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Authors: Candace Smith

Captive Travelers

BOOK: Captive Travelers
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Captive Travelers

by Candace Smith

Copyright 2011 Candace Smith

Published by Strict Publishing International

Prelude

Keep walking. Just keep moving, and don’t fall.
Her barefoot landed on another round pebble, digging into the bruised ball of her foot from the force of her weight. Her feet were beginning to drag, causing her to stumble when her toes banged into stones and sticks half buried in the dirt. The path was rarely used, edging the north side of the wheat field, and trailing west from the cabin. Rebecca had used it once, on her confused and frightening journey to the farm.

She stumbled and panicked, frantically forcing her heavy legs to regain balance. A minefield of pebbles spread across a dried up stream that cut across the trail, causing her to stub her toes when they banged against the small rocks. Rebecca barely registered the sharp, solid pain of the stones. There was a small incline on the other side of the washout, and she tried to get her footing without landing on the hem of her long dress. The edge of her skirt was a mass of ragged strips, shredding and pulling free each time she stepped on it.

Don’t fall. Oh, dear god… please, don’t let me fall.
A soft, muffled sob of fear, escaped through the dusty rag between her lips. Frightening thoughts sent wracking shudders through her body, and to keep from dissolving into a whirling state of hysteria Rebecca tried to force herself think of comforting scenes from her past. When that did not work, when her vivid imagination could not overshadow her panic and pain, she concentrated on the more recent events that led up to her current circumstances. Glimpses of the past two weeks flashed and strobed through her mind with blinding speed. She struggled to focus on a single, calming event that had transpired, while compelling her tired legs to move her forward… forward towards a future that terrified her.

With her fight to keep her mind preoccupied, she had not yet noticed the stiff rawhide lashing cutting into her wrists. The leash attached to them tugged at her arms, straining her shoulders with the bouncing, jerking movement that forced her to follow.
Walk. Just walk, and don’t fall.
The silent mantra persisted to order her, lurking behind her attempt to fantasize her thoughts away from the present.

The brutal heat of the noon summer sun beat down on her, and even with the gag, she felt sand grinding against her lips. The cotton absorbed her spit, leaching it towards the air, and eventually evaporating. Her mouth was dry and she tried to ignore her thirst. Rivulets of sweat dripping down her neck, taunted her. It collected in the valley between her breasts, and pooled in the slick crevice beneath them until it dampened the thin cotton of her torn bodice. It caused the material to adhere to her chest, plastering a sheer coating of pink rosebuds over her bosom, and outlining her large flat brown nipples. Occasionally, a slight breeze lifted the edge of the ripped material. For a brief moment, her bodice released its clinging hold and flew open, exposing her breasts to their dark stares
. I won’t look at the men. They aren’t real.

A few times, Rebecca managed to turn back towards the farm, willing Henry to save her. The cabin had long since disappeared, though Rebecca imagined she could still see the small house and fenced garden through her tears. There was smoke from the breakfast fire rising into the air in a swirling gray fog and disappearing on the breeze. She could picture Clara, peeling vegetables for the stew and smiling, while Rebecca kneaded the bread dough and prattled on about her home.

She felt the phantom-remembered cramping of her hands and arms from the strenuous work, and her mind blended the pain, jolting her thoughts away from the past, and forcing her to think of her current reality. There was a hard jerk on the leash and her eyes snapped forward, fearfully rising to his cruel face. He was staring at her chest, leering at her.
You aren’t real. This isn’t happening.

Rebecca tried to let her mind slip back to thoughts of the farm. She tried to crowd out the memory of Henry, lying crumpled and broken on the ground in front of the weathered barn. Clara’s agonizing wails carried on the wind and across the wheat field, while she stroked his brow and tried to comfort him. Rebecca was led away, with her hopeful glances towards the farm holding an edge of panicked confusion. Her mind spun through Clara’s warnings, and Rebecca refused to grasp the concept that she would not be rescued.

Clara knows. She’ll make Henry come after me.
Even as Rebecca had the thought, she knew that Henry was hurt and could not come. He would make it to bed, with Clara’s help, and she would work to try to heal him.
And Clara…

There was a brief flash of them inside the cabin. The tall man reaching out to Clara with his bronze, muscular arms, and tearing the bodice of her dress; his hand reaching for Clara’s breast while she cried. Clara’s soft sobbing turning to a shrieking shrill scream that came from some deep place inside of her, while he…
NO. No, I won’t think about that.

The sun continued its path, slowly crossing overhead. It crushed down on Rebecca with oppressive, draining heat while she succumbed to the constant jerks on the leather leash attached to her bound wrists.
Keep walking.
Rebecca finally accepted the truth: Henry and Clara would not be following. Her emotions churned with dread and despair. Clara’s voice echoed her whispered warnings, and frightening stories flooding Rebecca’s terrified mind.

She felt her panic rising, trying to pull her towards a fear so paralyzing, she would never be able to escape.
This isn’t real. NONE OF THIS IS REAL
. The silent scream in her mind blasted the terror back to the darkness where she would not have to deal with it. To quell her fear, she pushed her thoughts back to another time, far back, to her other life.

Rebecca felt disoriented, with scenes and memories that were becoming harder to grasp and hold onto, and this, in itself, was frightening. She had considered her previous lifestyle rather dull, until she joined Clara and Henry at the farm. Even so, she had been content with her sedentary life, centered around her sofa with her books… and an endless supply of vanilla praline ice cream.

Through high school and college, the pounds slowly added to her frame. Rebecca learned to ignore or laugh away the stinging, cruel remarks, and she convinced herself she did not need friends. She escaped into her novels, and pictured herself as the beautiful damsel in distress. In her fantasies, she was pretty and slender, and able to engage in witty conversation instead of the giggling, nervous chatter she could never control. Whether knight or prince, the handsome man on the pages fought to save her.

Rebecca’s naughty secret was that it was not always the ‘good guy’ the author depicted, who saved her. Sometimes, Rebecca allowed the mysterious villain to capture her heart, and conquer her body through imagined sadistic means. Her alternate endings to these romantic novels left her gasping on the sofa with dripping fingers.

Rebecca stumbled again, quickly finding her footing on the dusty trail. The land, dry and parched, reminded her of her thirst. The cotton was soggy and swollen in her mouth, but she could not manage to suck any moisture from the rag. It had been ripped from the bodice of her dress, and it pulled sharply on her opened jaws. There was a solid knot of soaked material pressing down on her tongue and it filled the cavity completely, continuing to draw any spit before she could swallow.

The gag muffled her sounds of pain and fear, muting her shrieks and screams to soft, mewling sounds. Rebecca
had
screamed, though. She had shrieked and sobbed in terror, the sounds reverberating through her panicked mind and released in stifled cries until her throat was tight and hoarse.

No.
The silent plea echoed through her, and she forced herself to think of something else, anything, other than the constant struggle to keep up with the walking horses. She had been staring at the ground, navigating the path of her bruised feet. Rebecca lifted her eyes and watched the swaying tails of the six animals. Forcing herself to control her panic, she let her eyes travel up further, up to piercing black eyes gazing back at her.
Oh, god. No. Go away.
She trembled and looked at the ground, pushing back the thought of the cold dark stare, and studying the small puffs of dust billowing out from under the horses’ hooves.

To the side of the path was a fallen tree. Time and weather had disintegrated most of the branches
. I sat there. I sat on that tree to rest, when I was walking to the farm.
She had a vision of herself arriving at the cabin, overweight and out of shape and without the voluptuous womanly curves some other large women managed to grow into. She was not the slender vixen she allowed herself to imagine. Rebecca was round, with two massive, pendulous breasts, sagging their weight against the top of her belly and bouncing painfully at jerking tugs on the leash.

Clara only had enough material to make the two faded shifts, and every morning Rebecca had to walk down to the stream and wash the sweat and grime out of the one she was not wearing. The water was cold, much colder than the warm showers she used to take in the morning. She missed the comforting snugness of her underwear. It felt lewd and wrong to be naked under the shift, but Henry made her hand them to him to be buried with the rest of her possessions. They wore no form-lifting undergarments at the farm, and Rebecca’s chest rolled over the sash belt of her dress.

Oh, god.
The ripped bodice fluttered open, and Rebecca managed a short burst of speed that left slack in the leash, allowing her to use her bound hands to press the damp cotton back over her breasts. She knew he had seen them, but she refused to look at him. She slowed her walk to the slow, jerking pace, and felt the tether pull her along.

Rebecca spent years escaping her lonely life, by fantasizing and existing in scenes of her novels. Sometimes, she wished her imagination would leave her there, away from the ugly smirks and the laughter. She continued to force her thoughts from this terrifying situation, and it was becoming easier to let her mind wander from this madness. Soon, this page of terror turned, and Rebecca was back with the farmers again.

Henry had been in the barn when she knocked on the cabin door. Clara stared silently at her, and then she screamed. The farmer came running to the house and he grabbed Rebecca’s arm and pulled her inside. Both of them were so nervous, Rebecca wanted to run from them. She was confused and frightened, and she could not figure out why they were so afraid of her.

Traveler.
The dreaded word clung to her mind, causing as much terror as the men leading her. For a moment, Rebecca felt the pain in every agonized part of her body. Her mouth was dry and her jaws ached. Her stretched arms cramped, pulling at her chafed wrists, and her strained legs throbbed with each step away from freedom.

Rebecca looked down and she saw purple bruises shadowed through the dusty dirt clinging to her filthy bare feet. The stones she stepped on, shot pain up her shins. Her trembling thighs pushed wearily forward, balking with the effort of carrying her weight for such a long walk. Rebecca knew that she had to force her exhausted legs to keep from buckling and causing her to fall. Clara had warned her that if she fell they would drag her.

No. No, I won’t fall. I can do this.
Rebecca inhaled as deeply as she could, through a nose that was somewhat blocked by snot from her crying. She tried to push through the fear to keep from sobbing again.
Oh god, Clara. You knew. You tried to tell me.

It was true, Rebecca realized
.
She had spent less than two weeks at Clara and Henry’s isolated farm, learning to acclimate to her new life and desperately wishing to return home. She spent her days repeating the same chores, and her nights on a bed made of quilts on the hard cabin floor. Her initial disbelief of her situation turned to despair when she finally realized that she would not be going back to her old life. Clara kept trying to explain to her that she was a traveler.

I laughed at Tommy Windsong
. Rebecca inhaled a fearful sharp burst of air through her nose.
Everyone had laughed. I wasn’t the only one,
she tried to justify to herself.
But… I was the one he blamed.

Rebecca could picture herself laughing at Tommy Windsong when he was late for an exam because of the death of his grandfather. He had shown up for class wearing the ritual clothes of his tribe. Rebecca had not been the only one who had laughed at the comical costume, but she remembered his angry eyes, pitch black and shining, while he glared at her and sneered, “I am proud of my heritage. Are you so proud of the cows you were bred from?” Rebecca had flinched at his stinging remark, and she would have crawled under her desk… if she could have fitted.

They had been such good friends. Tommy had been her only friend, and she had ruined it by laughing. The worst part of it was that Rebecca had no idea why she had laughed. When he first walked into class, her eyes took in his pride and how handsome he was in the primitive leathers. He was more so in real life than any fantasy lover in her novels. Still, she
had
joined the class in its laughter, and she had felt the pain she saw in his eyes when he looked at her.

Clara pried, until Rebecca finally confessed the altercation. According to Clara, this was Rebecca’s crime against the Wehali Tribe. She had explained that the Wehali were protectors, and laughing at the Indian had led to Rebecca’s punishment. Rebecca scoffed at her. The social infraction seemed minor, compared to the cruel remarks and jokes she had withstood for years.

She had tried to apologize, but Tommy moved to the reservation for the summer and there was no way for her to reach him. Although Tommy seemed to have backed out of her life, his younger brother Bobby convinced her he would get over it. Rebecca thought Bobby was somewhat crass, but she hoped he would eventually help her patch her friendship with his brother.

Bobby suggested he teach her some Indian customs, because Tommy was so involved with the tribe. This made sense to Rebecca, and she accepted an invitation to see a secret Indian mound that his grandmother knew about. It had taken days of hiking and camping to reach it, and Bobby had patiently guided and encouraged her to the mystical place.

BOOK: Captive Travelers
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