Bring Out the GIMP (Girls in Merciless Peril)
Stories


STATE OF EMERGENCY PART 4: THE TEACHING ASSISTANT

By King Diocletian


1) Caught

Bobby stiffened and glanced anxiously down the dark corridor. Nothing. She waited and felt herself slowly relax and realized she'd been holding her breath. She turned and walked away from the noticeboard. She passed through the double-doors and hastened away, not daring to glanced back. When she got to the wooden door on the left, she went through it and broke into a jog. It was early, just after five, only a slight lightening to the east suggesting dawn was coming. She'd done it. She went through the main gates into the street and increased her pace. Even if they caught her now, nobody would think she was doing anything other than going for her early morning run. But why would they catch her? Why would they think it was her?

*

Tony saw a crowd of pupils gathered around the noticeboard. He thought at first it was just one of the usual cheap jokes that the younger pupils sometimes amused themselves with and was about to blunder in and sort it out - there were times when being a prefect was a dreadful bore - when he realized nobody was laughing. And there were older pupils there as well, male and female. He approached, hating the fact that his position meant he had to deal with this. Usually the pupils would dash off when they saw a prefect approach, but not this time. He peered over their heads, blinking behind his glasses, and was stunned by what he saw.

*

Dr Cadwallader closed his eyes and took off his glasses. He pinched his nose. He had a headache and the piece of paper on his desk wasn't helping. He looked at it again, wondering if there was any way he might have misread the notice, or if it could be construed in any other way. There wasn't. It was, quite simply, a denunciation of the school priest. Father Johal was even older than Cadwallader, nearer 70 than 60, a white haired man with a pinched, ascetic face and a piercing stare. Could it be true, Cadwallader wondered, that he'd abused two of the girls in the school. The denunciation seemed very precise. It gave dates and enough detail to have an air of veracity. He'd known Johal for almost 20 years and never had cause to doubt him, but he had a horrible sense this might be true. This was awful. He didn't know if the school could cope with the scandal. The governors thought he was vague and out of touch, but he was sharp enough to realize there were plenty who would happily see it closed down, who attacked it as a bastion of privilege in what was, after all, an underprivileged country. And it was awful too for the girls involved, of course; it was important not to forget that. But he couldn't believe it. Not of Johal. Still, he would have to do something, and he hated having to do anything out of the ordinary. He was tired, and looking forward to retirement. He would speak to Johal and then, he supposed, to the governors.

*

Bobby was a little disappointed. She'd expected some major reaction, but apart from some gossiping, nothing had really happened. There'd been talk in the staff-room, obviously, but more along the lines that it was a silly game rather than something to be taken seriously. Not that she spent much time in the staff-room. She still didn't feel at home there and tended to spend the time between lessons in her room. She was in an awkward position, not a full member of staff, but certainly not a pupil any more either.

She was 22 and had graduated from Oxford the previous summer. Returning to the International School where she'd studied for seven years while her father worked in the diplomatic service to work as a teaching assistant - basically working with students on their French and Spanish orals, but also helping those who didn't have English as a first language - had seemed an ideal way to pass some time and gain some experience before she decided what she wanted to do with her life. She'd always liked the school, and she'd done well there, being head girl in her final year and captaining the football team. But four months after returning, she'd discovered proof that some of the rumors that had always circulated around Father Johal were true, that he had molested younger pupils. Bobby had wondered for some time what the best thing to do was. She suspected the local police would ignore her, and she didn't trust Cadwallader not to hush it up. She'd contemplated confronting Johal directly, but ultimately had decided that the best thing was to bring the matter into the public domain, so she'd written it the accusations. Her notice had been calm and clear, precise and to the point, careful to make clear it was true without making it possible to identify the girls involved. Yet it seemed to have achieved nothing. She wondered if there were anything else she could do.

*

Cadwallader looked around the table, his head thumping. Father Johal was fuming, angrily protesting his innocence, demanding that whoever had put up the notice should be punished.

"I'm sure it's just a prank," said Dr Coulthard, one of the governors, a dapper man in late middle age. "No great harm done and we have no idea who put the poster up. Let it ride."

Johal, though, was having none of it, and Mrs Bannerjee was in agreement. "This is a sin against the church," she insisted. "There has to be firm action taken to show that you can't make this kind of allegation and expect to get away with it. The damage it does to our religion is enormous, not to mention Father Johal's good name. The perpetrator should be caned." "Whipped," said Johal. "This is blasphemy and our school rules demand blasphemers be whipped." Cadwallader took off his glasses and began polishing them. The argument against caning he was sick of having, let alone this new nonsense about whipping. Of course sometimes canings were necessary. He probably caned about two dozen boys a year, normally on the hand in his office and in exceptional circumstances, maybe once or twice a year, on the backside in the hall during assembly. He found it an unpleasant and degrading process, the humiliation the pupil underwent dropping his trousers in front of the school far greater than was warranted even for theft or damaging property.

"We are not," he said slowly, "a school that canes pupils willy-nilly."

Johal began to protest but Cadwallader cut him off. "Besides, it's all academic: we have no idea who put that poster up."

"It's easy enough to find out, though," said Mr Bryant, the deputy head, a wiry man in his early forties. "Just check the computer accounts and find out who's printed an A3 sheet in the last couple of days."

*

Bryant had initially been stunned to learn who the perpetrator was, although it made sense when he thought about it. Bobby had always been strong-willed. He'd watched her grow from promising 11 year old to sparky 15 year old to pretty and intelligent 18 year old, and her return to the school at 22 had given him something to think about in the long nights now his wife had left him. She was a beautiful woman now, slender and graceful, with deep brown eyes, short blonde hair and a mischievous smile. And she had a clear sense of right and wrong. She'd always had a strong sense of right and wrong, had always been involved in various causes. Of course it had been her who'd tried to expose Johal. That, he had to admit, hadn't come as a great surprise: he'd seen the way the old goat looked at some of the pupils.

The meeting had gone on for almost 40 minutes. What were they going to do with her? Johal, not surprisingly, wanted her handed over to the police, and he was supported in that by Bannerjee. Cadwallader, seeming increasingly out of his depth, just wanted to avoid a scandal. Bryant himself didn't see how they could countenance handing a British citizen over to a police force known to be brutal and corrupt: the poor girl could end up in some stinking, unhygienic cell for weeks waiting for some unreliable form of justice to take its course. The argument circled endlessly: they all agreed she had to be punished, but the British staff were reluctant to get the police involved. Then Coulthard, having remained largely silent until then, came up with a solution.

"It seems to me," he said, "that Miss Stafford occupies an unusual position. She's not a member of staff, but neither is she a pupil. She's a sort of student teacher. So perhaps we could punish her as a student without needing to get the police involved."

"You mean cane her?" Cadwallader asked.

Bryant saw the eyes of M Dupont, the French master, light up. Did Cadwallader mean cane her buttocks? The thought of Bobby Stafford being caned was ludicrous, but if it happened, he wanted to see it.

"Well, why not?" said Coulthard. "If she was still a pupil that's what we'd do."

There was a logic to that, even if they hardly ever caned girls. Bryant could think of only a handful in the past five years.

"She should be whipped," said Johal. "Blasphemy is punishable by whipping. It's in the rules."

"We're not whipping anybody," Cadwallder said wearily. "I've been headmaster 20 years and I've never whipped anybody in my time. We don't even have a whip."

"We do," said Johal. "I've kept it."

That was interesting. Bryant wondered if Johal had ever used it privately. "We'd have to get her to agree to it," he said slowly. "Get her signed consent. Explain the consequences if she doesn't."

There was a murmur of assent. Only Mrs Sharma, the youngest of the governors, seemed against the plan. "You're going to take a girl and cane her?" she asked disbelievingly.

Cadwallader looked at her sternly. "We'd cane a boy," he said. "It's better than the alternative. And besides, we haven't actually decided on the penalty. We can discuss that if she agrees."

*

Bobby sat on the bench outside Cadwallader's office. She couldn't believe how stupid she'd been. Her heart thumped. That morning she'd been asked to report to his office and, when she'd got there, he and Bryant had been waiting for her. They'd explained that they knew it was her who'd posted the notice about Johal and that by rights they should hand her over to the police for making a false accusation. But it's not false, she'd wanted to scream, but she knew she had no proof - not if she was to keep the two girls who'd told her what had happened out of it. Then they'd offered her a deal. Accept a school punishment and Johal would let things rest. She'd known then that meant she'd be caned, but she also knew that was a far better option than trusting herself to the slow and corrupt ways of the local authorities. She'd signed the waiver willingly, and had been told to report back at 6pm to learn exactly what her punishment would be. Surely they'd just cane her hand, wouldn't they? As a symbolic thing. She couldn't bear the thought it might be on her arse.

Her mind went back to a day when she'd been head girl. A fourth-form boy had been caught stealing. What was his name? Watson? Tony Watson? Something like that. They'd made him drop his trousers and his boxer shorts on the stage and given him six strokes. She remembered his terror and his pain, the tears of anguish and shame, but most of all she remembered, from her position on the stage, seeing his little shriveled penis, shrunken with fear. And worst of all - and she shuddered even to think of it - she remembered half-smiling at it before a sense of sympathy took over. They couldn't do that to her, could they? Not to a grown woman.

What was keeping them? She glanced at her watch: 18:40. Was that a good sign or a bad one?

*

It hadn't taken long for the arguments to break out. Johal was still arguing that she should be whipped, something that everybody else, thankfully, seemed to regard as lunacy. They'd quickly agreed too that this had to be a proper caning: a number of strokes on the buttocks. But that was as far as they'd got. Nobody even seemed to know how to frame the discussion.

Eventually, Bryant took out a copy of the school-rules and took control. Cadwallader was grateful: Bryant was good at this. "Look, the first thing we should decide is where she'll be caned," he said.

"We could do it here," Cadwallader said hopefully. He still wanted this kept as quiet as possible.

But Johal was adamant. "She traduced me in front of the school," he said. "So she must be punished in front of the school."

Cadwallader couldn't find a good argument against that but equally he couldn't imagine Bobby Stafford bending over on the stage. "If she's to be punished as though she were a student, you have to punish her in assembly," Mrs Bannerjee said.

"On the bare?" asked M Dupont, his hope clear.

"Of course," Mrs Bannerjee said decisively. "Like any student." Cadwallader didn't think she should be making decisions like that, but the logic seemed impeccable, even if it was a decade since a girl had last been caned in assembly. That had seemed shocking, an arrogant German girl given four strokes for painting insulting graffiti on a wall. She'd howled the place down, writhing so much he doubted the third or fourth strokes really landed.

"So the next thing," Bryant said, "is to decide which cane to use."

"Senior girls?" Cadwallader asked.

But Mrs Bannerjee had her answer to that as well. "She's not a girl any more, though, is she? Senior boys, I'd suggest. As an adult she should take the heaviest cane we have." Again, Cadwallader had a sense it was wrong, but again he couldn't think of a reason."

"Then the final thing," Bryant said, "is how many strokes."

There was a lengthy silence that was finally broken by Coulthard. "It seems to me," he said, "that this is a serious offence." There was a general nodding of heads and murmuring of agreement. "So what is the maximum penalty?"

Cadwallader felt things sliding further out of his hands. He liked Bobby. He'd made her head girl. He knew the answer: 18. And he couldn't imagine Bobby taking a dozen and a half lashes.

Bryant consulted the rules. "It's 18," he said. "There seems to be no differentiation for girls or boys."

"You want to give her a dozen and a half strokes on the bare bottom in front of the entire school?" Mrs Sharma asked in disgust. "You appall me."

"It's her choice," said Cadwallader firmly. "It was that or the police."

"She's not actually a pupil, though, is she?" said Coulthard.

"What do you mean?" asked Cadwallader, with a dizzying sense of where this was going.

"Well, those regulations are for minors. She's an adult now, so maybe we should extend that range."

"Double it," said Johal.

"Yes," said Mrs Bannerjee. "This must be exemplary. She's not a little girl. Extra strokes. Two dozen."

This was madness. Cadwallader looked around the table. Apart from Mrs Sharma, they were all nodding their agreement. He'd seen strong boys howling after six. To give her 24?

He cleared his throat. "Twenty-four?" he said. "Don't you think that seems... well, a little harsh?"

"She's lucky she's not being whipped for blasphemy," said Johal.

"We have to show we're serious," said Coulthard. "We can't be seen to go easy on her just because she's a nice girl from a good family. It's a serious offence."

"She'll never stay down," said Cadwallader. "You can't get somebody to just bend over and take that many." He was thinking of some awkward arrangement whereby she was held over a table, but it seemed terribly undignified. The punishment had to be dispassionate, a show of justice being done.

"I have the old flogging block," Coulthard said, casually.

Cadwallader immediately wondered why. What did he get up to?

"How does it work?" asked Mrs Bannerjee.

"There are still clips on the stage from when it was used regularly," Coulthard explained. "We lock it down. It's a little under hip height so she has to bend over it, we strap her legs to one side, her wrists to the other and there another strap over her waist and she's held firm. Perfect."

"It's in good condition?" Mrs Bannerjee asked.

"Oh, yes," Coulthard went on. "I restored it, sanded it down, varnished it. Nice solid piece of wood. It'll hold her." There was a moment's silence while the implications of what he'd said sunk in. "The only thing..." he began, then stopped.

"Yes?" said Cadwallader in resignation. This was more bad news for Bobby, he knew.

"Well, I wonder whether it might get in the way if she's wearing a top. The sleeves might interfere with the straps on her wrists. Or a blouse might ruck around her waist."

"You want her stripped naked?" Cadwallader asked. "We can't-"

"If she was being whipped she'd be naked to the waist," said Johal. "So that seems fitting." Mrs Sharma spluttered. "This is outrageous," she began, but she was cut off.

"Technically, the rules permit for 'a uniform shirt' to be worn," said Bryant. "I'm guessing she wouldn't be wearing uniform, so complete nudity probably is appropriate."

Cadwallader's heart was pumping. Bobby Stafford naked. He wanted to see it, but he was appalled. But they'd ganged up on him. He had no choice. Mrs Sharma was raging, but the other five held sway: Johal from desire for revenge, Coulthard because he wanted to see a pretty girl caned, Dupont because he wanted to see her naked, Bryant because he was a stickler for the rules and Mrs Bannerjee seemingly because she wanted to stick up for Father Johal. "Very well," he said.

"There is just one other thing," Coulthard said.

"Yes?"

"She used the computer room under false pretences. In fact she must have broken in there given the time she accessed the printer. And effectively she stole the paper and toner. That seems to me a serious offence."

Cadwallader was disbelieving. "What do you suggest?"

"An additional dozen?"

There was general assent from everybody other than Mrs Sharma, who just shook her head. "What is wrong with you?" she said.

"So we're agreed," said Cadwallader, hoping nobody could come up with a reason to add further strokes. "Thirty-six strokes with the senior boys' cane, with her naked over the block?"

*

Bobby was getting worried. What were they discussing? She wondered if they'd cane her that night. She looked at her left hand, at the slender fingers, and imagined holding it out for the cane. But what if it was on her arse? She should have thought of that. What panties was she wearing? Nothing too fancy, she didn't think: white cotton with a navy polka dot, but she could have worn something more substantial. But they wouldn't cane her arse, surely.

The door opened and her stomach lurched. Mrs Sharma hurried out. Bobby began to stand, but Mrs Sharma didn't even look at her, just walked rapidly away down the corridor. What did that mean? The door opened again. This time it was Cadwallader's secretary, Miss Ashoka. "Can you come in please, Miss Stafford?" she said, her voice emotionless. Bobby stood and, her heart thumping, forced her legs to propel her through the door.

Cadwallader sat behind his vast desk, a look of great weariness on his face. To his right sat Mr Bryant, M Dupont and Mr Coulthard, to his left Father Johal and Mrs Bannerjee. There was an audience, then, to watch her be beaten. Bobby stood, uncertainly, in front of the desk, hands clasped awkwardly before her. She felt nauseous. She stared at the polished floor beneath the desk, where Cadwallader's shiny black shoes seemed to tremble. There was an awful long silence, and then finally he began.

"Miss Stafford," he said. "We have thought about your punishment long and hard."

She swallowed and raised her head. He looked very serious. He took off his glasses and peered at her.

"You will be caned in assembly tomorrow."

She gasped. In assembly? Bryant sensed Coulthard's excitement - and there was something arousing about her horror.

"For making false accusations - very serious false accusations - you will receive 24 strokes-"

Her mouth fell open and she gave a slight whimper. "-plus an additional 12 for trespassing and misuse of school property. 36 strokes of the senior boys cane on the bare bottom."

Bobby's knees felt weak. 36? Bare bottom? In assembly? She couldn't breathe. She blinked repeatedly. Was he serious? How could this be happening? She wanted to say something, but she couldn't. She just felt a tremendous pressure on her chest.

Bryant was looking forward to this. He looked her up and down, at her slender figure, the sweet face, the big dark eyes. She'd grown into a beautiful woman and tomorrow she'd be naked. Coulthard, he suspected, had a thing for corporal punishment - why else would he have preserved the flogging block? - and while that wasn't his thing, he couldn't deny that the thought of a self-confident, pretty girl being humiliated like that excited him. She bit her lip, those eyes brimming with horror, her face pale.

"Report behind the stage tomorrow at 8.25," Cadwallader went on. "You'll be caned at the end of assembly. I suggest you wear something loose-fitting that's easy to remove. And you won't want anything tight on your bottom afterwards."

Cadwallader dismissed her but she seemed numb, turning only slowly and lurching slightly as she made for the door. Bryant thought of the many canings he'd witnessed in his years at the school, the vast majority three or four on the hands of a boy in this room. The public ones were always an event: there was something so degrading about a pupil having to take his trousers down and bend over in front of the whole school. That, he thought, was a greater punishment than the six or eight strokes that were administered, although of course hopping about in pain and howling added to the humiliation. He thought of the German girl - Heidi, was it? - all those years ago as she'd howled for mercy and hundreds of boys had stared at the folds they barely understood that could be seen between her legs. They'd had to hold her down in the end. And she'd only taken six. He could still picture that smooth arse now. But she was nothing to Bobby Stanford. And Bobby would be naked. Not that she knew that yet.

Bryant coughed, meaningfully. "Yes?" said Cadwallader.

"Who's going to cane her?" he asked.

Cadwallader hadn't thought about that. "Should we get a prefect...?" he began, but Bryant cut him off.

"I'm not sure that would be appropriate," he said. "Not on a girl of that age." "With that many strokes," Coulthard said, "it's probably good to have two people caning her: a left-hander and a right, or one buttock will take the brunt of a lot of blows." He paused for a second. "I'm left-handed," he added.

And experienced in wielding a cane, Cadwallader suspected. But he knew he had no choice. He nodded. "Any right-handed volunteer?"

Bryant and Dupont looked at each other. "I'll do it," Dupont said.

*

Bobby lay on her bed. It was almost two hours since they'd told her she was to be caned. She'd come straight to her room afterwards, her face flushed, tears burning her eyes and had flung herself on her bed. She'd barely moved since. How could they do this? Caning her at all was bad enough, but she'd never dreamt they'd do it in front of the school. She thought of Watson. How could she go through that? To drop her panties in front everybody, to show her naked backside and who knew what else to them all. And 36? 36 was barbaric. How many canings had she witnessed at the school? No more than half a dozen she thought. She remembered one boy when she'd been very young who'd run amok in the chemistry lab and broken a window and some equipment: how many had he got? 12 maybe? She remembered his screams by the end, the way he could barely stand still for the final strokes.

The impulse came suddenly. She had to go. She would leave that night. She could take a taxi to the airport and buy a flight with her credit card. She could be home by evening the following day. Yes, it might be awkward to explain what had happened but it would be better than showing off her most private parts to hundreds of teenage boys and being caned. She jumped from the bed. She grabbed a rucksack and hurriedly packed - some toiletries, a change of clothes, her few valuables. She reached under her mattress for the money belt she'd hidden there and unzipped it, checking the notes and credit card were still there. She threw it in the rucksack, grabbed a fleece from the cupboard, glanced around once more and left.

*

"Are you leaving, Miss Stafford?"

Shit. She'd gone five yards along the path outside the guestrooms, no more, and had walked straight into a young man. In the dim light of the corridor she struggled to focus. He was wearing a prefect's tie. His face was vaguely familiar, She didn't think she taught him, but- and then it dawned on her. Tony Watson. Fuck.

"Ah," he said, in the same tone of mocking politeness. "I see you remember me."

He gently took her arm and led her back towards her room. She seemed too shocked to resist. What a stroke of luck this was. The prefects had been told earlier than evening that Miss Stafford was to be caned. The news that had prompted great excitement generally, and in him in particular: he would relish seeing that haughty bitch humiliated as he had been, bent over and sobbing as he stared at her genitals and smiled at her. And the cane hurt. He'd taken six: the first four had been awful but manageable; the last two were terrible. But he'd knuckled down. He hadn't made mistakes. They'd made him a prefect. And, delightfully, he had his chance for revenge.

He closed the door behind him. "Let's not mess about with this," he said. "You were trying to escape. They won't take kindly to that. They'll probably give you extra lashes."

She looked at him, wild-eyed. He was right. Did he know how many she was getting?

"Now," he went on, "it seems to me that if you don't want me to tell them, you should probably do something for me."

She felt the tightening around her chest again. "What do you want?" she asked, her mouth dry.

"My penis seemed to cause you a great deal of amusement once," he said. "Perhaps you'd like to play with it now?"

She swallowed. "You want a blow-job?" she said.

"Take your clothes off," he said. He didn't know what he'd done to be this lucky, but he intended to make the most of it.

Bobby stared at him, panic rising in her stomach. She blinked. She looked around the room, but there was no help to be found. The door was shut and the one small window was covered by a thick curtain. "Strip," he said.

Bobby took a pace back and hugged herself protectively. She shook her head, lower lip trembling. "Really?" he said. "You'd rather take extra strokes?"

He paused. "How many are they giving you, anyway?"

"36," she whispered.

"36?" He laughed. "You are in soooo much trouble." He shook his head. "36," he said again. "Do you have any idea how much it hurts? They gave me six and it's the worst thing I've ever known."

Bobby looked at him. Her eyes were filling with tears. "Please don't tell them," she said, her voice hoarse. "Please..."

Tony walked up to her and gently laid a hand on her upper arm. "It's OK," he said softly. "36 is terrible. I'll keep quiet."

She looked up at him, feeling a surge of gratitude cutting through her fear. He had dark, oily hair and a smattering of spots. "Thank you," she said.

"If you behave," he laughed. Her heart sank. "You enjoyed looking at my cock. Now let me see what you have."

"Fuck you!" she hissed.

"OK," he smiled. "But you'll regret that tomorrow." As he left, he mimicked the sound of a cane swishing through the air. He reached the door and turned. "And I look forward to see you bare-arsed and bent over. Imagine, the whole school staring at you, laughing at you as you scream and sob and show off your privates."

He shut the door and Bobby sank onto her bed, her heart thumping.

*

2) The First Caning

He was starting to get a little fat, Bryant thought as he looked at himself in the mirror. His belly was just beginning to become a paunch and there was a jowliness developing around his jawline. He squeezed shaving gel onto his hand and began to work it in to his cheeks. Just another day. Except it wasn't. Today was the day they stripped Bobby Stafford naked and caned her in front of the whole school. He'd been thinking about her when he'd gone to sleep and he'd still been thinking of her when he woke up: those bright eyes, the blonde hair tied into the two little bunches below her ears.

Being a schoolmaster meant you encountered a lot of teenage girls, many of them pretty, many of them just beginning to blossom. You learned to ignore them for the most part, but occasionally one got under your skin. Bobby was one of them. That smile that seemed to light up a whole room. One of the reasons he'd supported her being made head girl was that meant she stood by the side of the stage in assembly and he could stare at her rather than listen to Cadwallader waffling on. And today he would see her stripped naked, bound to the flogging block and savagely beaten.

He'd just picked up his razor when the phone rang. In irritation he put it down again, dried his hands on a towel and walked through into the bedroom. He picked up the phone, holding the receiver a little way from his face so he didn't get foam on it.

"Bryant," he said.

"It's about Bobby," said Cadwallader's voice. He sounded irritated and concerned. Bryant felt a wave of unease: he wasn't going to change his mind, was he?

"Get here as quickly as you can," Cadwallader said. "She's tried to escape."

Slowly, Bryant put the phone down. Tried to escape? That meant she hadn't. But he knew the school rules. He'd read them yesterday. Anybody who failed to present themselves for punishment, anybody who tried to duck out, was liable to additional sanction. In fact the rules were clear, but he couldn't quite believe they'd impose them.

*

What did you wear to be flogged? Bobby hadn't slept that night. She'd just lain on her bed thinking of the ordeal that awaited. How could she bare her backside and bend over for the whole school to see? How could she survive that humiliation. Never mind the caning, how could she show them her arse and, she knew, her private areas? She thought of Tony Watson, sobbing and shaking when they'd caned him, and she knew this was going to be infinitely worse. Why had she agreed to this? Why hadn't she taken her chance with the police?

But it was happening, so she had to prepare. It was ten past seven. She forced herself to get out of bed. Her head ached. She was still wearing the jeans and the T-shirt she'd planned to escape in. She checked the door was locked and stripped. She headed into her bathroom and showered. As she lathered the soap over her smooth buttocks she couldn't help but think that in an hour and a half she'd be baring them for the whole school. She began to cry. She stood under the hot water for several minutes until the tears had passed. She toweled herself dry, noting grimly how neatly trimmed her pubic hair was. She'd be showing that as well: a wave of nausea overwhelmed her. She retched noisily into the toilet. Eventually she was able to stand. What should she wear? She decided on sportswear: anything with any lace or frills or pattern would only enhance the sexuality of the situation. And it was probably best to wear her sports bra: she didn't want her breasts bouncing about all over the place when they beat her.

She stood in navy lycra before her wardrobe, looking hopelessly at her clothes. She had to dress relatively smartly, show she respected them, but it couldn't be fancy. She decided, in the end, on a long black skirt, something demure and loose and easily removed, and a white cotton shirt, smart and thick enough not to show her bra through. They could roll it up easily enough around her waist. She hated the fact she was thinking like that: what was the best way of baring her bottom so they could thrash it? She smoothed her hair back from her face, fastening in ties so it bunched beneath her ears. She'd worn it short for years: out here, in the heat and humidity long hair was a disaster. Even this length, falling just below her collar, she would never have countenanced before she went to university. Mechanically, she moisturized, and then she went back into the bedroom. She sat on the bed: in an hour she'd be bent over on the stage to be flogged.

*

"Tell them what you told me," Cadwallader said to Tony Watson. Bryant had never seen him as angry. His face was flushed, the tip of his nose white.

Watson looked nervous, licking his lips and fidgeting. He stared at the ground as he addressed those gathered in the headmaster's office: Bryant, Father Johal, Dr Coulthard and Mrs Bannerjee. He stammered as he explained how the prefects had decided they should watch Miss Stafford's room, just in case she did anything silly. "We thought, you know, that maybe she might... do a runner."

Sure enough, at a little after 11, he'd caught her sneaking out. There was no doubt about her intentions: she had a rucksack over her shoulder. But that wasn't the worst of it. "Tell us what she said, Tony," said Cadwallader.

"She said she'd... she said if... if I didn't tell, that she'd... she'd..." He'd gone bright red.

"It's OK, Tony. Tell them."

"She'd give me a blowjob," he blurted.

Mrs Bannerjee gasped. "She's poison," muttered Johal.

Cadwallader sent Watson out. "So, what do we do?"

Bryant spoke quickly. "The school rules are very clear," he said. "Any pupil who fails to report for or otherwise seeks to escape punishment should have that punishment doubled."

"You're telling me we have to give her 72 strokes?" said Cadwallader.

Bryant felt a cold thrill. It was monstrously cruel and yet, to see that done to Bobby Stafford... "Yes," he replied.

"Is there a danger of doing serious damage?" Cadwallader asked. "We don't want her collapsing."

"What about trying to seduce Watson?" asked Mrs Bannerjee. "She's trying to corrupt our boys. She deserves severe punishment for that."

There was silence while they contemplated the problem. It was Coulthard who came up with a solution. "Why don't we flog her in two batches?" he asked. "Then she'll have some time to recover. We can give her 36 in the morning and 36 after lunch, and she can stand on the stage in between as a punishment for trying to seduce Watson. If she's going to use her sexuality, make her stand there naked and use it against her."

It was a brilliant plan, Bryant thought, and the best part was it involved seeing Bobby Stafford naked for several hours. "Are we agreed?" asked Cadwallader. They all were.

*

Tim was generally considered a swot. He had spent most of the previous day working up the courage to ask out Sara who was in his drama class. He'd decided he would do it at lunch that day. Sara wasn't the only girl he fancied, though. He liked Lisa and Kate and Solange: he was at an age when he'd have said yes to almost anybody half-presentable who'd been willing.

Assembly bored him as a rule. He only went because not to meant a load of hassle. But there'd been bizarre rumors that morning, rumors he couldn't quite believe. They said there was going to be a caning. He'd seen a couple of them and they'd been pretty horrible, a boy sniveling in humiliation and then being hurt in a way he found distressing. But today they said it would be a girl. And that excited him. He hoped it was one of the older ones. Lucy Curtis, maybe, who had that way of swishing her hips.

*

Bobby had stood up and sat down a dozen times. How did you prepare for this? To be humiliated and beaten. She felt sick. Her heart pounded. The digital alarm clock counted down the seconds till her punishment. She would go at 8.15. She didn't want to be late and piss them off even more. 8.13. She stood up again and smoothed down her skirt. She put on her sandals. Were they smart enough? She had no idea. But surely they wouldn't do anything else to her for that. She dashed to the toilet again: about the twentieth time she'd been since getting up. Her hands were shaking. She took a deep breath and left her room, locking the door behind her. For a moment she held the key uselessly: where could she put it? She slipped it under a plant-pot on the window-sill. That would do. She took another deep breath and set off along the path.

It was warm, not too humid and on another day she'd have relished going for a run in the conditions. But today her legs felt like she'd never used them before. They were stiff and unresponsive. She went through the gate into main part of the school, hastening across the rough yard. That separated the class-rooms, labs and hall from the accommodating blocks. Dozens of pupils were slowly making their way into the hall for assembly. She could feel their eyes on her and she knew than many of them knew. She avoided eye contact as best she could but at the door, where a bottleneck had built up, it was unavoidable. She thought she heard somebody make the noise of a cane but she ignored it. Then it came again, and there were giggles. She could feel herself flushing, bile rising in her stomach. She pushed past a couple of girls in front of her and through the door, into the corridor where she'd fatefully pinned up the poster.

*

Lucy Curtis was pretty and a bitch. She knew it as well, but she didn't care. She hated this place and didn't care what anybody thought of her. She just wanted to finish her exams, get away from this shit-hole and go to university. Usually she wouldn't have bothered with assembly but she wasn't going to miss this. She liked canings. She knew it wasn't an attractive quality but she enjoyed watching other people suffer. And this wasn't some little kid; they said they were going to flog Miss Stafford.

Lucy had no particular beef with Miss Stafford. She vaguely remembered her from when she'd been a pupil as one of those pretty, popular sixth-formers who seemed to run the school. She remembered her playing Desdemona in a desperate school production of Othello. But she wanted to watch her be caned. Imagine that: a girl - a woman - of, what, 21? 22? being made to drop her skirts and bend over. And perhaps her panties as well: would they do that to her? She couldn't imagine the humiliation. All those boys staring at her. And then being caned. She used her own sexuality to intimidate and entice. She swung her hips and knew boys - and staff - stared. But she was in control. Imagine them staring as you were thrashed. As you were helpless...

*

Tony took his usual position to the left side of the hall, about 20 yards from the stage. As the pupils gathered, there was a hum of anticipation. Even those who hadn't heard the rumors: first that there'd be a caning, then that it would be of a girl and them, preposterously, that it would be Miss Stafford, knew something was up. In the center of the stage, bolted to clips that nobody had understood for years, was a polished wooden block. It was perhaps eighteen inches wide, a foot from back to front and a little over three feet in height. The top was gentle concave, a broad leather strap hanging from one side, a buckle on the other side making clear its purpose. Two smaller straps dangled from the edges of the front, about 18 inches up, with similar loops at around the same height at the back of the block. His cock was already stiffening, imagining her bent over that. 36 strokes! And who knew what else they'd do to her after his performance that morning. He'd played it perfectly, he though, showing reluctance while damning her. He couldn't believe they'd add further lashes, but he hoped beyond hope they would.

She'd be standing behind the stage now, in the passageway off which were the doors to the staff-room and the headmaster's study. He remembered his own time there and knew the exquisite torture of waiting through assembly before being ordered up onto the stage for the caning. Did she have any idea how much it hurt?

*

At 8.30 precisely, Cadwallader strode out of his study, followed by the other senior staff, Coulthard and Johal. He glanced to his left. She was there: good. She looked calm, standing in a pale shirt looking straight ahead at the wooden panels of the back of the stage. He didn't acknowledge her. He wanted this to feel as normal as possible. Yet immediately behind him was Bryant, carrying a sheaf of half a dozen canes. Cadwallader climbed the steps onto the stage swiftly and took his seat in the center, the others flanking him. Bobby was probably no more than three feet from him but on the other side of the dark boards.

*

Bobby focused on a knot in the wood. Keep breathing, she told herself. She heard a girl reading a poem. Cadwallader, his voice wearily stentorian as ever, spoke about practice for a forthcoming concert and auditions for a play. It seemed to be taking forever and yet it was nowhere near long enough. He read out some sports results: five sets of rugby scores, five sets of netball scores, three hockey scores. A cross-country race. This was agony.

*

Cadwallader sat down. Tony's heart was beating faster. He looked across the hall: he'd never seen assembly so packed. Every teacher, every prefect, everybody, even the sixth-formers who didn't need be there, was there, packed onto the benches, squeezed along the sides of the hall. Father Johal stood up, creaked forwards and recited a brief prayer. "Amen," chorused the hall. Cadwallader stood up again.

*

Bryant was fascinated by the calm of the headmaster as he walked to the microphone to the right of the block. He knew both how angry he was and how reluctant he'd been to impose the punishment, but now he looked a man in complete control. "There is one further item before you're dismissed," he said. "I'm afraid every now and again there is need to impose discipline on a member of the school. Roberta Stafford, would you please come forward."

There was a shuffling as hundreds of pupils strained for a better view. Bryant found he was holding his breath. There was a delay and he wondered if she was stupid enough to try to avoid what was coming. But then she emerged from behind the stage, her face ashen. She walked slowly, uncertainly up the steps, hands held awkwardly her sides. Her movements were stiff, unnatural. She looked terrified. "Stand in front of the block, Stafford," said Cadwallader. "Face the school."

Her face a mask, she obeyed.

*

Bobby stood with her feet together and her hands by her sides. She was aware of hundreds of faces staring at her. Cadwallader continued. "For spreading malicious falsehoods about a member of staff and misuse of school resources, Stafford is to be caned."

She heard a murmur as what had been rumored was confirmed. Cadwallader turned to her. "Stafford," he said. "Take your clothes off." Her heart lurched.

Tony felt a thrill of hope. He was sure Cadwallader had told him to bare his backside. This sounded like, but surely not...

Cadwallader glared at her. Her eyes bulged, her mouth slightly open. "Everything?" she mouthed.

He couldn't mean it. He couldn't. "Take all your clothes off," he said coldly.

Tim's heart leapt. They were making her strip naked. This was amazing. He'd never seen a naked girl before. He could sense the whole hall gripped by the same excitement.

Bobby felt cold inside. What could she do? His voice offered no prospect of mercy. Almost before her brain had begun to engage, she stepped out of her sandals. The varnished wood of the stage felt cool and rough to her bare feet. Her hands went to the waistband of her skirt. She unhooked it and let it fall about her feet. As she bent to pick it up Bryant stared at her slender, toned legs, and just the flash of navy lycra as her shirt slid up. He couldn't believe this was happening. Neither could Tony, his cock hard against his trousers. She would be naked, fully naked. They'd see her tits.

Bobby felt ridiculous standing on the stage with her legs bare. She folded the skirt and put it down again. She could feel their eyes on her. Boys staring at her. Her fingers went to her top button. They were stiff and unresponsive. She could feel herself blushing. The top button came undone. Her eyes settled on a boy at the end of the third row, his mouth hanging open as he watched her strip. She realized she would be the first naked woman most of them had seen. Awkwardly, the second button came undone.

Lucy was stunned. Why were they stripping her naked? They'd never stripped anyone naked, just bared their arses, which wouldn't just have hidden the breasts of any girl, but meant the tails of the shirt offered some protection.

Tony could see a flash of navy bra and he realized she was wearing lycra. He felt a slight sense of disappointment: he'd imagined some sort of lace, something erotic rather than functional. But it hardly mattered. She'd soon not be wearing any underwear anyway. Her cheeks were burning red: there was no doubting her humiliation. Good: now she knew how he'd felt. A third button came undone. The atmosphere in the hall was astonishing, everybody utterly focused on Bobby's shame.

Cadwallader wondered if they'd gone too far. The girl looked mortified. But then he remembered that she'd tried to run away: no contrition there, and no respect. She deserved every second of this punishment. The fourth button came undone and, as the shirt draped open, he saw a sliver of flat belly below the navy sports bra.

Bobby bit her lower lip and screwed up her eyes. She didn't want to cry. Her fingers fumbled with the last button. Finally it came undone and her shirt hung loose. She paused for a moment then took a breath. She shucked the blouse off, taking it in her right hand, bringing it in front of her and holding it up protectively as she folded it. Then she lay it down on her skirt and she was left in just her underwear. She glanced at Cadwallader, but there was no reprieve.

Bryant wished her could see her from the front, but the back view was good enough. Tight, round buttocks beneath the lycra, a supple and slender waist, the slim back and shoulders, narrow, toned thighs and beautiful smooth skin. He'd rarely heard the hall so silent. Uncertainly, she pulled the strap down over her left shoulder.

Tim gawped. He supposed he'd seen women wearing less at the beach, but this was something mega. He stared at the mounds of her chest, the beautiful navy curves.

This was desperately awkward. Bobby wished she'd worn a normal bra that would have come off far more easily. She pushed down the strap over her right shoulder and then slowly slid both arms out of the strap so that only the cling of the lycra held the bra over her breasts. Hands visibly shaking, she took up the lower edge. One yank up over her head and she'd be topless.

Tony held his breath. This was it. This was it, the moment of his revenge. He saw her take a breath. He saw her swallow. And then he saw her peel the lycra, with some difficulty, over her breasts ad over her head. For a moment her breasts were pulled up and then they popped clear of the bra, quivering, pale and delicate, capped by coral-pink nipples, the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen. He regretted not having forced himself upon her the night before. Her cheeks burning, she dropped her bra on the pile of clothes.

This was too much, Lucy thought. There could be no justification for this. And she was a member of staff. How could she ever teach again after they'd done this to her?

Bobby clamped one hand across her chest and tried to peel at her pants with the other but, realizing the lycra was too tight, she gave up the attempt at modesty and, with two hands, yanked down the bottoms, kicking them off to lie by her sandals. Her right hand shot to her crotch, covering the thin strip of hair; her left arm hooked over the nipples. She bent forwards, knees together, arse back, the classic picture of shame.

"Stand up straight, Stafford," Cadwallader said. "Arms by your sides."

Why was he being so cruel? Slowly, Bobby lowered her arms and straightened her back. The tears were welling in her eyes now. She was naked and everybody could see her. She felt cold in the stomach but her cheeks burned. They were all staring at her, teachers, boys, girls, everybody. Somebody starting laughing, a high-pitched, nervous laugh. Tony stared in unconcealed delight. There was something in the hunch of her shoulders that made this even sweeter: her nakedness was enhanced by her embarrassment at being naked.

"Stafford," Cadwallader said. "It had been decided your punishment would be 36 str-"

He broke off as a gasp passed around the hall. Those who had seen canings before knew 36 was an astonishing penalty. Tony wondered why he'd said "had". He felt a sense of dread that they were going to go easy on her.

"Thirty-six strokes of the senior boys cane," Cadwallader went on. "However..."

Bobby knew this was going to be bad. She closed her eyes.

"You then tried to escape and, having been caught, attempted to seduce the prefect who apprehended you."

She turned to him and stared, her mouth dropping open. No! This couldn't be happening. How could it all be so unfair.

"And so, in accordance with school regulations, the penalty is doubled."

She thought she would faint. She tried to say something but her mouth wouldn't work. Lucy felt a warm thrill inside her: this was fantastically cruel. She felt sorry for Miss Stafford in some ways, and yet she was amused by the prospect of her being savaged.

"You will take 36 strokes now and 36 after lunch, and between the two canings you will stand naked on the stage to see if we can teach you some shame."

Her heart pounded. This was appalling. She stared at worn boards of the stage. She could hear the murmur of excitement and shock that had gone round the hall. Naked for hours. Tim could barely stop himself from giggling. He would get to stare at a naked girl all lunchtime.

*

Tony congratulated himself on having not forced the issue the night before: this was far, far better. Bobby was blushing furiously, her shoulders hunched, head bowed. He knew what it was like and he could imagine her embarrassment, and yet he knew this was far worse. He, at least, had had a shirt to cover some of his shame, and he had been allowed to dress as soon as his beating was over. He could see her hands wanted to cover herself, could see how she had to force them to stay by her sides. Mrs Bannerjee took her clothes away. Bobby watched her and Tony saw a tremor pass through her: somehow that made it more final - there was no escape. She wasn't just naked but she couldn't even see her clothes.

"Come to the block," Cadwallader ordered.

She seemed numb, as though it took a couple of seconds for the command to register. Slowly, awkwardly, she turned and took the few paces to the block. Her breasts, high and firm, wobbled just a little, not bouncing - just trembling. Her face was blank, as though the horror could no longer register .

Tim felt a little overwhelmed. He was staring at a naked girl, with breasts and pubic hair and everything and now he was going to see her being beaten. There was a mood of great excitement all around.

*

Cadwallader was doing everything in his power to remain calm. This was punishment and it had to be carried out coldly and unemotionally, but the girl was stunning. He'd known she was pretty, of course, but her delicacy, the unblemished beauty of her skin, had come as a surprise. She was relatively tall and yet, beside the block, exposed like that, she seemed pathetically small. He nodded at Dupont and Coulthard, who hastened forwards. Bobby stood by the block, uncertain, facing him. He drank in the sight of her nakedness, the nipples poking up to give her breasts a pert appearance, the upper sides slightly convex, the flat stomach.

"Stand against the block," he said, realizing he had to break the spell. As though dazed she turned so her back was to the hall. What taut buttocks she had, he thought: the effect of her running and soccer. He heard her gasp, and he realized Coulthard and Dupont were fastening the straps just above her knees. Her jaw wobbled, and he thought she was about to cry.

"Bend over," he ordered. He'd said it to several pupils over the years, but never a 22-year-old woman, and never a girl as pretty as this.

Bobby felt semi-conscious. She was naked in front of everybody. In front of her, the senior staff sat impassively, watching as she slowly bent forwards. Behind her, hundreds of pupils, the prefects, the rest of the staff, people she'd taught, people she'd worked with, even some friends. She hesitated and half stood. "Get down or there'll be punishment lashes," Cadwallader said instantly. She whimpered and lowered herself over the varnished slats of the block. They felt cool and hard against her hips and stomach. The straps above her knees felt tight, the leather pushing against her flesh.

Dupont took her left hand. She looked at him, desperate to see some sign of mercy. She'd worked with him. He'd taught her in sixth form. But he wasn't even looking at her face. He just fed the strap around her slim wrist, pulling it hard, the pressure easing slightly as he fastened the buckle. Coulthard took her right hand and pulled sharply. She gasped in pain and shock, and then he buckled the strap to leave her fastened, bent over, wrists slightly higher than her knees, her buttocks feeling disgracefully exposed. She wanted desperately to bring her legs together; she could feel the air around her most intimate parts and knew her labia must be visible to those in the front few rows.

They moved to her waist. She tested the bonds round her wrists: as tight as could be. She glanced up and saw Bryant staring at her breasts, which she realized were exposed to him, hanging down from her chest. She gave a bark of humiliation and she felt her face flushing again. The strap around her waist was pulled tight and fastened, holding her down against the slatted top of the block, forcing her buttocks up. Coulthard patted her bottom as though testing its position. She yelped at his touch. Coulthard and Dupont stepped away and she was left, naked and bound, buttocks upraised for the cane, breasts hanging from her chest.

*

Dupont and Coulthard selected their canes from a basket by the side of the block, flexing them and swishing them through the air. The noise was terrifying. A girl began to cry. Tim, though, was entranced: he had a sense this was wrong but he was thrilled by this. Tony knew what she was feeling, knew the sense of shame and fear and he relished seeing it in her.

Cadwallader waited, partly to build up the sense of anticipation and to emphasis how helpless she was, and partly so he could drink in the sight, the creamy skin, the smooth body, the anxiety written on that lovely face. She glanced back at him. "36 strokes," he said. "Proceed."

Bobby turned back to face straight ahead of her. She closed her eyes. Bryant saw her swallow as she lowered her head. He saw her neck, framed by the little bunches of blonde hair, graceful and delicate. He saw her clench her fists. He saw Dupont nod at Coulthard and step forward.

Lucy, watching intently, saw how she shifted her feet, movement limited by the straps around her ankles. Dupont touched the cane to her buttocks. Tim stared. How he wished it could be him standing that close to her nakedness. For a moment he wondered if they were going to let her off, if they would make this some kind of symbolic thing and just touch her with the cane, but then Dupont stepped back, drew up the cane and whipped it hard across her buttocks.

Bobby heard the whistle and the whump as it cracked into her. She gave an involuntary grunt, but for a second there was nothing. Then slowly, the pain began to well. She opened her mouth wide, her eyes bulging. This was terrible. "One," said Cadwallader coldly. She balled her fists tightly and realized she was holding her breath. The pause went on. Was that it? Had they decided to end it? A brief and she knew impossible hope flared inside her. Then she heard the whistle of the cane through the air and a second streak was added, an inch or so below the first. This time the pain came immediately. She clenched her teeth and managed to avoid shouting out but it was hideous. She tried to shift her position, but it was hopeless.

*

Tony watched her squirm. He knew what this was like. He knew the pain and sense of helplessness. And he knew that however bad his experience had been, this was far, far worse. Dupont delivered the third lash and he heard a sharp exhalation from her. Her buttocks were lined with three thin red welts. Dr Coulthard waited, then applied the fourth lash. He had very powerful wrists, Tony realized, the cane flicking rapidly into the base of her buttocks. She was lifted slightly, her wriggling exposing the dark crinkles of her sex, breasts jiggling beyond the block. Tony didn't know if he could stop himself coming.

Bryant tried to keep his face impassive, but this was magnificent. He had the perfect view to see the struggle in her as she tried not to cry out, to see her breasts bobbing as she jerked up with each stroke. Cadwallader seemed to be going especially slowly, making her feel each blow and anticipate the next. There was no mercy and no respite, each lash creating the same movement: the flinch as she heard the cane, the little jump, the intake of breath, and the crunching of her pretty face as it hit and then slowly the relaxation as the shock of the blow wore off.

Lucy was transfixed. She saw the cane land, Coulthard's wrist flicking with a degree of expertise. She saw Miss Stafford's body twitch. And she heard a yelp of pain for the first time. "Eight," said Mr Cadwallader. From her position a long way back in the hall, it was difficult to see exactly what was happening to Miss Stafford's buttocks, but they had already taken on a pink color. This was monstrous and yet she was enthralled. That was only a ninth of what she was going to take. Dupont lashed her and the shout was louder.

"Nine!" said a number of voices as Cadwallader did. He didn't know what to do. Should he reprimand them? He decided it was best just to let them continue. If the hall wanted to count the lashes with him, let them. Bobby was trembling now, clearly in terrible pain, short groans of anguish leaving her lips as each blow struck. The center of each cheek was bright red, darker welts showing at the edges where the tips of the canes had whipped into her. Coulthard, with his clearly practiced action, struck hard along the base of her buttocks. She yelled, jerking up, and almost before he could, the hall echoed with the call of "Ten."

Tim had been self-conscious at first about how excited this made him, but he soon realized that he was far from alone. He glanced at his friend Ben sitting next to him and they both grinned, then turned their attention back to the stage as the flogging continued. "Eleven!" they shouted gleefully as M Dupont hit her again. She was moaning now, between the blows, her arse pink above the smooth pallor of her thighs. Ben leaned over to him. "Have you ever seen a cunt?" he whispered. "No," Tim hissed back. If he was being honest, he hadn't realized it looked like that. But then he hadn't realized a girl's bottom could be that beautiful. And at lunch, he'd get to stare at her close-up. At everything. At her tits, at her arse, at the fine strip of deep golden hair. But it wasn't just her nakedness: it was her helplessness, her pain and her shame.

*

Bobby had had no idea it could hurt this much. M Dupont lashed her again. Her body jerked, her teeth gritted and she found herself staring at Bryant. His face was a mask; no sympathy there. She heard the hall shout. "Fifteen!" She hated the way they were clearly enjoying it. Her body settled again over the block. Her eyes were watering with the pain and she blinked. Her breath came in little gulping gasps. She wasn't even halfway through the first set. This was hell. She heard the whistle and flinched and the cane whipped into the bottom of her buttocks, where the cheeks met her thighs. She yelped, her snapping up and she realized her thighs were shaking, only the straps around her knees holding her steady. Her hands were damp with sweat, her heart thumped. She shuffled, but there as no respite.

*

Father Johal looked on from his chair in the back corner of the stage. Stafford was clearly suffering, each blow now causing her to jump and writhe. The scene pleased him, her pale body bent over the varnished wood, her nakedness and shame displayed to the whole school. By the time she was taking her 72nd that afternoon, she'd really understand about suffering. He focused on her smooth breasts, hanging gently away from her chest. They really were delicious. He wondered why that prefect hadn't accepted her offer. Surely he could have fucked her if she was offering a blowjob.

If she was, that is. Maybe the boy had made it up. Could he have done that? The idea amused Johal. Maybe the boy had realized he could get her into worse trouble by lying. Maybe he wanted to watch her being caned. And it was an alluring sight, the purity of her skin astonishing, apart from the vivid red streaks across her buttocks. She was howling now at every blow, jerking up, those lovely tits wobbling away. But she should have been whipped. That was the penalty laid out for blasphemy in the school rules, that was why Johal had carefully preserved the school whip, with its five cords and tight little knots. She should be standing, wrists bound above her head, getting the whip to her back. He wondered if it hurt more than the cane. Maybe not, not this many strokes, but that wasn't the point. That was the punishment laid down for blasphemy. And he suspected lashes hurt more on the back than the buttocks, where the flesh padded the blow, even with a bottom as pert as hers.

"Seventeen!"

She was bawling. She was suffering, certainly.

*

Coulthard had dreamed of something like this. That was why he'd preserved the block, over which he occasionally bent a local prostitute for a dozen or two, but he'd always dreamed of punishing somebody who wasn't being paid to take it. He whipped down again, snapping his wrist at the last to deliver the cane at maximum velocity into the welted buttocks. She yelled. She really was squirming delightfully, each blow causing her to buck, shoulders lifting, head flicking back. "Eighteen." She was sobbing now, thighs trembling. And only halfway there.

He watched as Dupont lashed her, saw how the cane pushed into the flesh of the buttock and how as the cheek sprang back, a new wave of shaking began. There'd be blood soon, he suspected. He didn't see how there couldn't be. In his dreams he'd imagined an 18 year old, maybe caught in some scandal, stealing or vandalizing property, taking six or a dozen to avoid the police, but he'd imagined that happening in Cadwallader's office, the girl bent over a chair with her bottom and no more exposed. That was why he'd attended disciplinary meetings so assiduously. He lashed hard again, striking the crease at the base of her buttocks. She yelled and threw a look back over her right shoulder, affording him a sight of her quivering right breast. Good, he'd hurt her.

But he'd always been disappointed. It had always been a boy or, very occasionally, some scrawny young girl who'd had to be caned and he had no interest in that. But this, this was special. He'd seen Bobby Stafford as a sixth-former and never even dared dream she might end up under his cane. The local prostitutes hadn't really satisfy him. He wanted somebody for whom there was no escape, somebody who he could hit as hard as he wanted. He wanted a pretty, self-confident rich girl.

He struck again, low, just where the buttock meets the thigh. Her head snapped back and she gave an awful yelp: they were getting through to her. She was understanding just how serious her sentence was now. He hadn't been able to believe quite how easy it had been to persuade Cadwallader to flog her, to increase the sentence to this incredible level. Did he hate her? No, but he disliked her type, these self-righteous girls who'd never known hardship and would never do a day of real work in their lives, always aware than a quick smile and a flash of their concerned eyes would get them out of any scrape. Well, not this one. He lashed again into the heart of her left buttock and, at last, with the twenty-fourth stroke, she gave a proper scream. He saw her neck muscles tense. She began to beg, barely making sense. "Please, please, please stop stop..." Dupont ignored her.

*

Tony was quietly impressed at how she'd retained some dignity to that point. He knew how much it stung, how much a blow catching bruised flesh hurt and she'd been taking constant strokes on bruised flesh. But she'd gone now. She was screaming, twisting, shouting, begging, her arse shaking delightfully as she pulled against her bonds. She had enough movement to wriggle, but not enough that there was ever any danger of the blows missing. On they went, remorseless, even though raw flesh was now evident in patches. 25, 26, 27, each number gleefully shouted by the school, momentarily drowning out her howls.

Lucy knew this was monstrous and yet she found herself yelling out the numbers with everybody else. There were a few younger pupils crying, but most in the hall seemed to be delighting in Miss Stafford's agony. And there was no doubting she was in agony. Lucy was looking forward to getting a closer look later on, but even from where she sat she could see the buttocks were badly bruised..

Bryant was struck by a sense that something extraordinary had happened that day. Part of him was watching her anguish, as she writhed under the beating, drinking in the sight of those perfect smooth breasts bouncing as she thrashed in her bonds, enjoying even the tears and the screams that signified her complete abjection, but at the back of his mind he knew nothing could be the same after this day. This was a day everybody there would always remember, when a young woman had been stripped naked and forced to endure humiliation and a terrible punishment to satisfy the anger of two men and the desires of a couple more. This wasn't justice: it was bullying that had a sexual nature. And yet he couldn't take his eyes off it. He wondered if there'd be any come-back, but this was a remote school. Nobody back in Europe would have any legal comeback under the local law and the local authorities let them get on with it, so long as the administrative fees were paid promptly and generously. They were a law unto themselves. And it wasn't as though beatings were uncommon in the local schools and even some of the less developed villages, from what he heard.

Her heart was pounding. How could she take any more? She was crying and panting, saliva draped over her chin. Coulthard lashed her again. The pain was terrible. She jerked up and shouted, screwing her eyes tight. She could hear herself wailing, her head slowly dropping until she fell silent. "Thirty." This was hell, worse than hell. She wriggled, but she knew there was no respite. The cane struck her again, the hideous whistle, then the smack and the pain, her shriek, the spasm of her body that she knew must be giving the governors and teachers sat against the back wall a fine exhibition of her breasts.

Tim's erection was almost unbearable. The writhing slim figure, even the thought of a naked girl 50 feet away, probably would have been enough, but her pain and humiliation made it so much better. He hadn't known before how exciting it was for a girl to be tied up and helpless. Previously his fantasies had always involved women who made themselves available - dancers, models and strippers - women who would allure him with their eroticism. Suddenly he realized there was something extremely sexy abut a girl stripped against her will, that her shame added to the effect. "Thirty-one!" She howled again. Tim had had no idea canings could this cruel. Miss Stafford was screaming wildly after every stroke, her legs kicking. There were some in the younger years for whom it was too much; they were crying, shocked by the brutality on stage." Thirty-two!" he shouted with most of the rest of the hall and watched as Miss Stafford jerked about before a calm finally settled on her. Even then, he could see how hard she was breathing, how much pain she was in.

Cadwallader watched Dupont deliver the 33rd blow. Bobby's shoulder leapt up and a squawk came from her throat, followed by a protracted moan. Her right foot had kicked up and she trembled, her sobbing constant. Areas of her buttocks, the left one where Coulthard was striking more then the right, were such a deep purple as to be almost black. He wondered again if they'd gone too far, if he'd allowed Johal's anger and Coulthard's obvious desire to beat a pretty young woman to influence him. But then he thought of what she'd done, the lies and the manipulation and he knew the punishment was just. And if she'd tried to run away, well, the regulations were clear. It was out of his hands. *

Still three more. Bobby settled over the block again, tears dripping to the stage. She heard the whoop of the cane and the sting bit again, sending pain radiating from her left buttock through the rest of her body. Her head jumped, her shoulders jerked up and her breasts quivered as her wrists pulled fruitlessly at her bonds. She screamed, gathered her breath and screamed again, the slowly sank down again. "Thirty-four!" came the yell from the hall, from the crowd that was relishing her flogging.

She panted and waited. The waiting was awful. Two more. Slash! It landed and she performed the familiar dance. She caught Bryant's eye as her torso lifted and saw the smirk on his face. She hated him and this school and everything in it. A spasm passed through her and she fell shuddering back onto the block.. How could they do this? The final blow was delivered low, the pain exploding in her thigh. She felt sick. It was over.

There was silence in the hall. All Bobby could hear was the sound of her own uneasy breathing, her sobs. The pain was terrible. She was desperate to rub her bottom. Slowly her breathing began to return to normal. She was aware of the stillness, of them all staring at her, of her crying. She couldn't stop. She wished she could close her legs, but the indignity went on. Then the order came to unfasten her. M Dupont and Coulthard were there, unbuckling the straps around her wrists. Dupont's face was inscrutable but Coulthard could barely hide his grin. How could they do this to her? "Don't touch your bottom," he said softly, and somehow she obeyed. They unfastened her legs and she moved immediately to close them. As though it mattered. The whole school had stared at her genitals for the last however long. How long had it taken? Coulthard placed his hand on her lower back as he began to work on the thick strap over her waist and she shuddered. She felt the pressure ease and she was free.

"Stand up, Miss Stafford," Cadwallader said, his vice as cold and clipped as ever. It felt like she'd been strapped down there forever. Trying to blink away the tears, she pushed back on her feet. Her legs felt strange, almost numb beneath the agony of her buttocks. She placed her hands on the edge of the block and pushed up. She was aware of the sway of her breasts but what could she do? She stood slowly, the movement seeming to send a new rush of pain from her bottom. She was shaking and she stood, hunched before the block. What should she do? Cover herself? Rub her buttocks? A tear fell from her face and landed on her chest.

"Keep your hands by your sides," he said. "Stop sniveling."

She didn't know what to do. She couldn't stop crying. She couldn't face the hall, so she stayed where she was, looking at the governors and senior teachers at the back of the stage. There was Father Johal, face grim, starting at her, mouth pursed.

"The first part of the punishment is complete," Cadwallader said. "The second will now begin."

Mrs Bannerjee emerged from the side of the stage holding a broadsheet newspaper. She laid it out in the center of the front of the stage. "Stand on the paper," Cadwallader ordered. "Face the back of the stage so they can see the effects of your punishment."

Bobby walked. It was the hardest thing she'd ever done. Her legs were unsteady. She wanted to crawl. She could feel their eyes on her, monitoring every wobble of her breasts. Everything felt unnatural. She was bending forwards, her legs wouldn't fully straighten. It was only eight or ten feet to the paper but it was the longest walk in the world. When she got there she felt absurd, standing naked, buttocks burning. She was suddenly struck by a need to go to the toilet.

"Stand up straight," Cadwallader ordered. She did her best to obey, hands limp by her hips, struggling to resist the temptation to rub her bottom.

She heard him turn and address the school. "I'm sorry we had to delay you," he said. "Please reconvene at 1.30 for the remaining 36 strokes." She began to cry again as the school was dismissed.

*

3) The Wait

Tony stood in front of her on the stage, staring at her tits. It was a little after 9.30. It had taken a little over half an hour to cane her by the time she'd stripped and been fastened down. That meant he had almost four hours to enjoy her shame. There were two other prefects with him, but he'd been placed in charge. Her head was bowed and she was still sniveling, her shoulders shaking. A handful of students with free periods hung around the hall, gawping at the rear view, at the flogged arse and the long smooth back, but he got to drink in the front view, the delicate breasts, the flat stomach, the carefully trimmed strip of pubic hair. He wanted to wrap his arms around her slender waist, but he knew touching would be going too far. Still, there were ways of making her even more miserable.

He smirked and walked slowly around her, letting her knew he was examining her. Her buttocks were criss-crossed with stripes, coalescing into vivid purple patches in the center of each cheek, the left worse marked than the right. A couple of stray lashes had left angry wheals across the tops of her thighs, the marks all the worse for the purity of the rest of her body. She had a freckle in the very center of her chest, but other wise her skin seemed utterly without blemish, a soft pale gold. She was slim, the ribs and vertebrae clearly defined, but she was also fit, the light musculature of her shoulders and thighs indicating she ran and played sport.

He completed his circuit and stood in front of her. "Head up, Miss Stafford," he said. "This is a punishment. Look alert."

There was a hesitation in which he could almost see her deliberating whether it was worth defying him, but she lifted her head. She bit her lower lip to try to stem her sobs and sniffed. Her deep brown eyes were red-rimmed, tears still welling. He smiled. "How do you feel?" he asked.

She swallowed and said nothing.

"I asked how you felt."

"I'm fine," she said, thrusting her jaw at him.

"Good." He looked her up and down. "Shoulders back," he said.

She looked away, but obeyed. "Do you remember laughing at me?" he asked.

"I didn't laugh."

"You enjoyed it, though, didn't you? Seeing me humiliated?"

"I- I- I'm sorry, OK?" She looked at him. "I was young and stupid and I shouldn't have."

"Say it again."

"I'm sorry."

"Again."

"Sorry."

"I don't care. And now I have four hours to make your life hell."

He walked away. His erection was too much.

*

Watson had gone but there were still four prefects on the stage: two male and two female, gawping at her, joking among themselves. Behind her she could hear a handful of pupils with free periods. She was acutely aware of her urge to pee.

"Do you think she'll bleed much?" one asked.

"I hope so," the other said and there were giggles. Bobby wanted to turn round and berate them, but she feared extra lashes.

"Do you think it would hurt less if she had a fatter arse?" It was a girl asking the question.

"Serves her right for being so skinny." "Miss Stafford?" a boy's voice asked. "Miss Stafford? What's the French for naked?" There were guffaws.

"How do you say, ‘Spank me harder!' in Spanish?" There were hoots of laughter. Bobby could feel herself flushing. God, four hours of this! Of being at their mercy. And she needed to pee. Could she ask? Would they let her go?

"Look, she's going red! She can hear us! 'Je suis nue!' Is that right, miss?"

"Let's go round and look at her tits."

As they moved round to the side of the stage, Bobby saw a group of half a dozen of them, three boys and three girls, all pupils she taught. "They're not very big, are they?" a boy, Waters, asked. "Les seins petits." Bobby knew her cheeks were burning. She was a slender girl and she wore an A-cup. Her breasts weren't huge, but she'd never been particularly ashamed of them before. Yet their words stung. They began to discuss how neatly trimmed her pubic hair was.

*

Bryant sat in the staff-room with a cup of coffee. It was dreadful, instant stuff, but it was almost impossible to get decent stuff here. He couldn't stop thinking about her, the way she'd bucked up and down, breasts wobbling. The young had such beautiful breasts, he reflected. Hers were small, but neat, smooth, pert. The young didn't realize how lucky they were, how everything decayed. He finished his coffee, put his newspaper aside and decided to go out for another look.

There was a crowd of perhaps a dozen students milling in front of the stage and seven or eight by the side, staring at her, talking about her, teasing her. And there she stood, naked on the stage, cheeks flushed with shame. He had to make it clear he wasn't just staring at her so Bryant strode briskly up the steps and across towards her. She was deliciously pale and slender, apart, of course, from her buttocks, which were a violent purplish red. "Is she behaving?" he said to one of the prefects.

"Yes, sir," he said.

Bryant stood in front of her. "Stand up straight," he said. He saw her bite the inside of her lower lip and pushed back her shoulders. Inevitably it raised her breasts: what a wonder they were, so smooth and delicate. How he desired to touch them but he knew that was impossible. He walked slowly around her, sensing how it humiliated her to know she was the subject of such examination. She was exquisite. He stood behind her, admiring the slim planes of her shoulders and back, her sportiness evident in her gentle musculature. Then her stared at her buttocks. From her waist to the crease where they joined her thigh they were a vivid red, streaked with deep purple, almost black ridges which joined up ion the center of each cheek. On her thighs, her lovely slim thighs, there were a couple of streaks where stray lashes lad struck. Almost unthinking, He lay his hands on her buttocks. She yelled in pain and jerked away from him. "Stand still!" he snapped and she tried to resume her position. Two things occurred to him: firstly, that her bottom was both deliciously firm and glowing hot, and secondly that if a slight touch caused her so much distress, another 36 lashes would destroy her.

He patted her on both cheeks at once. She squirmed at his touch, whimpering. "Do they hurt badly?" he asked.

"Yes, sir," she said.

He walked in front of her and looked her up and down. "You're very fortunate," he said. "They could easily have gone to the police with you."

*

Bobby had little sense of time. Every second felt like an hour as she stood, naked. She wondered how long she could hold back the urge to go to the toilet. Every fraction of a second, she was aware of being naked. She could feel their eyes on her, constantly, looking at her being naked, judging her, mocking her, reveling in her shame. She want to run, but she knew that would just delight them and earn her extra lashes. Their taunts were constant. She felt simultaneously hot and cold. She wanted more than anything to wrap her arms around herself and protect her modesty, but she knew it was impossible. She also knew it would get worse at lunchtime, that there'd be more of them.

She heard footsteps on the stage and saw Mrs Bannerjee striding over towards her, her sensible shoes clattering on the boards. Behind her steel-rimmed glasses, her eyes were stern. They were always stern. Bobby hadn't liked her when she'd been a pupil and she hadn't liked her after she'd returned to the school. She was a bitter, lonely woman, Bobby had decided, a bully who took out her frustrations on anybody she had authority over. Bobby had little doubt that Mrs Bannerjee had played a key part in determining her sentence.

Mrs Bannerjee grabbed her upper arm, fingers like talons on her left bicep. "You need the toilet, Stafford?" she asked.

"Yes, miss," Bobby replied gratefully, aware she was addressing her as though she were a pupil once again. Mrs Bannerjee half-pushed, half-dragged her, her grip unyielding. Bobby stumbled and there were roars of laughter as her breasts trembled. Walking was difficult, her buttocks numb. Mrs Bannerjee marched her off the stage and, as she did so, the bell went for the end of second period. Bobby understood suddenly the cruelty of Mrs Bannerjee's timing, making sure she'd have to walk through a crowd up pupils moving between class-rooms.

They poured out into the corridor and Bobby was surrounded, buffeted by a swirl of students, male and female, some just hurrying to their next lesson, but many more taking time to stare and jeer. A couple even reached out, grasping at her surreptitiously on Mrs Bannerjee's blind side. Instinctively, Bobby's hands went to cover herself, but Mrs Bannerjee shook her violently. "Don't you dare," she hissed. "Your shame is part of your punishment." By the time they reached the toilet, perhaps 60 yards from the stage, Bobby was sobbing again.

Mrs Bannerjee took her in. Bobby caught sight of herself in the mirrors, her bare chest, the nipples pink and raised in cold and fear. "You've got two minutes," Mrs Bannerjee said, pushing her towards a stall and glancing at her watch. Bobby almost ran the final few feet to the toilet, shutting the door gratefully behind her. Some privacy at last. But as she began to squat, she was struck by sobs again. She couldn't sit on the seat - her bottom hurt too much.

*

Lucy appraised Miss Stafford coldly. About 5'7" she guessed, slender, lovely smooth pale skin marked by just the occasional freckle. Breasts neat and round, small but well-shaped. Probably an A-cup, maybe just a B. Pretty face: good cheek-bones, deep brown eyes. Blonde hair pulled back into two small pony-tails. Legs that showed she was sporty. And firm buttocks that were a deep purplish red, horribly welted. She was trembling slightly as she stood on the newspaper, not quite holding herself fully upright. She could have looked even slimmer if she had.

This was the advantage of being in sixth form. She had a free period so she could do what she wanted. She wasn't the only one. There were three other girls there and perhaps a dozen boys, all of them to a greater or lesser extent demonstrating signs of being in a state of some sexual excitement. She saw big fat Martin with his ginger hair and crooked teeth leering openly, leaning on the front of the stage. Stefano, the good-looking Italian, stood with James, who she'd kissed once in fourth form, smirking, discussing Miss Stafford. Stefano pointed, their heads moved together, and both laughed. How dreadful this must be for Miss Stafford. She wondered how much the flogging had hurt. It had sounded like it had hurt a lot. She looked at the welts. They were angry ridges: they'd shown no mercy.

"What's it like to have a third-former's tits?" James asked. There was a burst of laughter. The two of them had come closer and now stood next to Lucy.

"Did you get bitten by two mosquitoes?" Stefano asked. More laughter. Lucy saw Miss Stafford shudder.

What did they expect tits to look like? Their problem was they'd grown up with porn on the internet, with huge double DDs. Miss Stafford's breasts weren't huge - they were a little smaller than her own - but they were smooth and round, in proportion to her slight frame. Still, if the abuse embarrassed her then why not. "Which side is the front?" she asked and there were guffaws. Miss Stafford, she saw, had begun to cry.

Everybody else had seen it too. "Bwu-bwu-bwub..." taunted James. "Are the sixth-formers being nasty? Why don't you call teacher?"

Her head dropped. A tear fell onto her chest. Tony Watson was straight at her. "Head up," he snapped. Lucy saw the struggle within her but Miss Stafford obeyed, her cheeks flushed. She remembered when Tony had been caned and she could see how he was relishing another's humiliation. It dawned on her that Stafford must have been the head girl when Tony was caned; this really was revenge.

"Why is she naked?" asked a deep voice. "What is happening?" Lucy turned and saw two local workmen, both in overalls, standing in amused shock, gawping at Miss Stafford. One of the boys explained to them and they laughed. "So she has to stand there without any clothes on until 1.30, then they cane her again?" one asked in disbelief.

*

Cadwallader sipped at his tea. It was coming up to noon. She'd been out there, naked on the stage, for two and a half hours. Had he done the right thing? Maybe they'd been too harsh. A severe flogging and this humiliation. But what choice had she given him? If she'd come to him and explained her suspicions about Johal, he'd have explained to her how silly she was being. To post them up like that, well, he'd had to make an example of her. Scandal like that could ruin a school.

Caning her was right. Was 36 strokes too harsh? Perhaps 24 or 30 would have been fairer. She'd been screaming horribly by the end. But the fact she was taking 72 was her fault. And making her stand there naked between the beatings, well, well, how dare she try to seduce a prefect? How dare she? His hand shook a little with anger. She deserved this, deserved to suffer. Boys had been caned severely in his day and it had done them now harm: why not her?

He finished his tea and glanced at his watch. If he went now he could catch the caretaker to ask him about the loose gate on the car park before he went to lunch. He left his office, walked out into the corridor, turned left towards the hallway. And there she was, trembling, naked, beautiful, her buttocks livid. There was a small crowd around her, he saw, including a couple of local workers, teasing her. Perhaps they had gone too far. As he got closer, and the hubbub around her died down, he could hear her sniffling. What a fine looking young woman she was, even with her head bowed, eyes closed. He climbed the steps onto the stage slowly and approached her. He stood in front of her, looking at the neat blonde hair that spilled from the two bands on her neck, and at those pert little breasts. She realized somebody was there and opened her eyes, looking up at him. Her misery and her look of shame caught him and if she'd begged him then, he might have forgiven her. But she remained silent and he sensed a look of reproach. "Stand up straight," he said, and walked on.

*

There were crowds around the stage - 100, 200 pupils, who knew how many? - all jostling to get a better view. Tim cursed the fact that his last period before lunch had been at the far end of the school. He pushed closer, hearing the shouts and jeers, the mockery of Miss Stafford. He got to within about 30 feet when the mass of bodies became too much and he stood on tip-toes, gazing at her naked body, the smooth back, the ripple of her ribs, the pink nipple, just visible beyond her right arm, and the savagely beaten buttocks. She was sobbing, her head bowed, shoulders hunched and bobbing up and down. He'd never seen anything so beautiful.

Her skin was astonishing to him, so clear and pale, not the mottled or pimpled skin you saw in the boys changing rooms - and that, of course, just made the bruising on her bottom all the more starting. And she was so thin. Were all girls like that? Such delicate shoulders, such a narrow waist. He peered between her legs. He'd watched films or course and looked at pictures on the internet, but he didn't really know what a vagina looked like. He couldn't really see here either - just darkness and then the neatly trimmed patch of pubic hair.

The crowd was pressed tight to the stage, two or three hundred of them, boys, girls, first-formers, sixth-formers. There was a steady hum of conversation, punctuated by the odd shouted insult - mainly about the size of her tits. Were they really that small? Tim had no real idea beyond what he'd seen in films but they looked good enough to him. He would have loved to have touched them, to squeeze them and see if they really were as smooth and firm as they appeared. He looked at the block, the straps hanging from it, so hard and unyielding, and he thought of her suffering another 36 strokes. He looked at her arse and for the first time felt pity for her. Yet at the same time he was excited by the thought of her suffering even more than the humiliation she was enduring then. To suffer as she had and to know she had to go through it again, to have that on her mind as everybody laughed at her, well, he couldn't imagine that.

"Miss," somebody shouted. "Will your tits grow any bigger?"

There was laughter. Tim joined in. "Miss," somebody else shouted, "do you shave your pubes?"

"Miss, did you know Fat Gareth in 3B has bigger tits than you?"

"Miss, do you normally wear a bra or was that just for show this morning?"

*

Mrs Sharma passed quickly through the hall. The poor girl was surrounded by a mocking crowd. This was barbaric. And to flog her again on that bruised bottom was monstrous. She had to stop it. She strode into Cadwallader's office, ignoring the protests of that foolish moppet of a secretary. He looked up from his desk as she burst in.

"You have to stop this," she said.

Cadwallader signed. "Miss Stafford's punishment?" he said.

"She's out there, naked, crying, a mob of them laughing at her. It's inhuman. You've flogged her like you've flogged no other and you're going to do the same again. She'll be bleeding when you've finished. But that's not even the worst but. This, now, that's the worst bit. How can you, a civilized man, strip a woman naked and leave her there to be ridiculed? How? How can you?"

"She is being punished according to school rules," he said.

"No, she's not. You're giving her three times the maximum. And where in the school rules does it say you can humiliate a member of staff like that?" She was furious, her voice sounding unnaturally loud.

"She chose to be treated like a student," Cadwallader said, his voice icily calm. "Do you think she'd be better off in the hands of the police? Facing jail?"

"Of course not, but what you're doing to her is obscene."

"She committed a serious offence-"

"You-" Cadwallader held up his hand and Mrs Sharma ground to a halt.

"She committed a serious offence," he went on, "and her punishment would be over by now if she hadn't compounded it by trying to run away."

"Why is she naked?" Mrs Sharma glared at him. "If the caning was all you cared about you needed only to bare her bottom. Why have you stripped her completely? Just so some middle-aged men can see a pair of young breasts?"

"That's outrageous," said Cadwallader, becoming a little flustered. "She was stripped because she had to be fastened on the block and because she would have been naked to the waist for a whipping, which is what her offence merited. We have been merciful."

"Do you believe this nonsense? There are people who decided her penalty who are enjoying seeing her like that."

"Mrs Sharma," he said. "You are on very dangerous ground here. She committed a serious offence and the governors decided to show her mercy and to punish her here rather than handing her over to the police. Imagine they found out she'd tried to seduce a pupil. Imagine what they'd do to her then. Making false accusations could get her years in jail. She knows that. She agreed to this."

Mrs Sharma could feel her anger overwhelm her. She had no answer. "You've stripped a young woman naked and flogged her in front of the school," she sad. " I hope you're proud." Then she stormed out.

*

4) The Second Caning

Tony had been a little shocked by the volume of hatred directed against her. For the whole hour of lunchtime she'd been abused by everybody, from first-formers to sixth-formers, all jeering at her nakedness. There'd been jibes that her breasts were too small (males mainly) and that her arse was too big (females mainly) but neither was true. She was a beautiful slender girl and those were just the easy insults that came to hand. Her breasts enchanted him, with the pale pink nipples. Part of him wondered whether he should have taken the opportunity for a feel the previous night. They looked so soft, so delicate, so inviting. But he'd traded that to see her thrashed and humiliated and he'd already had to rush twice to the toilets that morning to relieve himself. He was pretty sure he wasn't the only one. This was a day nobody who had witnessed it would ever forget.

He'd wanted to shame her, to make her suffer, but there was nothing he could do beyond what was happening already. He just made sure he made the noise of a cane near her every now and again.

The bell went to signal the end of lunch. He saw her flinch, knowing what that meant. Slowly the crowd around the stage subsided and they began to take their seats on the long benches of the hall, soon joined the other pupils. Staff filed in. Mr Cadwallader and the other senior staff took their place on the stage. Tony, taking one last close-up look at her breasts, took up his place by the side of the ball. Cadwallader stood in front of her and looked her up and down. "When I tell you to," he said, "you will apologize to the school for wasting their time and you will admit you deserved this punishment and thank us for giving it to you." With one last glance down her torso, he returned to the microphone.

*

Bobby looked at her feet, pale against the wood. Looking down her body reminded her of her nakedness, but it was still better than looking at the bastards who were doing this to her.

"Stafford," Cadwallader said. "Turn around and face the school." Steeling herself, she obeyed. She wanted to cry.

"Stafford is to receive 36 further strokes of the cane for spreading malicious falsehoods about a member of staff, misuse of school resources, and then attempting to escape her punishment. Have you anything to say?"

She lifted her head. She saw them all staring at her nakedness. Her heart thumped. She had to do this. "I'm sorry," she muttered.

"Speak louder, Stafford."

"I'm sorry," she said, but it was barely a whisper. She cleared her throat. "I'm sorry for wasting your time," she said. The words were coming out too quickly, making her sound ridiculous. She flushed. "I'm sorry for what I did. I deserve this punishment and I thank you for it."

"Good," said Cadwallader, and for a tiny second she thought that might be it, that he would forgive her. "Now take up the position."

Her legs felt weak. She turned, her body feeling awkward. She knew her breasts wobbled as she did so, knew they would be loving that, these ghouls who'd abused her all morning. Her buttocks had slipped into a warm numbness, sore but bearable, the sort of pain that if halved might almost have been pleasantly stimulating, but she knew now the agony was going to be reawakened. Calling up every ounce of will that remained she walked uncertainly to the block. She swallowed and lowered herself slowly, bending forwards, aware both of how that made her breasts hang down and of how even that act awakened the pain in her arse.

*

Coulthard pulled the strap tight over the back of her knee, and slipped the needle through the hole. Her bottom was streaked in reds and purples. For her, this was going to be agony, and he was going to enjoy every second. He left his hand brush against her slim thigh. He felt her tense. She knew he was relishing this. He took her slender wrists and fastened the buckle tight. She was crying already, her face a mask of horror. As he stood up, Coulthard put a hand on her shoulder as though to comfort her. It's Ok," he said soothingly, "This will soon be over." Her jaw tightened and she stared at him, blinking away the tears in loathing. He lay a hand on her buttocks as thought to position her, but really just to feel the skin, hot to the touch now, and rutted, a contrast to the smoothness when he'd patted her earlier. She whimpered. He moved his hand to her lower back - what a remarkably narrow torso she had, he thought - and pushed down as Dupont pulled the strap across.

He checked the broad strap was tight enough then selected a cane from the back of the stage. It was perhaps three feet long, the width of his little finger, a whippy length of Malacca, designed to sting rather than cause serious damage, although it would still bruise far more than the three lighter canes the school still stocked. He tested it, flicking it through the air, relishing the whistling, whooping noise it made and then, as he saw Bobby glancing up, relishing even more the fear in those dark eyes.

Coulthard and Dupont took their positions behind Stafford. He suspected she'd bleed with this second batch. He just hoped Cadwallader didn't take pity on her. "36 strokes," Cadwallader said. "Proceed."

The hall fell silent, the only noise Coulthard could hear the terrified breathing of Stafford. Dupont touched his cane to her buttocks, drew it back and lashed her. She jerked immediately in pain, a loud gaps leaving her mouth. "One," came the count. Coulthard took his time, picked his spot and, with a firm flick of his wrist, lashed her, aiming at the center of the worst of the damage from the first set. Her shriek of pain was deeply gratifying, her left leg flicking up. Even after the scream had subsided, her could hear her breathing quavering in her throat. The third was low, only just on her buttocks and sent her tipping forwards, body lifting so her feet left the ground. Coulthard let her settle, let her wait, let her anticipate, then, with as much force as he could muster, struck his second in the same spit as the first. Her head snapped back and she roared. "Four."

*

Bryant looked on, his focus as ever on the tits, bouncing and quivering as she fought in her bonds. Stafford was moaning and sobbing constantly now, hyperventilating worryingly, dignity gone in the face of the relentless strokes. Her lovely face was red, snot was oozing from her nose, a couple of tendrils of hair lank with sweat, hung across her forehead. Dupont struck her again and she shrieked, shoulders jerking up, arms taut, breasts deliciously wobbling. Seven.

Tim could barely contain himself. Having been up close to her, having seen her nakedness, to watch this was something else, a beautiful girl screaming, helpless and in agony. Whatever control she'd managed to retain during the first set was gone now. She was twisting and howling, never quite able to settle from one lash before the next landed. Her legs kept flicking up, sometimes one, sometimes the other, sometimes both together. The atmosphere in the hall had changed. For some this was still as it had been in the morning something to be enjoyed, a break from the routine, a story to tell, a teacher brought low. But there were others, he recognized, like him, who were seeing how brutal this was and reveling in it. And there were others who were appalled. A lot of the younger ones were crying at Miss Stafford's cries. But he was happily shouting out the strokes. "Nine. Ten."

Lucy couldn't quite believe this was still going on. This was an act of grotesque savagery, Miss Stafford reduced to non-stop bawling, her buttocks slowly turning from purple to black. She'd seen canings before and she'd relished them, some foolish boy humiliated for five minutes. But this was a sustained assault, flaying the skin from her arse, breaking her over a period of several hours. And it stirred something warm inside her.

Tony remembered the pain he had gone through, remembered the shame of knowing everybody was staring at his penis as he tried to deal with the pain and he knew what she was suffering was a million times worse. She seemed barely human as she bawled in agony, twisting hopelessly as Mr Coulthard and M Dupont thrashed her. And then there was blood. First, on the fifteenth blow, a red bubble on the left cheek. It grew slowly larger and then began gently to roll down her thigh. Would they stop the flogging? But they just kept going.

*

The pain was extraordinary. She hadn't thought pain like this was possible. Dupont lashed her again. Seventeen. Her whole backside was in agony, but somehow each new blow caused another stab of pain. She was shaking, struggling to breath, aware of a terrible howling that she knew she must be making. She tried to compose herself, but her heart was pounding and her face was a mess of tears and snot. Coulthard whipped her, the cane making a sharp swack as it struck low on her left buttock. The burn was instant. She shouted even louder, twisting and writhing, gasping for air.

"Eighteen." It was only halfway through this set. The thought left her in despair. Huge racking sobs gripped her and she slumped over the block, trembling, her head hanging limp. But when Dupont struck her again, she jerked up, pain making her alert. At that moment she would have done anything to stop it. She bit her back teeth together, trying to regain some control, but Coulthard's next lash bit cruelly into the center of the cheek where there was a concentration of blows. It was a new level of agony. Her head snapped back and she shrieked, muscles standing out in her neck.

*

Father Johal looked on dispassionately. She was suffering, a lot. She was screaming and humiliated and earning a lesson she wouldn't forget. But he still felt she should have been whipped. He'd become priest at the school 15 years ago, and had found the whip in a case left by his predecessor. He'd run the cords through his fingers, imagining what it would be to use it on the smooth back of a girl - if she deserved it, of course. He'd checked through the school records. It seemed the whip hadn't been used for 20 years before him - and that on a boy who'd smashed the chapel window with a catapult. Six lashes and 12 with the cane. Had it ever been used on a woman? He'd found no evidence. But he thought of her, hands bound above her head, those sweet breasts stretched out, jerking as the knotted cords bit into the firm flesh of her back and shoulders.

But she was suffering, that much was clear. She'd reached a point where she clearly didn't care about dignity any long, screaming and twisting as they thrashed her. Twenty-four, twenty-five, twenty-six. Her eyes were wild now. She shouted in terror. "Please stop this. Please!" But the lashes were remorseless. What a sight she was, that trim torso writhing and bucking, the neat breasts quivering.

*

Coulthard's arm felt weary, but he wasn't going to let up. He waited until she fell still, drew back his arm and, snapping his wrist at just the right moment delivered a crisp blow along the crease at the base of her buttocks, the tip of the case biting into the left cheek. She twitched violently, as though trying to squeeze her thighs together and shot him a sharp glance. That had hurt especially. "Twenty-seven." She was panting, her shallow breaths pulsing through her. He watched as Dupont lashed into the bruised heart of her right buttock. She roared in pain and a new bubble of blood sprang up. This was magnificent. This was the most fun he'd ever had. He took a breath. He had only four more to deliver. Make them count. How he wished he could take her to his rooms after this, take that weasel-waist in his hands and sit her on top of him. He was aware of a silence. She'd fallen still. She was looking at him, waiting for the next blow, lower lip trembling.

He lashed her, the twenty-ninth stroke of her second set, the tip digging deep into the meat of her buttock. There was a spray of blood and she began to retch, legs shaking.

Cadwallader closed his eyes. Perhaps they had gone too far. He tried to steel himself. He thought of her crimes. Of the way she'd tried to escape punishment. But maybe that didn't equate to this, to bawling naked on a stage in front of the whole school, buttocks bleeding, screaming and howling. Maybe Mrs Sharma had been right. He believed in corporal punishment. He believed the cane was necessary but he knew that here he'd gone too far. Dupont struck again, low into the top of the thigh. There was a dull schlack, then a howl. "Thirty," he said. He had to remain strong. He couldn't let any doubt show. People had to believe this was right, that was justice and not something ore brutal and savage than that.

"Thirty-one!" Tim shouted. At the front some of the younger ones were screaming, but round him the mood was of fun and excitement. He hadn't realized how stimulating the terror and pain of another could be. He wanted louder screams, more kicking, more blood. He also wanted to see more of her tits.

Lucy felt sick. What the fuck as this? How could they do this? A couple of dozen strokes might have been fun: watch that haughty bitch screaming, bring her down a peg or two. But this was something inhumane. Blood was running freely now down her thighs. She was so exhausted she'd almost stopped kicking. You could see she was shaking. This was assault.

Tony felt no sympathy. He couldn't believe they were doing this but he was loving every second. Thirty-three came the shout as the cane landed and her body spasmed, shudders running through it. The muscles of her thighs stood out as though with cramp and she wailed piteously. He wondered whether those bloodied buttocks would ever return to the same smooth firmness they'd had when they'd started. It had taken about a month for his own bruises to heal but this was much, much worse.

Bobby was in a hell worse than anything she could ever have imagined. Her face was wet with tears, mucus and saliva. Her shoulders, arms and legs hurt from jerking in the bonds. And her backside... Nothing had ever hurt like that. Coulthard lashed her again. Somehow in the sea of pain she felt the new blow as the school yelled out "34!" The agony surged through her. She retched, legs twitching, torso bucking. She was sweating profusely. She gasped for breath. She could feel blood running down her thighs. She flopped over the block, exhausted. How could they take such pleasure in this? How could they cheer her degradation.

Bryant knew he'd never forget this, knew that in years to come he'd remember this pretty girl writhing naked before him, taken to a pitch of anguish no school should ever inflict. Dupont lashed her again and she went through the familiar routine as her body tried to process the pain. "Thirty-five," shouted the hall. Dupont realized she could never teach there again and he wondered idly what they'd do. Then came Coulthard's final stroke. He sized her up, measured the lash and then, with a greater force than any other he'd inflicted that day, he struck her. Her reaction showed it was harder as her body snapped taut and she yelled and then began dry heaving.

*

5) Aftermath

Bobby lay face down on the bed in her room. She didn't really know how long had passed but she suspected it was days. The last lash had been the worst: if he'd hit her that hard with all of them she thought she would have died. They'd kept her bound to the block while the whole school was dismissed, cramps shooting through her muscles, buttocks throbbing as dozens of them took the opportunity to walk past and have a final stare at her nakedness as she sobbed pitifully. Then at last she'd been unfastened.

Even standing had been difficult, the pain extraordinary. And then she'd been hit by a wave of humiliation, naked on the stage, teachers and governors staring at her as looked around trying to work out where her clothes were. She'd covered herself, and then realized what a pathetic gesture it was when she'd been naked for five hours. "Please..." she'd stuttered, but been greeted only by Coulthard's leer. Finally, Mrs Sharma had wrapped a huge bath towel around her and had helped her back to her room. It had seemed like it had taken forever, each tiny step a new agony.

Mrs Sharma had supported her, half-carrying her, whispering calming platitudes until she'd got her down on her bed. She'd dabbed at her wounds with antiseptic and had given her water to drink. That evening, she'd come back and given her soup and had applied some balm to the buttocks. Bobby hadn't moved. She'd clutched her pillow, a sheet loosely draped over her, shaking, sobbing, thinking of the shame and feeling the constant throbbing of her backside. Mrs Sharma had helped her into a baggy T-shirt, had given her painkillers, had sat with her, holding her hand, for hours. And Bobby had just lain, cold, humiliated, hurting.

She slept a lot, but it wasn't restful, haunted by images of nudity and pain. There were times when she dreaded being raped or sent back for more punishment. What was to stop Tony or one of the other prefects coming in and doing whatever they wanted? She thought about leaving but knew she was too weak. Every day Mrs Sharma came and gave her food and painkillers, applied salve to her buttocks, helped her. She'd taken her to shower once as well and Bobby had feared Mrs Sharma was somehow enjoying the sight of her nakedness before realizing she was being absurd.

Had it been a week? Maybe longer. She had to get up. She had to do something. She would have a shower. She forced herself out of bed. Even the sensation of taking her weight on her feet felt strange, her buttocks numb. Slowly she staggered into her bathroom and turned on the water. She stood watching the jets for a time, then clambered over the side of the bath. It stung as the water flowed across the wounds, but washing helped, as though her shame were somehow being sluiced away. And then the memory came back to her, certain images far too clear. There she was struggling with her bra. There she was lowering her naked and bruised body over the block to receive the second set. There she was, twisting and screaming as Coulthard leered. She slipped to her knees and vomited.

Mrs Sharma kept coming. Bobby slept, she remembered. Tony's laughing face. The sight of her wrist, strapped to the wood. The taunts about her breasts. The pain. The feeling she couldn't go on. Slowly she got stronger. Slowly the swelling in her buttocks eased. Finally, a month after her caning, she slipped out in the night with her belongings in a rucksack, made her way to the station and bought a first-class ticket to the regional capital.

*

6) Another Nightmare

Father Johal watched from a second-floor office as the car pulled into compound. An officer in a khaki shirt hastened to the back door. An officer stepped out and then, uncertainly, clearly scared, Bobby Stafford shuffled across the seat and got out. He felt his heart contract as he saw her again, almost six weeks after he'd watched her being caned. She was wearing a grey T-shirt and baggy trousers, but the slenderness that made her so appealing was obvious. She wore her hair loose, gathering just on the back of her collar. It didn't seem she'd been arrested - she wore no chains - but she glanced about nervously as an officer, with a light hand on her upper arm, guided her into the building.

"It'll be an hour or so, Father," said a sergeant with a smile. "Get yourself a drink and then you can watch the show."

"Thank you, sergeant," he replied.

"She's a pretty one, all right."

"Yes."

"Dangerous too from what we've found out."

"Mmmm." Dangerous? That was a surprise.

*

Bobby didn't really understand what was happening. After getting to the city she'd booked a flight home, wondering what on earth she was going to tell her parents. It hadn't been possible to get one immediately and so she'd had a week to kill, which she'd spent mainly hanging around her hotel, reading and chatting. It was so nice to talk to people who hadn't seen her naked, who didn't look at her and think of her bleeding buttocks. But then, a day before she'd been due to leave, two police officers had turned up at breakfast.

They'd been calm and polite and asked them to go with her to the police station, insisting there was nothing to worry about. She'd asked what it was about and they'd said they didn't know, that their chief inspector had asked to see her. She'd asked if she was being arrested and they'd assured her it was some admin matter. She'd assumed it was to do with her breaking her contract at the school so, with a slight sense of foreboding, she'd joined them in the car, although she hadn't appreciated the way they'd sat either side of her on the back seat. It felt, well, intimidating.

The police station was an unremarkable building in the colonial style, the outside painted in a grubby whitewash. They escorted her upstairs and asked her to take a seat on a line of four in the corridor. After a few minutes, she was asked into an office where a bespectacled man in his late forties sat behind a desk, brow creased and sweat patches clear on his fraying shirt. His tie wasn't just loose but had been pulled down to mid chest.

"Miss Stafford?" he asked, peering over his glasses and indicating an old padded chair facing him.

"Yes, sir," she said, hoping that was what you called a chief inspector.

He picked up a sheaf of papers from his desk and skimmed a couple of pages. She sat awkwardly. "If this is about the school..." she said. He held up his hand to silence her.

"Noooo..." he said, unsurely, turning to a third page. "It's not about a school."

He kept reading, and a knot of unease tightened in her belly.

A few minutes passed, then at last he addressed her, taking off his glasses. "I'm afraid, Miss Stafford, some quite serious allegations have been made against you." Her heart plunged. She thought for a moment she might be sick. "Have you been working against the government or aiding the rebels at all?"

"No!" She felt something close to panic.

"I see." He put his glasses on again and signed a form. "I'm afraid you're going to have to be processed for the emergency tribunal."

"What!?" she shouted, but the two soldiers were already on her, pulling her up by her arms. She could feel her heart thumping, her breath reduced to shallow little gasps.

*

Father Johal stood with four other men at the back of the room as Bobby was led in. There were perhaps a dozen constables in there as well as the two who held her arms, plus a youngish man in a stained suit who sat behind a desk. She was clearly terrified as they positioned her in front of the desk. The man in the suit rattled through a series of basic questions: name, date of birth, address.

"Miss Stafford," he said. "You will go before the tribunal tomorrow charged with sedition. You must first be processed."

"I want a lawyer," she said. "I want to contact my embassy."

"Under the state of emergency you do not have that right. Your embassy will be informed you have faced a tribunal."

"But this-"

"Strip!"

She seemed to flinch at the order, shuffling backwards a couple of paces, bending slightly forwards as though to make herself smaller. Then, as though recognizing she had no option, she bent down and clumsily unfastened her trainers. She took off her socks and placed them neatly into her shoes. The girlishness of the gesture sent Johal's heart racing again. There was something about her that drove him wild.

The clerk tossed her a plastic bag. "Everything in there," he said. Obediently she placed her shoes in the bag.

She looked away, down and to the left as she unbuttoned her jeans then peeled them down. She was crying, he realized. Good: he'd worried the humiliation on the stage might have somehow inured her to shame. She folded them and add them to the bag. Her legs were slender and toned, a pale gold in color. She pulled up her T-shirt. She was so slim, that waist without a scrap of fat. Off it came, over her head, leaving her deliciously vulnerable. Her fingers were visibly shaking as she unhooked her bra and then, quickly - too quickly perhaps, suggesting her emotional turmoil - she pulled off her panties and she was naked. He gazed, first of all, at her buttocks. Some faint marks were still visible but essentially the bruising and swelling had died down. Father Johal had spent a long time contemplating her nakedness, but his heart was thumping still as she cowered between the two constables, attempting to cover herself with her arms.

"Put your arms out to the sides, Miss Stafford," the clerk asked, and slowly she obeyed. Father Johal wished he had more of a front-on view, but even from where he was standing he could see the upturn of her right breast, the rosy nipple just visible beneath her arm. He sensed the ripple of interest among the officers, this delicately beautiful girl offered to them. The clerk approached her. Meticulously, he searched between her fingers, first on her right hand and then her left. Johal could feel her shame at the scrutiny. The clerk moved behind her and ordered her to raise her left foot. He took it in his hand and pried between the toes then repeated the process with the right. He inspected her ears, her nose and her mouth. He poked at her armpits then flicked at her right breast dismissively. "No room to hide anything under there," he said mockingly. Johal saw her jaw stiffen at the insult. The clerk returned to his desk. "Bend forward," he ordered, and took a pair of gloves from the drawer. Her face crumpled but she obeyed. "Run your fingers through your hair." She did so, giving a slight whimper at the sound of the gloves snapping on his wrist.

"Spread your buttocks."

She gave a stifled sob as she complied. Johal stared as the clerk moved behind her and, with a great sense of ceremony, inserted a finger. She grunted as it went in. The clerk seemed to spend an inordinate time probing. She was crying by the time he inspected her cunt.

*

Bobby was mortified. What had she done to deserve this? Naked again, exposed in front of men, and this time having them jabbing at her most intimate areas.

"Take her to a cell," the clerk said.

Naked? They weren't going to give her clothes? A guard touched her arm and she shook him off. "Please!" she shouted. "You have to give me something to wear."

She backed away holding her arms out defensively in front of her. "You can't-" she said, and then she saw Father Johal. "You-" she began, eyes staring. Distracted, she was only vaguely aware of the officer approaching her from her left. When she did give him her attention it was too late. He raised a short rubber truncheon and smashed it down, hitting her on the left collar-bone. She shrieked and collapsed. The pain was extraordinary. Lights danced before her eyes. She felt nauseous. As she could see was feet and the concrete floor. Was it broken? Hands pulled her to her feet. The sole of a boot prodded her in the backside and she staggered forward. The two of them were on her, dragging her along a corridor.

She heard a door open and felt herself being hurled through. She landed heavily, scraping her right knee and elbow and the door slammed behind her. She heard bolts being slammed in and a key turn in the lock. Slowly, she pulled her self up. Her collar-bone was in agony, a livid bruise marking the pale skin. The cell was perhaps 10 feet by 8, dimly lit and empty, a concrete cube with a small and filthy drain in the floor and a grubby bulb set in the ceiling. She sat in a corner, knees to her chin, hugging her shins. What was this? Why was she here? What was Johal doing there? Was this more of his revenge? She wept. They'd all heard tales of what the police did to dissidents. Was she going to be tortured? She tried to think, tried to make a plan, but naked in a cell in a police station, her options were limited.

She told herself to calm down, but it wasn't as easy as that. She felt nauseous, the pain in her collar-bone throbbing. She was cold, as well, however had she hugged herself, breasts pressing into thighs, head resting on her knees. What was Johal doing? Had he arranged for her to be arrested? Why had she put that poster up? Why? As she thought of her caning, of the impossible pain, of the humiliation, a shudder passed through her.

For what felt likes hours she sat there, waiting. She would hear footsteps echo down the corridor, tensing as they reached her door, but they always passed. She felt stiff and tired. She stretched out briefly, but was terrified they were watching her. Her buttocks began to ached and so she curled up on her side, but when the door opened that evening, she was back in the corner, knees raised, arms wrapped around her shins.

Four officers walked in. She was ordered to her feet and told to stand facing the wall with her hands flat on the dusty paintwork. She obeyed. She heard a chink of chains and her wrists suddenly were cuffed behind her. A bag was pulled over her head and then, as hands played over her buttocks and breasts, she was marched out into the corridor.

*

Johal took one of the whips from the two officers who had been deputed to flog her. They'd been practicing all afternoon, learning how to handle them. He felt its familiar handle, weighing it in his hands. He ran his fingers between the five cords, each about three feet long and knotted five times in their final foot. How often he'd practiced striking at a cushion in his rooms, imagining a pretty girl writhing under the lashes. And now he'd get to see one of the prettiest of girls taking 24 from a pair of tough, muscular young men.

They entered the punishment room. She was already there, naked but for the hood, wrists fastened above her head by leather cuffs to a chain that hung from the ceiling. She was clearly terrified, knees angled in towards each other, her long slender body looking incredibly fragile in the slightly ghostly electric light. He approached her and pulled the bag off. She gave a gasp, as though she hadn't quite been able to breathe, and shook her head, flicking her hair from her eyes. As she focused on him, her eyes hardened.

He lay a hand on her cheek, caressing the high cheek-bone. "Miss Stafford," he said softly, gazing into her deep brown eyes. "You did me a great ill, and you must be punished for it." She'd seen the whip in his other hand and he saw the fear leap in her.

"You gave me 72 strokes of the cane," she hissed. "Is that not enough?"

"No," he said, his hand falling to rest on her delicate right breast, flattened by her position. "They didn't punish you for blasphemy, and the punishment for that is 24 lashes."

She gave a low moan. He held the whip up, brushed it across her face, let her feel the hard little knots. He trailed it over her breasts and then handed it back to one of the officers who would lash her. He walked behind her. He wanted, first of all, to see what a whip like this would do to her back. All those years of preserving it, of wondering how it would damage skin and finally he would see it, on a back as smooth and delicate as he had only dared dream about. He looked at her buttocks, just a few streaks of pink and the odd blotch of pale bruising showing her ordeal. He patted her, admiring the firmness of the young flesh and was amused to hear her whimper. Then he backed off to take a seat alongside a dozen senior officials. The two floggers took their places either side of her. She stood, head bowed, knock-kneed, humiliated and terrified. A sergeant announced the sentence and they were ready to begin.

*

Bobby stared at the floor. How could this be happening again? She heard the sergeant give the order to begin and readied herself. She heard the whine of the cords through the air, then a sharp sting on the upper right part of her back. For a moment she stopped breathing. She heard the call of, "One!" and for a second she thought this might not be too bad. But as the initial smart faded a deeper pain began to intensify. The second lash struck. The burn was terrible. She'd managed to remain silent but there were two patches of fire on her back. The whip was light, she understood, in some ways a less fearsome instrument than the cane, but the knots stung viciously.

Johal watched intently, a cigarette in one hand, a glass of whisky in the other. The third lash landed and the muscles of her back twitched delightfully. He glanced at the inspector who smiled back at him. They were all enjoying this. Yes, it was a favor one old friend had done another - apparently other prisoners had been persuaded to implicate Stafford under questioning - but there was something special about an English bitch getting this treatment. And the fact she was so pretty only added to the experience. The fourth lash landed and she gave a slight gasp of pain. The floggers were striking hard, real pace in their arms. Two pink stripes were clear stretching on a shallow diagonal from her shoulders down across her back to meet in the middle. Around the shoulder blades, the pink was more vivid where the knots had dug in. At the fifth she gave a yelp.

What Bobby hadn't expected was the multiplicatory nature of the pain. The sting got worse and worse. They were concentrating the lashes on her shoulders and a little below, hitting bruised skin again and again. The pattern was horrific. The whistle of whips, the immediate smart, her gasp of pain, the slowly building fire, the announcement of the number, a pause as the pain raged, then the slow easing of the sting and a sense of a numb agony, allied to the knowledge that another lash was coming. Her face was wet with tears, her heart thumping. She could smell the smoke from their cigarettes, hear their laughter, the discussion of her and her pain. Another blow landed, the ends of the lash biting round into the some flesh beneath her left armpit. She shouted in pain and felt a wave of nausea pass over her. "Ten," came the call.

Johal stood up. Her upper back was scarlet. He walked around her slender trembling form, taking care not to inadvertently take a blow as the flogger wound up for another lash. The eleventh whipped into her as he drew alongside her. He saw the muscles contract, the head flick up, the knots bite into the tender skin. She gasped with pain, eyes closed, teeth set. He stood beside the sergeant calling the count. She looked utterly pathetic, lips quivering, cheeks wet with tears, thin body shaking with pain and fear.

She couldn't take any more. She couldn't take any more. She couldn't take any more. The burn was terrible. Was it worse than the caning? She couldn't say. But it was fucking agony. She would do anything not to take another lash. She shuffled on her feet. She tried to anticipate and rock forward to take some of the sting out of the blow but by the time she'd heard the whistle it was too late. Off-balance, her feet skittered on the concrete and she screamed. She'd wanted to deny them that satisfaction but there was no point. "Eighteen."

There were purple wheals and splotches now amid the red. She clenched and unclenched her fists. And then, at the 19th lash, there was blood. A knot bit into bruised skin just below her shoulder blade. She held the shout in for a couple of seconds and then her anguish came out in a long deep roar as a small bead of bright red blood oozed up, getting bigger and bigger until it began to slide down her back. But there was no respite. Twenty followed soon enough. She was gasping for air, shrieking with pain. He legs tottered and he wondered if she might collapse.

It was as though they'd decided to deliver the final four especially hard. The 21st wrapped round a little onto her ribs. The pain was such she thought her heart might stop. She wouldn't beg. She would stay strong. She screwed up her eyes and waited. Another burst of fire. She could feel blood running down her back. She clenched her fists and gritted her teeth. She would survive. Her arms were shaking. She glanced up. Her wrists were raw with her struggles against her bonds.

She swayed forward away from the lash. It didn't help. Johal saw her skin dragged slightly by the lash as her whole body seemed to flinch. She shouted. There were five or six rips in her skin, the blood running in three streaks down her back. They waited and waited for the last stroke, taunting her, then finally, just as she glanced to her right to see where it was, it arrived. Her head was thrown back and she almost lost her footing as she screamed and then it was over. Johal slowly got up. The officers joined him in walking up to her, examining the welted back prodding at her nakedness.

As they drifted away, Johal stepped in front of her. Her head hung limp, but a tweak of her nipple provoked a reaction. He stroked her breast with one had and her cheek with the other. "Now," he said, "you've been properly punished."

She panted and glared at him, back burning. He ran his fingers over her chin. "Such a pretty thing," he said. "The boys in the camps will have a lot of fun with you."

He let his hand fall and forced two fingers inside her. She yelped. "You shouldn't have taken me on," he said, pushing his fingers higher. His other hand continued to caress her breast, the thumb lighting on a small freckle in the shallow valley of her chest. Suddenly, he withdrew. "I think they're trying you tomorrow," he said. He smacked her hard on the bottom, relishing the sound, then lit up a cigarette as he left the room.

*

Colonel Rej felt exhausted. These emergency tribunals were relentless. Read the file, work out a judgement, a cursory chat to a terrified prisoner, most of whom he suspected had been tortured, and then pack them off to prison or a labor camp. It wasn't justice and he wasn't even sure it was control. He was dealing some days with as many as 20 cases. It was impossible to make proper decisions.

And now they'd started sending him westerners. He took extra care with them because there was always the suspicion that there might be comeback further down the line. He blamed Colonel Karthik. He'd been the first, sentencing that American student to two years labor and a flogging. Now they all expected sentences like that. But that had been almost a proper trial with a lawyer. There couldn't really be any argument there. It wasn't this churn. He wasn't going to go sentencing Western girls to the cane. He lit another cigarette and glanced over the case file again. Roberta Stafford. Teaching assistant. Allegations of sedition, some quite serious. Nothing from her. They obviously wanted her in a camp to let the Secpol work her unhindered.

He yawned. She was probably guilty. Half a dozen different sources. Nothing concrete but that probably just suggested how clever she'd been. And one of the sources was Beth McCormack, the medical student he'd sentenced to two years labor yesterday. That was interesting. What did it mean? He was fairly confident McCormack was in it up to her neck. He had few qualms about that sentence. And he had her confession, which always helped, even if he was fairly certain it had been coerced. And the testimony he had seemed to suggest Stafford was even more involved. If only there was a confession. But maybe that was a sign of her toughness.

Colonel Rej finished his cigarette, picked up the case file and walked into the meeting room they'd converted into a courtroom. He still hadn't quite decided on the sentence. He was taken aback. He tried not to show it as he took his seat, but Stafford was not what he'd expected. McCormack had been tall and athletic and he'd expected something similar. But Stafford, although above average height, was delicate and slender. She wore a light grey-blue T-shirt that seemed to emphasize her girlishness and stood, blonde head bowed, thin arms shackled behind her, between two soldiers. She looked defeated; there was none of McCormack's defiance there. She didn't look like the lead of a rebellion.

He sat down and opened the file. "You are Roberta Stafford?"

"Yes, sir," she whispered.

"Speak up, look at me and address me either as 'Colonel' or 'your honor'." He made sure his tone was sharp.

She looked up and her beauty took him unawares. Her eyes, red rimmed with crying, were a deep, rich brown, but there was something about her cheekbones that undid him. He looked down at his file. "You have been accused of organizing illegal demonstrations, funding rebellion and the production and dissemination of seditious literature. Do you have anything to say about those charges?"

She looked startled and horrified. Her mouth opened and closed a couple of times. She moved awkwardly and Rej realized she'd been beaten on her back. "I don't know..." she said.

Rej shook his head. "These are very serious offences, Miss Stafford," he said. "I will pass a conditional verdict ending further investigation. You are sentenced to five years forced labor." As he closed the file and stood to leave, he heard her burst into tears.




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