A Few Short Tales of Trapped Females

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After the Hen Party (Prisoner of the Deep Woods)

One of my first attempts at bondage writing, this rather dark tale is presented here - apart from a few minor tweaks and a bit of grammatical correction - almost as it was written twenty years ago.

Be warned, if you like happy endings, this is definitely not for you.

A drop of cool water splashing on her forehead, proved to be the initial catalyst in bringing Karen out of her drunken slumbers, and set in motion the slow process of attaining full waking consciousness. Gingerly, she opened her eyes, her head pounding. She was greeted only by blackness. She waited a few seconds for her swimming head to clear and her eyes to focus , expecting shortly to be able to make out the lighter shape of her bedroom window, standing out against the darker walls. But for some inexplicable reason, this familiar scene failed to materialise before her.

This seemed rather odd to say the least. Was there something wrong with her eyesight? Was she literally blind drunk? She attempted to lift her right hand up to her face, with the intention of rubbing her eyes, but was unable to complete this usually easy task. This was really strange. She seemed to be unable to move.

Another spot of water hit her face, this time splattering on the bridge of her nose and then, slowly, trickling down onto her cheek. In her current state, Karen neither knew nor particularly cared where this water was coming from, but she did know that her throat was parched. Desperate for some cool liquid to soothe the burning sensation, and also to alleviate the foul taste in her mouth, she waited, as the droplet gradually made its way downwards; impatient for the moment when it would reach her lips.

It failed to arrive at its expected destination, however. Somewhere between nose and mouth, the riverlet seemed to just disappear - evaporate perhaps - into nothingness. Again Karen endeavoured to touch her face, this time using her left hand. But, as before, something appeared to be inhibiting her from moving; restraining her, in fact. Now she tried with both hands at once, but with exactly the same result. She couldn’t move. Had she being lying on her arms awkwardly and caused them to deaden temporarily through lack of circulation? That didn’t seem to be a feasible scenario, as she now realised that she wasn’t, in fact, lying down, but sitting propped up against something. Something that felt rough against her back. Both her hands, it seemed, were pulled around and behind this object, which was circular like a pole or post. With the fingers of her left hand, she could feel the fingers of the right, and vice versa, so the numbness theory could be discarded. Karen tried for a fourth time to move, again unsuccessfully, but on this occasion a clinking sound reached her ears; the unmistakeable sound of metal against metal.

Karen was desperately trying to rationalise her situation but, in her befuddled state, she was still unable to get to grips with what had happened to her. Okay, she thought, if my hands don’t want to coordinate with the instructions from my brain just now, then maybe my feet will. Her legs, she now realised, were stretched out straight in front of her, so she attempted to bend her knees and pull her feet towards her body. But this planned action also failed to yield the desired results, and it quickly became apparent that something, or someone, had a hold on her ankles. For it was immediately obvious that her legs were not only being held outstretched, but were also being unnaturally held as closely to each other as it was possible to get in the vicinity of her ankles. Her knees seemed locked together in similar fashion.

Having found her limbs immovable, Karen next tried to jerk her body forwards, but this too met with little success, as it seemed that her upper torso was held in its current position by some unknown force. Still the darkness failed to yield its grip on her eyes.

All of a sudden it hit her. The reason she couldn’t move her arms was because her wrists were bound together behind her. Or rather, the metallic sound she’d heard suggested handcuffs or chains.

The pressure on her ankles spoke of ropes or cords binding her legs together, with the inability to draw her legs towards her suggesting that they were also tethered to some solid object a few feet in distance from where she sat. Likewise, something was securing her knees in close proximity to each other, as she could feel the bonds digging into her skin through her tights. The darkness was obviously accounted for by a blindfold of some description covering her eyes.

The fight that Karen now engaged in to free herself, was equalled only by the battle to stem the rising tide of panic that gripped her. She attempted to scream for help, but all that came out was a stifled moan. Her lips, it now became clear, were firmly sealed with what she could only imagine was some sort of adhesive tape which, now she thought about it, seemed to have been wrapped around her face and lower head several times, thus forming an immovable gag. The missing drop of water could thus be accounted for. But this wasn’t the main reason she wasn’t able to vocalise to any significant level of volume. For the tape was merely a preventative measure to stop the real gag, a piece of mouth filling cloth or rag of some description, being spat out. And it had to be said that both components were performing their allotted duties admirably, much to Karen’s dismay.

What had happened? Where was she? Who had done this to her?

Suddenly it began to come flooding back. She was getting married on Saturday to Tom, and last night - Wednesday - she’d gone out for her hen party; first for a meal, and then on to a nightclub. But whereas the earlier part of the evening was fairly clear in her mind, the memories of the latter period remained fragmented and blurred in an alcohol-fuelled mist.

But that was irrelevant for the time being. The reason she was in this mess would have to wait for an explanation until later. The most pressing problem at the present moment, indeed her sole concern, was getting out of her bonds. Keep calm, she told herself, there must be some way out of this. Karen twisted her left hand around and stretched with her fingers until they touched something cold and metallic. Her initial fears were confirmed. Her wrists were locked into tightly fitting bracelets of steel, which were themselves held together by no more than an inch or so of solid chain. She pulled and strained despairingly for several minutes , in the forlorn hope that the shackles would loosen, or she could slip one or other of her hands free from its shackle. But it was hopeless. Whoever had done this to her had made sure that escape was impossible. Her arms were manacled securely around this post, or whatever it was, at her back.

Next she concentrated on trying to free her legs, but they too proved no easier to release; bound up tightly in two places, ensuring that she had no way of wriggling her feet free. Around her chest, another restraint seemed to encircle her, cutting into her flesh beneath her armpits and itself wrapped around the same object that her hands were fettered behind. A similar ligature, pulled tightly around her waist, tethered her lower body in like manner.

So, with her limbs and body firmly held in check, and freedom unlikely to be self attained, the only other option open to this poor creature right now, was to attempt to summon assistance. It had now become apparent, from the cool summer breeze that rustled the leaves on the trees, the water still intermittently splashing on and around her, and the chirping of birdsong all around, that Karen had been brought to an outdoor location. And the roughness of the surface against which she sat, plus the feel of bark as her fingers explored their environment, made it a logic assumption that the object she was tied to must be a tree. She strained her ears, hoping against hope for the sound of voices, the noise of distant traffic, or any other aural signal that would indicate human presence in close proximity. But alas, she heard none. The only noises were those of the natural world around her.

Again she tried to scream, but as before the sound that emanated from her mouth was muffled and muted by the gag, with the tape refusing to release its grip on the flesh of her face, thereby ensuring that her lips could not be parted. Try as she might, no amount of contorting her facial muscles or working her jaw in every imaginable direction would convince the clinging substance to release its hold.

The only other avenue open to her in this present plight was to try to work the blindfold loose, and this activity at least seemed slightly more likely to lead to a successful outcome. Not that it would be of any overall benefit in her desire to escape from her bonds, but at least she would be able to view her surroundings and take stock of her bonds, which just might give her some idea of how to hatch an escape plan.

The sight restrictor, it seemed from the feel of the material on her face, was a scarf or some other thick woollen garment, which had been tightly wound at least twice around her head and knotted at the back. She knew this because, every time she leant her head back against the tree trunk, she could feel it digging into her skull. Although this ligature was wrapped securely around her face and would not easily be shaken off, Karen had the notion that rubbing her skull against the uneven bark could, with the little piece of luck that seemed to have otherwise deserted her at the moment, force the offending article to ride up until it was high enough on her brow to shake free.

It proved to be a long, tiring process for someone in a state that was bordering on hysteria. But gradually, a fraction of an inch at a time, Karen succeeded in shifting the eye binder high enough, until finally it fell from her face and landed in her lap, where it would have to remain for the time being.

But any sense of elation that may have been forthcoming following this minor triumph, was cancelled out by the sight that greeted her newly restored vision. The scene that gradually formed before her, as her eyes became accustomed to the glare of a July morning, caused only renewed dismay. A vista of thick undergrowth, consisting of shrubs and ferns, surrounded her on all sides, with closely packed trees towering overhead, through the leaves of which the early morning sunlight streamed. Karen’s heart sank. The surrounding foliage was tall and dense enough, it was immediately obvious, to keep her concealed from the view of any passersby, no matter how close they might approach. In her sitting position, from which it was impossible to raise herself, it appeared that she’d been abandoned in the middle of nowhere; a prisoner of the deep forest.

For a while Karen sat in a motionless daze, wondering to herself what she had ever done to deserve this. Eventually she realised, however, that doing nothing would get her nowhere. So, if no help was at hand, then she’d have to go back to trying to find her own way of extricating herself from this sorry predicament.

Karen turned her head around and stretched her arms out, in an effort to catch a glimpse of the manacles that were, she’d decided, the crux of the problem. If she could only get these off, then she’d be quite capable of untying the other restraints. But although the tree wasn’t that large in diameter, the position in which the two body straps kept her harnessed, made it almost impossible to see her wrist shackles. All she could manage were fleeting glimpses of the silvery-grey metal that encircled each arm, before the contorted body shape in which she had to place herself to achieve this view became too uncomfortable to maintain, and she had to relax. Three or four times she persevered, but received no clues as to how the cuffs locked, or if there was any conceivable hope of them turning out to be escapable, which was doubtful.

Next she turned her attentions to the bond around her chest, which proved to be a thick, black, leather belt that held her upper torso to the tree and fastened with a heavy buckle on her breasts. Looking down her nose, the gold coloured clasp was no more than six inches away from her face. But due to the tape that sealed her mouth and precluded any attempt to use her teeth to release it, this obstruction to her freedom might as well have been a mile away, such was her impotence in this matter. And i f there was no way in the world that this strap could be removed, exactly the same applied to the lower belt that had been pulled extra tightly around her waist. When she leaned forward as far as the upper strap would allow, she could see that the two were almost identical, both in appearance and in terms of their restraining properties .

Karen shivered. Although it was a bright summer’s morning, she realised for the first time that she was cold. All she was wearing was a flimsy white blouse, black bra and panties, and the shortest of short mini-skirts that revealed her long slender legs enmeshed in black tights. Following her legs down from where her thighs emerged from the skirt, she could see that her knees had been bound together with a long piece of white rope which, as far as she could tell, had been wrapped around both legs at least five times, before being cinched. The final knot must, she grimly decided, be located at the back of her knees, as she could see no sign of it from where she sat. Moving still further down, half way along her calves, her legs disappeared amidst the foliage of a small but sturdy shrub. But the fact that no matter how hard she tugged and wrenched on her ankles, her lower legs could not be retracted and brought into view, suggested that her feet had been bound to the trunk of this sturdy piece of vegetation. Two things that Karen could deduce about her feet, however, were that her ankles were bound tightly and securely together side by side, and that, from wiggling her toes, it was obvious that her shoes had either been removed or lost at some point.

Having now surveyed all her bonds to the best of her ability, Karen had come to the conclusion that was the least palatable of all the available scenarios on offer. She didn’t want to have to admit it, but there was no way that a single bond was releasable without outside help. She had to face the fact that the only two possible fates awaiting her were either to be rescued, or otherwise to remain in her current state.

Karen leant her head back against the tree, gazed up into the branches above, and howled into the wilderness. Who could possibly have done this to her? And why? She tried to reassure herself that the whole thing was just a prank perpetrated by her friends, who’d got her drunk and left her here for a while. They’d return soon, she kept on thinking. In fact, they were probably out there right now, watching her and sniggering at her discomfort and her struggles to get free. But everything would be alright in the end, as they’d soon be back to release her. They wouldn’t just leave her here for any great length of time, would they?

But there again, they’d been drinking too, so how could they have got her all the way from a town centre nightclub to this desolate spot, wherever it was? And if they were as intoxicated as she was, then would their memories of the night’s events be any clearer than hers? Might they have no recollection of where they’d taken her? Or worse still, no memory of binding her at all? What would become of her then? Although she desperately wanted to believe that her friends were just larking around, this hope seemed to be fading by the minute. What should be the happiest, most joyous day of her life was only just over two days away, and here she was trapped against a tree, with no hope of escape and only a very slender prospect of being stumbled upon.

By now, the dawn chorus was at its peak, which informed Karen that it was still very early. Her friends, if she could still call them that, would in all probability still be asleep, not waking for several hours yet. So it looked as if she was in for a long stretch out here. How could they do this to her? She had a million things to sort out before the big day, and the last thing she needed was to spend hour after hour in captivity. How long would it be before someone realised she was missing? She wasn’t due to see Tom until tonight, so he wouldn’t suspect anything until he found her flat empty. And although she had several appointments planned for today, with regard to the flowers, the cake, the cars etc. her non appearance would hardly be likely to set alarm bells off with regard to her welfare. It was only the small details that had to be finalised, and those could quite easily be sorted out by phone on Friday, if it came down to it. Her parents, if they did ring, would probably assume that she was busy making the last minute arrangements, so they wouldn’t raise the alarm either. With horror, Karen put forward then discarded more and more candidates as potential saviours, until the realisation hit her that nobody would probably cotton on to the worrying nature of her absence until tonight, unless whoever had left her here saw fit to repent their wicked deeds and come back to release her.

As the sky brightened still further, Karen’s outlook for the immediate future became blacker and bleaker. Alternating periods of frenzied struggle with resigned inactivity, her thoughts turned to the question of which of her so called friends had actually brought her here. Whose idea was it? Was it a joint effort by all of them, or just one or two? If the latter happened to be the case, then which ones? Did any of them hold a grudge against her perhaps?

This latest question had only just begun to revolve around the still groggy cogs of her mind, when all at once she had the answer. Whether the memory was stimulated by the question, or the question by the remembered events, it was difficult to say, and of no great consequence anyway. The more Karen mulled this revelation over, the clearer the picture became, and all the pieces of the puzzle began to slip into place. Then, once she’d built a complete theory from the fragments, Karen went through everything once more, step by step, interspersing memory with theory, until she was certain that there could be no other explanation.

It had to be Anna’s doing. Even though they’d been at school together, and had kept in contact ever since, Karen had always sensed a certain amount of animosity from Anna. Although they both went out together as part of a crowd, Anna was always the one that Karen felt least comfortable with. In truth, they had very little in common, apart from the fact that they were both twenty four years old . But one thing that they had very similar views on, something that they’d been great rivals over, in fact, was Karen’s future husband Tom. And although Anna had gone out with him once or twice several years ago, when his interest in Karen, and hers in him, began to blossom, relations between the two women, which had never been more than polite, turned icy. Although nothing was ever said , it had become obvious to Karen that Anna thought of Tom as hers, and that Karen had, in effect, stolen something which belonged to her. Several times when a group of them had been out, Karen had sensed eyes glaring at her. On turning around, she’d invariably find that it was her great rival for Tom’s affections who was fixing her with a look that, at times, bordered on evil.

Now the memories of the previous night came flooding back, although the earlier evening in the restaurant was far less hazy than the later clubbing session. Karen had noticed, although she had attributed little significance to it at the time, that Anna was especially keen to be the one who went to the bar to get the drinks in. She’d also thought that her vodka and tonics had tasted stronger than normal, although she’d been assured that they weren’t double measures, and quite frankly, by the time she’d had two or three she couldn’t have cared less anyway. Having also been plied with wine during the meal, the journey to, and the subsequent period of time in the nightclub, were altogether less clear in her memory. But there was a distinct image, which she managed to dredge up from somewhere, of being helped out of the club at some point, much the worse for wear. And she received the impression that there was one person on either arm, supporting and leading her across a darkened car park.

Who were these people? Karen racked her brain, desperately trying to fill in the gaps. One of her assistants was definitely a man, whose vague image Karen could now see in her mind ’s eye, but whose face, although slightly familiar, she was having difficulty in placing. But if she was in any doubt about the man’s identity, there could be no uncertainty whatsoever about the woman propping her up by the left shoulder. The image that Karen had been trying to recall for the past few minutes of her female assailant became clarified without a shadow of a doubt. It was Anna, and with this revelation came the answer to the male’s identity. She’d only ever seen him once or twice before, but she was now convinced that the guy holding tightly onto her right arm was Anna’s brother, although his name still eluded her.

After this, there was one final memory....then nothing. Karen had the impression of momentarily being leant against the side of a car, before being unceremoniously bundled into the back seat. And apart from the fact that the car engine started up and they began to move, this was all that she could recollect, no matter how hard she tried to extrapolate further details from her confused brain. At this point, she guessed, she’d passed out into a drunken stupor. The next thing she could recall was the water dripping onto her head before the slow realisation of her captivity had become apparent.

Karen’s panic at her helplessness was now enhanced by a feeling of rage. That devious bitch Anna had got her drunk and then dumped her here. When she got out of this, she vowed to herself, she’d kill the bitch for deliberately planning to disrupt her big day.

The one mistake that Anna had made, was that she hadn’t got her quite drunk enough to erase every single memory. That would be her downfall when Karen next saw her. Or should that be if she saw her? Did Anna have any plans to come back and set her free? Or was she hoping that Karen would perish here, so that she could step in and win the affections of her grieving husband-to-be? If the answer to this last question was yes, then her prospects seemed bleak to say the least. For with no prospect of escape, and no sign of help arriving any time soon, how long would she be here? How many days could she survive if no one came across her? Okay, it was the height of summer, but the nights could be extremely chilly. How long would it be before she died of exposure? Or thirst? Or some other slow lingering type of death that she couldn’t even bear to contemplate?

All of a sudden, there was a disturbance in the undergrowth to Karen’s left. At first she hoped that rescue might be at hand, and so screamed as loudly as the gag would allow, whilst simultaneously trying to raise herself up that extra inch or two off the ground, in order to make herself visible to any unsuspecting passerby. But although the sound was getting closer by the second, she realised fairly early on that this was not the methodical rhythm of human feet approaching, but more likely an animal of some description. Once more her hopes sank and her fear rose as the crunching of foliage grew louder. What sort of creature was this crashing through the ferns and bushes? An instant later her question was answered, as into view, no more than three feet from her outstretched legs, wandered a dog. In contrast to Karen, who had been made aware of her visitor’s approach, the brown and white cocker spaniel obviously hadn’t picked up her scent, and was visibly startled at this strange sight before him. He stood motionless for what seemed an eternity, his left forepaw lifted and frozen in mid stride like a statue. For some reason, Karen heard herself begin to plead with this startled animal, begging him to fetch help. The dog barked once, then sniffed at Karen’s knees, as if not certain of what he’d encountered here. What was this strange form laid out before him, which looked human but failed to move or make normal human sounds with its mouth?

“Come on Jake. Here boy.”

The voice and accompanying whistle sounded a long way off, but immediately the dog’s ears pricked up and his head turned towards the source of the command; the direction from which he’d recently arrived upon the scene. All at once Karen’s hopes revived.


This was her attempted vocalised plea, although the words would almost certainly have proved incomprehensible to anyone else. Again and again Karen repeated virtually the same phrases, endeavouring time after time, without success, to lift herself up to a height where she’d be visible above the foliage. The dog hesitated, seemingly undecided whether to obey his master’s call, or stay to explore his new and unusual discovery still further. The voice came again, only this time from a greater distance, but this appeared to make Jake’s mind up for him. With one final glance into Karen’s distraught face, he turned and scampered off, using the same route from which he’d first appeared.


Whether her muffled plea was directed at the dog or his owner, Karen wasn’t really sure. But once the rustling of disturbed undergrowth had receded into the distance, and stillness had again settled over this pleasant woodland morn, it was plainly obvious that her despairing attempt at attracting attention had failed dismally.

Karen began to sob uncontrollably, the tears flowing down her face and over her gag. How on earth was she going to get out of this mess? For two or three minutes she sat there, her whole body shaking with the fear and sadness she now felt, until it dawned on her that it was getting more difficult to breathe, as the sniffing and snuffling was causing her nose to become bunged up. With no way to take air in through her mouth, Karen knew that she had to get a grip on herself and put an end to this river of tears. If she didn’t, the consequences would be disastrous. It took a Herculean effort, but she managed to pull herself together after a few seconds. For a long time she remained in a state of torpor, unmoving and deeply distressed. But then, some part of her - some higher self perhaps - suddenly rose to the surface of her consciousness and scolded her for this state of apathy. “Self pity won’t get you out of this” a voice inside seemed to say. “If you want your freedom back, you’re going to have to earn it”.

At once, Karen could see the truth of this revelation. But what could she do? She’d already tried to pull her bound limbs free, struggled and writhed frantically, wrenched at her fetters, wriggled her body into every position imaginable, but all without success. She knew it was a lost cause. But also, she recognised that this was the only course of action left open to her. Perhaps, she optimistically thought, constant twisting and pulling at the bonds would weaken them and eventually force them to give way and break. It was a long shot, but optimism of this kind was all she had left. For what seemed like hours, she pulled and strained, putting every ounce of effort she could conjure up into forcing the handcuff chain to break; yanking her arms apart so violently, that it felt like her shoulders were about to dislocate. Simultaneous with this show of strength, she tugged and twisted on the rope around her ankles, hoping and praying that the constant friction against the trunk to which they were tied might cause it to weaken and snap.

Eventually, though, she had to admit defeat. The handcuffs refused to break, the cords refused to yield, and she failed to wriggle out of the straps holding her body to its tethering station. Her only achievement, at the end of this massive surge of energy, was to tire herself out and aggravate the pain in her wrists and ankles where the bonds cut into her flesh. With her energies now spent, she was forced to cease her mammoth efforts; her breasts heaving as she fought to catch her breath. Her stomach was churning with fear and panic, her head pounding from the after-effects of the alcohol, and her throat felt as if it was on fire. On top of all that, her limbs ached incessantly, the result of them being held in the same position continually for hours on end.

The morning seemed to drag on incessantly, with no other sound but the birds and the breeze to break the silence. The sun seemed to be almost at its zenith now, yet the whole world of humanity appeared to be sleeping as far as Karen was concerned. Surely somebody must come along at some point. The man walking his dog couldn’t be the only visitor to these woods, could he? Then the gloom increased one hundred fold, as she realised to her horror that maybe, just maybe, the woods she found herself captive in were privately owned; in which case, the chances of a rambler, jogger or casual passerby stumbling upon her diminished still further. Knowing Anna the way she did, she was sure that she wouldn’t do anything by halves. For if Anna had planned to conceal her from the outside world, then it could be taken for granted that she’d done her homework and made sure the job was done as near perfectly as possible. She’d have put such tremendous forethought into every aspect of the operation, and paid meticulous attention of the tiniest detail, in an effort to close every conceivable loophole and block every possible avenue of escape. Karen could have done without any thoughts of this nature pervading her consciousness, yet they were all she could seem to summon up right now. Her present circumstances hardly pointed to a bright future, after all.

A huge drop of water splashed onto Karen’s right thigh and spread out into a large round circle as it soaked into her tights. She looked up to see if she could locate the source of this liquid missile, just as a second splattered onto her right shoulder. Then another hit the ground a few inches to her left, followed by more, splashing against the leaves of the ferns all around her. Although the sun had still been shining brightly when the first drip came, a large dark cloud could be seen approaching at speed, which, thirty seconds or so later, diminished the brightness and caused a drastic change to occur in both scenery and climate. Where once the gentle breeze had blown the leaves to and fro in an ever changing pattern, now all around seemed dull and lifeless. Karen shuddered as the temperature seemed to plummet dramatically, and the cool water fell ever faster upon her face, drenching her long, blonde hair in seconds. If only some of that water could seep through her gag and lubricate her bone-dry mouth and throat.

Thinking about her raging thirst suddenly brought an idea to the forefront of Karen’s mind. Would the adhesive on the gagging tape lose its effectiveness if it became saturated? It was worth finding out. Leaning back and pointing her head skywards, Karen allowed the full brunt of the downpour to smack onto her face. Every few seconds she puffed out her cheeks, wiggled her lips to the fullest extent that the gag would allow, and generally did everything within her powers to remove the clinging material. Please give me a break now, she pleaded to any deity that might be listening; just one tiny bit of good fortune after this run of bad luck.

But if she was due a change for the better, it would have to wait a while longer. Although the rain beat down upon the gag, Karen’s skin remained dry beneath, a sign that the tape Anna had used was of a high quality when it came to its water resistant properties. When the truth of the matter became obvious, and another door to freedom slammed shut in her face, Karen again wept, her tears mingling with the rain trickling down her face.

The shower lasted for no more than a quarter of an hour, and soon the sun returned to its former glory, although for the next few hours Karen had to contend with a steady flow of dripping water, as the leaves above ridded themselves of their share of the rain onto the prisoner below, who seemed as much a part of the tree now as they were. Karen felt like a drowned rat. Her hair, or what she could see of it, fell over her shoulders in a matted and tangled mess. All her clothes were soaked through and clung to her, chilling her to the bone, even though the sun was once more doing its best to warm her. Although she struggled occasionally, Karen’s bouts of freedom seeking became of shorter duration, and were interspersed with longer intervals as the day wore on. She’d held a slight hope that the water would help to lubricate her wrists, and so allow her to slip free of her manacles, but the bracelets were fastened much too closely to her skin for this to occur. She also wishfully prayed for the ropes around her legs to become softer and more pliable after their soaking, but, if anything, the dampness seemingly produced the opposite effect, and her knees felt even more constricted than before.

As the sun began to slowly make its descent, a small aeroplane flew overhead. This, the first sign that the whole human race hadn’t completely vanished from the planet, found Karen automatically - and irrationally - screaming at the pilot to come to her aid. But once the craft had vanished from her line of vision, Karen was forced to take a reality check. Had it really come to this, she pondered, once the noise of the plane had died away in the distance? Was desperation so great that she was forced to shout at aircraft travelling a few thousand feet above her head?

Trapped: totally, completely and utterly. Now Karen was getting some idea of what it was like to be kidnapped. Although in a hostage situation, at least there was usually somebody in close attendance, guarding against your escape. Out here though, she was completely alone; abandoned in the wilderness and left to rot.

With so much time on her hands, Karen’s thoughts turned back to the only other time she’d ever been tied up in her life. That was when they were kids, and her brother and some of his friends had bound her hands behind her back with a neck tie, and then tethered her ankles to a chair and stuffed a handkerchief in her mouth. She couldn’t have been more than about twelve or thirteen at the time, and the exact reason for her sibling - Martin - who was two years older than herself, and a bunch of his mates ambushing her and leaving her helpless, was now forgotten.

But the fact that she knew they meant her no real harm, and that she was in no great pain, made the experience, if not exactly pleasurable, at least one which she could tolerate. Admittedly they’d refused to release her for more than an hour, by which time her wrists and ankles were sore and red. But the episode had left no lasting effects on her mentally. Not so on this occasion, of course. For this current ordeal, if she actually managed to survive it, would live long in her memory as the worst day of her life.

At what Karen guessed must have been around 5 PM, her hopes of imminent rescue were suddenly reborn. Somewhere in the distance, from behind her back, came the happy sounds of children laughing and playing. Although the sound was far away, Karen listened intently, willing the cries of glee and merriment to move in her direction. It was no good shouting or screaming, as she’d found out with the much closer dog walker this morning. And besides, her throat was now so painfully dry that even the thought of using what remained of her voice to attract help was insufficient to make her contemplate more vocalisation unless she knew for certain that she’d be heard. She listened, as minute after minute the children’s cheerful voices echoed through the glades and rides; never fading in volume, but at no point becoming louder either. Why was anyone allowed to be so happy when she was forced to endure such misery only a few hundred yards away? The unfairness of it all overwhelmed her and made her break down in tears yet again.

As twilight gradually began to creep through the forest, Karen’s thoughts turned once again to Tom. What would he do when he discovered that she’d disappeared? Would he call the police straight away? Or would he assume that some pressing engagement, some unforeseen arrangement for their wedding, had forced her to abort their evening together? And even if he did raise the alarm, why would the search for her commence way out in the wilds? Presumably, the only people who knew where she was were Anna and her brother, and they were most unlikely to divulge her whereabouts after all this time.

What if - the thought sent a chill surging through the severely traumatised woman which owed nothing to her still damp attire - Anna had another devious plan? Was she, even now, as Karen sat helplessly in her bondage, consoling Tom over the fact that his fiancée had confided in her last night that she’d decided not to marry him after all and was leaving town immediately? There was no point in going after her, Anna would deviously tell him, as Karen had let it be known that she would never, under any circumstances, return. Karen quickly dismissed such a ridiculous scenario from her mind. It was irrational. And anyway, there was no way Tom would believe such a farfetched story as that. Somehow or other, he’d get to the truth of the matter and come looking for her, she managed to convince herself. After all, they had such a close, almost telepathic, bond with each other, that he’d find out what had happened to her sooner or later. And this notion of paranormal communication brought a fresh idea into focus , and for the next hour or so Karen formed a mental picture of herself handcuffed , bound, gagged , and strapped to a tree, and imagined this thought form travelling through inner space to Tom’s brain. Would it - indeed, could it - work? She certainly believed that it was a possibility. In fact she simply had to believe it. The only problem was, that even if she did manage to somehow invoke this image in Tom’s head, how was she to enlighten him as to her whereabouts, when she herself didn’t have a clue where she was? Had she been transported a long distance, possibly even hundreds of miles, from home? Or was she sitting in woodlands only a few minutes from home? All of a sudden, the bubble of enthusiasm for this telepathic broadcast burst, as she realised that the chances of supernatural powers coming to her salvation were virtually nil.

As the sun set, Karen steeled herself for another night of captivity. Would she survive the hours of darkness? Or would the cool of the night, coupled with her soaking this afternoon, be too much for her weakened and exposed being to bear? She had no way of knowing. She’d fight all the way, of course, doing everything within her powers to produce enough body heat to survive. But the gloomy question that now invaded her tormented mind, as she fought to keep herself from drifting off into a sleep from which she might never awaken, was this. If, in the first twenty four hours of her imprisonment, no one had discovered her, what cause did she have for thinking that tomorrow would be any different? And what of her big day, now only thirty six hours in the future? Would it be the happiest day of her life... or maybe her last? Would her guests be attending a wedding, or a wake? These forbidding questions hung heavily over her in the gathering twilight.

With the disappearance of the sun, the avian world became once more silent save for the occasional mocking hoot of an owl, as blackness enveloped the forest floor, enshrouding its reluctant jailbird in its arboreal cloak of darkness from which there was no escape.

What her ultimate fate might be was both unknown and unknowable; the answer to be revealed only in the fullness of time. But for now, Karen was, and would remain, truly, a prisoner of the deep woods.

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