A Few Short Tales of Trapped Females

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Life's Ups and Downs - (Elevation and Despair)

Naomi confronts a gang of thieves... and ends up experiencing the ups and downs of life.

Naomi smiled contentedly to herself as she folded the last sheet and placed it onto the pile in the storeroom. At last she had finished her shift and could begin to enjoy her three day break. It was the 27th of December in the hotel in which she worked as assistant head housekeeper, and all the Christmas guests had departed after their festive breaks. Now the hotel was closing down for four nights until the New Year’s Eve revellers arrived. It was four PM and Naomi had dismissed the other chambermaids half an hour ago and was preparing to leave herself. She had a surprise visit to see her parents planned, and had brought her luggage with her, so she had no reason to go back to the staff accommodation block, which was situated across the car park away from the main hotel building.

Again she smiled to herself. It would, she hoped, be a pleasant surprise for her mother and father when she turned up unannounced on their doorstep. She hadn’t been able to make the hundred miles plus journey for over two months now, due to pressure of work, and had originally thought that she wouldn’t be able to get time off over the busy holiday period. It had only been a week or so prior to Christmas, when the general manager had realised that the four days between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve were completely devoid of room bookings, that the decision had been made to close the hotel for these days in order to save on running costs. At first she’d considered ringing her mother to let her know that she would, after all, be able to get home for a well-earned rest, but eventually persuaded herself that she’d give them a surprise by turning up without warning instead. She had therefore told no one except her live-in work colleagues and co-workers that she was going to be away for a few days.

Naomi was just about to leave the windowless, hot, stuffy service room, when she was startled somewhat by the sound of voices in the corridor outside. This, at any other time, wouldn’t have caused her to think twice in this normally busy establishment. But this was no ordinary day. As far as she knew, the only other person in the building at this time would be the evening receptionist, who would recently have arrived on duty and would be completely unaware of Naomi’s continued presence on the premises; the reception desk being several hundred yards away at the front of the building. And it didn’t sound like any other members of the housekeeping team, whose voices she was familiar with, and who had anyway departed homewards a while back. Why, therefore, was the sound of three, or maybe even more, voices – at least one of whom was female - reaching her ears, she wondered?

After a few seconds of listening, it became apparent that the sounds were getting ever louder, until Naomi realised that these people, whoever they might be, were drawing near to her position. Having worked in the hotel for nearly two years now, and being a senior member of staff despite her tender years, she was therefore responsible for sorting out any trouble in the bedroom block. And if that meant dealing with intruders, then she would, in theory anyway, have no hesitation in doing her duty in confronting these seemingly uninvited guests.

But, as the owners of the voices approached, she began to realise that she was trembling slightly. Should she stay put in her hiding place and phone reception to inform her colleague of the possibility of trespassers being on the premises? Don’t be ridiculous, she scolded herself. There must be some legitimate reason for whoever these people were being here. Maybe all the Christmas guests hadn’t left yet, after all. Or perhaps there were some justifiable grounds, which she wasn’t yet aware of, that could explain why people unknown to her should be roaming the hotel’s corridors at this time of day.

Taking a deep breath, Naomi opened the service room door and stepped out into the corridor beyond. Whether she was more startled by the sight that confronted her, or whether the four strangers – three teenage boys, all probably about eighteen years old, plus a girl maybe a year or two older - carrying flat screen televisions towards her, were the more surprised, it was hard to judge. But for a full ten seconds, if not more, neither she nor they spoke a word; each party instead simply staring at the other with mouths agape. Whether the fact that Naomi knew she would encounter fellow human beings once she’d stepped through the door, whereas the youths had no inkling of their looming encounter, had any bearing on the fact that she recovered her composure before they did, was a moot point. But whatever the case, it was Naomi who finally broke the long, uneasy silence.

“Just where do you think you’re going with those?”

She was only twenty two years old, but as her words hung in the otherwise silent air, she found herself likening this utterance to that sternly given by an elderly schoolmistress that she’d known some years before.

Although Naomi had been the first to find her voice and regain her poise after this unexpected encounter, she was unprepared, and indeed no match for, three young men who were all bigger, stronger, and seemingly in telepathic communion with each other. The latter deduction, although absurd and irrational, was the first thing that entered her head as all three simultaneously and without hesitation put down their recently obtained contraband and rushed in her direction. The stricken woman tried desperately to dive back into the service room and lock herself in, but her reflex reactions to this unforeseen assault weren’t quite quick enough, and she found herself unable to close the door in time.

For what seemed like ages, but was, in reality, only a few seconds, Naomi fought to shut the door and keep her would-be assailants at bay. But three against one was never going to be good odds, and she finally succumbed to the forces pushing against her. In a last despairing bid to forestall the inevitable, she let go of the door and made a mad dash for the internal phone that would connect her to the reception desk.

Unfortunately for Naomi, her pursuers were too quick for her, and within seconds she was surrounded and, with two of the youths taking hold of a wrist each, she found herself physically restrained from using her arms to ward off her attackers.

“What’re we going to do now?”

One of the invaders asked.

“Well, we can’t just let her go, can we? I mean, if we don’t do something she’ll be on to the police the minute we leave.”

Although scared out of her wits, Naomi tried to put on a brave face and show her authority.

“Get out of here. Let me go. I’m warning you, you’re in big trouble if you don’t leave immediately.”

The riposte, however, was forthcoming almost instantly.

“Not as much trouble as you, darling, if you don’t shut up.”

It was at this point that Naomi’s fear levels ratcheted up a notch or two, as she felt a hand on her thigh, rubbing gently against the soft, thin fabric of her tights. And just to make matters even more terrifying, the youth who wasn’t restraining her arms decided that he quite fancied fondling her breasts. Naomi squealed and tried to get away, but found that she was in a vice-like grip from which she couldn’t break loose. But worse still, the hand on her leg began to move ominously upwards underneath her skirt. Naomi feared the worst at this moment. But it soon transpired that she had an ally...of sorts.

For it was at this point that the female member of the quartet decided to make her presence felt. And it quickly became obvious that she was the leader of this band of thieves.

“Okay guys, that’s enough. Do you really want to be had up for sexual assault if we get caught here? We came here to steal televisions, and that’s all we’re going to do, do you understand?”

As if a switch had been flicked, the hands on her tits and tights immediately ceased their groping actions. With her colleagues now reprimanded, the girl turned her attentions to Naomi.

“Well, this is a bit of a turn-up for the books, isn’t it? As far as we knew there wasn’t going to be anyone left in the building, apart from that woman on the front desk. So now we’re going to have to rethink our strategy somewhat.”

Still being held in an unforgiving grip by two of the males, Naomi struggled to break free.”

“What are you playing at? Get out of here now before you get into even more trouble than you are already.”

Naomi tried to sound tough and convincing in her threats, but the tremor in her voice betrayed her nervousness. And it appeared that the girl perceived this only too well.

“Really? And what exactly are you thinking of doing? After all, it’s four against one, and you have no way of raising the alarm, seeing as there isn’t anyone else within earshot. So I really would like to know how you’re planning to stop us doing just as we please.”

The boys laughed and tightened their grip on Naomi’s arms, while their female companion turned to the youth who wasn’t embroiled in a battle to keep their captive from escaping.

“Get some of those sheets from the pile over there. I’ve got an idea of how we can keep this one from making a nuisance of herself.”

Without hesitation, the youth crossed the room and pulled a folded up bed-sheet from the shelf, before handing it to his female cohort. Unfurling the soft cotton, the girl tore off a thin strip of material from one edge, approximately four feet in length. Naomi was on the point of chastising the intruder for damaging hotel property, but events were about to spiral out of her control, and her planned verbal tirade floundered before it could pass her lips.

“Get her onto the floor, face down.”

Despite the fact that her arms were being held firmly, Naomi did everything in her power to resist the implementation of this order as issued by the group’s leader. But her oppressors were just too strong for the petite young woman to have any chance of successfully defending herself, and within no more than five seconds from the command being given, she found herself lying on her stomach with her arms being wrenched forcibly and painfully up behind her back. The next thing she knew, something was being wrapped tightly around her wrists, which, when the hands holding her finally released their grip, she discovered were now securely and inescapably bound together. Writhing and straining as if her life depended on it, Naomi screamed long and loud, then wished she hadn’t, as a piece of torn off towel was rammed forcefully into her startled mouth.

“There, that’s better. Maybe that will keep you quiet.”

Naomi, however, begged to differ on this point, and within seconds had managed to manipulate the gag out of her mouth using a combination of tongue, teeth and lips. Still fighting to release her hands, she gazed upwards at the leader of the group, who was looking around the room, deep in thought.

“Hmm. I guess we need something to keep the cloth in place, don’t we?”

Almost immediately, she seemed to spy what she was after. From her prone position, Naomi’s eyes followed her as she walked towards one of the room’s many shelves. She picked something up; something circular and grey. For a second or two, Naomi didn’t recognise the object, or take on board its significance. But then the realisation came to her that her adversary had located the spool of duct tape, which the hotel’s maintenance man had inadvertently left here a few days ago. Suddenly, it all became clear in Naomi’s brain. And this revelation caused her to scream even louder than she had done a few seconds ago.

“Hold her down boys, while I stop this racket once and for all.”

This command was given just as Naomi began to kick and squirm for all she was worth. But it did her no good. All three males now had her pinned to the floor; one at her feet, the second at her lower back, with the third stopping her bound arms from flailing wildly.

The towel gag re-entered her mouth within seconds of her female tormentor kneeling down beside her head, notwithstanding the fact that Naomi did everything within her power to discourage this violation of her right to freedom of speech. This time, however, there would be no contorting of her tongue and puffing of her cheeks to remove said obstruction. For once the ball of foul tasting fabric had been wedged behind her teeth, Naomi experienced the sensation of something sticky and unyielding being smoothed down with some force over her lips. And the smothering of her facial skin with tape didn’t cease with the area around her mouth. For even as she shook her head in a desperate bid to call a halt to this madness, she felt the tape being wound around the back of her neck, and watched from close range as circuit after circuit of the wide, grey strips made their way around her head; each one slightly higher or lower than the time before, so that by the time the spool was bare, her entire face below the nose was encased in a sheet of adhesive material several layers thick. Harshly, using both hands, the girl smoothed the mass down to ensure it remained welded to her tender flesh.

“There you are. You can scream as loud as you like now, ’cause nobody’s going to hear you.”

As if issued with a challenge, Naomi did just that, but found, as she’d correctly been informed would be the case, her efforts were swallowed up by the combined effect of towel and tape.

But Naomi’s woes during this period were not limited to the operation to silence her. For simultaneous with the gagging process, Naomi underwent the indignity of the imposed removal of her shoes, and her legs being secured together at the ankles, knees and thighs, courtesy of more strips from the now ruined sheet; thus bringing to a premature end the prolonged spell of kicking out at her attackers, which had been her course of action at every opportunity. Now, however, there was no chance of escape. She was well and truly tied up and gagged, and the more she struggled, the tighter the ligatures seemed to dig into her flesh.

With their prisoner now less of a threat, Naomi’s unwanted visitors – at least the three male members of the gang - seemed uncertain of their next move. Although they stood over her outwardly sniggering and joking at her hopeless predicament, their edginess at what they had done still shone through. This, however, was no comfort to the helpless heroine who lay squirming and wriggling at their feet; they may have been nervous and unsure of themselves, yet their future motives were still unknown and unpredictable.

This was not the case with their leader- the alpha female of the pack - however, who once again took control of the situation and was soon giving orders to her seemingly subservient troops. After concluding the gagging process to her satisfaction, she’d been quietly exploring the stockpile of towels, sheets, pillowcases and other linen stacked all around the stockroom. Suddenly, during a lull in her cohorts’ merriment, she barked out her next instruction.

“Here guys, take this blanket and wrap her up in it.”

For some reason, her associates hesitated.

“Come on, just do it.”

“Don’t you think we’re going a bit too far...”

“Just do as you’re told, will you!?”

She turned to face her three partners-in-crime and fixed them with a steely stare, which they obviously understood to mean that she was not in the mood to debate the issue.

Reluctantly at first, but then seemingly warming to their task, the boys rolled their captive up in the coarse blanket that made her skin itch. Even though she was inescapably bound, Naomi still managed to summon up a fair bit of opposition to this latest turn of events, albeit only as a token gesture due to the correctly perceived futility of her efforts. Despite her bid for freedom, however, no more than half a minute elapsed before she was wrapped from neck to ankles in the blanket, and more long strips of ripped sheeting were being used to keep the makeshift cloak in place; one piece at her ankles, a second around her knees, the third at her thighs, another encircling her waist and the final one encompassing her chest, upper body and already useless arms. Now surely, she thought as she twisted and turned uncomfortably in her unnatural cocoon, they must have finished with me.

But to her great chagrin, she found that this was far from being the end of her ordeal. In fact, it soon transpired that her torment had only really just begun.

Whilst Naomi was being blanket bound, the leader of this mob of unruly hooligans, ever alert and inquisitive, had unearthed a giant canvas sack from one corner of the room; the sort used for sending dirty linen to the off-site laundry and dry cleaning company that the hotel used. The open end of this sturdy sack incorporated a drawstring which, when the bag was full of soiled sheets and linen, could be drawn closed and secured to keep the contents from falling out. Naomi watched wide eyed as her tormentor-in-chief experimented several times; closing and then enlarging the opening. Naomi knew only too well what she planned to do with her new found discovery, and seconds later her worst fears were realised, as the leader of the pack ordered her henchmen to insert their bound up female captive into the sturdy casing. Naomi’s pleas for leniency not only failed to force their way through her gag in any way, shape or form worthy of being called comprehensible language, but also fell on eight deaf ears.

As with all her bonds, the youths seemed to be adroit at achieving their aims. So much so that Naomi found herself wondering whether they’d perhaps done this sort of thing before. She was, of course, unable to enquire into this matter. But whatever the reasons for their competence, the fact was that, with her entire body in the bag and the drawstrings pulled and knotted around her neck, the chances of getting out of this mess of her own accord were receding by the minute. Naomi’s initial fears of being strangled were soon allayed when she found that, although secured tightly enough to thwart her slipping out, her captors had been careful not to allow the ligature to interfere with her breathing. But that was about all she had any cause to be grateful for at this moment. For taking stock of her situation, Naomi realised that, having been bound, gagged, wrapped and tied in a blanket, then encased in a sack, things simply couldn’t get much worse… Or could they?

“Come on, let’s get out of here now, can we? She can’t escape, and we need to get these televisions into the van before someone else comes along.”

This was the plea from one of her abductors, as if anxious to be away from the scene of their crimes. And this was a sentiment that Naomi sincerely hoped their leader would agree to. But, as before, she was out of luck.

“Yes, in just a minute. But first I think we should shut her in here, so that she can’t move about and raise the alarm.”

With dread, Naomi gazed up from her position on the floor, to see where “here” might refer to.

To her utter dismay, she saw the young woman pointing towards the service lift; that small, confined, windowless space no more than three feet high by four feet in length and around two and a half feet in depth. Once more, her stifled pleas and protests failed to awaken any sympathy in her captors, as she was lifted up and unceremoniously dumped into the enclosed space. For a second or two, her pleading eyes searched the four faces forlornly for an ounce of compassion. But this was the last image that would be stamped on her retinas for the foreseeable future, before the sliding door was slammed shut and she was plunged into total blackness.

The cramped lift, as Naomi knew only too well, was designed to carry linen and towels, not human beings. As such, there was no emergency alarm button or telephone, nor handle or any kind of door release on the inside. In fact, the only thing that broke the monotony of the six sides of grey steel that surrounded her, was a small ventilation grille in one corner; the purpose of which being to ensure that the lift didn’t overheat. At least that was one blessing; she wouldn’t suffocate.

But Naomi’s woes, which had been steadily increasing in number over the past quarter of an hour or so, had one final turn to take, and as with everything else that had happened to her since she’d first come face to face with this gang of four, the end result would prove to be to her detriment.

No sooner had the door shut on her and sealed her in, than Naomi suddenly felt the elevator begin to move; first upwards, then downwards, then up again. From the clamour outside, which kept fading in and out with the rise and fall of her mobile prison cell, she realised that each of her jailers – or at least the male contingent - were desperately keen to control the buttons that sent her shooting towards the building’s upper floors then plummeting down again to the ground. Much of their talk was incoherent above the hum of her constantly moving tomb, but one debate that did partially reach her ears concerned the possible outcome if both the ‘up’ and ‘down’ buttons were pushed simultaneously. Naomi had no idea what the result of this action might be either... although she was about to find out.

All of a sudden, just as she was experiencing the rising and falling motion for the umpteenth time, there came a strange grating and rasping noise from somewhere just above Naomi’s mobile tomb, which resounded for approximately five seconds, before a loud ‘clunk’ coincided with her journey being brought to an abrupt halt. Momentarily there was silence.

“It’s got stuck between floors! It won’t move up or down!”

The faint voice below only served to confirm her deepest fears. Now she was trapped in the lift shaft somewhere between, she guessed, the first and ground floors. But even worse than that, voices from below showed not one iota of concern that they’d now entombed her in a sarcophagus of steel from which there was no hope of escape. In fact, from the ribald laughter that echoed through the shaft and rattled the walls, floor and ceiling of her sealed chamber, the three guys were rather proud of their achievement, and it soon became evident that they had no intention of rectifying the situation that they’d created. Their playful banter was soon terminated by the young woman, however. Surely she would have more compassion regarding the plight of her captive? Apparently not.

“Right guys, pick up those televisions and get them out to the van. I think we can safely say that our trapped friend won’t be telling anybody about our visit here for a little while.”

From her position above, Naomi heard the voices of the three young men - still high-spirited after their spell of horse-play - gradually receding into the distance as they departed from the storeroom. Just as it began to dawn on her that all four unwanted visitors had presumably left, however, and she was about to launch a campaign to summon help as best she could, the voice of the group’s female member echoed through the surrounding metal panels.

“Well, it looks as if my associates have left you in a bit of a predicament with their over-zealous antics. I couldn’t get you out of there now, even if I wanted too. But at least it will stop you raising the alarm until we’re gone. Don’t worry though, I’m sure someone will find you in a couple of hours. At least I hope so for your sake, ’cause otherwise you might be spending a rather uncomfortable night all shut up in there. And we wouldn’t want that now, would we?”

For the first time, the girl seemed to show some semblance of humour, and it struck Naomi that she was probably getting as much enjoyment out of this whole incident – albeit in a more reserved manner – than her more vocal colleagues.

“Anyway, must dash now. Nice to have met you. Hope you have a very happy new year.”

From below, Naomi heard the door to the storeroom close, followed by the faint sound of a key turning; meaning that, even if she could get out of the lift - which she couldn’t - she would still be locked in. And then a deep, disturbing silence, coupled with an overwhelming pitch blackness, seemed to close in, envelope and enshroud her.

Naomi attempted to scream, but she instinctively knew that it was hopeless. She had been abandoned in an empty hotel, trapped in a tiny service lift, bound and gagged with no possibility of getting free, being discovered, or summoning assistance. And if that wasn’t bad enough, nobody would suspect that she was in trouble for several days, as her parents had no idea she was planning a visit, and her fellow live-in members of staff thought she’d gone home. The only person likely to approach anywhere near this storeroom in the next few days was the security guard on his scheduled nightly rounds, and his route, as Naomi knew, would bring him to within no more than fifty yards of her place of confinement. Being unable to shout loudly enough to attract his attention, meant that the one option left open to her was to kick out at the walls of her confining crypt, in the hope that this produced enough commotion to cause him to investigate.

But the way she was bound up inside the sack and covered in the blanket made this a very difficult and ineffective operation; especially as space within the tiny elevator was at a premium, and obtaining any momentum as she swung her legs in the cramped conditions was almost impossible.

And furthermore, how would she know when this security guard - her only possible saviours as far as she could see - was within hearing range? With the hotel empty, he would only be required to perform his circuitous check of the building twice per night - and would be in the vicinity for less than thirty seconds on each occasion. There seemed no way of predicting when this would be; in fact, she had no way of keeping track of the passing of time at all. And, of course, there was no way she could scream and kick continually, in the hope that at some point he - or anyone else - might be within earshot. If her outbursts were continual, then she risked using up all her energy and strength calling to an empty building, only to end up too weak to maintain her efforts at the critical moment. And besides that, the combination of the blanket, the sack, and the poorly ventilated space were conspiring to make her rather hot and uncomfortable already. So any prolonged exertions would be energy sapping in the extreme, and would consequently speed up her rate of dehydration; a circumstance which she needed to avoid at all costs if she was to be here - as she was beginning to fear - for a very long stretch.

Naomi lay curled up in the tiny service lift and pondered the hopelessness of her plight, and the way circumstances can change in the blink of an eye. This morning she’d been relaxed and happy, looking forward to a well-earned break with her family, with the added incentive that she would be able to catch up with some old friends back home. Life had felt good, and she’d ploughed through the tasks of the day as if on a cloud. Nothing, she’d assumed, could bring her down at that moment.

But for every up, there has to be a downside, and Naomi’s complete reversal in fortunes had come this afternoon when she’d confronted the bunch of thieves in the corridor. For within only a few minutes, her world had flipped over on its axis, and the highs of earlier had without warning seen her plummeting to a new low point in her life; from the pinnacle of Everest to the deepest recorded trough of the Mariana Trench; from the elevated heights of carefree abandon, to the nadir of despair in just a few minutes.

And as if to mirror this analogy of life’s tendency to switch polar extremes without warning, the irony of the fact that she’d been incarcerated in a lift and made to ascend and descend on the whim of a few hooligans until the mechanism had jammed and left her trapped, was not lost on her now.

With little conviction, Naomi once again twisted and turned, wriggled and writhed, squirmed and struggled against bonds that held fast and refused to yield to either her slowly sapping strength, or the silent prayers offered to a deity she had no faith in the existence of anyway. The strips of sheet at her wrists and legs bit deeply into her skin, and offered no hope of breaking, slipping or stretching sufficiently to allow her to slip their clutches. The blanket remained swathed tightly around her, and the drawstring of the canvas sack refused to widen sufficiently so that she could slide out. Her gag, too, could not be spat out, thanks to the tape that seemed to have bonded permanently to her face and lower head. Half-heartedly, she kicked out at the door which would never open from within, and shouted her stifled pleas for assistance into a void where no one was present to hear her. After a few minutes, however, the futility of the situation caused her to reluctantly call a halt to her efforts, as she resigned herself to the fact that she would be spending the period between Christmas and New Year, not in celebration with her loved ones as planned, but instead suspended in a limbo world; trapped within the internal structure of the building she worked in, without hope of salvation on the horizon. At that moment, the future seemed very bleak indeed.

But were despair and misery the only things she could derive from this situation? Or could some benefit or inspiration be gained from this unlikely source?

Whether it was simply Naomi’s brain trying to minimise her propensity to become frantic and hysterical in her unenviable state, Naomi couldn’t tell. Or perhaps there was something more subtle going on; something deep-seated and routed in the most hidden recesses of her subconscious mind, which was now – due to the chronic nature of her dilemma - rising to the surface for the first time in her life. But whatever the cause, over the next hour or two, as she sat in her dark mausoleum feeling as gloomy as the outlook which met her gaze, and with her thoughts as hemmed in as her physical being, a change in perspective began to take shape which was both unexpected and a source of revelation.

Unlike earlier, when her mood had swung from unbridled happiness to the depths of restrained despair in only a few minutes, this change in her way of thinking was far more understated, and reached her not as one sudden ’eureka’ moment, but instead gradually infiltrated its way - almost by stealth, it seemed - into her conscious way of thinking.

Having exhausted herself with the effort of calling for help and thumping on the walls of her prison cell, Naomi’s thoughts had initially turned to happier times. Christmases of the past spent with her family; the joy of being with friends and loved ones; the sparkling lights on the tree; the presents and toys when she was young, all done up in colourful wrapping paper and shiny red ribbons; singing carols around the fire; waiting for Santa’s arrival; wondering whether it would snow and turn the world into a crisp white wonderland. And then, as she grew older, the New Year’s Eve parties and the alcohol; the music and the dancing; getting drunk and staying up to see the new year in. Such happy memories. Or were they?

Now that she had time on her hands to contemplate the past in detail, Naomi remembered only too vividly the arguments that always erupted at her parent’s house over the festive period, when too much booze had been consumed, and relatives who only turned up once a year – which was one time too many, quite frankly – would outstay their welcome, which would then result in blazing rows, people being sick on the carpet, and everyone vowing never to speak to any other member of the family again. Then there was her mother, always nagging her regarding the clothes and make-up she wore when she went out, how she shouldn’t stay out too late, how she shouldn’t mix with the wrong people, and how she shouldn’t get too drunk, etc.etc.

But of course, being told not to drink too much is a red rag to a bull when you’re young, and Naomi would stagger home from wild, unremembered parties, with hangovers that made her feel like she wanted to die, and which laid her low for two or three days afterwards. And then her mother would start up again, telling her how she should act more responsibly now that she was grown up, and how things had all been different in her day, and on and on and on...

The more Naomi delved deeply into her memory-banks to summon up the good times associated with this supposedly joyous period of the year, the greater the realisation began to build in her that maybe all this nostalgia and merriment was actually a sham; a mental construct that people built up to convince themselves that this was such an amazing time, when the reality was actually quite the opposite, and that the week and a bit starting Christmas Eve and ending on New Year’s Day was actually a tortuous minefield that you did your best to get through unscathed; a time to be endured rather than adored, suffered rather than celebrated.

And so, finally, having dredged up endless tainted memories from Christmases past, and with more horrendous past incidents surfacing in her mind by the second, the big questions presented themselves. Was this really something that she was so keen to participate in, after all? Was she, perhaps, better off being unable to experience all of the bullshit, insincerity and heartache that seemed to surround this “most wonderful time of the year”? And, the biggest question of all right now: Had her captors, in fact, done her a massive favour by binding her up and incarcerating her in a metal box, and thus ensuring that all this crap would bypass her this year?

Naomi twisted slightly in her bonds, then strained with a bit more force for a few seconds. But in contrast to her earlier efforts, these were not really struggles aimed at freeing herself from captivity. Instead, these tentative movements were now designed not to hatch an escape, but to reinforce in her mind the fact that she was trapped and couldn’t, even if she wanted to, join her family and friends in this yearly hypocrisy of having to wish “Happy New Year” to people you’d rather never see again. But of course, by this point, the thought of being embroiled in the false merriment was anathema to her, and she found the fact that every time she tried to move - every wriggle, every squirm, every thrust of her being - emphasised the fact that she was going nowhere. And it felt so good and special, that Naomi upped the ante, until she was wrestling her bonds for all she was worth. And to her great surprise, not to mention sheer delight, the more she embarked on this course of simulated yet fruitless struggle, the greater the sense of well-being enveloped her in its magical cloak.

Maybe, she thought as a contented sigh forced its way through her gag, being tied up and locked away from the mayhem of the outside world for a few days wasn’t going to be quite so bad after all!

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