STRAPPED IN THE COUNTRYSIDE

A month ago, whilst travelling home from a business meeting up in Scotland, I broke down in the middle of Northumbria, miles from the nearest town. Iíd never taken this route before, but due to heavy traffic on the A1, I decided to turn off and head across country south. Unfortunately, to add to my predicament, Iíd managed to get lost. I was unable to receive a signal on my mobile and it was getting dark. Not wanting to spend the night in the car, I decided to find help. The sky darkened and was soon almost pitch black. To make matters worse, it started to rain. After half an hour, I was wet, cold and getting rather concerned. It was then that I noticed a light about half a mile away.

Relieved to find help, I ran towards the Farmhouse and banged on the door. Nobody came. "Great, no one home," I thought. I knocked hard again. I saw a curtain move. "Whoís there?" I heard a female voice say. I replied, "I need help, Iíve broken down and I am totally lost. Can I use your phone? "Wait there," came the reply. I moment later and the door opened. I was confronted with a beautiful woman in her late twenties with long blonde hair and blue eyes, wearing a nice country style blouse and floral skirt. Her appearance took me back. "Can I help you?" she enquired. "Yes, thank you. Iím totally lost and have been walking around aimlessly for the last half hour," I answered. She paused and then having looked at the weather said, "Okay, come in. Youíll catch cold out there."

She escorted me into the living room and I was relieved to see a large coal fire burning. I stood in front of it whilst she said, "Iíll get you some dry clothes." She came back with a towel and a warm dressing gown. I dried off and changed. "Iíll put these in the dryer and get you something to drink," she said taking my wet clothes. A few minutes later she came back with a large mug of tea which I drank gratefully. She looked at me and smiled. "Weíve not been properly introduced. My name is Sarah White." Embarrassed by my bad manners, I shook her hand and laughed, "Mineís Peter Hughes. Sorry Iíve inconvenienced you like this." "Not at all, I donít get many visitors out here," she replied. I frowned, "Surely, you donít live alone do you?" She sighed, "Yes, but I prefer a quite life."

Having finished my tea, I asked if my clothes would be dry. "A few more minutes yet," said replied, "Youíre not thinking of leaving?" "Iíve put you through enough, frightening you with banging on the door," I said. "But itís late and besides, itís still raining. You could die out there. You canít leave. Stay here tonight." Her suggestion seemed sensible. "Thank you again. Have you got a spare room?" Sarah seemed awkward and lost for words. "Itís okay, Iíll sleep on the floor. Donít worry yourself," I reassured her. Still struggling she said, "Itís not that. Itís just.. Well ..This will sound bad. Itís just that youíre a stranger. I donít think I could sleep with you here." "Iím sorry. Iím not an axe murderer you know!" I responded. "Iím sorry. What a host I am. I Shouldnít have said that," she said quite upset. "No! Itís understandable. Look, Iíll sleep in the barn." "No, it leaks and is cold. I wouldnít think of it," she indignantly replied. "Okay, what do you suggest? Could you lock me in a room?" I said. Stupid suggestion I know, but I was desperate not to upset her and the prospect of spending a night outside wasnít appealing. "No, the Doors donít have locks," she answered without really listening to what I said. "Well, tie me up then," I laughed loudly. She looked up and appeared serious. "Really?" she frowned. I stopped laughing. "Well.. if itís the only way," I said shrugging my shoulders not thinking that she really was taking my seriously. "I have no rope but I do have something if youíll agree," she smiled. Curious, I nodded and followed her upstairs.

She went into a small storeroom and lifted down a small chest. "In here," she said as she opened it. I looked closer as she lifted out the contents. It took me a moment to recognise this curious off-white piece of cloth. It appeared to be something to wear, a kind of jacket. Then I noticed some straps hanging off the ends of two long sleeves as Sarah lifted it out. A strange and sudden panic overwhelmed me as I immediately recognised that it as a Straitjacket! "What do you think?" she smiled. I was speechless. "Er, A Straitjacket. Nice..Er, where did you get it?" She was pleased with me reaction and question. "A few years ago I was a magicianís assistant. He was going to use in one of his escape acts. He had it specially designed," she proudly said, "By me." "Why didnít he use it?" I enquired. "There was just a tiny little problem with it," she said. "What?" I asked. "He couldnít escape from it," she chuckled. "He wanted a real challenge sick of watching people escape from flimsy or gimmicked jackets. He called them con-artists, not escape-artists. Naturally I rose to the task and produced this." She proudly presented the Straitjacket to me. I was now pale and shaking but I didnít want Sarah to see I was frightened. "Do you still want to wear it? Itís really quite comfortable," she smiled. Looking into her gorgeous eyes and with being tired and taken back, I didnít refuse. "Against my better judgement, alright then!" I spurted out.

She led me back to the landing. She held the Straitjacket invitingly open. I removed the dressing gown, now only in my boxer shorts, and slipped my arms into the awaiting sleeves. Sarah obviously had performed the Straitjacket act many times before. She expertly turned me around and quickly proceeded to fasten the five straps at the back and one between my legs. Having fastened all six, she tugged at the Straitjacket and tightened the straps to remove any real slack. This must have taken less than a minute. I was frightened by her pace and professionalism. "Iím having second thoughts," I said trembling. "Too late for that," she answered calmly, taking totally control of the situation. Without giving me another chance to question her, she grabbed the straps dangling down from the sleeves. She passed them through a loop at each side of the jacket and both through a loop at the front. She pulled hard at the straps and I felt my arms drawn around my torso without much effort. One moment later and I felt the buckle of the arm straps digging into my back and being fastened. Sarah then proceeded to check the Straitjacket, tugging and tightening any loose straps. Less than two minutes and it was all over. "There, done!" she said out of breathe as she turned me around.

As Sarah stood back admiring her efforts, I decided to quickly check out the Straitjacket. Firstly, I tugged with all my strength against the sleeves, groaning and straining. The Straitjacket didnít give at all; instead it felt even stronger as the buckle that fastened both sleeves together dug into my back. After half a minute of futility, I gave up and caught my breath. For some strange reason, I became unaware of Sarah standing there smiling as I was consumed with the desire of not letting the Straitjacket get the better of me. Next I tried to pull the sleeves over my head but they were done up tightly and besides, they were pinned to my body by the three loops they passed through. The crotch strap digging into my groan deterred my continued attempt. Lastly I tried pulling my arms out of the sleeves but I could only manage to move them about an inch as my elbows dug into the unforgiving canvas sleeves. There was no slack and no give, the jacket seemed to have be designed perfectly for my build and also perfectly applied. The sobering realisation that I was trapped suddenly dawned on me and I gazed at Sarah with troubled Eyes.

Sarah stepped up to me and placing her hand on my right shoulder spoke softly, "Shhh.. Itís all right, just try and relax.

Itís daunting, no terrifying to realise youíre trapped. But try to stay calm, Iím here and youíre quite safe. Tell yourself that your arms canít move and so not to try. It helps, trust me." Nodding, I took a breath and focused on Sarah. She was so beautiful. The main reason I was anxious but I couldnít tell her was the fact that I was at the mercy of this gorgeous young woman that I fancied. Her soft eyes and smile did reassure me somewhat and she knew it. "Thatís good advice Sarah," I replied trying to smile, showing that I was more relaxed. "All right, youíve had quite a night. Now Iím satisfied that you are harmless, Iíll show you to your bed," she said pointing towards a door.

We walked past two doors before opening a third. "This is my room," she said as opened the door and gestured me inside. I turned to face her, "Wait! This is my room? In that case, where are you going to sleep?" "Well, being all alone, Iíve never got round to preparing any other rooms for unexpected guests such as yourself. I didnít want to offer you an uncomfortable couch and I canít sleep except for in my own bed so this seems like an acceptable proposal." "Arenít you worried about a complete stranger in bed with you. Doesnít that seem a little peculiar especially after what you said?" I replied shocked. "Normally Iíd say yes, but this is different. You are wearing a Straitjacket which you canít escape from. What have I to be worried about?" I answered stupidly not knowing the implications of my next remark. "Well, I can still see you. Do you want my eyeing you up?" Her countenance changed, "No! I wouldnít. Youíre right. Follow me."

She led me over to the bed and ordered me to sit. The bed was a Victorian four-poster with black silk curtains and canopy. The bed itself was covered in silk sheets and pillows. "Iím about to undress and Iíd appreciate some privacy. By your own confession, I canít trust you to keep your eyes shut so you leave me no alternative." Sarah walked over to her dresser and opened a drawer. "What are you going to do?" I shouted, now quite scared, "I want out of this jacket. Iíll find my way back to the car. Now let me go!" I thrashed against my bonds wildly. Sarah calmly replied, "Iíd suggest you be quiet or Iíll gag you too," she said as she turned around revealing a neatly folded silk pillowcase and silk scarf. Shocked into silence, I simply gapped at her. "Please sit down on the bed," she asked. Frightened and confused I obeyed. Smiling with satisfaction at my submission, she unfolded the pillowcase allowing the lustrous fabric to catch the light. "Night night," she said walking slowly up to me and slipping the soft silk over my head. She secured it with the scarf which she tied around my neck. The thick black silk hood allowed hardly any light through. All I could make out was a faint glimmer. Light wasnít the only thing that struggled to get through. I soon discovered that the air was getting warm and stuffy as the pillowcase expanded and contracted in tandem with my breathing.