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AN UNORTHODOX LIFE
The Tribunal - Part 1
The next day, I was woken late by Maren. It was already past noon when her insistent voice and inexorable shaking brought me back from my coma of exhaustion.
“Rise and shine, my dear! George has just phoned and he’ll be here within the hour. We need to have you prepared by then.”
With Maren’s happy announcement of George’s impending arrival resounding in my mind, I would rather never have woken up again, but an unsympathetic universe in general, and an exhilarated Maren specifically, had different plans. She and I were both tense with anticipation, albeit of a diametrically opposed nature. While Maren could barely contain her glee, acting like someone in on a brilliant coup finally about to come to fruition, my own feelings resembled those of a death row inmate, facing execution. Pivotal scenes of my life played before my inner eye; my mind obsessively retracing the steps that had brought me to my current calamity. Each of my decisions had seemed so right at the time and I racked my brains to spot just where I had gone so terribly wrong. I still could not accept that trusting my Master in the first place might have been that blunder.
Maren put me through my morning hygiene, making sure I was looking my best, for the last time. Surprisingly, just one restful night had gone a long way to reverse the worst effects of my recent deprivations. Although I still looked pale and gaunt, my eyes were no longer red and puffy. Studying myself in the mirror, very possibly for the last time in my life, I marvelled at my still-youthful features, the austere jewellery adorning my nose forming a strange counterpoint to their delicate beauty. Granted, I had irrevocably lost the allure of my silky black curls, courtesy of prolonged electrolysis treatments, but why would anyone in his right mind want to lock my head in a metal egg? What had I ever done to deserve such a cruel fate?
I dragged my feet in a feeble attempt to escape the inevitable, but Maren would have none of it, using well-dosed electric shocks as compelling encouragement and the desperate entreaties I made once I had been freed from my gag only spurred her on to cram it back into my mouth at the earliest opportunity. With minimal delay, my morning ablutions were completed and I was ready to face the day, or at least as ready as someone in my situation could possibly be. Maren wasted no further time and eagerly initiated the next step in my preparations.
Of course, she did not simply rely on her command to be obeyed, but pulled ruthlessly on my nose leash, dragging me behind her. With my arms once again chained high between my shoulder blades, I had no way to effectively resist her attentions. She led me to an area of the cell, at the farthest reach of my permanent leash, that saw comparatively little action, but which nevertheless had been the scene of some of the most vividly-remembered episodes of my imprisonment. There, taking up the centre of a generously-appointed space so as to be easily accessible from all sides, was a massive, clinical looking, rubber and steel contraption; eerily evocative of a gynaecological chair presumably designed by H. R. Giger. From the anatomically-moulded, multi-jointed steel rod constituting its spine, a number of curved, rubber-clad clamps sprouted, these like backwards-folded ribs, forming an exploded cage, poised to close about its hapless occupant. I knew from experience that once I had been consigned to the chair’s skeletal frame, I would not leave its confines again of my own volition.
“Sit down! Make yourself comfortable.”
For an endless moment, I debated the wisdom of attacking Maren then and there. I could try to run into her, maybe make her loose her balance, hopefully breaking her grip on my nose leash before she fell. Although my assault stood little chance of accomplishing anything more than enraging her (besides probably hurting myself in the process), at least I would not go down without a fight. It would demonstrate that, despite everything that had been done to me, I had not yet become a mindless sheep to be meekly led to the slaughterhouse. In the end I decided against what would have amounted to a purely symbolic act, since it might very well remove my last chance of being spared a life in the USD. My Master had made it very clear that he expected me on my best behaviour if I was to retain any hope of escaping that fate.
Overcoming my reluctance, I complied as best as I could with Maren’s command, awkwardly straddling the chair before I carefully lowered myself onto its narrow seat. Maren went behind and grabbed me around the waist, drawing me firmly against the rubber-padded, reclining backrest until she could join the ring at the back of my chastity belt to the locking catch provided for it. The latter was but part of the overall restraint mechanism; its other constituents being the pair of pivot-mounted bows which Maren now swung forward over my belt. This action in turn caused the catch to retreat further into its mounting until I found my lower spine pressed into uncomfortably close contact with the backrest’s thin padding. Maren had a hard time overcoming the resistance of the clamps’ springy steel before she finally managed to bring their looped ends together in front. Quickly, she joined them to each other and my belt’s front ring with a padlock. The completed steel hoop held my belted waist in a vice-like grip that denied my lower body almost any movement.
“One down, two more to go. But first, we’ll have to get your arms out of the way.” She informed me smugly, albeit redundantly. I was already more intimately familiar with the procedure than I had ever cared to be.
She bent me forward, then my arms were released one at a time, straightened out and lifted up to shoulder level to clear the remaining clamps, then brought down behind them to the small of my back, where Maren locked my manacles to the chair’s metal spine. My collar’s back ring followed suit before she engaged the retractable catches for the rings at the back of my breast harness, and with considerable effort closed the clamps that clasped around my body, above and below my breasts, thereby turning my torso and the chair into a single, un-budging unit. Normally, my head would be immobilised next, but this time however, I was spared the indignity of having the chair’s attached half-helmet with its accompanying assortment of rubber-covered steel hoops, lowered and fastened around my bald skull. Instead, Maren dismantled its mounting and removed the restraint altogether, leaving my head sticking up from the backrest, unencumbered and easily accessible. Only my legs had escaped her attentions so far, an omission she remedied now. Just below the seat, a pair of swivelling, splint-like struts extended from the chair’s base, ready to end their freedom. Each limb was fastened to its respective brace by locking my toe and ankle cuffs to the integrated footrest and tightening rubber straps around it just above and below my knees, as well as at mid-thigh. When she was done, the only body part capable of any movement at all was my head, if only within the limits dictated by my ever-present collar.
Maren thoroughly checked the accurate fit of all my restraints one more time, then straightened with a satisfied sigh and a glance at her wrist watch.
“OK, all done, and with a few minutes to spare.”
In the course of less than an hour, I had been prepared for my head’s permanent imprisonment. Rendered completely helpless once again, my Master’s vague promise constituted my only hope of salvation and I had bet everything on his mercy. However, noticing Maren’s predatory smile and the anticipatory gleam in her eyes, cold shivers coursed down my spine. In a sudden welter of terror, I started to struggle against my restraints, which, apart from raising a din of clinking and creaking metal, achieved exactly nothing. Maren watched my struggles with indulgent amusement, then casually awarded my futile efforts a condescending pat on the head and departed with a less than comforting reassurance.
“I’ll be back.”
I was left fastened to the chair, drenched in sweat and nearly incoherent with dread.
‘I’m not here! This isn’t happening!’ I started to endlessly repeat these words to myself, reciting them as a mantra of denial in an effort to shield my consciousness from further contemplation of what lay in store.
Fortunately (or unfortunately, I could not decide which), I was not given long to ponder my imminent fate. I had barely managed to bring my panic under partial-control when my subterranean prison’s door opened again and a procession of three veiled figures shrouded in wide robes of dark red, made its entrance. Although their features were disguised by pointed hoods reminiscent of those that medieval executioners purportedly had fancied, the differences in height and demeanour made my husband, George and Maren easily identifiable. Under other circumstances, the melodramatic tableau would have prompted me to laugh; however, the oversized hat box George carried, stifled this impulse rather effectively. I could not wrench my eyes from it and the menace it represented. Without acknowledging my presence in any way, my self-appointed judges took up positions opposite me, forming a close semicircle in front of the chair, with my husband in the centre and George and Maren respectively on his right and left sides. Apparently, they were following a carefully-choreographed script, the deeper purpose of which eluded me, but which nevertheless succeeded to throw me off balance. Helplessly fastened to my chair, I watched the proceedings with a sinking feeling in my gut for I had counted on a chance to plead with my husband in private, not on arguing my case before an unsympathetic tribunal of masked avengers. Besides, as long as I remained thoroughly-gagged, I could not even accomplish that much. The unbidden thought that barring the occurrence of a minor miracle, my heavily-gagged state would very soon be turned into a permanent condition, made my heart flutter.
Without a word, George bowed and put the rotund case he’d been carrying down on my lap. Unhurriedly, he started to unsnap the evenly spaced catches around its bottom and I felt its considerable weight diminish only marginally when he lifted the top with a flourish to reveal the object that had dominated my nightmares for the past weeks. Sitting on my knees directly under my nose, the USD appeared significantly larger than I remembered. It was a stark ovoid of shining metal; its most distinctive feature being a large section at the front that housed a bewildering array of connectors and sockets of various types.
Leaving his unwelcome present squarely on my lap, George straightened, then my Master started to speak. Due to their closeness, I could not keep them all in my field of vision at the same time, but had to constantly swivel my head in a way cleverly-calculated to keep me on edge and the fact that my high collar’s back ring was fastened to the chair’s spinal column ensured that I remained ever aware of my restraints and helplessness.
“We have convened today to determine the proper punishment for the most heinous crime the slave before us has committed up to now: to physically attack and injure one of her betters. We were all present at the time and witnessed the incident, so there’s no question regarding her guilt. To aggravate matters, this constitutes but the latest transgression in an unbroken history of insubordination.”
With the face-concealing hood, his voice was the only clue I had to assess my Master’s mood. Although there was a hint of tightly-controlled anger in his tone, it was the regret I also discerned that chilled me to the core. Was my imprisonment in the USD already a foregone conclusion? I listened with bated breath when he continued.
“For years I’ve tried to instil the appropriate attitude in life in the slave, one that befits her station. Regrettably, I have failed and I accept the responsibility for this failure, having been too lenient with her. In hindsight, a harsher regime was required. However, the situation has changed and I simply cannot allow her irresponsible behaviour to jeopardize everything we have all worked for so hard, any longer. These past weeks, she has been disciplined severely for her crimes. It’s now time to assess if she has taken her lesson to heart and to deal with the threat her defiance poses, once and for all. Maren, you’ve observed her most closely of late. What’s your take?”
“At first glance, she cooperated reasonably well, never allowing herself to be caught in an act of open rebellion. However, she simply resorted to finding less obvious ways to challenge my rightful authority over her instead. As you know, she has constantly tried to mislead me about her punishments, excelling at errors of omission where outright lies would not work. Her stubborn resistance has forced me to rely on coercion where, otherwise, a simple command should have sufficed. Only lately has her stubborn antagonism waned, but unfortunately, I’m convinced that this is a consequence of exhaustion, rather than a sign of a true change of heart. Given enough time, her resistance might eventually be overcome; however, I haven’t succeeded yet.”
“What’s your opinion?”
“I believe Maren’s right.” he agreed ominously. “Watching the recordings, I haven’t seen anything to convince me that she’s truly reformed. She might be cowed by her punishment right now, but I’m quite sure that given the opportunity she’ll rebound and return to her former ways in no time. I’m not so confident Maren will be able to break her. As we’re all well aware your slave has a stubborn streak a mile wide.”
George did not even try to hide his hostility behind a pretension of false regret and I supposed that I must have hurt him pretty badly to still stir up this level of resentment. Unlike Maren, normally he was not one to hold a grudge indefinitely.
My Master listened to their condemning words without showing any visible reaction. Did he believe them? Thanks to the damned hood concealing his features, I had no idea whether he concurred with their judgment or not. I longed for a chance to convince him of my new-found humility and thus refute their hateful defamation, but even though I started to struggle and scream into my gag, I could not attract his attention. Determinedly ignoring my antics, once more he fielded his next question to Maren and George exclusively.
“Does anyone wish to speak on behalf of the defendant?”
I redoubled my struggles against my restraints, but was still not granted any notice. Maren silently declined with a deliberate shake of her hooded head while George answered with an emphatic “No!”
“So, it’s unanimous then.”
For the first time since this travesty of a trial had begun, he acknowledged my presence and addressed me directly.
“This panel has come to the conclusion that despite the discipline you’ve been subjected to during the last weeks you have failed to embrace the proper mentality befitting a slave. Instant obedience still hasn’t become second nature to you. Therefore, to suppress your constant and continuing defiance, stricter measures must be employed. Since it was the USD that provoked your attack on George in the first place, it is hereby deemed appropriate that it will also serve as the means of your chastisement. You’ll be fitted with it now.”
'No!' I screamed into my gag, shaking my head in denial while I again fought my restraints with panic-induced strength. If bones, muscles and sinews had been capable of that feat, I would surely have broken my bonds. However, against the implacable steel holding me prisoner, I stood no chance. My struggles didn’t even move the dreadful orb sitting in my lap. The hooded figures unsympathetically observed my frantic fighting, calmly waiting until I had spent my energy, and only when I lay panting in the chair, too busy sucking oxygen into my labouring lungs to care about anything else, did my Master continue his little speech. He let his voice drop to a low and dangerously intense pitch.
“There’s one question I must ask you at this point and I want you to think very carefully about your answer.”
He stepped behind and released the straps of my gag, pausing for a moment before prying the giant orb out of my mouth.
“Do you accept your punishment? I want you to formally ask for it, or rather beg for it, if you do.”
‘What was there to think about? He was out of his mind if he thought even for one second that I would willingly go along with his and his cronies’ utterly unreasonable punishment!’ I considered it imperative to disabuse him of his delusion immediately.
“No! And I’ll never beg for … umph!”
Instantly, the ball was crammed back into my mouth and the straps re-tightened.
“Wrong answer.” My husband’s shoulders dropped fractionally. “Very well, so be it then.”
He motioned to George who approached me and retrieved his infernal invention. Inserting the end of a complicated looking tool into tiny holes spaced regularly along a faintly-etched line that vertically bisected the ovoid, he caused a small crack to appear in its until-now unbroken surface. The fissure zigzagged back and forth between the individual holes, so when he finally separated the front from its counterpart, the two halves of the USD showed a matching, serrated profile. The cross-section revealed that the outer shell had a thickness of about half a centimeter and was alternately studded with interlocking latches and notches. The inner surface was covered by a matte-finished, black material.
Beneath the USD, an artificial head surfaced, reproducing my own features albeit minus the expression of naked terror that animated them at its sight for my twin had been festooned with a frightening array of rubberized appliances that covered its mouth, nose, ears and eyes. I had no doubt that they were soon to be transferred onto my own head!
“I suppose an explanation is in order.”
George launched into one of his dreaded technical lectures that nerds like him seemed to relish for some unfathomable reason. For once, however, he held my undivided attention. He gestured towards the bulbous goggles covering my double’s eyes.
“You see here what I believe to be the most advanced system currently in existence to control a subject’s aural-visual perceptions. Most of the basic components have been adapted from virtual reality technology that was originally created for military applications. With this system, every facet of what is seen or heard can be shaped to match your Master’s every whim.
“These beauties contain ultra-high resolution screens, back-lit by the latest generation of powerful LED’s, nearly capable of matching the brightness of daylight. The colours are quite brilliant, hence subjectively, there’s little difference to natural vision, especially when you have no way of making a direct comparison. There’s also a built-in, infra-red, eye tracking system, and in conjunction with a decent computer system, it is conceivable to create a convincing, total immersion experience into artificial reality. There might be some latency issues, but probably well below ordinary perception thresholds. However, providing you with an escapist alternate world isn’t the objective here. Rather, contemplate the prospect of watching reruns of folksy music shows in an endless loop.”
George’s attempt at humour fell well short of raising any levity in me. That is to say, I was fervently hoping he had actually tried to make a joke, deeming the alternative too depressing to dwell on. I concentrated on his explanation of the headphones instead.
“The main purpose of the outer cups covering the ears is to fully isolate the subject from all external sounds, and, at the same time, create a well-defined resonating cavity. The actual speakers reside within the ear canals, along with a pair of highly-sensitive microphones. Working in conjunction, they are capable of eliminating all sound by making use of destructive interference, thus ensuring absolute silence. Imagine having your hearing shut down completely, with even the sound of your own blood cancelled out! And that’s only one possible application; the system is really quite talented. With a little DSP wizardry thrown in, the acoustics of almost any location can be emulated, be it La Scala in Milan or the Festspielhaus in Bayreuth. The speakers’ technical capabilities are on par with those of the VR-goggles. They can reproduce the entire audible spectrum with an astonishingly accurate frequency response, given their rather tiny size. In fact …”
A discreet “Ahem” from my Master interrupted George’s breathless monologue. Unchecked, his enthusiasm for technological marvels tended to get the better of him every time.
“Thank you, George. I’ll take it from here, if you don’t mind.” My husband said quietly, stepping smoothly into the momentary silence. He pointed at the bizarre rubber snout covering the dummy’s face below the mirrored goggles. It resembled the oxygen masks worn by fighter pilots, yet where ordinarily the corrugated hose for the air supply should have emerged, an awesome array of tubes and fittings protruded both forward and sideways instead, reminding me of the vastly-magnified mandibles of some particularly voracious insect.
“I want you to focus your attention on the breathing/feeding mask now, slave. It plays an especially vital role since it ensures your continued survival once you’ve been locked into the USD. As you can see, it completely covers the lower part of the face, but of course that’s not the whole story. As with an ice berg, the bulk lies beneath the surface.”
He carefully detached the mask from the dummy, revealing a number of apparently rather stiff hoses that vanished into gaping holes representing grotesquely stretched caricatures of my mouth and nostrils. Steadily pulling on the mask, he coaxed the slick, black tubes to slide out of their hidden recesses within the artificial head and its substantial base. Before my horrified eyes, centimetre after centimetre of tubing emerged, until, finally, after an interminable forty centimetres, the end of the longest and also widest specimen made it into the open.
“Don’t look so alarmed. By now you should be more than familiar with feeding tubes. This one’s a tad larger, that’s all.”
My Master’s flair for understatement had shown itself one more time. To me, the giant gastric insert seemed at best a distant cousin of those I’d had to tolerate until now. Just beyond its bullet tip, the folds of the in-dwelling stomach bladder bulged thickly, ready to assume the size of a large orange when fully inflated and thereby sealing itself securely inside me. I shuddered involuntarily when I imagined the concerted effort its insertion was bound to require, not to mention the unpleasant feeling of fullness the subsequent inflation almost certainly engendered.
In addition to the gastric insert and a pair of much smaller hoses obviously destined to go up my nostrils, there was another silicone rubber tube of approximately twenty-six centimetres in length, with a diameter of about eighteen millimetres to account for. It was armoured at strategic points with metallic rings evidently intended to prevent kinking. My husband disconnected it from the mask and held its bent form before my brimming eyes.
“Due to the uncompromising character of your head’s confinement, it’s necessary to provide your lungs with a safe and utterly dependable air passage. Therefore, you’ll be fitted with this endo-tracheal insert.” He explained in a solemn voice. “It’s one of the largest available as well and is designed to be placed deep into your trachea, almost to the divide of your bronchia.”
He directed my attention to a series of soft latex balloon encirclements at the tube’s straight lower section.
“These inflatable cuffs will lock the insert in place and prevent fluids, mucus and oral debris from entering your lungs. That there are four of them may seem a bit like overkill at first, yet, given the permanent nature of your intubation, I’d rather err on the side of caution.”
I was in implicit agreement with that view, although I would rather not have been exposed to the dangers his plain words implied in the first place. Regardless, his recital of horrors went on an on.
“The upper part of the insert elevates through the larynx and throat to its anchor point within the face mask. Obviously, the whole thing has to be quite stiff; however, its curvature conforms to the erect stance encouraged by your collar, so it shouldn’t prove too uncomfortable.”
“With the tracheal insert installed to safeguard your respiration, the additional inter-sinus tubes for your nose might appear gratuitous. However, they come in handy to drain the secretions that otherwise accumulate in the nasal and oral cavity. It’s unfortunate that your septum bar will have to be removed for their fitting though.”
I felt incapable of sharing his regret. Being freed from the demeaning jewellery constituted the only piece of good news I had received up to now, even though it was tainted by his other intimations. I was not given much time to dwell on his words, for his voice shifted to an almost regretful tone, making me wonder what expression his face wore beneath the impenetrable mask.
“Of course, since the tracheal tube will be blocking your larynx, you’ll be rendered utterly mute. Not that the USD would have promoted speech in the first place, so I guess it won’t make much of a difference. However, I’ll probably miss our occasional chats, not to mention your endearing groans and squeals. Alas, we all have to make sacrifices.”
His callous words shattered the last barriers my industrious subconscious had been busy erecting to shield me from the realisation that he really was going to condemn me to an existence at the mercy of George’s infernal and utterly horrid contraption.
‘How could he do this to me? How could he be so cruel?’ For a second my mind went blank and I thought I was going into shock, but then my tried and true tenacity reasserted itself and I fought my restraints with renewed and frantic vigour, albeit with a predictable lack of success.
I was just switching tactics to try desperate imploration instead when I felt a prick at my neck. Startled, I jerked my head around against the fastening at the back of my collar and saw Maren concealing a jet injector in the folds of her robe.
“That’s only a mild sedative.” My husband offered helpfully. “It will help you calm down and accept the situation. You looked a little apoplectic just now and high blood pressure is bad for your health, you know.”
In a fair and just or at least not utterly uncaring universe, the voltage of my glare should have reduced him to a ball of glowing plasma. Alas, his impenetrable mask deflected my heated stare and apparently unconcerned, he turned to his accomplices.
“Enough words have been interchanged, let me at last see action.” He declaimed before continuing in a normal voice. “Maren, please get the inserts cleaned and sterilized, then prepare everything for the OP. George, I want you to run a final system check and make sure everything works without glitches. I’ll review the planned procedure one more time. I want to start with the insertion thirty minutes from now. See you then, dear.”
With this parting address, they all left the cell to go about their assigned tasks, leaving me alone once more. I was granted one last respite before my fate was to be sealed ... in a horrendously literal way. At first, I continued to test my bonds, but slowly, a strange serenity settled over me, as if a part of me actually welcomed the news of my impending demise as release from the unbearable tension that the preceding days of constant fear, uncertainty and doubt had built up. This spreading calm was accompanied by a feeling of drowsiness that supplanted the state of extreme anxiety I’d been in before and I lazily recognized both as effects of the drug I had been administered. I resolved to fight them, but before long the effort seemed exceedingly tiresome and not a little foolish. A blissful indifference took hold, insulating me from the small sliver of my mind that still raged about such ephemeral and ultimately insignificant events as my own inexorably approaching doom.
All too soon the band of my would-be executioners reassembled, although no longer attired in their medieval costumes, for they had exchanged their archaic robes for medical smocks and now wore face masks and gloves. George preceded my Master and Maren, carrying a large metal case that he subsequently arranged on a portable table next to my chair. Once opened, it revealed an array of glittering medical instruments and hand tools then he unbuckled the straps of my ball gag harness and helped me expel the huge intruder. I worked my jaw to get my stiff muscles under control again, somewhat hampering his simultaneous attempts to wipe away the accumulated drool. I knew I had to bring my husband to terms, although I could barely muster any feeling of urgency about it.
“I don’t want to wear thish ugly USD sthing!” I informed him earnestly. “And I don’t want no tubes down my throat. Please tell George he can keep his stupid, metal hat.” I congratulated myself on having put my misgivings into such succinct, if slightly slurred words.
“Hush! You know it’s best for you.” My husband said in the winningly reasonable tone normally reserved for his more intractable patients. “Now, be quiet and try to relax.”
I knew he was just trying to placate me, but refrained from arguing my case. In my experience, most physicians tended to get tediously upset when a layman dared to contradict them. Besides, the effort to enunciate my concerns clearly seemed excessive.
George finished his work and allowed Maren to take his place. First, she wiped my face with an antiseptic tissue, then made me open my mouth and inserted the rubber covered arms of a steel, oral spreader. Working its handle, she slowly jacked my jaws apart and finally locked them in a wide open position, then picked up an aerosol can and from its long billed nozzle, deftly sprayed a cool mist deep into my throat. Out of professional habit, my husband kept up a running commentary of the action.
“Take a deep breath. Yes, another one. That’s fine. Maren is desensitizing the nerve endings around your larynx and upper trachea so we won’t trigger your cough or retching reflex when we insert the breathing tube.”
True to his words, numbness began to spread in my throat. Maren allowed the aerosol a few moments to act before following it up with a swab soaked in the same anaesthetic drug. Subsequently, my Master took the stage, and, picking up the endo-tracheal tube and a laryngoscope from the instrument case, he positioned himself behind me.
“I’ll begin with the intubation now. Let me know immediately if you experience any difficulty getting air. Tilt your head fully back, please!”
I complied as best as I could and soon the laryngoscope’s beak-like blade pressed down uncomfortably on my tongue. Due to the anaesthetic, I barely felt the breathing tube enter my throat and make its way down my windpipe. Looking up, I had an upside-down view of my husband’s focussed expression while he peered down the instrument’s length and directed the slick tube’s steady progress. Less than two minutes later, the insert had reached its final position and one after the other, the multiple cuffs on its deeply-burrowed end were inflated, creating a secure seal around the tube within my windpipe. Despite my drugged and partially-anaesthetized state, the endo-tracheal tube was very definitely an unpleasant foreign object that was now lodged securely in my throat. Its presence became still more disconcerting when my mounting discomfort vented itself in an involuntary moan and absolutely no sound emerged! I faintly heard air passing through the tube’s nozzle, but that was the sole result of my attempt to object. I had been utterly deprived of my voice! Although I had been forewarned of this effect of the intubation, I nevertheless was not prepared for its devastating potency. The shock of realisation momentarily overwhelmed the artificial calm that had held me enthralled and I convulsed my throat muscles, desperately tried to dislodge the tube emerging from my mouth. Against the collar’s restricting fastening, I shook my head wildly from side to side like a maniac, making the metal fitting at the tube’s end rattle against the arms of the oral speculum that kept me from biting down on it. Naturally, my Master would have none of this and so grabbed my head on both sides and held it steady.
“Stop it! You’re only going to hurt yourself. You don’t want that, do you? Now, calm down and take a deep breath. See how easy you can breathe? Good girl!”
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