottom. Alice said, "The machine is programmed to change where the strap hits. It'll go from your waist to your knees, and I think it repeats the pattern after twenty lashes. You probably don't want to find out; it'll hurt more if it overlaps." Alice looked at her watch. "Time for breakfast. See you later."
Jackie quickly found that pulling the weight at her normal walking speed was impossible, so she was relieved to discover that as long as she just kept moving the computer didn't whip her. However, it wasn't long before her leg muscles were so tired that she just had to stop. Bad idea. The computer said, "Move!", there was a click, and the strap cracked across her butt. She yelped and started moving again. After what seemed to be an eternity the computer said, "Rest." What seemed like an instant later it said, "Walk", and Jackie forced her aching legs to move once more.
After three hours the computer said, "Session over." By this time Jackie had welts almost down to her knees. She stopped, afraid this was some cruel trick, but her legs were trembling so badly from fatigue she didn't really have a choice. She was crying, and very sorry she had ever met Alice.
Jackie stood for almost an hour before Ashley showed up. "Hi, Jackie! I bet you feel stronger than ever. Now you'll get some aerobic exercise." Ashley unfastened Jackie from the walker and led her to the tack room.
Inside the tack room Alice was dripping with sweat, which had formed a pool surrounding her feet. There was a smear of blood on her lips. She looked up with dull eyes as Ashley entered, and when Ashley released her from the treadmill she collapsed. Ashley chained Jackie in place and fastened her reins to the wall. "I'll tell you what I told Alice. If you slip, the crotch chain will end up supporting all your weight. Not fun at all." She started the treadmill. Jackie moaned and started moving.
Ashley yanked Alice's reins. "Let's go! You've loafed long enough." Alice forced herself not to scream as the spikes dug into her mouth. She could taste the blood. She slowly stood and followed Ashley out the door and over to the walker.
Just over three hours later Dusty and Ashley entered the barn and went over to the walker. Alice was standing with her head down. There were two overlapping layers of welts on her bottom and thighs. Ashley said, "You hitch Alice to the cart, and I'll go get Jackie."
"I don't think so. She's not in any shape to pull the cart. I think they've had enough for today."
"But I want to drive my ponies!"
"You'll have months to do that. You don't want to kill them the first day. You go back to the house. I'll put them in their stalls."
Dusty released Alice from the walker and took her to her stall. He chained her to the wall and unharnessed her. He noticed blood on the bit when he took it out of her mouth. "Damn, I was afraid of that. I'm going to fix this, Alice." Alice didn't reply. She was asleep.
Dusty got Jackie off the treadmill and chained her in her stall. He unharnessed her and took out the bit. It too showed traces of blood. Jackie cried, "I can't stand this. Ashley will kill us, I know it!"
"Hey, you got to expect it to be hard at first. Once you get into shape it'll be a lot easier. And you're helping Ashley a lot. She wasn't nearly as depressed today as she was before you came."
"She's a sadist!"
"That's a little harsh. She just went a bit overboard today because she didn't realize how soft you two are. I'll watch her closer." Dusty walked to the stall door.
"Wait! Aren't we going to get any food?"
"Yeah, Maria will bring you something later."
"She's the housekeeper. She's lived here a long time. She was Ashley's nanny and..." Jackie didn't hear the rest. She was asleep.
Alice woke up when a foot kicked the welts on her butt. She rolled over and opened her eyes. The owner of the foot was a middle-aged woman. She had tan skin and black hair streaked with gray. "Wha... Who are you?"
"I'm Maria. You want some food? It's in the dish." She pointed to a plastic dog dish partially filled with a multicolored paste.
"Ewww, what is that stuff?"
"Today's leftovers, all blended together. A good balanced diet. There's water in that bottle, and you can crap in that bucket with the lid. Dusty said to feed you, so that's what I did. Eat it or not."
"Listen, Maria. This pony shit is more than I can take. If you help me get away I can pay you."
"If I had my way I'd shoot you for what you did to my baby."
Maria went into the next stall and kicked Jackie awake. "Here's some food."
The dish contained about half a cup of paste. "Is that all I get?"
"You're on a diet." Maria left, then returned and tossed a blanket inside each stall. "This is more than you deserve." She stomped out, slamming the barn door behind her.
Alice said, "Well, she's not going to join our fan club."
"Yeah, I guess we're lucky to get the blankets." Jackie gobbled the food, wrapped herself up in the blanket, and went back to sleep.
Next morning Dusty appeared about an hour after dawn. He shook Alice awake and harnessed her, then went into Jackie's stall. Jackie was hard to rouse. "I can't move, Dusty. Every muscle is sore."
"Yeah, you did a lot yesterday, but you'll get over it. Stand up and put your arms behind your back."
Groaning loudly, Jackie did as she was told and Dusty encased her arms in the binder, then buckled the harness on her. When he pulled up the crotch chain she gasped. "You sore down there, Jackie?"
"Yeah, I slipped on the treadmill. It was like being cut in two."
Dusty slacked off on the chain. "OK, I'll go easy." He held up the bit. "Open up."
"Oh, no! My mouth is all cut up."
"It won't be as bad today. I rounded off the spikes, so your mouth should heal. Now open up!" Jackie didn't want to press her luck. She opened her mouth for the bit.
After Dusty hitched Alice and Jackie to the cart he drove them outside and tied their reins to a hitching post on the shady side of the barn. "OK, ponies, Ashley will be along sometime this morning and take you for a drive. Then more conditioning in the barn. Have a good day."
It was over an hour before Ashley arrived. She had deliberately extended her morning routine. She had hated having to stand motionless while harnessed to a cart, and she wanted Alice and Jackie to experience it too. "Morning, ponies. I bet you're kind of stiff this morning. Too bad." She untied the reins and got in the cart. "Walk!" Moaning, Alice and Jackie got the cart moving.
Ashley whipped Alice and Jackie until they were trotting and directed them to the access road. Like yesterday, it wasn't long before the ponies were ready to collapse. Ashley stopped them and got out of the cart. "I suppose you're wondering how long this is going to go on. Will it last fifteen years, like your prison sentence would? I wish, but I'll be fair and set a goal. When you meet it you can go." She pointed down the access road. "It's about five miles to the highway. When you can pull me there and back in an hour or less I'll let you go. What could be fairer than that?" She laughed at the look of horror that crossed Jackie's face.
"For today, we'll see how far you can go in an hour. Trot!" Ashley slashed her ponies with the whip and they headed down the road. When the hour was up they had gone just over a mile.
The rest of the day was a repeat of the previous one, with Alice and Jackie alternating on the treadmill and the walker. When they finished Dusty unharnessed them and chained them in their stalls, and later a surly Maria gave them some disgusting food.
Friday morning was different. Dusty crept into Jackie's stall without waking up Alice. He stretched out next to her and kissed her. When she opened her eyes he reached under the blanket and fondled her naked body. "What are you doing?" she whispered.
"That's a dumb question. I'm feeling you up."
"What else are you going to do?"
"Well, I've never been a rapist, so I suppose that depends on you. I'd like to fuck you, but I won't if you say no. But before you answer remember who puts you in the harness." He pressed on Jackie's bruised pubic bone and she winced.
"You're very persuasive." Jackie put her arms around his neck and kissed him.
"Yeah, I always was a silver-tongued devil. Just a minute." Dusty stood up and took of his clothes, then got under the blanket with Jackie. "Now, where were we? Oh, yeah, I remember." He kissed her and fondled her breasts, squeezing her stiff nipples. Jackie moaned when his hand moved between her legs and he stroked her clit. Matters proceeded rapidly from then on, with only a brief pause while Dusty rolled on a condom. He thrust into Jackie and she responded, wrapping her legs around his waist. She came before he did, yelling loudly enough to wake up Alice.
Dusty and Jackie stayed under the blanket for some time. Jackie realized the sex could have been called rape, but she didn't mind. Dusty wasn't bad looking, and he had a hard, muscular body. She murmured, "Won't you be embarrassed if Ashley sees us like this?"
"Ashley isn't here. She drove to Boise to see her shrink. She goes every Friday and Tuesday."
"Does that mean we get the day off?"
"Nope. Tuesdays and Fridays are the same as any other day, except I get to drive the cart. And screw you, of course." He got up and pulled on his clothes. "Time to get up."
"You're mean to treat me like this." Jackie stood up and put her arms behind her back.
* * *
The weeks went by. As Alice and Jackie got into better shape Ashley drove them in the afternoon as well as in the morning. In mid-September she took them out for a time trial, driving them from the barn to the highway. It took them just under forty minutes. Ashley let them rest, and then drove them back. She had learned a new technique with her whip, snapping it at a specific spot instead of the crude slashing she had used before, and by the time Alice and Jackie returned to the barn their bodies were covered with swollen red marks. "You're getting faster, ponies! I guess it's a race to see what happens first. Will you get into shape before you get too old to run?" Ashley laughed. Alice and Jackie didn't.
Next morning Dusty entered Jackie's stall, whistling. He swatted her butt. "Time to get up, Sweety!"
Jackie groaned, "Oh, please, no. I'm so tired. Can't you just let me rest today? You can give Ashley some excuse, like I'm sick, or I sprained my ankle. No one will know."
"Sorry, no can do. Regular routine today."
Jackie sulked, "If you cared for me you'd let me rest."
Dusty ordered, "Stand up!"
Jackie was startled by Dusty's harsh command. He was usually so easygoing. She slowly stood up.
Dusty backed her against the wall and held her there by putting his hands on her shoulders. "Listen carefully, Jackie, and try to understand. I promised the boss I'd help with Ashley's therapy. That means I'm going to follow the routine until he tells me otherwise. I like you and I'm sorry you're tired, but I'm not going to break my word. And don't forget that you also promised to help Ashley."
"Yes, but I had no choice!"
"You had a choice. You could have gone to prison."
"That's no choice! This isn't fair!"
Dusty shook his head. "Don't pretend to be a victim. You and Alice did evil. Some of those girls you exploited may never recover. You destroyed their lives, and you deserve to be punished. At least here you may be able to help Ashley."
Jackie started to cry. Dusty took her face in his hands and gently kissed her lips. "Actions have consequences, Jackie. Grown-ups understand that."
Jackie nodded. "I do know that. And I'm sorry I ever got involved with Alice's scheme. I just didn't think about what would happen to the girls we used. Ashley was right. I am a stooge." She pushed Dusty back, turned around, and put her arms behind her back so he could put the binder on them.
Alice heard all of this. She thought, What a bunch of shit. Jackie, if you think there is 'good' and 'evil' rather than 'prey' and 'predator', then you really are a stooge. And you may have given up, but I haven't.
It was early in October. Jackie and Dusty were talking after their usual Friday morning sex. Jackie said, "It's strange, but I really like to run now. I'd heard of the 'runner's high', but I never expected to experience it, especially as fat as I was. Meeting Ashley's goal is a real challenge, but I'm sure we can do it eventually."
"Well, you're certainly in great shape now. I'm glad this ponygirl experience isn't all bad for you."
"Yeah, it's OK, except for the harness and the bit. And the whip, of course. Especially when Ashley drives. She likes to use it a lot."
Dusty laughed. "Except for that it's OK, eh?" He kissed her. "We may have to change the routine for a while. It's bird hunting season and Bill will be here tomorrow."
"My boss. Ashley's father."
"Oh. Where's Ashley's mother?"
"I don't know. They divorced about ten years ago, when Ashley was eight." Dusty sighed. "That really messed Ashley up. It was a bad divorce, and she was in the middle of it. Her father got custody, but he was busy with his business and didn't spend much time with her. Ashley started drinking to escape from her problems. The first time I saw her drunk she was only eleven or twelve."
"That's so sad. Does she still have a problem?"
"Yeah, she goes on a real long bender every year or so. It's worse now, because she has random sex when she's drunk. I think she's had every STD except AIDS."
"What's going to happen to us while your boss is here?"
"I don't know, but he really likes pussy. I may have to share you, now that you've got the body of a swimsuit model. But he's more of a leg man. He's got a few kinks, too." Dusty touched Jackie's collar. "He's into bondage. This sort of thing really turns him on. That was one of the reasons for the divorce, his wife wouldn't have anything to do with it. That wasn't the main reason though; she was a coke addict."
In the next stall Alice looked at her long, shapely legs. She thought, A leg man; that's very interesting. And I've had some experience with bondage.
The next afternoon Ashley was driving her ponies along the access road. When they were about half-way to the highway she saw her father walking the other way, carrying a shotgun. She stopped. "Hello, Daddy. Any luck?"
"I got a few birds." Bill studied Alice and Jackie. He was aroused by their helplessness; their arms locked behind their backs, the tight harness straps indenting their bodies, the bits and reins. He said, "That's a nice team you got there."
They looked him over, too. Bill was in his fifties but obviously took good care of himself, and he was as handsome as a TV newscaster.
"Like a ride back to the house, Daddy?"
"Can they handle it?"
"Of course. Climb aboard." She slid over and he squeezed in next to her. Ashley turned the team around. She said, "Run!" and snapped her whip. Alice and Jackie responded, and the cart sped down the road.
Bill was amazed by the ponygirls' speed; he knew he couldn't keep up with them even if he wasn't pulling a cart. But he was fascinated by their swaying hips and undulating bottoms, and even more by their galloping legs. The trip to the ranch house was over all too soon.
Bill climbed out of the cart and watched Alice's body as she panted for breath. "You did a great job training them, Ashley. Can I take them for a drive?"
"If you really want to." She reluctantly got out of the cart.
Bill put down his shotgun and game bag and got in the cart. Ashley handed him the reins and the whip. He said, "Walk," and they went towards the barn. When they reached the access road he said, "Run". They travelled over a mile before Bill realized his ponies were laboring. He pulled them to a halt and got out of the cart. He ran his hand up the inside of Alice's sweaty thigh. She moaned and leaned into him as much as she could. He fingered her crotch chain and she moaned even louder.
Bill got back into the cart and the ponygirls trotted back to the house. Ashley was waiting there, hands on her hips. "Have a good drive, Daddy?"
"Yes, it was a lot of fun." He exchanged places with Ashley, and she drove away, whipping her ponies hard.
It was about an hour after dark when Alice heard the barn door open. She wasn't surprised when Bill entered her dimly-lit stall. She knelt, jingling her chain. "Hello, sir. Can I serve you?"
"Yes. Stand up and turn around. Put your arms behind your back." Alice quickly obeyed, and Bill locked her into an arm binder. He unlocked the chain from her collar and replaced it with another, lighter chain. He led her out of the barn and over to the ranch house.
Once in his bedroom Bill locked Alice's chain to the wrought-iron headboard of his king-sized bed. Alice stood quietly, with her head bowed. Bill ordered, "Get on the bed, on your back."
"Yes, sir." Alice climbed onto the bed, as gracefully as she could with her bound arms. She spread her legs and raised her knees slightly.
Bill stripped and joined her. He didn't waste any time with foreplay. He entered her immediately and pumped until he came. Alice did everything she could to prolong the action, gasping and moaning, and when Bill came she screamed.
Bill said, "You really enjoyed that, huh?"
"Oh yes! You're a stallion."
"You're a lying slut. But I like that in a woman. What else will you do to please me?"
"Anything you ask, sir."
"Call me master?"
Bill laughed, "Dusty must have told you I was into bondage, right?"
"Yes, master. Aren't you?"
"Yeah, I am, but I want something more than an inflatable doll as a partner." He unlocked the binder and freed Alice's arms. "Let's go again, and this time you'll be a participant."
Bill got on the bed, and they embraced. Alice used every trick she had learned in an adventurous life to arouse him, and he returned the favor. With the edge taken off by the previous episode he lasted a long time before he came again, and this time Alice's orgasm wasn't a fake.
They lay in each other's arms for a while. Bill sniffed. "You're really smelly, Alice."
"I haven't had a hot shower in five months. Maria hoses us down once a week, if she remembers. Master."
"Well, we can take care of that. Get up." Alice stood up and waited for Bill to unchain her. She gave him a surprised look when he crossed her wrists behind her back and used a zip tie to hold them there. "What did you expect, Alice? You're a dangerous criminal. We can't let you run around loose." He unlocked the chain from her collar and took her into the bathroom.
After their shower Bill rechained Alice's neck and cut the tie off her wrists. He looked her over and smiled. "You certainly don't have a bikini tan." Alice had a wide pale stripe around her waist, narrower vertical stripes front and back, and thin pale rings around her breasts. "That's a big bush you've got there, too."
Alice raised her arms and displayed her hairy pits. "I haven't shaved in five months, either."
"Good, I like furry women."
Early the next morning Bill took Alice back to her stall. She pouted, "I want to stay with you."
"Nope, you're Ashley's therapy object, and I don't want to deprive her. See you tonight."
Alice was disappointed. She was tired of being a ponygirl. Worse, Ashley was up early, and she drove her team hard all day.
By the end of the week Alice's routine was established; ponygirl during the day, sex slave at night. Bill was using more stringent bondage, and Alice, who was usually the top in her D/s relationships, was forced to submit. This morning she was really hurting, because Bill had used zip ties to put her into a strict hogtie for most of the night. When he finally cut her loose there were deep red marks around her wrists and ankles.
She rubbed her wrists. "This is fun, but I'd like to know where our relationship is going."
"Well, I've got to get back to Seattle. Ashley told me she set a goal for you and Jackie, so you'll stay here as her ponygirl until you meet it. I'll visit you whenever I can."
"You can't mean that! I'm just an animal to you?"
Bill kissed her. "No, I really care for you. But Ashley is very important to me, and I don't want to risk upsetting her therapy by taking you away from her. And remember, you signed a contract, so you don't have any legitimate complaint."
Alice was crushed. She had been sure she was going to escape from the ranch. Now the prospect of spending months or years pulling the cart under Ashley's whip was devastating. She knew the 'goal' was just a fiction, an impossible-to-obtain pretext to keep her on the ranch forever. She started to cry.
Bill tried to sooth her, "It's not as bad as that. Ashley's making real progress. And remember, if she goes back to school you'll be through here and we can be together."
Alice was not consoled. Bill dodged the problem by taking her back to the barn.
Later that day Alice and Jackie were in their stalls when Ashley came into the barn and harnessed them to the cart. "Let's go, ponies. I got something special planned." She pulled a pint of bourbon from her pocket and took a drink.
Instead of heading for the access road Ashley guided Alice and Jackie behind the barn and onto a dirt track. They trotted about a quarter mile and stopped at a tumble-down log corral. Ashley unhitched Alice and led her over to a part of the corral where there were only two horizontal wooden rails, one at waist height and one at knee height.
Ashley pulled hard on the reins, forcing Alice to bend over the upper rail, and held her in place by tying the reins to the lower rail. She took some rope from the cart and reinforced the position by tying Alice's knees and waist to the rails.
Ashley unhitched Jackie and tied her next to Alice. "Might as well do you both." She drank some more bourbon.
Alice and Jackie were frightened when Ashley gathered some scrap wood and built a fire. They were terrified when she put a branding iron into it.
"Alice, I saw you shaking your ass at my father, and I know he fucked you. So I'm going to mark you as his animal." Ashley picked the iron out of the fire and held it where Alice could see it. "See? The official brand of the Circle A ranch." She took another drink. "The A is for Ashley." She put the iron back in the fire. Alice and Jackie struggled desperately, but they were implacably held by their harness and the ropes and it was impossible to move.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch house, Dusty got a jolt when he noticed the door of the liquor cabinet was slightly open. He investigated and found it had been forced. "Ashley!" He had seen her go outside a short time ago, so he headed for the barn.
The barn was empty. The cart was gone, so Dusty figured Ashley was driving her ponies. He ran over to the access road. It was straight and mostly level for nearly a mile, but he didn't see anybody. He decided to drive down to the highway, but before doing that he took a quick look around behind the barn. He found the fresh cart tracks and followed them.
When Ashley saw Dusty approaching she snatched the branding iron out of the fire. She fumbled with it for a moment and then pressed it to Alice's right buttock. She held it there until Dusty wrestled it out of her hands.
"What the fuck you doing, Ashley? You out of your mind?"
"The bitch had it coming, Dusty. She got what she deserved."
Alice had screamed when the iron was applied, and now she was sobbing. Dusty ordered, "I got to take care of Alice, so you get your butt back to the house. Your father won't like this, and he'll really be pissed when he finds out you're drinking again."
Ashley screamed, "I don't give a shit!" and ran down the track.
Dusty untied Alice and Jackie from the corral. Alice was still crying. Dusty removed her bit, and, after a nudge, removed Jackie's too. "Let's go to the house, Alice. I'll have Maria look at that burn."
Jackie exclaimed, "You're not going to take her to the hospital? Not even call a vet?"
"Not unless we have to. Maria used to be a nurse. She'll be able to tell us how serious it is."
Jackie continued to complain, so when they reached the barn Dusty took her to her stall and chained her to the wall. He unharnessed Alice, wrapped her in a blanket, and escorted her to the ranch house.
Bill was standing just inside the door. "What's going on, Dusty? Ashley came screaming in here and then took off in her car."
"Bad news, Boss. Ashley's drinking again. And she did this." He turned Alice and raised the blanket so Bill could see the 'Circle A' branded on her butt.
"Ah, shit! You take care of Alice, Dusty. If Ashley's been drinking I better try to stop her before she kills somebody. I'll call the sheriff and tell him the car was stolen. She won't get far, there aren't that many red Porsches around here."
"Good idea, Boss. I'll get Maria to look at the burn. Let's go, Alice."
Maria was in the kitchen. She recoiled when she saw Alice. "What's she doing in my kitchen? Get that dirty animal out of here!"
"She's been hurt. Ashley branded her. Take a look; should she go to the hospital?"
Maria examined the burn. She decided it wasn't too serious, unfortunately. Apparently Ashley had been interrupted before the branding iron had time to get really hot. "It's not too bad. I've got something for it. Leave it to me."
"OK, I'll see if the boss needs my help."
Maria put a burn ointment on the brand, something left over from the time when cattle had been branded on the ranch. According to the label (which she hid from Alice), it was guaranteed to make a legible scar. Maria applied a bandage and had Alice take some sleeping pills before she put her to bed in a spare bedroom.
About eight o'clock that night Bill was sitting in his living room, wondering why he hadn't heard anything from the sheriff. The phone rang and he snatched it up. "Hello, sheriff?"
"Nope, this is Sam." Sam owned a ranch about 15 miles down the road.
"Hi, Sam, what's up?"
"You done with my truck?"
"Yeah, Ashley came by this afternoon and borrowed it. She said yours was broke. She left her little red car here."
"Aw, shit." Bill explained about Sam's truck and promised to replace it with his truck. When Sam hung up he called Carbo in Seattle.
Alice woke up about ten the next morning when she heard a knock on her door. She was naked except for her steel collar. Her butt was very sore, but she was feeling pretty good.
Bill opened the bedroom door. "Hi, can I come in?"
"Yeah, sure. It's your house." She stretched. "You know, last night was the first one since May I wasn't chained to something. It was nice."
"Alice, I'm really sorry about this."
"I bet you are. This changes everything, because the contract specifically said, 'No Mutilation'. We have to renegotiate. And I don't think you can possibly convict me of exploitation now; not if you have to rely on Ashley as a witness."
"Yeah, I guess you're right. I wouldn't want to face the publicity of a trial anyway. But I swear, Alice, I'm sorry because you got hurt; that's the truth. And I'll miss you when you're gone, and not just because we had some great sex."
"I wouldn't mind staying with you. But on my terms, of course."
"That's wonderful! Carbo will be here this afternoon, and we can arrange the details. I've postponed my return to Seattle for a few days." Bill kissed her.
Alice kissed him back. "Can you cut my collar off now?"
"Let's leave it on for a while. It's one of the things we have to negotiate."
* * *
It was a cold and wet November day in a sleazy part of Seattle. Marty spotted the motel he was looking for and exclaimed, "That's it! Turn here. Look for room 7." Mary turned the van into the motel driveway and parked in front of the room. "Wait here, kid. With any luck I'll be back in a few minutes." Marty got out of the van.
He forced opened the door of the squalid room and recoiled at the smell of vomit, urine, and unwashed bodies. Ashley and another woman were entwined on a dirty bed, their naked bodies partially covered by a stained sheet. Three naked men, of three different races, were scattered in grotesque positions on the vomit-stained floor. Everyone was passed out, and only Ashley stirred when the door burst open.
Marty shuffled through a layer of empty and mostly empty liquor bottles; whiskey, gin, vodka, and tequila were the most common types. He didn't detect any marijuana smoke, although he couldn't tell for sure with all the other smells, and there weren't any drugs or drug equipment in sight. Apparently this was an alcoholics-only party.
Marty bent over the bed. He yanked the sheet loose, draped it over Ashley, and forced her to sit up.
Ashley half-opened her eyes. "Wha...that you, Marty?"
"That's right, Ashley. Your father had me track you down. He wants you to come home."
"No! I want to stay here, with my friends." She tried to push him away.
"Easy, Ashley, easy. Here, have a drink." Marty opened a small jar and held it to her lips.
Ashley drank the clear liquid. "Hey! That's just water."
"Not entirely." Marty picked her up as the sedative took effect and her body went limp. He carried her out the door and into the van parked just outside.
Mary asked, "Back to the ranch?"
It was late the next day when Ashley finally came awake enough to notice. Her head ached and she felt sick, but she had felt worse on previous occasions. She opened her eyes and was surprised to find she was in a stall in the barn. She was shocked when she realized her arms were folded behind her back and encased in one of the leather binders she had used on Alice and Jackie. She struggled to her knees, and found her neck was chained to the wall. Then she noticed what she was wearing: long underwear, the old-fashioned, red-flannel, trap-door-in-the-back kind of long underwear. And about a size too small, because it fitted her like a second skin, making it obvious there wasn't anything underneath it.
Ashley screamed, "Help! Get me out of here! Dusty, Maria, somebody, help me!"
She screamed again and again until she heard the barn door open. She managed to stand up. "About time somebody got here! What is this, a sick joke? Let me loose at once! You'll be sorry..."
Alice walked up to the stall door. She was dressed in jeans and a pale yellow western shirt, with a silk bandanna loosely wrapped around her neck. She carried a long, braided leather quirt in her right hand. "Hello, Ashley."
"You! What's going on? Why am I here? Why are you here?"
"You're here because your father really loves you, Ashley. After you went on this latest bender he realized all of the previous therapy hadn't worked. I suggested he try a 'tough love' approach and I offered to help, starting now. As soon as you're harnessed I think we'll start with the treadmill. Jackie's here, living with Dusty, and you'll need a lot of conditioning before you can pull the cart paired with her."
"You can't do this! I'm an adult now, not a child! I don't want to be a ponygirl!"
"You need discipline, Ashley. I just want what's best for you."
"You want? What right do you have to say that?"
Alice held out her left hand and displayed the large diamond ring and the wide gold band on her third finger. "While you were away your father and I married, dear. I'm your stepmother." She slashed Ashley's thigh with her quirt. "Your wicked stepmother."
Story copyrightę 2006 by Zack. All rights reserved.
I welcome your comments. E-mail me at email@example.com