Chapter 3 - Saturday

About thirty or forty yards into the woods, Susan felt relatively safe. It was getting increasingly easier to see. The exertions of last night, and the relative lack of sleep (though she clearly had slept several hours, since her awakening tied to the tree had obviously been much later than she had imagined) left her completely exhausted. But her hunger and thirst outweighed her need for sleep just now, as did her fervent desire to be home, safe, in her own bed. The excitement of last night, hitting its peak in two indescribably intense orgasms, was a memory she would always treasure, but now she only wanted, as she always did, to be closed away from the world, in a place where there was no danger of having to relate to anyone, of being an element in anyone else's environment where they might see her, think about her, wonder about her. To be where she was now, at risk of becoming a lifelong memory for people not just in the city but far beyond it ("Did you hear about that girl they found wandering naked in the woods, with bondage gear on her wrists and ankles? Did you see the pictures? Hey, I think I can find the YouTube video") was an unbearable nightmare waiting to happen.

Susan let the water bottles drop to the ground and wolfed down a big mouthful of the trail mix in her hands. In a minute she had finished all of it, and licked her fingers and palms for the residue of salt, which should help hold off the cramps from returning, as would the half-bottle of water she chased her meal down with.

She wished, afterward, she had saved some of the nuts, realizing they were the only food she might have all day. There were more of them across the street where she'd spent the night, but she couldn't get back there until after dark.

And the answer to the big question frustratingly eluded her: How do I get home? To be able to see, mostly obscured by intervening trees, the building that housed her place of safety, but to have no way to reach that safety even after dark because she didn't know where the key to it was, was the most frustrating and frightening thing she could imagine.

She wasn't completely sure that even returning home tonight was possible. She could cross back over Stockhouse, returning to the general area where the solution to her problem, the briefcase, must be. But she would have to search for it in almost complete darkness, and the monumental number of possible hiding places, within which the briefcase would be invisible to her from as little as three feet away, made it a daunting challenge -- Susan would have to reach into the branches of every bush and every tree in the triangle, and might still miss it.

Susan sat on the ground, holding her head in her hands. Within that head was the answer she needed, and she couldn't believe she wasn't able to find it. She concentrated again on the memory she did have, of looking at the contents of the briefcase and doing a mental inventory. She should, she felt sure, be able to start from there and connect it up with the memory of what happened next -- where did Suzy take it? Suzy knew. Suzy had all the important memories. But still, the memory was somewhere in this head, the one Susan was holding. Why couldn't she find it herself?

She experimented mentally with possibilities, to see whether any of them clicked. Nothing.

It was full daylight now, and the steady stream of cars passing along the street, intermittently visible through gaps in the trees, seemed to symbolize how cut off Susan was from her home, as well as reminding her that she needed to find a safer place to spend the day -- if she could see the cars, and windows in her building, then anyone looking in just the right direction at the right moment could see her as well.

Not wanting to stand upright, she crawled along the ground farther into the woods, using cover provided by the short bushes that outnumbered the trees, the fingers of each hand wrapped around the bottles containing her remaining supply of water. Though it hadn't rained in a few days, there were frequent damp spots in the soil, clingy though not quite muddy. Birds cawed at her, or perhaps at something else, though she always felt it was about her, and squirrels scampered along the ground examining the nuts with the air of discriminating diners. She was, she thought, just part of the animal life of the forest now.

She arrived at a familiar area, and saw the discarded equipment from last weekend's adventure. Somehow the fact of having been here before, with nothing bad having happened, gave Susan a small touch of the feeling of safety she craved. She picked out an especially dense stand of bushes and crawled within their protective perimeter. Shielded from any prying eyes, as well as from the direct sunlight that had started her sweating profusely during her crawl -- it was going to be another hot day -- she took a few swallows from the half-full bottle, curled up on the ground, and fell immediately asleep.

*   *   *   *   *

Susan awoke abruptly and sat upright, astonished. Suzy had just managed her most elaborate communication to date with Susan. Susan wasn't sure whether it had been made easier by falling asleep, or whether Suzy had simply decided it was time.

The communication was in the form of memories again. In this case, the main memory was a very clearly seen place. It was a stand of bushes even more densely packed than the one Susan was in now, where the random growth had managed to create a ring of vegetation about ten feet across, with an irregular open space in the middle of it. Within that open space were the remainder of Susan's food, the trail mix, and the second six-pack of water -- and an assortment of chains and padlocks. It was all located near the city park -- near the tennis courts, in particular. The bushes hiding Susan's supplies were about a hundred feet from a corner of the chain-link enclosure for the courts. The elaborate natural bush enclosure was within a wooded area that ended about fifty feet from the court, leaving a cleared area on that side of the court, through which a jogging path ran. Susan wasn't very familiar with that part of the park -- though obviously Suzy was -- but she knew how to find it. The court was adjacent to Stockhouse Boulevard, about a half-mile from Susan's apartment building in the direction towards town.

There was one other new memory that had just become available to Susan. Suzy had obviously planned ahead farther than last time, and had found a way to talk directly to Susan. Susan, now, could recall looking at a sheet of paper on her dining room table, on which was written, in her own handwriting,

"Go find the bush enclosure by the park. Use the chains and lock yourself up as follows: Ankle cuffs locked directly together with padlock. Chain around waist, and through crotch. Wrist cuffs locked to each other, to waist chain, and to crotch chain, behind you. Use key locks for all of the above. Complete a hogtie, making hogtie chain as short as possible and lock it with combo lock. Also secure the anchor chain to the combo lock. As soon as you do that, I will tell you the combination and where the briefcase is. I won't tell you until then."

Susan sat with her eyes closed. She absolutely was not imagining this. She remembered looking at the note. She even remembered, now, physically writing it -- though somehow not as an act of her own will. She only remembered watching her hand write the words. She couldn't even recall what "anchor chain" meant. Suzy had done the writing. Susan's body had been used, but she, Susan, had not had access to the memory of it until just this minute.

The note was further proof, if Susan needed it, that the knowledge of where the briefcase was, with her clothes and all her keys, was all inside her head somewhere. Why should she need Suzy to reveal it to her?

Susan didn't want to follow Suzy's command. It wasn't that she had any objection to chaining herself in a hogtie. It was the place where she was required to do it that was the problem. It was way too close to an active public area. The stand of bushes, as Susan now remembered it, looked like an effective hiding place in that context. No one should be able to see her as long as she stayed within it. But Susan absolutely did not want to trap herself there, unable to leave it without being seen, unable even to escape the hogtie in chains because she didn't have the keys or the combination, in hopes Suzy would keep her promise and tell her how to get home.

Susan drew up her knees and wrapped her arms around them. I don't have to be at the mercy of a psychological quirk, she told herself. Suzy isn't a real, separate person. She is some weird manifestation of how my mind is working these days. I can beat this. I can break through.

Yet she realized, suddenly, that in the last few minutes she had been suppressing conscious recognition of a sure sign that she was wrong, that Suzy was a separate mind who was stronger than Susan herself was: Suzy was imposing her will on Susan by using Susan's fascination with bondage against her. Suzy was on the verge of succeeding in forcing Susan to do something she would never, ever have considered doing on her own. And Susan already saw she was not going to win this battle.

Between her legs, Susan was already very wet at the thought of chaining herself up to await the news of how to get home. The excitement at the thought of putting herself into such helpless bondage, including using a combo lock she didn't know how to open among all the other padlocks she had no keys to, in a place that was only marginally safe from discovery, all because she had been promised the information she needed after she had put herself into that otherwise inescapable trap, was starting to overwhelm her. Susan's feeling of horror at the increased chance of discovery made her continue resisting the idea with all her conscious power, but she could feel the resistance crumbling.

And obviously Suzy had known Susan would react that way. She had counted on it.

Susan concentrated on maintaining the resistance. She squeezed her eyes closed, searching through every avenue of her mind for the memory she needed. The briefcase, the briefcase... She'd put all the keys in it, she'd put her clothes in it, she'd closed it, and then... She tried to imagine herself standing up, picking up the case by its handle, creeping furtively, of course, since she was naked and couldn't afford to be seen...

Nothing. There was no memory she could find in her head that was anything like that.

Susan found she was rubbing her mound with her fingers, moaning softly. All she had to do to get home was to do something that filled her with sexual excitement and frightened the wits out of her. And she could tell it was the excitement that was going to win.

She finished the near-empty water bottle so that she would only need to take one with her. There was more water where she was going, but she had to account for the likelihood that her fear would grow stronger as she neared her destination and stop her from reaching it.

Though if she did chicken out, then what? Suzy had given her, in a sense, an ultimatum: Do this, or stay out here until you're discovered.

Maybe, thought Susan, I can find another source of food. Maybe I can just live out here, as an animal, for years.

She shook her head. That's a pure fantasy, she admitted to herself. I can't live indefinitely as a naked beast in the woods. I have to do what Suzy said, she told herself, scary as it is. Suzy has already shown me how much in control she is. I know she can give me the memories I need when she wants to, and not a minute before.

Susan looked at the sky. The blue skies of morning had been replaced by cloud cover during her nap. It didn't appear to threaten rain, but didn't really cool the air much. It made it less comfortable, in fact, more humid than before. She decided that, despite the unpleasant mugginess, the clouds were probably better for what she was doing. The dimmer the light was, the less visible she was.

Grabbing her remaining water bottle, Susan rose into a crouch, and began walking on both hands and feet -- as far back into the woods as she had retreated, she still didn't want to stand upright if she didn't have to. The bushes were high enough to hide her this way, and if somehow someone did see her, she wouldn't look like a human, especially from a distance. She began angling towards the street in the direction towards town.

*   *   *   *   *

About halfway to the park, Susan came to Louris Creek. She had forgotten it would be in the way.

It wasn't at all an impassible barrier, but it introduced an extra concern. People did fish in the creek sometimes, though usually they did it closer to the bridge, where Stockhouse crossed over it. Some people did their fishing from the bridge, though the police made them move along if they came across them.

Susan approached the creek crawling on knees and elbows, slowly, as low to the ground as possible, alert for any voices or movement that would indicate fishers.

She stopped behind the first line of trees, sweeping her eyes along the creek bed.

She wished the creek itself would quiet down. Despite its shallowness, or maybe because of it, it did a lot of babbling. It was about eight to ten feet across at this point, probably two feet deep along its center line. Occasional splashes, Susan realized eventually, were made by the fish, not the people trying to catch them.

The forest floor dropped off into a near-vertical embankment, three feet high, on either side of the creek, below which a short shoreline led down to the water. The creek was capable of getting a lot deeper than it was now, during the rainy season. In fact, the embankment showed signs that the creek had been running deeper recently -- after the rain early in the week, no doubt. It would have been harder to cross then, and Susan wondered for a moment if Suzy had found it difficult to cross on Wednesday night, when it may still have been running deep. Then Susan realized that Suzy, fully clothed at the time, would simply have walked across the bridge over the creek. Not an option available to Susan at the moment.

Susan was, after several minutes of observation, almost positive there was no one near enough to see her cross the creek here, but she couldn't make herself move. In a sense, she was committing herself to Suzy's plan, in crossing -- if she chickened out later, she would have to go through the tension of crossing the creek again to get home, later in the day when fishers might be more likely... but she reminded herself that she had been at a loss to find a way to get home in any case, other than by doing what Suzy said to do.

She squeezed her eyes shut, whispered "I have to, I have to..." and crawled out from the cover of the trees.

It wasn't like she was visible for a long distance. The creek bed wasn't straight, so there were no sightlines without trees in the way from more than a hundred feet or so away. Nevertheless, Susan felt more exposed than ever, unable to rid her mind of the image of some fisherman spotting a much bigger catch than he'd ever expected.

She turned backwards and let her legs slip over the edge of the embankment, which came to about waist level on her, to stand by the bank of the stream. She cautiously felt at the water with her toe, finding it pleasantly cool in the heat of the day. She crouched down and crawled on hands and knees into the flowing water, still not wanting to walk upright. Unexpectedly, since the water didn't seem to be flowing terribly fast, she found it wasn't easy to cross it that way. She needed to spread her knees well apart to resist being pushed over by the flow of the water against her. But she made it across without much trouble, looked again for anyone fishing, leaned her upper body, bending at the waist, onto level ground above the embankment and squirmed out onto it. She crept toward the trees, again keeping as low to the ground as she could, snake-like.

Once back in the safety of the trees, Susan actually felt good. The flowing water had washed off the coating of grimy sweat and replaced it, for the moment, with a cool sheath of water that felt nice in the heat. She lifted her knees off the ground and resumed her hands-and-feet progress to the park.

*   *   *   *   *

Susan lay stretched out on her stomach, peeking out from behind a bush. She could see the park, and in particular the tennis courts. She could even see the stand of closely-packed bushes that Suzy intended for her to use as shelter. She recognized it, as if she had seen it before. She had, of course, though not with Susan-awareness at the time. She had only the memory given to her after the fact by Suzy.

Susan couldn't get any closer to the shelter at present. The park, not surprisingly for a holiday-weekend Saturday, was packed. She wondered whether Suzy had taken that into account. There were players on the tennis courts, and others waiting for them to finish. An irregular stream of runners went by on the jogging path, passing by between Susan and the courts. In the distance, Susan heard voices of exuberant young boys apparently on a baseball field, judging from the recurring bat-on-ball sound, being cheered on by their parents.

There was simply no possible way of reaching her goal in daylight. It was especially frustrating because she knew Suzy had left food there, and Susan was very hungry. She had eaten only that double-handful of trail mix since dinner last night, and she estimated it was now early afternoon, about two-ish, though that was really only a guess, made problematic by her nap in the woods this morning. She could have made a better estimate if the sun had been visible, but it remained stubbornly hidden behind the cloud cover.

She twisted the top off the one remaining bottle of water she had brought from last night's site, and regretfully drank the last swallow. How long until the park closed? she wondered. Around ten o'clock, she guessed. About eight hours, by her estimate, and now she was without water as well as food. She could, if her thirst got really bad, crawl back to the creek, but for the moment, lying still felt much safer than moving. Anything moving in the woods was more visible. She would try to pass the time with whatever fluids her body still retained.

And yet her body wanted to give some water up, urgently. She crept backward a foot or so, spread her legs apart, supporting herself on elbows and knees as low to the ground as possible, and peed, then crawled back where she had been. The animal-in-the-woods feeling returned full strength.

She couldn't think of anything she could do now other than sleep, if that was possible. It wasn't that she wasn't exhausted, but her mind was spinning so fast she doubted her ability to slow it down. She was terrified of being so close to people, but reluctant to move much farther away in case she couldn't find her way back in darkness later. She remained excited by Suzy's command that she chain herself up, but unable to stop worrying that something would go wrong with Suzy's promised information, such as the combination to the lock holding her in a hogtie, leaving Susan helpless and unable to avoid discovery; and it was hard to stop thinking about her bodily needs for food and water and her inability, for an extended time, to do anything about them.

About ten feet to her left and slightly ahead, there was a trio of closely-packed bushes that offered better cover than the one she was currently behind. Trusting in the dimness under the forest canopy to protect her from unwanted eyes, Susan crawled sideways, horizontal, slowly, over to them. Curling up on her side behind them, pressed up against them, she closed her eyes. Her mind continued running in high gear for a time, but gradually ran down into neutral and she drifted off.

*   *   *   *   *

She awoke in a panic, with a crawling sensation all over her skin. It was real -- several dozen ants were exploring her body for anything useful it might present. Somehow biting down on an automatic squeal, she sat upright instantly and began brushing everywhere. It took several minutes to take care of them all, going by feel as she looked around her for their source. As she dealt with an especially stubborn bug driving her crazy under her pubic hair, she spotted a small mound a couple of feet away that was most likely the anthill. She squirmed back to her previous location, wondering whether to retreat to the creek to wash off the last of the ants off, but it seemed she had taken care of them. She decided she was probably safer from detection where she was now than in the area of the creek, which might be busier now than at the time she passed it earlier. She kept a careful eye out for any movement towards her from the park, but no one seemed to have been alerted to her distress.

The sky seemed gloomier than before, the air still more humid, and she tensed as she heard a soft rumble of thunder. It had to be miles away, but not welcome at any distance.

She sat upright -- the bush in front of her was high enough to do so safely -- and tried to pass the time by following the progress of the nearer of the two tennis matches in front of her. She wasn't familiar with the rules, but was able to get a feeling for the flow of play by watching the emotions of the players. She was easily able to tell who was winning. Her attention was attracted to a distant family in a picnic area, with two squealing, giggling children seeming to do their imitation of bees. Time passed.

*   *   *   *   *

Susan was cheered to realize that the darkening sky, which she had first taken to be a sign of an oncoming thunderstorm, turned out instead to be twilight approaching. Her uplifted spirits immediately changed to chagrin as bright lights came on all around the park. She had no idea whether they would remain on all night. If they did, she wasn't sure of being able to persuade herself to make her way to the cache of food and bondage equipment.

She renewed her efforts to find the memory of the location of the briefcase, stored in her own brain but somehow held behind a shroud by Suzy. She absently brushed away an ant, the first to find her since the surprise attack hours earlier. It was frustrating that there seemed to be no way to force a memory to present itself when it doesn't want to be found.

*   *   *   *   *

The barbecues, picnics, and baseball games eventually ended. Tennis continued, under the lights, as did jogging. Susan unconsciously pounded the ground softly as she waited, willing the lights to go out. She seemed not to have that power over them.

*   *   *   *   *

The last of the tennis players departed. About fifteen minutes later, the courtside lights went out. They might, thought Susan, be on a timer, or turned on by motion detectors. The general illumination of the park remained, still much too bright for Susan to want to chance a dash to the waiting bush enclosure.

*   *   *   *   *

Susan had counted to a thousand from the time she had last seen anyone moving in the park. Her nervous ground-pounding continued at an increasing rate, as she fought within to make a decision.

Before anything else, she needed to get to the restroom, off to her left. Peeing was one thing, but for the last hour or so her bowels had been increasingly insistent on emptying themselves, and she couldn't bring herself to do it out in the open. She was sure the restroom had to be vacant -- no one had gone into it in at least an hour. The area around the restroom, however, was some of the best-lit real estate in the park. Walking into a lighted area was far beyond anything Susan could get herself to do.

She might, she thought, be able to approach the building from the shadowed area behind it. She rose on all fours, preparing to get to that area and then decide what to do next.

She gasped suddenly, fearing she had just gone blind for no reason, then realized the lights had finally been extinguished -- all but a few, perhaps one out of every ten light poles, which offered just enough light to navigate by.

She clapped her hands together, once, happy that something had finally gone her way. Still unwilling to stand, she crawled out of hiding towards the restroom.

She stood as she reached the building, her hand brushing the side wall. It was too dark to read the sign that indicated the women's room, but she knew which sex the door on the near side accommodated by having watched who went in it earlier.

Inside the ladies' room, the light was still on. Susan made her way towards a stall, and stopped halfway there frozen in terror at seeing a movement, which turned out to be her reflection in a mirror. She stared at herself for an instant, stunned by the image of herself standing completely naked in a public place. And with metal bands around her wrists and ankles. Quickly she lunged into the stall and closed the door, her safety restored for the moment.

Once she had evacuated her bowels, she sat with her eyes closed and arms folded, not eager to leave the confines of the stall for the wider world.

Her relaxation ended abruptly at a sudden noise from the doorway: a footstep on the concrete apron, followed by a male voice calling loudly, "Anybody here?"

Susan jerked her feet off the floor and held them aloft, her heart pounding so hard she thought surely the man could hear it from where he stood. She breathed through her wide-open mouth, hoping she was doing it completely silently.

She nearly lost it, barely suppressing a squeak of alarm, when the lights suddenly went out. The door to the room whispered closed, with a click at the end -- it had been standing open -- and the footsteps, outside the door, retreated, leaving Susan in absolute black darkness. A moment later she heard the same voice, much more faintly, calling "Anybody here?" again. Checking the men's room, obviously.

It must have been a nighttime security guard, making his rounds, she realized. He must not have seen her enter, or he would have looked for her. He had only called out to make sure the room was as empty as it seemed.

Susan still sat frozen, her feet up in the air, for several minutes, then slowly let them down to the floor at last. She continued sitting on the toilet seat, letting her heart settle back down. If she hadn't just taken a shit, hearing the man's voice would literally have scared it out of her.

Finally ready to move again, she felt for the toilet paper dispenser and wiped herself off. Emerging, with trepidation, from the stall, knowing she couldn't stay in it forever, she went to the sink and washed her hands -- she couldn't leave without doing that, and she had seen where the sinks were -- but failed to locate a paper towel dispenser. Deciding she didn't need to dry her hands anyway, she shuffled carefully, her wet hands out in front of her, towards the door.

She found a wall, and stood puzzled, before remembering there was a short entryway to her left, with the door at its end. She found the door at last, pulled the handle, and found it wouldn't budge.

Once more her heart started racing. He locked me in! she wailed to herself.

She nearly started pounding on the door in complete panic, but it suddenly occurred to her doors in public facilities were usually designed to be unlocked from inside, to prevent exactly the sort of entrapment that she thought had happened to her. There must be, she told herself, a latch for the deadbolt on this side of the door somewhere.

The handle was a wide vertical D-shape. She felt directly behind the metal tubing, then below it, and finally located the latch just above the handle. She turned it, pulled on the handle, and the door opened, to her intense relief.

She only cracked the door a few inches, enough for her to check for any activity outside. Sensing none, she opened it just wide enough to slip out, and immediately dropped to all fours. She worried momentarily what the guard would think when he came to open the door in the morning and found it already unlocked, but decided he would just think he'd forgotten somehow. In any case, there was nothing she could do about it.

Her eyes, by now, were well-adjusted to the darkness. There was enough illumination from distant lights for her to see her way around. The persistent cloud cover also helped, reflecting the city lights enough to give a slight all-around glow to the cloud base.

Crawling, Susan made straight for the bushes she had been waiting all day to reach.

*   *   *   *   *

It all looked just the way she remembered it -- the way Suzy remembered it for her. The pile of nuts and dried fruit, the water bottles. And all those chains and padlocks. Her favorite things.

Hungry as Susan was, she did a quick inventory of equipment before anything else. Yes, there were enough chains, of the right sizes, to do what she needed, with one left over. Among the padlocks, as well, there was one more than she needed. And there was the combo lock. Combination unknown.

Susan could now see what Suzy had meant by "anchor chain." One of the chains was already looped around the roots of one of the bushes and locked in place. That would be the one Suzy had told her to attach to the hogtie chain by the combination lock. It would keep her here, in this shelter of bushes, until she found out how to open the lock.

Think of the consequences, Susan tried to tell herself. If you use the chains the way Suzy said to, you can't unlock them until daylight, because you won't be able to see the combo dial until then. It's possible the park might still be deserted then, and you can get away. But it's possible there may be people around already. And then you're stuck here in this hideout all day. You can't leave it if there are people around to see you. In that case it's going to be twenty-four hours from now until the park lights go out again. Don't do it! Not yet, anyway. It's dark at the apartment building. You can go there, go back to last night's place, see if it jogs a memory, the memory you need. You could still come back here if that doesn't work.

She looked at the chains. Couldn't stop looking. They were calling to her. She wanted them. She needed them.

The voice telling her to wait faded.

Susan grew wet quickly between her legs, anticipating. She almost wanted to get started before eating, but her hunger won out. She sat in the cleared area between the bushes and grabbed a handful of the trail mix. While chewing, she opened a water bottle.

Refreshed, she sat again and considered the chains. She had never actually put herself in bondage before. Suzy had done it for her. But she was about to do it now. And she wanted it so much!

Picking out two of the chains of different lengths, with shaking fingers, she wrapped the longer one in a circle snugly around her waist, with the ends in front, slipped a padlock through two overlapping links, not yet locking it.

She was tingling between her legs now. She felt briefly angry at all those people in the park who had kept her from this all day, but she knew it was much more important that she had got through the daylight hours safely without any of them seeing her.

She took the shorter chain and a padlock -- a keyed padlock, as Suzy had demanded, not allowing Susan to use the combo lock for this -- and hooked the shackle of the padlock through a link in her waist chain in the small of her back, hooked the last link in the new chain on the shackle of that same padlock, and squeezed he padlock closed. She pulled the short chain tight through her crotch, its metal links momentarily cold against her butt crack and her nether lips, slipped the shackle of the front padlock through the nearest available link, and squeezed that one closed. She could barely breathe now with excitement.

Then suddenly her will deserted her again. That voice of caution returned. There was still a chance the memory of the location of the briefcase would come back to her despite Suzy's efforts to hide it. As much as the chains called to her, begging Susan to use them, her excitement was, as it had so often been lately, tinged with fear. There was, she reminded herself again, a very strong chance she would have to stay here, among these bushes, all through the daylight hours Sunday, with all the activity going on in the park as it had been today -- so many people, so near. There would only be a very small window of time, after she had unlocked the combo lock, before the first of the crowd started arriving for a fun day in the park, and she already knew their arrival, if she had not yet released the combo, would prevent her from leaving this shelter, just as their presence today had prevented her from reaching it until they all left. That was obviously Suzy's plan: that Susan should be in a safe place that was nevertheless very difficult to get to and would be equally difficult to leave.

And it was also impossible to know it was 100% safe. It did seem she would be completely hidden away here. But it was hard to guarantee it absolutely.

The insistent tingling between Susan's legs increased in volume once more, became louder than the voice of caution. Her thoughts began to parallel her desires. I have been trying so hard, she reminded herself, all day, to remember where the briefcase is. Going back to the apartment building isn't going to "bring back memories" of anything. I was there this morning, and no memories came to me. This wasn't an ordinary case of searching for a memory that might be found: Suzy had demonstrated her complete control over what Susan remembered. It wasn't realistic anymore, after all the effort she had put into it, for Susan to think that she might recall what she needed to know, without Suzy's permission.

I like where you're going with this, said the innermost Susan -- not Suzy, but Susan herself, the lifelong lover of bondage, so taken with the passion of restraint. The chain between her legs begged to be used, and it needed Susan to be immobilized, to set its powers free.

Susan's resistance collapsed, already forgotten. She reached for one of the padlocks and, with no hesitation, threaded its shackle through the D-rings of her ankle cuffs, slamming it closed. She felt a thrill run through her, starting from her ankles, like an electric current. Now she was committed. Her ankles were locked together until she found the keys. There was no way to back out of that.

She took another of the chains -- there were only two left, one of them the extra, unneeded one -- and looped it around the padlock joining her ankles, and took one of its free ends and looped it around the back of her waist chain. She used the chain itself to pull her ankles as close to the waist chain as she could get them, her legs bent double at the knees, straining to make the distance as short as she could. She looped the chain again around the ankle padlock, again around the waist chain, and finally hooked the combo lock through links in both free ends of the chain. She nearly forgot about the anchor chain, but remembered in time, taking the end of that chain and also hooking it onto the shackle of the combo lock.

Just one more padlock was needed. She hooked it through the D-rings of both wrist cuffs, and carefully, making sure she didn't miss it, hooked it through the shackle of the padlock connecting the crotch chain and the waist chain. Again without hesitation, she squeezed it closed. Her hands were locked together behind her now, and locked to the chain around her waist. And, as with her now-connected feet, she would not be able to release her hands from behind her back until she had the keys which, she had already reasoned, had to be back in that triangle of land where she had spent Friday night. She would have to hop home with her hands behind her, as she had last weekend.

The thought excited Susan still more.

The combo lock was not yet closed. Susan had given herself this opportunity to stop and decide, here: Did she want to complete the hogtie? Her ankles were hobbled, and her hands trapped behind her back, with padlocks she couldn't open, but she could still, if she wanted, unwind the hogtie chain and hop away from this place.

She did need to do one last thing. Raising herself on her elbow, she twisted around to make sure the combo lock, not yet closed, was in a place where she could see it. It was far too dark to make out any features of the dial, but she could see where the lock was, and saw that she should be able to read the dial with more light. That was enough. Without hesitation, she slapped the combo lock closed. She was completely trapped, ankles locked together, hands locked together behind her to both the waist chain and crotch chain, with the hogtie chain holding her heels against her butt, and also anchoring her to one of the bushes that constituted her shelter, from which she now had no possible way of escaping.

The thrill of excitement within her rose to a boil. Her hips twitched, her back and leg muscles writhed, every movement beyond her conscious control, responding to the sexual arousal that exploded within her. Every movement transferred itself into the perfectly placed chain between her legs, an attentive lover whose only goal was to please her. For a time that seemed forever and yet not nearly long enough, every fiber of her being took part in the symphony of her physical sensations, the notes of the music reaching higher, higher...

She quaked with the force of the orgasm that, once again, reached an intensity she had never experienced before Suzy came to help her.

It let go at last and Susan felt herself floating slowly, featherlike, to the ground.

Sighing in satisfaction, she closed her eyes and let herself sleep.

*   *   *   *   *

Susan awoke, in darkness, not immediately remembering where she was. She was outdoors, something she was becoming accustomed to, lying on her side. She tried to stretch before the chains reminded her that she couldn't, and she gasped as the tingling of excitement began between her legs again and spread from there. She fought it down, wanting to save it for later, and succeeded in regaining control.

It was important, she decided, to make sure of her boundaries. Had she missed anything, made any errors? If she hadn't done everything exactly as Suzy demanded, she didn't know what would happen. She tried moving her arms in every possible way, making sure her wrist cuffs were securely locked together, that they were attached to the chain around her waist and to the one though her legs, all of the padlocks closed and secure. She checked that her ankle cuffs were locked together, felt the padlock between them to make sure it was locked. She strained to pull her heels away from her butt, and felt along the hogtie chain to the combination lock, felt its shackle with her finger to make sure it was closed, closed her hand around it and shook it, felt the links that it went through, and felt along the anchor chain attached to it. She yanked hard on the anchor chain, though she already knew it was locked in place around the roots of one of the bushes -- she'd have to uproot the entire bush to free up the chain, and she knew that was far beyond her strength. She squirmed along the ground away from the bush -- it was behind her -- and felt her movement arrested after just a few inches by the anchor chain.

She wished she could be blindfolded, but reminded herself she'd at least been able to have that pleasure earlier. She couldn't use the blindfold if she wanted to open the combo lock. She also would have loved being gagged, but then she wouldn't be able to eat. Suzy, she thought, might come up with a solution to the long-term gagging problem eventually.

The idea of eating while gagged reminded her she was hungry and thirsty again. She should have filled up on water before chaining herself, she decided, but had been too excited to stop for that.

Forgetting herself, she tried to reach for the pile of trail mix before remembering her inability to use her hands. Momentarily frustrated, she realized there was only one possible way to do it. She squirmed to the side, towards the pile, glad that the anchor chain hadn't put it out of reach, bent her head down and took a mouthful straight from the pile. After a few bites she'd had enough, but the salt made her thirstier. The water bottles were in reach as well, but she puzzled for a time over how to drink from one. At last she backed up to one of the bottles, twisted the cap off with her hand, carefully set the bottle standing upright, wriggled away from it, laboriously turned onto her other side, clamped her teeth around the neck of the bottle and lifted it into the air. Gritting her teeth harder, she managed to make the bottom of the bottle swing outward and upward so that the water streamed into her mouth. She almost choked on it, but managed a few swallows before setting the bottle back down. She decided not to put the cap back on. The ground seemed level enough, and the bottle shouldn't tip over and spill the rest of its contents. If it did, she still had some more bottles.

Nothing to do now, she told herself, until Suzy...

Susan gasped, her jaw dropping open. Suzy should have told her what she needed to know by now. Susan had done everything she was supposed to. Suzy had promised!

Susan squeezed her eyes shut, willing the memories to appear. She had to know the numbers that would open the combo lock! She had to know where her clothes and all the keys were so she could get home... and that wasn't even important right now, wherever they were she had no way to get to them without first getting the combination to the lock!

Susan frantically tested her bonds, struggling to find a way to get loose. She had just tested them all not fifteen minutes ago, but she hadn't really wanted to get free then, not like she did now, when it was life and death -- not death, but to Susan something worse. She could call for help at any time, after sunrise, easily heard in a busy public park, but she knew she could never, ever do that. She would try to stay hidden here, unseen by people all around, until her food and water were gone, and then she would die.

Once again, helpless to hold it, she felt warm pee squirting out between her thighs. She could barely focus on the thought that she had probably lost more urine involuntarily than intentionally since she'd awakened at the tree Friday night.

And then came something she'd felt before: a calming, as if a warm, soft blanket had descended on her. A feeling of being told, "Shhhh. It's okay" in a whisper, not audible to her ears but no less real than a sound.

10-35-24. It was there, as if she had always known. Susan could see the small slip of paper from the package for the lock in her mind's eye. Along with it came a memory of what Suzy had done with the briefcase, that missing bit of Friday's preparations that Susan had struggled fruitlessly to recall without Suzy's help. Susan knew now where she'd hidden it, remembering her body performing those actions, without recalling the internal will that made her perform them. The will had been Suzy's, but the actions had been done by Susan's body.

Susan was getting used to that as well: remembering physical acts without remembering the mental impetus for the acts. Things done by her body under another person's control.

It didn't matter. It's okay, Susan told herself, that I have another mind inside me. I can trust Suzy. She gives me what I want, and she keeps her promises.

Susan smiled, not only with relief but also appreciation of Suzy's cleverness. The briefcase was indeed in that triangle of ground where Susan knew it must be, but finding it would have taken time Susan couldn't have afforded. It wasn't in a place Susan would have thought to look.

Susan relaxed, resting her head on the ground. She knew she could get out of the hogtie in the morning and escape from the shelter of bushes, and she knew where to go to finish unchaining herself, get her clothes and get into her apartment. She just needed to...

She reminded herself that all of that couldn't be done at once. She could open the combo lock here, but the rest of the things she needed were back near the apartment building. She would have to get there with her feet cuffed together and her hands cuffed behind her back, hopping, like last weekend. Hopping much farther than last week. She remembered how exhausting that had been, how much her legs had ached...

A full visualization of the amount of work that still remained before she could finish freeing herself and get home to safety washed over her. Such a long journey, while still bound, still naked...

The heat and tingling between her legs flared once more. Thinking of all the time and effort needed to escape her bondage: somehow that always did it for her, an extra push up the hill of sexual arousal beyond the mere fact of being bound and in danger of discovery. Susan's hips began twitching on their own, each wiggle focusing her attention once more on the chain caressing her most intimate place. The movement spread through the rest of her body, each movement adding to her hyperawareness of the details of her bondage, the restriction of movements, her powerlessness to escape that restriction.

A tornado of orgasm seemed to fling her into the air, concentrating her existence into a whirling explosion of selfhood that overpowered and banished the outside world she so feared, made her bigger than all of it, pulsing within her, pulsing, pulsing... now fading...

She slept.

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