This is a multi-part story which I put up on the website probably 10 years ago. I've now lost the final chapter, if anyone out there on the internets would happen to have that conclusion to the story, PLEASE send it on to me. Otherwise I'll have to recreate the ending, which could end up being even better ... or it could be a disappointment! M.R. Strict
Since it lacked two wheels it was not strictly a bicycle. Everyone knew this, including the headmaster — who had constructed it after all — but, even with that knowledge, the term “bicycle” stuck.
Or rather, The Bicycle, in capital letters, always whispered from one girl to another in hushed tones. “He says I have to ride The Bicycle in his study this afternoon …” or “I heard she was in his study for a long ride on The Bicycle,” with a quick turn of the head to indicate the spent recipient of the machine’s infernal mechanism.
How the headmaster came on the design was never clear, and, whatever the actual source of his inspiration, the hoary antecedents of the mechanism was something that no one had ever dared to discuss with him. Opinions varied as to its likely origin. One camp held that, being a man of science, the bicycle was sui generis, and had, like Athena with Zeus, sprung forth full-blown from the head’s overstuffed cranium. To the contrary, the other camp posited, the headmaster was a man of history as much as of science, and was a scholar of the art of the thorough correction of the sweeter sex — as was amply evidenced by his other methods in that direction as well as the two locked shelves of moldy tomes in his study with suggestive titles such as “Wholesome Methods for The Discipline of Females,” or “A Panoply of Implements for Application to a Girl’s Un-Knickered Posterior for Chastisement.” Therefore, this camp concluded, there must have been some historical antecedent for the head’s design.
For the girls who had been required to ride, the inspiration for The Bicycle seemed clear: a direct communication with Satan himself. And, if you were to see a recent recipient of its attentions you would likely agree that — even without viewing its mechanism acting on the rider — there had to be something diabolical about it, given its effect on the poor girl or girls who had recently been subjected to that mechanism.
In this regard there was, foremost, The Gait, best described as a markedly slow walking speed, legs unusually far apart and spine curved somewhat to cause the posterior to protrude, as if there were some intense pain in that region that could only be reduced by keeping the cheeks as far from each other as was humanly possible. Those most knowledgeable in these things — the senior girls (who had more years of risk of experiencing discipline) or the habitual miscreants (whose experience was great regardless of the passage of time) — claimed to be able to distinguish a recipient of The Bicycle from someone who had received a caning alone; and could certainly tell both categories from a girl who had experienced the less painful but still humiliating experience of being hand spanked on her bared behind while bent across the headmaster’s ample lap.
Whatever its origins, and regardless of the likelihood of her later identification as having had a ride on it, Brittany stood waiting in the small changing room outside the head’s study for her turn on the dreaded mechanism. There was complete consensus as to why the head had the changing room; indeed, there could be no doubt as to his determination to have its being there, since he’d had it built almost immediately upon his arrival at the school.
And standing there waiting, listening to the noises from the other room, trying not to look behind the corner of the chest against the wall to the peephole she’d been assured was there, Brittany was under no illusion as to the purpose of the room — to increase the terror of the culprit as she waited to be corrected, plain and simple.
This was something else the girls debated: how the headmaster, otherwise such a sweet man, could go to such lengths to make the anticipation of correction as excruciating as the correction itself. There were teachers who wouldn’t hesitate to administer a rap on the knuckles in the classroom; there were instructors who would, without compunction, take a girl into the corridor for the application of the school paddle over a skirt. There were even faculty members who had a predilection for more public humiliation — to whit, skirt up, knickers down and bared cheeks whacked in the classroom while the other students watched (or tried not to watch, especially if they were next). But for all the awfulness of these corrections they lacked the element of anticipation that the headmaster seemed so delighted to emphasize.
Standing in the waiting room, feeling the cold air blowing on her knickered behind, trying not to hear the shrieks of agony from the other room, Brittany felt herself the paradigm example of the effects of that anticipation. She’d been taken out of class by the head himself — something that happened only infrequently, even with the repeat offenders. She could replay each moment of that humiliation: the droning on of the teacher (it was etymology, her most abstruse and therefore least favorite subject) terminated by the abrupt opening of the door to the corridor, the head’s entrance and progression to the desk at the front of the room, the sounds of his shoes against the old wooden floor the only noise in the otherwise dead-silent room. The conversation between the head and Mrs. McGregor (for aren’t all such figures Scottish?), and then her exit from the room, the Head’s left thumb and forefinger firmly grasping her ear.
And now, alone in the waiting room, hearing the sounds of the mechanism as it rocked forwards and backwards, and the groans of the girl on the machine as she was stretched from one position to another as it moved, Brittany stood frozen, waiting for her turn on the device.
“Kafkaesque” would have been her thought, had she known of Kafka; although truth be told the sentence was delivered by the headmaster and not by the action of the machine. But the head was almost certainly familiar with the reference, and would have appreciated it, were he not currently engrossed in the action of the machine, soon to be completed on the culprit astride it, sooner still to be reengaged on Brittany’s bared posterior as she pushed the pedals forward over the mechanism, its shafts turning, its pistons rising and falling, penetrating and punishing and purging as they did …
(To be continued …)
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