Just before half past five that bitter New Year morning Jenny therefore found herself joining the silent queue that waited in drifted immobility before the forbidding doors. Her reluctant march through the dark streets dressed only in the Voss exeat uniform had done little to keep the frost at bay, penetrating up from the frozen pavement through the boots, striking icy chill through the fashionable trenchcoat. Now, as she stood immobile like the others hands crossed behind her back, feet fifty centimetres apart, chest thrust out and head pulled back - "at, ease", as they mockingly described in the Voss drill manual - she felt the cold rise like an estuary tide along every channel of her body.
She knew it would be a long time before there was any sign of activity from the other side of the doors. But she also knew that at the stroke of five-thirty precisely somewhere in the depths of the building an image of the unearthly line of silent figures of which she was now a part would flicker into life upon a monitor screen. At that time, as set out in the letter of revocation the regulations to which she was subject as a paroled detainee would give way to the regulations that applied to those to whom the Voss offered full accommodation. It was under the influence of this thought that Jenny stood so correctly, braced and still in face of the engulfing cold. For under the inmates' regulations, as just one referral to the Punishment Block had been enough to teach her, this was how one "awaited instructions" - for as long as it took.
It became clear, as the half-hour was chimed in by the cathedral on the opposite side of the square, that not all the girls summoned to attend the Voss that morning were old hands. Someone was asking Jenny if this was the Detention Centre.
"Hi! Is this for the Blockhouse? Do we have to wait outside? Christ! It's cold." The newcomer threw her arms about her, stamped her feet. Jenny knew she was the one the newcomer was talking to - only fervently wished it wasn't. She looked stonily ahead, but her interlocutor wasn't put off.
"Been here before? How long do we have to wait?" She stamped some more.
Why do we have to wear these stupid things? God, they're horrible!"
Her belt, noted Jenny with a frisson, was tied, not buckled, and round her neck she had a warm, definitely non-regulation, Shetland wool scarf. A capacious and bulging weekend bag was slung over one shoulder.
Jenny swiftly intoned to herself the rule that the newcomer would no doubt master quite quickly herself once taken in hand by the resourceful Corporal Bisset:
1.The exeat uniform consists of the following articles: skirt, gabardine, navy; shirt, cotton, blue; tie, navy;
pullover, V-neck, woollen, navy; shoes, laced, navy.
knickers, nylon, navy; bra & slip, nylon, navy;
stockings & suspender belt, nylon, navy.
raincoat, white; boots, leather, black.
"All items to be worn exactly as demonstrated. Outside the place of residence the raincoat is always to be worn (fully buttoned, belt drawn tight and buckled).
"No additional items of clothing permitted. Accessories and jewellery forbidden. Cosmetics forbidden. (Tampons or sanitary towels may be worn as necessary.)"
This recital was enough to see the newcomer off. She made one more attempt to engage Jenny in conversation but then gave up and moved off to the back of the queue. Jenny heard her trying with somebody else but with her eyes fixed unwaveringly -, as the manual advised - on the small barred window three floors above the great double doors that would sooner or later give them admittance, Jenny couldn't work out exactly what was happening and was in fact grateful not to know.
So: the nightmare was about to begin all over. The picture of her mother came to her
"Health Certificates?" she was asked, a cold grey sea of time later. "No, Miss," she managed to whisper, trying to stand to attention, upright and still before the high desk, as she knew she must.
By this time Jenny's number had been typed in and her record displayed.
"OK, 3219," Let's hope you haven't forgotten your Ps and Qs. Step back and turn right."
She was back all right. She stepped back, swivelled round and banged her heel in without hesitation, white another hard-faced beauty in the black skirt and shirt of the Voss officers' uniform stepped over to conduct the inspection. She looked Jenny's trenchcoat over minutely, lifting the shoulder flaps, tugging the epaulettes, testing buckles at wrists and waist - and the buttons, each and every one.
"OK, let's see what kind of a mess we have underneath."
Jenny took the Mac off and it was taken from her.
The pullover followed. Then the boots, when she had first held each leg out horizontally for them to be scrutinized. The Corporal took her time, making Jenny grit her teeth with effort.
Skirt and shirt, stockings and suspender belt, bra and knickers - one by one they joined the pile on the desk, till finally, naked and shivering quite uncontrollably, Jenny was told to get into position for the cane: she would have to be punished for the state she had let her uniform get into.
There was perhaps a momentary delay, while Jenny discovered that her months outside the Institute had put a fresh edge on a commonplace Voss humiliation. But the appropriate reflex, like the others, was still essentially in place. Quickly she bent herself over at the waist and grasped her ankles.
She was given six cuts, progressively vicious and progressively agonizing, the last two slicing across the tops of her thighs. She gasped with the pain and her bottom clenched and shivered and heaved: but she managed to keep her feet still and her knees braced - as she knew she must.
She was told to stand straight and her clothes were thrust in her hands.
"Locker 124. Shorts, vest and sneakers. Then the Hall. Move!"
The lockers were ranged at the far end of the reception area. Inside number 124 she found the required kit. It looked new, or at least newly cleaned. But the smell, the Voss smell, was there undiminished - a repellent pungency which swirled out as she opened the door and all but made her collapse. Her legs weakened, her breathing faltered as agonies that had begun to recede while she was away swept back.
It would be fatal to pause. She reached out for the shorts and pulled them on, then slipped into the singlet and tucked it in at the waist, and the gym shoes. She laced them up as quickly as her still half-frozen fingers would allow.
She bundled her pile of clothes onto a hanger, shut the locker door. No need for the large sign to tell her where to go. She hurried over to the heavy double doors, which slid open smoothly as she approached. She went through into the vestibule, just as, behind her, the girl next in line was beginning her strip.
Now only one set of doors separated her from the Exercise Hall proper. The subterranean thumping that had pervaded the reception area was here much louder, and other tones were audible: music in other words - stentorian, aggressive music, coming through from the hall. Immediately it crescendo sharply as the final doors drew back.
There were no surprises for Jenny in the scene that presented itself. From the back of the large hall she saw perhaps five rows of girls, all facing the front, all in unison exerting themselves mightily to the beat of the blaring march. All wore stone-coloured shorts and singlet and white canvas gym shoes like those Jenny had herself just put on. Jenny could see the sweat pouring off where the skin was exposed. Where it wasn't, shorts and singlets clung wetly. On a large monitor screen mounted high on the front wall, a single figure was displayed, spot-marching, like them, lifting knees high in rapid alternation. It was from this image that the girls on the floor took their cues.
Among the straining bodies stood a Blockgirl, cane in hand. She pointed to the next free spot in the back row and yelled at the newcomer:
"Get in line there! Move!"
3219 took up position and picked up the routine.
"Get those legs up! Up! Up!"
The Blockgirl had moved over to stand just by her. As Jenny lifted her right leg, she emphasised her point with a cut of the cane, flicking the underside of her raised thigh. With a finesse that the guard probably never intended, her stroke found the weal already raised by the punishment inflicted during reception. Jenny cried out with the sudden blazing pain and almost lost control. Somehow she kept upright; then, struggling to begin with against the still numbing cold in her limbs, gradually forced her muscles into the fierce rhythm.
In no time at all she was bathed in sweat like the rest of them.
Thirty-five minutes later, as they filed out, sodden and exhausted, hands on their heads, Jenny didn't have to look to sense the presence of the familiar brooding figure by the door. Throughout her last 'period of residence' in the Voss, the Commandant had always looked in on the first drill parade of the day. Things had not changed. Despite her absolute exhaustion, she tensed away from his bulk as he stood there, officer's stick tapping in understated frustration against his thigh. She would not, could not look at him. And her tears were flowing as she followed the line out. He showed no emotion, needless to say. But we can be sure he was satisfied, pleased to have his daughter back, under close and proper discipline again.
Back to the top
The Stories of Yvonne Sinclair
The Story Of T
The Sacred Feminine
The Weight Loss
A Caning By Miss Spiteful
Always On The Bare
A Visit To Greenwich
At My Lady's Pleasure
Ball Shackle Story
I Met Claire In A Coffee Shop
Long Weekend Conclusion
Robin's Electrical Torture
Slave To The Cane
The Escape Artist
The Huntress Caning
The Language School
The Worm's View
The Bossy Bank Women