The soft-soled canvas slippers seemed out of place. She knew they were to protect her feet from the harsh stone floor of the dungeon and the rough ground outside, should she have been sentenced to a public flogging, but in the ordinary way of things, she might have chosen them for the beach.
The thought amused her and she smiled.
“We’ll soon wipe that grin off your face,” the guard barked shoving her forward.
She stumbled a little, nearly falling and for a moment she felt real fear. Her hands had been chained behind her back and she had no way to steady herself.
As she picked up the pace to outstep the guard she became aware again of the sack-cloth smock that rasped against her breasts and thighs. Beneath it she was naked. The one-size-fits-all garment was more-or-less as she had expected. On her, a woman of average height, the hem cut across the lower slopes of her bottom, giving the guard an eyeful. It was an outfit designed to add to her shame. She duly blushed at the thought of it. On a taller woman, it would barely cover anything she realised. The thought thrilled her strangely.
Then the whole situation was strange. What a way to spend a weekend, she thought.
She was to get 36 plus extras if she was not completely compliant. It was the most a woman could receive at any one flogging. The Minister herself had had to approve it.
She ought to know, the authorisation had crossed her desk only yesterday.
“We have a strange one here ma’am,” the undersecretary had said, handing her the note. “It’s made out for a Joanna Smith. The charges are classified and we have no record of her anywhere.”
“Oh… yes. Don’t worry about it Barry. It’s a… eh… special case,” she said signing the bottom of the document. “Oh and Barry, I am in a closed session of the Justice Review Committee this weekend. So I won’t be available to take any calls.”
“Yes Minister,” the undersecretary said knowingly.
She had smiled at his smugness. Such a know-all, she thought. He doesn’t know anything.
Thinking back to it now, the Minister thought as she shuffled along the dungeon corridor, maybe he did. The idea horrified her and for a moment her heart pounded in her chest.
“Oh well, nothing for it now,” she sighed.
“Shut up,” the guard bellowed.
“Yes Sir,” the Minister said.
The guard shoved her again and she trotted up the passage as best she could, her gaoler ambling along behind her admiring her nudity.
She wasn’t bad looking, he thought, a little older than most of the girls sentenced to a good hiding, but stylish with a pert shapely backside. From the way she had spoken, he guessed she was a posh bird. She certainly carried herself well and her hair; a clean thick brown, had not a hint of bleaching that most of the petty trash usually up for a flogging had.
All too soon they reached the end of the corridor and the door to the private punishment room.
“Prisoner for you sir,” the guard called out. “One Joanna Smith. Thirty-six strokes, plus however many extras you see fit, if you know what I mean.”
The man inside the room glared at him disapprovingly, but he didn’t speak. He just nodded that the guard should bring her in.
Joanna, as she was known today, stepped into the room unbidden and faced her ‘executioner.’
He was a tall man with salt and pepper hair that was dashed at the temples with white. He was well-built and despite the hair, he could easily have been in his late 30s, although she knew him to be nearer 50.
She had first met him at a party a few months back and when she found out that he was a ‘correction facility operative,’ as his profession was known, her passing interest in him became a whole-hearted fascination.
No one knew of her secret feelings; the cravings for pain and submission that she had harboured all her life. Perhaps it was these that had led her to take up the law and later to enter politics. Since becoming minister she had certainly taken a keen interest in the correctional facilities under her control.
It wasn’t until she had met Daniel Bateman that the germ of an idea had formed. It had taken weeks to research and even longer to arrange.
“Alright Ms Smith, I want you to stand in front of that frame and on the order ‘over,’ I want you to bend over the top bar. That is the padded bit you see there.” His piecing blue eyes held her for a moment, but there was no recognition on his face.
The Minister felt strangely disappointed, although had she been recognised, it would have been most awkward. Then she turned to face the punishment frame in the middle of the room. It was sometimes called a horse she knew, but there was no resemblance. It looked more like a picnic trestle or one used for painting.
Daniel, Mr Bateman perhaps she should think of him, reached behind him and took up a heavy rubber-backed leather paddle strap and tested its weight.
Suddenly ‘Joanna’s’ mouth was dry and she wondered if it were too late to back out of it.
“Alright, over,” Daniel said.
The Minister glanced at the guard who still stood leering by the door.
“Never mind about him,” Daniel said gruffly, “A small audience might do you good.”
She blanched, then gulping she looked away.
This time she obeyed; blushing as she realised that the action completely bared her bottom in front of the two men.
“Keep your legs straight, that’s it, not quite together,” Daniel sounded calm and professional as he immediately busied himself with the straps for her wrists and ankles.
It seemed to take forever for him to make his adjustments, by which time she was in a complete funk.
“You are going to get 36 plus two extras for not obeying the first order at once,” Daniel said sharply.
“Oh… I… yes Sir,” she gasped.
Then she waited.
By now her nerves were frayed and the truth of her self-inflicted predicament began to sink in. She was so on edge that when he touched her bottom with his bare hands she jerked as if already struck.
“Just some oil,” he said, “Makes it sting more it’s true, but it does less damage this way. None at all that will last beyond a couple of weeks.”
She began to breathe rapidly, his cool slick hands on her bottom the most intimate she had felt in years. I would settle for just this, she thought dreamily.
She was still dwelling on his hands when she heard a scrape of something. The paddle-strap blasted a searing swathe across her exposed bottom before she had even made the connection. She screamed.
This was more than she had ever believed. Never in her life had she felt anything like it. Her yell was followed up with a series of short pants that for some reason put her in mind of a woman in labour. She had no time to dwell on that thought as the next stroke robbed her of rational deliberation.
“Bah!” It had begun as a heartfelt ‘bugger me,’ but too much of her lung power was need for the next scream.
He took her to seven before a sharp breath was exhaled as a sob.
She broke at eight, barking her distress like a broken chain saw, her nose a foot from the floor.
“Alright, you can go,” Daniel said, and she wanted to kiss his feet for his mercy.
The ninth stroke confused her and it took a moment for her to realise he had been talking to the guard.
“Oh my God, please Sir, there has been a dreadful mistake. This was never meant to… well it was… but, but I’ve changed my mind.”
“That really is not how it works,” he said firmly.
“I know, but… I’m the minister, I signed the order… I…” She was frantic.
“I know who you are,” he rumbled and struck her again.
“Please Daniel,” she wailed and broke into fresh sobs.
“Daniel is it? You know you could just have suggested dinner.” His voice was softer now.
“I know,” she groaned.
“Shall I stop?”
She swallowed and eyed the floor furiously. How dare he give her a choice.
“Just as I thought, you really need this don’t you?” He said softly.
“Yes,” she whispered.
“Yes sir,” he corrected.
“Better. Now let’s make this an even 40. I know a restaurant that won’t mind you standing up for dinner.”
“Now Daniel please… Daniel,” the last word was screamed as he struck again.
They were not even halfway through, he thought, and he intended to take his time.