After about half an hour, Sylvia gave up trying to get loose from her bondage with a cry of frustration. She'd tried twisting her ankles around in various configurations, with no perception that she was accomplishing anything. Both the padlock and the rings on the ankle bands which it was holding together were thick steel beyond Sylvia's strength to break or even bend, and she couldn't twist her feet around far enough to put any significant stress on them anyway. Still, she tried for several minutes. She jerked her feet in opposite directions, again and again, as hard as she could, hoping she could make the bands themselves spring open, but the bands, hopelessly thick and strong around their entire circumference, were even thicker near the latch, and they were so rigid that no amount of tension Sylvia could create from outside could even manage to put the slightest internal pressure on the latching mechanism, let alone somehow break it. She persisted, ignoring the pain of the edges, rounded though they were, digging into her ankles, until it went beyond the bearable into agony. She'd spent an equal amount of time on her wrist bondage, though it was even more hopeless. She had determined quickly that there was no possibility of slipping her hands out of the snug wristbands. The chain wrapped around between her wrists protected the attachment rings and latches from being twisted, though she continued trying long after the pointlessness was obvious, bouncing on the hard floor and growling in growing anger.
It was her sudden realization of how much she was sweating that finally made her give up; the renewal, from all the physical effort, of the production of those body fluids she couldn't afford to lose, when she had no possible way of replenishing them except by begging Judy and giving in to her demands.
With her acknowledgment of the impossibility of escaping her chains as well as the cage, Sylvia felt panic begin closing in. She lay, shaking once again, nearly hyperventilating, feeling as if the world was closing in around her and squeezing the breath out of her. She was not a claustrophobe, but the appropriate circumstances could make one out of anybody. Nine or ten hours! It had only been about two hours the last time, and, looking back on it, she realized it had been easy, though it hadn't seemed so at the time. She had had something to do to occupy her time -- her attempts to find a way out of the cage had taken most of the two hours. It was pointless now to continue that, or the more recent attempts to break free of the chains: she was sure she had exhausted all of the limited number of possibilities.
The darkness alone had been bad enough during her first session, a source of some emotional distress, but at least she had been dressed, and able to move at will within the confines of the cage. Now she had not only the emotional distress, but was under stress physically as well, in ways she had never remotely experienced. She could feel her nudity in the contact, all along her body, with the concrete floor -- skin rubbed raw, all of it stinging, by all the squirming she had been forced to do to eat. And being in a cage, which she now knew for certain was inescapable, was brought home so much more forcefully to her conscious mind by her inability to move. All of her vulnerabilities -- her nudity, her immobility, her knowledge of being trapped, her inability to see anything -- all of these reinforced each other, making her feel more helpless and exposed to danger than she had ever imagined possible. And though she wasn't thirsty at present, she knew she would be before the night was over, and she dreaded the return of that craving for something, anything to drink.
And she had to get through an entire night like this! What time was it now? Sylvia tried to track back through everything that had happened. Probably between midnight and 1 a.m., she decided. So, she thought, I'll be here, without interruption, until long after the sun comes up outside. People will be walking in the sun, laughing, maybe starting on a weekend trip, and I'll still be here, bound naked and caged in total darkness. With nothing to look forward to at the end but further torment from a woman who has the full freedom to express all the hate she has for me!
That thought brought out the tears once more. I'm still in the first day of this! The first day of possibly weeks of misery! I left my office, living my totally normal life, looking forward to a nice weekend, just eight hours ago! It seems like so many ages since then!
All I can do, she decided, is save energy, and stop sweating. There's absolutely nothing else I can accomplish. Nothing but to wait for Judy to come back. After her night's sleep, on which she's just getting started.
I can try to sleep too, Sylvia decided. Assuming that's possible. It's the only way to make the time go faster.
No, she suddenly thought in exasperation. There's something else I have to do first.
She had been aware of, but tried to ignore, the need to pee. She was a little surprised she had got away without doing it this long, but then, a lot of her body's fluids had been finding other exits, through her sweat glands. But now she absolutely had to go, and there was no point in trying to put it off.
She thought about just peeing where she lay, but couldn't bear the thought of lying in it afterwards. Gritting her teeth in anger at the situation, she rolled onto her back, lifted her legs in the air and, having to try several times to create just the right momentum to make her body pivot on her butt, finally succeeded in throwing herself forward into a sitting position. Pressing her fingers against the floor to lift her butt so she could slide it to the side, she squirmed to her left, feeling for the whereabouts of the waste hole after each movement. Finding it at last, she positioned herself over it and, groaning with a renewed sense of shame, let go with a stream of long-withheld piss, hearing it splash into the toilet below. As it slowed, she could feel it, in the end, run back between her buttocks, an uncomfortable feeling she could do nothing about, nor avoid the shame of wetting herself. Eventually, she thought, her spirits hitting bottom, I'll have to empty out my other hole too. Don't need to do that just yet.
Now to see if sleep is possible, she thought. Laying on her
side once more, hoping she was closing her eyes but not able to tell for
certain, she tried to let her mind go blank -- to cast aside her feelings of
humiliation and shame, her terror of what the future held, the beginnings of
the return of her thirst, though so far nothing like before. She couldn't, so
she hoped just lying there quietly would do some good.
Sylvia couldn't tell when the dream ended. She awoke with a scream, and the terror seemed to go on. It was only very gradually that the feel of the floor against her skin reminded her where she really was.
She had found herself in one of those nonsense situations whose preposterousness never seems apparent while the dream is in progress. She had been visiting a client in prison -- an odd thing for her to be doing, since she didn't handle criminal cases, but in hindsight her mind creating a prison scenario wasn't surprising at all. In some typically impossible way, the prison authorities had mistaken her for her client, and a pair of burly guards had pulled her out into the hallway, stripped her of her clothing (again, not a surprising direction for the dream to go), and began dragging her to the execution chamber. She had tried desperately to explain who she was and that a terrible mistake was being made, but for some reason she couldn't make any sounds come out of her mouth. Arriving at the death chamber, they had tied her hands behind her, tied her feet together, stood her up on a trap door and slipped a noose around her neck -- she didn't think any state in the country today used hanging for executions. Still trying so hard to make her voice work, she had awakened as they were tightening the noose.
She finally convinced herself it had indeed been a dream, without much help from her environment. Usually when she had a nightmare, a look around herself that told her she was safe in her bedroom was crucial to the process of detaching her mind from whatever horror her subconscious had produced during her sleep. But here in the blackness there were no helpful, calming visual cues at all, and feeling herself naked, with her feet held together and her hands chained behind her, matched up with the dream and prevented her from orienting herself for some time, during which the terror, rather than abating, built to a fever pitch. She continued screaming, until somehow the little differences between waking and dreaming -- no noose, lying down rather than standing, no people around trying to kill her -- allowed her to return to reality. But the reality, as memories returned, was as frightening as the dream had been. Despite Judy's repeated claims of having no intention of killing her, Sylvia, in the aftereffects of the dream, couldn't feel sure Judy wouldn't eventually decide to reproduce the circumstances of the dream exactly.
I am not going back into that, Sylvia told herself forcefully. No more dreams tonight. No more sleep.
She sat up -- it was easier than it had been on the first try
earlier -- and scooted back to the bars behind her to lean against them. She
discovered how hard it was to maintain wakefulness when there were no sights or
sounds to focus on. She turned to reliving courtroom successes, periodically
banging the back of her head against the bars, or her forehead against her
drawn-up knees, whenever she started feeling fuzzy. She switched at some point
to trying to remember songs she had liked as a teenager, trying hard to recall
lyrics exactly. She had to shift her position often, awkwardly against her restraints.
Somehow, hours were made to pass.
Sylvia's entire body convulsed as the door to the room banged open and light, dim though it was, flooded the room. She twisted around and saw Judy walking in.
"Judy, could you..." Sylvia stopped suddenly. She had been going to plead with Judy to let her loose, at least from the chains if not the cage, but the look on Judy's face stopped her.
Judy looked at least grim, if not infuriated. I know it can't be anything I did, thought Sylvia. I've been totally out of her sight and hearing since the last time she was in here.
But as Judy stormed past, it was very clear that her mood was entirely different from the one Sylvia had last seen. Judy was carrying, Sylvia suddenly realized, Sylvia's clothes. Sylvia held her breath, hardly daring to hope Judy might be about to let her get dressed and leave. Maybe something happened during the night, she thought, and Judy has to let me go home. Could the police be coming? But how could they even know anything yet?
Judy propped up the flashlight in its usual position and slammed the pile of clothes down on the bench. From the sound, it was obvious there were several solid objects underneath the pile striking the surface of the bench.
Judy began speaking, pacing back and forth, waving her arms. "I thought all this would fix everything. I thought it would make me feel better..." The last was in a wavery voice. Judy was, Sylvia realized, crying.
Judy spun and faced Sylvia. Sylvia felt a need to shrink back, though her back was already pressed against the bars of the cage. Sylvia desperately wanted to keep Judy talking, not only as a way to vent her anger but also as a substitute for any violent action Judy might be considering. "Judy, let's..."
"Don't call me that!! Like we're friends! Friends could never do what you did to me!"
"J-... I never meant to..."
Judy sneered. "No, you just did what comes naturally. And you took away everything that meant anything to me! I woke up this morning and I thought Peter was next to me. And he wasn't! And he never will be again! Because of you!"
Sylvia was quivering, not seeing how she could come out of this without being badly hurt. At least she understood now how Judy's sudden mood shift had happened. "If you'll just..."
"I lost everything! You should lose everything too! Starting with this crap!" She stalked back over to the bench, and picked up the pile of clothing again. She carried it back to the cage, and produced one of the things that apparently had been underneath it, though by itself not big enough to cause all the noise Sylvia had heard: the key to the cage. She inserted it into the upper lock, gave it a turn, and then used it on the lower one. Sylvia could only try shrinking back once more, aware of her overwhelming physical disadvantage that made it worse than pointless to try to kick Judy or in any other way attack her.
Judy shouted, "You can do without these!", and threw Sylvia's shoes down through the waste hole. "And this," and down went Sylvia's blouse.
She had this much accomplished before the stunned Sylvia could offer the slightest reaction. Finally Sylvia was able to stammer, "NOOOO, p-please..." and rolled towards the hole to try to cover it. Judy easily pushed her out of the way and threw the rest of Sylvia's clothes down the hole.
She must be going to kill me! Sylvia's inner voice screamed. She's decided I don't need clothes because I'm going to die!
As much as Sylvia still knew it couldn't help, she started to fight with Judy now, kneeing her and bending forward trying to bite her. Judy shouted "Damn you!" and pushed her away, and then ran back to the bench. She returned in seconds and Sylvia saw, to her horror, that she held another chain and padlock.
Sylvia tried to get up so she could dive out of the cage, determined to hold off Judy by kicking or any other possible means, but she had to get onto her back first to get up, and she didn't have time to complete the move before Judy stood in front of the cage door again, blocking Sylvia's exit. Snarling, Judy reached down and rolled Sylvia onto her stomach, and pulled her joined feet off the floor. Sylvia struggled to stretch out her legs and keep them straight, but Judy sat on Sylvia's thighs and pulled her feet upward again, and Sylvia didn't have the leg strength to stop her. She could only keep shouting "No, no, no..." as Judy looped the new chain around the padlock joining Sylvia's ankles, and then around the chain between her wrists, using it to pull Sylvia's feet still closer to her hands. With a last grunt from Judy, Sylvia could feel her heels brush against her butt, and Judy thrust the shackle of the padlock through links in the two ends of the chain and closed it. Judy stood up at last, breathing hard and brushing hair out of her eyes, leaving Sylvia helplessly hogtied.
Judy growled in a low, tight voice, "Now you can't hurt me anymore." Then she backed out of the cage, stood upright and, to Sylvia's astonishment, started removing her own clothes. Sylvia gaped as, one by one, each piece of clothing Judy had been wearing, last of all her bra and panties, disappeared down the waste hole in front of Sylvia's eyes.
She's about to kill me and then herself! Sylvia's inner voice shouted. Do something! Stop her! As if Sylvia could jump out of her hogtie and subdue the crazy woman. Sylvia used every ounce of her leg strength, but was unable to separate her heels and her butt by more than a few inches. She tried desperately to kick free, hopelessly.
Judy had run back towards the bench, and was now returning. Sylvia screamed when she saw Judy was holding the gun. She's going to do it now! wailed the panicked inner voice. Shoot me in the head, in the head, please! Make it all over quickly!
Judy stopped next to the cage, a fierce grin on her lips. "You think this is for you, do you? What did I promise, Sylvia? What did I tell you?"
Sylvia swallowed hard, struggling to speak, trembling all over. "Th-that you wouldn't kill me if I did everything you said. I did, Ju-... I did! I did everything! I know I resisted a little, but there's nothing you told me to do that didn't get done. Remember? I did everything!"
Judy nodded, and for the moment, some of Sylvia's terror abated. "That's what I promised. Before God, too, didn't I? I said it before God."
Sylvia nodded eagerly, her cheek scraping against the floor. "You promised God!"
Judy turned and started pacing again. "I did. And I'd go straight to Hell if I broke that promise. Wouldn't I?"
"I have a little confession to make, Sylvia."
Sylvia cringed, whimpering in renewed fear. It sounded as though Judy might say the promise had been a lie, spoken just to get Sylvia's cooperation. Though Judy's use of the word "confession" didn't exactly suggest she was about to renege on a religious obligation.
Judy waved the gun. "I only ever had two bullets in here, Sylvia. I was sure I'd need one somewhere along the way for a demonstration, and I was right. And the only other one is for me. There was never a bullet for you. I planned all along to kill myself, and I just wanted to make you as miserable as I could first. I could never kill you. Yours is not my life to take. I would have gone to Hell if I'd killed you, with or without the promise."
Sylvia's fear turned to shock. I could have ended this long before we got here! she told herself. Anywhere along the drive here, I could have stopped the car, I could have run away, and Judy would only have shot herself, not me! I was never in danger! "S-so... are you going to let me go?"
"No. But I'll give you a way you can get yourself out. I have to do that, you see. You might fail, and you might die. But that will be your own failure. God will decide whether or not you make it. That's His decision, not mine."
"Wh-wh..." Sylvia struggled against another wave of fear. "What do you mean?"
Judy walked back to the bench, to retrieve one more thing. Or two more, as it turned out.
She bent to reenter the cage, and crouched in front of Sylvia. "See this key?"
Normally Sylvia would have responded crossly, "Of course I see it!" But she only nodded.
"It's the key to the padlock I just now put on you. Reach back and see if your fingers can find the padlock."
Sylvia brushed her fingers along the hogtie chain until they came to the padlock. She nodded again.
"I'm going to put the key right here." Judy moved back a pace, and dropped to her knees before the waste hole. Very carefully, she set the key down across the edge of the hole, its prong thrust out over the hole, not exactly teetering, but looking as though a stray air current might blow it over.
Sylvia's eyes went wide, staring at the key, fears of what the key's placement might mean darting through her head. She tried to deny those fears.
Judy snapped her fingers sharply in front of Sylvia's eyes to regain her attention. She held up a much larger key. "This one is for the gate at the entrance to the cell block. See it?"
Sylvia recognized the big grandfather-clock key. She found herself only able to nod again.
Judy backed out of the cage and threw the gate key back onto the bench at the side of the room. She closed the door of the cage, relocked its door -- both locks, leaving the key in the keyhole for the upper lock. She patted it. "And I'll just leave this one right here."
Judy picked up the gun once more, and walked over to retrieve the flashlight. Sylvia could see Judy's lip was quivering, and tears starting to flow once more. In a quavery voice, Judy looked up to the ceiling and said, "Okay, God, you decide." Looking down once more, she said, "I didn't kill her. The rest is up to her." She turned back towards Sylvia, and was clearly crying again. "Goodbye, Sylvia. I'm going somewhere you can't reach me. You can't ruin my life anymore."
Without another word, Judy hurried to the door. Sylvia could hear her sobbing as the wavery light of the moving flashlight spilled around the room.
Everything was clear to Sylvia now. She screamed, "NO!!! Come back!! Please!!..." As the last word came out of Sylvia's mouth, Judy, wailing, stumbled out of the door and closed it behind her, cutting off the sound of her crying and plunging Sylvia into utter blackness once more.
I've got to get out of this, now! Now!! Sylvia screamed at herself. She tried harder than ever to straighten her legs, to pull her arms loose, rocking from side to side, all her muscles straining. She tried alternating legs, kicking with one, then the other, adding her back muscles to the effort.
Suddenly, she heard what she had thought impossible: a sound from outside the room. A sound she recognized. Very quiet, very muffled, just at the edge of hearing. Sylvia froze in horror. I know that sound, she thought. I've heard it up close. And if any sound could get through that soundproof door, that would be it.
The blast of the gun being fired.
With every ounce of the power of her lungs, Sylvia screamed, "JUDYYYYYYYY!!!!!"
Sylvia put her head on the floor and lay limp, feeling now the ache from her fruitless escape efforts in every muscle of her body. She could only quiver and repeat, "Ohmigod ohmigod ohmigod ohmigod..." Between her legs, her bladder let go. The warm liquid puddled under her thighs and seeped in under her stomach.
She knew how she was expected to free herself. And it was impossible. She could never manage it. And nobody else could free her either.