The climate at the higher latitudes on the planet, Theseus, is more extreme than on Earth, the result of a longer year, a shorter day, and a more tilted planetary axis. In summer, the searing heat makes walking far outdoors impossible; fatal hyperthermia, heat stroke, is certain. In winter, it seems like Antarctica, but worse, with almost constant howling winds, 200 kilometers per hour and more. It’s no fit place for human beings. Yet they live here.

Most of them live in domed cities and underground complexes, with hydroponically grown food. Some survive in remote research stations, resupplied during the brief spring and fall, when ground travel is possible. But every civilization has its misfits, those deviant, antisocial souls who, for whatever tangled reasons, choose to go into the desert and be hermits.

I was taking one last load of supplies to Station Shackelton when I saw a woman, sitting by the trail, which runs around the base of Mount Clinton, an active volcano. Already, the air was chill, and she wore a quilted coat and pants and heavy boots. Naturally, I stopped the crawler and said, “Howdy, Ma’am. Do you need a lift?”

“Please,” she said, “I think I may have broken my leg. Could you help me?”

Of course I could. I was out of the cab and by her side in seconds. That’s when she pulled out an antique .44 magnum revolver and pointed it at me. I raised my hands and stood there, scared shitless, almost. She sidled past me and climbed in the cab. I heard two shots. Then she motioned to me to come on up.

I saw she had blasted the radio and the ELT, the emergency locator transmitter. Waving her gun at me, she locked me in the cargo compartment, and I felt the crawler lurch along for an hour or more. From the motion, I knew we were far from any of the usual trails.

When she let me out, we were in a cave, some sort of natural volcanic vent in Mt. Clinton. The entrance was sealed by a plastic membrane. She stood there, the gun in one hand and a cigarette in the other, while she made me unload the cargo: cases and cases of food bars, bottled water, a ton of batteries, 900 entertainment disks, four new gravity gradient meters, 2000 expendable meteorological sensor packs, on and on; I won’t bore you with the details. I was pretty well worn out by the time I finished, and it was long past dark. I had to work by the lights of the crawler.

Then, brandishing that gun, she made me walk back into the depths of the cave. It was warm there, close to body heat, probably because of the proximity to molten lava. She ordered me to take off my clothes. I didn’t hesitate; that ugly gun was a real convincer.

I looked around. The place was a real hermit hideaway. There was a big air mattress on the rocky floor, and boxes and shipping containers and, would you believe, only candle light, not even electricity. She went to a box and pulled out a pair of handcuffs, police type, and she put them on me.

So there I was, standing naked but for my handcuffs. She took an impervalon rope, with a quick-fuse connector on the end, and zapped it to the chain of the cuffs. She went to a battery operated winch, and the next thing I knew I was standing on tip toe, practically hanging from my painful wrists.

“Man, do you have a name?”

“My friends call me Tony,” I replied, not knowing what she was up to, but not about to argue with her. “Uh, why are you doing this?”

“Why? Because all men are dogs, rapists, exploiters of women. You have it coming to you.”

“Why me? I’ve never raped anyone.”

“You’re a man. Shut up and take what’s coming to you.”

It was rather warm, and the woman — I didn’t know her name but I thought of her as Bitch — began to take off her clothes. Not just her coat and boots, everything, standing there right in front of me, with the candle light gleaming on her perspiration. She was really a looker with her clothes off. She stood there, stiff-legged, her feet apart, pelvis thrust forward, stood there stark naked, holding that .44 magnum. I’d guess she was 25, 35 at the max, Earth years, and she was star material, with bulging breasts, a flat tummy, curving hips, and a nice thatch of pubic hair, there between long, shapely legs — red, like the hair of her head and arm pits. Wild fantasies reeled through my brain, all of them involving burying my prod in that luscious russet thatch, and my prod stirred to life.

She put down the gun and went to her boxes. This time, she brought out a crude, obviously home-made, whip. It had a pipe handle about a meter long, and three steel cable lashes hanging from the end of the handle. The ends of the cables were frayed- out, little tufts of sharp wires. Despite the heat, I felt a chill of fear.

“Little Sister,” she called, “come out and watch.”

From out of the darkness, a slim little creature emerged, tentatively, like a wild animal. Her coloring was like Bitch’s, russet hair above and below, except the hair on her head had been hacked short, in contrast to Bitch’s luxuriant, shoulder-length wavy hair. Little Sister was slim thing, maybe forty, forty-five kilos, with pretty little tits that were hardly a handful, and bony hips, and skinny legs and arms, and big, hazel eyes. She, too, was naked. It was really quite warm in the cave. The little sister stood there, barefoot, with her eyes downcast.

“Watch, damn you!” yelled Bitch. She lighted another cigarette, left it hanging from her mouth, and she swung the whip. The steel barbs tore the skin of my buttocks, searing pain, and I screamed. Any sign of an erection vanished.

“Men!” yelled Bitch, “Always leering at women.” Swish; more pain, as the whip flayed my back. “Groping at their breasts.” More pain, across my chest. “They think we are just sex objects for their pleasure.” I nearly fainted, as the lashes tore my thighs. My legs went rubbery, and I hung there, limp, dry- mouthed, light headed, almost in shock.

The slim one ran to me and hugged me, shielding me with her body, shaking her head in a wordless plea to save my life. I’ve no doubt Bitch might have killed me with that whip.

Bitch used the handle of the whip to beat her sister off me. The slim one cowered, no match for Bitch.

“You think I shouldn’t beat him like that? Perhaps you are right, Little Sister. It wouldn’t do to kill him too soon. He has a lot to pay for.”

Bitch pulled out some awful porno mags. “See, when men degrade women, they do it in sexual ways.” She held up a picture, of a woman, bound arms-to-ankles on a sofa, with her crotch exposed to the camera. Then Bitch took some cord and bound my ankles to my arms, so I was hanging, doubled up, ass down, the handcuffs skinning my wrists, my crotch more exposed than in the picture. “See, what men do to women, women should do to men.” Little Sister cringed.

“She’s an actress,” I explained, “doing that voluntarily, and it doesn’t hurt her.”

“Shut up, Man,” yelled Bitch, emphasizing the point by prodding my testicles with the handle of the whip. I groaned.

Bitch showed her sister another picture. “Do it, just like in the picture.” The slim one shook her head. Bitch slapped her twice, hard, and the slim one approached me with two large safety pins. She stuck one through each nipple. It hurt.

Bitch hefted my scrotum with the whip handle. “Men torture women with sexual frustration.” Watch, Little Sister. Bitch began to do a sensuous dance, wiggling her hips, fondling her breasts, even spreading the lips of her vulva with her fingers. It was as sexy as anything I’d seen in those sleazy bars of Metro Roosevelt, but there was no way I found it sexually arousing, not while she still owned that whip.

“What’s the matter, Man. Can’t get it up? You thinking of what I’ll do to your precious manhood?” I imagined her nailing my penis to a board, or some such unpleasant thing. “Little Sister, make his penis stand tall.”

The younger one shook her head, and received a vicious swipe with the whip for her reluctance. With bloody streaks across her breasts and belly, the little one approached me tentatively. “Go ahead, touch it. Have you never touched a man’s prick before?”

The intimidated sister tentatively touched my penis. “Heft his balls.” She did. “Now put his penis in your mouth and suck it, make it hard.” She did. She actually succeeded in arousing me sexually. She bobbed her head on my tool, and caressed me with her slim fingers, careful not to touch the wounds from the whip.

“That’s right, Little Sister, make him want you. Now, stop.” The sister stopped and stepped back. One look at Bitch, and I lost all interest in sex. My penis hung limp.

“Damn you! Do it again.” Little Sister picked up my limp dick and popped it in her mouth. “You’ve seen the videos. Make him hard,” shouted Bitch. The game continued, hard, soft, hard, soft. I don’t know what Bitch had in mind for my stiff prick, but she never got her hands on it. There was no way I could feel sexy, not the position she had put me in.

“Man, I need your prick erect. Since you won’t do it for me, you can do it for my little sister. Men like to see women degraded. Watch, and let your penis respond nicely, or…” She whirled, grabbing her sister, and swiftly tied her victim with rope, like the porno pictures. Bitch tied the slim woman’s arms tightly behind her back, so her little breasts were thrust out. She wrapped rope around the little breasts, so they were deformed, bulging out between the strands of rope. She drove the little sister around the cave, swishing her whip, occasionally hitting her victim with the handle. Then she tied a rope around her sister’s waist, led the twisted ends down between the sister’s legs, and tied them tightly to her arms, in back, pulling her shoulders even farther back, making her arch her back. The twisted ropes lay nestled between the outer lips of the victim’s vulva. If the sister moved, tried to straighten her arched back, the ropes would saw painfully at her tenderest places.

“Eat me,” Bitch said, and the tortured sister, on her knees on the rocky floor, her back arched painfully, obediently lapped at Bitch’s crotch, which had become quite wet of it’s own accord.

“Look, Man. You like that, Man? Come on, get it up for me, Man. Something wrong with your penis?”

“No way, woman,” I replied. “I don’t get off on pain, not mine, not hers. You are wasting your time.” I watched while the slim one applied her mouth to the older sister, probably not for the first time. Bitch seemed to sweat more than usual, and her nipples were hard, and she shuddered in what I assume was an orgasm. It didn’t arouse me in the least.

After a while, Bitch lit another cigarette and untied the sister, who sulked in the shadows. Little Sister’s knees were skinned from the floor, and her breasts were streaked with red from the ropes, but she was, as far as I could see, not seriously injured.

Bitch fumed with frustration, mad at me, mad at her little sister. “Little Sister, come here.” she ordered, and the slim one obeyed. Bitch handed the dejected waif the whip. “You whip him. I want to see blood.” Bitch forced her sister to whip me more, and the sister did it, tears streaming down her face, her slim body wracked with sobs. When it seemed I might pass out, Bitch allowed her sister to give me some water. When it seemed sure I was strong enough for more torture, Bitch gave her sister one of the batteries from the cargo and forced her to administer electric shocks to my genitals and other places. Not pleasant.

All this time, while Bitch supervised, the candle light playing on the curves of her spectacular, naked body, she was smoking cigarettes, one after another. She had the habit of lighting her next cigarette from the stub of her last. She began to make a point of then extinguishing the butt by pressing it into my flesh. I did a lot of screaming.

Bitch went out to the front of the cave, leaving me with the slim one, who had been torturing me at Bitch’s direction. The little sister wasn’t tall enough to reach my face with hers, but, with tears in her eyes, she held a water bottle to my lips and kissed my body, where it wasn’t burned or torn. She was trying to apologize.

Bitch returned, and the sister cowered at the edge of the candle light. “Where are the cigarettes? Man, where are the cigarettes?”

“There were no cigarettes in the cargo,” I croaked. “Check the manifest.”

Bitch swore and declined to stub out her current cigarette on me. She kept it, and smoked it down to practically nothing, while she rummaged in her various boxes. “Shit! I’m going to have to go get some.” she yelled, as if it were all my fault. “Listen, Little Sister, I’m going to take the crawler and go into town. You keep him alive until I get back. But don’t let him get comfortable.” She put a clock on a handy rock. Hours had passed; it might even be light outside. “Every hour, I want you to suck his cock and make him stiff. But don’t let him come, or I’ll beat you worse than I did last year, you hear?” She put on her clothes and left us alone. We heard the crawler leave.

I knew it would take her hours to get to the nearest store. “She won’t be back until tomorrow, at the soonest.” I said. “Would you please let me down? These cuffs are skinning my wrists.”

The slim woman looked frightened and turned her back on me, running to hide in the shadows. I couldn’t see her, but I was sure she was watching me. The clock chimed the hour.

The little sister emerged from the shadows and lit another candle; the first was almost gone. Like a robot, she took my flaccid penis and put it in her mouth. There was something about her, her vulnerability, her sadness. “You don’t have to do that.”

She didn’t stop, didn’t say a word. I had never heard her voice. I must say, she succeeded in getting me stiff, in spite of my misery. Then she stopped, of course. She blew out the candle and, I suppose, she rested on the air mattress, until the clock chimed the hour again. She didn’t bother with the candle, just came to me in the dark, did her assigned task, and left me, my wet prick standing in the darkness.

She might sleep, but there was no way I could. I was miserable, hanging doubled up, with burns and bruises and scabbing-over cuts all over me. There, in total blackness, I began to hallucinate, to get delirious. I may have lost count, but the “prick torture” was repeated a dozen times, at least.

We could hear the wind howling, the sound making its way through the twisty tunnel of the cave. The slim one lighted a candle and went toward the mouth of the cave, leaving me in darkness. She came back, put down the candle, and pantomimed a storm, waving her slim arms and fluttering her fingers.

“Snow?” I said. She nodded. I knew what a snow storm meant. “She won’t be back.” I said. “Please, release me.”

Slim fed me a food bar, holding it up to my mouth, and she gave me water, but she made no attempt to release me. She was evidently terrified of what her sister might do when she came back. I got my hourly prick tease, and then it was black once more.

Hours later, Slim relented, a bit. She lit the candle and moved the mattress until it was under me. She lowered me, until my butt rested on the mattress, which opened some scabbed over wounds, and she untied my legs, so I could at least get some circulation back into my feet. I hurt all over, but my hands, though still raised above my head, were no longer bearing my weight. “Thank you.” I said.

She said nothing, but gently parted my knees and, kneeling between them on the mattress, she, for perhaps the twentieth time, took my penis in her mouth and with her tongue and lips, made it stiffen. Only this time she did not stop, until I had ejaculated, and she swallowed my semen.

Then, by the candle light, she removed the big safety pins which had skewered my nipples. “No, don’t.” I yelled, when I saw what she was doing next. She ignored me and deliberately, painfully, skewered her own nipples with the same pins with which she had pierced mine. “Please, don’t do that,” I said. “You don’t have to do that to make up for what was done to me. Just release me.”

She paid no attention, but blew out the candle and lay down on the air mattress next to me. I could hear her whimpering in the dark.

The clock chimed again. Slim, in the dark, began to climb over my sore legs, to do her sister’s bidding and tease my penis. It rose of its own accord, but I said, “Your sister isn’t coming back. You don’t have to do that.” I felt her warm lips on the tip of my stiffening cock. “Please, I don’t want you to do that. Just let me go.”

There was a moment’s hesitation. I could feel her breath, there in the dark, on my erect member. “Please, I’d rather you let me loose.”

The wind was howling, louder than before. She lighted the candle and went to the front of the cave. When she came back, she was goose flesh, and her nipples stood erect, from the cold. She pantomimed a huge snowdrift. Finally, she realized Bitch would not be back for a long time. She gave me some slack, so I could move around, but there seemed no way to get the handcuffs off, or even to release the Impervalon rope.

I motioned to her to approach me. She knelt at my feet. I took her face in my cuffed hands and said, “Thank you.” Then I kissed her forehead. Tears streamed down her face, and I was, for a moment, taken aback, confused, that my kissing her would make her cry. As gently as I could, I removed the pins from her tortured nipples, and she cried even more. Then she blew out the candle and left me, disappeared into some private hiding place.

For days, she fed me, watered me, brought a bucket for elimination purposes, and sometimes slept beside me on the air mattress. If I tried to touch her, affectionately, she would get up and leave, leaving me in the darkness. Apparently, candles were in short supply, and she had been taught to be sparing with them. I tried to talk to her, but there was no reply. I told her the story of my life, but she never said a word. Sometimes, I wondered if she was deaf and mute, only read my lips, when there was light, so that I was talking only to myself. Of course, I was also trying to get the handcuffs off. I wore down several stones, and wore my wrists raw, slowly abrading the hardened chain which held my wrists together. Bitch, of course, had not returned.

At last, the time came when the chain parted, and my hands were free, though I still wore bracelets. Slim lighted the candle, to feed me a food bar — plenty of those — and I surprised her by grabbing her and hugging her to me, my arms around her waist, her breasts, healed now, I hoped, pressed against mine. I bent down to kiss her, and then I laid her back on the air mattress and looked at her lovingly, by candle light.

She took one look at my turgid penis and lay back, staring at the ceiling of the cave. She parted her legs for me.

“Slim,” I said, carefully, distinctly, so she could read my lips. “Please, speak to me.” She simply lay there, staring through tear-filled eyes, her legs parted, her sexual sheath completely accessible to my sword.

I couldn’t do it. There was no way I was going to fuck a woman who couldn’t say no. That would be rape. She was obviously an emotional cripple, traumatized by God knows what her sister had done to her, a masochist who expected pain and suffering. That she was willing to spread her legs for me was no proof that she wanted me to fuck her. I couldn’t do it.

When I got up and turned from her, she took the battery with which she had shocked my genitals and handed it to me. Then she lay down and spread her legs again, for me to torture her genitals as she had tortured mine. No way I was going to touch her. I threw the battery as far as I could.

The days went by, with the two of us imprisoned in that cave, stuck there for a long winter, snowed in and threatened by howling winds and zero visibility in blowing snow. From time to time I would put on my coat and boots and check the weather. It was always the same, except that, for an hour or two, there would be light filtering through the blizzard, and the rest of the time, I could only hear the wind and feel the snow against the membrane which protected us. Always, I would hurry back to the warmth of the cave, and sit there, naked. I talked to Slim, but there was never a reply. Sometimes, I would hug her and kiss her, but she was always compliant, passive, limp in my arms. I had no way to know if she loved me or hated me; she would do whatever I wanted, as if she owed it to me, no matter what pain I might cause her. A hundred times, at least, I resolved to plunge my stiff penis into her unresisting vagina, but every time, I told myself I couldn’t. I couldn’t rape the victim.

One day, night, whatever — one loses track of time in a black cave — I used some of our precious candle light to explore. I found, way in the back, a box of old books and papers. And I had an idea.

I picked an old book, off the top of the stack, and opened it. I motioned to Slim to come close, which she did, and I said, “Please, read to me what it says.”

“Chapter 1. Treats of the Place where Oliver Twist was born, and of the Circumstances…”

“You can speak!” I said, excitedly. She dropped the book and looked confused. “Go on, read to me. I ORDER YOU TO READ!”

Like an obedient slave, she did. That was the breakthrough.

To conserve candles, we would get dressed, go to the front of the cave, and read by the bit of daylight that filtered through the snow and plastic, for an hour or so a day. After a while, she could answer questions about the reading, though she could not talk about herself. I dragged the old box to the front of the cave and looked through it thoroughly. I found some papers.

“Are you Ruth Elbesoi?” She nodded. “You have a master’s degree in 19th Century English literature?” She nodded. “Tell me your name.”

Perhaps it was only seconds, but I could not stand the suspense. Her lips moved. “Ruth.” she said. And then she said, “Tony, I love you.”

Spring came. The days grew longer, and most of the snow melted. After much preparation, we set out for Station Shackelton, knowing it might take three or four days, and there would be many hardships along the way.

They recognized me and removed the remnants of the handcuffs; they knew I wasn’t an escaped felon. They thought I must be have been dead, when the crawler disappeared with no transmissions, even from the ELT.

First thing, after we were fed and rested, Ruth and I got married, by telecom link. It seemed the thing to do, for she is very visibly pregnant. Later, they found the crawler, overturned in a melting snow bank. Bitch was still inside.

– The End –